Wednesday, December 28, 2005

3 Nephi 12:43-44

"And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;
But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you."
3 Nephi 12:43-44


I have a hard time doing good to people that hate me.  Maybe it is human nature… but it is that part of human nature that we probably need to overcome.   This strikes me as a definite “higher law” today… people who lived this way would be calm in the face of anything.  No one could push their buttons and make them annoyed or angry.   People who live this way seem to me to be the epitome of true love: they love everyone.  They know that interactions and relationships aren’t about competition or conquest, and you can’t do *anything* to them that would make them stop loving you, and working for your good.  Sometimes people like this seem “gullible” or “easily used” or something… but I think, truly, that they have something that I need.  That calm, that strength… no matter what is happening to them personally, they can see the bigger picture and make the right choice anyway… despite all. … I think that is completely, utterly amazing.  I need to work on becoming one of those people.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

3 Nephi 5:2-3

"And they knew that it must be expedient that Christ had come, because of the many signs which had been given, according to the words of the prophets; and because of the things which had come to pass already they knew that it must needs be that all things should come to pass according to that which had been spoken.
Therefore they did forsake all their sins, and their abominations, and their whoredoms, and did serve God with all diligence day and night."
3 Nephi 5:2-3


This is an interesting alternate perspective on the Christmas story… from the Nephites’ point of view. They had many signs to show them that Christ had been born, although they didn’t see him in person until years later.   What is interesting to me is that because of this (note the “therefore” in the second verse), they forsook their sins and served God “with all diligence.”  They knew Christ had come, and they did something about it.   Perhaps the Nephites’ perspective is similar to ours.   We didn’t witness the birth of Christ either… it happened in a far away land among another group of people.  And yet, it matters… it matters so much that we should forsake our sins and serve God with all diligence.  Not just a little diligence, mind you. ALL diligence. :)  …I think that means no slacking.
Today, let’s think about how much Christ matters in our lives… what impact the knowledge of Christ has had on each of us.  And after we think about that, and realize that we owe him all that we have and are… let’s do something about it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Helaman 13:38


"But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head."
Helaman 13:38


The part of this verse that strikes me this morning is the part that says "ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain." ... I think that I have always read that part as a lead-in to the part about seeking happiness in doing iniquity, but today I noticed the "and" which (with the liberal semicolons throughout) seems to make it a separate statement. :)  I wonder how often we come across things that we want that we absolutely can't have... but we spend so much of our lives seeking them. Even simple things, like this or that job, or a little extra money, or a relationship with this or that person.   We decide what we want, and we go after it... isn't that the American way? ... but, it doesn't seem to be God's way.  God's way is where we find out what God wants for us, and we go after that.  We live the gospel and we pray for the Lord's will to be done in our lives, rather than our own.  And it seems that most of what God grants us seem to be those happy "coincidences," not the result of even the best-laid plans for conquest. :)  I'm not saying it is easy to want what God wants rather than what we want... but today, instead of going after this or that, let's ask God to lead us where he wants us to go.  It'll be an adventure. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Alma 28:11-12

"And the bodies of many thousands are laid low in the earth, while the bodies of many thousands are moldering in heaps upon the face of the earth; yea, and many thousands are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo.
While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness."
Alma 28:11-12


These are very different ways to mourn.   One group is full of sadness, not only because they don't get daily contact anymore, but because they are also thinking that their loved ones are probably suffering.   The other group is sad in missing daily contact, but is happy in other ways because they are thinking that their loved ones are in a better place.  The chapter goes on to say that this illustrates the inequality of man, and the reasons for sorrow and rejoicing... and although while we live, I think that we all have a fairly equal chance... knowledge of good and evil, and access to the Lord, when we die, that changes.  It kind of cements our life into what it has been, and you lose some of those possibilities for changing and doing better.  This life is a test, and the test gets graded based on that life that you have when you die.  So, if we die doing something evil, or just in a freak (picnic, lightning) accident, having not repented, then our state is lamentable.  Not to say that people don't continue to have possibilities beyond the grave... just to say that, even if we all see the light and have all the ordinances eventually, our one static, unchangeable life is still there, and as far as I know, that's what our final grade depends on... so, let's get out there, repent, and do some good while we still have a chance to improve our grades. :)

