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Follow the Prophet

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah condemning those who returned to the traditions of their fathers instead of remaining faithful to the covenants they had made with God (Jeremiah 11). As Jeremiah brought this message to the people, some ignored him and others threatened his life for prophesying in the name of the Lord. There have always been people who choose their leaders according to what they want to hear and how they want to live. When a prophet gives us a warning, it is not always popular or logical, but it is always a good idea. In the words of Paul,
  ”And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2: 4, 13).

In 1833 the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed the word of the Lord regarding the use of tobacco, alcohol, and diet. There was no scientific or popular movement regarding these substances at the time, so following the prophet made the people peculiar in the sight of others. Throughout the history of the Church since then, those who followed this Word of Wisdom have been heirs to the promise to “receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:18-21). In practice, this has meant better health, longer life, and moral resilience to avoid the drugs and harmful practices of popular culture.

Among the early followers of the Prophet Joseph Smith were those who chose not to follow Brigham Young, but stayed behind and started their own churches that still have the Book of Mormon, but have their own heirarchy and tradition. Since then, there have been many who chose not to follow the Prophet, and have started their own churches, using those portions of the doctrine and scriptures that suit their beliefs. Some have been prominent in the news this week, always with mention of their Mormon roots. The Prophet said of polygamy, “it was practiced by between 2 and 5 percent of the people and it was carefully safeguarded. In 1890, Mormon President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that it was time to discontinue it,'' Hinckley said. Six years later -- in part because of that decision -- Utah was allowed to become a state. Since then, however, breakaway groups have continued to live in plural marriages, but only at the cost of excommunication from the LDS Church. “It's behind us, I condemn it as a practice. It is not doctrinal. It is not legal.'' Current polygamists in Utah “don't belong to the church,'' he said. “There are no Mormon fundamentalists.'' (Salt Lake Tribune quoting President Hinckley in 1998).

Many churches today are divided on the definition of marriage and family. in 1995 the “the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaimed that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children”. Today those who follow this ancient law of chastity are safer from many of the ills of society.

The current Prophet delivers the same message that prophets have always given, to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. President Monson said, “I wish to provide the three pieces of your treasure map to guide you to your eternal happiness. They are: Learn from the past; Prepare for the future; Live in the present.” We have a prophet, we profit by following his lead.

Follow the Prophets

As we celebrate Independence Day, we should think of the hand of the Lord in the establishment of this nation, and the words of the prophets for our nation. Lehi received a promise, that this land would be an inheritance for his seed and for all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.. He saw prosperity, and freedom from oppression, “And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever (2 Nephi 1: 5, 8-9).

Nephi saw another inspired migration to America. He saw multitudes of “Gentiles”go forth from their captivity, humble themselves before the Lord, and obtain the power of the Lord to win the war against their mother countries. He saw that God delivered them from the hands of all other nations (1 Nephi 13:11-19). But to Nephi the most important part of the establishment of this nation was the coming forth of the Bible and the Book of Mormon to “...make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved” (1 Nephi 13:40).

The prophets foresaw our day, and a Constitution that says no man should be in bondage to another that was established “for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (D&C 77-80). They saw the wars and sacrifice that would come with the struggle to establish such a nation. The prophets saw the next migration as well. Most of my ancestors came West in the 1840s and 1850s, settling the places where we live now. They came as prophecied in Isaiah 2:2-3: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

Hearing the words of the prophets has always created an opportunity for choice. The effect of hearing the word can be convicing or result in a hardening of the heart (1 Nephi 14:7).Many of those that heard the words of the prophets did not choose paths of peace and safety. “He spake many great things unto them which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought” (1 Nephi 15: 2-11) Nephi explains how one can benefit from the word: “I heard my father, desired to know what he knew, I believed the Lord could make it known, I sat pondering in mine heart so I was caught up in the Spirit and shown all things” (1 Nephi 11:1).

