Tuesday, September 16, 2014

False Prophets

Jeremiah lamenting the fall of his people
Lehi prophesied at the same time as Jeremiah. We don't know if they knew each other or who eaxctly Lehi preached to and in what area. Jeremiah was a Levite from Anathoth and preached to Kings. Lehi was of Ephraim, a wealthy man from Jerusalem.  The lands of Ephraim were very close to Jerusalem so at one time Lehi's family settled in that city. It was forgotten because Lehi didn't know until his family was in the wilderness that he was a descendant of Ephraim. Because he belonged to the Kingdom of Judah, he considered himself a Jew. Lehi was wealthy and well educated knowing reformed Egyptian.

Jeremiah was the most famous prophet at the time but there were others, some real some false. Judah was filled with so called prophets who preached that all was well in Judah. They were nationalistic and led people astray. They tolerated idolatry and "secret places" in Judah. They preached about Baal and told the people they had dreams about Baal. Sure they were priests of God, but Baal is cool too. If you read Jeremiah 23, the Lord lists the lies these so called prophets were sharing. In Jeremiah 28, a false prophet is mentioned by the name of Hananiah. Hananiah began to preach a little after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. He taught that within two years Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon would break the yoke of wood around Judah's neck. Jeremiah was told to tell Hananiah that "I have put an yoke of iron upon the neck of all of these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also." (Jeremiah 28:14)

That was the atmosphere that Lehi lived in. One where false prophets preached nationalism and secularism against the Lord's warnings. Lehi's elder sons, Laman and Lemuel were certainly influenced for in 1 Nephi 2:13 it says, "Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets." Lehi and Jeremiah preached what was unpopular even if it was the truth. Jerusalem fell not long after they prophesied.

The Bible warns of false prophets. False prophets aren't going to preach something strange at first. There are weird cult leaders who attract the weak and naive but the best false prophets are going to make you feel good and proud, even while you sin. They preach that because you are so special, you can't possibly fail.

Ways to know if a prophet is false- Deuteronomy 18:22 If he prophesies something and it doesn't come to pass. One such false prophet that comes to mind is Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin who prophesied a great class war. Even though groups are trying hard to make the prediction true, it never does. Global warming is another such prophesy. Florida was supposed to be underwater and the ice caps were supposed to melt. Well, it has become colder rather than hotter. False prophets don't have to represent a church!

(D&C 42:11-12) If someone was not given the authority they cannot be a prophet. They might receive revelation for themselves or their family, but they do not prophesy for a people unless they are given that authority from God. When you hear of Mormons getting excommunicated for leading movements in the LDS church, it was for this reason.  They made themselves a prophet, or leader without authority from God. Also, a true prophet will preach the Gospel and witness for Jesus Christ and not preach anything contrary to the scriptures. Nationalism doesn't fall in that category. (what the priests of Zedekiah were guilty of)

We are warned that many false prophets will come in the Last Days. (Matthew 24: 3-8) What will they preach? 2 Timothy 4: 3-4 explains- "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn their ears away from the truth." We live in a similar time to Lehi and his family.

M. Russell Ballard says it better "Beware of False Prophets" 1999

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lehi the Prophet

Nephi had just a regular life in Jerusalem, 600 BC. He was a young man who was still learning and was taught Egyptian and Hebrew. Egypt was a major power at the time and Nephi needed to learn the knowledge he needed to be successful. The Jews hoped the Egyptians would support them against the growing power of Babylon. It is similar to how many Americans want their children to learn Chinese for they feel like China is the future for America's success. Just like the Jews of old, Americans are probably wrong in that assessment. Anyways, Nephi learning Egyptian ended up being useful for he was able to write more on the plates in a smaller amount of space. Now, that Nephi was older, it was all about Babylon! Jerusalem was under their thumb but believed that by paying tribute they would be saved. They now had a new young king, Zedekiah, a puppet of the Babylonian king.

