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.

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,

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.)”


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."