Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Psalms 100:2-3

"Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that they Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."
Psalms 100:2-3


This reminds me of what we really owe to the Lord.  It is so easy to slip into thinking about what we deserve or merit because of the work we've done, whatever that is.  And we start lifting ourselves up... and yes, we should value ourselves and not throw our lives away as worthless... but compared to God, we're less than the dust that collects on the desk, and which we flick away with a cloth.  It is because of him that we are as much as we are, and that we have the possibility of becoming greater. :)  We owe him more than we can give... and so serving him with gladness is the way we pay back that which cannot be repaid. :)  He did everything for us because he loves us, and all we can do is love him in return. :)

Monday, December 30, 2002

3 Nephi 5:4

"And now it came to pass that when they had taken all the robbers prisoners, insomuch that none did escape who were not slain, they did cast their prisoners into prison, and did cause the word of God to be preached unto them; and as many as would repent of their sins and enter into a covenant that they would murder no more were set at liberty."
3 Nephi 5:4


This is really fascinating.  You have a giant group of people who have been trying to destroy your entire government and way of life, and instead of executing them as traitors or using prison as a punishment, they preached to them.  Sharing the truth, and if they would accept it and give up being bad, they let them go. :)  Amazing... amazing solution, and amazing trust.  I really like it, because this is what God does for us.  Even though we all have had a bad influence on other people, and even though we hurt each other, instead of whisking us off the face of the earth for the hardships and sorrow we have caused, God cares about our souls, and encourages us to repent instead.  And as soon as we promise not to do it anymore, we are free to try again.  God loves and trusts us so much, and wants us to succeed.  As we learn and grow, he gives us more light, little by little, as we can handle it.  He treats us individually, matching our trials to our abilities, as well as matching our revelations and blessings to our abilities.  Today, let's take advantage of that individual attention and love and do all that we can to try again.  Let's get out of the prison and work for our salvation. :)

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Daniel 6:4

"Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him."
Daniel 6:4


I wonder why we try to find fault with one another in the first place... and really, that is what we do.  It isn't like we walk into a room and all of the errors are there glaring at us... it is just as easy to notice the positive as the negative... but we look for it.  We want to find it.  I suppose there are many reasons for it... jealousy, envy, an overdeveloped "competitive edge" ... could even be self-pity: a misplaced desire to make sure that someone is as bad off as we are.  Scary.  And then, if the object of our scrutiny, like Daniel, is free of blemish?  Do we let it go, or do we drag ourselves even farther into fault and make up something bad?  It's frightening how tempting it is to put someone else down, thinking that it will lift us up.  It doesn't... and really, it can't.  Today, let's work on finding the good in other people.... *especially* the ones that we are envious of for whatever reason.  Let's make ourselves better by modeling the good rather than making ourselves *look* better by muddying others.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Doctrine and Covenants 64:34

"Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days."
Doctrine and Covenants 64:34


Sometimes I think that I do gospel things without being totally present in mind and heart.  ... almost as though I were doing them under protest. :)  Sort of a "Sure, I'll go to church... but I don't have to like it" attitude. :)
This scripture shows us that not only do we need to go... we need to learn to like it. :)  God doesn't want blind or ignorant obedience, he wants thinking and feeling people who choose to follow him because they've seen both sides and know that God's way is the better one.  He doesn't want us to bow to his will reluctantly or rebelliously... sure, if that's all we can do at first, but eventually, we have to offer him not only our obedience, but also our love, and our agreement. :) 
Walking the straight and narrow path isn't good enough in the long term... we also have to know why we are walking it, and think that it is a pretty neat idea. :)  So, today... let's work on more than just the surface signs of obedience.  We need to involve our minds and our hearts too, so we can come unto God with our whole souls, not just an empty husk of ourselves.

Friday, December 27, 2002

2 Nephi 18:12-13

"Say ye not, A confederacy, to all to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread."
2 Nephi 18:12-13


It's never made a lot of sense to me to be encouraged to be afraid of God.  To me, fear is something that is paralyzing... and the last thing that we need with God is another reason for inaction. :)  We definitely need some respect for God, and fear could come in there I suppose... the way you fear the disappointment of someone you love more than life... or the way you fear the look of pain in someone's eyes.  Maybe I just don't understand it enough.  ...Anyway, that aside, I think this scripture goes beyond saying something like we should be afraid of God.  I think that it points out the difference between what matters and what doesn't.  If God is central to our lives, then we don't have to fear anything except his will.  And sometimes his will and ours don't mesh, and it IS rather frightening to try to reconcile ourselves to that.  But the things that "everyone" fears won't be able to touch us with even a hint of fear, if we are focused on God and an eternal perspective.  Death can't hurt us.  Pain is temporary.  Injustice will be righted in the end.  Today can be enjoyed without guilt or regret.... if we only do what we should.  So, that's what I got from this today... that I shouldn't fear silly things that don't matter, or things that can't do me any permanent (read: eternal) damage.  I should just be worried about the things that God wants to happen, and worry about making sure I am ready for those things... which is a big enough job. :)

Thursday, December 26, 2002

2 Timothy 3:12

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12


I think that there is a very good reason that we pray for the Lord's will to be done... because it is really hard to get to the point where our will is the same as his.  We want our lives to go perfectly.  We don't want to get sick, to have car trouble, to lose our jobs, or to have people we care about suffer.  We don't want to be misunderstood or mistrusted... we don't want to argue with our friends or family.  But all of these things happen.  Does this mean that we are doing something wrong?  I don't think so.  Some bad things, sure, we bring on ourselves... but trials and challenges are going to come to us even if we are living really really well.  It's part of the refining process.  We become better through our reactions to these events.  Also, Satan likes to make us think that serving God makes things worse, and he'll do whatever he can to help us believe that.  Job didn't do anything wrong, but a lot of bad things happened to him.  Job endured to the end, and his life was blessed more abundantly in the end than it was in the beginning.  Serving God does always come with rewards, but sometimes those aren't immediate, or consistent to our eyes.  Maybe we have to learn some patience and faith.  God is always there for us, even when we are going through challenges.  He's helping us grow into who we need to be.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Matthew 10:42

"And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
Matthew 10:42


One of the traditions in my family on Christmas Eve is to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas out loud.  It gets pretty funny, because most of us have it memorized, and so it is all about HOW you read it. :)  Anyway, this year my brother was reading it quite despairingly, and he got to the part where Cindy-Lou Who discovers the Grinch taking their Christmas tree... she'd gotten out of bed for a cup of cold water. :)  And he got her the drink and he sent her to bed... and I thought of this scripture.  I know, maybe it is a lame analogy, but there was the Grinch, being bad... trying to steal Christmas... and he got little Cindy-Lou a drink.  :)  So there must have been something redeeming underneath there all along... even before his heart grew three sizes. :)  I think about that, and wonder if the little things that we do every day are the real things that matter.  The smile we offer to someone else, the compliment, ... the drink of cold water. :)  I know that we try to be overly dramatic in other things, maybe in this too.  We get so busy looking around for some big dramatic thing to do that God will write down in his book... but what really matters are the little things that we do for each other, day in and day out.  Today is one of those dramatic giving days... but let's remember to give of ourselves in small ways every day.  Let's get a little child a drink of cold water for starters. :)

Monday, December 9, 2002

1 Timothy 1:9-10

"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine."
1 Timothy 1:9-10


This is interesting to me.  I think that sometimes we are tempted to treat the church as a club for the righteous, and try to play the "I'm more righteous than you" game... comparing who watches TV on Sunday or who displays a Book of Mormon more prominently on the shelf.  Who has more children, or who bakes their own bread.  The fact of the matter, though, is that God's laws weren't made so that we could measure who is more righteous... they are for sinners.  And all of us, no matter how much bread we bake or how much we listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, are sinners. And we aren't sinners for silly inane things like buying bread at the store or listening to some non-Mormon performer on the radio.  We're sinners for serious things, like those listed above.  The law was made for us, so that we could repent and still achieve salvation.  Salvation is deadly serious, and God is here for us to turn to when we find that we are starving for lack of spiritual nourishment.  Today, let's take advantage of the law, which is here to help us to return to God.  Let's repent, and commit ourselves to righteousness.

