Friday, December 16, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 138:56

"Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men."
Doctrine and Covenants 138:56

This section talks about Christ's visit to the spirit world in between his death and resurrection, and how he brought the gospel to the dead. It's a fascinating section, if you want to read more. What struck me today as I was reading it is the references to our premortal existence. I always wonder what it was like, and also, how different things will be when we can remember that time. I love this verse talking about how we received lessons in the world of spirits. Maybe we weren't all in the advanced class with Abraham, Adam and Eve, Isaiah, etc... but I doubt any of us sat out of class entirely. :) The idea of lessons before we were born fits in with the idea of this life as a learning experience... on this Earth we're working on learning and growing and becoming smarter, wiser, and more beautiful of soul, just like we were then. :) Today, let's get out there and learn. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 137:9

"For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts."
Doctrine and Covenants 137:9

This verse comes after it talks about people who die without a knowledge of the gospel... that if they would have accepted it, then they will get the same reward as someone who did have the chance to accept it. I think that is really cool, and a great equalizer, so that people who never got a chance to consider the gospel don't get penalized for something they had never even heard of. And that is what God is about... we're all here to learn and grow and become the kinds of people we can be. God isn't up there laughing when people fail at life... he's sorrowing. He wants us to succeed... and he gives us all every chance that he can. I also think that it is cool that God judges us by our actions and the desires of our hearts, together. Actions could be judged differently, based on intent, and intent could be judged differently, based on action. That makes the judgement whole, taking into account soul and body. It also means that we can't just get by wanting something bad, but just avoiding it. Going through the motions might be a good way to start learning obedience, but it can't be enough in the end. And wanting the good, but still behaving badly, again... might be salvageable, and is better than bad heart and bad actions together... but again, it won't be enough in the end. Wherever we start, we have to get to inner unity, where our hearts and our actions are in alignment. Where we are desiring *and* doing good. Today, let's work on getting ourselves on the same page. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Helaman 3:29

"Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked--"
Helaman 3:29

I really like this one. Reading it today it seems all about empowerment. God gives us the ability and the opportunity to learn and take hold of his word, and use it to improve the world and our individual lives. The more we drink it in and understand it, the less we can be deceived by the distractions of the evil and shallow, and the more we are rooted in God and his gospel of good. :)
Today, let's take this promise to heart. Let's read our scriptures... not as a chore, but pleasurably. Learning the stories, thinking about the words and how they relate to our lives. Let's find the words that will help us through our current problems... that will show us how to be happy in the midst of stress, or triumphant over some personal darkness. It's all there, and the more we pile God's word into our minds, the more God's guidance will pop out at the most opportune moments. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ephesians 6:5-8

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
Ephesians 6:5-8

Even though probably very few of us have the job title of "Servant," this probably applies to us all in different ways. Whatever we do in this world, we're serving the people around us in some capacity, and even if we don't have a direct superior over us, we all have masters in some sense, whether it is at work, at school, at church, or on a larger level in our society, under our national and local governments.
This struck me I think because it draws a parallel to "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40), but in a way that I don't usually think about that scripture... in the workplace, or in talking about the Government. It seems harder to think about serving Christ through serving my CEO, or through serving Congress, or the President, than it does when I think about serving the homeless guy on the corner. Maybe it is just a personal mental challenge... or maybe it is because I don't know much about the homeless guy on the corner, and he's demanding a little less of me. :)
Either way, I really like this, and thought it would be a good challenge for us today. Let's do good service for God, no matter who is telling us to do it... and let's be positive, and do our best work, helping the people around us as much as we possibly can. No matter what inequities, hardships, or complaints there are in the background, let's not slack off or give up, but let's always be the best possible people we can be, wherever we are, whatever we are doing... loving and serving with cheerful hearts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Psalms 13:1-2

"How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?"
Psalms 13:1-2

I think that we all go through times in our lives where we ask these questions... where we wonder how long we have to deal with suffering or sorrow or persecution, or whatever else is really affecting us as we live our lives. We look up at heaven and say "enough already!" And I think it is quite normal to want to skip through the sad parts and get to the happy parts of the story. It's all about timing, and even though we think that we've reached our endurance limit sometimes, God shows us that we're stronger than that. Or makes us stronger, through the sad times. We can't see the end, or the next chapter, or even the next paragraph... but just like this psalm, which starts out with the verses above and ends with "I will sing unto the Lord because he hath dealt bountifully with me," things get better. Today, let's trust in the Lord's timing, and remember that wherever we are, no matter how stuck we feel in a Greek tragedy, a different ending is always possible. With God, we get to choose the genre. Things do get better... those last chapters are the best. Let's hang in there and keep turning the pages with hope.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Abraham 1:2

"And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers."
Abraham 1:2

In this verse Abraham is starting to choose a new life, and looking at what he wants and what he values. At the core, he wants to be happier, and to have more peace and rest. :) And everything else builds on that. He knows that God can help him find happiness. Which makes me think of "men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25) ... God created us so that we could be happy. Created Abraham so that he could be happy. In fact, each of us could say "I am, that I might have joy."
There is greater happiness and peace and rest for all of us, through God. That doesn't mean there will never be bad times, but it does mean that the bad times and the good, and everything that we experience is designed to make us into better, happier people in the long run. Abraham's life after this point was definitely not free of trials or sorrows, but he did find everything he was looking for. So can we.
Today, let's examine our lives and figure out what we want. Happiness? Peace? Rest? More knowledge, more guidance, more goodness, more purpose? And when we figure it out, let's work with God and start to improve/recreate our lives... talking to God about how to be happier, and then following through. :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 42:27

"Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm."
Doctrine and Covenants 42:27

We've heard "love thy neighbor" many times. It's already been said... but as with most things, God needs to drive the point home with repetition and some clarification because mostly we haven't been paying proper attention. :)

So, refresher course. First refresher: our neighbors are everyone. So, we shouldn't speak evil of anyone, or do anyone harm. In fact, we should love everyone. We know this. :) Second refresher: even people we don't like. Even ____________ <--- mentally fill in the name of whatever individual or group we've spoken evil of lately.

