Christmas’ True Purpose

This Christmas morning, my wife’s cousin Facebooked that her son passed away today. Travis was born trapped inside a motionless body. Unable to walk, talk, or move his arms, many thought for years that he was in a total vegetative state. His mother always knew something that doctors only in the last few years were able to determine: Travis was awake and alive inside, with a functioning mind and brain.

Teresa would take Travis on vacations, cruises and trips anywhere and everywhere. Her Facebook page lights up with many of his adventures. One of their favorite vacation places was her Mom’s farm in southern Indiana, where we would often visit and spend time with Travis.

While his passing today on Christmas is a sad event, it is also a moment to reflect and rejoice. What better day for him to walk through that spiritual door into the next room, where loved ones and God await him?

Christmas is important, not because a child was born of a virgin, but because that child brought about the atonement and resurrection of all mankind. Because of Jesus Christ, each of us will live again. No longer will Travis be bound by useless limbs and a silent voice. During his mortal life, Jesus made the lame walk, the mute to speak, and raised the dead. Because of Christ’s mercy and love, today Travis walks, speaks, and lives eternally, never to taste of death, pain or suffering again.

And for this reason, while I mourn with his mother, sister and family, because we will all miss Travis, I also rejoice that Travis lives on this very Christmas day, and that we will one day see him again, and he will embrace us – something he was not able to do in mortality.

Reading Nephi Discussing John’s Apocalypse

Coming up in the next few weeks in LDS Sunday School classes, we will be discussing the Book of Revelation. As a new member back in December 1975, I recall hearing many messages regarding the Last Days, using the apostle John’s Revelation to figure out the tragedies and events of the Last Days.

Sadly, one way in which we miss out on what is found in Apocalypse is by looking at what it says on the surface, without using one of the best tools given us via the Restoration of the Gospel. Continue reading

Zion and the Tree of Life in the Latter Days

I joined the Church in 1975. Back then, much of what was going on in the world and believed by the world matched my new LDS views.  There were issues regarding the new sexuality that pushed against the Church’s stance on chastity, however. Still, most things were kosher between the world and church.

40 years later, we see huge divisions between the world and Church. The chasm between the two have grown large enough that many believers are being forced off the fence. Continue reading

Blair Hodges’s MI Podcast review

Recently, a scholar friend mentioned that during the announcement of the new Joseph Smith Papers Project and seer stone photos, those in attendance were seated in separate groups. Those who were friends of the Maxwell Institute sat on one side of the room, while Mormon Interpreter fans sat on the other side. Those agnostics that did not belong to either camp found themselves uncomfortably sitting in the middle.

As I pondered what he said, and how events that occurred  three years ago are still causing divisions and contention among those LDS scholars that should be leading the way towards unity, I wished for a new beginning for everyone.

Given that many here at Millennial Star are conservatives that squarely sit on the side of the Interpreter, I wish to share with everyone and encourage them to open themselves up to the quality work being done at the Maxwell Institute. For example, its Living Faith series of books is providing a fresh view of the gospel, with excellent books, such as Adam S Miller’s “Letters to a Young Mormon”, and Steven Peck’s upcoming volume, “Evolving Faith” (which I reviewed here).

Today, I’d like to share with you a great series of podcasts that the Maxwell Institute provides.  Hosted by my friend, Blair Hodges, these are a great series of interviews.  Unlike the excellent podcasts at Mormon Interpreter, Blair’s interviews complement MI’s work by providing us interviews from many sources, not just LDS scholars.
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