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What to Expect From Church Leaders During the Next Year

What to Expect From Church Leaders During the Next Year

Often we are wondering or guessing what church leaders will do and emphasize in the near future. Will the temple wedding policy change? Will new temples be built? Will church leaders continue to excommunicate promote heretics? Etc.

Well, some missionary blogposts tell us what church leaders plan to focus on during the next year.

Elder Smoot, serving in Chile, is quite clear regarding this (emphasis mine):

it was a powerful talk and the conference that we had with the mission with dallin h. oaks where he said that the church is going to focus more on the sabbath day for the next year.

This was accompanied by “elder urra the seventy talk[ing] about the sabbath day and how important it is. the sabbath day really is a gift to us from our heavenly father.”

Another missionary from the same mission wrote of Elder Oaks’s visit (emphasis mine):

Yeah okay something cool spiritually that I have been studying this week in the scriptures is the importance of “The Sabbath Day”. The topic obviously stood out to me, when Elder Oaks mentioned to us missionaries that the first presidency, and quorum of the 12 would be stressing the importance of it, along with the sacrament more this year than they had ever done in the past. I strongly encourage you guys to read Isaiah 58, and Exodus 31 which are super good chapters on the subject.

Well, there we have it, two witnesses (2 Corinthian 13:1: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”)

So, in looking back we can see Elder Nelson’s talk from the last General Conference title The Sabbath is a Delight was likely the kick off talk for the “Year of the Sabbath”.  Get ready to hear more about keeping the Sabbath. In fact the Pacific Area Presidency’s YouTube page (with Area President Kevin Pearson) posted a video that begins with an accurate portrayal of Sundays for many families (based on Elder Nelson’s talk).

Our Mission President friend in Fresno listed Sabbath day observance as part of #4 in his list of “very important things” (of course, it was below “exact obedience” which was #2).

In Singapore, mission leaders have identified (or were told about) the “urgency to find 2 new investigators per week, baptize one investigator per month, and teach the doctrine of the Sabbath Day clearly.” (emphasis mine)

A missionary in West Virginia recounts a story told my a Seventy (emphasis mine):

We had a really great Stake Conference on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we mainly focused on the power of councils, both in church and particularly family councils. It was really good but Sunday was awesome. We were taught about the Sabbath day. It was awesome, Elder Tae came and he talked about that they had a several hour teaching from the Quorum of the Twelve, all about this. He talked a little about and sounded some what similar to Elder Nelson’s General Conference talk. One thing that really stood out to me was when he talked about the Sabbath Day observance being a sign – a sign of God’s love for us and also a sign of our devotion to God. He related about it being in a similitude to the sign of the X of lambs blood that the Israelite put on so that the destroying angel would pass over them. Our devotion is a sign so that we may survive in this troubling world so that the destroying angel will continue to pass over us. It was really powerful and got me thinking about my devotion to the sabbath. I invite everyone to think about that as well and redouble our efforts and love for the Lord and the Sabbath. (Isaiah 58:13-14, D&C 59:9-24, and Mark 2:27)

It must be important–the Quorum of the Twelve took “several hours” to instruct Seventies about about the important of the Sabbath! I wonder what topics of importance they weren’t able to cover because of the focus on the Sabbath. Malnutrition and illiteracy amongst LDS child in certain parts of the world? The horrors and injustices occurring in response to military aggression around the world? The growing wealth divide in the United States? Sex trafficking? The treatment of animals in the food/meat industry?

 

Missionaries, Stones in Hats, and the Atonement

Missionaries, Stones in Hats, and the Atonement

I recently came across an interesting blogpost written by a mission from the New York Rochester Mission.

In his blogpost he mentioned he “had a two and a half hour drive for our specialized training at the Peter Whitmer farm”. The training involved rotating between different rooms for different training sessions.

The first thing he mentions learning during a training session is actually quite interesting (emphasis mine):

I wrote down that when Joseph was translating he was always ready to translate based on the next word, he never had to read the paragraph before to understand where he was at. He could just continue where he left off. I also wrote down that the Urim and Thummim were clear stones that he would look into, and sometime he would put them into a black hat to see the words better.