It is unfortunately easy to speak evil of/complain about people. We jump into mental comparisons without seeing the whole picture. We wonder why this other person hasn't learned a simple lesson that we learned long ago... or why this group of people is choosing things that we would never choose. We don't usually remember at the time that there are other basic lessons that we struggle with, or other choices that we make that others are wise enough to stay away from.

Today, let's remember our neighbors fondly, and not speak evil of any of them. Learning to love each other is one of our biggest lessons in life, and this is a good first step: Do no harm.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Acts 9:18

"And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."
Acts 9:18

Some of the stories of dramatic conversion in the scriptures (for example here, Saul/Paul, and in the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger or King Lamoni) are powerful to us I think because they are swift and immediate changes rather than slow realizations. One day, Saul was asking for letters that gave him authority to persecute and bind the Christians, and three days later he was fully converted, baptized, and shortly began preaching Christ in the synagogues. I think it is an amazing illustration of repentance, and how knowing the truth can turn your entire life around. Saul didn't hesitate or wait, worried about how it would look to his friends or colleagues. He realized the truth, and changed his whole life because of it. Even though our realizations are often less dramatic than Saul's (perhaps thankfully so because being struck blind for three days would be very scary), we're still capable of the same kind of dedication. Unfortunately, it's hard. Just like Saul, when faced with the truth of Christ, we have to radically change our minds and our hearts and our actions, and it is easy to wimp out and worry about what people will say or how they will mock us, or to feel like we can't actually overhaul our lives that much. The great thing is, God is around to help us, just as much as he helped Saul. And if we try, he'll send people to help heal and support us, and he'll help us make those big changes in ourselves, becoming different people than we used to be. Today, let's make the hard choice to change ourselves for good, and live closer to Christ and the truth of his gospel. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alma 37:46

"O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so it was with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever."
Alma 37:46

Life isn't always easy, but God has made it easy to know where to go. God's plan is simple, and his path is straight. When we make a mess of our lives, the way out always begins with prayer, and the Sunday School answers that seem like we've heard them hundreds of times... they really work. Reading our scriptures is foundational to knowing more about God and his gospel. Sometimes the easy parts are the hardest for us, because we think it is too obvious, or it doesn't work in our focus on immediacy, or ... we just want that extra drama and/or excuse complexity gives us. We want sometimes to be able to say that we couldn't handle it, or understand it. :) Let's take a step back from the tangle today and simplify things. Let's pray and read our scriptures... just those two things. And let's see if that helps untangle everything else. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 93:23-24

"Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;
And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come."
Doctrine and Covenants 93:23-24

I like these glimpses into our premortal existence. It is cool to know that we were there with God, and I love the part about spirit/truth/knowledge (and light/intelligence that it mentions a few verses later)... that those things are all mixed in together, and part of who we are. :) I like thinking that at the core of ourselves we're light, and goodness, and truth almost shining through the skin. :) I'm guessing that because it is part of who we are, adding more light and truth and knowledge to the mix can only help us. :) And also, that when we deceive ourselves or put up a mental block so we don't have to deal with a difficult truth, that can only hurt us. Today, let's embrace truth and knowledge, and listen to our Father, who has been with us for eternity. Let's grow in goodness and light until we're all shiny and hard to look at. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 88:64-65

"Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you.
And if ye ask anything that is not expedient for you, it shall turn unto your condemnation."
Doctrine and Covenants 88:64-65

I like this. I love all the scriptures that give us hope and promise us cool things when we ask, and it is really good to remember that God loves us enough to give us what we ask for. On the other hand, I really appreciate the warning here... and I think that it is a warning about exactly the same thing. That God gives us what we ask for. Sometimes what we ask for can really mess up our lives.
When we really really want something with everything that we are, it's hard to stop and say "thy will be done." We aren't really feeling or believing it, and as Huck Finn says, "you can't pray a lie." I think it's hard in certain circumstances to get to that place where we have let go of our will enough that we really are willing to accept God's will, whether it coincides with our own will or not. But that's also the only time it means anything... when we really feel it.
Today, let's work on being completely open with God... telling him what we want, and why... but also on making sure that we aren't hurting ourselves with what we ask for, or walking any path besides God's.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jeremiah 8:15, 18, 20

"We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!
When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."
Jeremiah 8:15, 18, 20

Life feels this way sometimes. We wait and work, trying for something good, and it falls through, or we want to cheer up and we can't, because things are just that bad... or we feel like everything is over and we failed. We did our best, it wasn't enough, and it is time to give up. Sometimes, probably often, we bring some of these feelings on ourselves because of sin. Losing the Spirit means losing some of that hope that was getting us through. It could be that one trial that is in exactly our weak spot, and even though we keep saying we are going to stand up to it this time, we cave anyway. Or it is a huge trial that knocks us over and instead of standing up to take another blow, we decide to just lie there and catch our breath for a while. Sometimes it doesn't have a lot to do with us. It is a medical, career, or relationship emergency that we didn't cause, but we definitely have to jump in and mop up the mess that it caused in our lives. This chapter ends with a verse that begins "Is there no balm in Gilead?" ... and we wonder too, if there could possibly be a solution to what seems like the end of the world.
In today's verses, the chapter or even the next few chapters don't have an automatic resolution for us. It stays bleak for a while... but because we have the entire book, we know there is a resolution eventually, and I guess that is what I wanted to remind us all of today. God knows there will be bad times... times when we've lost hope, times when we're without the Spirit, times when we've screwed up our own lives, or feel like whatever happened to us is completely unrecoverable... impossible to come back from, and there is no healing or solution that can possibly help. And God also knows that isn't true. The chapter continues, the book continues, and in the end, as the scriptures tell us, the Messiah returns and makes everything okay. We know the ending, and it is amazing. ... The exact same thing is true in our individual lives. It might not happen in the next few pages, or even in this chapter, but somewhere in our story there is healing, and hope, and a triumphant and happy resolution for anyone who keeps making the effort to turn the pages and allow God rights of authorship. There *is* a balm in Gilead. Today, let's ask God what happens next, and work towards it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Genesis 6:4

