Friday, March 31, 2000

1 Peter 5:5-10

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion. walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
1 Peter 5:5-10


Long, I know... but great stuff. :)  I was the oldest child, so I always liked the first part... unfortunately, the actual verse goes on to say that we all need to be submissive to each other, so once my siblings were old enough to point that out, I didn't win any more battles with it. :)  I think it is a really good model of how we should all interact, with humility... never assuming that we know what someone is going to say, never assuming that we have a corner on the truth and that there is nothing to learn... that's one thing about this life.  Since it is a test... there is ALWAYS something to learn.  The image of us under the mighty hand of God is a pretty vivid one as well... a good reason to be humble perhaps... but God's hand is lengthened out to save, to protect, to guide, to strengthen.  Sometimes it seems too ... I don't know... hovering (?)  to us... but that hand that makes us realize his greatness and our nothingness is the same hand that loves us and exalts us and will make us equal to the tasks before us, and grant us everything that He has.  I think it is cool that we can cast our cares on him, because he cares for us... if we were just doing it because he was powerful, then it would be a little hollow... but we share our cares with the people we love here... we can grasp that concept. :)  Then... watch out for Satan, because he hates us, in contrast to God who we just mentioned... who loves us, and watches out for us.  and remember that we share the burden of Satan and everything that happens to us with our peers in the world... we all have to deal with the test.  it doesn't make it simple, but we can share experiences and notes... and maybe we'll figure out the answer to that essay question that has been stumping us... because we can work on it together.  We are never alone, even in our afflictions.  And finally, after we go through the testing period, God will take us to our eternal homes... and we'll be perfect.  what an amazing concept that is. :)

Thursday, March 30, 2000

Mark 9:35-37

"And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me."
Mark 9:35-37


This is cool.  God is telling us here that greatness is an incredible different thing than what we usually think of in our society.  It isn't being rich or owning a company, or being brilliant and inventing something... none of those things that usually come up.  It is helping other people, and serving each other.  It's accepting and loving children, and not only children physically, but children in other ways.  Remembering that we are children as well... we need to "play nice." :)  If we want to succeed and be powerful and great and be first in line when we get to heaven... the best thing we can do is serve other people, and help *them* to be powerful and great, and help them get in the same line.  Ironically, the lesson here is that to be first, you have to be last. :)  And maybe we'll learn that being first isn't all that important. :)  We aren't all that important as individuals, apart and alone.  It's when we participate in a community, when we build connections and relationships with other people, and with God... when we are working towards a greater good, that's when we become important... and the very time when we don't care about being important.  And definitely not to say that we don't have individual worth... we do, we are amazing, beautiful, pure, brilliant beings with infinite potential... but what good is potential if you don't go and do something with it?  Let's go out there and build something that is greater than ourselves.  It's too big to do alone, but together... who can stop us?  God is one our side, after all. :)

Wednesday, March 29, 2000

2 Nephi 2:15-16 -- On Looking Beneath the Candy Coating

"And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.  Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other."
2 Nephi 2:15-16


So, this is cool... I think it is interesting that in the garden of Eden, the tree that provided you with eternal life produced bitter fruit and the one that you were forbidden to eat of was sweet... maybe choosing the bad thing has always had better immediate benefits. :)  Which is all part of the plan, right?  In the second verse it tells us that we wouldn't be able to act for ourselves unless both were enticing.  If God put bad stuff down here in crappy packaging, where would the choice be?  We'd just go... the good, of course.  So, God allows it to be glamorized, to appear romantic or sometimes better than we ever dreamed anything could be... so that it is a real choice.  So that we really have to learn why good is good and bad is bad on a deeper level than the packaging.

Sometimes the best thing is bitter to us at first, the taste... the choice... because we see what we aren't choosing, as well as what we are.  But the good things really are good underneath, and the bad things are hollow.  Like the candy coating of an MnM and then there is no chocolate filling... in fact, the center might be something really disgusting.  All the packaging in the world can't change the true nature of our choices.  We just have to look very carefully, and listen to God, who is wiser than we are.

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 61:36-39

"And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;
And inasmuch as you have humbled yourselves before me, the blessings of the kingdom are yours.
Gird up your loins and be watchful and be sober, looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, for he cometh in an hour you think not.
Pray always that you enter not into temptation, that you may abide the day of his coming, whether in life or in death.  Even so.  Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 61:36-39


This scripture combines two themes which seem on the surface to be contradictory... joy and the second coming.  Usually the second coming is associated with war and death and scariness.  but here God tells us to be cheerful. :)  And why should we be cheerful?  :)  Because he is with us, he hasn't given up on us, or left us alone... we're his little children, and we need to be humble and acknowledge the fact that he knows a lot more about how to deal with all of it than we do... he tells us to be ready for the second coming, because it won't come at some obvious time... and that we need to pray... always.  So that we can stay away from temptation, and also that we'll be able to deal with the second coming... and not just in a physical way, war and death-wise... but spiritually... whether in life or in death, that we'll be able to see God again and tell him how we did on the test... maybe we got stuck on that first essay question and missed a bunch on the multiple choice section... but we really tried. :)  And you know... if we tried, we'll pass.  It's the tendency that we have to give up that we have to fight.  We're just little children.  We have a long way to go.  If we have a hard time learning addition, that's okay... we'll get to division when we're ready.  But we can't give up, or we'll never master even the simplest arithmetic.  God will teach us everything we want to know... help us become artists or poets or architects or doctors... but we can't just skip first grade and think we're going to make it there.
Anyway, I am babbling... the thing is, God never forgets us, and the second coming *will* be joyful... if we try.  If we haven't given up, yelled at the teacher, and tried to hide in the sandbox.  If we have, then we'll be scared when our dad comes to find us, because we know we'll get in trouble.  But if we're in class... even if we aren't getting it very quickly... then we'll be where we're expected to be, and we can get in the car and go home with him.

