Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week Sixty

WEEK SIXTY August 25, 2014

On my birthday Sister H and I were privileged to attend the Newport Beach Temple. What a great place to be. The Two family had us over for my birthday dinner this week. The mother expressed some concern that her son seems to be excluded by the other scout age boys in the ward. Reminded me of our first priority in Encinitas ward which was to eliminate all cliques, youth and adult. They just seem to paralyze a ward family. Our heart just ached as she recounted the instances of his exclusion. I think this is the fear of all missionaries that new members will not be embraced fully. I suspect the Lord has the same fear which minimizes His trust in sharing with us those ready to embrace the gospel. It’s a large and stretched out ward, over three cities which also may account for some of this but we lived in the Louisville 3rd Ward, years ago, which covered miles and miles making church meetings the gathering place breeding excitement and fellowship. So I’m not sure the factor here.

I sent a text message to the young son: “Your mom shared last night that you're having some misgivings about the way some of the deacons are treating you if even treating you at all. I would suggest you consider Alma 58:10–13 in dealing with such concerns and Alma 17:8-11 and see how these great men who became prophets dealt with fear and discomfort. I promise you that would persevering will improve your own character and your standing before God. If you'd like to talk about it let me know I have dealt with this issue a number of times over the years and learned that while I can't change others I can change myself. I'll share an experience we had in North Carolina. Remember Sunday meetings are not the churches meetings or the meetings of other boys. They are Heavenly Fathers meetings. He is the one who is asking us to be there. Every meeting isn't great but I know that is where God wants me to be and I'm being there He speaks to me as I listen and avoid all distractions. “

I shared with Brother Two a little article I write explaining Moroni’s promise and what we need to do to get answers to prayer. He told me, “The Holy Ghost does not give answers to satisfy curiosity, nor to sign seekers. Your notes are opening my eyes to truths not realized.” This coming Sunday they meet with the stake president for the temple recommend interview.

Received a nice report from Greg Loosli about our home ward. Nice to feel in touch with our fellow Saints at home. Received an unexpected encouragement from our MP to attend the baptism of our last grandchild in Provo, Utah. Things are certainly much different for senior missionaries.

Had a good meeting with the Twenty-first family and a sweet discussion on the Book of Mormon sharing how exciting it is to me. We were able to share with him the comments of a grandson who is learning the drums regarding Brother Twenty-one’s performance at the Orange County Fair. Our grandson said he was a rock star, couldn’t believe how confident he was playing in front of other people without making a mistake. Brother Twenty-one said he used to practice dropping one of the drum sticks and still keeping the foot and the other hand going keeping the beat. That was what gave him the confidence. Also our grandson said, “He is better than my teacher.” Brother Twenty-one has an audition coming up with a country band that he is hopeful of participating with.

Also met with the Fifty-five family who have completed all their interview for the temple. We had our final preparation class message and will be going to the San Diego Temple with them early September.

Learned that two of my bishopric counselors and their wives were able to visit and share a meal together in Guatemala. How happy we are for the four of them.

Received from Brother Forty-two, “What is the difference between the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit?” I suggested that generally the terms are used interchangeably. However the Holy Spirit is also used to identify the Spirit of God, or the spirit of The Lord. To me it would identify that spirit that proceeds forth about the God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Ghost as well as the Holy Ghost is a personage.

Then he asked, “Repentance - Repent of individual acts and not sinful nature. Man can be perfect. Wasn't Jesus?... and being born again – baptism into the true church?

I replied, at length to make sure there was no confusion in his mind—

To answer your question, (do we repent of individual sins and not our fallen nature?), I need to explore some things with you. Traditional Christendom has come up with a doctrine called “original sin” to describe the taint of sin, the “curse of Adam” that is transmitted by birth to all his posterity. We don’t believe that doctrine originated in the scriptures, rather its roots are traced largely to St. Augustine (354-430 AD). It is our belief that Adam and Eve were forgiven by God following their repentance and the power of the Atonement (Moroni 8:8; Moses 6:53-54) and that “men are punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression (Article of Faith 1:2)

However, the nature of man did change as a result of the transgression of Adam and the Fall. Not only was physical and spiritual death introduced as a result, but the very nature of man, Adam’s posterity changed. This nature, the natural proclivities of the flesh, frequently referred to as the “natural man” can be overcome only through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The process is best illustrated in Mosiah 3:19: The natural man, he who exists because of the fall, is “an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man (this a choice, choosing God rather than the vain things of this world) and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, (this comes from and solely through the grace of Christ) and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (The character of the individual changing as the influence of the Spirit changes them into a more perfect being.) This change from the natural man, through faith, repentance and the grace Christ is what I think the apostle Paul was referring to in Galatians 2:20.

So in summary Adam’s sin inputs no sin on his posterity because of the death and resurrection of the Savior; for Adam and Eve themselves their transgression was resolved through their willingness to personally repent. The result of Adam’s transgression was the fall including a fallen nature in man. Adam’s transgression was unconditionally paid by our Savior. How I deal with my fallen nature is up to me. Will I come to Christ as he invites, and partake of his grace and allow him to change me? The invitation is constant, the choice is mine. I can choose liberty and eternal life or captivity and death.

We believe that Jesus Christ has always been, was when he walked the earth, and now is a perfect being. Consequently his baptism was not to assuage His sins, for they did not exist, but rather “to fulfill all righteousness.” Showing us that “according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.” Christ’s baptism therefore being an example for us showing the “straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter.” Therefore we are to “follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting or your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel. [2 Nephi 31:4-15]

Concerning perfection the Savior declared, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) We do believe this is a possibility, just as the Lord stated, but only through Christ, not on our own. As Moroni so impressively related, it is required of us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.” (Moroni 10:32-33.)

