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.