Monday, March 27, 2000

2 Corinthians 5:15 -- On Living His Dream

"And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
2 Corinthians 5:15


Interesting stuff.  I was reminded of this scripture yesterday in this remarkable lesson we had in relief society... on *chastity* of all things.  Usually not one of the lesson subjects that you just rejoice in, but this time it was. :)  Bold and clarifying.
Anyway, *today* we are talking about this scripture and it is a great one... Christ died for us, giving us a chance to work for something greater than ourselves.  Instead of living for ourselves and our limited aspirations... we can live Christ's dream for us instead... becoming greater individuals as well as members of a Zion community.  Something to live for... to work at.  I know when I think of what I can be in life, I think maybe I will grow up and become a hermit. :)  But God has other plans, and maybe... if I work really hard, and trust him... his dreams will become reality for me instead of my own... which are admittedly, rather limited.  :)

Sunday, March 26, 2000

Ephesians 4:29-32

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:29-32


So this one doesn't require much commentary... be nice. :)  Of course, if you think you're going to get off that easy, you're crazy... this is Suzanne the professional babbler we are talking about. :)  I like the fact that the scripture mentions "tenderhearted" ... so many times this is seen as a weak trait... especially in men.  but it is a Godly trait, and one that no amount of "tough guy" movies should drum out of us.  We desensitize ourselves to so many things in this life... and it helps us cope in some ways.  If we were sensitive to the threat of nuclear war every minute of the day we would be stressed all the time... but we can't desensitize ourselves to everything... especially people.  especially the Spirit.  God isn't going to get through to us when we are playing the tough guy role... pretending that we can make it absolutely alone with no help from him or anyone else.  we *can* be heroic and make a powerful difference in this world, but it requires help from the people around us, and from God.
Sometimes when we can't deal with emotion we use anger to cover it up... the emotional cover-up of anger is okay when we are trying to be tough, but the real emotion underneath isn't.  Let's try to put away the anger, and remember that it is okay to be tenderhearted.  God is tenderhearted, and he is the most powerful of all.

Saturday, March 25, 2000

Romans 13:8-10

"Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."
Romans 13:8-10


This is cool.  What we owe each person on this earth is love... and, as long as we understand what God means by love, we'll be okay.  One of the things that it means is in the last verse... love worketh no ill to our neighbors.  So sometimes (I am again reminded of Till We Have Faces... good book) what we think of as love isn't really... sometimes we hurt people and we think that we needed to out of love... or we try to manipulate people in some way out of "love" ... those things aren't love.  they might be shards of love that have been twisted to suit our purposes, but they aren't the real thing.  Love is what God is talking about here... we won't break any of the commandments, because we know that it will hurt our neighbors... people that we love.  We won't destroy one neighbor in preference to another, because we love them all.
So many movies have come out that talk about love in a twisted way... that we should be willing to sacrifice ourselves and everyone and everything else for "love" ... for that one person, that one feeling.  That's twisted.  Love is a strong emotion, and necessitates commitment and risk and action... but not destruction.  We should never have to choose hurting one person in order to love another... and we should never have to choose between God and love... because God IS love.  Whenever we have to make that choice, then we are only getting a little piece of love... not the real thing.
The Queen in Till We Have Faces lived her whole life thinking that she had truly loved some of the people in her life, and saw afterward that what she had thought was love wasn't at all... I remember taking an undergraduate seminar when I was a Psych major... the whole class was on love... we wrote a definition at the beginning and discussed it the whole semester, and then another definition at the end.  Everything I knew then I would just throw away and start over... love takes a long time to learn, and in 10 years I’ll probably look back and scrap a lot of the definition I have now... but learning that love is never destructive is always a positive thing. :)  And maybe someday I’ll get the whole definition down. :)

Friday, March 24, 2000

Hebrews 12:1-2

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2


So... :)  First of all about the cloud of witnesses. :)  Kind of cool imagery... talking about the prophets and saints that have gone before... maybe they are hanging out in a cloud and watching us. :)  Also... everything around us points to God.  It's so obvious to me, in the sky every day, in nature, in the world and the people around me... that sometimes I get thrown back into reality abruptly when someone creates an atmosphere where God is in doubt.  At work it happened a few weeks ago... and just last Tuesday in class.  Someone looks at you like you are insane believing in God, and you step back for a second... but God IS reality.  In our context during the test of life, there are a lot of things that will try to obscure that reality... but it's true.  The test isn't pointless... it will be graded. :)
Anyway, the rest is awesome too... let us lay aside every weight.  So many times living righteously can seem like a burden... but when you climb out of sin, you realize that the sin was the actual burden, and your whole life is lightened and easier to bear.  And run with patience. :)  That's the trick, isn't it?  But Christ, our eternal example... he saw the prize waiting at the end of the race, and he went through everything to get it.  It's like trying to qualify for the Olympics... people give up years of their lives working for the thrill of going there.  And heaven... it's better than the Olympics. :)  So much better that it is worth everything we have and can do to go there, to be there... it's even worth being patient, hard at that is to accept. :)

Thursday, March 23, 2000

Romans 14:10-13

"But why dost thou judge thy brother?  or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?  for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
Romans 14:10-13


I like this scripture. :)  it talks about judging, but instead of just saying "don't" it helps us to know what we should do instead. :)  It seems to me basically to be saying... why are you working against each other when you should be helping each other?  We're all in the test together, and we're all going to be evaluated in the end.  Does it make sense then, to try to sabotage each other?  The test is open book, we are allowed to collaborate... let's do it.  In the end, we'll all get our own grade... but if we study together, maybe we'll do better.
Each of us will have to face God, our instructor, in the end... and instead of getting so concerned about who WE think should pass or fail... why don't we just help each other pass?  Instead of judging other people, let us judge instead whether we are helping or hindering the progress of the people around us.  When someone comes to you for help you can either tell them the wrong answer, that you don't know the answer, or help them find the right answer.  Other people's success IS our success... and inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these... we need to lift people up in order to become a Zion community, in order to be saved as a people.  Let's heal instead of hurt, help instead of hinder... and we'll all make it through, even the roughest times. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

