Posts Tagged ‘Keys of the Kingdom’
I’m an avid reader of SpaceWeather.com. While it’s not as popular as Space.com, it focuses on stuff that fascinates me – asteroids, planets, comets, sunspots, auroras, geomagnetic storms and meteors. It is hosted by Dr. Tony Phillips of NASA, who is a long time participant in communicating the science of astronomy to the world.
If you go visit SpaceWeather.com, you’ll notice that Dr. Phillips is happy to post photos and videos of space phenomenon submitted by amateur observers from all over the world. They are always enjoyable and educational. He also has a table of known near earth asteroids that he keeps updated for those who follow this stuff.
Tracking space objects
There are people whose job it is to watch for these Potentially Hazardous Asteroids and notify important people if one gets too close. Of course, the media is usually all over the story when we know one is coming close and write it up in a way that generates interest. They usually throw in some element of fear of total destruction.
And just to show that we really don’t know everything that’s out there, an asteroid came within 8,700 miles the other day. That’s just slightly more than the diameter of the earth. Asteroid 2009 VA was discovered only fifteen hours before its closest approach by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey. Luckily, it was very small.
Small objects burn up
An object the size of asteroid 2009 VA, which is a little less than twenty feet, will just burn up in the atmosphere and create a spectacular fireball as it disintegrates. The fact that it was discovered only hours before it came by should give us some cause to think. We just don’t always see the things that are coming at us in space.
I suppose if an object were bigger, say more on the scale of a small moon or planet, it would be much easier to spot in advance. I imagine the people who watch the skies for us would be able to give us months, perhaps even years of warning. Or would they? You see, it all depends on the direction from which it is arriving.
Nobody saw it coming
Just last month, an asteroid that was about thirty feet across came undetected into our atmosphere and exploded only about ten miles above the surface of the earth in Indonesia. It created quite a panic in the local area and some quick thinking individual even got it on video, or at least the trailing smoke that it left behind.
Nobody saw this one coming. It was just too small. That’s not surprising since there are so few resources dedicated to watching the skies. We have been more interested in the bigger ones, usually over 35 feet that are easier to spot. But even if we catalog all that we can find, the sun still hides a lot of them from our view.
Hard to see objects near the sun
Objects between earth and the sun are hard to spot because of the glare of the sun. Asteroids do not emit light, but reflect it from the sun. About the only way to see one between us and the sun is if we see it as a miniscule dark spot in photos taken of the sun. That’s one reason why so many amateur astronomers watch the sun.
But what about objects that are coming toward the sun from the opposite side of the solar system in such a way that makes it impossible to see until they come around or past the sun? Such objects could be quite large and we would not be able to see them until a few weeks or possibly even just days before they arrive.
Orbital telescopes watch the Sun
If you are familiar with STEREO, then you know that we have two satellites in orbit around the sun both ahead of and behind the earth. They give us a different viewing angle of the sun that is tremendously helpful in making observations. But they are designed for sun observations and are always pointed directly at it.
Canada announced that they would launch a satellite that will be the first to search for objects that are between us and the sun. It hasn’t launched yet (maybe 2010), but it is hoped that it will help us find another fifty of the little buggers that we need to be watching but can’t see from earth. These are called the Aten asteroids.
Objects hidden behind the sun
I’m sure you are familiar with the Hubble telescope, one of the greatest boons to astronomy that is used and appreciated by scientists all over the world. The images captured by the Hubble have done more to advance our knowledge of the cosmos than just about any other scientific instrument that man has imagined and created.
But what we don’t have, and probably won’t have for many years to come, is a space based telescope that allows us to look around the sun. Placed in the same orbit around the sun with the earth, but ahead or behind the earth, this would give us the ability to look beyond the sun for objects coming towards it and the earth.
The Ten Tribes are on a planet
That is of tremendous interest to me and to many who have thought about some of the teachings of the early brethren of the church in regards to the Ten Tribes and the City of Enoch. Yes, I am one of those who believe that they are off on some planet somewhere and that they will each return in time, the Ten Tribes being first.
I am not alone in this belief and have spent many years accumulating statements from early leaders of the church to support this position. However, this belief is not commonly taught or accepted today. In fact, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said it is a wholly false view of what is to be when it is paraphrased from the scriptures.
Ice shall flow down at their presence
He also said that the Ten Tribes will NOT return with ice flowing down at their presence, even though that precise phrase is used in D&C 133:26. I suspect that Elder McConkie was not familiar with the work of Talbott or Velikovsky who have explained how ice can flow between two planets in a synchronous orbit.
