Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

25
Apr
14

Blogging on tilm.org

After taking a few months off, I have started to blog again. But now I will be blogging on tilm.org.  I hope that you will follow me there.  Thanks for all of you who have read my posts and have sent me encouragement.  I truly appreciate it.

My most recent blog is about talking about the Trinity.  You can find it here.

10
Aug
12

My Second Week in Provo

We are wrapping up our second and final week in Provo.  Close to 50 people joined us as we went door to door testifying to our perfection in Christ.  We reached thousands of homes and had hundreds of good conversations.  Dozens of people expressed interest in our message and thanked us (sometimes with tears) for telling them that Jesus had done everything for them to be worthy and acceptable to God.  A surprising number of people gave us their contact information so that we can continue the conversation in the weeks and months ahead.

We found it interesting how varied were the initial responses to our message.  Some immediately stated that they believed that they had to keep the commandments to be worthy while others first responded by saying that they believed like we did.  It was only after we got deeper into the conversation did they acknowledge differences.  Most surprising was how so many agreed that they themselves or their close friends were very stressed out by their striving to be worthy.  More than one person just pointed to themselves when we brought that topic up.

Yes, we did meet some people who were angry at us because of our message.  But they were few and far between.  It was much more common for us to meet somebody who wanted to talk to us and learn more about our beliefs.

It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will cause the thousands of seeds we sowed in Provo the last two weeks to blossom into the saving faith that trusts solely in Jesus’ works for acceptance by God.

19
May
10

X-Ray Vision

     How often hasn’t an X-Ray or a CAT scan found something seriously wrong in a person who outwardly looked good and even felt good?  We all probably know at least one person like that – who was shocked to learn, after undergoing a routine procedure, that they had a serious problem.  After the shock, comes thankfulness, especially in those situations where the problem was caught in its early stages and can be addressed. 

     Just as X-rays see things we can’t see, so also the Lord.  “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)  That is sobering especially when we see that Jesus pointed to the heart as the source of all defilement. 

     The Pharisees had criticized Jesus’ disciples for eating with ceremonially unclean hands.  Jesus not only rebuked them for laying aside God’s commands for human traditions, he went on to explain how foolish it is to think that defilement comes from outside of us.  “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.” (Mark 7:15)  A few verses later he expanded on this to his disciples:  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:  All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”  (Mark 7: 21-23).  As Jesus here emphasizes, the important thing to God is what lies within us – for he doesn’t look at the outward appearance but instead he looks at our hearts.

    That’s very sobering – because it doesn’t take much reflection on my part to realize that my heart’s X-ray doesn’t look good.  Even though I often can refrain from acting on them, evil thoughts still arise within me.  Before I even know it, I get angry thoughts about the driver ahead of me.  Or an unclean thought about the woman who walked by.  Or some unsavory pride as someone compliments me.  Or an unhealthy fixation on money as I view my bank statement.  It doesn’t take a whole lot of self-evaluation to realize how embarrassing it would be if somehow a video of my last day’s thoughts could be broadcast for all to see.  That would not be a pretty picture.

     What is even more distressing is that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t completely quash those evil thoughts.  In fact, some days I wonder if I can even make a dent in them.  And if I do succeed one day suppressing one type of them, they seem to come back with a vengeance the next day.  For example, I wake up determined to work hard on having loving thoughts about everyone including any driver ahead of me.  I might even do a pretty good job for a day. But then something happens the next day, and it all flies out the window.  When I examine my heart I identify with St. Paul who said, “For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. . .O wretched man that I am!”  (Romans 7:19, 24)

     As I said this is sobering especially in light of the biblical teaching that sin, no matter what it is, carries the death penalty.  “The wages of sin is death.”   When the police pull me over for speeding, I can’t argue that I don’t deserve a ticket because I followed the law by stopping at the stop sign.  No, it doesn’t matter if I had followed every other traffic law.  If I was speeding, I broke the law.  Likewise it doesn’t matter if my heart contains one evil thought or a million.  “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  (James 2:10)

     Because my heart is so riddled with evil thoughts, because no matter how hard I try I can’t rid myself of those evil thoughts, I shudder to direct the Lord’s attention to anything I do as a reason for him to accept me.  Because, as he traces everything I do or say back to the source, my heart, there’s a whole lot there that he isn’t going to be pleased with.  That’s why I want him to only look at what Jesus did for me.  When he looks there, he will be well-pleased – for there he will see perfection.  The last thing I want to do is contaminate his perfection by mixing in my imperfections. 

     Why is Heavenly Father going to welcome me with open arms into his presence for all eternity?  Only, solely, totally, completely because of what Jesus has done for me.  He gets all the credit – all the praise – all the glory.

11
May
10

Personal Revelation

 

     I recently received the May issue of the Ensign (the official magazine of the LDS Churchh) which contains the talks from last month’s General Conference of the LDS Church.  This is an important issue because General Conference talks are so important.  How important?

     Elder Mark E. Petersen, said:  “A general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is far more significant than most people realize. . .

      . . .it is one of the most important events of the present day.  Many do not regard it, even among the Latter-day Saints.  But for those who appreciate its true significance, it is of transcending importance, for in it PROPHETS OF GOD SPEAK, living prophets.

