Archive for the ‘Older Posts’ Category

Testimony meeting is usually all right, but on occasion we have some very good testimonies and something profound is said.

One of the ladies stood and talked about cleaning her gutters.  She has some health problems and can’t do a whole lot, but tries to do what she can to avoid imposing on others.  Anyway, she had flushed the gutter junk down the drainpipe with the hose, but the hose got stuck on something when she went to take it out.  After struggling for a few moments, she said a quick prayer to help her get the hose out so she wouldn’t have to bother her neighbor.  She still couldn’t pull the hose free.  However, after thinking about it for a moment, she had the idea to get a screwdriver and remove the screws holding the downspout to the pipe.  She did and the hose came out with no problem.  She replaced the screws and it turned out fine.

She mentioned that this may seem a silly thing to pray over, but she realized that the answer was given to her, just not the way that she expected.  The end result was the same, but getting there was different than what she had in mind.

I got to thinking about this principle.  People are generally very short sighted and we get fixated on one or two ways to accomplish something.  It is difficult to step back and take a fresh or different look at finding an answer to a problem.  Often it requires input from another source to get us to look in different directions to get to the same result.

This lady’s situation was a perfect example.  The result was the successful removal of the water hose from the drainpipe, but the method of removing the hose was different than what she initially expected.  In the end, the result was the same.  Getting there took a little more time and effort.

Isn’t that true of all things?  Sometimes getting to the end result requires more than we expect to put into it.  Often, the extra effort teaches us more, or gives us more reason to appreciate the result.  It is a good reason to strive for excellence and not be just average.

In the end, what we make of our lives is what is important.  God is there to give us direction.  We need to be open to His suggestion and be willing to make changes to achieve the results He wants and expects.  His wisdom is far greater, and while we can often plan for our desired results, we sometimes have to take a different direction than we planned.  The Holy Ghost will help us recognize when we need to change direction. 

It’s amazing what one can glean from a 3 minute testimony, isn’t it?

25
Sep

“Are Willing To” (September 2007)

   Posted by: John

Sunday’s sacrament meeting was a missionary theme.  There were a lot of speakers that included the fulltime missionaries, the ward missionaries, and the ward mission leader.  It was a very full meeting.  Brother Moss said something that I thought was very interesting.  He takes a little time getting around to his points, but when he gets there, they are usually worth it

He read from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 20, verse 77.  It reads as follows:

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

This prayer, of course, is the one that we hear every week, as the sacrament is blessed.  Brother Moss paid special attention to three words: “are willing to”.  He talked about the promises and conditions that are in the sacrament prayers along with other commandments that the Lord gave us.  We are all imperfect and will break commandments, either by commission or omission.  There is simply no way we can be perfect.  However, we can strive to be perfect and do our very best, and prove that we “are willing to” follow all of the commandments of God, he will give us all that he promises us.  In the case of the sacrament prayer, it is to have the Spirit with us.  God has promised us many other things, many of which are cataloged in Section 121: 41-46.  There are some requirements, then many wonderful blessings and promises, if we “are willing to” follow the commandments.

I’m grateful to Brother Moss for bringing out these three words that make it so we can keep these promises.

18
Sep

How Is It Done? (September 2007)

   Posted by: John

I don’t remember who gave this talk in church, but I wrote down something from it that I thought was interesting.

The talk was from one of Elder Scott’s conference addresses, having to do with prayer and forgiveness.  The item that caught my attention was this:  How is it done?  That sounds a little strange, but consider it for a moment.  After receiving an answer to prayer, we should thank the Lord.  But Elder Scott also said he also wanted to know “How is it done”, especially on items such as repentance.

It’s a good question.  We know about the plan of salvation and the atonement.  These are subjects of constant lessons, talks and discussion.  It’s one thing to talk about them, but it’s another entirely to fully understand the significance of the atonement and yet another to know the means of how it works.

