Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

29 January 2014

#WeblogWednesday Gospel Doctrine ~ Lesson 4: “Because of My Transgression My Eyes Are Opened”

Blessings by Laura Story (Music) is a great prelude to studying this lesson.


I saw this a good while ago, and thought it to be an amazing principle. I also thought to myself, "when I teach about Adam and Eve, I will try to incorporate this into it where possible."

It is a beautiful principle, as it focused on the strength that can come when something becomes broken. 

In Sunday School, I always like opening with a hymn that relates to the lesson. This may be somewhat unorthodox for Sunday School, but not unheard of.
Sometimes it is immediately recognized as appropriate, as in using "I am a child of God" when discussing Lesson 1 "This is My work and My glory," or making it more thematic when using "If you could hie to Kolob" to discuss the glory of God's creations (taught last week), and sometimes it's fun to find new material not often sung about such as "Lord, accept into Thy Kingdom" when discussing the role of Family History. 

It is a way to set up a good spiritual atmosphere and allow the Spirit to direct the lesson, as well as preparation for the lesson. Oftentimes I will try and find a good hymn on the prior Monday that sets the tone for the week of lesson prep. Leave the window of revelation open though, as many times I have heard a thought or song the day before or on the way to church and use that one instead, which makes the lesson that more clear.

Some may call that an Audible Audible.
Try saying that 3 times fast, Baba Wawa!

Anyways, it's a good way to get unified before the lesson and have a good theme in mind for the lesson involved.

This weeks lesson includes the discussion of Adam and Eve, their role in establishing a faithful people on the earth, their necessary expulsion from the Garden of Eden (yes, necessary - more on that later) and their need for and education of a Savior being prepared from the foundations of the world.

Some Hymn ideas could include:

"Nearer my God to Thee" discussing the constant need for the Atonement as well as the Three Pillars of Eternity (Discussed some last week and continued on today)

"Adam-Ondi-Ahman" Can bring discussions into perspective of discussing the development of the Gospel of Jesus Christ since Adam, and he and eve's critical decision to further the work, providing the catalyst for the Redeemer.

"Come unto Him" would contain similar themes, and gives some insight into how Adam may have felt after being dismissed from the Garden and came unto Christ and how we all have a similar journey from one garden (The Garden of Eden) to another (Gethsemane) and ultimately understanding the third (Garden Tomb). (Elder McConkie discusses this idea further on).


When I think about the story of Adam and Eve, I think of it as an absolutely glorious series of events. Adam was given instructions in the Garden, with stewardship and authority to govern the creations. 
(e.g. Genesis 2:15,19 among others). He was given an helpmeet, and one whom he would be with, even to "cleave unto" her, and set an example of an Eternal marriage, leaving "his father and mother" ... and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). 

He was given commandments before this process as well: One being from Genesis 1:28, in which is  given dominion and authority over the things of the earth, and also to multiply and replenish the earth. 

Later on, Adam was given another commandment (2:16-17):  

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Two Trees

There were many trees, but two stood out: 
One; the Tree of Life, in which immortality would remain as their current condition.
The other; the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the consequence of partaking would then bring death, or mortality. 
In addition, the consequences of no longer being able to partake of the free of life automatically and being separated from the Presence of God due to that would occur.

Positive Consequences would also take place. They would receive the benefits from which the tree is named. Knowledge of Good and Evil. Living in a state of constant sameness, however innocent, leaves out opposition. Pleasure, pain, good, evil, light, darkness, bitter, sweet are all relative to knowing the other. 

I once watched an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (The one with Melissa Joan Hart) and they discussed this principle as well. It involved a diagram of sorts (at least in my head when it was going on). 

1:         ______________________________________

Is much different that 

             2.          /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Fig. 2 can be used on a spectrum of how much something is compared to another. For example, the bottom could be sour, and the top could be sweet. The top could be light and the bottom darkness. but you are able to compare and contrast the two, and therefore be able to judge good and evil, pleasure and pain, etc. 

Because fig. 1 is constant you have no way of knowing what level you are on. It could be a 10 out of 10, but without anything to compare it to, or always being in that state, there is nothing by which to judge. You could be perpetually happy for your entire life but not no it because nothing evil would change your perception of that. 

Satan soon presents himself and sets a pattern that he continues today; namely, giving half-truths.
He was using the commandment given in Genesis 2:16-17 and Genesis 1:29 as a background for it, but only mentions the immediate goodness and eliminates the devastating consequences. "You shall not surely die ... but shall be as gods, knowing Good from Evil" (Genesis 3:4-5). This is typically one of the principles that the adversary exercises: He doesn't eliminate the truth, but mingles lies with scripture.

He also seeks to overthrow the words of the prophets. This will happen more and more, in the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Book of Mormon, and even today.

