Monday, December 31, 2001

Deuteronomy 11:10-12

"For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year."
Deuteronomy 11:10-12


The promised life that the Lord leads us to isn't the easiest life that we could choose.  Just like the Children of Israel in this passage, we could choose an easier life in slavery to a more challenging one free.  I think some of our biggest challenges are challenges of freedom.  We have to make choices, we have to take self-motivated action.  Should we choose to be in thrall to Satan, he would tell us what to choose.  Any addiction will do.  As we travel God's path to our own promised life, we find that, unlike Satan, God doesn't use a cattle prod to urge us along.  Often, he waits for us to ask for guidance.  He allows us to make our own choices and to experience the consequences.  Instead of giving us a paint-by-number, he allows us to learn to be artists.  Becoming an artist isn't easy, and our promised lives have many challenges ahead as we learn... but being free is worth it.  Learning to become ourselves is so much better than learning to be proper slaves.  And God offers to help us learn to be our ideal selves.  And just as the promised land in this passage, God watches over us, always, helping us to learn and grow and become the artist that we dream of.  From the beginning of the year, to the end of the year... and ever after.

Sunday, December 30, 2001

Acts 7:34

"I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them.  And now come, I will send thee into Egypt."
Acts 7:34


I can just imagine being Moses here... I mean, first of all, the burning bush would throw you off a little, and then the whole awe thing with talking to God... so he's standing there, probably still in "wow" mode, and nodding... yes, God hears his children, yes, God will deliver them... wha..?   Me? :)  I think we're always surprised when God uses us to accomplish things.  We all feel inadequate, and certainly know that God could do better himself.  I think it shows God's amazing love for us that he does offer us the opportunity to do his work... even though we are imperfect, he loves us enough to be patient with our weaknesses and failings, and to let us learn how to do things.  Like a parent allowing their child to help wash the dishes even though they break two or three, and never really help to get many of them cleaner. :)  Even when we are the absolutely slowest of learners, he still offers us opportunities to serve and learn, and we learn some confidence and even skill in our service.

Saturday, December 29, 2001

Moroni 7:42

"Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope."
Moroni 7:42


Faith and hope are tied together.  You aren't going to believe anything enough to do something about it unless you have some kind of hope that it will accomplish something.  Every time we do anything, we do it because of faith... faith that our action will cause something to happen.  And in that way, we have hope in the future.  It isn't always well-founded hope, but if we are taking any action at all, we have some hope.  Even taking out the trash is an action born of faith and hope.  You have faith that it will make the house smell better, or that it will make you feel like you accomplished something. :)  If we had no hope that it would do anything, we'd just let the trash pile up and never take it out.  Sometimes I think that we do that spiritually.  We lose our hope that cleaning the sins out of our souls will do any good, and we let them pile up.  No matter what kind of inner living room we've managed to create that way, none of us is hopeless.  God has faith in us, and hope for our futures, and he takes action every day, working for our salvation.  Today, let's give ourselves another chance... have some hope, take some action.  Have faith that we can change and improve.

Friday, December 28, 2001

Luke 11:39-40

"And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?"
Luke 11:39-40


This makes me think of how difficult it is to be the same all the time. I think that a lot of the things that God has to say are trying to get us to wake up to the fact that if we want to live in a good world, and be treated well... that we have to be good people, and treat others well. When we start making exceptions for ourselves, then we are granting permission for exceptions from others. If we want consistency, then we have to be ourselves consistent. It is difficult. Sometimes you need to adjust your presentation to the audience. We have different languages, cultures, and beliefs... and it is good to respect those things and to adjust the message to the listener. I think the problem comes when we start doing what these Pharisees did and start caring more about the image than the actual. We cross the line when we just care about some people, and not others; when we care more about what others think about us than about who we are becoming. Today, let's make sure our dishes are clean... inside and out.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 101:4

"Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:4


This reminds me of something that Joseph Smith once said... "from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things" (Lectures on Faith 6:7). It seems that sacrifice is a part of learning who we are.  Abraham faced a horrible choice... between his God and his son.  Not that any of us really want to be torn like that... but until we face a similar choice, will we really know where our priorities are?  Until we face *and* overcome such a choice, will we ever learn confidence in the presence of God?  We all have something in our lives that is so important to us that it rivals God in our affections... and facing a choice between severing our connection with God and severing our connection with that most important thing is difficult... more difficult than anything else we have yet experienced.  Part of building our relationship with God is putting him first, recognizing and respecting his proper place in our lives.  As we do this, we improve ourselves, and our confidence and ability in choosing good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Zephaniah 1:17

"And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung."
Zephaniah 1:17


This is interesting, and something that I think I have seen in myself, and perhaps others.  It seems that when I am doing the right things that my mind is clearer.  I don't get unduly concerned about small things, and I am a lot more calm.  It seems as though I can see my path better.  When I am failing to do the right things however, my path is obscured and I walk as though I were blind... and perhaps I am, spiritually.  I really don't know how accurate my observations of others has been, but it seems as though something similar happens to others as well.  It's almost as though when we aren't in contact with God that we lose contact with part of ourselves as well... parts of our brain shut down.  I know I feel foggy a lot of the time if I haven't been staying on track. I have access to less information (probably because the Holy Ghost brings things to our remembrance, and without him, I can't get at the files). :) I get depressed and feel lost a lot more easily as well.  As I said, I don't know if it is the same for everyone, but I thought the relation between sinning and walking like blind men in this scripture was startlingly true.  So, if you have similar experiences, remember what it takes to enlighten your mind and your soul... as we come unto him, God gives sight to our blindness.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

3 Nephi 10:21-22

"Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.
Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such us the kingdom of God.  Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved."
3 Nephi 10:21-22


I know this scripture doesn't seem particularly Christmasy, but I think that it goes with the theme. :)  The reason that Christ came to this earth was to save us from sin.  I think that is really interesting.  When I think of wanting to be saved from something, that isn't what I usually think of.  Today, though, it seems appropriate... and maybe it should seem so more often.  No matter what kind of monsters we have in our lives, nothing is so dangerous to us as ourselves, and the choices that we make to sin.  Christ came to this world to save us from ourselves... and I am grateful for that unsurpassable gift, for without him we all would be unable to change our minds. :)  A bad path, once chosen, would be ours throughout eternity, and there would be no way back to see any other scenery.  Thanks to Christ, we *can* change our minds, and our hearts.  We are the reason that Christ came, and he considers us worth all that he suffered.  So, today, let's work on changing the scenery, and thanking God for the opportunity we have to come unto him as children again, and not be trapped in the adulthood of someone that we don't want to be.

Monday, December 24, 2001

Job 23:8-10

"Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:
But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Job 23:8-10


This is really cool.  Although we so often are unable to perceive God in our lives, he always, always knows our ways.  He pays attention even when we don't. :)  Also... when he is finished teaching us, we are going to be incredible... not just the tin or the aluminum that we were hoping for, but infinitely more precious.  Today, let's remember that God is working for us and aware of us, even when we can't see it... and remember that we are meant to be more than we are now.

