A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 1

Who is qualified to be a witness of Christ? I’m not a lawyer, but I have enough understanding to see the importance of having reliable, firsthand witnesses during a trial.

In a courtroom, “The rules [of evidence] ensure that credible evidence is presented and unnecessary or unreliable evidence is kept out of the courtroom. For example, the "hearsay rule" prevents a witness from relating second-hand information.” Ohio Bar

“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.” D&C 46:13-14

What is the difference between one who knows and one who believes? Does one have first-hand experience and the other second-hand information? Is the gift to believe on the words of those who know preliminary to obtaining my own knowledge? Having received the promise of eternal life, are these witnesses here to point me in the right direction? D&C 88:3-4 When someone claims to be a witness of Christ, what does this mean?

“And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.” 2 Nephi 11:2-3

Why did Nephi choose the words of Isaiah and Jacob to send forth unto his children? It looks like he’s building a case. What is he endeavoring to prove?

Perhaps, the witnesses Nephi chose are more credible, convincing, and dependable than others. They are like the brother of Jared who “had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him” Ether 3:19-20.

Who would be a more dependable witness? One who believes, has faith, and knows about the Savior of the world? Or one who is redeemed from the fall, has come into His presence, and knows Him personally? How about eyewitnesses who have been to heaven, seen it, heard it, and experienced it verses someone who only believes that Christ and heaven exist?

Even though believers have felt the swelling motions of a good seed, can they testify that they have knowledge of Christ? Alma 32:28-30 Have they partaken of the fruit of the tree of life? Alma 32:40-43, John 4:14 Are they qualified and chosen as witnesses? Revelation 17:14, D&C 121:34

Can I read about or hear the message of true eyewitnesses, feel a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that they speak the truth, and then claim to be a legitimate witness of Christ? Or do I recognize that I am still looking forward to the perfect day when I get to meet the Savior, become a witness of Him, and can honestly say that I know Him? D&C 50:24

What do authentic witnesses experience? How do they gain knowledge? Where are their testimonies recorded? Can I also be redeemed, converse with the Lord through the veil, and come back into His presence? Ether 3:13

To be continued . . .

Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 1
Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 2
Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 3
Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 4 Conclusion

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Family Hike

When the children found out that Mom and Dad were going on a hike last Thursday, they wanted to come along. After being cooped up all day in the house, it felt good to go outside and get some fresh air and exercise.

Even baby Emma came along. This was her first hiking experience in this mortality. Jennifer wore her MetroMamma wrap so that she could hold Emma close to her but still have her arms free. She wore a coat that was large enough to cover both of them. Emma loves being close to Mom, hearing her heart beat, and staying warm. I think being wrapped in the MetroMamma reminds her of being inside her mother not long ago – safe, tight, close, and warm. She slept during the entire hike and thoroughly enjoyed the outing. Lately, Mom has been walking, exercising, and hiking. It feels good to be getting back in shape after a long pregnancy.

We didn’t know where we were going; we just knew we were going on a hike. We ended up walking through the fields and along the upper canal. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. Melting snow created little streams of water that ran down the mountainside. The water collected in the canal. We did not anticipate or even think about what we would encounter during our hike. We would have known if we had thought about it. After all, what do you get when you mix water and dirt? That’s right, mud! It was sticky and gooey. And everyone experienced a lot of it.

Marianne had the mud-build-up-syndrome. Her boots collected so much sticky mud that she could hardly walk. On one occasion, she found herself stuck in the middle of a puddle, and she literally could not move. Dad called, “Hold on. Don’t move. I’m coming to help.” She couldn’t hold on, did move and squirm, kept trying to free herself, sunk deeper, lost balance, and SPLASH into the mud she went.

She had quite a scare and didn’t know what to do. She was relieved when Dad came to her rescue. He cleaned her up the best he could, and she was eager to continue hiking. A little mud wasn’t going to keep her from an adventure. We noticed that she, like many little children, just got up, wiped off, smiled, recognized assistance, showed appreciation, and moved forward with faith.

The little streams of water and ice that ran along the edge of the canal attracted the children like a magnet. It was hard to resist. It didn’t matter that the water was cold; they liked playing near it anyway. Joshua and Rachel walked and crawled on the melting ice that bordered the water. How close to the edge can you get before the ice breaks? Exciting, Isn’t it? Until you go in headfirst! But that doesn’t seem possible or even seriously accounted for until you find yourself sprawled out in a foot of cold muddy water with frozen moss between your teeth. It was amazing, that no one went in all the way! No one had to floss moss.

