Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Elder West Website Information

Many readers know, know of, or have spoken with Elder Samuel West, who has done more to preserve the true Strangite heritage than any one else. In the event you don't or don't know about his "Mormon Beliefs" website, now you know. All of our scriptures, for viewing, download, or purchase can be found at:

WWW.ORIGINALMORMONBELIEFS.COM

There is also a Yahoo group containing more information on independent Strangites associated with Elder West. This is still the same.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Strangites/

Blessings

Elder Tom

Study, Ponder, and Pray.....

I have been pre-occupied this week - perhaps as a result of the study and writing necessary to write the epistles for a couple of weeks - with the necessity to study, ponder, and pray about our life, our position in the Body of Christ, and our future. In these days of insecurity of all sorts it is important for us, as Paul said, to "put on the whole armor of God". You will notice in that scripture (Ephesians 6 10-18) we are presented with a number of defensive devices - a helm, a shield, a breast plate, and so forth - but only one offensive weapon, that being...

".....the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God"

It is incumbent upon us to remember that Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ do not want us to mindlessly flail about as we confront the difficulties of life in Babylon. This is what the gentiles do; throw their weight around, push, bully, threaten, rail, often hurt, and sometimes even kill. We have a better and more effective strategy, being to use the truth of the Gospel as our weapon against the powers of evil and darkness abroad in the earth. This is the kind of "righteous war" that is enjoined upon us in the Word of God, as described again by the Apostle Paul

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" (2 Cor 10:3-5)


I have always understood a "stronghold" in its dictionary meaning when looking at this scripture. Webster's says a stronghold is"


"1 - : a fortified place

2 - :a : a place of security or survival
b
: a place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic

I have always been keenly aware of my "strongholds", the fortified places inside of me that provide a place of security or survival for the carnal man and dominated by the particular group of my own wishes and desires marked by the characteristic of self-centeredness and darkness. Both early and latter-day scripture contain several stories about the investiture of strongholds and one characteristic was that the defenders would often rain down fire, pitch, rocks, etc. in order to keep the besiegers at bay. This said I don't think that night raids on strongholds were such a great idea as one could not see the flying object that was about to crush them or pick them off a ladder or siege engine; daylight would serve to illuminate the field and lead to the best protection and coordination.

Joseph Smith said "
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” (Utah D&C 93:36). That said, our illumination for overcoming strongholds in our lives is directly related to the amount of truth we have at our disposal. This is a life and death matter but one that bears eternal reward because, as the Prophet Joseph also said....

"Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come."

Indeed, getting ourselves "smart" about the things of the Kingdom is a matter of life and death - " “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1CO 2:14

So it is incumbent upon us to work at learning, talking, pondering, studying to keep our lives full of intelligence, truth, and light. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" 2TI 2:15

That said, I close with another quote from Joseph Smith

"As far as we degenerate from God, we descend to the devil and lose knowledge, and without knowledge we cannot be saved...A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence we need revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God."

So let's remember the corollary to this as we go through the week - a man can continue to gain knowledge as fast as he is saved.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Should the Saints Bedfellow with Politics?

Should the Saints Bedfellow with Politics?

Now that it appears the presidential candidates are being selected and the sectarian "whores and harlots" come calling on the would be "Kings of the Earth", I reflect on the sorry record of the temporal authorities in latter day Zion in letting the Saints build up the Kingdom of God. For the benefit of visitors, I am copying here a letter from James J. Strang, published in the Northern Islander on 01 June 1856 - a mere 19 days before his murder at the hands of apostates and criminals. I will let readers draw their own conclusions.

"The 6th day of April, 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized at the town of Fayette, in the State of New York, consisting of only six members, two of whom, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, were Elders; being the only true and living Church existing by the commandment of God on earth.

The members of this Church, guided by revelations of God, have always sought to come out from among unbelievers, and be separate. Knowing that others were offended with their religion, they endeavored to avoid giving offence by removing from among them, keeping the commandment, 揅ome out from among them, that ye be not partakers of their sins, and receive not of their plagues.�o:p>

Almost immediately after the organization of the Church, the Saints commenced assembling at Kirtland, Ohio, for a temporary rendezvous; but at the same time a few went up to Missouri, to locate a permanent residence, and selected the site of Independence, Jackson county, as their future home, and commenced a settlement there.