"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
Genesis 6:4

This is just one of the verses in the scriptures that talks about Giants, and I think it is interesting. I think it is hard to mentally divide "Giants" in stories like Jack and the Beanstalk from stories like David and Goliath sometimes... possibly because they both reflect some truth, but we don't know the origins of the ideas... whether it was really small/short people talking about really big/tall people, or whether the difference was much more excessive... but also in this verse it talks about sons of God and daughters of men interbreeding, and if this is still talking about Giants on one side, that limits the extremity that could exist. ... The whole verse kind of gives you the storybook feel as well, with "men of renown" like if men and Gods interbred, we would have a lot of heroes. :) ... and, actually, so it is. We are heroes in a very real, but fiction-feeling, way. :) As the spiritual children of God given mortal and imperfect bodies, we're also in a way a mixture of human and God. We're trying to fit Godly thoughts and desires into our very human lives... and in doing that, we can be heroes to the people around us as well as heroes in our own stories, coming out of the middle chapters where so many bad things keep happening, and triumphing in the end. :) Today, let's be heroes... the ideal parts of ourselves. :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mormon 9:21 -- On Belief and Doubt

"Behold I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth."
Mormon 9:21

This is powerful. So often we go throughout our lives almost believing the claims in the world around us... that God is dead/never existed, or that there are no such thing as miracles or that God has stopped doing them, and God doesn't communicate with his children anymore, or answer prayers. So many different things that the world says, but here is a reminder of what God says.

Anything is possible. We could be stuck in the blackest hole, or be buried under a mountain of rock, or both those things figuratively AND literally, and God would still be able--and willing--to listen to us, and grant our desires to escape from the world, and from sin, and from all the things that hurt us, and be able to come to him again. There is nowhere he can't reach, and nothing he can't do for us. We just have to believe, and ask. The only limit God places upon it is "nothing doubting," which is a big limitation and a small limitation at the same time. As we get to know God better and better, we doubt him less and less... and we also know more and more how and what to ask.

Eventually, if we continue on the path, we'll doubt nothing, and be able to ask for anything. It's big in that it doesn't happen all at once, and we have to work to get there... and it's small in that the promise works NOW.  *Today* we can start talking to God, telling him everything, and asking for what we need. And, today, God will start blessing us. Let's go out and start practicing. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Galatians 6:9-10

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
Galatians 6:9-10

I think that we all feel this way sometimes... wearied by trying to make the right choices, and do the right thing, when it doesn't seem to be paying off. Things still go wrong, and the whole world seems to be melting down into a soap opera or talk show. :) But here God tells us to not be weary... it isn't a short-term goal that we're working for. We're doing what we can to build a better world and a better future... and a better self. And nothing that we do is wasted or worthless, because if it does nothing else, it changes *us.*
Today, let's work on refreshing our spiritual energy, and doing good to everyone, reaching out to each other, especially when it is hard. Let's encourage everyone to keep working at it and infusing life with goodness and hope. :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1 Peter 4:12

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:"
1 Peter 4:12

This is great. I think that we do this a lot. Our lives are going along, and something bad or annoying happens, and we're like WHAT!? This isn't the way things are supposed to go. Bad things happen to other people, but my life is supposed to be charmed and perfect. :) And obviously, to some extent, we can avoid bad consequences by making good choices. If we don't steal, we won't get caught stealing. If we don't drink, we won't get a DUI. And it is awesome to avoid as many ugly consequences as we can. However, many things in life don't work that way. We're here to be tested, and to learn... and we cannot learn if we don't run into things that are really, really, really hard to deal with sometimes. We won't learn rely on God unless we feel a need to turn to him, and we won't learn patience or how to deal with injustice unless we face things that require us to learn those lessons. And you know, even when we DO bring it on ourselves (I know I have made my life harder in many circumstances)... it still isn't strange. :) It's normal. It's life. We make mistakes, and we have to learn to clean up the problems we cause. God turns all of it into lessons, helping us to become better, stronger, more resilient, and wiser people. Today, instead of raging against the injustices and snarls in our lives, no matter who caused them, let's learn some problem solving so that when we're faced with the next one, maybe we'll be better at it. :) Let's jump in and, as calmly as possible, start straightening things out... working at each knot until it comes loose, and asking for God's help when needed.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 122:9

"Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."
Doctrine and Covenants 122:9

This is God speaking to Joseph Smith when Joseph was in Liberty Jail, and was going through a lot. There is a lot of explanation and comfort in this section about why we suffer, and then this verse. I really like this because it is what God always does for us. After feeling with us, telling us why, or offering comfort in our distress... he always, when we're ready, stands us back up on our feet, dusts us off, and says... okay, try again. I think this message is to all of us, and about whatever we're going through. ... Keep going. God isn't going to take away our blessings, and God won't let our enemies go past the limits he has set. No one can change the destiny that God has for us. Today, let's go forward, unafraid of any consequences that don't impact us spiritually. Let's work with God to become who we have the potential to be.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 105:38-40

"And again I say unto you, sue for peace, not only to the people that have smitten you, but also to all people;
And lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation of peace unto the ends of the earth;
And make proposals for peace unto those who have smitten you, according to the voice of the Spirit which is in you, and all things shall work together for your good."
Doctrine and Covenants 105:38-40

