Sunday, April 30, 2000

Luke 6:40

"The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master."
Luke 6:40

Yesterday we talked about how God doesn't give us things to do that he doesn't also give us the power and the possibility of accomplishing.  And that includes perfection. :)  Obviously it isn't a commandment to become perfect immediately, with a snap of the fingers... it's something that might take us a while. :)  But this is a great promise... the Lord tells us that we aren't above him... and that is pretty apparent if we ever really think about it... but that we have the chance at being like him... on the same level.  that's mind-boggling.  We limit our own possibilities so much, thinking that we can't make a difference to this or that, or what is one person against huge things like war and death and hunger... but then, this... we have the chance to be like God.  To make every difference, to be a moving force through everything.  How can we ever say that we don't have the power to change... ourselves *or* the world around us??  We have the power to be a positive force in the world... and the more we practice using that power, the closer we will be to perfection... as individuals, and as a community.  so... let's do it. :)

Saturday, April 29, 2000

1 Nephi 3:7

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."
1 Nephi 3:7

My sister and I were in the midst of yet another e-mail philosophy session the other day when she started talking about this scripture, not quoting it, but talking about the clause that we have from God where he doesn't give us anything that we can't handle. :)   She told me that she invokes the clause from time to time, and gets a break... at least a few minutes of peace to re-group and get ready for the next episode of "my three nephews." :)  And you know, she's right.  Hope is just flowing out of this scripture... anything that we are asked to do, by God, we know that there is automatically a way to accomplish it.  Isn't that an amazing thought?  There are these huge political sledgehammers fighting each other at work, and huge other kinds of sledgehammers elsewhere in my life... and sometimes it just doesn't seem *possible* to get through the day without getting smashed.  But, now and in the future... God makes it possible to do the things that I need to do, and to survive the smash if it happens. :)  So, really... if I can accept God's word here... there is no reason to stress about things... as long as I can just figure out the way through this one... because there always IS a way through... God promises us that.

Friday, April 28, 2000

Jeremiah 23:23

"Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?"
Jeremiah 23:23

Obviously this is a rhetorical question, but a good one.  I think sometimes we think that we only deal with God at church, or maybe even that we can run away from him to some remote place.  he's there, constantly, in a very real way.  I think we go to church for ourselves in a lot of ways... so that we can remember him, so that we can learn how to worship and get some information, and take the sacrament, which is really important... but it isn't someplace we go so that we can interact with God... because he is there ALL the time... and we should be interacting with him in our daily lives... finding a way to merge our church personalities with our work and school personalities, etc.  Finding ways to be whole... as God is.  And also... I think we need to remember that God isn't just God for us... but for *everyone* we come into contact with, or see on the news, or anywhere there is... and that we need to respect those people as family... and not criticize and judge them like they are outsiders of some secret club... God is their Father as well.

Thursday, April 27, 2000

Mosiah 3:24-25

"And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.
And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from which they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls."
Mosiah 3:24-25

This isn't a very cheery scripture, but I thought it was interesting as a contrast to the way life is now.  Now... we are judged by the world usually for what we look like on the outside... the way we dress, the language we use... how much money we appear to have... the color of our skin... who we hang around with... the masks that we wear and the labels that people attach to us.  And in the end... we'll be judged by what we wanted, and the way we acted towards other people... our works, good or evil.  Now, we are able to block out guilt and pain by keeping "busy" or overwhelming it with some other feeling or addiction... chocolate for example. :)  Then, it doesn't look like that will be possible.  It will be there in front of us, apparent at all times.  And of course the drinking damnation is a creepy image... what would that look like in a glass... and why would ANYONE drink it?
Anyway, so a little more contrast and then I'll end... Now, we have the ability to apply Christ's Atonement in our lives.  Sometimes we suffer as we get to the point of the "fear of the Lord" that we talked about before... knowing the difference and the distance between God and ourselves.  That is a hard realization, especially for those of us with a perfectionist bent who have a hard time thinking that it is okay to not be perfect.  And sometimes we suffer when we want something that we know isn't right... it is very difficult to find the way to a change of heart at times.  probably part of the fear of the Lord as well... the humility to see the difference and know that we need to be *there* and not think that he needs to come to us... but anyway... Now, we can change those things.  we have power to feel that distance, and to work at forgiveness.  After the initial realization, after the pain of the change of heart... then the rest is pretty easy.  Christ suffered *for* us... we don't have to suffer once we have those things.  we just have to realize the distance, and want to bridge it.  after that, Christ takes care of it, and we don't have to suffer anymore... we can get back on the path to God, and go as fast as we can. :)  But, if we don't do that work now... then, we will be beyond the veil.  We won't be able to block out the guilt and pain anymore... we will automatically realize the distance and probably want to bridge it because we will remember who we were before this life, and the relationship that we had with God... and we won't be able to bridge the gap.  Not cheery... but a good reminder for us all... let's do the work in this life.  Christ died for us for a reason... let's find out what that reason is, and live for it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2000

