22 November 2015

The Hundred - Thirteen test

I have been at a low spiritual ebb all too often. That may surprise some, but it's true. 

I find the Hundred – Thirteen test helps me.

The Hundred part is inspired by something my older brother Tim shared with me years ago when he heard I was considering being an airline pilot. He came to me while I was doing my homework one evening and discussed implications of what I was considering (the fact that I wore spectacles, my lack of knowledge of geography, being away from home a whole lot, etc.). He suggested that I list the pros and cons of each alternative in the choice. My adaptation is to take a piece of note paper and prepare three columns: one for a scripture reference; one for the question like 'Become an airline pilot', 'Pack up and move to Nelspruit', 'Move to Cape Town to marry Sally', or 'The church is true as it claims' and one for the alternative 'Not become an airline pilot', 'Stay in Cape Town and look for work here', 'Stay in my parents' home and not go to marry Sally', or 'The church is a hoax'. Then randomly and prayerfully read 100 scriptures and after each one, write the scripture reference, and put a mark or cross under the appropriate column. I have to be honest in letting the Spirit guide me in the process. Should you take this test, you can decide if 'a scripture' is one verse; one chapter; 10 minutes; reading sequentially from the beginning of the book, e.g. Genesis 1:1 or Matthew 1:1, or whatever you feel appropriate. The important thing is to read the scriptures so that Heavenly Father can communicate with you through His Word. In research, one has to do sufficient testing to be confident in drawing a conclusion – a small sample size is not defensible. One hundred is a pretty reasonable sample size in some studies. Tens of thousands can be an appropriate sample size in very large populations. With more than 31000 verses in the Bible, even 100 is a small sample size, but it is a good start.

Another analysis that may help with some tough choices is the SWAT analysis (examining Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). The object of either exercise is ‘studying it out in my mind’ (See D&C 9:8).

The Thirteen part is to write down my own personal thirteen Articles of Faith. I read each that Joseph Smith wrote, and then write down my own. This is based on my mother's conversion story and the role that a challenge issued by an Anglican minister played. You can read her story in my blog http://personaltouchworks.blogspot.co.za/

When I’ve done this, I enter my Garden of Gethsemane and pray to my Heavenly Father and listen, hopefully being prepared to submit my will to His.

I believe it was one of my fellow missionaries Mike McLean who, in Port Elizabeth in 1973, shared a comparison with mathematics and receiving answers to prayer. A teacher will teach a mathematical principle and then give homework to be solved. The student then goes and applies the method to the problem in question. He returns to the teacher with the homework and the teacher either approves of the answer, or sends the student away to try again. If the student is still unable to solve the problem, the teacher might show the working out to get the solution, and then give the student a similar problem to go and solve. This continues until the student masters the principle in question. We similarly need to apply principles to solve problems in our lives, and go to our loving Heavenly Father and ask if we have reached the correct solution? We read that He will tell us in our minds and in our hearts when we have come to the correct conclusion. He will cause that 'your bosom shall burn within you' or, as I feel it, an incredible peace and feeling of completeness and clarity with no confusion as opposed to a stupor of thought or confusion when I need to go and give more thought to the problem.

It is not a quick fix – anything worthwhile is not a quick fix – but it is wonderful to receive personal revelation through the word already revealed to prophets. Talks in General Conference and other words of latter-day prophets and apostles also provide valuable insight as I ponder them. I do a great deal of pondering! I can recall one of my first experiences of pondering when I was probably about 16 years old. I received what Andre Naude would describe as 'a light bulb switching on in his brain'. I realized ‘Of course I must have a mother in Heaven because I cannot get to the Celestial Kindgdom without being sealed to a wife, so Heavenly Father must be sealed to a wife’. Yep, I was about 16 years old at the time! I know I must have been pondering because otherwise I would surely not have received such a prompting ‘out of the blue’. I don’t for one moment think I am on a par with Saul of Tarsus who was such a ‘chosen vessel’ that an angel would be sent to me to stop me on my road to mischief and cause me to have a few days of being without sight as I became cleansed and ready for someone like Ananias to come and restore my sight. I am just an ordinary person, but I have nonetheless had the Spirit speak to me through the scriptures, especially as I have pondered them. I have often said that some of my best scripture study time has been without a book in my hands, but while I am mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, or something like that and I am pondering the scriptures as I work

Perhaps another thing to contemplate is how I reflect each year at this season how interesting it is that when the temperature is 18°C (64.4°F) I am comfortably dressed in the kind of clothing that I would be wearing only at 27°C (81°F) three months previously. But at 18°C (64.4°F) three months ago I would be wearing polar neck sweater and jacket and still feeling chilly. I reckon the difference is not so much in the temperature as it is in my body becoming tolerant of the temperature. This reminds me of the story of a frog being placed inboiling water or being slowly brought to the boil, I become tolerant of lower temperatures, and if I do not check myself, I will be all too comfortable in the lower spiritual temperatures so that I don’t keep myself spiritually warmed. It is up to me to keep myself spiritually fed and nourished so that I can be more likely to be in tune with the Spirit and notice that the ambient temperature has dropped and I am becoming accustomed to it. I love the way Dieter F.Uchtdorf said it ‘first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith’