Wow! They are teaching missionaries the “stone in the hat” translation process. This is certainly a set in the right direction.

The second interesting thing writes is something his mission president said Elder Holland taught at a new mission presidents seminar (emphasis mine):

President Francis talked to us about having Elder Holland come and speak to them at the new mission presidents seminar when they fist got called. To paraphrase E. Holland said that “when your missionaries ask, why is his so hard? Why is this painful? Is there some other way to do missionary work? You tell them that we must all feel a part of the Atonement because salvation isn’t cheap!” President Francis went on to say that time is not relevant to God, it is only something that we understand here on earth. Which means that those three hours that Jesus spent suffering in the garden were actually longer. Jesus paid for each of our sins individually and also our infirmities. It was a performed ordinance, an individual ordinance performed for each of us by the Savior. When we ask “Why is this so hard? Why do I have to go through this?” Remember someone has already asked that before when he cried out “Abba!”, and that person was also the most pure and perfect of us all.

Recall that at the last General Conference Elder Uchtdorf gave wonderful talks–one was titled The Gift of Grace. In it he had a memorable one-liner:

Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God.

So, salvation isn’t bought with obedience, but is it bought with our pain according to Elder Holland (and “it isn’t not cheap”)—or is it bought “by the blood of the Son of God” as Elder Uchtdorf said?

Also, it is interesting that Elder Holland the Atonement as an “ordinance, an individual ordinance performed for each of us”. Does any other church member teach this? I wonder when this ordinance will be added to the Family Guidebook.

Another Post About Exact Obedience from the Fresno Mission

Another Post About Exact Obedience from the Fresno Mission

About a month ago the mission president from the California Fresno Mission return from a mission presidents seminar in which he was taught by a few members from the Seventy to “place a stronger focus on the Missionary Purpose with an emphasis that baptisms is how we measure a missionary’s success at focusing on their purpose”. He concluded his own personal opinion that the mission needed to “be constant and vigilant in our Exact Obedience”.

Ever since that first month ago, President Clark has focused his “President’s Weekly” message on exact obedience. And yesterday continued that focus. We could call this past month EOM (“Exact Obedience May”).

His newest blogpost attempts to appeal to the desire to be trendy. He begins:

it’s the latest!  It’s awesome!  Everyone is doing it!

Sound like a description of the latest style or trend?  Well it is…for the California Fresno Mission.  What is it you ask?

What’s the latest thing? He says it is the following:

  1. Talk to Ten
  2. Exact Obedience
  3. Focus

Yep, it appears that it’s trendy and hip to be “exactly obedient” in Fresno. Here is his brief comment to go along with point 2 (emphasis mine):

All of you are endeavoring to be exactly obedient and many of you are taking it to a new level by reviewing the MHB, PMG and Resource Binder to ensure you are aware of all things you should be exactly obedient to in order to receive all of the blessings and miracles associated with Exact Obedience.  Well done!  Many of you have shared with me how much better you feel about the work, your areas, your companion, and yourselves as you make exact obedience the foundation, the bedrock of your service to the Lord.  Exact Obedience brings Miracles!!!

“I just want to be savage in life” and be a “savage missionary”

"I just want to be savage in life" and be a "savage missionary"

Apparently there is a phrase being used in some missions to describe a ideal, successful, or hard-working missionary that will do anything to be a successful missionary. I have not seen it used to justify such a idealization, but the Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13) could be their perfect scriptural passage. Wikipedia says regarding the parable: “The parable has caused difficulty, since on the face of it Jesus appears to be commending dishonest behaviour”. Similarly, idealizing the type of missionary that is “willing to do anything to be successful” has it’s own difficulties. Below are some examples of missionaries using term positively.