3 Nephi 14:12

"Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets."
3 Nephi 14:12

Sometimes we get overwhelmed with all the different things that we have to do to be "obedient" and good. :)  So sometimes God reminds us that actually, if we could just get the basics down, then everything else would fall into place.  This is one of those scriptures.  If we could just master treating other people as we would like to be treated... forgiving people as we would like to be forgiven... spending time with people as we would like people to spend time with us.  talk to people as we would like them to talk to us... love people as we would like to be loved... if we could just do this one thing, loving our neighbors... then all the rest of it would just happen as a natural result.  And what a difference in the world.  Who would go hungry if we were seriously feeding others as we would like to be fed?  Who would be alone if we were welcoming others into our lives the way that we would like them to welcome us into their lives?  Let's just try to do this one thing today. :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2000

2 Corinthians 7:1

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
2 Corinthians 7:1

This scripture could be referring to any promises that God offers I suppose, but the end of chapter 6 offers some specific ones... God says I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and that we will be his sons and daughters.  Cool promises, drawing in the whole family imagery, and seriously... if we aren't a family, it isn't him that has disowned us, but we that have forsaken him.  He is always looking for us, his lost sheep... and welcoming us prodigals home with a feast and rejoicing.  He knows that we are family.  we are the ones that forget sometimes.
Anyway, in this verse it talks about being clean, which is always a good thing... but then it says "perfecting holiness in the fear of God." ... curiouser and curiouser. :)  And I think that this is really cool.  We were reading in Mosiah 4:1-3 in church on Sunday and it seemed to be saying what the fear of the Lord is... that it is viewing ourselves as we really are, and seeing the difference between where we are and where God is... which makes us feel kind of like dust. :)  So in this verse where it says that we perfect holiness in the fear of God... it makes so much more sense to me (though of course, I could just be insane... that is always a possibility) .... that we can actually become clean, perfect and holy *because* we see our filthiness... because we see the distance between us and God, we can start going in the right direction.  We can return as a prodigal, or as a lost sheep, because we realize that's who we are.  That seems to me to be the difference between the "sinners" and the Pharisees, etc.  all through the new testament too... that one group could see where they were going wrong and one couldn't.  It doesn't feel that great... but what a GREAT, amazing blessing it is to know where we stand, and where God stands... to be able to measure the distance... and know that he will help us to bridge it.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, right?  all these scriptures about fear are falling into place for me. :)  So, anyway, sorry if I was babbling too much... I just love it. :)

Monday, April 24, 2000

Mosiah 4:26

"And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants."
Mosiah 4:26

This is interesting.  It's basically saying that if we want to apply Christ's atonement in our lives each day, that we need to be mindful of the poor... that we need to be taking care of them.  Again with the theme of being a family and community... we should take care of each other... and not just physical needs, but spiritual needs as well.  All of need the gift that Christ gave us, and this is how to retain it... by helping people be equal, helping people be happy.  As Neal A Maxwell says, we are each other's clinical experience in this test of life... and if we only hang out with people who are like we are, and we avoid all others... how good is that experience going to be?  Love God, and love your neighbor... and remember that the man with the cardboard sign on the street corner is just as much your neighbor as your best friend.  We're all in this together. :)

Sunday, April 23, 2000

Jeremiah 2:19-21

"Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.
For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?"
Jeremiah 2:19-21