Nephi saw the latter-days and was glad for his father’s descendants. “The fullness of the Gospel shall come unto them, they shall come to a knowledge of the forefathers and of the gospel of their Redeemer; wherefore, they will rejoice, give praise, receive strength and nourishment, come unto the true fold of God” (1 Nephi 15:13-16). We have prophets today, led by President Thomas S. Monson. I have received a confirmation of the Spirit that President Monson is chosen to be the spokesman of God to lead us to peace and safety. Follow the prophets to maintain the freedom and prosperity of our land, and to find guidance for your personal problems.

Prophets of God

Last Sunday I left early so I would make it from Gallup to Lubbock in time for church. As I passed through Tijeras Canyon at 4 am, I slowed to 55, as there was a construction zone. The policeman did not think I slowed enough: “What part of 45 don’t you understand?” “The part where I did not see the sign”. That just made him more angry. He pointed out that I had passed at least 2 signs giving the speed limit. At 4 am on a Sunday, you just don’t expect construction workers to be about, but the officer was working very hard to enforce the law, and was greatly frustrated because the people were not paying attention to the signs. It has always been this way with the prophets of God.

We are concerned with the evils of the world. “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” (Deut. 18: 15). The prophet reminds us that eternal blessings are available now to help us overcome evil if we attend the temple; yet few go regularly to the temple.

A major problem of our time is debt. “Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer. (1 Sam. 9: 9). Today the prophet teaches that principles of financial security are based on the law of sacrifice and gives the law of tithing as a means to attain this; yet many lack faith to test this principle.

We all have daily problems. To the seekers of truth the prophet says, read the scriptures daily; yet many don’t take the time to even read one verse each day to take advantage of these insights into our needs. “...Nephi said unto them: Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh” (1 Ne. 22: 2).

Christ established his Kingdom with the leadership of prophets (Ephesians 2:20). We have this advantage today. “The Kingdom of God Is Here. Brethren, the quorums of the Church need your talents, your loyalty, your devotion; and each man needs the fellowship and blessings that come of quorum activity in the kingdom of God”. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, January 1994)

There are twelve classical world religions. Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism. There are over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc. Yet only one has the authority to lead the Kingdom of God. “I have sealed upon your heads all the keys of the kingdom of God. Well might Brigham Young say, “The keys of the kingdom of God are here.”.(Wilford Woodruff. Ensign, April 2004).

“Revelation is a continuous principle in the Church. “We have the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; but all these books, without the living oracles and a constant stream of revelation from the Lord, would not lead any people into the Celestial Kingdom of God. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, August 1996). Our next opportunity to hear the prophets is General Conference next weekend. Come, listen to a prophet’s voice. I know you will hear what you need to address your daily problems.

Listen to the Prophet’s Voice

In stake conference a speaker recounted an embarrasing moment. When she told a friend that the church had a prophet, the friend asked what had he said lately. Of course, she could not recall anything in particular, and vowed to pay more attention, and be ready to pass his messages on to others. The next day, the prophet attended our stake conference via satellite. He bore witness of doctrines like the divinity of Jesus Christ and the importance of the atonement in our lives. He urged us to understand and accept principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ like “love one another”, and “sacrifice”. He called upon us to live those principles in our daily lives by serving one another and living the commandments. He explained the pattern of the scriptures and the prophets. We are blessed as we study the doctrine, subscribe to the principles, and obey the commandments.

I had been praying lately about financial concerns. I tried everything to address my problem, seeking God’s plan, exercising faith, and doing what came to mind. I had to accept my dependence on God, as my own efforts fell short. I know that the full blessings of heaven come only after a test of faith, so I paid my tithing and continued to pray and work on my problem.

By chance I was home when my sister, Anita, called Janeen. She told me that Sunday she happened to attend church in her Salt Lake City ward. The opening song was “We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet”. As they started the 3rd verse, Gordon B. Hinckley walked into the room to take his usual place in that ward. The entire room rose and the Spirit was strong. That evening I dreamed that Janeen and I were in a meeting where the prophet had time for casual conversation with us. I reminded him that 40 years ago Janeen had served as interpreter as he interviewed lady missionaries in Argentina. I talked to him about his visit to Colombia, where I served as his intepreter in a speech to members. I awoke at 4 am with a sweet spirit of peace in my heart.