Joshua brought his prized calculator on the hike and guarded it safely in his sweatshirt pocket. As he was walking through the culvert and playing near the water, it somehow fell out of his pocket without him noticing. A little later, Joseph spotted it partially submerged in the water and alerted Joshua to the predicament. Joshua pulled the calculator out of the water. When he got home, he tried bringing it back to life by drying it near the fireplace. The calculator worked for a little while with strange output, but now it seems dead. Joshua was disappointed, and learned that family hikes might not be good for calculators.

Jonathan and Crystalynne wanted to be in the lead, so they ran far ahead of the group. They were proud of it until… they discovered the others were not following. The rest of the family got bogged down in mud, water, and ice. Even though it was a lot of fun, we decided it was time to turn around and head for home.

The canal takes a large horseshoe shaped path around a cluster of trees and a ravine. From one side of the horseshoe, Jonathan and Crystalynne could see the rest of the family heading for home. They decided to take a short cut and catch up to the rest of the group. They crossed the fence, slid down into the gully, trudged through the trees, bushes, and frozen swamp, and joined the family on the other side.

The family hike wasn’t quite long enough for Mom, so she decided to keep walking. Rachel walked with Mom to the end of the dirt road and back (approximately 2 miles). One or more of the children usually go with Jennifer on her daily walks. Uninterrupted one-on-one time with Mom doesn’t always happen at home, but they can often get Mom to themselves on a walk. Walking and talking go hand in hand, and you don’t even have to always be talking to enjoy each other’s company.

Jared decided to walk to the end of the dirt road with them because he needed to hitch a ride with Taylor to their basketball game. He didn’t say anything but acted a little nervous because they weren’t keeping a fast enough pace. Jennifer noticed his anxiety and told him to run ahead. He said he was okay with walking but told Mom that her brisk walk was comparable to his saunter. They laughed, and he ran ahead so he wouldn’t miss his ride.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hobo Dinner

On Wednesday night, the scouts put on the annual Blue and Gold Banquet. Families were invited to enjoy a night of food and fun with their boys. During the afternoon, the children looked for costumes and prepared their hobo packs.

The younger children usually choose the clothes they want to wear and often wear mismatched clothes. They are also very hard on their clothes and frequently have holes in the knees of their pants. Looking like a hobo comes naturally. It really shouldn’t have been that difficult to find tattered clothes, but they wanted to make sure they looked extra scruffy. They were excited to have a family activity night.

The scout theme for the month of February is “Resourcefulness”. Everyone was told to dress up as a Hobo, bring a tin can to eat out of, and a bucket to sit on. There would be a prize for the best-dressed hobo. Dad must have thought that meant he needed to dress better than normal. So he put on a pair of jeans without holes in the knees, an unstained shirt, and even combed his hair.

Hobo awards were given to hobo families at the end of the night. The children looked like a bunch of traveling Hobos. In spite of Dad, the Willis family still received a prize. Our award was a box of microwave popcorn. The funny thing is, we don’t even own a microwave! I guess we’ll have to take it to Grandma’s.

Before dinner, the cub scouts received awards and recognition. A few short skits were performed, and the scout leaders taught us about hobos. “A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond, especially one who is penniless. . . Unlike 'tramps', who work only when they are forced to, and 'bums', who do not work at all, 'hobos' are workers who wander.” “A vagabond is a drifter and an itinerant wanderer who roams wherever they please, following the whim of the moment.” Hobos and vagabonds tend to demonstrate resourcefulness. Their lifestyles fit right in with the February scouting theme.

Everyone was asked to bring an ingredient for the community “Hobo Soup” (vegetables, meat, soups, macaroni, etc.). It was all mixed together, and some spices were added. Scout leaders were resourceful in their own right and used the church kitchen to warm up the neighborhood hobo meal. It was actually quite tasty.

We ate out of tin cans, had seconds, and some even had thirds. Group resourcefulness even acquired ice cream and apple pie from a community donor. Maybe the scout budget was used to purchase dessert at a local grocery store. Not sure. Either way, the entire evening was enjoyable; the food was delicious, and the family came home with smiles on their faces.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ever Increasing Truth or Escalating Entropy?

God creates, builds, organizes, and overcomes entropy. He quickens, enlightens, and gives life. Satan opposes God’s order. He is evil, dark, and destructive. He encourages turmoil, confusion, and disorder. Satan promotes entropy; God conquers it.

“In thermodynamics, entropy is commonly associated with the amount of order, disorder, and/or chaos. . .

