Thursday, November 30, 2000

2 Nephi 26:23-24

"For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him.  Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation."
2 Nephi 26:23-24


I think of God not working in darkness like someone who is not ashamed of anything he does... there isn't anything that he would ever need to hide.  Many of us, if not all, have things that we hide when we are trying to make a good impression... maybe things that we hide almost all the time... instead of hiding though, God welcomes examination... he is completely in the spotlight, asking anyone who will listen to take a look, and see if what he says isn't true... take a look and see if he does *anything* that isn't for the benefit of his children.  He welcomes people in, and asks them to trust him... because he doesn't have anything to hide.  because he is working for all of us, because he loves us.  Completely open, completely honest... offering explanation to anyone who takes the time and the thought to ask, and who is open to the answer.  The same God, all the time... consistent.  In this life we are asked to follow in his footsteps, to become like God... and to walk in the light. :)  As we endeavor to get to that point, we learn what shames us... what we are afraid of revealing to the world... what we are hiding in the dark.  Sometimes we are ashamed of God, unwilling to admit to others that we believe... sometimes we are ashamed of other things that take us farther from him... and eventually we have to learn who we are... to become one person, who doesn't hide from what he or she believes, who lives in the light.  And remember... God knows what we are thinking.  If we all become like him, there won't be any shadows to hide in... Today, let's work towards a future where that won't be a personal tragedy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2000

1 Peter 1:22

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
1 Peter 1:22


There are some very interesting and cool things here... one of them is that it seems that we purify our souls through obedience to the truth.  that is an interesting thought... as we struggle through the challenges of this life, trying to be obedient, we knock off the rough edges and polish up our souls. :)  like fighting upstream in a river... the river is going to wash away anything that isn't part of you... and you have to want it really badly to not float downstream.  and when we are in there long enough, we're going to get all polished up like the cool little river rocks.  when we finally arrive at our destination we will arrive with fire and determination, completely cleansed of anything that didn't help us to get there... plus we'll be the most awesome swimmers that ever were. :)  now, if you don't like swimming, you can substitute your own analogy... I think it really works with almost any serious goal in life... writing a novel for instance.  it takes focus, determination... getting rid of distractions, consistent effort... and editing and re-editing, until, in the end... you have a refined product... the manuscript, but also yourself.  the process makes you better, more focused... polished. :)  or just living... trying to be obedient... polishes you.  I took a jewelry class a few summers ago and the polishing machine was interesting... you put a piece of rough jewelry in there, and then you put in a bunch of similar things... if it was a rock, you put in a lot of little rocks.  if it was silver, you put in a bunch of little silver things... (they sell the "things" in the jewelry catalog, but I can't remember what they are called, sorry)... and then you turn it on... and they mosh up against each other, and whatever you put in comes out shiny and polished.  We do that for one another.  Just hanging out in the world... with people like ourselves... we become more polished people.
The other thing that I like about this scripture is that we are supposed to love one another "fervently."  Isn't that the greatest word?  We love so conservatively sometimes, I don't know what it is... fear of rejection... reluctance to commit... trying to establish an overabundance of boundaries... who knows.  But fervently, I like... and obviously God does. :)  The other day my roommate came home and she threw her arms around me and said hello. :)  A friend at work says almost every day to me: "You are awesome."  ... fervently.  When we love people, they should KNOW it, don't you think?  Know it in a big, definite way.  We save all the fervency for romantic relationships... what an utter waste.  Okay, not a waste... but miserly?  Everyone in our lives should know that they are cool, that we love them... that they are valued and amazing individuals.  So what if it is scary...?  Be fervent today.  Go out, tell people how amazing they are... tell them how much you love them.  Tell them that they are amazing and funny and cool... tell them that they are the rock-solid consistency that you need in your life.  Tell them that they make you laugh.  Tell them that they save you from yourself when no one else will.  Tell them that you admire their honesty even when it smarts a little.... be expressive, be caring... make sure that they know that they are loved.  Fervent is the word of the day.

Tuesday, November 28, 2000

1 Corinthians 15:19-22

"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
1 Corinthians 15:19-22


Yesterday at work one of my co-workers, who knows that I do a scripture of the day, asked me to pick out a scripture for her daughter to read at her grandmother's funeral.  I gave her three choices, and this was one of them.  Later yesterday I got a phone call from a friend whose mother had died.  She was trying to be tough and stick to business, but it wasn't working.  Death is a hard thing to deal with here on Earth, because it creates distance.  We're still taking the test, and our friend is walking out of the testing center.  Maybe they are going to grab the car and wait for us... maybe they are going to go save a table at our favorite restaurant... or maybe they are going home to pop some popcorn so we can watch a movie together... but no matter what, the time between now and then can be hard for the one left behind.  One of the biggest comforts that we have in this life is the surety that we will see them again... after we finish our test.  Christ did that for us.  I think that it is interesting that the scripture says "if in this life only" ... does that mean that we have hope only for things that he has done for us that we can perceive in this life, or does it mean that we have to keep having hope after we are dead?  probably both... but whether we only have hope, or we achieve a sure knowledge after this life, I think that allowing ourselves to see beyond this life, and hope for more than temporal (and temporary) happiness is a necessity.  God gives us what we desire... and if we truly desire only earthly things, we'll get them... but we will be miserable in the end... because death comes to all of us, and whatever our sustenance on earth, it won't be enough to fill our hunger of soul in the eternities.  Because of Christ, we all get to live forever... :) that isn't in question.  it's our quality of life... and who we get to hang out with... that is in question. :)  So, today... try to see the long view, and prepare for a very long (eternal) and happy life...

