30 December 2022

To share with anyone who doubts the prophets, seers and revelators.

I continue to be concerned about how it seems as though the faith of some of my beloved familial and gospel brothers and sisters has apparently been shaken.

I have been impressed by how Sheri Dew shared how prophets see around corners.

She points out the unanimity that arises as they counsel together – it is not Russell M Nelson that leads on his own, but it is this council of 15 prophets, seers and revelators that lead as one. This council counsels together, with their combined backgrounds, training and personal experiences that include medicine, law, managing law firms and healthcare systems, fitness, medical and research training, education, science, business administration, history, war, refugees, travel, mentoring, technology, international affairs, government, real estate, commerce, accounting and auditing. This council includes Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks Henry B. Eyring, M. Russell Ballard, Jeffrey R. Holland, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson, Dale G. Renlund, Gerrit W. Gong, and Ulisses Soares.

I know enough about science to question some arguments such as those that vilify vaccines, insecticides, fertilizers, and GMOs. I do not say that they are without fault, but their faults are almost certainly overemphasised or exaggerated. I have done enough in similar research to know that variables that are very applicable to some populations may not apply to other populations – but that does not negate the conclusions drawn in the first populations that were studied. As with our 24 000 species of plants in South Africa, what was perfectly valid for some species might have been very different for some other species, or even populations of the same species. Similarly, humans have different populations and genetics that might make some things that are fine for the general population be unsafe for other populations, but that does not necessarily negate the conclusions for the populations where those problems have been demonstrated to not exist.

I remember reading an amusing article at Gobabeb while working at the Namib Desert Research Station in about 1976. This article stated that carrots were to be avoided because almost everyone who had a variety of illnesses in the past year had eaten carrots shortly before dying; Almost everyone with eye problems had eaten carrots; And the list went on and on about negative things that happen to almost everyone, including the most certain outcome of life – death – and pointed to the truth that almost everyone who had suffered those fates had eaten carrots. The point of the article was that although there may be a strong correlation between people succumbing to those outcomes and the consumption of carrots, the carrots cannot necessarily be blamed for those outcomes. I acknowledge that some people may genuinely have problems that suggest that it would be wise for them to avoid carrots. The same can surely be said of milk, wheat, maize, sunlight, and all sorts of wonderful things given to us by a loving, gracious and merciful Heavenly Father. More importantly, it highlights how easily evil can be called good, and good can be called evil.

I know relatively little about law and legal matters, but I know that not all legal victories are righteous. When someone uses the millions of US$ charged in fines against pharmaceutical, pesticide, or other companies as evidence of their guilt in committing crimes against humanity, my mind goes back to the Gadianton Robbers and Secret Combinations and, quite frankly, raise more questions than give answers. To be fair, I believe that the inappropriate outcomes are rare exceptions, but they are there – I think of two cases – a friend who was evidently falsely accused by a spiteful woman of him abusing her daughter; and of Joseph who was in Egypt and falsely accused by the wife of his slave-owner of trying to assault her. These two examples help me to conclude that sometimes legal victories are not necessarily a true indication of guilt – that some convictions are not beyond reasonable doubt. Caution is essential in preventing abuse! I also know that in most instances those winning legal victories or promoting their arguments are earning a living. It is usually not altruism, charity, or a Zion spirit, that causes their activism, but self-success. One victory then provides precedents that help to gain victory over subsequent litigation over those things that they are opposing – but that does not necessarily mean that counter-arguments do not have their place. My mind turns to the injunction of the Saviour –he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone. There are surely imperfections on both sides of every argument.

My faith is strongly in favour of following the prophets, seers and revelators – in the mouth of two or three witnesses – or fifteen in this case – shall the word of God be established. I witness that there will be far more value in following God’s prophets, seers and revelators than in doing things that are not in harmony with what the Lord leads them to say. As we well know, there are some who are allergic to gluten, milk products, groundnuts, and so forth. Those are very real, sometimes fatal, albeit relatively rare exceptions.

I am inclined to give most of my time to studying what the Lord’s council of prophets, seers and revelators is saying, and following that counsel, rather than looking for reasons why I, Les Powrie, might know more truth than all fifteen of God’s mouthpieces knows. God has lovingly called them to lead and guide us. Their set of combined knowledge, wisdom and understanding is amazing. God has chosen well – He knows perfectly what is needed to guide His people to safety in 2022 and as we approach the Second Coming.