For me personally the take of C. S. Lewis on this has always resonated with me—

“…On the one hand we must never imagine that our own unaided efforts can be relied on to carry us through the next twenty-four hours as "decent people." If He does not support us, not one of us is safe from some gross sin. On the other hand, no possible degree of holiness or heroism which has ever been recorded of the greatest saints is beyond what He is determined to produce in every one of us in the end. The job will not be completed in this life; but He means to get us as far as possible before death...

I find I must borrow ... [a] parable from George MacDonald. Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way the hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of –throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

“The command ‘Be ye perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him –for we can prevent Him, if we choose –He well make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 173-74.)

One of our current apostles said it this way—

“The Lord's authorized servants repeatedly teach that one of the principal purposes of our mortal existence is to be spiritually changed and transformed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Alma declared: 'Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God’ (Mosiah 27:25-26).

“We are instructed to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness’ (Moroni 10:32), to become “new creature[s]” in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), to put off ‘the natural man’ (Mosiah 3:19), and to experience ‘a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually’ (Mosiah 5:2). Please note that the conversion described in these verses is mighty, not minor—a spiritual rebirth and fundamental change of what we feel and desire, what we think and do, and what we are. Indeed, the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through our reliance upon ‘the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah’ (2 Nephi 2:8). As we choose to follow the Master, we choose to be changed—to be spiritually reborn.” (David A. Bednar, "Ye Must Be Born Again," Ensign, May 2007, 19-20.)

In discussing being born again, there are at least two broad elements involved, 1) the ordinance itself, being “born of water”; and 2) a mighty change of heart, being “born of the spirit.” Both are required for one to truly be born again. As the Savior declared, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). In response to Nicodemus, the Pharisee’s question how this could be done, the Savior affirmed, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5.) Peter gave a similar answer on the day of Pentecost when in response to his preaching they that heard said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” when he said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:378-41.)

The heart is the central element in our conversion from fallen mankind to holy beings—for the heart reveals not the avowed man but the true man. We build a heart acceptable to God though our faith in Christ, and as we willingly come unto Him our hearts are "changed through faith on his name" (Mosiah 5:7).

As our hearts are changed within us, we become born again and our "souls [become] illuminated by the light of the everlasting word" (Alma 5:7). We then begin to see and feel—to sense, then to know, and finally to understand—the verities of eternity. The process of being born again itself causes our souls to be filled "with joy and consolation" through the redemptive power that is in Christ, which power purifies and sanctifies our hearts in an ongoing process of perfection that remains viable in us only as we continue to yield our "hearts unto God" (Helaman 3:35). 

In yielding our hearts to God we enter into additional covenants "with our God," bringing an ever refining fire into our souls which encourages us "to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things ... all the remainder of our days" (Mosiah 5:5). As the reality of these covenants empower us, we become the sons and daughters of Christ, being "spiritually begotten" of the Redeemer (Mosiah 5:7).

With changed hearts, and as evidence of the covenants we have now entered into, we willingly accept the changes that Christ works in us and the cardinal virtues—exemplified in those who are to live exalted lives—become part of us as well. Thus we willingly yield to the "enticings of the Holy Spirit;" putting "off the natural man" or woman; becoming a "saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord;" and becoming "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love." In so becoming, we begin to sense the common thread of those who are born again is a willingness "to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon" them (Mosiah 3:19).

As our will becomes one with God, we are freed from the "bonds of iniquity" and the "gall of bitterness." Leaving the "state of nature" even the "carnal state" introduced through mortality at the time of the fall—a state which is "contrary to the nature of God"—we become changed in Christ and enter into a state in harmony with the "nature of happiness" (see Alma 41:11).

We begin to enjoy the "happiness which is affixed" to the atonement and are freed from the punishment affixed in opposition to the law (2 Nephi 2:10). Our hope burns and brightens within us as we see and comprehend with our spiritual eyes that we will be "raised to endless happiness." We know that "endless happiness" comes only "according to [our] desires of happiness, or good according to our desires of good" which have been carefully nurtured within our heart. Thus having come unto Christ and allowing ourselves to become one with Christ, we are changed in him. We now accept of the divine within us and begin the process of becoming "redeemed of the Lord" (Alma 41:4, 5, 7) which fills us with "hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of the resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, ... because of [our] faith in him according to the promise" (Moroni 7:41).

Brother Four shared this powerful sentiment with us—

“Open your eyes and see...police killing brothers, siblings fighting one another, and men leaving families to be raised by the mothers.

“Open and see...a youth that's in need of correction, lest we look in the mirrors of our past and see destruction in our reflection.

“Open your eyes and see...there's an answer to the question why? (Gun control) While we stand around pointing accusing fingers, how many more children must die?

“Open your eyes and enemy calling us fools. laughing at people who say, "In God we trust" but won't let Him back in the schools.

“Open your eyes and homelessness continues to thrive, we seem to turn a deaf ear to their cry, "Please help us we're trying to survive."

“Open your eyes and see...a government with blurry eyes, still vowing to implement changes each time a soldier dies.

“Open your eyes and see...a nation that once stood tall, still struggling with the issue of racism, together we'll stand or divided we'll fall.

“Open your eyes and see...though terrorism has changed our lives, we must move forward in unity with confidence that we will survive. (We are Americans)

“Open your eyes and see...none of these things are strange, but it's time we opened our eyes and our hearts and finally bring about change. How long will we wait?? It's up to you and me. The vision is here, now open your eyes and see.

I replied—Is this yours Thomas? [Yes sir, it is mine. I want to spread it, so please feel free to share if you wish.]

