Monday, November 30, 2009

Revelation 22:11-12

"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."
Revelation 22:11-12

This is interesting stuff. Scary in some ways, because I think that we sometimes imagine heaven as a place where things are suddenly perfect, and want things to be that way… someday, no matter what, to have everything changed so that it is idyllic and beautiful, and we are suddenly much better than we now are. And don’t get me wrong… I think that the afterlife will move us to a whole new level and we’ll understand and see things that are way beyond what we’ve seen here. But some things won’t change… just like Mormon 9:14 and Alma 41:13-15… this scripture tells us that what we are—what we have learned to be in this life—is what will be restored to us. That every man will receive, afterward in the next life, “according as his work shall be” in this life. Unfortunately, we won’t suddenly be happy if we’ve been unhappy all our lives. And we won’t be suddenly clean if we’ve remained in our sins and never repented all our lives. Being happy and clean… and just, and holy… and all that we are inside… those are things we have to learn here. And it does take some effort and time to learn to choose our emotions… to find joy in the midst of pain… to be just and kind to people who have been unjust and unkind to us… so many things to learn. And so perhaps, today, one of the things that we should be thankful for is being here and having the chance to keep learning and growing and finding ways to improve ourselves. So that when our bodies are restored to us in the resurrection… suddenly perfect and free of all blemish… that we’ll have souls to match. Let’s work today on being clean, and on being good to the people around us. Having clean goodness restored to us sounds pretty good. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Zechariah 14:8

"And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be."
Zechariah 14:8

This is interesting. In the scriptures there are many references to living water(s), and most of them seem to be figurative--symbolic of the love of God, or the phrase seems to be sometimes actually synonymous with Christ (Jeremiah 17:3 for instance). Only a couple of verses seem to be literal, like this one. And it still could be symbolic... Christ's love flowing out in all directions, in all seasons... or perhaps the spread of the gospel. Which is very cool, of course. :) This just seems to refer to something literal happening, with the use of "sea" and "half" ... how do you split the love of God, or Christ, in half? Could be missionary work perhaps... but it could also mean more things than the love of God, like any good literature with many meanings bound up in a phrase, and new things to learn at every reading. And perhaps the love of God can be something tangible. The other verses about living water are interesting in that respect as well. ... I kind of like the idea of love being tangible. I think it sometimes feels like that. Something that you can drink in, bask in. Something you can feel palpably flowing, as water. I think we feel the spirit that way sometimes... feels as though we can breathe it in and let it fill us up. I don't know the answer to this verse about the last days, and I'm sure that the answer is just a curiosity, and we'll all find out in the end... but perhaps the idea of God's love being something tangible that we can feel in more ways than one is a good one to take with us today. We feel more confident and solid, and it is much easier to treat others with love and kindness when we ourselves feel loved. Let's talk to God today and let his love envelop us physically. And then let's share the peace and confidence that brings us with others in the way we treat them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Jeremiah 31:33-34

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Jeremiah 31:33-34

This is amazing stuff. I love Jeremiah because he wrote so long ago, but he wrote about our day... and it is amazing to hear these prophecies in Old Testament language, about us, and about things that are happening now. These verses are cool because it talks about a time that is yet to come when God will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and our knowledge of God will be first hand, and internalized to such an extent that we won't have to teach each other... because it will be so clear and so obvious to us all. I think that is amazing... can you imagine living in a community like that? Where God and his laws are a given... I imagine how much more we can learn when we're no longer arguing about those basics. And how amazing it would be to live among people who follow God's laws as part of themselves... who never think of cheating you or harming you... where people truly love each other consistently. :) I look forward to that day, and perhaps we can work on having a little bit of it today, by internalizing our relationship with God... including him in everything we do today. If we keep it up enough, it will become second nature to us, and God will be the first person we think of and the first person we go to when *anything* happens. Let's try it, and get a glimpse of perfection. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Micah 3:6

"Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them."
Micah 3:6

This scripture is to the prophets and priests that are teaching and predicting the future for money... and it struck me today because of the extreme bleakness of the whole thing. "night shall be unto you" is pretty stark. And God is basically saying... I won't talk to you. The heavens will be closed. You won't see or predict a thing, because you'll be in the dark, and unable to see anything, let alone the future... because you're doing all of this for money or for power rather than for me. ... definitely some mistakes I don't want to make, and anything that brings a scripture like this down on my head I would prefer to stay far away from. But even for those of us who aren't priests or prophets, I think it still applies in a way. I think it reminds us how careful we need to be with the power and the authority that God has given us... and we all have some, maybe a little, or maybe a lot. But when any of us misuse that power that he grants us and start using it for selfish gain rather than genuinely helping the people around us... then it shall be dark unto us as well. Night shall be unto us... unless we walk in the light, in the day, and do what we can to fulfill our responsibilities and use our blessings for good. :) God won't allow us to use his gifts for evil for very long, and our lives will get darker and darker. ... So today, let's remember to avoid the shadows, and walk in the light... helping other people and keeping our souls out of the darkness. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 101:4

"Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:4

This reminds me of something that Joseph Smith once said... "from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things" (Lectures on Faith 6:7). It seems that sacrifice is a part of learning who we are. Abraham faced a horrible choice... between his God and his son. Not that any of us really want to be torn like that... but until we face a similar choice, will we really know where our priorities are? until we face *and* overcome such a choice, will we ever learn confidence in the presence of God? We all have something in our lives that is so important to us that it rivals God in our affections... and facing a choice between severing our connection with God and severing our connection with that most important thing is difficult... more difficult than anything else we have yet experienced. Part of building our relationship with God is putting him first, recognizing and respecting his proper place in our lives. As we do this, we improve ourselves, and our confidence and ability in choosing good. God sent Abraham a ram to sacrifice instead of his son, showing us that it is the priority and the willingness to put God first that matters. If our other affections are bad for us... addictions, obsessions, whatever, then no ram will appear. Some things need to fall out of our lives. And the good things we are meant to have will fall into their proper places, after God. ... Even when no ram appears, it doesn't mean that God is trying to remove all joy from our lives. Only that God knows best, and doing it his way will work out better in the end than the way we wanted it to work out. When we lose something good sometimes we don't understand why until much, much later... but I suppose that is part of the point. God knows why, and part of learning to sacrifice is learning to trust that. Things will be well in the end, if we can learn to love and trust him and do as he asks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2 Peter 2:19

"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage."
2 Peter 2:19

The scriptures relate sin and slavery to one another frequently, and I think that it is interesting, since we so often look at obedience to God as limiting, or as bondage. Interesting to think about... that obedience brings freedom and rebellion brings slavery. :)
I think it is kind of like taking a class. We enroll in American Literature 101 and find it stifling. We hate the books that we are assigned to read and hate attending class and listening to the boring lectures. We have freedom... we can skip class, read comic books instead of the assigned reading, and eat pizza with our friends when the rest of the class is having a study group. Absolute freedom... except, if we are English majors, all that freedom has gotten us into a lot of trouble. To have the freedom to graduate, we have to pass the class. We have the freedom to choose a different major... but eventually, to graduate, we will have to attend classes, participate in discussions, and pass classes. To have the freedom of taking graduate courses, we first have to get an undergraduate degree. To learn Shakespeare, we have to actually read it. If we reject all of our options in college, pretty soon we have limited choices. If we've always wanted to be professors, we probably won't enjoy our options at this point. It's like slavery... we are tied to a future that we don't want. And the only way back to our ideal future is to re-enroll and take the classes. When we are dead-set on hating college, then this scenario seems desperate and hopeless... but what we sometimes fail to realize is that we also have the freedom to choose to love the journey. The classes can be intriguing, despite the instructor. We can find joy in what we are studying, and learning can be exciting... and when we do pass the classes and get the degree, then there are so many more possibilities open to us than there were before. We have gained freedom that we never would have had otherwise... freedom to be what we have always dreamed of being. Life is like that... and although I know that we don't all want to be English professors, what we DO want to be can be found through God. He can make us more than we could ever be otherwise... and he teaches us more and more, and with every lesson, we gain new freedoms... new possibilities. When we reject God, or reject learning the lessons that he offers us, then we are effectively limiting our choices.... limiting who we can become and what we can do with our lives... and eternities. When we are in the middle of a desert we have freedom to walk in any direction at all... but if we don't walk towards the oasis, then eventually we will run out of choices. God is that oasis... water to soothe our parched throats, and to fill us to overflowing so that we can complete our journey. Let us remember today where freedom lies, and not go wandering out in the desert just because the oasis is so limiting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2 Kings 6:15-17 -- On Seeing the Hope

"And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
2 Kings 6:15-17

The servant in this scripture was understandably worried when he saw an army surrounding them, and no way out... but he couldn't see the whole picture, and that God was protecting them and fighting for them in unseen ways.