Monday, November 27, 2000

2 Nephi 23:3

"I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones, for mine anger is not upon them that rejoice in my highness."
2 Nephi 23:3


I think that this is interesting.  We focus on comparison a lot in this beloved world of ours... judging ourselves by how the next guy is doing.  We’re rich if we notice the homeless guy down the street, and poor if we drive by a twelve-room house with the perfectly manicured lawn and the iron bars keeping us out... we decide what is fair by whether it is happening to us, or to someone else.  Sometimes we fall into this game with God.  And it is an easy game to play... somehow we seem to feel better about our position when we mock the people on a higher rung, or the people on a lower.  all from comparison of things that seem to represent success to us.  When we are worried about our relationship with God, sometimes we try to mock him too... saying that he doesn't care, or that the people who say they follow him are all hypocrites... or that heaven is boring.  Anything to make ourselves feel better.   We focus on habits instead of people... labeling this person this, and that person that, so that we can feel better with the labels that we attach to ourselves.  ...imagining that one irritating (to us) habit devalues the good that we see in a person, and thinking that the good that we know is within ourselves makes up for irritating habits of our own.
We suspend this kind of judgement rarely.  Sometimes we manage it to a limited degree with our children... we have the ability to be happy when they achieve more than we have (as measured by our automatic comparison)... and sometimes, albeit rarely, we have a significant person in our lives who we share success and failure with, not casting blame or claiming victory, except as a plurality.  We could probably sum up the goal of our earthly existence by saying that we were sent here to extend that plurality.  Discover a true sense of community... a Zion... where we stand or fall as a unit, helping each other, and rejoicing in each other's success.  Recognizing that anyone's success is something that builds each of us.  Lifting each other up from failure to try again.  And, as expressed in this scripture... we reach the pinnacle of that sense of community when we extend our plurality to God.  When we realize that we are one with him, as well as with the people around us... when we can rejoice in his highness, even as we are aware of our own comparative "lowness."  We recognize that his highness helps us all to climb higher, and we are in there helping each other climb.

Sunday, November 26, 2000

John 15:12

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
John 15:12


I'm sure we have all heard this, or a variation of it... the words that intrigue me here are "as I have loved you."  Rarely does God just say "love" ... he tells us how, because he knows that we are good at twisting things around.  I remember a line from a monologue I learned once for a drama class... "they love you so much their love is a gun, and they keep firing it straight into your head."  Sometimes we love people that way.  In my favorite book, Till We Have Faces, that is one of the lessons that the main character learns... that love isn't always what she thinks it is.  Sometimes we hurt people with what we think is love for them when actually it is a sort of twisted sense of ownership or need for affection... or something else.  So, God helps us out.  Instead of just saying "love" he says "as yourself" or "as I have loved you."  So that we think about it a little more.  When we love the way that God loves, then we stop demanding, and start offering.  We stop attacking and start assisting.  we stop expecting and start serving.  and, I’m definitely not an expert... I don't know if any of us are on this particular topic. :)  but it is interesting to think about... what things did Christ do in his life, and how does that teach us about love?  The woman taken in adultery... Lazarus... Mary Magdalene... John... His mother Mary (both when he asked John to take care of her, and when he sent her away while he was teaching)... feeding the people... teaching everyone... there are so many things that he did, not only in Jerusalem, but on the American continent too.  That "as I have loved you" could produce ideas about love the size of a doctoral dissertation, at least. :)  Let's think on it today. :)

Saturday, November 25, 2000

Alma 29:4

"I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction."
Alma 29:4


This is interesting... kind of sobering too, to think that whatever we get, it is going to be what we want.  I mean, that's what we dream about when we are little kids, right?  Everything that we want seems like a great dream.  At least for me though, now that I am older, I don't really look at it that way.  Some of the things that I want at times are scary... and a lot of it turns out to be at the expense of other people.  Sometimes I am afraid of the things that I want... afraid of becoming that person all the time.  A truth that we often don't know when we are small... and often forget even as we grow... is that many times we want things that will hurt us.  Once as a child I wanted to eat moth balls... and I got my desire.  But I had to have my stomach pumped as a result.  We really *don't* know what is best for ourselves, and so often we ignore the advice of our loving heavenly parents, and go after something that will hurt us.  In the end, we all get what we want.  The trick is learning to want things that will help us to be happy in the long term.  Too often we think that we know what we are doing... we watch daddy turn on the stove, and so we reach up and do it ourselves.  But that desire we had to be like daddy, expressed in this particular way, can cause a lot of problems.  So, today... let's try to think about what we want, why we want it, and some appropriate ways of finding long-term peace and happiness.  If we can't think of anything, I'm sure God would love to help... ask away. :)

Friday, November 24, 2000

Omni 1:26

"And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption.  Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."
Omni 1:26


