Friday, August 31, 2001

Acts 10:34-35

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
Acts 10:34-35


God talks to people anywhere who seek him.  You don't have to be a member of the church, and you don't have to be some particular race or social class... or gender, for that matter.  You just have to truly seek God, and his will.  Doesn't mean that the church isn't true... in this story God sent people who were from another nation to seek the prophet so that they could be baptized.  Authority we have... but we don't have the truth locked up in a drawer where no one else can get at it.  There is truth all around us... everywhere we go, every person we talk to, every situation we are in... there is something to be learned, some truth to be gained.  I remember on my mission talking to a woman... she was SO good, so pure... she believed with her whole heart and soul in Christ, and I was sitting there thinking to myself... how can I even *dream* of teaching this woman anything?  She wasn't in the church, but she had a more powerful testimony than I did, by far, of Christ.  And, you know... I *did* have something to offer her... but she had something to offer me as well.  It surprises me to hear stories about how some Mormon families won't even let their children *play* with little non-Mormon kids.  As though they are automatically evil by non-association. :)  We aren't supposed to be out there building more *barriers*... aren't there enough of those?  Today, let's try to break some of them down.  :)

Thursday, August 30, 2001

Mark 9:40-41

"For he that is not against us is on our part.
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."
Mark 9:40-41


I think this is cool... instead of what we hear more commonly, "if you're not WITH us, you're AGAINST us!" (sounds of gunfire in the background). ... Christ is infinitely more inclusive.  If you aren't fighting against him, you have a part with him.  He *wants* us to choose sides, he wants us to come to him... but he is careful not to shut anyone out who really and truly doesn't know yet... And he is also out there looking for the lost sheep, and inviting them back into the fold.  He wants us to take care of each other... which obviously includes offering some nice refreshing water. :)  I remember this movie I saw once where some soldiers had come in and taken over a little town and were living in the people's houses and eating their food... and the people in the town were being nice to them so that they wouldn't get killed, you know... but behind the scenes, they were helping the other army. Collecting information, giving them food... hopefully a cup of water now and then.... and that is kind of what this scripture says to me.  Even when we are behind enemy lines... there are little things that we can do to get closer to God. :)
So, today... let's give someone a drink of water, just because they are a child of God.  Let's love the people around us... and choose God's side. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 128:15

"And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation.  For their salvation is necessary to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers--that they without us cannot be made perfect--neither can we without our dead be made perfect."
Doctrine and Covenants 128:15


This is fascinating stuff.  I have been thinking a lot lately about how we are bonded to one another.  I know *absolutely* that I don't understand it except in a very very small way... but scriptures like this seem to shed some light. :)  Sealing, to me, seemed to be all about families... you get sealed to your spouse, your children, and the generations hook together somehow. :)  But then there are things like "the same sociality ... will exist among us there" (not an exact quote, but close)... and then this, that talks about it as an entire group... the dead and the living.  So, it isn't just our departed relatives that we are sealed to... part of... but the dead and the living are part of each other.  We are all (Zion comes to mind again) a huge community, and we have to be saved *together.*  It doesn't take away our individual responsibility to say this... we still need to make the choices in our own lives that ensure our own salvation... but it does also bring to mind Cain's question:  Am I my brother's keeper?  ... and the answer, resoundingly, is YES. :)  We need to watch out for each other, and help each other to salvation... because we don't go there alone, and spending our lifetimes in a singular search for our own salvation will either end in failure, or inevitably lead us to others anyway... we cannot be saved alone.  Everything speaks to this... even church.  We go there to "speak one with another concerning the welfare of our souls" ... we don't go off into the mountain alone to meditate (though that is good as well.)  We *need* other people... desperately.  We fight it (or some of us do) because it makes us feel vulnerable and we are scared of being hurt.  But, as (my hero) Neal A. Maxwell says, "we are each other's clinical experience."
I was at dinner with my Visiting Teaching group last night and one of the girls there works for a cosmetic dentist.  She told us this great story about a woman that came in... she was about 80 years old, and had learned not to smile because her teeth were crooked, and it always caused a reaction with others.  After coming in, she was smiling and laughing and happy.  ... Cool story.  As we talked, I realized that that is *another* way that we discriminate against our brothers and sisters... and there are SO many.  We are here to learn not to discriminate... to love the people around us, no matter their age, weight, or dental condition. :)  We need each other ... in not just an emotional way, but in a spiritually palpable, eternal way.  The reason we share the gospel is not (or shouldn't be) because we belong to an exclusive club and we like to pick and choose the new members... and not because we feel like throwing out a really scary and biased test of friendship to everyone we meet... but because we need people.  Because we all need to learn the same basic things in life, and help each other get to the same place... together.
My patriarchal blessing talks about the resurrection as a reuniting, and a great day of rejoicing. :)  That is because I won't be there by myself... I will be reunited with all of the people that I was part of... and all of us, who helped each other through... will be there, together.  And, it will be fun. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Alma 17:10

