Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff

The fourth President of the Church was Wilford Woodruff. I thoroughly enjoyed reading more about his life and teachings. He was the last President of the Church who personally knew Joseph Smith and he is able to offer a unique perspective.

On page 33 President Woodruff says, "The Lord is with this people, but as Latter-day Saints, I do not think that we always prize our privileges." He uses that phrase a few times, and I really like it. It makes me reflect on how I can do better at prizing my privileges.

Page 61--"There was one of the leading Elders of the Church who went before the people and undertook to preach certain principles. Joseph heard of it and desired him to present the doctrine to him in writing. He wrote it, and when he completed it read it to the Prophet. He asked Joseph what he thought of it. "Why," said Joseph, "it is a beautiful system, I have but one fault to find with it--" "What is that, Brother Joseph?" Joseph said--"It is not true." We need to be careful to always teach truth and not things that appeal to our emotions.

Page 105--"Do you suppose these devils are around us without trying to do something? Are they asleep? Have they not a work to perform? I say to my brethren who bear the Priesthood, we have got a mighty warfare to wage with these spirits. We cannot escape it." A great reminder that there is a spiritual battle we fight every day.

Page 112--"The head of the family should not do all the praying himself, but should call upon members of his family to pray, and to ask the blessing at [the] table." Good counsel to let each member of the family have an opportunity to grow their relationship with God.

Page 129--"I would advise you to get all of your blessings written and preserve them... I do feel to enjoin it upon you to make a record of every official act of your life. If you baptize, confirm, ordain, or bless any person or administer to the sick, write an account of it...If the power and blessings of God are made manifest in your preservation from danger... you should make a record of it. Keep an account of the dealings of God with you daily." I need to be so much better at doing this. God really does bless us so much and all to often we don't recognize his blessings, nor do we remember them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Answers to Gospel Questions Vol. 3

The third volume of Joseph Fielding Smith's Answers to Gospel Questions continues to take questions from people both from within and without the Church (it is usually easy to determine which is which). In this book, I felt that President Smith was very blunt in his answers. Some of his bluntness actually made me laugh.

For example, on page 119, he is speaking of idol worship. He states that if somebody chooses to worship animals, the sun, moon, stars, etc. "the Latter-day Saints would not interfere. Naturally, we would consider any worship of that kind to be extremely stupid, but in accord to the law of agency." Like I said, blunt, but perhaps a little humorous.

Some of his blunt answers are directed at members of other faiths trying to attack the Church and its doctrine. Smith spares no pains to prove the veracity of the Church and to utterly abolish any foundation the contenders tried to build.

One thing I liked about the author's answers in this book is that he not only uses sources from modern revelation, but also uses sources more familiar to the submitter of the question. Several times he quotes from the Catholic Bible, and other times he quotes from religious scholars not of our faith. Through his answers, Smith demonstrates himself to be very well read and educated.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor

John Taylor was the third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following Brigham Young. Unfortunately, I do not own the Brigham Young manual, so John Taylor is next on the list. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his teachings. John Taylor was known as the Champion of Truth, and he lived an honorable life. Here are a few quotes from his book that I particularly enjoyed.

Page 33-"The world says... I am my own master; I am an independent being; I will take my own course, etc. Some of the Latter-day Saints almost say the same thing; not quite, but they would like to get near it. 'I am a free man; I will be damned if I don't do as I please, etc.' Well, I will tell you another part of that story. You will be damned if you do act as you please, unless you please to do and to keep the laws of God."

Page 94--"It is good for the elders to become acquainted with the languages, for they may have to go abroad, and should be able to talk to the people, and not look like fools... You may say, I thought the Lord would give us the gift of tongues. He won't if we are too indolent to study them. I never ask the Lord to do a thing I could do for myself."

Page 164--"If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty."

Page 187--"You may deceive the Bishop and you may deceive the President of the Stake, and you may deceive the General authorities of the Church, but you cannot deceive the Lord Jesus Christ nor the Holy Ghost. You know yourselves better than anybody else and if there is anything wrong in you, now is the time to repent and make yourselves square with the Lord; and if you do not repent, the time will come when you will be humbled, and the higher up you get the greater will be your fall."