I love this. It is so easy to become contentious in this life and want to fight back or prove that we're in the right, or show the injustice in what is going on. But even here, when several groups were harming people, and many others had threatened to, God asked them to seek peace. We might not have people threatening to murder us or burn down our homes (hopefully), but sometimes it is still hard to hear God's message of peace to all people. There's usually at least one person that we don't particularly want to be at peace with. And so it is cool to hear God's message and kind of his vision of the way the world should be. Peace everywhere. I love the idea of us being at peace with the whole earth, and being able to visit with or talk with anyone without accusations or bad feelings just because of where we were born. ... I also love the last verse here. Basically... work for peace even with people who haven't chosen to work that way with us, and if we listen to the Spirit and work towards that peace, ALL things will work together for our good. What an amazing promise. Today, let's try to take hold of this promise and make it work in our lives. Let's choose peace over contention and offer peace to everyone across the whole earth.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ezra 9:5-6

"And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God,
And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens."
Ezra 9:5-6

This struck me today because I think we all feel this way sometimes. And our iniquities *are* increased over our head, and we're ashamed, and it is hard to feel good about anything because we don't know how to get out, and we start losing hope that we'll ever be able to overcome ... anything. Ourselves. And I think that these verses are amazing because they show us exactly what we should do during those points in our lives, when we feel completely overwhelmed and inadequate in facing our trials. ... We should get down on our knees, and tell God exactly what is going on. Sometimes we feel embarrassed or ashamed, and think that God won't listen to us. That's okay. Just tell him that too. We think that our trials and our iniquities reach the heavens and are insurmountable. That's okay too. Just say it to God. ... And when we are in a situation like that, it doesn't seem probable, or maybe even possible, but prayer works even then. God is always the way out of an impossible situation, and even if he isn't pleased with our behavior... he *always* wants to help us improve and come closer to him. If we go to him with sincerity and lay out what our concerns are, he'll always help. Today, whether we're feeling overwhelmed or not, let's lay our lives out in front of God and talk to him about our concerns. He's always willing to help, if we can be open to it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

4 Nephi 1:15

"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people."
4 Nephi 1:15

This is pretty simple on the surface. These people... entire society full of people... got along. No fighting, no cruelty. Because they loved each other. ... Amazing. A little deeper now. The love of *God* did dwell in their hearts. It wasn't just the normal type of love that you get from knowing someone really well and learning to appreciate them. That totally rocks, and it helps us all when we take that kind of time to get to know one another... but they probably didn't all know each other personally, so this was even more than that. Their own love was enhanced by God, with his love and his personal knowledge of everyone, so that even if they didn't know someone personally, they could still love, and that love made a difference in their lives.
Our situation is different, yes, but I think this applies to us as well. It is really easy for us to dismiss people that we don't know, or who we see as different from ourselves. Say, immigrants, or Muslims, or democrats or republicans, or homosexuals, or polygamists, or felons, or the rich, or the poor. Sometimes we don't understand other people well enough to love them... or we think that the gap is too wide between who we are and who they are. God loves them though... every single one of them... every single one of us. We all have problems and things that we need to overcome, and no matter who we are, we're probably labeled in the media as *something* ... but we're still part of each other, no matter what we believe or how we live. Sometimes the individual differences are great, and hard to surmount, but this verse tells us how. Today, let's pray for God to grant us *his* love... so that we can love everyone we run into in person or through conversation or media. So that we can increase our ability to love. To see past labels and sins, and see hope and potential and greatness... in ourselves and in everyone around us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

3 Nephi 19:3

"Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus; and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude."
3 Nephi 19:3

The background to this verse is that Christ appeared to a big crowd of people who had gathered near the temple in the land of Bountiful. After he left, they knew he would return, and so they told everyone, and people did whatever they could to get there to see him the next day.
I think this is incredible. Every time I read it I wonder what it would have been like to be there... either telling people about it, or hearing about it. When we read about Christ coming, we don't usually think of the details behinds it. Where and when, and who was there. Christ lived for many years in and around Jerusalem, but that was still a relatively small part of the world. And we do hear of a few people who heard about him and traveled a long way to see him. I think it is similar here, but somewhat more urgent, because he wasn't living there for years, and they didn't know how long he would stay. I think it is cool that they worked so hard to be near the Savior. And if we were there, what wouldn't we do, really, in order to be there the next day... even if we had to walk all night, or run all night... how could we not try?
Today, even though the situation is not identical, let's go forward with that same determination to be close to the Lord. Let's make that kind of amazing valiant effort to prepare ourselves to listen and learn from all that he has to say.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Philippians 1:27

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
Philippians 1:27

I think that the more we become united, the more we become like this. Whether we're together or apart, we're still working for the same things, and making God our top priority. In so many ways, even if we haven't seen each other for years, we're still of "one mind" in how we approach the world and tapping into that "one spirit," listening to God and trying to do his will. Even when we feel isolated or alone spiritually, we can remember that there are other people that are part of us, even if they are physically distant. Today, let's do all we can to unite with God, and thereby with so many other people who are moving towards that same goal. Even if we're utterly alone, we can still be surrounded by that love, and part of that unity. Let's make our conversation match that oneness today, and not jar ourselves out of alignment with the whole by our words or actions.