If anything is not in harmony with what the council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve say, I would doubt that before doubting my faith in God’s power over the Church. He would not allow His prophet and that council to lead the Church astray. He can easily allow any one of them to die from whatever cause – especially things arising from old age – so that His word will not be compromised by anything that is not for the best of His children. As out-of-place as anything that they say might sound in the philosophies of the world, I would place far greater trust in the word of God’s prophets, seers and revelators than in any other source.

There are so many kinds of voices, so many trumpets sounding, that I place my trust in my one landmark experience that told me as a missionary in 1973 that There are certainly individuals among all other faith groups that are outstanding in their contributions to good works, but God has declared to me, personally, that there is only one church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – that is the only true and living church upon the face of the Earth with which He, the Lord, is well pleased, speaking to the Church collectively and not individually. I have a complete confidence that He will not allow His mouthpieces to lead us astray.

I share my complete faith and trust in God’s loving grace and mercy, and of His infinite power over all things such as the health problems arising from the evil intents of men, as we approach Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and His ability to cause any obstructive prophets, seers and revelators to die should they cause any problems to His saints, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

28 December 2022

Some more mulling over science and religion

I was sent a video clip about how a man leaves scientists speechless when he answers the age old question 'Where did God come from?' Maybe you have had it land in your WhatsApp some time?

Geological time is calculated using radioactive carbon dating and such like - it seems to me as though the assumption is always that things have always been the same as they are now. I ask myself questions like: 

  • How long was a day 6000 years ago?
  • What Sun were we orbiting 6000 years ago?
  • What were the levels of radioactivity 6000 years ago, and what impact would significantly higher levels of radioactivity have on genetic mutation and on rates of decay?

If our daylength is determined by the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, and that orbit is governed by the masses of the Earth and Sun, and the distance between them (a principle taught me in 1st year Physics at Wits), then with the Sun losing billions of candlepower every second of every millennium, and the Earth absorbing energy, and energy is converted to and from mass (another principle taught me in 1st year Physics) then the distance and orbit must have changed.

When I burn a gas lamp the gas bottle gets lighter and I have to refill it. Who keeps on refilling the gas cylinder of the Sun to keep it all stable?

If many biological clocks, such as many flowers blossoming and other biological processes, are dependant on daylength, what would a daylength have been 6000 years ago?

I use 6000 years because that is the ballpark figure given in the Bible – so what if the levels of radioactivity or daylength are to be determined for 600 million or 200 billion years ago???

Ja well, no fine… What does this ignorant Les Powrie know anyway??? 

Read more in my blog The faith of this scientist and thoughts about a question someone asked me on a beach near Kwelera a few years ago.

25 December 2022

Sharing Christmas unity with all

I was prayerfully wondering what I could share with missionaries serving in and from our stake and some of my thoughts turned to a concern that I often see around me at this time of year. I helped with the layout of the December newsletter for the village where I live and the editor wanted a suitable picture, with some rose colours, that reflects this Christmas season. I invited Sally to suggest something and she suggested a picture of Mary and Jesus.

The editor rejected that suggestion because it could offend someone who is not a Christian, and so she inserted a picture of an angel. Another person that I assisted with some layout of pictures rejected the same suggestion and put in a picture of Santa Claus for the same reason – being politically correct. Well, full time missionaries mingling with many people of many different belief systems would be experiencing various responses from these people. I wonder why anyone might be offended by a picture of a mother and child but not be offended by a Christmas angel or Santa Claus/Father Christmas...? Ja well, no fine.

Image 1                        Image 2

I have reflected a lot on this and it occurs to me that the picture of a virgin and child should be uniting and not dividing of Christians and Jews, and even Muslims. Let me explain what the Spirit whispered to me in this regard.

We have been reading things in the Old Testament that would be beliefs that are shared by all Christians, by all Jews, and even Muslims. I think that it might not be so much what we share, but how we share it. Perhaps we can share an image of a mother and child in a way that will unite rather than divide the potential readers. 

The Jews today, as were those in Jerusalem 2022 years ago, are looking forward to the birth of a child – a son, and ‘the government shall be upon His shoulder, and whose name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this’ (See Isaiah 9:6-7). This child will be born to ‘a virgin who shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (See Isaiah 7:14-16). Seeing a picture of a beautiful young woman with a newborn baby should help them to think positively of their hoped-for Messiah. Perhaps it could help them to reflect on all that the promise of their Messiah can mean to them now and for always, and how they can be sure that they are prepared for that Messiah.