"And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted.  And they were comforted."
Alma 17:10


This is interesting.  It reminds me of confirmations, when they say "receive the Holy Ghost."  ... I think there are a lot of times when we don't receive the Holy Ghost, and when we refuse to be comforted.  Why is that?  Do we think that we know more than God does?  If God tells us to do something, it is okay to do it. :)  Having the Holy Ghost around (the Comforter) and being comforted are pretty cool and important things in our lives, and we should probably give in and accept a little comfort once in a while. :)  I'm not saying it isn't hard... it is.  It is hard to accept and feel comfortable with ourselves sometimes... hard to accept comfort when things aren't going the way that we want them to... even hard to believe that we can have comfort amidst the difficulties that we currently experience.  But God is always there, offering comfort when we need it... today, let's try to accept His gift. :)

Monday, August 27, 2001

Revelation 12:17

"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Revelation 12:17


The chapter intro to this chapter says, "John . . . sees the war in heaven in the beginning when Satan was cast out--He sees the continuation of that war on earth."  And so here, in a nice story form, we see the dragon coming after us. :)  Yikes we may say... but remember.  In stories with evil dragons, the dragon NEVER wins. :)  I think it is interesting that the war in heaven continues to this day.  I guess that I thought when Satan and his followers were cast out... that that was it.  We won, they lost... that's the end.  But, of course, we come here and it continues.  And we don't have exactly the same resources we had before... we have a veiled memory, and a new, earthly body that we still have to learn to get along with.  But we have a lot of new resources along with that body, and also a promise from God that we won't be tempted more than we are able to withstand.  That is a huge promise, and so, despite our lack of memory of spiritual battle techniques... we are more than able to defend ourselves, and even free many prisoners.  It isn't really that fun to think that we are in the middle of a war... but you know, it does make a little more sense than thinking that we are just down here for a picnic. :)  Anyway, let's not let the war bring us down today... let's just go out and help God conquer the dragon like the heroes that we are. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2001

John 13:38

"Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice."
John 13:38


I picked this scripture today because it makes me think about how very much better God knows us than we know ourselves.  Even Peter, who *did* love the Lord very much, and who thought that he was ready to die for him... who became the leader of the church after Christ was crucified... he found here that God knew him better than he knew himself.  ... This can pose a problem at times, for we have a tendency to shy away from people who know our weaknesses.  It is difficult to have them pointed out, and to feel that vulnerable.  Thankfully, God doesn't point them out to humiliate us, or to take advantage of our weakness, but he shows them to us so that we can make them strong.  And he assists us in that task.  John was bitterly sorry when he realized that what Christ had predicted came to pass... and it helped him to change, and to grow stronger... to turn his weakness into a powerful strength... declaring Christ wherever he went.  It is hard to realize our weaknesses, and to have them pointed out to us... but with God, it is a blessing to be able to change those things and become stronger and better people.  Today, let's talk to God about the things that are hard for us... and let him help. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2001

Jacob 5:66

"For it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard; wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire, that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard; and thus will I sweep away the bad out of my vineyard."
Jacob 5:66


