Friday, October 28, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Six

Warren A. Cowdery, Oliver Cowdery's brother, is appointed to a full time position as a presiding high priest where he acts as an assistant  Joseph Smith.  This revelation instructs the church to compensate him because he will not be able to work provide for his family (he and his wife will eventually have 11 children).  He would later serve as one of the scribes for the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and be an editor of the Messenger and Advocate, a church publication and newspaper.  In 1837, he wrote a letter in the newspaper condemning the 12 apostles for not doing there duty.  Later, he would write an apology.  In 1838, he left the church and when all of the saints left Kirtland for Missouri, he stayed back.  At one point he started his own church, called the Church of Christ, and took possession of the temple.  Neither of these things lasted.  He stayed in Kirtland the rest of his life having nothing to do with the church.

The revelation states there was joy in heaven when Cowdery accepted this calling, but did not prove himself worthy of this hire, as the revelation stated he needed to be. He was praised in this revelation for being able to separate himself from the crafts of men, but this did not last.  Verse 8 promises that he would have received grace and assurance and a crown had been prepared for him, if he remained faithful.  The crown is symbolic of receiving the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom.  You have to wonder how much influence Oliver's apostasy had on Warren.  It was Oliver who influenced Warren into joining the church.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Five

There is a lot of historical background to this section.  It was received in Missouri after Zion's Camp had come the nearly 1,000 miles to redeem the saints, put them back on their lands, and see the establishment of Zion.  The people in both Jackson and Clay counties now want the saints to leave.  Zion's camp is not going to effect any change in their situation and the members who came will have to return to Kirtland.  The reason Zion's Camp was unsuccessful is summed up in verse 3.  "But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them."  Because of all the bickering and fighting within the camp, nearly all of them, including the prophet became very ill.  Some died.  It was in that situation that those who could have provided some help, didn't.  For example, they pleaded with one of the men who had chickens to allow them to kill a chicken and make some broth to feed to the sick, but the man refused saying he would need it later.  Many men complained and rebelled against the prophet because the trip had been hard.  And from the beginning, the members in Kirtland did not send enough men or donate money to support and help the members in Missouri. There were a number of members who left the church after Zion's Camp and what it did do successfully was show who would be faithful in spite the difficulties.  Nearly all of the original 12 apostles came out of this group.  

In this section, there are six things the saints must learn and do if Zion is to be redeemed.  1. (v. 3, 6) They must learn obedience.  2.  (v. 4-5)  They must be united.  3. (v. 10)  They must be taught more perfectly.  4. (v. 10)  They need experience and must know more perfectly concerning their duty.  5. (v. 11-12)  They must be endowed with power.  6. (v. 31)  They must be sanctified.  We are still not there yet or Zion would be redeemed.  But I believe we have come a long way.  When you consider the number of temples now, that indicates the level of righteousness within the church.  The welfare program is the most successful in the world.  The missionary program continues to grow.   There are a number of things you can point to for improvement, but if there is probably one thing that we need more than anything, I would guess it is to be sanctified as a people.  I have no doubt we will get there and wonder how close we are.  I don't know the exact statistics, but the church averages around 60% for sacrament meeting attendance.  Is that an indicator?  About 40% pay tithing.  Is that an indication of our level of obedience?  I don't know the percentage that hold temple recommends, but how many attend?  I know there is much I can do better.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Four

One United Order had been established in Missouri and then another one had been established in Kirtland.  With all that was happening in both places, the church was getting into difficult financial conditions making it hard for it to accomplish its spiritual purposes.  In this section, the Lord dissolves the United Orders and re-establishes one in Kirtland and give instructions as to how the church is to handle its debt.  Much of the church's welfare system today is based on the principles that are taught in this revelation.  Here, the Lord promises that the church and its members will eventually have abundance, but it must be done in his way, not the world's.  It's interesting to me because the Lord's way promises that everyone will have abundance.  The poor will not just be provided for, but there is enough in the Lord's creations for everyone and more.  President Kimball said, "The Lord's way builds individual self-esteem and develops and heals the dignity of the individual, whereas the world's way depresses the individual's view of himself and causes deep resentment...  The Lord's way causes the individual to hasten his efforts to become economically independent again.  The world's way deepens the individual's dependency on welfare programs and tends to make him demand more rather than encouraging him to return to economic independence."

This is why I hate the government welfare program.  Vast numbers now depend on and live off the government.  They not only expect the government to provide for them, but feel it is their right to demand that the government take care of them.  Of course it is everyone's responsibility to come in and help each other in times of distress and disaster, but it is also the responsibility of those who suffer to do something too.  The government's program has not only brought dependence, but has brought laziness, broken homes, drugs, prostitution and crime.  Politicians pander to these people by making promises to get themselves elected, but do not keep them and do nothing to raise the individual out of the situation they are in.  It is a terrible game they play.  They keep the people's perception that they are being helped when in actuality, they are being depressed, so the politicians can further their careers, wealth and power while professing to help them.

