Sunday, September 27, 2009

Championing a Game of Musical Chairs

“Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men” (D&C 4:1).

Section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants was a revelation given through Joseph Smith to his father in February of 1829. When we look at the events that unfold immediately after this revelation, we get a sense of the magnificence of this “marvelous work” the Lord prophesied would come forth. On May 15, 1829, John the Baptist confers the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Later that month, Peter, James, and John confer the Melchizedek Priesthood on these two men near the Susquehanna River. In June of 1829, the translation of the Book of Mormon is completed and the Three Witnesses and the Eight Witnesses are shown the gold plates. On March 26, 1830 the first printed copies of the Book of Mormon are available. On April 6, 1830 the Church is organized in Fayette Township, New York. In the following months and years, the first missionaries are called to preach to the Lamanites, the site for the city of Zion is revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Presidency of the Church and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are organized, the Doctrine and Covenants are published, temples are built, overseas missions are served, temple ordinances are revealed and instituted, and the “marvelous work”—in its broad sense—skyrockets.

Truly, when the Lord proclaimed, “the field is white already to harvest,” that was not just beautiful prose. The world, the saints, and the Lord were primed, and the work unfolded so quickly and surely. Of course, the persecution was great, but nevertheless, the work never ceased to unfold, no matter the obstacles.

In a more narrow sense, when the Lord mentions “a marvelous work,” it refers to the Book of Mormon. In a little over a year after this revelation, the Book of Mormon—the account of the Lord’s people in the Americas, and another testament of the divinity of Jesus Christ—is published. It is the book that ushers in the restoration of the gospel, and brings it to God’s children in its fullness. I can only imagine the excitement stirring in the heavens when these records were finally to be released to the world. As I read Section 4, I feel an attitude of optimism and all-encompassing love, and I can’t help but think that God is on the ‘edge of his seat’ as he gives this revelation to Joseph Smith and his father.

I have an immense love of the Book of Mormon and the doctrines contained within. As I’ve read the account of Jesus’ ministry in the Americas, and the principles taught by God’s Book of Mormon prophets, and applied what I’ve learned to my life, I have changed. It is a wonderful gospel. And how blessed we are in this dispensation to have it in it’s entirety. May the “marvelous work” continue to go forth.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Care Bears Trump the Boogeyman

I am taking a religion class from Dr. Holzapfel again, but this time the focus is on the Doctrine and Covenants. I’m excited to go through this class, because I feel like this canon of scriptures and church history in general are topics I’m not as familiar with. I have a tendency towards ancient things, but I realize that the modern revelation received in the early 1800’s by our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith, are the Lord’s words as well. And they have incredible power.

Recently, as we discussed the revelation Joseph received after losing the 116 manuscript pages, a couple verses in the third section of D&C stood out to me. “For behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble” (3:7-8)

The concept that made the greatest impression on me was that I should not fear man more than God. I should not succumb to the influences of the world and discount the counsels and commandments of my Holy Father in Heaven. I should not fear social discomfort more than reaching out to a child of God who may feel left out or disregarded. I should not seek prestige or academic recognition more than a rich, valuable education. I should not fear man more than God.

These verses remind me of the quote that has guided me through my high school years as well as my college career thus far. It’s had an immense impact on my life and several important decisions I’ve had to make. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat” (“Citizenship in a Republic”).

While Joseph during this time slipped up and allowed the influences of the world and worldly perspectives inhibit the progress of the coming forth of the gospel, I must not let the world and its persuasions inhibit my spiritual progress. I cannot allow myself to fear temporal consequences. My perspective must always be directed at the eternal goal and destination—to dwell with my Father and my Savior in Heaven once again. No matter how convincing man can be, I must not step to the side or make exceptions. But if I do, just as every man and prophet will make a mistake, the Lord leaves Joseph and the world with this assurance: “But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work…” (3:10).