Today in Church, we sang the Hymn “O My Father”, a hymn I have sung many times before. However, I never took the time to read and ponder the lyrics. I did so today and felt the spirit strongly. I think the lyrics could be my favorite of all our Hymns .
Lyrics for “O My Father”, LDS Hymnal #292, Eliza R. Snow
- O my Father, thou that dwellest
- In the high and glorious place,
- When shall I regain thy presence
- And again behold thy face?
- In thy holy habitation,
- Did my spirit once reside?
- In my first primeval childhood
- Was I nurtured near thy side?
- For a wise and glorious purpose
- Thou hast placed me here on earth
- And withheld the recollection
- Of my former friends and birth;
- Yet ofttimes a secret something
- Whispered, “You’re a stranger here,”
- And I felt that I had wandered
- From a more exalted sphere.
- I had learned to call thee Father,
- Thru thy Spirit from on high,
- But, until the key of knowledge
- Was restored, I knew not why.
- In the heav’ns are parents single?
- No, the thought makes reason stare!
- Truth is reason; truth eternal
- Tells me I’ve a mother there.
- When I leave this frail existence,
- When I lay this mortal by,
- Father, Mother, may I meet you
- In your royal courts on high?
- Then, at length, when I’ve completed
- All you sent me forth to do,
- With your mutual approbation
- Let me come and dwell with you.
The personal feeling and conviction in the hymn is inspiring. It also sends me into deep thoughts and ponderings as it is one of the few published works by the LDS Church that refers to a Heavenly Mother, a belief that I whole heartedly subscribe to. Here is the wikipedia entry for this hymn.
Happy Easter everyone.
Easter is more than just bunnies, chocolate, and Easter dresses. Like Christmas, Easter has been commercialized. While I don’t have a huge problem with that, this commercialization has caused many to forget why we celebrate this holiday. I hope this video will renew or strengthen in you the reason why we have Easter.
Since starting this blog, I have discussed with many people the various theological differences between the LDS Church and Christendom as a whole. Certainly, the differences are significant and, as has been proven many times, there are many conflicts of belief that seem will never be resolved and we often have to agree to disagree. For the most part, the comments and conversations I have been party to have been civil and respectful. Both sides seem to be careful to only discuss doctrinal differences while avoiding criticism of the other person’s faith as a whole and for this I am grateful. However, there have been many times, both here and on other websites (and, I might add, that I experience just living life in an area where Mormons are few) when people have called the LDS Church the “Church of the Devil” or denigrated our Prophet (more than just question such a reality or the need/doctrinal justification for a Prophet). We are criticized by many as leading our people to hell and blinding folks from the truth.
I thought about these views and comments as I watched the General Conference of the LDS Church this past weekend. It was a weekend of wise and joyous instruction, where we were given the opportunity to hear from those we consider Prophets and other leaders of our faith. It was the first Conference to which President and Prophet Thomas S. Monson was at the helm and leading up to the Conference I was praying for a confirming feeling or impression that he was indeed called and chosen by God himself, but I will get to that later.
The one thing that struck me about all the messages delivered this weekend was the humility, wisdom, and optimism the leaders of the Church have. This was most apparent to me as I attended Priesthood session on Saturday night. The concluding three speakers, taking up all of the last hour, consisted of the First Presidency. They all spoke about staying on course and repentence, yet they all took it from very different perspectives. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke about the need to stay on direct course and how even a one degree deviation off course can lead to us being extremely lost, President Henry B. Eyring spoke about the doctrine of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood and the need for we Priesthood members to be faithful in fulfilling that covenant, and President Monson spoke on obedience to duty and the need for more faithfulness. In each of these talks we were essentially called to repentance. But it was not a call in vanity or rebuke, but a call in love and encouragement. It was readily apparent that one of the greatest concerns the First Presidency has is the increased prevalence of sexual sin (President Monson had an incredible quote about tolerance, but I don’t have it with me, I will do a post on a few of my favorite quotes later). As I listened to these fine men speak, I realized that the image that critics of the Church try to paint about our Prophet is in no way accurate. These men who lead the Church do not do so in a quest for power or to feed their vanity. One just needs to watch and listen to their speeches to understand this. They lead because they were called by God and out of an unbending faith and dedication to him.