Interesting.  there is a lot going on in this verse, and I just want to touch on some of it.  One of the things is how tied into our ancestors we are... in a really physical way (or why baptism, marriage and other ordinances for them?).  The root of the tree is them and the branches are us... and there is no way that a branch could survive without the roots.  We are inseparably connected in tangible ways that I don't thing we really understand... I mean, I think we all are... friends as well as family... enemies too I would think. :)  And I *really* would like to understand those bonds... I don't think I really get it most of the time.  That they exist, I feel... but I guess I don't understand how, or why. :) ... or especially what I am supposed to do about it most of the time. :)
The other thing that I thought was cool is that this analogy seems to be saying that we are going to be overcoming evil with good. :)  And you thought society was getting more corrupt. :)  Whoops... I think it *is* ... :)  So, that means that we have to start getting out there and making a difference.  We have overwhelm the world with good so that the bad can get smaller and smaller and finally go away.  Like the city of Enoch... those people worked and worked to reach perfection (or at least as close as it gets on earth), and I imagine that they did more and more good and became better and better personally... that the good swept away the bad in the end. :)  Probably the first step is making sure that Good is winning the battle in your own body... once we have that down, then we might be able to branch out and start a newsletter or something. :)  Anyway, I am just joking around... but there are some really cool ideas in this scripture.  Let's think on it today. :)

Friday, August 24, 2001

Moses 1:36

"And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content."
Moses 1:36


Moses is so great. :)  I love how he says, really nicely... "just tell me everything." :)  I mean, he really isn't asking for *everything,* because God just told him that there were many worlds other than this one out there... so, I suppose that he is being a little bit restrained. :)  But *think* about what he is asking... he wants to know all about this earth and all the people, and all about the heavens. :)  ... and the thing is, he is asking the only person that can really answer this all-encompassing question.
Even more amazing... God answers him. :)  He already showed him every particle of the earth... and every single person on it... but he goes on, and tells him more stuff, about how the earth was created, and why God does what he does.  So... see how productive talking with God can be?  Perhaps we should try it today... and every day.  God wants us to know so many things... we just have to ask. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2001

1 Peter 5:2-4

"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
1 Peter 5:2-4


This is cool... I like how God cares *how* we do things instead of just having a little checklist of things to do.  Sincerity always counts. :)  And, of course, these things help us to build our community of Zion... we'll never get there if we are doing things because we "should" but resenting it.  Guilt-trip motivation never built anything of worth.  ... but when we actually understand and love the law, and take care of each other because we love each other... then we are approaching Godliness. :)  I like, as well, how God has set up his church to reflect the whole sincerity thing. :)  Bishops can't be motivated by the money, because they don't get paid. :)  When we go to church and do our work for and in the church... we might not have the greatest motivation, but at least it isn't monetary.  That gives it at least a chance of being sincere. :)  The last thing I wanted to talk about here is the "ready mind" part.  as the scripture continues it says that we shouldn't think of ourselves as lords over people, but as examples.  I think this goes back directly to having a ready mind.  Our minds have to be ready to accept things God's way and not the world's way.  In the world that we live in, people do a lot of things in order to have power over others.  God doesn't work that way though... and Christ definitely didn't have that kind of leadership strategy when he was on the earth.  So, when we are given leadership positions by God in the church, we are always tempted to look at it the world's way, and think that we are the boss, we are "in charge" and get to run the ship whatever way we feel like... :)  Christ, though, led by example.  He walked the road that each of us needs to walk, and provided a precedent to everything that we are required to do.  And a ready mind probably also means ready to think of others and not yourself. ... we live in a pretty "me" society, and that is another thing that we have to be ready to let go of in our lives.  I don't think I have a complete handle on what having a ready mind means, but perhaps those are some of the facets of it.  Today, let's try to be sincere, and giving.

