Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Answers to Gospel Questions Vol. 2

I just finished reading Volume 2 of Answers to Gospel Questions by Joseph Fielding Smith. I love the way that he just says it like it is. This book includes a lot of instruction, but also some rebuke to those who do not study the scriptures as much as they should, and especially to those who try to study things that don't really matter. Here are a few of my highlights:

On page 45, while discussing the nature and mission of translated beings, President Smith made the following comment, which really impressed me: "Even in the days of apostasy, and apostasy has occurred several times, the Lord never surrendered this earth and permitted Satan to have complete control...our Father in Heaven held control and had duly authorized servants on the earth to direct his work and to check, to some extent at least, the ravages and corruption of the evil powers."

Page 67--Baptism was not a new thing to the Jews. "When John the Baptist came from the wilderness crying repentance and baptizing all who came to him, his act did not seem to create any curiousity as if he were introducing some new and strange doctrine. The repentant Jews took it as an ordinance well known among them and so it was."

Page 88--"It may be true that some of the smaller children who attend the Sunday Schools and sacrament meetings with their parents are too young to realize the significance of this sacred ordinance, but what injury can come to them or to the ordinance if they are permitted to partake? We know that the feelings of the Savior were very tender toward little children."

Page 178--This chapter talks about blacks and the priesthood. While the chapter was interesting, what I enjoyed most is the attitude that President Smith had. He was certain that one day the blacks would receive the Priesthood. This was 20 years before the revelation on the priesthood was received.

I am excited for the next book!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fire and Steel: A Generation Rising

 I have to confess, I have never read any of Gerald N. Lund's historical fiction novels before (although I am a big fan of his doctrinal books and his science fiction book The Alliance). This was a new experience for me, and I quite enjoyed it!

One reason that I enjoyed this book is because it takes place in Germany (Bavaria) and gives a lot of historical information about the country. I found this particularly interesting because lately I have been doing family history work for ancestors in Germany. Lund begins the book with a history lesson about Germany that leads up to the point in time where the novel begins. I really appreciated that.

The story itself was interesting. It shows how the statement "Decisions Determine Destiny" is true on a personal, family, and international level. We follow a certain German family, first through the parents and then through their son as certain choices they make lead the family to crucial decisions. It also gives the reader a look at what the misssonary efforts were like in Germany at the time. This book takes the reader to the end of World War I and sets the stage for future books leading up to World War II. I am excited to finish the series.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith

For the last several years (with a brief exception) the manuals for study in Priesthood and Relief Society have been Teachings of Presidents of the Church, with each year focused on the teachings of a particular president. I have decided to go back and re-read each manual since there is a good chance I didn't read half the lessons during the course of study (oops, confession time!) Rather than read them in the order in which they were studied, I have decided to read them in chronological order of when they were the President of the Church. Therefore, Joseph Smith is where I began.

I love Joseph Smith and revere him as a prophet. I want to highlight just a few of my favorite passages from his teachings.

Page 66-"But when this fact is admitted, that the immediate will of heaven is contained in the Scriptures, are we not bound as rational creatures to live in accordance to all its precepts?"

Page 73-"It is the will of God that man should repent and serve Him in health, and in the strength and power of his mind, in order to secure His blessing, and not wait until he is called to die."

Page 132-"No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator."

Page 243-"My dear Emma, there is great responsibility resting upon you in preserving yourself in honor and sobriety before them [their children] and teaching them right things, to form their young and tender minds that they begin in right paths and not get contaminated when young by seeing ungodly examples."

Page 318-"The moment you permit yourselves to lay aside any duty that God call you to perform, to gratify your own desires; the moment you permit yourselves to become careless, you lay a foundation for apostasy."

Page 356-"You cannot be too good."