When is a prophet a prophet?

Often critics of the Church will bring up something that a prophet or apostle has done that was wrong (in their opinion) and ask how a man of God could do something like that. Defenders of the Church often then reply with this quote from Joseph Smith:

“a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such”

History of the Church 5:265

I definitely understand the concept, but I have to admit that seems kind of like a cop-out. It kind of gives the impression that a prophet can be a prophet, and then decide to be mean, and just say that he wasn’t being a prophet while he was being mean.

I heard a quote mentioned on a recent FairMormon podcast that I think gives more clarity on this topic. The quote was, “when God makes the prophet, he does not unmake the man.”

The full quote is from David O McKay, and is as follows:

Someone has said that when God makes the prophet, he does not unmake the man. I believe that, though being “born anew,” and being entitled to new life, new vigor, new blessings, yet the old weaknesses may still remain. The adversary stands by, ever eager and ready to attack and strike us at our weakest point.

David O. McKay, “The Divine Church“, Conference Report, April 1962, pp. 5-9

For additional thoughts on this, check out this By Common Consent post from a couple of years ago

LDS Youth Temple Challenge

A few months ago, Elder Neal L Andersen challenged the youth to take their own names to the temple (I first heard about this on LDS Media Talk). Right away an official page was setup, and word started to spread. So far over 20,000 people have signed up to accept the challenge.

Our stake hasn’t set a specific goal, but we certainly endorse the challenge. In one ward I was in recently, the youth Sunday School class (only 3 youth) were in the Family History Centre learning how to index. It’s great to see the youth getting involved like that.

“Confessions of a Mormon housewife”

This was all over the news a week or two ago, but in case any of you missed it…

CNN has a show called This is Life with Lisa Ling. Recently there was an episode where a Mormon mother spoke about her struggle with prescription drug abuse.

“Debunking that Quote about Brigham Young’s Greatest Fear”

Many of you are familiar with the quote from President Brigham Young that people use where supposedly he said:

The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.

Well, the Millenial Star had a  nice write-up about this recently. Apparently this is not a transcript from a talk, but a summary of a comment that Brigham Young most likely made. Interesting reading… check it out!

Nothing to smile about: Asia’s deadly addiction to betel quids

This isn’t really Mormon-related, but it does have to do with something I saw on my mission. I served in Taiwan, and at the time there was this gross thing that we called Beetle Nut (or at least that is how I thought it was spelled) that taxi drivers would chew. Apparently it gave them a bit of a “buzz”. It was essentially a stimulant. Although not “officially” mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, members and investigators were taught not to chew it.

Well, apparently it is actually called Betel Nut (or Areca Nut), and they are finding now that it leads to cancer.

CNN has a nice article about it:

Heavy users of betel quids reveal their addiction when they smile. Their teeth are stained a reddish-black, dyed from years of chewing potent parcels of areca nuts and tobacco, wrapped in a lime-coated betel leaf.

“Some people after they eat they’re drinking coffee or tea; always after eating I’m chewing the betel nut. I like it,” says Myo Min Than, a 28-year-old noodle seller at a market in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

Like tea or coffee, betel quids — or “nuts” as they’re often referred to — give users a lift. But unlike tea or coffee, they also give them oral cancer.

“We are His Work and His Glory”

Just a quick thought/note here…

Recently the Atonement Blog posted some remarks that Neal A Maxwell offered in his first address as an Apostle. We are all familiar with Moses 1: 39:

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

The Atonement Blog highlighted the fact that Elder Maxwell said that WE are God’s work, and His glory.

We can love Him, we can honor Him, we can worship Him! We can keep His commandments, and we can feast upon His scriptures! Yes, we who are so forgetful and even rebellious are never forgotten by Him! We are His “work” and His “glory,” and He is never distracted!

A very nice thought! Thanks to the Atonement Blog for sharing this…

Missionary Work: Experiences Shape the Future

A while back, the Church Newsroom had a nice write-up about how missionary work shape the lives of missionaries. I know that this is put out by the Church, so people could say it was just PR work, but having served a mission myself, I definitely agree with the general premise of the article.

I served a mission in Taiwan back in the 90’s. I remember clearly sitting on the plane as I flew out of the Buffalo airport to go to the MTC, crying like I’d never cried before. It was the first time I had been away, and I was scared to death. Obviously I survived. The mission turned out to be one of the great experiences of my life.

Without getting into too much detail, I learned:

  • independence – from being away from home
  • respect for Church leadership – like many missionaries, I loved my mission presidents
  • respect for other cultures – at the time, Taiwan was still quite insulated from Western culture, so it was great to learn about and experience a culture so different from ours
  • hard work – if you want to be happy as a missionary, you’ve got to get to work
  • dealing with conflicts – dealing with a companion that you’ve never met before can be hard
  • trusting the Lord – it is His work, so we need to trust in Him
  • defining success – if it is based on the number of baptisms, I was pretty much a failure (a few people I taught were baptized, but not many). However, I feel like I had a very successful mission.

I can’t say serving a mission was the best decision I’ve ever made… my wife and my children might argue about that. However, at the time, it was definitely the right decision, and has helped shape who I am today. For that I will be eternally grateful.