One missionary in the Florida Orlando Mission writes:

Well I have a new motto in life. “Happy Always, Content Never.” I got this from Elder Clarke of the seventy! I love it! Cause it’s what I am trying to become! I want to stay happy as I always am, but I also want to never ever be satisfied. I just want to be savage in life, and work my butt off to get the things that I want! The mission has taught me that this is very very important. There is a term in the mission, “savage missionary” which just means that he’s willing to do anything to be successful and help these people. That’s what I want to become, and I also just want to be savage in general! So I can be successful in life! Elder Clarke is the man! And I’m very grateful that I got to learn from him! I also said the closing prayer at our meeting with him! That was super nerve racking! Hahaha I didn’t want to blow it! Haha

“Do anything to be successful”? That sounds a little too Machiavellian to me: “Machiavellianism is ‘the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct’.”

Another missionary in Orlando makes it appear there may be an unofficial weekly zone award regarding missionary savagery:

Because we spent so much office time, there are only a few faith-promoting stories to tell about this week, although our zone leaders just told us we still out did the other missionaries in our zone to win the “Most Savage Missionary Companionship” award for the week! One of the really interesting things about Orlando is that there are so many people moving in and out of here that come from so many different places in the world, so there are always new faces to talk to every day! So far, we have run into people that speak Spanish, Portugese, German, French, Italian, Creole, Haitian, and English, and most of them are from anywhere you could point to on a globe.

One missionary in the Dominican Republic wrote:

Okay, Ill add a quick spiritual thought. We taught one of our less active members this week Alma 17 through 19. Each chapter was another lesson. I can’t remember the verse but I think is was Alma 17:9 and 10 when Ammon told the king that we was with there in his kingdom to serve. I love this scripture not because Ammon is basically this biggest savage missionary ever, but because his purpose was so simple. Service. Service, is basically the key to our work as missionaries and I believe it’s just as important for non missionaries to serve as well. Mosiah 2:17, when you’re in the service of your fellowman, you’re only in the service of God. Keeping this perspective has helped me to further dedicate myself to this work.

Seventy: “Don’t Mess Up”

Seventy: "Don't Mess Up"

This will be a short post, but when I see things like this I want to share them.

While visiting Florida Orlando Mission a couple weeks ago, Elder Clarke of the Seventy (this isn’t his first we’ve had him here on our blog) gave a very encouraging pep talk to some missionaries. One missionary explains (emphasis mine):

So Elder Clarke of the Seventy is here and spoke to the stakes down here. He said that his Gransons are down here with him and are excited to go out with some missionaries on splits to see how we work. He then said “Don’t mess up missionaries, don’t mess up..” In my head I was thinking ‘Stinks to be whichever missionaries that have to take out his grandsons.’ Well right after the meeting we get a text and guess who’s getting to take them out tonight for a couple hours?… Elder Peacock and I do #yayyyy Haha

Baptisms “Are a Barometer of Missionaries’ Conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ”?

Baptisms "Are a Barometer of Missionaries' Conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ"?

Today we continue our review of the California Fresno Mission President’s blogposts (see previous posts here and here).

Apparently, now that the month is 58% over the mission is more than half way to their goal of 100 baptism for the month. A summarized version of the “very important things” they must do to reach their goal, according to their mission president, is (some interesting ones are emphasized in bold and underlined):

  1. “Exercise your faith”
  2. “Exercise and live exactly obedient
  3. Teach people, not lessons (I actually really like this one!)
  4. Keep investigators committed to prayer, The Book of Mormon, and “Sabbath Day Observance” (Note: we will be discussing the third point in a future post)
  5. Keep focused on their progress and adjust
  6. Show love. Tell them “how ‘well pleased’ He [the Lord] is with them”
  7. Use them to find more people to baptize. “If they are becoming converted…they will have friends they will have friends” to baptize too
  8. Give them friends
  9. “Role place for/to their needs”
  10. “Enjoy this time!  This is a pivot point in our mission.  It is the launch to the new, new!  This is historic and isn’t it fun to be making history!”