This is really interesting... in the initial verse it seems like God is telling us that he isn't going to send down a lightning bolt from heaven to tell us that we have screwed up, and to punish us... we get sufficiently punished by the consequences of our disobedience.  I think this works for me at least... I know that when I do something that isn't right, I look at myself and realize how much I don't want to be a person who does things like that... I don't want to be lazy and cruel and selfish... or whatever it is that particular day... and knowing who I am when I act that way is a big deterrent.  Also... I realize how much help I need to change... and until I get on my knees and ask God to help me, and overcome the mistake that I made... I don't have access to that help.
Then, the next verse seems to me to be talking about consistency.  We try to make things cool between ourselves and God... promise him that we'll do good... but as soon as that guilt-of-the-moment is gone... we're back out there... wandering under every green tree. :)  When God rescues us from the pain of realizing who we are becoming when we screw up... then we need to *change* and become someone better... or we are back to the first verse that told us that we'll be punished by the very mistakes we keep making.
Then the last verse is interesting too... talking about who we are truly... we have the capacity and everything we need to be pure and clean and good... and more than that... amazing and abundant... we have the ability to change the world... to make not only our lives, but other people's lives better.  So, since that is what God planted, don't believe it when you look at yourself and see a weed that needs to be pulled.  We are punished by our mistakes, but it doesn't change our natures... we are good and true and have the capacity for divinity.  If we can remember that, maybe we can break the cycle.

Saturday, April 22, 2000

Romans 10:2-3

"For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
Romans 10:2-3

This is interesting because it is talking about people who bear a marked resemblance to us. :)  We think that righteousness is a great thing, but we pick and choose what we think that it is... and we try to live up to our own brand of righteousness... overly strict in some areas to make up for slacking off in others.  So "thou shalt not kill" can turn into overwhelming guilt over the life of a snail... when other commandments we take much, much, much less seriously.  And I am not trying to make a statement about snails, by the way.  :)  Only that we never approach righteousness without doing it according to the Lord's definition.  We have to learn to let go of our favorite pet sins, and not judge other people who are struggling in the areas where we have adopted extra restrictions for good measure.  We have to get to know God, and recognize that he has a lot more wisdom than we do.  And when we have those things, then we can ask him for help in our lives, and he will give it.  Then the overwhelming seems possible again, and we see and radiate the hope of the gospel in our lives.

Friday, April 21, 2000

Psalms 37:23-24

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand."
Psalms 37:23-24

I thought this was pretty good... I like the whole thing about falling, but not all the way.  I think that happens so often.  I make mistakes a lot, but I know that I am spared so much suffering and so much pain because God never lets me fall all the way down.  He helps me to get back up, to remember that there is hope... helps me to keep trying to be better than I am.  God watches out for us... and blesses us so much.  And, since we have been rescued... we can go and help other people who need rescuing. :)

Thursday, April 20, 2000

Alma 5:19

"I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?  I say unto you, can ye look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?"
Alma 5:19

I think this is so interesting.  It makes me think of the reality of godhood... becoming like God, receiving his image in our countenances... what is that like?  is it the whole light and truth thing... where we are just swimming in it, and it radiates from us?  And it also touches on another feeling for me... when I get out of the shower and I feel so clean, it is a great feeling... especially after I would go rock climbing in college or something, and get SO dirty... and what a great feeling, to be clean again.  The pure heart thing might even work on those lines too. I feel so much conflict within when I want something that doesn't fit with what I believe... and when I resolve that at times, I feel so much harmony with myself and with the world around me, it is overwhelming.  So, I guess the trick is, continuing to try... to feel that harmony, that clean feeling, and to swim in light and truth long enough, that it all becomes just part of who we are. :)  Sounds like a fun thing to do.  Hard... definitely... but also fun. :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Hebrews 1:9

"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
Hebrews 1:9

I think this is interesting just because it makes a direct tie-in with the desires we have for righteousness and happiness. :)  We look for happiness and peace in so many places, but we will never find what we are really searching for until we look for it through God.

Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 123:17

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."
Doctrine and Covenants 123:17

Great stuff here. :)  I mean, doing everything we can, making a difference in the world... an "assurance" and confidence about God and his work... hope and faith and everything looking great... but more than that... let's do it cheerfully. :)  I think so many times we think that we have to suffer through what God asks of us, that we have to settle for that, when what we have in mind for ourselves seems somehow more exciting or satisfying... but really, we have no idea what excitement, satisfaction, or anything else is until we have received them from God's hand, or as a result of some blessing that God has given us... and since happiness is the object of our existence, then after all... cheerful is the way to be.  And you know, if we could get over being so double-minded, then the gospel would be the funnest thing in the world, seriously.  There is so much in there... in thought and action... in purpose and design... in external and internal discovery learning. :)  It's great stuff.

Monday, April 17, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 78:6

"For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things."
Doctrine and Covenants 78:6

Short today, but SO interesting... section 78 is talking about providing for the poor, not just temporarily, but a permanent organization and established thing... talking about why, saying that we need to be equal in the bonds of heavenly things... and then this.  So, it makes me think.  Does it mean that we need to establish a Zion community, or merely that we have to have a spirit of giving and family and community and love for all the people around us... and equal... equal how?  In physical needs being met?  In emotional support?  In spiritual opportunities?  In intellectual ways?  Opportunities for education?

Sunday, April 16, 2000

Jacob 4:6-7

"Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things."
Jacob 4:6-7

I read this scripture this morning and it seemed kind of cool... the difference between feeling like you can do anything and feeling chastened... :)  But that those two things go together... that even when we feel like we are totally on track with God, that we need to remember our weaknesses, and where the solidity in our lives is coming from.  It isn't us... we are poor and blind and naked (as we learned in the very first of the scriptures of the day... Revelation 3:17), and we need to remember who gives us the beauty and perfection that we see all around us.  God gives us the power to be better than we are... to do all of those things in the first verse.  Amazing.  But we have to remember always that we can't stop and say... okay, I’m perfect the way I am.  We have to *keep* growing, and keep striving... I mean, I'm sure it's the same thing thinking only of this life... when we are teenagers we think that we have a lot of it figured out.  If we all stopped then, where would we be?  We have so much potential... let's tap into some of it. :)

Saturday, April 15, 2000

Luke 3:10-14

"And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?
He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."
Luke 3:10-14

Good stuff.  Since it is tax day in the US, I almost did Luke 2:1... but I couldn't get a spiritual confirmation that I should talk about taxes, so I guess we'll talk about something else. :)  I think this is a great scripture about how the gospel is personal to each of us, and how God knows us and our circumstances.  This scripture talks about things that John the Baptist said to people who approached him, asking what they needed to do to be able to repent and be acceptable before God.  And to people in general he said... be generous.  share.  If you have more than you need, give to someone else.  And then to the publicans, who collected the taxes, he told them to not collect more than they needed to... not to take from other people unnecessarily.  And then the soldiers asked him, and he told them to not be violent, and to not accuse anyone falsely...all of these things specifically to the people that needed them.  God knows what kinds of temptations and roadblocks are before us in our lives, and he always gives us both general and specific answers.  Sometimes we got them through personal scripture study, sometimes at church, sometimes in the temple... sometimes at work, sometimes through a conversation with a friend.  God knows us, well and individually... and he knows exactly what it is like to be who we are, and to suffer what we suffer.  That was part of the atonement... to know what it is like in our shoes.  God understands our specific circumstances in detail, as well as being able to see the context, and he knows how it all fits together.  That isn't something that you can say about ANYONE else.... I don't even think we know ourselves that well.  So, let's do as these people did, whatever their circumstances... and ask, what shall WE do... as individuals, and as a community?  And if we ask, God will answer.  It might not be a lightning bolt, but maybe an opportunity to be involved in a community project... or just in someone's life.  Each of us has a really really good reason to be here... and we can make a difference for good in this world.  Just ask God to show you how.  He will.  He's cool like that.

