Monday, October 31, 2011

The Danger of Logic and Reason

Brothers and Sisters I consider talks given at General Conference to be both the mind and will of God and always counsel my stake that they be taken as scripture even for the edification of the saints in these the latter days. 

It is in this spirit that I would like to discuss the General Conference talk entitled *‘Testimony’ given by Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy a few years ago in which we learned that ‘the real strength of an individual is to be found in his testimony and in living it.’

If you are not feeling strong as an individual, if you are struggling with a sense of self worth, if you feel less than those of us who have and are living according to our testimonies I plead with you to take the necessary steps to increase your testimony that you may emulate more fully your leaders and their example.

In his talk Elder Didier gave us certain keys necessary to gaining the revelation required to obtain a testimony. I consider these keys to be absolutely essential and would ask that you ponder each of them prayerfully.  In key number 2 we are expressly warned “Do not look at reason, logic, or the philosophies of men and theories of the world.”

I cannot emphasize enough how important avoiding reason and logic are in gaining a solid and unbreakable testimony of the Church.  Those who gain a belief or testimony through reason and logic can just as easily lose that testimony through the very same process.  This has happened to many individuals who have built their testimonies on the sandy surface of reason.

Please pay special attention to the correct way to gain a testimony as given in this ensign article; it is almost identical to how I gained my unshakeable testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon:

**“At the age of 22, I realized I had never read the Book of Mormon,” Tom remembers. “I knew the Lord had given me a second chance, and I became determined to find out His plan for me. My dad bought me a large Book of Mormon, cut off the binding, and put it in a three-ring binder. Assisted by my mother, I read from January to September, and then I decided to take Moroni’s challenge. I expected an immediate response, but nothing happened. Finally, after several prayers, my heart began pounding, and I realized that I had known it was true all along.”

It is important for all (and especially our youth) to realize that in that moment of silence when you are praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true if you notice that your heart rate increases this is to be taken as a sign from God that the book is true and that you have known it all along.  Had Tom not known how to interpret his feelings correctly he may have erroneously thought that the Lord had not answered his prayer. 

Skeptics who are well known for using reason and logic may say that this is a completely ridiculous way to know truth and that heart beats have nothing to do with God communicating to us, but we know they are wrong.  If your heart beats faster than normal when praying about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon you may know of a surety not only that the book is true, but also that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson is his authorized servant today and (if you are in my stake) that President William Lilburn Godfrey Paternoster has been ordained to watch over the flocks in this part of the Lords vineyard in these the latter days.

It is important to understand that Tom’s testimony is much less likely to falter than others because he gained it not through reason and logic but through direct revelation from the Lord as an answer to prayer.  Those who lose their testimonies and try to bring people like Tom down to their level don’t seem to understand that their efforts are wasted, for you cannot reason a person out of a position they arrived at without reason in the first place. 

Brothers and Sisters you have a testimony.  You would not be reading this humble blog by a faithful Stake President were it not so. Don’t you ever doubt it, no matter what anybody tells you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Monday, October 24, 2011

O Canada may BYU Receive thy Tithes evermore

Brothers and Sisters several of you have expressed deep concern over the testimony of Jon Hare of whom I spoke on May 30th in my post entitled “President Paternoster discloses how Tithing helps the poor and needy.” To refresh your memory please re-read this post before continuing, at this link:

You will recall that Brother Hare had been concerned that the Church didn’t disclose where tithing money went and that it wasn’t being used to help the poor as per the scriptures.  I was able to show him that this was not the case at all.

Brother Hare excitedly rang me last night and asked if I remembered how the Church over in Canada had given 40 million dollars to BYU in 2009.  I confirmed that I remembered this and we discussed how wonderful it was that the paid cleaning staff who were Church members had been relieved of their responsibilities allowing them to seek more gainful employment and giving all members an equal opportunity to clean the chapels. 

Brother Hare said that he had heard people complaining online about this and had started to see their point of view but had remembered my words of assurance wherein I prophesied that due to this move the Church would be able to help BYU even more in 2010.

Brother Hare couldn’t hold it in any longer and through tears told me that the Church in Canada did indeed do better in 2010 for instead of being able to give just 40 million dollars to BYU (as in 2009) they were able to give over *102 million dollars! 

Brother Hare then bore his testimony stating that he now knew of a certainty that it is not men but the Lord who is at the helm guiding this church and the decisions of the leaders.  While telling the cleaning staff that they were being let go due to the economy must have been heartbreaking the fruits of that decision are now clearly apparent for all to see. 

Tears streamed down my face as I thought of how immensely proud and happy the members in Canada must be to have contributed such a large amount to BYU.

