Saga of the Jasonite

The continuing adventures of that eternal man of mystery…

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Religion: get off the sidelines and into the game

World Religions Planet Earth Flower World Religions - Flower IcoReligious practices and customs have been around for as long as we have records of human beings on the planet. Religion sets out to answer the big questions: why are we here, what is life about, where did we come from, where are we going? Over 90% of us here on planet Earth believe in a supreme being or higher form of life in one form or another, and I believe there is something to that. It’s because there is something out there, not because almost all of us are under some sort of mass delusion. If there isn’t, then none of our lives matter. Everything is ultimately meaningless. It is my firm belief we are not meant to wander in existential uncertainty and doubt.

There are four major religions in the world: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Adherents to these religions account for approximately 6 billion people. There are lots of others too, and even a cursory list would include Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shinto and various folk and new age religions.

What I want to address, and to ask, is something that can be very challenging to some. What do you believe? Why? I had someone on Reddit ask me once, after I had expressed my beliefs, “so, are all the other religions in the world wrong then?” As many have said over the centuries, not all the religions out there can be right. I think that’s obvious, but it’s not the point.

Consider that if there is a God, and there is a purpose to our existence at all, shouldn’t we found out what it is? It would be the single most important thing to know, ever! I’m here to say that life is about more than just growing up, getting a job, and raising a family. It’s more than about falling in love, or making money. There is a purpose, a reason we are all here on Earth. Wouldn’t you like to know what it is? That there is a way to know?

In the absence of experiences with God, one can doubt the existence of God. So, put yourself in a position to begin having experiences with Him. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Get off the sidelines and get into the game. Start looking into the major religions (or any others for that matter), read the sacred text, attend the meetings. See how it feels, see what you think. Do the work required to find out. Not all religions are right. But there must be at least one that is.

For Christianity, the book is the Bible. My recommendation is to start in the New Testament. Start reading it, pick a Christian denomination and attend a church meeting, learn the doctrine, meet the people, see what it’s about. Start wherever you want, but start. Those who are already Christian should realize that one of the most important things Jesus did was organize a religion. Religion is His idea, both before He came and after, and it’s necessary.

For Islam, the book is The Quran. If you’re interested, start reading it! Learn about the Five Pillars of Islam, go to a Mosque, meet the people, learn the doctrine.  It’s the second largest organized religion in the world, it seems like an obvious choice if you are looking for truth. Check it out if you like. Again, find people that are Islamic, talk to them, see what it’s about.

For Hinduism, the books include the Vedas and Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, and the Āgamas. Pick one and start reading, learn what the deal is. Find a place where Hindus gather, such as a temple, get to talking to those who have Hindu beliefs and ask questions. Go see what it’s about.

For Buddhism, there is not necessarily a consensus as to what constitutes scripture. Learning the Sutras is important for almost every Buddhist, but the greater recommendation here is to visit a monastery or temple. All you have to do is Google it, I can all but guarantee you there is one within driving distance. Find people who are Buddhist and can back up their beliefs with more than just a general statement. Go see what it’s about!

There are lots of religions and lots of beliefs out there. They can’t all be right. What have you done to discover what is right? What are you willing to do? Remember, if there is any real meaning to our lives other than just these few decades we have, then it’s the most important thing, ever. Don’t you have time for the most important thing ever?

You may be asking, ‘why should I bother? I’m going to find out eventually anyway.’ Let me answer with a quote from Jesus Christ in the Bible: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” This is a sentiment that is common for many religions. The idea that living a life with God is overall better than one without Him. You can have more joy, live a deeper and more fulfilling life, and be far better prepared for what awaits you after it. God sees things in their true perspective, and He shares that perspective with us through His commandments, effectively guiding us around the pitfalls and potholes of mortality toward eternal joy.

If you sense that your life could have more meaning, a higher purpose, stronger family bonds, and a closer connection with God, please, come, join with us. If you seek a community of people who are working to become the best versions of themselves, help those in need, and make this world a better place, come, join with us!

Religion, faith, spirituality, they can provide a moral center to your existence. They can help you grow up and mature. To quote another scripture, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” In other words, you won’t just go along with whatever the masses, popular culture, or your friends believe. That stuff changes about every 20 years anyway. You can become what God wants you to become.  God can make a lot more out of your life than you can!

