Monday, December 10, 2012

The Best LDS Church Book? "Teachings of ...'

What is the best LDS Church book, outside of the Standard Works?
My choice is clear and firm -- "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith."
This book, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, is a class ahead of every other church book.
On my mission, "Jesus the Christ," by James Talmage, was always reputed to be the best book.
However, I've found that book to be highly over-rated, plus Elder Talmage used a wordy writing style that makes it difficult to understand what he's attempting to convey.
No. "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" should be standard issue for every LDS missionary.
I'd wager that any church member will learn more doctrine from "Teachings" than any other church book outside of the scriptures themselves.
Relying primarily on Documentary History of the Church, this book is a gem of doctrine and clarity. It also uses other sermons and writings from the Prophet Joseph Smith, that were hard to find before.
Once a gospel student has studied "Teachings," the next step is Documentary History of the Church. It's seven volumes contain not only a wealth of doctrine, but also the original history of the restored church in its earliest years.
No one is a true gospel student or scholar, if they haven't read "Teachings" and the DHC.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When Lightning Doesn’t Strike, Thanks To Priesthood Power

             Above: Lynn Arave just below Kings Peak and on Kings Peak, August, 2000.

By Lynn Arave

It was late summer, some years ago (August 2000) and myself, a son, and several friends were hiking Kings Peak, the tallest point in Utah, at 13,528 feet above sea level, from our campsite in Henry’s Fork.
Utah’s Uinta Mountains are rugged and remote. It was about a 10-mile backpack in to our base camp near Dollar Lake. Then, it was about another nine miles, one-way to Kings Peak, in a hike on the second day.
The weather looked good that morning, but distant clouds were building as we scrambled  steeply up to Anderson Pass, part of the roof of Utah.
Kings Peak was reached and three of us decided to take the several mile trek over the neighboring South Kings Peak, the state’s second-highest point at 13,512 feet above sea level.

  Above: Lynn and Roger Arave on Kings Peak in August of 2000. Lynn ignored the dark skies -- in fact, he didn't consciously notice them -- he was 'peak bagging -- and proceeded to South Kings Peak despite the threatening weather and faced lightning danger about 45 minutes later.

As I would later readily notice in pictures I took, black, stormy clouds were headed our way, but I remained just focused on reaching the second summit at all costs and I had to be the first one there.
My son called it quits at the dip line, halfway between the two peaks. He said he’d wait for us there.
Running at times in my race to the top, even some sprinkles of rain didn’t faze my plans. (I did arrive there first, but barely.)
After a brief reflection on the glory of reaching Utah’s tallest two peaks in the same day -- and after snapping pictures -- we headed down and the rain gradually became a steady drizzle, as we met up with my son.
Looking for a way out to the east, my son and I pondered a route down to the Painter’s Basin below, in front of a steep rockslide area. I couldn’t see if a rocky chute at the bottom was passable or not, since its middle and bottom not visible.
As I pondered safety for such a retreat, my friend – with his two ski poles – suddenly went for it and raced downward into the chute and was quickly out of sight.
Then, it became a downpour of  heavy, cold rain. The rockslide started moving itself, as it became saturated with moisture. It was now no longer safe to walk down that steep slope.
Getting cold, I finally pulled out my raincoat and advised my son to do the same. But despite my instructions that morning to not forget such attire, my son neglected to do just that. He had his music player, but no raincoat.
So, I decided it wasn’t safe to climb back to Kings Peak, the way we had come. We needed to look for another way down to the south, where it was warmer  – and we needed to keep moving for warmth – as one of us lacked rain gear.
We began crossing a nearly mile-long field of loose rocks. There was no cover  to be found.
Soon, the rain nearly stopped as we were half-way across the seemingly void.
However, then thunder and lightning were moving in quickly behind us. You could smell burnt ozone in the air and our hair was beginning to stand on end. We were in immediate danger from lightning.
We were the tallest things around and prime targets for lightning. Even crouching  or lying down, we were still the tallest things around.
I immediately thought of letting my wife down in failing to protect her  son, in favor of “bagging two peaks.”
I prayed for help on what to do and in a split second, I had an answer. Three distinct words came into my head from a still small voice, “Use the Priesthood,” it said.
An ongoing conversation with a still, small voice, in my head continued. ”How will I know what to say?,” I asked.
“You’ll know” was the instant reply.
So, quickly telling my son I was going to use the priesthood to save us, I brought my right arm to the square and gave one of those unusual, for the particular circumstances kind of priesthood blessings.
I surprised myself by commanding in the name of Jesus Christ and by the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, for the lightning and the storm to move away from us and stated that we would be safe now.
That wording did not come from me. My own response would have been to command the lightning to stop all together.
After that less that 30-second blessing on nature, both my son and I felt serene comfort and safety.
Sure enough, in the next few minutes we  noticed that the storm curved sharply to the west, away from us.
My son and I had to hike and scramble an extra six total miles out of our way, but I knew somewhere ahead of us was Trail Rider Pass and an alternate path back to our basecamp. (That’s because some 10 years earlier, a brother and I had been temporarily lost in that area, after we encountered a sign that was turned the wrong direction.)
Several hours after my two friends had arrived at camp, we came in. not the same people we had been before that trek. We recounted our tale and even my professed atheist friend seemed to perk up as I talked.
Now we not only had first-hand experience at the power of nature, but more so about the power of the priesthood.
There’s a reason why the Priesthood Blessing I used isn’t written down. It doesn’t need to be.
Revelation is given, as you need it, for the circumstances. That is, if you are in tune enough to hear that still, small voice of the Holy Ghost.
And, there’s nothing like a disaster to humble you and make you far more sensitive to the Spirit.
(-This experience was partially and briefly recounted in the LDS Church News, Sept. 16, 2000, p. 18.)
-In further retrospect, I feel extra blessed, because I know a young couple who died after lightning struck them on Lone Peak, Salt Lake County, a few years later. They apparently had no warning.

