Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Word of Wisdom is more than a health code -- It separates Church members from the world

IF I've learned one thing over the decades about the Word of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants section 89) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is that this is much MORE than just a health code.
Various scientific claims of the health values of drinking coffee or wine -- have abounded over the years and none of that dents my testimony of this God-given revelation.
Because I believe the Word of Wisdom is also something that separates, or distinguishes LDS Church members from the rest of the world.
In a majority of places in the 21st Century, anyone who does not drink coffee, tea, alcohol or even caffeine-laced energy drinks stands out.
Like the Israelites of the Old Testament times and their strict dietary code, today's World of Wisdom makes Latter-day Saints a distinct people.
I think a key problem with many teachings about the Word of Wisdom in Sunday School or Seminary -- or even Institute of Religion Classes -- fails to adequately stress this non-health aspect, a second dimension to this commandment.
Thus, some millennial Church members may drink coffee, energy drinks or similar fare -- especially college age young adults, thinking the practice is healthy.
-Ultimately, any Church member with a true testimony of the Word of Wisdom doesn't need any scientific backing to believe in it, just the confirmation of the Holy Ghost.
AND, it is also possible for a Church member to have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and NOT of the Word of Wisdom. Most Church members can lack true conversion in a number of specific commandments, as we are all imperfect.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Don't lose your testimony over a church policy you don't care for ....

CHURCH members should never, ever lose their testimony over a policy of the church.
Policies can and do change. Doctrine doesn't change and knowing the difference between the two is a critical element for LDS Church members to learn.
There are always some policies I don't personally care for, but I don't stop going to Church over them, or lose my faith in spite.
The ultimate reality is that a person probably has a thin testimony if disliked church policies over-rule it.
I've had some relatives get sidetracked and stop going to church over policies changes. The most recent were some gay member policies that spurred some of my loved ones to doubt and falter.
In my 50-plus years of experience in the church, policies change often and considerably.
Reading through a 1963 Church General Handbook of Instructions almost 55 years later illustrated to me the changeability of policies in the church. I implore members NOT to stop coming to church over a policy change they question or dislike. To do so is like jumping off a moving train because you don't like a single item on the railroad's luncheon menu.

The evolution of Stake Conferences

MY recollection of stake conferences in the LDS Church date back to the late 1950s -- and there have been many key changes over the decades.
In my early memories, there were several general sessions of stake conference on Sunday itself. Being young then, "cry rooms" were where I spend some of the those meetings. In the Ogden, Ut. tabernacle, the cry room was in the northwest corner. It was a separate room with a big glass window.
By the 1980s, primary children had their own separate meeting during the general session of stake conference. Hence, the general session was very quiet and almost completed devoid of young children. 
(I kind of miss that element at times. For example, during an Aug. 21, 2016 stake conference general session in my stake, the door behind me might as well have been a revolving door as it kept opening and thudding closed dozens and dozens of times during the two-hour meeting ...)
By the start of 21st Century, there were not any more separate stake conference sessions for primary children and all were in one single meeting.
Since the 1980s, starting times for general session stake conferences were 10 a.m. on Sunday. However, my August 2016 general session was 11 a.m. -- because a leadership meeting was moved from Saturday 4-6 p.m., to Sunday 8-10 a.m. instead.
Also, since the late 1990s, electronic transmissions have bolstered stake conference reception, first with video screens at the far back of the cultural hall, when all the stake was meeting in a single building.
With many more wards in my stake in the 21st Century, broadcasts of stake conference were made to the two other buildings in the stake. Hence, it was like watching a transmission of general conference sessions.