I have often questioned my faith, sometimes doubted, but I have taken to heart the advice to write what I do believe, and to know that although I do not know everything, I do know enough to declare confidently that God does live, He is my Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ is my Messiah, and I have enough experience with the Holy Ghost to confidently promise you that you, too, can know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost if you read, ponder and pray with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ (see Moroni 10:3-5).

15 November 2015

My parents' stories of their conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ

My father Charles Kenneth Powrie 

Born 5 November, 1921 in Lydenburg, Transvaal (Mpumalanga), South Africa

New horizons were there to conquer a year later in the form of an offer of a job by a former shipmate who asked me to move to Johannesburg to join the firm of Stanley Motors, Limited. This I accepted and -in 1946 we moved to Krugersdorp and here we found happiness and joy in building a home and in rearing our two children. Timothy was born here in 1947.
This was a strange, quiet life which seemed to be the calm before the storm. Finally in May, 1950 the change came, quietly and determinedly, when two young Americans knocked on our door with the offer of a message of great importance. My wife, Philippa, as though moved by some unforeseen force, invited these young Elders from Utah and Idaho to come inside whilst the week's wash-for a growing family became of secondary importance.
Mother led the way in this new intellectual exercise, whilst father tagged along in somewhat polite boredom, bred of post experiences which had resulted in such religious excursions. They had provided nothing more than a temporary distraction ending in on obscure wilderness. This time, however, it seemed different, as mother's arguments (given to her so strongly by her mother) appeared to be losing ground in the face of truth which was irrefutable. This resulted in talk of baptism and then why not both of us taking the step? On the 10th of September, 1950 we entered the waters of baptism at old Ramah to join what we now know to be the only true Church and Kingdom of God here upon the earth. We shall always remember with affection the four missionaries who spent time and effort in our conversion, Elders E. Mauary Payne, Parry D. Harrison, Farrell J. Roberts and Dean D. Baxter. Thus started the new life in a Church which, in its temporal appointments, showed very little sign of being the one and only Church of Jesus Christ, for we met in dingy halls and other humble surroundings in limited numbers and with very inadequate facilities. However, the true sweet spirit was there to guide us as we, like infants, crawled, then toddled, then stood upright and walked with our heads high yet humbled by the testimonies which we felt growing within our hearts.
The wisdom of the Lord in prompting growth and testimony through activity soon became manifest in my being called to one assignment after another - branch clerk, branch teacher, counsellor in the Krugersdorp Branch Presidency and then, after having been a member of the Church for just over seven years, the staggering and humbling call to serve as the Transvaal District President. This call in itself was one of the highlights of my life. The day as Transvaal District Conference, 13th April, 1958. We had returned home between sessions and, during that time, received a call from the District President, Brother I.C. Louw, requesting that we come in early. We duly arrived and were ushered into the presence of the Mission President Glen G. Fisher and President Louw, who dropped what I described in my diary as “the bombshell”. I had anticipated some call or another but certainly did not think of a position as the District President! Philippa and I looked at one another in astonishment, but the spirit whispered to us that we could do nothing but accept this high and wonderful calling. We appreciated the sobering honour and I was set apart by President Fisher that he admonished me to recall the promise given to Nephi of old that the Lord would not do anything save he would open the way for them to accomplish that which they had been commanded to do. This had the effect of helping me to recognize the promptings of the spirit in this calling and has been a blessing and a testimony. I have felt my inadequacy fall away in the face of the strength and guidance of the spirit which has helped me to do many things beyond myself and has indeed brought the treasures of Heaven into my life in this great service to the Lord.
The years have rolled by and our family has been increased in that three other precious souls have been brought to us namely, Jane in 1950, Leslie in 1954 and Ronald in 1959. These three children, sent to us during the course of membership in the Church, have all by strange coincidence been born on the 23rd of their respective months - an honour we felt indeed to be thus matched in some small way with our prophet Joseph Smith, born 23rd December.
The Church is our life. We have found the answers to every problem in service and in this association with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Recently we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary of our wedding day, and Philippa and I are able to bear witness to the fact that the sweeter years are here with us now because of the fact that we have attempted to mould our rebellious, stubborn lives, and the lives of our children, to the restored Gospel. We know without any doubt whatsoever, that these Gospel principles hold the key to that happiness and joy which is the heritage of children of men here upon the earth.
We hope and pray that we may continue to serve in this Kingdom and that-we shall be able to enjoy such precious experiences as we have in the more recent years, in having our eldest daughter, Judy, serve an honourable mission in South Africa. Currently our son, Timothy, is serving a mission in the British South Mission, thus bringing the Gospel to others as we had it brought to us.

