Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Does A Prophet Actually Do?

A friend of mine, who is only nominally a member of the LDS Church, recently posted this short (34 second long) video on Facebook. While I find the video to be a little childish, and feel that it shows a distinct lack of understanding on the part of its creators, I also find it useful as a gateway through which to address certain misconceptions in the world and among the members of the church concerning precisely what it is that a prophet of God does (and does not) do, how prophecy functions, and how each of us can recognize a true prophet at work.

This video was posted on Youtube by someone who goes by the name "Smithbusters," which by itself should tell you that it is not intended to flatter the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that those who posted the video hardly represent a credible or objective source. However it does raise some interesting questions like: "Why isn't General Conference filled with predictions about the next big financial crash or weather disaster?" or, "Why haven't there been any major changes to the standard works in 20 or more years?"

I feel that I should respond to these questions, and this video, by first stating that I feel that the people who posted the video do not have a proper understanding of what it is that a prophet actually does, but then again if they did, we wouldn't be having this discussion. More to the point, there are many people (including some members of the church) who are less than entirely clear as to what exactly it is that a prophet actually does.

For many people (in America anyway) this problem has much to do with the fact that, in my experience, most Americans seem to get the bulk of their religious knowledge from sources such as the movies, the History channel, and the Discovery channel.

If you rely on sources like these to get your knowledge, here is what you will learn:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Death Is Not The End

I wrote this post a few weeks after my mother died of breast cancer.  At the time I was mostly interested in collecting those scriptures that testify of a life that continues beyond the grave, and I wasn't in a place emotionally in which I could write down my own thoughts on the subject.  After a few years I finally feel like I have some perspective from which I can approach this tender issue, and so I decided to revisit this subject in order to add my own thoughts and perspective.

Since the beginning of time, man has been confronted by the awful reality and immutability of death.  Death is our universal heritage, and it will come to all who have lived, are living, and who will ever live upon the Earth.  In its implacable certainty and chilling finality, death has inspired fear and worry in countless generations as long as there have been humans who have survived after losing those closest to them to death.  One of the great mysteries of existence is what happens to us after we die.  Where do we go?  What happens to us when we get there?  Should I be afraid when my time comes?  Do we go anywhere at all, or do we end up as worm food because there is nothing after this life but oblivion?  Is death the end?  These questions have puzzled, tormented, and fascinated us throughout our history; however, on a more personal level, questions like these proceed out of the genuine ache of loss and the deep, painful, and sincere desire to know:  Will I ever see my loved ones again?

In every age, poets, artists, parents, priests, and oracles have struggled in an effort to provide answers to the universal question which confronts all men.  They have produced elaborate mythologies and cosmologies in order to explain a mystery which in truth confounds them as much as it does the rest of us.  Without a true understanding of where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going how can these people, however well-meaning they may be, provide any answers that shed any real light on our fate after mortality?  The fact is that they can't, because they lack the basic truths that are necessary to provide meaningful answers to the deep questions of the soul.  Fortunately there is someone who knows exactly why we are here, and where we are going, because He is the one who put us here in the first place.  God cares about His children, and He mourns when we mourn.  From His earliest recorded dealings with men, through the means of His holy prophets, God has provided answers and comfort to those in every age who seek solace in the knowledge that death is indeed not the end.

In the grand scheme of things, our time in this life is incredibly short, or as Macbeth opines upon hearing that his wife is dead, "Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more." (William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5).  How great it is to know that there is hope beyond this short life!  That although our lives are altogether too brief, there is an answer to the question "If a man die, shall he live again?"
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. (Job 14:1-2; 5;7-12; 14)

Monday, December 5, 2011

First Presidency introduces at Christmas Devotional

"The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) urged Church members to focus on Jesus Christ this holiday season, and also announced the launch of a new “Life of Jesus Christ” Bible video website at the annual First Presidency Christmas devotional."

Click HERE for full article.

Click HERE to "Learn about Jesus Christ through free videos based on the King James Version of the Bible. Watch online or download mobile app."
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