“Technically, entropy is defined as a thermodynamic property, which serves as a measure of how close a system is to equilibrium — that is, to perfect internal disorder. . .

“The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum. Thus, if entropy is associated with disorder and if the entropy of the universe is headed towards maximal entropy, then many are often puzzled as to the nature of the ‘ordering’ process and operation of evolution in relation to Clausius' most famous version of the second law, which states that the universe is headed towards maximal ‘disorder’. In the recent 2003 book SYNC – the Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order by Steven Strogatz, for example, we find Scientists have often been baffled by the existence of spontaneous order in the universe. The laws of thermodynamics seem to dictate the opposite, that nature should inexorably degenerate toward a state of greater disorder, greater entropy. Yet all around us we see magnificent structures—galaxies, cells, ecosystems, human beings—that have all somehow managed to assemble themselves.’ The common argument used to explain this is that, locally, entropy can be lowered by external action. Energy of all kinds in our material world disperses or spreads out if it is not hindered from doing so by some external source.” Wikipedia

I do not claim to be a scientist and find myself very limited in the understanding of thermodynamics. However, I can see a connection here. This is another evidence of ALL things are created and made to bear record of God Moses 6:63. God is a God of order. “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion" D&C 132:8. Entropy and God’s governing power are in constant opposition.

Most parents can understand the process of children turning a house of order into a house of disorder. Usually, if left to themselves without teaching and instruction, children will create chaos. We, as children, are constantly messing up God’s house.

He sits upon the throne and governs and executes all things D&C 88:40. He is more than an external action for “He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever” D&C 88:41. Without the presence of God’s governing power, influence, or light, a system is in equilibrium, or in other words, in perfect internal disorder.

God has a renewal effect upon all life. Through Him we may be sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of our bodies D&C 84:33. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of lifeJohn 8:12. He can “create in me a clean heart” and “renew a right spirit within me” Psalms 51:10. Those who wait upon the Lord shall have their strength renewed Isaiah 40:31.

God constructs, puts all of creation in order, and opposes entropy. God is the power, light, and love that hinders and overcomes universal entropy. The light, which proceeds forth from the presence of God, enlightens eyes, quickens understanding, gives life to all things, and is the law by which all things are governed D&C 88:11-13.

It is through the power and love of God that new energy comes. It is because of charity, the pure love of Christ Moroni 7:46-47, that we see all around us magnificent structures—galaxies, cells, ecosystems, and human beings. I reject the notion that creations and perfect order “have all somehow managed to assemble themselves.” It is the power of God that causes all the planets to move in their regular form Alma 30:44. God is the creator of this earth, the universe, and a whole lot more Mosiah 3:8, Abraham 1:31, D&C 128:23.

Satan, on the other hand, is not a creator. He endorses contention, commotion, and turmoil 3 Nephi 11:29. The Devil is an evil being of disorder and confusion. He promotes chaos and entropy. He tears down, destroys, and hates mankind. Lucifer is insistent, unrelenting, and merciless to his victims. He makes everything within his circle of influence colder, slower, and darker.

Our common enemy wants us to esteem God as naught and hearken not to the voice of his counsels 1 Nephi 19:7. He tries to hide heaven and obscure the true light from man. Having his victims in a dark environment lacking heavenly light and knowledge, Satan can more easily make saving truths appear strange Acts 17:20, unpopular, and despised 2 Chronicles 36:16. The devil whispers in our ears saying, “The words of God are mysterious, dangerous, and worthless. They should be avoided and rejected at all cost.”

Moroni cautions, “Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil” Moroni 7:14, Isaiah 5:20, D&C 121:16.

The devil needs this clever deception because most people don’t want to consciously reject God. Satan has his followers, but all of us mortals chose God and His plan in our first estate Abraham 3:24-28.

Satan needs something to lure victims into his choking trap Luke 8:14. He entices the children of men by offering them the things of this world. He does not disclose that these treasures are temporary 2 Nephi 28:21. Jesus provides the antidote, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” Matthew 6:19-20.

Our worldly treasures that we have hid up unto ourselves will slide between our fingers and simply slip away Helaman 13:35. The shelf life of Satan’s merchandise is very short. It only provides temporary pleasure, and death must surely follow Hebrews 11:25, 2 Nephi 9:39.

But God in his goodness “prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell” 2 Nephi 9:10. Without the infinite atonement of Christ, "corruption could not put on incorruption. . . flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more" 2 Nephi 9:7-8.