Following this list of “very important things” they must do to reach their goal, he gives three promises (emphasis mine):

  1. “As you commit to and work in an exactly obedient way, it will become who you are, the fibers of your being.”
  2. “As you lose yourself in the work, you will find yourself and you will really love who you have become.”
  3. “As you live your Missionary Purpose, wonderful things will happen in great abundance…We are blessed to be in one of those very unique missions where baptisms are a definitive barometer of missionaries living their purpose.  Most importantly, they (baptisms) are a barometer of missionaries’ conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In many missions this may not be the case but you have been blessed to be in the California Fresno Mission where living your purpose, baptizing, and becoming converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ are inextricably connected.  What a wonderful blessing it is to be a Missionary in the California Fresno Mission where….WE BAPTIZE!”

Wait, what?

“Baptisms are a definitive barometer of missionaries living their purpose” and they “are a barometer of missionaries’ conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ”?

The Preach My Gospel (written by people that train CEOs) even pushes back against this kind of thinking (emphasis mine):

Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize, and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost.

Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice. Some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true. You will be saddened because you love them and desire their salvation. You should not, however, become discouraged; discouragement will weaken your faith. If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease, your desire will weaken, and you will have greater difficulty following the Spirit.

In a post at ldsdaily.com, Austin Wrathall gives a much more measured comment about the role of baptisms in the life of a missionary–which, interestingly, is much more in line with public comments from LDS leadership. But who knows? Maybe this mission president is more in line with the behind-the-scenes thoughts and comments of LDS leadership. Austin says (emphasis mine):

From the day they enter the MTC till the time they fly home, it seems all missionaries have one thing weighing most heavily on their minds: baptisms! Missionaries must learn to teach about baptism, extend baptismal invitations, perform baptisms, and fill out baptismal records. They set a baptismal goal every month with their companions, and they report regularly to their leaders on the number of baptismal commitments they get. Baptisms, baptisms, baptisms! So a successful missionary is one who comes home with lots of baptisms? No!

Don’t get me wrong. Baptism is a very important ordinance. Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). But do baptisms really indicate the success of a mission? How were Abinadi’s baptism numbers? How would his weekly report have looked? What about Moroni? He should’ve just had more faith and then he could have baptized all those angry Lamanites, right? (Sure, he safeguarded the gold plates and all, but his numbers didn’t quite meet the standard of excellence, you know what I mean?) What about Joseph Fielding Smith? Did you know he served as a missionary for two years without baptizing a single soul?2 Not one! Was he a worthless missionary? Of course not! He was a future prophet! He was a wonderful man and a chosen instrument of God.

So, unless you call Abinadi, Moroni and Joseph Fielding Smith unsuccessful missionaries, clearly you can’t measure a mission in baptisms.

Well, now that I think of it, he probably is just saying what LDS leaders don’t say publicly. Remember what he listed as the #1 thing taught at his recent Mission Presidents Seminar?

They [“Elders Maynes, Nielson, and Johnson of the Seventy”] taught four things and told us at the onset that if every mission would get back to these things they would be successful.  They taught that we should:

1. Place a stronger focus on the Missionary Purpose with an emphasis that baptisms is how we measure a missionary’s success at focusing on their purpose. 

More About “Exact Obedience” and Its Effects

More About "Exact Obedience" and Its Effects

Last week I reported on the series of blogposts by the Mission President from the California Fresno Mission. After having attended a Mission Presidents Seminar with three General Authorities he was motivated to post about and emphasize to his missionaries the importance of “Exact Obedience”. So far the series has had blogposts titled Obedience – What We Lack and The Why of Exact Obedience.

Well, this post Monday he continued his series with a blogpost titled The Ripple Effect of Exact Obedience.

He begins his blogpost with some of the following paragraph:

Your responses to the call to Exact Obedience have been exhilarating!  I can feel your wonderful commitment to this principle and know this mission will be greatly blessed this month and beyond as we embed Exact Obedience as the foundation of our behavior.  Each of your commitments as individual Missionaries, then as Companionships, then Districts, and Zones will combine to be a powerful, positive effect on the work of this Mission and a shield against Satan who would seek to thwart the Work of Salvation that we are about.

I have never once heard Jesus talk about embed “Exact Obedience as the foundation of our behavior.” I have a hard time imagining him even discussing exact obedience.  I imagine he would correctly condemn it as something from the Pharisees.