That day, Janeen went to the credit union and made arrangements that exactly addressed all the problems I had prayed about, including her retirement and my business loans. It became evident to us that our testimony had undergone an exercise of faith, we had maintained the course set by Christ’s plan, and our prayers had been answered. God hears our petitions. God knows our needs. God only needs to know that we trust Him. We only need to have patience and accept His solution for our lives.

I testify that there are fixed and constant truths. We can learn the principles attached to them. As we apply those principles in daily life, we can qualify for the blessings of heaven.

The counsel from Roy, is applicable for all of us and I add my testimony that there is always a solution to our financial concerns, if we work together with our companions and prayerfully approach Heavenly Father for help. We all have the need to budget, regardless whether we are school teachers, CEO of a large company, writers, CPA's or retired. President N. Eldon Tanner listed five principles of economical constancy:
Pay an honest tithing.
Live on less than you earn.
Learn to distinguish between needs and wants.
Be honest in all your financial affairs.

President Hinckley stated, "The time has come to get our houses in order. So many people are living on the very edge of their incomes. I urge you to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay them off as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage."

I stopped working at the age of 55 after making a very modest salary. JoAnn and I have never gone without...and credit our contentment on having served several missions. I know as we strive to serve the Lord and keep his commandments and follow the counsel from President Tanner and other other leaders, we will be blessed with the bounties of the earth and heaven.


The Prophet’s Advice

Make the scriptures and words of the prophets part of our lives: read, study, feast upon the words of Christ. Following this pattern in our study, commitment, and action, will...
build our testimony of Christ
bring an added measure of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost into our lives
strengthen our resolve to follow the commandments
increase spiritualiy and righteousness in our homes
give us greater strength to resist temptation and defend truth and righteousness
qualify us for the full blessings of Heaven
prepare us to be lifted up at the last day
enfuse our soul with Eternal verities
give us confidence that our prayers are heard
bring blessings into our lives.

Young people will obey the rules if they understand why. Teach rules in the context of the principles and doctrines. Here are some examples of the pattern: Doctrine - Principles - Policy.

Eternal Truths - Guidelines - Rules
Scripture - Standards - Practice
Scripture - Counsel - Power to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion
Testimony of Gospel - Exercise Faith - Follow the Commandments
God’s ways - Spirit directs - Correct choices
Covenants - Gift of the Holy Ghost - Wise choices
Prescence of God - Ordinances - Be worthy
Eternal Life - Sealed in the temple - Live worthily
Knowledge & Wisdom - Interview - How we conduct our lives
Sanctification - Develop soul - Obedience
Celestial law - Sacrifice - Pay tithing
Eternal companion - Birds of a feather flock together - Choose worthy friends
God is our Eternal Father - He will hear us - Pray to Him
God is our source of strength - God is our friend - Talk to Him
Atonement - Plan of Happiness - Accept Christ’s Grace
Seek Truth - Ask questions - Read the scriptures
Ministering of angels to watch over you, bless and protect you - Receive priesthood keys - live worthily to receive the Aaronic Priesthood
Call down the blessings of heaven - Bless your family - Receive the Melchizedec Priesthood
Govern the affairs of the church - Accept responsibilities - Do what is expected of us
Temple blessings - Refuge from the world - Overcome evil
Eternal blessings - House of the Lord - Survive the times of darkness
Peace, respect of God - Magnify your calling - do your duty
Peace of Heaven - Live worthily - Love and help one another

Hymn 21, Joseph S. Murdock, Bruce R. McKonkie ©1985 LDS

Come, listen to a prophet’s voice, and hear the word of God,
And in the way of truth rejoice, and sing for joy aloud.
We’ve found the way the prophets went who lived in days of yor.
Another prophet now is sent this knowledge to restore.

Then heed the words of truth and light that flow from fountains pure.
Yea, keep His law with all thy might till hine election’s sure,
Till thou shalt hear the holy voice assure eternal reign,
While joy and cheer attend thy choice, as one who shall obtain.

