Saturday, March 26, 2016

Nothing Varying

3 Nephi 19:7-8
7 And the disciples did pray unto the Father also in the name of Jesus. And it came to pass that they arose and ministered unto the people.
8 And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken--nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken--behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.
In Judaea, the disciples of the Lord also repeated his teachings in their missionary outreach, whose directions we find in JST Matthew, chapters 5 through 7 inclusive.

We find that these things are also what the Church is supposed to be teaching (D&C 42:12-13, D&C 52:9).

They aren't.[1]

Are you?

[1] Notice that Luke 6:30 - "Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again." - which are actual commandments of the Lord - has not been taught by any Church leader within the scope of LDS.ORG's search function, and remember that keeping all the commandments of Christ is necessary to be exalted.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Is Profit Evil?

If you profit off of an exchange with someone, it means, by definition, you take more money from the other party than your offer was worth in your own eyes.  That is what it means to get gain, scripturally - to profit off of exchanges.

Do you wish for others to take more money from you in exchanges than what they're offering is worth to themselves?[1]

What, then, does the Golden Rule imply about profit?[2]

And for those to whom the Golden Rule remains a mystery, do you love your neighbor as yourself when you see to his needs by exchange, and take more money from him in the exchange than the offer was worth in your eyes?  Do you act that way in seeing to your own needs, or do you simply see to your needs freely?  How then do you love your neighbor as yourself if you do not do likewise to him?

If you have some other standard of good and evil, what is it that permits you to claim yourself justified before God for making merchandise of your neighbor's needs, and taking more money from him than the value of what you give him?[3]

[1] Of course not.  That's why you shop around to find a lower price, and even then aren't happy with the price you get.  And that's also why you try to make a profit in the first place - you don't want to break even, and you don't want to come out behind.

[2] Profit breaks the Golden Rule.

[3] 2 Nephi 15:20 Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

And "Love Your Enemies?"

Having just covered what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves, why not look at what it means to love our enemies?  Notice how much of the Sermon on the Mount / Plain / Bountiful is addressing that precise topic, and where the Golden Rule appears.
JST Luke 6:20-49
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are the poor; for theirs is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are they who hunger now; for they shall be filled. Blessed are they who weep now; for they shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from among them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward shall be great in heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you who are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you who laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27 But I say unto you who hear my words, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you.
28 Bless them who curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.
29 And unto him who smiteth thee on the cheek, offer also the other; or, in other words, it is better to offer the other, than to revile again. And him who taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 For it is better that thou suffer thine enemy to take these things, than to contend with him. Verily I say unto you, Your heavenly Father who seeth in secret, shall bring that wicked one into judgment.
31 Therefore give to every man who asketh of thee; and of him who taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.
32 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
33 For if ye love them only who love you, what reward have you? For sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what reward have you? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40 A disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote which is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam which is in thine own eye?
42 Again, how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote which is in thy brother's eye.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit;
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good. And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46 And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like.
48 He is like a man who built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he who heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Did he say it? Did he mean it? Do you believe him? Then what are you waiting for?

What Do *You* Mean by "Love Thy Neighbor?"

JST Luke 10:26-38
26 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
27 He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou?
28 And he answering, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.
29 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.
30 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, and who is my neighbor?
31 And Jesus answering, said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
32 And by chance, there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side of the way.
33 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked upon him, and passed by on the other side of the way; for they desired in their hearts that it might not be known that they had seen him.
34 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.
35 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
36 And on the morrow, when he departed, he took money, and gave to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
37 Who now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him who fell among the thieves?
38 And he said, He who showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do likewise.
"And thy neighbor as thyself."

What does it mean to love thy neighbor as thyself?

Does it not mean to regard your neighbor as equal to yourself?

If you are hungry, do you not feed yourself freely?

If you are naked, do you not clothe yourself freely?

In fine, does it not mean to succor your neighbor in his needs and wants even as you would yourself?

Or, in other words: "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."

If that is not what it means to love your neighbor as yourself, then whatever could it possibly mean?

And does not "love thy neighbor as thyself" bespeak perfect temporal equality?  How can that be done without having all things common, such that no man calls anything his own?

Which brings me to another interesting thing to think on - in Zion, we will be of one heart and of one mind.  Which heart and which mind will that be?  To me, this has an obvious answer - the heart and mind of God, to feel the way he does, and to think the way he does; thus we will be agreed in all things as one.

So how does one get from tithing fellowships to the foundation of Zion?  I don't see a clear way.  Tithing fellowships are not founded upon the principle of Zion - which principle is "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."  Tithing fellowships are more or less social experiments in localized charitable giving.  It is to be understood that, for the most part, the giving is to the limit of the giver's personal feelings of security in his possessions, that which he considers his own.  That is, the giving is limited by covetousness, and fear - which is the power of the devil.  And that's why I see no clear path to Zion from tithing fellowships.  It doesn't touch the principle at issue, which is having all things common, thus truly loving our neighbor as ourselves.