NOTE: The above 3 photos are of myself, on, or just below Kings Peak, on various hiking trips there,

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Find Your Answers In The Scriptures

There’s seems to be a widening gap in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It involves speculation and ignorance on questions and discussions that could be answered from the church’s standard works.
Too many members of the church have not read or studied ALL of the standard works and thus do not know what answers these scriptures have for often-asked questions.
Also, ever since President Gordon B. Hinckley challenged church members to read the Book of Mormon in 2005-2006, for too many church members that is all they seem to do – read the Book of Mormon over and over again.
They neglect other modern revelations, like the Doctrine and Covenants and say they aren’t up to the challenge of reading the symbolic and often hard-to-grasp Old Testament.
The Book of Mormon is the “keystone” to the gospel, but it is but one of the four standard works of the church.
The newest church members need the Book of Mormon most for their diet of milk. But, soon, they need meat and that’s where the other scriptures come in.
Also, reading the other standard works of the church will affirm to members the validity and consistency of the Book of Mormon, as well as boost testimonies.
In the past few months, I've met church members who speculated about such things as if this was the wickedest earth and what Kolob is. The answers to these questions are in the scriptures (but not in the Book of Mormon).
President Harold B. Lee said it best when he gave this counsel in the December 1972 Ensign Magazine (and it has not been repeated nearly enough over the decades):
“I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. If only each of us would be wise enough to say that we aren’t able to answer any question unless we can find a doctrinal answer in the scriptures! And if we hear someone teaching something that is contrary to what is in the scriptures, each of us may know whether the things spoken are false—it is as simple as that. But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think that therein is one of our biggest dangers of today.
“When I meet with our missionaries and they ask questions about things pertaining to the temple, I say to them, as I close the discussion, “I don’t dare answer any of your questions unless I can find an answer in the standard works or in the authentic declarations of presidents of the Church.”
“The Lord has given us in the standard works the means by which we should measure truth and untruth. May we all heed his word: “Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church.” (D&C 42:59.)”

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Amp Up Your Testimony With The 'Inspired Version'

There’s more than just the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price as proof that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church on the face of the Earth.
(All too many church members these days read ONLY the Book of Mormon over and over again and nothing else.)
There’s also, among other things, the “Inspired Version” of the Bible, that Joseph Smith produced.
Sometimes also  referred to as “The Joseph Smith Translation,” much of this work is footnoted in the LDS Church’s Standard Works.
However, you can amp up your own testimony of both Joseph Smith and the Church by studying this marvelous work on your own and cross referencing it with the King James Version of the Bible.
Although never completed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, I’ve compared his Inspired Translation word-for-word with the entire Bible and I came away with a greater testimony, as well as some enhanced Gospel knowledge.
Joseph Smith didn’t go through the Bible word-for-word, or even book-by-book in the Bible when he used direct revelation to produce his own Biblical version. He went through the Bible by subject and that work led to many other great revelations, such as D&C section 76.
The Lord did caution Joseph Smith to “hold thy peace” and “not teach them until ye have received them in full.” (D&C 42:57)
This is a direct reference to this “Inspired Translation” of the Bible and this injunction from the Lord is obviously why the Church does not use the “Inspired Translation” directly and rather the King James Version of the Bible.
However, for personal  use,  there’s likely nothing wrong with reading the Inspired Translation, as long as it is studied in conjunction with the Standard Works.
Note that the King James Bible still works best for all missionary work and related conversations.
It is also worth noting that the copyright to Joseph Smith’s Inspired Translation of the Bible is held by the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So, does that outside copyright mean it is still accurate, as Joseph Smith penned it?
Yes, pretty much.
The late LDS Church Scholar Robert J. Matthews was able to study and compare the original Inspired Translation manuscript with the Community of Christ’s version (see Ensign Magazine, Dec. 1972, p. 63). He found only a few small changes made and on a whole concluded  the work "accurately represents" what Joseph Smith penned.
(The only change made in the Inspired Translation that I have a problem with is also one of the few Brother Matthew pointed out – Revelation 1:6. The word “and” was deleted from that verse, to better conform to a belief the Community of Christ has, that there is no plurality of Gods.)
Notwithstanding, as a whole, the Inspired Translation is simply incredible, majestic and powerful.

It reaffirms the Church’s 8th Article of Faith, that proclaims a belief in the Bible, “as far as it is translated correctly.” That’s because the Inspired Translation contains a large sampling of just how many errors have crept into the Bible.
And, the LDS Church does use a portion of the Inspired Translation in the Standard Works.
The Book of Moses is simply an extraction from the Book of Genesis from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible (as stated in the “Introductory Note” at the beginning of the Pearl of Great Price). So also is “Joseph Smith – Matthew”  in the PGP an extraction from the Prophet’s own Inspired Translation of Matthew Chapter 24.
(Brigham Young had copies made of the above portions of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, before the Saints went westward and this became the Book of Moses and Joseph Smith – Matthew. Meanwhile, the entire Inspired Translation ended up in the hands of Emma Smith, who eventually gave it to the Reorganized Church.)
What are some key samples of Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible that aren’t well known, in contrast to the previously mentioned portions contained in the Pearl of Great Price?
I would give you four  samples, for your own comparison and study.
1. Inspired Version, Exodus 22:18, comparable to Exodus 22:18 in the King James Version: “Thou shalt not suffer a murderer to live.”
2. Inspired Version, Mark 9:20, comparable to Mark 9:23, in the King James Version:  “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt believe all things I shall say unto you, this is possible to him that believeth.”
3. Inspired Version, Luke 23:35, comparable to Luke 23:34 in the King James Version: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Meaning the soldiers who crucified him.) And they parted his raiment and cast lots.”
4. Inspired Version, Matthew 12:14, comparable to Matthew 12:16, in the King James Version: "Behold, I will send your forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise servants, and as harmless as doves."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Part Two: A Mormon Look at Bigfoot – He Is Supernatural.

