What’s with today’s LDS youth? We used to compare our youth to Helaman’s mighty Stripling Warriors, but that doesn’t quite work anymore. Something about them makes them completely unique to any other previous generation of Young Men and Young Women. A new comparison is in order. [Read more…]
Archives for January 2017
As a dad raising kids in 2018, I can’t help but feel the way Joseph Smith’s dad must have felt while he was raising kids way back in the early 1800’s. Despite what I lack, maybe I’ll get my kids in the right place at the right time.
Weak from hunger and exhaustion, members of the Willie company started from the base of Rocky Ridge early on the morning of October 23. William and Jane James, along with their children, started a little bit later because William and his oldest son, 14-year-old Reuben, helped bury two people who had died the previous day. Soon after the burial service, daughter Sarah James, age 19, led five younger siblings ahead to catch up with the rest of the company. They pulled the family’s lighter handcart. [Read more…]
Pictured is the reconstructed home of Joseph and Emma Smith in Harmony, Pennsylvania.
Joseph and Emma Smith moved from Palmyra, New York to Harmony, Pennsylvania to escape persecution. Joseph had been commanded to continue translating the plates, but the tasks of everyday life prevented the work from moving forward. Joseph asked the Lord to send him a scribe.
During this same time, Oliver Cowdrey found work in Palmyra as a school teacher. It was the custom for the school teachers of that day to live with the family of the children he taught. As a result, Oliver lived with the Smith family where he learned of Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the translation of the plates. He was fascinated with what he was learning and wanted to meet the prophet himself.
Oliver would later record that he had received a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Restoration and Joseph’s prophetic calling through humble prayer while in Palmyra, before ever meeting the Prophet.
After arriving in Harmony, Oliver began working full time as Joseph’s scribe. Oliver frequently asked Joseph if he could see the plates to which Joseph would always reply that he was not allowed to show the plates to Oliver at that time. Oliver desired to see the plates so he could obtain a witness of the work. Finally, in answer to Oliver’s petitions, Joseph received a revelation from the Lord for Oliver which is now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants Section 6.
In Section 6, the Lord reminds Oliver that he had already received a witness that the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph was a prophet. Verses 22-23 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”
Oliver would later say in response to this revelation that he had not told anyone of his secret prayer in Palmyra regarding the truthfulness of Joseph’s work. Yet, the Lord reminded him of the spiritual witness he had obtained which was greater than if he had seen the plates.
In today’s busy, chaotic, information overloaded world, sometimes the easy thing to do is to turn to Google, Facebook, or others to determine what is truth and what is not. There is a trap set to seek answers beyond the promised spiritual witness each of Heavenly Father’s children are entitled to. President Uchtdorf has said, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”
It is important in today’s busy world to take time to remember the moments when we have felt the spirit testify to us that this gospel is true. We need to keep fresh in our minds the times we have felt that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration, and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and the head of this church. Not only do we need to remember our past spiritual witnesses, but it is just as important to create moments when we can witness again the feelings of the spirit testifying that these things are true. And then we need to “doubt our doubts” because what greater witness can we have than that given to us from a loving Heavenly Father?
The Rockwell and Smith families were close friends while living in Manchester, New York (just outside of Palmyra). Although he was eight years younger than the Prophet no one loved Joseph Smith more than Orrin Porter Rockwell.
While serving several months in a Missouri prison on false charges, Porter let his hair and beard grow long. Once released, Porter walked over 200 miles to Nauvoo and arrived at the home of Joseph Smith during the middle of a Christmas Eve party. Not being recognized by anyone, Porter walked into the home, acted as though he were drunk, and started to make a scene. As the men of the party started to escort Porter out of the home, Joseph Smith asked them to wait a minute. Carefully looking into Porter’s eyes, the Prophet finally realized it was his friend. Joseph threw his arms around Porter and invited him to join in the festivities.
It is reported that Joseph promised Porter that night if he would remain faithful to the Church and did not cut his hair, he would be protected from bullets. Countless stories have been told of this prophecy being fulfilled.
Porter never lost his love and devotion to the Smith family. While visiting California, Porter paid a visit to the widow of Don Carlos, the youngest brother of Joseph Smith. He found her to be suffering from the typhoid fever, and as a result of her sickness, she had lost all of her hair. Porter had never cut his hair since that Christmas Eve long ago in Nauvoo and his hair now fell long over his shoulders. Without a word, Porter told her, “Few men did I love as I loved Don Carlos and his brother Joseph, and it will never be said of me that I passed up an opportunity to do his widow a favor.” He immediately went to the barber shop where he had his hair cut and made into a beautiful wig which he presented to his dear friend’s widow.
Interestingly, after the death of Don Carlos, his widow moved to California and left the church. In fact, she even changed her name so no one would know of her past association with the Church and the Smith family. Despite all this, the “Destroying Angel” still had love and compassion for her to the extent that he would cut his own hair even if he lost his prophetic protection from bullets.