Prophet, Seer and Revelator

Jesus called Peter aside and asked him, “Who say ye that I am?” Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of God”. Jesus responded, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto you, but my Father in Heaven... upon this rock I will build my church”. Building the church on the rock of revelation is consistent with the pattern of God since the time of Adam. “Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer” (1 Sam. 9: 9). Since Joseph Smith received the keys of the Holy Priesthood until now, we sustain the First Presidency and the Apostles as “prophets, seers, and revelators” and seek guidance from them. We are all qualified to receive personal revelation from the Spirit, and all the Apostles are seers and revelators, but only the President of the church has the keys and authority to delegate those keys to those who administer the affairs of the Church.

Whatever our personal relationship to the Prophet, we all have the right to a personal testimony of the divine nature of his calling. The news coverage of the funeral of President Hinckley made my heart very tender and the tears flow. We see thousands, and hear of millions who loved and honored him and bore witness of his calling. He was not a charismatic leader, but it was obvious to people everywhere that he had a divine mantel of authority. He traveled to 60 countries throughout the world, and appeared on world wide satellite TV many times. The only time I met him in person was when he visited Colombia as an apostle. I interpreted for a speech he gave to the members. Yet, I have been listening to his counsel on TV and reading his testimony in magazines and the internet for years. The fifteenth president of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, was sustained in 1995 at age 85. He served vigorously for almost 13 years, during which 1/3 of the current membership were baptized.

A great communicator, his leadership in public affairs led to the development of the media services of the Church. Born in 1910, the coming of radio was miraculous to him; he thought of it as a gift of God. He appreciated God’s gifts enough to establish an extensive communication network using each new technology as it became available. Unafraid of controversy, at a time when the nature of the family was in question by academics, and churches were changing their doctrinal policies to accomodate the lifestyles of the people, he led the development of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. He led the missionary work, including the calling of 400,000 missionaries, new publications and procedures, an emphasis on Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, and a resulting increase in membership to 13 million, most not in the U.S. The various quorums of 70 increased his ability to adminster Church affairs. He carried out the building of 75 new temples to serve the worldwide membership. He designed the world’s largest conference center for religious and cultural gatherings. He established the “Perpetual Education Fund” to assist 30,000 returned missionaries in their career development and break the cycle of poverty in many countries. He increased the cooperation of the Church with other churches and agencies in disaster relief. He personally bore witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ and His role as Savior and Redeemer in all the populated continents in speech, writing, and song.

His life was characterized as difficult and potentially discouraging, but he followed his own advice: “Do and be the best you can. Things will work out. Keep praying and working hard. If you want to live long, accentuate the positive”. I add my testimony to the many others, that Gordon B. Hinckley was called of God, and served his master, Jesus Christ.

Prophetic Passing

I imagine he's running to Marjorie now,
Yes, running, not waving his cane.
I see him embracing his father and mother
While they keep repeating his name.

I see him now meeting his forebears,
Brother Brigham and Joseph are there.
Sweet reunion of prophets, united by service
That only such noble men share.

I see him embraced by the Savior
While Father says, "Good and well done.
So faithful in stalwart endurance, I welcome
My noble, most excellent son."

I then hear the ripples of laughter
As he says the reception's just fine,
But he hopes that he'll get an assignment or two
Since there's no need to waste any time.

I can hear his clear voice in the stillness
At the close of this sweet Sabbath day,
Have faith and move forward -- there's work to be done.
President Hinckley would want it that way.

Anna M. Molgard
January 27, 2008

Joseph the Seer

As a linguist, I take an interest in whatever language I encounter, and usually try to learn a few phrases that I can use to communicate with people. I can pronounce correctly phrases from dozens of languages. It is not hard to find yet another new language to learn, because there are 6,912 known living languages in 218 language families on the earth today. Most have a number of dialects, and globalization is resulting in languages like English developing new dialects constantly. We don’t know how many dialects and languages are lost. We just know that since the Tower of Babel, language evolves constantly (Genesis 11:1-9).

Language variety was a challenge to the Book of Mormon people. Bilingual education required specialized language teachers (Mosiah 24:4). By the time Mosiah discovered the Mulekites (who had also come from Jerusalem), “their language had become corrupted...they had brought no records with them” (Omni 1:17). They had found some ancient records of a lost people and after learning the Nephite language, they asked Ammon if he could translate. Of course, no one had the key to unlocking the mystery of that writing form, let alone that language. But there was a solution:

“Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer. And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God. And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet. And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God. But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known. Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings”(Mosiah 8: 13-18).

