Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 82:18-19

"And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord's storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church--
Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God."
Doctrine and Covenants 82:18-19


This is excellent stuff.  God tells us that we have talent, that he wants us to improve our talent, and gain more talents... basically to learn. And then, we are supposed to give these talents to others, that our talent belongs to the community, not just to ourselves, and is meant to be used for the building up of that community.  It still bowls me over sometimes how having a one-track mind is a _good_ thing... as long as that one track is God. :)  If we really do everything for God, and look unto him in all that we do... our lives change drastically.  We become more than we could be alone.  Instead of one or three talents, we suddenly find ourselves with 50.  Wouldn't it be nice to be good at so many things that you didn't know what to do with yourself?  Sure... because then you could ask God, and he'd help you figure it out. :)  I love the part about seeking the interest of your neighbor.  Isn't that the key?  Gifts, talents... even the priesthood... these are all things that are designed to bring us together as a community and closer to God.  He doesn't give us gifts that will merely bless our own lives.  Invariably, our gifts are given to us to bless the lives of other people.  This binds us together as a community, and teaches us about giving and receiving, and love.  So, today... let’s develop our talents, find new ones... use them to bless the lives of others.  And, make God the focus of what we do.  Putting him first helps us manage the rest of the priority list rather well. :)

Tuesday, February 27, 2001

John 12:27

"Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour."
John 12:27


This is instructive... I think that we all go through this, perhaps not quite as dramatically as Christ, who knew the suffering and death that were to befall him... but we all do the same things in our lives.  There are things that are incredibly difficult for us all to deal with, and we want to run away, to escape... to not deal with it, but just ignore it, hoping it will disappear... :)  But, sincerely... for this cause came we to this hour.  Difficulties are in our lives for a reason, and this earth life is something that we chose to do, something that we probably even looked forward to, and from which we knew that we would get huge scads of knowledge from... learning everything that we could.  The difficulties are part of the experience.  We don't learn anything from an easy life.  Not that that is much comfort, I do know... but knowing what Christ went through... he did have the power to save himself from that fateful hour, but didn't.  He went through the hardest thing he had ever faced, and learned from it.  Who he is now is the result of that eternity-altering test.  And so it is with us, although probably to a lesser degree.  Who we are is altered by these tests in our lives... and, in the end, who we have become is what will matter.

Monday, February 26, 2001

Helaman 3:29

"Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked--"
Helaman 3:29


The thing that stands out to me today about this scripture is the everlasting gulf of misery. (weird mind I have, eh?) ... but seriously, if you'll remember, in Lehi's dream, the first thing that he saw was a dark and dreary waste... probably kind of like Arizona... (oh, whoops... just kidding). :) He saw this vast dark and icky place... and he was lost, and scared, and worried. and he prayed to God that he would help him... and that's when he found himself at the path. And so it struck me this morning that the strait (read narrow, rigid, exacting...) and narrow path is something that is designed to help us out of hell, not to keep us from cool experiences. :) I think perhaps we all get to a point in our lives where we are tired of living in the dark and dreary waste... and we want to find a way out. And the gospel offers us a way. The gospel isn't something that God puts here so that he can play with our minds and hearts... it is a lifeline, our salvation in the midst of darkness.  We come to this earth to learn, and perhaps our biggest lesson is learning to choose light.  How long does it take for us to realize that the vast wasteland isn't good enough?  That we need/want/deserve much more?  It is all part of the lose yourself to find yourself thing... at what point do we realize that the strictness of the path is not a limitation of our freedom, but rather mere self-control that allows us so much greater freedom?  As we grow, we learn that there is a space between action and reaction, and that space is called choice... this choice offers us the freedom to do something other than the typical reaction of the natural man.  If someone hits us, do we immediately hit them back?  Or can we pause, and make a different choice?  This is freedom. The more mastery that we have over self, the more freedom that we have.  The more we learn, the more varied our options are. :)   God is not restricting us... he is showing us a better way.  Instead of the seemingly endless vastness of the waste, he shows us a narrow path, hard to choose... that teaches us what it takes to live without that vast darkness of ambiguity... self control, self knowledge... so that we can learn true love, so that we can learn true happiness... so that we can learn the true and limitless freedom that comes when we learn to control our footsteps.

