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I often join the many people thinking and pondering the birth of Christ this time each year. With Christmas coming up and all of the wonderful carols sing through the day, it is easy to think on that little seen of such humble beginnings.

One of the songs speak of the 3 wise men from the east, and my thoughts ponder on their choice of gifts. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Each a richly gift of great value, but I think there is an underlying reason for these particular gifts.

Then it hits me… The Wiseman were preparing that little babe for the day he would die, the day he would bring about the atonement. They were preparing Jesus for the grave. See, Gold would be needed to purchase a tomb, and frankincense and myrrh (in the form of oil) were used for funeral preparation, it was how a body would be preserved in that day (like embalming as it were).  Of course I could be way off the mark here, but that is something to ponder over. When I look at it that way, I can see just how very wise these men were. 

God bless us all,

Ditchu

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The Fight

Last night The Fight happened. If you’re married you know the one I am talking about. There I was thinking I was in the right being attacked somewhat, so I responded harshly with my Wife who was just trying to offer me a little help and share her concern for me.
I should have seen it happening, my reaction to the situation was like the pushing of the big red button…. Boom, I had nuclear war in my living room.

The biggest stink about it: was that I was totally to blame, it was totally my fault. I had created a situation that stressed me out, someone was trying to help and I offended her out of pride and selfishness.

My wife was about done with a discussion we were having (about my health) and she asked me if I understood what was in a report full of medical shorthand. My big fat mouth spewed the words, “Of course I understand it… I not stupid you know!” That’s when the Fight started.

An hour and 20 minutes later we calmed down and she reminded me that as the priesthood leader of the family it was my responsibility, my duty, to look after the spiritual wellbeing of home and all who dell there, and to promote peace.
She was right, and the fact that I had failed in this pursuit, was the biggest blow of all.
If it were Nuclear War in the preceding hour, this was like a comet to my bloated head, crushing my ego, and blasting apart my pride. She was so right. I was so wrapped in my own worries, and selfish wants, that I neglected my duty and Family.

Sometimes out of war we find peace. In peace we can examine truth, and in examining truth we may find humility and honesty.
Pride never brought about peace, at least not without war first.

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I have heard many complain and argue with the LDS Philosophy of Milk before Meat when teaching of Gospel and spiritual things. Many just do not understand what is meant by Meat.

I look at it this way. The simple essentials of the Gospel can be taught rather quickly and bring someone to the understanding of Salvation and Exaltation. From this understanding one can choose to live in accordance to these principals or decide to turn from Christ.

So far this is just Milk.

For evangelical Christians and others that have issue with the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints philosophy of exaltation, I ask a few simple questions so that I can understand their point of view and help them to understand mine.

  1. What is “Salvation” to you?
  2. How does one obtain “Salvation,” or how is one brought to the point that they are considered “Saved?”
  3. Ok, let’s say you are saved… Now what?
  4. Do you continue to grow in Christ after you are considered “Saved?”

Anything beyond the essential principals of the Gospel is “Meat.”

“Meat” supports the principals and helps us continue in our progression beyond our spiritual infancy. As at one time my boy could not digest anything beyond Milk, we were spiritually at a point that we would not take to anything more than Spiritual Milk. Like my boy, he still young, is starting to eat meat and veggies in his diet, so we must include spiritual meat in our Spiritual Diet, when we are at an spiritual maturity to accept such understandings.

 

As an example of Spiritual Meat, I offer a link to a talk. Listen to Elder Bednar, and see what is really meant as Meat. See how it fits in and supports the Principals of the Gospel.  After you have received this understanding you may wonder What in the “Meat” is so offensive and contrary to the teachings of these other Christians that would cry foul to the LDS Philosophy of “Milk before Meat?”

http://lds.org/broadcast/ces/0,7341,538,00.html

 

God bless each and every one of you,

Ditchu 2009

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I may be weird but I tend to re-read some old “text”-books from my College Years. Yes I have kept most of my college textbooks… I have only sold-back 1 book and maybe ridded myself of the clutter of a few of my copies of  the same books that my wife had when we married. I find it makes good for public transit when everyone around me is cussing up a storm, I can escape the bastardization of the English language into the thought provoking jargon of intellectual theory, i.e. reading.

