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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why Follow God's Prophets? Downfalls of Rejecting their Counsel and Benefits of Following it.

*Edit*: Some links have been added after this article was published.  There is also a 2016 afterthought at the end that I believe is crucial to the spirit of this article.

One of my favorite parts of the Book of Mormon is in Mosiah chapter 2 where King Benjamin spends 5 verses going over the consequences of sin but then ends the chapter by emphasizing the importance of focusing more on the good effects of obedience to God, with faith in Christ and acting on that.

He was such a fantastic example of how to teach the gospel effectively, so that is the approach I will take on this post.  First, the warnings and consequences of sin.

I'll start with the examples we see in the world today of those who live unchaste lives.  I think it's safe to say that everyone in the modern world have, at some point, either participated in, been directly or indirectly exposed to or felt the effects of immoral thinking, habits and behavior.  God has revealed, through ancient and modern prophets that sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage between a man and woman, including with ourselves, is sinful.  Tons of studies, like these, these, this and these, and real life examples and testimonies, such as this, this, this and this, are undeniably clear examples of the damaging effects of sexual impurity.

As The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a statement made by modern prophets and apostles, says, "WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."

Look at examples of that in emotional trauma here and here, oppresions of free thought, child abuse here and here, unjust religious persecution here, here, here and here, and domestic abuse, and that's not even the tip of the iceberg.  I could post 100 examples or more of each of those in just the last few years!  This all could have been avoided if people had been following prophetic counsel given over 4000 years ago!!

Another thing worth mentioning is what is quickly becoming an epidemic of murder.  Yes, as sensitive as this subject is for many people, abortion needs to be mentioned.  No matter how you slice it, taking a life, whether that life is unborn and 1 day old or 100 years old, taking it is killing.  This and this are just two of many examples of the damage murder does to the victim and anyone who condones it.  Yet another thing warned against over 4000 years ago!!

I understand there can be exceptions to decisions like this based on individual circumstance and decisions are sometimes made to save lives when both mother and baby are in jeopardy. However, those circumstances are so few and far between, unique and are properly made after so much fasting and prayer and consulting with priesthood leadership that I'm not going to give attention to those situations in this entry.  The bottom line is don't kill "nor do anything like unto it."

Next I'll address the Word of Wisdom, a code of health that the Lord revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith over 180 years ago!  This was at a time when the true dangers of alcohol consumption, drug abuse, coffee and tea, and a plethora of other substance addictions was, likely, universally almost unknown or misunderstood by mankind as a whole.  The Lord knew what problems would come up, He revealed them through a prophet, and the world took too longer to figure out the truth of that beautiful revelation and now, for literally BILLIONS around the world, it's too late.  They are already ensnared in or are having their lives torn down from these things we were warned against, over 180 years ago!

Now we have rampant problems of emotionally and socially destructive addictions to caffeine to energy drinks, alcohol, and tobacco and problems like these regarding tattoos, which is another sign of disrespect to our bodies, and honestly, a just plain bad idea (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 and modern prophets counsel).

Also, I know the growing controversy vaccines have become and we have even received prophetic counsel regarding that.  God has told us, through prophets, to immunize/vaccinate ourselves and our children against diseases.  This counsel was reemphasized recently.  It saddens me to think that this would even be an issue among active members of the Lord's church.  To be perfectly honest and candid, it's absolutely sickening!  Look what's happening because of rejection of this counsel, whether by members of the Lord's church or otherwise.

Okay. Now, on to other issues.  Money.  Many have said that money is the root of all evil, but it's not.  Even the love of money is not the root of evil.  The love of money over and/or instead of the important things in life is evil.  Our loving God, our Father in Heaven has also counselled us through prophets to "not to run into debt", "[b]uild up savings", "get out of debt" if we must take some on and then "stay out of debt", that "...debt is a form of bondage. It is a financial termite. When we make purchases on credit, they give us only an illusion of prosperity. We think we own things, but the reality is, our things own us."

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, "Some debt—such as for a modest home, expenses for education, perhaps for a needed first car—may be necessary. But never should we enter into financial bondage through consumer debt without carefully weighing the costs", and I'll emphasize, as well, interest.  President J. Reuben Clark said "Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation. … Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you."  Still think debt and credit cards are no big deal?  Just take a look at this; and all this loving advice from God was given to us through His servants well over 100 years go!  Are you seeing a pattern here?

Another thing the Lord asks of us, is to learn the value of sacrifice through our tithes and fast offerings.  Granted, this one may take a bit more than mortal reasoning and some faith is necessary to truly get the full benefit of this principle.  I know, however, from experiences of my own and of others, that this principle is inspired of God.  He truly does give us more than we need as we obey this principle of sacrifice.  Remember that the Lord doesn't need money to run His church or bless His children.  It's us who need to learn the true value of self sacrifice for the good of others, especially in areas where it may be hardest.  My wife and I have been blessed by God with so many good friends who have given us things we would otherwise never be able to afford, and it's been because of our obedience to that law.

Oh, and gambling.  It's stupid, it's pointless, it's too risky, and you can read any of these - link1, link2, link3, link4 - to see non religious evidences and this for religious reasons to completely stay away from it.