I believe the same to be true for us. We have a hard time seeing the invisible, but very tangible, hope because we are focused on the hordes of difficulties that surround us and that are quite apparent. But, just like the servant, we aren't seeing the whole picture, and we have to rely on God's knowledge and his strength in order to continue to have hope and to triumph against (seemingly) impossible odds.

Today, let's remember that God is on our side, and even if we can't see it, there is *always* a way to overcome our problems and triumph over despair.

Monday, November 2, 2009

John 10:33-36 -- On Being the Children of God

"The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?"
John 10:33-36

I think that this doctrine is amazing. We are children of God, and we have the potential to be like him. Not the guarantee, since we can always rebel and destroy ourselves. We have that option as well, but we are seeds of the divine, and we can grow up into that divine potential, just like any other child can become like his father. Not anything that we can accomplish in this life, of course.  It will probably be eons before we are even out of figurative kindergarten, but even so, it is hard for many to accept. I had a student come and tell me this fact about Mormonism once... he thought I probably didn't know, and wanted to save me from the secrets of the leaders of the church. But it isn't secret, it is all through the scriptures. I think it makes the world make a lot more sense... and shows us one of the reasons that we are here in this life.

God loves us and has our best interests at heart, always. God wants to save even the people who have become so steeped in sin that they can't remember what purity is. God loves us all, equally. ...Why? Because he is our Father. Our symbolic *and* literal Father, and we are here to learn and to grow and to discover things about ourselves that we couldn't if we didn't have the opportunities that we have here. We are worthwhile, and have goodness in us, even when we make bad choices. ...Why? Because we are His children, and we are here to learn what it is to be mortal, to have a body, to learn to love others even when it is difficult.

ALL of us are God's children, not just our friends or the people we like, or the people in one church... everyone. Let's remember that today. Remember the divine potential in ourselves, and that we can triumph over any test we're given in this life... and also that the people around us have that divine potential too, and our our brothers and sisters. Let's strive to treat them that way. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mosiah 23:7

"But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king."
Mosiah 23:7

"Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another." We get echoes of this in many scriptures. Alma 5 asks whether we will persist in supposing that we are better than each other, and other scriptures talk about similar things, saying that we shouldn't possess things that are above another (D&C 49:20), that there should be equality (Mosiah 27:3)... we have lots of Zion scriptures talking about the ideal of having no poor, and having all things common, and we've talked about some of those scriptures recently. It seems like God really cares about this idea of how we think about other people. It's hard in some ways, because so much of life is comparison... we observe other people to learn how to behave, what is acceptable in certain groups, etc. So when we're anywhere, doing anything, there is usually comparison going on, at least in the background. More or less education, better or worse title, married or not, children or not, who is more beautiful or has smarter or more well-behaved kids, who has cooler clothes or jewelry or hairstyle or who can win in a battle of wits, or fists, or sarcasm, or self-righteousness... who is better at this or that... who has a better car, or house, or toaster. ;) Maybe today we can let go of some of that, or not tap into it... remember that we are equals in the sight of God. That, yes, we all have strengths, but we all have weaknesses as well. Maybe we're better than someone in one way, at one task or in one worldly measure... but if we step back and look, that other person is probably better than we are with something else, or in another way of measuring. We aren't superior... and they aren't superior either. We're the same. All working on the puzzle of life together. Maybe instead of competing, we can relax a little bit and learn from and help each other. Today, let's try to let go of comparisons and power struggles, and work on equality, and recognizing the value in ourselves *and* in the people around us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Titus 3:1-2

"Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men."
Titus 3:1-2

Sometimes it makes me cringe when the scriptures tell me to be meek, and to submit or be subject to anyone... maybe because you see a lot of corruption in the world, but probably mostly because I don't like submitting. I want to do my thing, and be in charge. :) Thankfully for the world, I am not... God is. :) I think this is similar to our article of Faith that tells us to obey, honor, and sustain the law. We need to submit to those that we as a society have placed in charge. The part that really gets me here is "to speak evil of no man" (and I'm sure this includes women as well... no squirming out of it). I think that is tough. I'm sure that it includes bosses, co-workers, brothers and sisters, and presidential candidates. ... Used-car salesmen, lawyers, spouses, children, and whoever cheated or took advantage of us today as well. That's a tough one. But good, and something that brings us closer to our commandment to love our enemies, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to set an example for all. I love that God commands us to be gentle here. I wonder today, if we can be... can we focus on loving the people around us, no matter what they've done, and be gentle with everyone? It's a tough thing to ask, but God *has* asked it... so I say, let's go for it. :) Today, no speaking evil of anyone, and work on being gentle. I think we can do it if we try. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 24:8

"Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for, lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days."
Doctrine and Covenants 24:8

This is cool. I mean, it seems a little scary at first... God saying straight out... you're going to have many afflictions. And patience has never been my strong suit. ... But really, it is cool. God is asking us to have patience and endure, and telling us that we are going to be loaded down with afflictions... but he is ALSO saying that he will stick with us through it all, even to the very end. And that part makes all the difference. God loves us. In order to get back to him, we have to learn this stuff. Some of it is heart-breaking, and some of it is just so incredibly frustrating when we don't learn as fast as we would like to, or when other people are involved and they are stubborn and won't do everything we want (ha ha)... there are so many lessons to take in and so much self-modification involved in learning to be more like God and trying to walk the way he asks us to... but he is willing to be there for all of it, and help us, because he wants us back with him... he wants us to succeed, and to master all the lessons, and to be so much better and stronger and more pure than we are. I think it is easier to face anything with a friend beside you... and God, here, commits to be there through it all. Makes everything that much easier. Whatever we're facing today, let's remember that God is with us, and remember to talk to him about it, and get his help and his comfort in facing whatever the day brings us.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Matthew 1:18-19

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily."
Matthew 1:18-19

I think that this is interesting... I'm sure that we know the story of the virgin birth already, but taking a step back, I think that God was amazingly merciful here. The virgin birth would have happened anyway... God didn't have to save Mary and Joseph's marriage. But he did. Letting Joseph know what was up. He didn't do it right away though... Mary was pregnant, Joseph found out, and he had to decide what to do... a public condemnation for adultery, or just a small private disavowal. Either way, the relationship was going to end. I'm sure that Joseph didn't even consider a miracle... an "exception" of that magnitude. He thought about the options that he thought he had... but God gave him better options, revealing the truth that he had never considered. ... I think that we can learn from this in a way. Perhaps we can remember that miracles happen, and that we never have all the information. We don't know what it is like for another person, or why they have done what they have. Sometimes situations aren't the way they appear, or there are extenuating circumstances that only God knows about. Maybe if we remember that today, and make God a part of every interaction and relationship, we can learn to be kinder and more forgiving... not making a public example, even if things turn out as we expect, and opening our hearts to those miracles that do happen, even when we think there is no hope. Remember Joseph, and the choices we all have that we don't see.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 104:15-16

"And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.
But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low."
Doctrine and Covenants 104:15-16

I think this is interesting. It's easy to see the inequities in life... they are all around us. And, as with other problems we sometimes think that God should do something about it... fix it, or snap his fingers and make it disappear. :) I'm human too... I know we all wish that from time to time. But we see again that there is purpose in everything, and God does want the inequities remedied... by us. He wants us to share our abundance with the people that don't have enough.... till it becomes like another scripture we looked at recently, and there is no rich or poor, bond or free... but everyone is one. Do we really think that we can get there without personal effort? I think we dream it sometimes, but down deep we know that we need to learn it in order for it to last. God asks for a lot of things... and this isn't as hard as some of the others... like maybe loving our enemies, or being perfect. :) So, let's try it. Today, let's find a way to share our abundance with someone who needs it. Maybe we have to put off something that we wanted... but is that important compared to someone else's need? Let's start making God's plan of balancing work... and as we do it, we'll be blessed, and able to adjust the balance more. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

1 Thessalonians 5:19

"Quench not the Spirit."
1 Thessalonians 5:19

Sometimes short verses seem simple, since with such few words you should be able to get your head around it. :) The cool thing is that even short ones like this have so much depth. Quench not the spirit means to not do anything to stifle the spirit, or to prevent yourself from feeling the spirit... and how much is involved with that? A lot. It means we have to do things to encourage the spirit to be there with us... reading our scriptures and praying are some of the basics of that. It also means that we have to avoid doing things that will drive away the spirit. Lying, cheating, stealing, and some of the other commandments... murder, inappropriate sexual behavior, etc. Some of the basics. Beyond the basics there is even more... being kind, avoiding criticism. Until one day, every moment is filled with the Spirit. ... Which I think would be utterly amazing. Today, we shouldn't be down on ourselves because we aren't there yet, but let's work on it. Let's think about it today, as we go throughout our day... what can we do during the day to invite the spirit? What things can we avoid doing that might quench the spirit? ... And, in general, the more spirit, the better the day... so let's go out and have the best day ever. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 45:58-59

"And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation.
For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver."
Doctrine and Covenants 45:58-59

This section covers a lot of stuff that happens before the second coming... lots of it challenging for anyone who has to live through it. But after, it has this, which is amazingly cool, and shows us the reason, or the purpose behind all of the previous calamity. Raising children without sin? Wow. Living in the presence of God? Wow wow wow... there is nothing bad that can compare with that overwhelming good... and knowing that is the end, that it doesn't end with the bad stuff happening, but moves on to the happily ever after. :) ... And I think that our lives are like that, no matter what we may wonder sometimes when we're in the middle of the challenging part in chapter 15. The story continues... and it WILL end well, as in the verse. No matter what it feels like now, and no matter what we have to endure (and triumph over) in the meantime. Everything will be okay, all will be well, and all manner of things will be good. Promise. :) ... So, today, let's let go of some of the stress and worry we have about the future, and know that it is safely in God's hands. He'll deliver the happy ending. We just have to keep turning the pages. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

4 Nephi 1:2-3

"And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift."
4 Nephi 1:2-3

Stuff like this is so cool it is mind-boggling. "Every man did deal justly one with another." "There were not rich and poor." ... Stuff like that is overwhelming. It seems so foreign to our present society. No contentions or disputations either... and these were real humans, from the same planet we live on. :) Today, maybe we can work on making some of this happen in our lives. Let's deal justly; let's not contend; let's not treat people differently based on how much money they have. ... and I'm not saying this is a snap. I think it will be tough to get through even one day without disputations or with absolute justice. But even though it will be hard, let's make the effort. Building that kind of Zion society... and ourselves into those sort of Zion people... makes every difficulty worth it in the end. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jeremiah 2:19-21

"Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.
For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?"
Jeremiah 2:19-21

This is really interesting... in the initial verse it seems like God is telling us that he isn't going to send down a lightning bolt from heaven to tell us that we have screwed up, and to punish us... we get sufficiently punished by the consequences of our disobedience. I think this works for me at least... I know that when I do something that isn't right, I look at myself and realize how much I don't want to be a person who does things like that... I don't want to be lazy and cruel and selfish... or whatever it is that particular day... and knowing who I am when I act that way is a big deterrent. Also... I realize how much help I need to change... and until I get on my knees and ask God to help me, and overcome the mistake that I made... I don't have access to that help.
Then, the next verse seems to me to be talking about consistency. We try to make things cool between ourselves and God... promise him that we'll do good... but as soon as that guilt-of-the-moment is gone... we're back out there... wandering under every green tree. :) When God rescues us from the pain of realizing who we are becoming when we screw up... then we need to *change* and become someone better... or we are back to the first verse that told us that we'll be punished by the very mistakes we keep making.
Then the last verse is interesting too... talking about who we are truly... we have the capacity and everything we need to be pure and clean and good... and more than that... amazing and abundant... we have the ability to change the world... to make not only our lives, but other people's lives better. So, since that is what God planted, don't believe it when you look at yourself and see a weed that needs to be pulled. We are punished by our mistakes, but it doesn't change our natures... we are good and true and have the capacity for divinity. If we can remember that, maybe we can break the cycle.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Revelation 3:19

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
Revelation 3:19

It strikes me today how true this is with God. In our earth lives we are here to learn, and so we need feedback to know where we need to improve and grow... that is *essential* to our success and continued progression. Even the amazingly highly-favored Brother of Jared was chastised by God for not remembering to call upon him. God gives us feedback and reminders and ... a conscience... for a reason. It isn't so that we can feel guilty all the time, or that we can learn to be sad or hate ourselves... it is so that we can take those lessons and change our lives, and improve, and learn to walk before him without spot, or regret, or stress or guilt. To be bold and confident before him, knowing that we are washed clean and that God is pleased with who we are. We can't get there without that feedback, without God telling us what we're doing wrong... and he gives us that feedback because he loves us and wants us to succeed. ... and part of that is some zealous repentance. I love that word zealous here... fervent, or even excited repentance... because we're doing it because we believe in it, and we believe God and that he is making us into far better people than we currently are. :) Let's work on that today... listening to God's loving feedback and chastening... and that fervency and zeal in repenting and changing our lives for the better.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

3 Nephi 10:9-10

"And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away.
And the earth did cleave together again, that it stood; and the mourning, and the weeping, and the wailing of the people who were spared alive did cease; and their mourning was turned into joy, and their lamentations into the praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord Jesus Christ, their Redeemer."
3 Nephi 10:9-10

It’s always good to have a reminder that mourning *can* be turned into joy... that God is aware of us, and watches over his children. Bad things are happening, and unfortunately will continue to happen in this world... we live in the last days. Despite all this, peace and comfort can be found through Christ. God knows every hair of our heads, and he knows without question the content of our hearts. We are eternal beings, and whatever happens to us... hardship, pain, and even physical death... we will continue to exist, and our lives do, and will continue to, matter in the eternities. Through Christ, the darkness will disperse, the earthquakes will stop, and we’ll once again find solid footing… spiritually *and* physically. Sadness and pain can be turned into joy and peace, as we put our faith in Him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mormon 7:5

"Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up."
Mormon 7:5

I think one of the most comforting things in the scriptures is right here. We are here in mortality, and as we go throughout our lives and experience age, death, and the fear of both... knowing that Christ has gained the victory makes all the difference. We have the knowledge that death is not permanent, and that we will see those we love again... and that they are happy, now, where they are. In this life we have pains and fears, but they are beyond that. That knowledge can change our focus from suffering to determination... from despair to hope... from pain to joy. I'm not saying it is easy... or that the sting of death it talks about above isn't there... but the point is that the reality of Christ swallows it up. We feel the pain, but the joy of Christ triumphs over it, and gives us a reason to rejoice and live and love, no matter how hard things are now. Bad and tragic things happen... but we can go on, because the good and astounding things make it worth it. Death can't have any of us in the end. We belong to our Saviour and King, who will ever triumph.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ephesians 5:17

"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
Ephesians 5:17

This struck me today. Not because it is always easy to understand the will of the Lord, but because it seems like if we made that the focus... understanding, looking for the reason, rather than complaining or wishing life were another way... life would be a lot better. :) If we start trying to understand, then we're on the right track, and not caught in the bog of "why me" or "this stinks" (as bogs do)... but we're past that, to the place where we realize that there is a reason, and that we are supposed to learn something, and so we're intent on finding out what that is. Today, let's try to be wise (or at least not unwise), and search for the meaning and the understanding rather than denying reality or complaining about it. I think it will make us happier... and who knows, maybe we'll learn something as well. :)


Monday, September 14, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 119:6

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

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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Proverbs 24:17

"Rejoice not when thine enemy faileth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth."
Proverbs 24:17

I think this is tough, because after all, by definition, we're talking about the "enemy." :) Perhaps part of the point here is that the ideal is not to have enemies, and when we do have them, we need to try to concentrate on wishing the best for them... praying for them, and hoping their lives get better, rather than wishing that a big rock would fall on them. :) ... I think that God's way works out just as well as the rock in the end, because, either way, our enemies are gone... but God's way, they are still around and not in the hospital... we've just learned not to think of them as enemies any longer. It's hard to change our hearts and perspectives that much, once someone is already an enemy... but I think it is also necessary. How can the spirit dwell in the same place as hatred, or in rejoicing in someone else's misfortune? I think our society and our movies teach us that people "deserve" it, but those kinds of judgments are up to God. We still have a choice, no matter what has happened or what has been done. We can choose to clear our hearts of hatred. Might take time, and a lot of prayer... but the point it that we hurt *ourselves* with hatred... not anyone else. Doesn't mean we have to agree with our former enemies or welcome them into our lives... but if we can not hate them or wish bad things for them, we've taken a mighty step. So, whoever our enemies are, near or far, weak or powerful... today, let's wish them the best, pray to God for them, and never rejoice when they stumble.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2 Corinthians 5:10

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
2 Corinthians 5:10

I was reading this and thinking ...what if this happened to us literally? Us receiving everything in our bodies that we've physically done to someone else (I punched my sister when I was 11 or 12... pow.)... if everything we had ever done to someone else was done to us? ... Now, definitely some of those things in our lives are good things, that we wouldn't mind seeing happen to us... but how does it balance, and how would we fare, having our whole lives returned upon us? I thought it was a good thing to ponder on today. Hopefully repentance will save us from some of it... and perhaps it isn't all literal. But even a symbolic/mental/spiritual return of everything we do means we should work really hard to make sure that our actions are good. Things that we wouldn't be frightened to get in return. Today, before we take any actions, let's stop and think for a moment if these things would hurt us if they happened to us... because, according to this scripture... someday they will.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ether 12:4-6

"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."
Ether 12:4-6

I remember the first time this scripture really hit me... some of you don't know me, so you should know that when I don't understand something, it is common for me to say "I don't see it." ... so, I was thinking about one particular topic one day, and I just did not see it at all... and I read this scripture... "dispute not because ye see not" and it hit me, hard. This was several years ago, and hopefully I say it less. :) I included all the rest of it, because, of course, it is all cool... but that it the part that always gets to me. Just because I don't see it doesn't mean it isn't true.
I like the hoping for a better world part... this world seems pretty scary at times, so many harsh things happening. It is cool also that it says that this hope makes an anchor for our souls... if we thought that this world was it, we would have no focus, nothing to work for... but because we know that we are working for something better, then we have something to hold on to when things get bad. Instead of just trying to suck the marrow out of life, we can see that there is more to it... eternity to feast upon. We don't need to go to the woods to live deliberately... we have a reason for living deliberately right in front of us. Instead of getting away from the pain and suffering... perhaps we can do something to try and alleviate it.
Faith is always a good subject... faith has power. When people believe something good, it can happen... as unlikely as it seems to our scientifically-trained perceptions. But part of the test of this life is that God doesn't offer us "scientific" evidence for everything. He offers us spiritual evidence, emotional evidence... all kinds of evidence that other people might scoff at, but still, evidence that is as real as anything else. It’s getting ourselves to be open to Spiritual evidence that takes the work. We learn doubt and fear as we grow up, and it is hard to get past all of those barriers that we build for ourselves, and trust anything... even God, who is the only one who really deserves it. Anyway... if we need to be certain of it, God will give us that too... but not until we take the leap, take the risk... accept the vulnerability that goes with faith. When we are able to open ourselves to God, then he can finally teach us that surety... because it doesn't bounce off our defenses.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Joel 2:13 -- On Breaking Our 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. :)

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, we will see God’s way, and that it is so much better. Not just better for God, but better for us… because he only asks us to go through this kind of pain because he loves us and he knows it is necessary. 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 own 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 get broken, it will be our own wise choices that do it. Better than letting the world control us and change us… we can learn to change ourselves, with God’s help.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 101:5

"For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:5

I think this is really good... comes back to the whole parental role that God has in our lives. If we can't be corrected... if we never listen to someone who has already been there... then we're doomed to make more and more mistakes. Sanctification requires us to improve, to get better, to purify. And if we keep trying to solve the same problems in the same way that continues to fail, then we aren't going forward. I'm not saying that chastening is fun... but it is a good thing, and it does bring us closer to God. And seriously, it is a lot more fun to be on track and feeling good about yourself with a little bit of hope about the future than it is to feel like you keep making the same mistake over and over and over and over again, and that life is pointless. God doesn't chasten us out of a desire to hurt us, and he doesn't delight in our discomfort. He loves us... he loves us enough to tell us when we are doing it wrong, and to help us learn how to do it right. But we have to take the first step, and listen... and then do something about it. God always prepares the way. :) So, when God lets us know that we are headed in the wrong direction... let’s not get angry and demand to go our own way. He can see the road ahead a lot better than we can, and he knows what will happen to us if we continue. We shouldn’t drive off the cliff out of pure rebellion. (ouch.) And... if we already have jumped off the cliff... maybe we should accept the rope that he throws down to us, and the healing that he offers. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

James 1:8

"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
James 1:8

This is really good, despite its brevity... there are so many things in life pulling us different ways. But the many things boil down to two... God and Satan. And so often, we can't decide between the two. We’re like... "well... can't I have just a *little* bit of Satan's plan?" ... but like C. S. Lewis says... we have to give up even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of hell, if we are going to commit to heaven. You can't think that the roller coaster in Satan’s amusement park is better. People die on that ride. Scary and dangerous and little bits of death crowding into your soul. You have to let it go. God's park has better rides... and they are safe safe safe. Maybe they aren't as scary... but isn't that a *good* thing? We can't go through our lives letting the wind blow us whatever way it wants to. We can't run from God to Satan and back again all the time and think that is okay, and the right thing to do. We have to decide... commit. And then throw everything we have and are into the decision. Oh, and by the way... the correct decision is God. :) Heaven is such a better place. Real happiness, deep happiness... not shallow thrills that disappear in an instant, leaving you with regret. Love that never dies, or even gets sick... :) Constancy, confidence... truth. Good stuff. Today... let go of your little refrigerator magnets that you picked up at the Hell gift shop... and dedicate yourself to a superior brand of entertainment. :) God's offerings are better quality, and better, longer-lasting fun... no contest. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

3 Nephi 18:20

"And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you."
3 Nephi 18:20

This is from a chapter when Christ is on earth, talking to the people about prayer. I really like it. I don't know that it is necessarily always easy to have this kind of faith up front, but that is part of the process of prayer. As we talk to God daily in prayer, and get to know him, we learn more and more that he cares about us and wants to give us those things that will assist us in this life. This verse goes over some specific requirements for our requests. Firstly, when we pray (always to the Father), we should do it in the name of Jesus Christ. Secondly, our request has to be right... in accordance with the gospel and God's will. We can't ask for anything that will hurt us or other people, or that we are going to use for a questionable purpose. Or rather, we *can* ... but we won't get it from God. And thirdly, we have to believe... have faith that God will grant us our righteous request. Sometimes that is hard, when we're down, or when we lose some hope... but as we develop a relationship with God through prayer (or perhaps renew a relationship), I think that we start to understand how much God *wants* to bless us and help us... and that he will indeed grant us the good desires of our hearts, as we come to him, and work towards them in our lives. And I think that part of that believing is working towards it... making our lives ready to receive the blessing that we've asked for. Today, let's examine our lives, and make ready for the blessings that we want, and then go to God and humbly ask for them. He loves us, and if the things that we ask fit into our lives and won't hurt us, he would love to grant them to us. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 25:10

"And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better."
Doctrine and Covenants 25:10

I really, really like this. We get wrapped up sometimes in this world, and the things thereof... money, candy, movies, cars, houseboats... whatever it is. :) And they are fun, and exciting, and not even necessarily bad, unless we put them before God. But in the end, they mean so very little... because our lives are meant to prepare us for something much, much better. The things beyond this world matter so much more. :) So, definitely not saying it is evil to like our cars, or to watch a good movie, or to invest in a houseboat... but our focus should be beyond these things. In this verse God asks us to lay those things aside in order to seek for the things of a better world. Today, let's look at our lives and see what we can do toward that goal. Could we help someone out instead of buying a ninth car? :) Should we spend our time playing this video game, or go volunteer somewhere? ... Is there someone that would get a lot of happiness out of that movie that we bought and only watched once? Do we really need that houseboat, or could we do something more afterlife-friendly? ... and absolutely not saying either that we can't take time to relax or de-stress. I think we need those times in our lives. Just maybe we can look, and make sure we aren't ignoring heaven in order to enjoy earth. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Genesis 19:17

"And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed."
Genesis 19:17

I've always thought that the story of Lot's wife was kind of symbolic... about not looking to the past, but living in the present. Not falling back into bad habits, that sort of thing... but reading about it in this verse, it seems a little bit different. It reminds me of Indiana Jones running for his life in front of that gigantic boulder. If he had stopped to look back at any point, he would have been run over and killed. Still seems symbolic to me, just in a different way. :) Maybe it is a warning that unless we take the Lord's path with speed, that our personal obstacles will have a chance to catch up with us, and overrun us from behind. :) Escaping sin is like this I think... we have to run for our lives, or be consumed. Today, let’s take God’s advice and escape for our lives, not looking back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1 Timothy 6:18

"That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate."
1 Timothy 6:18

This is a short verse, but there is so much packed in there. Rich in good works… so much more important than being monetarily rich, then ready to distribute… which I think is talking about our willingness to give to others. And then communication. I love that communication is part of the gospel? I mean, everything is of course part of the gospel, but cool that God mentions it here. Prayer is a good form of communication, but this scripture doesn't specify that form, so I think that it goes further.... We need each other on this earth... we need each other to build a righteous community. That includes good works, distribution, and communication. We need each other as part of life’s test (Neal A. Maxwell said that we are each other's clinical experience). Almost everything we are learning in this life involves other people. We learn to interact, to love, to listen... to do good, to distribute, to communicate. Every person we interact with on this earth is there for a reason... part of the plan. So, today, let's help each other pass today's test. :) And, inasmuch as it is possible... have fun doing it. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

John 5:39

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
John 5:39

A very specific and pointed verse today: Search the scriptures. So many times in our lives we think that so many things could be solved if God would just speak to us, tell us what we need to do... tell us what he wants, what he expects of us personally. And sometimes we do get those moments when we are connected to him, when he speaks to us, in prayer, or in other moments of absolute clarity. But he doesn’t usually clarify those things that we can find out for ourselves… and God does tell us what he expects of us, what he wants us to do every day... right here in the pages of the scriptures. Knowing them well can teach us about ourselves, about the world we live in, about other people, and a lot about God. We can get to know him... we can learn about how to gain eternal life... topics that are more important than anything we are learning at school, or on the job. Sometimes we think… “oh, yeah, the Book of Mormon. I’ve read it.” … and it is scary that we sometimes think that we already know the answers to these questions... that we can be so content with the little we know. The scriptures are like Shakespeare (better I’m sure)... there are layers and depths of meaning in there. Take faith for instance. Who can say that they know all there is to know about faith, and the power that it has in people's lives? No-one can. No matter how much we’ve seen or known, there is still so much more there… layers upon layers. The scriptures are a major way that God speaks directly to us… and it is all about us. About the power that we have individually to change the world, to lift other people, to make life better... even when things are horrible. About standing up for what we believe, no matter what. About finding out who we are, and who God is... about listening to the truth instead of listening to lies... about learning to love, about kindness... about what to do when everything goes wrong. About what to do when everything goes right... about what to do when we have no idea where to go or who can help us... everything we need to know. :) Today, let’s search the scriptures, for they testify of God, and help us to know him.

Monday, August 17, 2009

1 Thessalonians 5:16

"Rejoice evermore."
1 Thessalonians 5:16

Sincerely, doesn't this just sum it up? God wants us to be happy... and gives us every reason to be. So today, let's get rid of the shadows, clear our perspectives so that we can see the reasons to be happy, and get to some serious rejoicing. :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Romans 12:1-5

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
Romans 12:1-5

I like the idea of transforming (growing, changing, becoming something better and cooler) rather than conforming (becoming the same as everyone else). :) But I am getting ahead of myself. :) The first verse is great because it talks about a living sacrifice... like *living* for something, rather than dying for it. I think it usually takes a lot more effort to live for what you believe. And I think this "reasonable service" that God asks really IS reasonable. He knows what we can do, and he gives us the power to do it. I like the renewing of your mind part too... sometimes we pack so much trash into our minds that we need some renewing... or sometimes we need some renewing just because our minds get darkened and we can't see the light clearly. But when our minds are renewed, we can see God's light clearly and there is no question what God's will is. And then, humility again... we shouldn't ever think that we are the supreme rulers of the universe and that everyone else is around to do our bidding. :) God has given us all different levels of faith... different gifts... and we NEED each other, in order to build our faith, share our gifts... and learn more talents. We might be the very best at something, but in other areas, we aren’t that great, and we need someone else to help us get closer to acceptable. :) We should never assume, just because we have so much to teach, that we have nothing to learn. Everyone has something that we need... and we have something that other people need. We build Zion together, and we succeed or fail, as a nation and as a community, together. No-one is going to be saved alone... we work out our own salvation, but that effort involves other people... and nothing that we do affects only ourselves, though sometimes it would be nice to think so. God says, if ye are not one, ye are not mine... we all have to do our part, but as members of a team... a friendship, a family, a community... a nation, a church... a Zion people. In a very real way, we are part of each other, and need each other… the way that an arm needs an elbow, or a body needs a heart. Not optionally. :) Today, let’s work together with the people around us to build something positive, rather than trying to go it alone… let’s transform rather than conform. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Words of Mormon 1:7

"And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will."
Words of Mormon 1:7

This is cool. It reminds me of Adam (Moses 5:6) when he was asked why he was offering sacrifices, and he said that he didn't know, except that God had told him to. The same thing is happening here with Mormon. He really has no idea why he including this particular selection of writings with his work, except that he knows God wants him to... and therefore, it is the wise thing to do. :) That is having faith like a child... trusting that what your dad says is absolutely right, even though you really don't understand the reasons. I think we could probably all use more of that. We get too cynical sometimes, and demand reasons for everything... when, with some things, there is just no way to know, or understand, until we have lived a little longer, and learned a little more. It is frequently that way with the challenges in my life... while they are happening I rarely understand, and almost never appreciate them... but afterwards, sometimes years afterward, I understand why I needed to go through whatever it was, and I see what it was preparing me for. I’m not saying that we can’t know or understand the gospel or the things that God asks us to do… in fact, most of the time I think that God’s work is a lot more comprehensible than we expect. God really does want us to understand. Just sometimes we aren’t ready yet, and we have a hard time seeing his perspective. In the end, even when we aren’t ready, it is important to remember that God knows what he is doing... I mean, he is God, after all. :) Today... let's work on that childlike trust, and remember that God is preparing us for great things, which really are there, even though we can’t currently see the future.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doctrine and Covenants 62:1

"Behold and hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted."
Doctrine and Covenants 62:1

I think this is interesting because so often I think we see God as too far off to really understand our lives and the challenges thereof. If we are tempted, we are reluctant to call upon God, thinking that he *won't* understand, especially with temptation in our minds, and that all we will get is anger or intolerance. Except, when we examine that viewpoint, those are be things that we would expect from ourselves or the similarly excessively flawed people around us... but it isn't what we should expect from God. Christ lived his life here, and knows what it is like... and as if that weren't enough, he also suffered for each of our sins. He knows *precisely* what we are each going through, and unlike ourselves, he knows what to do about it. He knows how to help us when we are tempted, and what to do about our weaknesses. There *is* a balm in Gilead. :) God can heal us of our infirmities of body, of mind, and of soul... and we will probably need all three quite often. :) But no matter how many times we need him, he helps us. God isn't a fair-weather friend. He is one of the very few who will be there whether you are lost or found, stormy or calm... alive or dead. :) I don't think that you can get more consistent than that. So, today... even if there is no one or nowhere else to turn (and unfortunately that is what it takes for us to choose God sometimes), God will still, and always, be there. Let’s go to him with our challenges and ask for his help.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Proverbs 20:17

"Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel."
Proverbs 20:17

Bleah. That mental image/taste of gravel in my mouth. Ugh. This is great stuff, when you can picture it that clearly. :) I think it helps us to capture the fact that deceit has consequences. And, I don't know that there are any huge ponzi-schemers reading this, but deceit can be very small sometimes. Saying things in a way that will lead people to the wrong conclusion, even without actually lying. There are many, many ways to deceive... and I think that we all do it now and then. But in the end, little white lies are still lies, and no matter how small the deceit is, and how sweet it seems, it will turn out to be gravel in the end. Today, let's work on avoiding even the tiniest deceit. Even if it is hard, it is probably better than eating gravel, right?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Revelation 3:15-16 -- On Decision and Commitment

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
Revelation 3:15-16

This is interesting, and reminds me of some people I used to know who wondered if they were "fence sitters" during the war in heaven. I really don't think that is possible. I think the fact that we are here means that we chose, and actively worked towards a certain goal. And I think that is exactly what we have to do in this life as well. We have to make a choice. No matter how tempting inaction is sometimes, it is not enough to sit in the middle and say "well, if God exists, this, and if he doesn't, that..." or if you've gotten past that hurdle, there are tons more... Mormonism could be right or wrong, or this choice or that choice, or any choice at all... we can choose to not take a side and try to lurk around in the middle, hoping that we can jump one way or the other when we see which way things are going... or hoping somehow that we won't actually have to make a choice.

I think this scripture tells us that won't work. We need to make those choices... figure out what we believe and take a stand. That's hard sometimes, I know. Many choices are life-changing, and we don't want to get them wrong. So sticking with God, and making sure we include him in our decision-making process is important as well... but sometimes actually making the decision, and then asking God if it is okay with Him is a better idea than the way-harder-to-interpret "what should I do?" Today, let's try to be more decisive... even about little things like what to have for lunch, just for the practice. :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Proverbs 20:5-6

"Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.
Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?"
Proverbs 20:5-6

I like this. I think that as we aspire to be people of understanding, that we should learn from the people around us. Not all of them are talkative, or will offer advice, but there is wealth of wisdom under the surface, and we have something potentially to learn from every person and every interaction. The next verse is great as well, and I think fits right in... in our same striving to be people of understanding, we should watch for pride. Focusing on ourselves is not the goal, but understanding the people and the world around us. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't feed ourselves, balance the checkbook, and take a shower now and then... but it does mean that we should be praising other people and finding the positive things about them, and the hope there is in the world, rather than spending every waking minute extolling our own virtues. :) Today, let's work on becoming people of understanding by focusing outward, and really finding the good in others, and recognizing, valuing, learning from, and complimenting it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Isaiah 1:18

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:18

I really love this... that God is willing to talk with us and figure things out together. I love that mental image of us just sitting down for a chat. He is the most powerful being around... the one who could legitimately just order us around or dismiss us, and still, he loves us enough to meet us on common ground and discuss. No matter how bad things are, he can save us, and help us out... but much, much more than that, he *wants* to. He is interested in our well being, and wants more than anything for us to take him up on his offer. It is amazing that such a powerful being cares about us that much... and on the other hand, it makes sense. We are his children. He has to let us walk on our own so that we can learn... but he is always there to pick up the pieces when we need help figuring out how to get out of the mess we've made for ourselves. He offers hope, and a new beginning. He can clean us completely and totally... as though we were reborn, rather than just washed. No wound, and no scar. Today, let's take him up on his offer, and start the process of cleaning up our lives in that incredible way that will eventually leave us perfect.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

John 5:38-39

"And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
John 5:38-39

These verses are in the middle of a severe reprimand by Christ to some of the people that didn't believe him while he was on the earth... saying that if you had God's word within, that you would recognize a messenger from him. I think that is interesting, and true for us as well. If we have God's word abiding in us, then we will recognize the truth and the good things that God sends us when we come across them in life. ... And how do we have that word abiding in us? Part of it is prayer and communicating with our Father consistently... and a lot of it is what we are instructed to do in the next verse. Search the scriptures. They show God's dealings with man over the course of human history, and they can help us gain and internalize his word. If we become familiar with the scriptures, then the hand of God can become familiar to us as we experience this life. Today, let's work on internalizing God's word. Let's pray and talk to God, and also read his word. Work on recognizing his voice, and recognizing his hand in the world around us.... and in our own lives.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1 John 5:21

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
1 John 5:21

There is so much going on in this chapter that I could write about today, but what struck me the most as I was reading was this last verse. At the end of a letter full of advice, this is the way that John signs off... telling the people to keep themselves away from idols. And it seems like pretty good advice for us as well. Probably very few of the people reading this have a golden calf set up in their homes that they pray to... but unfortunately, idols can be more subtle than that. Anything that we worship or value more than God can be an idol to us. That could be a job, a person, a car, a computer. It could be a drug, or pride, or just an attitude. Anything that gets in the way, that prevents us from giving all that we are to God... from doing all that he asks. Today, let's examine our lives and identify what is influencing us and keeping us from God. ... and then, let's take the advice of this scripture, and keep ourselves far away from whatever it is. Sometimes that thing needs to be eradicated from our lives... and sometimes we just need to readjust the parameters of the interaction. Either way though, while the object, person, or attitude remains an idol to us, we need that distance in order to think clearly and reevaluate our priorities. As Ezra Taft Benson said, if we put God first, then everything else will be able to fall into place, or fall out of our lives.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Romans 14:19

"Let us therefore follow after the things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."
Romans 14:19

I love this scripture because it is just a simple goal... let's cut down on contention, and build each other up instead. :) Maybe it's idealistic... but I like idealistic. Can we seek peace and edification *today?* Seriously, I think one of the biggest mistakes we make in this life is trying to do it ourselves. Of *course* we have to work out our own salvation, but God didn't say that we couldn't look on each other's exams. :) It isn't cheating, it's teamwork, right? An open-book test, and go ahead and talk to your neighbor... in fact... can we really get through the test without everyone else? Let’s not even try. When something is going wrong, God gives us other people. When everything is going right, and we are overflowing with joy... God gives us other people. :) We can pray with someone... exercise with someone... study with someone... review our days with someone. Compare notes... see how other people are dealing with life. Maybe we'll learn something. Maybe we have a hint or two we can share as well. Let's follow peace, edify each other, and build some Zion today. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1 John 5:14-15 -- On Asking

"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
1 John 5:14-15

This is really cool. It takes a little bit of faith, but it really works. Asking according to God's will guarantees an answer. :) Now, God's timing might be different from ours, and the amount of effort that we, personally, have to put in might be perceived a little differently by God... but he will answer us. The thing is to ask for things that we know that he wants to give us.  Faith... Love... Forgiveness... Mercy... Truth. Probably not new cars we don’t need, or gold-plated Monopoly sets. But friends... yes. Opportunities to share the gospel... opportunities to repent, to heal wounds and rifts, to bless other people's lives. :) Now, these things might seem impossible to us, the wounds too deep, the rifts too wide, the friends too remote. Everyone around us might belong to some anti-Mormon hate group, and so we might wonder how all these things will come to pass... but they will. When we ask for things that God wants to give us, he'll find a way to bless our lives with those things. In his time, and in his way... but it will definitely happen. Let's gather our faith today, and ask God for something that we know he wants us to have... and then work for the results. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

3 Nephi 14:12

"Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets."
3 Nephi 14:12

Sometimes we get overwhelmed with all the different things that we have to do to be "obedient" and good... :) so sometimes God reminds us that actually, if we could just get the basics down, then everything else would fall into place. This is one of those scriptures. If we could just master treating other people as we would like to be treated... forgiving people as we would like to be forgiven... spending time with people as we would like people to spend time with us; talk to people as we would like them to talk to us... love people as we would like to be loved... if we could just do this one thing, loving our neighbors... then all the rest of it would just happen as a natural result. And what a difference in the world. Who would go hungry if we were seriously feeding others as we would like to be fed? Who would be alone if we were welcoming others into our lives the way that we would like them to welcome us into their lives? Let's just try to work on this one thing today. :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

3 Nephi 12:19-20

"And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled.
Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
3 Nephi 12:19-20

I think sometimes that we forget our obligations to God. Not always consciously, but we can get into this mindset where we think that God loves us and he’ll let us get away with anything. The cool thing is… He definitely does love us, and God *can* save us from the consequences of our actions sometimes… but we have to put in some effort, and we have to work on changing ourselves so that we won’t want to do those same things again. We have to not want to break God’s law… part of being contrite and repenting is working to get to that point. I think it is interesting that he asks for a “broken heart” as well. I’m not sure this means broken heart like it has been shattered and is lying in pieces… I think it might be broken, as in house broken or breaking a horse. The focus is on taming, or teaching our hearts to do the right things, not on destroying them. We have to remember that God’s laws are there to help us become the people that we need to be to enter back into God’s presence. God isn’t arbitrary, and he doesn’t ask for anything that we don’t actually need… all of these things teach us and help us become who we need to become in order to return to him. Today, let’s remember that we cannot get into the kingdom of heaven without keeping God’s commandments. Let’s work on keeping them, and remember that they are designed to help us change ourselves into better people… people who are prepared to live in heaven, and to see God.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jacob 3:1

"But behold, I, Jacob would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction."
Jacob 3:1

I like this scripture, because the message seems to be... hey, hang in there, and trust me (God), because I am on your side. :) I like that idea of God consoling us and pleading our cause... it is a very comforting thought, and quiets those nerves that you get when you feel like the world is conspiring against you, or you're stuck with no way out. ... Of course, to get these promises, we have to be pure in heart. We have to be firm in mind, and pray with exceeding faith. I think that those are pretty fair requests for such an amazing promise. :) Today, let's work on making our hearts pure... get rid of those irritating impurities that make us paranoid or jealous or insensitive to someone else's situation. Let's work on being firm in mind... not letting those stray thoughts of disobedience take root. And let's pray with exceeding faith, trusting that God will stand with us... always.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Alma 1:26-27

"And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.
And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely."
Alma 1:26-27

I think this is great, talking about how the teachers and the learners were equal. I like the idea of leaving work in the middle of the day and having gospel discussions too. Cool. I think that adds a whole other level to education, when you feel like you are contributing as an equal, rather than just getting a lecture from someone who isn’t also listening to you. Probably important to remember, even just as we go through our normal day. It is really hard to teach people if you aren’t connecting with them as an equal… and it is really hard to learn when you feel you aren’t understood or valued.
Some of this reminds me of my classes in Education. Did you know that the biggest gaps in student test scores come if you divide the scores by income level? It’s a bigger gap than dividing them by ethnicity, which is second highest. That is scary.... and it's a huge gap, not just a few points. And I think that the second verse illustrates that they were equal in a lot of other ways too. They were working to be a Zion people, and closing those gaps. I think to achieve equality, the second verse is just as important as the first. We have to share what we have with others. if we are supposed to be one, and we are only attempting to be one with people of the same ethnic and socio-economic background, I think we are missing the point. :) Today, let’s remember to learn while we teach, and teach while we learn… and also remember that our goal is unity with the people around us… all working toward the same goal, and the same truth. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2 Nephi 2:15-16

"And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other."
2 Nephi 2:15-16

I think it is interesting that in the garden of Eden, the tree that provided you with eternal life produced bitter fruit and the one that you were forbidden to eat of was sweet... maybe choosing the bad thing has always had better immediate benefits. :) Which is all part of the plan, right? In the second verse it tells us that we wouldn't be able to act for ourselves unless both were enticing. If God put bad stuff down here in crappy packaging, where would the choice be? We'd just go... the good, of course... duh. So, God allows it to be glamorized, to appear romantic or sometimes better than we ever dreamed anything could be... so that it is a real choice. So that we really have to learn why good is good and bad is bad on a deeper level than the packaging. It has to be tempting to us on some level, or we wouldn't have true choice at all. Sometimes the best thing is bitter to us at first, the taste... the choice... because we see what we aren't choosing, as well as what we are. But the good things really are good underneath, and the bad things are … bad. Like delicious frosting on a moldy, year-old donut. All the packaging in the world can't change the true nature of our choices. We just have to look very carefully, and listen to God, who is wiser than we are.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hebrews 11:32-34

"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens."
Hebrews 11:32-34

Faith is an amazing thing. It can do miraculous things, including holding off invading aliens. :) Very cool. Sincerely though, I think it is interesting that it says that time would fail me to tell all of these things... because it would. There is so much evidence of faith, and of God's hand in our lives, and in the lives of all people, that it is just overwhelming to think of telling it all. Isn't it just pure insanity to seek for a sign or proof of God's presence when signs and evidences are absolutely everywhere around us? So often, we seek more faith-building stories when we haven't really read the ones that we have, and we want more miracles when our lives are filled with them. Instead of waiting for more, today let's go out and make them happen. Let's do some of the things that it says here... let's build some righteousness. Let's obtain promises. Let's be made strong out of our weaknesses. If we need some more evidence, let's make some happen. And, you know, it never hurts to be ready for those alien armies. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

2 Samuel 24:24 -- On Meaningful Sacrifice

"And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."
2 Samuel 24:24

Interesting. Araunah offered David everything that he needed to make the appropriate sacrifice... but David wouldn't do it. Seems that even back then, a sacrifice meant more than just a burnt offering. And today... I wonder if we try to offer things at times that don't mean much to us. We are hyper-obedient about things that are easy for us, and we think that we are sacrificing. :) Sacrifice means a lot more than that. It is a very real commitment, made because we love. Think about the person that you love most in the world. If you were going to surprise that person on a special occasion, what would you do? I know that if it were me, I would make sure it was perfect. Front-row seats, a favorite meal... the perfect gift... whatever it took to make it the perfect day. it wouldn't matter what it cost me, in time or money, if I could coax a smile. I think that is what sacrifice is about. Not about being a martyr, or cutting out part of yourself for someone else... it's about real caring, and doing anything you can to create that perfect moment. David couldn't honor his God with a sacrifice that cost him nothing; it wasn't a gift that he was giving that way. The same for us. The broken heart and the contrite spirit that we offer to God has to be real... sincere. It has to cost us something. Not monetarily, and it doesn't have to bring us pain... but it has to be valuable to us. The commitment that we make has to be deep and true. We can't just give God the leftovers... the excess emotion that we have left over after doting on our loved ones and friends... the extra cash we have after we have paid all of our bills... the few minutes we have to communicate after we've talked to everyone on earth that we know. :) If God matters to us, then we have to offer him time, and space in our lives. When we offer him our broken hearts, he returns them to us whole. When we offer him our contrite spirit, he strengthens us and gives us confidence. ... He loves us too. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Alma 22:18

