Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Proverbs 13:14

"The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."
Proverbs 13:14

This scripture made me think of law as a positive thing... which it is. I think that often, though, I see the "law" as being restrictive... Police Officers, dress codes, Human Resources, dress codes... did I mention that I currently work for a bank? :) Anyway... maybe some of those things are restrictive in some ways, but helpful... definitely to some people... in others. It is tempting to think of God's laws the same way... they help other people, but not me. :) The truth of it though is that God's laws promote life... the fountain spoken of in the verse. :) Obeying his laws isn't about control or domination in the slightest... it's really about God wanting the best for us, and knowing how we can get it. He's telling us: do these things and you will be happier. The last part of the verse really makes that point. Obeying the law keeps us from the snares of death. Death isn't a snare, except to people who aren't prepared to meet God. Only for people who are still scrambling to try. :) ... and in other ways, as well, God's law offers life rather than death... freedom rather than restriction. Think about sin and how it eats away at you... the law, God's law, offers us freedom from that... even after the fact. God, as always, does everything he does because he loves us.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Psalms 145:16-18

"Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth."
Psalms 145:16-18

Interesting here that it says that the Lord satisfieth the desire of every living thing.  I guess this strikes me today because I was thinking that God wouldn't satisfy our desires if they were bad desires... right? ... Now that I think about it though, I'm sure that he does.  Thankfully he adds a little bit of space in between the desire and the fulfillment so that we can make sure it is really, really what we want.   Sometimes we talk ourselves out of it, and that is good.  Other times, we get what we want, and find out that it isn't nearly as good as what God asked us to seek after. ... And that is good too, although a harsher lesson we are giving ourselves... but it is essential sometimes.  We have to know that those false things we are running after *are* false.   The second verse is true.  Everything that the Lord does is designed to bring us eternal happiness. It doesn't always bring us immediate happiness... especially when we want the wrong things... but it always, always teaches us to seek after better things, and to remember that God is not arbitrary.  He doesn't make laws just to establish control over us or manipulate us.  He just wants us to be happy... he shows us the path.  Even tragedy, accidents... spiders. :)  They all teach us how to find happiness.  The third verse... God is very near.  If we look for him in sincerity and truth, he will ALWAYS be there for us. ... Let's take the chance to talk over our days with him, and find some happiness. :)

Friday, October 20, 2006

D&C 88:29-33

"Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
And they who are quickened by a portion of the terrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift."
D&C 88:29-33

I went to this meeting with the Stake Sunday school leaders last night, and (brace yourselves) I didn't want to go.   I didn't think that I would get anything out of it... I was tired, I was hungry... I had a thousand excuses.   I went anyway... and it was great. :)  The Stake Sunday School president discussed a talk from conference called "Receiving By the Spirit."   Not the only reason it was great, but that's the one I am going to touch on today. :)
I have long been a believer that students are responsible for their education as much as teachers are. When I was teaching at a University a couple of years ago, I heard of some students that were suing the school because they hadn't gotten the education they paid for.   I'm not really arguing other possible merits of the case, but the idea that the school alone bore the responsibility for the education was an interesting one.  Just as the teacher has the responsibility to teach, the students have the responsibility to learn... the old "you can lead a horse to water" idea.
Until last night though, I don't think that I realized how hypocritical I have been.   I believed that wholeheartedly about teaching, but I hadn't really taken my idealistic idea out and applied it to myself, other than in a brick-and-mortar "school" context.   All of life is a teaching experience... God as teacher, and we as students.  He offers us lessons and gifts (maybe they are the same thing), and it is up to US to accept, incorporate, and *receive* those gifts... to learn from them, to change because of them.

In the scripture above, we basically look ahead to "judgement day" and find out what will happen. ... those who are willing to receive, who take an active part in this Earthly education, will receive all that they can learn, and become all that they can be.  However, if we just stand around wondering why God isn't spoon-feeding us, then we'll be a lot less happy. ... We're basically being showered with gifts, all the time.  And unfortunately, we look around, and pick the shiniest one, and reject all the rest.   There are hundreds, thousands of lessons that we can pick up and run with every day... but normally, we wait until the teacher threatens to paddle us before we even try to listen. ... And maybe it isn't "we" but just me. ... Nevertheless, let's all look around us today for the gifts that our Father has given us, and work on our side to receive them, to embrace them, and to learn from them, even the less shiny ones. :)

