Posts Tagged ‘Opposition’
I wrote an essay several years ago on my old blog that still gets a lot of hits even though I retired that blog and transferred everything over here. I’m glad I kept the old blog up because occasionally I get a comment there that inspires me to write something profound. Well, I think it’s at least inspired and uplifting. I felt impressed to share it here. It starts with the comment from Samantha:
I recently started meeting with my Bishop to repent for other sins that I had committed. I was almost ready to get my Temple Recommend when Satan came at me with full-force. I began to engage in watching pornography and masturbation.
My Bishop is a wonderful man, but I am far too scared to tell him of the addiction that I am faced with. It is not a daily habit, but it is still a problem. I have prayed, and I have come to realize I cannot overcome this on my own.
I feel so awful and depressed after engaging in these behaviors. I want to be clean; I want to go to the temple.
Is there anything else that I can do that would be sufficient for the repentance process? I don’t want to tell my bishop, at all. I do want to overcome this addiction immediately though. Or at least be able to refrain from such atrocities.
And my response:
Much love your way. Thanks for reading and adding your comment. I commend you for your desire to increase your self-mastery. That’s a big deal. Some people are not bothered by viewing porn or masturbating. “It’s normal,” they say. In fact, we’re looked upon as being weird because we want to adhere to a higher moral standard commanded by the Lord and his servants.
I recommend visiting the sites I linked to at the end of the original essay. There is a lot of good advice to be found in those pages. Most of the comments I have added here over the years are intended to give hope and encouragement. I want to continue that in responding to your plea for help. I think I wrote this previously but I’ll share it again. This trial can bring you to the Lord.
I feel impressed to share something that may or may not be applicable to you. Perhaps it will be helpful to future readers. It has to do with responsibility and accountability. Going to the temple is a big deal. The temple is a place of revelation. When I go there I always come away knowing more about myself, what I really want out of life and what I want to do with my free time.
I’ll bet like most people who have written me about this problem, you’re fine as long as you keep yourself busy. If you’ve got a regular schedule of work or school or both, you do well in that structure. The difficulty usually comes when there are no pressing demands on your time and nobody waiting for you to do something for them – a teacher, a co-worker or a family member.
That’s usually when your thoughts turn to yourself and what you want. Those are the defining moments of life. Satan knows that, which is why temptation seems to strike hardest when you are pondering something like going to the temple. We grow and advance in our lives when we go to the temple. We come closer to fulfilling our purpose in life as we attend the temple regularly.
The best advice I can offer is to partake of the sacrament and ponder the promises found in the sacramental prayers. The key phrases are “always remember him” and “have his spirit to be with them.” I know you’ve probably heard this in every public prayer and perhaps you offer it your own private prayers – to have his spirit. But do we focus as much on “always remember him?”
There’s something special and wonderful in the Sacrament that even after more than fifty years I still don’t fully understand. No, it’s not magic. We don’t believe in that. But it is powerful and it is real. I feel hopeful after partaking of the sacrament with real intent. I want it to work in my life and because I want that, believe that it can, it does. My power is strengthened by the Sacrament.
At the end of every Sabbath day I feel empowered, partly through offering service but mostly because I have partaken of the sacrament and have pondered how I can better remember the Savior during the week. I think ahead to the moments when I know I will have down time and think what I can do to show the Lord that I do remember him and want his spirit to be with me.
For me, there is something of a miracle that takes place in those quiet moments. Because I have asked, the Lord reveals to me what I will be doing during those quiet moments during the week. I can see myself working on some writing project or some other activity that will be helpful to me and to others. No, it’s not guaranteed that I will do exactly that, but it’s clear that it can be so.
My desire to do good things and be good is strengthened. I am in a partnership with the Lord to make something special out of my life. It is in the quiet moments that my life really develops. But it doesn’t work unless I make the effort to remember the Lord. Every time I do, he gives me special sacred feelings that encourage me and help me feel like I can do all I’m asked to do.