"O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead."
Alma 22:18

King Lamoni’s father in this verse starts a prayer to God, not knowing for sure that he is there, but wanting to believe, hoping for an answer. I like that willingness to experiment upon the word. We don’t always know for ourselves initially when we learn new things about God or the gospel… but we can go directly to God to find out. Another amazing thing here is that he is willing to give up all his sins to know God. Totally worth it, but not something we usually offer. We often try to hold something back when we go to God… willing to change this or that thing, but not everything. And I think that, to have the kind of relationship that we want to have, with no barriers between us, we really have to be willing to give up all of it… even the tiniest, favorite sins. As C. S. Lewis says... if we want Heaven, we have to give up even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell. Today, let’s work on trying the experiment, and going to God… and if we’re already communicating, then let’s start throwing away anything that doesn’t fit with that relationship. Some souvenirs we get really attached to… the mini-snowscape titled "a cold day in Hell" and the T-shirt that says "Tourist from Hell" … the doubts and beliefs that it is much easier to live with than to overcome. Some of them are very hard to part with. But if we’re serious about wanting what is asked for in this verse, we need to get rid of the clutter that interferes with our commitment to a better place. I can’t imagine what souvenirs they have in the Celestial Kingdom… can only imagine that they are infinitely better. Let’s make sure we’re in a position to find out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Alma 19:33

"And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the self-same thing--that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil."
Alma 19:33

Sometimes we think of life as this never-ending struggle… with temptation, with obstacles, with just those internal struggles we go through sometimes, trying to do the right thing, but sometimes wanting something else… and I love this scripture because it is one of the ones that tells us that the struggles aren’t never-ending… aren’t eternal. They have limits, and one of the limits is described right here… through the spirit, through conversion, the Lamanites hearts were changed, and they didn’t even desire to do evil anymore… not just a change in action, but a change that went all the way down to the core of who they were. Evil wasn’t in style anymore… so last season, so yesterday. :) They wanted something better. And we can get there too. By reading and praying and keeping God in our hearts and minds, those evil thoughts can’t exist in the same space. We stop wanting bad things when our minds and hearts are occupied with Good… with God. And not just a displacement, with the evil waiting in the background… but we start seeing things differently, and get a whole new perspective. God helps us to glimpse something better for ourselves and the people around us, and we start seeing what is possible, and what will bring lasting happiness, rather than what will give us that temporary relief from despair. It’s a good change, and something to think on today. Have our hearts been changed? And, in the spirit of Alma 5:26 (another good verse), are they still changed? Can we feel that desire for good today? If not, let’s talk to God about it and try to recapture that hope… that unity of self… no more internal struggle. And if we *can* feel that desire to do good… let’s talk to God as well, and thank him for it. :) Because, seriously… how incredible, to be so changed, and so new, and so ready to face the world. True conversion is undeniable like that... looking up at God one day and realizing that it isn't a struggle anymore... what he says makes a lot of sense. :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hebrews 3:12-14

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end."
Hebrews 3:12-14

This is a good scripture... so often we see others, or ourselves, challenging boundaries or losing the spirit... and this encourages us to exhort one another daily. I don't think it means “condemn” … just exhort. :) The first verse talks about being aware of your own spirituality, and where your heart is... is it embracing God, or is there something that is in the way? Doubts, fears, obstacles...? I think that is an introspective deal, and then the next verse... encourage each other to righteousness. It helps if we know how each other's souls are doing. :) It is easy to get hardened. We have moments of incredible clarity in our lives, and usually much longer moments of trial. We don't know the state of anyone else's soul... but if we talk about the gospel, if we encourage them in doing good, in being filled with light... then we are doing what we need to do. Some days I have a really hard time even remembering that God is there, and I feel really black... and someone comes along, reminding me that Satan’s reality isn't the only one to consider. We need to do that for each other sometimes. Sin is deceitful. It makes us think that reality is one way, all of it, everywhere... when what we see is just a tiny speck of reality. A quote I read when I was doing research on rural education says that when people get isolated and lonely sometimes they are "forced to seek safety rather than satisfaction" despite the fact that they claim the opposite. I thought that was interesting... that they feel the need to make a choice between those two things. Sometimes when we are feeling black, and get hardened and insensitive to the spirit... we feel like we have to make choices... either safety or satisfaction, either happiness or a clear conscience... so many hellish choices. But if we can shake of the blackness for a few hours, we see that we can have safety AND satisfaction... happiness AND a clear conscience. God isn't the one asking us to make those choices.... Satan is. Let's remind each other not to be deceived. And the last verse... consistency. :) That’s what it is all about, right? Getting the clarity every day... living well all the time... having confidence in God today, and tomorrow, and always. And I think that if we take this verse without the other two, it can seem overwhelming... I think it is impossible to have this confidence all the time, by ourselves. That’s why we have each other... as a reminder. We need each other to strengthen our confidence... to remind us of who we are, and how amazingly cool God is... that he deserves every bit of our confidence... because he is always there, always loving us, always working for our good... always listening, always answering. Always.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zechariah 8:16-17 -- On Timely Guidance

"These are the thing that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord."
Zechariah 8:16-17

I like it when God tells me what to do. :) I know that I should already know, and that I need to be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and not bury my talents... but still, sometimes it is nice when you are a little overwhelmed and God gives you a nice scripture like this. Here is what to do: tell the truth, be honest and promote peace with others, don't get paranoid or mean, and don't support things you don't believe in. :) A good list for a day when we need some external guidance.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Moroni 7:46-47

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."
Moroni 7:46-47

This is a fascinating insight from Mormon (Moroni is writing down some things that his dad said in this chapter). The part of this scripture that strikes me today is when it says "all things must fail." I find that really relevant. It seems like so much of this earth life is about learning to let go of things, and it is interesting to have God come out and say... that's the way it is. All things must fail. It kind of makes it better when you remember that. :) The thing that doesn't fail though, and that we can have faith and confidence in, is the pure love of Christ. I think sometimes about Christ’s suffering. We talk a lot about seeing things from someone's else perspective, or walking a mile in their shoes... Christ knows us so intimately, from suffering our pains, that there is no-one else who *could* love us like that... and of course it endures forever... that isn't something that he will forget. The challenge that I see is learning it for ourselves. :) How do we become possessed of Christ's love? Do you think that means just feeling his love for us, and having that actively in our lives... or having that same kind of love for other people? ... or both? :) I mean, obviously we can't go through what Christ did... first because I don't think that any of us has that high of a pain threshold, and secondly, because none of us are pure, so that we could make that kind of sacrifice for others. In the verse after this it tells us to pray with all the energy of heart, so that we can be filled with this love. Which is always a good image… filled, taking away the emptiness.
Anyway, as it says here, if we have not charity we are nothing... so today, let’s make sure we get a dose. :) ... and when we feel that love of Christ within us, let’s bless someone else with it as well... after all, what is more important than learning to love each other? Only learning to love God.... the two most important things in life. Let's spend some time on them today. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mosiah 2:17

"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."
Mosiah 2:17

Whenever we do anything for anyone else, we are serving God. His will is always that we help each other and lift each other up. And it is interesting that knowing this helps us to learn wisdom. I mean, it is probably pretty wise to do the 2 for 1 deal... help someone, help God... pretty good deal. But I think that it goes deeper than that. I mean, this is King Benjamin we are talking about... one of my heroes. :) And King Benjamin was all about humility. He is trying to teach us wisdom here, and he significantly uses the word "only" ... hmm. So, what is he saying? I think he's saying that service is good... but that no matter what miraculous service we render to another person... we still are in God's debt. We have to answer to God, who we can never look in the eye unless he lifts us up to sit on the counter. :) We're kids, and sometimes we try to make deals with ourselves... if we are extra-nice to this person, that makes up for this other thing... but it all goes back to God. We eventually have to deal directly with him... you know, talking to him, learning from him. It's actually not as scary as it sometimes feels... and he does appreciate the service. :) Let's talk to God today... and ask him what he wants us to do. :)

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