Our next goal in life is to visit the House of the Lord as a family, to be sealed thus for time and all eternity. With the blessing of the Lord and with our ability to work in this direction also, we hope to achieve this in July, 1969. We pray that this will lead us to be able to serve better in the future and thus repay our Father in Heaven in some small measure for the great and glorious blessings which he has showered upon us over the years.

My mother Beatrice Philippa Dryden Dymond Powrie

Born 26th September, 1917, Mossel Bay,  Cape Province (Western Cape), South Africa

When Judy was nineteen months old, we moved to Krugersdorp, Transvaal, and Timothy was born there on the 2nd August, 1947 and we decided that our family was complete!
In May 1950 a friend of mine asked me “Have the Mormon Missionaries called on you yet?” I replied that they had not.
“Well, when they do, you must ask them in just to listen to their lovely accents - you don't have to listen to what they say!”
Meanwhile the Church of England Padre had called on me just a short while before that and during our, discussion I had said “But I don't believe that,” or “I don't believe that either”. He challenged me to do the thing which prepared me to receive and accept the gospel when the missionaries presented it to me. He said “Forget what you don't believe and read the Bible to find out what you do believe. Write out a list of the things that you do believe.” I did just this, reading the New Testament, and my list started with 1. I do believe there is a God. 2. I do believe that Jesus is the Christ. 3. I do believe the Bible to be the Word of God.
This surprised me because my mother had studied and passed on to me Theosophy, Yogi-ism, School of Truth, Unity Church of Christianity, etc. She believed that every time the earth needed a Saviour, one would be supplied and that Jesus Christ was only one of many. Also, she far from accepted the Bible to be special word of God, although she quoted from it so often.
The spiritual climate created by my reading the Bible and writing the list of beliefs – I regret that space does not permit me to tell of some of the fancy and very interesting ideas that came into my mind on, the subject! – was just the perfect one for the reception of the message brought by the Missionaries. When they knocked on our door I said “Oh yes, I've heard about you, come right in.”
We joined the church three months later; I, because I knew that it was true, and therefore was duty-bound to support it, and Ken, so he says, to keep me company. Elder Payne, in his last two Months of mission said that he had never lost his temper with any other investigator, but he used to get really mad with me for arguing in favour of reincarnation. In the end he said, “Pray about it,” and I did, because I knew I was right and I wanted to prove him wrong! The answer came to me one morning in a vivid flash of light inside my brain, “either you must believe in reincarnation or you must believe in resurrection – you cannot believe in both.” I investigated the two ideas and decided that I believed the Bible, so I accepted resurrection, and joined the church.
My mother taught me the Law of Tithing, in principle, although as far as I know she never paid tithing herself. A month before we were baptized, when the Missionaries, who were staying with us paid their first month's rent, I said to my husband, “Now can we start paying tithing?” I believed that tithing was the Lord's due, although it still did not seem to matter to me which church we paid it through, so we have been paying tithing ever since, for one month longer than our membership.
We also decided to have a larger family – Elder Harrison said I was still young enough to have four more, but that fourth one has never come. Eleven months later Jane was born on 23rd August, 1951. Leslie followed on 23rd February 1954 and Ronald on 23rd January, 1959 - we began to wonder if the “23rd” has any special significance for us!


Extracted from their autobiograhical entries in a collection of Autobiograhical Sketches.

Wright, Evan P (Editor). 1969. Autobiograhical Sketches - South African Mission - 1969. South African Mission, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Johannesburg, South Africa

14 November 2015

Students throwing tantrums about the weaknesses of their seniors rather than working to change the world themselves

South African institutions of higher learning, the students attending them, and others have been seriously impacted over the past few weeks by students demanding that fees must fall. Somehow they feel that it is not reasonable that fees increase although inflation erodes the value of the currency, and government have been reducing their financial support for universities. I guess they are as yet ignorant of the realities of life, and that life simply does become more expensive and that they have the choice of being proactive and preparing for tough times, or just moaning that there are tough times.

I am concerned that the students who are effectively throwing tantrums (an immature thing to do) should rather be working really hard to get themselves well qualified and able to go out and lead South Africa in the way that they are frustrated that the older generation are failing to do.

When they are the older generation they will probably realise that things in 2015 were not as bad as they were led to believe. I have no doubt that the a very big problem is a small group of trouble-makers who are telling the masses that the masses are unhappy. Certainly they are not as happy as they would be in the perfect world, but the world is not perfect – and that comment is not limited to the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, or even South Africa. They will in due course notice that the entire world has problems and is not perfect. I suggest that they should get over it, and become people who will help to make a better world by building on, rather than causing more problems by destroying, the tremendous good that there is.

