Sunday, October 29, 2006

Stand Ye In Holy Places--Where?

Stand ye in holy places,
and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come;
for behold, it cometh quickly
D&C 87:8

What are those “holy places”? Surely they include the temple and its covenants faithfully kept. Surely they include a home where children are treasured and parents are respected. Surely the holy places include our posts of duty assigned by priesthood authority, including missions and callings faithfully fulfilled in branches, wards, and stakes.
Dallin H. Oaks, “Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign, May 2004, 7

When we visit the temple as often as distance and individual circumstance permit, the temple will be in us. Then, despite the buffetings of life, we will always be in a holy place.
Lance B. Wickman, “Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 82

There are so many ways to keep the shielding seventh commandment firmly in place. Instructively, for instance, David’s fall, at least in part, was facilitated because he was not where duty lay: “It came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, … David tarried still at Jerusalem” (2 Sam. 11:1). Then, as you know, came the lustful view from the roof and all the sadness that followed. Implicit, therefore, in the instruction “Stand ye in holy places” is to avoid indulgent tarrying.
Neal A. Maxwell, “The Seventh Commandment: A Shield,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 78

Those ‘holy places’ are our temples, stakes, wards, and homes.
“A Prophet of Certitude: Counsel from President Ezra Taft Benson,” Ensign, July 1994, 28

When an earthquake strikes, every person would be taken as he is then living—if at a movie, or a tavern, or in a drunken stupor, or whatever. But the true servants of God, who would be doing their duty, would be protected and preserved, if they would do as the Lord has counseled: to “stand ye in holy places, and be not moved,” when these days should come.
Harold B. Lee, “Watch, That Ye May Be Ready,” Ensign, Dec. 1971, 28

As we recall the commandment to stand in holy places, we should remember that beyond the temple, the most sacred and holy places in all the world should be our own dwelling places. Our homes should be committed and dedicated only to holy purposes. In our homes all of the security, the strengthening love, and the sympathetic understanding that we all so desperately need should be found.
James E. Faust, “Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord?” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 2

Holy places include any places where we are living righteously, prepared to see his face, and accept him. Holy places include any place where we are associating with righteous and wholesome people or where we are sharing the gospel and our love with those who need it. It would especially include our sincere presence in a temple room performing sacred ordinances, worshiping in a sacrament meeting, or at home with our families or friends doing righteous things.
John K. Carmack, “Stand Ye In Holy Places,” LDS Business College Devotional Lecture, Nov. 13, 1996

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Positive Church Coverage in the Local News

It might be surprising to some members of the Church to see how much local press coverage the LDS Church receives. As the Church continues to grow in small communities outside of Utah, hometown newspapers are covering an increasing number of local ward and stake activities.

The good news is that most local press coverage tends to be positive, but keep in mind the message of Alma 4:10: "the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress." Good news can leave neighbors with a positive impression about the Church and help with missionary work because it reflects the values members live by. Bad news can destroy credibility in the community.

If the Church is respected in the local community, the press will publish positive stories like the following from the past 24 hours:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Eisenhower on Terrorism

I don't think President Eisenhower had terrorism in mind when he gave is farewell speech in 1961, but the following paragraphs from his speech could be spoken in the context of our current conflict with jihadi extremism:

"Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad."

"Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle-with liberty at stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment."


Please don't take my post to mean we must support the President's current course in Iraq (in other words, I don't want critical comments on Bush). Rather, I'm making the point that the fight of free people against the tyranny of Muslim extremism is similar in some respects to the cold war fight against communism. Defeating terrorism may take decades of diligent and determined struggle. I believe that the real battle will be for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. If we can support moderate Muslims who also desire peace, just as the United States encouraged free-thinking peoples behind the iron curtain, we can win in time.

Of course, the best way to convince a person to support peace is for them to gain a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should pray that the Lord will open the Middle East to missionary work, and until that happens, we must do all we can to share the gospel with our friends and neighbors in free countries.

(To listen to Eisenhower's farewell speech, click here.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

YouTube, an Anti-Mormon Haven

The Internet is an amazing tool for sharing the gospel, preparing talks and lessons, doing family history, and so much more. But like all good things, Satan tries to counterfeit them or use them for his own purposes.

YouTube is a great video sharing site. You can post your own videos for others to watch, and it's free. Unfortunately, many anti-Mormons and others antagonistic to the Church are using it.
For example, if you search for the term "Mormon," many videos turn up that don't show the Church in a good light at best. This includes videos showing or making light of sacred things.

As members, we need to use the Internet for good. If people search YouTube for videos about Mormons, we need to make sure good videos are available. If you have a digital camcorder, make short videos and upload them. You can shoot videos of many things like these:

- Mutual activities
- Skits, plays, talent shows, road shows
- Church history sites
- Temples (exterior!) and visitor centers
- Family activities
- Dances
- "Funniest Home Video" type videos
- Sporting events involving Church members

I'm not advocating censorship, but a chorus of uplifting voices can drown out a few bad ones.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Favorite Movies (LDS-Friendly!)

