Monday, December 22, 2008

Titus 2:14 -- On Being Saved From Our Mistakes

"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
Titus 2:14


I love this: "redeem us from all iniquity." ... It's an interesting way to talk about the atonement, and very cool because it shows us a little bit of why. We have to be saved from our own mistakes. We make them all the time. Probably every day... I am sure it is possible to make it through a mistake-free day, but I'm not sure I personally have ever done it. There seems to always be more I should have done, or if I would have just kept my mouth shut, or been nicer, or stopped to help... or something, it would have been better. As we keep the spirit with us, we can get better at it... but we still make mistakes. Christ saves us from those mistakes, and from our sins as we repent and change ourselves (with his help) for the better.
Eventually, as we and God work on it together, we will become pure, and "zealous of good works." ... Doing the right thing, every time. :) I would like to get there. And because Christ suffered for me, I have that chance. Today, let's work on becoming better at perfection and better at purity. God knows we can't do it all at once, which is why he is there to help us with even our smallest attempts. :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Joel 2:13 -- On Broken Hearts

"And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."
Joel 2:13


In Old Testament times it was common to tear your clothes if something really bad happened... it showed people how upset you were. :)  Here, God tells us to tear our hearts, not our clothes... sort of like telling us to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit, but this way seems a little more active.  God asking us to break our own hearts. :)
And why would we do that?  Having a broken heart is a very painful thing.  Choosing that kind of pain is difficult.  I think what God is saying here makes a lot of sense though.  Crying and tearing our clothes and saying how awful it is isn't going to change anything... if we are sincerely upset by events that happen, the best thing to do is to change ourselves, since that is the only thing that we have control of.  As we adjust our hearts and minds, God will withdraw whatever it is that caused us horror in the first place... or we will have already sacrificed whatever it was in the process. 
Yes, it is a very painful choice ... but it is also the only one where something actually changes.  Standing in the street, tearing our clothes and crying about how awful and unfair it all is won't make a difference.  Instead, let's break open our hearts, feel the pain of change, and become newer and better, with God's help.  Then we won't have anything to complain about, and whenever our hearts gets broken, it will be our own wise choices that do it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ether 8:26 -- On Continual Good

"Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power among the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved."
Ether 8:26


This scripture is interesting to me because it seems like such a huge thing to do... "that evil may be done away."  But Moroni here has *absolute* faith that his words will help that to happen. This chapter talks about the secret combinations and murders that were going on at the time of the Jaredites... and warns us that they are going on now, in our day.  They seem to be pretty permanent as well... but Moroni says here that evil will be done away, and that we can be persuaded to do good continually. :)
That statement brings hope in the midst of the evil that surrounds us in life... and is something to work for.  If we work at being good and eradicating evil from ourselves, then we'll be ready to join in a community effort to do the same thing on a larger scale.  And I am not talking about some "don't let your kids play with those other kids" idea because their parents are different than we are... I think that could be part of the problem, not part of the solution.  I'm talking about seriously learning to love our neighbors... educating each other so that we can see the best in ourselves and in others... and getting rid of the hatred that fills our society.
Moroni talks about Satan having no power among us... and how better to take away that power than by taking the commandment to love people seriously?  Zion begins with the individual. As we become Zion individuals, then we will build a Zion community, and a Zion nation... and a Zion world, and the prophecy of Moroni will be fulfilled.  Let's start. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Moses 1:4 -- On Endless Words

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


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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nahum 1:7 -- On Permanence

"The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."
Nahum 1:7

This is kind of cool.  The Lord is something to hold onto in the day of trouble.  The immovable permanence that we seek.

I think there is something compelling about permanence.  Something that doesn't change no matter what hits it, something that is unbreakable, that can't be taken away... a connection that cannot be severed. That is the kind of solidity that God offers us... both in himself, and his relationship with us, but also in the opportunity that he gives us to be sealed to one another.  We are all bound together as families, but families that all interconnect somewhere, so as a community as well.  Nothing can take that away... and sometimes when things seem very impermanent and ethereal, it is good to know that there is solidity and permanence somewhere. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hebrews 1:9 -- On Happiness through God

"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
Hebrews 1:9


I think we all want to be happy... happier than we are.  And right here is how.  Righteousness is directly connected to happiness.  Loving righteousness and rejecting iniquity will help us become happier.  Now, I don't think that this means that we will have fewer trials or less opposition.  In fact, trials and opposition could possibly be more frequent with people who are doing well and learning quickly.  This life is a test... we can't get away from that basic fact.  But we can be happy in the midst of the test, partially because we have been prepared for it by our teacher, and partially because we know that he would never test us on something that we couldn't handle.  God is in control. We look for happiness and peace in so many places, but we will never find what we are really searching for until we look for it through God.

Friday, December 12, 2008

2 Nephi 26:23-24 -- On Walking in the Light

"For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation."
2 Nephi 26:23-24


I think of God not working in darkness like someone who is not ashamed of anything he does... there isn't anything that he would ever need to hide.  Many of us, if not all, have things that we hide when we are trying to make a good impression... maybe things that we hide almost all the time.  Instead of hiding though, God welcomes examination.

He is completely in the spotlight, asking anyone who will listen to take a look, and see if what he says isn't true... to take a look and see if he does *anything* that isn't for the benefit of his children.  He welcomes people in, and asks them to trust him, because he doesn't have anything to hide.  Because he is working for all of us, because he loves us.  Completely open, completely honest... offering explanation to anyone who takes the time and the thought to ask, and who is open to the answer.  The same God, all the time... consistent.

In this life we are asked to follow in his footsteps, to become like God, and to walk in the light. :)  As we endeavor to get to that point, we learn what shames us... what we are afraid of revealing to the world... what we are hiding in the dark.  Sometimes we are ashamed of God, unwilling to admit to others that we believe.  Sometimes we are ashamed of other things that take us farther from him, and eventually we have to learn who we are: to become one person who doesn't hide from what he or she believes, and who lives in the light.

And remember... God knows what we are thinking.  If we all become like him, there won't be any shadows left to hide in.  Today, let's work towards a future where that won't be a personal tragedy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2 Nephi 21:9 -- On the Knowledge of the Lord

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
2 Nephi 21:9


I really like this vision of the future. During the Millenium, people won't be harming each other... but even more than that, animals won't be harming each other, and animals and people are going to get along. :) And why will they refrain from harm? Because of the knowledge of the Lord. :) Think about the last simile: "as the waters cover the sea." ... It doesn't sound like there are going to be any dissenters standing on the bottom of the ocean, completely dry. :) I love the idea of knowledge being as deep and wide as the ocean and covering us so that it would take a concerted effort to surface and *not* know. :)

Perhaps we can embrace this ideal, and work on getting all the knowledge of the Lord that we can, today. Maybe we won't get to the sea level. Maybe we'll only get a pond, or a shower... or a few drops to drink. ... But even a sea has to start somewhere. ;)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mark 5:25-29 -- On Touching Christ