And here's a link to that talk, if you'd like to learn from someone a lot wiser than I:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Psalms 82:6

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

This idea changes everything.  It shows us our potential, and it explains to us why God doesn't coddle us more.  We aren't pets or playthings... we're true children with the potential to become like our father.  As gods-in-training, life doesn't seem as overwhelming.  I mean... we're gods.  We can handle it.  Things that seem scary or uncomfortable to us seem like tiny little hurdles if we have a true perspective of who we are.  We can do anything.  I was watching a show called Heroes the other day... people who have superpowers... can teleport, resist harm, fly, etc. ... and seriously, that is us.  Maybe we haven't learned to do everything yet, or learned to use our powers wisely and for good all of the time... but we have the potential for them... for all the things that God can do.  Which, I would say, is pretty much anything.   So, today, let's remember who we are, and do what God asks, no matter how difficult.  After all, he is the one who knows our potential better than we do... and who can teach us to be better than we are.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Psalms 81:11-12

"But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.
So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels."
Psalms 81:11-12

I think this is sort of scary.  If we refuse to listen to God, then sometimes he leaves us with what we want... no matter how bad it is for us.  It's scary to think of getting exactly what you want, and then having to live with it, even though you know it isn't right. ... This is one of the reasons that we have to *change* our hearts.  We need to work on wanting what God wants... not because he is trying to control us or exert power over us, but sincerely because he knows that what we want is going to cause us trouble and pain.  Life God's way is happier than life our several ways.  It's that simple.  Not to say we can't choose to be miserable when we don't get what we want... just that in the end, getting what God wants us to have will be SO much better than getting what we want to have.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Psalms 18:35

"Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great."
Psalms 18:35

I love this. :) ... The "thy gentleness hath made me great" part is amazing.  I think of so many people who try to use force or coercion to change others or force them into compliance.  And God is bigger than them all... he *could* be forcing us into anything... but instead, he is gentle.   One thing that does is encourage us to develop our own strengths.  Another thing is does is set an example for us, reminding us that people respond to love a lot better than they do to force. ... Gordon B Hinckley seems to me to be the epitome of the gentleness that is talked about here... he has sharp words at times, reminding people not to do horrible things to one another... but overall he is sweet and gentle... and powerful.  I know that his gentleness would get me to do just about anything he asked.  God is like that.  He loves us so much that we can't doubt it for even a second... and when someone loves you that much, and pleads with you instead of forcing you... who is there consistently, every time we fall, helping us up, brushing us off, and encouraging us to try again... that is what encourages us to rise above ourselves and become better than we are.   That makes US great.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Job 27:6-8

"My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.
For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?"
Job 27:6-8

This is pretty cool.  I like the "my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live." ... what a great, amazing principle to stand up for.  I know that my heart has reproached me quite a few times in the past.  I would like to live so that it never does again. :)   I like the last verse as well... because, as always, that is what it comes down to.   What good is it to disobey God, or to gain ANYTHING else, when we're losing our own souls in the process... when our own hearts reproach us?  It isn't worth it.   Let's take this day and try to incorporate Job's words into our lives... let's hang on to our souls, and try to live above reproach from our own hearts.  And, if we can do it today... then maybe we can try doing it for longer. :)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Job 13:23

"How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin."
Job 13:23

This one caught my eye because... I don't think I want to know my iniquities and sins at all.   When I'm driving down the road and I remember some of them, it makes me sad.  So, I guess I was wondering why you would want that.  There was a great cross-reference to the Doctrine and Covenants (18:44) which talks about convincing many of their sins that they may come to repentance.   And maybe that is why.   Maybe we don't really realize all the things that we do wrong, or try to block them out (that's me), but if we actually faced them and dealt with them, it would give us an amazing opportunity for repentance... for that cleanliness of soul that feels better than anything else.  It's also interesting that the other cross-reference was to Alma 36:17.  It's when Alma the younger is stopped on the road by an angel, and struck down.  He is "harrowed" up by the memory of his sins... it is a suffering thing, but also allows him room for repentance as he remembers how to get rid of that feeling.  I think when I just try to shove all of my past sins into a locked box in the back of my mind, I am probably losing that opportunity.  Maybe we have to suffer a little in order to repent.  We have to realize and deal with what we've done wrong in order to change it... but the cool thing is that we CAN change it.  With God's help, we can get through the painful part, and get to the part where we wash them away and they can't hurt us ever again. ... Let's give it a try. :)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