By Lynn Arave

"Bigfoot," the term at least, has been around since October of 1958, when the Associated Press ran a story out of Eureka, California, that is believed to be the first official usage of the term.
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, founded in 1995, has given the quest for evidence even greater hope. However, after more than 17 years of them taking a scientific approach, even they have come up short of conclusive evidence.
I'm not faulting anyone, or any particular group here. Even with infrared equipment, night vision and automatic sensors and cameras, there is still no solid evidence of Bigfoot.
And, I don't expect any such evidence to ever come either and there's a good reason why. Bigfoot is simply not "real."
Now I don't mean he doesn't exist, I'm purporting that Bigfoot just isn't "real" in the sense that he isn't a regular animal. He's supernatural and that alone and nothing else on the planet truly explains his elusive nature.
Nothing else answers why with all this 21st Century electronic technology and searching, man is yet to capture undeniable evidence of him.
People regularly see Bigfoot and so there is something out there. I've talked to dozens of people who have seen him and I don't think most are making anything up.
It's simply impossible that man has yet to confirm Bigfoot, unless he is supernatural. That's the only explanation left.
With just all the cell phones that have built-in cameras around, you'd think someone would come up with a good picture of the creature, but no.
Is "supernatural" that hard of a concept to believe in? It is no harder than believing in God and angels. You know it is a package deal — if you believe in God and his angels, then you also believe in Satan and his devils — supernatural forces that are counter to God.
(The only people who could legitimately claim to not believe in Bigfoot by this argument are atheists.)
The key problem here is man won't generally admit there are things on Earth beyond his grasp or comprehension. This is perhaps simply a lack of humility and man's arrogance.
But, am I saying Bigfoot is evil? Yes, that is what I am claiming. He is certainly not a good or pure thing. A significant number of accounts by people who sighted the creature mention glowing red eyes, their deep fear and just plain bad and even evil feelings.
Dogs often cower and tremble when a Bigfoot is near.
Bigfoot has a terrible odor, is mostly spotted at night and no sightings of the creature foster benevolent feelings or actions.
Angels are commonly thought to be pure — clean, white, bright and inspiring beings.
Isn't Bigfoot the exact opposite of the Three Nephites, or angels? He being (usually) dark in color, smelly, found in dark places and not inspirational. He fosters fear and mystery.
Now to be accurate, the Bible does state that Satan can appear as an angel of light (1 Corinthians 11:13-15) and so maybe only more lowly devils appear as a Bigfoot. That’s not clear.
Physically, a Bigfoot may not harm a person, but seeing one may "maul" you mentally or spiritually.
If God has angels out and about to aid his mission and benefit man, should not Satan also be given a measure to counter that, with his own creatures, seen and unseen?
In that sense, if you believe in God and angels, you have to believe in Satan and Bigfoot, because they are a package deal of consistent belief.
If I'm in any way correct on this supernatural aspect of Bigfoot, it must re-define the way man searches for the creature, if he dares.
Anyone wanting better evidence of Bigfoot has got to think outside the box and perhaps use more techniques that are employed by ghost hunters, another realm dominated by the supernatural.
(However, again I maintain that so-called “Ghosts” only involve part of the one-third of the host of Heaven cast out and they only impersonate previously living people. I fail to see why any ghost, outside rare, special, rare revelations, would actually be a deceased person.)

                                  An out of focus picture, like most all "Bigfoot" photographs.

