Monday, September 19, 2016

Fellowship Meeting October 15th, 2016

Assuming there are no snow impediments, there will be a gathering at the Mt. Pinos picnic area (at the top of the road up the mountain; by the big parking lot and ski lodge; can't miss it) in California on Saturday, October 15th, 2016, at about 3pm.  There is no set format, and there are no set speakers.  If you feel inspired to bring anything, please do.  Sacrament will be served.

If you come early, you might join Tim Malone in a hike to the peak area.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Not Much Else to Say

I'm going to pretend this is my last blog post.

Wish to have peace of conscience?

D&C 1:32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven[.]

Wish to have confidence before God, and your prayers answered?

1 John 3
 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Seek out the commandments in the scriptures, and for understanding through mighty prayer and, above all, acting on the Lord's requests rather than simply reading them.  Rather than substituting your own judgement for the Lord's commandments by appealing to "what works," instead obey the commandments of the Lord with exactness.  Remember - he doesn't receive what he hasn't appointed.  His ways are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts.  What we think "works" doesn't serve the same purpose as what the Lord has commanded.  Substituting their own judgements for the Lord's commandments is how men go, and lead, astray.

The Lord said that if any man loves him he will keep the Lord's commandments, and that if he doesn't keep the Lord's commandments, he doesn't love the Lord.  Through diligence and exactness in keeping the Lord's commandments we can become Zion, the pure in heart, of one heart and one mind.  And if we are to be one, there can be nothing withheld between us.  Loving our neighbor as ourselves means that if we would do a thing for ourselves, we had ought to do it also for our neighbor.

If you lack love, and desire it, call upon God with all the energy of heart to be filled with his love.  Pursue this prayer whilst keeping the commandments until he answers you.

And, lastly, who's worth listening to?  I look for three things: are they teaching the commandments?  Are they keeping them?  Are they contentious / combative?

Alma 13:1, 6
1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people [-] And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest[...]

Mosiah 23:14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.

3 Nephi 11:29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Always err on the side of mercy.  The same standards we judge others by shall be applied to us.

We have the commandments before us in the Bible (most importantly, the Sermon on the Mount / Plain) and in the Book of Mormon (Sermon at Bountiful).  It is through keeping these commandments exactly as they were delivered by the Lord to his people that we may become priests unto God, having association with angels.  Isaiah 58 is also of note, containing more commandments and promised blessings.  The Lord, after all, changes not, and his law has always been the same.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 ¶Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

That's all there ever was to it.  And his commandments may be summed up: all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Lay Not Up Treasures Upon Earth

3 Nephi 12:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.

This does not mean "give to the poor." This means "give to him that asketh thee," or, as rendered in Luke 6:30, "give to every man that asketh of thee." It does not mean to give only the deserving, it does not mean to give to just some, it does not mean to give to most, but instead it means to give to all who ask.

This, on the other hand, means give to the poor.

3 Nephi 13
1 Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

2 Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;

4 That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

So both are commanded: giving to all who ask, as well as giving to beggars, who may not ask you directly, let's say, but might be holding up a sign or something.

The reason why people do not keep the first commandment, to give to every man that asks, is because they have their security, their trust, in their substance, and not in God. These have received their comforter.

The reason why people do not keep the second commandment, to do alms unto the poor, is the same, and also coupled with a judgement against the beggar in his petition, which judgement is performed that they may withhold their substance and appear justified (for example, "He has made poor life choices to bring him to his current state, such as indulging in drink or drugs or other investments I disapprove of, or shall sin with my substance by so indulging, so I should withhold lest I injure him through giving him what he asks for. It's for his own good!"). As Benjamin says, those who perform this judgement have no interest in the kingdom of God, and if they do not repent shall perish forever with their substance.

But to those who hear his words, Christ says this.

3 Nephi 13
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Treasures upon earth are precisely those things that can be corrupted or stolen. Anything made out of the substance of this world qualifies. Even digits in a bank account.

Why does laying up treasures for oneself upon earth break the law of God?

By definition when you lay up treasures for yourself upon earth, you are withholding your treasures from others, therefore you do not love, and are not loving, others as yourself.

No retirement funds, no savings bonds, no Roth IRAs, no 401Ks, no nothing. Our confidence, trust, and faith must be in God, and not in the perishable substance of this world, neither in men, or we shall perish with them.

I have written a short explanatory essay on the concept of private property on my secondary blog, where I treat things that I find interesting. Be warned: as those who know me in real life may attest, I deploy vulgar language to make my points, and I am not a fan of modern political ideologies. If you can tolerate four-letter words and vulgar references to bodily functions, then read on: Private Property.

I love that man better who swears [curses, uses vulgarity] a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite. - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 303

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Musings on the Law

The law: whatever you wish others would do to you, do to others.

Alternatively: if you would do a thing for yourself, you ought to do it for others. If you would not do a thing to yourself, you ought not do it to others.

In other words, treat others exactly as if they were you.

The meaning of the law: they are you.

Maybe younger, maybe older. Maybe lighter, maybe darker. Maybe smarter, maybe stupider. Maybe wiser, maybe more foolish. Maybe consecrated, maybe desecrated. Maybe male, maybe female. Maybe secure, maybe insecure. Maybe confident, maybe fearful. Maybe rich, maybe poor. They are all you. Just at different developmental stages.

Passing through experiences in abuse and power and fear, just as you are. Learning who and what they are, just as you are. Learning what they like and dislike and inflicting or absorbing the same, providing the same lessons to others, just as you are. Enabled for themselves by experience to discern between good and evil, having the gift of choosing according to their own wills to associate with you or to depart from you.

Not everyone wants to be you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Rule of Interpretation

What is the rule of interpretation? Just no interpretation at all. Understand it precisely as it reads. - Joseph Smith, TPJS 276

In the last post, I noted that current science, if correct, vindicates the literal text of D&C 89 - "hot drinks are not for the body or belly," with the operational word being "hot," which is a word denoting having a high temperature - just exactly that simple.

But even if the science turns out to be incorrect, the interpretive issue remains, for me, settled, leading to the following question: why did I ever listen to anyone tell me what the scriptures mean? Well, once upon a time, I did not have experience and trusted people I thought were trustworthy on topics I knew nothing about. A natural, developmental mistake.

Now, I recognize that the difficulty in understanding scripture comes from lack of experience in the things the scriptures speak of. When we attach meaning to words without understanding, we may well not be speaking of what the scriptures are speaking of when we use the words - indeed, it seems to me this is almost inevitably the case. For example, to those who have not been baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, the phrase "baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost" communicates no real meaning. It becomes an abstract symbol, relating in unknown ways to other concepts. When we assert meanings, and then interpret other things by those asserted meanings, well, our readings are only as true to God's word and intended meanings as our assumptions are.

Better to not pretend to knowledge - direct experience - one doesn't have. The path to experience is calling upon the name of the Lord in mighty prayer, even until one has faith in Christ, and from thence keeping his commandments, praying always. The promise is if we do this, we will always have his spirit to be with us, and will therefore be able to comprehend the things of God.

A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity--thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. - Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 137

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hot Drinks Seems to Mean Hot Drinks; Who'da Thunk It?

An interesting article which, if true, vindicates the literal text of D&C 89, commonly called "The Word of Wisdom," on the subject of "hot drinks," but does not vindicate the interpretation that is taught in its stead in the Church, nor the sources of that interpretation.

Very Hot Drinks Are 'Probably Carcinogenic'

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Narrative Doesn't Matter

Please notice the primary complaint Jesus had against the Scribes, Pharisees, Priests, and Levites, was not that they lacked "priesthood" or "keys" or "authority." We don't see him bringing up the subject in the scriptures, neither does it seem he instructed his disciples to challenge their authority. This is what he did say.

JST Matthew 5
21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

22 For I say unto you, except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Joseph taught that to be righteous meant to be just and merciful. To be just means doing what has been asked of one, or what one has agreed to do. To be merciful means to have no malice even towards one's enemies, but to be of a mind to let them go even when they are in your power after their having come upon you, and perhaps blessing them in the bargain. Joseph also taught that becoming righteous comes about by obedience to God's commandments. The Scribes and Pharisees were not keeping the law and commndments, and lacked mercy.

JST Matthew 7
1 Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people.

2 Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

3 For with what judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

4 And again, ye shall say unto them, Why is it that thou beholdest the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

5 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and canst not behold a beam in thine own eye?

6 And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the Scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.

7 Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?

8 Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

A hypocrite is an actor, one who pretends to be what he is not.

Notice Jesus did not instruct the disciples to challenge the authority of the Scribes, Pharisees, Priests, and Levites. The subjects of "priesthood" and "keys" and "authority" seem not to have been a consideration - even though by this time John, the Baptist, had "wrested the keys" and "overthrown the kingdom of the Jews." Jesus's complaint was that the teachers were not observing to keep the law nor the commandments. We know already they had long perverted the ways of the Lord, as John had come to make straight his paths, therefore whatever they were teaching was contrary to the law and the commandments. In other words, the situation of the teachers of the Jews was similar in most respects to that of the priests of King Noah to whom Abinadi was sent.

Remember also that Jesus never did get formally excommunicated - put out of the synagogue. Anyone can get themselves tossed - and several have gotten themselves tossed - by asserting the leadership lacks priesthood, authority, keys, or whatever, and that the historical narrative which buttresses their claims is false. Here's what Jesus said to do instead.

9 Go ye into the world, saying unto all, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto you.

10 And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.

The dogs, in this context, are those who do not recognize the Lord's voice in the words of his servants, who start barking where the law and commandments contradict the teachings of the leadership, preferring the leadership's teachings. The swine are the contentious who argue every little point and accuse.

11 For the world cannot receive that which ye yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you.

The pearls, or mysteries, being revelations of the operations of God's kingdom, apparently - those things Jesus taught in parables to hide them from the unbelievers.

12 Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

13 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

Teach them that God answers prayers. Sometimes, we must weary him (Luke 18:1-6).

14 And then said his disciples unto him, they will say unto us, We ourselves are righteous, and need not that any man should teach us. God, we know, heard Moses and some of the prophets; but us he will not hear.

15 And they will say, We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us.

16 Then Jesus answered, and said unto his disciples, thus shall ye say unto them,

17 What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?

18 Or what man is there among you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone?

19 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

20 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

God will answer the sincere seeker.

21 Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Every last thing you wish people would do to you, do to others. This is the meaning of the law, and of the teachings of the prophets. This short, simple explanation of the entirety of the law of God cuts through all the accretions of men, the claptrap and clutter surrounding the law and the commandments.

As an aside, you can't escape the requirements of this, the Golden Rule, by appealing to the so-called "Greatest Commandments." If you love your neighbor as yourself, then if you would do a thing for yourself, you had ought to do it for your neighbor. Let that thought sink in.

22 Repent, therefore, and enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat.

23 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The strait gate is repentance and baptism by water, after which cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. The narrow way that leadeth unto life is this, the Sermon on the Mount / Plain / Bountiful. Few find it because they fear the obvious consequences in this world of obedience to Jesus's sayings and commandments, therefore they disbelieve him and do not obey, and they teach others to disobey, saying things like "you're a simplistic fool if you give to everyone who asks you to!"

Hence this: "Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven."

The purpose of a priest is to teach the law and the commandments, remembering they are not his, but his who sent him.

24 And, again, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

25 Ye shall know them by their fruits; for do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

26 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

27 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

28 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

29 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Very simply: do they keep the commandments and teach them, building up others, or do they instead break them and contend, seeking to aggrandize themselves?

30 Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

31 For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works.

32 And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works?

33 And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity.

Those who actually keep the commandments will know him; those who say and do not will not.

34 Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock, and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.

35 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.

If you hear these sayings of his - the Sermon on the Mount / Plain / Bountiful - and do them, you will be founded upon a rock. If you hear these sayings of his and don't do them, you will fall.

36 And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings with his disciples, the people were astonished at his doctrine;

37 For he taught them as one having authority from God, and not as having authority from the Scribes.

Jesus seems not to care so much what we believe so long as we believe on - have full faith and trust in - him and keep his commandments. The rest is taught directly from heaven.