1 Kings 8:38-39

"What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:
Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)"
1 Kings 8:38-39

The phrase "know every man the plague of his own heart" is interesting to me.  I think that we do have heart plagues. Things that seep into our hearts... or maybe they *start* there.  I don't know.  Whatever way they get there though, those are the things that keep us from God... the things that prevent us from giving our hearts wholly to God.  It's interesting that it talks about prayer from those that know the plagues of their own hearts... I think recognizing those things that are within us that are blocking our relationships with God... that's important self-insight, and could make for a pretty sincere prayer if we're ready to fight those dragons. :)  And then, to conclude this selection, we're reminded that God knows our hearts (and therefore our plagues too) and that he will forgive us, and provide for us according to our ways.  I think referring to reaping what we sow, and being blessed as long as we are going in the correct direction (toward God).
No matter what the plagues of our hearts are, they can be overcome.   God is there, knowing as no one else can the struggles that we each have... those things that are buried in our hearts, that are SO important to us.  They are extremely hard to overcome (which is why we have the plague analogy... possibly contagious/hard to cure/probably lethal if we don't get help)... but *with* his help, we can overcome any of those personal dragons... no matter how big or scary, or fire-breathing. :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

2 Chronicles 12:14

"And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord."
2 Chronicles 12:14

I talked about this scripture in a previous scripture of the day, a long time ago.  But it struck me again today.  It's interesting to me because I think one thing that I do a lot is expect God to be there when I look for him, no matter when or where... whether I have the spirit or not, whether He and I are on good terms that day or not.  I look up at the ceiling and start pouring out whatever it is... rage or happiness.  And unfortunately, it is too often the former, or something near to it.   Less thankfulness, more "why?" ... and I think that is where this scripture comes in, at least for me.   I want God to help me, but I am not doing the work that it takes on my side... to prepare my heart to seek him.
I went to the temple earlier this month, and I think about how the Lord's house feels... calm, peaceful, no contention involved.  I think that's how my heart has to be, in order to really communicate with God... to find him, to petition him for help.  And I need to do the work that it takes to get to that point before I go demanding things (! demanding something from God? what an insane concept... but I do... I do), or at least asking aggressively. :)
I don't think that praying is ever a bad thing, even if we are having a bad day... but today, let's take some thought and look at our hearts before we seek the Lord.  Are we ready?  Are we in a position where we can talk to the Lord calmly, peacefully... lovingly?  Let's try to show him some respect today, and stop treating him like a ... magic 8-ball or a vending machine.  He's our Father, and he does care about us. Let's make sure we remember that, as we engage in communication with him today.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 -- On Loving the Stranger

"For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."
Deuteronomy 10:17-19

This is interesting stuff. The first verse reminds us that God isn't corruptible... that he is God, after all, and isn't impressed with our little earthly biases and riches.  My favorite part in these verses is the stranger part.   He loves the stranger, and tells us that we should love the stranger as well, because we have been strangers.  I think that it is interesting because we have a fear, not always irrational, of strangers.   People we don't know seem irrelevant, or even dangerous.   We teach children to avoid strangers, to not talk to them or not get into their cars (which is a rational security measure).  We, as a society, are practically teaching paranoia of strangers.  Anyone we don't know is scary... without morals.  

Some of that is valid. We do need to watch out for our children, and avoid things that can get us hurt or killed.   However, I think our paranoia hurts us as well.  When we begin our interactions with distrust, how can we build relationships?  And our distance... why do we mourn for the disaster or terrorist victims in our own country, but just shrug our shoulders at the disaster and terrorism in other countries?  Not because they are less extreme, because they aren't.

We also *become* strangers very easily.  Almost a year ago, I was laid off from a job.   They told me ahead of time, because they had to... it would have become obvious that I wasn't able to sign up to teach classes the next semester, etc.   So, I still had to work there and interact with people for more than a month after they told me.   After everyone heard, I was suddenly a stranger.  People averted their eyes when they saw me.  It was a bizarre transition, and I'm not saying it was horrible of those people... probably just a natural stress reaction.  Have to distance yourself when something like that happens, so that you cut your losses or something like that... but I think that it serves to illustrate how close we are to becoming strangers ourselves. 