Agreeable to a commandment which God gave them, they purchased large quantities of lands of the government of the United States , and paid the full price therefore to the officers of the United States , the ministers of your predecessors in office. Upon these lands our breth璻en, the saints, made extensive settlements, continually showing themselves the most indus璽rious, peaceable and law-abiding citizens of that section of the country.

At the time of which we speak no one among them was accused of any violation of the law, or of a want of at璽achment to the constitution and government of the United States , or of the state of Missouri .

Notwithstanding these facts, and the legal rights of our brethren, a numerous meeting of cit璱zens of Missouri was held at Independence , in Missouri , which decreed the expulsion of the saints from that part of the State. This meeting issued a manifesto to the public, giving to the world the reasons for banishing from their neighborhood a numerous class of citizens; the entire church of the Latter Day Saints.

In giving these reasons they stated that our religious senti璵ents and domestic habits were incongruous with theirs, and that it was necessary for their happiness that our brethren should leave; and as the grievances of which they complained were not recognized by the laws, and the saints had not violated any existing law whereby they were subject to regular prosecution in the courts, therefore they would take redress into their own hands, and compel us to leave the country, peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must.* This decree was carried out by the expulsion of the saints from Jackson Co., Missouri.

*The western Monitor, of 2d August, 1833 , contains this manifesto. We extract from it the following:The evil is one that no one could have foreseen, and is therefore unprovided for by the laws, and the delays incident to legislation, would put the mischief beyond remedy.

It requires no gift of prophecy to tell that the day is not far distant when the civil government of the country will be in their hands. When the sheriff, the justices, and the county judges will be Mormons, or persons wishing to court their favor from motives of interest or ambition.

We do hereby most solemnly declare:--

That no Mormon shall in future move and settle in this county.

That those now here, who shall give a definite pledge of their intention within a reasonable time to remove out of the county, shall be allowed to remain unmolested until they have sufficient time to sell their property and close their business without any material sacrifice.

That the editor of the `Star' be required forthwith to close his office, and discontinue the business of printing in this county; and as to all other stores and shops belonging to the sect, their owners must in every case strictly comply with the terms of the second article of this declaration, and upon failure, prompt and efficient measures will be taken to close the same.

That the Mormon leaders here, are required to use their influence in preventing any further emigration of their distant brethren to this county, and to counsel and advise their brethren here to comply with the above requisitions.

That those who fail to comply with these requisitions, be referred to those of their brethren who have the gifts of divination, and of unknown tongues, to inform them of the lot that awaits them.

After adopting this manifesto a committee was sent to exact a pledge of compliance from the Mormons, and on their refusing to give it, It was unanimously resolved by the meeting, that the `Star' printing office should be razed to the ground, the type and press secured,� which was immediately done.

They then settled in various counties on the north side of the Missouri river, but continual collisions took place, till finally they were banished from the State by authority of a mandate guilty issued by Lillburn W. Boggs, acting Governor, distinctly commanding that the saints (in derision called Mormons) be banished from the State, or exterminated. We are perfectly aware that this mandate of the acting Governor was unauthorized by the law, and in violation of the constitution of the State of Missouri .

But the Legislature of that State, in failing to impeach the Governor, and by appropriating the money to pay the expense of executing his order, has affirmed and adopted the act as the crime of the State. In accomplishing this expulsion ten thousand persons,, men, women and children, were plundered of their possessions, exiled from their homes, and driven in destitution, hunger, and want, in mid winter, to a distant land, passing much of the way in the midst of hostile foes, who not only refused them shelter and food, but kept them in continual danger.

