Monday, January 31, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-25

"Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you."
Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-25

I like the whole connection here between truth and light... this scripture starts out with an education theme, talking about ideal learning and teaching... that when the Spirit of truth is present, everyone gets it. :)  You don't have to explain it 300 times, or hear it 300 times, it is there, and everyone understands, and is uplifted by the experience.  Obviously not all learning experiences are that ideal, but I think it is interesting that *truth* makes the difference... when we are willing to tell the truth, and when we are willing to hear the truth... and believe me, the truth is hard to present *and* hard to accept sometimes... that's when the Spirit can come in and translate it directly to our souls.
and then the scripture goes on and starts the truth/light analogy... that which doth not edify is darkness.  darkness of understanding certainly, but perhaps also darkness of emotion... darkness of soul. continuing... what God presents to us is light, and the more light we receive, the more he gives... until the perfect day... when, presumably, we will be filled completely with light... like Moses when he came back from talking with God, his face was so bright the children of Israel didn't want to look at him... :)  another cool thing is that there will *be* a perfect day when we know all the truth, have received all the light... that will be a cool cool day. :)
then, this last verse, which is actually leading into more stuff in the section, but it says that knowing the truth can chase darkness from us.... the more light we have, the less darkness... like the scripture that says "light and truth forsake the evil one" ... the more good we have, the less bad... and seriously... who wants the darkness?  it feels like hell, literally.  and I wonder... if truth is light... is it as easy to tell the difference between truth and falsehood as it is between light and darkness?  how much do we deceive ourselves?

Sunday, January 30, 2000

Hebrews 3:12-14

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."
Hebrews 3:12-14

This is a good scripture... remember last Sunday we had a scripture about conversing one with another concerning the welfare of our souls... and this one encourages us to exhort one another daily.  Now, don't take this as an excuse to condemn the person sitting next to you... I don't think that's what it means at all.  The first verse talks about being aware of your own spirituality, and where your heart is... is it embracing God, or is there something that is in the way?  Doubts, fears, obstacles...?  I think that is an introspective deal... and then the next verse... encourage each other to righteousness.  And it helps if we know how each other's souls are doing, like we talked about last week. :)  It is easy to get hardened.  We have moments of incredible clarity in our lives, and usually much longer moments of trial.  We don't know the state of anyone else's soul... but if we talk about the gospel, if we encourage them in doing good, in being filled with light... then we are doing what we need to do.  Some days I have a really hard time even remembering that God is there, and I feel really black... and someone comes along, reminding me that Satan’s reality isn't the only one to consider.  we need to do that for each other sometimes.  Sin is deceitful.  It makes us think that reality is one way, all of it, everywhere... when what we see is just a tiny speck of reality.  I am working on a paper, so I was doing research yesterday on rural education, and isolation.  one of the quotes that I read says that when people get isolated and lonely sometimes they are "forced to seek safety rather than satisfaction" despite the fact that they claim the opposite.  I thought that was interesting... that they feel the need to make a choice between those two things.  Sometimes when we are feeling black, and get hardened and insensitive to the spirit... we feel like we have to make choices... either safety or satisfaction, either happiness or a clear conscience... so many hellish choices.  But if we can shake of the blackness for a few hours, we see that we can have safety AND satisfaction... happiness AND a clear conscience.  God isn't the one asking us to make those choices.... Satan is.  Let's remind each other not to be deceived.
And the last verse... consistency. :)  That's what it is all about, right?  getting the clarity every day... living well all the time... having confidence in God today, and tomorrow, and always.  And I think that if we take this verse without the other two, it can seem overwhelming... I think it is impossible to have this confidence all the time, by ourselves.  That's why we have each other... as a reminder.  We need each other to strengthen our confidence... to remind us of who we are, and how amazingly cool God is... that he deserves every bit of our confidence... because he is always there, always loving us, always working for our good... always listening, always answering.  always.