Met with Sister Thirty-nine and finished the restoration discussion and introduced her to the Book of Mormon. At her request gave her a blessing as well. Also did the same with the Six family and their adult daughter. Brother Six explaining a number of doctrinal things but did said, “God just doesn’t seem to be talking to me about this.” Which was disheartening.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week Fifty-nine

WEEK FIFTY-NINE August 18, 2014

Missionaries in the Lake Forest Ward have been working with the daughter of the Fifteen family for nearly a year now. Many missionaries, elders and sisters have come and gone. But the catalyst seem to come from our granddaughter of the same age who has been her pen pal for the last several months. After our granddaughter shared her baptism experience this young woman really started to apply herself and chose her birthday to be baptized. Our granddaughter sent a beautiful note that I decorated up in an envelope and gave it special delivery to the young woman. At the baptism twenty-six missionaries were in attendance, quite a crowd. The bishop asked all those who had actually been in the Johnson home teaching to stand and it was nearly one-half the congregation. Our granddaughter wrote: “I promise you your baptism will be one of the best things that will EVER happen to you. I really wish I could be there. But even if I can’t be there I know you will really feel the spirit. But the great thing about baptism is that you don't just feel the warm feeling inside you sometimes. You can feel it always. Receiving the Holy Ghost is another crucial part of being happy. And I know if you feel uncomfortable, or sad, or even angry, he will be there to help you and guide you in the right way. The Holy Ghost will be your forever friend. … And when the time comes open up your heart and let the spirit truly flow deeply in your soul. Jesus Christ loves you… You are his daughter.”

Recently we heard from Brother Two that he is saving plastic bottles and turning them in at the recycler to pay for lunch and parts for his remote control aircraft. So we decided to be of assistance. Took by a couple of bags over and dropped them in the bed of his truck. The next morning he texted us: “Strangest thing this morning. I found bags of plastic bottles in back of my truck. I know I’m good at getting them but it almost seems like they are gathering all by themselves from what I had yesterday. You wouldn’t know anything about this would you? Anyway thanks much”

Met with the Four family this week. After meeting with them regularly for about 12 months, and the last two months weekly, tonight he made a commitment. He had said the week previous that he didn’t know what he was here in California and was waiting for the Lord to tell him. I told him based on my experience he would have a long wait. I hadn’t had much success in waiting always the Lord expected something from me in return to justify my faith so to speak and allow the inspiration to flow. Further although the Lord willing receives us when we ask, not so much when we are telling. That is, telling the Lord what we want is not the same thing as asking the Lord for his direction. “I have a suggestion how you can know the inspiration of the Lord for you. It is called the Book of Mormon. [Something he has disparaged since our first meeting when he told me it was a summary of several Bible stories only the names had been changed. I told him at that time that since the author’s of both books were the same, meaning God, it should sound similar to him. I even have inserted some directions for you. Pasted in with a type which I was going to change out but since the book itself states “whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these” (Mormon 8:12).” He laughed. We reviewed together the first paragraph and the last two paragraphs of the Introduction. I pointed out that he now had the evidence in his hand. He was a good man. The Lord loved him and has nurtured him a long time. “You know who to receive inspiration from God. So prayerfully read and consider, asking the Lord if the words are inspired or of man. I promise you will know and also know what you need to do to become what God would have you be.” I told him this would be about the hardest thing he could do because of his current aversion to anything beyond the Bible. He said, “I will do it. I will make the commitment to read the entire book and prayerfully study and seek answers from God concerning its truthfulness.”

The inscription which Sister H said he read as I was saying something to his wife read: Brother Four, I am inviting you to embark upon a venture of eternal consequence. Your journey will fill you with wonder and awe for your Savior, and intimate feelings will swell within you enabling you to continue to emulate the example of the Master. As you approach this journey as Jeremiah urged Johanan, [He loves the prophet Jeremiah] acting only in obedience to the voice of the Lord your God, you will make connections among the experiences of your life and the solemnities of eternity—through which the nature and power of the Atonement will personally broaden as to its infinity and deepen within you as to its intimacy. I invite you to make this journey through the pages of this copy of the Book of Mormon. As you read you seeking the inspiration of the Spirit—willingly place yourself among the events you encounter. In so reading, you will “listen” to the message of the Holy Spirit, which will “feel” particular and specific to you, and will come in increasing and poignant waves. As you treasure up in your heart that which you have made your own, you will ponder the solemnities of eternity—allowing them to rest upon your mind—empowering you to see, to understand and to know what the Lord would have you do.”

Received a surprise email from the Bishop of one of our wards informing us he had accepted a work assignment in Japan. He had only been serving for just a bit over one year. He will be greatly missed. He has a big and loving heart and a very gentile manner.

Received a text from son of the Two family, who asked me how our week was going? I replied that we were having a great week. “What a blessing it is to share one's testimony of the gospel to so many people as you get to do on your mission.” He responded, “Thanks for sharing that. When do I start?” J I told him he had to be 18 to serve a full-time mission, but you can start sharing your testimony today. He replied, “I'm glad you are having a great week. It’s going to be such a blessing to share ones testimony about the gospel of Christ on my mission like you said. It’s going to be a great experience when I do.” This from a young man that we baptized only a year ago, now 14 years of age. I told him “I still get goosebumps remembering some of my experiences as a young missionary bearing testimony and then having the Holy Spirit testify to me that the words I had said were true. Great memories!!!”

Brother Two sent this chilling message, “I almost got bit by a large rattlesnake today. I had Nikes and shorts on. It was a large miracle. That snake was two feet away. No warning. I didn’t have a clue he was there! I about stepped on him! I know the lord protected me from it. I was out in the canyon to pray…. It was like a bull that snake and thick… I found a safe area and commenced praying and praising! It would of got me. Going to the temple with three names. My wife made it happen and you too.”

We had a dinner meeting with the One family and introduced them to the California Fish Grill which instantly became a favorite of theirs. We then retired to their home and had a good gospel discussion.

We received a request from one of the young elder to answer three questions: 1) What does 2 Nephi 9:13-14 mean when it says perfect knowledge. If we are to benefit from all wisdom gained in this life how do these two statements go together? There must be a simple explanation.