     When God gives a message to mankind, it is not something to be lightly cast aside.  Whether He speaks personally, or through His prophets, He himself said, it is the same.

     And in this conference HIS PROPHETS SPEAK!”   (Teachings of the Living Prophets, p. 63)

     Ezra Taft Benson said, “The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one living in our day and age. . .Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering which you should do is that of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece.  That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words in current Church publications.” (Teachings of the Living Prophets, p.19)

     Because of the importance Mormonism places on these talks, I take extra time reading them.  I have just read the first few talks but what has already struck me is how much emphasis there is on the Holy Spirit and on receiving personal revelations from him. Mormonism teaches that personal revelations come through feelings and impressions and a person has to be worthy to receive them.

     For many Christians, this has always been a puzzling aspect of Mormonism because feelings are notoriously fickle.  How many times haven’t people, even with the best intentions, done something because it felt right, only to discover that it was the wrong thing to do?  Over the years I have asked numerous Mormons how they can determine if what they feel is truly from the Holy Spirit.  Has a feeling, which they thought was a personal revelation, ever led them astray? 

     The responses have been interesting to say the least.  Some have said their feelings have never led them astray.  Others admitted that their feelings had led them astray, but the problem was with them.  It has been interesting to see this topic being discussed on Mormon blogs with again differing reactions.

     More than one Mormon has told me that they felt sorry for me because the only revelation I had was the Bible.  I, however, would much rather rely on it.  It is perfectly sufficient for me. It especially reassures me that Heavenly Father considers me worthy to live eternally with him, not because of what I do, but because of what Jesus did for me.  It emphasizes that the temple work that needed to be done to live with Him was already done for me by Jesus when he was sacrificed for me.  It gives me great guidance for life.  It comforts me with tremendous promises of the Lord’s protection and provision.  I receive revelation not through feelings, but through His Word.  For me, that is much more solid ground to stand on.

26
Apr
10

Sins Eight Miles Down

 

     One of my favorite Bible passages is Micah 7:19:  “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all theirs sins into the depths of the sea.”  Most scientists say that the deepest part of the ocean is over 39,000 feet down which translates to about eight miles down.  That’s a long way down.

     There are two times especially when this passage comes to mind.  One is when I am by the ocean.  As I stand on a beach or if I am looking down on it from a plane I imagine trying to find something in it.  We all have seen movies or heard stories of the difficulty of finding survivors of shipwrecks floating on its surface.  That’s difficult enough.  But trying to find something under water – trying to find something that is lying on the depths – that deserves the title, “Mission Impossible”. 

     The other time I think of his passage occurs much more frequently.  It is when the seriousness and ugliness of my sin stops me in my tracks.  When I see the ease with which I can speak cutting and unkind words.  When, without any effort, I pursue a selfish course of action.  When my prayers are rushed and shallow.  When I see pride or envy or greed or lust or a number of other things residing in the deep caverns of my heart.  When I see how consistently I fall so short.  At such times, what a comfort is to picture the vast oceans – to think about eight miles of water covering my sins.

     Although God could easily find sins eight miles down, it is obvious that he uses this imagery to support the biblical truth that sins forgiven by him are sins forgotten by him.   What a relief that is!  What a joy that is!  Talk about a heavy weight being lifted off – never to be put on again!

     Thank you, Lord, for giving such total relief from pressing guilt.  Thank you, Lord, for drowning sins in the depths of the sea – never to be dredged up again.

07
Oct
09

Busy

I justed wanted to let you all know that I haven’t posted very much the last month because I have been on the road quite a bit and have been quite busy with a number of different things.  I will be on the road for  about two more weeks and then, hopefully, I can get back to my regular posting.

11
Mar
09

Transgression

 

   This year the LDS Church’s curriculum focuses on the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C).  Therefore I am presently rereading the Teaching Manual on D&C.   In Lesson 5, which talks about revelation, is this quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks.  “We cannot have the companionship of the Holy Ghost – the medium of individual revelation – if we are in transgression or if we are angry or if we are in rebellion against God’s chosen authorities.”

     This quote struck me because of how it conditions the companionship of the Holy Ghost on not being in transgression.  I find that striking because of 1 John 3:4:  “Whosever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.”  Therefore, isn’t it accurate to say that Mormonism teaches a person cannot have the companionship of the Holy Ghost or receive revelation if he or she sins?  Further can I not conclude that all Mormons who claim to receive revelations are also claiming to be sinless?  That they aren’t angry as is mentioned specifically in the quote – that they never worry – that they always love their enemies – that they never say an unloving word – that they never have a lustful thought – that they never unjustly judge anyone – to name just a few sins? 

     The Bible consistently shows that, when it comes to our relationship with God, sin is sin.  There are not minor and major sins.  Neither does it talks about transgressions that are not sins. Sin is sin.  And all sin is serious.  “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  (James 2:10)

     As I look at what the Bible says about sin and then I look into the mirror, I see someone who sins all the time.  That is why I am so thankful that Jesus has cast all my sins down to the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19) That is why I am so thankful that the Holy Ghost doesn’t make his companionship conditional on my being not in transgression.  But rather, because I am in Christ, he not only walks with me, but dwells within me (1 Cor. 3:16)  O, what a great joy that is!  To God be the praise.




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