"And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague."
Mark 5:25-29


I love this story. Although this woman had a physical ailment, and the woman taken in adultery had a spiritual ailment, I think in a lot of ways they teach the same thing. These women show us that God can help us when no one else can. You can look to the law, you can look to the doctors, you can talk to all the experts... and when none of it works, Christ will still heal us.
Imagine this woman's faith... it says that she spent everything she had on doctors.... and they couldn't make it better, but it actually was getting worse. For twelve *years* she suffered through all of this... and had *every* reason to doubt that anything could be done... and yet, she believed.  And she came to Christ, and initiated the healing by touching his clothing. Powerful faith, and a powerful woman, to draw upon Christ's power like that. Thousands of people touched him that day... but her touch was different.
I think it is the same in our lives. Christ is there; we have access to him. And zillions of people are praying to him, touching him in many ways... but we can do more than just make contact. We can be healed of our ailments... physical, mental, spiritual... if we draw upon the power that he offers us. There are many ailments in our lives, many things that we can't figure out... and God has the power to teach us and to heal us, if we will only draw upon his power, we can use it to become whole in our own lives... and to make a positive difference in the lives of the people around us.
So many of us suffer as this woman did... maybe not for exactly the same thing, or for exactly the same amount of time,… but we are all trying to get healing from someplace. We look to whatever "experts" there are, or sometimes we think that we can heal ourselves, but we continue to suffer. God offers peace, and wholeness. He cures physical and mental illnesses, addictions, mental blocks, and every sort of spiritual dilemma that we can be faced with. We can ask God for the strength and the power to overcome the obstacles in our lives.
The answers might not always come the way we want them, but if we persist in our faith as this woman did, and go to God with our problems… he has promised us that our weaknesses will be made strengths. Today, let's take him up on the offer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Proverbs 17:17-18 -- On Friendship

"A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend."
Proverbs 17:17-18


This scripture is awesome in portraying how we can offer confidence and solidity to people.  Treating people like they are cool... (which they ARE, by the way...) helps them to relax and be genuine.  Even when our friends are going through tough things, or when they make mistakes, we love them for who they are, and who they are capable of becoming.  We do all that we can to help them see that vision and reach for it... and they do the same for us.  And hopefully, we are expanding our circle and listening to the spirit, so that we see more and more people as friends… eventually everyone.
Often, we look at our choices and choose either independence or dependence.  We need to learn both.  We need to learn who we are and how much power we have within ourselves, and learn to trust ourselves to figure things out and to live by what we believe.  We need to learn how utterly dependent we are upon God.  But sometimes we mix up the two and go dependent on other people and independent of God… and we also miss learning interdependence, which is another good option.
We are all dependent upon each other for so many things... and other people are dependent upon us.  This world is a system that we are a part of... and we are never completely alone or out of the system.
Everything that we do and say and think makes a difference to the whole.  Loving each other and lifting each other matters... and it matters a lot more than how much money we are making, or whether we get to that appointment on time today.  Other people are part of that system, and therefore part of who we are.  We affect each other immeasurably.  Today, let's remember how much confidence and power we offer to people, and how we need each other, and behave accordingly.

Monday, December 8, 2008

1 Peter 1:13 -- On Hoping to the End

"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 1:13


I think we all feel overwhelmed sometimes, and think that we can't face whatever the day has in store... feel some mental exhaustion. :)  But, we still have to face the tasks of the day, whatever they are... work, school, kids, cellmates... (ha ha), and we have to work at being positive and cheerful, even when we feel like that.  Perhaps what we need in those circumstances is to "gird up the loins" of our minds and hope, which I think is the whole point of the girding up process. :)  We can't allow darkness to dominate our thoughts.  Instead, to get through the day, we have to sweep all that dust out of the way, and bask in the light of hope that is always shining in, as long as we open the shutters. :)
Today, let's work to inspire our minds to hope, and with the "be sober" part, make sure that we aren't getting drunk on cynicism. :)  I think the verse has an excellent point, that we are hoping for grace, and other things that Christ offers us.  Perhaps if we can get our minds out of that gutter of despair, and actually look up, towards our goal and our God, we won't be overwhelmed... except maybe in a good way. ;)  Let's hope to the end, and never give up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

2 Nephi 23:3 -- On Comparison and Community

"I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones, for mine anger is not upon them that rejoice in my highness."
2 Nephi 23:3


I think that this is interesting. We focus on comparison a lot in this beloved world of ours... judging ourselves by how the next guy is doing.  We're rich if we notice the homeless guy down the street, and poor if we drive by a twelve-room house with the perfectly manicured lawn and the iron bars keeping us out.  We decide what is fair by whether it is happening to us, or to someone else.  Sometimes we fall into this game with God.  And it is an easy game to play... somehow we seem to feel better about our position when we mock the people on a higher rung, or the people on a lower… all from comparison of things that seem to represent success to us.  When we are worried about our relationship with God, sometimes we try to mock him too... saying that he doesn't care, or that the people who say they follow him are all hypocrites... or that heaven is boring.  Anything to make ourselves feel better.  We focus on habits instead of people... labeling this person this, and that person that, so that we can feel better with the labels that we attach to ourselves. ...Imagining that one irritating (to us) habit devalues the good that we see in a person, and we think that the good that we know is within ourselves makes up for irritating habits of our own.
We suspend this kind of judgement rarely. Sometimes we manage it to a limited degree with our children... we have the ability to be happy when they achieve more than we have (as measured by our automatic comparison)... and sometimes, albeit rarely, we have a significant person in our lives who we share success and failure with, not casting blame or claiming victory, except as a plurality.  We could probably sum up the goal of our earthly existence by saying that we were sent here to extend that plurality.  God wants us to discover a true sense of community... a Zion... where we stand or fall as a unit, helping each other, and rejoicing in each other's success.  Our task, then, is recognizing that anyone's success is something that builds each of us... lifting each other up from failure to try again. And, as expressed in this scripture... we reach the pinnacle of that sense of community when we extend our plurality to God.  When we realize that we are one with him, as well as with the people around us... when we can rejoice in his highness, even as we are aware of our own comparative "lowness."  We recognize that his highness helps us all to climb higher, and we are in there helping each other climb.  Today, let's rejoice in community, and help each other rather than mocking or judging others to make ourselves feel better. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Colossians 3:12-13 -- On Three-way Peace

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
Colossians 3:12-13


I think these two verses are leading up to verse 15 in the same chapter, which says "let the peace of God rule in your hearts" and "be ye thankful." ... I think the verses work together.  In order to get that peace, we have to do these things, but also, in order to do these things, we have to let the peace of God rule us.  It is easy in our daily lives to forget these things... mercy, humility, kindness, meekness (patience, gentleness, submissiveness), and it is easy to jump to conclusions, to judge people and leave no room for change.  It is easy to hold grudges, and we have a thousand ways to justify them to ourselves. But here it is... God is asking us not to do that.
And, you know, in the end, I don't even think that he is asking that for the benefit of those other people that we judge, or who are hurt because of our non-kindness, or our non-patience.  I think he asks those things mostly for us. We can't be at peace when we are treating other people disrespectfully, no matter what the reason is.  I think it is part of that change of heart that we need to keep working at. :)  Loving everyone is difficult sometimes, but it gets easier as we let go of resentments and things that can keep the spirit away.  Today, let's remember this scripture... let's let go of quarrels and things that are causing strife, and try to be at peace.  Within ourselves, with others, and with God.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

2 Peter 3:11-14

"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
2 Peter 3:11-14


This is an excellent question. … since we know that the earth is going to melt away (basically... not trying to be negative or anything) ... what manner of people should we be?  What should we be focusing on?  Probably not the melted pieces.  Perhaps the few things that last after this life is over, after this earth is gone... building healthy relationships with people.  Learning all that we can.   Happiness, peace.  ... As Tracy Chapman says, "All you have is your soul."  Instead of focusing on earthly rewards... which are apparently going to be liquefied... we can focus on things that won't melt. :)
Of course... that doesn't mean that we can encourage the melt-down.  We have to do all that we can to build other people up, to respect them, to love them.  No flame-throwers.  I think God can handle that part all by himself.  But we *should* take some time and put earthly things into perspective.  Melted stuff just, frankly, isn't as cool as God's stuff.  The last part I think is where we can do some work.
Let's be diligent today, to be at peace, to be without spot,… to be blameless.  As we go through the refiner's fire, let's make sure that something inside of us is heat-resistant… pure enough to last, even after everything else has been burned away.  And then we can look forward to the "new heavens and a new earth" … where righteousness dwells.  I don't really know if I am going to like the melting part, but the dwelling together in righteousness part sounds pretty great. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

