Thursday, May 31, 2001

Matthew 5:22

"But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."
Matthew 5:22

Wow.  I am very bad at this.  I think that I say Raca to people all the time. :(  By the way, the Joseph Smith Translation omits the words "without a cause."  So, that means, whenever we are angry with someone, we're getting off track.  Another evidence of how lacking we are compared to God's infinite patience and love.  It's funny, you know... seems like every time I get angry I think I have a cause... and then it turns out not to be so important after all.  Is that another evidence of the lack of perspective in my life? :)  When we can focus on the eternal, and on the present moment (seems contradictory, but you know, you don't *have* to choose between seeing the trees and seeing the forest... can't we see the trees as *part* of the forest?)... kind of a soft-focus approach, seeing how the details fit into the eternal plan.  If I could do that more often, instead of focusing on only one piece--me--then I would be a lot better off.  Today, let's all stay away from that hell fire, and stop saying Raca to people... whether we think we have a cause or not.

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Revelation 3:15-16

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
Revelation 3:15-16

This is interesting, and it reminds me of the good/evil theme that we have been on recently.  It seems as though (although I could be, and often am, wrong) God would rather that we took a stand and fought for it... even if it isn't exactly his... than if we try to stay in the middle and not choose.  I think of Saul/Paul and that transformation... or Alma the Younger.  Those people that were rabidly against the gospel and fought it every step of the way, and yet they were converted through miraculous means.  Could God get through to them because they allowed themselves to take a stand, to have an opinion... to risk themselves by throwing all of their efforts into a cause?  And when they found out that it was the wrong cause, they turned around immediately and started fighting for good.  I wonder if it is easier to turn someone around who already has some momentum. :)  I just thought of Amulek though, who fed Alma when he came to his city on a mission, and through talking to Alma and through God's calling, he was inspired to take a stand and preach the gospel with Alma, even though it meant losing all his possessions and being estranged from his entire family in the end... so, God can work with anyone.  We knew that.  I guess just at some point we have to get off the fence.  We can't serve God and Mammon... can't embrace both good and evil for long, without going in some direction.  God is going to keep giving us opportunities to take a stand for him, as he did for Amulek... but if we don't take advantage of those opportunities... if we fight to stay in the middle and not choose one or the other... eventually the ground is going to shift under us and we're going to fall to someplace we never wanted to be.  No-one can survive forever in a gray area. :)  So, today... let's choose sides.  Who do we want to be?  What do we want to fight for?  Take a stand.

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21

"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated--
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."
Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21

I've heard this scripture a lot... so many times in fact, that maybe I've never actually thought about it before. :)  I've mentioned before that we are little children in comparison with the Lord... that we are struggling to get used to these bodies, finding out who we are, choices and consequences... learning to walk and talk.  I think it gives the symbolism of baptism a remarkably literal flavor.  Anyway, as children, we need some structure... some consistency, some rules.  Children who are raised without consistency and a reward structure tend to fare worse in school and in corporate America... not that those are eternal indicators, but just helpful to my analogy. :)  So... this is evidence of God's reward structure. :)  As a perfect parent, he has put in place incredibly consistent laws, and ways for us to succeed and thrive as we learn.  Just as with our everyday earthly lives, sometimes there are negative rewards, not meaning bad, but meaning... the reward for not running out into the street is that we don't die... we don't get an ice cream cone or anything. :)  Sometimes the reward for refusing an addiction is merely that we aren't chained down by it anymore.  Of course, without chains, we are free to put in force some positive action and receive positive rewards.  Throughout the scriptures there are individual blessings tied to individual laws... for instance D&C 89:18-21 talks about rewards for obeying the Word of Wisdom.  It's all part of the reward structure.  And like all children, sometimes we test it... we see the least we can get by with and still receive the blessing... or the most we can get by with and still avoid the consequence.  We're crazy like that... but God takes that all into account.  He includes a sincere heart as part of the requirements in many of his laws, if not all.  Anyway, today... let's learn something.  Let's try not to test the Lord, but learn the lessons and receive the incredible blessings that he has in store.

Monday, May 28, 2001

Titus 2:11-14

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Titus 2:11-14

Kind of continuing on the good / evil theme... this is interesting to me, especially the "zealous of good works" part... you know, I think most of my life I have thought that the underlying purpose was to get a job, raise enough money to feed a family... learn to be responsible, work hard... and this seems different than that.  Zealous of good works.  I love the sound of that.  I make my life so dramatic sometimes... ugh.  Anyway, this seems better in some ways. :)  Not that it takes away the need for doing all of the rest of it... but it feels like the higher purpose *behind* the mundane (and extraordinarily painful) learning-to-be-responsible stuff.  It's way more fun to be good and nice and go to work every day when you have a secret mission... to find about a b'zillion good works to do. :)  So... I'm on it.  Are you with me? :)
Not to ignore the rest of the selection at all... that's just what struck me.  I guess the soberly part seems like another part of becoming responsible... but I'm sure that it has its good side.  laughter is definitely an escape sometimes, and we need to learn to take serious things seriously.  ... and funny things funnily. :)  heh heh.   anyway... the cool thing is that when we manage the emotional sobriety, and deny ourselves things that are bad for us, we get a taste of that blessed hope... and we will look forward with happy anticipation for the day of the Lord, because we love him and we want to see him... and not look forward to that day with dread, because we know that our addictions will catch up with us.  And you know, we'll have to report to the top agent about how well our secret mission went.... so, make sure you are surreptitiously building some Zion today. :)

Sunday, May 27, 2001

Moroni 7:46-47 -- On Failing things and Enduring Love

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth.  Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."
Moroni 7:46-47

Continuing our Moroni 7 theme, this is another fascinating insight from Mormon (Moroni is writing down some things that his dad said in this chapter).  The part of this scripture that strikes me today is when it says "all things must fail."  I find that really relevant today.  Seems like so much of this earth life is about learning to let go of things, and it is interesting to have God come out and say... that's the way it is.  All things must fail. :)  It kind of makes it better when you remember that. :) 

The thing that doesn't fail though, and that we can have faith and confidence in, is the pure love of Christ.  I think sometimes about his suffering...  We talk a lot about seeing things from someone's else perspective, or walking a mile in their shoes... Christ knows us so intimately, from suffering our pains, that there is no-one else who *could* love us like that... and of course it endures forever... that isn't something that he will forget. 

The challenge that I see is learning it for ourselves. :)  How do we become possessed of Christ's love?... Do you think that means just feeling his love for us, and having that actively in our lives... or having that same kind of love for other people? ... or both? :)  I mean, obviously we can't go through what Christ did... first because I don't think that any of us has that high of a pain threshold, and secondly, because none of us are pure, so that we could make that kind of sacrifice for others.  But we can serve them and love them, and get as close to that love as possible.

After this it tells us to pray with all the energy of heart, so that we can be filled with this love.  (Filled, taking away the emptiness...?)  Anyway, if we have not charity we are nothing... so today, let's make sure we get a dose... and when we feel that love of Christ within us, let's go ahead and bless someone else with it as well... after all, what is more important than learning to love each other? Only learning to love God.... the two most important things in life.  Let's spend some time on them today. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2001

Moroni 7:19

"Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ."
Moroni 7:19

This is fascinating.  In our journey of life, we need to keep a keen eye out for the truth... and gather the good things wherever we find them.  I think the mere fact that the scripture says "search diligently" tells us a lot.  Even when we go to church regularly, we don't get truth handed to us on a platter--a feast without effort.  Albeit unfortunate, you come across evil even in Sunday School sometimes.  It takes a diligent effort to search out, every day... every minute... the good and the evil.  Good is spoken of frequently in the scriptures... telling us that good comes from God.  That we can tell if something comes from God, because it will lead us to do good and to love God.  So, basically, we choose between good and evil every day, and the choices that we make dictate who we become... good or evil versions of ourselves. :)  In Article of Faith 13, it mentions that we believe in "doing good to all men."  I think that relates to the above scripture in that I think that we condemn good people sometimes.  We generalize and label, and have a hard time treating people well when we disagree with them, for whatever reason. :)  Or you know, maybe it is just me. :)
Anyway, today... let's look for the good around us.  Find the good in everyone, especially the people that we are used to dismissing.  And let's remember our basic choices... good and evil.  Let's collect some good, and throw out all that moldy evil that we have sitting around in our cupboards.  (ick!)...

Friday, May 25, 2001

1 Peter 4:12-13

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
1 Peter 4:12-13

I do this so often... think: why is this happening?  What did I do wrong? (Or, sometimes I know *exactly* what I did wrong, but I still feel sorry for myself.)  When, really... it isn't anything strange or out of the ordinary.  Just life.  We're supposed to be tested, and if I always got tests that it was easy for me to deal with, then I wouldn't be growing and learning, right? Today, let's work on rejoicing... no matter what is going on with us.  Suffering helps us learn... not just knowledge, but wisdom.  Sincerely, if we look back at our lives, which of us can say that our sufferings haven't made us better people than we were before?  God's lessons are always designed for our growth, and ultimate happiness.  So, let's be glad that God cares about us enough to not leave us alone, where we are... but cares enough to spur us on to better things... a better self. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2001

2 Corinthians 4:2

"But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
2 Corinthians 4:2

I like the way this scripture kind of just tells us to live our lives in the foreground... not to shadow or shade anything as a backdrop, or hide anything in the wings or behind the curtain, but to live purely, so that nothing has to be hidden.  Wouldn't it be amazing if we were all 100% truthful with each other?  It would take some getting used to, definitely... but it would be so cool to not have to translate everything from what you think into what you say.  Some of that is just some mental discipline of course.  If everyone is always going to know what you are thinking (and who knows, maybe it will eventually be that way in the Celestial Kingdom), then we'd better learn to be a lot more organized and kind in our thoughts. :)  I think that the feeling would be just unbelievably ... freeing is perhaps the word... to be able to live without being ashamed of anything.  To be able to commend ourselves to every man's conscience, and not have one particle of doubt that we had offended someone or influenced anyone for evil.  I like it... the only problem is, at least for me, is that I never know the first steps to getting there.  Here, it helps a little.  Let's work on honesty first.  Today, let's tell the truth.  Don't lie.  Don't deceive... and, you know... when we have that mastered, then we'll address what to do next. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Proverbs 31:31

"Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."
Proverbs 31:31

This is both cool, and kind of scary.  This chapter of Proverbs talks about a virtuous woman... what she is like, and in this last verse of the chapter it is talking about the rewards of her efforts... and her reward is that she gets to enjoy her works.  This is cool, because if we build Zion, then we will get to live there.  If we build amazingly good relationships, then we will get to enjoy them... if we build a relationship with God, then, in the end, that is the reward... an amazing relationship with God.  It *is* amazing to be able to get the fruit of your own hands... and be able to see all of the things that you struggled to build come to fruition.
I guess the scary part is if you are only pretending to do all of those things in your life. :)  Then what do you get? :)  A pretend life?
So, today... let's be real.  Build something good... and God will perfect our construction, and bless it and let us enjoy it forever, whether it be community, family, or good works of any kind.  Let's just be careful of what we are building.  We have to live there forever.

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Revelation 3:2-3

"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.  If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."
Revelation 3:2-3

You know, this is a little scary, but also instructive.  If we don't watch, that's when we'll be in trouble... so, the lesson here is: watch.  Be watchful, and strengthen ourselves and the people around us.  Be unmovable in our dedication to God, and repent.  None of us can say that our works are perfect before God... so we all need to repent, and clear the way for Christ to make us perfect.  Today... let’s watch. :)  Notice God's hand in our lives, and do something about it. :)

Monday, May 21, 2001

Moroni 1:2-3

"For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ.
And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life."
Moroni 1:2-3

This is interesting.  Dramatic circumstances can challenge the faith of even the strongest man... but Moroni stood his ground, even though he lost his family and the loss of an entire people.  I wonder if we would stand... if *I* would stand up to that test.  And, then, I wonder if I am standing now sometimes.  Maybe the constant battering of the waves is just as hard to stand against as the mightiest storm.  A few days ago, at work, I prefaced a  comment with "I don't mean to go all religious on you, but..." ...and you know, I *did* mean to go religious.  I *am* religious, and I love to talk about the scriptures and all the cool ideas of the gospel.  I shouldn't apologize for that.  So, today... wherever we are, whatever we are doing... let's remember to not deny the Christ.  He lives, and matters more than what anyone thinks, or says.  We should be proud to stand up for him... to talk of him, to rejoice in his gospel.  Not that we should be offending people on purpose either, mind you. :)  But, we can love the people around us and Christ too... they aren't mutually exclusive. :)

Sunday, May 20, 2001

Isaiah 32:17-18

"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places."
Isaiah 32:17-18

You know, to me... war isn't the opposite of peace.  Stress is. :)  And these scriptures seem to indicate that God's work will bring to pass a pretty stress-free environment.  I like the idea.  I think that we just accept stress as a normal thing in our lives, and when we find something that isn't stressful, it stands out.  some of my friends are like that... they amaze me because I can hang out with them and really relax... not worry that they are going to get offended or react badly to my idiosyncratic ways. :)  We are sure of each other... and I that is what I think of when God talks here about quietness and assurance forever.  No nagging doubts at the core of anything... absolute certainty that things are going to be great. :)  Today I am so grateful for God's consistency.... for the absolute assurance of his love and assistance... even when *I* am inconsistent. :)  I think it takes a God to provide that kind of solidity in our lives... and, at least for me, it helps so much to have something solid to hold on to. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2001

JST Hebrews 11:40 -- On Suffering and Perfection

"God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect."
JST Hebrews 11:40

How interesting.  The Joseph Smith translation fascinates me here.  The chapter (which is *excellent* by the way... I recommend it) talks about faith and a bunch of prophets who went through a lot for God... and then, here at the end, the JST tells us that these sufferings were necessary for their perfection.  So, that means that ours are as well, right? 

I think about some of the people that I know that have been through a lot... abuse, extreme poverty, death, and extreme illness in their families... and those people are the strongest people that I know.  Not that suffering is enjoyable, but linked with faith, nothing can teach us more... nothing else can make us perfect.  I think also of sincere repentance... which takes a lot of suffering sometimes, and I can almost see it happening. 

We have to suffer sometimes to realize how important things are.  We never realize exactly how much we are attached to family or friends until that attachment is severed or threatened.  I think it is the same with God.  Sometimes we learn how important God is in our lives through suffering without him... and then fighting our way back.  Abraham loved his son already, but I wonder how that relationship changed when they went through what they did.  I think our bodies need to learn as much as our spirits... and sometimes physical suffering teaches our bodies that they are strong, and that they can do much more than they thought possible.  Maybe even walk on water someday. :) 

Friday, May 18, 2001

4 Nephi 1:44

"And from this time the disciples began to sorrow for the sins of the world."
4 Nephi 1:44

The three Nephites are so interesting to me.  When we first hear about their unique opportunity to stay on earth until the "second coming" of Christ, the scriptures tell us that they won't have any sorrow, except for the sorrow they feel for the wickedness of the people.  And, until this point in the Book of Mormon, they haven't even had to feel that, because the people have been righteous for three generations.  It must be a horrific thing, to witness the downfall and destruction of your own people, and know that they chose it.  We probably all experience this to some extent or another in our lives... when family or friends walk away from God, or even when we do ourselves.  Some part of us shudders to know how hard the road back will be... how much we lose when we dismiss God from our lives.  How do we stop our own downfall sometimes, and if we have that stabilized (which, you know, would be really nice to be sure of...), then how can we assist in arresting the decline of our modern civilization?  I wonder what the disciples are sorrowing for now.  I hope they aren't sorrowing for me.  And you know, even more, I hope that someday, when the veil is lifted, that I don't end up sorrowing for myself.  I feel so short-sighted sometimes... I think we all are to some degree.  We choose what we can see and taste and touch right now, and we rarely think of the consequences to the future... or even to our immediate souls.  Today, let's try to live so that we, at least, don't have to sorrow for ourselves. :)  Then, if we get that mastered (which, I admit, might take a while), we can start shoring up the defenses for humanity in general. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Mormon 1:2

"And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe."
Mormon 1:2

This morning I am thinking about all of the boy prophets throughout the scriptures.  Why does God work through children?  Is it because they are the only ones who will listen to him?  Do we grow up and become cynical about being able to hear the Lord?  Do we become hardened against the things of the spirit?  Scary thought.  So, as adult-types, how do we un-harden ourselves?  how do we become more spiritually aware, and less cynical?  Two clues are here in this scripture... being sober, and quick to observe.  Sober, besides meaning not under the influence of alcohol, has a few other meanings.  Two of them are not exaggerated or distorted, and characterized by reason, sanity, or self control... showing mental and emotional balance.  Ah. :)  So, we can apply all of those meanings here... we can pull ourselves out from under the influence of our addictions, as well as maintaining (or obtaining, as the case may be) some sanity and balance in our lives.  As for being quick to observe... we can be aware of the things that God does for us in our lives.  They are all around us constantly, but sometimes we tune in only to the new and different and take for granted all the things that the Lord has blessed us with every day.  Children have a sense of wonder, because they are seeing so many things in the world for the first time.  At what point do we look at a mountain or a tree and just think that they are the same old thing as every day?  At what point in our lives do we stop staring at the clouds, or being amazed by the stars?  Let's be quick to observe all of the amazing things that God has granted us in this world... and maybe we'll lose that cynical edge of adulthood, and be able to hear the Lord more clearly. :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Psalms 81:11-13

"But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!"
Psalms 81:11-13

My friend Jen and I were talking about free agency the other day, and why God has to let people make really bad mistakes.  Jen said that she has to let her son make mistakes sometimes so that he will learn.  If her son throws something on the floor, she has to let him learn that it is gone, and not keep picking it up for him.  I can see that... and I can see also that God has to let us find out for ourselves what we lose when we throw him away... but it must be hard for him to watch us make really painful decisions.  This scripture describes choices that we make every day... and God laments at the end, because he wants his children to be happy... and he has so much in store for us, if we will just listen to him.  But it has to be chosen freely.  A gift isn't a gift if you have to force someone to take it.  today, let's try to remember that we are children, and that, even if we don't understand why, God knows the way to happiness so much better than we do.  We can make more of our lives when we collaborate with God than if we walk alone, after our own counsel.  Let's follow him and find out all the cool things that God has in store. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

1 John 5:14-15

"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
1 John 5:14-15

This is really cool.  It takes a little bit of faith, but it really works.  Asking according to God's will guarantees an answer. :)  Now, God's timing might be different from ours, and the amount of effort that we, personally, have to put in might be perceived a little differently by God... but he will answer us.  The thing is to ask for things that you know that he wants to give you.  Faith... Love... Forgiveness... Mercy... Truth.  No new cars, no gold-plated Monopoly sets.  But friends... yes.  Opportunities to share the gospel... opportunities to repent, to heal wounds and rifts, to bless other people's lives. :)  Now, these things might seem impossible to you, the wounds too deep, the rifts too wide, the friends too remote.  Everyone around you might belong to some anti-Mormon hate group, and so you might wonder how all these things will come to pass... but they will.  When we ask for things that God wants to give us, he'll find a way to bless our lives with those things.  In his time, and in his way... but it will definitely happen.  Let's gather our faith today, and ask God for something that we know he wants us to have... and then work for the results. :)

Monday, May 14, 2001

Micah 7:18-19

"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy.
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
Micah 7:18-19

Wow.  Sincerely, this is an amazing scripture... I love the imagery here... casting our sins into the sea.  And the first part: "who is a God like unto thee?"  That is such a good question. :)  Who is like God?  No-one.  That is what we are here for, so that we can become like him... so that we can come a little closer to that perfection, that perfect state of being.  I think that we forget sometimes the wonder and glory and perfection of God... we attribute our earthly foibles to him... we sometimes assume that he can't make up his mind, or he has a problem knowing what is right, the same way we do.  The thing is, he knows absolutely what is right.  He knows so much more than we do, that we can't even really compare... even the way that we think... with him.  It boggles my mind to read about how some people think that we are God's experiment, or God's playthings, or anything remotely similar... God is perfect.  Do we *get* that?  Perfection doesn't need experimentation. :)  There is ALWAYS a reason, and a perfect one at that, for the things that God does.  Just because we, in our imperfection, don't see it... or don't take the time to find it, doesn't mean that it isn't there. :)  Today, let's recognize God for the *God* that he is, and allow him to subdue our iniquities, and cast our sins into the ocean. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2001

Hebrews 10:31-32

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions."
Hebrews 10:31-32

This is great. :)  I love it when the scriptures put things so bluntly. :)  It's scary to hang out with God.  It is scary sometimes to know that we are in his hands.  Very true.  It continues though, and tells us to remember other times in our lives.  baptism for instance, or any time when we learned big lessons... there are always exercises after the lesson.  It's part of an excellent teaching strategy... and God is the best teacher ever.  Whenever we learn something, then that knowledge is tested, to try to solidify the foundation that we poured.  If we pass the test easily, then we go on to building on top of it... learning more, building higher... growing into the people that we can be.  Yes, it is absolutely scary.  But growth *requires* fear.  it is part of the territory.  We have to step out of our comfort zones in order to learn new and amazing things... and stepping out of our comfort zones is frightening, by definition.  We step out of the light a tiny bit into the darkness... we lift anchor and sail out of sight of land... we don't know exactly what we will find.  But, remember the process of your life thus far.  Think about how God has worked with you.  Who were you ten years ago?  hasn't God led you to better places, to be a better person in general?  Trust him to continue to do that.  Walk out boldly into the unknown, trusting God... who, scary as he may be, knows ALL the land, ALL the waters, and ALL the darkness.  He will never lead you astray.  So, it's okay to be afraid.  It just isn't okay to stay where you are, to give up the promised land... to sacrifice your incredible, amazing potential... just because you are afraid.  Walk slowly, but walk.  Get on the boat... put your toe into the darkness.  Give God a chance to lead you to a better world, a better life.

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Psalms 104: 33-34

"I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord."
Psalms 104: 33-34

I like this scripture, just because it feels happy.  In Sunday School the other day we were discussing the hymns, and why we should participate in the singing at church. :)  Some people who feel like they have bad singing voices were in favor of just reading the words. :)  I am not going to argue the point here, but I sing because I think that it lets my soul express itself so much better than just talking.  When I am excited and joyful about something, especially God, it is really hard to express myself in a non-emotional way, and I think that singing is ALL about emotion.  The words matter, but the fact that you are singing them matters too.  It isn't a speech or a sermon... it is flinging your feelings to the clouds, and letting God and everyone hear you doing so.  And singing *with* other people... being unified in that kind of emotion, that kind of message to the sky.  There are not many things better than that...
Anyway, today, if you have a chance, sing to the Lord.  And meditate and be glad too... silence can be sweet as well, if you are letting your soul sing. :)

Friday, May 11, 2001

Moses 2:14

"And I, God, said: Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years."
Moses 2:14

This verse intrigues me because it says "for signs" ... and so I think of the star that told of Christ's birth... but how about other signs?  I am not advocating a belief in astrology here, I promise... I am just asking the question.  Are there things in the heavens that we are missing?  Go to any police station or elementary school and the officers and teachers will tell you, absolutely, that crime and bad behavior go markedly up during the full moon.  Why?  The ancient Mayan people had a calendar that pretty accurately predicted a lot of things, and it was based on watching the stars.  So, I wonder if someday, along with our walking on water classes, we'll be taking some alternative astronomy classes. :)  Do we look up at the stars at night and notice the beauty, but not the message from God? :)  One thing, even if there are no signs in the stars that we are missing... It is good to look up at the stars sometimes just to get perspective.  We are so small... and all these things that stress us out so much are also small.  Let's try to find something that is actually eternal to worry about. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2001

Luke 12:15

"And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth."
Luke 12:15

This is a great thing to remember today.  So often we evaluate our lives based on stuff... jobs, house, cars, wealth.  And our lives are so much more than that that the stuff doesn't even really matter after we get past the survival stage.  It certainly seems to matter, and we invest a lot of time into promotions and financial concerns.  But if we start looking at the stuff and the money as the goal rather than the people and the relationships... the learning and growing and figuring out who we are in relation to God and the universe... then we are missing out on so much.  Things that you couldn't buy with 9 lifetimes of money.  Today, let's try to focus less on the stuff, and more about the why and the who of the whole thing. :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Mosiah 16:14

"Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of things to come--"
Mosiah 16:14

This is interesting, telling people to put things in the proper context.  When Christ came to the Jews, he had a hard time convincing some of them that the law was fulfilled, and that he wanted them to live a higher law, because they were all tied up in doing things a certain way, and didn't necessarily see that it was a symbolic thing.  I think that we can all get caught up in the same kind of thing in our lives... focusing on details instead of the big picture.... and not realizing the way that God teaches us.  Someone asked me yesterday why family members couldn't go to Mormon weddings, and I found myself trying to explain the temple to someone who saw it from a  completely different perspective.  I was thinking to myself, now... if this person joined the church, how would you prepare them for the symbolism and the things that they won't immediately understand?  This scripture made me think of that... if you were living the law of Moses and didn't understand that parts of it were symbolic, and didn't see the purpose behind it... it would be exceedingly hard to understand why God would ask anyone to do some of those things.  I mean... the whole scapegoat thing.  If that wasn't symbolic, it would be crazy. :)  The same thing seems to apply with other things in the gospel... and when we broach those topics, we need to include the why, so that they can be seen in context. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Isaiah 27:3 -- On the Lord's Job

"I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day."
Isaiah 27:3

This scripture is talking about the vine of Israel... basically, all of us. :)  I love the way that he talks about us here, the way that he cares for us and watches over us.  You get the same kind of image in the allegory of the olive trees, how he balances the roots and the branches, taking away the wicked branches only when they threaten the good... I think that life can get overwhelming sometimes when we don't remember that a lot of the things that we worry about are really the Lord's job.  Ours is to listen, learn, and grow into ourselves. 

Obedience is something that we all have to learn as children... we don't always comprehend why we can't play in the street, or why we have to stay away from the cool, shiny knives... but learning to obey our parents anyway prolongs our lives.  And so it is with our spiritual lives as well.  Listening to God and doing what he says is the best way that we can protect ourselves from unknown dangers... for he does love us, and care for us... "every moment."  Including today. :)

Monday, May 7, 2001

John 8:12

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
John 8:12

Referring back to "yesterday's" scripture... Christ is who saves us from that dark and dreary waste.  He is the tree... and when we follow him, we not only have light, but happiness as well.  Light to illuminate the path, and happiness waiting for us at the tree. :)  We don't have to have darkness in our lives... we just have to let the light in.  Another side thought... does light *give* us life?  is it part of what we are made of? :)

Sunday, May 6, 2001

1 Nephi 8:8-10

"And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.
And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.
And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy."
1 Nephi 8:8-10

I think it is weird that we spend so much time searching for happiness in this life, and rarely finding it.  Lehi, who is the speaker above, knew how to get off the roller-coaster ride.  He found the happiness.  Because it didn't look like happiness to some of his sons, they never tried it to see how it tasted.  Perhaps they thought that happiness had to come in a different form... that it doesn't grow on trees. :)  But it does.  It isn't something that can be packaged in multicolored boxes or marketed in a 30-second commercial during the Superbowl.  It isn't man-made.  It's a natural result of following the path to the end, of discovering Christ for ourselves, in our own lives... and applying that knowledge through obedience and love.  When we find ourselves in the darkness, we can pray to find the tree.  Happiness is there.  Now, if we can just stop looking in other places... :)

Saturday, May 5, 2001

Alma 23:7

"For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren."
Alma 23:7

This is interesting... the scripture is talking about some of the Lamanites that were converted to the Gospel, and who laid down their weapons and wouldn't fight in wars anymore.  The focus here though is on laying down the weapons of their rebellion... seems more than just physical weapons like clubs and swords.  They didn't fight against their brethren anymore, but they also didn't fight against God anymore... which is way more than conscientious objection... it's a spiritual and intellectual acceptance of a whole new way of life, a kind of high pacifism, where you don't just give up physical war, but war with God, others, and with yourself.  You just live righteously.  I think that is cool, and something maybe we should think about today.  :)

Friday, May 4, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 48:4

"It must needs be necessary that ye save all the money that ye can, and that ye obtain all that ye can in righteousness, that in time ye may be enabled to purchase land for an inheritance, even the city."
Doctrine and Covenants 48:4

It is interesting to me how important it is to the Lord that we follow the laws of the land.  I guess probably because that is one of those lessons that we need to learn.  If he wanted to, he could just give us a whole patch of land... but he wants us to work for it, to save for it, to learn to appreciate it.  the same in our personal lives.  God *could* just come down and give us big bucks, a two-car garage, and all we want to eat... but, you know... he wants us to learn something here, not just sit back and think that the world owes us a living. :)  So... it is necessary that we do all we can to learn those things, and as we do, we will learn what is important and what isn't... which is much better than a two-car garage, any day. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2001

Lamentations 3:26

"It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:26

Have to remember this today.  The last three days I have been in training about an hour north of where I live, and I have been carpooling with a woman from work.  Today was the last day of training, and as we were driving back to town, we got in this discussion about religion.  It shouldn't have been a big deal, but after she dropped me off at my own car, I started crying.  I'm not sure why, but it seems really hard to understand why she pities me because I believe.  One part of the conversation was about how God sometimes asks us to do hard things, and to change ourselves, sacrifice some things to improve ourselves, and she said to me, "Suzanne, I like you just the way you are.  It's too bad that God doesn't." (That might not be verbatim, but it is close.)  How do you respond to something like that?  Maybe I just need to wait a little more quietly. :)  (Just joking.)  Anyway, even when other people don't understand, it is good to hope in the Lord, good to trust that he has our best interests in mind... good that he doesn't ever hurt us except when we need life-saving surgery. :)  And then he heals us so well that we end up better than we began.  You know, I don't know everything, but I do know that the scriptures are cool, and true. :)  And *they* say... it is good when we hope in the Lord.  So, let’s keep it up. :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Amos 3:7

"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
Amos 3:7

I wonder sometimes how all-encompassing this is... and I think of when God showed Abraham everything... and John the Beloved, and the Brother of Jared too, I think... they saw every person who ever walked the earth and everything that would ever happen, so that seems pretty all-encompassing.  I think when we get to the other side of the veil, we'll have to be using a lot more than 10% of our brains in order to comprehend all of that though... that is massive.  I can't even keep MY life straight, let alone everyone else's. :)
I think prophets are such a good idea. :)  (Like all of God's ideas...)  So that we can get guidance all the time, hear what we need to hear now, and be warned.  In the scriptures there are so many stories of prophets going to warn cities before they were destroyed... and every once in a while they actually repented and then weren't destroyed. :)  So, God makes sure we have adequate warning before bad things happen.  I appreciate that, muchly. :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Ephesians 6:7-9

"With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."
Ephesians 6:7-9

You know, these verses seem like a reminder for all the basics of being good. :)  The first verse reminds me that I shouldn't worry at ALL about who I am helping, and what they are going to do with whatever I give them.  If it were the Lord, or even my brother... I would help them without wondering whether I should or not.  It's like doing service not only in order to follow the Lord... but for the Lord.  And, you know... I think of the impossible debt that Christ paid for all of us, and if I can do something for him by helping the people around me, it seems like an amazing opportunity. :)  Then, the second verse... reminds me that no matter who we are, in whatever circumstances we are, we all have a chance to choose to do some good.  and, if we can do good in our own way, however small that may seem, then we will receive good of the Lord as well.  Not necessarily in cash and prizes, but I can think of a lot of "intangibles" that we can only receive through the Lord.  The last verse... I like "forbearing threatening."  What incredible advice. :)  Positive reinforcement is a better idea... in real life and in the workplace. :)  I like also, though I don't know if I can free my mind enough to actually picture it... that there is no respect of persons with God.  I don't know if I have ever felt that really.  I think that I try to fight my own biases, but they are still there, you know?  can you imagine what it would feel like to go through a day where you loved everyone... where there were no cliques where some people fell in, and some people fell out... where you could listen to everyone fairly and reasonably without getting defensive with *anyone* ... where no matter the past you still gave everyone a fair shake?  That seems incredibly difficult to me.  Good thing that God is in there, helping us learn. :)

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