Anyone who destroys is undermining the very thing that they say they are trying to achieve. Burning or damaging buses or property is, in my view, not defensible. Showing disrespect towards others is not acceptable. We have seen a lot of this in these riots and demonstrations. Of course, now that they have caused damage, some of the money that could go to supporting students has to go into repairing the damage. 

We need a nation of builders and agents of change, not tantrum-throwers who just complain because others are not building the nation and being agents of change, that everyone else is not perfect. Let them work to become more perfect themselves and make the difference that they want to see. Let them be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

04 October 2015

Imperfection, hypocrisy

When is imperfection acceptable, understandable, justifiable, tolerable?
 Sometimes we see a bug and are not aware of the flaws. Then we look at another perspective and we see that we are looking at a rather unique insect. In this case, instead of six legs that are typical of an insect, this one has only five.

But I suspect that this bug did not choose to have five legs! Our choices are what make us what we are.

I have heard that there are people that refuse to go to hospitals because hospitals are supposed to make people well, but are of no value because they are full of unwell people. The very reason for going to a hospital is to become well, and it is foolish to condemn a hospital for having unwell people in it! If it is helping to improve the state of well-being of patients then it is achieving its purpose. There will be no shortage of people who are unwell, and hospitals will always be occupied by people who are unwell.

Indeed, it is very possible for one patient to infect a fellow patient, health care professional, or an innocent visitor. One can easily go away from a hospital with a bug that he or she did not have when entering the hospital. But I laud the efforts of people who care for unwell people and wish them well in their efforts. On the whole, people leave hospitals better for having been there.

I was told recently about someone who found some imperfection in an individual - a hypocrite - and feels that the entire Church is to be condemned as being imperfect because it has one member who is a hypocrite. 

I have often thought of our perceptions. 

Today we sustained three new Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Elders Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund. I have no hesitation in saying that each of them is imperfect. Two of them inferred it themselves!

So - do we condemn the entire Church because three, or fifteen, or 100, or 500, or 5 million of them, or each and every one of them is imperfect?

In 1973 I received a personal witness from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself declaring that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of the Earth 'with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;'

I leave that ending with the semi-colon because the reader would benefit from reading the context of the extract from Doctrine and Covenants 1.

I suppose it is reasonable that people would judge a church by its leaders. One prominent church leader criticized his leaders. He boldly declared them to be hypocrites! He also drove people out of the temple! He also spoke judgmental words of his close associates and others. He was strongly criticized for many of his actions, most particularly because he was accused of blasphemy. Jesus Christ is that leader. The Jewish faith was the only true and living faith. He was devout in His faith. But He did criticize the leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees, telling them that they were hypocrites. He did drive people out of the Temple with a whip. He did reprove Peter and others for their lack of faith and other weaknesses. He, who declared that we must love our enemies, do good to them that despitefully use us, He it was who did these things. If a person is looking for faults, I daresay he will very easily interpret these actions as failings and hypocritical!

Peter denied Christ three times before the cock crowed on the morning of the Christ's last day of mortality. He went fishing rather than leading the saints following the crucifixion. His state of conversion was challenged when he was told 'when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren'. Would we refuse to accept that church because Peter was quite apparently a hypocrite?

Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ - now is that not extreme! Do we deny the entire church because it had one of its top leaders who was such an extremely bad person - a hypocrite?

Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied to the apostles about freewill offerings that they had made. Hypocrisy!

Yes - if one is looking for faults, he or she will find them!

But equally, if one is looking for good, there is abundant good to be found. 

My father once said that he was so glad that he did not have to judge someone who had erred, but could leave that to the bishop. He did not have to be burdened with being a Judge in Israel. Sometimes we look at things that people do and assess them in one way without knowing what is in the heart. We may condemn them for gross imperfection - for hypocrisy. And we are probably absolutely right! They probably are imperfect. And so am I. And so is the reader, and every person, especially those who condemn the conduct of anyone else.

The true Church of God is likely to always have less than perfect people in it - it is the hospital for sick souls. It is there to make bad men good, and good men better. It will always have an abundance of spiritually unwell people to help to improve.

But the challenge to the reader is to judge where we can affect some change. I cannot bring about change in anyone else. But I can bring about change in myself. My responsibility is to assess my own performance relative to divinely appointed standards of performance and work to improve myself. I need to strive to be better each day than I was the day before. I can be so busy working on myself that I really do not have time to judge and condemn others because I will be all too conscious of the beam in my eye that is causing me to not see clearly the mote in the other person's eye.

The Lord Jesus Christ did declare that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of the Earth 'with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;' He made it very clear that He cannot look upon my weaknesses with the least degree of allowance. 

I must clean up my act! My act! Not someone else's imperfections. My act. I have so far to go before I think I'll be worthy of hearing those blessed affirming words 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant'. I am trying! But I know all too well that I am not at that stage as yet. 