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Matthew 5:14

"Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."
Matthew 5:14


This is a scripture that I have heard a lot, but today it speaks to me of responsibility.  If I am the light of the world (as is apparent in the scripture), then I need to get out there and do my job, rather than trying to not stand out in the crowd. :)  The world needs a lot of help... I think that we can all attest to that.  So, since we are the light, let's go out there and eradicate some darkness today. :)  Let's make things brighter.

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

1 Nephi 15:7-8

"And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive-tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.
And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?"
1 Nephi 15:7-8


This is interesting to me today because I think I have problems when I run up against things that I don't understand.  I get frustrated and impatient instead of asking the Lord for help.  Even my nephew is smarter than that.  He is only two, but when he can't do something, he knows enough to go to someone and say "need help."  I'm not sure why it is hard for me to ask the Lord for help when I need it, but sometimes it is.  Hard to admit failure or something, perhaps. :)  Silly pride.  Anyway, today let's inquire of the Lord.  He has the answers to the questions that we most need to ask.

Monday, December 2, 2002

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to
the pulling down of strongholds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:3-5


This is an interesting analogy, relating our struggles to warfare... doing battle with our imaginations and thoughts. :)  Sometimes it feels like war, so I thought it was kind of cool.  I like the part about our weapons being mighty through God... that they can take down strongholds.  I think that sometimes we surrender part of ourselves to God, but there are little parts that we reinforce against him.  We want to give ourselves to God, just as long as we can keep this thing or that thing... a few imaginations, several thoughts, a little tiny addiction... :)  But God gives us the weapons to pull down the last of our strongholds so that we can find our way to Christ, and be wholly his.  It's very hard to do, and it is kind of like a war... just with ourselves.  Trying to balance and satisfy all of our needs with things that are acceptable to God.  Letting go of selfishness and greed and trying to see beyond our limited mortal perspective.  Not just believing, but doing... not just doing, but believing... struggling to make ourselves whole and clean.  With God's help, let's win today's battle.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Abraham 4:18

"And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed."
Abraham 4:18


This strikes me as sort of funny, actually.  I get this mental picture of this stern group of Gods with their arms crossed, tapping their feet, waiting for the expected obedience. :)  Of course, I'm sure it wasn't like that... it was probably more like a gardener, who organizes and plants, and then watches and waits for the growth of his plants.  One thing about the book of Abraham that makes so much sense to me is that it refers to Gods as a plural.  ... I think it would be so much more fun to make a world with other people involved than to try to do it all myself. :)  And, it certainly makes it easier to watch it all... I mean, I know that God can see everything, but you know... just so that they can all participate together. :)  More like a community than an individual effort.  God makes the plan, and then the whole community gets into the effort of making it happen... something like that.  Fascinating. :)  Anyway, today... when we feel God's eyes on us, let's make sure we obey. ;)

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Isaiah 30:9-10

"That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits."
Isaiah 30:9-10


Sometimes, no matter how much we say "thy will be done," we don't really like God's will in our lives.  We want our lives to go smoothly, without a lot of complications and problems.  We want our plans to work out and when our lives twist in a different direction, even for a short amount of time, then we question God's wisdom. :)  Even though we don't like to relate to this scripture, I think all of us are like this at times.  We don't want revelation that messes up our lives.  We want God's will, but only if it doesn't interfere too much with what we're doing right now.  We don't want the Prophet to come out with something that will make us change our lifestyles.  From the simplest things to the most complex, God is in control.  Even when things are devastating to us personally, we have to remember that God is in charge, and that He knows what He is doing. :)  Things will still work out for the best... whatever the best is, according to God.  And, since God's best is probably at least twenty million times better than my best, it's probably something to look forward to. :)

Monday, November 25, 2002

Jeremiah 29:11-13

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13


This scripture is about the gathering of the Jews after they have been scattered... but Nephi says we should liken all scriptures unto ourselves, and this one seems pretty appropriate to me today.  I think that we've all been scattered in some ways... whether the Lord did it to give us time to think, or whether we've taken ourselves apart and can't quite get all the pieces back together yet. :)  God loves us, and isn't out to get us.  He wants to give us the happy, unexpected ending... not the one that we've seen for ourselves when we are at our worst.  God will listen to us, and we will be able to find him... but we have to give it everything we have.  We can't search for him, expecting nothing, or search for him half-heartedly while planning our lives around something else.  When we come to God, we have to give him our full attention and our full effort.  When we get our full, undivided heart into it, then we'll be able to find God.  What kinds of things divide our hearts?  When we try to be different people on different days... or change who we are for our audience.  We can't be Christians at home and not at work.  It doesn't work to be good only for people you want to make a good impression on.  When we divide up our lives like that, we are guaranteeing that none of the parts receives our whole heart.  When we can be the same person at home and at school... when we can talk to people openly without hiding the spiritual part of ourselves... then our whole heart will be God's.  Today, let's think of what parts of our hearts we are holding back from God, and try to reunite those parts with the whole... it's very tempting to justify our division instead, but let's not.  Instead, let's work on finding God.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

2 Corinthians 3:2

"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men."
2 Corinthians 3:2


This is interesting to me this evening because I got a great email from a good friend of mine in Arizona today, telling me how one of my scripture of the day messages helped her see something a different way.  I think one of the things that this scripture is saying is that what we do and the way that we treat other people is what matters, and what will precede us in life.  Letters of recommendation and glowing resumes won't matter in the face of a bad word from someone you used to work with... like that.  And I know that I have set a bad example numerous times in my life... and sometimes I worry that I have done more harm than good.  So, I suppose that today's email helped me to remember the other side, and hopefully I will keep trying to sway the balance towards the positive.  We do make a difference in each other's lives, and the more we can bring about good in others' lives, the better off we'll be. :)  Let's be a force for good today, and send out good letters. :)

Friday, November 22, 2002

Psalms 4:5

"Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord."
Psalms 4:5


This is interesting... I think that a lot of the times we think that if we are being righteous, that we shouldn't have to sacrifice anything... that being good should make life easy.  Not so, however.  This almost makes it sound like being righteous IS a sacrifice... which it could be depending on your perspective because there are a lot of things that we have to sacrifice in order to be righteous.  But even beyond that, I think that we all have tests in life where we have to sacrifice things that aren't bad.  We have to learn to deal with loss, and learn to put God's will before our own, and those lessons come no matter how righteous we're being. :)  The key is the second part of the verse... put our trust in the Lord.  He always has a reason, and even if we can't figure it out, he is wiser than we are. :)

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Jeremiah 17:14

"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise."
Jeremiah 17:14


This is cool because it just lays out the difference between God and any other object of worship. :)  God actually CAN save us and heal us.  We could go to the hospital to be healed, and it might not work.  When in danger anyone could try to save us, and that might not work either.  But when God does it, we are always healed, and always saved.  Plus, he can heal us and save us more than physically.  There are no idols that can do that... no heroes that can do that... nothing else comes close.  Pretty cool, I'd say. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Proverbs 3:27

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it."
Proverbs 3:27


This was interesting to me today... not to disclose all of my weaknesses, but sometimes I have a hard time praising a student's writing when they have behavior problems in class... things like that.  And it's one of the worst things that I could do if I were to withhold that praise, because no matter whether they cause me headaches or not, the point is, they are writing, and I should be encouraging that, and complimenting them on a job well done.  Sometimes I think that we are mad at someone or disappointed or jealous or whatever, and it keeps us from being nice... from being good to people, and offering deserved compliments or help.  So, something to think about and work on today. :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Psalms 69:1

"Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul."
Psalms 69:1


This is interesting imagery, and seriously I think that every one of us has felt like this at some point.  Thankfully God is there to throw us a spiritual lifesaver when our souls are in peril.  Sometimes when we're out there trying to discover new lands, we lose our boat or try to swim too far, too quickly.  When that happens, as quickly as possible, call upon God... he's always there to save us, and help us get back on the path to the promised land. :)

Monday, November 18, 2002

1 Nephi 2:2-4

"And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness.  And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness."
1 Nephi 2:2-4


I wonder if any of us are this brave and faithful.  To leave everything that you own, everything that it familiar to you... to give up your home and your friends, to risk the wrath and doubting of your own family... and to travel into the unfamiliar... that seems difficult to me, to say the least.  But Lehi didn't flinch.  He gathered the things that he needed, and left everything else behind.  I don't even think that the Lord had told him where he was going yet... just told him to leave.  That's amazing.  And what it makes me think of today is the path that we take to repentance.  Usually those tough, habitual sins are familiar to us.  They are the known, and they seem valuable and friendly when compared to the unknown.    And we don't know up front where we're headed, only that we have to get out of where we are.  It's difficult... and it takes bravery and faithfulness to commit to a change that is new and uncomfortable.  We go out into the wilderness or sail out on the ocean, and we're tempted to complain, as some of Lehi's family did, that it's insane to wander out here with no knowledge of our destination... that it's crazy to give up comfort and familiarity for the rough and unknown.
However... just as Lehi eventually made it to the promised land, so we will make it to our final destination.  We have the same guide and the same hope, and the same promise.  If we are obedient to God, and we leave the familiar at his bidding, the journey may be rough, but we will discover a new land.  Something glorious and beautiful... and something that we will never know if we rest in the familiar.  Today, let's take those first few steps into the wilderness, trusting God to show us the way.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

John 14:12

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
John 14:12


It's cool to think that we will be able to do the things that Christ did during his earthly ministry.  There were a lot of amazing things that he did... the loaves and fishes, the walking on water... the casting out devils, the healing people... and even things like telling parables and teaching people.  Amazing things, and a good example to follow.  Today, let's try doing some of the works of Christ.  We might not be able to do the walking on water thing yet, but we can handle little things like treating people kindly and loving the poor just as much as the rich. :)  And, you never know.  The more we work on it, the closer we'll be to being like him in every way. :)

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Alma 12:14

"For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us and hide us from his presence."
Alma 12:14


This isn't meant to depress you all this morning. :)  I picked it because it mentions three things that will condemn us... if we haven't gotten those three things into line.  Our words, our works, and our thoughts.  Those are areas where we could probably all use some work.  Today, let's try to practice in one of the areas.  For instance, our words.  No cussing or disparaging anyone.  We might be better at one of the three than the others, and if so... that is a good place to start.  Eventually, of course, we'll have to master all three... but they are so tied in together, that as we work on one, it is bound to have an effect on the others.  The less we let bad thoughts fly out of our mouths, the less we'll put them into action, and the less we will have them.  The less we commit bad actions, the less we'll have to remember, and the less we'll have to talk about.  The less bad thoughts we think, the less we'll be tempted to talk about or act on them.  As long as we are working on ourselves, we can start anywhere.  ... we just can't think that one makes up for all the others. :)  So, let's go to work... because it is obviously much better than being so depressed we want a mountain to fall on us. :)

Friday, November 15, 2002

Doctrine and Covenants 119:6

"And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgements may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you."
Doctrine and Covenants 119:6





This is interesting because that last part makes it dependent upon the people... which really makes a lot of sense.  Just like the city of Enoch became what it was when the people were perfected, Zion doesn't have any holiness just because of the tract of land that it is on... "it shall not be a land of Zion unto you" ... but it could be a land of Zion unto anyone willing to do the things necessary to make it so.  I like that emphasis on who rather than where... I think sometimes I daydream of the perfect place... maybe someplace to escape for an afternoon, or wonder what heaven will be like... but the fact is, that if I am the perfect person, then it doesn't matter where I am.  We, as a community, build Zion not by learning brickmasonry or carpentry, but by perfecting ourselves, little by little, until wherever we are is Zion... merely because we are there.  It takes effort... but not effort that is strange to us.  We've been working on ourselves for a long time. :)  And, for those particularly difficult habits, we have God and at least a few other people to help and support us.  So, let's go build Zion. :)

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Doctrine and Covenants 20:33

"Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation."
Doctrine and Covenants 20:33





You know, I like this because it is a preventative rather than a cure. :)  We don't have to stress over how to crawl out of the hole if we never dig it for ourselves in the first place. :)  If we remember to keep talking to God, and maintain that relationship... then everything will be a lot easier, because God will be there with us everywhere we go, and we can ask him before we do anything really dumb. :)  Today, let's try to prevent some of the problems. :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Mark 14:65

"And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands."
Mark 14:65


The things in this verse are happening to Christ... and although it is horrible that this happened, I think that we do this sort of thing a lot.  We condemn others out of jealousy or envy.  We don't want other people to have more power, authority... beauty, wisdom whatever it is... than we do.  And when someone clearly excels, we sometimes feel like we want them to fail, and come back down in the dust like the rest of us.  ... why is that, I wonder?  We all have talents, and we don't all succeed at the same things, but we seem to have these power struggles all the time... even with God.  ... and although I don't think (hopefully) that we go to this extreme in battling God, we do have a hard time with humility and submissiveness, with God and with our fellow mortals. :)  Something to think about today... let's try to lose ourselves a little today.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Psalms 82:6

"I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."
Psalms 82:6


The fact that we are God's children is something that I think I take for granted a lot.  We sing the song in primary, "I am a child of God" and mention it every once in a while, but sometimes it strikes me that being the child of God is a big deal.  It means, for one, that we have the capacity to grow up and be like him.  It means that we're meant for a lot more than this earth, this moment in time... all of those things that God can do, someday we can learn to do as well... walk on water, descend in a pillar of light... all of it. :)  Cooler things that that of course, those are just what popped into my head. :)  Today, let's take a second to think about what it really means to be God's child.  We're not "only human." :)

Sunday, November 10, 2002

1 Thessalonians 5:16

"Rejoice evermore."
1 Thessalonians 5:16


Sincerely, doesn't this just sum it up?  God wants us to be happy... and gives us every reason to do so.  So, hey... let's get rid of all the shadows, and get to some serious rejoicing. :)

Saturday, November 9, 2002

Romans 5:7-8

"For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:7-8


This is a cool thing to think about this morning... that Christ died for the possibility of our deliverance.  He saw, and sees, the goodness in us even when we have rolled in the mud of sin, and when we can't even see the good in ourselves.  He didn't die for us after he had picked us up and washed us off and found us worthy... he died despite our unworthiness, on the off chance that we would take advantage of his gift and choose eternal life.  He loved us enough to die for the possibility, not the guarantee.  So, now that we have this priceless gift, let's wash off the mud, and choose eternal life.