James 1:5

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5


This is a great scripture. Not only because it was the inspiration for Joseph Smith to actually go out and ask God what was up with all the different churches... but also because we can find wisdom in our own lives.  No matter how brilliant or well-organized we are, we all lack wisdom. We all have a little in different areas... but compared to God, we lack a lot. :)  And so, going to God to ask for some more is a great idea. :)  It is cool that he offers wisdom to everyone, without rebuking or chastising us.  The scripture goes on to say that we need to have faith as we are asking.  Believe that God wants us to have wisdom, and that he will help us get it.  That might be the trickiest part,… but God really does want us to know and learn and understand.  We can't do it all at once, but as we ask for understanding and wisdom, he will teach us.
So, today, let's try it... when we're stuck and need some wisdom... let's take it to God.  He will answer us.  It might be in an unexpected way, or require a little bit of patience (oh no!!!) but the answer will definitely come. :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

1 Peter 2:20 -- On Being Extraordinary

"For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
1 Peter 2:20


I love that God doesn't expect us to be typical, but extraordinary.  Sometimes when we are doing fantastically in our lives, Satan turns up the heat, and things get a lot harder.  Sometimes we have the energy to just take one step towards God, and Satan tries to sabotage us.  It isn't really about suffering for our mistakes, but just about learning and growth.  God is not trying to create martyrs, but to train Gods.
Not, of course, that we should give up on patience in other circumstances.  Patience is also needed when the suffering is well-deserved. :)  Perhaps though it is more needed when we are wrongfully accused, or persecuted for being truthful and just.  It is easy to become resentful and bitter when we pass through trials that we don't think are "deserved."  But it is always good to remember... life is a test.  Some parts of the test are harder than others, but we are learning incredible things.  So, today... let's be patient.  Sometimes we will suffer for well-doing.  Let's just smile, and keep doing well.  Christ suffered more than we ever will... and he never did anything to deserve it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ephesians 5:20 -- On Thanks and Always

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;"
Ephesians 5:20


I like the words "always" and "all" here. There are times to stay away from words like these.  We hear "never say never" a lot, and can think of exceptions to almost any rule, and doubt most expressions and protestations from other people when they include all-inclusive words like this.
One thing I like about God is that you can use some of these words, because you *can* have absolute confidence in him... there is no need for doubt, or for words that illustrate a lesser stance or commitment.  We can always be thankful to God, because there is always something to thank him for. All things that we experience point our way and prepare us to return to him.  He gave us our families, our friends, and even our jobs and toys. :) We become more than we are by looking to him, and even when he chastises us or allows us to endure hardship, every second of it is because he loves us, and wants us to grow into our true selves and help us find happiness and fulfillment... far beyond what we could do on our own.
Today, let's give thanks to him... always :) ...for everything. :)  Can you imagine? If we spent the entire day giving thanks... *still* we would need to continue... to thank him for expanding our hearts, for a greater capacity to love, for blessings beyond our ability to enumerate. ... :) So, let's get started.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 11:8

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation."
D&C 11:8


This is fascinating. And true, of course. :) Whatever we are looking for, we'll find.  It's like anytime you move to a new place.  You find what you are looking for.  If we are looking for a grocery store, we'll find one... but even if we pass a pet store on the way, we ignore it... until it's time to go fish shopping. :) If we are looking for a bar, we'll find one.  If we are looking for a church, we'll find one. No matter where it is, we can find good or bad, depending on what we are concentrating on in our lives.  And God will be in our lives to the extent that we desire him to be.  If we keep saying, hey, come over and listen to this... and hey... come over and let me tell you how cool my day was, and hey... come over, and let me read you this story I wrote... then he'll come, and listen, and hang out with us. And when we ask him about life and ideas, he'll talk to us about them.  But if we keep saying... hey, thanks for the offer, but I have other plans... and you know, that sounds like good advice, but I think I can handle it... then he'll wait until we invite him in.  He's not going to break into our living rooms and try to talk to us while we turn up the TV and studiously try to ignore him.  He'll keep knocking until we let him in.  If we desire almost anything, we'll get it. But we'll never find lasting happiness anywhere but with God.
It's kind of funny when people complain that God never lets them have any fun... and sometimes it is us saying that, and we believe it.  We seriously believe sometimes that sin is fun or happy... when it is neither.  It can imitate fun and happiness for a while... but underneath is misery and boredom when the thrills don't last.  God can show us fun, and happiness, and a better time than we can find anywhere else.  Man is that he might have JOY... joy--real joy, not harp-playing boredom.  If we desire to be the means of doing much good, we will be, and if we desire to have loads of fun, we will. Today, perhaps we should ask God to show us the fun and the joy and the good that is all around us... and, as long as we are seriously open to it... let's prepare to be amazed. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Luke 17:32

"Remember Lot's wife."
Luke 17:32


This is one of my favorite scriptures, one I have to remember.  If you guys don't know the story of Lot... he was living with his wife and family in a very wicked city that the Lord decided to destroy.  He told them to leave the city, and to not turn around and try to go back, or even to look back... and so they were leaving, and Lot's wife turned around to see.  She was turned into a pillar of salt.
It's like in our lives, when we leave old habits or addictions behind... or when we decide we need to omit something from our lives in order to be healthy... we have to stick with those decisions, and never look back.  If we do, then we have to suffer the separation over and over again... we have to re-live those hellish decisions again and again... and if we can never walk away, but keep returning, then we might as well be spiritual pillars of salt, because we're never going to let ourselves escape. 
So many times we cast our burdens on the Lord, as we should... but then demand them back when we aren't in control anymore.  Let's let them go... learn the lesson, and then go on to the next page, the next chapter, instead of re-reading the same verse over and over and over again.  We sometimes act like our whole lives are one phrase, and that's all that matters.  It isn't... there are so many more things to learn, to love, to become... and if we insist on focusing obsessively on one topic or one person... at least let's choose God.  He's like the Table of Contents... :)  He'll at least guide us to the rest of the book. :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ezekiel 34:3-4,12

"Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day."
Ezekiel 34:3-4,12


Another last days scripture... this whole chapter is awesome, really interesting.  This talks about the shepherds that are taking care of the sheep now, probably talking about teaching and leadership... and how in our world, in our country, and even probably in our individual congregations, we don't do enough to take care of the people around us.  Too many people slip through the cracks.  The first couple of verses are pretty harsh, talking about how so many times leaders will make use of subjects, or citizens, to gain power and prestige, use the people, but not take care of them.  The last verse is the Lord's answer to that... when he rules on the earth, he won't do any of those awful things; He won't neglect or forget any of us. 
I think, especially in the last days that we are in, it is very cloudy, and very dark... and it is very hard not to get lost.  But God will come and find us, and take care of us, and help us.  As shepherds, and as sheep, God leads us and loves us, and even when he is criticizing the way things are, he doesn't just throw up his hands and say, what can be done? ... He shows us how he does things, and gives us hope that things will be better and that the little that we do will make a difference.  Someday the day will not be cloudy and dark, but bright and perfect, and all of the sheep will be fed, and healed, and cared for.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

John 9:25

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


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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Acts 2:44

"And all that believed were together, and had all things common;"
Acts 2:44


I love the idea of having all things common. I know that in actual practice that it would probably be really hard to do, and that we probably aren't ready for it, or we would be going there... but as an
ideal, it seems so cool.  The whole group supporting each other thing, taken farther.  Where you are willing to give everything, and so is everyone else, and then you live as a group, supporting the whole.  I think I would like to try it, although I predict that it would be hard with some things.  I'm kind of attached to my computer for instance, and what if I had to ... *share* it?! :)  Maybe the reason that we aren't ready for it is that we are attached to some of our stuff too much, and not attached enough to the people around us.  Today, let's think about what things we couldn't bear to give up, and start preparing our hearts to live as a Zion people.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 133:62

"And unto him that repenteth and sanctifieth himself before the Lord shall be given eternal life."
Doctrine and Covenants 133:62


I like this... very simple and straightforward. We have to repent, which is get rid of our bad actions, and sanctify ourselves, which is get rid of the bad parts of ourselves inside... so purify ourselves, in body and in spirit.  Not so simple and straightforward when you are trying to do it, of course, but a nicely balanced way to think about it.  Repentance is the first step... not doing what we shouldn't.  Sometimes this can just be a matter of willpower, but as we move on to Sanctification, we see that we have to go beyond that, into not *wanting* to sin, even more than just not acting upon those desires.  Thus, we truly become "new" ... I mean, same soul, same body, same quirky sense of humor... but new in the sense that we truly want what God wants, and we no longer find it desirable to go in a different direction... which is huge, and which changes us thoroughly.  Christ gave us that gift, the space to change ourselves that incredibly, with his help. ... to learn and grow and become new.  Today, let's work on those changes... the external ones *and* the internal ones.