You can take all the cameras and all the people you want into the mountains to search Bigfoot and I say you may find some marginal evidence, but that will be all. That's because Bigfoot is outside the normal experience or knowledge of man.
Bigfoot is certainly visible at times and can make tracks at times, but not always. Neither are angels always visible.
I've never seen a Bigfoot, but I've searched for them periodically. For example, in the mid-1990s I was scouring Coldwater Canyon in North Ogden, Ut., where the creature was said to have frightening some children a few weeks earlier.
Soon, my two sons and their friends told me they had looked long enough and were simply not hiking any farther up the canyon. I left them at a spring and forged on alone, as the canyon got darker, narrower and more thick with brush and trees.
About 15 minutes later, the firm thought came into my mind that searching for Bigfoot is not a good thing — that you really don't want to find one, because they are evil.
Two years later, I interviewed a man who claimed he had seen Bigfoot nine different times between 1968 and 1990. Ron Mower, then living in Orangeville, Ut.
I've never heard of anyone claiming so many encounters. He told me he believes there is a supernatural aspect to Bigfoot, that he finds you, more than you him.
“They choose the time for when you can see them. I’ve never really hunted for one," he told me.
In 2002, a Layton, Ut. man was scouring the mountain side with a scope for wildlife. He spots a strange creature roaming in the foothills above the Highway 193/U.S. 89 junction. He gets his camcorder and films the creature for about five minutes from about 500 yards away. A few hours later, he goes into that same area and despite snow on the ground, cannot find a single footprint or aftermath of the creature's walk across an open space. His video footage is intriguing, but inconclusive from such a great distance away.
How could someone film something walking across an area and then soon after find no tracks? It is simply not scientifically possible for that to happen. But it did and that leaves my supernatural reason as the best answer out there.
The Layton man captured the creature on film from a great distance, but found no footprints. Many others find strange footprints, but no creature.
A Box Elder County, Ut. sheriff in the 1990s was following some strange footprints in a farmer's field one winter. The footprints fit the usually Bigfoot parameters — large and naked toed. However, the footprints simply stopped in the middle of the field, with no turnaround visible.
Incidents like this tend to bring up the "UFO connection" at times. That is, that Bigfoot is part of advanced scientific race and can "beam away" or change dimensions at will.
That belief might be OK for atheists to latch onto, but I'm not buying it, nor should any church member who believes in God. Bigfoots are naked, smelly and do nothing that denotes extreme intelligence — unless you count avoiding capture.
A Layton, Ut. man I met in the summer of 2011 told me he had spotted Bigfoot around his home several times. As a former military tracking expert, he said he had no clue for how these creatures can disappear and avoid capture. When I mentioned a possible supernatural aspect for Bigfoot, he said he was somewhat open to that, but that he’d probably have to actually see one disappear before his eyes first.
Why are Bigfoots roaming around? Latter-day Saints  believe God has translated various mortals over time, like John the apostle (John Chapter 21) and the Three Nephites. And, if they roam around earth and foster good, why are there not some evil things roaming around to balance the scales?
Another key question to ponder is why are there a dozen or more Bigfoot sightings reported each month in the U.S. vs. few reports, if any, of sightings of angels. What does that say about us? Is the evil state of the world somehow creating more Bigfoot sightings, than sightings of the Three Nephites, or angels, because of its extreme overall wickedness? So, it would appear.
Yet, shouldn't we seek angels before devils?
Meet a Bigfoot and a gun will do you no good. Prayer or the power of the priesthood would be your only defense.
Why didn’t Elder David W. Patten use the “spirit test” (Doctrine and Covenants section 129) on his co-called strange visitor, “Cain” (recounted in the previous part one of “Mormons and Bigfoot” article)?
 Joseph Smith didn’t receive D&C 129 until 1843 – that’s years after Elder Patten’s encounter. (Elder Patten died in 1838, almost five years before D&C 121 was given as a revelation, so he definitely didn’t know about the spirit test.)
In conclusion, for LDS Church members to believe in Bigfoot isn’t a stretch at all and Bigfoot’s existence in no way seems to contradict the Gospel. But he is evil and supernatural and not something to trifle with.
 (NOTE: The photographs above are from British Columbia, Canada, where a provincial park is named after Bigfoot and various towns highlight the creature; and from near Mt. St. Helen's, Washington State.)

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Part 1: A Mormon Look at Bigfoot – He’s Not Cain

By Lynn Arave

WHATEVER “Bigfoot” may be, and real or not, one thing is a clear scriptural fact – he is not Cain from the Biblical Book of Genesis. 
The scriptures simply prove Cain died thousands of years ago.
Anyone reading Genesis 4:15 should be able to realize that God did not make Cain immortal. Cain could be killed (since God warned  everyone not to kill Cain, or be cursed worse).
“And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” (Genesis 4:15).
Unless God is a liar, Cain, though a son of perdition, could be killed and was therefore not translated, or given any special longevity.
Therefore, there’s no way then Cain could have survived old age or the flood.
And, Genesis 4:23-24 tells of Lamech, who killed an unidentified man.
“If Cain shall be avenged seven fold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.” (Genesis 4:24).
So, it is possible that Lamech may have actually killed Cain some time later, because first Lamech referenced the penalty for killing Cain and then said he felt his own death should carry a higher penalty than killing Cain did.
Any way you look at it, Cain is long since dead.
Some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints starting believing Cain to be Bigfoot (also called Sasquatch), in the winter of 1980, after there was a flurry of Bigfoot sightings in South Weber, Utah.
Those many, and high publicized sightings of Bigfoot, referenced with pages 127-128 of Spencer W. Kimball’s book, “Miracle of Forgiveness,” seemed to support Cain as Bigfoot.
“Miracle” states an account by Elder David W. Patten (one of the 

early apostles in Joseph Smith’s time) and his strange experience, 

where he met "a very remarkable person who had represented 

himself as being Cain"

Patten’s account states:
“As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me. … His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight. …"
Elder Kimball offered no insight on the Elder Patten incident – he just threw it in his book, as a sort of odd tidbit.
Church members who have at best only done a casual reading of Genesis, could logically, yet erroneously conclude that Bigfoot must be Cain, once they know of Elder Patten’s incident.
And, no area of the world has more church members residing in it, than the populous Wasatch Front, where the 1980 Bigfoot sightings took place.
Plus, Cain as Bigfoot makes Bigfoot supernatural and conveniently explains why no one has been able to document or capture Bigfoot.
This Elder Patten tale is also not the only LDS tale of a possible encounter with Cain either. In the 1920s, E. Wesley Smith, mission president in Hawaii (Not Temple President, as some accounts wrongly state), described (in the "Papers of E. Wesley Smith" in the LDS Church Archives) being attacked by a large, hairy creature. He drove it off by the power of the priesthood. Later, when he described the attack to his brother, Joseph Fielding Smith, he was told it was Cain and was given a copy of the Patten encounter.
According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner of Oct. 18, 2015, there was also an account of LDS Missionaries in Mexico during the 1920s meeting a large, dark, hairy creature who claimed to be Cain. 
Decades later, missionaries in Georgia were attacked by a huge dark black man who their mission president later told them was Cain.
Since Cain died, he would have ended up in the spirit world, where all dead people go. Even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, himself went there when he died. Christ left the spirit world after three days, being resurrected.
That’s the only way to exit the spirit world I’m aware of – be resurrected too, so Cain would still be there – likely in the prison section of the Spirit World.
Why did David W. Patten’s visitor claim to be Cain?
I believe even the devils, the one-third of the host of heaven cast out for rebellion, recognize that Cain will be the supreme evil being one day. Having a body of flesh and bone one day through eventual resurrection will mean that Cain will rule over a body-less Satan. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 169.)
That’s because anyone with a body has power over a spirit. A spirit, like a devil, only has power over us as we permit it.
 Anyway, if a devil is going to impersonate the big shot of evil, that’s Cain.
Why did Joseph Fielding Smith tell his brother Cain had attacked him?
I think the then Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith knew of the Elder Patten account, but did not study the Cain situation through – he just assumed incorrectly it was Cain in both cases, as that’s such an easy, convenient answer.

--Look for Part two of a Mormon Look at Bigfoot ...
(Note: Photograph above is from British Columbia, Canada.)

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why The 'Intellectual Reserve' Copyright'?

Why does the LDS Church have an "Intellectual Reserve, Inc." copyright on its manuals and other publications?
This name replaced "Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" at the beginning of the 21st Century, likely around 2001 or 2002.
Nothing to worry about here.
A bunch of church attorneys chose the name and  purely for  legal reasons to keep up with the times.
Despite the "Sunstone-ish" sounding copyright, there's nothing to read into here.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Can You Resign From a Church Calling?

Can you actually resign from an LDS Church calling or position?
Most members might say no, but there is a historical precedent for a resignation taking place.
On Oct. 6, 1946, Joseph Fielding Smith (the less well-known leader with that name, that was not the president of the church), submitted his resignation as patriarch to the church.
Although some more contemporary sources state that he was "released," he did submit his resignation for the calling to the First Presidency.
The newer Church News Almanacs state he was released, but the older almanacs confirm his resignation.
So, there you have it, for whatever it may mean, at least one church member did resign from a major calling and his resignation was accepted.
(Eldred G. Smith, the seventh and last patriarch of the church, replaced Joseph Fielding Smith. Eldred was put on emeritus status eventually.)

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why LDS Church Members Go Inactive ...

Why do some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go inactive?
It boils down to a lack of testimony and conviction, but often the spark to stop going to church is some negative experience -- usually with a church leader.
A bishop offended or embarrassed the member somehow.
In the case of one of my grandfathers, he traded his two prize plow horses to a friend, who was also his bishop, for a tractor. The machine broke down almost immediately and was no good. So, he took offense and stopped attending church. This continued for decades and he sadly passed away, being inactive.
In the case of one teenager, his bishop stopped him from attending his seminary graduation for a minor sell-confessed moral problem. He took offense that he missed a once-in-a-lifetime event. He was also upset that the prior year, two older boys in the ward did graduate from seminary, even though they stole yearbooks from the local high school and were prevented from attending their own high school graduation. He stopped going to church. His circle of friends even switched to less active members or even non-members.
In another case, a man in his mid-30s went inactive in the late 1970s for something his bishop did. It seemed like the man could not even recall exactly what the bishop did, but he was still mad about it and hadn't been to church since then. That former bishop has long since passed away and about a dozen bishops have served in the ward since then.
For still another case, a man in his late 50s, a smoker and inactive for many years, tried to come to church regularly five years ago. However, he could not stop smoking and said felt like an outcast at church, because of his smoking habit and within a few months he stopped coming again.
These tales are sad.
I'm not saying things that what church leaders do is the only cause of inactivity, but it is certainly one of the key causes. I'm also certain no church leaders plan to drive any members inactive, it just happens with human failings. Yet, I'm also certain church leaders probably work on missionary opportunities a lot and probably mostly ignore the negative -- that things they do could drive someone way from the church.
Obviously in many cases, members are perhaps looking for things to take offense at.
Someone once said that Sampson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. Sadly, the testimony of some members today is killed the same way.
Once a person stops attending church and doing what they should, their testimony decreases.
Still, this illustrates the grave consequences -- good or bad -- that church leaders can have on members' lives.
Church leaders could strive to be more sensitive to avoid doing things that members could take offense at. There is no way to avoid all such offenses, as some are silly and overblown, but bishops who are too strict and on a letter of the law crusade -- may do some serious damage -- especially to young adults.
I feel that some people, who are inactive, may not be forthcoming and also don't want to seem so shallow by revealing their true reason for going inactive -- that someone offended them.
So, they hide behind some so-called church history inconsistency, or similar things as their stated reasons.
They want to appear intellectual, but in reality are nothing of the sort ...
In 30 years of meeting inactive members in my stake, when I get people to really open up, the spark or cause of their inactivity can more often than ANY OTHER reason be traced to taking offense at what some leader or member did or said.
That's a sad reason for a substantial amount of inactivity, but still true.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

World's Toughest LDS Mission (For Converts)?

What is the toughest mission to serve in for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
A lot depends on how you define "tough."
However, if you define it as how many average converts a missionary baptizes during his/her mission, then I'd peg my mission, England-Bristol, as thee toughest, and at the least one of the toughest of all.
In fact, I'd put ALL of Europe in the toughest in the world category.
I'd estimate the average missionary in the U.K. or Europe only baptizes a few or a handful of converts in two years of service.
Furthermore, England Bristol doesn't even exist as a mission anymore.
Whereas in Central and South America in particular, missions have been divided and multiplied many times over the decades, there are actually LESS missions in the United Kingdom today than in the 1970s.
Missionaries were also "chewed out" in the early 1990s by a regional leader for their low baptism numbers. Eleven years later, in 2002, the mission was disbanded and merged with two adjoining missions.
(In addition to being tough for converts, this mission is also among the most expensive in all the world -- though costs missionaries pay are equalized world-wide, except for couples.)