2 Nephi 32:3

"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.  Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."
2 Nephi 32:3


This is a great scripture.  It tells us to listen to angels, which is always a good plan... but it also tells us that we should feast upon the words of Christ.  And one of the places, besides direct angelic messengers, that we get those words... is right here, in the scriptures.  And WHY should we feast?  Because the words of Christ will lead us in our lives... tell us all the things that we need to do.  Help us whenever we are stuck.  It's like Christ sitting down and telling us these stories like a parable for our lives... and we have to see how they fit in, and get the lesson. :)  And sometimes they aren't hard to figure out at all... it's plain and simple and pure.  So directness when we need it and depth when we need it... and everything to learn.  You can never say "I know the scriptures" .... how could anyone know all there is in there... layers upon layers upon layers.  More to learn every time... and a promise here of direction and guidance and application to our lives. :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2000

1 Nephi 17:13

"And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led."
1 Nephi 17:13


Someone read this in my ward a few weeks ago, and I've been thinking about it.  I guess it was always one of those scriptures that I kind of glossed over, thinking that it was just part of the story, and not directly applicable to me... but, you know... it is.  Just like Nephi would apply all scriptures unto himself and his family, we can do the same with this.  We all go through our personal wildernesses.  In order to get where God wants us to be, sometimes we have to give up our cool homes in Jerusalem, our gold and silver, and our way of life... in order to get to the promised land.  And it isn't a pretty journey.  Sometimes it takes years, and the scenery isn't that great.  Sometimes we have to cross oceans in crowded boats with people that hate us.  Sometimes we run out of food, and we are really hungry, and we wonder why we left Jerusalem at all.  But when the Lord asks us to take our individual journeys out of Jerusalem, he always promises that we are going someplace better.  Someplace where people won't try to kill us... :)  and much more than that.  Someday the journey is complete and we wonder... why isn't there a nice bed with soft pillows waiting for me?  I made the journey.... isn't that enough?  But we have to build a life in the promised land, and make it our own.  None of it is easy... but it is better than being slaughtered in Jerusalem... or forsaking all and recanting to the people who are threatening to kill us there.
And seriously.... (I say that, but I was deadly serious the whole time)... God is our light in the wilderness, and he prepares the way before us, telling us where to camp, and where to find food... and sustaining us from day to day on our path.  he says that we will be led... but not only that... and that is a great thing... but even better... we will KNOW that it is God that is leading us.  That is an indescribable confidence.  To know that God is leading, that he loves you... to know that you are on the right path, even if it is difficult.

Monday, March 20, 2000

Titus 3:1-7

"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Titus 3:1-7


Kind of long today... but very cool.  It confronts my problem with authority right up front and tells me to be subject to "powers" and "magistrates." :)  Guess now I have to... :)
Anyway, this is great stuff.... speak evil of no-one... be gentle and meek towards people.  that is cool... and requires some humility and vulnerability too.  if we are attacked in whatever way, physically, verbally, emotionally... our principles, values, beliefs... many times our initial reaction is to throw up walls... or attack in return.  it takes a lot of guts to be gentle and meek, and to really talk about things.
The third verse is kind of an extension of the second... we shouldn't speak evil of people who have made mistakes... which of us hasn't?  just because you haven't made that particular one, doesn't mean that you can judge and label that person.  I like also how it condemns hate here... I think we get so wrapped up hating things or people or whatever it is... that we spend a lot of the energy we should be using to love... to live... to embrace rather than reject.
Christ came and saved us from all of that, if we accept his gift... he taught us kindness and love, and even vulnerability... he who had all power and didn't *ever* have to be vulnerable.
And it wasn't anything that we have done that saved us, but his goodness.  We'll be resurrected, no matter what... live forever.  The part that we do have to work at is that other part about where we live, and who we live with.  And that requires effort... but effort to accept Christ, and to do his will... so that when we come up short, as we always will... that he will make up the difference for us.  And you know... that doesn't just happen once, at the judgement day.... but always, every day that we welcome him in and seek his assistance in helping us to resolve problems in our lives.
Our hope helps us... when we really believe that we can do it... and Christ's help and intervention matters immensely there... then we will put forth the effort and work our way to him.  His yoke is easy, and his burden light... much lighter than the guilt and self-condemnation we heap upon ourselves freely.

Sunday, March 19, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 89:18 21

"And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.  Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 89:18 21


This is a great scripture talking about some of the things that the Lord will bless us with if we follow the word of wisdom (section 89).  And the blessings are more than amazing.  Health, wisdom, incredible knowledge.... physical blessings which seem incredible as well... and then the most incredible on of all at the end... that the destroying angel will pass by and not slay us.  If you guys saw the movie about Moses and pharaoh and slaying the firstborn of every house, you know what he is referring to here... and also, just that we'll have time to think about the test, and finish our personal missions here on earth... it's a great promise. :)  And you know, the Lord *keeps* his promises.  Always.  Sometimes we get kind of insensitive to promises because they seem meaningless in our society.  if you don't have something signed, then what good is it?  We aren't going to take someone's word at the car dealership until we see it in writing.  But God never fails to keep his promises to us... and if we keep our promises to him, he *always* blesses us... whatever it is, whenever it is.