I hope this helps. There is no easy answer. It’s not like you can turn off a switch. Sorry. You’ve got hormones and that’s a good thing. Without them you’ve have no drive or ambition in life. Well, I’m speaking from a man’s point of view. For a woman I suppose that without hormones you would have no desire to nurture and strengthen relationships. I thank God for the sex drive.
Please don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a theory about why we feel depressed or hopeless when participating in pornography or masturbation. I’ve shared it elsewhere. It has to do with the influence of unclean spirits – those who have no hope or light of Christ in their lives. It’s just a natural result of allowing them to use you, even for just a moment. You feel what they feel.
Of course if you don’t believe in the existence of evil or unclean spirits you’re going to think this is crazy. That’s OK. As I wrote at the beginning of my essay, I’m not writing this to those who are unbelievers. My experience in life has settled the question for me. They are real and I know of their existence through experiences too sacred to share. But let’s not dwell on that aspect.
Focus on the Savior. Focus on building hope. Believe that you can eventually master yourself. Be happy that you even want to. God bless you in your efforts. Nobody can do this for you. In the temple we learn all ordinances are personal, performed one at a time for each individual. No answer fits everyone, but I have found this plan has met with success time after time in others.
Good luck and God bless. You can do it.
All my life in the church I have heard the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are held out as motivating ideas that are intended to help us resist the pull and attraction of worldly pleasures. In this short essay, I would like to consider just one of those promises and the power for good that it should have in our lives.
Of course, the attraction of promises pre-supposes that you are the kind of person that is motivated by the “moving-toward” model. If you’re not familiar with the idea, it comes from the book Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. He states, “All human behavior revolves around the urge to gain pleasure or avoid pain.”
Tony’s shorthand for this is “pain or gain.” Which one drives you? Of course the concept is not original with Tony but he made it a focus of his seminars and books. The idea has been around forever and stated in different ways by various thinkers. The process is not absolute. We move toward some things and away from others.
However, most of us live our lives predominantly either moving toward a goal or moving away from an unpleasant situation, either past, present or future. You can easily determine your predominant model by describing something you desire. Do you express it in terms of what it is or what it isn’t, what you want or don’t want?
For example, think about and describe your ideal home or family. How about your ideal job? I was surprised to note that I described my ideal home in terms of what I want, but my ideal job in terms of what I don’t want. Maybe that’s because I am towards the end of my career and have seen plenty of negatives I want to avoid.
The greatest gift
What are the most important gospel promises that we should consider? Let’s start with the big one – eternal life. I’m not talking about being resurrected; that’s a given and a free gift from the Savior as part of the gospel plan. I’m talking about being able to live the kind of life that God lives, with complete joy and fulfillment.
In modern revelation it is recorded that “there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6:13) We are also told that “if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” (D&C 14:7) Salvation in the fullest sense is defined as eternal life.
So just what is eternal life and how can we relate to it since we have nothing to which we can compare it in this life? In order for something to be desirable and worthy of sacrifice, we must have at least some sense of its attractiveness. In fact, it is up to the Lord to make us fully aware of what really comprises eternal life.
Salvation without exaltation
In the LDS Church, we commonly refer to exaltation as the kind of life that God lives, and consider it to be synonymous with eternal life. We also consider it to be the fullness of salvation. If we want to get a little more precise, let’s consider one common aphorism used to describe it: “Salvation without exaltation is damnation.”
This is a saying that engenders intense debate even among LDS scholars because I have read it online many times over the years. I agree with that adage because for me, it appeals to my predominant “moving away from” model. Yes, I confess that I am more inclined to make life choices in order to avoid unpleasant possibilities.
I consider the moving-away from model of thinking to be very mortal; not weak, just mortal. But I’m grateful to know that the Lord is fully aware of this approach. This is evidenced by the twofold promise of the Book of Mormon: If you keep the commandments of God you will be blessed. If you don’t, then you will be cursed.