Friday, November 8, 2002

Luke 17:23-25

"And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, not follow them.
For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."
Luke 17:23-25


This scripture is a couple of things... first a warning.  :)  We shouldn't be following anyone who says, oh, Christ came, and he is here or this other place... because at his second coming it won't be like that at all.  It will be like lightning, and everyone, everywhere, will know it.  The way I resolve this with the "thief in the night" scripture is that we probably won't be able to predict it, but we'll definitely know that it happened. :)  The other thing is that Christ had to suffer a lot of things and a lot of rejection before he achieved his glory, and so do we.  Christ's suffering had a purpose, and so does ours.  We have a lot to learn, and unlike Christ, a lot to unlearn in our lives.  Sometimes it won't be very fun learning some of the more difficult lessons, and unlearning some of the more ingrained habits... but it IS worth it, because just like Christ, after the hard parts (suffering, rejection) come the good parts (acceptance, joy...) and fortunately for us, it isn't all bad and then all good... we just get the bad sprinkled around so that we don't have to deal with it all at once.  So, let’s work on learning (and unlearning), so we can get past the bad parts as soon as possible. :)

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Moses 1:4

"And behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease."
Moses 1:4


The whole concept of eternity is hard to grasp (at least for me)... and so everything like this I think is amazing.  That God's work could go on without end.  I think here on earth we grow up with almost a sense of helplessness, knowing that nothing ever lasts... that you can build and build, but there will come a time when you can build no more, and so achievements and dreams are limited to the span of a lifetime.  ... with God, and with ourselves too although it is harder to see, there are no boundaries to dreams and achievements.  God showed Moses only a portion of his work, not because he was hiding anything, but just because it had yet to happen.  We can't see a snapshot of God's creations, because they continue and are infinite.  Words too... which is weird and cool at the same time.  Weird because I get this mental picture of this dictionary that just keeps growing and growing until it is the size of a planet... the language expanding.  But perhaps we shouldn't go that far, and just see that God's communication with his children never ends.  If we ever think that we have enough revelation or knowledge, we're crazy, because as long as God keeps talking there is more to be had... and as it says, they never cease. :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Acts 5:40-41

"And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
Acts 5:40-41


Yesterday we were speaking of joy, and here is some more mind-boggling joy... the apostles got thrown into jail, let out by an angel and told to go to the temple and preach... which they did.  Then the people who threw them into jail go and get them from the temple after they miss them in jail, think about killing them, decide not to, and beat them instead.  Now these men come out from being beaten and are *happy* about it... that they are worthy to suffer in Christ's name. :)  They have so much purpose and joy going on that they can't be distracted from it by little things like jail and beatings... they live for the joy, and want to give that same joy to other people.  Any kind of suffering pales before the depth of that inner confidence and happiness that they have... because of Christ, and because of the Holy Ghost, which they carry with them everywhere.   If we want to be protected from sadness and depression, we can find our happiness in the same places.  We're not perfect, and there will be little bubbles of despair that get to us sometimes... but we, because we know absolutely that God is there, and because we are working on keeping the Holy Ghost as our constant companion... we can look at those moments of despair and know that we are so close to goodness and light that Satan must be panicking, trying to get us off-track.  If we wait it out, and make no mistakes that will prolong those black moments, we soon surface again and can see more clearly the oceans of joy that are there for the swimming. :)  And someday there will be no black moments, because we'll be eating and breathing joy every moment, and they won't have any room to come into our lives. :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Doctrine and Covenants 93:33-34

"For man is spirit.  The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy."
Doctrine and Covenants 93:33-34


Thinking about joy this evening... always a good topic. :)  And I like this scripture, talking about how we need each part of ourselves in order to have complete joy.  We can't hate parts of ourselves... can't let our spirit self and our element self be at war, because they need each other for perfect joy... and wow, what is a cooler idea than perfect joy?  Sometimes I am so happy I can't stop grinning, or there are just times when I want to go up and hug every person I see... I don't, of course, because someone would probably commit me... but it FEELS like that, you know?  And that is imperfect joy... :)  I can't even imagine... perfect joy must be utterly amazing.  ... and on that note, then isn't all of this earth-stuff totally worth it?  If we could be only partly happy without our bodies, and if it is ourselves in unity that is going to make it so we can't stop grinning for eternity... then it's all worth it.  All the learning to deal with a body... talking, walking, learning some control and fine tuning the language... even the overcoming bad habits part.  Because it is part of learning to be happier than we were... I don't know, I think that I have heard all this happiness stuff before, but tonight it is hitting me.  Why did we come to earth?  Because we wanted to be happier... and that is why we are still here, why we live every day, why we get up in the morning and why we breathe in and out every minute.  So we can find, learn, and drink in happiness.  Seems like an excellent motivation to me, and a great eternal goal for God to help us achieve. :)  (Nice of me to agree with God like that, eh?) ... anyway, so, even if you have heard it before as well... go for the happiness factor today.  Stick with God, he is leading you straight to happiness perfection. :)

Monday, November 4, 2002

John 14:16-17

"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
John 14:16-17


I like the idea of having the spirit of truth in us.  That we can recognize it wherever it is during our daily walk.  I think one thing that gets to me is when things don't seem to make sense.  You can't tell if someone is sincere, or whether they are just blowing smoke... when things don't seem to fit together, but you aren't sure why.  You know something is wrong, but you don't know why, or how to fix it.  I think that the spirit of truth, if we can keep it with us, will help us with those things.  It will help us find the answers we lack, and the truth about life and love and ... everything. :)  And, as for comfort... I think we could all use some. :)  Knowing the truth is comforting in itself, I think.  It gives you some confidence... something to trust in, even when the rest of the world is a cyclone of uncertainty.

Sunday, November 3, 2002

Matthew 20:9-12

"And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day."
Matthew 20:9-12


This is an interesting scripture, I think because we can relate to it from both sides.  We can understand the resentment of the people who worked for the entire day and who got paid exactly the same as the people who had only worked an hour.  It seems unfair somehow, even though they got the salary they had agreed on.  And we can relate to the people who only worked for an hour.  they didn't agree to any salary, they just went to work knowing that the man who hired them would be fair... but they still need to live, just the same as the people who were hired earlier. ... this is part of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard and to me, it seems to show how much we don't want to be equal. :)  We get upset if Joe gets hired at the company after we've already worked there 10 years, and he gets promoted before us.  We've got a lot of selfishness going on, and we find it difficult to be happy for others.  ... The thing that I wonder though, is whether *any* of us are the ones who worked in the field all day.  ... I'm inclined to think of myself in the other category, of those who have worked only part of the day.  If salvation is the penny here, do I really deserve salvation compared to say, Enoch? King Benjamin? The Three Nephites? ... any prophet at all?  ... I could dive into more detail, but it just gets more depressing.  From my perspective, if I get that penny for my work during my short time on earth, I'll be lucky. ... and perhaps one of the things that makes those prophets the incredible men that they are is that they go in knowing that they are going to be working the whole day in order to help some of us who sign on at the last minute... and they are happy for us, and want us to have what they have.  God hasn't set up a system like we have in the world, which is hierarchical and sets one person above another for whatever random reasons work at the moment.  We don't achieve heaven by being stronger or faster than the next person.  We don't even achieve heaven by being more spiritual than the next person, actually.  We are all worthy of heaven because we are children of God, and our divinity is inborn... none of us are more or less divine.  The question has never been how hard we will work or how long we will work... the question is only, will we work?  And whenever we decide to do that, whether it is the beginning or the ending of the day... no matter how long "enduring to the end" is for each of us personally... we achieve our reward not by beating out someone else, but just by being there, doing what we should do.  God doesn't grade on a curve, and our salvation isn't cheapened by the number of people who are saved.  It isn't about who can get more spirituality, knowledge, tithing receipts... children... whatever.  God isn't grading us on some point scale where we lose points for everything we do bad, and gain points for stuff we do good.  The thing that matters is who we are.  How have our earthly experiences shaped us... what have we chosen?  In the end, we're not going to be looking at some scorecard, we're only going to be looking at ourselves.  What have we done with what we were given, and who have we become?  Have we become better?  Have we helped each other?  Have we managed to get to work in the vineyard?  If so, we'll gain our salvation.  And that is all that matters... not who else got what, or what time we started. :)

Saturday, November 2, 2002

Alma 19:8-10

"And he said unto the queen: He is not dead, but he sleepeth in God, and on the morrow he shall rise again; therefore bury him not.
And Ammon said unto her: Believest thou this? And she said unto him: I have had no witness save thy word, and the word of our servants; nevertheless I believe that it shall be according as thou hast said.
And Ammon said unto her: Blessed art thou because of thy exceeding faith; I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites."
Alma 19:8-10