Sunday, February 25, 2001

Ephesians 2:13-14

"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us."
Ephesians 2:13-14


This is interesting to me.  We were talking in my ward today about spreading the gospel, and the last guy to speak got up and was really really choked up about the whole thing.  Missionary work is important, I do know that... but we hear it all the time, so why was this guy crying?  The question intrigued me, so I guess I listened pretty closely this time. :)  And what I hear struck me on a few different levels.  First of all, this man was a "convert" ... joined the church when he was 25.  And secondly, what he said towards the end of his talk was, "do you dislike anyone enough not to want them to have the gospel?"  Wow... that really got to me.  The way this man sees missionary work, and the way that this scripture is talking about it seem to me to be the same thing... that the impetus behind missionary work is none other than that desire for the "Zion community" that I rave about all the time.  This man didn't want to think about a life without the gospel... what if no-one had invited him to listen...?  That was a hard thing for him, that he could have gone without knowing such amazing and important things... and, he wouldn't have known the community that he has found in the church.  And, this is how the scripture above talks about the church soon after Christ's death... that Christ's sacrifice brings us together... removing those annoying partitions that we so often have between us in our communications... in our lives.  That the gospel can bring us close even though we are far away.  We've talked a bunch of times about the boundaries of time, and how that limitation will be gone someday (some eternity?) ... but here we are talking about overcoming the boundaries of space as well... :)  it's almost like a twilight zone episode, except it's real. :)  Our perfect community isn't bound by geographical constraints... or by language, or by any impairments... our community is the gospel, and it belongs to everyone, everywhere... everytime, everyspace. :)  When we share the gospel with someone, it isn't about brainwashing them, or getting statistics for our global domination plan... it is about inviting them into a community... it isn't about making another notch in your Book of Mormon or patting yourself on the back.  it is about loving someone enough to want to hang out with them in our eternities... :)  Lehi's dream comes to mind... Lehi dreamt about a tree, and a path and a rod that led to that tree.  When he tasted the fruit of that tree, which was the best thing that he had EVER tasted, and better than anything he had ever heard of... he immediately looked around for his family, so that he could call them over as well.  He wanted them to be as happy as he had been.
And you know... sadly, a lot of times we *don't* love people enough to want to offer them all the cool stuff we have... but we're working on it. :)  That is another thing we are working on in sinner's anonymous... love.  learning to love people more and better... and as we do, we'll want them more and more to have the hope that we have access to... to have the happiness and light that we have found.  And we'll build that community... that Zion.  Where we are all friends, and enjoy hanging out together.  Doing the things that we love and are good at.  Let's work on building it today. :)

Saturday, February 24, 2001

Luke 17:33

"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it."
Luke 17:33


I think this is interesting... when we put our lives first, as a priority over all else, then we lose the very essence of what we are trying to save.  There are things that are more important than our lives... and when we recognize that, then losing our lives in the service of God is actually a way to preserve them eternally.  Sincerely, I think it comes down to priorities.  What matters to each of us most... more than anything else?  and when we can truthfully say that it is God, then we have gained some serious wisdom, and we know God well enough to know that when we put him first, then everything works... and when we don't, we are stuck in a balancing act, and it impossible to keep from dropping some of the things that are most important to us.
Of course, putting God first doesn't necessarily mean that we won't be dropping anything.  Sometimes things need to be out of our lives...  or radically altered... but everything healthy and good for us can stay. :)  I know, I know... it isn't always the healthy things that we want.  That moldy donut starts looking pretty good sometimes... especially when you are down on yourself and don't think you deserve anything better... but trust me... actually, trust God.  He knows what will help you in the end... and moldy donuts have this horrific aftertaste... really, I've eaten enough of them to know.

Friday, February 23, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 108:2-3

"Therefore let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing, and resist no more my voice.
And arise up and be more careful henceforth in observing your vows, which you have made and do make, and you shall be blessed with exceeding great blessings."
Doctrine and Covenants 108:2-3


I love this. :)  I love that, despite all of our screw-ups and limitations, and just plain evil choices... God loves us still.  Isn't that just amazing to you sometimes?  He's like... listen, I know you are in a bad place, and stressed about it... that you think I don't like you, that you think that you are going to get the lake of brimstone instead of the puffy white clouds.  And I would explain to you, if I could get you to understand, what life will really be like after this, but let's just leave it at this... you're okay.  Breathe.  Don't stress.  I still have you on the good list... just be more careful in the future, okay?  Just try to listen to me a little more closely... okay?  I mean, I even know that you don't particularly like me right now, and you think that, because of that, that I won't particularly like you... but that isn't true.  I am your father, after all... and I love you, even when you seem to be going completely insane, as now. :)  You promised me you would call... please do.  You promised me you would come to see me occasionally... please do.  It isn't that I will stop caring about you, it's just that I want to see you... and you never know, you might even learn something. :)
And when God says things like that to us, how can we resist?  He wants us to get up and try again, no matter how hard we fell on out butts this time... he knows that we can learn this stuff, if we just hang in there.  So, yeah... give yourself a break, and start now, today... being good. :)  God can take care of the mess you left behind... he'll help you pay for the damage, and help you deal with the police even, if it is that serious.  But he doesn't care how serious it is... he is willing to start fresh with you whatever the case... no hurdles to jump to get back into good graces.  You are already there... so, today... try.  Talk to him... go see him...  and SEE if he doesn't immediately take you into his arms. :)

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Moses 5:22-23

"And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth?  Why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted.  And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire.  And thou shalt rule over him."
Moses 5:22-23