Yes, tell me more about the negatives of a behavior and I will do my best to avoid it because I can see the results such behavior has produced in others. The only way I am motivated by a promise of eventual reward is if I have experienced something similar, even if it is in a small degree. My mortal mind doesn’t “get” eternal life.
Yet, in my heart I know that there is life after death. I have had too many personal evidences presented for my consideration to feel otherwise. I am satisfied that the concept of a spirit world is real; that there are unseen beings operating in a plane of existence just outside my mortal perception; and many times acting on my behalf.
Learning from opposition
So how does the Lord reach people like me who need a more solid understanding of eternal life in order to be motivated by the promise? I guess I’m kind of like the child that hears from a parent, “if you work hard in school, you’ll have an easier life when you get older.” It’s true, but it didn’t work for me when I was a child.
An easy life to a child is loving acceptance, lots of playtime, a warm, comfortable home, lots of food to eat and that safe, secure feeling that comes from knowing that dangers are far, far away, or even better, being oblivious to the concept of danger. But such a life doesn’t work as we get older because we experience opposition.
And that’s why I am more motivated by an understanding of what eternal life will not be like. I have experienced opposition, adversity, setbacks, disappointments and many painful shocks brought on by unforeseen and unwanted reality checks. Because of these experiences, I know what I don’t want eternal life to be like.
Of course, I don’t set the rules when it comes to my quality of life after death. But I do “get” the idea that I can determine a large part of that life quality by what I do or don’t do and how I respond to the life choices that are presented to me. There really is a lot of truth to the idea that a man is about as happy as he decides to be.
Disappointments will cease
I don’t want eternal life to be disappointing. I don’t think God is disappointed. Even though we believe that his most important work is us, his children, I don’t think he is ever really disappointed in us. I also don’t believe that his plans for us are ever really frustrated. We will get out of this life what we came here to get.
What we came here to receive is an understanding and appreciation for eternal life – the kind of life that God lives – that we never could have accomplished without experiencing opposition, adversity, disappointment, trail, heartache, frustration and pain. So whatever the outcome of our lives, we will appreciate eternal life better.
That appreciation comes by application of the “moving away from” model of life. Although we may not understand all the promises of peace, happiness, freedom, personal power, contentment and joy that are held out to us, we now know what we don’t want eternal life to be like. We don’t want it to be like our life here on earth.
Yes, I have experienced happiness in this life. I have experienced success, some personal power, a measure of peace, plenty of freedom and lots of growth. But even in achieving these things, I immediately realized that they were temporary and not complete. They do not last because of the transient nature of mortality.
Moving away from pain
Do you see? I now understand something about eternal life that I never could have fathomed before and something that I don’t want. I don’t want good things to end as they do in this life. I work long and hard to create my home and family life that I do not want to see come to an end. I don’t want that work to be wasted or to fail.
So for me, moving toward gospel promises is meaningless unless I have something concrete to compare them to. I am motivated to move away from something that I don’t want. I don’t want sickness, physical pain and death; therefore I am attracted by the promise of a resurrection, which becomes more attractive the older I get.
I don’t want to be disappointed in myself in the life to come. Carol has a way of expressing this that I find memorable. She says, “Do you think God will take away the memory of being married to someone if you don’t live worthy of them?” How tortuous that would be to see your mortal spouse and not be able to be with them!
So for me, gospel promises are more motivating when I think about what I might lose as opposed to what I might gain. I don’t want to lose things that I have been given or have earned. Yes, I believe we must earn or qualify for some blessings in the life to come. Eternal life is a gift, but we must meet the requirements for it.
I’ll bet there are at least a half dozen theological ideas expressed in this essay with which non-LDS readers will disagree. In fact, I’m certain that many of my LDS readers will also take exception to some of my statements. That’s OK. I welcome the dialog and hope that maybe something I have expressed has been helpful.