Adam was given a commandment and the consequences to that commandment, and then it was given to Eve. Satan sought to override that authority and caused them to make the choice to fall. In doing so, Mortality was entered into. No more could they directly partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life automatically, because if they did, they would live forever with a transgression unresolved. Their natures were changed, and they received a corruptible nature; One that would have blood, and all that comes with it: Sickness, disease, pain, as well as the ability to recover, rest, and produce offspring. 

It is crucial, as mentioned in last weeks topic that in order for us to fully understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we must first understand the Fall, and to understand the Fall, we must understand the Creation. 

As with Adam and Eve, so it is with us. They became separated physically and spiritually from God, and would then need to work (Sweat of their brow), raise a righteous posterity, and the sorrows and suffering that accompanies that, and have an enmity towards evil. 

John Welch  in one of the best 5 lectures regarding the Sermon on the mount that I have studied thus far recognizes Enmity and Anger and their purposes.

"The next point Jesus says, again turning to the old and bringing about the new, "Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you [the Nephites had these records, of course, in writing as well] that thou shalt not kill." Jesus then said: I don't want any anger; I don't want any ridicule; I don't want evil speaking. Why is this so important? Why does this amount to the equivalent in significance of murder under the old rule? Well, the Lord placed enmity in this world for one reason, and one reason only. Hatred is here so that we can hate evil.  

"What does the devil do with that enmity? He says, fine—all right, God, you have let evil into the world; then I will take that evil and with it I will make people hate one another. He misdirects our hatred and our anger—a typical strategy that Satan is going to try to employ. Jesus says if we are going to reverse that, we've got to rid our lives of anger and hostility, especially toward a brother."

Elder Bruce R. McConkie discusses the Three Pillars of Eternity here.

"The three pillars of eternity, the three events, preeminent and transcendent above all others, are the creation, the fall, and the atonement. These three are the foundations upon which all things rest. Without any one of them all things would lose their purpose and meaning, and the plans and designs of Deity would come to naught.
If there had been no creation, we would not be, neither the earth, nor any form of life upon its face. All things, all the primal elements, would be without form and void. God would have no spirit children; there would be no mortal probation; and none of us would be on the way to immortality and eternal life.
If there had been no fall of man, there would not be a mortal probation. Mortal man would not be, nor would there be animals or fowls or fishes or life of any sort upon the earth. And, we repeat, none of us would be on the way to immortality and eternal life.
If there had been no atonement of Christ, all things would be lost. The purposes of creation would vanish away. Lucifer would triumph over men and become the captain of their souls. And, we say it again, none of us would be on the way to immortality and eternal life"

Elder Bruce R. McConkie also teaches concerning the three elements of the Redeeming plan of God.

This address is his final conference address, and a treasure to listen to, watch, and study.

Did you hear that last part? WATCH and STUDY this one. 

Before his classic ending lines, he leaves us with this connection of "the three gardens of God"

"May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement.
We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.
We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation.
As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God—the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.
In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisiacal state—without death, without procreation, without probationary experiences.
We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall.
We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth.
Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin.
Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall.
And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave.
Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life.
If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life."

One of my absolutely favorite and enlightening discussions of the atonement is contained in the address of Elder Nelson (Mentioned last week)

Rembrandt: Parable of the Prodigal Son

"Rich meaning is found in study of the word atonement in the Semitic languages of Old Testament times. In Hebrew, the basic word for atonement is kaphar, a verb that means 'to cover' or 'to forgive.' Closely related is the Aramaic and Arabic word kafat, meaning 'a close embrace'—no doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace. References to that embrace are evident in the Book of Mormon. One states that 'the Lord hath redeemed my soul … ; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.'  Another proffers the glorious hope of our being 'clasped in the arms of Jesus.' 

Professor Hugh Nibley also addresses it here although he takes longer to get to that point. He's like that sometimes. It's worth the read though). It involves the root words of the atonement and these can bring further light and knowledge to many passages of scripture.

Encircled in the Savior's Love is a great theme taught throughout the scriptures.  

Actually, Lehi said that.

All of us are broken, imperfect and mortal. As with Adam and Eve, so to with us: we cannot partake of the Tree of Life automatically right now, but we can obtain it in the same way Adam and Eve did. They came to understand that what they did was not frustrating to the Great Plan of the Eternal God, but necessary, so as to understand right and wrong. They could partake fully of the message of Christ. The life and Mission of Jesus Christ was not something that had to be put in place because Satan made two people make a mistake. It was necessary so that we could look to a Mediator, a Savior.

 It was put in place so that all of God's children could return to live in the presence of God, this time as perfect, immortal and whole individuals who partook of the fruit of Knowledge of Knowledge of Good and Evil and, through the plan prepared, also partake of the Fruit of the Tree of LIFE, which is now Christ. As we partake of His goodness and mercy, we can draw near to the Father again, even as Adam and Eve did in the garden, except this time comprehending the other gardens of God -- Gethsemane and the Tomb -- 

Understanding all three events in their wholeness gives me a picture of who I am and what I can become. Though I make mistakes and become broken, One stronger than I can come and make me whole. 


