Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sustaining: An Unnoticed Covenant

To my readers, I owe you a small apology for not posting these last several weeks. I have been on vacation in California; as well as adjusting to a new job. At any rate, now that the school semester is over I will be publishing more frequently during the week, so keep your eyes open for more posts.

During Sacrament Meetings, the one thing I do find somewhat interesting is the sustaining of church callings. Do not misunderstand; I love the ordinance of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper very much, and it is the true focus of the meeting itself. However, the talks in sacrament meeting are very sophomoric and the lack of reverence in the meeting is beyond disturbing.

I would like in this brief post to talk about two things: 1) What does it mean to sustain a person in a calling and 2) What is the obligation of the person who is being sustained

First, what does it mean to sustain a person? Let me suggest that is far more than merely raising the right arm to the square when asked to do so by the person presenting the sustaining vote. According to Oxford Dictionary, the word "sustain" means "Strengthen or support physically or mentally." So, this means that we are making a covenant with this person, that we will be there for them as they perform the task that priesthood leaders have assigned them. This service cannot be in name only; a person does sustain a person if they do not help then in anyway possible when they are able. We show support by doing things, not just vain words.

I would also like to address a matter involved with the word sustain as applied to priesthood leaders. Too often I have a heard people say that if a person has a disagreement with a priesthood leader, or if they are vocal about the disagreement then they are not sustaining their leaders. However, this is very shallow thinking. Just because a person is sustained to a position of leadership, this does not mean that a person will be right about every issue of significance. As Amelia McConkie said to her husband Bruce R. McConkie when he became a General Authority "Just because you are a General Authority now does not mean that you know everything!"

However, I would also caution against being overly critical of a person. Remember that you have made a covenant with the person to strengthen and support them. Many callings are very taxing on a persons strength and mental well being, and we do not need to add another burden to the ones that are already yoked upon them. We are to help make their burdens as light as possible; which cannot be done by adding more to what already needs to be accomplished.

Now that I have addressed some of things that are required of the people who are sustaining a brother or sister in a position, let us turn to the person being sustained and what is required of them. First, they are to do all that is outlined in their calling, and to do so to the best of there ability. If a person does not do that, then they are not sustaining the trust that has been placed within them. No calling deserves less than a persons best effort at all times. When mistakes are made, they are to be acknowledged and resolved, then the person is to move forward.

At its base level sustaining is a covenant, and covenants are promises between two parties to do certain things in exchange for something else. For instance, when we partake of the Sacrament we covenant to always remember the Son of God and to keep his commandments. In response to our obedience to the covenant, the Lord promises to forgive our sins and to have his spirit to be with us. When a person is sustained, we covenant to help and serve them in anyway we can in order for them to be successful in there calling, while they covenant with us to execute the calling to the best of their ability. Let us remember this when we give our sustaining vote or when we are being sustained.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Testimony of Jesus of Nazareth

"But who do ye say that I am?", the man known of Jesus of Nazareth said to the men who were his closest friends in mortality; the men we call the Twelve Apostles. Moments earlier, he had asked these men who his contemporaries believed that he was. He had gotten the answer that many believed he was a prophet come back to life, but not the reply that he was the Son of God.

That reply sadly has not changed much today. Many in the world believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but not the Son of God. The great philosopher and mentor of mine Friedrich Nietzsche said of him "The word 'Christianity' is already a misunderstanding - in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross." In short he affirms what many in Jesus's own day and today believe: Jesus was a great man, but not the Son of God.

However, the question every person who consider themselves a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth need to answer is the second question "But who do ye say that I am?" In this short post I plan to answer that short.

First and foremost, I believe that the idea of the Christ Myth Theory is complete and utter nonsense. As agnostic historian Bart Ehrman wrote in his book "Did Jesus Exist?, "Whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist."

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth was borne of Mary, by means that did not alter or deny the natural order. I believe that he went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching the doctrine of the kingdom. I believe that he showed multiple times that it was possible to fulfill the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself.

However, this still leaves the question unanswered that all disciples of Jesus must consider and answer "But who do ye say that I am?" To that I answer with the man known to the world as St. Peter "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

I believe that this same Son of God, in a way incomprehensible to me, suffered for my sins and the sins of all mankind in Gethsemane and on Calvary. He was was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, and 3 days later he broke the bands of death and was resurrected. By doing these things, he answered the question of Job "If a man die, shall he live again?" The man known to us as Jesus of Nazareth answered unequivocally "Yes. And because of me, you also shall live"

It is not enough to believe Jesus a great moral teacher; He taught that he was the Son of God and the Savior of the World. One must accept him as such or brand him a lunatic and a madman, there is no middle ground with Jesus.

As many have said on this Easter Sunday, I echo "I know he lives."