I love the Lord’s promises but I confess that I just don’t get some of them because of my weak, limited mortal way of seeing things. I believe the promises and am certain that they will mean a lot more when I get to the spirit world. Today, I just want to keep the good things I have gained from my experience with opposition.
Earlier in this essay I wrote that since we have no real concept of eternal life, it is God’s responsibility to make it appear attractive to us. I mean that. But how he does that may be different for each one of us. In my case, I am enticed by the spirit whispering to me that in the next life, I will no longer have to endure temptation.
I love that promise.
I’ve been reading the arguments on MormonThink.com off and on for several years now. I have a lot of respect for the individuals behind the site, even though most of them choose to be anonymous. I am confident that I have been visited by several of the contributors there or at least by those who read their site and others like it such as Ex Mormon and Post Mormon.
I am by no means a scholar or intellectual. I think I’m pretty smart and that I’m pretty good with logic. After all, I have made a living for thirty years demystifying computers for others. But I know there are a lot of people out there who are smarter than I am and who have the academic credentials to prove it. I like to think that I’m just a regular, average, typical Latter-day Saint.
I like smart, thinking people and especially people who present logical conclusions well, either in writing or verbally. Critical thinking is a skill that I am constantly striving to improve. I confess that I am impressed when someone can speak or write with confidence, especially when it comes to doctrines and practices of the church. That’s why I continue to take college classes each year.
Choosing to believe
But I’d like to take exception with one of the common threads I find in the essays on sites like MormonThink.com. It has to do with choosing to believe. The concept of voluntary or involuntary belief has been discussed by philosophers for millennia. But it’s such a basic part of how I deal with the sort of intellectual issues on Mormon Think that I want to share it with you.
I disagree with those who contend that beliefs are not voluntary acts of will. There is no doubt in my mind that I am a voluntarist when it comes to my beliefs about the church and our history. This is especially true in light of, or in spite of all the fascinating historical facts that I have read over the years that are just not taught to or even known by the majority of the Latter-day Saints.
Invariably I have found that those who label themselves atheists also claim to be involuntarists. I am coming to the conclusion that those who embrace the title of Ex Mormon, Post Mormon or Former Mormon also see their position as involuntary. “It was inevitable,” they say, “based on what I have learned, I had no other choice but to now disbelieve what I had formally believed.”
Well, that’s where we differ. I have spent many years studying the same material that has been so troubling and bothersome to so many of my fellow seekers of knowledge. I can honestly say that my faith has been strengthened and my belief deepened that Joseph was who he claimed to be – a prophet of God – and that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be – Holy Scripture.
I have no doubt that there are many in the church, who, if they studied the same material we have written about on our blogs and websites, would be absolutely freaked out and would soon leave the church. They are either social Mormons only or are not strong in their desire to know more about the history of our church. I don’t think these kinds of people are your typical Mormons.
What’s missing from sites like MormonThink.com, and what you’ll find in abundance on the official church web sites, is the role of faith, and especially encouraging faith. There is way too much emphasis on the intellect and not enough focus on feelings. The section on Testimony and Spiritual Witness relegates the role of feelings of faith as something to be dissected and derided.
Announcing new website
That’s reason why I decided to start my own website, LatterdayCommentary.com. This blog is hosted on that domain, which I registered years ago. It’s not much to look at today. In fact, I almost consider it a prototype. I’ve put together some commentary and links to my essays on some of the same subjects that you will find on MormonThink.com. It will grow with time.
I know that I’m just one of thousands of LDS members who have a website where they share their beliefs and testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I like to think that I’m not much different from your average Mormon. I grew up as a member of the church but I come from a convert family. And my viewpoint is definitely that of a laid-back California boy.
I’ve been happy as a member of the LDS Church all my life. I loved my mission and I love going to the temple. I love General Conference and I love serving in a local Bishopric. I hope you’ll take a look at my website and then come back here and make some suggestions as to how I can make it better and more useful in promoting the doctrines of our LDS faith to the world.