You know, this woman's desire to believe is what strikes me this morning... and I think about the scripture in Alma 32 that compares the word to a seed... "even if you can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you..." and this woman had desire.  I don't even know her name, but this is one of my favorite figures in the scriptures.  She allowed herself to believe, despite all the apparent evidence to the contrary.  Instead of giving in to cynicism and doubt, she allowed herself to be vulnerable, and she took that step into the unknown, and trusted God, who she had never known before.  In our lives I think we all come up against moments like this, where we want to believe really strongly.  ... and usually we push the thought away, worried about appearing to be overly religious, or worried that we'll be disappointed and thought a fool for believing in the first place... there are so many many things that get in the way of giving in to that pure desire to believe.  ... but, just as with love, it takes a little vulnerability to learn faith.  We'll never see the miracles unless we can suspend our disbelief a little, take the step... trust, as a little child, that God will come through.  The cynicism and doubt are normal... expected.  We're human.  We throw up protective barriers every time we are exposed to even the slight possibility of pain or disappointment.  But to truly become better than we are... to truly taste those things that are beyond our current knowledge... we have to let go of some of that protection.  We have to risk ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings, our hearts... risk everything on the desire to believe.  The possibility of miracles. :)  And when we do, that's when we find out that it is all real... that the door to the universe stands open, and when we believe we can become anything, do anything... including reaching heaven.  including erasing the most anchored addictions.  including salvaging the most broken relationship... anything worth doing, we can do.  I'm looking forward to the walking on water class myself. :)

Friday, November 1, 2002

2 Peter 3:15

"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you."
2 Peter 3:15


I really don't know where Paul offers this same message... but the message itself is an excellent one.  The longsuffering of God is salvation. :)  ... because of his longsuffering and patience, we have the opportunity to pick up the pieces and try again... as many times as it takes.  For us, there is always another chance as long as we are willing to continue to try.... and with all of those chances, as long as our desire and effort hold out, we're practically guaranteed success. :)  We have these chances at life and success because of God.  His educational philosophy has never been to try to weed people out of the program.  He wants us to succeed, not by offering an easy A, but by giving us practically unlimited chances to learn the material, even if we didn't do our homework the first time.  He offers study sessions weekly, and is always available for teacher conferences, even at the last second.  He loves us.  Let's put some more effort into our salvation.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

2 Nephi 29:11

"For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I shall speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written."
2 Nephi 29:11


You know I used to think about this scripture and figure that I'd better be careful what I wrote. :)  ... Today though, I think I see a more interesting, if not better, meaning. :)  This verse seems to tell me that the Lord is nothing if not absolutely up front with us.  He isn't going to judge us by looking at us and saying... "hmm, well... you have good attendance, so I'll let you slide with an A- rather than a B."  He's actually going to judge us by specific standards that he has already laid out clearly in the book that is readily available to each of us.  He's going to compare our actions to the actions that he talks about in the book.  And perhaps each person will be compared against the book(s) that he or she knows about from his or her own nation...  Good deal... and very fair. :)  The thing is, we might want to start reading the book(s) a *little* more often...

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

2 Corinthians 4:3

"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost."
2 Corinthians 4:3


This is really interesting... it's like we're tourists going to a new country... and we're supposed to find this city (Zion?) on the map, where our friends live or where we're meeting the tour group or whatever, and we search and search for it for a couple of minutes, and then we give up and say, "whoops... must not exist" and go somewhere else instead.  We have the weirdest tendency to think if we can't find the gospel, or God, after looking sporadically and incompletely, and while our attention is elsewhere... then it and he must not be there.  We get lost in other things, in addictions or distractions of whatever kind, and we can't see the path, let alone the end goal.  The thing is, though... God is never lost.  The gospel isn't something that God has ever tried to hide.  It is only hidden to us when we choose to close our eyes to the beauty and the wonder of the world around us.  When we're driving blindfolded... not looking at the highway signs or the billboards, or anything.  If we're sincere about looking, God is always there, right at the other end of a prayer, ready to answer our questions or help us get through the next stage of our lives.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Isaiah 44:18-20

"They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
Isaiah 44:18-20


This is talking about idolatry, and how we make gods of a piece of tree and think that they have power. :)  ... I think that, although it might be hard to relate to this particular example, that we still practice idolatry.  We worship people... loved ones, or even just a boss, a politician, or a sports figure.  ... They become the center of our attention, and everything we do is with them in mind.  ... adoration, loyalty... all of these, but too often we put someone else before God.  We can't go to church because of someone else... we can't read our scriptures because we are too occupied with the other.  Maybe it isn't a person.  Maybe it really is more like a tree... a car, a house, a place ... and all of these are cool things.  I have favorites of my own.  But the problem comes when we are consumed with that person or that thing above all else.  When there is no room for other things in our lives.  When we choose whatever it is over God.  And God *is* there.  And he is the only one who can save us from ourselves. :)  Who can forgive us, give us another chance... who can cleanse us and save our souls.  Today, let's take some time off from our personal obsessions and read our scriptures, pray to God... make sure we are putting the REAL God first in our lives... we don't lose anything by loving God.  Let's not lose God by loving something else.

Monday, October 28, 2002

2 Kings 1:12-13

"And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down out of heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty.  And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty.  And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight."
2 Kings 1:12-13


This is interesting... not just as an illustration of the power of God through his prophets, but as an illustration of humility.  The king in this story somewhat reminds me of Pharaoh.  He saw what God could do, and went on anyway, trying to get his way.  When the first captain of fifty and the fifty men under him were sent to get the prophet, and summarily consumed by fire from heaven... he didn't get it.  What?  Fluke firestorm?  Some weird group spontaneous combustion?  And so he sent another fifty.  You'd think all of the "accidental death" answers would be nullified when the same thing happened to them... but no, the king decided to send yet another fifty.  This could have gone on for a long time, but at least the captain of this fifty got it.  Instead of coming to the prophet and telling him to do what the king said... he realized that he had been sent on a suicide mission, and begged the prophet for his life and the lives of his fifty men.  ... and they were spared.  It still didn't change the prophecy of the king's death or alter God's will concerning that kingdom... but it saved that captain and the men he was responsible for.  In our lives, probably the dangers aren't quite as dramatic as the firestorms from heaven... but they might be, I suppose.  In any case, the signs are clear.  If we have gotten badly burned a couple of times by walking in one direction... if we get flattened every time we jump off the cliff... we might want to stop jumping off.  We could try a new approach to the problem.  Find a new direction... a new attitude.   Recognizing that God is running the show, and that we aren't going to get our way by bull-headed force is always a good first step. :)
... and, you know, if we find ourselves in the middle of the fire zone... we might want to beg God for our lives, and the lives of those we are responsible for.   Seems to work pretty well. :)

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Luke 8:11-15

"Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
Luke 8:11-15


This is an explanation of the parable of the sower.  The text of the parable is in verses 5-8 if you want to look it up.  These are all things that can happen to us as we listen to God.  Sometimes we love Satan more than God, and we let him take the truth away from us... it's often easier to live without God when you pretend that he isn't there in the first place.  Sometimes we believe fervently, but don't let it penetrate into the deepest part of our souls.  So when deep questions come up or something comes up that we'd rather do than read or study, or go to church... then we're out of there.  It doesn't matter to us beyond that first thrill of truth.  Sometimes we do believe deeply, but we let other things block out that commitment.  Worry about work, school, health... riches... or pleasures of this life... these things build up in our minds and hearts until they obscure the truth, until those worries, riches, or pleasures are more important to us than the truth is, and even though both fight for our attention, God never wins, so we end up accomplishing nothing except those things that are at the forefront of our minds.  And the last verse... sometimes we hear the word, and plant it deeply in ourselves, and live it, and change our lives and others' lives because of it.
I don't think that this parable is about categories.  We can't point to one person and say... well, he is one of those "way side" types, and this other person... she is one of the "thorn" types... and me, I think I'm kind of a "rock" type.  We can see ourselves in one category or another perhaps... but that isn't who we are.  We go through all of these pitfalls in our lives... Satan tries to get us any way he can.  Perhaps when we are young in the gospel he finds it easy to remove the truth from our hearts.  later, we're too excited about it for that to work, but if he can throw in a good temptation, then he has us.  Even later, when we know that the truth is undeniable and we've learned how much it is a part of who we are, he can still come in and block out the truth with other things that we also care about deeply.  And then, when we've finally realized that the cares of this life are nothing compared to eternity... and that the riches and pleasures of this life are fleeting at best... then perhaps we have learned to have an honest and good heart, and we become the people who keep the word and who have learned some patience. :)  No matter where we are now, we can still learn a new way of dealing with God's word... and we can change ourselves and, in the process, the world around us.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Luke 8:18

"Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."
Luke 8:18


This is amazingly interesting.  Take heed how ye hear... :)  Wow.  To me, this whole thing seems to be warning us of the difference between reality and our dream lives. :)  We invent these lives where rationalization is okay, where being a little bit bad is fine... and on that shaky foundation we continue to build.  At the end of the verse it says "that which he seemeth to have" and isn't that what we end up at when we try to live in a false dream?  We end up with all these great things that don't exist.  Imaginary accomplishments, imaginary friends... imaginary purpose for our lives.  It's the reality that God cares about... and if we get even a little of the "real" in our lives, then it will be added to and reinforced in our lives... like the story of the olive trees.  Where God goes around and strengthens and helps the natural branches and plucks off the wild ones.  If we can find that spirit and power within us, then we're in touch with what is real and we won't be pruned away.  ... We just have to take heed how we listen.  So that we're listening to God and not our own desires.  So that we're following God's instructions and not Satan's deceptions.  Today, let's find some reality to hold on to, and to build upon.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Ezekiel 33:14-16

"Again. when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live."
Ezekiel 33:14-16


Sometimes in this life there are things that it seems like you just can't get over... you screw up somewhere along the line and -BAM- you suffer for it for life.  Say the wrong thing to a loved one... get a bad GPA in college... I have a student in one of my classes who went through 5 surgeries, 2 comas, and suffered brain damage because he chose not to wear his bike helmet one day.  Because life can be so unforgiving at times, it is easy to picture God as one of those severe high school teachers... mess up once, and you've had it.  Hellfire and brimstone is the best you can look forward to. :)  ... Fortunately, this is not the case.  God does care about our futures, and he has laws and guidelines that we have to adhere to... but as this scripture says, we have more than one chance.  We can turn from our death sentence and follow the path of life instead.  The part I like the most is "none of his sins . . . shall be mentioned unto him."  Isn't that amazing?  No guilt-trips in heaven.  If you change, you are accepted as you are, and no one reminds you of who you once were.  With God, when we are forgiven, then everyone lets go of the past sin. :)  ... even us. :)

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Acts 1:1-3

"The former treatise I have made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."
Acts 1:1-3


It seems amazing to me that Christ walked and talked with these men for forty days after he had died and was risen.  What an amazing proof of resurrection, and of divinity.  We're fascinated by the thought of eternity and living forever... and here is Christ, who lived it, and made it possible for each of us.  Death isn't the end, and never has been... and it seems remarkable to be able to pass those boundaries and to be able to communicate between them.  I wish we could have the perspective that death is not the end all the time... we make a lot of mistakes when we think that life is short, and that relationships are temporary.  I wonder what kinds of things we would change if we knew that everything we do affects that eternity... oh, wait... we DO know that. :)  So, what changes do we need to make today, that will help us in the eternities? :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

John 15:9-12

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you."
John 15:9-12


We often hear the last verse of this group quoted in lessons or talks, and I even wrote a scripture of the day about that verse only the first year that I did the scripture of the day.  Today, though, it seems impossible to pull it out of context.  Christ asks us to continue in his love, and then he tells us how... keep his commandments.  And then he tells us that the reason he is asking us to do these things is so that we can retain his joy, and be full of joy... and then he tells us that his commandment is to love each other... the way that he loves us.  All of the scriptures together seem to paint a different picture than taking any of the verses alone.  Together, they seem to say that the whole point of obedience and commandments is so that we can be filled with love and joy.  I like that image. :)  And the commandment that will lead to these things is to love each other, not the way we usually love each other, which is sporadic, inconsistent, and incredibly biased... but the way *he* loves us, which is always, consistent, and all-encompassing.  Today, let's try to continue in God's love by loving each other. :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Psalms 40:1-3

"I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my foot upon a rock, and established my goings.
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."
Psalms 40:1-3


There are many things that I like about this scripture.  One of them is the reference to patience.  Not that I am any good at patience, but I like the mention of it because it reminds me that God isn't some spiritual ATM where we go and punch in the right numbers and the spirit wafts out.  God is real, and we have to have a personal relationship with him, talk to him, work with him... always remembering that he has perfect timing and we do not.    And sometimes that means waiting ... patiently... for the Lord. The other part of this set of verses that I like is the "new song" part.  I like that we learn to appreciate the Lord, and it also reminds me...  one of my friends and I always used to talk about the background music that was playing in our lives... like there was a movie soundtrack going.  And sometimes I think we get stuck with some "highly anxious moment" music going for months on end... or the "imminent danger" music.  We get our stories stuck where the hero is almost dead and sing that to ourselves all day long, and never progress to the point of the surprising rescue and eventual triumph.  So, God comes along and he changes the background music, so we know that this is the part where the surprising rescue comes, and then we can move on to the triumph and the happily ever after part.  And, since we have a new song to sing... it also helps to remind the people around us to transition their stories as well.  None of us, because of God, have to live with the soundtrack of a horror film.  we're free to move on to romantic comedy, or whatever we choose. :)

Monday, October 21, 2002

Luke 6:36-38

"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured unto you again."
Luke 6:36-38


This is such an amazing group of verses. the part that really gets to me is the culmination of the three... when it says that if we give, we'll get back... but not just get back, it will be packed in so tightly that there won't be room for any more, and still it will come. We'll get so much that we're wallowing in the blessings. :) That actually sounds like a delightful prospect. Like being so happy you don't know if you can survive another minute. :) ... to me, I think that heaven will be like that. there will be so much positive that it will occupy all of our senses. :) ... and maybe that is exactly what this scripture is saying. If we do good to other people, if we are merciful and forgiving, then that comes back to us, and round and round until there is no room for condemnation or pettiness, and we all love each other and treat each other well... and more and more until we're ready to live in heaven ourselves. Because we're already like that. Giving... loving... accepting... all the things that we want from other people. And all we have to do is give those things and we'll get them back. Direct promise from God, written down right here in the scriptures. Can't doubt that. :) And, you know... it is a pretty remarkable deal that God is offering us. All we have to do is benefit the world, and we will receive benefit ourselves. It's not just a win-win situation, it is like twenty-five wins all lined up, and then the last one just tags the first one and they start all over again. :)

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Job 13:15

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him."
Job 13:15


I think that often we try to make our relationships with God dependent on something... like "if you give me this, God, then I'll do whatever you say." or we expect God to give us only blessings and not trials... and when we get trials, then we start to doubt.  How could God, who is good and perfect, want to make us sad and unhappy?  ... Things like that.  What we don't understand... and what Job apparently *did* understand... is that no matter what God does, he is still God. :)  He still loves us and cares about us, and wants the best for us, and works toward our happiness.  He does things that we don't understand sometimes, but the failure there is ours, not his.  We can't comprehend why, but if we truly know God, we still know... even if he decides that today is the day to die... that he is doing what is best for us.  "How could *this* possibly be the best thing for us" we wonder... and often it takes the perspective of many years to be able to look back and understand.  Sometimes we don't understand even then... but God isn't bound by time, and he definitely has a larger perspective than we possibly can here on earth.  He sees the good that he is doing, and that is why Job said "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."  Hopefully we will learn the courage and the faith to be able to do the same.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Acts 7:3-5