With His Stripes

As the Father sent down His Begotten to a world so barren and dry,
As a plant yet so fruitful and tender He would prosper, replenish, and die.
But before His great work was completed, - despised and rejected of men –
Our sorrows would burden His shoulders as His wounds would redeem us from sin.
Though no beauty nor form we desired, we esteemed Him yet smitten of God—
He was wounded for all our transgressions as he sought to be bent ‘neath the rod.
Our peace, with chastisement, He carried; His bruises felt deeper within,
As he was beaten, for all, without mercy, and forsaken because of our sin.
No Gilead’s balm was he offered, no peace nor repose was revealed,
Yet because of His life and His offering, with His stripes we can fully be healed.

[~Orion Trunk, Written 18Mar2011]

Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

16 January 2014

#WeblogWednesday Gospel Doctrine ~ Lesson 3: The Creation [Thursday Edition]


  First of all, on my Pandora, a song came on titled "Autumn" by Ryan Stewart. Give it a listen if you can while studying some of the concepts listed herein. 

Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2nd Disclaimer: The nature of this post may be difficult to study;  The start of the Creation discussion will start with Elder Russell M. Nelson's introduction.
I would potentially recommend reading the post through all of the way once, and then pick and choose which topics you may be interested in most after that.

3rd Disclaimer: Either way though. It's your life. 
Hope you enjoy it! (Your life, as well as this post)

One thing I have noticed as I have prepared Sunday school classes for the past year is that Apostles and Prophets teach great things. Of course I have known that before, but have seen much greater purpose and connections in what they address this year more than any other. As I look at some of the backgrounds of these great leaders and see the ways that they have learned and progressed in their lives, it provides greater context in what they say.

 They speak on many other topics and doctrines, most significantly how we can strengthen our faith and understanding of the role and mission of Jesus Christ. All of their messages contain this message, and they use different points of the gospel to address it.
I find it significant when they address the same theme on more than one occasion.

 Two Examples:

Elder Richard G. Scott

In 1955 he completed the equivalent of a doctorate in nuclear engineering at the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology in Tennessee. (Because of the classified nature of the work, a university degree couldn’t be given.) He also helped in the development of the first commercial, land-based nuclear power plant.


He understands complex processes and can break them down to make them understandable and workable. He speaks frequently of ways to strengthen the way in which we receive personal revelation.

Elder David A. Bednar:

"Elder Bednar was born on June 15, 1952, in Oakland, California. He served as a full-time missionary in Southern Germany and then attended Brigham Young University, where he received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. He also received a doctoral degree in organizational behavior from Purdue University."

He has, more than once, used portions of the verse 2 Nephi 2:26 which couples the power of the redeemer with the divine gift of agency. This in turn strengthens our ability to act in righteousness
 He utilizes this verse in the following ways:

This last one's pretty amazing, but it's close to an hour long, so settle in sometime in the upcoming weeks and TAKE NOTES.

So, Then: On to the discussion at hand!

Elder Bednar also gave us this amazing gem.

In focusing on our study of the Creation this week, I will provide a spotlight on none other that Elder Russell M. Nelson. He has spoken regarding the Creation on a number of occasions. 
Elder Nelson clearly loves to discuss the work and necessity of the Creation in the Plan of God. (Not surprisingly, as his professional career was as a world-renowned heart surgeon). He dealt with life, death and seeing the miracle of creation on a daily basis. His biography is also very good.  

In 1987 He discussed the essential role of Eve in the plan of God.

"From the rib of Adam, Eve was formed (see Gen. 2:22; Moses 3:22; Abr. 5:16). Interesting to me is the fact that animals fashioned by our Creator, such as dogs and cats, have thirteen pairs of ribs, but the human being has one less with only twelve. I presume another bone could have been used, but the rib, coming as it does from the side, seems to denote partnership. The rib signifies neither dominion nor subservience, but a lateral relationship as partners, to work and to live, side by side.

"Adam and Eve were joined together in marriage for time and for all eternity by the power of that everlasting priesthood (see Gen. 2:24–25; Moses 3:25; Abr. 5:18–19). Eve came as a partner, to build and to organize the bodies of mortal men. She was designed by Deity to cocreate and nurture life, that the great plan of the Father might achieve fruition. Eve “was the mother of all living” (Moses 4:26). She was the first of all women."

"From our study of Eve, we may learn five fundamental lessons of everlasting importance:

  1. She labored beside her companion (see Moses 5:1).
  2. She and Adam bore the responsibilities of parenthood (see Moses 5:2).
  3. She and her partner worshipped the Lord in prayer (see Moses 5:4).
  4. She and Adam heeded divine commandments of obedience and sacrifice (see Moses 5:5, 6).
  5. She and her husband taught the gospel to their children (see Moses 5:12).