Simple explanation is this: 2 Nephi 9:13-14 has reference to our understanding as we leave this life and enter the spirit world. The wicked will have a perfect knowledge of their wickedness. The righteous a perfect knowledge of their righteousness.

The prophet's revelation, D&C 130:18-19 refers to the resurrection and states that what we learn in this life will rise with us in the resurrection, in other words, will continue with us through eternity. Thus the value of continuing to study and learn here because we are filing it away now to come forth with us in the resurrection.

2 Nephi 9 references guilt and righteousness, D&C 130 references knowledge. Of course the greatest knowledge one can obtain is how to be saved. So the Prophet Joseph said, "A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for it he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are upon the earth." (TPJS, 217) "Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge... If a man has knowledge, he can be saved." (TPJS 357) So if that knowledge rises with you it enables you to be saved.

2) What is the meaning of the vail in the temple being "rent" directly after Christ’s death? It's really vivid and powerful imagery and I would like to know what it means.

To rend is to tear in two. Rent is the past tense of that tearing. The Holy of Holies was the most sacred place in the tabernacle and later in the temple. It was separated from other rooms in the temple by a veil. It was that veil, in the temple in Jerusalem, which was torn in two upon the crucifixion of Christ, thus exposing the Holy of Holies. Perhaps symbolically demonstrating God had rejected the Jews who had rejected His son. Or, that Christ was now the way, no longer the Mosaic Law.

You seem to be curious like I am. Here is a little tidbit of interest to me. Solomon's temple was 30 cubits high (1 Kings 6:2), but Herod had increased the height to 40 cubits according to the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. There is uncertainty as to the exact measurement of a cubit, (usually considered about 18 inches, from the elbow to the finger tip) but it is safe to assume that this veil was somewhere near 60 feet high. Josephus also tells us that the veil was four inches thick and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart. The book of Exodus teaches that this thick veil was fashioned from blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. And yet miraculously and without human intervention, the veil seemingly of itself tore in two the whole length, from the top to the bottom.

Friday night we participated in the M&M social at Rimgate Park (Members & Missionaries). We had a big crowd, about 50-60 and 21 of them were non-members. Had good visits, food, basketball and volleyball.

Sunday we attended the Aliso Creek block. At the start of Sacrament meeting I introduced myself to a sweet looking lady who told me her name. When I told her I hadn’t met her before she said she knew me. “I was in the Sunday school class a few weeks ago when you taught us about the scriptures. You gave me a feeling I had never had before about the scriptures, about how sacred they are and the feelings you felt whenever you picked them up and read them. So I have been doing that and they have come alive for me. It has been a wonderful experience. Thank you so much for opening my eyes.” Wow, I was touched.

The lesson today was on relationships as I had some strong feelings this entire week. Perhaps because of my presentation to the Six family last week. But as the week unfolded and I pondered more there seemed to come to my mind an understanding I had never before appreciated. I started by asking who among them had a friend. Then thinking about that friend, what qualitied made them such a friend? We had a lively discussion. We then talked about relationships, what they were, how they are developed, what nourishes and feeds them discussing all that about our relationship with God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, Family members, Church members and finally Non-church members. I asked them to consider two scriptures: D&C130:2, “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there (only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy)” and Moses 7:18 “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”

The promise of the Lord in in 130:2 is that relationships and sociality will exist on the other side of the veil if we live worthily. Quoted Terryl Givens: “Joseph was affirming the fact that heaven is constructed out of a web of human relationships that extend in every direction. By the time his work was done, he had laid the groundwork for men to be sealed to their wives across the eternities; for parents to be sealed to their children and their children’s children and to their parents and their parents’ parents across infinite generations; and for friends to be bound to friends in a great assembly and Church of the Firstborn.” ("Lightning Out of Heaven” BYU Speeches 2005-2006)

Then shared a number of statements by Joseph Smith on friendships and concluded he rejoiced in his relationships to God, family, and friends. In fact, the privileged status of personal relationships was not just incidental to the Restoration; it was a primary focus. One of the visitors present raised his hand and said, “I feel I need to pay more attention to relationships, spend more time developing them, and with non-members too.”

I suggested the restoration was to establish a people to prepare the way for the Second Coming, a community of Christ and asked how we were doing. We read 4 Nephi 1:2-3 “there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another… And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.” We discussed just what the heavenly gift may be reviewing Ether 12:7-9; Moroni 7:41; and D&C 14:7.

I then suggested that the way to build a Zion-like community seems to be in building relationships. That through relationship we become a people for whom the words “brother and sister” carry more than metaphoric significance.

Lorenzo Snow: “The associations that are formed here, will be possessed by [us] in the eternal worlds… The same forms of relationship here will still exist beyond the veil; the ties here formed will grow stronger in the other life which is to come. [Salt Lake Daily Herald, Oct. 11, 1887, 2.]

Received a voicemail from Sister Six: “Probably should be no visit today because of some unfortunate events that have occurred in the household this week. Mind blowing things. We are trying to deal with them hour by hour. So don’t make the trip out her today.” Following the meeting block Sister H Jan and I went to visit Sister Six anyway, Sister H to give her a hug. She invited us in and discussed the whole matter. In a nutshell some kids had taken their car and gone joy riding. All the way to Missouri. Brother Six was flying there to retrieve his car.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week Fifty-eight

WEEK FIFTY-EIGHT   August 4, 2014

Heard from our daughter who shared that two of her daughters were having an in depth gospel discussion one their way home from EFY. Which reminded her of Elder Holland’s 2014 Auxiliary Training in which he spoke on “informal teaching.” Said our daughter, “We realized that it had happened in my family growing up and that it is a part of our family now and we definitely see the benefits. When I told the girls that it was my family growing up, Natalie mentioned that yes, that our trip to see Granny and Grandpa was one large informal gospel discussion that would have happened even if they weren't missionaries. I ended with my greatest wish for them to carry it on with their sisters and to their future families.” I thought there so many benefits but one is that it happens without even realizing it and they become a part of our lives rather than an event. I think the Holy Ghost goes back and retrieves from our memory bank such events fortifying us in the days ahead.