Many were separated from their families and incarcerated in prison, whence, after long deten璽ion, they escaped only by paying large sums of money to prison keepers, judges and lawyers, as the price of their enlargement. Besides a feeble few, who, after learning that their perse璫utors were without compassion, were slain while defending their wives, their children and their firesides; eighteen persons, unarmed, and engaged in the worship of God, were murdered unresisting, and in cold blood, in the early part of these persecutions; one of them a mere child, who died mixing together the words of his prayer to God, and his supplication for merely from his murderers; another, an old man, bowed down with suffering and sorrow, scarred with the wounds he had received fifty-seven years before in defense of American liberty and American independence; all yielding up their lives for the name of Jesus, and the witness of the gospel. Others, at different times, shared the same fate; how many, we know not.

Subsequently the saints settled in great numbers in the State of Illinois, and built up, besides many villages, the city of Nauvoo, at one time the most populous city in that State. At their first settlement they were kindly received; but after building up flourishing towns, becoming numerous as a religious people, and strong in their political influence, religious prejudice, political interests and commercial rivalry combined together to destroy them.

On this occasion our persecutors sought to justify their violence by accusing the saints of enormous crimes, and the most astounding corruptions. That these accusations were utterly unfounded is clearly shown by the fact that with courts, jurors and prosecuting officers constantly and assiduously selected from among our persecutors, few of the saints were ever prosecuted on criminal charges, and very few indeed ever convicted.

That the best informed and most intelligent men of the nation are fully aware of their entire innocence, is shown in the fact that territorial government has been organized under an act of Congress, possessing as full powers as any other territorial government can, organized under the jurisdiction of the United States; giving its entire executive and legislative power to the same people then exiled; and the men among them who exercised most influence and control in their affairs, and who if they were criminal were most guilty, have received the offices of Governor, Marshall and Secretary of a Territory, as well as numerous minor appointments under the United States government both Whig and Democratic administrations.

The very high character given them by Senator Douglass who presided over the criminal courts of the Mormon District of Illinois, during the period of their sojourn there; by Col. Kane of the United States army; who witnessed their expulsion; and Captains Stansbury and Gunnison, of the Topographical Engineers, who spent a year with a large body of them in their new mountain home, have dissipated all suspicion in the minds of intelligent men that they had given any occasion for the harsh treatment which they received at the hands of the people of the State of Illinois.

The unequivocal testimony of Thos. Ford, Governor of Illinois, at the time of their expulsion, who was present most of the time at the scene of action, is that their character and conduct were far better than those arrayed against them.

Nevertheless this persecution was carried on until our fellow servants, the prophets, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, were martyred; the houses of hundreds of the saints burned down before their eyes; the entire community amounting to 25,000 banished from that section of the State, and four millions of dollars worth of property sacrificed.

After the banishment of the Saints from Illinois, a few of them came into Michigan, and commenced settlements on the Islands of the Great Lakes, then uninhabited, but occasionally occupied by roving borderers, engaged in fishing and selling liquor to the Indians, in violation of law, and in criminal courses still more reprehensible.

The attempt to build up permanent and populous communities in the midst of these valuable lake fisheries, especially at Beaver Island, where there is an excellent harbor, and every facility for an extensive and prosperous commerce, excited the jealousy of those who at Mackinac had for a long time monopolized the entire Indian and fishing trade.

The wretched men of the borderers who had sought a home beyond the haunts of civilization, that they might indulge in unrestrained debauchery and enjoy impunity in crime, could only regard settlers who sought good order and legal government as invaders and enemies. They early exhibited a hostile disposition, and a determination to prevent the establishment of legal government.

As early as 1849 we were subjected to numerous injuries, for which it was impossible to obtain redress. Women were insulted, and men assaulted with impunity. At the same time a concerted effort was made throughout the lake country to render us infamous, by telling false tales upon us. The numerous whiskey dealers on the fishing grounds, whose entire income was derived through criminal means, joined by most of the merchants at Mackinac, who were most seriously alarmed at the growing up of a commercial rival at Saint James, engaged in the undertaking and enlisted the officers and men on nearly all the boats and vessels in the upper lake trade, by means of their acquaintance with them. Every manner of false tale was thus continually put afloat, and no matter by what falsehood originated, was circulated through respectable newspapers, on what was taken for good authority.