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Alma 37:46


"O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so it was with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us.  The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever."
Alma 37:46


In the Old Testament there is a story about how a bunch of these poisonous snakes came out and bit most of the children of Israel and Moses raised up a staff, and anyone who would look at it would be saved alive.  Some of the people looked, some didn't... because they didn't believe that it would help them.  In the beginning of the Book of Mormon Lehi's family is given the Liahona... which was a compass-type thing with a spindle that pointed the way that they should go.  When they looked, they went the way they should go, and when they didn't, they wandered around hungry a lot... because they didn't believe that it would help them.  And we... we have some simple things in our lives that will point the way that we should go.  Reading our scriptures is one of the big things.  It isn't a hard thing... but sometimes we don't believe that it will help us, and so we don't do it.  And we let the poison sink in a little more... and go hungry in the wilderness, just like they did. 
There are hard things in the gospel, mostly when what we want conflicts with what God wants.  I am not trying to say that life is simple... but God gives us a lot of really easy things that can make all the rest of it make sense, and improve the easiness factor by 200-300% at least. :)  One of them is reading the scriptures.  They are incredible, and have such depth that it doesn't matter how many times you read them, you are still seeing new things and learning more.  Not the kind of books where you can say... oh, yeah... I read that. :)  And they are just as amazingly miraculous as Moses' staff *and* the Liahona... if you go to the scriptures with a sincere question, and you believe, there is always an answer there.  If you need some comfort and peace, there is some there available to you.  Prayer is another easy thing, a way for us to talk to our Father... and the Scriptures are a way for Him to talk to us.  If we only believe; if we only look.

Sunday, August 19, 2001

Proverbs 3:11-12

"My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:
For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."
Proverbs 3:11-12


I think this is a good thing to remember today.  The Lord is an amazing father... and an amazing educator.  Instead of just telling us what not to do, he helps us know what to do instead.  The thing is, he knows that we are going to test him (as any child will do) to see if he will remain firm, and to see if he will be consistent with us.  And, he always is.  He tells us the consequences of our actions, even when we don't particularly want to know... and when we do it anyway, he is there to pick up the pieces and turn it into a lesson.  Sometimes the lessons are hard for us to learn, and sometimes the rules hold us back from our personal desires... but God, after all, knows a lot better than we do what is good for us, and what will help us to be happy in the long-term.  The time when we need to start really worrying is when God *stops* correcting us... because he only does that if we, in effect, disown him.  That is the time when we need to get down on our knees and invite him back into our lives.  Correction is a good thing, because it means that God is there... and that he cares about what we do every day... he cares whether we are happy or not, and he cares about whether we come back and live with him again.  Let's listen to his correction carefully, and humble ourselves enough to do as he asks.  Eventually, even the most rebellious children have to grow up and stop challenging authority... at least the authority of God. :)

Saturday, August 18, 2001

Romans 10:13

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Romans 10:13


Today I am thinking a lot about prayer... and I think that this scripture illustrates how very important it is.  No matter how bad life gets, through fate or bad choices, there is always hope to be found in talking to the Lord.  If we call on him, no matter where we are, he will answer us and help us, and lead us to a better place.  Perhaps back to the path, perhaps to a promised land.  Perhaps just into his arms.  But no matter what, he is there for us when we need him.  You know, when we can do nothing else... if we can just talk to our Father... he'll give us the strength to get out of bed in the morning. :)  And, he'll help us to become brave enough to take more steps... like reading our scriptures or going to church... or walking on water perhaps, if we progress that far. :)  So, today... let's have a conversation with God.  Even when it doesn't solve our problems immediately (and you know, sometimes it does), it *always* gives us hope, and makes us feel better about who we are and what we can accomplish in our lives.  Try it. :)

Friday, August 17, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 111:1

"I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies."
Doctrine and Covenants 111:1


This is really interesting. :)  I like the "coming this journey" part... I wonder if this particular phraseology has a different meaning than it would if it were the regular old "coming on this journey."  Maybe it is like coming this way, or *be*coming something... part of that eternal path to perfection. :)  However, besides the grammar, I also find the idea within the scripture to be fascinating.  Even though these men went out to Salem looking for the latest way to get rich quick, God used the journey to teach them.  I think God does this with all of us, no matter the journey.  We don't get to some point where the rest of our lives are messed up by one choice.  God knows the choices we make, and he incorporates it all into the plan.  Which, you know, is a REALLY good thing... so that our own follies and side journeys don't mess up our eternal potential permanently.  God gives us opportunities to learn wherever we are... and opportunities to come back to Him, and to the main path.  Not to say that he is always pleased with us, no matter what... I really don't think that he is ever going to be pleased when we purposely and knowingly do wrong or evil things... he knows that it hurts us, and seeing us harming ourselves isn't a fun thing... but he *does* offer us chances to learn and to become better even when we are doing something silly... and gives up every opportunity to find our way to the light.  He loves us, and takes even the smallest opportunity to teach us and guide us back to Him.