So the idea that the Ten Tribes are on a planet somewhere makes total sense to me. We have the word of many early members of the church who declared that Joseph Smith taught this very doctrine. The testimony of Wandle Mace is one that helps me to understand this better. He was a contemporary associate of Joseph Smith.
A portion of the earth was taken
Brother Mace said that Joseph was preaching on the subject of the restoration of all things. In the course of his remarks he spoke of the earth being divided at various times. He said, “When Enoch and his city was taken away, a portion of earth was taken and would again be restored.” He then said the same about the Ten Tribes.
Recorded Brother Mace, “These remarks satisfied me, it was no longer necessary to hunt the place on this earth where the Ten Tribes were so long hidden, for the earth was divided and taken away, and will be the first to return, as it was the last taken away. He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land.” That makes sense to me.
The Ten Tribes will return
From the 10th article of faith we read, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon this the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”
The literal gathering of Israel and the restoration of the Ten Tribes are two separate events. As we read in Section 110, the prophet holds these keys: “Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.”
Summary and conclusion
Orson Pratt taught that “…a portion of the Earth was by a miracle broken off…the Ten Tribes were taken away with it…in the latter days it would be restored to the Earth or be let down in the Polar regions.” Great changes will take place upon this earth. It will be restored and will be like it was in the days before it was divided.
Somewhere out there is a planet or a piece of this earth that is prophesied to return and be restored or reunited to this earth. The joining doesn’t have to make it one spherical unit. Think of a binary star or two planets joined together by a flow of electromagnetic energy between them. Ice will flow down when they are joined.
Except for a year off for good behavior to teach Primary, I have been participating in ward leadership meetings every Sunday morning for the past twenty-five years. Sixteen of those years included Bishopric meetings, either as an Executive Secretary, a Ward Clerk, or a Bishop’s Counselor. I don’t know why I’ve been so blessed but this experience has been a major part of my adult life.
Since Carol and I have lived in multiple wards and stakes over the years, I have sat in council with at least ten different bishops, sometimes as a High Council advisor. Two of the wards have been young single adult wards. I’ve got to tell you that there is something special about Bishops of YSA wards. In one YSA ward, the Bishop and one counselor had both been Stake Presidents.
Love of the people
Not one of these bishops ran things exactly the same as others with whom I served. Some were good administrators and some weren’t. Some knew how to delegate and others had a tendency to do most of the work themselves. Some were sticklers for following the handbook and some weren’t. But all were focused on the people over the programs. Without exception. Every one.
If there is one thing that stands out among bishops with whom I have worked, and one thing that to me represents the mantle of a bishop, it is a love for the people whom they serve, especially the youth. That love is the same thing that impressed me about the bishops of my youth. I knew they all cared deeply about me and wanted to help me grow into a successful and faithful adult.
Desire to do God’s will
Now I know that not everybody has this experience with their bishops. Yes, I have read some of the horror stories. I am acquainted with the claims of spiritual abuse, but have not seen it with any of the bishops in my experience. Some of the bishops would sometimes complain about the dumb things that members of the ward would do, but I never saw any unrighteous dominion.
I have sat in literally dozens of disciplinary councils over the years, both on the ward and stake level. Even when the result was excommunication, I have never felt anything but profound love and concern for the individual and an intense desire to do the will of the Lord in the matter being considered. That has always been the common desire of these bishops, who are imperfect men.
A tech savvy bishop
In today’s Internet age, I am grateful to serve with a Bishop today who understands and uses texting to keep in touch with his flock, in this case, all young single adults. He is also savvy about the Internet and knows exactly what goes on out there. He is aware of the LDS forums, both those that are uplifting and those that aren’t. And yes, he has read Rough Stone Rolling.
I bring that up because it is indicative of a Bishop who is aware of what the young people are reading. I am a church news junkie and am constantly amazed by how well informed this bishop is in comparison to some previous bishops. Maybe it’s just that we are living in the day of the Internet, but it’s a delight to have conversations about items being discussed in the Bloggernacle.
Great Bishopric meetings
Because most bishops are usually counseling members during Sunday school, we take the first part of our Bishopric meeting for gospel study. Sometimes we will spend a half hour discussing a scripture or a quote from the Brethren and how it applies to us and to the ward members. Some of the bishops I served with preferred shorter meetings so we did not have lengthy gospel study.