Friday, October 14, 2011

2 Timothy 2:24

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,”
2 Timothy 2:24

I love this. I don't always live it, but I want to. Can you imagine the world... or even just our individual lives, if we stopped the strife, and were gentle and patient with each other? If we were always ready to share and teach rather than getting defensive or upset? I love that version of the world. :) Today, maybe we can try to get closer to it. Every time we're tempted to become angry... let's try to switch perspectives, and think of ourselves on the other side. Often, the people that we're talking to are trying to do their best as well, but we're just not seeing the whole picture. Today, let's be gentle and patient, no matter what comes at us. Even if it doesn't change the world or our lives immediately... it will change today. And that's always enough.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 -- On Resilience

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;"
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I absolutely love these verses. I think they show how resilient that God can help us become. There are always going to be ups and downs in life. We're going to go through hard times, and things are going to confuse us and trouble us at times. But, if we stay connected to God, those things can hurt us, but not mortally. They can never creep into our souls and get us to give up or quit. Even the worst things will only be temporary setbacks. The world can bruise us, but never break us, because we have God on our side, and He loves us and helps us to endure, and to stand back up and try again. Today, whatever is going on in our lives, let's remember that we still, and always, have God on our side. He is the most solid, dependable, loving parent and friend that anyone could ever hope for, and he can get us through the self-doubt, the embarrassment, the confusion, the ridicule, and the sadness... and more. Be resilient today. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Zephaniah 3:12-13

"I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.
The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid."
Zephaniah 3:12-13

This struck me today because of the similarity to the scripture that I wrote about earlier this week (3 Nephi 21:19). Previous to this, God talks about how he will take away people who rejoice in pride, so it seems like part of getting to this point is some massive humility. I think that we don’t usually learn humility unless forced by circumstance… being afflicted and poor perhaps. And maybe that is what helps them to that very cool and ideal point where no one lies and no one feels like they have to deceive, because they aren’t afraid anymore. I wonder what in our current society encourages us to lie, and deceive, and to do iniquity. Is it mainly fear? And if so, fear of what? Authority, relationships falling apart, social status, losing power? Maybe humility can help in those circumstances as well. I know it doesn’t always seem so, that humility in the face of a power struggle at work could help… or humility when faced with a cruel authority figure. Things like that feel sometimes like we should fight back and stand up for ourselves. And sometimes we should. But, often, humility is the better choice. Being able to let other people win, and to let the less important struggles go, even when we’re right… these are things that we all have to relearn frequently. :) And, maybe if we work on it now, today… we’ll be less afraid, less tempted to deceive, and better able to make the right decisions consistently.

Monday, October 3, 2011

3 Nephi 21:19

"And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away."
3 Nephi 21:19

This is the part of Third Nephi where Christ is speaking in person to the people that have gathered together in the land Bountiful. Right before this, and actually after as well, he talks about some of the signs that will happen in the last days... and lots of it is destruction type stuff that will happen if people don't repent. Cities being cut off, chariots destroyed, strongholds overthrown, etc. But then comes this part, and along with all the physical destruction things it seemed to stand out. All lyings and deceivings gone... all envying... ALL envying? No strife? No priestcrafts or whoredoms. ... Amazing stuff. To me, more amazing than cities and cars being defunct, living in a society where no one lies... where people don't envy each other... where there is zero strife? ...that's incredible. And, it's something that we can work towards. We can't start destroying cities in preparation (please don't try), but we can start cleansing our hearts of some of this stuff, so that we'll be able to live in a society like that. Today, let's look at our lives, and see if there are any of those things there. Do we envy people around us and want what they have, at work, at school, or at home? Do we envy them enough to try to take it, or manipulate ourselves into a similar situation? Do we lie or deceive? Do we have strife... with anyone, ever? Priestcraft (preaching for profit rather than belief), or whoredoms? ... if so, let's start working at cleaning those things out of our hearts. Let's work at being happy for other people who might have things or perks that we don't. Let's figure out why we're lying and find a way to stop. Let's work on lessening the strife that we're involved in until we can get it to zero, and we're only negotiating with no bad feelings. Whatever it is that is creeping into our hearts in a negative way, let's clean it out and make things better, so that someday we can be part of the incredibly cool society that Christ tells us will come.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hebrews 4:2

"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
Hebrews 4:2

Quite often in this life we go through the same experiences as someone else, but come out with a different conclusion. And it is frustrating to us, because our conclusion (whichever it is) totally makes more sense, and we can lay it out for the other person, thinking that if they just understand our reasoning, that of course they will naturally agree. And often then, they don't. And maybe they feel the same way, and try to explain it to us from their perspective... and we say, yes, I see your reasoning, I took those things into account, but I still disagree with you. Both people could be extremely logical, but in the end it comes down to value judgements, and to one person something is more important than to the other person.

I kind of like the fact that this verse tells us that, at least in the case of the gospel, the difference is Faith. In the Guide to the Scriptures and the Bible Dictionary, we learn that faith is confidence and trust, a principle of action and power, and hope in things that we do not see, but which are true. And maybe that hope/confidence that we have in God makes the difference a lot of times, helping us to still work towards the ideal, even when the ideal seems impossibly far away. And it is our faith in other people and whatever we're currently working on that gives us the motivation to continue, and to succeed where other people might give up, or expect less. The same applies to ourselves. We need to have faith in ourselves that we can succeed in this life... and faith in God that he will help us to do so. If we lose faith in either one, then it's easy to get into a place where all we can see is failure, and all we want to do is escape.