In this section, the Lord wants everyone to contribute to society, to stand on their own feet and be prosperous.  He says he will provide for the saints, "but it must needs be done in my way."  That and what he says in verse 17 are the key to the whole program, "For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves."  He wants all of us to be independent, to be able to determine our own futures, not dependent on someone to determine it for us

Thursday, October 20, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Three

Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight were sent from Missouri to report to Joseph Smith what had happened to the saints after being forced out of Jackson County.  The saints in Missouri were being fed and housed in Clay county in return for work and they were in basically good condition.  However, they were heartbroken over losing their homes and wanted to know what they could to return and reclaim their property.  After Parley and Lyman reported to Joseph and the High Council, Joseph received this revelation.  In it, the Lord explains once again that this has happened because the saints in Missouri did not keep the covenants and commandments they had been given. This tells me that in establishing Zion, the Lord will not expect anything less than a Zion people.  The Lord conditionally promises that they can reclaim Zion, but only if they do those things that are expected of them.  The Lord commands the prophet to gather together and lead a group to go to Missouri and reclaim the land, through force if necessary.  This group became known as Zion's Camp.  The Lord says to gather 500, but not go unless there is at least 100.  In the end, 207 men, 11 women and 11 children make the trip.  I do no know why the women and children went, but it seems reasonable to assume that they planned to stay in Missouri with their husbands and fathers.  The Lord promised them success if they would be obedient.  We will see in Section 105 that this wasn't the case.  The question that is raised in my mind as I read this is; what blessings have I lost out on because of the times I haven't been obedient.  That is obviously a question that all of us can ask ourselves as we never are perfectly obedient.  But the more obedient we are, the more blessings we will experience.  All of us have that nagging feeling that there is more we should be doing, or we what we are doing should be done better.  This is a good thing because it means our hearts our in the right places.  We don't need to make giant changes for the most part.  We just need to be on the path of growing and improving.  It's a lifelong process.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred Two

In this first meeting of the high council, Joseph Smith said that it was the purpose of the high council to decide difficult issues.  But in giving instructions to them, he said something I think is just as apropos as a warning today as it was then.  He said, "No man is capable of judging a matter, in council, unless his own heart is pure; and that we are so frequently filled with prejudice, or have a beam in our own eye, that we are not capable of passing right decisions."  High Councils consist of 15 members, 12 who form a council under the direction of a president of the high council and his counselors.  These are stake level councils, but in reality, the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency are a high council over the whole church.  With any matter brought before a high council, it is even divided to represent both sides of the issue so that each side is given an equal and fair presentation.  Half of the council will represent the church to be sure that is not impugned in any way, and the other half represents the person or group to be sure their side is protected against prejudice and fairly presented.  When both sides are done presenting, the president, after consulting with his counselors, renders a decision.  His decision is final unless an error is found or an appeal has been made.  If an appeal is not upheld at the stake level, either party can appeal to First Presidency.

In church disciplinary councils, the stake, because it is the presiding authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, generally conducts councils involving Melchizedek Priesthood holders and the ward handles all others.  The only exceptions to this is in the case of a bishop who has been charged with transgression.  Then First Presidency conducts the council.  Or, if a ward case is felt to be difficult, then it can be referred to the stake.  The advantage of this is having 12 more voices to help clarify and be sure that everything is covered thoroughly and fairly.  In a stake disciplinary council, lots are drawn from one to twelve.  The high counselors who draw even numbers sit on one side of the room and those with odd numbers sit on the other.  Each group has a spokesman appointed who speaks for their group, however, any councilman can speak during the course of the proceedings.  I have found that these are never brief meetings, but last several hours.  Sometimes, they are recessed and continued again later. Anyone who has taken part in these as a councilman or presidency member knows how spiritual these proceedings are and how the love for all involved, especially the accused, is very evident.  Everyone on a council comes fasting.  The purposes of a disciplinary council are to help bring about repentance, protect the innocence, and protect the integrity of the church.  In the cases of proven transgression, appropriate consequences are determined which have the sole purpose of helping the individual to repent.  As President Kimball once said, the band-aid has to be large enough to fit the sore or the sore might become infected.  My own experience with these has been one that has always increased my testimony of the atonement and of the inspiration behind the whole process.  They really are remarkable meetings

Saturday, October 1, 2011

D&C Section One Hundred One

This section is all about Zion, what it is and what a Zion people are.  The saints in Jackson County, starting on Oct. 31st and through the next four or five weeks, are attacked by mobs who destroy their homes and furnishing, beat the men, and drive the women and children out of the settlements.  Of the three surrounding counties, only the people in Clay County are somewhat sympathetic in receiving them but this will not last.  By November 7th, the shores of the river are lined with hundreds of displaced families who are forced to live out in the open under a cold driving rain.  Joseph eventually hears of this and writes them a letter on December 1st.  In the letter, he confesses that he has received no inspiration regarding what has happened.  I personally think a false prophet would have been quick to relay some type of revelation.  But it wasn't until the 16th of December that he received Section 101.  

In this section, the Lord explains why this has happened to the saints, what they should do, and teaches more of what Zion is and when it will be redeemed.  The reason this has happened is disobedience.  The people were covetous, contentious, and had set aside the Lord's counsel.  In one of the three parables the Lord gives in the section, the longest (verses 43 to 64) specifically states that the saints expulsion was also a result of their failing to move forward in building the temple.  Had they done this and lived according to the Lord's commandments, they would have been protected.  When you read the parable, the Nobleman is Christ, the vineyard is the earth, the choice piece of land is Jackson County, the servants are the church members, the olive trees are the settlements of the saints, the watchmen are the officers of the church, the tower is the temple, and the servant is Joseph Smith.

The Lord promises that he will redeem Zion but it will be "when I will."  In the meantime, the Lord counsels the saints to build up the church and continue gathering.  He instructs them to seek redress from the authorities from the lowest to the highest levels.  Joseph will eventually go to Washington but assistance and justice will never come at any level.  It is in verse 80 that the Lord states that he established the Constitution by the hands of wise men who he raised up.  He says that he established the constitution for the purpose that all men would be able to be free, have rights and protection, have the ability to act according to their own moral agency, and that there would be no bondage of one man to another.  While the Lord promises he will not abandon the saints, they are left with no doubt that there will still be consequences for their disobedience.