Friday, November 4, 2005

Alma 26:37

"Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."
Alma 26:37


This scripture makes me think of how crazy Nationalism is... in the sense of caring about your country and your people, and thinking that they are better than the rest of the world.  Or even on a smaller scale... defending and protecting your family and taking advantage of "other" people.  Not that country or family are bad things to be loyal to, at all. :)   It just seems that we block out the rest of the universe sometimes, or take these ideals to extremes... "My country, right or wrong" or anger and violence against groups that we don't identify with.   We think "those people" are taking our jobs... when we're actually all part of each other, bound together.  Today, let's try to expand our comfort zones a little, and be inclusive of some people we usually exclude... love some people we usually ignore.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Alma 23:14

"And the Amalekites were not converted, save only one; neither were any of the Amulonites; but they did harden their hearts, and also the hearts of the Lamanites in that part of the land wheresoever they dwelt, yea, and all their villages and all their cities."
Alma 23:14


This is sort of scary.  Ammon and his brethren come to preach to the Lamanites, and they have amazing, miraculous success… except among the people that actually know about the gospel already.   I think that this shows us how hard it is to get back if we forsake the gospel… in this verse ONE person does it, and seriously, that one person in my eyes is amazingly cool, to walk away from his rebellion.  What is worse, at least to me, is that not only did they stubbornly resist this free second chance from God (which we all seem to get now and then), but they also influenced other people to join them in their rebellion.   The Lamanites, who in other parts of the land were accepting the gospel in droves, here resisted the call, because of the influence of the former Nephites.   Let’s be careful today, and always, to influence others for good, and to not let our own private rebellions become public causes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Alma 10:21


"Yea, well doth he cry, by the voice of his angels that: I will come down among my people, with equity and justice in my hands."
Alma 10:21


I wonder whether we are ready for equity and justice.   I might be overly cynical, but it doesn't seem to happen often... and I think we want equity and justice in some things, but not all.  We want the police to give a ticket to the driver that just cut us off, but we want them to let us slide if we commit an infraction.  I think it is similar with more spiritual things as well.   We know our intentions (usually), and so we want mercy when we do something wrong and then repent (however big or small the offense).  On the other hand, it seems a lot harder to want mercy for someone who has committed an offense against us, no matter how small or large.  If we are getting paid less than other people doing the same job, we are annoyed and claim that it isn't fair... but if we are getting paid more than our fellows, it doesn't seem like such a big deal.  When God comes with equity and justice, I wonder if we will be able to accept equality rather than preferential treatment. :)  It's all part of building a Zion people... we have to change our minds and our hearts in order to enjoy living there. :)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Alma 8:18-20

"Now it came to pass that after Alma had received his message from the angel of the Lord he returned speedily to the land of Ammonihah. And he entered the city by another way, yea, by the way which is on the south of the city of Ammonihah.
And as he entered the city he was an hungered, and he said to a man: Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?
And the man said unto him: I am a Nephite, and I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house."
Alma 8:18-20


This is interesting to me… Alma was walking away from the city, putting it behind him, and Amulek was in the city, just going about his day, and an angel came to both of them and basically arranged a meeting.  I don’t know if coincidence actually exists, but THIS was not coincidence. … I don’t think that our lives are either.   We meet people, form friendships, go to school, get and lose jobs, move to different places.  None of it is without a reason, and I think that we can all see that if we look back.  All of these things prepare us for something else.  They build possibilities in the future, and they build lessons in our lives that teach us ways of growing and being that will prepare us for things to come.  Ultimately returning to God, but things here and now as well.  Let’s remember to give thanks today for all of the “coincidences” that God sets up for us in our lives.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Alma 9:6