My plea–my invitation–is to not be cynical, to not just go along with with popular sentiment or whatever you grew up with. I invite you to search, to seek, to find, because there is a God out there, and He wants you to find Him–but you need to put forth some effort. Do the work involved, even if it’s just having a desire, and you will get results. I promise and testify that if you get off the sidelines and get into the game of looking for the truth, your life is going to get a lot better in ways you don’t yet understand. What is a simple way to start? Pray. Try something like “O God, if there is a God, and if you are God, will you make yourself known to me.” Mean it.

Those who have been following my blog know regarding my religion. I can testify that both the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon are true. The Book of Mormon is the instrument by which the Gathering of Israel is taking place in our day, and it testifies of the truthfulness of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. If you’re interested in knowing more, please check out my past blog posts under the Spiritual Topics tag, or go to


The Restoration of the Gospel–what exactly has been restored?


The Father and the Son

This post can be considered “part two” from my previous entry. As with that entry, the bulk of this text will be based on the words of Gordon B Hinckley, a previous prophet of the restored church of Jesus Christ.

Following the first vision in modern times many things began to occur, not the least of which was the fulfilling of prophecy. In addition to those previously quoted was another by an ancient prophet on this continent, regarding the circumstances surrounding the vision of Joseph Smith: “..and it shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away… Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and lifted up in the pride of their hearts” (Mormon 8:26, 28).

While many people in the 1800’s professed to believe in miracles, there was quite a dramatic change in attitude when Joseph began telling others a miracle had happened to him. He wrote about the persecution from friends as well as all of the local churches that began against him from that day forward.

Joseph goes on to confirm, however, “it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision…I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true… I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” He had found the testimony of James 1:4-5 to be true–that a man who lacked wisdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided.

During this great vision, what did the Lord say to Joseph? He had gone to pray to ask which of the churches was right, and which he should join as so many taught contradictory doctrine. He was told to join none of them, for they were all wrong; that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight; that those professors were all corrupt. Then He quoted scripture (Isa 29:13, Ezek 33:31), saying “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” This was the beginning of the restoration of His true church to the earth. What doctrine was restored? Many things were restored that had been lost. I’ll briefly comment on each.

The Father and the Son

Joseph could see God and hear Him. He was in form like a man, a being of substance, affirming that taught in Genesis 1:26-27: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Beside Him was the resurrected Lord, a separate being, whom He introduced and with whom Joseph also spoke. It’s possible that within the short time of that vision Joseph learned more about Deity than all of the scholars and clerics of the past, confirming the reality of Stephen’s vision in Acts 7:55-56: “Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man (Jesus) standing on the right hand of God.” This restoration of the knowledge of Deity was the first and great thing God revealed to His chosen servant.


The Book of Mormon, a companion witness with the Bible

The Christian world accepts the Bible as the word of God. Most, though, have no idea how it came to us. It’s apparent from reading many Biblical scholars that the various books of the Bible were brought together in a non-systematic fashion. In some cases, the writings were not produced until long after the events they describe. The verses of the Bible have been translated, re-translated, edited, etc by various men down through the centuries. One is led to ask, “Is the Bible true? Is it really the word of God?” I testify that it is, insofar as it is translated correctly.

Scripture declares that “in the mouth of two of three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor 13:1). The Book of Mormon has come forth by the gift and power of God, and is convincing evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It speaks as a voice from the dust in testimony of the Son of God. It speaks of His birth, of His ministry, of His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and His appearance to the righteous on the American continent; these are the “other sheep” Jesus speaks of in John 10:16. As the Bible is the testament of the Old World, the Book of Mormon is the testament of the New. This sacred book, which came forth as a revelation of the Almighty, is indeed another testament of the divinity of our Lord.

joseph-smith-receiving-melchizedek-priesthood_1214163_inlPriesthood authority and Church organization

Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. If the authority of the ancient Church of Christ was lost, how was it to be replaced?