I am reminded of Enos, the account of which is in the Book of Mormon.  He is hunting, and remembered the words of the prophets and his father.  The words sank deep into his soul and he wanted to know if they were true.  He prayed, not just a short prayer, but continuously, with earnest desire to know, for an unknown period of time.  Eventually the answer came, and he heard the sure voice that his sins had been forgiven.  He knew God could not lie and his guilt was swept away.  Then he asks this: “Lord, how is it done?”

Knowing that he had been forgiven was not enough for Enos.  He wanted to understand the means by which that forgiveness was obtained.  The Lord said “Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou has never before heard nor seen.”

Like so many of the scriptures, I am sure there was more dialogue and events than was written.  Enos was very likely given information, like Nephi received when he saw the vision of his father.  Receiving a simple answer would not have been enough.  Enos would have wanted to see the events in the garden of Gethsemane, on Golgotha, and the tomb.

If we read further in the chapter, we find that the Lord makes several covenants with Enos regarding the records and the Lamanites.  I find that interesting considering that the Lord usually requires us to make covenants with him, not the other way around.  Only a man of incredible righteousness and standing with the Lord would be able to extract such promises from God Himself.  I think it safe to say that Enos would have been the recipient of visions and promises from God equal to any other great and righteous person.  His understanding of “How it is done” would have been extensive and very complete.

From that question and answer, and the following few verses, we see a person of great spiritual quality, one who is favored of God.  It would behoove us to look at this example and ask God ourselves how it is done, personally from Him.

Today was High Council Sunday.  It is interesting that in this stake, the high councilor who speaks selects a speaking companion to go with him and they present the talks.  I don’t remember that happening in other wards and stakes I have been in.

Sister Dopp was the speaking companion.  She is the wife of a member of the stake presidency.  She spoke mostly about the word of wisdom as a means of keeping ourselves free from addiction.  As she spoke, I had several thoughts about different kinds of addictions.

Physical addiction: This kind of addiction is something that we either take into our bodies.  For example, coffee.  People get addicted to the substances in coffee and it becomes very difficult to stop drinking it day after day.  Cigarettes are another example.  As the body becomes hooked on substances it affects our ability concentrate on more important matters.  As this happens, the spirit will become dragged down as the body succumbs to a losing battle of choice.

Now there are those who say, “I’m not addicted.  I can take it or leave it.”  This rationalization is not correct, since they always end up taking it.  They have limited their choice because the body craves and most often gets what it wants.

Mental addiction:  There are more subtle kinds of addiction than substances.  The human mind is able to take all kinds of things into it.  However, sometimes, there are things that become an obsession.  For example, pornography.  In this case, the mind becomes poisoned, but the physical body is largely untouched or hampered, at least for some time.  These kinds of addiction enslave the mind.  Because they tamper with the mind, they also alter character, emotion, and reason.  Mental addictions also are often more damaging to the spirit, often quicker and with more devastating effect.  There is virtually nothing a person can to do kill the connection with the Holy Ghost quicker than to start down the path of porn.  It is almost scary how fast it can go.  Yet, someone addicted to porn can, for all intents and purposes, be as healthy and free from physical addiction as the next person.

There are many things that can vie for our attention.  People get addicted to money, power, heroin, caffeine, sex, sports, etc.  When we let ourselves get stuck on those things, we begin losing our connection to the Holy Ghost.  There are things we can participate in that will not hurt us, such as basketball, or even politics, that will do us good, so long as they don’t become the focus of our lives.

Sister Dopp spoke mainly of the word of wisdom.  Obviously that is part of the battle.  The other part involves keeping our minds pure and unfettered by worldly things.  That may be the tougher challenge.

10
Sep

Sunday Meeting Notes (September 2007)

   Posted by: John

Sacrament meeting was quite interesting yesterday.  We had 4 speakers, two of whom were young men in the ward, then we heard from the Wagners.