Please clean up your own act. But, in the meantime, ask God the Eternal Father, with a sincere heart and real intent if the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church on the face of the Earth, and if He is indeed well pleased with it. And if He says that it is, then do something about making and keeping covenants with Him by being baptised by His authorized ministers, and pressing forward toward Temple covenants, then enduring faithfully to the end, even receiving the greatest of all gifts of God, Eternal life.

So, to answer my question. Imperfections are a part of Mortality. They have always been, and will always be. That does not make them alright, acceptable, justifiable. 

The Lord cannot look upon sin with the last degree of allowance. We all have imperfections. But if we choose to act in imperfect ways, then we sin. Ignorance is not sin. Little children are innocent doing things in ignorance. But I suggest that anyone able to read this blog is likely to be able to discern between good and evil. If we choose evil, we sin. That is never acceptable, understandable, tolerable, excusable, justifiable, allowable. We are in Mortality to learn to choose good and to not choose evil. That was what Adam and Eve learned in the Garden of Eden. That is what we learned early in life. We have to continually refine our ability to make right choices. To think as God thinks, choose as He chooses, act as he acts. Then we will be continually refined and redeemed by the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, enabling us to more effectively refine our ways to become more god-like.

I bear my solemn witness that Jesus Christ does live, and has declared this to be His only true and living Church.

03 August 2015

The Faith of This Scientist

I have never measured the diameter of the Earth, or the speed of light, or the atomic mass of carbon or the size of the orbit of an electron orbiting a proton in a uranium atom or looked at the structure of a benzene molecule or measured the half life of the radiation of tritium or many of the things that are generally accepted as being constants or facts. Have you?

How many things do we accept as being reasonable without checking them? What makes them reasonable? Why do we accept them?

If these things are all true as I was taught in university physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, biochemistry, ecology and evolution and other classes, then what does that really mean?

I have read Darwin's Origin of Species, Autobiography of Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle. Have you?

I am not sure that I have read the original texts that Einstein and Newton wrote about energy and gravity. I have been taught what they said, but have I read their original texts. Have you? 

I have read the Bible several times, and pondered what it says. Have you?

I have pondered extensively as I have read, and while walking, or mowing the lawn, or driving in the car, or weeding the garden, or meditating, and I have 'pondered the solemnities of the eternities' as my one fellow missionary used to refer to them. In all of my pondering, I have become very comfortable with the faith that (as I have heard Einstein quoted) 'there is some force, or power or influence active in the Earth and in the Universe'.

I have no doubt, having studied the Bible, that that 'force, power and influence' is indeed the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel, Allah, even Elohim, and that Jehovah is the creator (i.e. organizer) of all things as the Bible teaches.

Just as I have not measured all things, or calculated all things, or considered all things, I have done enough to have more faith and confidence that these are true, rather than to have doubts.

I have been pondering recently, as I did while at university 40 years ago, how we give the half life of radioactive substances, and consider all of these to be constant. But consider a time frame of 6000 years, let alone 380 million years (Ma) that my colleagues estimate to be the time since the first land vertebrates existed, or 4550 Ma that they estimate to be when the earth was formed, or
4000 Ma since the first life started, or 3500 Ma since photosynthesis started. Can it be possible that all has remained constant in all that time?

What would the ambient levels of radiation have been then? Would rates of radioactive decay of elements have been the same then as they are now, under those levels of radioactivity?

How many of our seconds (the SI standard unit of time) would a day have been, or how long would a year, or any of our time periods have been then? What would the mass have been of the Earth, and of the Sun? The Sun has been releasing energy all this time, and that is surely related to a loss of mass if using Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity E = mc 2.

The Earth has been receiving energy all these millennia, I suggest that this would result in accumulation of mass. Have any of you done the calculations of what the changes would have been and the implications for radius of orbit of the Earth around the Sun? Would the day length have been what it is now? Would a year have been the same number of days as it is now? How would circadian rhythms and diurnal patterns have affected the biodiversity on our planet? What effect would all of these changes that I am suggesting have on the interactions between organisms?

The time 300 Ma is about mid way between the start of land vertebrates and start of dinosaurs in the Geological Time Scale. Can it be possible that none of our physical constants has changed in all of that time?

I do not know all things, but I can say with Alma, that I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself (Alma 5:46)

Man changes the earth. He causes things to change! For example, he is surely changing the mass of the earth by removing and burning fossil fuels. Converting carbon deposits from solid to carbon dioxide gas and other elements and compounds. What effect does that have on the mass of the earth, the orbit of the moon, our orbit around the sun?

I've been reading about the signs of the second coming. Will the sun refuse to give it's light (see Joel 2:31Acts 2:20,  Helamen 14:20, D&C 88:87), if it explodes? If the gravitational pull changes to the point that the earth leaves its orbit around the sun, what will be our source of light? In such a scenario, would the Earth plunging out of orbit describe the stars falling?