Nephi, had a normal life in Jerusalem, perhaps his family was mocked for being what they would call "fundies" today. People who actually follow their religion! Lehi's family followed the Law of Moses beyond just tradition and culture. They believed in it. Laman and Lemuel, Lehi's older sons, loved their father, but thought he was out of touch. There is a new world out there! Behold the great Egypt and Babylon! That is the future!

Then everything changed. Lehi went out and prayed and received a revelation. I can imagine how this memory remained fresh in Nephi's mind years later when he wrote the account in The Book of Nephi. Imagine, your day is going on like normal and you see your father stumbling home exhausted and rushing to bed. Was he sick? What was going on? After his father told him about what the Lord revealed to him Nephi knew that was the moment everything changed in their life. That is when his father received his calling to warn Jerusalem of its destruction. Remember  "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."  (Amos 3:7)

Lehi saw not only the destruction of Jerusalem, but he saw God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (he saw ONE descending, usually ONE is Jesus Christ) I can't imagine what I would think if I saw my father after such an experience. This memory made a lasting impression on Nephi who included into his own record.

The time when Lehi began his ministry was also a time of trials for the family of Nephi. They were rejected and mocked, Lehi even had his life threatened. Even through all of this Nephi saw "the tender mercies of the Lord".  The rest of the 1st Book of Nephi relates this point. It is the exodus of Lehi's family and all they endured in order to start a new nation under God.

Born of Goodly Parents

Lesson 1- 1 Nephi 1 

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days."

      This first verse perfectly sums up Nephi's life and introduces the main idea of the record that he is about to write. Nephi lived in Jerusalem around the time of King Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, right around 600 B.C. It was a time of chaos and a time when Judah was weak and stumbling along due to the lack of faith of its people. Jeremiah was a major prophet at the time preaching to the stubborn young King. The Jewish leadership were looking to other kings rather than to God for help. The people of Judah were getting warned by the prophets to repent or else they would lose their freedom, but they were rebellious and immoral. Nephi's father, Lehi, had to raise his family in this decadent world.  Just a couple of years after this story began, Jerusalem fell to Babylon.

     Nephi's parents remained steadfast and taught their children, following what Moses taught, "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." (Deuteronomy 6:7)
     I also live in a decadent nation, one that relies more on the flesh of man than on God. In fact, God has been taken out increasingly from out daily lives. We are surrounded by media that mocks God and praises evil. Even the very definition of the family is questioned. We may not burn offerings to gods, but we make the heathen gods "cool". People wear symbols of ancient Egyptian gods and prefer yoga over prayer. (I like yoga, but it shouldn't replace prayer to God.) Women dress immodestly and fight against their nature. Prophets are mocked and ignored. It is difficult to raise a family in this world. Even Lehi had two children apostasize and that was before the internet! Lehi did his best and his son, Nephi, acknowledges the role his father had in his life.

     I also had goodly parents who did their best to teach me in an increasingly decadent world. I rebelled but turned back eventually because my parents never gave up on me.

     I noticed the Book of Mormon has this theme of the long suffering parent over and over, struggling to teach their children and lead them back on the straight and narrow. The Lord knew we as parents would have it tough in this Latter Day world and included those stories right from the first verse.

     Nephi was taught by his father to see the blessings in life even through great trials. He was able to see the "tender mercies" of the Lord. He was taught to pray directly to God for guidance and for truth. All of these things he gave credit to his faithful parents who suffered for their faith.

     I realize that being born of Goodly Parents is a blessing and a gift from God. Not everyone has this gift and many have endured without goodly parents. (Abraham is a great example of this) Having goodly parents does not mean that you will have an easier life. People with wonderful parents still choose to rebel against God. Having "goodly parents" does help us get through those tough trials. L. Tom Perry in his talk "Born of Goodly Parents" compared it to having a strong foundation or having an anchor. I know that when my life hit rock bottom, my goodly parents were always there to support me and cheer me on through my repentence process. Good parents don't tell a child "Do what thou wilt" or "Do what makes you happy!". A goodly parent will guide their child to eternal truths, not worldly pleasure. They will do it with love and patience and will never stop praying for their children.