If you're looking for a fun LDS-friendly movie to rent, I'd recommend these. The movies with asterisks are good enough to watch again and again.

All of the movies should be OK for teenagers and many for younger children, but you'll want to do more research before letting your kids watch if you're not sure. The movies are ordered alphabetically, and none are Rated-R. I listed my favorite Mormon movies separately.

If you have other favorites, please share!


LDS-ORIENTED

*The Best Two Years
The Other Side of Heaven
*Singles Ward

SCI-FI/FANTASY

*Back to the Future (all three)
*Independence Day (fabulous speech by the President)
Galaxy Quest
Hell Boy
*Lord of the Rings trilogy
Men in Black
Star Trek. My favorite in order:
- *The Wrath of Khan
- *Insurrection
- First Contact
- The Undiscovered Country (some of the best lines from any of the ST movies)
- The Voyage Home
*Star Wars (all six--my favorites: Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith)
X-Men (I and II -- haven't seen III yet)

ACTION/SUSPENSE/DRAMA

*Apollo 13
*Big Trouble in Little China
Cast Away
*First Knight
Forrest Gump
The Fugitive
*Hunt for Red October
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Man in the Iron Mask
Minority Report
*Mission Impossible
*National Treasure
Ocean's Eleven
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (haven't seen the next one yet)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rudy
School Ties
Sneakers
Swing Kids
Signs
The Sixth Sense
Superman
The Village

FAMILY

Beauty and the Beast
*The Emperor's New Groove
Freaky Friday (the remake with Jamie Lee Curtis)
Harry Potter (all of them)
The Lion King
The Little Mermaid
*A Little Princess
*Mulan
Remember the Titans
Toy Story (both)

COMEDY

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Black Sheep
*A Christmas Story
Dave
Legally Blonde
*Maverick
*Napolean Dynamite
*National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
*The Princess Bride (great lines)
*The Private Eyes (one of my favorites)
Rush Hour
*The Scarlet Pimpernel (hilarious)
*Shanghai Noon
Tommy Boy
Zoolander

OLDIES BUT DEFINITELY GOODIES

*Casablanca (so that's where all the Bugs Bunny lines come from!)
North by Northwest
*Rear Window (exciting!)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Does the Gospel Require We Use Renewable Energy?

I'm very conservative on many issues (e.g., low taxes and sanctity of life), but I prioritize one issue much higher than my fellow Republicans often do: Care for the environment. It frustrates me that we don't have a national goal to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil by developing renewable sources of energy (see what Scotland is doing, for example). To me, the most important reason for this goal is that it would dramatically reduce pollution. Of course, there are other reasons such as the importance of not sending our money to the Middle East, but that's for another discussion.

I think that the Gospel would require us to make every effort to use our stewardship--this earth--wisely and to not waste its resources or pollute it. I don't think we'll find much to support this in statements from Church leaders, but take a look at these Ensign articles:
However, I have found some quotes:
  • "The leaders of the Church continually cry out against that which is intolerable in the sight of the Lord: against pollution of mind and body and our surroundings...." (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Lord Expects Righteousness,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 4)
  • "We recommend to all people that there be no undue pollution, that the land be taken care of and kept clean to be productive and to be beautiful...." (Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?” Ensign, May 1975, 4)
A related issue is global warming, but I'm tired of how political the discussion of global warming has become. Besides, whether global warming is happening or not, it seems clear to me that we need to pollute less and conserve more. Using renewable energies, both for generating electricity and for powering vehicles, is the way to do this.

So, does the Lord expect us to all be tree huggers? To a degree yes though not to excess. The Lord gave us this earth to use, but we must use it wisely and with gratitude as righteous stewards.

Submit to Sustain'd

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sharing the Book of Mormon: A Cheat Sheet

As the Ward Mission Leader, I'm trying to be a better example of member missionary work. While talking with a neighbor recently, I offered her the Book of Mormon, and she graciously accepted it. I didn't have a copy with me, but it worked out because I wanted to give her a list of verses with the book. Here's the scripture list I came up with. I'd love to see what other verses you recommend.

Overview of the Book of Mormon and Its Origin
The Title Page
Introduction
The Testimony of Three Witnesses
The Testimony of Eight Witnesses
Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

What Mormons Believe
2 Nephi 2:25 (page 59). God wants us to be happy.
2 Nephi 2:27 (page 59). We are free to choose good or evil.
2 Nephi 31:20 (page 115). If we follow Christ, and love him and all men, we can have eternal life.
Jacob 2:18-19 (page 121). We should seek for Christ before riches.
Mosiah 2:17 (page 148). When we serve others, we serve God.
Alma 36:3 (page 298). Trust in God, and he will support us in our trials.
Alma 41:10 (page 310). Wickedness doesn't bring real happiness.
Helaman 5:12 (page 378). We should build our foundation on Jesus Christ, the rock.
3 Nephi 27:27 (page 460). Christ is our example.
Ether 12:6 (page 509). What is faith?
Moroni 7:47-48 (page 524). We should pray to be filled with the pure love of Christ.
Moroni 10:4-5 (page 529). Pray for guidance, and the Holy Ghost will lead us to truth.