Priesthood authority came from the only place it could come: from heaven. It was bestowed under the hands of those who held it when the Savior walked the earth, including John the Baptist and Peter, James and John. As we learn in revelation “and this…priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh” (D&C 84:19-20). Priesthood authority is what gives any ordinance (such as baptism) its validity, that it is acknowledged in heaven.

Even the name of the church was given by revelation. At the time these events were occurring there was not one church on the earth that bore the name Jesus Christ. As the Lord says, “… how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Ne 27:8).

familyThe Family

Another great and singular revelation given was the plan for the eternal life of the family. The family is the creation of the Almighty, and is the fundamental organization of society. Through the revelations of God to His Prophet came the doctrine and authority under which families are sealed together, not only for this life, but that the family unit can continue for all eternity. Think of that. Next to the idea of eternal families, the phrase “until death to us part” seems paltry!

39-laughter-and-little-childrenThe innocence of little children

The innocence of little children is another revelation given of God through Joseph Smith. The general practice is the baptism of infants to take away the effects of what is described as the sin of Adam and Eve. Under the doctrine of the Restoration, however, baptism is for the remission of one’s individual and personal sins. It becomes a covenant between God and man. It is performed not at birth–for infants and little children cannot sin–but at the age of accountability, when people are old enough to recognize right from wrong. It is by immersion, in symbolism of the death and burial of Jesus Christ and His coming forth in the Resurrection.

salt-lake-mormon-temple71Salvation for the dead

We are told that God is no respecter of persons, but in no other church I’m aware of is provision made for those who have died to receive every blessing which is afforded the living. The great doctrine of salvation for the dead is unique to this Church… The dead are given the same opportunity as the living. This is what Paul refers to when he says “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor 15:29) There is much more doctrine here, but sufficeth to say all who have lived, and died, will be given the opportunity to hear and accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ and enter into saving ordinances such as baptism.

set-of-ready-to-print-clipart-images-of-the-plan-of-salvation-dh4i1p-clipartThe nature, purpose, and potential of God’s children

Some of the greatest doctrine ever revealed or restored is that we lived before we came here, to earth. We had personality. We were born into this life under a divine plan. We are here to test our worthiness, acting in the agency which God has given to us. When we die we shall go on living. Our eternal life is comprised of three phases: our premortal existence, our mortal existence, and our postmortal existence. In death we die to this world and step through the veil into the sphere we are worthy to enter. Only through the restoration of the fullness of the gospel can we make sense of Paul’s writings when he says “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Cor 15:40-41) or that he was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Cor 12:2). This is a unique, singular and precious doctrine of this Church which has come through revelation.

Not only can we qualify to live forever as family but we have potential to even become like God, our Heavenly Father, and sit upon thrones. How else can we ultimately fulfill the commandment of our Lord to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt 5:48)? This is doctrine taught plainly in Revelation 3:21: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” It is why Paul rejoiced near the end of his life when he wrote to Timothy “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me.” Peter also said, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Yet the belief that Jesus will actually deliver on these promises given here (and in Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 4:8) had faded away with the centuries. Modern revelation is even more clear: “For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.” These truths and subsequent revelations are part of the remarkable Restoration in these latter-days.

revelation-god-1Modern revelation

Speaking of revelation, an article of our faith states: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” The heavens are again open, revelation from the Lord Himself continues and is present in the only true and living Church on the earth today. Direct revelation from God is the only principle on which a Christian church should operate. A church based on the interpretations and direction of men alone will, sooner or later, go astray. The “rock” the Lord refers to in Matthew 16:17-18 is not merely a reference to Peter, but to revelation itself that He builds his church on. Remember the Lord said to Peter, “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Make no mistake, the Church of Jesus Christ is not based on the Bible. It is based on what the Bible is based on:  revelation from God.

I testify of the truthfulness of what I’ve written here. Anyone can know it is true also, more than it simply making sense; we too can receive revelation from God. We can ask Him directly if these things are true, the way is open. Feel free to ask me questions, visit, or contact friends of yours that are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I promise as you begin to search and read the Book of Mormon, you will receive greater light, knowledge and joy. As our Savior has invite us, “Come and see.”