Brother Two sent me a note, “I was chewing on a thought. How does the temple ordinances and saved in grace fit together? The ordinances we enter into are in effect like laws, right? Does the temple ordinances we enter into detract from what only Jesus can do for us? We can never ever be good enough right? Ordinance or no ordinance. Maybe you could send me. A scripture that could help fill in the gaps to see whole picture. Focusing on just law would bring wrath, correct? I replied—

Ordinances of the gospel that have been given by the Savior are often referred to as “ordinances of salvation.” They include baptism, confirmation, sacrament, priesthood, and temple ordinances and all of them are essential. Ordinances give evidence to our conversion. As such ordinances are an outward expression of an inner commitment. The ordinances being very visible rites manifesting an invisible covenant we have made with Jesus Christ.

However, the “ordinances of salvation” are not what saves us. Indeed, such ordinances have no capacity to save. We are saved solely through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ. He alone saves us! The visible nature of ordinances do point us to Christ, remind us of Christ, encourage us to come to Christ, enable us to endure, connect us with Christ, and are the channels God has determined through which His divine power is communicated to us.

LDS theology teaches that the temple is the “House of the Lord,” but it is not the Lord! The covenants and ordinances of the temple (in fact all ordinances of the gospel) are for us extensions of and manifestations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As such the ordnances are necessary, but they are not sufficient. Only the blood of Christ is sufficient to save us!

As a result of our discussion with Brother Four and an observation he made about waiting for the Lord to teach him, I told him I had an idea for a presentation so he could hear God’s voice concerning the restoration of the gospel. That I wanted to think about it some more and the following visit I would share it along with his chapter on “Old Enough To Make the Right Decisions” as I thought it would fit well there. My thoughts are to present the Book of Mormon as the evidence, his reading the work, and apply the promise in the last two paragraphs of the introduction and Moroni’s promise. Hopefully the Lord will give me some guidance here.

We have made arrangements with a member family to let us bring over Sister Thirty-nine to give her the new member discussions. We had our first meeting this week on the Restoration. Apparently it went over well enough that she has changed from “why do we need to do this” to “when can we meet again.” So we are set up again for next week.

We picked up Brother Forty-two at the dealership and went over the Panera bread as usual. He flew back to see some friends and to talk with me again. His wife is sold on New York, just loves it. He is more comfortable here. He wanted to go back over much we had covered before and when I pointed that out he was still determined, “I must understand if this is right and only Doctor Haddock can teach me.” Surprisingly we then got another text to meet two days later before he flew back to New York.

Later we met with Brother Forty-two again, but this meeting was unsettling. I left drained. The spirit was so dark and heavy. Such experiences wear on you. He has decided to accept the tutoring of Walter Martin and his book Maze of Mormonism. Which is well enough, but those who do so seem to lose all reason and willingness to listen, but in his case it has turned him ugly at least today. He wanted to argue about everything. If the word in the bible didn’t suit him it was a poor translation, if the verse didn’t fit him it should be ignored. When I shared my testimony born of the spirit he said “You haven’t been born again so you can’t receive a testimony from God only from Satan.” I said then I must be in good company as that is exactly what the Jews said of Jesus, that all his works were of the devil. He had no response. Not sure how much longer I can carry this on, it is so draining. I thought I might treat some of his concerns with a little syllabus on each by email and see where that gets us, but not sure I will have the time.

Later this evening we picked up the Six family and took to the Lake Forest High Priest barbeque and social. Interestingly in sharing my exasperating meeting with Brother Forty-two, Brother Six suggested answers I should have given him in return for about thirty minutes.

Met with the Six family later regarding their daughters baptism and Brother Six questions.Learned later that night in meeting with the bishop at the monthly missionary correlation that their daughter did very well in her temple recommend interview. He had asked me if I would confirm his daughter as I had his son. I pointed out that he now holds the Melchizedek priesthood. He sent me a note, “Really enjoyed seeing you today! Thanks for typing up that page too. It’s gonna be a sad day for this family the day you leave. But we realize you need to be home.” I replied, “Thanks. Please reconsider about you confirming your daughter a member the church and bestowing upon her the gift of the Holy Ghost. There won't be a crowd there and it will be a sweet experience for you with your daughter.”

Later Brother Six wrote, “I read last chapter in D&C 138 I believe. About Christ in spirit world. Revelation given to Joseph F. Smith.” I replied how comforting this revelation was to know that Christ, anxious to bless all, organized among the righteous to make sure the Gospel was taught to everyone in the spirit world. He replied, “I agree this also demonstrates his awesome mercy and grace for even the sinner in darkness in the spiritual realms. My mom always says how death is no awareness but 1 Peter 3 disproves her view because Jesus visited those who had died, right.”

I received a note from some young elders about a family there are teaching. They decided not to use the answers I had given them from the questions they had sent me, as I had encouraged them, but said, "We do not want to go empty handed, do you have any recommendations we could mention? We were considering D&C 87, but we're not sure. I suggested, “If it were me I would use two Corinthians 9 through 16. My emphasis would be on pointing out that although there are lots of evidence in trying to find God using man’s thinking the research is problematic. The way to learn about God and his church and what he would have them do as his children is to ask God. Then I would go to the two paragraphs in the introduction and suggest that they follow the counsel of the Lord to read and prayerfully ask the Lord whether or not the book of Mormon is true and from that they will also know whether your testimonies are true.”