--ALL of Europe is in a steep religious decline overall.
In fact, the England Bristol Mission ceased to exist on July 1, 2002, after some 40 years of existence. The England London mission gained part of the former Bristol mission and the England Birmingham mission received the rest.
Where else in the world are you going to find LESS missions in existence and likely less full-time missionaries serving, except in the United Kingdom and Europe?
The "why" this may be so is another story.

               (Above photograph is from Bradford, England, a circa year 1300 A.D.  building.)

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

God Does Intervene In Our Lives

This life isn't set in stone --- there is always hope.
Even though God the Father likely knew  if we would be faithful and return to his presence or not before we were born, I strongly believe that outcome isn't set in stone.
Here's why.
God can see the future as it will be and I've always wondered if he ever intervenes and allows the possibility of changing the original outcome.
I believe we have our free agency to choose, but at times God will inspire and/or humble us so that we have time to reflect and consider a difference course of action that could ultimately change what will happen.
If this wasn't true, then why come to mortality in the first place, if God knew already if we would only fail or succeed as he could see into the future?
Sure you might need to have a physical body, but otherwise there's no reason to come to Earth if there no chance for a different outcome.
But I think because God does intervene to some degree, stopping short of taking any of our personal free agency away, that the outcome can be changed at many different points in our lives.
Thus, this means there is a reason to live a mortal life. The outcome is not set or certain yet. We repent or change the course as we listen to the spirit.
This hope alone is worth God letting us live our lives to truly prove if we are worthy to return to him.
(Note that this a different look on the subject of a similar blog posting I did int the past.)

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Mormons and Caffeine

There were lots of Utah TV news reports in late August 2012 on so-called clarifications about the LDS Church's Word of Wisdom vs. caffeine.
What I saw was little in clarification and a lot in supposition.
Yes, caffeine and cola drinks are NOT mentioned in the Church's Word of Wisdom doctrine.
So, yes, technically church doctrine does not oppose drinking colas on that basis, as "hot drinks" in the Word of Wisdom officially only refer to coffee and tea drinking.
However, the church has always stated that its members should avoid harmful and habit forming drugs.
Also, in October of 2013, some caffeinated soft drinks accidentally ended up for sale at BYU. The drinks, once discovered, were promptly removed.
So, BYU or church leaders can say caffeinated drinks are not specifically against church policy, but their actions say otherwise, since they are not sold at BYU or at any College Institute of Religion.
As I've watched regular cola drinkers over the years, some are certainly addicted to the stuff.
There's enough caffeine in colas to be obviously especially harmful to young children the most.
Now consider this, the drugs LSD and Heroin are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom revelation (D and C section 89), so are they OK then?

In reasonable moderation, cola drinks with caffeine are probably OK. But, how do you define "reasonable?"
My wife will sometimes drink a caffeine-loaded cola to stop a headache. That's probably OK, if it works, as a kind of medicine.
(She thinks I drink too many soft drinks period.)
I personally hate the cola taste and so there's no issue for me here. And, there are some non-cola drinks that have caffeine in them as well (like Mountain Dew, which I also dislike the taste of.)
-Regarding coffee and tea:
It ISN'T just the caffeine in those drinks that is against the Word of Wisdom.
By the same logic of 'actions speak louder than words' -- there is NO decaf coffee or tea on sale at BYU or any Institute of Religion.
That's because there are other ingredients in those that are bad.
Also, "hot drinks" is a core principle of the Word of Wisdom, as in setting the Lord's  people apart and distinct from the rest of the world ...
Remember: It isn't evil or a sin for non-LDS members to drink caffeine or coffee or tea. But it is a sin for Church members, who should know better, to do so and who are held to a HIGHER standard..

Conclusion: All things in moderation is probably the best advice and that includes chocolate, meat, soft drinks in general, candy and any food or drink. Why, even drinking too much water can make you sick, or kill you.
But coffee, tea and any caffeinated soft drinks (or other drinks with that ingredient) are AGAINST the Word of Wisdom.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why Aren't Bells Rung at the End of the Block Time?

The Wards I've been in, past and present, always seem to make it a point to have someone ring the hallway bell five minutes before the end of Sunday School and then again when it should be over.
I've never understood why two similar bells rung at the end of block time (for wards who have Sacrament meeting first)  don't exist. That's at the end of Priesthood, Relief Society and Primary.
So, when I was a substitute bell ringer the other week, I decided my new unofficial calling is to ring the bells at the end of block, if only to be consistent, and help ensure the block time ends properly on time.
Of course, if I have to substitute teach High Priest group again (or say a closing prayer), that may not happen, but otherwise, it is my new goal.
--In a related concern, my chapel lacks a block on its west wall. There is a clock on its east wall, but that's only visible to those on the stand, or those who sit on the west side of the chapel.
I think this is also an inconsistent practice, that makes no sense.
And, at a recent fast and testimony meeting, I spotted a mother and daughter get halfway toward the podium from the back overflow, only to see the bishopric close the meeting. Those two were sitting on the east side of the overflow, where the lone clock is NOT visible on the east wall.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

It's "Nigh" unto Kolob, Not "Hie" unto Kolob

OK, my eyebrows raise when I see the title of a song in the LDS Hymn book, "Hie unto Kolob." (page 284).
Its title is simply NOT doctrinally correct.
(Some LDS artwork is not doctrinally correct either, so this should come as no real surprise.)
Based on the Book of Abraham 3:1-4, 9, the song takes an incorrect title.
"Hie" is not "Nigh."
"Hie" in Old English means "to quickly, hasten, hurry," according to Webster's Dictionary. "Hie" is NOT found in the Book of Abraham.
"Nigh" means "nearly, almost," according to Webster. "Nigh" is found in the Book of Abraham.
"And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord's time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest."  (Abraham 3:9).
That's what the scriptures states, "nigh" twice.