While sitting in the hospital room with my wife on Sunday morning as she was recovering from surgery, I asked her a deep and personal question. She wanted me to help her with her latest blog entry as she dictated it so I recorded it on my laptop computer. When she finished it, I asked her how she knew that the Lord loved her.
She didn’t answer me right away but thought about it until this morning after we returned from a follow-up doctor’s visit. She then shared some things that were unmistakable evidence to her of God’s love for her. It was a sacred and emotional moment that helped me to know I am not alone in seeing God’s hand in our lives.
Looking beyond the battle
Carol is going through a difficult time right now and it took a lot for her to share those touching personal evidences. Dealing with her cancer is taking a lot of her energy and sometimes causes her to see only the immediate battle instead of the big picture. I asked her to take a minute to look beyond the battle and she did.
While we were waiting for the doctors to discharge her yesterday, I shared with her some of the things that are evidence to me that God knows and loves me. As I held her hand and recounted evidences from my youth of answered prayers, I felt that we don’t pause often enough to realize how the Lord shows each of us his love.
Praying over our flocks
There are so many times in my daily work that I am confronted with situations that tax my technical capabilities. It can be tough being the only computer dude in a small to medium sized business. You are expected to be the expert on a myriad number of software and hardware products. That’s just what an IT Manager does.
Little do my co-workers realize that there is no way that one person can know the answer to every question about all those hundreds of technology products that we use in our business. I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed for help from my Heavenly Father to be able to respond to yet another difficult tech question.
A not-so-typical problem
Let me give you an example from a recent experience that proved to me that the Lord knew what I was going through. For several weeks a certain employee had been calling and complaining that emails were not getting through to her from a very important client. We looked at everything trying to figure out the problem.
Finally, this employee laid down the law and said that this problem had to be fixed now! I re-inspected all the filters through which our email passes and could find nothing wrong. As I was reporting back via email, I decided to document the steps I had taken by including screen-prints of each filter and the corresponding settings.
A quiet whispered impression
Just before I was about to hit the send button, which in essence was admitting defeat, something impressed me to take one more look at the screen-prints I had included. As I reviewed each line very closely, I noticed something so simple that I laughed out loud and then started to shout in joyous exultation. I had found it!
My wife looked over at me and wondered why her normally so serious husband was shouting, “I’ve got you!” and doing a little happy dance. I reminded her of the problem I had been dealing with for so long and told her that I had finally found the solution. It was an exciting moment and one in which I felt profound relief.
The Lord stretches us
The problem was that the client had misspelled the employee’s name in her email address. What compounded it was that she only did it occasionally and usually on the really urgent emails. It was only when I had a screen-print in front of me with several copies of the incoming emails that I saw the simple yet terminal problem.
After I pointed the problem out to the employee with perhaps too much enjoyment, and everyone was happy again, I reflected back on how simple the problem really was. Why hadn’t I seen it before? I believe it was because the Lord wanted me to get to the point where I was about to admit defeat before he stepped in to help me.
Tender mercies of the Lord
I had done everything I knew how to do to resolve the problem. I was convinced that it was what we call in the industry a false positive, or a piece of email being blocked in the spam filter because it met the criteria of the complex spam rules. But it wasn’t a filter problem. It just didn’t know where to deliver the email.
The Lord knows how much I hate to admit defeat. I am a problem-solver by nature and thrive on resolving deep and complex technical issues. That’s what makes my job enjoyable. It is evidence to me that God loves me because he reached out and rescued me from having to admit defeat by prompting me to take that one last look.
The small and simple things
Now you may say that this was all just a big coincidence and that God had nothing to do with helping me to resolve the problem. You may even say that I must not be very smart to have not seen right away that an email address had been misspelled. But I can tell you that several of us had already looked at those screens for weeks.
This is not the only time the Lord has helped me in my work. I could probably fill a dozen essays with example after example of how the Lord inspired me or blessed me to be able to do something that was beyond my natural ability. I have studied and have worked in tech support my entire career but I have rarely done it alone.