The Muslims read a great deal in the Qur’an about Jesus, the son of Mary, who was a great prophet, and who had a really unique parenthood. Jesus and Mary are each mentioned more than 30 times, and Jesus, the son of Mary, is mentioned as the Messiah (See Aal-I-Imraan 45, An-Nisaa 157). They recognise that the birth of Jesus was unprecedented, and that Jesus is unique among all people. Jesus, the son of Mary, constantly directed them to worship Allah, the one God. They hold both Mary and Jesus in truly great esteem, as none other. Seeing a picture that represents this mother and son should help them to strive to draw closer to Allah as Jesus is declared to have taught and exemplified.

We all worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the one God, and Jesus constantly directed His disciples to worship that one God and none else. We all look reverently on Mary, Jesus – that virgin, that child. We can all choose to be uniting and inclusive as we share this image of this mother and child. Satan would grab this, as any other opportunity that is available, to be a cause of dispute, of divisiveness – to turn anyone that he can possibly turn from following that one God, or to contend one with another. There is divine reason to remind all of the unifying symbolism of this mother and child. I love what my parents very often had us read in our Family Home Evenings – 3 Nephi 11:28-30. ‘...And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.’

May we all seek reasons to agree, to be united  – to be Zion – of one heart and one mind. May the Lord bless us as we help Him to gather His sheep. He knows where they are! He will send us, as He did to Elder William Holmes Walker in about November 1853, directing him to leave Cape Town and go to the Eastern parts of the Cape Colony. He spent most of his time (about 72 weeks) in the vicinity of Fort Beaufort as opposed to 35 weeks in the vicinity of Cape Town. While in the vicinity of Fort Beaufort, where there is now no unit of the Church, Elder Walker was instrumental in bringing several people into the Church, and leading a party to Zion, including people skilled in construction, commerce, agriculture, and other professions that contributed significantly to Zion, and to the loss of the community that remained in the eastern part of the Cape Colony. The Lord knows His sheep and guides His missionaries to gathering them.

Blessings on each of you who reads this blog as you seek out the Lord’s chosen and help them to feel one with the Lord, whether they call Him Heavenly Father, Father God, Allah, Jehovah, or whatever. May we help them to feel one and not be offended by symbols such as the mother and son. I hope that these rambling thoughts inspire us in the Lord’s work, or that they might be inspiring to someone with whom we may feel prompted to share them. May we be effective in helping the Lord to gather Zion on both sides of the veil by helping to unite all from any of our many and diverse belief systems. 

20 November 2022

Comment on Two Biblical reasons to not watch The Chosen

I was directed by the artificial intellingence in YouTube to watch something - Two Biblical Reasons Not to Watch The Chosen with Dr. Scott Aniol - and so I watched it out of interest. I have really enjoyed watching The Chosen and so was intrigued to see what their concerns might be. 

An interview between Doreen Virtue and Dr Scott Aniol, PhD,
Executive Vice President and Editor-in-chief of G3 Ministries and
Professor of Pastoral Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary

I guess that the concerns that they express are appropriate, but I would very much like to share some of my own thoughts about the matter. 

I think that the two reasons can be summed up as:

  • The second of the 10 commandments - that we might have a false view of Christ and put depictions of Him before Him, or bow down to or serve depictions of Him;
  • The Word is all that we need - and we should not add to or take away from it.

Regarding the second commandment that says 

Thou shalt anot make unto thee any bgraven cimage, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Thou shalt not abow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a bjealous God, cvisiting the diniquity of the efathers upon the fchildren unto the third and fourth generation of them that ghate me;

And shewing amercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my bcommandments.

Scott proposes that there should be no depictions of God that might be worshipped in the place of God. I cannot find fault with that. They are concerned that people will see the actor Jonathan Roumie who depicts Jesus of Nazareth as a person to worship, that it is Jonathan that brings them spiritual light. As for me, I never have felt any hint of that in myself, but I have been very impressed by the ways that the story has been presented as it has given me great pause to ponder. I have appreciated having deeper insights into how I might have been personally touched and affected if I had been in the company of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem 2000 years ago.