Today, instead of taking our day as-is, lets mix in a little faith. It makes everything taste better. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 100:15

"Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church."
Doctrine and Covenants 100:15

It is pretty amazing to think that *all* things will work together for our good. I think of Christ and how even nature and the elements seemed to support him as he went on his way, and it seems so... huge that we could have the same thing in our lives, with everything around us working to help us. Remember when Christ told the disciples where to go to get a donkey, or stopped in the street and told someone that he was going to eat at his house that night? Everything around us is prepared for us, working to help us and teach us... and if we walk uprightly as the verse says, maybe we can tap into that a little.
Today, let's try to be aware of the things all around us that work together for our good. ... And let's strive to be worthy of that attention, and be part of it for other people as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ecclesiastes 2:17

"Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Ecclesiastes 2:17

I came across this today and loved it because the first part sounds so modern... totally hating life. :) The reason that the speaker here is hating life is pretty much because life isn't fair. You can be really wise, and people will still forget you, just like an unwise person. You can work all your life and your stuff will go to someone who won't value it or care about it. Maybe we worry about similar things, or maybe different, but I think that we all have times where we feel this... like life just doesn't make sense and why even try, because nothing we are working for is really going to last. There are two different answers to that for us. One, we can remember that the point in life isn't necessarily to get the most toys, or the perfect solution. It's to learn and become better than we are. While we're working on things that don't last, sometimes we're building skills that we'll need later in life. Sometimes we're just learning patience or how to deal with disappointment and failure... but those are valuable things. Two, we can remember that some things do last. More knowledge and wisdom might not matter in this world and make us more remembered, and the stuff we collect might disappear forever when we die... but knowledge and wisdom we can take with us, and the relationships that we build and the good that we do... those things matter eternally. Today, if something goes wrong and we're hating life, let's remember to find the lessons in the impermanent, and to focus on the permanent.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Isaiah 42:22-23

"But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.
Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?"
Isaiah 42:22-23

I think that we're exactly like this, a lot. We're caught in traps... sometimes of our own making, sometimes not. We walk down the road and fall into a hole, and after we finally get out, we do it over again. We get thrown into prison or allow ourselves to be used... and we don't learn from those mistakes, or appreciate being saved when we are... we unfortunately just walk into the same situations over again, figuring if God saved us this time, or forgave us last time, hey... let's see if falling into a hole is more fun this time. It made kind of a cool splash that first time... oh. well, guess not. now what?
I think sometimes we even LOOK for the holes to fall into. It's like we have these hole-detector goggles on. We're like, ugh. Road, road, road. BO-ring. Where's a hole? What can I do to screw up and complexify my life today? :) And then, the thirty-third or the ninety-fourth time we do it, God doesn't bail us out immediately, and suddenly we're all mad. Hey... he must not love me, or care whether I exist, etc. ... And he still does, of course, but at some point we have to learn to take off the goggles and see the whole rather than the hole. Navigate around the traps, and actually find out where the road goes.
Today, let's remember that God wants us whole. Let's not allow ourselves to get robbed and beat up and trapped spiritually (or physically), and when God does save us from the snares we walk into anyway, or the holes that someone else has dug, let's be grateful to be out, and not crawl back in because it is more familiar. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mosiah 15:11-12

"Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord--I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?"
Mosiah 15:11-12

Sometimes the thought of the atonement is overpowering... that God would do that for us. These verses struck me I think because they show the intimacy of the relationship that the atonement sets up between God and us. We often think that others can't understand how it feels to be who we are, but the amazingness here is that God can, because he *has* walked a mile in our shoes, and suffered the same things that we do. He's also an active participant in our lives, and because he has felt what we feel, he can help us more than anyone else to find the answers and crawl out of the holes that we've dug for ourselves. :) Today, let's remember what God has done for us, and talk to him and include him in our lives and our decisions. He knows what he's talking about.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Revelation 13:7

"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."
Revelation 13:7

Sometimes it is hard to understand why God lets the bad guys win... even temporarily. We all know the end of the story. God wins, and we end up happier than we could have ever expected. Awesome ending. But here in the middle sometimes it can get kind of hard because things don't always go the way we think they should. Telling the truth doesn't always keep us out of trouble. Sharing the gospel doesn't always have a positive outcome. Injustice sometimes triumphs over justice, and the bad guys get away with whatever it is they are up to.
And I actually don't have a comforting answer... but maybe that is the point. God will comfort us when we need it, but we have to experience some complications in life, and some ambiguity. As an abstract, life isn't meant to be comforting, or kind... and definitely not fair. It's meant to teach us and stretch us, and to help us to become better than we are: stronger, braver, more capable of understanding and making good choices. I think that looking back we can see how our lives have shaped us and made us better... but it is sometimes hard to see looking forward. And maybe that is one of the reasons that God asks us to care for each other. He couldn't wrap us all in bubble wrap to send us down to earth, or we'd never learn what we should learn. But we can help each other, and offer comfort and support when people around us are faced with trials. It's not bubble wrap, but however unlikely it sometimes seems... it can be better to be broken and to learn to heal ourselves than to stay unbroken and never learn. Education trumps bubble wrap.
Some things in life will overcome us, and sometimes the bad guys will win... it's all part of the plot. It doesn't change the ending. Today, let's remember that God loves us enough that he wants us to learn rather than be perfectly protected... and let's also remember that the people around us are part of the same test, and they could use some support and love... and maybe some help studying on the parts that we're good at. :) Don't worry... it's not cheating. God encourages collaboration. ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hebrews 8:10-11

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest."
Hebrews 8:10-11

Someday, we won't be teaching each other about God, because everyone will know him individually. Just the thought of that fills the immensities of space with possibility. Can we even begin to imagine that world? Think of what we could build if we were all building on the same foundation. :) ... If everyone believed in God, and knew him well, maybe we could start having some of those parting the sea and walking on the water classes... learning the application of faith so much more in daily life. Instead of having conversations that fall apart because you don't have the same foundation, and have to keep retreating until you find a common place from which to build, it seems like conversations could go so much farther into fascinating places.
I like the idea here of God putting his laws into our minds and hearts. Right now I think we still have to get there, through reading and studying the scriptures, but perhaps it is the same effect if we have the spirit with us all the time, and we're learning that actively. Definitely something to work on, to get as close to this as possible.
The other thing that I think is cool here is "I will be to them a God, and they will be to me a people." ... I think of Christ's life, and how many people rejected him because he lived as a normal person to a large extent, and didn't appear out of the clouds in power and glory. Maybe this is saying that next time, our relationship will be more obvious and easier to accept. ... Not that we can just sit back and count on this happening tomorrow. :) Today, let's look forward to this, but also do what we can to make it true in our lives now. Let's drink in God's law, and etch it into our minds and hearts. Let's build a relationship with the Lord and know him, so that we can get past those basic building blocks and start improving ourselves and the world further.

Friday, September 2, 2011

1 Peter 2:1-3

"Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
1 Peter 2:1-3

I was reading this and thinking about having open minds. Sometimes it is hard to be open in our society, because we're worried about people cheating us or taking advantage of us in other ways, and so we doublethink everything we say and do. In some ways, this is good. It helps us to be careful and not to offend people. On the other hand, sometimes we need to be more open, and not make up our minds ahead of time about some things... being more accepting of people that we've never met or don't understand, for instance. Or even when people seem to be making decisions that we think are poor, maybe trying to see things from their perspectives. It often makes sense that way, and shows us a way to solve the problem. ... It's hard to do that, because as this verse says, we often have malice, or envy, or evil speaking that we have to overcome first.
This verse of course isn't talking about general openness to others, but openness specifically to God, but those feelings we have about other people can get in the way of our relationship with God. And with him, it is just disaster if we make up our minds beforehand and choose what we'll listen to and what we won't. If the only thing we allow God to say to us is yes, okay, do that... then we miss the chance for him to tell us about truly better options, or the "no, you aren't ready for that" message that can often save us a lot of heartache.
I love the image of the newborn child, just having tasted the graciousness of God, and wanting more. No complications or complexities... just really really wanting more of that goodness. Today, let's try to simplify our lives a little and get rid of the distractions. Let's let go of preconceived ideas about how our lives should go, and all the things we want for the wrong reasons... and just seek God because we want more good in our lives.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

3 Nephi 6:15

"Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world."
3 Nephi 6:15

I think this verse struck me today because it seems like a verse that could easily have been written about our day, rather than almost 2000 years ago. And kind of cool in a way to feel that connection to people in the past... that even though the world changes a lot, human frailties remain remarkably similar. This verse talks about one of the downfalls of an amazing society, and in order to prevent a similar downfall in our personal lives, this is a great warning. It is so easy to get prideful, to think that we're better than the next person... smarter, more talented, more funny, better looking, or better educated. Or maybe just more wealthy and powerful. Maybe we have more social influence, or maybe we're WAY better at Scrabble. :) And you know what... maybe we are better at some things than other people. But pride isn't really the ideal mental place to go when thinking about things like that. The fact that we all have different strengths and weaknesses gives us an amazing opportunity to share burdens in a better way, and also to help and teach each other. It is also good to remember that power, authority, and riches shouldn't be the focus of our lives. If we have those things more than other people, again, probably not an ideal pride situation. Better to take those things as an opportunity to help other people, to support them, and lift them, and protect them... rather than thinking that any of the differences in our lives are our due, or that we're naturally better than anyone else. Good to remember that we all have different weaknesses as well. Maybe we don't have as strong of a testimony, or maybe its hard to pay tithing or to fulfill our callings. Maybe we are really bad in social situations, or maybe we have addictions or desires that pull us away from the church. Perhaps we need those same people that we can beat at Scrabble to balance out some of our weaknesses with their strengths... to help us see where to step when our own weaknesses are blinding us. Today, let's work on being humble, and on learning together as a society, and avoiding stratification, exclusion, and pride.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Philippians 3:7-11 -- On Losing and Being Found

"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
Philippians 3:7-11

Paul is amazing. Here he's talking about losing and winning, and how he lost everything that he thought he had at one point, because of Christ. I think this happens to us as well. God gives us challenges that seem amazingly devastating... like we're losing everything we care about, or part of our core being. And it is painful, and hard to understand. ... But perhaps, like Paul, when we are able to see the bigger picture, we'll see how worthless that lost path in life was to us, because we gained so much more than we ever lost.

I know I've experienced that in my life... and I love that Paul says that all of those things that he lost were "but dung," because compared to winning Christ, losing anything else pretty much seems that way. He's so hopeful here... showing all the amazing stuff that he has gained instead. ... Knowing someday even the parts of himself he's lost will be found in Christ, and knowing Christ personally... which makes up for all the things that we thought we knew before. :)

Because Paul was willing to lose everything for Christ, he actually gained everything... and looks forward to that resurrection day when we'll literally get our lives back. :)  I hope that we can feel the same way.  

It's hard sometimes... losing things. Friends, houses, jobs, freedom, loved ones, futures that we were pretty much planning on... our sense of self, our mental capacity, our health, or hair, or eyesight... so many things that we don't want to give up or lose.  Let's remember today that all of it, every drop, is dung compared to what Christ will give us... just compared to knowing him.  Every choice we make that brings us closer to him is an overall gain, no matter what it feels like we've lost. It's definitely not always fun... but as we focus on Christ, and talk to him about our lives, we'll learn more, and understand more, and be able to overcome even the greatest challenges.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

3 Nephi 26:19

"And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another."
3 Nephi 26:19

I love third Nephi. :) It is so good to read about some people who actually triumphed over their obstacles and got it right... who were able to live in an ideal society for a while. :) Makes me think that maybe we can too... we can become people like this and work towards keeping it, like Enoch and his people did. And maybe this verse, which gives a little insight into how they lived, will help. I really love that they were teaching each other, and ministering to each other. It seems like a very equal society where people just pitched in to help each other and lift each other up. It doesn't say this specifically, but to me it feels like a really joyful place as well. Today, let's try this... let's try lifting up the people around us and putting smiles on their faces. Giving them as much joy as they can handle... helping each other, and living as though we'd met Christ in person, and thought he was a cool guy. :) These people did, and we have met him too, although we get more of the email experience rather than the face-to-face. It's still powerful, and it still matters just as much. :) Let's share that joy and that confidence in the future with other people.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Proverbs 27:6 -- On Being the Friend