What would be needed is a people who keep all the commandments of Christ, or, in sum, who keep the principle of Zion.  Who have no fear of the temporal consequences to themselves of keeping this principle, from which spring all the commandments.  Who will equalize themselves with their neighbors, truly loving their neighbors as themselves.  Who will not withhold from their neighbors, whom they regard even as themselves.
D&C 104:13-18
13 For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.
14 I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.
15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.
16 But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.
17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.
And, again, the law of the gospel is: "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."

Again, it's not confusion over what has been asked that's stopping Zion.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How to Get Rich

Wanna get rich?

One way to get rich is to find an underserved market with lots of spending power and an identifiable unfulfilled need and then fulfill that need.

What if I were to tell you there exists an easily identified underserved market with lots of spending power and an identifiable unfulfilled need?

The market is our God and his Christ.  That they are underserved can be readily seen by observing the entire world around us, and, sometimes, by taking an account of our own activities.  That they have lots of spending power can be seen by the fact that all things are theirs, except the souls of men.  The unfulfilled need they have is the willing hearts, minds, and hands of the children of men in keeping their commandments, thus serving them.

There are many competitors clamoring for their business, but they're not giving God and Christ the product they've requested.  Hell, God and Christ couldn't have made it easier - they gave precise instructions for making the product, but none of the wanna-be manufacturers are willing to spend what it would take to construct the items to their exacting specifications.

The competitors spend a lot of time trying to convince themselves and anyone else who will listen that the specifications don't make sense, that only a fool would abide by them, that those who conform to the specifications are crazy extremists, that they only apply to a few vendors, and that no matter how many or how few of the actual specifications are met in constructing the product (the precise list of what may be left undone varies by competitor), God and Christ will accept their product.

But they haven't made the sale, have they?  And they have no assurance that the sale will be made.

What, in the end, are we selling to God and Christ, then?  Ourselves, all that we are and have, purified.  We make the sale by keeping all their commandments always, even to the destruction of all that we have and are, even that of our own lives.

What shall they pay us for ourselves?  Themselves, all that they are and have - equality with them in all things, to dwell in them and they in us, that we are one.

How much more rich can you get?

Why We Can Keep the Commandments Without Fear

By keeping the commandments, we are living the principles of Zion even while we yet live in Babylon.  The Lord knows we need reassurance in order to have the courage and trust to start.
  • Remember the manna in the wilderness.
  • Remember the crows feeding Elijah during the drought.
  • Remember the widow's oil and flour which never failed.
  • Remember the feeding of the multitudes.
  • Remember the seventy, whom the Lord sent without purse nor scrip.
  • Remember the lilies in the field.
  • Remember that if we give it shall be given us.
  • Remember that he that provides not for those of his household is worse than an infidel and has denied the faith - do you suppose that the Lord is worse than an infidel and will deny the faith?
You can go look this stuff up in the scriptures.  Remember, it's pointless to argue people into this course of action, for the Lord receives not the begrudged gift.  Either you freely believe the scriptures and the promises of the Lord, and this of your own will and not because someone's hounding you about it, or you do not believe.  And if you do believe, then you will do what he's asked you.

It's not supposed to be pleasant.  It's supposed to give us experience, wisdom, knowledge, and intelligence, permitting us to fulfil the conditions whereby we may have the Spirit of Christ with us always.

What happens if we have a spouse that does not believe the Lord?  Well, the commandment is to give to every man that asks you, so give your spouse whatever they ask for.  Marital instability and divorce is a fully forseeable consequence of keeping the commandments.
JST Luke 14:25-34
25 And when he had finished these sayings, he departed thence, and there went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.
27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28 Therefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.
29 For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have money to finish his work?
30 Lest, unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold, begin to mock him,
31 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. And this he said, signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue; saying,
32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand.
33 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
34 So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.
To be a disciple of Christ requires us to forsake everything we have - or, if you like, the faith to be saved requires the sacrifice of all things.  Can we perform that sacrifice if we are always begging and pleading with God to not let us perform that sacrifice, but to please please please let us keep some things back from him?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Adventures in Keeping the Commandments

When discussing the commandments with nominal followers of Jesus, I ask about four in particular.
  1. Give to everyone that asks you. (Luke 6:30)
  2. Lend to everyone who asks (3 Nephi 12:42) without hoping to get paid back. (Luke 6:35)
  3. Forgive all debts. (3 Nephi 13:11)
  4. Have neither retirement plans, nor savings, nor more stuff than is sufficient for your immediate needs, and give the rest away to the poor. (3 Nephi 13:19-21, Luke 12:15-34)
These things are not hard to understand.  However, few do them, even though they understand what is being asked by God.  And the reason almost nobody does them is because we're scared.  Scared that if we do these we won't have enough for ourselves.  Scared that we'll be taken advantage of.  Scared that we will be lied to.  Scared that if we do these things we will become homeless bums.  Scared that there is not really a God and we will therefore be forfeiting our present comfort for nothing.