Friday, April 14, 2000

Ephesians 5:8-10

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."
Ephesians 5:8-10

I like this scripture... we are all in darkness sometimes... but when we can see the light, we have a chance to get closer to it... and become more like it... to be light ourselves, and to bring that light to other people.  We should remember that we are children of light... that we have the ability to shine in people's lives and hearts and make a difference.  Goodness, righteousness and truth are all part of that light that we are.  And the proving what is acceptable unto the Lord is good in many ways, but the way that I like it today is... what is good and right is not always what the "world" thinks ... even what "Christians" think... sometimes even what some other "Mormons" think.  Instead of railing about what is wrong with the world, or getting angry at false doctrine or society's views leaking into Sunday School... we need to be that light, and set an example.  Stand up for what is right, and shine so brightly that people see the proof of the Spirit shining out.  That means of course, that we need to be consistent in hanging on to the light in our lives... which is a challenge sometimes. :)  But, hey... we're cool, we can do it. :)

Thursday, April 13, 2000

James 5:16

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5:16

I think this scripture is all about community as well... we need to communicate with each other, not just about the weather, but about what is really going on in our lives... confessing our faults, and helping each other to succeed.  We need to pray for each other, asking the Lord... sometimes begging him... for intervention in the lives of the people that we love.  And right here it tells us that it matters.  God listens to us.  And the more we listen to God, the more likely it is that he will hear us quickly.  Sometimes the Lord tells us that he is slow to hear when we aren't doing what we should... when we are slow to hear him... but he still listens, and knows... and his arm is stretched out to save us.  the minute we reach our own arms out to him, we'll find that he makes up the rest of the distance.  In *any* case... prayer works.  Pray for yourselves... pray for strength, pray for a change of heart, pray for humility, compassion, opportunities to make a difference... pray for peace and happiness... and whatever you pray for, throw yourself into working for it... and God will be there too.  He loves us, he listens to us... and he wants us to communicate with each other and with him... blessing the lives of the people around us through good works, and prayer.

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 1:24-28 -- On Learning

"Behold I am God and I have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;
And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;
And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time."
Doctrine and Covenants 1:24-28

Once again this is a scripture I stole from a lesson at church.  When we read it I thought it was so interesting because although it sounds kind of scary, it is exactly the way to get us to learn stuff. :)

First verse... these commandments were given why?  That we might come to understanding.  So that we can learn. :) 

Second verse.... this sounds scary, but seriously, nobody can learn anything new if no-one tells them that the old way is wrong, or that it can be done a better way.  If you let your kid read all the books upside-down, and never teach him the "right" way... there is going to be a real problem when he gets to school... and it is the same with us.  As hard as it is sometimes to realize that we are doing it wrong... there is no other way to learn.  God loves us enough to TELL us when he thinks we are wrong, instead of letting us blow up our lives without knowing.

Third verse... if we seek wisdom, God will teach us some. :)  Awesome. 

Fourth verse... a little scarier than knowing our mistakes is being chastened for them.  This step comes after the first, probably because we have to have the knowledge that we are doing it wrong first... and then, if we persist, we get punished, so that we see some consequences.  But this is part of the learning cycle as well--punishment not meaning a lightning bolt from heaven or the destruction of our lives, but the loss of the spirit in a lot of cases, confusion and darkness... helping us to see, and pointing us toward the eternal consequences of our choices.  If we do it this way, we're happier... simple things, adapted to our ability to learn and comprehend. 

Last verse... when we are humble, accepting our roles as learners, we can tap into God's strength, and learn it for ourselves.  We can receive the spirit and the clarity and the light that God offers, and all the knowledge we can take in. :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2000

Alma 48:17 -- On Making a Difference

"Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."
Alma 48:17

This is great stuff.  I've said before that if the scriptures teach us nothing else, they teach us the power of the individual to effect change... Moses, Noah... Lehi... and many many many more... they all changed the course of people's lives, found a promised land... started anew.  And Captain Moroni did too. He had to establish his on land where they already lived, there was no escaping and finding a better place... different, but the same impact.  King Benjamin... Mosiah... amazing examples of how one person can make a powerful difference for good in the lives of others. 

This morning a very good friend sent me an e-mail of the text of President Hinckley's address to the National Press Club.  Here is another such man... one that changes people's lives by his action and his example.  My question is... can *we* be that sort of person that we read about in the scriptures?  Can we be such a positive impact on the world and in the lives of the people around us?  I think we can.  It requires effort, it requires strength and dedication... commitment... but there is nothing we can't do with God's help. 

Instead of wondering what God can do for us today, and why he doesn't solve this or that problem... let's go for it.  Jump in and try to make a difference.  You know, I think that the reason that the scriptures teach that one person can make a difference is because that's what God wants us to do.  Make a difference.  And the more we persist in trying, the more God will bless us with success.  It isn't like it will happen overnight, and it doesn't mean there won't be roadblocks or chasms in our way... but we can blaze new trails and build bridges.  God *wants* us to be powerful influences for good... he *wants* us to change the world.  So, let's find a place to start, and go for it.  God is with us.

Monday, April 10, 2000

Moroni 7:42-43

"Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart."
Moroni 7:42-43

Yesterday we had a lesson in Relief Society about faith, and it was really interesting... made me think about this chapter, where faith and hope and charity are all interwoven.  One of the questions that we were asked in the lesson is "Why do we need faith?" ... and you know, that seems so obvious that I rarely think about it, so I was really glad for the question because it made me think.  Why... and what I was thinking was basically this scripture.  That we have to know that there is something out there greater than ourselves.  We have to know that when we have screwed up for the last time, when we are lower than we have ever been... that there is someone with the power to pull us out, brush us off, and stand us back on our feet again.  A Saviour.  Faith is the power to move mountains... but before we attempt that, it is just the basic power to move ourselves.  To know why we get up in the morning... to know that the test isn't all of existence.
And it isn't necessarily easy to have faith OR hope (or charity, but let's not get into that, or this will be 94 pages long) ... you have to trust, and be vulnerable... and recognize that God knows what is going on in your life a lot better than you do.  That's hard. ... and we have people out there telling us that our hope and our faith is unfounded, and all that exists is the test... but not even the test... just life, and we should just do whatever we want, because there is no point to any of it... just a nice-sounding lie. But the whole thing is that Faith is what offers meaning to our lives... with hope mixed in there... and the crazy thing is to believe that we don't affect each other, and that there IS no meaning, and no Saviour.

Sunday, April 9, 2000

Alma 28:13-14

"And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of the children of men.
And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing--sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life."
Alma 28:13-14

This scripture is given after a huge battle between the Lamanites and the Nephites... thousands of people have died, and the preceding two verses talk about how it is sad for everyone, that it is worse for some than others, depending on whether they are headed for "a state of endless wo" or "a state of never-ending happiness" ... what a choice, eh?
Anyway, then we get into the philosophy part... :)  God created all of us equally... not in physical attributes or in class structure... but in the ability to choose, and the ability to come back to him.  We all have that chance.  We have equal opportunities to plead with God, and to get his help in our lives... and he wants us to treat each other equally as brothers and sisters, regardless of class, race, gender, finances, outward appearance, etc.  So when the scripture says here... we see the great inequality of man... those are inequalities that we have chosen.  God put us down here to take the test, and he has catered the questions and activities to each of us individually so that we all have a great chance to pass.  It's open book, and we can confer with the instructor whenever we want to... we all have the same chance to pass, and seriously, if we try, there isn't much chance of failing.  It's when we give up, or decide to doodle on the paper instead, or figure there really is no instructor and throw away the answer sheet that we get into trouble.  And you know, as long as we live, there is still a chance to get a new answer sheet, to finish one we abandoned long ago... to pass.  we just have to stay focused and not pretend there is no test for ourselves... and when we see someone else drawing pictures on the answer sheet and then burning it in effigy, we should probably remind them where they can get a new one.

Saturday, April 8, 2000

3 Nephi 18:32

"Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me  with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them."
3 Nephi 18:32

This scripture is talking about people that are unworthy to take the sacrament, but I think it applies to almost anyone.  We should never ostracize anyone who wants to join with us in worshipping God.  No matter who they are or what they have done in the past.  We don't have the luxury of picking and choosing who we love and who we want to be in our Father's kingdom... ALL people are our brothers and our sisters, and belong there.  So, whatever our personal prejudices, or our personal experience... we need to accept, love, and do everything we can to uplift the people around us.  Offer a wider perspective, or an understanding heart... After all, we need second chances in our lives too... and probably ninety-third chances, and millionth chances.  Don't withhold a chance from someone else.

Friday, April 7, 2000

Romans 8:18

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."
Romans 8:18

Short and very sweet today... anything we go through in this life that seems hard is nothing compared with the glory and light and knowledge and goodness we receive from God... taking the test is worth it.  It's like after all those years of work, studying for your degree... you finally get to be exactly what and who you have wanted to be all along... but that doesn't even come close to describing it.  I'm sure when we see the dreams and ideas and hopes of a better world and a better self fulfilled that we will look back on all of the temptations and oppositions as incomparably trivial compared to the reward... the degree... the ability to become perfect.  The trick is having the faith to live that way now, since we can't see through the veil to know all of the things that God has promised us in their full glory... but we have tastes of all of it.  You go out into nature... desert, forest, grassland... anywhere... look at the sky, the stars, the trees... and you can get a tiny taste of the grandeur and glory that God promises us.  Don't settle for dead-end rewards, when God has promised us ALL.

Thursday, April 6, 2000

John 15:15

"Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
John 15:15

I like this scripture because it shows us the difference between Christ's leadership style and leadership styles that are a lot more common in the world.  I work in "Corporate America," and earlier this week I had a meeting to talk about some of our document standards.  One of the things we talked about was that in every manual we write we should put a flow chart of the entire process... so that the people doing one job can see how their jobs fit into the whole, and how they are affecting other people's jobs.  I think it is scary that these kinds of things are such a revelatory experience.  So many people dole out knowledge like it is some limited resource... on a "need to know" basis.  I appreciate that Christ isn't like that.  I think we have the veil because the test would be kind of pointless without it... and maybe you aren't going to try to explain the intricacies of nuclear physics to a 2-year old, which we are in a lot of ways... but as soon as we are ready for it, all God's knowledge is there for the asking.  God wants to teach us *everything* ... and we have to put in a lot of effort to get it sometimes, to be able to understand it and how it fits into the whole... but it is all there, this amazing fountain of everything you could ever want to know... taught to us by someone who loves us and really wants us to succeed. :)  That is what education is all about. :)

Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 38:14-15

"But now I tell it unto you, and ye are blessed, not because of your iniquity, neither your hearts of unbelief; for verily some of you are guilty before me, but I will be merciful unto your weakness.
Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours."
Doctrine and Covenants 38:14-15

I think this is another scripture kind of like Christ and the woman taken in adultery.  He is talking to people who do have iniquity, unbelief, and guilt... like all of us.  ...but he says that he will have mercy unto our weakness... meaning perhaps that he understands what things are easy and hard for us, and he will take that into account?  Not that we don't have to do the test anyway, but that he'll work with us more and tutor us on the parts that we have trouble with.  And then he says... be ye strong from henceforth... because he is being merciful to us, and lending us his strength, but asking us to do all that we can on our side, knowing that he is working for us on the other... and fear not, which is a phrase that it is always nice to hear.  it is easy to get overwhelmed and afraid.  Fortunately we have God there to fight the monsters we can't fight alone, and we WILL be able to make it across the drawbridge to the Castle and the Kingdom where we belong.

Tuesday, April 4, 2000

2 Corinthians 6:16-17

"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
2 Corinthians 6:16-17

This is an interesting scripture... I was talking (electronically) with a friend yesterday about whether we think about ourselves as bad people struggling to do good, or as good people.  I won't reproduce our discussion here, but I think that this scripture has something to say along those lines... continuing our theme, WE are the temples of God.  We are GOOD... through and through.  Sometimes temples have to be cleansed, we have to throw out the idols, we have to re-dedicate them to the Lord... but they never stop being temples, even if someone is putting them to a different use.  We never become "adult" bookstores or strip joints... we are temples.  And God has said that he wants to be here, with us.  If we do a little cleaning, then we can have that.  We have to stay away from evil... not let it in.  Never let an adult bookstore use your back room. :)  Temples stand for something, and they can't be out there wallowing in graffiti and selling penthouse in the lobby.
We're good good good good good.  We just have to get the bad out, and never invite it in.

Monday, April 3, 2000

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I was watching conference yesterday and I think that it gets overwhelming at times to think about how many things I’m not doing or choosing right, and that there is so much work to be done, just in my own life... let alone trying to affect the lives of other people positively. 
But then I think of going to work, and I have no reservations about attacking the impossible... because that is what they pay me to do.  And if I can't get it done alone, then I tell them I need more money or more people on the project, and they either do it or they don't, but it isn't my deal... I tried, I did my best.
And so, I guess I have thought about this scripture in a lot of different ways, and really... it does say a lot about a lot of things... but this time, I am thinking about it in terms of whose work I am doing.  It isn't mine.  I shouldn't get so freaked out about how far I have to go... we're working on God's timetable, and if he wants me to go faster, he'll give me the resources to go faster.  I think what he really wants is just for me to learn, and sometimes that takes time, and a lot of attention on my part... to get it.  But God is willing to spend that time with me, and I am grateful for that.
Anyway, the application to the scripture might seem a little obscure still, so let's address it... God tells us that we are temples of the Holy Ghost, and that we aren't our own, we are bought with a price.  So, that seems to me like all the stories of the plant that wanted to be amazing, but God kept pruning it, and instead of being amazing just in growing as big as it could get, it became a tree and produced fruit... it was amazing, just in a way that it couldn't initially see.  Christ's redemption saved me from my own small viewpoint and ambitions... and to become the great person that God shows me that I can be... that isn't my work, it is his.  He's going to do it, He has the power to do it.  I just have to grow, and trust him.  Let go of my vision when it conflicts with the vision of someone who can see so much more than I can.  His redemption purchased in a sense the chance for us to be greater than we are... so we glorify God in working to fulfill that, doing what we can, and knowing that God will do the rest.

Sunday, April 2, 2000

Alma 41:14-15

"Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good restored unto you again.
For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all."
Alma 41:14-15

I think this is interesting, maybe also a little scary... this chapter is talking about the resurrection and how it works... the soul is restored to the body, etc... but part of that seems to be this.  That whatever you have done in your life will be restored to you as well.  If we have been good and kind and merciful then we will have that restored to us... and if not, we will have whatever we have been restored... and I guess it goes along with a scripture we looked at previously... that he that is happy now shall be happy still, and the opposite.  I guess I have been learning this stuff most of my life, but it doesn't always hit you how real it is... how badly we need repentance, and how badly we need the atonement.  I think that this principle right here brings it home to me.  We have to learn to be good in this life.  We can't just live whatever way and then say sorry... not that God won't accept our apology if sincere, he will... he loves us... but that a whole lifetime is going to be restored to us in the resurrection... habits and addictions and obsessions take time and effort to overcome, and even more to build better habits and a better focus to our lives.  We all do ugly things in this life at times... but we never want ugliness restored to us.  We need to learn to do beautiful things, and send out only things that we want returned... because it all will be.

Saturday, April 1, 2000

Romans 13:11-14

"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
Romans 13:11-14

Good stuff in here... talking about sleep not just physically but in other ways as well I think.  So many times I am fully physically awake, but my mind is dreaming... :)  We have to wake up and pay attention, because sometimes the time runs out before we have time to finish the answer sheet, and we have to make sure that the answers that we are putting down now are right... we might not have time to review them later.  I like all the light/dark imagery... and the armour of light is cool... no darkness can get through that. It protects us from the darkness in our lives.  Then he talks about it differently... it's living honestly, not in things that make us feel bad or things that we feel we have to hide or edit out of our conversations with children... but with no darkness or deception. :)  Not in out of control "partying," or drunkenness, or obsessive or thrill-seeking sexual behavior, or in arguments or resentment with the people around us... Just in being plain old who we are.  (Which really isn't plain OR old except in our own perceptions sometimes)  Kind of like the book "And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street."  Have you guys read that?
Anyway, then in the last verse here... put on Jesus Christ.  he is the Armour of Light that we were talking about earlier.  If you have him around, none of that darkness can get in.  And if we do that, and accept Christ unconditionally... without making exceptions like "well, I'll believe in Him except when it interferes with what I want..." then we will have that impermeable armour, that will never leave us.  We'll still have to take the test, of course... but the darkness won't be able to get in.  (Reminds me of another story... Zenna Henderson's "Stevie and the Dark" I think it is called.) ... Christ can protect us from ANYTHING, as long as we have him around.

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