I have long felt that a ward leadership meeting should never be more than an hour. If you’re going to make it longer, that time should be well spent in understanding the will of the Lord as revealed in the scriptures in these latter days. The majority of a Bishopric meeting is consumed with staffing the ward, which of course involves discussing the right calling for ward members.
Callings through inspiration
If you have never sat in a Bishopric meeting you may wonder how callings are determined. Of course we always open our meetings with prayer, and usually sing a hymn first and then have a spiritual thought. We review the list of recent converts to determine if they are progressing in the gospel. As we are a transient ward, we are also constantly reviewing the new move-in list.
The Bishop usually ponders for a long time who the Lord would have fulfill a major calling like the head of an organization. Those do not come up very often. When they do, the Bishop will usually inform his counselors of who he has in mind, after which a discussion ensues of how that individual will fulfill that particular calling and how the needs of the ward members will be met.
Gift of discernment
The Bishop is very concerned that callings issued to ward members are ones that will bless them, that will help them to grow and that are the will of the Lord. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Bishops pray for the gift of discernment to know where the Lord would have certain individuals serve. Serving in the church is a big deal and it helps us to grow and to love others.
Although it doesn’t always happen, I have been amazed at the number of times as a counselor I have issued a call to an individual to hear them say that they were praying for an opportunity to serve and that they knew that this particular call was coming. It is rewarding to see that when we pray for inspiration to place people in callings that the inspiration is real and is from the Lord.
I don’t know if my experience has been unique in issuing calls but I can only remember a couple of occasions on which I did not extend the call after we had agreed upon it in Bishopric meeting. It became apparent after an interview in the home of the individual that the calling would not be in their best interest at that time. It is usually because I learned of extenuating circumstances.
You may wonder why we weren’t inspired that the call wasn’t right before we went to extend it. Remember, we had prayed for inspiration and felt united as a Bishopric that it was the right thing to do at that time. All I can tell you is that this has rarely happened and that it just may be a part of the inspiration process to visit the home before the spirit can confirm that it is OK to proceed.
Confirmation of the spirit
Perhaps a description of the process we go through when we deliberate in a disciplinary council will help explain the process of inspiration a little better. After hearing the facts of the matter, we excuse the individual and discuss the options outlined in the church handbook. The primary concern is always how the action we take will affect the individual and help them to repent.
We make a decision an then present it to the Lord in prayer. We each kneel and the Bishop asks one of those present to offer the prayer. We tell the Lord what we have decided and ask that we may know through a confirming witness of the spirit that the decision is right. We then conclude the prayer and the Bishop usually asks each member of the council if they are still in agreement.
Knowledge revealed from God
Sometimes the will of the Lord is obvious to all present. There is an unspoken communication that takes place between us. We each just know that the decision is correct. We know by the same process that individual members receive a testimony – by knowledge from the Holy Ghost. That is one of the blessings of serving in a Bishopric. You come to know how revelation works.
That’s what most people don’t know about Bishopric meetings – the amazing experience that we have each week with revelation. It is one of the best training grounds for understanding how the Lord communicates his will to the mind of man. I can tell you from many years of rich and deep experience that this process of revelation has always been present and it is a sacred experience.
Summary and conclusion
You may know former bishops or bishopric counselors who have said that there is a lot of small administrative detail that goes on in priesthood leadership meetings. You may even be a former bishop yourself. Yes, I agree that it can be tedious week after week to address some of the same issues over and over as callings need to be filled. It takes effort to ensure that God is involved.
Bishopric meetings can be a most amazing and rewarding experience as humble yet imperfect men unite in prayer to seek the mind and will of the Lord on behalf of the people that they serve. But to me, the most gratifying part of serving in a Bishopric is to be tutored by the Holy Ghost in how revelation works. It is a real thing and it is used constantly to further the work of the Lord.
If you have been a member of the LDS church for any length of time then you probably recall the PR issues the church struggled with due to President Benson’s decline in health toward the end of his life. Unfortunately, that decline occurred shortly after he became the senior apostle and therefore, the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was the prophet from 1985 to 1994.
The first few years of his presidency (up until 1988) were good ones. In fact, they were memorable for several reasons. When most members of the Church think of President Benson, they remember his emphasis on using the Book of Mormon. I know I do. I distinctly recall his strong use of D&C 84:53-57 in which the Lord condemns the Church for vanity in not believing and remembering to use the Book of Mormon. Powerful!