He continues by quoting “No Man is an Island” and saying “Please consider that everything you do matters and has an effect on others – for good or for bad. There is no neutral and that is especially true in this work” (emphasis mine).

He then copies word-for-word the entire next paragraph (except the capitalization of “Butterfly Effect”) from the book description from the author’s website of the The Butterfly Effect: How Life Matters by Andy Andrews–with attribution. Compare below.

More About "Exact Obedience" and Its Effects

More About "Exact Obedience" and Its Effects

Next, he poses a series of questions that are meant to cause one to reflect on the large effects that can result from small acts. In response, I pose the following for his and your reflection.

“What will the Ripple or Butterfly Effect” of the following be:

  1. “[T]he Church disavow[ing] the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse”
  2. One seminary teacher comparing a girl’s “purity”/worth to that of a licked cupcake
  3. A bishop invasively asking a young teenager about her/his masturbatory practices (or even possibly introducing the idea to the teenager)
  4. Requiring all family and friends with temple recommends to sit outside the temple while a couple is married and sealed inside
  5. The harmful anti-gay rhetoric coming from Church leaders (here is a hint)
  6. The Church going against the basic teachings of The Book of Mormon and building Shopping Palaces in City Centers
  7. Having missionaries principally use a manual that was “written by experts that train CEOs and then the general authorities added the spiritual side to it”
  8. The Church releasing a number of essays about polygamy & the Church–while missionaries know nothing about it
  9. Having a church largely run by businessmen (yes, men) and lawyers
  10. The first point of the “Area Plan” for the Mexico Area emphasize financial contributions by being: “Fast with faith, pay a generous fast offering and a full tithe”
  11. A General Authority telling missionaries “Whoever doesn’t want to work , go home, go home”
  12. A Mission President repeating (over and over and over again) that one needs to “embed Exact Obedience as the foundation of our behavior”

President Clark concludes with a large quote from President Uchtdorf and a question to further commit missionaries to the misguided principle of “Exact Obedience”: “What will your commitment to Exact Obedience be?”

Is This Satire? Nope, This Mission President’s Blog is Real and He Loves “Exact Obedience”

Is This Satire? Nope, This Mission President's Blog is Real and He Loves Exact Obedience

UPDATE: More information here.

I’ve read and reported on a lot of missionary and mission president blogs. Many remind me of both the good and the bad of being a missionary for the Church. I can relate to and sympathize with most blogposts–until yesterday.

Yesterday I ran across a new blogpost by the mission president of the California Fresno Mission titled “The Why of Exact Obedience”. I then looked up the blogpost from the previous week titled “Obedience – What We Yet Lack”. I thought “Wow, this guy sure is pushing the obedience rhetoric.” I continued to search the blog for obedience-related blogposts and I honestly couldn’t tell if some of the posts were meant to be satire (i.e. Poe’s Law)…there were just so, so many of them and they include a lot of exclamation points as well as superlative language. We’ve written about the obedience culture in the Church before (here, here, and here), but this was taking it to a new level–thanks Elder Nelson.

Below is a review of some of them (all boldface and underlining in quotes is mine).

The Why of Exact Obedience

So, let’s review some of the things President Clark has said about “exact obedience”. In his most recent blogpost he mentioned that he had just returned from a Mission Presidents Seminar “with the other 32 Mission Presidents and their wives and be instructed by Elders Maynes, Nielson, and Johnson of the Seventy”. He then says:

They taught four things and told us at the onset that if every mission would get back to these things they would be successful.  They taught that we should:

1. Place a stronger focus on the Missionary Purpose with an emphasis that baptisms is how we measure a missionary’s success at focusing on their purpose. 

2. Place a stronger focus on Finding emphasizing that our missionaries need to be Master Finders!

3. Place a stronger focus on Teaching emphasizing that our missionaries need to be Master Teachers in order to be trusted by the Lord to teach those whom He is preparing as He hastens His work!

4. Place a stronger focus on the Eight Fundamentals teaching that they are the key to testimony and the road to conversion.

Do these sound at all familiar to you?  They should as they are exactly what was taught in our last Training and I can’t wait to teach them again in our Zone Conference coming up.

