Sunday, May 30, 2004

4 Nephi 1:38-39

"And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle.
And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning."
4 Nephi 1:38-39

In the first verse it points out that these people didn't dwindle in unbelief, but that they were actively rebelling against the gospel.  I think that is an important distinction... and one that we need to be careful of in our own lives.   If we know the truth, then what are we doing with it?  Our knowledge and belief makes our choices purposeful.  We don't wander off the path; we choose to leave it.   We don't have the option or luxury of ignorance, and so if we walk away, then we're making a statement, not only for ourselves, but for anyone who sees our example.  Even if we don't go to the extreme of teaching our children to hate... they will, if we do.   When I was on my mission, my companion and I visited a woman who was very sad that all of her children had left the church... but in talking to her, we found out that she hadn't gone to church for years, and she had several habits that weren't in keeping with the gospel standards.  She had the belief... she knew it was true... but it didn't help her or her family stay in the gospel.  Today, if we believe in the gospel... let's make sure that it changes the way we live.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

2 Peter 3:17

"Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness."
2 Peter 3:17

This is a good chapter, and talks about how God doesn't delay his coming for any reason except that he is concerned for us, and wants to save us... to give us time to repent.  We have the scriptures to warn us about many of the errors that we can make in our lives, and we have them also to tell us how much God loves us and wants to ensure that we make it back to him.  So, seeing that we know these things already, let's do our best to avoid the pitfalls, and to keep on the path. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Alma 36:8-10

"But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs."
Alma 36:8-10

This is interesting... the words, "if thou wilt of thyself be destroyed" have a huge impact on Alma.  After he heard them, he wasn't listening to any of the rest of it... he was consumed with worry about his life and whether he was really going to be destroyed.  I was talking with the students in my Ethics class the other day, and talking about how the media tries to get us to buy things we don't need, and we keep different industries going even though we should be moving on to more ecologically sound solutions... things like that.  So, I asked them what we could do about it, if we all believed that we needed a change.   The answer that they gave me was that we can do nothing. ... that for the world to actually change, some disaster would have to happen.   To actually stop using fossil fuels, we'd have to actually run out of them... things like that.
Anyway, so I think that Alma had his disaster right here. He chose a path, and continued along it until something forced him to evaluate what he was doing, and consider whether he wanted to live with the consequences. ... I used to think of this as a great conversion experience, but now it seems like a pretty scary one.  Do we all have to have a disaster in our lives in order to turn to God?  We choose our paths and walk along them, but what is it that makes us wake up and take the gospel seriously?  It isn't God that is forcing us to learn the hard way... it's us.  We ignore the polite reminders, and fail to take advantage of the ways that we can get ourselves back on track... prayer, scripture study, church, the sacrament... and instead we wait for the disaster.  Why is that?  It is easier to rebuild ourselves after a meltdown than to change who we are now?   More painful, assuredly, but maybe that is the only way we find the motivation...?
Today, let's try to make some changes without the disaster. :)  Let's prove it can be done.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Daniel 12:8-10

"And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand."
Daniel 12:8-10

I can't help but relate to this scripture. :)   I read several chapters of Daniel this morning, and I "heard, but I understood not." :)   I think that God gives Daniel a really good answer here.  Daniel wants to know what is going on, and he suggests patience. :)   There are going to be a lot of people changed incredibly for the good, and good works happening... but there will also be the other side. :)  "The wicked shall do wickedly," by their very nature we assume. :)  And then he talks about the difference between the wicked and the wise... interesting that the juxtaposition here is between wicked and wise and not between more traditional opposites.  So, how do we stay on the side of the wise?   Perhaps by avoid wicked actions, first of all... because the wicked *do* wickedly.  And then, we can always work on our own wisdom... we can search the scriptures and work on understanding them, understanding the gospel, and keeping the spirit with us.  If we do that, then how can we help but be wise? :)
I think it is also interesting that "purified" and "made white" are in the same category as "tried." ... Our trials are what purify us, and make us into the wise people that we need to be in the last days.  Similar to yesterday's scripture, we should accept our trials without criticizing or "blaming" God... for they are the way that he teaches us and makes us better, stronger, and more like him.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Another little reminder for me this morning... God doesn't give me weaknesses because he wants to see me squirm. :)  He gives me weaknesses, because that is how to teach strength.  If we had no weaknesses, we could be lukewarm little worms all our lives, and never learn.   When we face obstacles and challenges, we learn how to function with whatever weaknesses and addictions that we've been given in this life, and we find out what strength means.  Sometimes it seems like too much, and we cry out, as Paul did, and ask for God to please, please take it away: it's too hard... we'll never crawl out from under it.   But no matter how much it feels like that at times, it isn't that way.  God gives us nothing that we can't handle... and he gives us what we have to stretch us, to help us to grow into the people that we can become... so much better than the placid wormlike existences we were hoping for, without weaknesses, without challenge.  So, like Paul... even though infirmities, reproaches, distresses, and all the rest can be remarkably painful... we should glory in them, for that is how God teaches us, and makes us strong enough to become like him.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Mosiah 6:7

"And king Mosiah did cause his people that they should till the earth. And he also, himself, did till the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people, that he might do according to that which his father had done in all things. And there was no contention among all his people for the space of three years."
Mosiah 6:7

This is absolutely unbelievable if you look at it from a modern perspective... the *king* ... the person with all the power... he goes out and farms, because he doesn't want to be a burden to the people.  Incredible.  Wouldn't you love to have a leader like that right now? :)   I wonder how life would change if we actually had someone around who was as unselfish as that.  So, let's try to be that type of person, first of all... and second, let's remember that *God* is that type as well.  He doesn't give us rules to burden us, or to force us into subservience.   He gives us rules to help make us better people... to build us up, and help us to be happier.  He loves us just as Mosiah sincerely loved his people... and there are no leaders better than that.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Alma 30:11

"For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man's belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds."
Alma 30:11

What struck me about this scripture today is the part where it says that there was no law against a man's belief, and that part is what put men on equal grounds... they were judged by actions.  I wonder about people in mental institutions who believe that they are someone famous. :)   Anyway, I think that it is interesting for me as I read some of my students' papers, to remember that I should be judging them not on whether I agree with them, but on how well they can write, and support their opinions with facts. :)   And maybe it can apply outside the classroom as well... when we interact with others, we can refrain from criticizing the way they think, and instead focus on actions.  This takes so much negative emotion out of teaching... and out of interpersonal communication. :)  ...And you heard it first in the scriptures. :)

Saturday, May 1, 2004

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?"
2 Corinthians 2:14-16

I like this whole idea of triumph in Christ.  Sometimes life doesn't seem all that triumphant, and I am glad that it really is, down deep where it matters.  I think that the life unto life and death unto death is another comment about the choices that we make... if we search for death, we'll find it.  If, on the other hand, we search for life, we will also find that.  Our reward depends on what we are searching for... which hopefully will help us to stop and think and search for the right things.  The part about "who is sufficient" I don't really understand completely, but it feels emotionally familiar.  I don't feel like I can handle things sometimes... and maybe none of us are sufficient to the task in the end, unless we have Christ with us, which will help us to triumph... against any odds. :)  That is what makes the difference.  We can't handle things by ourselves, and I wonder why we try.  Christ is there, offering to help, and we often just ignore him.  Silly humans. :)

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