Beyond my natural abilities
Success in my career is important to me. It helps me to fulfill the commandment of the Lord to provide for my family. Because the Lord gave me this responsibility and commandment, I feel that I have the right to call upon him to bless me in my work so that I can be successful. It’s like we are in a sacred partnership together.
I have not always seen the hand of the Lord in my work. Sometimes I have made rather foolish mistakes and wonder why they happened to me. I look back and realize that I had been trying to do it on my own or not giving the Lord credit for helping me. I always perform beyond my natural abilities when I ask God for help.
The Lord chastens us
The same thing applies to my spiritual life. I have seen the hand of the Lord in my spiritual growth and development numerous times – too many to enumerate. But I have not always acknowledged his kindness in helping me. That’s when I struggle and wonder why I feel like I’m going through my life’s experiences all by myself.
It is only when I stop and think that I realize how truly blessed I am and how much the Lord must really love me. The scripture says that the Lord chastens those who he loves. If our chastening experiences are any indication then we must be some of the Lord’s chosen. Now if I only knew for what purpose we are being chosen.
Preparing for eternity
I suppose I already know the answer. Just as it is easy to overlook the hand of the lord in my work, thinking that something so mundane as computer tech support can’t be of any interest to the Lord, it is just as easy to overlook the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives as we pass through this episode of cancer in Carol’s body.
I love Carol and I will love her forever. I chose her to be my companion not only for this life but forever. I am convinced that we will pass through this cancer scare successfully. I believe that the doctors caught it early enough that it will not be a problem once it is removed in the surgery next week. That in itself is a miracle.
Summary and conclusion
It is easy to think that God doesn’t love us or isn’t interested in our mundane lives. But if we stop and take the time to think about it, God is very involved in what we do each day. We just have to look for ways that mean something special to us. In my example, it was a subtle impression to inspect a screen-print just a little closer.
In Carol’s case, it is being able to fall asleep after a prayer in spite of tremendous pain, or wondering why you’re not stepping on the gas when the light turns green and then watching someone run a red light in front of you. What about you? How does the Lord demonstrate to you that he loves you and is involved in your life?
One of the things that has often intrigued me as I have grown up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how relatively few in number we are. I am not referring to the thirteen million on the rolls of the church but to those who regularly attend the temple and Saturday sessions of Stake Conference.
When I sit on the stand of Stake Conference and look out at the congregation, I think of the many members of the stake who could and should be there but are not. The scripture that comes to mind is found in 1 Nephi 14:12. It invokes a feeling that I imagine Nephi must have experienced as he recorded his vision of our day.
Nephi sees our day
“I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of wickedness and abominations…the saints of God, were upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions were small, because of wickedness.” I wonder if Nephi felt sadness as he recorded this. But then I am encouraged with the next verse:
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”
We all can know for ourselves
I sit on the stand in Stake Conference not because I am in a priesthood leadership position but because Carol and I like to sing in the choir. They are the best seats. It allows me to see the reactions of the people as the spirit moves upon them during the songs and the addresses by those who speak under the influence of the spirit.
I keep thinking to myself that anybody can know for themselves that the LDS Church is the kingdom of God on the earth. We all have an equal opportunity to gain a personal witness of the spirit that what is taught in this church is the most important knowledge we can gain in this life. And yet, so few understand this.
The unconverted resign
Several web sites that oppose the work of the Lord have made a big deal out of the facts that so many are resigning from the church over Proposition 8. Even if you stretch the number to include all that wrote letters on Andrew Callahan’s Signing for Something, 500 people is a very small number, who had mostly already left.
Of course every soul is precious and it is concerning that they feel the need to resign in a public way, but in most cases, these were people who stopped coming to church a long time ago. They are just formalizing something that they had effectively already done in their minds – gave up their commitment to the church.