Saturday, March 18, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 90:24

"Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another."
Doctrine and Covenants 90:24


Cool cool cool cool cool. :)  "All things shall work together for your good" ... amazing.  And sometimes you know, you are in some spiritual *zone,* and you can feel it happening.  Everything starts working out.  Bad things still happen but somehow you are able to handle them without falling apart... it's astounding.  It's like even your furniture likes you. :)
Seriously, when we search for the truth, talk to God, and have an attitude of belief instead of doubt when it comes to God... and when we remember our commitments, things just go better.  it might seem silly, but seriously, one of the biggest things that I fall back on when I am having a bad day is the fact that every time I have made the experiment, I have had had a better day when I read my scriptures in the morning than when I haven't... happier.  And I figure, if I am happier... that is what I should do.  There are plenty of other things to believe in... but if your furniture likes you, and you are happy... you're probably going to be okay. :)  God loves us, and instead of the whole world being against you, wouldn't it be nice if the whole world was behind you? :)

Friday, March 17, 2000

Psalms 37:1-5

"Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."
Psalms 37:1-5


There are a lot of great things in this psalm, but we'll stick to this part of it for now. :)  God is so cool to us. :)  He tells us "fret not" ... :)  I think that should be the theme of the day. :)  No fretting (which is worrying, in case you don't know).  So, he says okay... don't worry about all the bad stuff that goes on all around you, and don't be jealous of people who seem to be able to live happily doing bad stuff... do what you can, and relax a little.  That kind of happiness is fleeting (temporary).... but let me tell you what *will* last. :)  And then he tells us... trust in me.  if you do, then there is no need at all to fret.... I'll take care of you, and feed you... physically, spiritually... emotionally.   If you delight in me, which fulfils the desires of my heart... then I will give you the desires of your heart.  every path you go down, dedicate your steps to me... and as long as you are headed for a good place, I’ll make sure you don't stumble or lose your way.
God loves us so much... he watches over us, and all he wants is for us to love him, and for us to be safe and happy.  Nothing he does is motivated by anything else.  trust him... delight in him. :)  imagine... I don't even think that our brains usually know what the desires of our hearts are.  usually when we actually get something that is close we are astounded that anything could be SO good.  Someday, God will wipe away all tears from our eyes, and we will be happier than we can imagine.  The trick is trusting God, and not fretting. :)  Sometimes we think that we need this or that RIGHT NOW, or we might as well settle for less.  if we are patient, and trust that God will really do what he says... he's a lot better at timing than we are, and the timing and the amazement of it all will be better than any of us EVER could have arranged for ourselves.
Anyway, I am babbling... but remember: Fret not.  Relax.  You do your job, and let God do his.  Don't try to control everything, just do what you can.

Thursday, March 16, 2000

John 13:34-35

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
John 13:34-35


This is cool... for a couple of reasons.  first, Christ commands us to love each other... but not just "do it" but watch me, and love other people just like I have loved you.  He isn't the kind of leader, ever, that just tells you what to do... he shows you, teaches you... he's been there.  And to love other people the way that Christ loves us, that is huge.  And to know how huge it is, we have to study his life, and see the way that he loved other people and had compassion for them.  The way he hung out with people from every socioeconomic category... the way he offered love and peace and healing to those with every kind of background and who were burdened with a myriad of sins...
And then he tells us that our love for each other will set us apart, and make it apparent to all that we are followers of Christ.  Unfortunately there are people who profess Christianity all over the world that are slaughtering other people because they believe differently... who hate other people because they aren't living a particular moral law... or because they are different from themselves in some other way.  So right here, we see that that isn't what Christ wants... and people who hate each other are NOT his disciples.  Instead of working on how to divide the good from the bad and put up walls between the groups... he worked on uniting people, on breaking down those walls... on teaching people to serve and love each other instead of investing so much time in thinking about who was better or about who was more obedient.

Wednesday, March 15, 2000

John 12:46

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
John 12:46


This is cool.  sometimes our lives seem pretty bleak... dismal... black.  Seems like everything is going wrong and things are falling apart right and left.  And this mist of darkness comes to everyone... whether they are on the right path or not.  It's designed to confuse us and obscure our view of the goals of this life... or make them seem so overwhelmingly impossible that there is no reason to even try.  But it's all a lie.  The goals are right in front of us, better and more rewarding than any of the lies that are whispered in the mist... or actually, not whispered at all... the lies that are shouted, trying to drown out all sense of perspective and make us scared and desperate.  And reaching the things that God has in store for us is not impossible at all... God is there to lend us strength, and he always teaches us line upon line... he never throws it at us all at once.
Darkness obscures vision.  It is hard for us to see the way... to see God, to even see ourselves, or the people around us... but Christ brings light into the Satan-darkened world... and when we have the light, we can see how attainable the eternal goals really are.  They have never been out of reach.  God knows that we are still little kindergarteners and that we can barely tie our shoes, let alone write a doctoral dissertation.  Of course the dissertation seems overwhelming... because we're little kids.  We're not there.  But someday, we'll grow up... and along the way, we'll learn how to write, and learn how to do all the things that we need to do to get there, step by step.  The goal for *today* is, learn to tie your shoes... and practice it over and over again, so that it isn't something you have to think too hard about.
When the light is there, we have hope... hope that we can grow up someday, and learn those big-people things... hope that we can become as cool as our dad and mom... hope that we can go to school and learn all that stuff that they know.  And we can.  But it takes time.  Don't get impatient and try to be an instant adult... the whole "just add water" thing doesn't work with people... :)  Don't expect to be in graduate school today.  God is going to teach you everything you need to know... everything.  Focus on the lesson that you have *today,* and know that it is possible, with God's help.
Don't let the darkness rule your life... there is light.  Turn it on.  (It makes it easier to tie your shoes) ... :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Mosiah 7:29, 33

"For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.
. . .
But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage."
Mosiah 7:29, 33


I like this scripture even though it isn't that cheery because it shows the grace and mercy of God... and it also shows us one of the ways that we can tell if our lives are going well.  God tells us that we're going to have a lot of problems trying to succeed when we aren't living the way we should.  It's happened to me... seems like when I am doing good that things go so much more smoothly.  I get a great job, I have great friends, I sail through life.  When I am not doing so good, I might get laid off, be in a car accident... just things that make me think, and that make me realize that I need God.  Not that life goes perfectly even with God... but if he is there to get you through, nothing seems as dramatic or hard to accept.
And it is always good to remember that God isn't going to help us to live the wrong way.  Even though that sometimes seems harsh, what it really says is that he doesn't want to assist us in achieving personal misery.  On the other hand... as quickly as we repent, and show our true commitment to God's truth and his ways... we will be delivered out of the prison of sin, and the misery that we have chosen for ourselves.  He loves us, and will rescue us over and over again... but we have to want to be rescued and taken to safety.  If we only want to feel happy while we are walking around on shards of glass... he isn't going to do that.  He is our Eternal father, and he loves us too much to "bless" us with self-deception.