As you can tell, I've already provided links to MANY evidences of the downfalls of rejecting God's loving guidance, as our Father, through His servants the prophets, but I have more; and honestly, it took me hardly any time at all to find each source.  That's kind of an obvious sign, in and of itself, that these heavenly warnings need to be heeded.  The next topic I want to address is so extremely, overwhelmingly poignant that it's nearly impossible to ignore.

Emergency Preparedness

Here is a general overview of climate and disaster patterns in the last 62 years.  I'll throw in a few sources, here and here, for an indication that disasters are, generally speaking, becoming and will continue to become more and more frequent.  I'm not just talking about just natural disasters either, but political, economic and others as well.  God knows the future, He is not bound by time and, therefore, reveals to His prophets how to make sure all our needs are met, temporally and spirituallybefore, during and after disasters of any kind.  It is common sense that any time there is wide spread threats or damage in any way to society, a state of complete anarchy is likely to accompany it somewhere.  We need to be ready for either and both.  All other warnings I have mentioned so far, if heeded, will help us stay prepared.

Whether it be spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, academic or social preparedness, the evidence of the need of it is reasonably undisputable. Just Google "Ferguson, Missouri" or "The Great Depression".  Heck, you could even Google something as broad as "panic before storm" and come up with story after story of the panic and, many times, complete anarchy that happens right before, during or after catastrophes of any kind.  When people are not prepared they panic and often resort to some pretty stupid and destructive behavior in a last ditch attempt to survive.  We MUST be prepared, in all ways possible, for this eventual certainty.  The world isn't getting any less wicked.

The last warning I will mention actually ties into the benefits and blessings of following the Savior as outlined by prophets.  Contention.  The Redeemer of us all, said, in no uncertain terms "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another."

No matter how you slice it, anger and contention is a choice, period.  As Elder Lynn G. Robbins said, "“He made me mad.” This is another phrase we hear, also implying lack of control or agency. This is a myth that must be debunked. No one makes us mad. Others don’t make us angry. There is no force involved. Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose!"  I didn't see any "unless someone hurts you really bad" or "except in situations where the pain is too much to bear" or "unless someone bullies me or directs a malicious personal attack at me."  Please don't misunderstand, though.  Obviously, I'm not perfect.  None of us are, but when we blame others for our own choices regarding what feelings we entertain, we are swimming in dangerous waters.


As for the bright side of this, refer to what the Savior said about peacemakers in the sermon on the mount.  Being an example of kindness and peace is how the Savior spent His whole life and it's still the way He is now.  As Nephi said "He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world."

Here are some other habits that will ultimately bring us lasting peace, happiness, and eternity in the presence of God with our families.  I will mention subjects that have the most meaning to me. Feel free to read which ever of these you want to.

1. Scripture Study
2. Prayer
3. Preserving life (this one I have likened to a beautiful example of faith in the face of terrifying cirumstances).
4. Temples and the home
5. Tithing
6. Forgiveness
7. Faith in Christ and His Atonement
8. Faith in God
9. Chastity
10. Righteous Priesthood Leadership
11. Honesty
12. Church Attendance
13. Education
14. Service
15. Repentance
16. Family Home Evening

*EDIT* (Jan 2016) I know there are tons of major issues for good and bad that have happened since this entry was published and there are a few things that I needed to add to this before I shared it again this month.

ISIS, the Oregon Armed Occupation, Syrian Refugees, the excommunication of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly, SCOTUS' decision about gay marriage, or any other issue where the God's prophets have responded to public issues have always shown a consistent pattern in how God's prophets and members of His church react. I have noticed that every time a issues like these come up, there is a good chunk of church members, however big or small, that passionately takes a stance in opposition to the one the first presidency releases via Mormon Newsroom.  I love how they handle it every time.  They are never influenced by popular views of church members who are outspoken on social media.  They promote peace, denounce contention and violence and adamantly but respectfully reaffirm the Lord's standards, encouraging the saints to follow suit, even and especially when large groups are passionately in opposition to such.

If you have read to this point, whether or not you have opinions, voiced or not, that disagree with  from God's prophets, I offer this encouragement.  As illogical and confusing as counsel and encouragement they give may seem to many, please remember this, from The Infinite Atonement: "The Lord's soul-cry, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' [] Was not a rhetorical question.  It was the earnest pleading of a divine being, who, under intense pain, sought answers and comfort in his hour of need.  There comes a time in each man's life, regardless of his intellectual acumen, when he must rely on faith and faith alone.  Abraham experienced it as he drew his knife from the sheath on Mr. Moriah; Moses felt it as he marched toward the Red Sea.  In each case there was no apparent solution at hand other than to simply obey; all the options of mortal reasoning had been exhausted.  There was only faith to cling to, faith in its purest form."

Sometimes we will not agree with or understand what prophets say, but regardless of human logic, the Lord's way given through them is always the best way.  So my invitation to all is to pray and strive in faith for your views and your heart to align with the counsel of our prophets and, thus, the Lord.
*end EDIT*

Prophets relay to us what God and His Son have asked us to do to make use of the Atonement of Christ.  When we obey, we are blessed for Christ's sake and the blessings will ALWAYS outweigh the costs.  When we do not, there is absolutely NO guarantee.  I know which way I face.  Will you join me?