Brother Hare told me of how some critics thought the Church should re-hire the cleaning staff who had lost their jobs but we discussed how if they did that they wouldn’t be able to make such a generous offering to BYU going forward.  We talked of how the Lord surely knows that BYU needs it more and Brother Hare made a great point when he said “it’s not like the cleaning staff don’t get to clean anymore.” 

I told Brother Hare that the Lord knew that in addition to attending the temple, doing their home and visiting teaching and magnifying their callings if members were to use their free time mopping the chapel floors, dusting the artwork and cleaning the toilets they would feel the spirit and there would be an increase in testimony.  He knew that this program would bring back the less active, hasten the baptism of the investigator, move the work forward and ultimately increase the ability of the Church in Canada to do good in the world; for thus saith the lord “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”  

I am proud to be a member of this worldwide Church with its ability to bring sacred funds originating from other countries into Utah where the headquarters are located.  Not only is most of the money donated from the members in Canada going to the benefit of Utah but as mentioned in a recent post of mine the Church has been able to put billions of dollars into beautifying Salt Lake City with the building of a mall and condominiums.  It is my hope that the extra funds from all countries will end up in Utah where it is so desperately needed and can accomplish the most good. 

Brother Hare went on to point out that while the Church does humbly publicize and take credit for much of its humanitarian and other charitable work throughout the world through **press releases and its Humanitarian Aid website it has chosen the path of humility and non disclosure in this case. The record of it cannot be found except on the Canada Revenue Agency website.  Some things are just too sacred to talk about and I applaud the Church for their humility in this case which is in complete accordance with Matthew 6:3-4: But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

Brothers and Sisters I know without a shadow of doubt that the Church is true, that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God and that the Lord is at the helm gently directing and guiding the affairs of his kingdom upon the earth.  To the saints in Canada I want you to know that I President Paternoster am proud of you.  May God bless you for your willingness to sacrifice 10 percent of your incomes and in some cases even your employment such that the Lords University may continue to operate in truth and righteousness.


The President



Monday, October 17, 2011

To Sisters with Less Active Husbands

I recently received an email from Sister Sumsion asking what she can do to help reactivate her husband who no longer has any interest or belief in the Church.  This was my response:

Dear Sister Sumsion,

My heart bleeds when I think of your predicament.  There are many good Sisters in the same situation as you and it is promised unto you that no blessing will be withheld from you insofar as you are doing all that you can to live the gospel and obey your priesthood leaders.

You mentioned that your husband doesn't feel comfortable at church anymore.  I would refer you to a wonderful ensign *article by a sister in a similar situation as yours who took to heart the counsel of apostle Boyd K. Packer who said “If your husband doesn’t feel at home going to church, then do everything you can to make him feel at church while he’s at home.”

The sister in the article said "This was a terrific concept to me, and it was my guiding theme for many years before my husband returned to full activity in the Church."  Please make this your guiding theme Sister Sumsion.

So how does one do everything to make ones husband feel like he's at church when he is in fact within the walls of his own home?  Here are some ideas:

1.    Last time I was in your home Sister Sumsion I noticed several pictures of flowers, trees, animals and other things to do with nature.  Please consider replacing these with pictures of the First Presidency, temples, the President of the Twelve (Boyd K. Packer), the proclamation on the family and the picture of the stake presidency that was handed out to each family at stake conference.

2.    This idea from the ensign article is very important; at bedtime have your two tiny tots learn to recognize pictures of the General Authorities.  This will be very touching to your husband and without realizing it he too may learn to recognize and gain a testimony of them.

3.    Even if he doesn't want to participate be sure to hold family home evenings and assign your husband a task. This is what the sister in the article did and she explained that "Sometimes it seemed like there was a quarrel between Kelly (her husband) and me every Monday night. Satan was doing his best to keep any spirituality from entering our home. He didn’t want my husband to get used to feeling the Spirit and become comfortable with the gospel.”

These were difficult years for this good sister but she learned much and explained "I learned that blessings result from following the counsel to hold family home evening and diligently striving to include every member of the family, even those who might be hostile to the gospel or disinterested."

Sister Sumsion I know that as you diligently do everything you can to make your husband feel like he's at church while he’s at home he will eventually conclude as did the husband in the article, that he might as well just go to church.

Your loving Stake President,

Bill Paternoster


Monday, October 10, 2011

Achieving Financial Independence; the First Step

Brothers and Sisters are you in financial trouble? 
Are you months behind on your bills?
Are creditors threatening to foreclose on your home and/or repossess your possessions?
Are your credit cards maxed out?
Are you considering getting additional credit cards to pay your bills?
Has it crossed your mind to have the Mother of the home work outside the home in order to feed the many children that the Lord has blessed you with and will continue to bless you with?

If you answered yes to any of the above I want you to know that anyone can achieve financial well-being by following prophetic counsel on monetary matters.

Allow me to quote from the inspiring ensign article entitled *Five Steps to Financial Well-Being written by a bankruptcy attorney which states clearly and unequivocally "The most important step toward achieving financial well-being is to pay tithing first—no excuses and no exceptions."

Giving 10% of your income to the Lord makes perfect financial sense.  As per the Church's financial guide for members **"If our tithing and fast offerings are the first obligations met following the receipt of each paycheck, our commitment to this important gospel principle will be strengthened and the likelihood of financial mismanagement will be reduced. Paying tithing promptly to Him who does not come to check up each month will teach us and our children to be more honest with those physically closer at hand."

In my stake I have made it crystal clear that this financial advice of paying tithing first includes even the destitute who according to the dictionary definition are “without means of subsistence; lacking food, clothing, and shelter.” 

In the ensign article entitled ‘Tithing a Commandment Even for the Destitute’ the point is made that 'Faith isn’t tested so much when the cupboard is full as when it is bare' and goes on to state that 'if a destitute family is faced with the decision of paying their tithing or eating, they should pay their tithing'.  If ever you are tempted to pay a bill or feed your family first before paying the Lord please be assured that you will never be tempted above that which you can bear.

Brothers and Sisters the faithful payment of tithes enables the worldwide Church, which has more members outside of the US than within, to invest the money and from the profits they can accomplish much good in the world such as the current project of spending billions of dollars building ****malls and condominiums in Utah.  A Sister once asked me why donations from Japanese, Brazilian and Irish Church members would be used to revitalize a downtown portion of a city in the United States of America.  She went on to ask why they don't revitalize Soweto instead or the slums of Rio de Janeiro or even that run down Irish Castle near Macroom, to which I lovingly responded “Sister Malley, God only knows.”

Brothers and Sisters the Lord doesn't need our money but we need the blessings that result from faithfully paying the Lord.  I am thankful for the sound financial advice of the Church and can testify that the best way to get out of debt, beat poverty and achieve financial freedom is to always pay 10% of your income to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.   

Monday, October 3, 2011

When Prophets Speak……

Many Anti-Mormons find great joy in pointing out the differences between the accounts given by Joseph Smith of the First Vision.  In the earlier versions Joseph failed to mention that he had seen God and Jesus, but in later accounts he adds this important detail.  This however should not cause suspicion amongst faithful latter-day saints for we know that even our current living prophet Thomas S. Monson does similarly with the stories he tells, adding line upon line, detail upon detail for our own good and understanding.  One could say that this is a trademark of a true prophet of the Lord. 

Along these lines let’s take for example a faith promoting story told by Thomas S. Monson.  In 1969 during a *general conference address Monson spoke of that fateful “eighth day of May in 1942 when the mammoth aircraft carrier Lexington slipped to its final resting place on the ocean floor….. One who went down with his ship was my boyhood friend, Arthur Patton.”

In the 2007 general conference Monson tells the rest of this faith promoting **story wherein he states that “In March 1944, with the war now raging, Arthur was transferred from the USS Dorsey, a destroyer, to the USS White Plains, an aircraft carrier. While at Saipan in the South Pacific, the ship was attacked. Arthur was one of those on board who was lost at sea.”

Much like the case with Joseph’s First Vision critics may point out inconsistencies between the accounts.  In this case they will say that in the first account Arthur died in 1942 on a ship named Lexington and in the second he died in 1944 when the ship named the USS White Plains was attacked.  They may also point out that according to Wikipedia ***"the White Plains herself suffered NO enemy attacks."

Critics who look for such inconsistencies fail to see the whole point of the story which can be best explained by looking at the website of the Church owned advertising company Bonneville Communications.  The people at Bonneville know that by creating feelings in people (helping them to feel the spirit and perhaps even shed tears as I did in 2007 when I heard President Monson’s address) they can get people to emotionally connect to their message and act accordingly.  On their website it says ****“Our unique strength is the ability to touch the hearts and minds of our audiences, evoking first feeling, then thought and, finally, action. We call this uniquely powerful brand of creative "HeartSell"® - strategic emotional advertising that stimulates response.”

All true prophets from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson and I would even include myself and several other talented Church leaders use this "HeartSell"® method without even knowing it.  It is an approved method for getting people to live in accordance with the teachings of the Lord and is used only for the righteous purpose of bringing people unto the truth.

So next time a critic brings up insignificant inconsistencies in the stories of our prophets you can explain to them that while the stories themselves may ‘seem’ to be lacking in accuracy it is the emotional impact on the members that is important.  When seen in the proper perspective and with the assistance of the spirit, the truths of these stories will touch our hearts and lead us onto the path towards eternal life and exaltation. 

Please keep this in mind as you feast upon the talks and wonderful faith promoting stories that we have just been privileged to receive at this the 181st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Humbly yours,
President Paternoster