I was thinking how I do not imagine a painting or depiction of an elephant to be that elephant. It makes me think of the elephant and its magnificence, of how I have felt when I have been close to elephants, of the wonder of the creation of that elephant, the beauty of the elephant, of the talent of the person who depicted the elephant, but I have never thought that the picture is anything that takes the place of an elephant. Maybe some other people do have a challenge with this, but I cannot relate to it, as I cannot relate to a concern that I am seeing a depiction of Jesus Christ as an object of worship. 

I have my own personal relationship with God the Eternal Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I appreciate the additional feeling of love that I have for Them as I watch The Chosen, but I have not been persuaded that the actors come between me and my relationship with the Godhead, that they in any way take the place of the Godhead. I have appreciated the possible interactions that Jesus might have had with His disciples. I have not seen this as interpretation of the scriptures, but the acting has been thought-provoking as I ponder my own relationship with and discipleship of Jesus Christ. I relate to Mary who pondered things in her heart as I have had many things to treasure up and ponder in my heart as I have reflected on Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him.

Their other concern revolves around adding to or detracting from the word of God. I think that they cite Revelation 22:18-20 

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall aadd unto these things, God shall add unto him the bplagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the abook of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I acome quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

 I am also impressed by what Moses said in Deuteronomy 4:2

Ye shall not aadd unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

They are also right that we should not add to or take away from the word of God - but we also should not limit the power of God to reveal more of His word in our day. My thoughts turned to the Pharisees and Scribes that limited Jesus as they called Him a blasphemer and failed to recognise the Messiah promised in the Law, that they so sincerely looked forward to coming, but they crucified that same promised Messiah because they felt that Jesus of Nazareth was not complying fully with their interpretation of the Law. 

I did not take notes as I watched - I was doing my morning exercises and preparing breakfast at the time - so I may have missed some important things that they were trying to share. You can watch the interview and draw your own conclusions. But I strongly encourage you to go straight to the source of the Living Water - pray to the Father as Jesus Christ directed in the sermon on the mount, and then read the scriptures so that you can hear Him as He directs you to things in the scriptures that He will use to answer your questions. He has done that for me and I am confident that He will do it for you as you prayerfully approach Him in humility.

I am very sure that He is not likely to reveal things to me that are easily available to me in what He has already revealed if I do not bother to read them. But I also believe that He did not reveal everything to His prophets 2000 years ago regarding things of 2022. Those prophets would find it incredibly difficult to communicate very effectively with their own vocabulary, experience with technology, and customs, so that we would understand them clearly in 2022. I am very impressed with the excellent job that they did in trying to describe what they saw of our days as they prophesied of the conditions in the last days, but I share a personal witness that God has not left us alone in those last days. He did not reveal to Noah what Moses needed for leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. He did not reveal to Moses what John the Baptist needed in order to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ. As an unchanging and eternal God, He continues to guide His children, from the simplest shepherd, carpenter or fisherman to the more sophisticated publican, scribe, politician, Pharisee, PhD or whatever other character in our day. 

God is not absent, but speaks to us through living prophets and apostles and will help us to hear His word through them if we seek His guidance. Jesus did warn of false prophets but never said that there would be no true prophets. He said that we would recognise them by their fruits. I bear witness that the fruits of our living prophets and apostles are truly in line with the tenets taught by Jesus Christ to His disciples of peace, loving one another, striving to be one with each other and with Christ as Christ is one with His Father, rendering to Caesar in their vassal state those things that are Caesar's, and to God those things that are God's. He is the ultimate example of how we can overcome all sorts of challenges with a godly walk and conversation, and He challenged His disciples - us - to be perfect, even as His Father which is in Heaven is perfect. May we do that, and may we be fruitful branches of the true vine - we are dependent on the vine, but the vine not dependent on us - but the fruits that we bear add glory to the Father. 

May we be worthy of His welcoming us with open arms to enter into the joy of the Lord, is my humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

22 October 2022

Hippeastrum (Double White Nymph Amaryllis, or Double Sonata Alfresco)

Reinett Olivier (#57 in the village where we live) called to invite me to look at a beautiful flower that she has growing on her front porch as it had 8 flower buds that she said was unusual, and so I went to investigate. I thought that it looks a bit like an amaryllis, but not Amaryllis belladonna, the March Lily as we call it, that flower in Feb-Mar-Apr around Cape Town and originates in Western Cape, particularly the rocky southwest area between the Olifants River Valley and Knysna.