     Lehi was such a father for his son Nephi. I hope that I am being such a mother for my children.
     I will have my eyes open for more references on parenting in the Book of Mormon. It really is emphasized a lot.

Book of Mormon Study Guide

I am working on the Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students.  The book is an easy way to keep up with your study and makes you really think about what you are reading. Today I finished reading the Book of Mormon and will start it back over. I will blog about what I have studied. You are welcome to comment. I will also apply what I have studied to today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earliest Memories

I am currently reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. One page has the main character thinking about his earliest memories. His are of course more interesting than mine. I didn't witness a king being beheaded and a few days later watch my father and his friends destroy cathedrals during the English Civil War. Perhaps one of my ancestors did. 

I was born in a time of peace in the most powerful nation in the world. I never knew how lucky I was until I was much older. I didn't grow up in the wealthiest of homes or the poorest. My parents were young and worked hard. They were also LDS in the Bible Belt of the United States. 

We lived in my grandparent's home. I don't remember living anywhere else before that. My parents rented the house from my grandparents who moved to Florida. That was a time before cable TV, internet, VCR's, and even before we had a microwave. My mom had to boil hot dogs. I still prefer the taste of boiled hot dogs over microwaved. 

My earliest memories are very quick flashes in my mind. I don't remember much detail. The strangest thing is that my earliest memories are not of my everyday life at home. I would go to my mother's parents house and listen to my mom's younger sisters playing the songs of Grease on their record player. I remember my Aunt Jeanine wrapping her wet hair in a towel and I thought that was the most facisnating thing I ever saw. Everytime I wrap my hair in a towel I think of my aunt. I thought she was so cool. I remember praying in a circle with my grandparents before going to sleep when I spent the night there. 

I remember going to visit my grandparents in Florida and the drive down there. My grandparents had a dog named Chuckie. We had a dog that looked similar named Precious. While visiting my grandparents, we went to Disney World. I only remember the Dumbo Ride because I really thought I could fly away. 

I remember hanging out at my Aunt Ida's house a lot. We would go to her house for most holidays. Halloween was the best. The earliest Halloween I remember I dressed like Raggedy Ann. I was terrified of some of her guests who were dressed in scary masks. I thought they were going to kill me. Aunt Ida's house was fun but there were pictures on her wall that scared me. 

Most of all I remember my parents. I remember my mom rocking me in a chair and singing songs to me. I sing those songs to my kids too. She still played the piano then. I loved it when she played Primary songs. I got in trouble playing with her rock garden she had in the living room. I don't understand why she had a bunch of rocks in the living room knowing that her kids would just play in the rocks. Lesson learned I guess! My dad would read books to me and say funny things to make us laugh. Some of my favorite memories are my parents playing music together and singing and dancing along. Sometimes my dad would even play his guitar and they would sing together.  I really miss that. It is amazing to me that they were so young, in their early twenties! 

Thinking about my earliest memories makes me sad that my children don't have the experience of having extended family around like I did. We were always visiting grandparents, aunts and uncles or they were visting us. My parents had other friends but it was the family I remembered the most. I still miss them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

10 Facts Abou My "Mormon" Experience

1. I have never lived in Utah. My parents never lived there either. I used to see Utah Mormons as outsiders and had sort of an us vs. them attitude. I no longer care anymore and wished I never judged people that way. I still do get upset when a Utah Mormon visits our Southern branches and talk to us like we can't read or write. They usually get humbled quickly and later make wonderful lasting friendships. I have no "pioneer" blood but I am grateful for the sacrifices the early LDS pioneers made.