If you’ll remember, since I arrived I have told you that the California Fresno Mission is uniquely situated and qualified to lead the way and demonstrate how the Lord wants a Mission to be.  If we will stick with these fundamentals and be constant and vigilant in our Exact Obedience, I know without a shadow of a doubt we will be this model Mission.  And I know that by doing so our baptisms will soar, even well above 100/month.  I want to bear you my testimony of this for I absolutely know it is true as the Spirit has borne witness to me of these principles.  It is a great day to be a Missionary in the California Fresno Mission!!!!

“Baptisms is how we measure a missionary’s success”? Maybe I was naive, but I thought the Church and missions had moved beyond this line of thinking. It must be hard for them since, as Peggy Fletcher Stack wrote, “as it stands, the ratio of converts to Mormon missionaries has slipped from 5-to-1 in 2010 to less than 3.5-to-1 last year.” TL;DR Missionaries are baptizing less.

Obedience – What We Yet Lack

On April 27th, President Clark published another blogpost. In it he gives a long quote from Elder Holland followed by following public shaming of those who are exactly obedient:

And the missionary way to achieve Exact Obedience passes through the halls of integrity and accountability.  You must be willing to hold yourself accountable. Remember I have asked you to do so and you have committed you would.  In my recent interview with each of you I asked the question if you were being exactly obedient.  There are far too many of you that said you were when you are not.  This is an issue of honesty and integrity.  President James E. Faust suggested that integrity is the mother of many virtues. He noted that integrity can be defined “as a firm adherence to a code of moral values.” He also suggested that “integrity is the light that shines from a disciplined conscience. It is the strength of duty within us” (“Integrity, the Mother of Many Virtues,” Faust). It is difficult for a person to display virtuous traits if he or she lacks integrity. Without integrity, honesty is often forgotten. If integrity is absent, civility is impaired. If integrity is not important, spirituality is difficult to maintain.

Do you want to know what we yet lack in order to truly live our Missionary Purpose and in doing so register over 100 people baptized in a month?  Exact Obedience!  And I’m not asking for a push for a while or a program for a season.  I am asking you to make it the way you live your lives during your mission experience and for the rest of your lives.  Desire and accountability will be key components to your success of offering and yielding Exact Obedience – will you do it with a willing and a glad heart or see it as “one more thing I have to do”?  So, ask the question: “Lord, is it I” and then get to work on being Exactly Obedient – one of the great hallmarks of the California Fresno Mission.  After all, Christ’s example to us is one of Exact Obedience as motivated by love and isn’t that our culture as well?

First Mission Leadership Council

During his first month as mission president he published a blogpost titled “First Mission Leadership Council” in which he says he “felt very prompted” that his wife should teach about obedience, but that she’s didn’t really want to. In the end she did and he praised her for her obedience. Honestly, this seems scripted for Saturday Night Live. In his own words:

I felt very prompted to have Bonnie teach obedience at the MLC. I started by asking her to give her farewell talk – which she was hesitant to do. I continued to feel prompted that she needed to speak on obedience.  She may not have been enthused but she was obedient.

Sister Clark then chimes in saying:

I started with an object lesson – which I have posted.  Then taught on my most favorite topic – Exact Obedience.

Her favorite topic is exact obedience? I am citing Poe’s Law right there and say I honestly can’t tell whether this a parody of extreme Mormon culture or not.

November 2014 (3 Blogposts on Obedience)

November 2014 was a big month with regards to “exact obedience” in the California Fresno Mission. There were three back-to-back blogposts about obedience in that month:

  1. Mending Broken Fences (November 3, 2015)
  2. Psalm of the Strength of 1,000 (November 10, 2015)
  3. Exact Obedience Brings Miracles (November 17, 2015)

In the Mending Broken Fences blogpost he explains why one should be exactly obedient:

So, I ask you; What are we Exactly Obedient to? We should be Exactly Obedient to the Rules found in the MHB and Preach My Gospel. We must be Exactly Obedient to the additional Rules found in the Resource Binder. All of these will be a blessing in our life, just as a strong fence, to ensure the harvest is achieved and is bountiful and a blessing to all.