Monday, March 13, 2000

Ether 8:26

"Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power among the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved."
Ether 8:26


This scripture is interesting to me because it seems like such a huge thing to do... "that evil may be done away."  But Moroni here has *absolute* faith that his words will help that to happen.  This chapter talks about the secret combinations and murders that were going on at the time of the Jaredites... and warns us that they are going on now, in our day... and that we need to realize it and work at not having it among us.  That's huge too... secret combinations like they describe here are all over the place... the Mafia just being one of the most well-known.  These things are among us... and they seem to be there for good... but Moroni says that evil will be done away, and that we can be persuaded to do good continually. :)  What hope in the midst of the evil that surrounds us in life... and something to work for.  If we work at being good and eradicating evil from ourselves, then we'll be ready to join in a community effort to do the same thing on a larger scale.  And I am not talking about some horrible "don't let your kids play with those non-member kids" idea... I think that is part of the evil, not part of the solution.  I'm talking about seriously learning to love our neighbors... seriously educating each other so that we can see the best in ourselves and in others... and getting rid of the hatred that fills our society.
Moroni talks about Satan having no power among us... and how better to take away that power than by seriously loving people?  your basic commandments... Love God, love other people... and the ten commandments... no being mean to each other, etc. :)  I'm usually not an advocate of back to basics programs, but maybe we need to look at  how we are doing just in the love area sometimes.  I know I need to.  Zion begins with the individual... and as we become Zion individuals, then we will build a Zion community, and a Zion nation... and a Zion world, and the prophecy of Moroni will be fulfilled.

Sunday, March 12, 2000

Mark 5:25-29 -- On Becoming Whole

"And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague."
Mark 5:25-29


I love this story too.  Although this woman had a physical ailment, and the woman taken in adultery had a spiritual ailment, I think in a lot of ways they teach the same thing.  These women show us that God can help us when no one else can.  You can look to the law, you can look to the doctors, you can talk to all the experts... and when none of it works, Christ will still heal us.  Imagine this woman's faith... it says that she spent everything she had on doctors.... and they couldn't make it better, but it actually was getting worse.  For twelve *years* she suffered through all of this... and had *every* reason to doubt that anything could be done... and yet, she believed.  And she came to Christ, and initiated the healing by touching his clothing.  Powerful faith, and a powerful woman, to draw upon Christ's power like that.  Hundreds of people likely touched him that day... but her touch was different.

I think it is the same in our lives.  Christ is there, we have access to him.  And thousands of people are praying to him, touching him in many ways... but we can do more than just make contact.  we can be healed of our ailments... physical, mental, spiritual... if we draw upon the power that he offers us.  There are many ailments in our lives, many things that we can't figure out... and God has the power to teach us and to heal us, if we will only draw upon his power, we can use it to become whole in our own lives... and to make a positive difference in the lives of the people around us.

So many of us suffer as this woman did... for twelve or however many years... trying to get healing from someplace... whatever "experts" we look to... or sometimes we think that we can heal ourselves of whatever malady besets us... but continue to suffer.  God offers peace, and wholeness.  He cures physical and mental illnesses, addictions, mental blocks, and every sort of spiritual dilemma that we can be faced with.  Ask God for the strength and the power to overcome the obstacles in your life.  He has promised us that our weaknesses will be made strengths.  Let's take him up on the offer. :)

Saturday, March 11, 2000

Romans 12:1-5

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
Romans 12:1-5


I like the conformed-transformed comparison. :)  instead of being changed to be smaller than you are... limited possibilities, etc... be changed to be bigger than you think you are... *more* possibilities... but back to the beginning.  I like the first verse because it talks about a living sacrifice... like *living* for something, rather than dying for it.  I think it usually takes a lot more effort to live for what you believe.  and as I think we have talked about before... this "reasonable service" that God asks really IS reasonable.  He knows what we can do, and he gives us the power to do it.  I like the renewing of your mind part too... sometimes we pack so much trash into our minds that we need some renewing... or sometimes we need some renewing just because our minds get darkened and we can't see the light clearly.  but when our minds are renewed, we can see God's light clearly and there is no question what God's will is...
And then, humility again... we shouldn't ever think that we are the queen (or king) and that everyone else is around to do our bidding. :)  God has given us all different levels of faith... different gifts... and we NEED each other, in order to build our faith, share our gifts... and learn more talents.  We might be the queen of something... but in other areas, we are just little peons, and we need someone else to help us get closer to acceptable. :)  We should never assume, just because we have so much to teach, that we have nothing to learn.  Everyone has something that we need... and we have something that other people need.  We build Zion together, and we succeed or fail as a nation and as a community together.  No-one is going to be saved alone... we work out our own salvation, but that effort involves other people... and nothing that we do affects only ourselves, though sometimes it would be nice to think so.  God says, if ye are not one, ye are not mine... we all have to do our part, but it's our part as members of a team... a family, a community, a friendship... a nation, a church... a Zion people.  And just as every group needs members who all contribute, we have to be whole and strong people in order to build whole and strong communities.  the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Friday, March 10, 2000