Good Book of Mormon Stories
1 Nephi 1-4 (page 1). The prophet Lehi and his family leave Jerusalem.
Mosiah 17-18 (page 179). Alma believes the prophet Abinadi.
Alma 8 (page 226). The prophet Alma preaches, is rejected, and meets an angel.
3 Nephi 11-26 (page 427). Jesus Christ visits the American continent after his resurrection.
Moroni 10 (page 529). Moroni, the last Nephite, buries the records.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Two missionaries find bag with $1,200 in cash

Little did these Elders know when they started the week that their missionary efforts would catch the attention of the entire town of Albuquerque, NM. Honesty pays a bigger reward than the sacrifice costs. I'm certain that $1200 wouldn't cover the amount of press they've received. Click here to read more:

http://www.abqtrib.com/...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Melchizedek: A Type of Jesus Christ

The purpose of The Book of Mormon is "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL God, manifesting himself unto all nations" (Title Page). The Book of Mormon is full of symbols of Jesus Christ and his mission. The prophets, the stories (including the wars), and the tribulations of the people all point us to Jesus Christ. See, for example, Alma 13:16:

"Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord."

One example of this symbolism is the prophet Melquizedek. He is a type of the Savior. Look at how he is described in Alma 13:

Alma 13:15

And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed.
  • Just as Abraham paid his tithes to Melchizedek, the tithing we give to the bishop is really being paid to the Lord. We are returning to Him a small portion of all that he has given us. (D&C 119:3-4)

Alma 13:17

Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem;
and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;
  • Because of the Fall, all mankind is wicked and has gone astray. (Romans 3:23)

Alma 13:18

But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith,
and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God,
  • It is the priesthood of Jesus Christ. (D&C 107:3)
did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent;
  • Many have repented because of his call. (D&C 58:42)
and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days;
  • “In his days,” Christ taught the gospel of peace and atoned for our sins that we might all find peace. Through repentance, many have found peace. (John 14:27; Romans 10:15)
therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem;
  • Salem, later known as Jerusalem, is Hebrew for 'peaceful' or 'peaceable,' also 'perfect' or 'perfected.' Not only is 'King of Salem' a parallel of 'Prince of Peace.' It also reminds us that we should seek Christ to find peace and perfection.
and he did reign under his father.
  • Jesus Christ is our king but reigns under God, the Father. According to Luke, he also reigns under his father David. (Luke 1:32-33)

Alma 13:19
Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards,
  • Jesus Christ came during the meridian of time following many generations of great prophets and followed by many more. (D&C 20:26)
but none were greater;
  • Jesus did more for the salvation of men than anyone who ever lived on the earth. (D&C 135:3)
therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.
  • All prophets have written of Jesus Christ, have preached of Christ, have taught of Christ because he is the author of our salvation. (2 Ne. 11:4; 2 Ne. 25:26; Jacob 7:11)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"We must not think evil of this man"

In a time of hatred, war, and great upheaval, it's touching to see this beam of gospel light shining brightly. The grandfather of one of the slain Amish girls took the opportunity during this horrible trial to teach other children to love and forgive their enemy. If the world would accept and practice this principle, we would enjoy the peace the Nephites and Lamanites experienced at the end of Helaman 5 after the gospel was preached among the Lamanites.

To read more, follow this link:

(WARNING: CNN may display a Victoria Secret ad on the right side of the screen)

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/10/04/amish.shooting/

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Easy Member Missionary Activity

"Creating a Personal Referral Pool" is an easy and non-threatening activity to help members do missionary work. Our new mission president shared this in a stake meeting with ward mission leaders (including me) and bishops. This can be done in in a Family Home Evening or Sunday School lesson or in a ward, quorum, or organization activity. Ward missionaries could share this with ward members in their homes. Missionaries could present this to members who feed them.

It involves four steps:

1. Make a list of everyone you know who you'd like to share the gospel with.
2. Take a week to fast and pray to determine a best approach for each.
3. Place each name in one of the following categories:
  1. I want to personally prepare and invite this person to hear the message
  2. I want to talk to this person and invite them to our home with the missionaries
  3. I want the missionaries to call on this person, use my name and invite them to hear the message at our home if interested
  4. I want the missionaries to call on this person without using my name
4. Share this "referral" list with the missionaries.

This is a completely non-threatening way to involve the members in missionary work. For members who are not ready to invite someone to learn about the gospel, they can leave it to the missionaries (category 'd'). If they're not ready for the Elders to reach out to their friends, they can choose to personally prepare their friends (category 'a') through continued friendship and example. Those members who feel inspired and courageous can invite their friends to meet with the missionaries (category 'b') or have the missionaries contact their friends using their name (category 'c').

If you try this, please post a comment and let me know how it turned out.