In 1993
He starts a discussion that is carried out in multiple conferences.

[a theme that Elder Bruce R. McConkie also addresses (More on that next week).]

He discusses the Personages, Plans, and Purposes of God.
As well as the

He further elucidates: "Before we can comprehend the Atonement of Christ, however, we must first understand the Fall of Adam. And before we can understand the Fall of Adam, we must first understand the Creation. These three crucial components of the plan of salvation relate to each other."

In 1996               In October, 1996, Russell M. Nelson further discusses the three essential elements of the plan of salvation that we must obtain. He references Jacob 4:12 and speaks in depth on the three pillars of Eternity again, primarily focusing on the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  

"The Creation required the Fall. The Fall required the Atonement. The Atonement enabled the purpose of the Creation to be accomplished. Eternal life, made possible by the Atonement, is the supreme purpose of the Creation. To phrase that statement in its negative form, if families were not sealed in holy temples, the whole earth would be utterly wasted.  
The purposes of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement all converge on the sacred work done in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The earth was created and the Church was restored to make possible the sealing of wife to husband, children to parents, families to progenitors, worlds without end.

This is the great latter-day work of which we are a part. That is why we have missionaries; that is why we have temples—to bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God. That is why we respond to our own calls from the Lord. When we comprehend His voluntary Atonement, any sense of sacrifice on our part becomes completely overshadowed by a profound sense of gratitude for the privilege of serving Him.

Elder Nelson's Apostolic Witness
"As one of the 'special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world,' I testify that He is the Son of the living God. Jesus is the Christ—our atoning Savior and Redeemer. This is His Church, restored to bless God’s children and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Russell M. Nelson speaks of  the Creation again in 2000, focusing primarily on the events of the Creation

"I testify that the earth and all life upon it are of divine origin. The Creation did not happen by chance. It did not come ex nihilo (out of nothing). And human minds and hands able to build buildings or create computers are not accidental. It is God who made us and not we ourselves. We are His people! The Creation itself testifies of a Creator. We cannot disregard the divine in the Creation. Without our grateful awareness of God’s hand in the Creation, we would be just as oblivious to our provider as are goldfish swimming in a bowl. With deep gratitude, we echo the words of the Psalmist, who said, 'O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.'”

What can we learn from the creation?
"The Creation, great as it is, is not an end in itself but a means to an end. We come to the earth for a brief period of time, endure our tests and trials, and prepare to move onward and upward to a glorious homecoming. Our thoughts and deeds while here will surely be more purposeful if we understand God’s plan and are thankful for and obedient to His commandments. 
"As beneficiaries of the divine Creation, what shall we do? We should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations. And we are to love and care for one another. 
We are to be creators in our own right—builders of an individual faith in God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith in His Church. We are to build families and be sealed in holy temples. We are to build the Church and kingdom of God upon the earth. We are to prepare for our own divine destiny—glory, immortality, and eternal lives.  These supernal blessings can all be ours, through our faithfulness."

Elder Sterling W. Still (Assistant to the Twelve) April 1954 had this to say:

"In a Sunday School class which I visited recently I heard a Sunday School teacher recount that thrilling story of creation, that 'God created man in his own image' (Gen. 1:27), and I found myself wishing that I might have been there to have witnessed this great beginning, and then it occurred to me, as it has occurred many times since, that the creation of man is not something that was finished and done with in the Garden of Eden. The creation of man is still going on, and in a very real sense each of us is a creator—that is, the attitudes, the enthusiasms, the faith, the determination to serve God, that are so important to our eternal exaltation, are being currently within us and in others.
It is more important to build a great character than to build a great skyscraper. We know that the worth of souls is great, but mostly we are not great for what we are, we are great or what we may become, and it is my hope and prayer in my own behalf that I may develop those qualities that will enable me to accomplish the duties of this assignment as is expected of me by my Father in heaven and those who preside over me in the Church." 

Christ appearing to Moses

Elder Merrill J. Bateman (Presidency of the Seventy) October 2005

"The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us.
"The Pearl of Great Price teaches that Moses was shown all the inhabitants of the earth, which were 'numberless as the sand upon the sea shore' ( Moses 1:28). If Moses beheld every soul, then it seems reasonable that the Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us. He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine. I testify that He knows us. He understands the way in which we deal with temptations. He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith."

A Good discussion from an astronomy teacher

In discussing  this particular lesson, certain challenges can be presented as to the how's, where's, and when's of the creation process. Many of these questions may not be addressed, certainly not in fulness, but the truths of the events are maintained. 