Matthew 20:1-2, 6-7, 9-11, 13-14, 16

"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them out into his vineyard.
. . .
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, why stand ye here all the day idle?
They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us.  He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
. . .
And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
. . .
But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
. . .
So the last shall be first, and the first last; for many be called, but few chosen.
Matthew 20:1-2, 6-7, 9-11, 13-14, 16


I promise I tried to shorten it.  :)  This is an amazing parable of the laborers in the field.  I think it means that Christ's Atonement really works... that whether you get on track in the beginning of your life, or the end of your life... you receive the same reward, for God loves all his children, and if repentance works, then that is good.  I mean, obviously sin has other consequences that have to be worked though... it is hard work to try to go work in the fields in the eleventh hour... personal addictions to overcome, personal habits to break.  I think that anyone who actually gets to the field and works with the Lord is going to be okay... and I think that's what this parable teaches us as well.
Keeping it short today because the scripture is so long... but read it.  look it up and read the whole thing.  and think... is this fair?  hasn't Christ redeemed us all?  aren't these our brothers and sisters?  Do ANY of us "deserve" eternal life?  No... but the laborer is worthy of his hire, Christ *makes* us worthy, and whole, and offers us eternal life... whenever we get there.

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Luke 9:23-25

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?"
Luke 9:23-25


Interesting distinctions here... denying yourself and losing your life are not the same as losing yourself. :)  Christ says in the first verse that if we want to follow him, that we need to 1. deny ourselves... presumably meaning denying ourselves "of all ungodliness" as it says elsewhere in the scriptures... and perhaps also, denying ourselves in that we aren't seeking our own limited visions anymore, but we realize that God can help us to be better than we could ever be alone...
Then 2. take up our crosses daily... meaning that salvation requires effort.  Life is a test, and we need to study. :)  Of course God wants us to laugh and enjoy our lives... but we can't stop working on our relationship with him... God isn't just some friend that we send a Christmas card once a year... he's more like your best friend who you know you can drop in on anytime, and who you call when anything cool happens... or like I imagine a good marriage would be... you just can't just go a few days without talking, or you know something is wrong.  A relationship with God requires commitment and effort, no coasting allowed. :) taking up your cross isn't easy, and there are a lot of things that we suffer in this life... but because of our commitment to God, we accept the burdens, and he is there with us through the good *and* the bad.
And then 3. follow him.  he knows where we're going, we don't.  people scorn "blind obedience" ... and indeed it should be scorned if we can see...  we should look for the truth, and then follow it.  but sometimes we *are* blind, and we don't have any idea of the way.  Instead of pretending we can see in those cases, it is good to follow Christ, and let him lead us out of the darkness until we can see again.
so, denying ourselves isn't losing ourselves... and then, (there is a JST for verses 24-25 if you want to look it up) I think it is interesting that our lives are not ourselves either.  if you are worried too much about your earthly life... focusing only on what goes on within the walls of the testing center of life... then you'll eventually, when the test is over, lose everything that matters to you.  the test is not all... and if we are willing to let go of the test and face life outside the testing center, then we will find what true life and happiness is.
then, last verse... it talks about what losing yourself really is... it's thinking that the test is everything, it's *not* denying ourselves, because we have that perspective.  If we think that the test is everything, then why pass it... why even pick up the pencil if there is nothing after?  So, we won't deny ourselves the snacks in our backpacks... or maybe we'll get together with some other students and ransack the vending machines... whatever.   doesn't matter if there isn't anything outside those walls.  so, if we accept the memory loss that allows us to take the test, and assume that the walls define our existence, then we lose who we were before... and who we have a chance to be now... our potential.  we lose it... or we get thrown out of the testing center before we have a chance to pass, and that never reflects favorable on the final grade.

Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Moroni 7:12-14

"Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil."
Moroni 7:12-14


This whole chapter is amazing, but we'll have to save some of it for later. :)  I think this scripture is interesting because it says there is a clear distinction between good and bad, right and wrong... the theme of the whole chapter really... and that even though we are invited and enticed to choose one way or the other, we can tell what is good and bad by the end result... what path it leads to.  whether it is inspiring us to love and serve and help, or not.  And that we need to be careful not to be led away by Satan’s lies.  he tries to pretend that there is light and truth in his messages, but it's all illusion, leading us into the darkness.  Satan dresses up a pig as a princess and tries to get the prince to rescue it while the real princess is chained in the tower... we're in the audience and we yell to him "it's a pig, don't be fooled" ... but he is drawn in by the fine clothing, and he believes.  sometimes when we are living our stories, we need to take a step back and try to see it from the audience's perspective (and no, this is NOT about worrying what "people" think... by audience I just mean perspective, not letting others evaluate our lives)... or the *author's* perspective... and see the pig for what it is.  We're in this earth life to take a test, except some scary TA has come in and added a lot of surreal answers to the multiple choice section... and if we can read the question a couple of times and not be drawn in by the deception because we are trying to hurry on to the essay questions... :)  then we will be okay.  Pigs are not princesses.  Or princes, for that matter.

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

2 Nephi 9:50-52

"Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea come buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy.  Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.
Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night.  Let your hearts rejoice."
2 Nephi 9:50-52