I keep getting the response from my text messages, “who is this?” I sent one to our new district leader, “This is Elder and Sister Haddock. What day, time and place is the next district meeting?" The answer that came back was, "Who is this?"

The Twenty-first family had a sweet experience. In relief society a couple of months ago she embarrassingly fell asleep and had a dream. In the dream she felt there was something the Lord wanted them to do. Although she argued against it she was overwhelmed that it was true. Hesitatingly she presented it to her husband. After prayer he came back and said, “Yes we need to do this.” Boy they have come a long, long way. What a wonderful blessing and we see again just how important the tender mercies of the Lord are, and how necessary.

Attended the Lake Forest block and during sacrament meeting had an overwhelming feeling about how to start the discussions with the Six family today. So powerful I had visions of its effect and shared my feelings with Sister H. The instruction was as follows: I have learned that understanding the why is crucial to understanding the what. And at least with our children, it was always important for them to learn the why in advance of hearing the what. So I was pleased in reading Alma 12 which tells us that God taught Adam and Eve the why first, the plan of redemption through the Savior Jesus Christ. Then he taught them the what, the commandments and commitments necessary to return to his eternal presence. So here is the why we have been meeting each week with your dad. About 13 months ago after an entire afternoon of knocking on doors and having no one home we knocked on this door. Again no one answered. As we were leaving the garage door opened and we were gratefully (it was so hot) invited us in. We talked so long your dad came home before we finished. You dad and I immediately hit it off. Over time I learned what a good and just man he was. My respect for him grew. There blossomed a love for him. The Lord has promised that not only families but relationships developed here in mortality can carry over with us to the other side of the veil. I found that I wanted to continue my relationship with your dad on the other side of the veil. So I have been teaching him the covenants and commitments he must make for that to occur. The reason being: I want our relationship to continue. That is the why. The what was the Restoration discussion, or part of it. I drove home feeling hurt because the response I suspected with the Lord’s guidance was far less than I saw unfolding before me. Did my expectations cause the problem? Was I expecting too much? I really thought this relationship idea would really touch him.

At a discussion this week we heard an objection saying when 8 years olds speak of the one true church it irks them “there is no way they can know that.” Another said, “Why does your church focus on being the true church. Do you have any idea how that makes the rest of us feel.” I suggested there were two instances where that arises. 1) In the First Vision the Lord says the creeds of Christendom are an abomination to him. I explained I didn’t think that meant the churches were evil or bad, or the people either, but that the creeds were not correct. 2) In D&C 1:30 we read “the only true and living church upon the face of the earth with which I the Lord am well pleased. I suggested that this could be interpreted to mean he only church which contains God’s authority.” The fellow thought he could live with that. I then said, “I think the reaction of Christendom about ours being the true church is the same as our reaction when Christendom says we are not Christians.”

I received a question “By the way, teaching a lesson to deacons on marriage and why it's important. Any ideas on how to get 12-13 year olds to listen to that?” I suggested, “Why not talk about teams hauling a load. At their age and with the loads light they can handle them alone. But as life gets more complicated the teamwork of two united is needed to effectively move the load in the right direction. God has ordained this to be accomplished by a husband and wife. Both are deficient alone but together, they complement one another, allowing the load to be moved efficiently and effectively. Then share some examples where your wife completes you. Show how sharing responsibilities teach us how to become as God. God didn't create the earth by himself. He gave instructions to his Son who in turn enlisted Michael and other to assist in the work. In a similar fashion that is how a husband and wife operate. Then go to Moses 5 showing that the worked together (1), had children together (2), prayed together (4), received instruction from God together (4), received commandments from God together (5), taught their children to believe in God, together (12) and never ceased to call upon God together (16).

Tonight we had another meeting with Sister Thirty-nine to finish the Restoration lesson. But got sidetracked by questions about patriarchal blessings and limited knowledge of priesthood, the angel Moroni and the Book of Mormon all of which will require some review.

Week Fifty-seven

WEEK FIFTY-SEVEN   August 4, 2014

As a young missionary I concluded, “Your success as a missionary is not predicated on how many people you baptize, but on whether or not you have the Holy Ghost as your constant companion.” I am still of the same opinion as a senior missionary.

In our discussion with the Four family this week he wanted to review the chapter in his book entitled “Being Born Again.” We immediately ran into a probably of definitions when discussion John 3, and being born of water and spirit to enter the kingdom of God. Said Brother Four, “No that’s not what I mean by salvation or being saved. That deals with conversion or what follows. Fulfilling ordinances and changing one’s life.” What then was saved I asked, “Well,” said he, “that is when you have fully accepted Jesus Christ.” I suggested by his definition all but the sons of perdition would be saved, as every knee will bow and tongue confess Jesus Christ (Romans 14:11 and Mosiah 27:31). I suggested then that using his definition we believe everyone but the sons of perdition would be saved and that being born again is a process, coupled with the necessary saving ordinances of baptism and receipt of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The heart is the central element in our conversion from fallen mankind to holy beings—for the heart reveals not the avowed man but the true man. We build a heart acceptable to God though our faith in Christ, and as we willingly come unto Him our hearts are "changed through faith on his name" (Mosiah 5:7). As our hearts are changed within us, we become born again and our "souls [become] illuminated by the light of the everlasting word" (Alma 5:7). We then begin to see and feel—to sense, then to know, and finally to understand—the verities of eternity. The process of being born again itself causes our souls to be filled "with joy and consolation" through the redemptive power that is in Christ, which power purifies and sanctifies our hearts in an ongoing process of perfection that remains viable in us only as we continue to yield our "hearts unto God" (Helaman 3:35). 

In yielding our hearts to God we enter into additional covenants "with our God," bringing an ever refining fire into our souls which encourages us "to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things ... all the remainder of our days" (Mosiah 5:5). As the reality of these covenants empower us, we become the sons and daughters of Christ, being "spiritually begotten" of the Redeemer (Mosiah 5:7).