"And they said: Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man among this people, to declare unto them the truth of such great and marvelous things?"
Alma 9:6


Scary question… definitely tempting fate.   However, I think that this is a question that we often have, at least in the backs of our minds.  Why does God seem so hidden sometimes?  If he wants us to be good, then why doesn’t he show up more often, or fix problems in the world (or in our lives)?   It’s like Donne’s Holy Sonnet 14: “Batter my heart, three-person’d God” …  Donne wants God to be more aggressive in the relationship.  Instead of persuasion to be good, he wants some force applied, because he feels himself slipping away.   I think I understand that desire at times.  However, the real question here isn’t who is God, but who are we?   God isn’t going to teach us anything by appearing in a bolt of lightning and wiping out our enemies (except maybe that he is powerful… but I think we get that from other sources). :)   He teaches us patience and faith in the only ways those things can be taught… and he ALWAYS steps in when it gets to be too much, although of course, he knows our limits a lot better than we do. :)   Today I’m trying to remember that God knows what he is doing, and his way always turns out better than my way.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Philippians 2:3


"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
Philippians 2:3


In a scripture of the day earlier this week, I was talking about Alma 5:54 which says, in part, "will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another." ... So, this kind of struck me when I read it today, because it tells us that we should, in fact, be doing the exact opposite.  We should be valuing others more than we value ourselves... not to say that we should become doormats or something, but instead of being prideful and selfish, worrying all the time about how we're going to pull our lives out of our current tailspin, we could be helping other people out of *their* tailspins. :)  Not only would it be following God's commandments (see above), which is always a good thing, but it would also be so much more fun than wallowing in our own problems. We have so much more perspective when we aren't looking at ourselves. :)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Alma 7:23


"And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."
Alma 7:23


Sometimes it is hard to relax and not try to be in control of everything. We try to work everything out in our minds, see the perfect solution (finding a gift-wrapped zillion dollars on my front porch is mine), and then pray for that. :)  Unfortunately, if I got a gift-wrapped zillion dollars, I probably wouldn't learn the things I am supposed to be learning right now... and that is true for many more realistic solutions as well.  Humility isn't something we can snap our fingers and learn, nor submissiveness, nor gentleness. Usually, to really learn those things, we have to have situations where it is really, really tough to be humble, to be submissive, to be gentle.  We might be those things readily in easier circumstances, but life is about learning things thoroughly, and we will *definitely* have situations where those things are hard, to see how deep the lesson goes.
I like the easy to be entreated part... it's a nicer way of telling us not to be stubborn... to be generous. We need to be patient and let the Lord do things according to his timetable, not ours... and giving thanks for what we do receive, even if it isn't what we had in mind. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Alma 5:54


"Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another; yea, will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance—"
Alma 5:54


This morning what struck me in this verse was "supposing that ye are better one than another."  I think that is pretty rampant... and perhaps really hard to not do.  I know that I have a tendency to think that I am cooler or smarter or more amazing than other people for a variety of reasons.  Maybe I am older than they are, so I assume that I know more of the world, and they are just too young to understand.  Or I am younger, and they are just too far past my age to understand what I am feeling.  Or maybe they are poor, and obviously my success is due to my better-ness. :)  Maybe they are rich, and if *I* had money then *I* would do such-and-such, rather than just wallowing in it.  Maybe I have a title, and that makes me better than someone who hasn't earned it the way I have.  Maybe they have a title in an area I don't... which only shows that they have corrupted themselves in order to reach that level, which I would never do... and maybe they are righteous, which just means that they are pretending... or sinful, which obviously means that I am better, and farther into the light. :)
The point of all of this is that it is false.  We don't need a "valid" reason to claim better-ness, because no matter what someone else is like, we can find something to criticize.  Every time we compare ourselves and think that we are better, maybe we are trying to boost our self-esteem, but the plain truth is that we *aren't* better.  God says, right here, that we aren't... and that he wants us to stop believing it.  How to stop is another question.  I think the way I am going to try is to stop comparing.  It is hard sometimes when you feel intimidated... you almost feel a need to compare, so that you can go back to being better. :)  "Well, she might be a perfect, gorgeous, and brilliant zillionaire... but at least *I* don't listen to elevator music!" :)  Perhaps if I stop comparing, maybe I'll learn some other ways to boost my confidence. :)  And unlearning that comparison trick will definitely be worth it... it is really hard to make friends of your competitors, especially when they are EVERYWHERE. :)