I think that this is really interesting.  In this story, Satan tells Cain to make an offering to God... so Cain does.  Now, whether God didn't respect the offering because Cain did it for Satan, or whether the fruit that he offered was the worst fruit... who knows.  But the thing is... he is trying to teach Cain something here.  He's saying... don't get mad when I don't accept less than your best.  I need you to give me a serious offering, not just some off-the-cuff whatever-you-feel-like sacrifice... I need you to give me your absolute best.  And if you do, then I have something to work with... and I will make you better than you could ever dream on your own.  But if you only offer me part of yourself, then there is very little that I can do, because I can't touch the core of the problem.  You have to give me your heart.  If you do, then I can heal it, and change it into something that is purely good.  But if you only give me a piece of it, or only give me your brain or your hands... then there is only so much that I can do to help you.
If we do well, we will be accepted.  God promises us that.  Sometimes we have a hard time believing that, and we worry... what if my best isn't good enough?  What if I actually *do* throw myself into this gospel stuff, and even then don't measure up?  I know, we feel like that sometimes.  The thing is... your best is ALWAYS good enough.  As soon as we offer that sacrifice... a serious commitment, serious effort... loyalty... the minute that we throw ourselves into God's plan, heart and soul, God can step in, and make it good enough.  We can't be perfect, but God can perfect us... does that make sense?  Satan desires to have us all... and God can save us from that, but only if we want him to... only if we can let go of Satan, and allow ourselves to commit to God.  God can't change our hearts if we don't open them to him.

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


I like this... and I promise this isn't designed to rub it in, those of you who are single. :)  Sincerely, I think it is about way more than romantic relationships.  It is about being there for each other... so often we try to handle everything alone... be "independent" and "tough" ... which, you know, is a good thing to learn.  But not something that we should have to do every day... and not even something that we should _choose_ to do every day.  We are each other's clinical experience, as Neal A Maxwell says... and truly... if we ever graduate from this test and go on to the Celestial Kingdom, we won't be alone.  Our eternities are going to be filled with other people, and we are only ahead of the game if we learn to get along and work together.  :)  I know that I couldn't make it through some days without other people.  I *need* that phone call... that e-mail... that conversation.  When I fall, I know I need some help getting up... often.  And I have a friend who always lends a hand.  Today... let's be that friend for each other.  Help someone to stand... to walk... to run. :)  God is cool enough to share, you know? :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

3 Nephi 5:3

"Therefore they did forsake all their sins, and their abominations, and their whoredoms, and did serve God with all diligence day and night."
3 Nephi 5:3


Most of what we have to sacrifice for God is of this sort.  We have to give up our sins to know God.  And, you know... it isn't a punishment sort of a thing.  It is just like you have to wash all the moldy leftovers out of the frying pan before you cook some nice french toast for breakfast.  It is a clear some space for goodness sort of thing.  If our minds and our hearts are filled with the past, with all of the bad things we've seen and read and done... how are we going to think about God, and eternity... and all the interesting aspects of switching over from the "time zone" to eternity? :)  These people in 3rd Nephi had to do their forsaking before they could do their serving.  It is a prerequisite.  We can't sin and serve at the same time.  So often we want the blessings of service before we let go of sin... we want God to prove to us how good it is before we taste it.  But, we can't avoid the work... we have to clean up our lives before we can invite God over.  We have to commit, and dedicate ourselves to the relationship before we get any of the benefits.  We can't just go to God halfway.

Monday, February 19, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 1:2

"For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated."
Doctrine and Covenants 1:2


This sounds almost scary. :)  "There is none to escape" ... you know, like the Borg.  Resistance is futile, you WILL be assimilated. :)  Good thing that it is our great friend God instead of the Borg, eh? :)  Sincerely, I was thinking about how it sounds, and it is, and probably should be scary in some ways.  Responsibility is a scary thing sometimes, and this scripture is telling us that there will be no excuse in the end... every heart, every eye, every ear... we will all know God and what he has asked of us... and we'll be accountable to him for how we used the gifts and talents that he gave us.  Did we we use them to help other people?  Or did we hide them in a hole? :)  So, yeah... a little scary.  But mostly, as I see it, hopeful.  That means that no matter who it is, in the whole entire world, past present future... they'll all find out the truth.  God doesn't discriminate, people do.  God isn't going to offer the gospel to only people who look the same, or who smell the same... or who laugh at the same jokes.  No matter how it is sometimes here, the Celestial Kingdom is going to be filled with some richly diverse people... from different races, time periods (oh, except there will be no time...), and backgrounds.  There is goodness and strength and generosity and light within us all.  Even the person who gets on our nerves the most.  Even the person we think will never listen.  God knows them, knows how to touch them, lift them, teach them... let's not give up on anyone and throw them in the scrap heap, or assume that anyone is lost... there is always, always hope.  Sometimes they already believe, there are just obstacles in the way... so, let's work on removing obstacles for each other.  How can we join our talents to make life better for one another?  Is there something that we can do to make someone smile today?  Something we can do to make a mundane task more fun?  Little or big, every effort that we make matters.  No-one is blind, deaf, or stone-hearted in the Lord's eyes... let's try to see things from his perspective, and hope for the people around us.