The double white nymph amaryllis

Amaryllis belladonna from Wikipedia

 My first port-of-call is usually iNaturalist, but after a few days of posting an observation of a cultivated member of the family Amaryllidaceae, there were no identifications. Philke Cakebread (#98)  suggested that it is Hesperantha, but that did not look quite right (Onions are in the same family as Amaranthus and Hesperantha is in the same family as Iris). Philke knew that the correct name started with 'H' - I did not know that, but at least she did! Teams can generally do far better than individuals. 

So I did further sleuthing. 

Reinett mentioned that she had bought it at a local shop and that there are more available there, so I went to see if there were any so that I could ‘put a name to the face’. None there, but I asked at the neighbouring flower shop, and the helpful lady there said my photo shows a white amaryllis. Google was my next port of call and after several searches and modified searches and clicking on multiple links (some of which are shown below) I have come to the rough conclusion that it is Hippeastrum, a member of the amaryllid family, and more specifically White Nymph Amaryllis or Double Sonata Alfresco. I have not been able to ascertain a species name, but it may be a hybrid between species. Common names are so confusing – in a book that I wrote about Common Names of Karoo Plants I mentioned one plant (Sutherlandia frutescens, now a synonym of Lessertia frutescens, best known as Cancer bush) that has about 25 common names and one common name biesie has about six scientific names listed for it!

This exploration about Reinett’s amaryllis highlights why I usually leave the naming of plants to the experts while I am content to use a simple descriptive name that I will easily remember while I am working with the species in the field, and then give a specimen of the plant to a taxonomist and then I use the official name given by the expert when I produce a publication or a report. I delight in plants, their magnificent beauty, and the joy that they give, but with more than 800 plant species on the Cape Peninsula, some 2 200 species in the Cape Town area and about 24 000 in South Africa, I have not tried to remember that many names. Then there are hundreds or thousands of birds, reptiles, mammals, fungi, en so voorts! The sad thing is that I have forgotten so many names that I did know! And there is also the challenge that taxonomists change so many names and the name that I knew is a now a synonym! I love the magnificent vegetation, species, and diversity of our natural heritage in our wonderful South Africa. But I do not pretend to be a John Acocks who spent some 40 years making hundreds of thousands of observations in about 4 000 sites scattered all around South Africa and collected some 28 000 specimens, apparently being familiar with about 18 000 species names! I take my hat off to him! I am blessed to work with people like him and others in the team that fill in for my inadequacies as I try to contribute something that is, hopefully, of some value to those around me – good folk like Acocks and those reading this newsletter.












17 May 2022

Some concerns that I need to share with my loved ones in the face of adversity

I have been told that one of my family members has spread word about his apostasy that is of concern to others of my loved ones, causing some to question the faith. I have not kept myself informed of what he has written and so please do not see my comments as being comments on what he has written.

In about the early 1990s a friend of mine asked me to vouch for a product that he was wanting to market. He felt that my authority as a scientist would help his marketing campaign. I think that he was upset when I declined, not because I had reason to question his product or doubt his claims, but because it would take me many hours, maybe years, to research sufficiently to be able to state authoritatively that the claims of the manufacturers were valid. Similarly, it would take me much time to investigate what our family member has researched in order to comment with any intelligence on the conclusions that he has drawn. So I am only going to share my own research and experience.

In 1973 I was a missionary declaring to those around me that God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ had appeared to a young man by the name of Joseph Smith. I declared that they had called him as a prophet, and that through him the priesthood and the fullness of the Gospel had been restored. After some time I started to feel uneasy in upsetting the equilibrium of the good people with whom I interacted. Good, believing, honest, upright people in the NG, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and other religions. I knew that by declaring my message to them, I was putting them in a position from which they never could retreat. Was I sure of what I was saying? What right did I have to upset their apple carts?

I became seriously ill and for a while I was troubled, I guess in a way, like Alma the younger was, I was harrowed up by the memory of my weaknesses and inadequacies. I fasted and prayed to know what I should do - was it appropriate for me to continue bearing witness of the restored Church and Gospel? I did not doubt the Gospel - I doubted my testimony. I had had enough experiences as a child and a teenager to know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Holy Ghost is a real companion, even to a less than perfect youth such as me.

As I was thus troubled, I had an experience that has remained bright and clear to me to this day. Jesus Christ Himself bore witness to me, your far from perfect brother, husband or father, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is 'the only true and living church upon the face of the whole 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'. 

My family, I could no longer deny, or worry that I had no right to declare this restored Church and Gospel without being ashamed. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself had borne that witness to me. And so, I once again bear that witness to you, my dear loved ones.