The moon turning to blood (see Joel 2:31Acts 2:20), may happen if we are no longer in orbit around the sun and the moon is getting light from our changed earth or some other light source.

Pillars of smoke (see Joel 2:30) sound as though they could describe the mushroom clouds of nuclear explosions. Might these be prophecies of nuclear explosions, perhaps of reactors exploding as these massive changes take place?

These are things written by prophets thousands of years ago - do they describe the physical conditions that might exist when the mass of Earth and Sun as we think 'we know them' change sufficiently that the gravitational pull between Earth and Sun changes sufficiently to cause the Earth to leave the orbit of the Sun, or, if the Sun loses enough of its fuel load that it explodes or stops working as we think 'we know it does now', will we still have our normal days and months? How can that be possible?

There may be information buried in the jargon and literature about the sun that answers some of the questions that have been going about in my mind, such as Mass and energy flow in the solar chromosphere and corona and 3 He Transport in the Sun and the Solar Neutrino Problem and other scientific works

I am not sure that I shall be able to find a simple explanation there that my mind will grasp and say - 'Ah, yes, that explains all of my questions'. Maybe some readers of my blog will say to themselves 'What a numbskull to ask such elementary questions!' But maybe many have not even stopped to consider if all time and space was just as we experience it now, as we think 'we know it'?

Another question that I have recently been pondering is 'How many hundreds of thousands of years ago did the last species evolve?' Thousands of species go extinct every year, and yet the most recent speciation event is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of years ago - that sure doesn't sound like a sustainable system to me! New species are discovered each year, but the data always suggest that they evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago. A Google search like 'what is the most recent species to evolve' suggests some recent speciations, but do they rank in the same category that Darwin proposed? Changes and adaptations take place, but is that a speciation event? The formation of a new Species implies that it will not breed with other closely related species and is sufficiently different that it is not just a subspecies or variety of an existing species. 

I share my testimony with that of Henry Eyring, author of The Faith of a Scientist, in declaring that I am fully confident in my belief in the literal creation of this Earth and all in it. I am a scientist, but I have no delusions of being anywhere near the calibre of Henry Eyring. However, I do declare that I see no conflict between science and religion. There certainly is conflict between many scientific theories that were presented to me as I studied botany, zoology, chemistry and physics when studying for my BSc. But my own observations of applying scientific principles cause no conflict in my understanding between science and religion - indeed, I find that I use each to explain the other. I declare the faith of this scientist, Leslie Ward Powrie, to be that we are the offspring of a Divine Father in Heaven, and that His greatest joy is to see us becoming like Him. I declare that we are the offspring of deity and not of lower life forms. 

I declare that unless someone has read the holy scriptures, they cannot give a 'peer review' of them, or the interpretations and conclusions drawn by those who have. They must read the Introduction of the holy writ. They must use the same Materials and Methods used by the millions who declare the scriptures to be the word of a living God. They must consider the Results drawn by those who have repeated the methods, and come to unanimous Conclusions. They need to consider the Discussion given by those who have studied and applied the methods. They cannot justifiably be 'more knowledgeable' than those who have paid the price necessary to become peers who can review the testimonies of the believers. Without following the required methods of studying and asking God if His word is true, they cannot legitimately criticize the millions of believers who have. 

I bear a humble witness as a disciple of Jesus Christ that He is the Saviour provided to enable us to return to the presence of our Living God, our Father in Heaven.

18 May 2015

Tab top curtains - and how I made them slide more easily

After two years of battling with the tabs not moving easily on the curtain rails, I thought I would try to line them with bamboo strips. But I could not find any...

One morning I saw a box from some Jolly Jammer biscuits, and it occurred to me that each side of the box was about the same width as the tabs, that the cardboard has a varnish finish, and they might just help the tabs to slide. There was only enough for four tabs in that biscuit box, so my mind started to think laterally.

I looked at an empty cereal box. Yep, I thought that could do.

Then, after exhausting that material, I looked at an empty milk carton and I thought that might do.

Then I looked a a plastic milk bottle and thought that might do.

After trying all of these, I am inclined to think that the plastic milk bottle is probably the best option. One nice thing about it is that it is ribbed, and so the contact between it and the curtain rail is reduced more than the cardboard.

All options work, but my vote is on the plastic milk bottle.

I first simply stapled the material inside the tabs, but when I am resolved about what is the best option I'll replace the staples that are a bit reflective, but otherwise not really visible, with thread. But I am happy with the experiment! I thought I;d share it with others as they might also have the same problem that I had with the tabs not moving easily on the curtain rails.

Milk carton, inner surface inwards and outer surface inwards.

Cereal box

My vote is on the last picture - the plastic milk bottle or milk jug.