So, we are on a happiness theme now.  Have you ever noticed how it is impossible not to repeat some theme... the scriptures are FULL of themes, and it seems like the Lord never just teaches one principle, he is always teaching how this fits into this other thing that we already know... he is SO amazing. :)
Let your hearts rejoice. :)  cool.  and *why* are we rejoicing again... oh, well that is the rest of the scripture. :)  we are rejoicing because God wants us all to come to him... the waters of righteousness, he wants us to come even if we feel like we have nothing to offer... he invites us anyway... he says "I see worth in you, even if you don't" and that worth will buy us anything that we need... eternity even, if we come unto him.  The only way we won't get it is if we refuse his invitation.
So, if God offers us everything... then we shouldn't be spending our money, or our worth, our souls... our hearts... for things that are worthless, and that have no power to satisfy (reminds me of this play I saw last week about a guy who searched his whole life for satisfaction).  I think that I do that way too often... dedicate money, or so much time and effort... or my heart and soul... to something that I know is temporary, that will fall apart... you know, like ice cream.  seriously, how long can it solve your problems? :)
So God says, hearken... listen to what I say.  I have much much *better* ice cream, and plus, it's FREE... so *why* are you wasting your time with some plain old vanilla from the grocery store... or even if you have the extra-coolest Ben & jerry's latest flavor... it's a small little carton, and how long will it last you?  Even that tastes like wet cardboard compared to mine... don't waste your time, or your money... when I have flavors that are SO much better, and all of it free, just because I care about you.  He says... come, feast on all the things that you need to nourish your heart, mind, and soul... that will never wear out or go away, that will make you happy... they taste better than wet cardboard, than green eggs and ham, than rare who roast-beast... the food of the Gods.  And when you come, and eat of THIS food... then let your soul *delight* in fatness, fill your whole soul with the taste and the texture of it... rejoice. :)
Remember that God has better things to offer... remember that he offers it to you for nothing.  all you have to do is come to the feast.  and remember to thank him for being so cool to us.... talking to him also helps us to rejoice. :)

Monday, March 6, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 130:1-2

"When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is.  We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy."
Doctrine and Covenants 130:1-2


Just some basic truths this morning... Christ is accessible, he is like we are, only perfect... and so it is possible to imagine walking in his way, following his footsteps... because they *are* footsteps, and because he has showed us the way, and set an example for us.  Sometimes life can get overwhelming and we think that there is no way that we can measure up, or do all the things that are expected.  but Christ suffered for us, and he *knows* how hard our lives are... and he *still* made it possible for each of us, individually, to return.  individually because we all have a way, and an individual plan.  God doesn't throw us all down here in some roman/Darwinian "survival of the fittest" spiritual gladiator match.  Every single person has a path back to God.  We don't all learn the same truths at the same time, and we definitely don't all have to become one in personality. :)  But we do have to find the truth... and get back to God.  Comparing our spirituality to someone else's is unproductive.  We all have spiritual strengths and weaknesses, just like we have mental or physical strengths and weaknesses.
And that same sociality exists.... so, we'll be able to hang out with God... and everyone else that we care about.  only, there it will be coupled with eternal glory, which as far as I can tell just means that it will all be a lot more fun. :)  there is a way for all of us to get to that amazingly cool place.  God doesn't discriminate based on *anything* ... he invites us all to come.  We just have to accept the invitation, and ask for directions. :)

Sunday, March 5, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 19:38-41

"Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing--yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof.
Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness?
Or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide?
Or canst thou be humble and meek, and conduct thyself wisely before me?  Yea, come unto me thy Savior.  Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 19:38-41


This scripture has a lot of stuff packed in there.  Starts out with a common theme... pray always.  Prayer is always a good idea.  God is pretty dang wise, and tapping into that storehouse of knowledge ... and power... just adds to *our* wisdom, and power. :)  Plus, he loves us and it's always nice to talk to people that love you. :)
So, then it goes on and it tells us that if we pray we'll get greater treasure than we could ever find upon the earth... some of those we just talked about... blessings of knowledge and wisdom and power for good .... *so* cool...
Then, can we read this without rejoicing?  :)  This reminds me of the book "Till We Have Faces" by C. S. Lewis (my absolute favorite)... one of the scenes has the main character going on a very depressing errand, and on the way she rides through beautiful fields and is overwhelmed by the glory of it... and thinks that she hears a voice saying to her "why should your heart not dance?" but she is determined to be sad. ... and so, yes, we *can* read this, and other amazingly cool things without rejoicing and lifting up our hearts for gladness... but *why?*  Our hearts *should* dance... our souls should fly. 
If we pray, we don't have to run around any longer leading ourselves blindly... God can show us the way.  And he will never lead us astray.  Instead of being blind, and sad... we can be happy, and have God, who can see, as our guide. :)
And here's how... pray, as in the first verse... and be humble and meek... we talked about this yesterday.  I think we have to be humble to accept God's wisdom, and recognize that he knows more than us. :)  And then the Lord says, come unto me... sometimes we go through life wondering what the point is, what we are working for... and this is it.  God is the goal.  To be with him, to be like him, to know and feel and see all that he is and does, to become everything that he is.
And behold, can *we* read and know and comprehend all that God has in store for us, and how he leads us and helps us every day, and how he gives us hope... without rejoicing and lifting up our hearts for gladness?  Sure, it's possible... but why try?

Saturday, March 4, 2000

Ether 12:27

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
Ether 12:27


It's kind of bizarre to me in this scripture that the reward for coming unto God is to see how imperfect you are. :)  Usually when we turn to people here on earth it is to get a little reassurance, a little validation... but with God, it's to get a little dose of reality. :)  I think that is sometimes why we can start to feel that God doesn't care... because he doesn't deal with us in the same way that our mortal peers do.  Whether we are doing good or evil, whether we are serving the homeless or being absolutely self-destructive, we can find someone to validate us, and to agree with us here on earth.  God only agrees with us when we do good.  That doesn't mean that he doesn't care, it just means that he is the best friend we could possible have... for instead of accepting our limited viewpoints, he challenges them, and encourages us to grow into greater people than we ever realized that we could be.  He is our perfect parent, comforting us and reassuring us that he loves us still when we have done wrong... but never accepting the wrong.  Telling us that we are better than that, and deserve better than that.
So weaknesses... being able to see our weaknesses is a pretty good reward actually.  Once we are aware of a problem, we can do something about it.  Sometimes it takes God's help to do something about it, but he never shows us a weakness without also offering to help us eradicate it.  I think it is pretty nice of him not to show me all of mine at the same time.  That could get pretty depressing.  He gives us weakness so that we can learn humility... and really, a dose of humility is the only thing that helps us reach out to those in need, that gives us the ability to relate to them... that makes us open and vulnerable enough to have positive relationships, with other people and God.  Humility is practically repentance... and makes repentance so much easier.  I think that's why it says that His grace is sufficient for all those who are humble... because then we can see where we need to improve, and how to help others.  The promise at the end is amazing... if we learn this humility, and we have faith... then those weak things will become strengths. :)  very cool.  And someday, all those weaknesses that seem awfully depressing to me now will ALL be strengths... another thing to live for. :)