Monday, November 17, 2008

2 Nephi 18:12-13

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


I think this scripture goes beyond saying something like we should be afraid of God. I think that it points out the difference between what matters and what doesn't.  If God is central to our lives, then we don't have to fear anything except his will.  And sometimes his will and ours don't mesh, and it IS rather frightening to try to reconcile ourselves to that.  But the things that "everyone" fears won't be able to touch us with even a hint of fear, if we are focused on God and an eternal perspective.  Death can't hurt us.  Pain is temporary.  Injustice will ALL be righted in the end.  Today can be enjoyed without guilt or regret.... if we only do what we should.  Instead of fearing those things that can't do any permanent (read: eternal) damage, maybe we should take all of that energy we are throwing into fear, and focus it on God.  We can fear offending him, and worry about making sure we are ready to do as he asks.  I suppose if there is anything that we really should fear, it's being forever separated from God.  Today, let's work on making sure that doesn't happen. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

1 John 1:5-7

"This then is the message we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:5-7


I love this... "in him is no darkness at all."  Sometimes I feel like I have darkness inside me, and I know that with God's help, I can get rid of the dark parts until one day I am like him... no darkness at all.  To walk with him, we have to have the spirit, and to have the spirit, we have to do the right things.  When we do things wrong, or make the choice against what God wanted, we somehow just end up not getting anywhere that day.  We have to get back on track, and get the Spirit into our lives, or we just wander around, and don't make any headway in that quest to lose the dark and keep the light.  And the third verse here is the icing on the cake... when we do those things, we not only get the blessings of calmness and accomplishment and all the rest of the things that walking with God automatically gives us, but we also get fellowship with other people who are ... light. :)  God cleanses us from the darkness that is in us all, so we can be pure light as well.  Let's do our best to get rid of our darkness today, and walk with God in the light. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jeremiah 1:5

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
Jeremiah 1:5


Scriptures that make reference to our lives before birth are fascinating to me... I think that it gives me this overwhelming desire to be true to my former self... although sometimes I feel like I know very little about who I am now, and discovering who I was before this life is an even larger blank.  Luckily (okay, more than luck), we have God there to help us understand a little of what it was like... or at least who we were and where we stood on some of the major issues. :)
I've heard people ask life can be fair if God already knows everything about us... asking "what if I was a fence-sitter in the War in Heaven?"  How do I even have a chance to come out okay in this life?" ... although I think the question itself is flawed.  It's asked, assuming that God is out to get us, that he is as biased as we ourselves are.  I think that is untrue, and I also think that none of us were fence-sitters.  I think that is what scares me a little... not wondering if I wasn't quite all on God's side before, but having an absolute conviction that I *was* completely on his side, and wondering why I choose fear and resistance sometimes, now.
We have a relationship with God that stretches well beyond the boundaries of our current consciousness.  This is one reason that God knows us better than we know ourselves, and we can trust that the things he asks us to do are things that will help us become who we wanted to be.  Even though we can't see everything clearly, God can.

Friday, November 14, 2008

1 Corinthians 6:7 -- On Taking Wrong

"Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?"
1 Corinthians 6:7


Wow, this scripture is so interesting.  One of the worst things for me is if I feel like someone is taking advantage of my ignorance.  Like buying car things... I don't know that much, and so I usually trust the guy and buy the tires or the part.  Or when one cab driver charges me $65 for the same trip another cab driver charged me $30 for a week before.  Or, this moving company that never came, but kept my several-hundred-dollar deposit.  You start feeling "ripped off."  And the first thing I want to do when I find out that I've been ripped off is get them back!  It makes me mad that people do that to other people.  That they bold-face lie and cheat and then get away with it.  I agree that our courts are overcrowded, and people sue each other over tiny things.  I think that there are times when it is legitimate to go to court for the good of all, and to prevent others from being defrauded... but in general it is done way too much.  The question in the end is, are we supposed to let people get away with ripping us off?  ... This scripture seems to be saying yes.

In thinking about it, I don't think this means "stick around and let people abuse you."  We can get out of bad situations and stop shopping at a place with much higher prices.  I think it just means, if someone does cheat you, often it is better to just let it go than to let your heart sicken with anger and resentment.  Think about what our doubt and fear of others does to *us* ... it makes us mistrustful of others, and it encourages us to assume people are guilty until proven innocent.  For example, if you hear about an "honest" mechanic, it might surprise you... that's an oxymoron in our society.  These resentments throw us into "us against them" mode... assuming that all politicians are crooked, all car salesmen are liars... we could go farther into ethnic slurs and gender assumptions.  Perhaps it is better to be vulnerable to some lying, some cheating, some theft... so that we can see people in the best light.  When we come across people who take advantage of this, in many cases, we could let it go... and even pray for them.  They are going to have to deal with God too, and I think they could use all the help they can get.

Also, as we strive to build Zion, I think we have to realize that even people who cheat us are our brothers and sisters.  If my brother stole money from me, I'd let him have it... he probably needs it. :) And I'd pray for him, that he would just ask for it the next time, and not feel like he needs to take.  But if a guy on the street took the same amount of money, what would I do?  Would I do differently?  He is my brother too.  Maybe we need more realization that we aren't separate from "those people" ... that every time we interact with anyone, that person is a member of our family, and should be treated as such.  I obviously don't know all the answers, but something to think about today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

2 Nephi 15:20-21 -- On Choosing Door #1

"Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight!"
2 Nephi 15:20-21


This scripture is interesting because I think we do this all the time... we embrace the bitter and reject the sweet... walk into the darkness and shun the light... and we try to say to ourselves that it's good and right... that it will make us happy... when it obviously won't.  It's tough to do things God's way sometimes... hard to see what he has in store.  And it's hard to trade something real and in  front of us for something uncertain... like that old game show "Let's Make a Deal," except what we don't realize is that we are keeping the random farm animal that was given us as the sucker prize, even though God keeps telling us and telling us that the fulfillment of our dreams and deepest hopes is right there, in living color, behind door #1.  We keep trying to make the random farm animal suffice, because we can't *see* what else is there.  And even though the random farm animal causes us a vague sense of uneasiness, it's familiar, and we aren't willing to have nothing for the few minutes between giving it up and seeing what is behind door #1.  We aren't willing to make the effort to turn the knob... fearing that whatever it is might be *worse* than what we have... we gave up this cool goat for a dumb old chicken... or, we hear the unmistakable sounds of a *bigger* random farm animal behind curtain 2, and so we give up the chicken or the goat for the cow... never believing that sometimes life is better than farm animals.  Anyway, the scripture says basically that we shouldn't call God a liar.  We shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that he is offering us anything even *slightly* less than what we have now.  We shouldn't try to twist the world to fit our personal torment, or convince ourselves that all our lives we've really wanted that farm animal, and nothing is going to take it from us.  We need to let go of the known and have the faith to take the step into the unknown that God has promised us... it *is* better, and not worse. Good, and not evil, sweet and not bitter.
We aren't wise or prudent, compared to God... and anytime we think so, we need to re-evaluate.  Life should be much, much better than the random things we often hang onto.  Let's trust God, and open the door.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Helaman 5:40-41