Young Brothers Wilson and Ingersol gave excellent 5 minute talks.  They are fine examples of  Aaronic Priesthood holders, and it reflects in their manner and speaking.

Then Sister Wagner spoke about prayer and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  (I don’t know if that was the real topic, but that’s what I thought the message was.)  She related some stories of her life where listening to the spirit led her to find her husband, and helped her through some difficult times.

By the time she finished, there was only a few minutes left.  Brother Dustin Wagner got up, made a quick joke, then said that there he was having to throw his talk out due to time.  Rather, he would give us the topic and let us ponder it.  The topic?  “Remember, and perish not.”  He then said that while he was sitting there realizing he was out of time, a scripture came to mind with great force, from 1 Nephi 11, where Nephi was seeing the vision his Father had.  The angel asked if Nephi knew the condescension of God.  Nephi replied that he knew that God loved his children, but did not know the meaning of all things.  The angel then showed him Mary, the Mother of God and explained to Nephi the miracle of Jesus’ birth.  Dustin then said, “Remember that, and you will not perish.”  Then he proceeded to mention several other things.  Jesus teaching the doctors and scribes at the age of 12.  Jesus being baptized by John.  Jesus calling the disciples to establish His church.  Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, then on the cross.  Jesus not being in the tomb on the third day, but appearing as a resurrected perfect man.  And after each thing he said “Remember that, and you shall not perish.”

This was the kind of sacrament meeting we had, where the talks were given by the spirit, and the messages where loud and clear, and received by the spirit.  I noticed that the Bishopric were sitting just as riveted as I was.  This is one reason why I love this ward.  We may not see the spirit giving the talka quite in this fashion, but we almost always have it there.

I found one of my old Don Black tapes the other day and listened to it while driving around.  (Yes, I have a tape player in the car.  This particular model car has a CD and tape player in it.)  The title is “Principles with Promise.”  In this talk, Don talks about various principles of the gospel that have promises attached to them, specifically, tithing, fasting, the word of wisdom.  Then, he talks about the Holy Ghost.

Now, I have listened to this talk before, but I found myself thinking very hard about the Holy Ghost.  As Don says, we often think of Him as a latent power, sitting idly by until needed in a great way.  This is not the case.

One of the stories that Don tells, is when he received his mission call to Denmark, and how he was worried that he would meet someone who knew more about the gospel than he did.  His father put his arm around him and said “My son, in your case, plan on it.”  Hardly words of comfort.  Then he says this:  “All your life we have taught you principles of the gospel.  We have tried to fill your mind with truth and knowledge.  You have a mechanism, God given to you called the Holy Ghost, who will bring to recall the principles and truths you have been taught, in the very hour you need them.”  Then he proceeds to give some examples of when that gift manifested itself in various circumstances, almost of its own accord, but giving him the words, scriptures and language he needed at the very time he required them.

As I have thought about this testimony, I thought about how the Holy Ghost operates.  He doesn’t very often force his way upon anyone, although he has the power to do so.  He isn’t loud or overbearing, but has the ability to pierce the soul.  He does not work through fear or threat, but gives love, understanding, and various gifts as needed, such as speaking in tongues.

Indeed, the Holy Ghost becomes more than a principle of the gospel.  He is a part of the gospel.  Being a member of the Godhead gives him authority and standing equal to Christ.  Neither can work without the other.

As Don says, the Holy Ghost is one of the grandest blessings we can have in this life.  Without him, we would be aimless, having no hope of knowing truth.  The evidence of this is when Christ was on the Earth with his apostles.  Even being in his presence, they were not the strong, powerful men they became when they received the Holy Ghost.  Their acts, as recorded in the New Testament, were as instructive and powerful as Christ’s.  We can be as strong as they were, having that same gift given to us.

3
Sep

Paul in Ephesus (September 2007)

   Posted by: John

A part of the Sunday School lesson today dealt with Paul as he was teaching in Ephesus.  He had gone to the synagogue, teaching and discussing the scriptures, for about 3 months.  He was rejected and so went to teach in other places, for about 2 years.