Opposition in all things
This last week has been tough as I have watched and read the accounts of those who have lost their jobs or have been otherwise attacked for having supported the proposition to preserve the definition of marriage here in California. We were also the recipient of one of those attacks. Gratefully, it did not turn into a loss of a job.
So many in our stake have been targeted and are on the published blacklists of those who now seek in hate to punish us. Our Stake President spoke about the opposition we have been witnessing, especially in connection with the temple. Fellow blogger S. Faux wrote an especially insightful essay on why this is so.
Proposition 8 exit polls
The Proposition 8 exit polls revealed some very interesting things that I already suspected. 82 percent of those who voted yes attend church at least once a week. 82% considered themselves Republicans. In addition, it was mostly those who were older – at least over 30 – who voted yes. Older Republican conservatives…
So the exit polls on this proposition revealed that religion or faith had a large part in the way people voted on this issue. I don’t think there’s any surprise there. That explains why there was such a dramatic polarization in the dialog leading up to this vote. It was basically the religious against the irreligious with little in common.
The dialog going forward
In connection with this point about dealing with opposition our Stake President quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith in section 123, verse 16: “You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.” Hmmm…
He then taught us that workways means not to go directly against the wind and not to run the opposite with the wind, but to keep the ship at about a 90 degree angle from the point of the wind. So it does no good to go head to head with those who do not have the background of faith or a belief that it is God who defined marriage.
Prophets forewarned us
As only a Stake President could do, we were reminded of the importance of being prepared for what we see happening all about us in the economic chaos that is now becoming more evident. It was seven years ago last month that President Hinckley mentioned in General Conference about the seven years of plenty. Hmmm…
Connor Boyack has an intriguing essay over on Connor’s Conundrums about why the coming depression will be worse than what was experienced in the 1930’s. I wrote that his outlook painted a bleak and glum picture of what he sees happening. It is worth the read, including the many links to articles that support his viewpoint.
Catastrophes yet to come
While some of the points I have made may seem unconnected or unrelated, they are all receiving wide attention on the Internet blogs and forums lately. Several of the speakers in our Stake Conference mentioned that these are the signs of the times of the last days. It is becoming more and more obvious to the converted.
While the faithful and believing are small in numbers compared to the rest of the world, I remain convinced that coming catastrophic events will soften the hearts of the people and turn them to the Lord. Economic chaos is not the only kind of catastrophe that we will experience. We need to be familiar with the prophecies.
Summary and conclusion
For some reason, Saturday night always brings more hits on my essays about the signs of the times of the last days, especially Joel 2:31. It is encouraging that people are beginning to wake up and take seriously the idea that there may be something to all this talk about catastrophes and other coming events before the coming of the Lord.
In spite of the obvious increase of concern over the economic threats that face us, we can have peace as we look to the Lord, to the scriptures and to our priesthood leaders to help us understand the significance of these events. We will continue to invite the world to join with us in preparing for the approaching return of the Lord.
When I was called into the Bishopric, I replaced a man whom I admire greatly. Peter Lassen is a humble follower of Jesus Christ who loves his family, his country and his church. He is a very successful businessman who manages a string of health food stores here in Ventura County. He has also become the target of an attack of hatred by those who are opposed to what he believes.
Because in the State of California all political contributions over $1,000 are recorded with the Secretary of State, anybody can view, download and do whatever they want with this public information. What they did was to write a scathing attack on this good man accusing him of hatred and bigotry because he did what a prophet asked him to do to support a good cause.
He was singled out because the contribution was large and because he is well known in the local area. I and 61,000 other people have also contributed of our means to this cause but we have not been singled out in such a public manner. The way the Lassen family has responded to this is remarkable. They have quietly gone about their business of providing good healthy products.
Christian courage: The price of discipleship
What would cause a man who has been so publicly attacked and threatened to respond in such a meek and quiet manner? Elder Hales taught about this very subject a week ago in the Sunday morning session of General Conference. He answered the question of why someone would want to attack us as we try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the counsel of a living prophet.