By such means, in a short time the mass of the public were persuaded that the Saints at Beaver Island were the offscourings of all things, and the dregs of the inhabitants of the earth.

Under these circumstances, with no means of becoming generally known to the public, except through the representations of those thoroughly enlisted against us, in 1850, extensive preparations were made throughout the fishing region for an armed assault upon us, by a force more than four times as numerous as we could furnish for defense. The Saints were thoroughly schooled in the practice of nonresistance, and were unarmed.

But by the prophecies and commandments, it appeared that having three times fled before their persecutors, it was now our duty to withstand them, and that in doing so God would give us the victory. We resolved to repel force with force, and return blow for blow, and stroke for stroke, publicly announced one determination and prepared for the issue; and our enemies gave way without bloodshed.

In 1851 they succeeded in enlisting the United States government in a violent and lawless crusade against us, in the course of which immense quantities of private property was seized, and taken from us; numerous individuals were arrested on charge of felonies and misdemeanor of almost every manner, and carried prejudged and foredoomed, to distant places for trial, in the courts of their enemies; the United States military and naval force was put in requisition to awe our families in the absence of nearly all the men, while numerous armed bands of our persecutors were left to roam undisturbed through our settlements, taking and destroying what they pleased, and insulting and assaulting when they would.

From all these perils God delivered us. Every one of the accused were acquitted. Though numerous persons were assaulted and cruelly beaten, every one recovered. Only a small portion of the property which had been taken from us was ever restored; but the justice of our cause was vindicated by the decision of the proper officers that we were entitled to all of it, and the actual loss was by the outright stealing of public officers.

While these acts were going on, a few people from Mackinac, and a numerous horde of border ruffians, sometimes under pretence of legal process, but oftenest by mere force of arms, seized nearly all the movables of value possessed by our population. For these acts we pursued many of them at law to final judgment, who have abundance of executable property, but in very few of these cases have we been allowed to make collections on executions.

This persecution resulted in separating our enemies from among us, and leaving us the undisturbed occupancy of a territory sufficient for our use for many years to come; and at the next session of the Legislature acts were passed for establishing the necessary municipal authorities in that territory, organizing town and county government, and a regular judiciary.

Irritated at this, and suffering a great loss of trade by our growing prosperity, the people of Mackinac set on foot an armed invasion, for the avowed purpose of resisting all legal government in the county of Emmet , a purpose not concealed, but declared in the resolutions of their public meetings, and published in the newspapers.

A conflict ensued in which several of the Saints were wounded, and several thousand dollars of property destroyed; but the invasion failed, and the invaders fled as the wicked often do, when no man pursued. The criminals engaged in this invasion were duly indicted, but by the connivance of officers and citizens they were able to escape a trial and have gone unpunished. But their flight from this region left us in the enjoyment of peace and undisturbed order.

But the action of the State Legislature, at its next session in cutting up the county of Emmet , legislating its officers out of office, and denying a judiciary to the new county of Manitue , indicated a settled determination to deny us legal protection, and secure from punishment those who had committed crimes against us.

For all these wrongs the laws and institutions of the country offer us no redress. It is vain to answer that such acts are contrary to law, and that the courts are open to us. There is a law in the land stronger than statutes--more potent than the usages of courts. The will of the masses, however vicious and partial, no matter by what influences produced, has been able to trample on all precedent, and ride down all law. It has done more. It has produced legislation according to its wishes, in violation of all constitutional securities; and not merely contrary to precedent, but destructive of natural right.

This unrecognized law, found only in the will of the masses, has been enforced in destroying houses, offices and valuable papers of some of the most distinguished citizens of the country, public buildings of various kinds, printing presses and rail roads owned by wealthy companies, churches and convents of the most ancient and numerous religious denomination in the country, and to overthrow contracts which had stood the vicissitudes of two hundred years, the ordeal of civil war and national revolution, though defended by the sanctity of constitutional and statute law; usages older than the language we speak; the power of a great State; the wealth that seven generations of thrift had accumulated; and backed by an aristocracy made honorable by deeds of benevolence, justice, patriotism and valor as boundless as the sources of its greatness.