During that time, he was able to convince a good number of people about Christ.  But, as always seems to be the case, when he (and the other apostles and disciples) were successful, there were others who were not happy with them.  Usually it was the Jews.  This time, however, there is another group who is upset.

It seems that there was a goddess by the name of Diana that a portion of the people worshipped.  Along with that, there were a number of businesses who made silver images and religious items for those worshippers.  As people converted to the gospel, these makers of idolatrous items found their market decreasing.  So, they started to make an uproar about it, seeing that their livelihood was disappearing.  Read Acts 19:24-28.

I got to thinking about the early years of the restored church.  These were days when missionaries of the truth were few but they went forth in great power.  They borrowed churches and halls, preached on the streets and, at times, found many who recognized truth.  It made the ministers of many churches jealous and afraid.  After all, every person who left their church took their money with them.  When threatened with their livelihood, it is a rare person who does not fight back.  Even more, these preachers of religion were sure they were saving their people from evil by fighting truth.

It is an interesting parallel to compare the silversmiths of Ephesus with the ministers of the 1830s.  While the ministers were not making graven images with silver, they were well aware of the economic ramifications if their members left them for another church.  Add to this the fact that they could not compete with the power of the spirit that the missionaries of the true church carried.  The religious leaders (and merchants) of Ephesus were no match for the spirit of Paul.  The end results are interesting to look at.

First, in the face of strong opposition, there were many people who were convinced of the truth and joined the church.  This was true in Ephesus, as it was in many cases in the latter day church.

Second, those who taught the truth were very often subject to beatings, torture, humiliation and sometimes death.

Third, the people who seem to have the most problem with the true gospel being preached are religious leaders who stir up people to fight against the word of God.  (While the silversmiths at Ephesus were not happy with Paul and company, the Jews were also out for their hides.)

One thing we don’t hear about much from the New Testament is the presence of alcohol.  We can read accounts from journals of latter-day saints saying that often the mobs were drunk and sometimes were given the alcohol by those who wanted the riots going.  I suspect that at times, Paul and the other apostles had to deal with drunken mobs.  Funny how numbing the mind with alcohol will get people to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do.  And we can purchase that substance at almost any grocery store, gas station mini-mart or convenience store.

So we can see that there are some coincidental things that seem to repeat themselves throughout history.  The word of God is preached by those who have the spirit.  It is fought by those who don’t, generally by those who are harmed financially or threatened religiously.  In spite of enormous opposition, people see the truth and join with it, and many times, the stronger the opposition, the greater the success.  Funny how that works.

I’m grateful that we have the accounts of the apostles.  These men truly served God and gave their lives to his service.  And, I am very glad that we have such a great teacher in my ward who is able to place us there in mind so we can understand and learn the lessons the apostles gave us.

2
Sep

Apollos…Educated and Teachable

   Posted by: John

We were talking today in Gospel Doctrine about a man by the name of Apollos, a Jew who was born in Alexandria (Egypt).  Here is what is said about him in Acts 18:24-25.

24)  And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

25)  This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Brother Miner brought out a few interesting points about Apollos.  First, he is a Jew, born in Egypt.  He is an educated man, being mighty in the scriptures.  Being from Egypt, he would have spoken Egyptian, but also Greek.  For many years, the Egyptian Pharoahs were Greeks, and the Greek language was also written and spoken.  But, Apollos also had to have known Hebrew, since the scriptures were written in Hebrew.  Ephesus is well into the Roman empire, and having travelled and been in that part of the world, also likely knew Latin.  This man is no dummy.  Further, verse 24 states that he was “an eloquent man”, and I would take that to mean that, along with his education and demeanor, he was able to speak well.

Apollos taught the people the scriptures based on the knowledge that he had, but his knowledge is incomplete, as verse 25 says “knowing only the baptism of John”.