Offering our *whole souls* is a huge thing... an all-encompassing thing.  In the Old Testament they used to do sacrifices of animals, and I think that was probably more symbolic of the real offering that is taking place here than anything... Probably the closest thing that we usually experience to this in our modern world is romantic love, where even the movies tell us that we are supposed to base our lives and our worlds in the other person.  The only problem with that is when you give your whole soul to someone, it is pretty hard to get back... even when they are engaged with someone else's.  Giving our souls to someone else isn't the romantic ideal... then one person is without a soul, and the other is trying to juggle more than one.  it's tough.  Sharing our souls is more the idea... sharing our lives, our hopes and dreams... two souls together becoming something that neither of you could have become alone.
In reality, the only one who can *handle* our whole souls is he who placed them here in the first place... our Father.  He gives them to us freely, and when we give them back freely, then everything works out ... when we put the Lord first, everything falls into its proper place, or out of our lives, as Ezra Taft Benson said.  God is supposed to be part of us... he is what gives life to everything that we are in the first place, and including the engineer in the improvement process is just a good idea. :)  The thing is, we have to be willing to let go of the parts of our soul that need some reworking.  We need to be willing to give up our bad habits... our imperfections... the souvenirs of hell that we are still carrying around, for old times sake. :)  When we offer our whole souls to our father, who made them... he helps us to change and to become better, and delights to be part of our lives.  He knows how to fix anything that is wrong... and is the only one who has the ability to take care of our souls and return them to us better than when he received them.

Thursday, November 23, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 46:7

"But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils."
Doctrine and Covenants 46:7


So, this is interesting... prayer and thanksgiving help us resist the seduction of evil spirits. :)  I like that.  Thanksgiving is a great time to remember all the things that the Lord has blessed us with... friends, family, material and spiritual blessings beyond measure.  God does give very liberally... and there are so many things that we have in our lives to be thankful for.  So, be thankful today... and stay away from those evil spirits. :)  This is what I am thankful for today... it is a passage from a footnote to Joseph Smith-History, verse 71: "Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind."  Evil is pretty prevalent in the world... evil spirits, doctrines of devils... the commandments of men.  They all make people miserable and make the world a hard place to be at times.  But the Lord has the solution... the Lord can heal any wound, restore peace to any heart, and bring joy to every soul.  And he will.  Let's pray and be thankful today, and ask God in all things.

Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Romans 9:25-26

"As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God."
Romans 9:25-26


This is a very interesting chapter... if you are into trying to understand foreordination, even more so.
Anyway, I love these verses... it makes me think of Christ leaving the ninety and nine and going after the lost sheep... illustrating how even the rejected of God can return.  Nothing in life is ever final.  While we breathe, we have hope... that we can change, that we can become increasingly better people.  No matter how hardened, how resistant, how many times we have offended our God... no matter how un-beloved, we can still become beloved.  These scriptures are talking about how even Gentiles can be accepted, but it can apply to anyone.  just like in the Book of Mormon... when they were disobedient they became Lamanites, and when they were good, they became Nephites.  The lines were a lot more fluid then strictly genealogical.  So it is with being chosen of God.  God chooses us, and we screw up... absolutely.  Sometimes doing the opposite of what God asked... but if we repent, and do what we can to rectify the situation, then we are still chosen.  God doesn't judge us the way the world judges us.  In college if you screw up big-time sometimes the prof will let you make it up... but now you are playing for a B, not an A.  God doesn't do that.  When God accepts you, he accepts you fully and wholeheartedly... no bitterness or grudges over past mistakes, no lesser status.  Anything that we could have had in the eternities we can still have... we are beloved and chosen... the prodigal son returns and is still the son, empowered to receive all that the father hath.  Sometimes Satan whispers to us that we are already going to Hell, so really, none of it matters... we might as well live however we feel like at the time... but we are not cast off, we are not condemned to Hell... and we should never give up on becoming who we can be.  While we live, there is always hope.  So, today... if you aren't feeling particularly beloved, remember... your place is being held for you, in hope that you will return.  There is always a job for you to do if you will come back and pick up where you left off.  We can change the world, build the kingdom, and become anything that we want to be... no matter how much we have helped to destroy... no matter who or where we are now.

Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Daniel 3:17-18

"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, not worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
Daniel 3:17-18


This is an amazing scripture... and so interesting.  I think that the most powerful words here are "but if not."  They have confidence in God's ability to save them, and they believe that he will... but, just so that the king knows, even if God doesn't save them, they still aren't going to show any disrespect to him.  I think most of us start getting in trouble when we think about the "but if not" side of life.  We start putting conditions on our belief and obedience.  If God helps us out of this, then we'll live better.  If God doesn't help us, then we won't go to church anymore.... things like that.  That isn't commitment.  If we treated our friends like that we wouldn't have any left.  "Come over and hang out with me, or we're not friends." ... "Buy me this, and we can still be friends." ... a little unhealthy, eh?  But we do exactly that to God.  He understands it... I mean, we're little kids and so sometimes we are still into begging things from our parents.  But it is something that we have to learn to overcome... it's the welfare mentality, except instead of depending on the government to provide everything for us, we expect God to do it... to make our lives perfect without having to put forth any personal effort.  The thing is, though... that God is trying to help us learn to grow up and be like him... to be able to do anything and know everything... and we can't learn that if we don't take some personal responsibility and honor our commitments.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are amazing here, showing their absolute commitment to God.  Knowing that he was able to save them, but just in case he didn't choose to, they respected that choice, and they were still going to remain firm to their own.  So often we say, "I'll be obedient if..." whatever it is.  These men were determined to be obedient _no matter what_.  And, sincerely... until we learn to have a little of the backbone that these men had... what hope do we have of becoming like our Father?