A story regarding the creation may illustrate. While getting my A.A. at a community college, I took an Astronomy class as a required science credit. The teacher was a younger guy in his mid-20's and fairly Atheistic in his viewpoints privately. We got on the subject of how the Moon was created and organized. When discussing this and how it came to be, he discussed multiple viewpoints objectively.
Not a real-time picture. It would have been Black and White. It was eons ago. 

After discussing his various viewpoints, he asked the class what they thought, and if they had anything to add. What other theories had they heard? 

One lady in the class raised her hand and said simply "God did it". 

[I must commend this young lady on her faith presented. I do hope, however, that people of faith are able to inquire more, continuing to seek and grow. Science can provide wonderful enhancements of understanding to attach to the essential element of faith.]

 I very much enjoyed the teachers response. After all, this wasn't a Gospel discussion, it was a heavily involved math and science class. He continued the discussion with her and asked her how God created it. She replied simply again, "He just created it." (based on the Genesis story, etc). The teacher was still very calm in his approach and said that "God must have a way of doing things. Creating, organizing, all of that. What I am presenting here could just simply be the way in which he did it, could you agree with that?" I don't recall her response, but I loved that he didn't automatically reject her thesis, but instead attempted to give it more strength. I wish more people could do that when discussing different sides of an idea, especially when it comes to science and religion. While he was primarily agnostic verging on atheistic, he recognized that God would still need a plan of what He was doing. 
Sometimes with faith we put ourselves in the same trapped argument that the Big Bang does. It couldn't have just "happened". It was not Ex Nihilo. There was a process involved, a plan laid out and diagrammed, first spiritually, and then temporally. Can we comprehend all of the steps involved? Not right now, probably not. There were keys involved and actions taken. 
Elder Nelson and Elder McConkie both broach this subject as a crucial understanding of the Atonement and Mission of Jesus Christ. It was not done haphazardly, but part of the overarching plan of our Creator.

Some discussion often arises on the six creative periods of the creation mentioned in Moses 2:5:

President Brigham Young, discussing the six days of creation, said that six days “is a mere term, but it matters not whether it took six days, six months, six years, or six thousand years. The creation occupied certain periods of time. We are not authorized to say what the duration of these days was, whether Moses penned these words as we have them, or whether the translators of the Bible have given the words their intended meaning. However, God created the world. God brought forth material out of which he formed this little terra firma upon which we roam. How long had this material been in existence? Forever and forever, in some shape, in some condition” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1971], 100; see also Alma 40:8)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that a day, in the Creation accounts, “is a specified time period; it is an age, an eon, a division of eternity; it is the time between two identifiable events. And each day, of whatever length, has the duration needed for its purposes. . . .
“There is no revealed recitation specifying that each of the ‘six days’ involved in the Creation was of the same duration” (“Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, 11).

Some other good addresses and quotes regarding the Creation are as follows:

 [Found primarily here, on the Scripture Citation Index -- Remember, there's an app for that!]

April 1953 - Pres. J. Reuben Clark Jr. "Untitled" 

"Now, what is that 'word of my power,' which does these mighty works in the universe? I want to read to you what Brother Brigham said about that. He said: 'If anybody wants to know what the Priesthood of the Son of God is, it is the law by which the worlds are, were, and will continue for ever and ever. It is that system which brings worlds into existence and peoples them, gives them their revolutions, their days, weeks, months, years, their seasons and times, and by which they are rolled up as a scroll, as it were, and go into a higher state of existence.'
That is, these measureless creations have been formed by the power of the Holy Priesthood of the Order of the Son of God. This Priesthood we, you and I, and all who stand in like places, possess, not in its fullness, as to the exercise of its power, but we do have the Priesthood. How great and how multiple are its powers, which we do in fact possess, some of you, all of you, have witnessed at one time or another in your lives."

October 1944 - Joseph L. Wirthlin (2nd Counselor in Presiding Bishopric) "Untitled"

"The power of God is manifested by and through the priesthood. It was through the power of God that worlds were created, providing a tangible evidence of God's power. The power of God is evidenced and keenly felt in righteous words, honest deeds, sincere emotions, and clean thoughts of men. The power of God is creative, both in a spiritual and temporal sense, for all things were created, first, spiritually and then temporally. By his power the earth was formed; by his power light and darkness were separated; by his power the land and water were separated; by his power the vegetation, fowls of the air, the fish of the sea, and all earthly creatures were brought into being; but the most important of all these was the creation of man in the exact image of his Creator. The finite mind cannot comprehend or understand the full significance of the creation nor of the principles and the powers involved therein, but we do know that the creation was a great and stupendous work accomplished by actual, spiritual, mental, and, who knows but what some physical effort was necessary on the part of our Heavenly Father. There must have been an element of work, of effort, in it, or else why the declaration found recorded in Genesis 2:2, 'And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made' (Gen. 2:2), an indication of the necessity for rest after such a tremendous accomplishment."  

