Tag Archives: uchtdorf

I Usually Don’t Know it’s Revelation…

jesus-at-the-door-39617-galleryPersonal revelation is a tricky thing. Too much of it and our agency may be infringed upon. Too little of it and we’re literally on our own, rudderless in a sense. Receiving direction from the heavens when needed in quite a blessing–a miracle in any sense of the word. The problem is, I’m not expert, even after decades of trying to become one. I’m not sure I’m better at recognizing promptings and direction now compared to a year ago or even a decade ago. Maybe I am. I really just don’t know.

Sometimes when we’re sharing an experience with someone (in a class or a personal conversation or a post) we say something like, “The spirit told me to…” or “I felt prompted to…” and we go on with the story. I’ve done that, I’m sure of it. And there are worse things in the world. The funny thing is this: I rarely know the Lord is prompting me when He is. On a few occasions I’ve felt sure the Holy Ghost was whispering to me, but those occasions are actually pretty rare.

More often, I think that maybe there is a chance I’ve been prompted. Not totally sure, but maybe.

I’m just not always sure. So I will have this thought or feeling or nudge (probably my favorite description of a prompting from God) and I’ll wonder about it a little. But it is a nudge toward something good or helpful or charitable, so I’ll move forward not knowing for sure if God’s hand is in this moment or not. Often, good things will come of it. Periodically, amazing or miraculous things will come of it. And as I look back over the situation and story it will become obvious that I had received a prompting or guidance and that the Lord was working in our lives. But I typically don’t know for sure until after the whole story is over.

Interestingly, we find this idea in the Book of Mormon, in the report of Nephi:

12 For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not;

13 And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

14 Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.

15 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence. (1 Nephi 17:12-15)

The Lord seems to be saying to Nephi, “You’ll be led, but you won’t really know it for sure until after you’ve arrived in the promised land and avoided the destruction in Jerusalem.” They would hopefully trust the Lord and sense that there was a divine hand in their lives, but they wouldn’t know for sure until after they had arrived in the promised land (v. 14). Nephi determined to strive to keep the commandments so that he could eventually received that assurance (v. 15).

We can trust the Lord. We can act on promptings. We may not be totally sure that we’re being prompted, but as we act in faith, the assurances will come as we look back.

Sometimes our lives are like neo-impressionistic art. The dots of color that make up the moments and events of our days can appear unconnected and chaotic at times. We can’t see any order to them. We can’t imagine that they have a purpose at all.

However, when we step back and take an eternal perspective, when we look at our lives in the frame of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can begin to see how the various dots in our lives interconnect. We may not be able to see the entire picture just yet, but we’ll see enough to trust that there is a beautiful, grand design. And as we strive to trust God and follow His Son, Jesus Christ, one day we will see the finished product, and we will know that the very hand of God was directing and guiding our steps.

We will know that the Master Artist had a plan for those random dots all along. We will see that He has amplified our talents, prepared opportunities, and introduced us to possibilities far more glorious than we ever could have imagined or accomplished on our own.

I have certainly seen this in my own life.

An Evening with Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults • January 14, 2018

Maybe the “trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6) that has to come before you receive a witness is, at least sometimes, just not knowing for sure but moving forward anyway…

Be Encouraging,

BJM

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Can You Be Really Smart and Be a Mormon, Too?

einsteinSometimes, not always, but sometimes some of the “opponents” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claim that the more education you receive, the less likely you are to stay a faithful Mormon. In fact, the claim may go along the lines that the more you know about the universe, the less you need to rely on religion generally, and Mormonism specifically. The only people that stay with Mormonism just don’t know any better because they’re dullards and lazy-minded, or at the very least, not smart enough to reason themselves out of the religion. Education leads to freedom from religion, etc.

In other words: You cannot be an intellectual, reasoning, thinking person while being a faithful, believing, God-fearing person at the same time.

Well my friends: Not so. Really, really, not so. Some thoughts on the subject:

1. Not only can you be both intellectual and faithful, but I think being one strengthens the other. An intellectual, deep-thinking mind is enhanced and focused by a believing and inspired spirit.

2. God communicates to our minds and our hearts, not just our hearts. It would be unwise to ignore the importance of either. In the Doctrine and Covenants we find the following:

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart…Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation… (D&C 8:2-3, emphasis added)

3. One of my favorite ideas is that you can know the details of LDS Church history (on any intellectual level) and remain a faithful Latter-Day Saint. Davis Bitton, in his well-known talk, “I Don’t Have a Testimony of Church History” (one of my favorite talks, by the way) shares the following:

Let’s get one thing clear. There is nothing in church history that leads inevitably to the conclusion that the church is false. There is nothing that requires the conclusion that Joseph Smith was a fraud. How can I say this with such confidence? For the simple reason that the Latter-day Saint historians who know the most about our church history have been and are faithful, committed members of the church. More precisely, there are faithful Latter-day Saint historians who know as much about this subject as any anti-Mormon or anyone who writes on the subject from an outside perspective. In fact, with few exceptions, they know much, much more. They have not been blown away. They have not gnashed their teeth and abandoned their faith.