2. I am a third generation Mormon. My mother's father joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the late 1950's in West Tennessee. He worked hard in the church all of his life. He is a great inspiration to me and I love to hear his stories. I wish he would write them down! Being a Branch President in rural West Tennessee was very interesting. He later became 1st president in the Memphis, TN temple presidency. I can't imagine seeing the church grow from very humble beginnings to having a temple built near your home!

3. My father joined the church when he was 19 right before he married my mother.  He is also from Tennessee and has never lived out west. He is now a Branch President in rural Alabama. Visiting his branch is like visiting family. The boundaries of his branch cover two counties I think and it takes my mom 45 minutes to get to church. I only drive 5 minutes to go to my building in Northern Virginia!

4. My husband is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but we share many values and he is supportive. We even have nightly scripture study and prayer. He is from Uzbekistan but is a Christian. I go to church with five kids on my own though my ward is very supportive. The hardest part is getting all five children plus myself to church on time. To be honest, I haven't always been too successful. When you know something is true it makes all of the stress worth it.

5. I was usually one of the few Mormons in my school. The only others were my brothers. It was even more difficult in the "Bible Belt" where people usually ask you what church you go to when they first meet you. I got to where I dreaded that question because that usually meant the end of the conversation because people believed I was part of some horrible cult.
   I had to defend my faith at an early age and was told that I was going to Hell many times. Eventually I would just say that  "if Heaven was filled with mean people like you then I'd rather not go there anyway", which was possibly not the most Christian thing to say. I was also told many times that I wasn't a real Christian. I would try to explain that I was a Christian to deaf ears. I heard the term "magic underwear" a lot. Once at school the son of a minister attacked my faith so badly that I cried and was sent home. I was 15 years old.

6. I got my infant blessing by my father and was baptized at the age of eight. I went to the temple at 12 and was a part of Young Women's. I went to Girl's Camp (a camp for LDS girls) for four years. When I was in high school, I went to seminary every morning before school and was a Scripture Mastery champion!  My parents were very active and strong in the church.  For some reason, people assume that I didn't grow up "Mormon". I will ask next time someone assumes that. Maybe because my husband isn't??

7. I hated Church dances. One of the worst experiences was when the girls had to put their shoe in the circle and the boys would pick a shoe. The owner of the chosen shoe would then dance with the boy. The boy who picked my shoe danced with me 2 seconds and then walked away. I spent the rest of the dance hiding in the bathroom. My daughter now has a pair of shoes exactly like the ones I wore to that dance. (Sam and Libby Flats with the bow on top 1990?) I still hate dances to this day. I went to them because that was the only opportunity to meet other LDS boys. (remember there were none at school and few even in my city. The few that were in my ward were more like brothers to me.)

8. I loved temple trips. When I lived in Memphis we had to travel all the way to Atlanta. We would get to stay in a hotel and would have fun all weekend. The first person I did a baptism for was my great great great grandmother Leonie Dumanet Warren. I recently found her family in France back into the late 1700's! I still love genealogy and wish I could go to the temple more. I am excited that my daughter can now do baptisms.

9. I never went on a mission though I wish I had made that a goal. My four brothers all went on missions and I am very proud of them. They went to Japan, Mongolia, and Russia. Two of my brothers speak Russian which is cool because my husband speaks Russian. I can understand a lot of Russian but I am not fluent.

10. I did go to BYU . . . in Hawaii! I loved teaching ESOL and joined their TESOL program which was wonderful. I loved helping students from all over the world learn English. One the most interesting students was a girl from Mongolia who lived in North Korea as a child. We also studied Mandarin together. It was inspiring to me that the church is the same all over the world. My roomate was from South Korea and it was amazing that we had similar experiences growing up in the church.

