Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On His Honors: Patches, Prophets and Payoffs

How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
—John 5:44

As a former member of both the Boy Scouts of America and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I support the founding principles of both organizations. My life has been greatly enriched and blessed by both memberships. I’m very grateful for the LDS/BSA relationship, which has spanned over 100 years. In fact, the LDS church was the BSA’s first chartered organization and set the pattern for all the other sponsoring organizations that came thereafter.

Sadly, much has changed since my youth, and today the BSA is an organization in decline, having lost over 50% of its youth membership since 2000. As the BSA struggles for its very existence, the BSA/LDS relationship is increasingly crucial to the survival of the Boy Scouts of America. In a nutshell, the BSA depends on the LDS church.

That shouldn’t come as any surprise, as 51% of all scout troops sponsored by a religious organization are sponsored by the LDS church. When you take all units of any sponsorship into consideration, the LDS church still sponsors 37% of all troops in America. Losing the LDS church would therefore, instantly, cost the BSA over a third of its remaining scout units. That’s a big hit to take, and there’s a lot on the line, as the BSA has over $1 Billion in assets to protect, and an annual budget of over $200 million. 

A Scout is Thrifty...

A few years back, I moved into a new ward, and my first calling was to head up the Friends of Scouting drive. My ward’s required donation to the BSA was $5,000, on top of membership dues for each boy and chartering fees. There are nearly 40,000 LDS scout troops. Of course, they may not all have such sizable donation requirements, but any way you do the math, the LDS church means big numbers and big money for the Boy Scouts.

Similarly, the LDS church depends on the BSA, as scouting is the official young men’s program of the church, and most young men’s activities, particularly for ages 12-14, are centered around scouting.

So in 2013, when the BSA came under intense pressure to accept openly gay scouts, this presented a vexing difficulty for the leadership of both the BSA and the LDS church. Threats of funding loss and boycotts, as well as the removal of corporate sponsorships threatened the future of the BSA. The support of the LDS church was absolutely essential, yet questionable, due to the LDS stance homosexuality. If the LDS church could not be convinced to accept openly gay scouts, the BSA would face its imminent demise.

As you may recall, the BSA deliberated the policy change for several months. Undoubtedly these deliberations included the LDS church and President Monson personally, as he is the longest-tenured member of scouting’s National Executive Board (serving for 46 years.) This board ultimately voted to approve the admission of openly gay scouts.

On May 23, 2013, the BSA's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation. The same day, the LDS church released a statement in favor of the new policy. Disaster, it seemed, had been averted. 

But how did the BSA win the church’s approval for such a public reversal of position? 

Let’s look at what happened after the decision was settled. 

On his honors...

June, 2013 

In conjunction with the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree, the new Thomas S. Monson Award was announced, allowing LDS and non-LDS scouts and leaders to earn the right to wear President Monson’s face, in full color, on their uniforms. I find it particularly odd that non-Mormon scouts and leaders nationwide would be encouraged at the National Jamboree to learn about the Mormon Prophet's life so they could wear his face. But I suppose it’s no more odd than the fact that the Mormon Prophet would allow people to wear his likeness as an award.

October 29, 2013

“Century of Honor” LDS stage program

This stage production at the LDS conference center celebrated, with much fanfare, the 100-year relationship between the BSA and the LDS church. Just before the program, Thomas Monson was awarded Scouting’s Medal of Honor for saving a life when he was 12—which was announced at the program during a 20-minute segment devoted solely to honoring President Monson. 

Since Monson has already received nearly every other award scouting offers, including the Silver Beaver, Silver Buffalo, Bronze Wolf, and Silver Fox, it appears the BSA dug deep to find another award to give him. President Monson received multiple, lengthy standing ovations in his honor from the full-capacity Conference Center crowd.

During the program, the BSA National President announced that the The Leadership Excellence Complex, located on the 10,000-acre Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia, would be renamed the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex. Excellent!

March 20, 2014

The BSA announced that a new $3 Million, 23,000 square foot lodge in Utah would also be named after Thomas Monson.

So, for those keeping score thus far, President Monson's honors in the year following the policy change include two multi-million dollar scout facilities named after Thomas Monson, plus a personal award to him for something he did 74 years ago, a stage production and tribute, and a new award bearing Monson's face offered to all scouts and leaders at the National Jamboree. Not a bad haul for one guy.

A Scout is Loyal…

The BSA certainly has gone out of its way to honor President Monson after the gay-scout policy change went through.

But I’m sure it’s all above board, and purely coincidental. Undoubtedly lots of people get this much honor and recognition from the BSA in a single year, even if such people don’t happen to personally hold the future of the BSA in their hands. Nothing to see here. These aren't the honors you're looking for. Move along.

Then What Happened?

Fast forward to 2015, and we again found the BSA under intense pressure from gay interests—this time pressured to accept homosexual scout leaders. On July 28, the BSA announced it would end the ban on gay leaders, but left it up to individual troops to determine whether they would allow gay leaders for their troops. This caveat was specifically designed so religious organizations would not be forced to act against their principles. But in reality, it will have the opposite effect; religious organizations will be even more pressured to act against their principles. Here's why:

The BSA effectively dodged the negative publicity and social pressure brought by homosexual interests, and instead placed it squarely on the churches that sponsor scout units. This, despite the fact that the Supreme Court had already ruled that the BSA was not legally required to allow gay leaders. The BSA gets the “good” press for being “open,” “inclusive,” and “equal” while the churches will bear the negative PR and backlash for supposedly being otherwise. Of course, the gay-interest groups will not rest until all troops drop all restrictions against homosexual participation in all forms. 

As a BSA PR move, this was masterful. But it certainly bore risks as well. The BSA must hope the positive PR will bring in new sponsors to replace the potential losses they face by alienating religious supporters. Many millions of dollars are at stake.


The immediate response of the LDS church to the BSA policy change started with the following language:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet.”

Why do you think the vote was scheduled when most church leaders were on vacation? If you’re going to alienate your largest and oldest sponsor, it’s probably best to do it when they’re not prepared to respond. The LDS response continued:
“When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined.”

Those are strong words from the organization that has been scouting’s largest supporter for over 100 years. Something has clearly changed, even from two years ago.

On the heels of the not-so-veiled LDS threat to drop scouting, came a Dan Jones poll showing that 63% of “very active” LDS church members in Utah believe the LDS church “definitely” or “probably” should end its relationship the BSA. If you broaden the criteria to "active" and "very active" the number is still 54%.

It’s interesting to note that this poll was professionally done, and published through LDS-church-owned news outlets. Clearly, the LDS church wanted it publicly known that the church members want scouting to go. Who do you suppose paid to have the poll conducted? 

If the church were being run by common consent, the BSA relationship would end. But the church isn’t run by common consent. Therefore, it really comes down to the decisions of church leadership. 

In 2013, President Monson stood with the BSA, and received massive recognition, honors of men, and worldly acclaim from that organization for doing so. Whether you think it was purely innocent or a buy off, it really makes no difference now, as President Monson now suffers from ill health and age-related decline in mental capacity. Public appearances are scarce and his day-to-day leadership capacity is limited. The decision may be out of his hands. 

The Quorum of the Twelve is also short staffed, with only 9 (possibly fewer) functioning apostles. It will be very interesting to see how this develops, and who it is that actually makes the decision.

On the one hand, the LDS church could choose to stay with the BSA, relying on the “religious exemption” to exclude gay leaders. If it does so, the LDS church, as scouting’s largest sponsor, will likely then bear the majority of negative PR and social pressure from gay-interest groups. Having gone down that road before with California's proposition 8, the church is NOT keen to go there again. 

But then again, dropping the Boy Scouts would also have negative PR consequences for the church, especially if it happens over the gay issue. Either way, it's a very tough decision. Hence, the need for market research and polling to guide the prophets in their prophetic responsibilities.

It's the LDS boys who stand to lose the most if the church and the BSA sever ties. LDS boys would lose access to excellent BSA camps, facilities and programs for all sorts of outdoor adventures and training. The boys would then reach parity with LDS girls, who have never had such access. Ahem.

If the LDS church does part ways with the BSA, scouting will have to scramble to replace lost income and participation. By becoming more socially relevant and bending to the whims of public opinion, perhaps the BSA will see increased numbers and sponsorship in the future. Perhaps gay organizations will take up the torch and start sponsoring troops. Certainly, someone will have to if the BSA loses LDS sponsorship and money.

I’m not going to guess which way it will go. But I am going to watch carefully. If the LDS church stays with scouting, who will get paid off honored this time? And how?

Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God...
—Alma 60:36

Postscript: The day after I posted this, the LDS church announced its intention to stay with scouting.

Shortly thereafter, a new Dan Jones poll was commissioned. It showed that among "very active" LDS members, 81% believed the church should stay with scouting. That's a massive swing. In fact that's an absolutely unheard-of swing! To go from 63% against an idea, to 81% in favor of it in less than a month, demonstrates just how powerful LDS leadership is in forming the opinions of active members.

Politicians lie, scramble, and agitate just to move a poll a point or two. They would kill for this sort of power over thought.

One lesson to learn is that LDS leadership could easily change a wide variety of church policies or teachings, and the active membership would fall in line. This is worth noting and remembering.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Upcoming Events

Here are a couple of upcoming events that look worthwhile:

1. Tithing Conference

This is an opportunity for the various fellowship and tithing groups to come together and learn from one another.

Click to Download Flyer

From the Organizers:

Format:  We ask that people be allowed to speak/present without interruption. We have dedicated an hour after the presentations as a Q & A time for individual/group participants to ask questions of each other.

Sharing: There will be a clipboard available for groups to communicate with each other “needs” and “surpluses” in a “giving tree” concept.

Articles: We have had over a year of this “Tithing experiment,” so there is much accumulated experience to share. Therefore, we are asking for submissions of articles/papers and even just paragraphs from anyone who wants to contribute. Contributions can be lessons learned, progress made, mistakes, scriptural studies, group experiences, miracles and impacts witnessed, testimonies shared, thanks given or as the spirit directs. We will place all the submissions into a pdf and make it available after the conference.  We will accept submissions after the conference as well for approximately 30 days.

We are open to other ideas and volunteers. Please contact us via


2. Women's Conference

Women of Utah County would like to call a Women's Conference

We would like to invite all to come to Utah County, which we hope is centrally located for most to attend.

As we have traveled along on this journey thus far, we are feeling the need of further direction in coming to understand our truer purposes as sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, etc. Are you feeling the same?

We have been discussing the desire we have to know what our Father in Heaven TRULY
would like His daughters to aspire to, and learn how to fine tune the knowledge we are gaining
on the subject of ‘how to Come into His Presence' once again.

And so we are asking for your humble prayers as we gather as Women with the desire of uniting our Hearts, our purposes, to "Wait on the lord" and see if He will bless us with the things which He desires for us to have and continue the restoration that was begun long ago.

  • We have speakers who are preparing a message.
  • We are interested to learn if you have established work meetings and are sharing your talents, learning new skills and otherwise preparing every needful thing.
  • We thought it would be wonderful to hear a report from every group (women) about your 'goings on', how the Lord is directing you, your successes and your struggles. Maybe you could compose a paragraph with your groups and share with the rest of us. You can email it to eveninstar9@gmail.com.

We are joyously watching as we, ourselves, and others around us are better learning to rise up, find our voices with new strengths, with greater balance and Love, and getting out of the stagnant comfort zones which have long held too many of us bound.

Have you also stretched and grown? We want to Hear! We would rejoice if you would join us and share in this experience.

Dear Sisters Seeking ZION, We humbly ask that your prayers and sacrifices be employed in behalf of this effort that we may attract the notice of the heavens and learn the mind and will of the Lord in our behalf.

Our Time has Come!

May the Lord's Love bless us all!!! And until we meet…Thank you for following Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and sharing who and what you are!

On Saturday, August 22, 2015

Highland Community Center
5378 West 10400 North
Highland, Utah

10:00 am till 3:00 pm

Speakers, discussion, and prayer on the hour
Potluck lunch at the park across the street
Children are fine to bring

Inquiries? Call Stephanie D. 435-609-0561 (Phone calls best!)

Monday, August 17, 2015

All that Glitters, Conclusion:
Who Shall Abide the Day?

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
—1 Peter 1:7

When our Lord visited the Nephites, He provided words of scripture not found in the Nephite canon. Mormon, in abridging the record for our day, found the Lord’s scriptural additions important enough to occupy precious space on the plates, even though we already had these words from Malachi:
But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (3 Nephi 24:2-3)
Who, indeed, will abide the day of His coming? Who shall stand when he appears in the coming day “that shall burn as an oven?” (3 Ne. 25:1) For the Lord is like a refiner’s fire—a fire that refines gold and consumes dross. Gold, thus purified, survives the burning because there is no further dross to be consumed.

Pure Gold

Since gold is the metaphor for those who will abide the day, let’s conclude this series about imitation vs. real by considering the following attributes of pure gold:

Solid: Gold is substantial, and one of the most dense metals. There is nothing trifling or insubstantial about it. Therefore, gold is not wasted on the unimportant or trivial.

Malleable: Gold, though substantial, is soft enough to be molded and formed into something of beauty.

Refined: The process of refining gold removes impurities and dross to leave only what is most precious and valuable. Refined gold is pure and elemental.

Incorruptible: Gold is not tarnished by the elements, or stained by contact with with other substances. Gold that is pure, remains pure.

Precious: Gold has been sought throughout history because of its excellent qualities. It is one of the only substances on earth universally recognized as money.

Rare: Pure gold is rare, difficult to produce, and seldom found.

Beautiful: Gold’s beauty is undeniable. Throughout history, the finest ornaments, artwork, and luxury furnishings have been pure gold.

Pure People

Now, with these golden facts in mind, let’s consider the attributes of those the Lord refines and prepares, who will abide the day of His coming:

Solid: Those who will let go of unnecessary worldly cares and superfluous pursuits, find that what remains is substantial. Consider Nephi, son of Helaman:
Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. (Helaman 10:4-5)
Here’s an example of a man so solid that the Lord can trust him with Godly power—because the Lord knows Nephi will never use that power contrary to the Lord’s will. Nephi has proven it by seeking only the Lord’s will, doing so with unwearyingness.

Would to God that I might be so substantial!

Malleable: Hard heartedness is the common affliction of humanity and the preventer of faith. It takes a soft heart to mold to the Lord’s will.

Nephi, son of Lehi, faced the difficult circumstance of giving up everything he knew to follow his father, who claimed to speak for the Lord. How would that affect the average young man? I'll tell you how it affected Nephi. It caused him to cry to the Lord for a soft heart:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. (1 Nephi 2:16)
Because he voluntarily allowed his heart to be soft, he not only believed his father’s words, but he also came to know the mysteries of God. A soft heart governs the receipt of such knowledge:
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. (Alma 12:10-11)
I’m reminded of the concluding lyrics to “Consider the Lilies” by Roger Hoffman:

He clothes the lilies of the field
He feeds the lambs in his fold
And he will feed those who trust him
And make their hearts as gold 

Oh Lord, take my stony heart and grant me a soft heart to believe your word!

Refined: The fallen nature of our mortal experience requires that we endure a process of refining to remove corruption and supply missing virtues. Our Lord descended below all things, and suffered all things for His Father’s will. We must similarly bear the Father’s will in all things. Part of this refining purification is to practice pure religion:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27) 
And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. 
Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men. (Alma 34:28-29)
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(From the hymn, How Firm a Foundation)

God in heaven, consume my dross, refine my gold, and grant me charity for all!

Incorruptible: Those with an eye single to the Glory of God are filled with such light that darkness cannot corrupt them:
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. (D&C 88:67) See also Luke 11:34, 3 Nephi 13:22.
Oh Lord, make my eye single to your glory, that I may be filled with your marvelous light!

Precious: Those who will rise up and receive eternal life are counted most precious unto the Lord.
Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good and the most precious above all other fruit. (Jacob 5:61)
Indeed His work and His glory are to bring about our immortality and eternal life. (Moses 1:39). There is nothing more precious to Him than preserving the fruit of His labors, even in the midst of His required justice.
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. (Isaiah 13:11-12)

Rare: There are always only a precious few who accept the gift the Lord offers:
Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (3 Nephi 14:13-14)  
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:7-9)
Beautiful: Those cleansed and redeemed of the Lord are indeed beautiful. 
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (Isaiah 52:7)
In ancient Israel, those who offered sacrifices to atone for Israel’s sins would have bloody feet from walking in the blood that was shed upon the ground. It represented the blood and sins of their generation.

Therefore, those who have been cleansed from the blood and sins of their generation are described as having beautiful feet. The Lord has made them clean. Christ symbolized this cleansing when he washed his disciples’ feet. How beautiful indeed!

Such feet are fit to walk in holy places:
I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold. (D&C 137:4)
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. (Isaiah 52:1)

Such a setting, and those fit for it, bring us to consider the final chapters of Revelation, where John sees the return of the heavenly city to Earth:
Revelation 21: 
 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 
 18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 
 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 
 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 
 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 
 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Blessed, indeed, are those who are purified as gold, and who can therefore enter into the city of gold and not defile it with their footprints upon her beautiful streets.

In such a setting, gold itself, though rare and precious in this world, will be as common as street pavement. And those who dwell in that city will be made even more precious than gold:
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. (Malachi 3:17)
Be the Gold

I started this series by speaking of the pure gold we can mine from the Book of Mormon. 

We've now come full circle to seeking to become gold ourselves. Only the Lord can guide us on this journey of refinement.

I pray that this extended metaphor will help us all to discern between real and imitation, recognize the dross within ourselves, and seek the refining that only the Lord can provide. Only He is mighty to save and cleanse from all unrighteousness (Alma 7:14). Only He can provide us with gold, tried in the fire (Revelation 3:18). He is the refiner indeed!

The fire will indeed come, whether we are prepared or not. Our very survival in that day will depend on what we've built on Christ's foundation:
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself may be saved; yet so as by fire.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:11-17, JST)

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? 
—Malachi 3:1-2

I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people, and they will say, “The Lord is our God.

—Zechariah 13:9b, NIV