4. The scriptures allude to the fact that a person can be very bright, learned, and intellectual and still follow the Savior. The Book of Mormon shares the following:

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:29)

It looks as though the Book of Mormon is teaching that being “learned” and following God do not have be with either/or opponents.eyring

5. Typically, LDS members obtain more education than the average US citizen. That in and of itself doesn’t mean anything if these Mormons are leaving the religion once they’re “smart”. On the contrary, the opposite seems to be true: the more education a member of the LDS church receives, the more likely they are to be believers.

There’s more, I suppose. The premise that an intellectual person will eventually think themselves out of faith is not globally true. In fact, there is one other thing I’d like to introduce. It isn’t new, but you may not be familiar with it. There is a website titled, “Mormon Scholars Testify” that I’ve spent some time on recently. The site is a collection of testimonies, thoughts, etc., from highly educated Mormons. You’ll find the thoughts of professors of quantum mechanics, historians, doctors, and a number of other disciplines. Once you’re at the site, click on “testimonies” to read their thoughts. Over the next few weeks/months I will be highlighting a few of my favorites.

I think you’ll find that the most intellectual people can be faithful followers of Jesus Christ…

Be encouraging,

BJM

These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...

“Doubt Your Doubts Before You Doubt Your Faith” (aka, “What to do with Our Doubts”)…

doubtI saw of lot of really positive things on social media after conference. But one idea popped up a few times that gave me cause to think. Some people have wondered about President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s thought, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” A few people have voiced the thought that if Joseph Smith never would have given heed to his doubts, he never would have come to the truth. So why then are we being asked to “doubt [our] doubts”? Great question…let’s analyze…

Well, first off, President Uchtdorf said much more than that. Here are some highlights from his talk, which will give you a little more context for his thoughts on doubting our doubts. That shared, let’s take a quick look at what to do with doubt.

True, one of the keys to the restoration of the gospel was Joseph Smith’s willingness to question. He questioned the religion of is mother (which is gutsy) and the religions of the area (which proved uncomfortable if not dangerous). Those questions, maybe even doubts, led to searching, which led to the conversations with others, which led to scriptures, which led to prayer, which led to revelationFirst Vision

But that was almost 200 years ago, when the light of the fullness of the gospel was just coming over the east mountains, so to speak. The earth had suffered nearly 1800 years of religious confusion. That was Joseph’s situation and starting point. Joseph hadn’t spent his life studying and receiving answers “line upon line”. He wasn’t studying out his doubts surround by decades of truths. In a way, he was sitting at 5% truth and 95% doubt. In that situation, it would seem that the best thing to do is to give those doubt a lot of attention because all you can do is gain more truth…

President Uchtdorf is speaking to a different group of people in a different situation.

Take me, for instance. I certainly have questions. Doubts? I don’t know. But questions? A lot of them. But let’s put them in context. I was born to parents who are believers. I was raised with a lot of truth. I had periods of doubts as a young person and questioned a lot of what my parents taught and what my church believed. I spent some time wondering if I knew for myself whether the church was “true”. I never doubted the reality of God and His Son Jesus Christ. I never doubted that there had been prophets and apostles on the earth. But I wondered a little about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, along with other aspects of the church and gospel.

Slowly, through a lot of pondering and study and prayer, these questions were answered. Nothing major, just small spiritual reassurances that what I had been taught was true. I also received some big, hard-to-ignore answers. Sure, I still had questions, and I still have questions. That probably won’t change. But at this point, my questions (or doubts) are facing 90% truth. There are some things that I already know. There are a lot of things I already know. They are the basics, but I know them through the power of the Holy Ghost.

So at this point, when I have doubts, I should start by questioning them. I should do that as opposed to “starting over”. Every time I find something that I don’t understand and that causes a hint of doubt, I don’t need to start completely over in my faith, wondering if everything I’ve ever been taught is true. How would I make any progress? part of learning spiritual things “line upon line” is standing on the strength of the last line I received. I already know some things. I know them, and the questions will be answered slowly.

I refuse to ignore my questions and doubts. They’re real, and they’re useful. I also won’t progress by completely ignoring them. But I won’t–I can’t–ignore what I already know to be true. And in that spirit, I will doubt my doubts before I doubt my faith.

These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...