Now we come to the real interesting part about Apollos.  He is a man of education and standing.  Yet, he is also humble and willing to learn.  Continuing in Acts 18: 26-28:

26)  And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

27)  And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

28)  For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Some of the people, recognizing in Apollos an ability to speak and teach, but also seeing that he did not know it all, taught him the rest of the story, as it were, and he received it.  He then began teaching his expanded knowledge.  Apollos already knew the scriptures; he was learned and mighty in them.  He just needed to have some pieces filled in.  He was already teaching with great power,  but after receiving more knowledge, and likely receiving the Holy Ghost, he was able to convince many Jews, from the scripture that Jesus was the Christ.

This little passage got me to thinking about the number of people who have a portion of knowledge and truth.  Many are learned in the scriptures, to the point that they can preach and teach with great power and wisdom.  Yet, they are missing the fullness of the gospel.  Most people that I know who are of this caliber are not humble enough to recognize that there is more knowledge available through modern prophets.  I meet a lot of people, and most of their minds are closed to anything beyond what they already have.  What a pity that many of these people are not teachable.

It is fortunate that we have these few verses of scripture to let us know that there are some people who are ready to learn God’s word, and some of them are in positions of high education and standing.  Properly taught and prepared, they can be strong and bold voices of truth.  Apollos gives us this example and understanding.

21
Aug

Thoughts on Broken Hearts (August 2007)

   Posted by: John

We had Ward Conference last Sunday. President Olsen spoke about having a broken heart and a contrite spirit as an offering to the Lord.

This has been one of the areas that I have always struggled with in some way. A broken heart is often associated with sadness or depression. Our Father in Heaven wants us to be happy, not sad or depressed.

As I listened to the President Olsen speak, I had another thought that makes a lot more sense. For some reason, the only similar thing I could think of was boot camp. New recruits are put through several weeks of difficult tasks and intense training. They are also taught to follow orders immediately and without reservation. They are broken to do the will of their superiors.

I think that is what God means when he says to have a broken heart. Rather than sadness or remorse (we need those things in regards to repentance), our hearts are set to do the will of God immediately and without reservation. There is no room for objection to or disobedience of the commandments.

As we do this, our good thoughts and actions will become good habits. Our faith will increase because we will feel the presence of God daily. Our hearts will be “broken” to do the will of God continually, without reservation

10
Aug

Truth and Obfuscation (August 2007)

   Posted by: John

As I’ve been reading various blogs, I have noticed an interesting topic being discussed.  It has to do with Jesus and his parentage.  The person who has posted the most seems to have a good religious background, and has taken time to learn some of the languages the Bible was originally written in.  He argues that many, if not most, of the stories contained in the Bible are just not right or believable, based on his study of the original manuscripts.

As an example, he talks about the miracles of Jesus as being written after the fact by some years (which we already know), but exaggerated to make Jesus appear to be more than just a man.  During the course of these “discoveries”, he says he has come to some different conclusions about religion, God and life.

Among some of these things, I have read, in several separate places, discussions on who Jesus’ father really was.  Most of them say that Jesus’ father was indeed Joseph, who impregnated Mary in the same way mankind has always done.  The result of this idea is that Jesus was simply a man who, although favored of God, was no different than any other mortal man.

I find it so amazing how people can tarnish what little truth they do have.  The Bible was given to man to give them the word of God.  Nephi was prophetic when he wrote that people would say all they needed was a Bible, and nothing else could possibly be given.  Now, we have those who take that Bible and attempt to show that it is nothing more than fantasy, a product of ancient writers with large imaginations.

This shouldn’t really be surprising, seeing as how the history of man has been riddled with those who reject the words of God.  I just find it very interesting that I would run across it in several places in the past couple of weeks.  It is no wonder that God only gives a very small portion of His wisdom to most people.  They look for a sign or wonder, hoping that God will “prove” himself to them, when in reality it is they who must prove themselves to God.