Sunday, February 18, 2001

1 Timothy 4:12-15

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that they profiting may appear to all."
1 Timothy 4:12-15


These verses really hit me today, hard.  Probably because I need to be better at this, but also just because it has been on my mind.  I've mentioned before that I think that the scriptures are all about the power of the individual to change the world.  And that is what I see here as well:  our power, as individuals... to change the lives of the people around us.  So often we get caught up in our personal tragedy so much that we neglect that power, and neglect that gift that we have to influence the world, and specifically the worlds of the people around us, for good.  Think about your life, about the ups and the downs, the dangers and the last-minute rescues.  There are individuals that stand out... people that came into our lives at the exact right moment to change everything.  None of it is coincidence.
Sometimes, I know, it is difficult to see how important we are in the world.  We look in the mirror and see ... nothing that we want to see.  We compare ourselves to others, and think... I could never do that, I could never *be* that.  However... God isn't asking us to be anyone else.  he isn't asking us to become anything that we can't be.  We all have this amazing power of individuality.  There are people out there in the world that only we can touch... only we can motivate, help... lift.  No-one one else has the power and opportunities that we do.  There are people in my life... if it hadn't been for them being in the right place at the right time, saying the right thing... my life would be worth a lot less to me than it is.  And, I need to remember that I can do that same thing for someone else.  God knows our talents and gifts perfectly... he puts us in the exact place and time that he needs us to be in to perform that work that is perfect for us.  So today... let's be an example of the believers.  Let's touch someone's life in the way that only we can.  Let's meditate upon these things, and not neglect the gift that God has given each of us.  I *know* each of us has an amazing power of spirit, an amazing heart... an amazing depth of character.  Let's learn what it is that God wants us to do and be... and then "give [ourselves] wholly" to whatever it is.  No matter where we are, God knows the way from there to here.  Let's make a difference. :)

Saturday, February 17, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 84:43-44

"And I now give unto a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God."
Doctrine and Covenants 84:43-44


I was talking with a good friend this morning about a lot of things, and one thing that came up is the promptings of the Spirit.  She was telling me that once she was on the way to work, and the Spirit whispered to her that she should go back home.  She had a hard time believing that the Spirit would try and get her to do something so irresponsible. :)  And, it turned out that something really cool happened because she was listening that day.   Similar things have happened to me at times too... once the Spirit told me to stop at a gas station.  I checked my tank... over half full, and I was late already... but I stopped and filled up my car anyway.  As I was screwing the gas cap back on, someone touched my shoulder and I ran into someone that I knew from my ward... and we had a really good talk, and I know that it was the right thing to do.  Not that I always listen... but every time I do, miraculous things happen... and so I try to listen more and more.  We also talked this morning about the stunning things that happen in life... meeting people that you *know* that you have met before... except, you haven't.  the bizarre "coincidences" that happen to us all the time... running into just the right person in just the right place.  Every close friend that I have ever had... I think back on how it happened, and it's just one string of bizarre things after another.  ...saying things that I would never say normally... meeting someone that I would never have met if *another* bizarre string of events hadn't taken place.  but somehow... all the connections are made, and here we are.  And how arrogant are we if we can't see God's hand in all of that?  How ungrateful and silly. :)  It's when we stop trying to control things, and leave it up to God that we encounter all the most bright and shining pieces of our lives' puzzles.  things that we couldn't dream up for ourselves... people who are more amazing than we could ever have hoped to meet.  Things like that don't happen by chance... they happen by God.  So, today... let's watch out for the spin we try to put on life.  We make things way too complicated for ourselves sometimes.  listen to what God is saying, and try to do it... a little bit at a time.  And, eventually, the better we learn to listen, and the better we get at following directions... the better and stronger and brighter we will grow, until we grow up into our true selves... destined to piece together the puzzles of the universe. :)

Friday, February 16, 2001

James 1:8

"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
James 1:8


Short and sweet today.  I thought this was really good, despite its brevity... there are so many things in life pulling us different ways.  But the many things boil down to two... God and Satan.  And so often, we can't decide between the two.  We’re like... "Well... can't I have just a *little* bit of Satan's plan?"  ... but like C.S. Lewis says... we have to give up even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of hell, if we are going to commit to heaven.  We can't think that the roller coaster in Satan's amusement park is better.  People die on that ride.  Scary and dangerous and little bits of death crowding into your soul.  We have to let it go.  God's park has better rides... and they are safe safe safe.  Maybe they aren't as scary... but isn't that a *good* thing?  We can't go through our lives letting the wind blow us whatever way it wants to.  We can't run from God to Satan and back again all the time and think that is okay, and the right thing to do.  We have to decide... commit.  And then throw everything we have and are into the decision.  Oh, and by the way... the correct decision is God. :)  Heaven is such a better place.  Real happiness, deep happiness... not shallow thrills that disappear in an instant, leaving you with regret.  Love that never dies, or even gets sick... :)  Constancy, confidence... truth.  Good stuff.  Today... let’s let go of our little refrigerator magnets that we picked up at the Hell gift shop... and dedicate ourselves to a superior brand of entertainment. :)  God's offerings are better quality, and better, longer-lasting fun... no contest. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Enos 1:15

"Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it."
Enos 1:15


I think this is cool... Enos asked God for stuff all the time, because God told him that if he had faith, whatever he wanted that was good would happen.  so he asked... "continually."  I think that is great... and something that we can emulate.  sometimes it feels like we are pushing our luck when we ask God for things... and maybe we are, if they aren't things that are good for us.  But good things... we can ask for them all day, and he will be happy to give them to us. :)  Just think if you went up to your earthly dad... he knows you, and he expects you to ask for money... and *instead* you ask for a grocery cart full of frozen vegetables so that you can stay healthy at college. :)  It still costs him money... but he doesn't mind because you are asking for something good... and he knows you can't trade vegetables for pizza. :)  God is like that... and he'll never turn us down because he isn't limited financially... or at all. :)  As long as it is something good for us, he'll give it to us, as soon as we can handle it (you know, like we might have to get a new freezer before our dad could buy us that many vegetables at once... he might have to get us a few bags at a time...).  Anyway... God wants to give us stuff.  He loves us, and he wants us to be happy.  So... let's ask for some happiness... a new friend... a reason to smile. :)  Ask for forgiveness... ask for the ability to change.  Ask for motivation and good desires... Ask for an opportunity to help someone else.  Ask for patience and a change of heart.  Ask for the ability to love the people around you.  Ask for a lot of good things... and I promise (and more importantly... God says right here in the scriptures)... we will get them. :)  Let's take a chance... give it a try. :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 42:61

