Sunday, September 28, 2014

I believe in Prophets

One unique thing to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not the belief in the validity of prophets, but more the knowledge of prophets in our day placed here for us. Moses was indubitably one of the greatest prophets in history. He split the Red Sea, brought water from a rock, brought the 10 commandments from Mount Sinai, wrote the Law of Moses and much of the Old Testament, and brought the Israelites across the desert for 40 years before his death.
But, there are a couple things he never did. He never warned the people of a flood, never addressed the dangers of the Internet, and never even took the sacrament. There’s a very simple and short explanation for all these. It was the wrong time. Noah warned the people of the impending flood because it was relevant then and he was in the position to do so. Christ gave the sacrament for the first time to His Apostles during the Last Supper because it was the correct time, shortly before his Crucifixion. Our modern prophets warn us of the danger of the Internet because it is relevant and important in our day, but wasn’t a thing at all in the childhoods of anyone born before 1976.
The point is, at every moment in human history, a Prophet has been needed. That isn’t saying there always was one, but one was needed. Just like Christ chose Twelve Apostles in Matthew 10:2-4 during his service before His death, Christ chose twelve Nephite disciples upon his appearance in the Americas, whose names are listed in 3 Nephi 19:4. And, just like Christ and then Paul led the Church with Twelve ordained Apostles anciently, President Thomas S. Monson and Twelve ordained Apostles who are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators today lead this Church. These men receive Revelation for the entirety of the World, as did the ancient Apostles.

A favorite song of mine can be found on page 110 of the Children’s Songbook. The final (9th) verse reads:
 “Now we have a world where people are confused. If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news. We can get direction all along our way, If we heed the Prophets—follow what they say. Follow the Prophet, follow the prophet, Follow the prophet; don’t go astray. Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, Follow the prophet; he knows the way.” 
Disregarding the rarity that we would actually reach that final verse in whichever activity that hymn was gloriously sung; it has remained my favorite since I realized its existence.
Despite the repeated “follow the Prophet” phrase, one must not overlook the instruction to “heed the Prophets.” ‘Heed’ is a word that isn’t commonly used in today’s typical tongue, and entails more than listening. It denotates paying careful and close attention, and connotates obedience.
Never in history has disobeying the Prophet of the Lord wrought positive long-term consequences. In the past, not heeding their words has consequencially resulted in denouncing of kingship, death, contention, shock, plagues, pestilences, famines, blindness, dumbness, debt, sorrow, guilt, and utter destruction.
In 1 Samuel 13, King Saul disobeys the Lord’s command, given through His prophet Samuel, to destroy every living thing in a battle against the Philistines. Saul keeps animals to be used as burnt offerings to the Lord, and in turn is rejected as king by the Lord and David replaces him later on.
In 2 Samuel 11, King David denies the commandments against adultery and against murder and loses his son born to Beth-sheba, and endures so much spiritual turmoil that the book of Psalms appears.
In 1 Kings 11, King Solomon forsakes the Lord for other gods, and is promised by the Lord that the kingdom will be split through contention and war until Solomon remains with only one tribe for to rule over, done for King David’s sake.
In the latter half of the New Testament, city after city disregard the pleadings of the Prophet Paul to face away from idolatry, adultery, whoredoms, and other abominations and in turn lose for centuries the guidance of a Prophet, and lose the Priesthood power and keys that only Paul held on the Earth.
In Mosiah 11, King Noah and his Priests disregard the prophet Abinadi’s pleadings for repentance and kill Abinadi, and the King Noah is burned and his Priests excepting Alma are banished, criminalized, and later extinguished with their posterity. The people are then taken by the Lamanites and until late in King Limhi’s reign endure harsh beatings and burdens through their repentance.
In 3 Nephi 1, those Nephites who denied the prophet Samuel’s messianic prophecy of the 5 year’s distant birth of Christ are overcome and fall to the earth as if dead in realization of the truth, and in exhaustion after their hearts being warped by Satan and by alternate desires throughout that lustrum.
In the books of 4 Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni, the Nephites disobey every call of repentance by the prophets. In 4 Nephi 1:38, it says “they did willfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe.” Through time, the Nephites, who had been promised that as long as they obey God’s commandments they would prosper in the land, became intensely wicked, idolatrous, warfaring, and abominable, denying all the commandments of the Lord. The people was destroyed, with Moroni being the final surviving Nephite, compiling and abridging the Gold Plates until his death around the year 421 A.D. .
In 1 Kings 17, the prophet Elijah traveled to Zarephath during a drought, and asked a poor widow for water and bread. She had not even enough for her and her son, but she followed the prophet and gave him food and drink. She was promised that her meal and oil would not run out until rains returned again to the earth. After a time, her son fell gravely ill. Because of her faith and obedience, Elijah was able to heal the son.
Around the year 1899, the town of St. George, Utah experienced a serious drought. In May 1899 Prophet Lorenzo Snow, then President of the Church visited the town and received revelation that the people had been lacking in their tithing. He instructed them that the word of the Lord was not anything new; quote “THE TIME HAS NOW COME FOR EVERY LATTER-DAY SAINT, WHO CALCULATES TO BE PREPARED FOR THE FUTURE AND TO HOLD HIS FEET STRONG UPON A PROPER FOUNDATION, TO DO THE WILL OF THE LORD AND TO PAY HIS TITHING IN FULL.” The people in St. George and southern Utah began to pay a full tithing, and in August 1899 they received more rain than the previous 13 months combined.[1]