At work, in our everyday relationships... we're close to being strangers all the time.   To avoid that, we have to go out of our way to maintain relationships, to love people... to rescue them from the stranger category. :)   And, we need to put forth that effort as much as we can.  Today, let's try to be like God... to "regard not persons" as far as picking and choosing who we acknowledge because of whatever categories we choose to discriminate by.   God loves them ALL.  And, if we put forth the effort, maybe we can find out why. :)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Deuteronomy 8:5-6

"Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.
Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him."
Deuteronomy 8:5-6

I think this is a really good thing--really important thing--to remember.  Sometimes we are tempted to believe in an image of a God without any sharp edges.   Pure, perfect, beautiful, and always sweet... up there in Heaven just pouring down goodness all the time, to everyone indiscriminately... trying to overwhelm the evil in the world with good.  Almost like a woman trying to cure her son of a murderous rage by kissing him. ... And the thing about that is that it is one of the best lies (or most deceiving), because it is so close to the truth.   God *is* pure, perfect, and beautiful... he also always loves us, and always wants the best for us, no matter what we do.  But the lie we so easily believe is that he has the same weaknesses that we do.  We believe that his love makes him weak, and that he won't chastise anyone because he loves us too much.   God's love is more powerful than that.  He loves us MORE than if he were paralyzed by love.  He loves us so much that, despite the pain to us, and despite the pain to himself watching us suffer... he will still correct us, instruct us, and lead us to be better than we are.  As long as there is any tiny, microscopic fragment of hope left, he is there: pleading, cajoling... drawing us out, reminding us of who we are (HIS children), and of our potential.   But not only pleading. There are definite huge, physical, painful lessons that we have to learn sometimes.   We have to learn to deal with grief.  We have to learn to deal with pain, with heartbreak, with desolation.   He loves us too much to spare us those lessons.  He knows that we will be stronger and better afterward.  He allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions... to start to learn the end from the beginning.  This life is a test, not a picnic.   Let's remember that we have non-picnic lives... then it will be easier to remember that God loves us, even when the bad things happen.  We won't start doubting him the minute the pain starts.  Instead, we can learn to understand love on a deeper level... a level that looks past the pain, to the lesson, and to the people that we can become... better than we have ever dreamed, and *definitely* better than we would be if we were spared our lessons.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Deuteronomy 5:29

"O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!"
Deuteronomy 5:29

This just seems amazing to me... it is God speaking, and wishing that we would be good, so that everything would go okay for us.   It just seems to exude love. :)   Or maybe not exude... radiate, broadcast... God just wants us to be okay. :)  I love that.  
Interesting too that he mentions the heart.  The Book of Mormon talks about a change of heart, and a broken heart and a contrite spirit... seems like we need to get our hearts in line.  It makes sense to me.  Usually, when I make a bad choice, it seems to be because I love something or someone more than I love God.  When I get my heart straight, then those things aren't challenging anymore... or at least a LOT less challenging.
The fear part is interesting too.   The context is that God appeared in the fire and cloud to the Israelites, and they heard his voice speaking to them, and they were afraid, in the sense that they were afraid that they would die if they endured too much of his glory.  They could see how powerful and ... uh, god-like... God was. :)   I don't think it was about being horrified or scared of him, but fearing in the sense of respecting his greater ability, intelligence, etc.   And in that sense, I think that we need to fear him a lot more.   We are nothing compared to God... we reason on a amazingly lower level.  We can't see what is ahead.  If we don't do the work that it takes to keep God in our lives, then we're only hurting ourselves.  And, in this verse, God wishes that we wouldn't hurt ourselves so much.   He truly, deeply loves us.   Let's remember to keep him in our lives today. :)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Deuteronomy 4:29-31 -- On Seeking the Lord