If these cannot resist the power of this new element of national and state government mob law, how shall we? We are aware that our name is cast out as evil, as a kind of apology for the uncounted injuries which have been heaped upon us. But you will not forget that in early times among all the most polished nations the name christian was looked on as a name for fanaticism and debauchery; that the learned Greeks and victorious Romans held them cannibals, and that, even now, in half the civilized and christian nations democracy is considered synonymous with anarchy and lawlessness--how justly, you can judge.

And if the sanctity of the ancient christian faith, and the greatness of your nation have not protected them from these aspersions, what shall protect us from equal wrongs? We protest against this nearly universal practice of assuming that we are guilty of great crimes, as an excuse for denying us the regular protection of the government in our legal rights. But when we examine the evidence of the truth of these assumptions, they are most conclusively falsified.

Joseph, the martyred prophet, whose blood stains on the jail at Carthage are as indelible as those of Jesus on the cross, has been arrested thirty-nine times on criminal charges. Thirty nine times he has been tried in the courts of his enemies; many times at the bar of men who advocated his murder. And thirty-eight times, in such courts, at the bar of such men, has he been acquitted.

The only offence of which he was ever convicted is that of unlawful banking--an offence committed with impunity by other men in nearly every State in the union. Nor did he escape conviction by the testimony of his brethren. Such men would stop their ears against it. If this is not a sufficient vindication of him as a law-abiding man, no array of facts could be.

That the charge on which he was finally arrested and imprisoned was merely trumped up for the purpose of seizing upon him and detaining him till a convenient time for his destruction, is as clearly proved as any fact whatever in the history of the country.

And when we add that his murderers were indicted, arraigned and acquitted at the instance of their own friends, without any attempt to introduce the necessary evidence against them, and merely for the purpose of interposing a legal bar to their punishment, in some more healthy period of the public mind, we think it will not require argument to convince all mankind that, the State of Illinois has adopted that murder as its own.

In this place, during the persecutions of 1851, ninety-nine men were arrested on false charges, taken to distant places and tried in the courts of their accusers, and though prejudged and foredoomed, were every one of them acquitted.

For all these wrongs we are denied redress. We have not forgotten that there are tribunals in which causes partially similar in kind, immeasurably less in aggravation, are sometimes examined, perhaps occasionally righted. But these tribunals are closed against us by the law now, and at all times by the power of that law already referred to, which is above statute, precedent and right.

If a period cannot be put to these wrongs, then there is presented to the world the melancholy spectacle of the greatest republic on earth, a christian nation, acknowledging itself powerless to judge; unable to protect the right; a nation on whose righteousness half the earth rest the hopes of man, confessing that there is a power above the law, riding down the constitution, which stalks abroad to plunder and banish the citizens, and none to rebuke; murders the unoffending innocent, and none to say, "why do ye so?" which sanctities its deeds of violence, even in the eyes of religious men, by blackening the fame of the glorious dead, with the name of crimes which in their life time it dared not attempt to prove, even in its own tribunals.

The administrators of the government have been appealed to in vain. Unless the wrongs redressed, they must rest on the nation forever, and bring down the wrath of God on those who have done, and those who have permitted them? If you fear not God, how will you answer to mankind and to posterity, for such a desecration of republicanism, in a christian country.

For all these wrongs we do not ask a grant of lands, nor a State or Territorial government--We acknowledge that we have had enough of these. We shall never sell the lands of our brethren and ourselves, the inheritance of the martyred and of their children, for new grants of which we are equally liable to be deprived by some new act of violence.

There is now in the States of Missouri and Illinois four millions of dollars worth of houses and lands purchased with the money and produced with the skill and industry of our brethren the saints, which they are not permitted to occupy.