"And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Charan: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child."
Acts 7:3-5


This scripture is about Abraham, and the things that God told him.  ... I was reading this and thinking about what amazing faith Abraham must have had to believe some of the things that God told him... they must have seemed, in the context of his life, preposterous.  God promised him land that belonged to other people... he promised him an abundant posterity when he had no family.  And as I was thinking about Abraham, it occurred to me that we're in the same situation.  God promises us so many things that we can't see, and can't even understand how they could work out or become possible.  He asks us to leave the known and venture into the unknown, and we have to trust him when he tells us that it will be better there, since we've never been there and have no idea what it will be like.
... and, like Abraham, we will get everything we're promised.  God is faithful, and even though sometimes we get impatient with God's timing, if we stick with him, we'll have everything that we've ever been promised and more.  Sometimes it is hard to believe... I mean, how was Abraham supposed to conquer all that land, and how was he supposed to have all those children?  ... how are we supposed to face the trials that we have today, let alone the ones next week and next year?  Luckily, we have Abraham's story to read and see how those things happened... and Nephi, and Moses, and all the stories of people who believed God's promises.  They have happy endings... and that is a good thing to expect for our own lives, if we trust God and listen to his advice. :)

Friday, October 18, 2002

1 Timothy 1:19

"Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck."
1 Timothy 1:19


What an utterly appropriate analogy for what we do with our lives sometimes... we shipwreck them.  Run them up onto the rocks instead of keeping them in water that is deep enough... we're out there searching for the promised land and instead of waiting for perfection we get bored and settle for the first biggish rock we see... ending up shipwrecking ourselves on a desert island, or even worse, in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight.  the other part of the scripture is basically how to avoid shipwreck... holding faith and a good conscience.  These are tests for each of our days.  Do we still have faith in God, in a good future... in that promised land?  How is our conscience?  Are we doing things that are making us feel bad about ourselves?  If we check our faith and conscience everyday... then we'll know when we're headed for the rocks, and have time to steer clear.  And, you know... if we're already shipwrecked... God has this unlimited supply of ships.  We just have the faith to get back out there, and try again.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

2 Nephi 23:12

"I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir."
2 Nephi 23:12


You know, I have no idea what the golden wedge of Ophir is, but I think that I get the idea of the scripture... God will make man more valuable than anything that has immense monetary value.  This chapter is talking about the last days, the destructions, etc. at the second coming (comparing it to the fall of Babylon...), and what really got to me this morning as I was reading this verse is the fact that a man isn't more valuable than that already.  I edited a paper the other day that was arguing that money is the most important thing, and if we want to get along in this world then we should just get used to it.  Several of my students wrote about abortion in their final papers and I remember one in particular used financial reasons as one of his arguments to justify his pro-abortion stance.  Another student wrote that we should outlaw panhandling, since the people are just con artists there to steal our money.  In court people argue about what the specific monetary value of a life is, so that they can charge the tobacco companies or whoever else has contributed to a death... it gets mind-boggling when you think about this scripture and realize that money, to many, is more important than life.  ... It becomes particularly upsetting when you realize how many people dedicate most of their lives to something they dislike, just to get money... but we won't go that far. :)  The only point I wanted to make is at the very core of the issue here... are we valuing money over life in our walk through this world?  When we have those opportunities to choose between the two, are we making the right choice?  An interesting thing to think about... I know I will today.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

1 Peter 1:6-9

"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:6-9


This scripture is one that I just opened up to this morning, kind of randomly, but it hit really close to home.  I think sometimes I get frustrated with not being able to see what "the end of [my] faith" is... and this scripture makes it pretty clear. :)  And it helps to know that the heaviness and fire that we go through now matters... because it is part of working towards a specific goal: the salvation of our souls.  It isn't random and pointless, as we sometimes think in those paranoid moments... rather, it is precious.  It is more important to us than the million dollars we dream of. :)  Way, way more.  Because it is those temptations and trials that refine us, purify us, and make us into who we can become.  It is through the hardships of our lives that we achieve the salvation of our souls... and really, in the end, that is what will be more precious to us than anything else.  Achieving salvation.  Not easy, certainly... but within reach.

Friday, September 27, 2002

John 14:4

"And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know."
John 14:4


Sometimes we imagine to ourselves that God requires too much of us... that we don't have enough information, or that we can't work for a future that we can't see.  Things like that... that God keeps us too much in the dark, and that he is asking us to obey him without offering any reasons.  This scripture is interesting in that light... Christ is telling his disciples that he is off to heaven, and that they know the place, and the way there. And, I think that even though we claim to have no knowledge, we know as much as they did.  The veil might have taken the details from us, but we know the truth, the goodness of that place, and how to get there.  We might not always like it, and we might not always understand that internal knowledge... but that fact remains that it is there.  Our spirits connect us to things, and when we try to deny those connections or ignore them, that is the only time that we get lost. :)

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Helaman 11:16

"And now, O Lord, wilt thou turn away thine anger, and try again if they will serve thee?  And if so, O Lord, thou canst bless them according to thy words which thou hast said."
Helaman 11:16


This is cool.  The prophet pleading for his people... and the thing is, he knows that God loves them and wants to bless them... it is really cool that he says, "give them another chance.  if you do, you can bless them, like you've always wanted to."  It's kind of like the whole prodigal son theme... if your loved one comes back into your life, no matter what they have said or done, you want to be able to welcome them back and have that close relationship you've always hoped for.  God wants that with us.  He loves us and wants us back, to talk to, to laugh with... all of it.  Sometimes I have a problem with authority... ask anyone who knows me even a little bit. :)  The thing with God is, even though he knows everything and has power over everything... he has zero of that "authoritative" attitude which rubs me the wrong way.  He never tells us to do anything just for the power trip.  He doesn't change his mind.  It isn't about power and authority at all, really... just about wanting to be with us forever, because he loves us.  So he shows us the way, and does everything possible to help us along the path.  Amazing.  It might be a good thing to imitate this prayer in our personal lives... Ask God to forgive us, and give us another chance... because if he does, then he'll get to bless us and hang out with us more.  It's a great motivation, and so much better than having nothing to offer. :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Romans 6:4

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Romans 6:4


I like this imagery here... I don't think that it always hits me that that is really not just imagery.  In some very real ways, God raises us from the dead.  We are basically walking corpses when we are in the thrall of sin.  We lose that spark of life, the hope and faith we have when we look towards the future.  And, through baptism, we become alive again... reborn, raised from the dead, given another chance.  And, luckily for those of us who have sinned since our baptism, every week when we go to Sacrament meeting, our new lives are renewed.  We renew those promises that we make at baptism, and so, really, we get a new chance every week. :)  I think God planned it that way because he knew how easy it is for us to sin.  ... Doesn't mean, of course, that we can go through our lives doing whatever we want and trusting the sacrament to take care of it.  There still has to be repentance (and for big things it has to be through the bishop), and some sincerity when you are making those promises... but that is really to be expected.  God doesn't want us to be walking corpses, see?  He doesn't want us to go through each day hating ourselves and wondering if things will ever get better... he wants them to BE better.  He wants us to be able to smile and look forward to the day, rather than dread it.  That's all that the whole sin thing is about anyway.  It isn't something that God forbids for a kick.  He knows that sin poisons our souls, and makes us sick and hopeless.  Some people think that is just the human condition, and that the answer is drugs or therapy so that we realize that sick and hopeless is okay. :)  But it isn't.  Repentance will make us healthier than we have been in a long time.  And happier... and that is all that God wants... for us to be happy, forever.  So when he raises us from the dead, and gives us a new chance at life, he asks us to walk in the path of happiness for a change... to give it a try and see if it works better than that quicksand we've been trying to swim in. :)  Maybe we should listen.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