Besides this, I have pondered and researched for more than forty years, and I have come to a firm conclusion that God lives, that He created this Earth for us, that the Plan of Life and Salvation are true. Those of you who have access to the Family History folder in my Dropbox are welcome to read the promises in this regard given to me in the year 1969 in my patriarchal blessing. I have had, and continue to have, the special experiences that were promised.

As a scientist, being taught of chemistry, physics, botany and zoology, evolution and other sciences and philosophies of men, I have never had anything that caused me to doubt, but only to affirm, that testimony that I have. Science always has more questions than it has answers - that is what drives science - the questioning mind. 

As I have written in my blog, I know that without the superior force, power, or influence of our Heavenly Father, this universe would have 'run down' as it were. The time of sunrise on 13 June in the year 1900 was the same time as it was this morning, and according to a calculator on the internet, would be the same in 2099. But - I am very aware that there is much on the internet that sounds authoritative, and is written in many cases by well-meaning people, but they cannot have repeated the experimentation, or measurements, to confirm their own results, applying all of the methods, to draw the same conclusions that thousands of individual scientist have done over centuries to come up with the numbers of stars in the Universe, or the millions of years that it has taken in geological time for sandstone to develop or weather, or any other 'scientific fact'. 

Many things we (you and I) accept without question, but others we doubt. And that is fine - you may believe as you wish to believe. But please remember that, just as there is compelling argument on the internet that the Earth is flat, I suggest that you have no cause to doubt me when I declare my personal experience and conclusions that it is round. I taught on mission that just 500 years ago many people believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth and persecuted Galileo for declaring that the Earth was round and that the Earth revolved around the Sun. People who declare truth will usually be persecuted or put to death because error prevails in this Earth where Lucifer has bought up armies, navies, false priests who oppress, and tyrants that reign with blood and horror on this Earth.
Science on trial

I share my solemn conviction that I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which the Lord is well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually— For He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Please, think, ponder, study, pray and fast carefully for yourself and do not be swayed by what anyone else says. The things that you and I declared as missionaries or at other times have not changed. The truth is still the truth - it is we that have changed. If any of us will do the Father's will, we shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether Jesus Christ spoke of Himself, or whether I, speak of myself.

28 February 2022

Ministering to the sheep of the flock through interviews

For many years from at least 1982 there was emphasis on the three-fold mission of the Church and I sensed somewhat of a compartmentalisation by some leaders, and by myself, of Proclaiming the Gospel, Perfecting the Saints, and Redeeming the Dead.

While serving as a ward mission leader in about 1994, some 12 years later, I was taught by the Spirit as I worked with the Member Progress Record. Details were recorded for a new or returning member of how they were taught the basic gospel principles, helped to receive a temple recommend so that they could perform baptisms for the dead as soon as possible, guided to research their family history so that they could provide ordinances for their relatives or others beyond the veil, and then getting them ready to go to the temple once they received a recommend for living ordinances after being a member for at least a year. I realised that as a ward mission leader, focused on Proclaiming the Gospel, I was actually involved in one work and not three separate missions (what in the business world might have been described as three 'silos').

As we teach basic principles to the prospective, new or returning member, we are proclaiming the gospel. This leads naturally to perfecting the saints as we prepare them to be worthy to enter the house of the Lord and issue a temple recommend to do baptisms and to later receive an endowment from the Lord. Then, as they can only do an ordinance once for themselves, every time that they return and perform baptisms, initiatory, endowment or sealing ordinances, they will do them in behalf of a deceased individual, thus redeeming the dead. As they serve as proxy for someone else, the Spirit will give them further insight regarding the ordinance, or the gospel, that will continue to proclaim the gospel to the individual, perfect the member as a saint, and redeem someone beyond the veil. All part of one journey.

I am always impressed that while interviewing a youth or adult - whether a new or returning member - to serve in a responsible calling, it is an ideal time to reassess their foundation by conducting a temple recommend interview and, hopefully, issuing a temple recommend if they do not have a valid one. If they are not worthy to be handed a temple recommend, they will have been searching their soul and the Spirit will have been touching their heart.