Sunday, August 12, 2001

Alma 60:32


"Behold, can you suppose that the Lord will spare you and come out in judgment against the Lamanites, when it is the tradition of their fathers that has caused their hatred, yea, and it has been redoubled by those who have dissented from us, while your iniquity is for the cause of your love of glory and the vain things of the world?"
Alma 60:32


This is interesting to me this morning… and I think that it is remarkably cool that God cares about the reasons behind our actions.  Even though the Lamanites were acting pretty thoroughly evil… trying to destroy an entire people because they thought that their Lamanite ancestors had been wronged by the Nephite ancestors… they were basically just living as they had been brought up to live… be nice to the people around you, but all Nephites are bad, and you should hate them.  Also interesting to me right now is the fact that we get to see the whole story… the progression from Lehi’s family and the beginning of the colonization of this new world, to this point where there are whole nations taking sides from what originated as a family squabble (albeit a big one).  We see things like this around us today… nations fighting nations because of some detail… with the Nephites and the Lamanites mostly it was just because they thought they had the right to rule (seniority).  We have a lot of conflicts globally that started out similarly.  One way to fight that trend is to raise our children to love… and break the cycle of hatred and bias.  And then… back to the reasons behind our actions… lets make sure that we remember what it important in life… the things that will last eternally.  People, animals, love, friendship, knowledge, wisdom… so many things that we can spend time on without worrying about “the vain things of the world.”  Let us match our knowledge of truth and right with our actions.

Tuesday, August 7, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 77:2

"Q. What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?
A. They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator, John, in describing heaven, the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created."
Doctrine and Covenants 77:2


In High School I had a good friend that I worked with who was a Catholic.  We worked at a Theatre, and so during the first act of the play every night, we had a lot of time to talk.  I remember her telling me once what she thought heaven would be like... something like floating around God and praising him all day.  I could have made up the floating part though... I know that not having a body after you die was something we had been talking about, and it *has* been a long time since that conversation. :)  That isn't a bad thing... praising God means that you get to be one of the singing men or singing women,  and that would be a blast. :)  The thing is, it boggles my mind the way a lot of us envision heaven... calling it "boring" or joking that we would have more fun in Hell.  You have to know that your perception is distorted when you start thinking that Hell is cool. :)
So, thinking along those lines, this scripture is awesome... it tells us a couple of things that aren't usually pictured in heaven... one, bodies, and two... animals. :)  So, you know... if you get bored playing chess with God (because he ALWAYS wins) you can always go play with the dog. :)  Maybe the dogs will even talk, and then we could teach them some REALLY cool tricks. :) heh heh.  Seriously though, I think that heaven sounds... well, heavenly.  Staying the way you are for eternity... now THAT sounds like Hell to me.  Yes, change is hard... but it's a good thing.  I mean, think over even just the last 5 years of your life.  Aren't you glad that you changed from who you were 5 years ago?  Would you want to go back?  Would you like to get stuck like you are right now... forever?  Boy, not me.  I'd rather live in heaven where I could go down to the beach and talk to the fish (and there is this one particular parrot I would like to have a real conversation with...), and maybe (after several lifetimes of homework, I am certain) I'll even learn to take a few steps on the water, or how to move a really really small mountain. :)  Our spiritual selves and our physical selves have SO much in common, if we can just get them to get along with one another. :)  And there is so much to learn and to become... how could heaven ever ever *ever* be boring? :)

Monday, August 6, 2001

Ezra 2:63-65

"And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,
Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women."
Ezra 2:63-65