"And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: What shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us? And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you."
Helaman 5:40-41


These Lamanites were in prison and had a physical cloud of darkness over them... but I figure that sometimes we have the same thing going on spiritually. First we have to recognize it, and then we have to work to get rid of it... and the same things will work to get us out of our spiritual darkness that worked for these people with their physical darkness. :)  The steps are simple, and although the actual implementation can take a lot of effort... when the darkness is gone, and we can see clearly again, we realize that unrestricted vision is worth all of the work, and more, that it took to get there.  So, the steps... repent, pray, faith.  And prayer *precedes* the faith in this case... actually in a lot of cases.  Even if we don't know for sure if anyone is listening, having the faith to get on our knees and find out... to talk to God and see if he answers us... that is a big step.  Sometimes it takes a lot of practice to hear what God has to say... but it's worth it.  And really... to have the darkness out of our lives?  That's worth an experiment in prayer, isn't it?  Today, let's get on our knees and talk to the Lord about removing the darkness from our lives, and then let's do what it takes to walk in the light.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

John 14:18

"I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you."
John 14:18


A good thing to remember today: no matter how bad things get, or even what we have done wrong, God never leaves us without comfort and healing within reach.  And not even just *our* reach... he will come to *us*; that is an amazing promise.  We never have to be alone, or in pain, when God is there.  I think it is important to remember too, that he won't *leave* us comfortless.  We might get there, and feel that, but God's promise is that it will end... that there is hope, that he will be there when he is needed.  No matter where we are on the path of life, if we have gone 300 miles an hour away from God for years... we aren't far enough away for his comfort not to reach us.  And we don't have to hike all the way back alone.  God overcomes time, and space, and distance.  All that is required of us is to look: turn around and look in the right direction, toward the correct goal.  And his love and peace and comfort are there.  Even when we are hopelessly lost... God always knows the way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Helaman 5:12

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
Helaman 5:12


This is good... I like the double remember... don't just remember, but remember REMEMBER... that we need Christ in our lives more than anything... remember REMEMBER that he is the meaning and purpose behind all the rest of it... he is the foundation to build everything else on.  Relationships that have their foundations in him can be built strong and high.  All others will eventually fall.  Everything in our lives that is dedicated and built in his name can stand, and stand well... everything else is doomed. 
It isn't that God wants everything to fail, and it isn't that he is selfish like that... it is only that he gives us a chance to save *something* in our stormy lives.  Satan doesn't care what or who he destroys... that's what he wants.  And when we don't have Christ around, Satan's mighty storm *does* have power to drag us down to the gulf of misery... things go wrong, and everything starts falling apart, and we try so hard to hold things together... but we can't... it's impossible.  When we do have God around though, and things go wrong, and we know we can't hold things together... if they are good things, founded in Christ... he holds them together *for* us.  The tornado comes through (and it always, always will eventually) and all the stuff we were keeping in the lean-to and the shack and the mobile home are wiped out... and if that's all we had, that is devastating.  But if we are building on God's land, with Christ as our foundation... then we can listen to the storm in front of the fireplace, and know that things are going to be fine. 
The other interesting thing about this scripture is the end of it... it says "whereon if men build they cannot fall" ... cannot.  Not will not or might not... like it has anything to do with fate or personal choice.  It says if we build ourselves on the foundation of Christ, we can *never* fall.  His foundation is sure, incredibly strong, and better than any building material we can find, anywhere.  No more searching around for the heart that was stepped on and flung to the ground... no more searching for arms and legs we lost during a personal melt-down.  We're whole, and we stay that way, whatever temporary structures the storm destroys.

Friday, October 31, 2008

2 Nephi 12:20-21 -- On Idols and Bat Chow

"In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which he hath made for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;
To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord shall come upon them and the majesty of his glory shall smite them, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth."
2 Nephi 12:20-21


This chapter is talking about the last days, and some of the things that will happen, and that it will be obvious to people who God is, and idols won't be valued. And you have to wonder, if people are tossing idols made of silver and gold aside rather than melting them down, how the financial situation is. :) ... I know that the last days are scary, but there seems to be something cool about tossing really valuable things aside because we're ashamed that God won't like it. ...that everyone will be there, thinking like that. And wherever we are today, maybe we should look around at our stuff and evaluate... what things do we have right now that we would toss to the bats if the Lord was on his way over? :) Maybe if we clean house now, we can buy some purina bat chow to store instead, which would be a lot better to throw to the bats in the last days... for the bats, and for us, because if we get over our idol thing now, maybe we can learn some cooler things then, right?

Friday, October 24, 2008

2 Nephi 9:33

"Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day."
2 Nephi 9:33


This struck me as strange today kind of.  I know that circumcision is symbolic in the scriptures of a covenant between God and his people, but then in the New Testament it says that circumcision and uncircumcision don't matter... it is having love, becoming a new person that matters.  And I looked it up, and it is applied to the heart (as in this verse), to lips, and ears, and spirits... and I'm thinking that the overall symbolic meaning is unholy... not dedicated to the Lord.  The whole idea of natural man vs. spiritual man... what is the difference?  It is us, taming ourselves in a way.  Resisting the urges of the natural man, and letting the spiritual man have control... channeling needs and desires in righteous ways.  And we can definitely do that with our hearts. Our hearts are all over the place sometimes... chasing some nice looking person down the street... getting too wrapped up emotionally in things where we need to step back and be objective. Venting that excess emotion in a good way and being able to do the right thing anyway... that is having a heart dedicated to God. Same with lips and ears, and spirits.  We have to "bridle" our passions as it says... and what we say, listen to, and believe in need to be tempered as well. God asks us for a broken heart, and I think that is part of it. We're not pure, and we need to purify ourselves, little by little, getting rid of the bad and keeping the good. In our society we hear "follow your heart" pretty often. But perhaps we just need to follow God, and he'll teach us how to cleanse our hearts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Deuteronomy 12:8

"Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is aright in his own eyes."
Deuteronomy 12:8


In this scripture, God is getting ready to bring the Israelites into the promised land, and clearing the land of the idolatrous people who lived there previously.  He gives them his law, instructions on how to live, and in the course of dong that, this verse.  I think that it is pertinent to us today because God does the same things in our lives in a lot of ways.  He has individual plans for each of us... he leads us to promised lands, he clears the way for us, and he gives us instructions about how to live.  This scripture was also a cross-reference from yesterday's scripture about kindling your own sparks.  And I've been thinking about that a little bit more.  Maybe kindling our own sparks is sort of a humility thing... doing things God's way, keeping that thought in mind all the time.  It is easy to get into little spats with the people we hang out with everyday, or be appalled by the rudeness of someone where we're shopping or eating or walking... but doing things God's way means even in those situations, we need to have the spirit, love other people, and remember who God asks us to be.  Today, let's try to do what is right in God's eyes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2 Nephi 7:10-11

"Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light?
Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—-ye shall lie down in sorrow."
2 Nephi 7:10-11


The first verse asks a question, and the answer is "no one."  I think it is meant to be rhetorical.  And if we look at our lives closely, I think that we'll find it is true.  When we're doing what we should, we never walk in darkness.  Bad things still happen, darkness still comes, but it doesn't have power to take us over, to become part of us.  We still have light to walk by and we can see enough to be able to cope.  The next verse goes on to talk about sparks and walking in the light of "your" fire... which brings to mind the "strange fire" of the old testament.  The point here, I think, is that the light we need, the light that will show us the way... it is God's light.  The light we are supposed to set on a hill, the light that should emanate from us... not our own light, but his.  And it isn't that we aren't allowed any personal style.  I think that God loves our individuality and personalities.  It is only that if we are building a Zion people, we can't all be tour guides for our personal Suzanne-lands and John-lands and Tonya-lands.  Cool theme parks, perhaps, but our job is to lead people to Christ... to Zion.  And that is our destination as well.  If we lead people to us, they might gorge themselves on cotton candy and have a great old time, but they won't get to where they need to go, and they won't be happy in that lasting, eternal-type way. :)  So, today... let's remember to broadcast God's station. Shine *his* light. And let's look forward to the day when we all meet at our final destination. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

2 Nephi 7:1

"Yea, for thus saith the Lord: Have I put thee away, or have I cast thee off forever? For thus saith the Lord: Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement? To whom have I put thee away, or to which of my creditors have I sold you? Yea, to whom have I sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away."
2 Nephi 7:1


This is a very cool, very telling scripture. I think sometimes when things go wrong, or when we're struggling, we wonder if it is too late.  Maybe we made a bad choice when we were young, and now it's too late... we can never go back.  Never "fix" things... that God has given up on us, and that's it.
Here, God questions that assumption.  He asks whether he has cast us off... he has gotten rid of us.  And the answer is NO.  He hasn't cast us off or told us to go away... ever.  He hasn't given up on us.  He never will.  The truth is that the gulf that we feel... the God-shaped hole within us is something that we have created.  We walked away... and we can walk back.  It isn't always easy to walk back.  Takes humility.  Takes some sore repentance sometimes... but the *first* step is easy.  We need to get down on our knees and talk to our Father.  He loves us more than we can comprehend.  He understands perfectly what we're going through.  He *is* listening. ... So, no matter where we are today, near or far, let's start walking closer to him.  Lessen the distance... because he hasn't moved.  We have.

Monday, October 13, 2008

2 Nephi 1:23

"Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust."
2 Nephi 1:23


This verse is in the middle of Lehi's speech to his sons, encouraging them to do good, to listen to Nephi, to be righteous. I think there was a lot of jealousy there, and they laid a lot of the blame for their situation on their father, as well as on Nephi. ... And so it is with us sometimes. It is easy to blame our situation on other people, on events beyond our control. But God asks us to perfect ourselves where we are. He asks us to learn to be happy NOW... not after we get out of this or that situation, or away from this or that person. And that is what Lehi is saying to his sons here. ... wake up. Do what you need to do to ensure your personal righteousness, which shouldn't be affected by anyone else's righteousness. Get rid of the sin in your life, the addictions, the jealousies... all the things that keep you from loving people and from having your mind single to God. Stand up; be a light to other people through example and service. Don't wallow in self-pity. Lehi's message applies to us today, whether we are as rebellious as his sons or much less rebellious. :) We all have a little in us, and it is very easy to be jealous or resentful, or to try to slide responsibility for our happiness onto someone else. So, today, let's come forth out of obscurity, and be the people we were meant to be... the people that can succeed, that can change the world, and that can overcome anything life hands us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

3 Nephi 12:6 -- On Spiritual Nourishment

"And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost."
3 Nephi 12:6


We've heard this before... but today the "hungering and thirsting after righteousness" thing got me thinking.  Hunger and thirst are spurred by physical requirements, and I think that this is the same sort of *need* ... just a spiritual one.  I think that we all have that internal need, and need that empty placed filled.  And perhaps we don't realize what it is or what will fill it at first.  Maybe we have to realize what that need IS... not a matter of ignoring it or dampening it, but recognizing what it is, and what it isn't.  That hunger, that thirst... we throw things at that void trying to stay sane, trying to fill it with whatever we can think of, but really in the end what we find is that it is a need for God, and we can only fill it the way described in this scripture. ... That is the only thing that will make us whole.  So, today, perhaps we should try to fill the void a different way.  Search the scriptures.  Pray. ... And yeah, perhaps that sounds like an easy answer... but believe me, getting the spirit and keeping it is not always easy.  We have to go back out into the world sometimes, and it is too easy to get annoyed with someone or think an unkind thought, or anything.  The reward... that feeling of wholeness and oneness with God... is worth every effort, but that spiritual need is something we have to remember all the time so that we don't get spiritually sick and malnourished.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

1 Nephi 22:4

"And behold, there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem. Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away; and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea; and whither they are none of us knoweth, save that we know that they have been led away."
1 Nephi 22:4


I find it interesting that God led away so many people to different places.  I wonder if all of them went to their own "promised land" as Lehi and Nephi did.  God did all of it for a reason, of course... just as he leads us to different places in our own lives, and we learn lessons and grow along the way.  But these bigger things... moving groups of people, and the promises in the scriptures about them coming back.  You can't help but wonder how dramatic it will be, and if we will see the reasons plainly... and whether they knew the reasons all along, and have been waiting for this, or how it will all work out.  Nephi was one of many, and he knew the others were "lost" ... apparently in the sense that they were lost to the knowledge of the central group, not lost as in lost in the woods. :) I look forward to hearing the stories of how the others were led away as well... won't that be cool? :) I think also it shows something fairly simple, but that made me think today... nothing is ever lost to God.  We feel lost sometimes, and we are confused about where to go next, or what our ultimate goal is... but God always knows.  Let's remember to turn to him to find our way. :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 112:11

"I know thy heart, and have heard thy prayers concerning thy brethren.  Be not partial towards them in love above many others, but let thy love be for them as for thyself; and let thy love abound unto all men, and unto all who love my name."
Doctrine and Covenants 112:11


This chapter, which also has the statements "Be thou humble" and "Exalt not yourselves," seems to be telling us how to treat people.  That we shouldn't prefer anyone (especially ourselves) over anyone else.  I think it is natural to do so... to prefer people within our comfort zones (people we already know... family, friends) over people we don't know.  To have tiers... this group is preferred, and this group is less preferred. :) ... But perhaps that is the point.  It is natural, as in "natural" man.  We need to rise above that, difficult as it might be, and love everyone... the strangers we meet every day.  We may have caught a taste of this before... maybe on a mission, or in a testimony meeting, or during a disaster, when the feeling is there; everyone has gathered together for a purpose, and they are united in some way, and you can look around and truly say that you love everyone there, whether you know them or not. ... We need more of that, without the crutch of a disaster to bring us together.  But we also need more of loving people without bias after we get to know them.  I find this difficult.  If someone has argued with me frequently in the past... whether or not that person apologizes and we get past it... I find myself less likely to treat that person with grace and kindness than someone else, even a stranger.  And I think that God is saying here, and in other places... we can't group people like that.  We can't put people into the okay category and the not okay category... we have to make an effort to treat everyone with equal care and kindness.  Especially when we consider how often we have argued with God... how many times we have rebelled against him.  Will he be biased against us because of past trials?  No... because he truly does love everyone, and he sees past the trials and loves us anyway. ... I know how hard it is.  I do... but today, let's try to love as he does.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

John 15:7

"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
John 15:7


This is an incredible promise. Asking for and getting whatever we ask. It's a little scary too, because learning what to ask for and being careful with our desires is part of what we need to learn here on earth. ... But hopefully if we are abiding in God, and his words are abiding in us, we're there. We've learned what to ask for, and we accept the consequences of those requests. :) I think we've probably all asked for things in the past and then found out that we didn't really want them later. So, today... let's work on staying close to the Lord, on keeping his words in us, and dwelling in his spirit, so we can get this incredible promise. But also, let's watch what we ask for, and make sure that God's will comes first.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Alma 37:23