Currently I am in the middle of a Mythology (can be applied to folklore, sociology, religion, faith, behavior, or psychology) book:  The Hero with a Thousand Faces  by Joseph Campbell  one of the leading authorities in the study of Philosophy, Myth and Folklore, (God rest his soul). So much so that he was interviewed on his favorite subject of Mythology about a year before he died and that special came out on OPB about 2 years after he had passed from this world to the next. His words do not represent any Church, Religion, or Faith, but sometimes, as with any philosopher, his words represent all.  Here is a part of the book that sums up an experience I have been encountering on-line recently:

 

Totem, tribal, racial, and aggressively missionizing cults represent only partial solutions of the psychological problem of subduing hate by love; they only partially initiate. Ego is not annihilated in them; rather, it is enlarged; instead of thinking only of himself, the individual becomes dedicated to the whole of his society. The rest of the world meanwhile (that is to say, by far the greater portion of mankind) is left outside the sphere of his sympathy and protection because outside the sphere of the protection of his god. And there takes place, then, that dramatic divorce of the two principles of love and hate which the pages of history so bountifully illustrate. Instead of clearing his own heart the zealot tries to clear the world. The laws of the City of God are applied only to his in-group (tribe, church, nation, class, or what not) while the fire of a perpetual holy war is hurled (with good conscience, and indeed a sense of pious service) against whatever uncircumcised, barbarian, heathen, “native,” or alien, people happens to occupy the position of neighbor.106

The world is full of the resultant mutually contending bands: totem-, flag-, and party-worshipers. Even the so-called Christian nations-which are supposed to be following a “World” Re-

deemer-are better known to history for their colonial barbarity and internecine strife than for any practical display of that unconditioned love, synonymous with the effective conquest of ego,

ego’s world, and ego’s tribal god, which was taught by their professed supreme Lord: “I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for

them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” 107

Once we have broken free of the prejudices of our own provincially limited ecclesiastical, tribal, or national rendition of the world archetypes, it becomes possible to understand that the supreme initiation is not that of the local motherly fathers, who then project aggression onto the neighbors for their own defense. The good news, which the World Redeemer brings and which so many have been glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate, is that God is love, that He can be, and is to be, loved, and that all without exception are his children.108  Such comparatively trivial matters as the remaining details of the credo, the techniques of worship, and devices of episcopal organization (which have so absorbed the interest of Occidental theologians that they are today seriously discussed as the principal questions of religion),109 are merely pedantic snares, unless kept ancillary to the major teaching. Indeed, where not so kept, they have a regressive effect: they reduce the father image back again to the dimensions of the totem. And this, of course, is what has happened throughout the Christian world. One would think that we had been called upon to decide or to know whom, of all of us, the Father prefers. Whereas, the teaching is much less flattering: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” 110   The World

Savior’s cross, in spite of the behavior of its professed priests, is a vastly more democratic symbol than the local flag.111

   The understanding of the final-and critical-implications of the world-redemptive words and symbols of the tradition of Christendom has been so disarranged, during the tumultuous centuries that have elapsed since St. Augustine’S declaration of the holy war of the Civitas Dei against the Civitas DiaboliJ that the modern thinker wishing to know the meaning of a world religion (i.e., of a doctrine of universal love) must turn his mind to the other great (and much older) universal communion: that ‘ of the Buddha, where the primary word still is peace-peace to all beings.112

(Pages 156-159)

 

It is not to be taken that Buddhism is the only religion that holds truth, nor the only way to God. Never the less Buddhism is in reality a Philosophy more than a religion.

 

What is this section from Campbell’s book saying about me? That is a good question to ask. Too often I am coming across the idea from many different people, that belonging to a group, somehow makes us better than everyone else. Often of late I have been dealing with Christians (like myself) but are trying to segment God’s children into little boxes and say “We are saved but you are not.” Or “We are Christian but you are not.” Some sadly do so and think or say that it is out of Love, compassion, or concern for others. In truth it is for no concern of others that this ideal becomes rooted in us. It is out of self-concern, some may even call it greed. Greed for power or position, the ability to say that they are better than others, to believe they belong to a “select group” that would gain the favor of God while others do not. Campbell has pointed out that it is not from love of others but love of ourselves only that we do not accept the divinity and righteousness, the Worth of each of God’s children, of each of God’s creation, in humble equality.  I am not of greater worth in God’s eyes than any of you, for “God is no respector of persons.”  If I mess up the same as you, I find no more favor with deity.  What does it matter if I call myself Christian, and you don’t? What does it matter if you consider yourself Christian and do not want to consider me with that title, because I am “Mormon”? These are just words, words with definitions, and by definition I am a Christian. But how can I deny others who claim the Christian Faith? I cannot see the works they do not show. I cannot determine their faith. If you tell me you are Christian, or Muslim, or even an Occultist, Who am I to say you are not?

 

Words do not replace faith, words do not replace action. It is Faith that brings you closer to Deity, and faith prompts for action.

 

Someone has called me a “Relativist” trying to say that some statements I made speak to him in General terms about there being many paths to God. Those statements, however, were precise and were speaking of his expressed beliefs and mine, in no uncertain terms.