"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
(For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them."
Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Moses is talking to the Children of Israel here: warning them of what will happen in the future… that they will give themselves to idols again, and be scattered and afflicted.  I think it is important to remember that *we* are the people he is speaking to.  He says “in the latter days” … and that is us. :)
One of the things I like here is that Moses is telling them they are going to be in a very bad situation… “but if from thence thou shalt seek…” … and that applies to us directly, in whatever situation we are in. As followers of Christ, we’re part of the scattered tribes, whether by blood or adoption, and this promise is directly to us.   Wherever we have been scattered to, whatever idols we have worshipped… if from here we shall seek the Lord our God, we will find him.  We have to seek with everything we have… but if we do, then God offers us what he offered our ancestors long ago… which were amazing things.  Plus, specifically in these verses he promises to not forsake us or destroy us… and those are pretty cool as well, especially to me the not forsake us part.  When I try to function without God in my life, I stall a lot.  My mind is dark, so I can’t even think… nothing works.  I become this walking, talking zombie… no mind, no heart… no soul.  It stinks. On one hand, though, it has a purpose… it is amazingly good for me to remember that I desperately need God in my life.  And when he is here, with us, let’s not take that for granted.   We need to work to keep that relationship every day… seek him with all of our hearts and all of our souls, as the verses indicate. :)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Numbers 15:38-40

"Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God."
Numbers 15:38-40

I like this... God cares about us so much. He's always giving us things to help us remember.  It seems ironic in a way, because the whole challenge of this life is that we *don't* remember our past selves.  We can't remember the premortal existence, or anything that came before... so, we read, we pray, we listen... and we try to remember what we're taught.  I think that anything that helps us remember is helpful.  Pictures, scripture quotes... fringes. :)  Whatever it is, it is a reminder of God, and keeping him in our minds and in our hearts all the time is the goal. ... Let's surround ourselves with reminders, and not forget the ones that already surround us... the sunrise... the trees... there are so many things that point directly to God, if we stop and consider them.  Today, let's remember.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Leviticus 26:43-45

"The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God.
But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord."
Leviticus 26:43-45

I think this is interesting. God is talking in this chapter about his people going astray, and that if they are humble, admit their faults, and accept their punishment, that he will remember them.  I find it interesting, because most of the time I think of repentance as a free ride. :) ... It is definitely hard to repent, but then, once it is done, it's over... free ticket to the rest of your life.  But here God talks about accepting punishment for iniquity, because in the past his people (we) have despised his laws. ... And it's true.  We have to accept punishments, sometimes just in the form of natural consequences for our actions, but sometimes perhaps more. ... If you conceive a child out of wedlock, for example, even if you repent immediately and never return to your sin... and no matter what your decisions about the child are... there are still consequences for your actions that you will have to deal with for a long time.  I think that this is true for all sin, to a greater or lesser degree.  When we commit sin, we've gotten our priorities wrong... and even if we say sorry immediately, never do it again... we still have to correct that mental/emotional balance... change our minds and our hearts, before we are going to be able to be "back to normal."
These verses talk about God remembering us, despite everything, when we are in the land of our enemies... and at least in a symbolic sense, don't we place ourselves in the land of our enemy when we commit sin? ... And God will remember us, and show mercy to us, even in the worst circumstances imaginable... but we have to do our part as well.  We have to do the work... spiritual, mental, emotional, AND physical sometimes, in order to get ourselves back on the path.  That requires suffering sometimes, and sacrifice.   God doesn't want us to be in pain... I don't think he ever wants that, but if we don't heed his warnings to avoid sin in the first place (and unfortunately none of us are perfect in that regard), then there IS pain, and there are other consequences.   Let's work on being humble enough to accept the burdens that we've brought upon ourselves, and once we've accepted them... it becomes so much easier to bear them cheerfully, and to eventually rid ourselves of them. :)   God is always there to help us along the way.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Leviticus 24:22

"Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God."
Leviticus 24:22

This struck me today as a good "unity" scripture.  Even though the Lord made a b'zillion promises to the children of Israel, and set them apart from other people... he also made sure to tell them that their law wasn't only for themselves, it was for their interactions with others (outsiders/strangers) as well.  I think that this helps when we are tempted to just "take care of our own" ... not that it is a bad thing to take care of each other within the church, or our families or social groups, but we need to help other people too.  We can't get caught up in the idea of the church as a social club, or look at the gospel with any kind of exclusivity.   The law, and the promises, are for everyone, and for our interactions with everyone.   We can't love our friends and cheat strangers... the gospel has to permeate every aspect of our lives, or we're not quite getting it. :)