Saturday, January 29, 2000

John 14:26-27

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:26-27

This is great.  I think it is cool first of all that another name for the holy ghost is "comforter" ... I think we all need some comfort sometimes, and to know that it is always close is a good thing.  even when God tells us things that we don't really want to hear, that comfort is there, helping us through it.  and then... it goes on, and it says that he shall teach us ALL things... that is amazing.  nothing holds us back except ourselves from learning all there is to learn.  the faster we learn the basics, the sooner we can go on to the harder basics. :) (just because I think that we rarely graduate from grade school level stuff during our lives... somehow we have to have a lot of second grade review sessions and stuff.) :) 
also, the remembrance part is amazing as well.  I think I think I mentioned in a previous commentary how life seems so much like amnesia... the veil is drawn and everything is foreign to us. ... but the whole remembrance thing solves that problem, at least a little... through the Holy Ghost, we have access to that part of ourselves, and we remember things that we never knew in this life, and we have moments where we recognize truth so thoroughly, it changes everything.... and even then, it isn't always a truth that we want to acknowledge... but having that remembrance feeling, and being able to have a wider perspective for that time helps us through.  kind of like the pre-mortal me is having a chance to remind the mortal me what is really important, because I get confused.
and, then... Christ leaves us with his peace.  not the sort of peace that the world gives... no matter how sincere, that kind of peace is hollow... it can't really fill in the gaps.  But God can.  And we can draw upon that peace whenever we need it, so that we don't have to be troubled and afraid....

Friday, January 28, 2000

Matthew 13:44

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field."
Matthew 13:44

I think this is a great scripture... just pointing out how cool heaven is.  Joseph Smith said that if men could see just the glory of the Telestial Kingdom, the lowest possibility we have of an afterlife... that they would be killing themselves to get there.  Perhaps when we have those moments where we realize how far below God we are... we can remember that Earth life is so far below Heaven in that same way... and the peace and rest and fulfillment that we seek and can never quite find... we WILL find, because that is our home, and the fulfillment of all the positive things that the heart can conceive.
Maybe another thing to ask ourselves is, do we see heaven and God's kingdom as the precious thing that it is?  Do we realize its value?  Are we walking away from a treasure that is greater than everything we have now?  I think of Job, who lost everything... and then gained more than he had in the first place.  I don't think that God blesses all of us exactly the same way... but when we sacrifice *anything* for God, we receive b'zillions of times more than we ever sacrificed... every time.  Emotionally, spiritually... materially... whatever it is, God doesn't fail.  Like Job, he teaches us patience sometimes... but he always comes through after building our faith a little. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2000

1 Peter 3:13-15, 17

 "And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear
. . .
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing."
1 Peter 3:13-15, 17

This is a cool scripture... but I always say that, don't I?  Hmm.  anyway... first of all... who can harm us?  we talked about this before... God is bigger than everybody else, so no need to fear the aliens. :)  If we are following God, trying to do what is right, we have no need to be fearful or terrified of anything.
Then, the big verse... be ready always to tell people the reason that you have hope.  I think the prerequisite for this is that we have to HAVE hope to start off with.  That probably comes a little from making sure that we are okay with God, and also remembering that God can handle anything, and will help us with the things we can't handle alone.  I think it is a cool form of missionary work actually ... to tell people why you have hope.  The world isn't a hopeful place a lot of times, and our lives can lose a lot of hope at times... so, seriously... how do we make it through the day?  What gives us the impetus to get out of bed in the morning?  To keep going when everything seems bad?  That is a serious question, one that I ask myself sometimes... probably too often.  And here, God is saying... keep me in your heart, which will help you have an answer to that question.
And then the last verse... :)  if we have to suffer, and sometimes in our final exam called life, we do have to... it's better to suffer for something good, and meaningful... then for something that ends up empty in the end... that leaves us empty.  Not that we are all going to run out and choose to suffer... but, as C. S. Lewis says... "as a boy I chose safety, as a man I choose suffering... the pain now is part of the happiness then." ... sometimes leaving our comfort zones is the only way to grow and become more than we are.

Wednesday, January 26, 2000

James 1:27

"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

I think this is interesting because it is defining religion... and it isn't just talking about personal perfection, but says that we are also required to help each other through hard things... to support people less fortunate than ourselves... goes along with the whole Zion idea.  We aren't working towards some heaven where we sit around and sing and play the harp all day.  We are working towards a better community... a perfect community.  and all the people around us can be there too... and we aren't going there alone.  if we don't help and encourage each other to go there, and if we don't help and encourage each other through *this* life... then we will have no perfect community, and thus, no heaven... I think it is interesting that God specifically talks about people who have lost family... that we, in effect, need to be their family... take care of people who don't have others to care about them... part of all being connected.

Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Romans 8:26-28, 31

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
. . .
What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Romans 8:26-28, 31

I like this, a lot.  God helps our weaknesses.  Even when we don't even know what to say to him, the spirit translates for us... and the emotion and mental energy that we direct towards heaven becomes a prayer as well.  God knows what is in our hearts, our minds, our souls... and he hears and answers that too, even when we can't form the words.
I love the next part too... all things work together for our good.  That is an amazing assurance.  Like the hero in the story that leads a charmed life... that's us.  Sure, the hero always has setbacks... but something always keeps him (or her) afloat... he fights through huge obstacles, but you always know that he is going to succeed and come out okay... and happy, with the desired prize. :)
And the reason that the hero always come out ahead is the next verse... if God is for us, who can be against us?  Every villain in the freaking universe can try, and usually does try... to stop the hero... but the hero always always always wins.  Why?  Because somewhere, someone is on his side.  "Fate" ... or even some alien race, if you read science fiction... :)  but in our stories... *God* is on our side.  so, even if the alien race and 3 billion other mind-sucking mutants turn on us, we'll be okay.
And sometimes it feels like that, I know. :)  But seriously... God is stronger and cooler than anything that we come up against.  Nothing can compare.

Monday, January 24, 2000

3 Nephi 13:33-34

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof."
3 Nephi 13:33-34

I like this scripture because I think it helps to control my stress. :)  there are *so* many things to deal with and take care of in this life... so many things to learn.  it is so hard to juggle them all, it seems overwhelming (at least to me) at times... if you are nice 90% of the time, you still have to work on the 10 percent that hurts other people.  and that's just one thing... there are thousands.  Here, though... God says... listen.  Don’t stress about the 30 b'zillion things that you have to do... if you put ME first... and try always to build my kingdom, then the rest of it will work... like Ezra Taft Benson's quote "Put the Lord first, and everything will fall into its proper place, or fall out of your life."
And, it works.  If we concentrate on God, and doing what He wants in our lives, and the lives of the people around us... he takes care of so many things for us.  Reminds us of things we need to do, finds us a job or a roommate... or all of the above. :) And the scripture goes on... more anti-stress.  Don't worry about what is going to happen tomorrow.  Be present in your life today... Luke 17:32, no looking back at the past... and here, no looking at the future.  Just do what you need to today.  If you take it day by day, each day will prove a match for the evil you encounter... God has *promised* us the power to deal with anything he throws at us.

Sunday, January 23, 2000

Moroni 6:5

"And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls."
Moroni 6:5

This is a great scripture, and I have been thinking about it this morning. the whole social thing has been hard for me, my whole life... and I think that a chance to speak with someone about the welfare of your soul is a pretty precious and amazing thing. I don't think that we do it enough. lots of times we go to church and we sit back and wait to be enlightened and/or inspired by something... but this scripture shows us that we have to be active participants. our *souls* are our most precious resource... talking about how to save them should occupy our hearts and minds... and being able to talk with other people who are trying to gain that same salvation... that's huge. it bonds us together, and maybe we can get some ideas. :) and not to disregard the part about fasting and praying... we need God in this whole deal as well. :) we can always speak to HIM about the welfare of our souls... but maybe we should take the chance more often to check in with our fellow-seekers of salvation. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2000

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
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 shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

This is an interesting scripture... the whole building imagery is cool. Verse 9 right before this says "ye are God's building" and the verse after this is the one that says "know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" ... so, I think that at least one of the meanings of these in-between verses must be talking about how we develop ourselves... how we build our personalities, beliefs... who we are. this first verse talks about the masterbuilder laying the foundation... and I think, whether or not God uses other people as tools in our lives, that he is the real masterbuilder, who establishes Christ as the foundation of who we are... for, indeed... who would we have a chance to be without him? What freedom to act and make choices, what self-molding of our personalities could happen? I don't think that anything like that would be possible. We'd make our first mistake and then keep that blackness of soul forever... and keep getting blacker... or, we'd have Satan's plan, and have no freedom of thought and action...
Anyway... so, Christ is the foundation, and we build upon it...good and bad things, bold and weak... strong and vulnerable. and then we are tried by fire... not some random forest fire, but God's refining fire, used to purify and cleanse us... to remove the imperfections and bad building materials. So, goodness stays and badness is burned off... and sometimes weakness or vulnerability stay, because they are good. And, then the last verse... part of who we are, in this cleansing process... gets burned. and we suffer because of it... but no matter how much is taken away by the fire... we are always left... because what we started out with was good, and pure, and exactly what God wanted. We might have to start building from scratch in some areas... but the fire will never destroy the beauty and perfection of our souls... the ground where the foundation is laid.

Friday, January 21, 2000

Joel 2:28-32

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call."
Joel 2:28-32

Good scripture... I love the first verse especially. Talking about things that will happen before the second coming, the scripture says that God will pour out his spirit on everyone... everyone is going to have inspiration and revelation in their lives... which we really all have access to now... but if kids are going to be prophesying, that sounds bigger... kind of like when the people in 3rd Nephi met together to hear the small children... and I think also, that it will be cool, because it seems like a great equalizer too. old and young, male and female... employers and employees... everyone will have the spirit of God, and it seems like it will ameliorate some of the usual divisions that we have in our society...
Then it talks about some of the signs... a good friend and I drove out of town where there were less lights last night to see the lunar eclipse. it was cool. the moon didn't exactly turn to blood, or even "brick-red" as they said it would... but it was very cool. :) I wonder about the whole sun being turned to darkness thing though... that seems pretty scary. in Revelation it associates the darkness of the sun and the moon turning to blood with an earthquake... and that sounds even scarier. that would have to be a *huge* earthquake. The last verse offers hope though, even when we are thinking about huge earthquakes... whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be delivered. :) I think that is always true... but maybe right before the Second Coming it will be more important to remember. :)

Thursday, January 20, 2000

2 Nephi 15:20-21

"Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight!"
2 Nephi 15:20-21

This scripture is interesting because I think we do this all the time.  We embrace the bitter and reject the sweet... walk into the darkness and shun the light.  And we try to say to ourselves that it's good and right... that it will make us happy, when it obviously won't.
It's tough to do things God's way sometimes.  It's hard to see what he has in store, and it's hard to trade something real and in front of us for something uncertain.  It's like that old game show "Let's Make a Deal," except what we don't realize is that we are keeping the random farm animal that was given us as the sucker prize, even though God keeps telling us and telling us that the fulfillment of our dreams and deepest hopes is right there, in living color, behind door #1.  We keep trying to make the random farm animal suffice, because we can't *see* anything better, and we don't trust God enough to go without that actual sight.
Even though the random farm animal causes us a vague sense of uneasiness... it's familiar, and we aren't willing to have nothing for the few minutes between giving it up and seeing what is behind door #1.  We aren't willing to make the effort to turn the knob... fearing that whatever it is might be *worse* than what we have... we gave up this cool goat for a dumb old chicken... or, we hear the unmistakable sounds of a *bigger* random farm animal behind curtain 2, and so we give up the chicken or the goat for the cow... never believing that sometimes life is better than farm animals.
Anyway... the scripture says basically... don't call God a liar.   Don't ever fool yourself into believing that he is offering you anything even *slightly* less than what you have now.  Don't try to twist the world to fit your personal torment.  Let go of the farm animal, take the step into the "unknown" that God has promised you... it *is* better, and not worse. Good, and not evil, sweet and not bitter.  We aren't wise or prudent, compared to God... and anytime we think so, we need to re-evaluate.  Life can be much, much more rewarding than a random farm animal.  Let's trust God, and open the door.

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