With changed hearts, and as evidence of the covenants we have now entered into, we willingly accept the changes that Christ works in us and the cardinal virtues—exemplified in those who are to live exalted lives—become part of us as well. Thus we willingly yield to the "enticings of the Holy Spirit;" putting "off the natural man" or woman; becoming a "saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord;" and becoming "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love." In so becoming, we begin to sense the common thread of those who are born again is a willingness "to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon" them (Mosiah 3:19).

As our will becomes one with God, we are freed from the "bonds of iniquity" and the "gall of bitterness." Leaving the "state of nature" even the "carnal state" introduced through mortality at the time of the fall—a state which is "contrary to the nature of God"—we become changed in Christ and enter into a state in harmony with the "nature of happiness" (see Alma 41:11).

We begin to enjoy the "happiness which is affixed" to the atonement and are freed from the punishment affixed in opposition to the law (2 Nephi 2:10). Our hope burns and brightens within us as we see and comprehend with our spiritual eyes that we will be "raised to endless happiness." We know that "endless happiness" comes only "according to [our] desires of happiness, or good according to our desires of good" which have been carefully nurtured within our heart. Thus having come unto Christ and allowing ourselves to become one with Christ, we are changed in him. We now accept of the divine within us and begin the process of becoming "redeemed of the Lord" (Alma 41:4, 5, 7) which fills us with "hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of the resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, ... because of [our] faith in him according to the promise" (Moroni 7:41).

Brother Four said his heart was open and ready to receive whatever the Lord wanted him to know. He also said how much he appreciated us coming each week. “Every time you are here it feels good. The spirit is wonderful and the whole house is different. I so appreciate you coming. It makes my week.” He then said he has been waiting for the Lord to tell him about the church. We had been praying similarly that he receive a manifestation. But, as my daughter pointed out, if he is only waiting, he will have a long wait. We need to get him to realize there are things he needs to be doing coupled with a willingness to do them to receive an answer. I was left wondering just what it is the Lord wants for him at this time in his life. Perhaps these thought led to the singular experience with the spirit later this week.

We had to miss our District Meeting this week for a doctor’s appointment. Which means we will not have another until next transfer. Also learned that the other two couples in our mission are not participating in them as we have, or if so, only as investigator’s not teachers.

Attended the Orange County Fair to hear the rock band Brother Twenty-one is playing in. Our timing and location were perfect to parking and the show which was in The Hangar. We got there a bit early and the band then playing was so awful we walked around a bit before coming back for Brother Twenty-one’s performance. The band consisted of five, a key board, lead singer, lead guitar, bass, and Brother Twenty-one on the drums. Saw a member of the Aliso Creek ward there who remarked, “You don’t have the same rules as the young missionaries do you?” No we told him, we were there to support Brother Twenty-one. Well Brother Twenty-one is not “just a drummer” this guy is magnificent. His performance was stunning. The drum part of the last piece was mesmerizing it was so good. I sent a note following the performance, “We were really impressed with your work on the drums. First time we ever heard a band and knew someone in it. Made it a lot more fun.” He replied, “Thank you I had a great time and it was good to see you in the audience. I hope I get more chances like that” Said I, “You have the talent that's for sure.”

Our WML in the Aliso Creek ward shared this with the ward, ward missionaries, and full-time missionaries—

1) After a long day at work or with kids, their presence will change my mood and bring light into both my home and my heart;
2) Their very presence focuses me on what is most importance, even before they teach anything;
3) They help me remember the importance of extending invitations to my friends and neighbors - inspiration and power come when my efforts are tied to them in a way that would not come if I were trying to work on my own;
4) My children look up to them - just their presence, as well as their messages, have helped my children convert to the Gospel;
5) President Monson, his counselors and many if not all of the apostles have recently invited me to unite and coordinate my efforts with theirs - it is a clear manner of prophetic priorities for my time;
6) The missionaries are often better at inspiring and motivating me than I am at inspiring and motivating myself;
7) My friends and neighbors cannot realize the full benefits of the atonement of Christ in their lives without talking to the missionaries;
8) The joy that comes when my friends sit in my home and discuss the Gospel with the missionaries is unique and wonderful.

1) A convert who is introduced by a member of the church has an instant friend and support system and is much more likely to progress towards eternal life than a street contact;
2) A mission is hard. Outside of a member's home a missionary is often not treated with respect and kindness. The kindness of the members can take the edge off that difficult experience;
3) Missionaries need to eat;
4) The members strengthen the faith of the missionaries and provide a model of gospel living that the missionary may not have had in his or her own home;
5) Mission and church leaders have asked the missionaries to unite their efforts with the efforts of the members, including by teaching the members the missionary discussions.

Had our Bible Study class this week with three of ours there in attendance. The subject was persecution. I suggested being persecuted for the gospel sake was a badge of honor for so persecuted they the Savior, the apostles, and followers of Christ. I said I had come to the conclusion that faith in Christ, to be real, had to be independent of outcome.

At the funeral of Sister Ten, whose pet phrase “Moving along smartly” seems to have an application in missionary work, a favorite poem of hers was shared that Sister H wantd to share as well.

I’m Free ~ Author Unknown

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
I’m following the path God has laid you see.
I took His hand when I heard him call
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day
To laugh, to love, to work, to play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way
I found that peace at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss
Oh yes, these things I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I savored much
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and peace to thee
God wanted me now; He set me free.

Met with the One family this week as well. They are in the process of moving out of the ward and stake but in Mission Viejo so at their request we will continue to visit them weekly.