Friday, March 3, 2000

1 John 1:4-7

"And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
This then is the message we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:4-7


This is cool.  First, because they are writing to us so that we will be happy.  That seems like a great motivation for writing. :)  At my job I read things that other people have written all day, and I am beginning to think that some people write for the express purpose of boring me out of my skull... but I don't know.  I could be wrong. :)  Anyway... not just happy but FULL of happiness... back to the theme of filling the emptiness that we feel inside sometimes.
And then... this is so cool.  God is light, and there is no darkness at all... a cool mental image for me.  when I get kind of down, I always say that I feel kind of dark... kind of like the mist of darkness that obstructs the way to the tree of life in Lehi's dream.  God is full of light, and doesn't have any of that darkness within, at all... and so, he can show me how to get it out of ME, right?  And, someday, in learning to become like him, perhaps I will get to the point where I never feel that darkness, not even occasionally on a bad day... no more bad days.  now *that* will be incredible.
And, even for now... the more we walk in the light, the closer we are to Him... the more we can grow to know Him and learn from Him. ... have fellowship with him.  doesn't that sound cool?  Wouldn't it be so great to just sit around with God and talk to him?  I had this dream once, when I was in college, I was probably 18 or 19... and in this dream a whole bunch of my friends and I were eating pizza and talking, and Christ came in.  And he sat down and talked with us as well.  And the thing that I noticed in the dream was that he always knew exactly what to say to each of them, what was going on in their lives, how to make them smile... and even though he was the center of attention, just by being there... *he* focused on each individual person, and made them feel like they were the whole world.  Anyway... this is scripture of the day, not dream of the day (hmm...) but that's what I think of when I think of fellowship with God... I think of just talking to him, over pizza.  Weird, eh? :)  Anyway, the whole idea of fellowship, with him, with each other... awesome... and then, that if we do all these cool things that sound great anyway... walk in the light, fellowship with God... that we will be purified and cleansed from sin, and then *we* can be without darkness as well... sounds like a pretty good deal to me. :)

Thursday, March 2, 2000

John 8:4-11

"They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus has lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
John 8:4-11


This is one of my favorite new testament stories... the woman was guilty... irrefutable proof.  The law was clear... being stoned to death was the punishment.  "fairness" and justice were satisfied with her condemnation.  But Christ, without denying justice, showed her mercy.  Significantly, Christ was the only one without sin, and he chose not to condemn her either.  He gave her another chance... and we all need another chance, no matter how many times we have screwed up.  Christ gives us that, always... our whole lives are a testing period, and even if we waste most of the time doodling on the answer sheet, God will still let us take it, and help us to pass.  He sees us individually, and knows what we need.  He has suffered our pains and our infirmities, he knows what it is like to *be* us... he *has* walked in our shoes, and he knows more about the path than we do.  If Christ, who knows everything and everyone, gave the woman another chance... then we need to give people another chance... and another, and another, and another.  Not that I think anyone should stay in an abusive situation, at all.... but we need to let people live and try again, and not judge them for the past.  Maybe our heart has been stomped on, or people in positions of authority have acted like idiots... we still need to be open, and to love... and we still need to pray for our leaders.  And we also need to give *ourselves* another chance.  God is there in our individual struggles just as much as he was with this woman taken in adultery.  He loves us just as much, and he will offer us the same absolution if we turn to try again.  No-one is ever lost in this life.  the test goes on... and only God determines when it is over for each of us.

Wednesday, March 1, 2000

2 Corinthians 8:12-15

"For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack."
2 Corinthians 8:12-15


Wow, this is interesting.  in this chapter they are mostly talking about giving to the poor, but I think that it applies to a lot of other things as well... building Zion, the whole idea of an ideal community where there are no poor... like the City of Enoch.  A fascinating idea, and one that we can work for.  In this scripture it starts out talking about a willing mind... and in the Doctrine and Covenants it tells us that "The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind" ... we have to have our wills and our emotions open to the Lord... so, building upon that, if we have a willing mind, then we need to act on it (which it says earlier in this chapter), and we are accepted according to what we have... the Lord is the ultimate in individualized education.  If we haven't had inspiration or revelation then he isn't going to expect us to act on it, he is going to start us out at step one, feeling the spirit... or whatever step one is between the two of you. :)   If we aren't rich, then he isn't going to expect us to give a million dollars to people in need... he is going to expect us to start out at step one, a dollar... or whatever step one is between the two of you. :)  But the whole idea that is absolutely incredible here is the balancing that goes on... whatever we excel in, that's what we can offer to others... and fill the deficits in them... and whatever we lack, that's what we can accept from others, to fill the deficits in ourselves... thus becoming whole, and healthy, and a Zion community.  And it is God's will that we live that way, so it isn't like it is trusting in the arm of flesh, if we are doing it correctly... it's like some cool barter system that involves not just loaves of bread and gardening, or jell-o or whatever... but spiritual gifts, and worldly goods, and our talents. :)  I think we sometimes get burned on giving in this life, because people try to steal what we have, or demand it, or take it for granted, or reject it sometimes.... but so what, really?  their loss if they don't want to live in a community of giving.  It helps us to give, to open ourselves... no matter whether our gifts are rejected or scorned.  And when we all do it together, and share our gifts with one another... then we build something better than any of us has ever known.  And someday, with God's help, and our efforts... we WILL have that community.  Where we share what we have, emotionally, spiritually, materially... something to live for. :)

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