"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things--that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal."
Doctrine and Covenants 42:61


This makes me think of a little girl going to her dad and saying, "dad... why is the sky blue?"  Except, this dad really knows. :)  I think that it is so remarkable that we have a father who knows everything, and so when we go to him with any question, no matter how seemingly outlandish... he knows the answer.  And just like the little girl, who believes that her father knows everything... we can believe that of our heavenly father... who really does. :)  Even the "why me?" or "why is this happening?" questions he can answer for us... if we truly want to know. :)  Our Father is doing everything he can to help us to be happy, to help us to grow, to become strong and valiant children, ready to help and protect our brothers and sisters... ready to grow up into the stunning potential that our heavenly parents have given us.  I also think that it is great that he hints at what to ask for... letting us know that there is so much peace out there that we haven't found yet... so many things that bring joy, and that guide us into eternity... so many amazing things to ask for, there is no reason to get caught up in things that harm our souls.  So, today... Let's ask.  Let's be open to revelations... and drink in the knowledge.  Let's be aware of the peaceable things and the things that bring joy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

3 Nephi 13:19-21

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
3 Nephi 13:19-21


This is a pretty common scripture, but today it strikes me.  It is excellent advice from our father... who, after all, has our best interests in mind.  He counsels us to not try to keep perishable items at the center of our hearts... but instead to focus on things that can be ours for eternity.  He is trying to save us from heartache.  If we love first those things that are here on earth--our car, our microwave... or other less humorous non-eternal relationships--then we are setting ourselves up for pain and brokenness.  God allows us this choice, as he always offers us our freedom.  But he still warns us that we can be hurt.  If our heart isn't rooted in eternal soil, then it runs the risk of being washed away by mortal storms.  I had a friend in college who grew up on a cattle ranch... 6 boys and 1 girl I believe.  He told me a story once about this season when a lot of the cows died, leaving orphaned calves.  His father told the kids that any they saved, they could keep the money from the sale.  He and his brothers and sister saved some of them by bottle feeding them.  Over half of them died anyway, and he and his brothers warned his sister not to name any of them... but there was one calf in particular that she named and became very attached to.  Although she dealt with the other realities of ranch life stoically, he laughingly told me of the night they had her "pet" for dinner and teased her about it.  She was inconsolable.  Now, aside from teaching me that I never want to live on a cattle ranch, this suggests to me a similar lesson to the one that God is warning us of here... don't get too hooked into temporary things.  The little girl was not wrong to love... but perhaps in this case, she grew too attached to an impossible future.  We, too, grow too attached to things that can't last for eternity, and we set ourselves up for a lot of pain.  Today, I'm not asking you to let go of any earthly things... but let's try to concentrate on the things that are, or can be, eternal... and on making them the primary focus of our lives, and our hearts. :)  Not only will it prepare us for a gloriously happy eternity... it will save us a lot of mortal grief.

Monday, February 12, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 18:18

"Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive. and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men."
Doctrine and Covenants 18:18


This is a good reminder to ask.  There are so many things in the world that we can't understand and don't really know what to do with... so many things even within ourselves that we don't understand.  Since we know more than other people about certain subjects, like ourselves, we consider ourselves experts, and rely upon our own judgement and knowledge to make decisions.  Unfortunately, we are not experts about ourselves, or any other subject.  We are children, and we lack wisdom.  The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can attempt to get over ourselves and ask our father for some help. :)  God knows how to solve our current and future problems.  So, it might do some good to listen to him. :)  You know, the Holy Ghost is difficult to listen to sometimes.  If your mind is anything like mine (and actually I hope for your sake that it isn't) there are thousands of things swirling around in there all the time... picking one thing out of the maelstrom to focus on is hard.  and, relying on emotion... that is hard in our society, where "evidence" is so highly valued.  But our hearts are an integral part of who we are... who God made us.  And he will tell you in your mind AND in your heart, the things that are right.  The Stake President over my Stake challenged us yesterday to take a few minutes every day for meditation...  And I think that is a very wise thing.  When we can take a few minutes out of our day to stop, chill for a minute, and seek guidance from the Spirit... we are thousands of times more likely to hear answers to our questions... and to remember to ask them.  And I know another thing that I need to remember is that I am not telling God what to do in my life... I am asking him what I should do, where I should go... and if I approach him without the demands that usually attend our communication, I am very often pleasantly surprised.  The things that God wants for me are SO much better than the things that I wanted for myself.  So, today... let's stop for a few minutes and listen to what God has to say.  Let's ask for what we need, and trust the Holy Ghost to communicate with us throughout the day. :)