"And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations."
Alma 37:23


I think this is so interesting.  The stone part reminds me of the Urim and Thummim... or even the stones of the Brother of Jared. Cool, mysterious stuff.   Is it just me, or is it harder to imagine someone walking on water than touching a stone to make it into a lamp of sorts?  That is amazingly cool... both are, of course, but... wow. :) Anyway, I had read this verse before many times but I don't think I ever *really* read it, if you know what I mean.  This stone showed other people basically what was up with the secret combinations.  A stone that could show you the truth of what other people were doing.   Can you imagine?  I mean, I think that we have that a little bit, all of us, as we have the spirit with us, God will help us to see through deceptions and seek out the truth... but can you imagine having that stone in the world today?   You'd probably faint if you pointed it at Washington DC or at almost any government around the world.  We don't have it (as far as I know) today... but the goal remains clear. Let's keep the spirit with us, and make sure we seek the truth and the goodness in life, and do what we can to shine light into all "secret works of darkness." ... I think that is what walking in the light is... NOT hiding things from people, not working in darkness. And the first step is our own lives.  If there are things that we think we need to hide, let's let them go, or show them clearly. There is no place for hidden parts of us when we open ourselves to God, and when we join as a Zion people.  I'm not saying it happens overnight, or that it is easy, but it is a good goal.   To walk in the light.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

1 Nephi 21:14

"But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—-but he will show that he hath not."
1 Nephi 21:14


I think this is interesting because it is sometimes easy to think that God has forgotten us... that he isn't paying attention or something.  It is also patently absurd, of course... but still, easy to feel that way.  We look at whatever our current problems are, and they seem huge.  Even insurmountable sometimes.  We understand that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle... but we don't really *want* to handle the current issue, and can't figure out anything that we are really learning from it either. :) ... And in the context of this verse, it is even worse.  This is talking about the last days, when we know there is going to be destruction and calamity and hardship... a lot of it, and for everyone.  But even then... when our world is literally falling apart around us... even then, God cares, and he will show us that he hasn't forgotten us.  Let's not forget him either.  He is right here, available to talk to whenever we want to.  Let's take the time today... and stick close.

Friday, October 3, 2008

1 Nephi 22:26 -- On Pruning the Evil

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


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

Thursday, October 2, 2008

1 Nephi 20:10

"For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."
1 Nephi 20:10


This strikes me this morning I think because it comes right after a couple of verses where God says that he knew that the person (seems to represent his chosen people Israel) wouldn't hear, that they would be sneaky and bad... but still, he won't destroy them.  He still chooses that person/those people.  Now, I'm not sure if everyone can relate to this, but I think this sounds incredibly cool and forgiving, the way I am thinking of it today. 
Perhaps we think often of the whole affliction part and wonder... well, gee, but you could choose me some other way, couldn't you? ;) But the point is, no... he couldn't.  He knew that we needed this refining, this affliction, in order to change from those stubborn, disloyal, sneaky people into the devoted, open, and honest people that we *need* to be to be a part of him and who he is.  The affliction is part of the deal... part of becoming that Zion people, or achieving that perfection and that point where we want to be with God more than we want to slink off somewhere else and hide.  We have to change into those sorts of people.  It doesn't mean that God doesn't love us the way we are... at all.  It only means that he knows, as our father, just how far we need to grow up before we are ready for the "real" world (afterlife). :)
So, yeah, I'm not saying that I am going to jump into some extra affliction today because it is so yummilicious. ... Only that I think affliction is a measure of God's love for us.  That he is helping us to change and to learn.  Maybe we can catch that perspective today, and have a little more patience with our challenges, which are really opportunities to improve. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

1 Nephi 18:12

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


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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1 Nephi 17:45 -- On Feeling God's Words

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


It is interesting that anyone could see an angel and not be permanently changed.  You would think that the reality of eternity would be overpowering enough that you wouldn't forget it. :) However, we can probably all understand it on some level.  Which of us lives as we believe, and as we know to be true, each and every day?  Reality is that we have ups and downs and get closer to and further away from God daily... hourly sometimes.  Perhaps the goal is to flatten the curve a little, stop the scary roller-coaster drops from great heights. :)
Ah..., but I suppose that sounds fun to some of you, so let me add that you aren't strapped in, and the track probably ends before the ride does... you know. :) Hopefully as we learn, we make more forward progress than backward.  Hopefully we can still hear God when he talks to us. 
I think that it is easy to become desensitized. So many things can take us past feeling into numbness, or blankness, or darkness.  We can't walk around thinking that we're too cool to let things affect us.  The books that we read, the shows that we watch, the conversations that we have... all of it collectively, each day, adds up to whether we are sensitive to the Spirit or not.  We've probably all listened to a song in the car and when we later bought the CD and listened to it without all the background noise, heard more lyrics than we originally heard, or at least understood.  I think the same thing happens with God.  He is singing us the song of salvation... of love, of eternity... and if we turn it up really loud, sometimes some of it gets through as we drive along.  But it isn't until we play it softly with our entire attention that we hear all the words, and are able to receive the whole message.  God does speak very loudly sometimes at critical moments in our lives when we need him the most... but if that is the only time that we ever hear him we are only getting the refrain, and not the intricate and surpassingly lovely lyrics contained in each verse.  Perhaps, if we take some time to listen to God, we will be quicker to remember him, and slower to do iniquity.  We'll be able to feel his words in our lives.  And, you know... our conversations with God will probably be a lot more fun when we aren't screaming over the background noise to each other. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

1 Nephi 17:21

"Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy."
1 Nephi 17:21


In this verse, Nephi's brethren think that he can't build a ship, and they regret leaving Jerusalem in the first place, thinking that it won't really be destroyed as their father predicted.  They actually say in the previous verse "it would have been better that they had died . . . than to have suffered these afflictions." ... And I think what strikes me most about this verse is the "we might have been happy" part.  I think a lot in life we look back on choices that we made and wonder what it would have been like, had we taken another path.  What life would be like if this or that had happened... and as intellectually interesting as that kind of pondering can be, it has absolutely no relation to our real life and the real choices that we did make.  We read in Mormon 9:14 "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still." ... Sometimes it is good to review the past, to remember what God has done for us, and to try not to make the same mistakes.  But it is our job and our quest to make our lives NOW whatever they can be... no matter what circumstances the Lord has given us.  Instead of wondering what might have been, we need to choose happiness now.  Find happiness... because it is there.  It IS possible.  We just have to find it... and God will help us.  He wants us to be happy.  He's cool like that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

1 Nephi 17:4-5

"And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness.
And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters."
1 Nephi 17:4-5


I think these verses illustrate the path that God leads us on.  Sometimes it is tempting to get through one huge trial and think that we're good, we've overcome the obstacles.  But life isn't just one hurdle.  You look at Nephi's family here... they were in the wilderness for eight years, and they get to this beautiful place, prepared by the Lord so that they wouldn't perish.  Awesome.  They made it, right? ... if you've read the rest of the story, not quite.  But God does give us rest stops sometimes, and helps us not perish.  :) The next hurdle for these guys is crossing the ocean.  That's huge... and after wandering in the wilderness for 8 years, that seems like a huge task.  But God prepared them for it, and made it possible.  We have things in our lives that seem equally impossible sometimes.  After dealing with one trial for years, God throws us another one.  But these things teach us and help us grow.  We are more prepared and ready to face the next trial.  And truly, God is leading us towards the promised land.  Perhaps it isn't a new geographical promised land for all of us, but it is where God wants us to be.  The perfect place for each of us individually.  Although our trials are sometimes unbelievably hard ("I just walked through the wilderness for eight years and now you want me to do WHAT?") ... God still doesn't give us anything that we can't handle, with his help.  So, let's keep going.  Let's take advantage of those rest stops when they come, and then, renewed and refreshed, let's start building the boat to take us where God wants us to be next.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hebrews 11:39-40