Growing up LDS in the South was rough, but I am grateful for that opportunity. I definitely do not take the gospel for granted. Though things were tough at times I am still in the church and have an even stronger testimony today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Were the Grammys Satanic? One LDS Opinion

Breitbart.com came out with an article quoting a tweet by Alabama football player AJ McCarron stating

"Is it just me or are some of the Grammy performances so far seem to be really demonic?? Looks like there is a lot of evil in the world.." Tweet from @10AJMcCarron, January 26, 2014

The Grammy's, which came on television Sunday, inspired tweeters and bloggers everywhere to write about the demonic and evil in the performances. A few mention the mass gay wedding put on, but Katy Perry burning herself as a witch on a pole, Madonna looking like a witch (though I don't think she can help it), and Beyonce showing her crotch in an outfit that would have been shocking just 20 years ago, (remember Cher in the video "If I Could Turn Back Time") humping her husband who thinks it is cool to wear symbols of the sex cult leader Aleister Crowley won most of the shock. I haven't watched the Grammy's since Jethro Tull beat Metallica in 1989 but I did see the pictures of Sunday's performance and that was enough. Yes, the Grammy's were demonic and Satanic and here is why saying so is not "crazy" or a "conspiracy theory". It is actually pretty obvious.

People think that to be demonic something has to be secret or part of some conspiracy like the Illuminati. Actually, it is pretty straight forward in the Bible. You don't need to be part of a secret conspiracy to be a servant of Satan. Just preach and celebrate the teachings of Satan. What does Satan preach? He preaches against God, against freedom, and to be a slave to pride and the pleasures of the body. He promises money, power, and fame. The medieval writer Dante divided the servants of Satan into two parts. Those who were victims and slaves of the flesh, and those in the lower parts of Hell who led the weak to the pit of Hell. In the music industry, you see both those who are weak and those who lead them down there. A lot of the "leaders" were inspired by the occult and have openly said they were. Many of them were inspired by Aleister Crowley and other groups that promised no punishment for the rebellious lifestyles admired by rock and pop music. These leaders didn't have to lead the weak into Hell in Secret. All they had to do was to make it "cool".

The man who started this Satanic rock god status was Aleister Crowley. His main teaching was "Do what thou wilt" which is usually interpreted in a sexual way. He was born in 1875 in a strict Christian household. As a teenager he rebelled and chose a life of idolatry, occult, drugs, and sex. He lived the life of a stereotypical rock god before rock n' roll even existed. He mixed eastern occult practices with Western esoterism to justify his wild lifestyle. He embraced the devil and fought openly against Jesus Christ and thought it was fun to say so. He made rebelling against God "cool". It is no wonder that later rock singers embraced the teachings of Crowley. The Beatles put his picture on their album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin was a huge fan and even bought Crowley's old home. Other groups were more of the hard core heavy metal types so not very surprising and more underground. However, now the teachings of Crowley and the use of his symbols are being seen in Pop music as well. Crowley may be the "cool" anti-Christ for modern celebrities to follow but his ideas are not new and even connect far back to ancient ideas which can be seen again in today's pop culture.

The Bible mentions "groves", mentioned 24 times in the Old Testament that I counted. Groves were actually a tree or pole in the forest where people would gather to worship the fertility goddess. It was a place to showcase your sexuality and to worship "nature". Usually that is interpreted as "Mother Nature" but it can also be used to describe the worship of YOUR human nature and your WILL. (Do what thou wilt??) Fulfillment was through the physical rather than the spiritual so you do what makes you feel good. Music was used as a way to enhance the sexual mood through repetition and the beat of a drum. When you listen to hip hop and rap what does it make you do? Do you sit inspired or do you automatically want to shake your hips and grind into your partner. Combine the beats with a dark smokey club, alcohol, and drugs and you pretty much recreated the worship that went on in Biblical "groves". People even sneak off to have sex and it is even worse in gay clubs. If you listen to the lyrics of the pop music that is played in clubs you can hear a very strong sexual element in them. They encourage women to shake their bodies in a way to attract the men and the men to go after the women. The music in gay clubs has the same message just more sexually neutral.