Brother Phelps may have aided the Prophet Joseph Smith in the translation of the Book of Abraham, but he indirectly helps to perpetuate an incorrect belief among LDS Church members today.
Phelp's song essentially says to hurry to Kolob, as if Kolob is the eternal goal of church members.
The problem is that I feel that most church members incorrectly believe Kolob is WHERE God actually dwells.
In fact, Kolob is simply the name of a great star that is NEAREST where God dwells (Abraham 3:3) and not actually the place where God dwells.
(We are given no specific name as to God's residence, except perhaps highest level of the Celestial Kingdom.)
I feel Abraham chapter 3 is more than an astronomy lesson.
The Lord is saying to draw near unto him, like Kolob is.
And, anyone who strives for eternal perfection -- required for becoming like God -- knows you can't hurry, or hasten that process. It take time and goes precept by precept.
Also, a man CAN'T be perfect in this life. (Jesus Christ was the only perfect person to have ever lived on Earth.) So, the Lord may also be implying to become as "nearly, almost" as perfect as you can in this life -- thus coming nigh unto Kolob.
That's my two cents on that subject.

--In another beef about an LDS hymn, a second song is "Come,Come, Ye Saints" (LDS Hymns Pages 30 and 326.)
A key phrase in that rousing Mormon pioneer rendition is "All is well, all is well."
Why is that particular phrase in that song?
Had the hymn's writer, William Clayton, not read the Book of Mormon enough or what?
"Wo be unto him that crieth All is well!" (2 Nephi 28:25).
Was Clayton oblivious to that verse or what?
Why did he have to use the phrase exactly as mentioned in the Book of Mormon in the hymn?
Clayton's original name for the hymn was actually "All is Well," later changed to "Come, Come, Ye Saints." So, at least that's one improvement in the song over the years and likely evidence that I'm NOT the only church member to have a problem with the "all is well" phrase.
Now I'm not saying for things NOT to well with the Mormon Pioneers, early church members,or even today's Saints.
Clayton COULD HAVE used a different word, instead of "well" in the song.
"All is clear"; "all is serene"; "all is great"; or "all is best" could have been possible substitutes.
Normally, as in "nigh unto Kolob," it may be best to quote scripture, but not when it is clearly a negative, as with 2 Nephi 28:25.
--There is already a precedent for doctrinal changes in LDS Hymns. "I am a Child of God" had a one word change from "know" to "do," after a suggestion by then Apostle Spencer W. Kimball.
--I discussed doctrinal problems with the two hymns talked about above with a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He figures it was all in the smoother kind of wording as to why the songs came out the way they did. 

--UPDATE: After further thought and also after considering a reader's comments below, here's a clarification:

The LDS realm of arts, music and artwork, isn't always strictly doctrinally correct and may not have to be.
There's a "correct for its purpose" doctrine in the LDS Church and the arts probably fall under that umbrella.
While some hymns may not be strictly doctrinally correct, they can still elevate a congregation spiritually.
In the art realm, the Statues of the Angel Moroni commonly found may or may not be accurate likenesses of Moroni himself, but they still stand for much truth and are powerful symbols of the restoration of the Gospel.
The world of arts often takes certain liberties, it has to, to even be created.
Songs aren't necessarily written to be doctrinal essays and probably should not be analyzed as such. They are rousing musical renditions to honor God and evoke his Spirit. That is their purpose. Absolute correct doctrine in a hymn is a priority much further down the line of importance ...

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A More Authentic Rendering of Jesus Christ at the Second Coming Rendering

I prefer my doctrine to be as accurate as possible.

Hence, I took my limited -- make that very, very limited artistic ability -- at making the famous LDS Church Second Coming of Jesus Christ drawing in my home more authentic by coloring Jesus to have red apparel.
That's how Christ will look when he comes again (Doctrine and Covenants 133:48).
No, I don't care for watered-down doctrine.
That's why my favorite Standard Work is the Doctrine and Covenants.
No parables, no allegories, just straight-forward doctrine.
Now the red does make the painting stand out more in the room, but is that bad?
(Note that some of these Second Coming Christ paintings do have Jesus wearing a red-colored sash at his waist, so there is some small consideration to doctrinal accuracy with the work.)
In fact, it was a non-LDS artist, commissioned by the LDS Church, who drew this famous painting. So,  it is amazing how well it turned out anyway, considering it is one of the most used depictions of Jesus in the church today.
UPDATE: Nov. 24, 2012: My wife made me move this doctored painting from the downstairs family room into my den. She doesn't care for it.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Unknown Wild Card in Earth Sciences

Man thinks he knows a lot about science. At least as far as the basics go.
But, no he does not!
Man might have landed a small car size rover successfully on Mars, but he has no true concept of Earth science.
According to LDS doctrine, the entire planet earth is one huge, single living thing.
(D&C 88:25-26).
Factor that into today's science!
You can't because God isn't letting man understand that, but it is the wild card in earth science.
No matter how many natural disasters man can learn about as being possible, he doesn't generally understand that God is in control of the entire planet, through the Earth, a living thing itself, that does abide the law of a Celestial Kingdom.