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The Church of Jesus Christ, its Apostasy and glorious Restoration


Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

The great majority of what this blog entry will be about is based on the words of Gordon B Hinckley, a prophet of the Lord. Jesus Christ was and is the great central figure of human history, the zenith of the times and seasons of all people. Before His death He had ordained Apostles, special witnesses of him, carrying his Priesthood, that carried on for a period after his death. His church was set in place.

Following our Savior’s death, the Church He established drifted into Apostasy. The influence of pagan religions surrounding the region, not to mention the increasing persecution from the Romans and others, added to the general waywardness of so many members of the Church. The killing or banishment of the Apostles was the nail in the coffin. Priesthood authority was taken from the earth, and Isaiah’s words were fulfilled: “The earth is also defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isa 24:5). This was not just a people turning away prophets, who were messengers of God, but a turning away from the great Message Himself. This great Apostasy–meaning a turning away from the gospel, its truths, and Priesthood being taken from the earth–had been prophesied by other prophets, including Amos (Amos 8:11-12) and the Apostles themselves (2 Thess 2:2-3; Timothy 4:2-4).

Centuries passed. Constantine assembled scholars of various factions at Nicaea in the year 325. After two months of bitter debate, they compromised on a definition which changed the nature of God Himself. This creed was then amended, 56 years later, which did nothing to fix things. Isaiah described this time and centuries following as well: “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa 60:2).  The earth was under a season of plunder and suffering, marked by long and bloody conflict. It was an age of hopelessness, a time of masters and serfs. A time of the preaching of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

Well over a thousand years later the age of the Renaissance brought with it a flowering of learning, art, and science. There came an attempt at a Reformation, a movement by bold men and women who saw problems with the Christian church and did what they could to reconcile it with the truths taught as they understood them in the Bible. Men such as Luther, Melanchthon, Hus, Zwingli and Tyndale stepped forward, many of whom were killed for doing so. Protestantism was born with its cry for reformation. When that reformation was not realized, reformers organized churches of their own, doing so without priesthood authority as it did not exist on the earth anymore. Their overriding desire, however, was to find a niche in which they might worship God as they felt He should be worshiped.


Centuries later  came the American Revolutionary War, which resulted in the birth of a nation whose Constitution declared governments ought not extend its hand into matters of religion–perhaps the first time this has ever occurred. At long last there was no state church! No one faith was favored above another. After a multitude of long, dark centuries, at last the time was ripe for a restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it was not to be found on the earth the way the prophets and Apostles had delivered it, and its Priesthood authority had long been absent. Ancient prophets had spoken of this day; they had looked forward to this day, Daniel among them. He spoke of it directly in his prophecy of the “latter days”, when the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands rolled forth and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:28,31-45).

The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph Smith. How truly remarkable was that vision in 1820 when Joseph prayed in the woods and there appeared before him our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. One of these spoke to him, calling him by name, and, pointing to the other, said “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”


Joseph Smith’s First Vision

This event was also prophesied by ancient prophets. In Isaiah’s words, “Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder…and in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isa 29: 13-14, 18). Peter refers to this as the “times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21), Paul calls it the “fulness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25) then later refers to it formally as the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10). John refers to the events of the Restoration somewhat symbolically in Revelations when he says “I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Rev 14:6).

Beginning with the First Vision in modern times, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth had begun. In my next post I will discuss what exactly has been restored.

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“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”


Those of us of any Christian faith believe in the Bible, and are generally agreed to keep the commandments contained therein. The purpose of the Sabbath dates back to the creation of the world, when after six days of labor the Lord rested from the work of creation as recorded in Genesis. It’s importance has been underlined by prophets, presidents, and the Lord himself.

In Moses’ day, God gave the Ten Commandments and He commanded: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days thou shalt do all thy work:  but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God:  in it thou shalt not do any work… For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:  wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.

Down through the centuries Sabbath day worship continued to be practiced, both in the Old Testament and after the coming of our Lord and his Apostles.

In fact Isaiah called keeping the Sabbath “a delight.” “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:  Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13-14.

We learn from Ezekiel that the Lord gave the Sabbath to His people “to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them…hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:12, 20.