Friday, September 9, 2005

Hosea 2:13-16


"And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the Lord.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.
And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali."
Hosea 2:13-16


I was reading the last of 2nd Nephi this morning, and it talks a lot about the last days, and then opening the Bible seemingly randomly, I found this.  There are interesting parallels.  One of the things that I really like about these verses is the adultery analogy.  In verse 7 it says "And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then it was better with me than now." ... The whole thing seems to be an analogy to Israel: going after other Gods, and putting other things before God is like a woman forsaking her husband to pursue her lovers. ... I think that is one of the most intensely serious sins that we imagine, and that kind of breach of trust seems abhorrent to us, so it is an analogy that hits home.  The cool thing is that God wants her back. ... If you left your husband and took a lot of different lovers, I don't think that you would expect kindness and him trying to win you back.  So that is a huge thing... God coaxing Israel back.  The "valley of Achor" is proverbial for something that causes trouble; that is interesting that trouble=hope here; perhaps our suffering (and resultant repentance?) gives us access to that "door of hope."  Verse 16 is cool... Ishi=husband, and Baali=Master, so what it makes me think of is that she won't even look at her marriage as a burden to be escaped anymore (do we feel that way about the church sometimes?), but will rejoice in it.  A couple of other verses after this are cool too: "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgement, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. / I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord." ... That verse 20 part about faithfulness is cool.  Even after the adultery, he chooses to trust her.  I think this is a strong analogy, and it actually illustrates the intimacy and importance of our individual relationships with God--and how much he wants those relationships with us, and how much he is willing to forgive us and trust us again if we repent and return.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2 Nephi 7:4


"The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season unto thee, O house of Israel. When ye are weary he waketh morning by morning. He waketh mine ear to hear as the learned."
2 Nephi 7:4


I'm not sure that I am interpreting correctly, but when I read the second sentence in this verse about God waking morning by morning, what it makes me think of is a father who is so worried about his little kid that he can't sleep... he keeps waking up, and it is the first thing on his mind, all the time.  It reminds me how much God loves us... how much he wants us to succeed. 
It's easy to slip into guilt-trip mode and think of God as just someone who is waiting for us to screw up... who metes out justice pretty heavy-handedly, and who uses threats to get us to listen.  And I am not denying God's justice... but I think that getting into that guilt-trip mode is just another weird twisting of half-truths, the same way Satan tries to deceive us all the time.  And you know what blows the whole fa├žade apart?  The fact that God loves us.  That changes everything.  It is why he does everything that he does, and why we can still find overwhelming hope, no matter how far into guilt-trip mode we've gone.  Mercy exists as well... and God wants us to succeed.  More than that... he's given us the tools and the opportunities we need to succeed. ... and even if God doesn't wake up in the middle of the night worrying (does he even need to sleep?)... he loves us that much, and more.  A good reminder today. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