When Moroni was writing the final words of his father’s book, he recognized that their language had changed, and that no one would know their language, therefore the Lord prepared “a means for the interpretation thereof” (Mormon 9:33-34). Moroni knew that tongues and interpretation of languages were among the possible gifts of the Spirit (Moroni 10:15,16). “And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations” (Alma 37:23). Joseph Smith was that servant, called to be a seer to translate ancient documents that testify of Christ (D&C 21:21). Joseph the son of Israel long ago saw the last days and knew of Joseph Smith’s calling to be a seer (2 Nephi 2: 6-7, 14). Moroni himself delivered the Urim and Thumim to Joseph and taught him how to translate so we could have the everlasting gospel of Christ today (D&C 128: 20).

Special Witness of Jesus Christ

Adam testified to his children of the divinity of Jesus Christ, his role as Savior and Redeemer, and the reality of the Resurrection. All the prophets from Adam to John the Baptist prophecied of Christ’s mission on the earth and the role of Christ through the latter days and the Millenial Reign. During His short earth ministry, Jesus established a church with Apostles, who He coached as special witnesses. After the Resurrection, He spent time preparing them to “go unto all the world” bearing witness of what they had seen. The Book of Mormon explains that He selected 12 here to do the same. He spent extra time with them, and prepared them to minister to the people. The New Testament and the Book of Mormon mention thousands who saw and interacted with the Risen Lord, but both mention a special role for witnesses who are prepared to testify of the Resurrection.

Now we are in the last days before the Second Coming, and more in need of witnesses than ever before. All the apostles of the modern era are called as special witnesses of Jesus Christ, but Joseph Smith was the first, and gave the most specific accounts. Joseph’s First Vision occurred when he was young, alone, and living in obscurity. Yet that account changed the course of the world, and has been confirmed by the Holy Ghost to the hearts of millions. Joseph’s testimony is typical of the charge given the apostles: to testify of Jesus Christ. After that first vision, Joseph recounts a number of other visions and conversations with Jesus, each time witnessed simultaneously by others. I don’t doubt that the duties of restoring the keys and doctrines long lost required numerous visits with the Redeemer and other Heavenly messengers. One of the doctrines thus revealed was the reality of the Resurrection of the dead.

“The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling” (D&C 107:23). When Apostle Jeffrey Holland came to Ganado, he bore this witness to us in person: “Now I want to leave my testimony and a blessing. I have borne witness of Jesus Christ since my primary days, but now I am a witness, a special witness qualified to tell you that God is our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, his atoning Son, is the Christ. This is the true church. This is the promised restoration”.

More recently we have been reminded of the witness of President Gordon B. Hinckley who said, “I bear solemn witness of him and of his unique and singular place in the plan of eternal salvation of God our Eternal Father. I bear witness of these things by the power and authority of the holy Apostleship in me vested”

Now we are blessed with the leadership of Thomas S. Monson who adds his witness: “With all my heart and the fervency of my soul, I testify as a special witness that God does live. Jesus is his Son, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our Redeemer; he is our mediator with the Father. He it was who died on the cross to atone for our sins. He became the firstfruits of the resurrection. Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

To theirs, I add my testimony that Jesus is the Christ, and my testimony that Thomas S. Monson is called of God to lead us today.

“We who are assembled in this great general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give our testimony to all the world that Jesus is the Christ, the living Son of the living God; that he came to earth in the meridian of time, the offspring of Deity; that he walked the roads of Palestine, declaring the truths of the eternal gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the blind to see, and bringing the transcendent messianic message of hope to all who would hear; that he was taken by evil men, condemned, and crucified on Calvary’s Hill; that he rose the third day, the firstfruits of them that slept, the conqueror of death, the master of eternal life; that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22); that he and his Father, the great Elohim, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820, ushering in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times; that he stands at the head of this church which bears his name; that in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the government of the kingdom of God is upon his shoulder, and his name is “called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6.) Gordon B. Hinckley.