He continues, discussing the necessity of Adam's role in the world [a lesson still applicable today]:

"When Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to enjoy its beauty, comforts, and food already produced, the Lord enjoined him merely to prune the garden and keep it in good condition; but soon thereafter the fall came as foreordained, and Adam was cast from the garden. He found himself in the lone and dreary world, far different from the orderly Garden of Eden. The voice of the Creator declared to him that if he were to eat, in fact to exist, it would depend upon his efforts whereby in the sweat of his brow and the toil of his hands should he eat his bread (Gen. 3:19), pointing out, too, that noxious weeds and thistles would stand in his way, creating the necessity for more work and effort. With Adam leaving the garden there came into being the most important project among men, namely, that of agriculture which produces food and raiment for man, the first two physical requisites, and moreover affords more actual work than any other industry. But Adam was not left unqualified to meet this new condition, for his Eternal Father had bestowed upon him the mental and physical potentialities to create by his labors all the necessities of life. So man from the beginning possessed the potential power of creating his requirements through work. The words "create" and "work" are synonymous. Hence, the power of God is work, by which I mean the conscious exercise of spiritual, mental or physical effort and activity." 

April 1961 - LeGrand Richards "Prove me now herewith"

April 1962 - Spencer W. Kimball "Spiritual Communication"

October 1969 - "Man...The Jewel of God " Pres. David O. Mckay


I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy preparing it. There is a wealth of information, and can be quite exhaustive to the individual. Or inexhaustible if referring to the amount of information available.



10 January 2014

Gospel Doctrine Study helps ~ Preparing for #WeblogWednesday


Background: I teach Gospel Doctrine, which is a Sunday School class, for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and it has been an amazing experience thus far. Last year I was blessed to teach the History of the Church and a book of canonized scripture that we call the Doctrine and Covenants. This contains revelations, doctrine and covenants (hence the name) given through the Lord to prophets in the latter-days of the gospel to the faithful adherents of the church and the world as a whole (Specifically covering the historical time period of 1820-present while utilizing all other scriptural time-frames as well). That book of scripture contains great insight into the organization, leadership, priesthood responsibilities, and teachings that pertain to family, missionary and individual responsibilities to those who desire to live in the Gospel covenant.

That's quite a mouthful, and not even the main purpose of my post today, but wanted to give that information as background, because biographical information is fun. (light applause, laughter)
With that, when writing about this sort of subject matter, I should also put one of these:

Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 


Anyways. Time to get started. So, I teach Gospel Doctrine, as stated before. In my personal studies of the topic at hand (This year is the Old Testament, or Torah), in addition to reading certain scripture 'blocks' at a time, it is also of use to find some supplementary material to assist. While I do enjoy the occasional article or commentary, there are a couple of good ways to go about studying that may not seem as daunting or academic, while still providing a great path to Gospel Scholarship.

Seek the Spirit (Prelude)
Whether you are overly spiritual or not, there are multiple ways to follow this concept even to one who is not religious, spiritual, etc. I have attempted to do this while pursuing academics, working throughout the day, or just spending time with family and friends. Before doing something from which you desire to learn, it is important to get in a situation where you are prepared to do so. Meditation can do this; listening to peaceful, serene or appropriate music while spending a few minutes or more on something important, or nothing at all.
Practice: to better understand what I mean, take a few minutes (which, if you are a busy mom, dad, individual, etc can be a challenge in and of itself) and listen to something peaceful, joyous, and ideally without words. Instrumental. One of my favorites is "My Joy is Full"
but Paul Cardall and Lex de Azevedo are both very good, depending on individual mood and style. Orion by Metallica is also a personal favorite for obvious reasons. 
[Share your favorite meditation/uplifting instrumental music in the comments below]
Spend a few minutes listening and focusing on something uplifting, or the end result of a currently arduous task. Focus on you: First being, then becoming. 
It can be an awesome experience.
No matter what your process is for seeking the Spirit, doing it in a meaningful and prayerful way is crucial to studying, especially on concepts that are to improve oneself. Much like an athlete will do everything possible before an event besides the obvious training and repetitions, focus also centers on what goes into the body and mind during those sessions. This will make the event and trainings that more meaningful. Trust and rely on the Spirit as you study. It will be a key and a guide, and the greatest aspect of anything else I mention in this post.

Ask Questions
These can be asked through a number of ways:
a) Prayer (See James 1:5, 1 Nephi 15:8-11)
b) To yourself as you study (Journal while you do. Explore through writing. Be the Indiana Jones of words and thoughts. It's much less prestigious, but still adventurous. And without the Snakes and Helicopters.
c) Mentors, teachers, and leaders
d) Your Spouse and Children. Children provide great follow up questions and even great insight into key concepts.

Let's spend a moment on that last one: Elder David A. Bednar gave a great address relating to family study, prayer and time.