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
Proverbs 27:6

This verse is interesting on several levels. I like the idea of friends supporting us and telling us the truth even when it hurts and helping us to be better people... of course, sometimes we enable the bad habits rather than encouraging the good, but it is a good ideal to work for, as we all learn together. :) And the other side seems true as well. Slimy is slimy, even when it seems really nice on the surface. And maybe that is what the verse is saying... the surface is only one level of love. Underneath, real love isn't about never hurting the other person or always being a certain definition of nice. It can't be. That deep love is about helping people to be better than they are... encouraging them to overcome problems and fulfill their potential. That's why God is our best friend in the universe... because he is here, every day, every minute, helping us to be better. When we get upset at him because he isn't granting us peace and contentment every minute, then we're the ones who are wrong, not him. We need that help in order to change.
On the other side, we need to work on all the levels of love, making sure that we are friends and not enemies. Sometimes it is hard, because actions and feelings don't always match up immediately even though we're working on it, and sometimes we're trying to act nice when we don't feel nice, or we're trying to be polite, but frustration leaks out and it doesn't come across in a good way at all. But I think that is what the second part of the verse is for... to give a limit. We shouldn't use this scripture as an excuse to wound someone, or we start being the enemy, not the friend. Anytime we intentionally go to hurt someone, I think we've gone over to the dark side, and we've gotten our good and evil out of balance too far to the dark. When we get into a situation where we can't tell whether we're the friend or the enemy, maybe we need to stop saying anything until we purify our motivations. God loves us perfectly, and we can feel that even when things are horrible... and for us, it needs to be the same with other people. Today, let's work on showing love to other people, and being friends and not enemies. :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

John 6:21

"Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."
John 6:21

In the verses leading up to this, the disciples start across the sea toward Capernaum, and they get 25 or 30 furlongs out, and they see Christ walking on the sea, coming to meet them. Then this verse, which seems to make the miracle even more huge. They *immediately* were at the land where they were going. Not just walking on water, but seemingly... teleportation. And I think of this, and of Luke 25-26 which talks about making yourself taller, and how easy Christ says it is... and of Mount Zerin, and of the Three Nephites, who had their bodies changed to an immortal state where they wouldn't feel pain or even sorrow (3 Nephi 28)... and so so many other miracles we see in the Scriptures, and I wonder sometimes how we forget and think that anything in our lives is really an obstacle to God. Everything that he has in store for us... even only seen through these small glimpses in the scriptures... is amazing. Beyond amazing. Things that we only dream of and write stories about. Things that seem superhuman, but which are waiting for *us* someday... and I'm wondering if today we can remember that someday we are going be able to teleport... and walk on water, and be immortal... and buckle down and learn our lessons so we can GET THERE. :) It is all waiting for us, but we get stuck in some huge mental holes sometimes where we can't see it, or we imagine that heaven is going to be *boring* or that we don't want it or something. How crazy is that? I don't know about you, but I'm *totally* going to sign up for teleportation the first day. I guess I might have to take some prerequisites, like making myself taller and all, but still. :) ... In all seriousness though, today, let's take the black contacts out of our eyes and SEE what God has planned for our happiness. Let's try to take care of the things that are keeping us from that future... and keep turning pages towards the incredibly happy and cool life that is there waiting for us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Romans 12:21

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Romans 12:21

This is great advice from God. Amazingly hard sometimes, but I think it changes the world... and ourselves... when we can do this. Sometimes it's like we're wearing blinders and we can only see one perspective. Someone says something snarky or downright mean to us, or something political, tempting us to jump into the political quagmire at school or work, or within our families, and that's all we can see. And even though we don't really like swimming in the quagmire, since it's all oily and icky and gross... we do it anyway, and we get in there and mudwrestle until we think we've made our point. Unfortunately, at that point, we're just as dirty as the next guy, and almost never have we accomplished anything except the expectation of another fight in the future. Here, God tells us basically not to jump in at all. Four verses before this he says "Recompense to no man evil for evil," and here he tells us the alternative. Instead of returning evil for evil, we can overcome evil with good. And it turns out so much better that way. Think about times when we've complained about something and instead of having a complaining session, someone has diverted it with a joke, or a positive comment about the same thing... helping us to see a different way of looking at it, or offering another, funnier thing to talk about. We can choose to take off those blinders and see another way. If there is a way to solve it, then we can choose that... and if there isn't, then we can accept God's will and try to learn something from the situation, even when it is just patience or how to see past whatever we're obsessing over. We can be kind in the face of cruelty, and we can be hopeful in the face of despair. Today, let's avoid the quagmire... and where possible, help other people see a less smelly and muddy way as well. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

3 Nephi 18:25 -- On Commanding that None Should Go Away

"And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation."
3 Nephi 18:25

This verse is from Christ's visit to the Nephites, and it struck me today I think because my mind is still on the whole Zion ideal. We're often way too exclusive in the way we treat people. We choose certain people to hang out with or to be our friends, and others we don't really care about... and sometimes, unfortunately, even though someone really wants to be around us, we drive them away, not wanting their company, or not valuing their friendship.

We don't just do this as individuals... we do it as institutions and as countries and as societies, deciding who is good enough and who isn't. And Christ is saying here that we shouldn't be like that. We should be inclusive, welcoming people, helping them, teaching them: giving people space to repent, helping them to find a good way.

As we build a Zion society, we can't afford to leave anyone behind. We're all part of it, and all types and kinds of people will be there. Today, let's reach inside and switch our social selves from exclusivity to inclusivity. Let's give time to people that we normally wouldn't. