Tuesday, February 29, 2000

Luke 17:32

"Remember Lot's wife."
Luke 17:32

This scripture makes up for all those really long ones.  Seriously, though... I didn't put this in here as a joke.  This is one of my favorite scriptures, one I have to remember a lot.  If you guys don't know the story of Lot... he was living with his wife and family in a very wicked city that the Lord decided to destroy.  He told them to leave the city, and to not turn around and try to go back, or even to look back... and so they were leaving, and Lot's wife turned around to see... and she was turned into a pillar of salt.  it's like in our lives, when we leave old habits or addictions behind... or when we decide we need to omit something from our lives in order to be healthy... we have to stick with those decisions, and never look back.  If we do, then we have to suffer the separation over and over again... we have to re-live those hellish decisions again and again... and if we can never walk away, but keep returning, then we might as well be spiritual pillars of salt, because we're never going to let ourselves escape.  So many times we cast our burdens on the Lord, as we should... but then demand them back when we aren't in control anymore.  Let them go... learn the lesson, and let's go on to the next page, the next chapter, instead of re-reading the same verse over and over and over again... like our whole lives are one phrase, and that's all that matters.  it isn't... there are so many more things to learn, to love, to become... and if we insist on focusing obsessively on one topic or one person... at least choose God.  He's like the Table of Contents... :)  He'll at least guide us to the rest of the book. :)

Monday, February 28, 2000

Ether 4:15-16

"Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief, which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you--yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.
And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people.  Remember, when ye shall see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed."
Ether 4:15-16

...So, we're returning to the end-of-the-world theme that we started with a few months ago.   I was just reading this morning, and this scripture kind of hit me, and since I didn't have another theme in mind, I thought I would go for it...
Anyway, interesting.  that the reason that we can't get to the truth about who we were before this life, and everything that the Lord has for us... is because WE have a problem believing it.  it talks about US rending the veil of unbelief... I never really got that ever before.  then we will see things that we have been promised before we were born.  And he talks about prayer too... the broken heart and the contrite spirit.  I was talking to my friend on the phone the other day about something and we were talking a little about vulnerability... and I think that's what this means.  when we can get down on our knees, and be vulnerable with the Lord... knowing that we can't do it ourselves... knowing that we have made a lot of mistakes, but asking anyway for God to please, please, please help us sort out what is left... when we open ourselves up like that, then we are really communicating, then we are in the place that this scripture is talking about.  and it talks about in the second verse the book of revelations... and that it will all be fulfilled when we do this... as a community, and as a people.  we have a responsibility to rend that veil, and to show other people how to rend it when we can... and if we are patient and persistent in our prayers and our efforts... then we, as a community... will rend that veil, and everyone will feel the light and warmth and peace of God flowing freely.  and what a feeling that is.  Remember, when Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree of life, the first thing he wanted to do was to share it with other people... taste this... it's incredible. :)  so, partake yourself... find out how good it is.  breathe it in… and then tell others about it... when they can hear you.

Sunday, February 27, 2000

Mormon 9:20-21, 25, 27-28

"And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
Behold I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.
. . .
And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.
. . .
O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need.  Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.
Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God."
Mormon 9:20-21, 25, 27-28

So, the scripture is really long today... I'll try to make my comments short.  Here are the things I like... in the first verse, the reason why God doesn't do miracles in our lives at times is because we don't know him and don't trust him... second verse... if we believe him, and can trust and not doubt... then ANYTHING that we ask will be given to us... so we need to be careful what we ask for.  next verse, God will confirm his words to us as well... if we are unsure of some particular part of the gospel, or need some reassurance or guidance... the Lord offers it.  next verse... along the same theme... ask, ask, ask.  don't doubt... come unto God with all of your heart... your emotions, your love, your sensitivity, your vulnerability... trust God, and he will help you figure out your life, and how to get through this test.  next verse... be wise. :)  interesting use of the word "probation" ... I could talk about that for a while, but I won't... :)  probably just means a testing period... and we know that's what this earth life is.  and then he tells us some things to ask for.  so, the moral of the story... ask God.  God has everything we need, and wants us to have it.  He has the answers to all the questions, and he wants us to know... but we have to first... believe that, and then second... act on it.  God is the source of all truth... and we need that truth.  So, whatever it is in your life that you need... *anything* at all... talk to God about it.  Tell him what you need... and then watch what happens in your life.  I could talk for hours about answers to my prayers... God is really there.  Don't doubt it for a second.

Saturday, February 26, 2000

Moroni 8:3

"I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end."
Moroni 8:3

Back in the olden days, when I actually used to write snail-mail letters to people, I would sometimes include this scripture after signing off, to let the person know that I cared, and that I was thinking of them.  I guess I feel like that today...
It's a really good scripture, and I think shows what we can do for the people around us.  we can't always relieve suffering, we can't always save people from consequences... we can't even stop them from walking off the edge of the cliff that we see they are headed for.  we have a hard time even helping ourselves sometimes... but *God* can relieve suffering... *God* can save people from consequences... *God* can put some neon lights up at the edge of the cliff, and can even pull them up after they have fallen off the edge.  God can solve ANY problem, and make things okay.... even turn it all into a productive learning experience.  God will always know what to say.  He is the master teacher, and can teach anyone with any learning style, even me... even you.  Prayer works... even when nothing else can. :)
Pray for the people around you... all of them.  pray that God will protect them, watch over them... teach them.  Pray that He will guide them to happiness and peace. Can you imagine what this world would be like if we all prayed for each other, and meant it?  :)  There is power in prayer... it works, it helps.  Miracles come to pass... every day.  Try it.

Friday, February 25, 2000

2 Corinthians 3:15-18

"But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.
Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
2 Corinthians 3:15-18

Last night I went to this interesting enrichment meeting, and the girl who was introducing the speaker was talking a little bit about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  She said something that absolutely fascinated me when on the topic of Liberty... she was trying to define the word, and she said that she thought Liberty was "the freedom to improve."  What an interesting definition... and I immediately thought of this scripture... not the whole thing, just the line, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."  It's an interesting topic to me, because the way that we look at things sometimes is that the Gospel is restrictive... so many rules, so many limitations... but just as in Alma 38 where it tells us to bridle our passions, that we may be filled with love... learning to obey the rules offers us more freedom rather than less.  Learning to color inside the lines doesn't prevent us from scribbling, if we so choose... but it does offer us the freedom to go on and become an artist.  Like language too... I am a writer and editor, and because I know the "rules" of grammar, know formal and informal language, know spelling rules and how to direct my language and jargon to a specific audience... so many other rules as well... I have the *freedom* to communicate to any audience, in their own colloquial language, and have my message understood and even respected... someone who never learned the rules wouldn't have the same freedom... or the same power.  the same is true of most things that we learn.  we gain freedom and power by knowing the rules, and what cases apply to which, etc.  knowing the rules and when to use them offers incredible freedom to me... and some kid in 3rd grade who asks why he has to learn sentence structure, or get quizzed on stupid spelling seems silly to me.  In God's kingdom, we are all that third-grader.  We are asking why we have to learn this things that we can't see any application of, and we don't realize that the knowledge that we are gaining of rules and relationships is power, and freedom.  Liberty *is* the freedom to improve... choosing not to learn is an exercise of our freedom, which then prevents us from improving.  do we really want to be in third grade, or less... for eternity?
Anyway, I should talk about the rest of the scripture, eh?  I like the whole veil on the heart thing, but when we turn our hearts to God, then the veil is taken away... and it's heart, not mind, not soul... when we learn to love God, to care about him the way we care about our best friend... our family... more than that even... *that's* when the Lord starts removing the barriers to our premortal existence... to our capacities for understanding... all the barriers that exist... and it starts with turning our hearts to God. and then the last verse is way incredible... it's like looking in a mirror and seeing ourselves become, day by day, Gods and Goddesses... that freedom to improve offers us new levels of understanding and being... until our faces reflect the same power, glory, truth, and radiance that dwells in God.  The Spirit of God leads us to the knowledge that we need to get there... and we have all of God's power behind us for the journey.  If we make the effort, we have NO chance of failure.  We just have to exercise the freedom to improve.

Thursday, February 24, 2000

Ether 12:4-6

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."
Ether 12:4-6

I remember the first time this scripture really hit me... some of you don't know me, so you should know that when I don't understand something, a lot of the time I say "I don't see it." ... so, I was thinking about one particular topic one day, and I just did not see it at all... and I read this scripture... "dispute not because ye see not" and it hit me, hard.  this was a few years ago, and I think I remember it almost every time I say that now... hopefully I say it less. :)  I included all the rest of it, because of course, it is all cool... but that it the part that always gets to me.  just because I don't see it doesn't mean it isn't true.
I like the hoping for a better world part... this world seems pretty scary at times, so many harsh things happening.  it is cool also that it says that this hope makes an anchor for our souls... if we thought that this world was it, we would have no focus, nothing to work for... but because we know that we are working for something better, then we have something to hold on to when things get bad.  instead of just trying to suck the marrow out of life, we can see that there is more to it... eternity to feast upon... we don't need to go to the woods to live deliberately... we have a reason for living deliberately right in front of us.  instead of getting away from the pain and suffering... perhaps we can do something to try and alleviate it.
Faith is always a good subject... faith has power.  People believe something, it can happen... as unlikely as it seems to our scientifically-trained perceptions.  but part of the test of this life is that God doesn't offer us "scientific" evidence for everything.  He offers us spiritual evidence, emotional evidence... all kinds of evidence that other people might scoff at, but are as real as anything else.  it's getting ourselves to be open to Spiritual evidence that takes the work.  we learn doubt and fear as we grow up, and it is hard to get past all of those barriers that we build for ourselves, and trust anything... even God, who is the only one who really deserves it.  anyway... if we need to be certain of it, God will give us that too... but not until we take the leap, take the risk... accept the vulnerability that goes with faith.  when we are able to open ourselves to God, then he can finally teach us that surety... because it doesn't bounce off our defenses.

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 88:45-50

"The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.
Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand?
Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.
I say unto you, he hath seen him; nevertheless, he who came unto his own was not comprehended.
The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.
Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound."
Doctrine and Covenants 88:45-50

Kind of long today, but fascinating stuff.  I like in the first verse how the earth and moon are feminine and the sun is masculine... interesting, and maybe indicative of how the two genders have to co-exist, each pointless without the other... but who knows. :)
Anyway, going on... anyone who has seen the planets... and it seems like we see our planet every day if we take the time to notice... has seen God.  Isn't that interesting?  Then he goes on to say... you have seen me, all of you... but you don't get it.  The light is all around you, I am there, to be seen... but because you have darkness in you, you can't see it.  however... and this is amazing... the day will come when you will comprehend even God.  wow.  wow wow wow wow.  comprehending God.  I have a hard time comprehending *anyone* ... a hard time with directions even.  and someday I am going to comprehend God.  That is mind-bogglingly huge.  Unbelievably cool.  and then we will know that we have been seeing him this whole time, every day of our lives, and not noticing.  we'll understand how connected we are to God, and why we need him so desperately.

Tuesday, February 22, 2000

Proverbs 3:1-7

"My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil."
Proverbs 3:1-7

This whole proverb is amazing. :)  but I thought you guys would all revolt if I put a 35-verse scripture in here, so I decided not to. :)  Anyway, to start off... it is talking to daughters as well as sons, so no sneaky-trying-to-squirm-out-of-applying-it-to-yourself if you are a woman.  God starts out with his remember theme... which is a pretty good one, since we seem to forget, all too often.  Amazing, really... when you think of who makes the biggest difference in our lives... and who do we forget most often.  We could have a nice discussion on why that happens, but this is not a chat room, and I am talking to myself... scary. :)
I think it is interesting that the Lord says to let our hearts keep his commandments... why the heart? and two verses later... write mercy and truth upon your heart... seems like the heart, the whole emotion, feeling-stuff thing is pretty important.  and usually that is how we discern the spirit as well.  what that says to me is that we need to be open with our emotions, and allow ourselves to feel what the Lord is saying.  He is going to communicate with us in many ways, and the more ways we can listen, the better. :)  I like verse 2 and peace... not to dis long life of course, but peace seems nicer. :)  and I agree... when I know I am okay with God, that's when I can find some peace.  no matter how happy I am in other ways, if I don't have that inner core of peace, my life falls apart... every time.
Verse three... now, this is symbolic of other things, but bear with me... what it makes me think of is when you are a little kid and your mom and dad give you a house key, and they make you wear it around your neck, so you won't lose it. :)  keep mercy and truth around your neck, so you don't lose them. :)  We *are* little kids that have a tendency to lose things like that, after all. :)
Favor and good understanding... cool.  And you know... having God understand me isn't that hard, he is used to the weird twistings of my mind... but the "and man" part astounds me ... that other people will understand me?  now, *that* is amazing. :)  And favor is always pretty nice. :)
5 and 6 are quoted a lot, but they are still meaningful... trust God, and don't depend on yourself without him.  it works.  I could tell you stories... as recently as last night... where God made it happen.  not me, never me... I can't do that stuff, I can't be that cool.  when I try, I fall on my face... but with God, I am super-woman.  I can do anything, be anything, accomplish anything.  Fly, probably too... :) God will show us the way to go... all we have to do is recognize that he is the one with directions. :)
Don't think that you are smart enough to handle it all alone... respect the value that God adds to your life, and forsake the devaluation that evil brings.  *With* God, we are worth more than anything could be... and never have to worry about not being cool enough or smart enough or beautiful enough.  Maybe we aren't on our own sometimes... but with God, we have it all, and to spare. :)

Monday, February 21, 2000

John 5:39

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
John 5:39

Short and sweet this morning. :)  Search the scriptures.  So many times in our lives we think that so many things could be solved if God would just speak to us, tell us what we need to do... tell us what he wants, what he expects of us personally.  He talked to the Brother of Jared for three hours, why not us for just 10 seconds, right?  But that isn't the way that he works.  Although, I *guarantee* he'll give you ten seconds if you get down on your knees and ask for it.  The trick is carrying that 10 seconds of amazing love and clarity, and applying it to the rest of our lives.
God does tell us what he expects of us, what he wants us to do every day... right there in those pages.  knowing them well can teach us about ourselves, about the world we live in, about other people, and a lot about God.  We can get to know him... we can learn about how to gain eternal life... topics that are more important than anything we are learning at school, or on the job.  It is scary that we think that we already know the answers to these questions... that we can be so content with being in kindergarten, and not wanting to move on to some higher level of knowledge.  I think it sometimes... think that I have read the book of Mormon, I know it... why should I read it over again?  but it is like Shakespeare (better I’m sure)... there are layers and depths of meaning in there... and in all the rest of the scriptures too... I mean, faith for instance.  who can tell me that they know all there is to know about faith, and the power that it has in people's lives?  no-one can.  we read stories and watch things on the news about people recovering from cancer because they believed... but we don't even know what God has to say about it.  Plus... the scriptures are absolutely fascinating.  There is so much in there... cool, interesting stuff... and it is all about us.  About the power that we have individually to change the world, to lift other people, to make things better... even when they are horrible.  About standing up for what you believe, no matter what.  About finding who you are, and who God is... about listening to the truth instead of listening to lies... about learning to love, about kindness... about what to do when everything goes wrong.  About what to do when everything goes right... about what to do when you have no idea where to go or who can help you... everything we need to know.  :)  Give it a try. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2000

Zephaniah 3:9

"For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."
Zephaniah 3:9

This is *so* cool... one of my friends asked me yesterday how amazing it would be if there were no language barriers... if we could all speak the same language.  I remember talking with one of my friends at college a long time ago about the same topic, discussing some poetry.  So, when I was trying to find a scripture this morning, I popped my amazing gospel library on CD-ROM in, and came up with some incredible things... including this scripture. :)  Anyway, enough personal narrative, eh?
This scripture is talking about the second coming, and that after a lot of destruction-type things, that God will give us all a pure language... imagine that.  not that we don't love French, and Russian, and ENGLISH... I mean, I was an English major, I *love* words and the cool things you can do with them... but think... everyone speaking the same language... and a pure language... one where your meaning is apparent, no having to say things 19 times to try to express your thought. :)  and think of the poetry you could write, because the exact word *will* be there when you need it. :)  on the down side, I will have to replace all of my refrigerator magnetic poetry magnets... but on the upside... who *cares!*  maybe men and women will finally be able to communicate. :)
Seriously, to be able to say exactly what you mean... and to be able to talk to anyone, anywhere, without that extra barrier of language... that is amazing.  The spirit already breaks down barriers, but this is huge... and think of how many barriers will have to come down before we can build a common community... before we can become one as a Zion people.

Saturday, February 19, 2000

Alma 5:26

"And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"
Alma 5:26

This is one of my favorite scriptures.  I have a question mark ring that says "Alma 5:14" inside of the band, but I actually think of this scripture instead.  To me, it isn't whether I have experienced the change of heart... but whether I can feel that same way throughout my life.  and the things is, I think that we have all felt it at one time or another.  there are these defining moments in your life ... I know that I have had a few of them.  where the reality of God is absolutely unquestioned, but you know you still have the choice to embrace the truth or walk away... and that he is right there, watching you make the choice.  Then we forget, or try to block it out... and God reminds us of his reality again.  Brief moments where the clarity is high... where we can see the consequences of our actions down the line, or we can almost taste heaven, and know that the earthly things we want so badly seem like stepping in dog crap compared to just the hint of things to come.
and it's tough sometimes, no denying it... especially *between* those defining moments, where you can't feel the reality of it as strongly... and sometimes we try to block out the reality of it and try to believe that our mansions built on the sand will stand, or that we *want* the dog crap so badly that it's worth giving up the things that we try not to think about.  I do it... way too often.  so here is the challenge of life... to remember why we are on earth, to remember who we are, what we can be... and to not go the underachiever route, to not listen to Satan and think that it is too hard, but to accept Christ's invitation to life... who rewards us with memories and tastes of who we were before this life... who blesses us with the desires of our hearts, and FILLS us with his love and his spirit... who helps us to carry our burdens.  Who never lies to us and tells us that we have no responsibility to learn... but teaches us constantly, and helps us to be better than we are.  Satan’s promises, as beautiful as they seem, always end up being twisted versions of the truth... end up being one of god's truths, plus a little dog crap... or just evaporate into emptiness.  Christ's promises have substance, have eternal consistency and solidity... ring true within our hearts and souls... if we only listen, we will feel to sing the song of redeeming love again today. :)

Friday, February 18, 2000

Matthew 5:23-24

"Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Matthew 5:23-24

God tells us that the first great commandments are to love him, and then to love everyone else.  if we would do those things, then everything else would fall into place... here, God says... if you are trying to offer me something... your heart, your will... sacrifice something that comes between you and I... then, good... please do.  but remember that the spirit is affected by everything in your life, and if there is a problem or resentment that is holding you back... it isn't just holding you back from that person, but it is holding you back from me as well.  Resolve it... and then come and offer your sacrifice, your gift of love to me... and I will accept it, and know that you are serious, because you removed even the impediments that were difficult for you to deal with.
This last week I spent 3 days at this sales training seminar.  even though I am not in sales, it was marginally interesting in spots. :)  one of the things I thought was funny is that they brought up all these psychology and educational theory things in teaching us how to get along with people. :)  there are so many different kinds of personality tests, but the one that they used said that there are 4 different types of people, motivated by different things.  On type is motivated by recognition, one type motivated by the need to control things, one type by the need to be right, and one type by the need to avoid conflict. :)
My point is (quick, Suzanne, think of a point!) that God deals with us all individually, knowing our motivations and our needs, even if they are a little more complex than my sales training class claims. :)  He knows what is holding us back from him... what is holding us back from other people.  He knows that it takes a HUGE effort to do what he asks sometimes... dealing with people where there are clear problems between you isn't easy... but he says, it will make things better... not only better in your relationship with that person, but in your relationship with me.  so... whatever type of person we are, and however hard it is for us to do this... God still asks it.  we have to remove what is causing the wounds... and if we do... if we can remove the resentments and the poisons in our relationships, and then come unto him... he says I will heal you... all of you... of everything, and it will be okay.

Thursday, February 17, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 38:24-27

"And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.
And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.
For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there--and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
Behold, this have I given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am.  I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine."
Doctrine and Covenants 38:24-27

This is a good scripture... I like how we get the opening message a couple of times... be nice and cool to each other, and also... be righteous... and then... but I was serious.  be nice. :)  it's like when you are going over a list of things in class and the teacher goes on to #4... but then goes back because he can tell you didn't get #3... so the rest of the scripture is a review of the first part. :) 
So, let's think about our review lesson for the day. :)  God is saying we need to esteem our brother as ourselves... there is a nice little family analogy there... and there is another family analogy in that little story about 12 kids... so maybe when God says be one, he means, be part of the family. :)  and if we leave the family, then we are not his... trying to disown ourselves in a way. :)  So, if everyone around us, and everyone that we see every day is part of our family (hmm, is *this* why we call each other "brother" and "sister" at church?) ... then we really need to be nice to them, and remember that no-one in the family is somehow destined or born to be the kitchen help, and we are destined to be the favorite child... we are all part of each other, the same family, the same father, the same eternal possibilities and royal birth... bigger than royal... children of God... we all have that heritage, and that eternal expectation.
When our earthly brother or sister is in trouble, how much do we want to rescue them, to help them... and how far will we go to do it?  shouldn't we do the same for everyone?  when we ourselves are in trouble, don't we give ourselves another chance?  we should probably do the same for the rest of our family...

Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Jude 1:21-25 -- On Love, Mercy, and Superheroes

"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
Jude 1:21-25

This is a really interesting scripture, and I am not sure that I understand it fully, so if anyone has any ideas or comments, feel free to send them on.  Before these verses it is talking about the last days and how some people (verse 19) separate themselves, having not the spirit... and that we through faith and prayer should do the following things... and it is really talking to us when it says "you" and "yourselves"  because it is warning us about our time... the last days.  So... it tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God... seek mercy.  Good advice, since we all are imperfect and need some mercy... probably a lot of it.  Then (and I find this part so fascinating), it talks about things that we should do for other people... says we should have compassion, and make a difference. :)  isn't that cool?  you guys are going to think I am psycho, but it makes me think of kind of a superhero analogy... there are tons of cartoons about superheroes around, and they have bad guys in them who also have great powers, but they use them for evil.  And so here is the choice that we have too... in terms of our earth lives, because of the knowledge that we have of God, and the fact that we have all of that power to draw upon... we *are* superheroes... and we need to use that power for good, and make a difference in the world.  if the scriptures teach us anything, they teach us the power that one person has, for good or evil... Moses, Noah, King Benjamin... or king Noah, or Gadianton, or Cain.  Make a difference, for good... have compassion... that is a great power right there.  Then, along the superhero analogy... others you can pull out of fires. :)  I'm not sure if the fear here is your fear for their safety, or their fear of destruction or separation (continuing the theme of verse 19) from God... perhaps it is both.  and I don't understand the part about hating the garments... maybe, since it is talking about fire... that you need to save them from everything that is burning, or (in a spiritual sense) that has been corrupted, and is therefore going to be cast into the fire... :)  and, hopefully, if we happen to be the one in the burning building this time and not the superhero flying overhead, the superhero will remember to bring us some new clothes. :)  speaking of flying too... the next verse talks about God as the person that can keep us from falling.  Good point. :)  He is the one that gives us the power to fly... to escape the fire, and to save other people from it... he gives us the power to have compassion, and to make a difference in this world.  He won't let us fall.  Even more powerful than that though... he has the power to present us faultless at the judgment day... and which of us is faultless?   we have all been in the fire, and lost our burning clothes.  and whether it was God or one of his superhero servants that flew to our rescue... we still have scars.  it's part of life.  But God has power to heal the scars, give us a bulletproof / sinproof suit, and help us to fly... before the presence of his glory, with *exceeding* joy.  So, yes... to the only wise God, our Savior... be glory and majesty, dominion and power... forever.  He is pretty awesome to us, after all...

Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Isaiah 40:28-31

"Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31

A scripture of the day a while back talked about Christ sleeping, and that it was kind of hard to imagine. :)  So, this one says that God doesn't get tired. :)  That is SO cool. :)  Maybe in his earth life his body had to sleep for a while, but overall, he doesn't get tired... doesn't get worn out from doing all that powerful God-stuff that he does.  And not even tired of listening to us... which is amazing. :)  And, there is no searching of his understanding... no need to evaluate and say... hmm... I wonder if God really knows what he is talking about. :)  He does, of course. :)  Another cool thing... he not only has amazing power, understanding, and non-tiredness... but he gives power to us when we are weak.  When we have come to the end of our rope... God lends us his. :)  Even the youngest and strongest of our earthly peers are going to get tired, weak, and fall... but God *never* will.  And if we don't give up when we start feeling weak, but wait for the Lord to help us... then we'll get a refill of strength, and not only will we have power to handle whatever it is that we are faced with today... or whatever day... we'll have so much power that we will be able to transcend our normal ways of dealing with problems... no more limping, stumbling, walking, or running along the path to the tree of life... we'll be flying.

Monday, February 14, 2000

Romans 8:35-39

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:35-39

Some people think of today as Valentine's Day... I prefer to think of it as the two-month anniversary of the scripture of the day list. :)  But, since it *is* a day dedicated to love, I thought I would put in this incredibly cool scripture about the love that God has for us.
We were talking in church yesterday about prayer and one sister said, and I think that we all feel this at times, that sometimes she feels like God doesn't want to hear from her... that he gets tired of the same old things... and doesn't want to bail us out yet again... I feel like that sometimes too... that something in my life is keeping me from connecting with God... whatever it is, there is something in the way.  But in sincerity, there isn't.  It is Satan's tactic is to try and make us feel like we can never go back... we are too busy, or too "dirty" or too far away... anything to take communication with God away from us.  But, as this scripture says... NOTHING can separate us from God.  He is always there, offering his love, wanting to talk to us.  Death can't separate us... height, depth... no other being... tribulation... none of it.  And the thing is... when we feel separated from everything that is good... when we feel that darkness descend... who else in the universe can pull us out but God?  And he wants to... all we have to do is ask.
Anyway, I like the third verse... we are more than conquerors through him that loved... and still loves... us.  There isn't anything that we need to fear, there isn't anything that can take his power and his love away from us.  nothing.  We can conquer anything in this life, or the next, through Christ.
So, happy Valentine's Day.... from me, and God... who loves you a lot more than I ever could.

Sunday, February 13, 2000

Ether 2:14-15

"And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him.  And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.
And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.  And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for an inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands."
Ether 2:14-15

Okay, first of all... wow.  The Lord coming and talking to you for three hours.  what would you say?  what would you ask if you were brave enough?  What an opportunity... and I'm sure that the Lord and the brother of Jared talked about a lot of things in that time... but one of them was prayer. :)
God knows everything that we need ahead of time... it isn't like we pray to tell him that.  So, why do we pray, do you think?  I think that we pray because we need to recognize where our blessings come from.  God could give us everything we need, all the time... but where is the lesson in that?  We are his children, we need to learn obedience and grow spiritually... and that can't happen if he just hands us everything.  Even today's scripture of the day... I think that God wanted to teach me a little object lesson... :)  I had to get down on my knees and ask for some inspiration, because I had NO idea what to say, and my mind kept fogging up.  God loves us, and he will give us what we need... but we have to remember to talk to him about it.  so WE can grow, so WE can learn that God is the source of all good.
Also, I think that one reason we pray is because we need to take the time to think about our lives, our needs, and where we are at... God is a great sounding board for things like that.  He loves it when we check in, and sometimes we can get tips and reminders while we are talking about those things with him.  We need to pray for other people, because it helps us to learn to love.  The brother of Jared prayed for himself, and everyone around him... and when he did, the forgiveness of God extended not only to the brother of Jared, but to all the people he was praying for as well.  That is Amazing... truly.
Then, finally... these are God's thoughts.  Back to Albert Einstein who said that he wanted to know God's thoughts, the rest was just details... :)  When we talk to God, we get the big picture... know the ultimate answers.  Then, when we run into roadblocks and questions in our lives, because we know the ultimate destination, we can figure out which detour will take us back to the main path... we know the answers to the littler questions because they match the answers to the ultimate questions...
God wants to give us everything... life is just the way we become responsible enough to handle it.

Saturday, February 12, 2000

Ephesians 5:17-21

"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
Ephesians 5:17-21

This is an interesting passage.  Earlier in this chapter it tells us to "walk as children of light" and this is part of telling us how to do that.  First of all... be understanding with God.  Seems like we always try to understand why our friends feel the way they do or why they do what they do... we try to accept it, understand it... even embrace it if it seems cool.  if it is a stranger, we usually dismiss it.  Unfortunately, we usually treat God like a stranger and not a friend.  We expect him to prove everything to us, and we don't try to understand where he is coming from, or why he does what he does.  Trying to understand the Lord will teach us more than trying to understand anything else.
Then be not drunk with wine.... and I assume other alcoholic beverages. :)  I like the implied analogy here between being drunk and being filled with the Spirit. :)  It's like something good that you can be addicted to. :)  You can totally overdose, be drunk out of your mind with the Spirit... and it is a *good* thing. :)  Excess of most addictions is pretty bad... but you can be FILLED completely with the Spirit, and it's all good... walking around in a spiritual stupor... :)  (okay, I’ll stop.) :)
Then, speaking and singing to yourself, which might continue the drunkenness analogy, but I said I would stop... :)  being so filled with the spirit that everything you do is spiritual... instead of humming the latest cool song from the radio, you are humming "God is cool, God is cool" ... and you might be a little off key, but hey... people understand, you get a little weird when you are drunk. :) (I can't stop, I need help...)
And giving thanks to God... "always, for all things" ... so, I guess if I put in some examples it wouldn't really help. :) So, maybe while we are mumbling and singing to ourselves, we should be saying "thanks, God, this is cool" a lot too. :)
And then... the whole submissive thing... I love it, seriously.  I know that "submit" is one of our least favorite words and everything, but just think... vulnerability and risk are the only way we get to know each other well... and being vulnerable with God is our natural state.  we try to fight against it... but then, when we are drunk with the spirit we lose some of those inhibitions. :)  We seriously can't learn anything, ever, unless we open ourselves up.  We need each other... not just as designated drivers :), but for support, affection, study partners in this huge test called life.  Sometimes when we can't break through the barriers to talk to God, we need to help each other stand, help to overcome the barriers.  We can be so powerful in this life, have so much influence... support other people, and then there are times that we need support ourselves.  if we can't submit to each other, show vulnerability and sincere need... then we'll never get that support when we need it.  And, seriously... don't you think God planned all of this?  It's like one of those bizarre parental games where they stick you in a room with your sister until you can get along... except the whole world is our room and we are all brothers and sisters. :)  we sit in the corner with our arms folded and pout... but why waste all that time?  break out the legos and play. :)

Friday, February 11, 2000

3 Nephi 11:37-39

"And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them."
3 Nephi 11:37-39

And again, I say unto you... this is cool. :)  God has a tendency to repeat himself, have you noticed?  But then, we have a tendency not to listen... so I am certain that we need it.  One of the amazing things about this scripture is the become as a little child part... looks like from the two verses that you can should become as a little child before... and after... you're baptized.  important point I think... since we forget the whole child like thing.  We don't think that our Father can help us... instead, we think that some person that has a degree in something or other can help us... or we respect the opinions of people who have exactly the same problems and addictions that we do... or worse.  If we want to be perfect, then doesn't it make sense to ask someone who *is* perfect?  If nothing else, God is honest.  You can get people to tell you anything.  They'll tell you that you are doing the right thing, even if you are driving 300 miles an hour straight to Hell.  And so, our need for reassurance is satisfied.... but we're still going in the wrong direction, deluding our minds, harming our souls.  God will tell it like it is... and even if we don't want to hear that, at least it is true, and maybe it will get us to wake up and turn around.  If we could just do the little child thing, and believe with everything we are that our Father knows everything... that he loves us more than anything... that he can *do* anything... :)  On earth we grow out of that quickly... but with God, there is no need.  He CAN do anything, he DOES know everything... he absolutely loves us more than we can imagine.  If we need some answers, we should turn to Him... not to people who will just agree with us, who will support us in the destruction of our souls.  People are important... and some people will be honest with you... some people have God's spirit, and can help... we can help people ourselves sometimes... but God is the source of all good, and going to the source is always better.
And then the analogy of the rock again... solidity.  God is constant while people vary.  They'll change their opinions, they'll change their feelings... but God will never change.  you always get solid honesty and consistency there.  And the gates of hell are trying to prevail against all of us.  The war isn't going to go to the strongest, most brilliant, or most war-hardened, but to the meek... to the vulnerable... to the humble followers of Christ.... the children.  *We* are God's children... let's act our age. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2000

2 Timothy 1:7

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

God is so amazing. :)  When we fear... about the future, our friends, or some event in our lives... or anything, really... it isn't God that is inspiring that stress.  He wants us to be at peace and able to handle everything.  It's Satan who promotes anxiety.  But God knows that we do fear and worry... and so, to combat that, he has given us power, and promised us that the power he has given us will be a match for *anything* we come up against.  Then, he has given us love... to help us deal with other people who are stressed, or who stress us out... love is a good way to deal with it.  And, lastly... a sound mind. :)  Believe me, I know this to be true absolutely... when we have God in our lives, we are way way more sane than when we don't.  And think about it... with Power and Love and a Sound Mind... and without Fear... what in life *couldn't* we do? 
The trick is, we need to accept what God offers us... power, love, sanity... :) and freedom from fear... and we have to accept it *by* accepting God.  I know that I am closer to God when my fears die down, when I feel a little more sane... when I feel that I have the power to deal with things in my life.  I think it is tiny things that prove every day that God is there.  If I read my scriptures in the morning, my day goes better than if I don't.  If I pray before I sleep, I sleep better.  God is there in every aspect of our lives, giving us the tools and the power to overcome even the little problems in our lives.  Try the experiment.  Pray sincerely about something that scares you... or about something you don't think you have the power or love or sanity to handle... God does.  And all we have to do is ask.

Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Romans 12:10-18 -- On A Handbook for Life

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Be of the same mind one toward another.  Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.  Be not wise in your own conceits.
Recompense no man evil for evil.  Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:10-18

This is like a little handbook for life... :)  Before and after these verses it has the whole evil/good theme... verses 9 and 21 in Romans 12 are telling us to be good and not evil, and 21 even says "overcome evil with good" ... and I think that this is our lesson on how to do that.  love people... make sure they know that they are a priority in your life.  show them affection.  do whatever you do well, be passionate about having the spirit in your life... serve God... have hope, rejoice when things are good, be patient when things are bad... always pray so that you can hang on to that hope.  Give to other people, take care of other people, welcome them in your life.  bless people's lives, whether they treat you well or not.  Rejoice with people, cry with people... real emotions.  (Reminds me of "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by E E Cummings... GREAT poem.) Be of the same mind... I think this means, be the same you to everyone.  Don't play one role over here, or wear a different mask over there.  Don't change who you are depending on who you are talking to.  Don't think that wealth makes anyone better... ignore cars and nice clothes, and treat everyone well.  Don't perpetuate the myth that this or that material thing, or level of education is better.  We all have preferences... but that's what they are.  Don't ever treat someone badly because they treat you badly, be honest to everyone, even when no-one is watching.  And try to have positive relationships with everyone... no fighting. :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 93:28-31

"He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.
Man was also in the beginning with God.  Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light."
Doctrine and Covenants 93:28-31

This is good stuff.  Continuing on with our Light and Truth theme, today we add intelligence to the mix. :)  First of all, it says that if we keep the commandments we keep filling up with light and truth, until we eventually know *everything* ... which would be amazingly cool right there. :)  I get so frustrated with myself sometimes when I can't figure something out... and to imagine that someday I will know ALL of it... wow.  that would relieve some stress. :)  Then, it says that intelligence the light of truth.  interesting.  A few verses earlier God explains what truth is, and says that he is the Spirit of Truth... more and more interesting.  Then we go on and it says that all truth is independent, to act for itself... the same with intelligence.  Hmm.  So, if the light of truth IS intelligence, and *we* were intelligences before the world was, like it says in Abraham... isn't it talking about us right here?  that we wouldn't have existence without independence/freedom?  I think that is interesting.  But again, if that is true... then it also means that part of the very nature of who we are is truth... which is a great lead-in to the next verse.  if truth cleaveth unto truth, and part of who we are is intelligence, light, and truth... then some part of ourselves recognizes that light and truth immediately when it comes around... next verse says that that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto us, and we receive not the light... maybe we block ourselves off from the truth sometimes... but because part of who we are is truth, we are also denying ourselves when we do that.  What God says to us is always plainly manifest unto us... easy to comprehend, because it is part of who and what we are... the trick is to remove the barriers that we have built within ourselves.  our souls sing to us of light and truth, and many times we try to smother the song, because it is too hard to listen to... we are trying so hard to make another song for ourselves, and we sing it louder and louder, trying to deny the original song... but I think that if we would just listen well, we would find that it is beautiful... and that it cures so much of the amnesia of our earth lives... and no matter how complex and intimate the new song, it sounds like a funeral dirge compared to the original.  If we would write some music that goes along with the first song... enhance it, complement it... that would sound a lot better than the war within... each trying to drown the other out.

Monday, February 7, 2000

Matthew 22:37-39

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Matthew 22:37-39

This is incredible.  God telling us what is really important.  Sometimes I find myself wishing that he would do that for me, and then I remember... the scriptures are already here. :)  I don't need God to come and knock on my living room door and tell me what my priorities should be.  God comes first, we need to love him... for our sakes, not his... Neal A. Maxwell, in a talk he gave last night, was talking about justice and mercy (quoting C. S. Lewis), and he said that mercy works when it grows in the nooks and crannies on the mountain of justice, but when people try to banish justice altogether, then mercy grows into a poisonous man-eating plant.  SO interesting.  I think sometimes we try and live our lives thinking that the second great commandment is all that matters... love other people, as we love ourselves... but isn't it apparent that none of this would be possible without God to stabilize the whole thing?  God sees it all... he knows the end from the beginning, and he won't let us get stuck in chapter 3.  His commandments are there for a reason... to make us better and happier beings... the whole design of his existence and effort is for us.  Loving him for that is primary.  And then, the second one... Neal (oh, I mean, Elder Maxwell) also said that we are each others' clinical experience. :)  Learning to love and serve people is our life's learning experience.  He said that sometimes we want to retreat from people... and we do get a break now and then, but it is always back to class.  Guess that is part of God knowing what he is doing. :)  Anyway... loving God and loving other people includes giving them the benefit of the doubt.  Sometimes we doubt God's wisdom... we should give him a chance, we should give the people around us a chance... we should give ourselves a chance.

Sunday, February 6, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 112:10

"Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers."
Doctrine and Covenants 112:10

A lot of times I think I have a problem with humility.  At work, I would second-guess my boss all the time... second guess the teachers of all of my courses... basically any authority figure... I think that it gives me some perverse pleasure when I can be smarter than whoever is in charge.  Unfortunately, I think I do this with God as well sometimes... thinking that I know a lot better than he does what is good for me, or what is good for the people around me.  But I don't.  As with any close relationship, vulnerability, risk, honesty... they are all key ingredients.  If we can be humble enough to listen to God when he speaks to us... if we can be humble enough to accept the answers that he gives, even when we don't understand them completely... if we can be humble enough to accept that someone knows us better than we know ourselves... then we remove the resistance between God and ourselves.  The problem is never on his side... he always talks to us, he always has his hand stretched out to lead us... it's we that need to realize that he has a greater perspective, and can see through the darkness that surrounds us at times, when we cannot.  God answers our prayers, God sends his spirit... God offers us his peace and his love.  We have to be humble enough to follow where he leads... to hear when he talks to us.  it isn't always easy.  sometimes he speaks to me through those authority-figures that I enjoy arguing with... sometimes he tells me things that I don't particularly want to hear... but he is always there, ready when we choose to hear.

Saturday, February 5, 2000

Isaiah 44:22

"I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, they sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee."
Isaiah 44:22

God is so cool. :)  We are a backsliding bunch, and we keep doing things that we know are wrong... lose our tempers, judge other people... steal candy from children... :)  Seriously, we make mistakes all the time, and have a tendency to give up on ourselves, and wonder if God is going to give up on us as well... but he never never will.  He looks at our history of disobedience just as he looked at the history of the Israelites right before this scripture... and he says... okay, you screwed up.  Let's start again.  I'll wipe the slate clean... please, please come back... I love you.  and he does.  more than anyone can possibly love us on the earth, and knows us better than anyone else can know us.  he knows, in fact, that underneath all the sin, all the disobedience, and all the resistance... there is a god or goddess in training.  someone with the capacity to be like he is, to guide and love and give the way that He does.  Just as he told the woman taken in adultery... neither do I condemn thee... go, and sin no more... he says the same thing to us.  he knows that we aren't going to be perfect... that's why we have the sacrament, so that we can renew the remission of our sins every week... and he knows that he might have to wipe the slate clean more than once.  *Every* time we repent, with sincerity, and with a desire to do better... he forgives us.  That is the gift that Christ gave us, who suffered for all our mistakes, for all of our evil choices... so that we don't have to suffer for them.  All we have to do is turn around, face the right direction... and no matter how bad it was, how deep the wounds, how complicated the extrication...  he pulls us out of the pit that we have dug for ourselves, takes away the eternal consequences of our sin, and sets us back on level ground to try again.  He is our Father... he wants us to come home.

Friday, February 4, 2000

Luke 6:45-49

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."
Luke 6:45-49

Think this is interesting... that we basically do what is in our hearts to do.  Righteousness happens in a lot of ways... it can start with feelings... a desire to know something, or feeling the spirit... or it can start with knowledge... we know right from wrong, we intellectually know that Christ lives, that he died for us... or it can start with actions... we try to do the things that other people say are right, test the theory.  any of these can work, if we are open to the other ones as well.  even just robotic obedience can eventually lead to spiritual awareness if we are giving it a real chance... but if one of these things is blocked, we don't get there.  we could do right actions all day... the Pharisees at the time of Christ are an example of that.  Action was everything to them, but love of God and his children and knowledge of his ways was missing...  Or we could Feel God there, spend our lives as hermits, feeling close to God's creation, or loving people... and never apply it to our lives.  How much good does love or devotion do, unexpressed... unrealized?  or we could know absolutely without doubt that God lives, and tell everyone we met... but still be miserable, because it never touches our souls.   All of these things are good starts, if they are starts... but if they are the way that we live our lives, they are deceptions.  Reality is, they all fit together.  If we think that we know and feel God there, and find ourselves doing evil things... the truth is, the inside is affected as well.  we can fake it to a point, but eventually... we're the same inside and outside, and if we don't change our actions, how can we ever change our hearts?  if we don't change our hearts, how can we ever change our minds?  a vicious cycle... left up to us, it would never happen.  Fortunately, God can change our hearts... which is why we need to trust him... and do the things that he says.  it's not some busywork assignment... ever.  it's always designed to make us into who we can be... unlimited by our small minds.  If we hear him... which takes emotional effort... then we need to follow him... which takes mental and physical effort.  That way, when the storm comes, we might get wet and scratched up... but we won't be obliterated.

Thursday, February 3, 2000

John 14:18

"I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you."
John 14:18

A good thing to remember today... no matter how bad things get, or even what we have done wrong... God never leaves us without comfort and healing within reach.  and not even just *our* reach... he will come to *us* ... that is an amazing promise.  We never have to be alone, or in pain, when God is there.  I think it is important to remember too, that he won't *leave* us comfortless.  We might get there, and feel that... but God's promise is that it will end... that there is hope, that he will be there when he is needed.  No matter where we are on the path of life, if we have gone 300 miles an hour away from God for years... we aren't far enough away for his comfort not to reach us.  And we don't have to hike all the way back alone... God overcomes time, and space, and distance.  All that is required of us is to look... turn around and look in the right direction, toward the correct goal.  and his love and peace and comfort are there.
Even when we are hopelessly lost... God always knows the way.

Wednesday, February 2, 2000

1 Corinthians 2:12-16

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?  But we have the mind of Christ."
1 Corinthians 2:12-16

Interesting stuff in here...the spirit is a totally different way of knowing, and we can't understand the things that are spiritual without participating in them ourselves.  Sometimes we try to grasp everything mentally before letting the spirit in... when it should be the other way around.  The Spirit teaches us quicker, and really is the only way to really comprehend some things.  Comparing spiritual things with spiritual... apples to apples.  We can't compare non-spiritual things to spiritual things and make sense.  I think we try to do that a lot... make trade-offs in our lives... but it doesn't work that way.  We’re like little kids, trading a dime for a nickel because the nickel is bigger.  Except that we seem to never grow  up and grasp the concept of money. :)  We keep trading non-spiritual things for spiritual things, and don't see their value... they appear as foolishness to us, because we aren't seeing things truly.  We're trapped down here in our "bigger is better" mentality, or maybe we believe that a picture of George Washington is more important than a picture of Lincoln... we see, and we focus on things, but we are totally not getting it.
Then, I think the next verse means that by the spirit we have the ability to make good judgments, but no-one really has the ability to judge us unless they also have the spirit.
The last verse I love.  Einstein said "I want to know God's thoughts" ... and seriously, who doesn't?  But we *have* the spirit, which is as close as we can get to a continuous stream-of-consciousness from God. :)  The spirit can tell us continually what God thinks of what we are up to and the things that are going on in our lives... and so we have what Einstein sought his entire life... amazing. :)
God is pretty smart.  :)  Maybe we should listen to him. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

Helaman 5:12

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
Helaman 5:12

This is good... I like the double remember... don't just remember, but remember REMEMBER... that we need Christ in our lives more than anything... remember REMEMBER that he is the meaning and purpose behind all the rest of it... he is the foundation to build everything else on.  relationships that have their foundations in him can be built strong and high.  all others will eventually fall.  everything in our lives that is dedicated and built in his name can stand, and stand well... everything else is doomed.  and you know, it isn't that God wants everything to fail, and it isn't that he is selfish like that... it is only that he gives us a chance to save *something* in our stormy lives.  Satan doesn't care what or who he destroys... that's what he wants.  And when we don't have Christ around, Satan's mighty storm *does* have power to drag us down to the gulf of misery... things go wrong, and everything starts falling apart, and we try so hard to hold things together... but we can't... it's impossible.  When we do have God around though, and things go wrong, and you know you can't hold things together... if they are good things, founded in Christ... he holds them together *for* you.  The tornado comes through (and it always, always will eventually) and all the stuff you were keeping in the lean-to and the shack and the mobile home are wiped out... and if that's all you had, that is devastating.  But if you are building on God's land, with Christ as your foundation... then you can listen to the storm in front of the fireplace, and know that things are going to be fine.
and you know, the other interesting things about this scripture is the end of it... it says "whereon if men build they cannot fall" ... cannot.  not will not or might not... like it has anything to do with fate or personal choice... if you build yourself on the foundation of Christ, you can *never* fall.  His foundation is sure, incredibly strong, and better than any building material you can find, anywhere.  No more searching around for the heart that was stepped on and flung to the ground... no more searching for arms and legs you lost in a personal melt-down.  you're whole, and you stay that way, whatever temporary structures the storm destroys.

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