Some quotes from the address (for your journal/scripture margins):

"Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony of the divinity and reality of the Father and the Son, of the great plan of happiness, and of the Restoration.
"Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you bore testimony to your eternal companion? Parents, when was the last time you declared your witness to your children about the things you know to be true? And children, when was the last time you shared your testimony with your parents and family?"

What is a Testimony?
"A testimony is what we know to be true in our minds and in our hearts by the witness of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2). As we profess truth rather than admonish, exhort, or simply share interesting experiences, we invite the Holy Ghost to confirm the verity of our words. The power of pure testimony (see Alma 4:19) does not come from sophisticated language or effective presentation; rather, it is the result of revelation conveyed by the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost."

and finally:

"Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes. 

Study: My intent of this post was to provide study aids for the weeks lesson coming up. I will try and do this every Wednesday (#WeBlogWednesday) so that it will give people enough time to read some of the addresses, articles, and be able to study some various insights into key concepts of the weekly Sunday School Lessons seen here.

Most of the posts shouldn't be this long. They will follow more in line with 3-5 conference addresses linked to the concepts of the lesson with a few quotes attached and include some personal insight. Hopefully as we go throughout the year, I would love you to provide some great additions, insights and ways that you study and learn. They could be much different and extremely helpful to know, so feel free to request a concept to be explored more.

Old Testament Scholarly Articles from BYU Studies that tie in with the weekly lesson plan.

Neal A Maxwell Institute This contains a great number of scholarly research projects and books. (Most readable online). There is not a very definable path for lesson material, but some good articles from Apologetic scholars like Hugh Nibley, John Welch and Truman G. Madsen, along with a host of many others. They attempt to see things from the historical context more, and utilize a good amount of other sources that are contemporary with ancient church history.
Amazing Articles like this one: The Calling of Lehi as a Prophet in the World of Jerusalem.

BYU New Testament Commentary Series While this primarily contains a wealth of information regarding the New Testament, it is a key to helping understand the principles and doctrines of the Old Testament.

Scripture Citation Index: Great tool to utilize! (and there's an App for that!) 
This one's my favorite... Don't tell the others...

Just to explain this one, basically if you are fond of, or confused by a certain scripture, or just want to see who has addressed certain aspects of the verse(s) in mind, there is an extremely easy way to do that, thanks to these wonderful people.
For example, Songs of Solomon has only been mentioned once in conference since 1942. While Moses 1:39 has been referenced close to 300 times. Just that one verse! Since 1942.

That's one of the great things about it as well, is that it is able to pull entire addresses of conference since 1942 plus all of the Journal of Discourses series. (It won't print those very easily, but Conference will print, or direct to lds.org article).

In case you run out of material there, (doubtful) or want to review conference talks in full from a quote in the book/manual that you read, there's a way to review.

For example: 

If, in studying the Old Testament Institute Manual, you come across the following quote regarding the creation found here:
“I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father’s children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father.” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33.)

or this one regarding the lost tribes of Israel found here:

In April conference of 1916, Elder James E. Talmage, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke of the lost tribes and their records: “There is a tendency among men to explain away what they don’t wish to understand in literal simplicity, and we, as Latter-day Saints are not entirely free from the taint of that tendency. … Some people say that prediction is to be explained in this way: A gathering is in progress, and has been in progress from the early days of this Church; and thus the ‘Lost Tribes’ are now being gathered; but that we are not to look for the return of any body of people now unknown as to their whereabouts. True, the gathering is in progress, this is a gathering dispensation; but the prophecy stands that the tribes shall be brought forth from their hiding place … [and their] scriptures shall become one with the scriptures of the Jews, the holy Bible, and with the scriptures of the Nephites, the Book of Mormon, and with the scriptures of the Latter-day Saints as embodied in the volumes of modern revelation.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1916, p. 130.)
Then in October conference Elder Talmage spoke again of the lost tribes and made this remarkable prediction: “The ten tribes shall come; they are not lost unto the Lord; they shall be brought forth as hath been predicted; and I say unto you there are those now living—aye, some here present—who shall live to read the records of the Lost Tribes of Israel, which shall be made one with the record of the Jews, or the Holy Bible, and the record of the Nephites, or the Book of Mormon, even as the Lord hath predicted” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1916, p. 76; emphasis added).

Then you can go Right HERE!! and find the conference reports that go back to 1897. It is amazing the wealth of information that we have access to in this day and age. There are scanned PDF documents of every report, and very legible. There are audio and video recordings. Utilize the senses by both hearing and reading an address or the scriptures to capture some things that are easier heard than read or vise-verse.

In addressing all of these wonderful and useful tools, I cannot stress enough how amazing it is to find time to just be immersed in the scriptures. I would strongly encourage you to (at least one day a week) to spend close to an hour reading strictly and solely to the scriptures.  