Sunday, February 11, 2001

Jeremiah 24:7

"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."
Jeremiah 24:7


The whole heart thing again... which I really like, that God gives us a heart that knows him.  I think that is what we need sometimes, because the current one seems to choose God only when everyone else has declined devotion.  And, you know, I don't think that God deserves to be our choice of last resort.  We beg at the feet of other gods, and when they spurn us, we run to our Father and say... it was you we wanted all along.  But he knows better... there are pieces of our heart still out there... and we will be off again as soon as we have our token comfort and an ounce of confidence back.  So, that is our question, isn't it?  How do we return to God with our whole heart?  We either need to reclaim all the pieces of it that we have handed out along the way... or we need a new one... which God is happy to provide. :)  Not one that is incomplete, that is missing anything... but one that is intact... and again capable of true love and devotion.  We'll never be able to approach God if our heart isn't whole.  If we are only dedicating 20% of our mind, heart, and soul to the project... this is an all-or-nothing deal.  God comes first, and when we give him our whole heart, we find that our capacity has increased a thousand-fold... and God can re-direct our love into the lives of others as well... but only if we focus our light and love on him first.  Kind of like tithing... God gives us everything that we have and are, and then he asks for ten percent of our increase... in this case, he *gives* us a heart, and then he asks us to use it to love him.  We can do that.  And, since he is giving us this new one... let's not break it so easily this time, okay?

Saturday, February 10, 2001

James 1:2-4

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
James 1:2-4


I think this is interesting and cool... especially the last verse.  it seems to me to say that if we finally learn that patience that God is trying to get us to learn, that we won't need to walk around in this world, dissatisfied.  and you know, that is a pretty huge accomplishment... to be content where we are, with what we have.  so, we should be glad when we run into temptations and snags in the road... because it is teaching us that indispensable lesson... patience, and through patience... satisfaction.  Not that we can't or shouldn't be hungry to learn... but as we learn patience, we learn a lot more than we know now that we aren't partial people... that we aren't incomplete.  We are "perfect and entire."  God can teach us to find our wholeness, and to be satisfied with what God grants us in our lives.  maybe it is just me, but I think that a lot of the swerves that we take from God's path are because we think we need something that we don't have... we find these voids in ourselves that we want to fill... but that is part of the path, learning, growing, discovering within yourself your own completeness... letting God take care of the things you can't possibly handle.  So, as hard as I know it is... be thankful today for the things in your life that are teaching you patience.  learning that lesson brings incredible rewards.

Friday, February 9, 2001

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

"And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?"
Deuteronomy 10:12-13


This is good stuff. :)  It is interesting to me that it sounds like we are dorks for thinking the whole thing is hard... like "what's the big deal? God only asks you to do tiny tiny things."  And, so I was thinking about that... and you know, it really is true.  Think about someone in your life that you love more than sliced bread... and if that person asked you to do these kinds of things, wouldn't it be easy for you?  To give them respect and to love them... to do what they do?  I mean, especially if you know that they care about you too, so much that they like you better than chocolate or something... then you listen to them when they warn you about things, and when they ask you to call them, you do.  You go places with them, and if you could, you would spend every waking moment talking to them and laughing with them.  So, you know... none of this stuff is really hard... unless we put other things before the Lord.  If someone we can't stand asks us to eat chocolate cake, no matter how much we love it... we would probably say no.  If they want us to call, or to write... or tell us about their favorite book, or music... we don't care.  We aren't going to read it or buy it... so, really, all of this depends on how much we love God.  If he tells us about his favorite book... do we want to read it?  Or do we just walk by it in the store, not curious at all?  The challenge, as I see it... is to overcome some of this mortal amnesia and actually get to know God again.  We *used* to love him well enough that we would do anything for him... go anywhere to be with him.  Can we find that again?

Thursday, February 8, 2001

Revelation 3:10

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
Revelation 3:10


This is interesting... I am not sure what "the word of my patience" is... but perhaps it is just God's commandments, which he patiently keeps saying to us.  he continues to offer us a way out of our unease and worry... a way to find peace, even though we haven't been choosing it very consistently. :)  So, God, very patiently, reaffirms his request that we choose better things for ourselves... and finally, we do. :)  And so, then he protects us from "the hour of temptation."  That sounds a little scary, so I think that I would like to be protected from it. :)  I wonder if the hour of temptation is a re-occurring thing, or if it is some "ultimate" temptation... like Abraham and Isaac or something?  In general though I think that the message is... listen to me, and I will watch out for you. :)  If you obey, then I will be able to protect you, by telling you HOW to avoid that hour... :)  So, today... let's listen to God, and not try his patience too much. :)  And you know... when we listen to God, we hear so many things that we wouldn't normally have heard... so, let's pay attention. :) :)

Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Ezekiel 11:19-20

"And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."
Ezekiel 11:19-20


You know, there is this John Donne poem that this reminds me of... it starts out talking to God, and it asks him to "Batter my heart" and through the entire sonnet is basically telling God... please, I can't let you into my life, please break your way in.  And you know, when I memorized it for a class I thought about how God would never do that... that forcing people to do what you wanted them to do was Satan's plan, not God's.  I thought that all the way up until 5 minutes ago. :)  And, you know... I'm not even necessarily saying that I was wrong (that would be unthinkable)... just that I see nuances there that I never did before.  this scripture talks about God taking away our stony hearts, and giving us a new spirit, and a new heart... the heart almost seems like one that is shared among a group of people... Zion anyone?... since they are "of one heart and one mind..."  Now, don't go all Science Fiction on me and assume that God is making us into little robot people; that isn't the case at all.  But, I feel like I have an incredibly stony heart sometimes... don't you?  And, I *know* that I need some of that refiners fire... King Lamoni's father talked about rooting "this wicked spirit" out of his breast, and that is what this scripture is saying, right?  and... what John Donne's poem is saying too in a lot of ways.  God *will* change us, not against our will... but according to our faith.  And, if we ask him to do it, then he can change our hearts from stone to flesh... not creating robots, but turning us, like Pinocchio, into "real" men and women.  God will help us to be good, show us how... change anything that prevents us from going there.  We don't have to be perfect for him to listen to us... we just have to WANT to be.  We have to ask for it... and he can correct all of our stoniness, take all of the blackness from our souls... not forcing us to be good, but making it possible.  Lamoni's father was willing to forsake his kingdom, and give away all his sins... and God changed his heart.  That can happen to each of us as well... if we see the value of it, and are willing to make the same sacrifices.  So, today... if you have a stony heart or a wicked spirit... as I definitely do... ask God to help you with it.  He will.

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Isaiah 51:11

"Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."
Isaiah 51:11


You know all of those scriptures that I said weren't happy-happy joy-joy ones?  Well, this one is. :)  And I love it.  Can’t you just picture it... all of walking over hills (picture the sound of music here), holding hands and singing... ? :)  Heh heh.  Hilarious, but cool too.  I mean, when you are so happy you want to sing... that is pretty happy, and letting the joy escape as music... and then doing it as a group of people who are all that happy... that is what God is about.  Being that happy about being alive... being that happy about everything around you and the beauty that overwhelms us at times.  So, today... let's sing.  Be happy. ...and do everything in our power to be there on the day described above. :)

Monday, February 5, 2001

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
1 Corinthians 10:12-13


This is a great scripture... warning us to take heed (sometimes we think we can walk, when we are still a little wobbly, since it is still so new to us...), but then also comforting us.
It reminds us that we are not the exception... alone, with no one to relate.  Sin is a common problem... which is one reason we go to our Sinners Anonymous (church) meetings, right?  So that we can commune with others who have similar problems.  My favorite part of this second verse is: God is faithful.  A pretty obvious thing, if you think about it... but too often, we don't.  We think that there is no way out... that we are trapped.  Or maybe, we think that we can't handle it... it is all too overwhelming.  But none of that is ever true.  God doesn't give us things that we are unable to handle... with his help.  And he doesn't allow us to be overwhelmed.  I know that we get close sometimes, but he always offers us a respite from the pressure... and there is always an escape from the temptation.  So, today, when we feel like things are overwhelming... when we feel like we have no other options, let's look to God.  He will show us the ones that we are missing.  He will help us bear our burdens, and share our sorrow.  God *is* faithful.

Sunday, February 4, 2001

Matthew 11:28-30

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30


Do you ever think that we make the gospel harder than it has to be?  I think so.  We make up complicated rules for what you can and can't do on Sunday... is TV okay?  As long as you are watching touched by an angel and not football?  taking a nap is good, but idleness isn't... so, where exactly is the line?  (This is a rhetorical question; please, don't e-mail me the "answer.") :) ... I think that we do the same thing with all the commandments.  we shouldn't kill... but how about mosquitoes?  Do invertebrates feel pain?  Sex outside of marriage is bad, but how close can you get without going over?  Which sins are worse than other ones, and how much extra repentance does it take if the sin was premeditated?  Those are complicated things... I think the burden of just thinking about them is huge... but then, God comes along and tells us that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.  Can that be true? (Another rhetorical question, by the way.) :)
I think that any time we start worrying more about commandments as limits of our freedom instead of guidelines to keep us away from the land mines, we are really losing sight of the dangers inherent in sin.  I mean, that's why we are all addicted to sinning in the first place, right?  It seemed cool... then we found out how much it hurt us.  Like a kid who thinks the gas stove is cool, until he gets burned.  But, see... we keep going back and back... like, oh... this time the flames won't hurt so bad, I think that my hand is going numb.  And how pretty that flame is... or, maybe the pain is worth it to us, for the beauty of the flame.  Someday we'll grow up and our dad will show us some basic campfire safety, so we can be pyros without killing ourselves.  Until then, we'll probably spend some time in the burn unit.  But, do we have to?  We've got some simple rules to follow... stay away from the stove.  Playing with it can only get you into trouble... cause myriads of problems.  We love playing chicken at the edge of the cliff, getting closer than anyone else... proves how brave we are, right?  And the first one to fall and die, they were the very bravest.  Do we see how insane we are sometimes?  If we actually did things the way that God asks us to, I think that life would be a lot easier... whenever I am really on track with God, my life... no matter how many seeming complications... is always, always smoother.  If we listen to God, we'll wait to mess with the stove until we learn how.  We'll stay as far away from the cliff as we can.  There is enough excitement and danger in the world without running out and playing russian... mine field.  There are so many things to see and do and read and learn... why do we insist upon engaging in death-wish dares?  Are we really that insanely starved for thrills?  The most intensely interesting things don't fry our flesh off... and they *stay* interesting, unlike getting blown up.  Compared to the complications and problems that we inject into our own lives, Christ asks very little of us... and provides us with the power to accomplish all of it.  Yoke: easy.   Burden: light.  Follow the rules and you won't get killed.  If you wander out into the mine field, repent, and God will lead you back again safely.  If you get seriously injured, God can heal you.  All of our complications are things that we invent in order to do what we want.  It doesn't have to be so overwhelming... it doesn't have to be so hard.  God will clarify... just do good.  Listen to him.  He will bear our burdens, carry our pain, our sorrow... as we learn about him and recognize what he is trying to save us from.  If we can do that, we will find peace, and rest... far from the stove, the mine field, and all of our collected complications.  There *are* better things out there. :)

Saturday, February 3, 2001

John 3:3

"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
John 3:3


Thinking today about a lot of things, and this struck me.  I mean, we hear all the time about being "born again" ... but what does it really mean?  So, here are my thoughts on the subject. :)  This scripture pretty clearly is referring to baptism, which is an amazing thing, actually... a physical manifestation of our commitment to God... a commitment that is physical as well as spiritual, encompassing all of our desires, emotions, and actions.  Baptism is amazing as well, in that is washes away our sins... how that happens, I have no idea... but I do know that it works.  it reaches into our lives and deletes all the bad things, and lets us build upon the good things.  And what is more amazing is that we have an opportunity to renew our commitment... and that cleansing... every week in sacrament meeting.  I’ve said before that I think that church is more of a Sinners Anonymous group... and all the more so, because we go there to clean ourselves from the stains of the week that we have blotted our souls with.  The thing is... being born again isn't just about baptism, even though that is a large and amazing part of it... it is also about "that mighty change of heart" that it talks about at length in the scriptures, especially Alma 5.  I think that is what all of my thinking today has led me to... sometimes our hearts need baptism too... complete reformatting, so that we can start fresh, and keep those commitments that we made at baptism... our hard drives get filled up with a lot of old programs that we forgot the passwords to, or completely obsolete versions of good programs... so, it's time to wipe it all, and start fresh.  Buy a new computer, replace the hard drive... whatever it takes... and install an operating system that won't crash your heart every 5 minutes. :)  God can do that... change our hearts.  We can't.  We'll get stuck in an eternal loop, or let some hacker infect us with a virus (yikes!) ... but God knows our hearts better than we do, and he knows how to restore them to a healthy and pristine state, erasing all of the brokenness, and bitterness, and sorrow.  So, today... let's start the process of cleaning out all the old programs, and ask God to change our hearts.  Make us new... an inward baptism. :)  I know I need it... how about you? :)

Friday, February 2, 2001

Luke 21:16-19

"And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
In your patience possess ye your souls."
Luke 21:16-19


This chapter talks some about the second coming, and things that will precede it.  Lots of things... and this.  I chose it today because I have had a really hard time being patient lately.  I want what I want, and I want it now... and waiting for something better seems like a pretty sick option. :)  ...So, I needed some patience today.  This isn't a very happy-happy joy-joy scripture, but it's very in-your-face with the reality of life sometimes.  This is a test, not a game of monopoly.  We aren't passing around play money.  The people we interact with... those are real people that we can help or hurt, and not just imaginary beings.  And so, yes... betrayal, death... hatred... these are all real things, and part of the test.  But on the other side... loyalty, life... love.  These are also part of the test, and really what we are here to learn, and learn well.  We get to the end of this scripture and we think... patience?  after *that* ...??? Yeah, right.  But, God is serious (as he often is, in the scriptures). :) ... We need to have patience, and a little eternal perspective.  Just because we can't see what God has promised us doesn't mean that it isn't there.  We will go through tough things in our lives... much tougher than the ones that we are faced with today.  God is preparing us for them, and will make us equal to any challenge that life presents us with.  He will protect us... even the hairs of our heads. :)  And we need to be patient, and watch out for our souls... our most precious possession.  When everything is falling apart, one thing is constant... and that is God.  If we look to him in every time of trouble, he can resolve any problem, overcome any challenge.  Today, let's look to him, and remember that the brick walls we run into from time to time are only temporary... however much they hurt when we walk into them. :)  God will show us how to take down the walls we have built, and build something better with them.

Thursday, February 1, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 50:40-42

"Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.
Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;
And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost."
Doctrine and Covenants 50:40-42


I love this analogy, and it runs through the scriptures... that we are little children.  most of the time we think that we are adults, trying to do all these responsible, adult things... which is good... but it is also good to have our Father remind us about where we are in the eternal scheme of things. :)  as his children, we are quite young... and impetuous. :)  we make mistakes, and want to be perfect.  but you know, it is like a child learning to walk.  we have to give ourselves a break if we fall down occasionally... and then get back up, and do better this time.  the people around us are children too, and we need to be patient with them as well.  and, if we can keep trying like a child does, and trust him the way a child does... then we'll never be lost.  So, today... if we fall down, let's stand up, dust ourselves off and continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. :)

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