Courts, State Legislatures, and State executives are deaf to us. When we speak, they cannot hear. When we ask justice, their faces are turned from us. True, when they do speak, their voice is for us. But it comes after the deed is done, or it is so faintly heard that the lawless do not think it earnest. The forms of law hold us as victims, and the power that is above law overwhelms us. Thus have two of our prophets died in the hands of public officers, and under the destroying protection of a State Governor, personally superintending the proceedings, and no one act of public indignation has rebuked the deed. By every form of .judicial proceeding known to the laws of the land, the perpetrators have been legally shielded from the punishment which the law itself denounces against such crimes.

The fact that our brethren are the owners of large tracts of land, purchased of the United States, and secured to us by the name and seat of the President, which they have never sold, and which they are not permitted to occupy, by the powers actually existing, and that our brethren have been banished and murdered, and their persecutors are unrebuked, and posi璽ively and legally screened from punishment, is as indelibly stamped on the history of the country as the declaration of independence, or the victory of Buena Vista.

We do not ask compensation in money or land for the blood of the dead, or the persecutions of the living. The lands we have been robbed of, we shall continue to claim for the banished, and for the widows and orphans that murders have made, till the day when the judgment of God shall be revealed on the nation, and his wrath no longer slumbers; and they shall go up and possess it, though the nation ceases.

But these things admonish us that we are not to expect peace or protection in the midst of the people who have done us this iniquity. Both by the commandment of God and from the necessity of our situation, we are seeking a home in a land where religious sects and political parties are far removed from us, a land uninhabited.

We have not been suffered to live with other men. Shall we not be permitted to live alone? God made the earth for all men. Of the vast all he has given us a few little islands. They are the work of his hands; not man's. Why should man sell God's work?

For nine years our communities have dwelt here in peace among themselves. The few small schisms which have arisen, have yielded to the ordinary course of discipline, and the wrong doers have either amended or departed from among us, doing us very little injury, except as they were abetted by public officers, religious boobies, the newspaper press, and bands of lawless men. Yet we are pursued from day to day with continual threatening. An effort is continually made to convince us that we are to have no rest forever.

Three times have we fled before our persecutors, because we would not repel injuries by force. We understand by the word of God that it is our duty to flee no further. We do not learn from the divine writings that it is our duty never to resist evil deeds. The time has come when forbearance is no longer a virtue.

While men around us have for years threatened us with fire and blood, and we only asked legal justice, they have been continually commended for the forbearance, and we continually menaced with invasions, expatiation and death.

We have ceased to take to ourselves any trouble about these matters. We have known for years what our persecutors seem so anxious to impress upon us, that, when the public vengeance is waked up the law will not protect us and that among an angry people innocence is no shield.

We do not expect Governor or President to protect us against mobs. We live in the continual assurance that any one of us might be murdered in a neighboring county, and not a magistrate could be induced to issue process against the murderer.

Yet we trust in God. We walk in conscious security. We laugh in bitter scorn at all these threats. And we tell these wolf hounds, marshal your myrmidons, and send them along, to make a spoil of beauty and booty, as soon as you please. We bid them a bloody welcome to hospitable graves; over which, each year, we will pile stones, with a muttered curse, against the day of the resurrection of damnation.

We will neither purchase temporary peace and future calamities by dishonorable trafficking with political jugglers, nor will we yield our homes to enemies. If we live, here will we live. If we die, here will we die, and here shall our bones be buried, expecting in the resurrection of the just to possess the land forever, and dwell with the righteous during the lifetime of the Eternal.

God judge between us and all men.
Saint James, June 1, � .

Monday, June 13, 2011

Covenants, Priesthood, and the Church Today

The very understanding of pre-existence and the spiritual creation of all things prior to their physical creation is one of the great gifts of the Restoration and was taught by both Prophets and Presidents of the Kingdom of God. Elder Samuel West wrote:

"The first chapter of Genesis tells of the spiritual creation. All living creatures must first be created spiritually. The second chapter tells of the physical creation. The fall of Adam and Eve brought mortality for all mankind. In mortality our spirit is joined to a physical body. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [his spirit]; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) After death our spirit is taken back to Jesus, judged, and then resides either with Abraham or with the spirits in prison (hell) until the resurrection. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecc. 12:7)"

As Joseph found in the Inspired Version of the Bible, Adam and Eve immediately began to call upon the name of the Lord and ushered in the series of dispensations and covenants that culminated in the promises renewed to us through the Prophet James and found real and close enough to merit the sacrifice of his life as did many others. The central covenant and event upon which all others turn is the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ that makes all things new, and the priesthood keys he restored to the earth as a Prophet and Lawgiver, gave to his Apostles, and sent by angels to the two Prophets and Lawgivers of the last days and carry the power to give the gifts and ordinances that open the Celestial Kingdom. As Peter, one of the souls who brought this Priesthood power back to earth in the last dispensation, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2PE 1:3-4)



The current scattered and broken condition of the remnant church on Earth seems to belie even the smallest glimmer of the "very great and precious promises". There are millions of people in the world who profess belief in the restoration of the gospel, the last days, and the sacrifice of Christ, but the gathering darkness of this time obscures the truth to many people. Indeed, God promised through Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 that many would fall away and, in fact that the wickedness of mankind would be so great that God would begin to give people the useless messages carried by false teachers and leaders that is the only thing they really want to hear.



"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; "



and



"And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. "


Despite this and other aspects of the disheartening condition of the Church and this creation in general, James reminded us that the Church is here, and will always be here as long as we keep our Priesthood, our organization as a communicating body of believers, and our truths on our lips and minds, and in our hearts. There is no reason to believe that the Church is going to look the way it did, act the way it did, and assume the form it assumed in the past. The fact is the Church is what we make it as believers who have been blessed with the ultimate truth of what Jesus did for us as God's son and the ability to open the door and show the way through it for us and those whom God has seen fit to reveal it. Receiving this revelation and the gifts and benefits of it is dependent upon how we kept our first estate with Him and what we do with our short time here. As James wrote:



"I state this last fact, however, only as one among other reasons for claiming the identity of the original Mormon church in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The true identity of a church consists in identity of doctrine, discipline and organization, and a regular (meaning lawful...TD) succession in the Priesthood and Superior Authorities" (Gospel Herald 28 October 1847)



And...



"But we cannot but see that the entire body of Saints on earth, with the true priesthood and authority of God are the church of God, however scattered and broken; and that it is the perogative of that priesthood to set in order and govern them" (Gospel Herald 30 October 1848)



These quotes have been used by some of our detractors to accuse us of departing from "The Church" but we should be comforted to know that wherever we are, there is the Church and there is no reason to assume that it will be like other churches or even our own church in the past. What it shall be will be revealed in God's time and eventually, as John the Revelator and Moroni stated,



'"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all
the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which
he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son,
Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he
shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is;
that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is
pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48 Utah)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Patience Please!

"They did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" Mosiah 24:15 LDS
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire" James 1:2-4

The Holy Scriptures counsel patience, and for good reason. While this is a topic worthy of its own book, there are three points I would like to make for the dispersed Saints....

A - God forbid that his punishments came to us as fast as his blessings! God is and long suffering - "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance 2PE 3:9. This demands of us a level of patience that takes this promise into account.

B - Patience is a fundamental part of the exercise of Agency - We may feel we have done all wae can do with a certain situation or person, but Agency demands that we think that it is important to the Agency of another that we stick with it until God sorts it out. Patience among the Saints is vital to the smooth functioning of Agency among us and our outreach to the world - "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" 1PE 3:15

C - Preparedness is the soul of Patience - Notice Peter said "be ready always". Sitting around and staring into space is usually equated with patience, but our patience is also to have the character of expectation, not passing time. Think of the servants and talents in Matthew 25. While the one talent slave's fate might seem unjust - after all he was not given as much as the other servants - God would have made that multiply many times had it been laid to HIS work, not matter how little it was or how long it took. We should all have the patient expectation of the Kingdom of God. In the name of Jesus Christ...Amen"

A Strangite View of the Economy - Daily Bread in Zion

As many here observe, we are living in a time of economic crisis and scarcity. While economists and politicians seek explanation for it in worldly terms or turn it to their advantage, we realize that, as always, it is the Evil One taking and giving of his own. Because, for the time being and as long as we permit Zion to be postponed by our own actions, he retains the ability to use and withold the treasures and resources of the earth from people in order to ensure their obedience or at least continued deception and blindness.

This is reflected by Jesus in the Lord's Prayer....it appears in the KJ Bible in Matthew 6, and Luke 11 in slightly different forms and a version was recorded in the Book of Mormon at 3 Nephi 13. I refer, however, to the version of the Lord's Prayer found in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, also at Matthew 6. Jesus provides valuable teaching about how to talk to the Lord wherein he counsels us to ask the Lord for three things. First, our daily bread - sufficiency in resources, no more or less - and second to forgive us our debts. These two requests should highlight for us much of Satan's source of control over God's children. Our agency is constricted and supressed by witholding from us the basics of survival that were (and will be again...) intended from the beginning to be freely available, which in turn leads us into debt and bondage to others for our very survival, restricting what little agency we would have left. In fact, the Greek word used for debt in the KJ version of Matthew 6 - "Ofeilema" - actually has as its primary meaning a monetary or business debt that is justly or legally due. So this is how Babylon and Mammon continue to exercise their leverage upon the people of God - withholding what God has freely given us and beggaring us into crawling to them for things that the Lord wants to put on our plate himself, things temporal and spiritual.

This situation should shed more light on the variant Inspired Translation of Matthew 6:13 which reads "and let us not BE LED into temptation....". In an age of restored scriptures, priesthood, ordinances, and prophets we DO have a choice and CAN exercise our free will in ways that hasten Zion and not hinder it. Much of what James Strang did, taught, and stood for concentrated upon creating conditions of justice, plenty, and peace. Indeed, the Much of Book of the Law of the Lord and his comments on it center upon how a society that guarantees and secures the kind of world where believers can pursue the Lord in peace and plenty. Did it have to be big - NO? In fact, Nephi himself prophesied in 1 Nephi 14:12 that:

"....I beheld the church of the Lamb of
God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and
abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless,
I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God,
were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions
upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness
of the great whore whom I saw."

Again, Babylon will ensure that not many will be blessed with seeing
and understanding things as they really are. Thanks be to God for all
the Prophets and Martyrs who gave so much to illustrate - at great cost -
how a just and righteous society works from God's point of view"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Small Things" - Nauvoo DC 21

" Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." (Utah DC 64:33, Nauvoo DC 21)

Utah DC 64 is a part of scripture that many of us are familiar with, as Elder Strang often referred to it while making a case for his appointment and ordination. This was one of the portends of great glory and majesty that was sadly not meant to last in this world. It is indeed true the Kingdom is in a diminished condition today and I think all of us are preoccupied with trying to follow the Prophet's last instructions for "every man to take care of his family and do the best he could until he found out what to do.”. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with this and by doing the "best" we can we are as much on the Lord's errand as if we were living Zion right now.

I have sensed some level of despair among the Saints and Elders as conditions in the world seem to deteriorate and it remains insensate to even the basic principles of the Gospel. This can - and has - led Saints throughout the last dispensation to mentally and spiritually flagellate themselves to a degree that the Good News becomes a tiresome burden as opposed to the words of life that they are; words of freedom, justice, brotherhood, and great joy. In the Book of Mormon, laid up for these last days, King Benjamin said...

"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." (Mosiah 4:27 Utah)

The Heavenly Father understands that human hearts and souls can only do what he desires when under the influence and control of his Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Ghost has given us the strength to run as fast as we can, but it does not ensure that the course we run to obtain the prize is going to be level and straight or that we will obtain it quickly. What is required of us to get it is wisdom, diligence, and order. The foundation of these qualities are study of the scriptures, the pursuit of personal revelation through worship and fasting, and attending to the needs of the weak, sick, and poor. This is the "well-doing" that, given our dispersed condition, is probably a small thing in the aggregate but also lays the foundation for the work of Christ - the salvation of our souls and redemption of Zion. In Jesus' name......