This is cool stuff.  As a little background Tirshatha means basically Governor.  This is during the time when the king was allowing the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and so they were trying to get the priesthood and everything back in order so that they could build and maintain the temple.  I liked in the fist verse the reference to the Urim and Thummim.  For those of you who don't know, the Urim and Thummim was used by Joseph Smith during part of the translation of the Book of Mormon... and so it is really interesting to read about it here in the Old Testament. :) And, here, it doesn't even seem clear whether there is just one, or whether it is a class of objects associated with priests and priesthood.  Very interesting. :)  The other part that I thought was cool is that they had two hundred singing men and singing women. :)  Boy, whoever invented the radio really made us lose out, that's all I can say.  Can you imagine hiring someone to come and sing to you all day?  That is COOL. :)  And makes me understand all of those scriptures about angels gathered around the throne of God so much better... if you were God, wouldn't you have singing men and singing women around all the time? :)  In *fact* ... maybe that can be my new career goal. :)  :)  Anyway, enjoy the day, and if you have the chance to turn off the radio and listen to a real live person, try it. :)  Or, better yet... sing to someone else.  It could be fun. :)

Sunday, August 5, 2001

Romans 6:12-13

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
Romans 6:12-13


The phrase "yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead" is what sticks out to me in this scripture.  And I think about what our eternal lives would be like were it not for Christ's sacrifice, and really, this is a pretty literal scripture.  We *are* alive from the dead, because of the atonement.
So, project yourselves for a moment into a story.  The hero has been running around saving princesses and battling dragons.  One day, feeling pretty good about his heroic ways, he decides to take the day off from being good and he goes into the forest in search of some nice hallucinogenic mushrooms.  I mean, he knows he shouldn't and all... but since he has been doing so many good things, he figures a few mushrooms won't hurt.  Unfortunately, they do.  He finds some nice poisonous ones, and slides directly from his dreamy state into death.  Yikes, we think, reading... I mean, he is the hero.  He isn't supposed to die.  So, we tremulously turn the page, knowing SOMETHING has to save him, even now... and, miraculously, something does.  A kind wizard, passing by, sees this popular hero dead in the middle of the forest, with no-one around to help.  The Wizard, although it takes considerable effort and self-sacrifice on his part, performs the spell to save the Hero.  The Hero awakens, and instantly perceiving the sacrifice of the Wizard, swears to dedicate his life to repaying him.  The Wizard, wise and tired, looks at the Hero and simply asks him to stay on the path and not to eat any more poisonous mushrooms. :)
So, our stories are similar to this, are they not?  Although I suppose many of us eat a lot more poisonous mushrooms than others... we all have eaten at least one, and therefore we owe our lives to Him who has brought us back to life.  Christ could ask a lot more of us than he does... he could have us scrubbing pots for eternity, or make us stand on our heads every day at dawn and sing praises to him... :)  but he doesn't.  In fact, he doesn't ask anything except that we try to live our lives better than we have been... and he still loves us and wants us to come and live with him, and learn all the things that he knows.  I think that is amazing.  I mean, yielding to anything is hard... we want so much to be the hero all the time, and to have the princesses and the dragons yielding to *us* ... And I think that it is even harder when God doesn't demand anything from us... he saves us from the bad mushrooms anyway.  He does everything for our benefit, because he loves us.  So, when we recover our senses after mushroom-induced death, it might be easy to go on our way pretending that we never took that wrong path into the woods... but somewhere in the back of our minds it is always there.  Our lives have been saved... someone cared enough to rescue us from our own stupidity.  So, today... let's think about trying not to be quite as stupid.  No more searching for hallucinogenic mushrooms, okay?  Instead, I am *certain* there are some cool heroic things we can do, which will not only serve God, but help us to feel kinda heroic. :)

Saturday, August 4, 2001

Romans 2:28-29

"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Romans 2:28-29


This is really interesting to me today... the whole chapter was interesting, but this at the end kind of sums it up... it doesn't really matter who we seem to be on the outside... what we profess, what symbols of our belief we carry.  It matters what we really believe and live, personally... and our relationship with our Father.  As church members we have a lot of things that might show that fact to the world.  Maybe we have a temple calendar on the wall, or a Book of Mormon on the shelf.  Maybe we are wearing a CTR ring, or a Moroni tie pin... maybe we tell people that we don't drink, smoke, engage in premarital sex, or do drugs.  Maybe we talk about "Relief Society" activities or going to "Stake Conference."  And it isn't that those things aren't good, or a valid part of our lives... it is only that they are surface symbols, and none of them goes deeper than the flimsy outer wrapping.  God sees our hearts... and I wonder, do we have some recognizable evidence *there* that we love God and that we want to be part of making things better?  Do we live what we profess?  If we display a picture of the temple, do we actually go there?  If we wear a CTR ring, do we actually try to Choose the Right?  If we are wearing a little Moroni tie tac, do we actually know what Moroni taught, and are we trying to live it?  If we tell people all the things that "we" don't do... is it true for ourselves personally?  I know, I say this all the time... but the church isn't a club.  It isn't just a nice place to hang out and meet new friends... and if we treat it like that is its only function, then we are cheating ourselves.  We have an opportunity to help each other to build (and be a living breathing part of) the Kingdom of God.  Today... let's worry about what God thinks more than what anyone else in the world thinks. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2001

Ezekiel 37:16-17

"Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand."
Ezekiel 37:16-17


Ah, what a great scripture. :)  I came across it just now, and it made me smile to think about how God gives us clues every day for things that will be happening in the future... constantly preparing us, and helping us.  In this case, the tribes of Israel and how they help each other.  ... not only with the different sticks (referring to scrolls or tablets, and ultimately, to scripture) which complement each other, but also joining them as one community and one people before God.  Building Zion begins with things like this... knowing and accepting that God talks to people in every nation that will listen.  Knowing that instead of divisiveness and exclusion, God wants us to become unified in our knowledge of him, and include the entire earth in our circle of belonging. 
Sincerely, the whole thing is just so cool.  It is like the difference between the Zoramites and the rest of the Church in the Book of Mormon... One group getting up on the rameumptom and thanking God that they were going to be saved while everyone else was going to be cast down to Hell... while some of the people in the church were out trying to convert the Lamanites. :)  So, one thing... isn't it cool that God tells us stuff in the Bible that opens us up to new scripture and new opportunities... *and* isn't it cool... wordlessly cool... that we are all one people, and that God's truth doesn't change, no matter who he reveals it to?

Wednesday, August 1, 2001

1 Nephi 14:7

"For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other--either to the convincing them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken."
1 Nephi 14:7


Yee-hah.  what a cheerful scripture.  And, you know... once you get over that little initial shock, it isn't that sad.  In fact, it is kind of cool.... which, you know, is why I decided to write about it today. :)  I think it is really interesting that the Lord's work will basically force us to choose sides.  We try to be fence-sitters sometimes, thinking that we can have God in our lives, and still hang out with the devil on the side... but that isn't true, and as time progresses towards its end, it becomes more and more apparent how untrue that is.  God doesn't damn us, we damn ourselves.  All he does is make the choices more and more obvious in our lives.  We see where they will lead... to salvation or destruction... and we choose whether to continue on the path as the destination becomes more and more obvious.  It's kind of like Lehi's dream--God gives us the straight path and the iron rod and a view of the tree... even a taste of the fruit.  But, still, some people feel along the iron rod and walk the path in the wrong direction, trying to find their way to the great and spacious building instead.  ... also, don't you find it rather odd that God talks about "convincing" us about peace and life eternal?  Do you think that we become so cynical that we can't even believe in peace anymore... we start believing it is all just a fairy tale, or a Disney interpretation of the facts?  I mean... we *do* have a choice, but why choose discontent and doubt over peace and love?  And, we do exactly that... so, so often.
Today... let's not let our hearts be hardened or our minds be blinded.  Let's walk the path in the direction we want to go.  Let's not believe the devil's lie that there isn't anyplace better than the great and spacious building.  As we believe in what God offers us, he will convince us... of peace, and life eternal.

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