The temple recommend interview is not a chimney pot to put on once the building is complete, but part of establishing the foundation. I appreciated a comment by brother Taona Jiri as I mentioned this to him as a member of the bishopric during my recent interview to renew my own temple recommend. He suggested that this helps to make sure that the chimney is well built and that smoke does not spread through the building. The member will feel the Spirit very strongly as the leader works through each and every question, not stopping at one where they 'fail', but working faithfully on strengthening the entire foundation. Then, in the following interview by president Emmanuel Danso of the stake presidency, he pointed out that the temple recommend details are now available for all the world to see and they can then look at Emmanuel Danso, or Les Powrie, and say - I know your Church, the standards, and that you have a temple recommend and so I can expect you to be this kind of person. What an opportunity to be a light, leaven or salt in the community!

Perhaps if you are interviewing a brother for welfare needs, someone who is dependent on Zion, if you reviewed the ten commandments or the thirteen articles of faith with him, it would help him to become less dependent and move towards being independent, then onwards to being interdependent and building Zion. Is being dependent maybe telestial, becoming independent could be terrestrial, and interdependent, the opposite of dependent, or building Zion is perhaps celestial? Perhaps the reason that Moses was instructed to not accommodate any blasphemers, breakers of the law of the Sabbath or chastity in the Camp of Israel was because they were like parasitic cancerous cells that needed to be removed, not mollycoddled. He took people who were dependent on the fleshpots of Egypt and was trying to build them to be independent and then to go into the promised land that was similar to the desert-like Karoo, through which we drove every year with our family to get to the Johannesburg temple, to the point that they would make their promised land desert to blossom as the rose, building a Zion or more Celestial community. See a summary of Covey:

"Acquiring the seven habits of effectiveness takes us through the stages of character development. Habits 1 through 3 make up the “private victory” - where we go from dependence to independence by taking responsibility for our own lives. Acquiring habits 4 through 6 is our “public victory”: Once independent, we learn to be interdependent, to succeed with other people. The seventh habit makes all the others possible - periodically renewing ourselves in mind body, and spirit."

I love the story of a sister who was not living the word of wisdom and so was not given her temple recommend, but she returned to her bishop about two weeks later saying that she was now ready to have the interview again because she realised that the word of wisdom was not the problem. I guess that we often address symptoms and ignore the underlying problems and a temple recommend interview can help the member to feel the Spirit guiding them to sort out problems and the symptoms will then go away by themselves as the member adjusts course. I would often challenge a member to change and put in place something that was not in order, and if they were willing to commit to repent, I would seek the confirmation of the Spirit that I could give them a recommend based on their commitment rather than on their track record, or set a time within a few days or weeks for me to do so.

I recently realised that someone preparing to receive a patriarchal blessing is required to be worthy to hold a temple recommend. I then learned through the whispering of the Spirit that they, or I, cannot fully benefit from the patriarchal blessing as the years pass unless we remain as worthy to read it as we needed to be to receive it.

When the member is in any interview, the leader can help them to consider their next step like priesthood, patriarchal blessing, or temple. The leader thus gets to discuss these with them at the same time as the Spirit is touching their hearts.

I love the opportunity that is stressed now that no adult should be alone teaching children or youth, but should be accompanied by either a spouse or a member of the same gender. I am concerned that some feel that this is not feasible, impractical, or a nuisance. But what better opportunity is there to give a new or returning member the opportunity to relearn the basic gospel principles as he or she hears it taught to children or youth? Before long he or she will be ready to participate in the teaching, and maybe even to teach a lesson or two. This is strengthening their spiritual foundation. What a simple solution to our ongoing problem of people not attending their meetings! We are giving them a real reason to prioritise being at their meetings while giving them a chance to fill an essential but non-threatening position and they are being strengthened and blessed by being there. I love our prophetic leadership in the Lord's work.

Blessings on our ward and organisation leaders as they serve as true under-shepherds to the Lord's children in these simple and foundational activities of ministering to the sheep of their flock through taking opportunities for doing things such as inviting members to participate in interviews. Members of a bishopric can conduct temple recommend interviews, but other organisation leaders can invite members to an interview where they discuss simple and basic topics using the temple recommend questions as a basis, not to determine worthiness, but to help the member to feel the Spirit that will change their hearts and bring them closer to the Lord. Perhaps an interview conducted by a Young Women president will be a real contributing landmark in the life of a young a sister that helped her to be ready to receive a Temple Recommend to marry in the Temple. We might often be the leaven in the loaf that makes a significant difference in someone's testimony and we may never even realise what an impact that action of ours had, but I have a special conviction that the Lord will know, and He will bless us eternally for our simple efforts.