I am not a relativist, but do leave room for differing beliefs and faith practices. I attest that I do believe that there is only one true Path to our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom. However I only know what I know, no one else can say more. I do not tell you how to worship, or who to worship. If you ask we, at best you will get how and who I worship, what I believe, and maybe some reasoning behind it.  I am not here to condemn you but to share the truth I have found. I am not here to claim my rightness over others, but if you can see the light of Christ shine through my love for you, then you may see that I will rejoice in you victories. I hope to celebrate in the Kingdom of Heaven with you someday, even if I am wrong and there are infinite paths there, as I do believe that Jesus Christ is the only way, and we must accept him to enter. But the issue is not if I am right or wrong. The issue is discovering Truth and sharing it with all who will listen. We Christians should not quibble over minor details to segment different Christian groups and labeling them: some “Saved” others “Unsaved.” If we truly believe in the teachings of Christ we should implement them into our daily lives and stop to share His Love with all of our Brothers and Sisters, all of Humanity, all of His Creation.

 

God bless,

 

Dithcu 4 November 2008

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I had a Dream last night, as I usually do not share these things, I think this one has a parable to us all.

This was the Dream: I was walking around my house, it was late at night and there was no lights on. I was searching for my flashlight but could not see well enough to find it. So I was groping around in the darkness, the only things I could see were what ever I was touching at any given moment, and it appeared dimmly. The floor directly at my feet and the items my hands would touch as they searched for the Light. Nothing else was even remotly visible but the deep dark.

The Parable: As we go around looking for God or what is True we are like in a house that is unlite, and the deep dark of uncertanty hangs all around us. With faith we walk around not bumping into the things we know are there but cannot see and relying on that faith we can see the evidances of what is there, but we are still not seeing things well. When we find Christ and rely on his Light (the Flashlight) He can show us things as they are and remove our blindness, but even then we must remain focused on the light, for we cannot see it all at once as it were Day. We must have hope for when Day comes we will see all as it truly is.

I hope you can locate your flashlight better than I and God Bless you all,

-Ditchu 2008

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*Grace & Faith & Works

There is a belief that we are saved by grace.
The age old argument goes like this. Someone says, “You are saved by grace, through faith, not by works.”
Then someone else brings up, “Faith without works is Dead.”

The Problem People have with the LDS teaching on Exaltation is that they think the term “Exaltation” and “Salvation” are interchangeable.
To be more accurate Exaltation goes beyond what could be called “Salvation.” We are going to get into semantics here about what “salvation” is.
“Salvation” as most people see it is simplified as, going to Heaven after you die. Some would argue that this is an option for us all. Others that only those chosen by God will have “salvation”. It all depends on what your definition of Salvation is.
From what I understand “Salvation” is being redeemed by the atonement of Jesus Christ. According to my religion, Jesus Christ Suffered and Died for the Sins of the World, he paid the debt we all owe. All we need to be “saved” or go to “Heaven” is to believe in Jesus Christ, right?

Let’s take a closer look at this.

If someone would have faith in Christ, would they not do all they could to follow his example? This is their Faith working in their lives. When we believe and apply faith to our lives we change and want to do better, be better. We release our focus on the desires of the self and we have concern for others. We have a desire to do right and so we, as Christians, follow Christ. This is the works spoken of that makes Faith alive.

If that person died before baptism or before they could possibly show forth their Faith by “Works”, are they saved? I say, “Yes they are!” and what I have learned in the LDS church supports this because it is all about how I see the term “Save” “Saved” and “Salvation.”

Now if that person had the time, ability and Opportunity to show forth works of their faith (follow Christ) but choose not to, do they truly have Faith in Christ?
For Example, (The Holy Bible; New Testament, Mathew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18) the rich man who asked Jesus how he could enter the Kingdom of Heaven (seems to have faith in Christ for that is who he approached and asked this question) but did not do as Christ said in his answer (not follow Christ). Is his faith sufficient to “Save” him?
Or shall I ask, did he truly have Faith in Christ?

Here is a simplified version of the Saved by Grace issue (I doubt that many other “Mormon’s” would give it to you this way, so I will be direct and to the point.)
We are “saved” by the grace of Christ (Grace)! We choose to accept this “Salvation” when we have Faith in him (Faith). If we truly have Faith in Christ we will “do all we can” to follow his Teachings and example (Works).

So now we see that both ideas are correct. The evangelical community is correct that it is by the grace of God that we are “Saved”. The LDS are correct in that it also takes Faith in Christ for us to accept the gift of our “Salvation” and when we have Faith, we would do all we can to follow Christ, this is considered “Works”.