The phrase “By their Fruits ye Shall Know Them” resounded regularly in my mind. Indeed, people may criticize our faith and our leaders all they want, but they do so blindly and in vain. I can understand one choosing not to believe our doctrines or that we are the true Church; I will not criticize one who came to such a conclusion after study and prayer. However the childish and irrational name calling and denigration of the Church is inaccurate and contrary to all evidence readily available to one who takes the time to study and research. Indeed, the fruits of our leaders are good and sweet. I encourage all to take the time to read and consider the words of the Apostles and Prophets, especially if you are not of our faith. Come and see what truths have been restored and know that Christ’s church with the same organization that existed in his time is again restored to the earth.
Now allow me to close with my testimony of President Monson. As I said above, I came into Conference praying for a confirmation of his divine calling. This was the first transfer of authority in the leadership of the Church that I can really remember. President Hinckley was a giant among men and one whom I loved deeply. I also had a great affinity for President Monson, but oddly I found it difficult to hold him up to the same pedastal that I put President Hinckley on. Saturday night was the first talk he delivered in Conference as the head of the Church. As soon as he stood and started speaking I felt that still small voice and confirming feeling that he was called of God and leads this Church through direct revelation.
Interesting, to start General Conference, following the hymn and prayer, President Uchtdorf explained how and why we sustain Church officers and the Church seems to have changed the way in which sustainings occur. They had the First Presidency stand and sustain the President, First Presidency, and Quorum of the Twelve. Once that was conculded they had the Twelve arise and sustain the same, then had the first and second quorum of the Seventy stand and sustain, then had the all area seventies, patriarchs, HP and Elders throughout the world stand and sustain the same, following that they had the Aaronic Priesthood arise and sustain, followed by the Relief Society, then Young Women and all other members of the Church stand and sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as previously consitituted. It was very interesting and the first time they have done that as I recall. Funny how things change with the changing of a President.
D. Todd Christofferson was called and sustained as the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Christofferson was born on January 24, 1945 in American Fork, Utah. He was called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy at the April General Conference, 1993 and in August 1998 he was called to the Presidency of the Seventy. His latest assignment was presiding over the North America Northwest and North America West areas of the Church. In his personal life he supported himself and his family as a lawyer.
Here is an interview Reuters did with Elder Christofersson in 2007.
The members of the Church sustained President Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf as Prophets, Seers and Revelators for the first time
The Vatican has just reported that Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the largest faith in the world. Apparently Muslims make up 19.2% of World population, while Catholics make up 17.4%. This really should not be much of a surprise, I would have been more surprised if Catholicism was still ahead.
I think there are a couple of key aspects that have been left out of the analysis in this report. Sure, Catholicism is now outnumbered by Islam, but Catholicism only counts their own members, not members of break off sects (aka Protestantism) or other independent Christian faiths (aka Mormonism, JW, etc). While it is likely that the number of Muslims includes all Muslims regardless of Sunni, Shiite, or any other affiliation.
A more accurate comparison would have been to compare Catholicism with Sunni Islam while comparing Christianity as a whole with Islam as a whole. If done in this way, Christianity makes up 33% of world population while Islam (still) makes up 19.2%. A significant lead for Christianity.
However, all is not necessarily well in Christendom. The Western world, which contains a majority of Christians, have some of the lowest population growth rates in the world. In some countries, there are nearly as many deaths as there are births in a given year. Additionally, more and more people from Christian backgrounds are leaving religion altogether as they become more wealthy and have less of a need for religion.
The growth rates of major Christian religions, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, etcetera has diminished to a crawl; really the saving grace for Christianity are the newer religions and movements within the umbrella. The evangelical movement has gone through a boom period and independent faiths such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s witness continue to have significant growth rates and are establishing a greater footprint in the community.
But even the growth of those faiths and movements can’t keep up with Islam. Undoubtedly, this 14% gap in population between Christianity and Islam will continue to shrink. At some point in the not to distant future Islam will pass Christianity. Islam continues to spread, they are essentially experiencing their own modern-day crusade (a topic for another article) and taking over countries as they go along. Christianity cannot keep up with this. It is a harsh reality that needs to be recognized and if the Christian world is concerned about there ought to be serious discussion about how to deal with it (and I don’t mean deal with it in terms of War or violence) and adjust. It is a unique time for the world. We are indeed witnessing the rise of the East, both the Near East and the Far East. Could this century be the century of the East? Time will tell.