One of life’s greatest tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. The natural desire is to defend ourselves and to respond aggressively. The Savior Himself was despised and rejected of the world. In Lehi’s dream, those coming unto the Savior endured mocking and pointing fingers. They world hates the disciples of Christ because they are not of the world.
When followers of Christ turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger, they stand with the Savior. When we show forth this kind of love, it answers our accusers without accusing them in return. We know that the great accuser is the adversary of the Savior and all his followers. It takes real Christian courage to answer our accusers in this manner. This is not weakness.
Opportunity in the midst of opposition
In 1983, President Kimball taught, “Opposition may be in itself an opportunity. Among the continuing challenges faced by our missionaries is a lack of interest in religious matters and in our message. These criticisms create…interest in the Church…This provides an opportunity [for members] to present the truth to those whose attention is thus directed toward us.”
Elder Hales noted ways that we can take advantage of these opportunities brought about by criticism: a kind letter to an editor, a conversation with a friend, a comment on a blog, or a reassuring word to one who has made a disparaging remark. We can answer with love those who have been influenced by misinformation and prejudice. That certainly has been the case here.
I have been remarkably impressed by the efforts of so many who rallied around the Lassen family and added comments on each of the news stories wherever they were published. The positive comments were helpful and the response of the original author to those comments shows how small and close-minded they really are. Their real intent to disparage is very obvious.
Meekness is not weakness
When we respond to others, we must never become contentious when we are discussing our faith. In this case, the dialog is about a tenet of our faith, that of following the prophet. The Savior has taught, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me.” To be meek is to manifest patience and longsuffering: enduring injury without resentment. Meekness is not weakness.
My admiration for the Lassen family has increased tremendously. They are going about their business, trusting in the promise of the Lord that they will be blessed for following a prophet. They are wearing the badge of Christian courage well. By exhibiting such behavior we do not compromise our principles or dilute our beliefs. Quiet confidence speaks volumes of faith.
As true disciples of Christ, our primary concern is welfare for others, not personal vindication. I am confident that many opportunities to share their beliefs have arisen as customers continue to patronize their stores and seek Peter and other family members out to ask them how they are dealing with this criticism. Admiration and respect from the community will only increase.
Promote understanding and withhold judgment
We have been accused of lying about this issue at hand. All we can do is present our beliefs in what we feel about the sanctity of marriage and what we have been taught by the men whom we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators. We can do nothing more than provide adequate sources of information. It is up to others to decide if they will read seriously, study and investigate.
At the same time, we do our utmost to avoid being unduly judgmental of the views of others. I think I understand why some feel so strongly opposed to our efforts to add this amendment to the constitution of the State of California. I have read their arguments. I do not agree with them but strive to be civil and respectful to those who hold them. We ask that they do the same for us.
The way that we have been attacked on this issue has caused many members of the church to reach out of their comfort zones and stand a little taller in defense of good people like the Lassen family. I am impressed with the humble comments on the newspaper and blog articles by so many members of our stake, especially by the youth with whom I serve in the singles ward.
Summary and conclusion
Sometimes true disciples of Christ must show Christian courage by saying nothing at all. Most of the Lassen family has decided on this course of action. I am amazed at their restraint. Elder Hales is right that contention can cause damage to the church that is already criticized by many as being not Christian. I am convinced that good will come out of this because of their example.
The conference address from Elder Hales on Christian Courage is extremely timely as we deal with this ongoing dialog about religious freedoms and civil rights. To those who have expressed that they are tired of these ongoing essays of mine on the subject, may I point out that this is a prime example that demonstrates the gospel in action – how to deal with unfair persecution.
I am convinced that people will want to know more about the Mormon Church as a result of the publicity we are receiving on this issue. Isn’t it amazing that with just a single letter back in June, tens of thousands of Mormons have contributed millions and millions of dollars to this? A people who are so willing give of their time and means like this must have some amazing faith.