Life and salvation doesn’t just somehow happen all by itself. Alone, I cannot save myself or anyone else. It is beyond the boundaries and ability of men. Salvation is the mission of Jesus Christ, and “there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved” Alma 38:9. Without His intercessory and loving power, mankind would fade away, die, and rise no more.

Everything the devil offers to mankind will certainly deteriorate, decay, decompose, rot, crumble, and perish. Satan does not possess the power to offset entropy and decay. I am not aware of any value Satan has to offer us except perhaps opposition itself, which is needed to obtain knowledge of good and evil 2 Nephi 2:11.

The Devil is an enemy to God and seeks to control mankind Moroni 7:12. He is in direct opposition to God. Satan and his angels hide truth, extinguish light, and promote anything that causes disorder and chaos. The adversary oversees the digging of a dry pit that is void of “living water, springing up unto everlasting life” D&C 63:23, Luke 16:24. He does this that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell 1 Nephi 14:3.

That great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, does not teach the doctrine of Christ. It covers, conceals, and veils eternal truths of salvation 2 Nephi 28:8-11, 2 Nephi 32:1-6. Satan lures and convinces men to chase after false gods and forsake “the Lord, the fountain of living waters” Jeremiah 17:13.

On the other hand, God sends true messengers to restore truths, establish order, and bring back that which was lost. Prophets converse with God, restore law and order, and bring back eternal certainty. They also restore God given ordinances, which previously have been changed, modified, diminished, or discarded by men who have trusted in the arm of flesh. Messengers from the presence of God are continually at war with entropy, decay, and loss. They fight against evil and denounce Satan. Having firsthand experience with God, they are not deceived and worship the God of glory Moses 1:2, 11-22.

Satan uses the philosophies of men mingled with scripture to fool and mislead. “And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers” D&C 93:39. The natural man, who is an enemy to God Mosiah 3:19, continues losing everlasting truths and the true order of God. Prophets keep restoring truth.

There is a continual contest between good and evil. Satan entices and wins the hearts of mankind. He manages to extinguish light and truth and the prophets bring it back. In this telestial world, the level and intensity of light and truth is not stagnant. The presence and observance of heavenly truths among men continually ebb and flow. Truths from above are either increasing or decreasing here on earth.

One of the key undertakings of the prophet Joseph Smith (and all prophets of God throughout the history of the world) was to restore, re-establish, and teach timeless truths that were previously lost or abandoned. Great light and understanding was revealed from heaven through Joseph and much restoration occurred during his day.

But, has it been fully preserved? Or has it only been partially maintained and carelessly treated? Have we treated lightly the things we have received and through vanity and unbelief brought the whole church under condemnation? D&C 84:54-58 What have we lost?

Have any eternal truths of the restoration been forgotten? Did the prophet Joseph Smith teach any doctrines that have been discarded or forsaken? Have any of these restored truths been overlooked, unnoticed, unobserved, neglected, disregarded, deserted, misused, changed, altered, tainted, distorted, misrepresented, correlated, misplaced, lost, abandoned, ignored, cast off, or rejected?

Is the reservoir of revelation brimming, spilling over, and increasing in flow? Or is it quickly decreasing and nearly empty from the leakage of neglect? Is there a threat of having a bone-dry reservoir of revelation in the near future? Have we been living and observing the teachings of the restoration? Has any additional truth, light, or knowledge been restored from heaven since Joseph? If so, what is it? If not, why?

So, today, are we gaining or losing light and truth? Do we possess and live more or less of it? Are we closer to obtaining Zion? Or have we embraced Babylon? Is entropy taking its toll?

If we come to Christ, He overcomes entropy, reverses the process, and will bring again Zion 3 Nephi 16:18, D&C 84:100. It may be worth considering.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wolves in Sheep Attire, Part 2

True messengers of God stand at the mile markers and point confused and uninformed souls to Christ. On the other hand, Satan and his false priests stand in the middle of the road with detour signs that say, “Follow Me.”

If the adversary can succeed in separating us from God, he knows that he can control us Moses 4:4, Alma 12:11. He’ll feed us a lie so we won’t even make the attempt to come to God. He might tell us that we’re not good enough, or God doesn’t want to talk to a sinner like us. This is only a half truth. It’s true that we are lacking and are not good enough on our own. It is not true that God doesn’t want to talk to a sinner like us.