1 Nephi 15:8-9


"And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us."
1 Nephi 15:8-9


These verses are a dialogue between Nephi and his brothers.  His brothers were having problems understanding their father the prophet, and what he said about some of the scriptures.  Nephi asks them if they have asked God, like it is the most obvious thing in the world... and maybe it is. :)
I think that I get into the same trap sometimes, and complain about not understanding things in my life, when I haven't taken the time to ask God.  I assume, like Nephi's brothers did, that God isn't interested in clarifying things for me. :) ... And, you know, sometimes you have to learn to deal with ambiguity. It's part of life; however, God does want us to understand his plan, and to believe in it and stand behind it.  It can't hurt to ask... and God will answer, even if sometimes the answer is "no," or "Let's talk about this later, when you are a little more ready to understand." :) 
Later in the chapter Nephi explains what we need to do in order to get answers: "Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you."  That could be a scripture of the day all on its own. :)  But I like a couple of things here especially.  We can't harden our hearts.  I think that is a major, major point.  We have to be sensitive to the spirit.  We have to have faith, believe, and we have to be doing our best to live the commandments. ... in other words, we have to be putting forth some effort on our side.  We can't just sit back and expect God to make our understandings (and our lives) perfect without looking into it ourselves. :)  How else will we learn, after all? :)

Monday, August 8, 2005

1 Nephi 4:34-35


"And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us.
And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth."
1 Nephi 4:34-35


First of all, did you guys know that the entire church has been challenged to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year?  They read a letter from the First Presidency over the pulpit yesterday... guess they did it last week too.  (I must have been late; I didn't hear about it last week.)  I think that is amazingly cool... and I imagine that it will create a huge sense of unity, and that we're going to get a huge dose of the Spirit poured out on all of us.  I remember when we were challenged in the MTC to read the Book of Mormon all the way through while we were there (and I was only there 3 weeks). ... I think that was probably my favorite time reading the Book of Mormon.  I remember seeing connections that I never knew were there before... connections between 1 Nephi and 3 Nephi that I never saw because I had never read those two books in anything like close proximity before. :)  So... join in. I just re-started the Book of Mormon and I am going to read it all the way through. It will be great. :)
Anyway, this scripture... Zoram has always intrigued me. His whole life uprooted in one night--and yet, it seems that he gains some measure of freedom that he didn't have before, and basically becomes another member of the family.  I wonder about him... did he know how wicked Laban was prior to this? When he made his oath this night, was he just saving his life, or did he know he was doing the right thing?  Most of our life-changing experiences seem a lot more clear-cut than this one was, seemingly, for Zoram. ... I imagine if the same thing happened to someone today, they'd say that Zoram had Stockholm Syndrome or something. :)  In any case, I have to believe that Zoram felt the spirit, and knew what to do... and, of course, that Zoram was part of the plan. :)  His life wasn't just a footnote to the rest of the lives here... I'm sure that his being there made a difference.  I think that Zoram is a great example of courage as we choose to make huge, permanent changes in our lives.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

1 Nephi 1:4-6


"For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.
Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly."
1 Nephi 1:4-6


You know, this struck me today... it talks about prophets plural, and after Lehi had heard the prophets, that he became one himself basically. ... that is awesome. :)  Sure, we can only have one prophet that speaks for the whole church... more than one would be kind of confusing.  Ideally, though, we could all be prophets in the sense that they are spoken about here.  When we hear the prophets say something, then we pray about it and receive that same spirit in our lives... because God speaks to us all, and his spirit offers the same messages to everyone.  We're of course going to have different perspectives, and see things differently because of that, but the miraculous thing here, and I think really in all of the gospel, is that God wants us all to have that deep, personal connection to him.  None of us have to be passive believers, just relying on other people to tell us the truth.  Every single one of us can go to the source and get it first hand.  God offers the truth to everyone, with no boundaries or bias. ... I know, it is a simple tenet of the faith that we learn even from the very first telling of the Joseph Smith story, but it is amazing still.  We are God's children... his potential equals.  He is there, ready to teach us anything that we can learn about how to be more like him... all we have to do is ask.  The lesson might not be easy.  But then again... I can't imagine that you can learn to be like God through osmosis. :)