The king and queen and their baby girl

The king and queen and their baby girl 1

Once upon a time there was a king, who was a very just, loving, fair and good king who loved his people and he wanted what was best for them.

He and his wife were excited with the arrival of a baby girl. Their greatest desire was for this baby girl to become ready to take over the throne one day, ready to be just, loving, fair and good to the people of the kingdom. So what they decided to do was to send the baby girl to live with a couple in the city and there to have the couple teach her that she was a princess, but that her role was to learn to love the people, to feel for them in their challenges and difficulties, and to experience life as they experience it. At any time she was welcome to go into the palace and speak to her parents and they would love her to do that. They would confirm to her that she was a princess, and what was their vision for her – to become ready to inherit the throne. She loved her surrogate parents and she loved her real parents, the king and queen. She did her best to learn to love the people, and to serve them. Her parents were delighted to welcome her back into their presence when she reached an age where she could take care of herself and not just expect to be served by a servant in the palace. She was mature and prepared to work for herself and do all that her parents wanted her to do. She had become like her parents.

The king and queen and their baby girl 2

Once upon a time there were a king and queen who loved their people and wanted the little girl who was born to them to inherit the throne. They loved all the people and they wanted each and every one of them to be equal and to be worthy to inherit the throne, to sit on the throne at any time, to be that kind of person, and to do things for the sake of the kingdom, and each person to be the kingdom, striving to do things for the benefit of the kingdom and not for themselves. Those who didn’t like that way of life were free to leave the kingdom, but as long as they were in the kingdom the king and queen wanted them to be selfless, caring and kind. In fact the royal couple very often invited people to come and help in making important decisions and be part of the court of the king. They had a wonderful kingdom. Everyone was working for the good of each other. Those that weren’t comfortable with that way of life left the kingdom, and they were happy enough ouside the realm, but there were also rules there and they would work and strive for excellence, have their businesses and compete with each other, building their own little empires. They weren’t at all bad people. They were good people in their own way, and anyone living in their community and their society was very happy. They did not tolerate people who murdered or lied or cheated. If someone murdered they would be punished by death. If someone lied or cheated, they would be dismissed from the society to live amongst people who chose to live that way. But as long as they lived by the rules of their society, they were welcome to live with them. But it was a society in which individuals strove against individuals, and competed and were sometimes less than generous to each other than they should be, but it was a generally happy society.

The king and queen and their baby girl 3

Once upon a time there was a king and queen who were just and fair and good people, and they were excited about the arrival of their baby daughter. They wanted her to learn to love the people and serve them. They felt that the best way to do this would be to have go out and live with a couple in the town, who would love her and rear her, reminding her of her royal heritage. At any time she was welcome to go into the palace to speak to her royal parents, and her parents wanted her to do that, and she did occasionally do so. But she had a jealous sister who wanted the throne. She did not want to be like her parents, and did not want her sister to compete with her for the right to the throne. She was a good princess but she wanted to have her own way and she wanted the kingdom run the way she wanted it run. So she whispered in her sister’s ear that she wasn’t actually wanted back by her parents, that they wanted her to be good and kind and everything but that she would never actually inherit the throne. She said that that was not their desire for her. Unfortunately she was persuaded by her sister that perhaps the price she was paying in having to be different to those around her and make choices differently from her friends, wasn’t quite worth it. And so she didn’t achieve the greatness that her parents desired of her.

Now, of course we can relate these three stories to our Heavenly Parents and their desire for us to grow and develop and become like them. What they desire more than anything is for us to learn to serve each other, to think and be and make choices like they do. They want us to become like them because we are their children and that is the natural heritage that a child has, to become like its parents. It will never become its parents, never replace its parents, never take the place of the parents, but they can achieve the greatness that their parents achieved. And for every bit of good that they do they add to the greatness of their parents, and for every decision that they make that does not contribute to the kingdom, it’s just that much less glory and success to the parents and to the kingdom. And so we can relate this kingdom to the Celestial kingdom, and the society – that wonderful society where they were good people to the Terrestrial kingdom, and that where people chose to lie and cheat and so forth, to the Telestial kingdom.

But the important thing to remember is that more than anything else our parents in Heaven would love us to return to them, being like they are, making the kind of decisions that they make, doing the kind of things that they do, loving and serving and being as they are. They want to say, “Well done, our good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things. We’ll make thee ruler over many.” They want to give us the promise that we read of as ‘joint-heirs with Christ’ (Romans 8:17). They want us to achieve our absolute greatest potential. But there is a jealous brother who doesn’t want us to add to the glory of our Father in Heaven, and he whispers in our ears that that’s not their desire, that it’s a deception that we can become like our Father in Heaven, that we can become as He would have us become, that it’s not achievable and that it’s not something that our Father wants us to achieve.