Sunday, December 23, 2001

2 Nephi 12: 2

"And it came to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it."
2 Nephi 12: 2


This is just the beginning of a phrase, it doesn't complete the statement completely until later in the chapter, but it tells us some of the things that will happen in the last days.  I like the phrase "all nations shall flow unto it."  very interesting, and it gives this mental picture of a giant river, flowing upward from many sides to meet at the top of a huge mountain. :)  I think that will be an amazing thing to be a part of.  There is so much war and deceitfulness and hatred around... to see all nations joined together in one river, going towards the same place... that will be miraculous.  God is dismissed at times because people see his realm as spiritual and not physical... nothing that affects their personal world.  But God is the God of all things, spiritual, emotional, mental... physical. And the impossible peace that idealists dream of will one day be a reality... because of God, who affects all aspects of our lives, and gives life to all of us.

Saturday, December 22, 2001

Ezekiel 20:43

"And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed."
Ezekiel 20:43


God is talking to the people of Israel here, and the story basically is that God delivered them over and over and over again... and still they chose to rebel, and ignore the hand of God in their lives.  And the problem with this is that, even when God accepts them and welcomes them, they won't be able to feel comfortable with themselves enough to accept the invitation.  I mean, sincerely, if you have treated someone horribly all your life, it's going to be difficult to learn to live together.  You have to change all of your habits of thought and action, in addition to feeling horrible about all the times when you returned evil for good.  In the end, it seems, where we end up is going to depend on the level of comfort that we have with ourselves.  After this life, when the veil is lifted and we have back the memories of before this life... that part of ourselves that anticipated this world with eagerness... how will we feel about ourselves?  I remember in college... one of my very wisest teachers.  Although I despised having to go through it, she did something that was very good for me.  She made me give myself a grade in her class.  When I went in for the conference I didn't know that she was going to do that, and I had all of this evidence gathered to influence her decision... but when she made it MY decision, I knew exactly how much effort I had put into the class, and I couldn't give myself the highest grade.  ... Luckily, sins are often more impermanent than transcripts. :)
I think that is how I imagine the judgement day, really... the answer will already be there, within us.  We know how much effort we are putting into our lives.  We know where we stand with God.  God isn't going to tell us anything that will surprise us.  Any of you who have been through a temple recommend interview know that it is the last question that is the hardest. :)  You can have all the rest of them down, know exactly how to meet this or that criteria... and different questions are a struggle for each of us.  But when that last one comes... where we have to decide for ourselves whether we feel worthy to enter the house of the Lord... it gets harder.  Today, let's try to live so that we don't loathe ourselves. :)

Friday, December 21, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 42:68

"Therefore, he that lacketh wisdom, let him ask of me, and I will give him liberally and upbraid him not."
Doctrine and Covenants 42:68


I love the idea that God will give us whatever we ask for.  We have, as a society, all of these fairy tales... and individual dreams... about getting what we wish for, or spectacular adventures that end in finally having what we want.  ... and with God in so many ways our dreams can and do become reality.  The only thing is that we have to be careful about what we ask for, and to dream of thing that will truly make us happy.  The cool thing about asking for wisdom is that God won't find fault with that request, ever.  Wisdom is a great thing to have, and it helps us to know what dreams to seek, and what questions to ask.  I know that I often lack the wisdom to know what to do with my life... what to dream of, and what to ask for.  If you have similar moments, wisdom is always a good request.  Let's ask God to help us be wiser.  We could probably all use a little of that. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Romans 12:19-20

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."
Romans 12:19-20


This is instructive, and worded so that anyone would see the point. :)  Instead of returning anger for anger, or misdeed for misdeed, we should step out of the way of wrath.  When our enemies need something, we should provide what we can for them, and take care of everyone around us.  The wording in the second verse makes it so that you could be happy to help your enemies even if you were still really mad at them, because you would be heaping coals on them... although I think that the real point of that, and of the first verse, is that God is the judge... he is the one who knows what he is doing, and his judgements are going to be a lot better than ours will be.  I don't think it is about heaping coals on anyone, but just recognizing that God is a lot more clear-headed than we are... and that he has the right to judge, and we definitely don't.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Matthew 25:14

"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods."
Matthew 25:14


Several parables start out like this.  I find that interesting.  Really, that is our situation here on earth.  God has called us, and delivered his goods into our hands.  And whether the parable continues with talents, or with a vineyard, or with us treating his servants badly (as we so often do), the real problem lies in our frequent delusion that *we* own these goods... or that we can steal them, or hoard them, or that we have the right to make decisions concerning their safety.  God may not be here standing in front of us, but the true ownership of all things remains his.  And the hilarious thing is that getting all resentful and pouty about that is completely ignoring the fact that God is willing to give us ALL that he has... he wants us to inherit the kingdom, he wants us to have all things.  We just have to learn to take care of it first... only that.  Today, let's recognize that we are students and children, and know that robbery and resentfulness will never get us our heart's desires... but studying, learning, and becoming worthy of God's gifts will get us everything we could ever want.  As soon as we are ready to take care of the riches of eternity, we will have them.

Monday, December 10, 2001

Jeremiah 29:17

"Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil."
Jeremiah 29:17


Truly evil food. :)  I like this... I think because it would be nice if we could be as discerning with everything as we are with food. :)  Leftovers from yesterday, sure... but the figs in the verse here are SO vile that you can't eat them.  Pizza that has been in the box so long that it has petrified... or that now-unidentifiable stuff that has taken up residence in the tupperware.  Scary.   Just think if all evil was that easy to identify... covered with mold, or utterly unappetizing.  :)  Probably not too tempting that way... but in reality, even though it might seem more desirable than that, underneath all evil is equally abhorrent.  No matter how much chocolate frosting you put on it, you can't cover up the true taste.  Don't work at getting a taste for evil.  Mold is not your friend.  Come unto God, and feast upon his love... Good is delicious, and there is no rancid aftertaste, or green fur to get used to... it makes for a much more pleasant meal.

Sunday, December 9, 2001

Isaiah 34:9-11

"And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.
It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness."
Isaiah 34:9-11


Overall, this scripture is talking about the last days.  The burning part doesn't sound very fun... and there are a lot of interesting things here about things that will happen around the Second Coming... but what I think is interesting is the way God talks about confusion and emptiness here.  There are lots of references to confusion in the scriptures, almost all having to do with people losing their way... trying to find the right answers by asking the wrong questions.  1 Corinthians tells us that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.  That is interesting to me as well, because it indicates that the opposite of peace is confusion... not war. :)  There is going to be a lot of confusion and emptiness in the last days... so, how do we find peace and combat confusion?  How do we find fullness rather than emptiness?  What I think of is Lehi's dream.  In the beginning of his dream he found himself in a dark and dreary waste... perhaps not unlike the one described in these verses.  Confusion and emptiness surrounded him, but as he prayed to God for deliverance he saw a path, and a tree.  The path was a glimpse of order amidst the confusion, and the tree a promise of fulfillment.  Following the path that God sets for us in our lives isn't always easy... in fact it is often difficult... but having a direction is always easier than going nowhere.  We create a lot of confusion for ourselves in life.  We reject God's answers and search for better ones where there are none.  Instead of sticking to God's path we strike out through the desert on our own... not carrying any water.  Our souls and our water bottles are empty and we have no way to refill them... we are dying, and still we walk away from God, who is the only one who can fill us to overflowing.
When we find ourselves in a dark and dreary waste, as we all do at some point, let's ask for God's help, and accept it when offered.  Let's stick to the path that leads to happiness and light... to peace, rather than confusion.  To fulfillment rather than emptiness.

Saturday, December 8, 2001

Proverbs 28:26

"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered."
Proverbs 28:26


Wow.  Talk about direct opposition to the ways of the world. :)  how often do we hear, or see portrayed in the latest hollywood film... "trust your heart," "follow your heart," or something similar?  And here is the answer... :)  Don't follow your heart.  Don't trust your heart.  Follow God.  After you trust in the Lord with all your might mind and strength, and after your heart is changed and dedicated to him, then following your heart could be less disastrous... but sincerely, our hearts get us into ALL kinds of trouble.  Plus, they get broken and stomped on rather often.  That's why trusting your heart to God is much safer, long-term. :)
Emotions are a good thing... but like so many other good things, if used unwisely they can destroy you.  Let's try thinking in addition to feeling... and *always* try praying.  If we walk wisely, then we'll be okay.  Plus... as has been promised, if we put God first, then everything else will come.  Putting God first is the way to get to ANY righteous goal.  Leaving him out of the equation never works.

Friday, December 7, 2001

3 John 1:11

"Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.  He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."
3 John 1:11


This is interesting... it makes me think that we need some remedial lessons sometimes, because we ignore this basic principle so often.  You can't do evil for God... if you try to do evil in his name it is a mockery of the worst sort.  Good is what ties our actions, lives, and futures to God.  Ignoring God can only lead to one thing... evil.  Without God will will never accomplish good lives, and with God we will never have evil lives.  Trying to have evil and God only tears us apart... destroys us... like trying to breathe water.

Thursday, December 6, 2001

2 Nephi 29:9

"And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever."
2 Nephi 29:9


Can you imagine being the same ... all the time?  Sometimes I feel like I change into a different person, just depending on what song comes on the radio. :)  That kind of continuity of self sounds like a remarkable thing to me.  I think really, when God asks us to be perfect, that's what he going for... consistently being our best selves.  Wouldn't you love it if you could always keep your cool, no matter what?  If you could always have the same opinion about yourself, whether you were being criticized or adored? If you could treat people well, no matter what kind of a mood you were in? I would.
The second part of the verse continues this theme... saying that God is always, always, always the same... and then expanding on it, saying... why would you ever think that I would stop talking to my children?  It's like saying that Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet sums up his entire authorship. God still has work to do, children to save... and as some of the ones who are still in the process, we should be glad that he is still answering prayers and talking to prophets, just as he always has. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2001

1 Thessalonians 5:8-10

"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."
1 Thessalonians 5:8-10


We are of the day.  I like that.  We don't have anything to do with darkness.  And because we are of the day, we should protect ourselves from dark things, like doubt and hate and despair.  Our armor of faith and love and hope will help to remind us that we come from light, and are made of it. And Christ's work and sacrifice ensures that we will return to the light, and never be left out in the darkness. :)  In college I had a roommate once who was worried about foreordination.  She thought that maybe she had been a fence sitter in the war in Heaven, and so she didn't really have a chance at making it in this life.  But here, God tells us to have hope, and love, and faith... for none of us are foreordained to fail.  We are all heirs of salvation, and Christ suffered for each one of us, so that we could come back and rejoice with him.  God has laid a path before each of us that will lead us to salvation... each of us.  None of the paths that God has laid leads to destruction and failure.  There is hope for every single one of us, no matter what.  We have to learn some love, and some faith along the path... and a lot of other things as well... but we all have to learn them, no one is exempt.  Things that I know quite well, you will learn, and things that you have learned I will as well, eventually. :)  We're all out here to learn love, and faith, and hope... and these subjects are endless.  We learn a little, and we graduate to the next harder class. :)  But no matter where we are, or how much we have learned, the path continues... straight and narrow, leading us to salvation and light. :)  Today, let's make sure we stick to the path... and wear our armor.  None of us are here to fail.

Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Psalms 103:10

"He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities."
Psalms 103:10


This is a good thing to remember.  Sometimes we think that we have done too many bad things, or that we are bad people, and that God isn't going to listen to us if we pray.  We wonder how we can overcome our imperfect pasts to become worthy in the sight of God.  Thankfully, God doesn't change toward us when we change toward him.  Every time we repent, he is still merciful, and he still loves us, forgives us, and offers us eternity.  Unfortunately, many of us don't respond well to love and mercy.  We keep doing bad things, figuring if he isn't angry yet, then we can keep on doing whatever we want.  Yikes is all I can say. :)  Today, let's thank God for his mercy and for loving us in spite of our rebellions... and take advantage of God's patience and love by repenting and strengthening our relationship with him.

Monday, December 3, 2001

Ephesians 4:26-27

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil."
Ephesians 4:26-27


Interesting, and the Joseph Smith translation (JST) is interesting as well.  The first part of the scripture is changed to "Can ye be angry, and not sin?"  I think that is a remarkable question, and the whole scripture seems to be saying that, even without the JST.  It seems to me to be saying that being angry is kind of like inviting the devil into your life.  I find that to be true, at least in my own life.  I know that when I am powerfully angry with someone, it is hard for me to pray or to feel the spirit at all.  Back in the old days when I was a psychology major, I remember one of my professors telling us that anger is a secondary emotion.  There is always some other emotion that happens first, and we use anger to mask it.  Perhaps we are hurt or desolate... or even surprised or embarrassed, but instead of allowing ourselves to express the real emotion we revert to anger, because it is less vulnerable.  It's hard to find the primary emotion, but it helps us to keep our souls out of the hands of Satan... and although it is painful at times, vulnerability is a lot better way to learn than aggression.

Sunday, December 2, 2001

Alma 7:15

"Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism."
Alma 7:15


We read this scripture during the lesson today in Relief Society... and, you know, I have read it many times before but it seemed different today.  And then I was thinking about it again as they were passing the sacrament.  Probably appropriate, since the sacrament is how we renew the covenants that we make at baptism.  I like the fact that you can repent and show your willingness to repent every week, instead of just once in your life. :)  The part that I liked the most today was the first part... fear not, and lay aside every sin.  Fear and sin do bind us to destruction, and that image popped into my head today in Relief Society... of being tied down to something that is killing you.  It's scary, and really what we are doing to ourselves.  Binding ourselves to destruction... and unhappiness, and limitation.  I think some of the fear is of giving up all of our comfortable sins.  They are what we are used to, what we know.  Laying them aside... we have to rediscover the world.  Rediscover ourselves in many ways.  And discovery is always a little frightening.  But also exciting and intriguing. :)  And really, being out there, learning and doing new things... it helps us to be more at peace with ourselves than we are when we sit at home and wonder "what if?"  Sin is the limitation in our lives... God offers us eternity and freedom to do and be things that are beyond our imagining.  Today... let's not allow ourselves to remain bound to destruction.  Let's instead choose freedom, and light... and possibility.  :)

Saturday, December 1, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 61:20

"I, the Lord, was angry with you yesterday, but today mine anger is turned away."
Doctrine and Covenants 61:20


God's mercy is remarkable.  No matter how many wrong choices we have made... no matter how many times we've known the will of God and gone the other way... no matter how many times we've been confused and lost, having to rely upon our own strength because we've lost the spirit... God still has his arm stretched out to save us.  And, in the context of our discussion about time... yesterday is nothing.  Today, NOW, God's anger is turned away and he is ready to receive us in his arms, as soon as we are ready to be there. The tough part about that is that we have to let go of our chosen obsession in order to get there.  We have to let go of all of the walls of resistance that we have built up to protect ourselves from vulnerability to God.  We have to realize that his way is really the only way that we are going to find happiness, peace, safety... as well as true excitement and mental stimulation. :)  After all, God isn't boring. :)  Today... and all that that entails... let's reach out our hands to God,  accept his offer of friendship and love, and learn what he has to give.

Friday, November 30, 2001

James 4:13-15

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."
James 4:13-15


The scriptures talk a lot about not focusing on the past... not returning to our former selves.  And here they talk about not focusing on the future. :)  So, really, we are only left with the present.  This can get a little scary if we think about it the way part of society does... living in the moment, only worrying about what happens now... forget about the consequences.  However, I think that God encourages a different view. :)  To me, this scripture is talking about control.  When we focus on the future, normally, we make plans... thinking that we control events, and that what we envision will take place.  And having hope and having goals are a good thing... but God is really in control of the future... not us.  Any plans we make without his involvement are doomed to failure, merely because we have a different view of the future, and God's view will always win, because he can make it reality.  Also, I think that whenever we focus ourselves in the future we don't give enough weight to the present.  We become procrastinators, thinking that we have plenty of time to accomplish whatever it is... and not doing the work today that will bring us nearer our goals.  Sometimes focusing on the future can overwhelm us, because we think about ALL the things that we need to do, rather than what we need to do today.  We focus on the daunting task of "enduring to the end" when, really, we just need to endure the afternoon.  Instead of repenting tomorrow, repent today.  Instead of being nicer tomorrow, try being nicer today.  When the scriptures talk about there being time no longer, the closest I can get to imagining it is an eternal day... that NOW is everything.  If we emulate our ideal selves now, then that is who we are... forever.  If we build a relationship now... then we have it, always.  If we repent right at this moment, then we are clean... forever.  Right now is what matters... not tomorrow, next week... not anything else but this moment, and who we are and who we are emulating right now.  We create reality by what we live today.  The scriptures say he that is happy now shall be happy in eternity... so today, right now, let's make the choices that will make us happy.  Find peace, give love... offer ourselves in service.  Now is everything.  Let's use it well. :)

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Luke 9:61-62

"And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:61-62


This is an interesting lesson as well.  Yesterday we talked about faith, and a few days ago we talked about commitment.  This seems to encompass both. In this chapter Christ talks to a couple of different people who want to take care of something before they follow him... one wants time to bury his father, one (above) wants to say goodbye to his family.  These are good examples because they seem reasonable to us... why wouldn't someone be allowed to wrap up loose ends? :)  I can say for sure, of course... I'm just as fallible as the next person, but it seems to me that God prepares us adequately for everything... way way ahead of time.  So, when he calls, there really shouldn't be anything that we have to wrap up.  everything in our lives prepares us for something else in our life, later on... and we keep learning more and more and getting more and more ready for our big tests.  So, yes... we still panic when they come, and we try to stall saying that we have to wrap this or that up... but really, we are ready to make whatever commitment that God asks of us, when he asks it.  Sometimes it takes a lot of faith... as with the person in this scripture.  He (or she) wanted to say goodbye to everyone at home... perhaps make sure things were okay.  It's hard to have faith that everything will be okay as we serve the Lord... God has already made the provisions, and taken care of the farewells. :)  In fact, I would say that our families are a lot better off when God is taking care of them for us then we are in direct control.
As for putting hand to the plow and looking back... again, commitment and faith.  We have to be committed to going forward and not turn back all the time... just like Luke 17:32, Remember Lot's wife.  Whatever field the Lord wants us to work, it will only get done if we concentrate on it, and trust that God will take care of the other things that we can't control.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Mark 4:38-40

"And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?"
Mark 4:38-40


This is an intriguing lesson on faith.  A hard one too, at least to me.  Things go wrong often in life, and it seems easy to become fearful.  I like these verses because they seem to me to be saying that there is never any reason to be afraid.  Just like all the scriptures that talk about "all things" working together for our good, Christ seems here to be perfectly confident that everything will be fine, and seems to calm the storm just to cheer up his friends. :)  Little tiny things go wrong for me, and I wonder if I turned the wrong way and destroyed the ideal course of my life. :)  So, God calms the storms for me as well sometimes... but always, as in this scripture, he encourages faith as a better way to solve the problem.  Whatever scares us in this life, whether it is a physical storm or other storm of life, there is no reason at all to be afraid... God is in charge.  Even death can't touch us, for we only move on to another stage of our eternal lives.  And even though we know that... it is still hard to trust.  Hard to accept whatever comes with equanimity.  And so we learn.  And we learn just the way that the disciples did here.  We see an example.  Something goes wrong, we get scared, and God solves the problem.  The next time, the same thing happens.  Eventually, we start learning.  That God is always there... that he always solves the problems.  That no matter the storms that we have to weather, in the end a calm always returns, and the ship never sinks.  That no matter how inconsistent we are, God always keeps his promises.  The faster we learn, the less scary life gets... so here's to learning. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Proverbs 16:3

"Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established."
Proverbs 16:3


I was thinking about commitment today... that maybe that is what keeps us from our potential.  We love the Lord, but somehow we also love Satan.  And, because we are torn by the two sides... of life, of ourselves... desiring something of both, we never firmly commit to God.  Or we do, and then re-think things at the first sign of temptation.  If you think about it in terms of a relationship, which it really is, you can see how awful it is.  God is our best friend one day, and the next we are bad-mouthing him to Satan, saying that he is okay, but Satan is our *real* friend.  Like we are twelve again, and so desperate for acceptance that we don't really care what relationships we destroy.
On the other side of the scripture are thoughts, and I find this interesting as well.  we wonder how to purge our thoughts of evil, to stop desiring things that are bad... we think this is why we can't commit.  The truth is though, that commitment comes first.  Then the thoughts clear up... then we find that inner peace that we are after... because we've finally made the right choice, and we aren't trying to balance on the fence anymore.
Commitment is a hard thing sometimes... whenever we commit to one thing we give up other possibilities.  When we choose to go to lunch at one restaurant, we give up the choices at another restaurant, or the chance to order pizza, or the tuna fish sandwich we might have made for ourselves.  When you take the analogy beyond food to YCO (your chosen obsession), it seems scarier.  But until we make that choice, we are never going to get any food.  And until we make that choice, we never have the chance to make the next one, and the next.  Choices are the way that we progress in life... towards Satan or towards God, and everything we do is going to bring us closer to or further away from our goal.  Avoiding commitment is avoiding progression... avoiding the relationship entirely.  We can't become closer to God when we refuse to make any choices regarding him.  Today... let's try committing to something with regard to God.  See what possibilities it opens up.

Monday, November 26, 2001

Luke 21:34

"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares."
Luke 21:34


I think this is interesting... first, just the concept that our hearts can become overcharged. :)  I mean, we probably all feel that they can sometimes, but scriptural evidence of it was more than I expected. :)  So, taking heed to ourselves is the way to solve the problem... and making sure that our hearts are concerned with things that won't weigh them down.  Footnote on "surfeiting" says debauchery, so we should probably avoid that, as well as drunkenness. :)  The "cares of this life" part is slightly perplexing, but it makes more sense to me when I think of it as "of this life" as opposed to eternal concerns. :)  We get really wrapped up in our lives sometimes, forgetting that they are just a small part of eternity.  Thinking that this life is everything can get our priorities pretty mixed up.  So, today... let's take heed to ourselves, and leave some room in our hearts for God.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

Psalms 107:8-9

"Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."
Psalms 107:8-9


Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I like that God can satisfy our longing and fill us.  ... something to be thankful for.  one thing out of an eternity of things.  No matter where you are, or what is going on with you, stop for a moment.  Go outside and just look at this earth... at the beauty and glory of all of it... at the spectacular moments that God creates just to make us smile.  So... let's smile. :)  And thank God for this day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Alma 37:47

"And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live.  Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober.  My son, farewell."
Alma 37:47


Look to God and live.  Interesting.  It reminds me of having "an eye single" to God's glory.  When we lose that central focus of our lives, we wander a lot, looking for that meaning and purpose that we have lost.  We know that it must be there, and we search for it in a lot of things... but it can only be found in God.  It's like idol worship.  What is the point?  We can put a golden rabbit in a prominent place in our living room, or build a shrine to our favorite potato... but no matter how much attention we lavish on them, and no matter how absolutely devoted we are, they are static.  We can't look to the Rabbit and live... we can't look to the Potato and live.  Even if we get a little more realistic and talk about people, professions, or your chosen obsession (YCO)... with none of these will looking bring us life.  God alone can do that for us, and no matter how good a replacement we think that we have, it won't have the same results.  Mixing stuff together might produce a funky potato-rabbit (with extra eyes) or YCO might be especially complex with polka dots, but you can't get omnipotence from weakness.  Today, let's go for the life.  Potato-Rabbits are unique, but they aren't God.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Hebrews 11:1

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1


This is intriguing.  We were talking Sunday about why we do genealogy, and someone was talking about the spiritual bonds that tie us together... that we need each other.  I think that need is real, more than spiritual... a real, physical, tangible thing that is part of our spirits and our bodies... part of our whole selves.  So, then... thinking along those lines, if you think of faith as the bond between you and what you hope for... the physical reality tying you to the unseen world... it suddenly has so many more dimensions than you've ever dreamed of.  It doesn't even resemble belief anymore... belief becomes shapeless, shallow, and limited in dimension.  Faith is the connector... the thing that ties you to your dreams... the thing that is so deeply rooted in you that it can never be severed... whatever you connect with will be part of you.  The scientific evidence of the inexplicable. :)  I love it. :)

Monday, November 19, 2001

Psalms 15:1-2

"Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart."
Psalms 15:1-2


There are more verses in this psalm, so if you are looking to take up residence in the holy hill, be sure to read the whole thing. :)  I liked this first part of the requirements, because it talks about speaking the truth in your heart. :)  That fascinates me.  It's like being under oath all the time... needing to speak "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."  I wonder how our lives would change if we spoke the truth that is in our hearts.  I wonder why we don't.  I'm sure part of it is fear of being vulnerable... fear of being hurt or rejected... and probably part of it is not knowing.  That's probably the scariest part too, since if we don't know ourselves that well, then we don't even have the choice of expressing our heart's truth.  Today, let's look to God to find the truth in our hearts, and speak it, without shame or fear.  After all, when you have God on your side what is there to be afraid or ashamed of? :)

Sunday, November 18, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 59:18

"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and use of man, both to please the eye and gladden the heart."
Doctrine and Covenants 59:18


I find it very cool that God wants to please our eyes and gladden our hearts. :)  We have so many things to be thankful for, not the least of which are earthly things which please our eyes and gladden our hearts. :)  In our lives there are an awful lot of frightening things, but God is there to remind us that there are an awful lot of amazing things too.  Today, let's focus on the things that are pleasing to the eye and gladdening to the heart.  There are things to be joyful about, and great things in store for each of us. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 108:7

"Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings."
Doctrine and Covenants 108:7


This strikes me not so much for what it tells us to do, but what the alternative is.  I don't think that any of us gets up in the morning planning to put people down, or weaken anyone... unfortunately we do so anyway, without planning it.  Perhaps a plan would help... a plan to strengthen people, and not just play the day by ear.  ... but whether we have a plan or not, the point is that we need to be consistent with what we believe all the time, not just Sundays or with our families.  We need to strengthen our friends AND our non-friends. :)  God asks us to pray always, which is a way of asking us to be the same person all the time.  We are spiritual beings, and we shouldn't try to turn that part of ourselves off when we go to work, or when it isn't convenient.  And the same thing applies here.  If we were the same good person all the time, then we would be building up and strengthening the people around us all the time.   Think about how different we act when we are trying to make a good impression.  Imagine if we were that same person all the time... hopefully without the awkwardness. :)  Seriously, it's the same idea as in "do unto others as you would have done unto you."  Consistency.  If we believe and trust God now, if we love people today... can we keep that going, and feel it often, and eventually always?  Like Alma's "can ye feel so now?"  As we go throughout our days, lets try to be our best selves... and not our worst.  And the more we try, the better our best will become, and the better our worst.  And, someday, there won't be any gap.  I look forward to that.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Mark 10:24

"And the disciples were astonished at his words.  But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!"
Mark 10:24


This scripture is interesting because instead of saying how hard it is for rich people to get into heaven, it explains why.  Trusting in riches is the problem. :)  And, I suppose, because of the other scriptures... when you have riches, it must be awfully hard not to trust in them.  I think I may have had a lesson about this just yesterday when my bank statement came and I was balancing my checkbook.  This month, because of some unforeseen circumstances, I paid an important bill about 8 days late.  Examining my bank balance and the checks that hadn't cleared... two checks from over a month ago are still unaccounted for.  I could have paid the bill on time, and been fine... if I had trusted in something besides riches. :)  It is difficult to do.  We reason things out in our minds, and rarely do we include God in our reasoning.  I wonder what life would be like if we all had a lot more trust and faith in the Lord.  Probably a lot less stressful. :)  I've been thinking lately that things would be easier if I had a full time job rather than just freelance work.  And, they probably would... but the reason it would be easier is that I wouldn't have to trust in God so much, I could trust in riches. :)  The job might be a good thing, but the reason probably isn't. :)  Today, let's look at our lives and see if there are some ways that we are trusting in riches and not in God.  If so, let's make some changes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Jeremiah 3:14-15

"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."
Jeremiah 3:14-15


The first verse here refers to us as children, and then as spouses of the Lord.  That is really interesting, and what I get out of it a progressing level of seriousness.  We are backsliding children, not listening to our father... perhaps how we see ourselves sometimes.  Playing in the street and not believing anything bad could ever happen to us.  And then God turns it up a notch and says, but you are more than backsliding children.  You are way more important to me than you understand... and our relationship is more serious that you see.  I am married to you.  There are a lot of implications in this relationship... a betrayal of God's trust it is a lot more serious in the context of a marriage than it is in the context of a Father-Child relationship.  Just like adultery is more serious than coming home after curfew.  The cool thing is that in the way that God talks about this relationship we can see that no matter our betrayals, he is committed still.  He will accept us back as though we were backsliding children, even though our betrayal is much more serious.  He loves us and is absolutely committed to us, and will bring us to Zion, and grant us knowledge and understanding.  I like the image of eating and drinking knowledge here... Zion will be a great place. :)  Today, let's repent of our backsliding.  No matter how serious our offenses really are, God will accept us still, and lead us to Zion. :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Luke 14:31-33

"Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:31-33


This is interesting.  At first I think I was a little confused at what the king story had to do with forsaking all that you have, but I think it is about enduring to the end. :)  Enduring isn't about suffering, it is just about following through.  When you commit to something, you have to plan for the future, and ensure that commitment will remain in force long-term.  The king in this story had to sit down and decide whether he could win the war.... had to plan out his strategy.  We have to do that too, whenever we commit to something.  Wishy-washy commitments that we are only certain of for a day aren't going to take us far... in life, or in eternity.  Today, God might ask us only to forsake one sin, or to walk one step along the path.  And that is good, so that we don't get overwhelmed or tackle more than we can handle in a day... but if we commit to God, then we have to know and plan for the day when we will forsake every sin, and walk the final step of the path.  We have to have a plan for the future, or we will never get there.  Yesterday a friend of mine called me and in the course of our conversation she asked me what my long-term plan was after I move to Colorado.  I was surprised by the question, and realized that I didn't really have any long-term plans beyond going there and trying to find a job. :)  So, I am going to repent and try to figure out what to do with my life, and I invite you to join me.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Helaman 2:8

"And when the servant of Helaman had known all the heart of Kishkumen, and how that it was his object to murder, and also that it was the object of all those who belonged to his band to murder, and to rob, and to gain power, (and this was their secret plan, and their combination) the servant of Helaman said unto Kishkumen: Let us go forth unto the judgment-seat."
Helaman 2:8


I suppose that power is just as addictive as any other obsession... or else, why would anyone spend their whole life going after it?  It is interesting to me that there was espionage even back in the time of the Book of Mormon... is it human nature, or a necessary part of government? :)  It is interesting how history repeats itself.  We have more technology, but the same things happen.  People are still struggling with their chosen addictions.  Christ put God's will before his own, and set us an example... but it is still the struggle that consumes mankind.  Today, let's watch out for secret combinations... and try not to slip into any ourselves. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2001

Helaman 5:51

"And as many as were convinced did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred and the tradition of their fathers."
Helaman 5:51


This is an amazing thing, and much harder than it sounds. :)  We all have hatred to let go of, and traditions that we need to leave behind.  And, it takes some incredible determination to let go of these things.  The Lamanites in this story astound me because it states so matter-of-factly that they let go of these things that were so much a part of their lives.  They gave them up when they found a better way.
It doesn't always seem that easy to me. :)  Bias and personal grudges, and things that you learn the wrong way... those seem like the hardest things of all to get rid of.  But, as with all things, God shows us an example, and is there to help us along the way.  Learning to love is hard work, but the rewards more than equal the struggle.  I think it is that way with all of God's lessons.  Sometimes they scare us so much that we cower in the corner and say that we don't want to learn any more... but just like the scary things in childhood, once we face our fears and accept the lesson, we have whole new avenues of possibility and joy open up to us.  As we trust God, even the hardest things to understand will become clear.  Hatred is a poisonous thing.  Let's get rid of it. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2001

2 Nephi 10:20

"And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea."
2 Nephi 10:20


This is good stuff.  God drives us out of our land of inheritance sometimes.  Things happen to us that seem tragic, or just not what we had in mind.  Lehi's family was rich, and they had a great future ahead of them in some ways.  But then God called Lehi to be a prophet... and it is hard to be popular with your peers when you have to tell them how wicked they are. :)  I am sure that Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi (Lehi's sons) all had some investment in the community, all had some mental future, being the sons of a rich man with good social standing.  It is a hard thing to give up your life and go into the wilderness.  They wandered for years, and it was a difficult life.  Often, members of the group murmured and wondered why God was dealing with them the way he has... but in the end, God gave them the promised land.  Their lives and the lives of their children for generations to come were made better... infinitely better in many ways... then they would have been had they remained.  I guess my point is, God sees the big picture.  It isn't easy when we lose all of our Gold to the local politician and have to leave our vision of what we wanted the future to be behind.  It isn't easy wandering around lost for years... but still, despite all... God knows what he is doing.  If God takes away a future, it is only because he has a better one in store.  It is hard to let go of the future you know.  The one that you are familiar with, even when it doesn't seem all that great, is hard to part with.  Like that old game show, "Let's Make a Deal."  Do you want to keep what you have, or go for what is behind curtain #2?  The Lord's game show is better though... when we do as he asks, we are *always* trading up.  It's hard of course, when you gave up the $1000 and the curtain opens to reveal a farm in Iowa.  Just because it is worth more doesn't always mean that we can appreciate it. :)  So, let's learn to appreciate God's deals... and remember that he is leading us toward the promised land every day.  We just have to trust him.

Friday, November 9, 2001

Jonah 2:1-2

"Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly,
And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice."
Jonah 2:1-2


Jonah is cool.  I can relate to him. :)  The Lord asks him to go tell the people in Nineveh that they are going to be destroyed if they don't shape up, and he doesn't want to... so he goes for a boat ride instead.  Then God makes a whale swallow him.  I don't know if the whale was very happy about it either, actually... but it definitely gave Jonah some time to think.  What is amazing to me is that, even though God punished him, and a lot of people would be too angry to pray... Jonah is humble enough to realize where his deliverance comes from.  He realized that he made a mistake, and that he needed to do what God asked.  It wasn't the way he really wanted his life to go, and it was a hard thing for him to do, but he is determined to follow the Lord, even after their little disagreement. :)  And, he prays to the Lord... still in the belly of the whale... and the Lord hears him, and delivers him safe back to his life.
I think this type of thing happens to all of us.  God asks us to preach to Nineveh, and we're reluctant.  Nineveh is wicked, what good is preaching to her going to do... la la la.  For whatever reason, when God asks us to do something we studiously ignore it because we had other ideas.  So, then, we get swallowed by a whale... which, even symbolically, can be pretty overwhelming.  But, in the end, it puts things back in perspective.  After you've been inside a whale, the rest of life seems pretty good. :)  And the coolest thing is, Nineveh repented.  Jonah thought it was pointless and it wasn't... he saved hundreds of lives.  God's ways are incomprehensible to us sometimes, but things always, always work out better when we listen, and do things God's way.

Thursday, November 8, 2001

Matthew 12:15

"But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all."
Matthew 12:15


I think that the fact that Christ healed everyone who followed him is cool.  As it says, there were great multitudes.  It must have taken a long, long time... but he did it because he loved the people, and because what he loved to do was help and heal them.  Wouldn't you have liked to have been there?  And, in the midst of the multitudes there must have been a lot of kinds of healing going on... not just physical, but mental, emotional... spiritual.  No matter who they were, or how difficult to heal, he healed them all.  I think the same thing can happen with us.  As we follow Christ, he will heal us.  All of us.  No matter what it is that we have to be healed of.  We just have to keep following, and not give up. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Mormon 9:9

"For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?"
Mormon 9:9


I think this is amazing.  Can you imagine being consistent?  :)  I think that all of us do things that we know we shouldn't sometimes, and other times we are models of restraint and good works. :)  God doesn't have that going on.  He always does exactly what he knows is right, and exactly what he wants to do.  The results never surprise him. :)  He doesn't let his emotion control the way he acts... or drives. :)  Not that he probably has to drive, you know... I think I was getting a little too introspective there. :)  The other great thing is that we can count on him... EVERY time. There is never a time when he will be too busy or too distracted for us, never a time when he won't be able to handle the conversation.  That is a lot better than I can do. :)  Today, let's work on being consistent... and make sure to thank God for always being there. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Psalms 105:43

"And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness."
Psalms 105:43


I like this.  Sometimes it is good to remember that God looks after our happiness.  It doesn't always seem that way when things are hard, but things DO work together for our good, and God is constantly working toward our joy.  That doesn't mean that we won't be tested and tried... that, after all, is what our mortal lives are about.  But tests and trials help us to learn, and someday, because of our trials, we will rise above all obstacles and join God in eternal happiness.  And we don't have to wait for then to be happy; we can choose it now, no matter our circumstances.  God grants us the ability to be calm in the midst of chaos, and to be happy in the midst of hardship.  It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 4:5-6... "troubled on every side, yet not distressed . . . perplexed, but not in despair . . . persecuted, but not forsaken" ... there are so many things to live for, and to be happy about.  It just takes some thought, and a determined search sometimes when things get dark.  Let's remember that God is watching out for us today, and enjoy the lives that we have. :)

Monday, November 5, 2001

Philippians 3:8

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."
Philippians 3:8


The whole chapter is fascinating.  I recommend it.  Anyhow, I chose this scripture today because the past couple of days have been, at least for me, ones in which I have been thinking about winning and losing. :)  The Diamondbacks (the baseball team here in Arizona) won the World Series last night, and then, today, my favorite football team lost to its biggest rival.  Other wins and losses as well, job-wise, friend-wise... but now, thinking about it in terms of Christ... what greater win could there be in life, then to win the chance to stand with Christ, and to be found in him (as the next verse says)?  Whatever our wins or losses in our daily lives, the one that matters more than any other is whether we win Christ.  As it says in the scripture, the loss of all things is more than made up for by that one win.  Until we gain that perspective, we will never know the true value of any moment of our lives.  We spend money and time and resources and lifetimes pursuing things that are of no worth, when the real prize is before us, waiting to be admitted to our thoughts and hearts.  We worry so much about things that slip in and out of our lives, and we don't value enough the one and only truly consistent thing... God.

Sunday, November 4, 2001

1 Timothy 6:18

"That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distrbute, willing to communicate."
1 Timothy 6:18


Isn't it interesting that communication is part of the gospel?  I mean, everything is of course part of the gospel, but I just find it interesting that God mentions it here.  Prayer is a good form of communication, but this scripture doesn't specify that form, so I think that it goes further.... to things that we have talked about before.  We need each other on this earth... we need each other to build a righteous community.  We need each other as part of our test (Neal A. Maxwell says that we are each other's clinical experience).  I was driving with a friend this evening and we were talking about things that we had learned, or were trying to learn... and all of them involve other people.  We learn to interact, to love, to listen... to communicate.  Every person we interact with on this earth is there for a reason... part of the plan.  Communication matters.  People matter.  Let's help each other pass today's test... and, inasmuch as it is possible... have fun doing it. :)

Friday, November 2, 2001

2 Nephi 9:20

"O how great the holiness of our God!  For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it."
2 Nephi 9:20


The fact that God knows everything is, by itself, a reason to listen to God. :)  It's funny that we go throughout our lives thinking that we know so much, that God's rules don't apply to us in this or that way... when this is God we're talking about.  If anyone knows what he is doing, it is him.
The idea of knowing everything... wow.  I wonder sometimes if eventually we will all know everything, as we learn and grow throughout eternity.  And, if we all will eventually know everything, then that means we will know everything about each other... which is probably why it is hard to face living with God when we don't feel good about ourselves, or feel guilty about our actions.  Because he knows everything, and if we live there, then everyone around us will eventually know everything.  If we are ashamed of what we do and who we are, then how could we stand to face God, or to be in that place?  That is why God wants us to repent... so that we can become clean and pure again, and able to feel good about ourselves.  That kind of confidence in yourself and your relationship with God changes our lives... both earthly and eternal... dramatically.  Repentance is merely removing impediments to progress.  God's work is to help us to reach exaltation... and someone who knows everything is an excellent ally. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Acts 4:32

"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common."
Acts 4:32


I think this is really interesting, especially in today's acquisitive society.  I claim to own things, and would probably get quite worried loaning (or giving) *my* car or *my* computer to a neighbor.  I wonder how we can overcome that and become a true Zion community... of one heart and one soul.  I hope it doesn't take an overwhelming tragedy, although it will probably be easier for all of us to have everything common if all of the stuff that we are proud of owning gets turned to rubble.  There has to be a way to get there, or at least to start working on it, that isn't so dramatic though, don't you think? :)  Perhaps a thought experiment to start.  If I didn't have... my car, for instance, what would change in my life?  Do I know where the nearest bus routes are?  Could I get around to the places that I need to go?  Can I relate to the people who don't have a car?  Is a car *really* necessary to my life?  What in my life would have to change to be able to give that up?  I'm sure we all can think of things in our lives that are very important to us for different reasons.  I was getting my hair cut the other day and there was some promotional material about donating 10 inches of your hair to a children's cancer group, who would use it to make wigs for the kids.  So, I started thinking... how attached to my hair am I? :)  God gives some of us more than others... as a test.  We can glory in having more than someone else, or we can help to build a Zion community... by sharing God's abundance to us with others.  And once we try these thought experiments, maybe we'll be ready to give things that are important to us when the opportunity arises.  Maybe we'll understand how important these things can be to other people as well, especially the ones who don't have them.  That kind of understanding will at least start us off on the path to Zion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

2 Nephi 9:10

"O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit."
2 Nephi 9:10


It being Halloween and all, I thought that talking about monsters was appropriate. :)  It is also appropriate to talk about the atonement of Christ, which saves us from all the monsters.  This scripture talks about the death of the body (death) and the death of the spirit (hell)... Christ saves us from both of these.  First, because he died for us and was resurrected, we will all be resurrected as well and have the opportunity to live eternally.  Physical death is not the end.  :)  This gift of eternal life is given to all, regardless of our choices.  Then, because he suffered for our sins, we all have the opportunity to overcome spiritual death as well.  Spiritual death isn't so much about whether we will live after this life (we will)... it is about where we will live.  Because we sin, we fall short of being able to live with God and eternally with our loved ones.  Christ's second gift offers us the opportunity to overcome our own sins, and qualify anyway.  He prepared a plan for us to be able to do this.  What we have to do is follow God's plan, and we can still become who we were meant to be, despite our sins and mistakes.  Christ did a lot of good things on this earth, but what makes him our Saviour are these things.  Saving us from the monsters. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Helaman 14:30

"And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free."
Helaman 14:30


I think this puts into perspective a lot of life. :)  We can't really go around blaming God for all the consequences of our actions.  We have to take responsibility for our own actions, and change them if necessary.  Just as my bad decisions can't be blamed on my parents, our bad decisions can't be blamed on God.  Like our parents, God does everything he can to teach us and help us to know right from wrong... so that when we are faced with hard decisions and possible fog, we will know what to do.  If we ignore our parents' warnings and do something they warned us against, it isn't their responsibility.  It is ours.  The amazing thing about God is that he *can* save us from the consequences of our actions in many cases.  Sin, through repentance, can leave us without stain... because God intervenes in our behalf.  So, today... remember, remember. :)  We're free, and we have so much to look forward to.  Let us get the bad things behind us, and forge a new future. :)

Monday, October 29, 2001

Deuteronomy 4:9

"Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them to thy sons, and thy sons' sons."
Deuteronomy 4:9


This is good stuff.  What it makes me think of is how easy it is to forget. To forget God, and all the amazing things that he does for us every single day.  Things start going well, and we think that we can handle things without him, or that we don't need to improve any more.  It is sad that we are usually only motivated when things go wrong, and suddenly we need God again.  The truth is, we need him even when things are going Right with a capital R.
Today, I was going through some things, trying to find some information for a job application, and I came across so many things from my past selves (in a completely non-reincarnation way, of course)... letters, writings, grades, articles... even applications and brochures indicating past hopes and dreams.  It reminded me of some things that I needed to be reminded of... including this scripture, which I had used in a sacrament meeting program back at BYU.  We need to live in the present, yes... but we can't throw away our history, or we'll never remember the lessons that we have learned along the way. :)  Our learning today can be enhanced greatly when we are able to retain past lessons and build upon them.  As the scripture indicates, when we get the history right, it can even carry on into the future.  Our lessons building upon the lessons of our parents... all the way back to Adam and Eve.  (Don't talk to snakes.)  Today, let's keep our souls diligently... and not forget God, even when things are going well.  He's still there, answering our prayers.

Sunday, October 28, 2001

Job 21:7

"Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?"
Job 21:7


An excellent question, and I think one that we run across frequently.  I wonder that when I watch some of these "reality" shows on television.  Why do the people who do the creepiest and most slimy things always seem to win?  I read books like that sometimes, where evil triumphs, and it always makes me kind of sick... I think because I wonder if reality will be like that. :)
The thing is, life is just another "reality" show.  A lot of lie mixed in with a little bit of truth.  In the true reality, God's reality, things like that don't happen.  The bad guys don't win.  The plot where evil triumphs is always in the realm of fiction.  We get so caught up in the rules of our reality show, we forget that the rules aren't the eternal truth. :)  Yes, here, what we wear almost always matters more than who we are.  The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.  We pay lawyers more than we pay teachers.  Those are some of the rules of our reality series.  But we have to be careful not to confuse them with the rules of eternity.  By *those* rules, the righteous always come out okay.  And sure, if we live by the rules of the reality series instead, maybe we'll get the million dollar prize... but will that make up for an eternal reward?  No matter how rich or powerful you are, does it... can it possibly... make up for the loss of your soul?  Today... let's remember whose rules we need to live by, and the prize that really matters.  Let's not be envious of people who are living by the wrong set of rules; let's focus on the *real* test.  A million bucks can't even begin to compare.

Saturday, October 27, 2001

2 Peter 1:12

"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth."
2 Peter 1:12


This is interesting... sometimes I sit in church and think, wow... how many times have we heard this? :)  But, as Peter says here, it really would be negligent of us to not remind each other of the truth, just because we all know, or even because we're doing the right things currently.  We all need the reminders.  Days slip into fog so easily... sometimes it is hard for us to see even the brightest truths.  That's why we have the church and each other... because we all need a reminder now and then... a clearing of the head, and a glimpse of eternity.  When others are in the fog and we are not, we can help them to see and remember... and the same when the situation is reversed.  In Lehi's dream everyone, regardless of status or past obedience, had to pass through the mist of darkness to get to the tree of life.  It is the same for us.  Some days are going to be dark, no matter what good things we are doing.  Joseph Smith said, "The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes."  So, maybe the blackness is even more likely when we are trying to go the right way.  In the dream I don't think that there was a mist preventing anyone from getting to the great and spacious building. :)  Anyway... this is your reminder for today. :)  God really is there... and he loves you.

Friday, October 26, 2001

1 Corinthians 11:31-32

"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
1 Corinthians 11:31-32


This is interesting.  I wonder what it means to judge ourselves.  Does it mean just to look closely at our desires and actions and decide whether they are good or bad, right or wrong?  It could mean more than that... not only that scrutiny, but then repenting of our misdeeds, and improving our lives... so that our self-judgement takes us forward, bringing us closer to our ideal selves. :)  Probably a very good idea.  Proceeding to the next verse, I think it is cool that, even when God does need to judge us (presumably because we aren't regulating ourselves well enough), he does it so that we can escape condemnation.  He doesn't want us to have to suffer the consequences of an unthinking life... an unjudged life. :)  So, he judges for us, and helps us to see where we have problems, and where we need to improve.  God isn't standing up there waiting for us to fail... he only wants us to learn... and when we fail to teach ourselves from our own mistakes, he is there to assist. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Matthew 19:26

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26


I think this is a good thing to remember today.  No matter how bleak the outlook, with God we can accomplish whatever he asks.  We can become the people we've always dreamed of being, and we can endure to the end. :)  We might even be able to walk on water someday.  I think that will be the first class I sign up for on the other side... walking on water 101. :)  unfortunately, the prerequisite is probably Faith 960... so perhaps I should start working on that coursework now. :)  God is always watching out for us, teaching us our own limitless possibilities.  Sometimes the lessons are hard, and require us to exercise a little faith... and patience.  God will solve everything that we need solved, and will bring to pass his righteous purposes.  In his own time, and in his own way.  Sometimes we don't agree with the timing, but God's timing is always perfect.  So, there must be a reason... maybe just that we need to learn a little patience.  I know I do. :)  No matter what situation we are in today, it isn't impossible.  Not with God. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 45:71


"And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy."
Doctrine and Covenants 45:71


So, this morning we have another reason to be righteous... so that we can sing. :) Interesting scripture. Most of this section talks about the things that will happen at the second coming, and this particular part is talking about the New Jerusalem, and how there will come a point at which anyone who will not take his sword against his neighbor will have to flee to Zion, to safety... so it seems like we'll be singing on the way to Zion one of these days. :) I like the fact that in the scripture they are singing everlasting joy... :) Some of the things that lead up to this point don't seem very joyful, but this event, trying as it may be, is a good thing, and the singers have enough confidence in God that they know they are going to a good place, to safety and a place where they don't have to fight the neighbors. :) It seems that God leads his people through the wilderness a lot. :) Finding new lands, establishing new places to live... we have been pioneers since Adam and Eve left the garden. :) Noah, The Brother of Jared, Moses, Abraham... Lehi... Joseph Smith, Brigham Young... and it seems that we will be again. :) There must be something to learn from walking in the wilderness, and leaving everything that is too heavy behind. Perhaps we learn what is really important, and what isn't... and we learn that there are some places that are worth every sacrifice to find. And, perhaps most importantly, that reliance and confidence in God that we get no other way than by leaving everything else behind and trusting in him. Whether we end up taking the physical journey that is foretold in this verse, or whether our journey is to a personal, spiritual promised land... let us learn our lessons well, and sing songs of joy as we go. :)

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