Monday, November 20, 2000

Malachi 2:17

"Ye have wearied the Lord with your words.  Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him?  When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?"
Malachi 2:17


This is interesting, I think because after I think about it, I see it everywhere.  I remember once going to a lecture by a popular Mormon author... she was talking about writing in general, but towards the end she said, and I think it was the only thing that I retained from the whole lecture, that she didn't think that it was ethical to ever write a story where evil triumphed in the end... people read your words, she said, and they believe you... and we should never lead *anyone* to believe that evil is stronger than good.  I thought that was a fascinating viewpoint, and I have thought about it a lot over the years.  In writing, which is a lot of what I do, and in life... is it ethical to present God as fallible or imperfect?  Sometimes we feel these things... We wonder why murderers go free, and are rich and powerful, while truly good people live sometimes hellish lives.  We wonder what God is trying to teach us sometimes, or what he is thinking... but it is all part of faith.  Just because we see a tiny thread of the pattern and notice a flaw, as we think, in the fabric... it doesn't mean anything until we step back and look at the entire work.  Threads thicken and thin and even end, but a master weaver knows how to use them to beautify the pattern.  To add texture, to create the exquisite tapestries of life.  When we see something different than we understand or expect in a thread, we shouldn't assume that the whole bolt of cloth should be thrown away, or that the master weaver isn't talented enough to use the thread to the advantage of the work.  God knows *everything.*  He has a positive reason for *everything.*  Today, instead of being offended by some of the threads in our lives, let's try to talk to the weaver, who can see, so much better than we can, the shape of our lives.

Sunday, November 19, 2000

Matthew 23:27-28

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."
Matthew 23:27-28


I was mentioning "whited sepulchres" the other day (don't ask how these things come up in conversation), and realized that I wasn't really coming through... so, I thought I would share one of Christ's analogies with you... that way, if we ever have a conversation about it, you'll know where I am coming from. :)  And, maybe you can casually drop it in conversation and see what kind of a reaction you get. :)
Seriously though... I think that this is one of my greatest fears.  That who I am on the inside and who I am on the outside don't match up... that my ideals and my soul are on totally different pages.  I don't want to be a whited sepulchre (a good word for the championship in a spelling bee, by the way), and sometimes I feel like I am going there... that people think I am really cool, but really, I’m not.  I guess the best thing to do when you feel like that is to work harder at living what you profess.  Christ said this to a group of people who, in the church, were the poster children for righteous living.  They lived the letter of the law through and through... were hyper-obedient.  when God said keep the sabbath day holy, they sat down and decided whether lighting a match on the sabbath would be considered work... I mean, these people *cared* about the law.  But Christ condemned them.  Interesting to relate to today, and to ourselves.  Are we so concentrated on the letter of the law sometimes that we condemn the people around us for not following a law as well as we do?  Does our obedience match our love for God?  Do we look great on the outside, while on the inside we are full of filth and rottenness?  And if so... to any extent... what are we going to do about it?  With Christ's help, we can become beautiful inwardly as well as outwardly... let's give it a try.

Saturday, November 18, 2000

Revelation 12:5

"And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."
Revelation 12:5


This scripture is interesting to me mainly because of the "rod of iron" reference.  If you think about Lehi's dream, you will remember the "iron rod" which represented the word of God which led to the Tree of Life and to the Love of God, represented by the fruit of the tree.  So, what if these rods are the same?  It makes me think. Usually when I think about someone ruling with a rod, I think of it raised in anger... used to beat people into submission, that sort of thing.  But this rod of iron wouldn't be like that.  It would be the same word of God that we saw in Lehi's dream... solidity and consistency in the middle of a world filled with darkness and mist.  The same thing prayer and the scriptures are to us now.  Something that we look to when things are confusing and shadowed, for the truth and the light.  Instead of looking at the rod of leadership as unbending and therefore cruel and inflexible... perhaps the rod represents the unchanging, consistent nature of God... reliability, undeviating commitment to his work... which is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.  Maybe this stuff doesn't worry you... but sometimes my personal problem with authority reaches even into gospel areas, and I think that it is cool that the rod of iron could be the same as the iron rod... food for thought, if nothing else. :)

Friday, November 17, 2000

Ezekiel 14:23

"And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God."
Ezekiel 14:23


I like this scripture.  It is talking about specific things that the Lord has done / will do in this scripture... but to me, it applies to everything.  Sometimes we question things that God has done, thinking that something else would have been more appropriate, or wonder why things are going to happen in the last days.  I was just talking to someone the other day who was wondering why, if God is so dang powerful... why doesn't everything work out?  Why would anyone starve?  Why would he let anyone hurt children... and so on.  Those are good questions, and I can't answer them all.  We need free agency, and we need to learn to act, and not to just have God solve all of our problems for us.  What will we learn that way?  But there are hard questions in there... and I know that some people have it rougher than it seems like is bearable.  I don't know why... but this scripture helps me a little... that God does everything for a reason.  He isn't playing a game.  He loves us, and wants us to be happy... eternally.  Sometimes, just like children, we aren't happy when we don't get what we want, or think that we need... but God can see a lot farther than we can, and is preparing us for happiness in the long-term.  Right now, everything in our earth lives seems so dramatic, so important... and some things are.  But most are not, compared with our lives eternally.  Any choice that we make that sacrifices who we will be forever is a scary choice to make when we can't see past right now.  God can... which is a good reason to talk to him, if we can't find any other. :)
Imagine, wherever you are, that someone came in with a gun and threatened to kill you and the people with you unless you do something that is utterly repulsive to you... whatever that may be.  The choices that you make in this moment affect not only your life, but the lives of everyone around you.  You are so focused on getting through that moment, that almost anything that gunman asks you to do, you will do... or you will find a way to overcome him, at the risk of your life.
I think that sometimes in life we accept that scenario.  Satan holds a gun to our head and we are so focused on that moment that we give up the rest of our lives... and we don't realize that the gun isn't loaded, or that in three seconds a security guard will burst in and save us all... that we have help, and it isn't all on our shoulders.  Next time it happens, ask God to step in. :)  He does *everything* for a reason, because he can see the whole picture, where we can see only a blob of color, and don't even know what it is supposed to be.

Thursday, November 16, 2000

Malachi 3:10

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3:10


It’s not often that the Lord asks us to prove him, so I’m thinking that it might be kind of important. :)  It's like a lot of other things in the gospel... if you can just have enough faith and desire to try it sincerely... then the Lord will *pour* out the blessings.  Notice that he does not say "spritz," "drip," or "sprinkle." ... these are some serious rain clouds.  And if we do it, then God will bless us... think about being out in the rain... and it starts to sprinkle... it is kind of fun to walk in... then it starts to pour.  you are drenched.  your jacket is drenched.  your feet are squishing as you walk... streams are running down your head, off your nose, dripping from your arms.  Except... in this case, it isn't water.  It is blessings.  You are so blessed that you can't absorb that many blessings, and they start being absorbed by other people... like when you finally get home and you give your friend a hug and drench them too. :)
This is also one of the best things to try in the beginning... because it is so easy to measure whether we are doing it or not.  Ten percent of our increase.  With love and faith and kindness, etc... it is a lot harder to measure.  And, the Lord asks us to prove him... this is an okay thing to experiment with.... unlike, say... "thou shalt not kill."  Some commandments you just don't want to test the boundaries of.  But with tithing, he *wants* us to test him, and see what happens.  So... if we aren't already, let's give it a sincere try... and prove God.  He will not let us down.

Wednesday, November 15, 2000

Romans 15:4

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
Romans 15:4


I like this.  I know that the scriptures help me.  when I read them, I usually find answers to things that I am concerned with that day.  they have a lot of power.  power not only to comfort us, but to inspire us to action... to teach us that we can make a difference, to show us how.  Sincerely, try this experiment.  Think of a question... one that is seriously important to you.  First get down on your knees and talk to God about it, and ask him what you should do.  Put some effort into it.  Tell him both sides... or all 49 sides, whatever is indicated by the particular question. :)  Talk it out.  Then, if you haven't already gotten an answer, sit down with your scriptures.  Look something up in the Bible Dictionary or the topical guide and then follow where it leads.  open your scriptures and start reading something that you like, or go to lds.org and do a scripture search on something related to your question.  God answers prayers... many times through the scriptures.  Or, try reading your scriptures in the morning this week, and noticing when they apply to your life throughout the day.  God wants us to have hope... that's why he speaks to us in writing.  Sometimes we doubt answers that we receive in other ways, chalking it up to coincidence or psychosis... :)  but the scriptures can bring us comfort... can help us to have patience, and can bring us hope when we thought all hope was lost... a physical, accessible manifestation of the word of God that we can dive into even when we feel that our own spiritual wells are dried up.  They are a marvelous blessing... let's take advantage of them today. :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2000

3 Nephi 24:7

"Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.  Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts.  But ye say: Wherein shall we return?"
3 Nephi 24:7


Good question.  Wherein shall we return?  Probably you can think of a few ways.  This scripture leads into some great tithing scriptures, which is one way that we need to return.  Tithing is one of the ways that we give of our abundance to build the Kingdom... build Zion, and become one by making sure that there are no poor among us... that everyone is provided for.  Not that tithing relieves our responsibility to do more... but it helps.  There are many other ways we can return, I will leave those up to you to think of... the interesting thing to me here is the agreement... if you return to me, I will return to you.  Us first. :)  We have to stretch ourselves and find a way to return to God... and then, to trust him.  There is almost always a waiting period between obedience and blessing... and therein lies the test of life.  Sometimes the waiting period is short, and doesn't try our faith too much.  Sometimes the waiting period is longer.  The Lord is faithful, and will always come through with the blessings of obedience... but we have to be patient and trusting.  Sometimes I know that I am not.  I'll do something right, and then second-guess myself when God doesn't seem to be making things better immediately.  Sometimes I assume that God is asking too much of me, when I *know* that he doesn't give me anything that I can't handle.  I have this need to control the outcome, when that is God's job.  So, today... I am going to try to relax and trust him that things will work out, as long as I am sincerely trying to be obedient. :)  You are welcome to join me.

Monday, November 13, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 88:38-40

"And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
All beings who abide not in these conditions are not justified.
For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things."
Doctrine and Covenants 88:38-40


It is so interesting to me how any limits we have are almost always self-imposed.  we're not in a public school system which goes at the pace of the slowest student.  our lessons are self-paced, and received as soon as we have mastered previous ones.  If we get stuck, it isn't because the teacher or the other students are holding us back... it is only because we haven't yet mastered the lesson.
One of my good friends at work and I went to lunch the other day and we were talking about religion... and we talked about a lot of things... you know, the meaning of life, the afterlife... and he said, "I just don't understand why me and Hitler will be in the same place."  (he was talking about Hell if you didn't follow that...)  And so I tried to explain the whole kingdom system that it talks about right here in D&C 88. :)  I guess his question made me think about the wisdom of the plan... but also how responsible we are for where we end up.  Like a relationship again... the things that we look for in other people... are they the things that are in us?  We can hope our whole lives to be able to reach heaven and hang out with all the people that are cooler than we are... but it will never happen.  We are going to go to the other side and hang out with the people who are at the same level of coolness. :)  And, think about it... do you want to hang out with people like you are right now, forever?  If so, then I think that you have little to worry about.  Personally, I don't think that I would.  I am not satisfied with where I am, not satisfied with who I am at this moment.  I need to become better, learn more... and I want to hang out with people who are better than I currently am.  So, I have a lot of work to do.  What we get out of this life... and where we are after this life, depends on what we put into it.  It depends on our choices, our intelligence, truth, virtue, wisdom, justice, and mercy... and the grace of God.  It doesn't depend on our social status, our job, or anything else.  wherever we are, whoever we are, we will end up in a place where everyone shines as brightly as we do.  I'm sure that the conversation will be fascinating. :)  Today though... rise above who *you* think you are, and listen to what God says that you can become.  Wouldn't it be cool to get to hang out with _God_ for eternity?

Sunday, November 12, 2000

Proverbs 23:7

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee."
Proverbs 23:7


This is interesting, and goes along with something that we have talked about before... the end product is what we become.  Dallin Oaks talked about it in conference.  Our challenge in life is not just to know our Saviour.  That is a remarkable and worthy thing, but if we don't take it farther, and trust him and follow him, then it falls short.  Collecting knowledge is good as far as it goes, but until we put it into action in our lives, and in the world... then it's just memorization... and I *promise,* our final isn't going to be based on that.  In the scriptures we see many examples of people who thought that the law would save them.  But it isn't multiple choice, and it isn't just oral examination... it's becoming something better than you could ever become on your own.  It's teaming up with God to find a better way, greater happiness... and all of the laws and all of the guidelines and ordinances in the gospel point to that.  To becoming something great.  And we can start with obedience to the law... we can start with love for God, or we can start by gathering knowledge, but until we incorporate them all... and until it changes our lives, then we haven't bridged the distance.  Until we start thinking like God. :)  There are a few people in the scriptures that God gave the sealing power to... that whatsoever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven... that whatever they said, it would happen.  And the reason that he gave that to them is because they were on the same page, and God *knew* that they would never say anything that was contrary to his will.  Wouldn't it be cool to get to the point where you knew God so well that you could finish his sentences? :)  Where you could know definitely what he would do in a given circumstance?  That is amazing.  Anyway, so today... think some good thoughts, and talk to God a little, see what he is thinking today. :)

Saturday, November 11, 2000

Alma 26:27

"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."
Alma 26:27


I like this scripture... I think that it offers a lot of hope.  We all get depressed at times, and want to "turn back" ... kind of like Lot's wife. :)  But the Lord tells us here that the hardships, emotionally, mentally, physically... they are part of the journey.  They build us and make us stronger... and if we can manage to bear them with patience, the Lord will give us success.  Patience is such a huge thing, and very hard to have sometimes.  Satan likes to see us hurting and weary... and he offers escape.  not relief, not joy... but temporary escape.  it is often very tempting to take him up on the offer.  The Lord though... he might give us a brief rest stop, but then we have to start going again.  We have to go out there and try to change the world.  And trying... and the patience in afflictions that goes along with it... brings us success, because the Lord is with us.  He teaches us of our ability to change the world... teaches us of our ability to become more than we could possibly dream on our own.  We find that, as tempting as it is to turn back, that we have the strength to go on... to build Zion... to find peace.  Many times Satan whispers of failure, and if failure, then why try... but with God, failure is impossible.  Continuing on the path is all that is expected of us... continuing to walk when it is easier to sit down.  this path is the only path to true joy... the only path to realizing our true potential... and yes, if it were all up to us, we might fail... but it isn't.  as long as we are committed and trying, the Lord will GIVE us the success in the end.  He only expects the effort of trying... of working at the lessons he has assigned.  We don't have to be our own teachers, and grant ourselves a degree.  We just have to follow the path, and learn.

Friday, November 10, 2000

Galatians 5:6

"For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
Galatians 5:6


Yesterday I asked a question... "What makes the difference between the person that dismisses the gospel because they don't understand one part of it, and someone who believes the entire gospel because they know one part of it to be true?"  and I have been thinking about it.  I think that the answer is here, in this scripture.  It’s faith... which worketh by love.  Isn’t that interesting (and cool) that faith works by love?  Here's how I see it... it's just like a relationship that you have with any person.  You have faults, they have faults... neither of you knows the other person 100%... so, why are you friends with a person that is imperfect?  it's faith, that worketh by love.  You see incredible good there... incredible potential, and you have faith that you'll understand more in time... you have a commitment to the relationship, even though you know that there are things that you don't understand, maybe even things that annoy you.  I mean, it isn't *exactly* the same, but it is very similar to our relationship with God, and his gospel.  When we discover something that we absolutely love in God... and when we find something we love in the gospel, then we begin our relationship... we commit to God, to the gospel.  Even when there are things that we don't understand, we trust that we'll figure it out in time.  We love, and that builds our faith.  Just like a relationship... we love, and it builds our faith.  So, when that happens, what can make us abandon that love... forsake that faith?  Only a greater love.  In a relationship... if we love something more than that person, and those things don't agree... then our relationship is in jeopardy.  In the gospel... if we love something more than God, love something more than the gospel... and those things don't agree... then our faith is in jeopardy.  and I'm not saying it is easy.  Relationships aren't easy either. :)  but they are worth it... and so is the gospel.  When we can love it, and have faith in it... we will see miraculous benefits come out of that relationship.  When we can love God with all that we are, then that relationship will thrive, and we will build the faith to know that all of our questions will someday be answered.  The fact that love and faith go together is very cool.  Something else to think about today. :)

Thursday, November 9, 2000

Psalms 138:1

"I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee."
Psalms 138:1


Continuing on the theme of yesterday, which was live heartily... make a choice and go with it... commit to something... I think that the key word here is "whole."  So often I find myself with my heart divided.  Trying to please God and still have something on the side... afraid to give totally any part of myself.  Truly, though... we don't know God as we should until we make that commitment.  Until we take the risk, jump in with both feet... you can only get so close to swimming dipping your foot in the water, or holding on to the edge of the pool.  Sometimes we sit on the edge of the pool and stare in for a while and then decide that it is too cold.  We gave it a chance, we think... but it isn't for us.  We do the same thing with the gospel... we look at it, evaluate it... decide, no... it isn't working for me, when we have never really committed to it with our whole heart.  We are always holding something back, just in case... but until we hold nothing back, we can only have a very limited faith.  We are still standing outside, observing... you can't know the natives until you get in there and live with them. :)
Sometimes I think about what I believe and what I don't... I have a testimony of parts of the gospel, and really don't understand others very well.  Most of us are in the same situation I think... so, what makes the difference between the person that dismisses the gospel because they don't understand one part of it, and someone who believes the entire gospel because they know one part of it to be true?  Something to think about today...

Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Colossians 3:23

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."
Colossians 3:23


I love this.  Whatever you are doing today, do it heartily. :)  so often in life I find myself vacillating (anyone who knows me can attest to this)... should I do this, or should I do that?  I really think that this is a good idea, but what if this other idea is better?  all the time.  and because of this, sometimes I do things just halfway.  I don't commit to whatever it is that I choose, because I am still wondering if it is the best thing.  I've overcome it at times, but I still do it way way too often.  Anyway, so I like this scripture.  Whatever it is that I choose... I need to just go for it, commit to it, immerse myself in it... and look to the Lord in all that I do.  And you know... when we really commit to things, it is a lot easier to find out if they are the right choice.  When we try to hold on to two things at once, it is hard to tell.  As long as we have the Lord with us in the equation, he'll help us to know if we're on the right track, or if we have to extricate ourselves.  So... do something heartily today, for God. :)

Tuesday, November 7, 2000

3 Nephi 3:19

"Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy; therefore, this Gidgiddoni was a great prophet among them, as also was the chief judge."
3 Nephi 3:19


This is great.  For those of you outside of the United States, today is a big election day here, where we have the opportunity to choose some of our leadership.  It's interesting to look back on the Nephites and see how they chose.  And, you know... it isn't only about significant political leaders, but who we choose to follow in our personal lives... who are our heroes of every day?  Which people do we admire?  Who are we trying to emulate?  How do we choose?  And I am not saying that there aren't amazing people out there, in so many places... we don't necessarily have to pick our heroes from among the 12 apostles. :)  Only that the method of choice is something to think about... how do we choose our heroes?  How do we decide who to vote for, and who to become?  What qualities and talents are we looking for, and developing?  The Nephites knew what they were looking for... do we?

Monday, November 6, 2000

Doctrine and Covenants 101:37-38

"Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.
And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:37-38


Now, I don't think this means to not take care of your body. :)  our bodies are our temples, after all... but here God is talking to the saints in Missouri that were being persecuted and threatened with their lives.  They were afraid.  As we all are at times, of losing people and things that are important to us.  And God tells us what is most important... our souls.  Our bodies will be restored.  In 3rd Nephi we are counseled to take no thought for our life, or for our body (13:25), and in all of this, I think that God is telling us... listen, your body is cool and all, and something to be valued... but your soul is your primary concern.  Your life is in my hands... think about what you can do for your soul.  And then, of course, there is the possibility that soul here doesn't mean just our spirits, but the spirit and the body together... so then God would be saying, don't care *just* about your body, but about the combination of your spirit and your body which you will have eternally.  Either way, it serves to re-focus our attention on our immortal being.  It is so easy to focus on this life, on earth and everything that takes place here... and forget that we are eternal, immortal beings, with a chance to learn independence and self-control.  So, God tells us to retain an eternal perspective... seek his face always... look heavenward.  That way, we'll have patience with the temporary things of this earth... we'll be able to cope with the pain and heartache... and all of the temporary things of this earth.  We'll be able to build each other up, and inspire each other to become better.  When we have that focus in our lives... looking to God instead of looking to the earth... then we can find that patience that we need to deal with the day-to-day challenges, and move towards our eternal goal.

Sunday, November 5, 2000

Galatians 5:13-14

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
For all in the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Galatians 5:13-14


So, liberty is interesting.  My favorite scripture about liberty is in second Corinthians... says "where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" ... I think that this scripture says something similar... it tells us that we have been given liberty... freedom of choice, a free hand in determining what we want to do on this earth.  But what we use our liberty for matters a lot.  We have all this freedom and sometimes we are pretty scary with it.  I think that we realize that on a personal level at times... when we get ourselves into a lot of debt, when we get overly angry about something... when we hurt someone that we love.  We use our liberty badly sometimes, and realize how destructive we can be.  Sometimes in our paths of destruction we destroy parts of our own liberty.  We develop addictions and feel compelled to return to them, despite wanting to escape in our more lucid moments.  Those take a lot of time and work to overcome, and a lot of help from our Heavenly Father.  This scripture shows us how not to use our liberty to destroy ourselves... and what is the answer?  A pretty common answer in the scriptures: love.  Love people, and serve them.  Sometimes we think... this is only hurting me, it isn't hurting anyone else.  But that is never, never true.  We are a human family, and something that affects one of us, affects all of us.  Our addictions and bad choices can distance us from friends and family... destroy relationships.  Our personal feelings of remorse or guilt can cause us to withdraw from the people who love us, and cause intense personal pain, impeding our freedom to be happy and guilt-free.  And I am not saying that we should go around cutting off people who make bad choices... that is the *last* thing that we need to do... in fact... not last, not even on the list.  What I *am* saying is that when we treat people as we wish to be treated... love our neighbors as ourselves... then we gain more freedom, and more safety, and more peace... instead of losing them in bad gambles.  Treating other people as you wish to be treated, instead of throwing up protective barriers, takes risk... vulnerability.   When we give we might not receive... when we love, we might not be loved in return.  But no matter what happens, we are opening the doors.  We are extending the boundaries instead of building walls... we are loving and serving and offering ourselves, sincerity, goodness... a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  When we choose to love, we choose freedom.  We choose to see the choices that might hurt us, and even when hurt, we see the choices other than anger, revenge, or building the walls thicker and higher.  So, today... let's choose to love, choose to communicate.  Let's not choose things that will make us hate ourselves and limit our freedom.

Saturday, November 4, 2000

Proverbs 25:28

"He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls."
Proverbs 25:28


This was interesting to me this morning... sometimes I don't want to take responsibility for myself, and I’ll blame everything on other people.  You know... I am who I am because of this horrible society that teaches me to be this way.  I am who I am because someone harmed me in the past... I am who I am because I grew up in a dysfunctional family. :)  And you know, all of us have challenges in life. :)  I can't think of a family that isn't dysfunctional in some way... or a society on this earth that doesn't teach people to behave badly in some area... and I don't know anyone who hasn't been harmed in some way in the past.  All of these things are part of our lives... part of what God factored into the plan.  I am not trying to diminish anyone's experience at all... I am just saying that God knew you would have to go through this.  God knew that I would deal with the things that I am dealing with in my life... and he provided a way for all of us to triumph over these experiences.  He provided a way for us to learn and become more than we could ever hope for ourselves.  We have to learn to rule ourselves, to think before we act... to balance the temporary against the eternal.  We have to learn to love the people around us, even when they aren't who we want them to be.  Even when they seem to have more than we have ever wanted.  Instead of being a city that anyone can walk into and ransack... we need to own our actions, we need to control our impulses... and if we can, then we will have some protection against intruders.  People can no longer push our buttons and "make" us react badly.  We choose how to react.  We will no longer be kept from relationships because of fear... we can choose whether to be vulnerable or not.  And choose how we react to rejection or pain.  We will never have our souls tarnished with hatred, because we can choose whether or not to let it enter.  Not that it is all easy, of course... but choosing to take responsibility for ourselves is freeing.  Nothing else can control us unless we allow it to... it makes life so much more interesting. :)

Friday, November 3, 2000

Isaiah 28:9-10

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little."
Isaiah 28:9-10


This is interesting.  Sometimes I get ahead of myself, and want God to tell me all the really intricate hard-to-understand things, when usually, I haven't even gotten the basics down.  It is hard for us sometimes to realize that we can't just skip up to college when we are in second grade... those things seems way way more interesting.  But we'll never be able to cope with all the things that we are presented with in college until we learn the basics.  And some of the basics are pretty tough.  We have to pass faith 101 way before we can take the graduate level Faith 980... the class that the Brother of Jared took in order to move Mount Zerin.  We're all at different levels, because God teaches us individually.  We can't expect to jump into Holy Ghost 723 before we pass remedial Holy Ghost 99.  So, we need to know our level better, and one way to do that is to ask the Lord to teach us that particular thing... he will always give us a lesson that will challenge us, and help us to pass the current class. :)
Also though, because we are all on different levels, we can't hold anyone to our personal standards as we are trying to build each other and help each other.  Only to general gospel standards.  The gospel says, "Keep the Sabbath Day Holy."  So, we can talk about what we are each trying to do in that area, but we're almost certainly in different classes on most subjects.  Don't try to hold someone to Sabbath Day 450 when they are struggling with Sabbath Day 101.  It won't help.  And, you know... if you are in some 101 classes, don't despair... so are we all.  You can't major in everything. :)  We're good at different things, and that's one of the reasons we need each other... so that we have someone to teach, and someone to learn from.

Total Pageviews