"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
Hebrews 11:39-40


I don't pretend to know exactly what this means... the first verse is talking about the prophets through the years, and the second verse is saying that without us they can't be saved.  It might be a genealogy thing... that we're all tied together that way, or it might be a prophet thing... they have responsibility for us, and they can't succeed without helping us succeed.  Not sure.  But I do know that it is cool.  That we're tied together in some way, and that we need each other.  Imagine... the prophets needing us.  That's not as mind-boggling as God wanting us, but pretty close.  The beginning of the chapter talks about seeing promises far off... so maybe it is just a history thing. :) We need to do our part, so that all of us, throughout history, can be saved.  Whatever way it is, I'm thankful today that we need each other.  We have to work out our own salvation, but it is kind of cool that we get to do it together... if that seeming contradiction makes sense. :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

1 Nephi 15:23-24

"And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?
And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction."
1 Nephi 15:23-24


I really like the ask-answer thing here.  I mean, talk about *clear* symbolism.  We don't have to read Lehi's dream and guess what it means (although I love that sort of thing)... we read this, and we know.  And I think that it also teaches us about other dreams and visions and that we need to look for the symbolism sometimes. :) ... I also really like what it tells us here.  If we hold fast to the rod, Satan can't get us, right?  The temptations will still come, of course, but we'll be okay.  It shows us the way to stand firm and withstand temptation.  That is a pretty great thing. ... Never perish probably being symbolic of spiritual death, but hey... if we get translated, that's okay too. :) ... So, today, let's cling to the rod by holding fast to the word of God.  Let's make sure we give God some room in our lives... read his word, ponder it, stick to it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

1 Nephi 14:7 -- On Choosing God's Side

"For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other--either to the convincing them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken."
1 Nephi 14:7


I think it is really interesting that the Lord's work will basically force us to choose sides.  We try to be fence-sitters sometimes, thinking that we can have God in our lives, and still do questionable stuff on the side... but that isn't true, and as time progresses towards its end, it becomes more and more apparent how untrue that is.  God doesn't damn us; if we are damned, we damn ourselves.  All he does is make the choices more and more obvious in our lives.  We see where they will lead... to salvation or destruction... and we choose whether to continue on the path as the destination becomes more and more obvious.
It's kind of like Lehi's dream--God gives us the straight path and the iron rod and a view of the tree... even a taste of the fruit.  But, still, some people feel along the iron rod and walk the path in the wrong direction, trying to find their way to the great and spacious building instead. ... Also, don't you find it rather odd that God talks about "convincing" us about peace and life eternal?  Do you think that we become so cynical that we can't even believe in peace anymore... we start believing it is all just a fairy tale, or a Disney interpretation of the facts?  I mean... we *do* have a choice, but why choose discontent and doubt over peace and love?  But we do exactly that... so, so often.  I think we underestimate our ability to lie to ourselves.  We keep telling ourselves that it will get better, or that this is what we wanted... and we ignore the feeling underneath that we should return to God, because we've invested so much in the wrong path already.
Today... let's stop ignoring and choose God's side.  Traveling further along the wrong path won't ever get us to where we need to go.  Let's work on not letting our hearts be hardened or our minds be blinded. Let's walk the path in the direction that promises happiness... not believing the devil's lie that there isn't anyplace better than the great and spacious building. Let's believe in what God offers us, and even if it takes a painful U-turn, let's allow him to convince us of peace, and life eternal.

Monday, September 15, 2008

1 Nephi 13:39

"And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true."
1 Nephi 13:39


One of the things that I like in this verse is the plural... books.  Mmm. I love books. ... And the books convince people that the records (mostly speaking about the first book which is largely the Bible here) are true.  I think that is so cool.  Reading this, I want to sit down and read those books, and get that additional information, you know? ... Fortunately, we have some of those books now.  Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Mormon... some great stuff in there.  And, if it is to convince us that the other records are true... we should read the other records as well, and find out for ourselves what they say.  Amazing things.  I figure if we master the books we've got already and prove to God that we're ready for some new ones, he'll give us some. :) What do you say?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Doctrine and Covenants 29:7

"And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;"
Doctrine and Covenants 29:7


I like this... someone quoted it in Sacrament meeting today, and I was thinking about it, and you know... the "elect" always sounds like this elite club where probably Moses and all the cool prophets go to hang out... they are the elect, but me... er... not sure about that.  I'm just average joe mormon: trying, but not always doing everything right.  But as I was thinking about the verse, and looking it up, and reading it, it kind of seemed to me a little more accessible than some of the other "elect" scriptures... because, in a way, it tells us how to be one of the elect, doesn't it?  It says that the elect hear God's voice, and they harden not their hearts.  So... if we *do* that... then, hey... maybe we get to be elect too. :)  Seems like a pretty good deal.  And, if we read the rest of this section, elect sounds like exactly what we want to be.  So, today, let's work on hearing, and not hardening our hearts... if we practice enough, maybe we could all be elect together. :)  How cool is that?

Jeremiah 13:23

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."
Jeremiah 13:23


You know this one kind of stung me today.  Just opened this up during Sunday School, looking through for something else... and I was like, WOW... so, might as well give up.  If I have a bad habit, looks like I am *stuck.* ... and hey, that is a horrible message for Scripture of the Day!  So why am I using it?  Because whenever we run into scriptures like this, there is always a reason. ALWAYS. ... It is easy to pull verses out of context, and it is easy to feel a little overwhelmed or chastened by some of this... and that is okay, sometimes we need those lessons.  But, the truth is, we know God better than that.  We need to know him a lot more, but we *know* that God doesn't go around telling us we can't change, and that we might as well give up.  So, what else is here? In this case, two verses later, and part of this same thought process, we get "this is thy lot . . . because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood." ... And you know what?  If someone can part the sea, move a mountain, and walk on water... you BET that they could change their skin or spots.  If God was working with them, and it needed to happen.  YES.  Definitely.
And that is what we need to remember here.  It is obviously very hard to break out of evil habits... and God warns us of that here so that we will know that, and work on avoiding them.  But, truly, it isn't a message telling us to give up hope.  God never sends us messages of despair.  If we are willing to change, and have the determination to work at it, then God will help us so that we can succeed.  We're only trapped if we forget God and trust in something else.  If we have him working with us, we can change ourselves... hearts, minds, souls... inside and out... because God will help us do it, no matter how impossible it seems.  People do overcome incredible obstacles... horrible, devastating addictions... deep, black sin.  And so can we, with God's help.

Friday, September 12, 2008

1 Nephi 12:12:18

"And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God, of whom the Holy Ghost beareth record, from the beginning of the world until this time, and from this time henceforth and forever."
1 Nephi 12:12:18


Isn't this interesting?... I think the whole we-build-our-own great and spacious building thing is fascinating. Our pride and our imagination ... used unwisely I surmise, since imagination can also be a good thing... creates this division, and probably causes the great gulf as well in some ways.  Justice couldn't divide us unless we did something unjust, right?  We start out having access to God, and we build our own walls to divide ourselves from him.  Isn't that scary?  I think sometimes it is easier to blame things on other people or circumstances, but in the end... we choose where we end up.  Just like in the dream... Laman and Lemuel stood in the same place that Sam and Nephi did, and Lehi called to both groups, asking them to come and join him... but one group chose the tree and one group chose the building.  Maybe today we should really look at ourselves and find out if we're already starting to build walls between ourselves and God.  If we're resisting him because we think that buildings offer more shelter than trees... or whatever reason.  And if we are, let's start tearing down those walls before they get great and spacious... and if we see anything dividing us, let's repent or whatever it takes so that division doesn't turn into a gulf.  We need God... without him nothing else makes sense.

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