Making the transition from seminary to institute

One of my responsibilities in our stake is to work with the young single adults, our YSA branch presidency, and the Institute Teacher. One of our biggest challenges is in getting the YSA to attend institute.

When you are a youth in the Church, it is generally expected that you will attend seminary. Not everyone goes, but there is definitely that expectation. If you are from an active family and plan on serving a mission (male or female), you are almost definitely going to attend seminary. However, in our area, Institute is just not a big thing. We want it to be, but when there isn’t that “critical mass” of YSA in one area, there just isn’t that momentum.

Anyway, that is just background as to why I’m sharing this article. The Deseret News recently had a nice article about making the transition from seminary to institute.

As an 18-year-old freshman at Utah State University, Bradon Capener registered for classes at the Logan Institute of Religion for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he admits he didn’t see the value and rarely attended.

It wasn’t until Capener returned from serving a Mormon mission a few years later and “decided to get involved” that he realized what he had been missing.

It’s a good read…

184th Semiannual General Conference – Post-conference notes

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Well, it’s over. I think my favourite session was the Saturday Afternoon General Session.

I mentioned that I had some things that I was hoping to get some inspiration for. I can’t say that I received any particular answers, but I have definitely felt the Spirit, which helps me to have some clarity. I appreciate that.

There were several talks that I quite liked. Here are a few of them:

  • Lynn G Robbins from Saturday Morning General Session
  • Cheryl A Esplin from Saturday Morning General Session
  • Dieter F Uchtdorf from Saturday Morning General Session
  • Dallin H Oaks from Saturday Afternoon General Session
  • Tad R Callister from Saturday Afternoon General Session
  • Jörg Klebingat from Saturday Afternoon General Session
  • Jeffrey R Holland from Saturday Afternoon General Session
  • Quentin L Cook from Priesthood Session
  • Henry B Eyring from Priesthood Session
  • Henry B Eyring from Sunday Morning General Session
  • M Russell Ballard from Sunday Afternoon General Session

Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

184th Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Afternoon General Session

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In between sessions we finished our Game of Life. Our daughter one, and she was quite excited. The rest of time was spent cleaning up a LEGO bomb that exploded in our playroom in the basement (or at least it looks like LEGO shrapnel everywhere!)

Here we go ready for the last session…


President Henry B Eyring conducted

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang Lo, the Mighty God Appearing

The invocation was offered by Elder David F Evans

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • Compared white water rafting to our lives
  • Sometimes the water is smooth, sometimes it is like white water
  • Some of the challenges we face are physical/mental health issues, death of a loved ones, dashed dreams and hopes, a crisis of faith
  • we have been given a boat, supplies and experienced guides to help us make it down the river of life
  • 3 rules for safety when going through the white water
    1. Stay in the boat
    2. Always wear a life jacket
    3. Hold on with both hands

Elder Richard G Scott

  • Shared the account of The Fall
  • We are to be tested, tried, and stretched
  • We would face evil
  • 4 tools to help us
    1. Prayer – Family Prayer should be a non-negotiable priority
    2. Study the scriptures and the words of the living prophets – this is more important than sleep, games, social media, TV and more
    3. Weekly Family Home Evening – it should not be an afterthought. Monday your family should be together at home for the evening. Don’t let employment, sports, homework, or anything else become more important than that time you spent together at home with your family. The structure is not as important as the time invested
    4. Go to the temple – there is no more peaceful place on this earth than in the temples of God

Elder Carlos A Godoy (in Portuguese)

  • We all have to make great decisions in our lives
  • We need to consider our options with the end in mind

The choir and congregation sang Count Your Blessings

Elder Allan F Packer (Wow! He looks a lot like his father… President Packer)

  • We can be distracted on some things, and focus on just a couple of things
  • Qualifying for exaltation is a quest for a lifetime
  • Family History isn’t just the past. It includes the present as we shape our own
  • We must not sacrifice our exaltation for less important interests

Elder Hugo E Martinez (in Spanish)

  • He who serves in something, is good for something; he who serves in nothing, is good for nothing
  • The Savior focuses on the individual
  • Discover needs, then meet those needs. Observe then serve
  • The Good Shepherd will gather all of His sheep

The choir sang I Am a Child of God

Elder Larry S Kacher

  • The decisions we make in this life affect our eternal life
  • He told a story about getting caught in a riptide
  • There are many currents in this earthly life, some safe, some not
  • Do our choices? Do they affect only us?
  • Are our decisions firmly planted in the rich soil of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Elder David A Bednar

  • The Church has always been a missionary church
  • He is explaining to non-members why we are missionaries
  • Shared a story about one son getting hurt, and the other son helping. After the son had been helped, he went to help his friends who had been hurt

President Thomas S Monson

  • Let us resolve to be kinder and more thoughtful
  • Let us reach out to everyone and be more helpful
  • May we show our respect for them
  • He thanked us for our prayers on his behalf

The choir sang We Ever Pray for Thee

The benediction was offered by Brother John S Tanner


Read the recaps and other notes from the 184th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: