Wednesday, October 31, 2001

2 Nephi 9:10

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


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

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Helaman 14:30

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


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

Monday, October 29, 2001

Deuteronomy 4:9

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


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

Sunday, October 28, 2001

Job 21:7

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


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

Saturday, October 27, 2001

2 Peter 1:12

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


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

Friday, October 26, 2001

1 Corinthians 11:31-32

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


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

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Matthew 19:26

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


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

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Doctrine and Covenants 45:71


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


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

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

John 9:25

"He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
John 9:25


This is interesting to me this morning... in a way, this is what Christ gives us all.  Sight, out of our state of natural blindness.  We can see eternity rather than just the next 2 minutes.  We don't always have an equal testimony of every part of God's plan... but there are those things in our lives that we can't deny, and that hold us to the whole of the gospel.  One of them is, whereas we were blind, now we see.  We were broken and were made whole.  God heals us, and helps us learn to see the obstacles in our path, so that we don't get hurt again.  And even when we have lost our hope, God grants us a glimpse of eternity, to help us to regain our perspective, and continue our journey.  Eternity is worth any mortal effort... and God makes us equal to any challenge we face.

Monday, October 22, 2001

John 8:16

"And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me."
John 8:16


You know, it seems to me that Christ had an amazing thing in never being alone.  Everywhere he went, every decision he made, every breath he took, his Father was there, with him.  I wonder if that is the way it was for us before we came to this earth, and part of the challenge is the separateness.  Anyway... interesting stuff.  It is something that we can have too... the constant companionship of God.  We say those words but I think we rarely register that real human warmth can come through our relationship with God.  God will walk with us, and will not leave us comfortless.  We just have to let down our walls a little, and remember that God is a friend and a father and not a scary monster in the sky. :)
Then, even in solitude, we will never be desolate... a good goal for today.  ...and all days. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2001

John 8:32-34

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin."
John 8:32-34


This whole idea of truth and freedom going together is a popular one, and the first verse of this passage has been wrongly used in several places that I know of, and I am sure in many that I don't, to justify sin, when it was written to plead against it.  So, we obviously have widely differing ideas of what "truth" is.  Interestingly, a few verses before this Christ says "he that sent me is true" ... at least offering us a view of where Christ's idea of truth was coming from.  Christ's idea of truth has to be the *real* truth, but there is also some popular sentiment out there that truth is relative to the individual, and that you have to "find your own truth."  No wonder Joseph Smith so long ago said that "the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passage of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible."
Fortunately, we have these other two verses to help us, plus a lot of modern revelation.  When his followers asked him for clarification about becoming free, when in their eyes they already were, he told them that whoever committeth sin is the servant of sin... so the freedom that Christ is talking about here is freedom from the bondage of sin, which we can have if we know the truth.  I think this is really interesting, and one of my friends and I were talking about it yesterday.  We know that sinning gives us a dark cloud over our lives and our souls... so why do we choose that?  It seems crazy. :)  To choose darkness and bondage when God offers us light and freedom.
When we realize this, this truth, that sin is dark and God is light... that sin is our captor and Christ is our Savior, then we are in a measure free.  Free from our own delusions and the bizarre opinions of the world that drive us father into captivity.  We want freedom, so we need truth... and we know that there is more of it than this realization.  Where can we find it?  Well, Christ's reference to his father being true gives us one clue... we can go to God.  He is truth, and will dispense his wisdom to us as we prayerfully and sincerely ask for it.  It worked for Joseph Smith, it can work for each of us.  We cage ourselves too often through our choices.  Let's choose freedom instead of captivity... God's eternal truth rather than our malleable stand-in.

Saturday, October 20, 2001

Isaiah 11:3

"And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears."
Isaiah 11:3


This chapter in Isaiah prophecies of Christ and talks about some of the things that will happen during the millennium.  I think it is really cool and interesting how this scripture talks about Christ's quick understanding of the fear of the Lord, and what that is all about... and not judging by sight, or hearing.  Interesting, especially since such things are so well-respected.  Science, after all, is built upon proving things through the obvious senses. :)  Christ, though, could see beyond the sometimes deceptive appearance, into the heart.  He didn't honor social class... He hung out with people from every class and background.  He didn't listen to the judgements of others... even after hearing that the woman taken in adultery was caught in the very act, he knew there was more to the story.  I wonder sometimes if the reason that we can't walk on water is only that we rely on the "facts" too much.  I think that we limit ourselves way too much by relying on our eyes and our ears to tell us everything.  There is so much more to be known.  ... And as we go on and try to be kinder and more open with people, let's grant ourselves the same leniency.  We shouldn't judge ourselves inappropriately either.  Don't look in the mirror and think that you look bad... or listen to yourself talk and think that you are dumb.  We are beautiful, and good... and smart enough to handle everything that God throws our way.  No matter what.  Let's give ourselves, and others, a chance.

Friday, October 19, 2001

Psalms 11:4

"The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men."
Psalms 11:4


A good reminder today that God is watching over us.  Nothing that we do is hidden from him... and although he doesn't always act immediately to condemn unrighteousness (giving us all a change to repent), he will act in his own time.  We wonder sometimes why God lets bad things happen, or why good things happen to someone else. :)  It is hard to know the specifics of each situation, but God is a perfect, just God... and if we are patient, things will work out well.  I think it is actually to our advantage that he doesn't act quickly... it gives us time to realize all the wrongs that *we* have done... and to repent, to change.  It is also one of our tests in this life... to see if we can know that God is there and an active participant in our lives through our daily walk with him, rather than requiring him to prove that he isn't sleeping. :)  Personally, I know that God is there every minute of my life, watching... waiting for me to talk to him, to ask him into my day.  It is comforting to know that he is there, and that he is in charge.  If the world were left to purely earthly guidance we probably would have blown ourselves up long ago.  I know that my life would be a lot poorer.  Today, let's remember what God has done for us, and ask him to share our day.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Alma 26:15

"Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work."
Alma 26:15


When you really look at things, the distinction between making our own way and following God's way is incredibly clear.  Unfortunately, when we make our own way we have a tendency to listen to Satan, or to our own selfish desires... and we usually muck things up pretty well.  We have to make our way the Lord's way for it to work.  In the scripture above Ammon is overwhelmed at the goodness of God to himself and to the Lamanites.  The dramatic change in their lives is illustrated by the difference between darkness and light... between destruction and salvation.  I submit that the difference in our own lives is just as clear... if we will take the time to see it.  We all know the difference between hatred and love... and that is the same choice we have in choosing who to serve.  Satan, who hates us, or God, who loves us.  On a game show, we could all call out the right answer... but in our personal lives, where we lack a studio audience, which do we choose?  We are children, and if we try to find our own way in the dark we will stumble and fall.  We need someone's voice to follow.  Or, an iron rod. :)  Let's choose to be encircled in the matchless bounty of God's love, rather than choosing to spend our time with someone who tries to manipulate and hurt us at every turn.  And, if one of your friends calls you from their game show and asks you to choose... make sure you give the right answer.  We can be instruments in the hands of God, or instruments in the hands of Satan... there is no middle ground.

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Psalms 105:4-5

"Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth."
Psalms 105:4-5


This scripture reminds me of something I heard on Sunday.  One of the people in our sunday school class commented that the Lord spends an awful lot of time telling us about things that happened in the past, and that there must be a reason. :)  I think there are probably a lot of reasons, but one of them is probably so that we can widen our perspective.  Doesn't the saying go that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it?  And, even though most of us choose to learn things in the most harrowing way possible, there is always that off-chance that we might learn to be wise through the experience of another. :)
It is tempting to want something besides history or the less-dramatic miracles we are accustomed to.  We want an angel, or God to just come down and tell us what to do.  The thing is... drama doesn't enhance our ability to endure to the end.  And it only boosts obedience in the very short-term.  We can see that clearly in the lives of Laman and Lemuel.  I think God, in teaching us history, is showing us real examples of people who made it through this life successfully... and other examples of people who didn't, and what tripped them up.  It isn't meant to terrorize, but rather to offer us some hope.  The scriptures and the stories of the early pioneers show us tragedy and triumph... fear and faith.  It's God showing us how to drive back the darkness, to find the strength to endure to the end.  Today, I think that this scripture offers some incredible advice for us.  No matter where we are, or what we are going through, seeking the Lord and his strength will help us to endure it well.  Remembering his works, his wonders, and his judgments will help us to see our own paths more clearly.  And if we do these things, one day all of the things that we have been seeking, we will find... and we will see his face with pleasure.

Monday, October 15, 2001

Mosiah 28:7

"And the Lord said unto Mosiah: Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites."
Mosiah 28:7


This was a scary prospect for Mosiah.  They had been with war with the Lamanites on and off his whole life, and sending his sons to them must have seemed crazy to him.  It seems to me that even inquiring of the Lord about something as frightening as that is a great leap of faith.  And, then, to trust the Lord when he says that he *should* send them, and that the Lord will protect them.  I'm sure that most parents go through something similar when they send their children on missions... but then, we aren't sending them to countries that we are actively at war with. :)  To have faith that God will protect you, and your family... to trust that God knows best, and that whatever happens happens for a good reason... to have faith that God will handle everything that you can't (or shouldn't) control... that is amazing.  I have been trying to say that to myself today... remembering that no matter what, God is in charge.  You have to have some faith, and see how things turn out. :)  (Don't be scared, nothing really bad is happening, just normal life.)  :)  It actually is a very comforting thought... that I don't have to handle everything.  I just have to do my best to stay on the straight and narrow path, and let God handle all the big things. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2001

3 Nephi 19:30

"And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus."
3 Nephi 19:30


This is cool... it is neat to think of Jesus smiling at these people, and beyond that, that the smile had such an incredible effect upon them... it purified them.  I think that it seems like what happens to us when we please God... that our efforts, combined with his, can make us pure.  Almost all of it ends up coming from God, of course... but receiving the smile is a great place to be. :)  Can you imagine... Jesus, who did everything for us, who has power over every element and who helped to create this beautiful world... smiling at you?  Smiling can change people's moods, it has incredible power over your own attitudes as well as those you smile at... and then think of that power magnified by a billion or more and you know what was happening to these people... their mood and hearts and minds were all affected and happy... and mostly due to a smile. :)  Let's try the power of a smile today. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2001

Romans 10:12

"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."
Romans 10:12


This is interesting.  It seems to me like it is saying that we become God's chosen people by choosing HIM, rather than by being born into some special genealogical line.  I mean, of course... it never hurts if your parents have chosen God... it is a lot easier to learn when you have an example.  But it isn't a prerequisite to being chosen of God.  When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites and chose them as a people, it was a two-way thing.  He would be their God, and they would be his people.  There are obligations on both sides. :)  ... anyway, being "chosen" aside... it is good to know that the Lord is rich to all that call upon him, that his blessings are offered to all people.  We have enough bias and elitism in the world to poison us all.  It is good to know that there is a cure.

Friday, October 12, 2001

3 Nephi 13:30

"Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith."
3 Nephi 13:30


When we are little kids we have to live on faith... we try to learn the way that things work.  The kid throwing food off his high chair is discovering gravity, and the language and social customs that our parents teach us become our reality.  It's interesting that we lose that faith as we get older... we start expecting things to be a certain way, and develop comfort zones and fear of change.  I think we probably do that too early, since we haven't figured God out yet.  I was watching a show this evening that was talking about the "missing" years of Christ's life. :)  It threw out possibilities and passages from apocryphal works talking about some of the things that he might have done as he grew up.  I wonder if he learned differently than we do.  ... we know he didn't lose his faith as he grew up at least. :)  We are so worried about the supposed "realities" of this life that we have lost our capacity to trust and believe God.  Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge.  I think that is true... at least as far as some of the restrictive knowledge that we collect. :)  According to our reality, parting the Red sea and moving mount Zerin are impossible things... but, they happened.  Not to mention God converting stones into light sources by touching them.  How about standing in a furnace without even being singed?  ... and there are thousands more examples.  Maybe God appeared to Joseph Smith because he was young enough to expect an answer to his prayer. :)  I think that we forget that we are still little kids in a high chair... we might know the rules of the particular game we are playing... or the social circle we run in... or the office where we work.  Let us remember however, that however well we learn the rules... they aren't Reality.  In reality with a capital R, people aren't judged by outward appearance.  people don't get more justice if they have more money.  God is the only one that can see Reality as it really is... and no matter how much food we throw off that high chair, we aren't going to be able to understand all of it in the limited time we have on this earth.  Let's imagine a little more... and live like we know that God will do what he says he will do.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Jeremiah 18:11-12

"Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart."
Jeremiah 18:11-12


I wonder, in these scriptures, why the people thought there was no hope.  God asked them to repent... and, in times past, when people repented, then he withdrew the impending doom.  Like Jonah and Nineveh for instance.  So, when God asks us to repent, there is always hope.  I think though, because of Satan... who loves to hit us with insecurity, self-doubt, and overwhelming darkness... it sometimes feels like there isn't much hope.  We're stuck in chapter 5 where the hero is sinking in quicksand, and there aren't any branches in reach... or help to be had.  Satan tries to make us forget that there are quite a few more chapters, and that it is obvious the hero can't die in chapter 5.  He wants us so far engrossed in the terror that we put the book back on the shelf and refuse to read any further.  But... that is exactly the wrong thing to do.  Reading is a risk, yes.  We are invested in the story, and, especially in this case, the story is life-changing and emotionally charged.... but taking the risk of reading (and participating in) the story is the only way that we get to experience the amazing struggles, and see them overcome.  The story is scary and terrifying in spots... but the good overwhelmingly outweighs the bad.  Don't give up on the story... don't write yourself a new ending after reading a few chapters.  The people in today's scripture obviously weren't very imaginative in *their* ending.  You don't get good writing without hope and belief in miracles... and both of those elements are provided by God as an essential part of every chapter.  Quicksand is nothing to a hero... and neither is whatever it is that we are going through right now, no matter how immediately terrifying it is.  Let's turn the page.  See what happens next... and trust God to provide the happiest of all endings.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Ephesians 6:13

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
Ephesians 6:13


I was listening to a song today that has the lyrics, "I would shelter you and keep you in light, but I can only teach you night vision."  I probably think about lyrics too much, you know... but that was interesting to me today, and I thought of it again as I was reading this scripture.  Because we are on this earth to be tested and to actually learn something, the Lord can't just give us all the answers.  He can, however, teach us a different way of seeing... help us to put everything in its proper eternal context... and he can give us some protection from the storms and darkness that we will certainly have to weather.  That is why he asks us to pray, and to read our scriptures... to attend our church meetings.  All these things are for our benefit, to help protect us from the storms of life.  Since he wants us to learn, he can't take away our challenges, just as a parent can't spare her child the pain of growing up.  But he can smooth the path, and offer advice, and lead the way... which he has done, and is doing.  Now, it is up to us whether to learn things the easy way or the hard way. :)  ... Listening to God, like listening to our parents, can spare us a lot of pain and anguish.

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

2 Chronicles 9:1-2

"And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not."
2 Chronicles 9:1-2


This is cool.  I want to be the queen of Sheba. :)  It is amazing to think of having every question of your heart answered.  For us, perhaps it isn't as easy as a long camel ride to Jerusalem... but the answers are there for us.  God wants to bless us with wisdom, and with the answers to the most pressing questions of the heart.  One way to get there is to remember that we aren't all-knowing, or all-powerful.  The queen of Sheba knew this... she was a queen in her own right, but when she heard of the wisdom of Solomon, she left her kingdom and came to his.  She searched out the man called of God to offer her answers.  Another thing that we need to do is to have the questions ready. :)  The queen had prepared beforehand.  She didn't just come to Solomon and ask him to tell her everything that she needed to know... she found out what she needed to know ahead of time. :)  And lastly, we need to be perfectly honest with God and ourselves.  The queen of Sheba was... she told Solomon all that was in her heart, and communed with him.  When we come before the Lord, either in prayer, or through a priesthood blessing... God will grant us answers, when we prepare for them, when we ask the questions, and when we are sincere and honest with him.  God is the source of all wisdom, and offers it to us generously.  Sometimes we just have to be humble enough to ask. :)  That's what Joseph Smith did... and what an amazing answer he got. :)

Monday, October 8, 2001

1 Nephi 22:26

"And because of the righteousness of this people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth."
1 Nephi 22:26


This is incredible to me... that people could be so righteous that Satan has absolutely no power.  ... and you know what is even more incredible... this is our future.  ... and you know, whether we live to fulfill this prophecy on the earth or not, this is who we become in order to inherit the Celestial kingdom.  This is what we are striving for.  Interestingly, it isn't the triumph of the individual... it is the triumph of the community.  Together, they create a place where Satan has no space to breathe... because they are united in serving God.  Imagine living in this community.  Absolute safety.  No need for locked doors, no need for fear of fellow man.  No political struggles at the office.  No backstabbing, no evil speaking... no hurtful communication.  Isn't that something to live for?  Isn't that something to strive to become?  ... today, let's take a step towards that.  We don't have to overwhelm ourselves and become instantly perfect... but I am sure that there is something we can do today to turn the balance in our own lives in favor of God.  Whatever that is today, let's do it... pruning little by little, until there is no evil left at all.

Sunday, October 7, 2001

Matthew 24:37-39

"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Matthew 24:37-39


In general conference today, the prophet mentioned the things going on in the world today... and said that he couldn't help thinking of certain scriptures.  Matthew 24 was one that he mentioned.  I am in no way trying to say that these verses are ones that he was specifically referring to... in fact, there are others that are perhaps more relevant that I noticed as I was reading.  I just thought that these verses were interesting.  Almost comforting, in a way... :)  That life will go on, at least in spots, pretty normally... people getting married at least... until Christ's coming.  Scary too, though.  Noah was preaching to the people.  He told them about the flood... but they still didn't know until it happened.  I wonder how often we ignore similar warnings in our lives. :)  For instance, today. :)  The prophet said two things about safety which I wrote down:  "Our safety lies in repentance" and, later, "Our safety lies in the virtue of our lives."  ... let's listen to the prophet's warning, and instead of being oblivious like the people in the days of Noah, let's work at keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safe.

Friday, October 5, 2001

2 Samuel 24:24

"And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.  So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."
2 Samuel 24:24


Interesting.  Araunah offered David everything that he needed to make the appropriate sacrifice... but David wouldn't do it.  Seems that even back then, a sacrifice meant more than just a burnt offering.  And today... I wonder if we try to offer things at times that don't mean much to us.  We are hyper-obedient about things that are easy for us, and we think that we are sacrificing. :)  Sacrifice means a lot more than that.  It is a very real commitment, made because we love.  Think about the person that you love most in the world.  If you were going to surprise that person on a special occasion, what would you do?  I know that if it were me, I would make sure it was perfect.  Front-row seats, a favorite meal... the perfect gift... whatever it took to make it the perfect day.  It wouldn't matter what it cost me, if I could coax a smile.  I think that is what sacrifice is about.  Not about being a martyr, or cutting out part of yourself for someone else... it's about real caring, and doing anything you can to create that perfect moment.  David couldn't honor his God with a sacrifice that cost him nothing... it wasn't a gift that he was giving that way.  The same for us.  The broken heart and the contrite spirit that we offer to God has to be real... sincere.  It has to cost us something.  Not necessarily bring us pain... but be valuable to us.  The commitment that we make has to be deep and true.  We can't just give God the leftovers... the excess emotion that we have left over after doting on our loved ones and friends... the extra cash we have after we have paid all of our bills... the few minutes we have to communicate after we've talked to everyone on earth that we know. :)  If God matters to us, then we have to offer him time, and space in our lives.  When we offer him our broken hearts, he returns them to us whole.  When we offer him our contrite spirit, he strengthens us and gives us confidence.  ... He loves us too. :)

Thursday, October 4, 2001

John 15:5

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
John 15:5


Sometimes we think that we can do it alone.  Fiercely independent, we roar at the world that we don't need anything... we're strong and self-sufficient, and we'll handle it. :)  God probably thinks we are kind of cute that way. :)  The fact is, though... we need him.  Without God we have a bigger void in our souls than loneliness or grief could ever create.  Besides probably needing him even to breathe (he gave the breath of life in the first place)... we are part of him, and he is part of us.  He is the source of all good... the source of peace and contentment, and the way to our heart's desire.  Because of God, we are who we are.  Because of God, we have a chance to be better still.  Our need for God is a need that runs deeper than our need for food or shelter, or companionship.  There is a deep, eternal, life-giving bond there... and the more we hack away at it, the more we hurt ourselves.  Instead of resenting the connection, let's glory in it... drink in the love and life that flows through it to us from God.  Thrive.  It's a good idea. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Zechariah 13:9

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God."
Zechariah 13:9


Talking about the last days again... very interesting stuff in these chapters.  Cool that a third of the people survive the terrible destructions.  (I am not sure if this is talking about the whole world, or just the Jerusalem area--might just be the Jerusalem area.)  I think the part about refining is interesting.  I took a jewelry class a few summers ago, and we got to do some of that... heating the silver until you could pour it into molds... and the impurities would burn off until you were left with some nice, but very very hot, liquid silver.  I kind of like that image applied to us.  If we are silver, that means that no matter how mixed up or dirty we get... we're still not *part* of the filth.  When we are really tested, and put into the fire... every impurity will be consumed in the fire, but we... because we are made of something stronger and purer... will remain.  That image feels pretty eternal to me.  No matter what this world does to us, or what we get mixed up with in the world, no one can change what we are, or take away the opportunity we all have to be perfectly pure.  It makes me kind of laugh at the "traditional" view of Hell being a place of eternal burning... if it is, for us... all it could do was purify the badness right out of us. :)  Nothing eternal could be damaged. I love that... it makes me feel indestructible. :)  I think the whole eternity thing itself is amazing... knowing that you are going to live forever.  If you could keep that perspective with you all the time... there wouldn't be very few things to be afraid of.  All the normal things that make us stressed... nothing.  They can't touch our eternity. :)  Maybe we would be a little calmer and kinder if we could always remember who we are, and the very few things that are really important.  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

1 Nephi 18:12

"And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work."
1 Nephi 18:12


You know, this is really interesting.  On the surface, of course, it is part of the story of Nephi.  He had, with the Lord's help, constructed a boat, and they were headed towards the promised land when he got into a disagreement with his brothers about serving God, and they tied him up and treated him "with much harshness."  A very interesting story.  If you haven't read it, I recommend it. :)  When I was reading it today I thought about this scripture from the brothers' perspective.  Everything in the world is tied together.  I mean, I know that the separation of church and state is a good rule, so that no-one tries to force a certain religion on anyone who doesn't want to believe... but in actual daily life, I don't think that there is any such thing.  God is part of everything, all the time... he can't be confined to a church building or relegated to a single aspect of our lives.  And maybe that is one of the lessons that the brothers ran into here on the boat.  They found out that they couldn't pick and choose which part of God they accepted.  The same God who gave them a compass and a boat chose their brother as a prophet and a leader.  They couldn't accept the first gift and throw the unwanted one away.  It was all or nothing... and it is for us as well.  Just as we can't pick and choose which personality traits we want in our friends and throw away the rest... we can't change God to our specifications.  But, just like we can learn to love the idiosyncrasies of our friends, we can learn to love God and everything about him.  It takes effort and time... but it is a worthwhile endeavor.  God is perfect, and that is hard for us to understand... several things that he does seem imperfect to us, and we can't understand why he would make the choices that he does.  Laman and Lemuel (Nephi's brothers) couldn't understand why God would put their little brother in a position of authority over them... as an oldest child, I think I can understand the feeling a little bit. :)  When we can't understand something, instead of doubting God (who, after all, is perfect), maybe we should try trusting him instead.  Accepting it, and then studying our brains out to try to figure out why.  And, when we find ourselves with a broken compass, as we do every now and then, maybe we should look around and see if there is anyone we should untie. :)

Monday, October 1, 2001

1 Nephi 17:45 -- On Tuning In to the Spirit

"Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God.  Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder."
1 Nephi 17:45


It is interesting that anyone could see an angel and not be permanently changed.  You would think that the reality of eternity would be overpowering enough that you wouldn't forget it. :)  However, we can probably all understand it on some level.  Which of us lives as we believe, and as we know to be true, each and every day? 

Reality is that we have ups and downs and get closer to and further away from God daily... hourly sometimes.  Perhaps the goal is to flatten the curve a little, stop the scary roller-coaster drops from great heights. :)  Ah..., but I suppose that sounds fun to some of you, so let me add that you aren't strapped in, and the track probably ends before the ride does... you know. :) 

Hopefully as we learn, we make more forward progress than backward.  Hopefully we can still hear God when he talks to us.  I think that it is easy to become desensitized.  So many things can take us past feeling into numbness, or blankness, or darkness.  We can't walk around thinking that we're too cool to let things affect us.  The books that we read, the shows that we watch, the conversations that we have... all of it collectively, each day, adds up to whether we are sensitive to the Spirit or not. 

You've probably all listened to a song in the car and when you later bought the CD and listened to it without all the background noise, heard more lyrics than you originally heard, or at least understood.  I think the same thing happens with God.  He is singing us the song of salvation... of love, of eternity... and if we turn it up really loud, sometimes some of it gets through as we drive along.  But it isn't until we play it softly with our entire attention that we hear all the words, and are able to receive the whole message. 

God does speak very loudly sometimes at critical moments in our lives when we need him the most... but if that is the only time that we ever hear him we are only getting the refrain, and not the intricate and surpassingly lovely lyrics contained in each verse.  Perhaps, if we take some time to listen to God, we will be quicker to remember him, and slower to do iniquity.  And, you know... our conversations with God will probably be a lot more fun when we aren't screaming over the background noise to each other. :)

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