Then you have the female pop singers using their sexuality rather than their voice to entertain. They are center on the stage, half naked, stimulating sex acts with their tongues hanging out of their faces. This has been going on in public since Madonna used Christian symbols in a sexual way grinding herself all over the stage at the Mtv Awards back in the 1980's. Now it seems that all female pop stars want to be Madonna. They use their private parts to gain fame much like the ancient fertility priestesses. The center of fertility worship in the Middle East was a pole.

Mmmmm, I am going to go all church lady and show this little gem of a picture from the 2014 Grammys.

Did I mention that this particular "pole" is made out of wood and is part of a witches broomstick? What is the significance of the broomstick anyway? Read this article to find out. It is pretty nasty. I know Katy Perry is just rebelling against her daddy at the young impressionable age of 29 but what message is she sending the youth of the world? How much was she influenced by her ex-husband Russell Brand, a fan of Aleister Crowley?

Then there was the mass gay wedding. Oh no! I am going to get all judgey judgey! Gay marriage is against the tradition patriarchial marriage taught by not only the Bible but other major traditional institutions. This isn't the first time homosexuality was showcased on an awards show. Is it Satanic? I don't know. I believe there maybe Satanic leaders taking advantage of people who struggle with homosexuality and are promising them and easy road to happiness. That being said there is more of an emphasis on "doing what thou wilt" in the gay movement, including sado-masochism, perversion, group sex, fetishes, etc. I know at least in Atlanta it was the gay clubs that had "Fetish Night". I didn't attend but had a friend who did. The Fetish Night emphasized sado-masochism. Music has long used sado-masochism as themes gaining popularity by the late 1980's led by Madonna. In the past it was extremely subtle. The themes musicians use include leather, whips, chains, piercings, tattoos, fetishes, group sex and humiliation. Again, these things always existed in society but now it is mainstream and not just mainly in the gay circles. Those themes are now being sold to children and slowly pedophilia is gaining acceptance in art. (Think Miley Cyrus at the Mtv Music Awards) Pedophilia was also an acceptable form of pleasure in ancient societies so it wouldn't be shocking that the more we destroy our Christian heritage, the more pedophilia gains popularity.

At the 2014 Grammys, Beyonce was all leather and humiliation in a chair, in front of us and later in front of her husband who in public caresses her buttocks. Yes, I know to her it was a performance, but what message did the public receive? I was going to post a picture but it was too nasty. Her husband, Jay Z, is known to be a fan of Crowley using his teachings and symbols in his work.

At some point a female pop star has to announce her experiment with lesbianism. Madonna made it popular (though definitely not the first!) and Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus stand out as recent examples. Madonna with Queen Latifah led the mass gay wedding at the Grammys. The mass gay weddding was just weird more than creepy and used Christian imagery. Why do it? Is the answer to fight against the good in Western Civilization and promote "Do what thou wilt"? made popular by Aleister Crowley? (who stole that line from Rabelais)

I mentioned Madonna quite a bit. Yes, she is also a fan of Aleister Crowley and used a lot of his teachings in the 2012 Superbowl Half time show. I don't know how much of a follower she is but she does like Jay Z think his teachings and use of symbols are cool! (Michael Jackson was also reportedly a fan) 

That seemed to be the theme at least what I saw. I saw people willing to sell their souls for money, power, and fame the three things promised in time memorial by Satan and rather than the progressive and modern, they were simply using ancient techniques made popular by the late 19th century/early 20th century antichrists like Aleister Crowley. The only difference is that now those shocking and Satanic activities are mainstream and targeted towards the general public. But hey, those musicians get the fame and fortune? Don't forget power! Beyonce is besties with the Obamas! Aleister Crowley must be cheering in his grave!

Again, I made these conclusions without conspiracy theories. The musicians make no secret about what they are doing. All you can do is judge me for having beliefs in something higher than the physical pleasures of the world.