1 Thessalonians 5:5

"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."
1 Thessalonians 5:5


Good morning, all.  I like this scripture... it reminds us of who we are. Not immaterial shadows or beings of darkness, but children of light... children of the day.  It might just be another way of saying "Children of God" since that is what God is... light, daytime, everything that you can think of that symbolizes goodness, clarity, and truth.  Sometimes it is hard to remember.  It is hard to reject the darkness and refuse to flirt with the shadows.  We can get addicted to the little patches of darkness in our lives... but that is another good thing about light.  When it is bright enough, *all* the darkness goes away.  And we are the children of light... destined to be bright ourselves someday, no matter how dim we feel now.  As we learn and grow and become brighter, there will be less and less room for darkness of any kind in our lives.  It takes time, and patience... and hope... but we can banish darkness from our lives, and be left with light, and truth, and beauty, and all the things that are good.  It's kind of like weeding the garden... we can start wilting if there are too many weeds around.  Clear them out, and we grow and flourish.  But, never, whether we are thriving or wilting, have we become the weeds themselves.
We are the good plants... the children of light, never the children of or the sources of darkness.  We just have to let go of our death-grip on the color black and give up our membership in the weed of the month club, and start acting like who we are... start polishing up and shining brighter and brighter... until the perfect day.  (Which WILL come, by the way, and I don't think that it is just going to be perfect in the eyes of God.  It will be perfect for us as well.)

Monday, September 9, 2002

Ezekiel 38:19-20

"For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground."
Ezekiel 38:19-20


Every wall?  *Every* wall?  Yikes.  So, if we're hanging out in Israel (and how far, exactly, does that extend?  Is it just Israel geographically speaking or "children-of-Israel" speaking?  And, when it says "all the men that are on the face of the earth, does that kind of show you the boundaries of these effects, or is that just the shaking, and not the wall-falling part?) at this time (prophecy of the coming of Christ in the last days), then we'd better hang around outside, eh? :)  Buy a tent, be prepared. :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Helaman 4:13

"And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands."
Helaman 4:13


This is interesting because it seems like being left in your own strength is a huge curse.  I find that to be true in my life... those times when I feel uninspired and I know that I'm on my own, absolutely reliant upon only my personal strengths and weaknesses, those are the worst times in my life.  Becoming your best self is a good thing, and helps us grow and learn confidence... but even when I am at my best self, it isn't enough.  I still fail; I still wander off the path and get lost... I still have times when I feel isolated or scared or depressed.  That's when I need God, because he doesn't have my weaknesses, and he seems to be able to make everything okay somehow. :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

1 Corinthians 1:27

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."
1 Corinthians 1:27


My students just turned their "Who Am I" papers, and I was grading them this weekend.  One of the guys in my class wrote about how he has finally discovered who he is, and how he was finally free of the religion that had been brainwashing him since he was small.  One of his lines was "I am God of my life."  He's a brilliant kid... and I admire the fact that he feels that he has some power in his life... but I also believe in God.  How do you reconcile things like that?  I think it is interesting that the Lord doesn't fight us on our own turf. :)  If we have intellectual reasons for doubting him, he'll throw us with a sunrise.  If we have bitter resentment feeding us, he'll have a child ask us an innocent question.  The world is so much bigger than we see... there is so much evidence out there that we have yet to confront.  Perhaps the reason that God wants us to live good, long lives is so that we can be confronted with more and more evidence, and find the way that God and ourselves both exist, without canceling each other out. :) The young man in my class thinks that if he has control of his life that there is no God... but I need God in order to control my own fate.  Now, I'm off to see the sunrise. :)

Saturday, August 17, 2002

2 Peter 3:11

"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?"
2 Peter 3:11


This chapter is talking about the last days... when the elements will melt and the earth and the works therein shall be burned up. :)  I think that it helps me to get perspective sometimes to read about this, because I dwell a lot on the things of this earth... and my priorities for the most part are things that will dissolve... or, to be completely honest, perhaps for the most part I hide behind things of this world, trying to avoid the things of eternity. :)   In any event, my focus should be on things that will matter in the long run, rather than anything that only affects now.  Hard to do... hard to lift our eyes sometimes, hard to focus on things farther away, or get excited by things that you can't always see very well.  However, thinking about all the things that will be dissolved... what will be left between ourselves and eternity.  Absolutely nothing to impede our view. :)  Let's try to be the manner of person that trusts in things that won't dissolve. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Acts 27:23-25

"For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."
Acts 27:23-25


If you haven't read the Paul shipwreck story in this chapter, it is a good one. :)  I like this set of verses not just because it is a good example of faith, which it is, but because Paul believes God even when all other pieces of evidence are screaming that they are doomed.  They had lost all hope several verses before this, and then an angel comes and tells Paul not to worry... and he tells the rest of the people on the boat (over 200) not to worry... that they would all live and be fine, but they would lose the ship. Now if you are in an ocean with water everywhere, the last thing you want to hear is that your only safety, the ship, is going to be gone... but they were slightly encouraged, and listened to what Paul said, because he was the one with hope. :)  Two things: first, wouldn't it be cool to always be the one with hope to offer?  And secondly, how many times does the Lord tell us that things are going to be alright... we'll lose the ship but not our lives, and we don't listen because we don't find the answer acceptable?  We want the ship AND our lives, and you know, if we have to choose... probably the ship. :)  We're kind of scary like that sometimes.  We have this obsessive need for the familiar, for the known.  So, when God tells us that we'll be fine, we just have to experience a little of the unknown, we panic. Sure, God says it is better, and so maybe it is... maybe it is all fun and games, but really... I'd rather just stay here.  The unknown is frightening. :)  The thing is, what amazing things are we passing up sitting huddled in the ship, trying to pretend we aren't going to crash?  Are we barricading the door against the greatest things that life has to offer?  Today, maybe we can let go of the ship, and look forward to the life that we have been granted... wherever it takes us next.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

John 3:20-21

"For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
John 3:20-21


I wonder if all of our instincts to hide mean that we are going away from the light, and it's only when we are proud of our accomplishments and willing to share them with others freely that we are walking in the right path.  It's an interesting way to look at and evaluate life... what are we willing to share with others, and what not?  What are we ashamed of, and what do we only reveal to a select group that will "understand?"  Do we change topics or speech patterns depending on the company?  Do we change who we are depending on what people will think?  Someday, I think, when we have nothing at all to hide from anyone, we will have come completely to God.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Daniel 12:3

"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
Daniel 12:3


Building on yesterday's scripture, which talked about being resurrected to life or shame... happiness or misery, this seems to talk about other choices that we make.  If we choose to learn, and gain wisdom, we'll be shiny :), and if we help others to choose righteousness, then we'll be even shinier.  Light, truth... the more of it the better, right? :)  Yesterday we talked about how we make the choices in our lives every day that lead us in one direction or another... and those choices also affect other people.  We can influence them towards happiness or misery, draw them closer to or further away from the truth... through our everyday conversation.  What we talk about, what we're excited about, what we love, what we believe in.  We affect each other, especially when there is affection or power involved in the relationship. And those things affect our eternities as well. If we helped a lot of people to be happy in this life, we'll have a great time together after our lives are over. If however, we contributed to the corruption of a lot of people, I imagine that our guilt and shame will only be worse.
The good thing about this story is Christ. Even if we have chosen straight misery for 40 years, and fed misery to our friends and family for as long, we still have a choice, because of Christ. We can turn around and start practicing happiness, and repent of our mistakes, and Christ will wipe the misery of a lifetime away, and let us start over with a clean slate. What matters is what we are choosing this minute, right now.  How we are influencing each other today.  We *can* change the past... by living well in the present.

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