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Will the Millennium Be Like?

The Millennium is the promised 1,000 years of peace, where wickedness will vanish and Christ will reign upon the Earth.
The Earth returns to Garden of Eden conditions and guns, for one thing, won't exist for long in the Millennium!
Scripture/doctrinal searching and extrapolating, here are some probable changes I suggest MAY COME in life and the earth during that 10 century period:
--Farming will be the universal trade. Families will ONLY eat what they grow (Isaiah 65:18-23), but then with Garden of Eden conditions (no weeds, perfect weather), that shouldn't be a problem, as everyone will be green thumbed!
But this also means that there may be no urban areas anymore. People will live on small farms or have gardens very nearby.
Sprinklers and irrigation may cease to exist. Weeding and fertilizers will not exist either. There will be no deserts (D&C 133:29).
--Temple work will be the other predominant profession. Only those still mortal can do temple work, but resurrected beings will return to provide exact family ancestries. Errors in past temple work will be corrected. Adjustments in the eternal marriages of some will undoubtedly be done.
--Pornography, risqué paintings, movies, videos and the like will all be destroyed. (Every corruptible thing will be consumed, D&C 101:24). How much of your video/book collection will survive? The Las Vegas Strip will likely go up in flames, but there will be new scripture to read from the Lost 10 Tribes. Weapons of war will be made into tools (Micah 4:3).
--Meat eating will not exist. Fast food will be gone. Animals, like lions and tigers, will presumably become vegetarians and will lay down with sheep in peace. Isaiah 11:7 states that the lion shall eat straw, like the ox. There is some sort of physical change here, where everything from bears to man will no longer need or have a desire to be carnivorous. Hunting will no longer be a sport or allowed and guns will be unnecessary. What purpose lions, tigers and the like will have then is unknown .. Will they become large pets? Cows can give milk; sheep wool, but snakes? Death will be in the twinkling of an eye, followed by a resurrection of likely all people and animals.

--There will be no disease. People will live to 100 years old and then die and be resurrected in the twinkling of an eye (Isaiah 65:20, D&C 101:29-31). No CDC will be needed. No immunizations will be needed and the common cold will be "cured."
--Boat travel may no be necessary. All land will be brought together to one single mass, even islands cease to stand alone. (D&C 133:23). The City of Enoch will return and may rest in the Gulf of Mexico, if you believe some theories.
--There may not be any mountains or valleys (Isaiah 40:14, Doctrines of Salvation 2:316). That means skiing or snowboarding or snow may cease to exist. There may just be a continual summer season, no winter or fall for sure.
--The skies will change. The very earth, or maybe solar system, will move nearer the Kolob realm, thus changing most constellations in the sky. But you may not see stars anyway, because it may be light 24 hours a day (Zechariah 14:6-7).
--Professions that will likely cease to exist: butchers, cattle ranchers; zookeepers; fishermen; gunsmiths; policemen; soldier; attorney; reporter (at least investigative); dentist; many doctors; psychologist; loan officer, lobbyists, spy, king/queen/dictator; mortician; grave digger; salesman; weatherman, English or Spanish teacher; plumber.
--The government will be a theocracy, with Christ as the head. No more democracy.
--Animals may be able to communicate with man. After all, the serpent spoke in the Garden of Eden.
--People will really rest on the Sabbath.
--There will be no Aaronic Priesthood. (D&C 13).
--There will initially be those of other, non-LDS faiths on the earth, though all must accept the truth by the Millennium's end (History of the Church 5:212).
--There will only be one language spoken — the Adam Language (Zeph 3:9). Perhaps the veil will be lifted enough for everyone's original language to return.
--A continual resurrection will take place, where those in the spirit world who accept the truth and are worthy are brought forth. (D&C 88:99).
--Prayers will be answered quickly (D&C 101:27).
--I'm unclear on transportation and what will exist. There's no way polluting gasoline-powered vehicles will remain, but what?
--How many homes, buildings will there? With security and perfect climate and no darkness, some may be unnecessary. (There were apparently no structures in the Garden of Eden!) Will there be bathrooms? The usual bodily waste may not be part of a terrestrial body. Fat and baldness may vanish as well.
-They will likely be NO alcohol, as the decay and fermenting processes that exist now will have vanished forever.
-There will probably be no different races. All will be white. (2 Nephi 5:21).

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.

Pre-Block Time Recollections

Block time" meeting schedules in the LDS Church began more than 32 years ago on March 2, 1980.
Many are too young to even recall that, or weren't even born then …. But this was one of the most significant changes ever in the LDS Church.
Consider this: By my recollection, you spent 4 1/2 to 5 hours in church meetings each Sunday BEFORE the block time schedule came along.
Priesthood was 8 a.m.-9:30 in many wards and Sunday School went from 10-11:30-ish.
(I recall you rushing home as a teenager to grab some breakfast and help get the rest of the family ready for Sunday School.)
Then, you came back at 6 p.m., or so, for a sacrament meeting the routinely went 90 minutes or more -- there was little direction on when the meeting should end.
Today you spend 3 hours only in regular meetings under the block time, or about 40 percent less.
--As I was researching block time I realized my wife's stake, Ogden East, was one of the pilot program stakes and so it actually began block time almost a year earlier in 1979.
--Two significant church milestones were November 1989, when the church discontinued its budget donations from members; and November 1990, when it equalized the costs of full-time missionary service for ALL missions (except senior missions).

(Note: The photo above shows the old wooden junior Sunday School pulpit (cira 1950) that existed in my home ward as I grew up in the pre-block time era. This pulpit has since been donated to a city museum.)

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.