I would encourage you to record thoughts, feelings, and insights. Journal. Personal revelation will be given, so attempt to personalize it when applicable, using "I and Me" Language. To get an idea of the blessings of this process, recall what experiences Elder Richard G. Scott had from simple yet profound promptings here.

If you made it this far, I commend you. I am here in the journey as well. I have not taken full advantage of all that has been presented, but wanted to share some ways that I have gained daily strength and insight.


08 January 2014

Autobiography anyone? or "If Lightning Mcqueen wrote a biography, would it be an auto autobiography?"

Hey there.

So, last week I decided to start an MBA program to take that next step in education. I have thought about different steps that I need to take in my chosen career path, and ultimately decided that this is the right place for me to be right now. I found a great online program in Walden University that specializes in Corporate Finance and I am up and running in my first class that started this past Monday.
As some of you may know, I enjoy biographies, autobiographies, and journal-writing. Some fun exercises that Universities use employ this process as well to promote positive thinking, empowerment, and goal-setting.

In my BBA program, we were assigned to write our obituary, which some would say is rather macabre. I found it interesting, as it allows setting long-term goals and objectives, as well as finding out what is of most long-term worth. The first assignment in my MBA program gave a much shorter time-frame: What would I say at my graduation speech, and what value or skill best gave me the time management needed to complete my MBA.

My response is listed below ( 3 Paragraphs):


As I speak before all of you today, I stand more humbly, more empowered and more prepared than I have ever felt before.

My name is Orion Trunk. I have lived in Jacksonville, Florida, for over ten years, and about two hours south of there in Satsuma, Florida, for the past 20 years before that. I come from a small town that contains a small amount of the knowledge of the world, but with parents who were able to instill in me the value of Work and Education. I consider those two concepts as one value because one that lacks the other is practically obsolete, and contains a severe handicap. I now know that these concepts gave me the ability to manage my time more efficiently which allowed me to be successful in my career and in obtaining my MBA from Walden University. Growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to become, and the town I lived in didn’t offer many options. I obtained education as much as possible, graduating from a private, home-based private school at the top of my class, while working at minimum wage jobs and the family business when possible. I went to a community college for an A.A. degree in general education, also while working, and briefly interrupted by a two year mission for my church in northern California. There I worked and gained a greater perspective of the world and peoples around me. I learned, and I learned how to learn. Coming home from that, I worked at fast food companies and at a train reclamation business, learning how to weld.
While there, I came to myself and realized that I wanted to do more. I was instilled with the value of working hard, and learning as much as I could, but had not quite put the two values together yet. I wanted to work, but wanted to be more involved in the decision-making process. I loved to work with people, but wanted to ensure they knew I had an extensive knowledge of the things about which I spoke. I needed education to make my work more effective, and I needed to give my education a place to grow and flourish. I decided to get my bachelors in business at the University of North Florida, but still with no clear direction until a couple of semesters into the program. I recall taking a heavily involved tax class as an elective, unsure of where that would take me. I remember distinctly thinking “I may not know what to expect from this class, but I do know what to expect from myself, and that will make all the difference,” and that has since been a great anchor in my life.
I, ironically, dropped that class after the first day, and decided to attend my first Financial Management class. From there, I was hooked in learning as much as possible about the financial world. I wanted to make decisions in business from the basis of the bottom line. Sunk costs, comparative advantages, and derivates became a part of my understanding and decision making. I loved how the value of Work and Education could come together in formulae and balances and make decisions for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike. I graduated with my BBA in Finance, in 2011. From the time I had the revelation in my welding job until that point of my life, I got married, had three amazing children, and went through one of the longest recessions in American history. During that time, I worked, and became more educated. From there until today, I wanted more. I wanted to gain value-added education to strengthen my work experience so that I could provide my family with all of their needs. That has been the guiding force behind my decisions and career. I want to instill in them the same values I have obtained. Walden University has helped me reach that goal. With an MBA in Corporate Finance, dreams have become goals and goals have become reality. They have coalesced with my vision of combining Work and Education, and have helped me reach higher to who I want to become. 


I encourage you to complete a similar exercise when you have the time, and let me know what goals/objectives you are attempting to accomplish this year. It does not have to be a major goal; it could just be something that you have been planning to accomplish. Envision what it would be like, what you would do, and where you would be when that is finished. It can bring about some very introspective thoughts, and I would encourage you do continue, as the insights keep coming. 

You are in charge of your own autobiography! What chapters would you add? some parts may seem boring, but look back and see how those parts led you to be who you are today, then make changes as necessary. The gift of remembrance is great that way. Look back over the past two-five years. How has your life changed since then. Has it gotten worse, or better? if it's worse, what changes can you make now to affect the next 2-5? If it has gotten better, show gratitude for all that you have become, and move forward with new, enhanced skills, abilities, or counterparts. We are here to have Joy, and to Act, not be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:25-26). 

Great talking with you! Feel free to share your thoughts and insights.