Sunday morning at the commencement of our fast I was visiting with the Lord about our purpose for this fast. I shared the idea that we have a few family’s that need to know the restored gospel is true. Almost as soon as the thought came to my mind the Lord cancelled the thought, telling me, “You are not to fast and pray that your investigators may be converted but rather that to fast and pray that you may understand my will concerning them and your responsibilities related thereto.” I called the WML in Aliso Creek and asked if I could give the inspirational message in our correlation meeting that day as a result of the experience. They concluded knowing that made it a “lot easier to do this work.”

In our meeting with the Six family I concluded by directing my remarks to Brother Six’s daughter who has just recently arrived from back east, “You may be wondering why we have been visiting with your dad this past year and preparing your dad to go to the temple. Certainly you would want to know what they know. Can we begin next week bringing you up to date so you will know what we are talking about?” She nodded her said and said yes.

Week Fifty-six

WEEK FIFTY-SIX   July 28, 2014

We got to play hokey much of this week with one of our daughters and her family in Encinitas at the beach. Were able to spend a few days frolicking in the ocean with them and hearing about all that has been going on in their lives this past year. Everyone has grown so I think we were both surprised.  One grandson has missed us the most of anyone. When we had only been out a few months he called and said, “Granny, you said you were coming back and you have been gone a long time. You need to come back. I miss you.” During a nice swim in the ocean one morning he and I shared a tender moment when he asked, “Grandpa, can we have some me time. Just me and grandpa.” I told him yes and we spent about an hour swimming together. A couple of years ago he wouldn’t even get near a wave and now he was diving through them with me and doing backflips into the breakers along with me. We had a great time together

The Two family came down to Encinitas and we were able to have dinner with their family and ours. Both brother and sister Two were raised in Encinitas. So we were able to visit respective homes and show them the chapel on Lake Avenue which they were completely impressed with. Sister Two wrote: “Such a nice family. Thanks so much for thinking to invite us.” Brother Two: “It was special to meet your family. We all had a blast! When the lord made Encinitas he infused some special charm or something there! It was a lot of fun seeing it with you and seeing your house and home ward.

Apparently while we were in Encinitas for a reason for a substation in Irvine blew while we were away, shutting down power for 9,000 customers including our apartment unit Brittan Apartments. So we missed all the hubbub.

We were able to stop by and visit members of the Cardiff Ward who were having a family home evening at Moonlight Beach. Were able to share a number of stories and revisit friends for our wonderful days in Encinitas. Still feels like home to me. One of the brothers had taken over being the home teacher for a sister when I left. The sister had been in the ward forever and I had been her bishop as well. A couple of bishops later I received word she wanted her name removed from the records of the church so I was asked to go visit with her. She saw me through the screen door and shouted, “Bishop Haddock. Come in. Come in.” She ushered me into her living room and we visited. After a while I asked her about this letter she had written the bishop. She said she was attending the Lutheran church with friends, it was a social decision. Well because of our friendship I was able to talk her out of her intended action and became her home teacher instead. So I was able to be there for her when her husband committed suicide years later. She was the former chef for the Central School and shared many recipes with Jan over the years. Some years after we left, her daughter was going through a divorce in Escondido but was at the home one day when this brother was visiting and expressed interest in learning about the church. So he set her up with the missionaries in Escondido. Later he learned she had been baptized. Then she came to live with her mother and was able to care for her in last days. Also she has completed all the temple work for her mother. What a nice ending to the story.

A new home teacher for the Four family was assigned and accepted our invitation to come by with us when we had our bible study class. He and his son will do a great job with this family. I believe the Lord called the exact right combination to be their home teachers. I sent the WML a note to do what he can to assure that assignment is not changed too soon.

The son of the Two family texted me, “I read 3rd Nephi Chapter 17. It was great. It talked about Jesus Christ healing the sick and afflicted of any kind of disease. They kissed Jesus feet bathing them in tears. Jesus asked if the kids could come around him. In the sky the heavens opened with Angels coming down as it was in the midst of fire. They ministered unto them. My favorite part was when Jesus healed the sick and afflicted and when the Angels came out of Heaven. Great chapter.”

We had to do a little long distance scrambling as Sister H as the trustee of her parents estate had to pull together a pile of documents to sell the remaining asset, a home in Mesa, Arizona.

Received a request from Brother Two to pray for a co-workers daughter who was undergoing spine surgery including putting a titanium rod in her spine I believe. I responded that we did and we drove off the highway immediately to stop and offer a prayer of faith in the family’s behalf.

Brother Twenty-One sent us an invitation to come to the Orange County Fair and see him playing the drums with a rock band on next week which we accepted. When we first got acquainted with them and got them to church I introduced them to a lead guitarist and singer who once had his band which toured Europe. When he finally had a chance to hear brother Twenty-One on the drums he gushed to me, “He has mad skills.” Which I am given to understand is a good thing.

Since we didn’t have a afternoon meeting with the Aliso Creek ward this week, we were able to meet with the Six family at 2 p.m., with their meeting block concluding at 1 p.m. So they invited us over for his own version of McMuffins. They were delicious and I asked if we could made this a regular occurrence. We shared a short video on the plan of salvation to introduce the gospel to his daughter which seemed to be received well.

Our #10 family passed away this week of natural causes. Got ready for bed, laid down, turned on the TV and never woke up. It was quite a shock for the ward as she was vibrant and energetic to the end. Sister Six stepped in and was a real blessing to the family who are all out of town. During the past month we have had 3 individuals pass away we have worked with here on our mission and learned of another three at home. I guess we are sensing our age.

Received a surprise request from Brother Forty-Two who had accepted a pastorate in New York to meet with me next week. He asked, “Which is more authoritative written Scripture or living prophet?” I replied, “Seems to me if God chooses to say something today it is to clarify what he previously said and takes precedence over what he revealed previously. Otherwise there is no reason to speak today if we already have his word on the matter at hand. When he has spoken his expectation is that we will follow his command without his needing to tell it again and again.”