I mentioned in our last testimony meeting that I had met some very nice people who were of the opinion that organized religion was just a way to tie people down, that nobody could know for certain if any one church or denomination was really correct.  That was the same Sunday that I was able to confirm Ashley and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, after having baptized her the previous afternoon.  I said that after those experiences of exercising the Priesthood and feeling the spirit, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the true church.

A couple of people later, Jim Sevy stood and, to paraphrase, said that it was actually easy to know the church was true.  You simply start out by doing the things you know you should be doing, like going to church, praying, fasting, and accepting callings.  If you do it right, the church becomes a way of life and you feel the spirit during lessons, talks, and in your home.  Then you know it is true.  But you have to make the effort.  God isn’t going to force it on you.

For those who have the spirit and their testimonies, it is very easy to picture Jesus as the literal Son of God, perfect in every way, and the only person who can finish our journey back to God.  God’s truth does not change regardless of man’s desire and effort to alter it.  Truth gets lost in the clutter of speculation, lies and deceit.  But it is there, ready to be discovered and learned.  Those who seek it honestly and humbly have found it.

The rest, according to Section 121:38  are left unto themselves, “to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God”, unenlightened and unable to recognize what is right and what is not.

5
May

Temple Baptism Night (May 2007)

   Posted by: John

Last evening was the ward youth baptism night at the temple.  We went with them, and it was very special.  I made arrangements so that Karen and I could be baptized for Grandma and Grandpa, along with Grandma’s brother Wayne.    A few others in the ward had names to be done as well, so they were included and done by the youth.

As it turned out, I was the baptizer for the young women.  We had 3 that were there for the first time.  When they were done, Karen came down and I baptized her for Grandma.  Then Brother Z came down and baptized me for Grandpa and Wayne.

Coming out of the dressing room, I found the Bishop had made arrangements for the confirmations, and took us to the room immediately.  There, I was able to confirm Karen for Grandma, then the Bishop confirmed me for Grandpa and Wayne.  I had not asked for him to do that, but of those who were there, and they are all great people, I am glad that it was him.

It was a rather emotional evening for me.  The spirit of the Lord was strong, and I am sure that some of the people who we were baptized for were near.  I could feel them, even if I could not see them.  It was so nice to be there with Karen and to share this experience with her.  This work is true, and I am so glad to be a part of it.

1
May

State of the Union (May 2007)

   Posted by: John

I was thinking about the current state of the United States of America, and I am very concerned that the country is approaching a critical time.  This land has historically and scripturally been a “promised” land since the time that the continents were divided.  While we do not have much of a biblical source for the promises and equal warnings given to those who would possess this part of the world, we do have several groups who have received the promise given in ancient scripture, namely the Book of Mormon.  Without this book, there would be very little information about the divine promises given to those who would inhabit the Americas.

Almost every group of people led here were given great blessings and promises of a free land with the condition that they serve God righteously.  And, almost without exception, each of those groups eventually fell into iniquity and were violently removed.

Jaredites, Mulekites, Nephites, and possibly other –ites that we do not yet know about were brought here rather miraculously and started their sojourn in a land of promise.  When they were righteous they prospered.  When they became wicked, they warred among themselves and were killed in great numbers.  And, at times, when they were righteous, they warred with those who were not and most often came off victorious.

I believe the Lamanites were spared because of the pleadings of righteous men for their sake, and the Lord made promises to those men on behalf of their wicked brethren.

When people began again to immigrate to America, it was because they were seeking religious freedom, the right to worship in the way they thought correct.  Thus, this land was prepared for freedom and self government.  When the Lord’s church was restored, the promises made to the ancient inhabitants was made again – if the Lord was served, the land would remain free.