Friday, July 1, 2005

Moroni 6:5


"And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls."
Moroni 6:5


This morning I am wondering how often we actually discuss the welfare of our souls with anyone. :)  Maybe we should do that more often.  Thinking about it right now, it seems to me to be the absolutely most important thing that there IS to talk about.  It wouldn't make a very good pick-up line probably... "How's your soul?" is a little deep for a first contact, but really, isn't that what we worry about every day, and what we find out when we develop friendships with other people?  It is so much more important than our level of education, our career path, our clothing styles, or any other way that we usually judge ourselves or each other.  If we're having problems dedicating time for scripture reading, or if our prayers are seeming somewhat repetitive, or if we're worried that our interactions with people aren't very loving... whatever it is, we should be able to share those things with our friends, and maybe get some help. :)  Need someone to call and remind you to read your scriptures?  Need someone to read with?  Need some ideas on prayer, or how to express yourself more kindly? ... I know I do.  I think that we all could use some help, even if it is just talking about a scripture and how to apply it to our lives.  Maybe we should open up a little in Relief Society or Priesthood... or Sunday School, and get some of that insight from our fellow members ... and in our daily lives as well. :)  Today, let's not hide our souls under externalities... let's help each other. :)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Colossians 3:2-3


"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
Colossians 3:2-3



This really struck me today.  Sometimes I think that I am almost resentful of scriptures like "Trust not in the arm of flesh" ... seems like the X-Files line, "Trust NO ONE."  It seems difficult to me to get through life trusting God only. ... But perhaps that is the point. :)  God keeps his promises... we almost never do; not always because we plan it that way, but just because we're fallible.  We tell someone that we will always be there, or that we will always care... then we wake up one day, and we don't care, or even know where they are.  We're just not reliable. :)
Anyway, what really struck me about this is the part about being dead... that we are dead and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  I'm not sure that I am right, being fallible and all, but what came into my mind as I was reading that was the veil... the fact that we can't remember anything about our lives before this earth.  I think that the death symbology there works really well... we are dead to ourselves.  We don't know who we are, and our real lives are hidden, waiting to be revealed at some future moment. ... Thinking about that, the whole thing seemed to make more sense to me.  Of course we shouldn't trust each other or even ourselves completely, since we've lost our memories and have no idea what is going on. :)  God knows us better than we know ourselves; he has access to the other side.  We need to trust him, and remember that we're symbolically dead.  This is just a test; we need to hang in and get through it.  Face challenges, overcome obstacles, and when we need hints, we should go to God, who knows all the answers.  In the end, our lives will be opened to us again, and when we are restored to ourselves, then maybe it will be okay trusting other people more. :)
The affection part too... sure, we can care about one of the walking dead; We're all just Zombies in a way.  But, as Zombies, we're just a shadow of our former "real" selves... all the affection we pour into the zombie version is shadowy too, not only because we love a partial truth, but because we ARE a partial truth.  We definitely do need to learn to love imperfection, even in Zombie form... but I think the point here is still where our trust and loyalty needs to be centered.  God is who can teach us to love truly and without bias... and how will we want heaven if everything we care about is here?  We have to want something better... for ourselves, and for others.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Colossians 1:21-23


"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"
Colossians 1:21-23


This was cool to me today... I think that the "alienated" feeling has happened to me; and that is scary. Feeling alienated from God, from other people... who do you have left?  It isn't a pretty sight.  I like also the part about not being moved away from the hope of the gospel.  I think that is the absolute core of what the gospel is, and when we start feeling hopeless and despairing... that is when we don't have the spirit with us.  On the other hand, when we do have the spirit... it helps us with SO many things.  Ideas for new solutions or things to try with everything in our lives... jobs, art projects, friendships... all of it.  Sincerely, God is great to have around all the time.  He understands everything that we do, like no one else really can.  Let's work on getting unalienated today, and sticking with hope, and with God. :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