He continues by explained that “it has been revealed to [him] that there are two reasons [they] are struggling with poor results right now”:

1. Lack of Exact Obedience which leads to a lack of worthiness, commitment, and focus! I fear many are currently serving in a manner they will regret.
2. Lack of Desire which leads to complacency, laziness, and indifference! This, at the end of the day, is a result of a lack of conversion to our Missionary Purpose.

In his Psalm of the Strength of 1,000 blogpost he pens a Psalm about the mission goal to baptize 1,000 people in that year. In other blogpost he evens acts as a mathematician to show how 1,000 = 3,300. He says:

So…..the Strength of 1,000 from Convert Baptisms this year now easily becomes 3,300 members of the Church over the next 15 years.  That is a Stake!

So when does 1,000 = 3,300?  When they are Convert Baptisms in the California Fresno Mission.   How the Lord Multiplies us!  How He hastens His work!

Ok, back to the Psalm. In it he uses superlative language calling for the miracles that come from “exact obedience”:

May we see the value, no the blessing, nay the Miracle that Exact Obedience yields and endeavor each and every hour of the day to exactly obey that we may be counted worthy to participate in Finding those thou has prepared to receive, here and now.

In his third blogpost of the month he writes that all CFM missionaries had read his Mending Broken Fences blogpost and “committed that [they] would be more Exactly Obedient.” Then he drives home the obedience:

A few weeks ago I wrote a letter entitled “Mending Broken Fences” and all of you accounted that you had read it and committed that you would be more Exactly Obedient. Your commitments and follow through have changed the California Fresno Mission for the better! Your commitment to Exact Obedience has yielded a portion of the blessing we desire and I know the trend is set and the trajectory is clear. Last weekend, November 15th and 16th, we were blessed with 31 Baptisms – including a family of 6 in Madera. Wow! What a blessing! Thank you for “partnering” with the Lord as He Hastens His work! What we seek, the Strength of 1,000, will only come as a result of our Obedience, Worthiness, Commitment, Focus and Faith. You are on the right path and are “participating” with the Lord in His way as He Hastens His work. Now is the time to become even more Committed and Focused. Look in your lives to find where you can become even more Obedient and make the necessary changes. Serving with “No Regrets” never had greater meaning than now!

Connection with Mission Presidents Seminars?

One interesting thing is that each of these waves of obedience blogposts from President Clark was preceded by a Mission Presidents Seminar (remember, these are the meetings where mission presidents often go to nice resorts, hear general authorities speak about unsubstantiated fears about gay marriage, and gossip about “disobedient Elders”).

On November 3, 2014, he reported he had just returned from a Mission Presidents Seminar in San Diego. Then we got three blogposts on obedience on the November 3rd, 10th, and 17th.

Then he reports they had a Mission Presidents Seminar during the last week of April, then we get two blogposts on “exact obedience”. There seems to be a pattern.

Are the speakers at the Mission Presidents Seminars pushing obedience or is President Clark’s own zeal after tending these meetings causing him to push obedience on his own?

The “Area Plan” in Mexico: #1 Is About the Money

The "Area Plan" in Mexico: #1 Is About the Money

Mexico as the second highest number of members of any country in the world (behind the USA) and has 12 operating temples (with another under construction). It has has 34 missions!

Yesterday the Mexico Guadalajara Mission blog reported on “the semi-annual mission presidents’ seminar with the Area Presidency in Mexico City”. The said that “the majority of the training [they] received focused on the area plan.” What is the area plan? They continued (emphasis mine):

The Area Plan is:
1. Fast with faith, pay a generous fast offering and a full tithe
2. Everyday help someone to receive the teachings and ordinances of the gospel that will help them return to our Heavenly Father
3. Find names of your own ancestors and provide the ordinances for them in the temple.

 

A few years ago, missionaries would have only been responsible for #2, but nowadays missionaries are expected to help in all aspects of the work of salvation, so they are to participate in all three through helping and teaching active, less active and new members.