The Lord Himself endorsed the Sabbath, and its importance. What did He mean when He said “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)? To indirectly quote a living Apostle, He wanted us to understand the Sabbath was His gift to us, giving us a break from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual as well as physical renewal. God gave us this special day. He didn’t give it to us for our own amusement or for work but for a rest from our duties, with physical and spiritual relief. Our Lord declared Himself Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). It’s His day! He’s repeatedly asked us to keep the Sabbath or to hallow the Sabbath day.

As many of my readers know I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In our faith there is modern revelation that re-emphasizes the importance of the Sabbath: “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High… And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances… the fulness of the earth is yours.” Doctrine & Covenants 59:9-16.

Think about the blessings promised in the preceding verses. We will ‘delight ourselves in the Lord,’ ‘ride upon the high places of the earth,’ be fed ‘the heritage of Jacob,’ we will be sanctified, and the ‘fulness of the earth’ will be ours. Those are some great promises! Every commandment the Lord gives us is to bless us, and to help us become more like Him. The Sabbath has been observed by many people down through the ages, but is it a commandment we are keeping today?

Scripture is pretty clear that while Sunday is a day of rest, it’s not necessarily a day of recreation. Recall the scripture asks us to “turn away from doing thine pleasure” and “not do thine own ways.” It’s also not a day for work according to Exodus, except in cases where this is unavoidable. I’m not advocating shutting down the police or fire departments, or other emergency services. Too often, though, we think of Sunday as a day for partying, shopping or working. I read of a man who was a barber, and as he drew closer to the Lord realized that his profession required him to work on the Sabbath, which is when a large proportion of his business was generated. He prayed about it and changed his profession! THAT is faith, and a willingness to please his Lord by obeying his commandment. We may not have to change careers, but surely we can change the day we mow our lawns, go boating, or grocery shop–even if it’s less convenient.

So how are we to make the Sabbath a delight? What does He want us to do? What does He want us to refrain from doing? Certainly worship has always been a component of Sabbath Day observance. One of the most important and significant things our Lord did was to organize a church, both in the Old Testament and the New. The Apostles appear throughout the book of Acts as observing the Sabbath, and what better way can you spend the Sabbath than by attending church and worshiping, especially as a family? Consider making this a priority on the Sabbath. Reading your scriptures on this day is a great use of time also and highly recommended, especially if it’s hard to find time during the week.

How else can we make the Sabbath a delight? Sabbath days are a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family ties. Wholesome family activities are in short supply these days, and time to engage in them is in short supply also. Visiting relatives, renewing ties with them through phone calls, emails or letters is a great way to spend some of your day!

Here’s one many of you will be happy to hear about:  sleep! Nothing wrong with napping and getting some physical rest. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 40% of Americans are getting 6 hours or less sleep per night, which is insufficient. Rest and restore yourself.

Serve others, especially those who are not feeling well or those who are lonely or in need. Our Lord famously healed a man on the Sabbath, which angered the Pharisees. Rendering service or assistance to others is emulating our Savior Himself.

Not pursuing our own pleasure on the Sabbath requires self-discipline. We may have to deny ourselves of something we might like. If we choose to delight ourselves in the Lord, however, we won’t permit ourselves to treat it as any other day. Help yourself by arranging your week so you can reserve the Lord’s day for activities that are appropriate for it. A guiding rule is “what sign do I want to give God?” This question may help make your choices about Sabbath day observance crystal clear.


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The significant but often subtle blessings of obeying the Law of Tithing


“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8.

On my mind today is the topic of tithing. Tithing, or the giving of 10 percent of one’s income to the Lord and his Church was given anciently. In fact we don’t have a record of when this law was first given–some believe it originated with Malachi, which has the clearest declaration of the law of tithing as quoted in chapter 3, verses 7 – 12. However, we learn that Abraham payed tithes to Melchizedek anciently, as noted in Genesis 14:18-20 and referenced later by Paul in Hebrews 7:1-4 and Alma in the Book of Mormon in Alma 13:15. The payment of tithing clearly predates Malachi. Given how long tithing has been practiced, it can be reasonably supposed tithing may have been given as early as the days of Adam and Eve. Tithing is a commandment of the Lord, and as such it is required of us to be obedient to it just as any other commandment.