These are all valid objections, and they amount to the same thing: fear.  Fear is what keeps us from serving God.  And one cannot argue others into serving God, for God doesn't receive a begrudged gift.

But suppose you freely do these things, believing God has asked them of you.  What can you expect to happen?

Maybe something like this:

You will fear.  You will tremble.  You will rage.  You will be taken advantage of.  You will be lied to.  Someone will get your phone number and start making galling requests of you without regard to your well-being.  You will find out what is really in your heart.  You will discover what it is that you are.  You will begin to understand how people treat God.  You will discover the nature of God, and what kind of being he is.

You'll learn why it's really good advice to take no thought for the morrow.

You will also run into those who know a little too much, who move a little too quickly, who are a little too focused for their station in society.  You will hear the voices of invisible beings, and hear some of them knocking at the veil on your behalf.  You will learn the meaning of the ordinances.  You will begin to lose your fear.  You will gain wisdom and understanding.

And if you teach the commandments, false disciples and unbelievers will persecute you and seek to take your life.

That's an example of what the grand adventure of the gospel could be.

What do you have going on that's better than that?  You're going to lose everything you seem to have in this world anyways, including your substance, your familial relationships, and even your life.  Do you really want to spend your soul on that vacation you've been planning, or on that degree you fancy for the increased earning potential, or do you want to do something instead that matters?

What is it you really want?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

How To Identify True Messengers From God

So, you want to be able to identify true messengers from God.  Well, there is a way.

First, we realize that messengers from God are servants of God - being a messenger is just a specific duty or service that God sometimes requests of certain competent servants.

Second, we revisit the Dunning-Krueger page on Wikipedia, and note that competence recognizes competence, while incompetence does not.

The money section:
Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
  • fail to recognize their own lack of skill
  • fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy
  • fail to recognize genuine skill in others
  • recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill, after they are exposed to training for that skill
Dunning has since drawn an analogy – "the anosognosia of everyday life" – with a condition in which a person who experiences a physical disability because of brain injury seems unaware of, or denies the existence of, the disability, even for dramatic impairments such as blindness or paralysis: "If you're incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.… [T]he skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is."
So the problem to be solved is how to gain the skills or capacities we need to produce right answers, so that we can recognize what a right answer is.  In this case, the solution is to get the Spirit of God so that we can discern the things which come from God.

And getting the Spirit of God is simply done.
  1. Believe in Jesus Christ
  2. Repent
  3. Keep the Commandments of Jesus
If these things are done, the promise is we shall always have his spirit to be with us.  If we do what God has asked, then we become competent at serving him.  A servant of God is simply someone who does what God asks of him.  A true servant of God is one who does all that God asks, not excusing himself in the slightest thing he has been asked to do.

Then we will have the capacity to recognize the signs of competence in true servants of God, and also recognize the signs of incompetence in wicked, slothful, unwise, evil, or false servants of God.

Anticipated Objections

Q: What if the price of identifying true servants of God is too high?  I don't know if I really believe in Jesus; my prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling and any answers I have ever gotten could simply have been my imagination; the commandments of Christ, taken literally, are foolish, and I don't want to keep them.

A: The price is the price.  If you want what you say you want, you'll pay the price.

Q: Can't I get the same product elsewhere cheaper?

A: The fact that you're here means the cheap imitations you tried haven't satisfied you.

Q: Are you saying that to recognize a true messenger I should be a true servant?

A: Why yes, yes I am.

Q: How do I know you're not trying to take advantage of me?

A: Being anonymous and not allowing comments means I have no idea who does what with anything I say, if anyone does anything with it at all.  I don't make money from doing what I do.  I don't get my ego gratified if anyone does what I say.

Q: How do I know you practice what you preach?

A: You don't.  That would be part of why you're reading this post.

Q: But what if I try all this stuff and it turns out unpleasant and I stop doing it because I don't like unpleasant things and feeling insecure and being taken advantage of by those who take me for a sucker and I have nothing to show for what I've done and I want to hurt you for telling me to do these things but I can't hurt you because you're anonymous and you don't allow comments, what then?

A: You haven't repented, so you're trying it because I seem credible, not because you believe Jesus asked it of you.  In effect, you're keeping my commandments, and not Jesus's.  If you don't believe the scriptures, where all this stuff comes from ultimately, then why do you care about recognizing true messengers?  If it's religion you want, and not true competence, there will be many willing to preach to you the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

Q: How dare you, sir!  I'll have you know I am quite religious and believe in Jesus!  Nobody's perfect, nobody can keep all the commandments, everybody sins, you're false, and I bid you good day!

A: 0_o