The candidate dancers

There was a dance instructor who had a class, and he had someone come to the class with whom he was very impressed. He seemed to just have a feel for the music, and he could pick up dance steps very nicely. He introduced himself to this young man, who said that his name was James. The instructor felt that James was material for world class championships, and he wanted James to be a part of his class.

Then, there was another young man in the class, but he didn’t seem to have the same flair. He had great desire and determination, but he just didn’t seem to feel the tempo. The instructor spoke to him, saying “James”, but the young man said, “No, John”, so he responded, “Okay, John. You seem to be battling tonight but keep going. You’re working hard. That’s great.”

Then in another class, he saw the young man again and he saw that he was dancing beautifully again and he was really impressed as he watched him displaying the moves and the tempo. Then he saw James with James -- or John with John -- and he realised that they were brothers –James and John – who looked very much the same. James had the feel for dance and music which came naturally to him, while John was a hard worker who unfortunately didn’t have quite the same flair for dance as his brother. He noticed that James had a scar and John had something on his ear so learned to distinguish between the two. But he found that James frequently skipped classes, or when there was a competition he would simply not come. John would always be there and he worked hard. He didn’t do as well as his brother but he worked hard.

The day arrived for the national championships in which members of the dance school were going compete. He entered both James and John into the competition. As first time competitors, they were entered in the Beginner category. When their turns came and they went onto the floor to dance, the instructor realised that James had been absent when he had explained the rules, that dancing at the beginners’ level, the participants should not use moves or steps from an intermediate or advanced level, and definitely not from bronze, silver or gold levels. But James had seen some stunning moves when he watched dancers on TV, so he slipped in a move from the intermediate level, and he slipped in a move from the advanced level, and he even slipped in a move with great flair and success from the gold level. He was thoroughly startled when the judges marked him down. John, on the other hand, who had worked really hard and put forth his best effort and did the very best he could, received scores of 9’s and 10’s from the judges.

Now which of those two people would you most like to have on your team when you’re aiming for the world championships?

10 May 2015

Recovery from a ripped off finger nail

Les Powrie, 15 January 2013 to 10 May 2015

On 15 January 2013 I was walking on a rocky slope when I took a misstep and fell forwards. I was carrying a book in my left hand and my closed hand struck a rock and I felt the full impact of the fall. As I arose I saw that my finger nail had been ripped out to the base and was attached only at the quick. I bound it up and went to ask Sally to assist me. It was very fortunate that she was with me for my field trip. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had been on my own far from any assistance. In the absence of anaesthetic Sally used a little pair of scissors that she keeps in her wallet to cut the nail from the quick – a really painful experience. But once done, and the finger bound up, I went on with preparing to attend the Temple for Richard’s endowment about two hours after the accident.

While in the Temple I noticed heavy bleeding coming through the dressing, and that needed urgent attention. A sanitary towel was used to apply to the wound, then the wound was dressed again, and this time I kept the hand elevated to shoulder height or higher. There was no further uncontrolled bleeding. Fucidin was applied regularly for the first three days or so, following which mercurochrome was applied and the wound was kept open.Sticking plaster was applied from about day three.

I have tried to recreate what the ripped off nail looked like, and have kept a regular photographic record from then onwards.
Approximation of what the nail looked like ripped out at the base.

I was told that the nail would be normal after 18 months. I could not find a record on the internet showing what was in store for me, so I decided to keep a record. Unfortunately, I did not think to start the record from the start, but this starts at day 6.

More than 18 months have passed and it is not absolutely normal, but it is not a problem.

It is now 10 May, Day 847, Week 121, Month 16, or two years, 4 months. The nail feels somewhat normal, looks somewhat normal, but the profile is still far more rounded than the other nails, and the quick is still somewhat set-back. I cannot cut the nail like the other nails because of the profile and quick. Most of the time I do not think of it, but when cutting my nails I am strongly reminded of the incident.

I have written this record for the benefit of anyone else who does a Google search to see what might lie ahead. This is one case study, for what it is worth. But rest assured, the prospect is fair that you will survive and get to function normally again.

Update 25 Oct 2019, after 6 1/2 years -  

The nail bed is still a bit further from the tip of the finger than on the other fingers. The picture shows that it is about twice as far as the same finger nail on the other hand. This makes it a little more difficult to cut the nail, but otherwise I am not conscious of there being anything wrong with the finger or the nail.

  After ten years, 2 January 2023. The nail is still slightly shorter and so there is more flesh visible beyond the nail, but I am generally not aware of it. It can be seen how it is difficult to cut the nail as short as the other nails because of the amount of finger beyond it.

13 March 2015

Cindy Jean: Fifty Shades of Betrayal

Cindy Jean: Fifty Shades of Betrayal: On my way home from work today, I saw a poster for LuvLand, an adult store. It read, "Fifty Shades of Grey: Let the fantasy become a re...