1 Nephi 3:31


"And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?"
1 Nephi 3:31


If you recall at this point in the Book of Mormon, Nephi and his brothers had been sent to recover the plates of Laban, and had tried asking nicely, and offering incredible riches. Laban tried to murder them in return, and stole all the gold and precious things that they had brought. So, Laman and Lemuel are mad, and taking it out on their younger brothers. ... then an Angel comes and tells them to stop, and to try again. This is an _Angel_ we're talking... probably all glowy and white; obviously not your everyday person. Messenger from God... and so Laman and Lemuel listen to this, and afterward... they murmur?  I imagine seeing an Angel and then just nodding and doing whatever he or she said because I would still be in a daze... for weeks, months probably... maybe years, just because of the experience.  Perhaps though, in a way, I do the same thing.  When I pray to God to help me overcome my bad habits, or to help me with a certain situation, do I actually believe that I will receive help?  Sometimes I just give up, thinking that I'm not good enough or strong enough or that the situation is just impossible. ... I think that is similar to Laman and Lemuel's murmuring.  God is actively a part of each of our lives.  He listens to our prayers, and he gives us the strength to meet any challenge that we are faced with in our lives.  When we give up, thinking that things are impossible, then we're denying that God is there... disbelieving his promise that he won't give us anything that we can't handle, with his help.  Today, let's remember that God is there, and instead of murmuring, let's walk into each situation we're faced with... confident that the Lord will assist us.

Monday, April 18, 2005

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


We've read this scripture many times... even if you just start the Book of Mormon and then get stuck in the Isaiah chapters, you at least get this far. :)  It's part of the opening story, but I think it illustrates some important things about Lehi.  He put God before anything else.  Before his riches, before the complaints of his family, before his own comfort.  I think that is something that I need to work on, and maybe we all do in different ways.  God doesn't always ask us to pack our belongings and leave our homes, but he does ask us to put him first.  Could we leave a job, a house, or a friendship if God asked it?  Today, let's examine what is at the center of our lives... what do we live for? ... and if it isn't God, then let's make some adjustments.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Doctrine and Covenants 84:52


"And whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me."
Doctrine and Covenants 84:52


This just blows me away. ... If we don't receive God's voice, we aren't acquainted with it.  It's like a really really good friend is in trouble and calls you collect... and if you know the voice, you will accept the charges no matter what.  Somehow, though, we don't always recognize God as a friend when he calls.  We think it is a wrong number, or a sales call, and so we don't listen.  It's only when we treat God as a stranger that we start asking him to prove things, or start resenting him.  If we understood fully how much of a friend God is to us, and worked on recognizing him and his voice in our everyday lives... we would always have a friend beside us, no matter what.  We would never be without someone to talk to.  Let's work on becoming acquainted with his voice, and stay acquainted with it... let's put some effort into this relationship, and build the friendship that God offers us freely.




Monday, March 28, 2005

2 Corinthians 4:17-18


"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:17-18


I like this. Sometimes it feels like what we are going through, or dealing with, is insurmountable.  We can't see past the obstacles in our path to the goal, and it begins to seem hopeless.  But all of our afflictions are temporary--fleeting.  This life is just a blink.  Eternity is what we are working for, and what makes it all worth it.  We can't always see the goal, but we trust in it.  The fact that there is so much beyond our capacity to see is actually something to give us hope.  We can't see everything, but God can... and if we allow him to guide us, then we'll be on the path to all of the things that we hope for.