This is a tough one, because it goes right to the materialism and love of the things of the world that so many of us share. Some rationalize and say this law was part of the Law of Moses, and as such was done away with by Christ; this cannot be the case as it was practiced long before Moses and was reiterated during the Christian era. Others state we should give what we can afford, but the 10th is very clear–in fact the very word tithe means “one-tenth.” It has been given again in our day in the church to which I belong, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a declaration of modern revelation which simply states members of the church shall pay “one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever.”

While it is established that tithing is a commandment of the Lord, it seems that very few of us keep it. The research I could find found that only 5% of all adults tithed. Another article I found stated that the payment of tithing has hit a record low. Per this research, parishioners were giving an average of 2.38 percent of their income. Hmm. Like all commandments, this one is given to bless us! I’ve had times in my life when I didn’t pay tithing, and the blessings that have come into my own life since I began again (11 years ago at the time of this writing) have been so mercifully given that I have a strong testimony of paying tithing. I read a great talk by an Apostle of our church–David Bednar–and I’d like to take from his words to discuss the blessings that can come into our lives by obeying the law of tithing.

He gives an example from his own life, of his mother-in-law who from the beginning of her marriage kept meticulous records of expenses. She would use data from these simple ledgers she kept to share basic principles of provident living to her daughter, Elder Bednar’s wife, as she pointed out trends. The costs for doctors visits and medicines, for example, were far lower than might have been expected, and was related to a powerful truth:  “as we live the law of tithing, we often receive significant but subtle blessings that are not always what we expect and easily can be overlooked.” A loving Heavenly Father had bestowed simple blessings in seemingly ordinary ways. These blessings can be discerned only if we are both spiritually attentive and observant (1 Corinthians 2:12-14).

Malachi’s promise from the Lord is “if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes…” The imagery of windows is pretty instructive. Elder Bednar states “spiritual illumination and perspective are poured out through the windows of heaven and into our lives as we honor the law of tithing.”

One subtle blessing, he points out, is the spiritual gift of gratitude that enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want. A grateful person is rich in contentment, whereas an ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment (Luke 12:15). He then gives more examples of blessings such as “an increased spiritual and temporal capacity to do more with less, a keener ability to prioritize and simplify, and an enhanced ability to take proper care of the material possessions we already have acquired.” A more extended quote which I found really helpful was:

Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals. And when we plead for relief from physical, mental, and spiritual difficulties, He may increase our resolve and resilience.

Tithing, like every other commandment, is given of God for our benefit; in effect to bless us and help us become more like He is. Remember the words of Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I add my testimony to Elder Bednar’s that as we are spiritually attentive and observant, we will be blessed with eyes that see more clearly, ears that hear more consistently, and hearts that understand more fully the significance and subtlety of His ways, His thoughts, and His blessings in our lives.

To my mind, payment of tithe is a way to combating materialism and covetousness, and a recognition that everything we have comes from the Lord. We are not giving Him something that is ours, but rather returning 1/10th of what was His to begin with. Remember that the honest payment of tithing is much more than a duty; it is an important step in the process of personal sanctification. Recall with me what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taught: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” Luke 16:13.

Just a quick story from my life. I was unemployed for a few months in 2007. During this time I had no income and relied upon help from the church and my family, but even then it was barely enough to cover gas, food and rent. I eventually got a part-time job working at a book store, but this did not appreciably help matters. In fact my budget was so tight each of those months until I got a full-time job in my profession that I knew I could not afford to both pay my tithing and my rent, it was a matter of simple math. However, I decided to pay my tithing as soon as I received money, and each month I was still able to pay my rent. It should not have been able to happen, but it did! I was tempted, perhaps as you are, to not pay tithes or offerings when I was poor, but I believe when we pay during those circumstances it matters to the Lord more than when we pay them in our abundance.  I always go back to the story of the Widows’ Mite from the New Testament:

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which has cast into the treasury; For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

If anyone wants a testimony that any principle of the Gospel is true, the invitation is simply to try living it and see what happens. I have done it, and because of that I have a strong and vibrant conviction that living the law of tithing is a powerful way to draw closer to God, and to become more like Him. I invite any who read this to do the same.