I love the seminars! They provide a much needed energy boost, give us great ideas and we get to visit with the other mission presidents.

The three point plan seems to simply be a modified version of the old Threefold Mission of the Church (they really should add another point to include the forgotten fourth “purpose”, but I guess they’ve forgotten it like everyone else).

The old Threefold Mission of the Church (TMC) was:

  1. Proclaim the Gospel
  2. Perfect the Saints
  3. Redeem the Dead

The Area Plan’s #3 matches “Redeem the Dead”.

The Area Plan’s #2 matches “Proclaim the Gospel” (I guess).

And, the Area Plan’s #1 matches “Perfect the Saints”.  Wait! The Area Plan’s #1 matches “Perfect the Saints”?!?! Fasting and paying money to the Church now counts as “perfecting the saints”? This seems more than just a modification of the Threefold Mission of the Church. (Maybe a corruption of the TMC?)

If the Area Plan is indeed an attempt at paralleling the TMC it was poorly thought out. Unfortunately, I think this slip up gives a real glimpse into the thought processes of church leaders regarding church members, being a saint, and being perfected in the Church. It’s all (or, at least, a lot) about the money.

And, remember, the Area Plan was “the majority of the training”.

LDS Prophets and Polygamy: Closely Related?

LDS Prophets and Polygamy: Closely Related?

I found an interesting comment about LDS Church Presidents and Polygamy on NewOrderMormons.org and wanted to repost it here with a few minor changes.

Polygamy has talked about quite a bit recently: Missionaries have reported many investigators asking about it (one missionary even wrote “Why is everyone obsessed with that here?”), we published a page with a number of resources regarding polygamy, and one Mormon blogger was threatened with church discipline for writing one blogpost about it.

One interesting thing to note is that the last Church President who had been a polygamist himself was Heber J. Grant (who died in 1945). Also, Joseph Fielding Smith, who died as recently as 1972, was raised in a polygamous household.

 

 NameBirthOrdinationDeathPolygamist?Notes
1Joseph Smith18051830/18321844Yes
2Brigham Young180118471877Yes
3John Taylor180818801887Yes
4Wilford Woodruff180718891898Yes
5Lorenzo Snow181418981901Yes
6Joseph F. Smith183819011918Yes
7Heber J. Grant185619181945Yes
8George Albert Smith187019451951NoRaised in a polygamous home
9David O. McKay187319511970NoCalled as an apostle in 1906 to fill the vacancy of 2 apostles who resigned in protest over the 2nd manifesto to abandon polygamy
10Joseph Fielding Smith187619701972NoRaised in a polygamous home (son of the 6th prophet)
11Harold B. Lee189919721973NoWrote a poem that praises polygamy in the afterlife (see below)
12Spencer W. Kimball189519731985NoUncle was John Woolley who was part in the group that broke from the church in 1890 over polygamy. Kimball's middle name is, in fact, "Woolley"
13Ezra Taft Benson189919851994NoHad a father that practiced polygamy
14Howard W. Hunter190719941995NoFather was not LDS, but his wife's maiden name was "Jeffs" and is quite closely related with modern fundamentalist leaders
15Gordon B. Hinckley191019952008NoFather had 4 wives (spiritual polygamist)
16Thomas S. Monson19272008NowNo

 

The comment ends with

Nelson, Oaks, and a couple other sitting apostles are widowers sealed to a second wife and are fully expecting to have both women sealed to them in the afterlife. They are theologically polygamist. We will need another century to weaken the connection to polygamy that current leadership still feels.

From here we read:

Harold B. Lee, the eleventh president of the church, also remarried after his wife’s death and was sealed to another woman and was looking forward to a polygamous relationship in heaven. He, in fact, wrote a poem in which he reflected that his second wife, Joan, would join his first wife, Fern, as his eternal wives:

My lovely Joan was sent to me: So Joan joins Fern
That three might be, more fitted for eternity.
“O Heavenly Father, my thanks to thee”

(Deseret News 1974 Church Almanac, p. 17)

Source: NewOrderMormon.org

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