Monday, March 7, 2005

Ephesians 2:12-14


"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;"
Ephesians 2:12-14


This struck me this morning... being without hope and being without God are essentially the same thing. God gives us laws and ordinances to teach us and help us. He does *everything* that he does for our good, for our happiness... it isn't at all about tormenting or punishing us. God makes it possible to triumph over Satan, to succeed despite the evil in the world around us... to reach our potential.  Without him, we *are* without hope... we are stuck in whatever rut our life has become bogged down in, and chained by whatever addiction we are susceptible to.  To let go of God is to let go of hope... so, let's try not to do that today. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2005

4 Nephi 1:15-17


"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the
people.
And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God."
4 Nephi 1:15-17


Isn't this amazing?  Christ appeared to these people, and for three generations they were righteous... not slightly righteous... REALLY righteous.  No lying... no envying.  That is amazing.  Is the reason that we aren't like this because we take Christ less seriously, or just because we can't see him in person?  We feel him; we see the evidence of his works all around us; we read his words and talk to him in prayer... but still we seem to take him less seriously, or are affected by him less than the people in these verses. ... Today, let's concentrate on not taking Christ for granted, and on truly dedicating ourselves to his work. :)

Friday, February 4, 2005

Alma 5:26


"And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"
Alma 5:26


Always a good scripture. :)  Once we've taken that step and known and felt God and the spirit in our lives to that degree... can we maintain it?  It seems to me that one of the hardest things about the gospel is the "endure to the end" part.  Feeling the spirit, talking to God... all of these things are a glimpse of heaven.  The trick is to work at it until we have that glimpse of heaven every day, every minute... and when we get to that point, we're practically there. :)  So, today, let's try to get that glimpse, and keep it. :)



Monday, January 31, 2005

Colossians 3:23-24


"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23-24


This is cool.  I like to be reminded that everything I do is for the Lord... it helps me to pull back my perspective, and see the bigger picture... how everything works together.  Sometimes I resent a task that I am given at work, or I just really don't *want* to clean the living room or pay the bills, or whatever it is that I really need to do... but this helps.  If I can remember that I am doing these things for the Lord, then perhaps I can lose the attitude, and enjoy the task.  It's hard to do things "heartily" if they are just for yourself, or for someone you don't even like... but really, everything we do is for God.  Every minute of our lives is a gift from him, and living it well is a gift that we can give to him. :)  Today, I am going to try to live more "heartily," and I invite you to join me. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ephesians 2:13-14


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


I was reading this chapter this morning, and it struck me how separated from God, and from other people we are when we live without God in this world.  God is the one who softens our hearts and helps us look out for other people, who helps us forgive, and ask for forgiveness.  Without him it is hard just to get through the day.  There are days where heaven feels really far away, and when you feel disconnected from everyone around you.  God is the one who breaks down those barriers and helps us get closer to everywhere we want to be. :)



Wednesday, January 5, 2005

2 Corinthians 3:17

"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."
2 Corinthians 3:17


This is a good reminder for me today. It is easy to think of God and his gospel as restrictive or limiting... that having God in our lives limits our freedom to go out and "party" or "enjoy" life. :) ... the truth is very different. We only have true freedom when we are obedient to God's basic commandments. Why? Because disobedience sends us into dead-end paths. Our only choices are to wallow in sin
or turn around and go back to the path. When we are obedient, we have myriads of possibilities open up before us... ways to grow and progress, talents to foster... thousands of choices and opportunities. As we grow closer to God, and more like him, we begin to grow towards the choices that God has. As we walk away from him, we severely limit our choices, AND our knowledge, because the Spirit is involved in all of those things. Sinning is like choosing to live on the street. After you've been there a while, what choices do you have? It's hard to even get a job without an address and a shower. Today, let's work on inviting the spirit into our lives, and helping him to feel comfortable.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

2 Corinthians 1:18-20


"But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
2 Corinthians 1:18-20


This made me smile today, so I thought I would share it. :) I think it is cool that God is yes... it reminds me of an E. E. Cummings poem... the first stanza is

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

and I think that it catches the spirit of these verses really well.  God is yea, not nay, and not yea AND nay.  Everything that he says will come to pass... Everything that he is is good, and positive.  As we become more like him, and get to know him better in our lives, our lives, too, will become more yea than nay. :)

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