Here we are in 2007, approaching 200 years from the time those promises were made again to the Saints of God.  This country has more people than it has ever had.  Many are righteous people.  Many more think they serve God, but do not have the gospel as given by Christ.  More still are wicked, not adhering to the commandments of God, but follow their own paths, being led by the wiles of the devil.

I fear that those who lead our country are largely of that latter group.  There does not seem to be many who are willing to lead in righteousness.  They think that faith and religion are things to be shunned.  Those who try to be righteous are labeled as fanatics and kooks.  We hear a lot about the religious right, and that group is painted as fruitcakes.  I met a person today who is one of those “religious right” kooks.  He was passionate about the state of his country, his role in it, and I share his concern that we are facing and going to face some very difficult times very soon.

I firmly believe that this country can not be brought down by outside forces.  Those who have tried have always failed.  History has shown that this land is protected by divine force.  When governments and people have fallen, it has been the result of dissent, disillusionment, wickedness and violence from those within.

This is the reason that I am very afraid for this country.  At this time, we have a government that is not interested in the welfare and security of this country.  They are warring among themselves, not caring that the citizens are watching them act like spoiled children fighting over a candy bar.  The ideas and actions of these people are contrary to God’s will and commandments.  What’s worse, some of them know better, and choose to ignore what is right, going with what is politically correct.

Along with this, most people end up taking sides.  These sides are becoming farther apart as ideas become more extreme and middle ground erodes away.

Those who would stand of principle of righteousness find themselves more isolated as the larger majority are willing to put their principles aside in favor of popular opinion.  Already, we have incidents where one group of people protests against another group, sometimes leading to violence.

These are the same kinds of things that led to the ruin of previous inhabitants of this land.  I think of Captain Moroni, who had to march to the rescue of Pahoran, leader of the government at the time when those who wanted a king were becoming such a problem that they threatened to overthrow the chief judge and install their wicked leader as the king.  In Moroni’s case he was successful, but at the cost of having to eliminate those who wanted the king.

I think of the Nephite people after Christ visited and gave them His gospel.  Those who remained righteous were those who were there and saw Him.  This continued for about 3 generations.  By the 4th generation, the story became “old” and wickedness quickly took over.  Some years late, the entire Nephite nation was destroyed by the Lamanites.

In the first case, Pahoran was a righteous man, but he was threatened by those who were wicked and were more numerous than the righteous in that area.  I feel like President Bush is somewhat in that position right now.  He is a good man who faces an uphill battle right now, and while I do not think that he needs to fear for his life per se, the pack of wolves in the congress are looking for every opportunity to bring him down, regardless of the cost to this country’s security and prosperity.

In the second case, when the Nephites became wicked, the conditions that God made concerning righteous inhabitation of America applied, and they were swept away, almost universally.

There are many people here who are likely more wicked than the Nephites ever thought of being.  At the same time, there are many people who are as righteous as the Nephites ever were.  I believe this is the reason that God has not started the sweeping of this nation.  There are enough good people here to prevent that extreme measure.  In spite of this, it has become obvious to me that Satan is very craftily orchestrating the demise of our inspired form of government, and he has a host of willing accomplices to assist him.

Remember the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot pleaded with the Lord to spare the city if even 10 righteous people out of however many were there could be found.  Lot was commanded to leave, because the wickedness (except for him and his immediate family) was universal.  That is not the case today.  There are righteous and good people in all places, and for that reason, I believe the Lord has spared us the fire and brimstone and destruction.

However, the adversary keeps hammering away, putting chinks in our armor, looking for ways to creep in and destroy us from within.  In my opinion, he has a portion of our federal government.  Those who are trying to do right are outnumbered, losing ground, and in some cases, setting their principles and values aside for the sake of getting along.

I don’t know what the answer is, other than to pray for our leaders and vote for those who are trying to do the right things.  Staying righteous and encouraging others to remain or become righteous is likely the best thing we can do.  As long as there are good people living in this land, we improve our chances of keeping our country and way of life intact.