                In the early 2000s, the prophets gave repeated instruction to get out of debt, and to not incur new serious debts in the upcoming years. Those who failed to heed the urgent command were affected much more seriously in 2008 amidst the housing and stock crash.
                During that trying period, my family benefitted greatly from putting aside food storage, as commanded by the Prophets, useful at a time we could not afford a meal.
                Preceding the societal breakdown in the value of families, the prophets issued a re-emphatical surge for family home evenings with the purpose of strengthening families. Since that time, a de-emphasis on marriage, increase in abortion, calamity of abuse in the home, general integration or acceptance of homosexuality, and an overall destabilization of family values have been more successfully withstood by families that persist in family home evening and other family strengthening activities.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World issued in 1995 says “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness…Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony…Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
About a decade after the stress on the practice of being ‘member missionaries’, the Berlin Wall was torn down and missionaries streamed behind the Iron Curtain, into an area where there are now multiple Temples and many stakes. The member missionaries in those newly available areas aided the work of spreading the Gospel much easier and much faster, meeting a LDS population 15 times its previous count in 25 years.
My Grandmother joined the church when she was 18. Contrary to her parents’ advice, she attended BYU working two jobs to pay for it, because her poor immigrant background couldn’t support college. Because the Prophet taught that Tithing is another way to show our love and devotion to God as well as gratitude, she paid her tithing unfailingly. She made it through college, being the only person in her family to graduate.
Next week, we have a precious opportunity that is much more rare or valuable than a football game, family activity, or most any event. It is semiannual and is viewed by millions upon millions of people in more than 200 countries, in nearly 100 different languages. It’s duration is a mere 10 hours, and gathers all the general authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints including our Prophet and President Thomas S. Monson and the ordained 12 Apostles. They will spend the 10 hours instructing us and uplifting us and chastising us, and it is imperative that we heed their words.  [General Conference]
            In August of this year, BYU held its annual Education Week, at which Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the 12 spoke on “Sweeping the Earth as With a Flood” or what he called “The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times and Technology.” He addressed BYU Students, but spoke to the whole of the Church. He urged us to use technology to spread the Gospel, using mediums like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Myspace, Tumblr, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram,, and perhaps even Ello to spread the Gospel. He mentioned the #ldsconf used during General Conference on Twitter. He mentioned the Meet the Mormons film being released on October 10th, just now two weeks away.
Elder Bednar used a quote from Brigham Young, 
Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan. We should take advantage of all these great discoveries, the accumulated wisdom of ages, and give to our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work”[2]
            Elder Bednar asked us to edify and uplift others through our use of technology. And, despite any denials, I know for a fact that many, if not most, of you are in the least proficient at simple use of any social media platform, enabling you to share a link or a feeling or an Article of Faith or a simple uplifting thought. Remember President David O. McKay’s urge that every member be a missionary and be “not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation”[Romans 1:16] Share your testimony either directly or discreetly through technology or in person and you will be impressed at the effect it has upon you, your relationships with others, and upon other individuals you associate with or that may see your actions, perhaps emboldening them do engage in similar acts. Share your testimony through word, deed, and example at all times.
            There is a psychological effect that is extremely common in the human mind, approaching ever-present. It is called the End of History effect, and is characterized by the tendency and tenacity of any human to, at every given moment in their life, to assume that by that moment, they have become the person they will be for the rest of their life. This is present in the very old, very young, and very middle. This is never and has never been the case and will remain so. If you share your faith and testimony, it will be strengthened and fortified.
            In 1982, President Boyd K. Packer stated, “a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it.”[3] May I suggest that this not only applies to new testimonies but encompasses all developing testimonies, and that there are no fully developed testimonies.
            In the world of business, this process is called synergy. Two or more companies can work together and create an effect greater than the sum of their two efforts. Similarly, by sharing your testimony it will grow and build your faith, and build your confidence emboldening you to share your testimony with the next luckymortal.
            Brothers and Sisters, I urge you and ask you to follow the prophets’ command to share your testimony through technology, words, deed, and example that you may be member missionaries, further enhancing the work of our Lord.
            This next weekend, heed the words of the prophets and follow them. They are led by Jesus Christ, and they speak His words. They bring clarification and guidance to life’s problems, and help light the path which sometimes is shrouded in thick fog. Those who did not follow the prophet Lehi’s voice in 1 Nephi 8 were left wandering through dark mists and often felt their way to the great and spacious building which crumbled into nothing. “As many as heeded [those in the building], had fallen away.”[4] Nephi says, “I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.”[5]
            I know the prophets are true, and that the Book of Mormon is true, and that they are interdependent with their validity. I have faith in Christ, and in the power of His Atonement. I know that disobeying the prophets cannot bring positive results.
            In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[4] 1 Nephi 8:34
[5] 1 Nephi 11:36

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