Far too many individuals fall for Satan’s clever deception, think and believe that God doesn’t want to talk to them, and give up on the journey to God. Christ invites all sinners to come to Him and be healed. He is willing and able to cover our sins and minister to us, even the vilest of sinners. Mosiah 28:3-4

In fact, Christ was criticized for spending time with the sinners. He is not full of the pious prejudice that the self-proclaimed righteous are. He said, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:30-32

The irony is we are all sick and defective. The arrogant, gloating Pharisees did not see that they were in desperate need of what Jesus had to offer Luke 18:9-14. It is the teachable sinner who is in preparation to hear the word of God. Alma 32:6 We fall into Satan’s great trap when we believe that we are too wicked to come to the only one who can heal us or too righteous to need Him. D&C 112:10, 13, 2 Nephi 25:13, 3 Nephi 17:7

Try as we will, there's nothing we can do to impress God. There's a common misconception that somehow we’re going to work our way back into His good graces, but it just isn’t so. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

By our works and by the law we are damned Galatians 2:16, 2 Nephi 2:5. But the good news is: His love and sacrifice are big enough to save you and me 2 Nephi 2:6-10. All he asks is for us to turn to Him and follow His voice Mark 8:34-38. He is completely motivated by love and seeks our happiness Moroni 7:45-47. Jesus wants to walk with us, but He will not force himself upon us Revelation 3:20-22. “When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.” TPJS pages 349-350

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Start where you are, turn, and come. God wants to talk to you. If you don’t know how to recognize His voice, ask Him to teach you. He will instruct you and speak to you in the way you can understand. “For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding”. 2 Nephi 31:3

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Moroni 10:4

What does it mean to pray with real intent?

Intent - Literally, having the mind strained or bent on an object; hence, fixed closely; sedulously applied; eager in pursuit of an object. . . the stretching of the mind towards an object; hence, a design; a purpose; intention. . .

When God gives me an answer, do I intend to obey Him? At times it’s been difficult for me to get a response, and I’ve become desperate. Not knowing what else to do, I’ve cried out, “I’ll do anything you say; just tell me what to do.” The answer comes, and it usually comes quite quickly, but many times it’s not what I expected.

Before accepting anything as true, it would be wise to ask God, the Eternal Father to manifest the truth of it unto you. “What greater witness can you have than from God?” D&C 6:22-23 True messengers will teach you this process.

God’s servants keep pointing you to the Source and will not accept any credit or honor for God’s word delivered through them Revelation 19:10, 1 Nephi 17:55. It’s because they know the message is what’s important, not them. They don’t see themselves as the Master, “for one is your Master, even Christ” Matthew 23:10. They also refuse the riches of this world as a reward for doing God’s work 2 Kings 5:15-27, Mosiah 18:26.

Servants of God are meek D&C 121:41-45, Galatians 5:22-26. They feel no need to force, coerce, or control others. It’s not God’s way. Men are free to choose 2 Nephi 10:23, 2 Nephi 2:27. Their responsibility is to deliver the message. This task is not always an easy one. They are often rejected, ridiculed, mocked, scorned, and put to death. 1 Nephi 7:14, Ether 11:2, Helaman 13:24

On the other hand, men practicing priestcrafts do not point others to Christ because the doctrine of Christ destroys their craft Alma 35:3, Moroni 7:15-17. Instead they teach false doctrines for the sake of riches and honor Alma 1:16. They “preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world” 2 Nephi 26:29.

These false priests would like to be the negotiator between God and man. They want to appear as God’s substitute and mislead others into thinking that salvation is theirs to offer or withhold. If it were possible, they would displace Christ as the keeper of the gate 2 Nephi 9:41.

Why do false priests find it alarming when people start going to God to find answers for themselves? Why do they hide the doctrine of Christ? 2 Nephi 32:1-6 Scorn and mock those seeking the path? 1 Nephi 8:26-27 Or discourage others from seeking and receiving the Second Comforter? John 14:23 What is their motivation?

Do they fear people who know the truth? Are they afraid of being discovered? Does it seem threatening to lose control of “their” flock? Is the truth going to release others from their clutches? John 8:31-32 It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to manipulate and control individuals who are connected with heaven. The doctrine of Christ unveils the false images of men and shatters the foundation upon which they’ve built their empire. Luke 12:3, D&C 1:3

False priests may use the name of God in vain to promote their own purposes. They claim that “the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men” 2 Nephi 28:5. If they can convince the children of men that they speak for God, there would be no reason for anyone to ask God directly and obtain a personal witness from heaven. With this belief firmly in place, the false priests can control the minds of others. They are now in a place of being worshipped and supported by the people. Alma 1:3

Why do we let them get away with such a thing? One reason might be that the children of men like to hear smooth things Isaiah 30:9-11. Be at ease in Zion; All is well 2 Nephi 28:24-25. Odds are you’ll be exalted. You’re going to be saved. You don’t need to fear nor tremble. Lift up you heads and rejoice Alma 1:4-6. We have a reservoir of revelation. We have enough. We don’t need any more 2 Nephi 28:29. Just be normal and do the ordinary things Exodus 19:5, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9. Trust us and be assured that we will never lead you astray. We will let you know if anything changes. Psalms 146:3

Samuel the Lamanite explains this perverse deception:

24 Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time.

25 And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.

26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.

27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.

29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light? Helaman 13:24-29

It’s an awesome undertaking to come to God. We have an individual responsibility to seek God and live His word. Many will continue to think it’s easier and more flattering to just trust in the arm of flesh 2 Nephi 28:31. Satan tries to hide the fact that when we choose to follow men instead of God we are qualified for nothing greater than the telestial kingdom D&C 76:98-103. But it doesn’t have to be this way. No matter where we’ve been, we can turn and face God. There is still time to repent. Alma 34:32, Alma 5:28

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” The Father knows how to lead His willing children. Luke 11:9-13

Wolves in Sheep Attire, Part 1

Monday, February 20, 2012

Corn Bread and Chili on a Cold Winter Day

It’s been a cozy, relaxing, peaceful Sunday.

On most mornings we wake up at 5:45 a.m., but this morning everyone slept in until 8:00 a.m. The rule in our home is: once one person gets up and makes sufficient noise, everyone gets up. On weekends the older children beg and sometimes even pay the younger children to stay in bed and be quiet. Even with all the bribes and begging, we rarely have a lazy morning. We enjoyed the extra sleep today.

One day we are having spring weather and the next day its winter. This morning, it took a little while for anyone to recognize that the ground was covered with snow. The children really enjoy shoveling snow. Jared, Joshua, Jonathan, and Marianne grabbed snow shovels and cleaned off the sidewalks before they even ate breakfast. After we plowed the driveway, there was a glaze of ice on the asphalt. Little Marianne was walking along pushing her plastic snow shovel and both feet went out from under her. Luckily she isn’t very tall and has plenty of padding.

Some of the children preferred sitting in the living room by the warm fire. We heat our home with wood and haven’t had to use the furnace all winter. We enjoy the kind of heat that comes from a fireplace. If you’re cold, go sit by the fire. If you’re too hot, go to a different room or downstairs. Every room has its own temperature. The warm blooded and cold blooded are both accommodated.

When the thermostat in the hall reaches 80 degrees, the temperature in the living room is probably 90+ degrees. At this point, many almost start chanting, “No more wood! Turn off the fireplace fan!” Sometimes we have even opened a few windows just to get some relief. Today, the fire just felt cozy.

This afternoon, the younger children went out to play in the snow. They had fun until they were almost frozen. When they came inside, they huddled around the fireplace while they “defrosted”.

We were planning to have chili and cornbread today but didn’t know it was going to snow. It turned out to be the perfect meal. This is another one of Sandra Sorensen’s recipes. We’ve made a few adaptations so we can use ingredients from our food storage. This is how we make it:


This is enough to fill a 12-quart stockpot. It’s a cheap and easy food storage recipe.

Soak 2 quarts of kidney beans overnight in 1 gallon of water. In the morning, drain, rinse, and put the beans in a 8-quart crock-pot. Cover the beans with fresh water and add 2 tablespoons of salt. If you’re eating chili for lunch set the crock-pot on high (4-5 hours). If you’re eating chili for dinner set the crock-pot on low (8 hours).

Brown 4 pounds of hamburger and drain off excess oil.

Add 1 quart of tomato juice, and 3 quarts of frozen tomato puree (thaw tomatoes overnight)

Add ½ tablespoon of salt, ½ tablespoon of pepper, 3 tablespoons of chili powder

Add 5-10 cloves of garlic (optional), 4 medium onions (You can puree the onions and garlic in the blender with some of the tomato puree. Or you can mince the garlic and chop the onions.)

Add the kidney beans (don’t drain the water)

When the chili is done, taste it. You can add more salt, pepper, and chili powder if needed.

Joseph said he likes everything in chili except the beans. He really likes the cornbread.

Marianne helped Rachel make bread. She loves to be involved. Being very independent, she demands, “Me do it by myself.” We made zucchini bread and cornbread today.

Our favorite cornbread recipe is the one shared by Beanie Lofthouse.


1 cup flour (white or whole wheat) – We use 100% whole wheat.

1 cup yellow cornmeal – We make our cornmeal out of popcorn.

¼ cup sugar – We use brown sugar.

4 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoons salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

¼ cup oil

Mix all of the ingredients and pour into a 9x9 greased pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick. We usually make a triple batch for our family.

For the last month we’ve held little Emma almost 24/7. She likes being held, and we’ve enjoyed accommodating her wishes. Our family is at the perfect age and stage to honor such a request. We have a lot of willing hands that want to hold a baby sister. We’ve never given this kind of attention to any of the other children when they were babies. We were just too busy. We started thinking that we might be creating an unrealistic expectation. Today was the first day Emma was content without being held. She sat in her seat while we prepared and ate dinner. She even fell asleep.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tree House Under Construction

One afternoon this last week, I got bombarded with questions from the boys. One shouted with excitement, “Dad, can I use a hammer?” Another cried, “I need a saw.” “By the way, do you have some nails?” “Oh, we need some boards too.” “Can you help us?” As others heard about the adventure, they joined in. Of course to be an official contractor, they each needed their own hammer, saw, tape measure, and a tool bag full of nails. That’s just how it has to be, ya know?

I soon discovered they were planning to build a tree house. They had the perfect tree all picked out and were so excited to get me involved and illicit my help. Showing me the tree, they described their dream. It really did sound great.

Over the next few days we talked, made some plans, and gathered the tools we would need for the project. Some of them used their savings to purchase a few new tools. Of course, there are usually plenty of nails and screws available in dad’s collection of stuff. We went up to our pile of scrap lumber and picked out some boards.

They were thrilled to have some supplies to work with. Joshua and Jonathan were the ones that came up with the idea. When Jared saw what they were doing, he was very eager to join in and take over. We had a little discussion about this, and peace was restored. Jared, Joshua, and Jonathan are very capable and things moved forward. They quickly finished their schoolwork, so they could spend the rest of the day working on the tree house. Even though Joseph wasn’t a big help, he still liked being with the boys.

After the project was well under way, Rachel and April asked for tools so they could help. Crystalynne and Marianne enjoyed just playing around the construction site. The children worked well together most of the time, but once in a while there was a disagreement between the boss and the foreman because nobody really knew who the boss was. They each had their own ideas about how it should work.

This has been their project. They were the designers and creators. Dad was just there to help. He reassured and complemented them on their good work. They called Dad the “saw man”. Children who were up in the tree would call down measurements. Dad would saw the boards according to their instructions and hand them up. They did the assembling and nailing. Once in a while they made an error and had to revise.

What a great team. At this point, their tree house has three levels, and there are steps connecting the different floors. Railings have been added in some places. The dream is coming together and everyone is having a blast!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wolves in Sheep Attire, Part 1

How can we tell the difference between a wolf and a sheep? When God sends prophets to teach and warn, can we distinguish between the genuine, bona fide, real McCoy and a wolf? If we’ll look back at our history, we’ll see that we can’t rely on family tradition, popular opinion, or priestly authority to steer us in the right direction. So what do we do? Hindsight is 20/20, but we need foresight.

“Today's heroes become tomorrows villains - just as today's fools become tomorrow's venerated examples. How we sort it out in our brief moment here is not necessarily how either the Lord or those in the future will do so.” DCS Let’s look at a few examples that illustrate this point:

#1 Christ was a God living among men, so why didn’t the Jews perceive it? Would I have recognized Christ as being legitimate? Would you?

Would we have judged Christ as an imposter? He came without credentials. He did not have church position or rank. The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders questioned, “Who gave thee this authority to do these things?” Mark 11:27-33 They didn’t give Christ authority, so why was He acting like he had authority? Didn’t they know they were talking to God?

Would we have thought Annas and Caiaphas were credible and authoritative? After all, they were the high priests and sat in Moses' seat Matt. 23:2. They were recognized and respected as leaders of the church. They were in charge.

Can leaders always be trusted? Why didn’t Christ displace them? Do you think God would let an unstable man be in charge? Wouldn’t God remove the president of the church in Jerusalem if he started leading people astray?

These leaders had a great public image and were given the chief seats in the synagogues. They were venerated and revered as great Rabbis Matt. 23:5-7 . But, behind closed doors, they weren’t very nice guys. Matt. 26:3-4

#2 Lehi was called to prophesy to the Jews at Jerusalem before they were destroyed and carried away captive into Babylon 1 Nephi 1:18-20. Instead of being grateful for the warning, the Jews tried to kill him. He had to flee for his life 1 Nephi 2:1-2.

On the other hand, Laban had rank and position. 1 Nephi 3:31 It looks like he might have even been one of the church leaders. He, at least, had a close connection with the elders and brethren of the church 1 Nephi 4:22, 24, 26-27. But wait, Laban was a robber and murderer 1 Nephi 3:25-26.

#3 Abinadi had no rank or status. He came in disguise to prophesy and call the people to repentance Mosiah 12:1. King Noah and his priests questioned Abinadi’s right to judge them Mosiah 11:27. They pretended to teach the people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying Mosiah 12:25, but instead they caused the people to commit great wickedness Mosiah 29:17-18. The priests sat in chief seats telling the people what they wanted to hear. They flattered the people with lying and vain words Mosiah 11:7, 11. They might have even conducted an opinion poll to find out what the people wanted to hear.

These false religious leaders killed a true prophet of God Mosiah 17:1. One man accepted and acted upon the message sent from God Mosiah 26:15-16, and he did so at the peril of his own life Mosiah 17:2-3.

Not all leaders are wolves. There are many great examples of true and valiant leaders: Moses, King Benjamin, Nephi, Captain Moroni, etc. But we can’t rely on leaders just because of their title, rank, or status.

Having first-hand experience with God is foundational to coming to a knowledge of the truth D&C 93:24, D&C 6:11. What does His voice sound like? What is He saying to me? Can I discern between His voice and all other voices?

Some people are so worried about being deceived they will only rely upon bona fide, credible men to tell them what to think and believe. But who’s to say those men can be trusted? What if it’s an influential wolf in sheep’s clothing? Can you tell the difference between a false message and a true message? If you don’t know the difference, who is going to tell you?

Fundamental to verifying Christian belief is the ability to distinguish between a true message and a false one. If you wonder what this means, just ask a Mormon convert! How does anybody explain to anybody how they know what they know.

The reason this concept isn't generally taught is because the speaker assumes his message is accurate and true.

Likewise, when someone does not know if they are hearing a true message or one delivered by a "wolf in sheep's clothing", the question needs to be asked, "How do I ever know?" It cannot be because of the religious traditions of our fathers Mosiah 1:5, or because this person or institution has delivered a true message before. It requires one's antennae to always be 'detecting' because "...they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men." 2 Nephi 28:14

The only one who can be unconditionally trusted is Christ.

The test is the same in all generations Mormon 9:9. God often sends messengers without credentials. The recipient usually has to decide between popular opinion and God’s message. We look back and see these true messengers as authentic, but most of the time, they weren’t viewed in that light by their contemporaries.

Christ knew there would be false prophets, and we would be faced with this dilemma. He gave a test by which we can evaluate all messengers and messages:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Matt. 7:15-20

So what are the fruits of true messengers? Where do these messengers come from? Who sent them? Where can I find them? How can I identify them? How do I know they are telling the truth?

To be continued . . .

Wolves in Sheep Attire, Part 2

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Second Comforter Hymn - In Ancient Days

The early saints sang and talked about receiving the second comforter. Joseph Smith boldly taught the importance of seeking the Lord’s face. This song was in the 1835, 1840, and 1844 Hymn Book.

In Ancient Days

1. In ancient days men feared the Lord,
And by their faith received his word,
Then God bestowed upon the meek,
The Priesthood of Melchizedek.

2. By help of this their faith increased,
Till they with God spoke face to face:
An Enoch, he would walk with God;
A Noah ride safe o'er the flood.

3. Abraham obtained great promises,
And Isaac he was also blest,
A Jacob could prevail with God;
The sea divide at Moses' rod.

4. The lion's mouth a Daniel closed,
The fire ne'er scorched his brethren's clothes,
But time would fail to mention all
The men of faith, I'll just name Paul.

5. Who did to the third heav'ns arise,
And view the wonders of the skies;
He saw and heard mysterious things.
Yet all by faith, and not by wings.

6. Such blessings to the human race,
Once more are tendered by God's grace;
The Priesthood is again restored,
For this let God be long adored.

7. Now we by faith, like Paul and John,
May see the Father and the Son,
And view eternal things above,
And taste the sweets of boundless love.

8. And if, like them, we hated be,
Deprived sometimes of liberty,
We will like them, this faith defend,
Whate'er our fate, unto the end.

9. O Lord assist thy feeble worms,
This resolution to perform,
And we thy sacred name will praise,
Throughout the remnant of our days.

A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints #76. 1835 Selected by Emma Smith

This hymn was also in the 1840 and 1844 Hymn Book

PDF of Sheet Music