President Benson is also remembered for his wonderful talk on pride that is used in many places in the official church curriculum. It is a classic. But do you remember that President Benson was so incapacitated that he was unable to read it? President Hinckley read it for him in the April 1989 General Conference. After that, we rarely heard from President Benson in General Conference. In fact, we never did. His last talk in October of 1989 was read by President Monson and was appropriately entitled, “To the Elderly in the Church.”
President Benson had Alzheimers
I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone then or now to realize that President Benson had Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, he was senile. This presented a problem for some members of the church. In particular, Steve Benson, the grandson of President Benson and a Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist for the Arizona Republic had a problem with this. More to the point, he had a problem with his perception that the Church was trying to cover it up.
He contended that the top echelon of the Church were putting on a charade when they would appear with President Benson at a public event such as a groundbreaking ceremony, put his foot on a shovel and snap a picture. The church, he believed, had boxed itself into a theological corner. How could the Church possibly be true, claiming that we are led by a living prophet when that living prophet was incapacitated? Were we just perpetuating an illusion?
Sadly, Steve’s personal problem spilled out into the public when he went on record with a story in the Salt Lake Tribune July 10, 1993. That story was soon followed by others that included evidence that seemed to back up his claims. A legal transfer of power had taken place back in 1989 and copies of the documents were produced to substantiate it. Big deal. I’ve seen and also have copies of those documents. They are a matter of public record. So what?
The focus is on the prophet
I think what Steve missed and probably what some members of the Church forget is that the power and authority of the Lord’s kingdom on the Earth in these latter days is distributed among fifteen prophets and apostles. The Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are equal in power and authority. They all hold the keys of the kingdom. So what if the prophet is incapacitated? Joseph Smith was dead!
I don’t know Steve personally and I have no problem with his right to express his opinion about how he feels that he and all the rest of the church were deceived by a massive PR effort and cover up. Steve and his wife gave up their membership in the church in an act of protest over their hurt feelings in the matter. Unfortunately, he continued to speak out against the Church through a series of articles that can still be found all over the Internet on Anti-Mormon sites.
Steve may have been the source of the rumor that President Benson’s last known General Conference talks were not really his but were written by his son or even his daughter in law. You can find several sites that have posted what they claim is indisputable evidence that his talk on pride was lifted heavily from a chapter in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis entitled, “The Great Sin.” Once again, so what? I have no problem with that or if his talks were ghostwritten.
Keys of the Kingdom
I like what my fellow blogger, S Faux of Mormon Insights wrote in a comment to one of my earlier posts. He said, “For some reason, God works through flawed men. I think it has something to do with the fact that there is no one else from which to choose.” He also said, “The reason I am a member of the Church has little or nothing to do with the personalities in the Church.” I concur. Prophets come and prophets go. I remain in the church because it is true.
I have written about the keys of the kingdom previously. I have also written about why it is that we can and do claim to be the only true and living Church upon the face of the Earth. This essay is not really about authority. It is more about loyalty. Once you obtain a knowledge for yourself that this Church is true, and that it is the Lord’s only authorized organization for administering the ordinances of salvation, then there needs to be a commitment to that organization.
Every organization has deficiencies. Most of those are found among the people and sometimes within the leadership of the Church. Apostles have been excommunicated. Prophets get senile. That doesn’t change the fact the Lord said in Daniel 2:44-45 that the Kingdom of God as setup in the last days shall never be destroyed or left to another people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that kingdom and will remain to welcome the Lord to the earth again.
Summary and conclusion
Steve Benson now says that he is an atheist. Yet he also says, “cut me and I bleed Mormon.” I suspect he may be one to whom President Monson was recently referring when he offered yet another invitation to come back. It is the same invitation that every prophet has offered and that the Lord extends through His authorized servants every day. His arms are open and stretched out with the hope that those who were once faithful will return to the fold.
Was Steve Benson right? Of course he was. President Benson was incapacitated while serving as the prophet. Was he right in claiming that the church tried to cover it up? I don’t think so and I don’t think there was a cover up. There was a lot of love for President Benson expressed by President Hinckley, President Monson and many others during those last few years of his life. These brethren, along with most of the rest of the church were loyal to the Lord’s prophet.
I offer my take on this matter as a regular member of the church. I once wrote tongue-in-cheek that I work for the Church as a blogger. Like many of you, I am disgusted by the terrible falsehoods, lies, innuendos and misrepresentations that can be found on the Internet about the Church. Nobody asked me to write my essays. But did you notice that Elder Ballard reiterated his call to the members of the Church to become more involved in positive blogging? Let’s do so.