 If you boil away at the Gospel and cut it as deep as you can to get to the center core of it you will only see: that it is by the grace of God that we are “Saved.” I tend to agree with this point but feel the need to include that when we accept that Jesus Christ Died for our sins and we are “saved by grace,” we put our Faith in Him to accept his gift, and if we have faith in Christ it changes our lives and we want to follow him, so if we can, we do!
Will God Force “Salvation” on those who chose not to take it? No, A just God, a Righteous and loving God would not force this on those who choose not to accept it. “Salvation” is a Gift, You do not have to accept it but it has been purchased and is given, it is up to you to choose to accept or reject it.

Will God “save” those who do not accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice? Some will need to learn of the Gospel before they can choose, but those who choose to reject Jesus Christ and his sacrifice will unfortunately not partake in the glory of God.
 
Will God allow anyone to choose to accept “salvation” that was made for them? Yes, of course. There are infamous and nefarious people who you may pick out of history ( Hitler, Charles Manson, ect.)  and ask me will he be saved?  It does go to reason that these people will reject the sacrifice made for them and thus give up their “Salvation.”  However it is not my place to judge these people, I do not know their hearts like God does and it is between God and them to sort it out.
So does “Salvation” come about by grace alone? Not really. Though Grace is the first principal that has to be met, it is not the end of this topic. Is “Salvation” by Grace and Faith? Yes it is, Grace of God and Our Faith in Jesus Christ. But I shall remind you, Faith without works is dead. If the man had real Faith he would have hurried to give his earthly treasure to the poor and needy. Without that his faith died and thus he could not partake of the grace of God.
So it goes to show that it is by the Grace of God that we are “Saved” but it also takes Faith, and Works come about as a fruit of that faith.
Where do some disagree with this concept? By focusing only on the first part of it.

Here is an analogy of the discourse between LDS Christians and Evangelical Christians about “Salvation.”
Have you ever made cookies?
It takes several ingredients some depend on the type of cookie you make, but there is a core set of ingredients, Flower eggs butter and sugar.
There is agreement on the gospel like saying it takes flower to make cookies, and there is sugar in them too. (Grace & Faith). But when there is a suggestion that there are eggs and butter too, some say,” No, it is Flower and Sugar, that make them cookies. The eggs and butter are not necessary.” I’d like to use all the ingredients to make Cookies and when dealing with my salvation I like to remind myself that Works are the fruit of Faith, this encourages me to do better daily.

I submit to you that these differing points of view are nothing more. Different point of view on the same text, a different understanding if you will.

 

For more information on the LDS teaching that there are differing degrees of glory that we partake in the after-life. Ask a Later-Day Saint about the Plan of Exaltation also known as the Plan of Happiness. You can also go to the website http://www.mormon.org to learn more about this.

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*Finding Truth: what tells us the scriptures are true?

 

Many have argued that the Bible is both true and valid, but scripture not contained in the Bible is not true or valid.

 

I make the following statement:

The mere inclusion into the Cannon that is today’s Bible is not evidence to its truthfulness nor its quality of being the word of God. On this line of thinking I’d also submit that the mere exclusion of any scripture does not make them any less true or of less authority as the word of God.

 

There needs to be more than some person in history deciding to include a manuscript in a cannon to make it scripture. Although I personally agree that the Bible is inspired by God and I personally revere it as scripture, my decision on this is not due to a meeting that happened in Nicaea in 325 AD. I have a personal testimony of the scriptural value and validity of the truth of the Bible, as I do of some other scriptures.

As LDS, I am constantly encouraged to develop my testimony and faith in what is true.

 

I have heard the argument against the Bible: “any transmission errors at all mean it couldn’t have been inspired by God.”
I disagree with this line of thinking. I tend to think “any transmission errors at all” are due to the fallibility of people, even with the best of intentions and direct inspiration from God some errors are bound to be exhibited by the men writing the record. I also apply this to all scripture. That seems fair to me.

On the other hand, I extend to you that God gave individuals inspiration to write the manuscripts that make up the Bible. But how is it that these people did could not make any mistakes? I think they could have.

 

What tells you that the Bible is true?

For me and many other LDS members that I know do not use the fact that the scripture included in the Bible was the decided on in 325 AD at what we could call a conference led by the Roman Emperor Constantine I. That is not proof of its truthfulness nor should be equated as proof.

I believe the Bible to be True, but my Testimony came from study, question, testing my Faith and receiving Answers directly.

 

I am telling you to find out for yourself if the Bible and other scriptures are true and don’t rely on a second hand Testimony on the matter. Don’t just take my word for it. Challenge yourself, Find out if it is True! Pray about it if you believe in Prayer.

 

About any questions on the Book of Mormon:

The Book of Mormon does not suggest anything contrary to what you find in the New Testament. The only differing factor in the teachings of Jesus is that when he visited the Book of Mormon peoples he had already died and was a resurrected being. Read it before passing judgment, as with any scripture.

 

 

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