Monday, February 6, 2006

Exodus 15:23-25

"And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them"
Exodus 15:23-25

This is one of the lesser-known miracles of Moses... in fact, it was so lesser-known that I didn't know about it until today... although I've read through Genesis before.  I guess I just never picked up on this one.   The children of Israel have just been saved from the Egyptians by going through the sea on dry ground, and the Egyptians were all drowned.   After that though, they go three days into the wilderness and there isn't any water to drink.  They're understandably thirsty, and perhaps less understandably, upset with Moses.  True, they had to pick up and leave their lives of slavery, and they are out of their comfort zones... but how many miracles have they seen recently?   They go back and forth: "we're saved!" and then "we're doomed!" :)  And, truthfully, I think a lot of us do that in our lives as well. After seeing all of those miracles, and being saved so many times by God, you would think that the Israelites (and us) would find some faith... would start believing, from all the evidence, that God was watching out for them (and us). 
I've been working in my life on trying to stay calm, no matter what happens... like President Hinckley.  I don't think that it is possible to rile him. :)  So, I think it would be cool to be like that, even if someone cuts me off in traffic, and even if someone is trying to push my buttons intentionally... and this is a big part of that.  Trusting that God will always be there, and that things will work out the way they are supposed to.  Not to say always the way I *want* them to... but the way they should.  Then I can start looking for the lesson instead of complaining. :)   Anyway, thought this was an interesting scripture today in that regard.  I also wonder if there is a certain kind of tree... bark, or whatever, that purifies water.  Anyone know?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Genesis 8:22

"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."
Genesis 8:22

Does this mean that cold and heat *can* cease?  This is right after the flood, and God is telling himself that he will never destroy everything like that again… and he includes this at the end of that promise.  It seems weird to me that cold and heat could disappear. Seasons and days not so much… seems like you could change an orbit or stop the spin of the planet, and those things would change… but cold and heat seem… eternal.  Hmm… but so does time, which the scriptures say someday will be “time no longer” (Revelations 10:6), so what do I know? :)   Anyway, good promise.  Hopefully we can improve ourselves and our world, so that there is no need to start over from scratch.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Genesis 2:21-22

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."
Genesis 2:21-22

I don’t really get this… why the rib?   Seems like God could have just made a woman, without worrying about bone surgery on the man.  So, there has to be a reason… hmm.  Is it illustrative of marriage again… that the two, man and woman, are part of each other, or is it something else more general about all women and all men?   Perhaps that (in a community way) we are all part of one another… that women and men complement each other, and that gender-based discrimination is really counter-productive.   We need each other, and our several perspectives, to make a good world. … And maybe I’m taking the lesson of the rib a bit too far.  I don’t know… but it seems like a good lesson anyhow.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Titus 3:9

"But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain."
Titus 3:9

There might be no such thing as a stupid question… but there are obviously foolish ones. :) … I’m thinking that a foolish question would be one that casts doubt on God’s abilities, or perhaps one of those “What if” questions that are posed contrary to reality.  Not sure, but something to think about … “foolish” could be speculation about things that haven’t been revealed to us yet, especially when we don’t have a grasp on those things that have been revealed. 
The scripture goes on to mention genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law.  Since we aren’t supposed to avoid genealogies in general, I would guess that the word “foolish” pertains to each of these in turn.  Foolish genealogies could be ones that claim superiority by right of birth… no matter where that claim comes from.  Foolish contentions… most contentions are probably foolish, except ones that involve your soul in some way.  Anything less isn’t really worth fighting about.  And the same for strivings about the law (which are contentions in a way… perhaps somewhat more polite contentions than normal).  It’s crazy what some people go to court about. I think that if you have an issue that involves your soul, or other people’s souls… where you’re trying to defend purity and godliness, then perhaps.  Lesser issues are probably not worth fighting about. … and “unprofitable” means spiritually I think, since some of those foolish strivings are against insurance companies, and sometimes they are profitable in a strictly monetary sense.  Profitable spiritually, no. … Really, I think Paul, and God, are just reminding us here to pay attention to things that matter… and not get distracted from the main idea of life by getting wound up in things that really don’t matter eternally.  That is very hard to remember sometimes, because we get emotionally involved.  Things that affect our worldly possessions, or our purchasing power seem to be incredibly important.  Let’s just take a step back today and try to reassess… what really is important, and what isn’t.

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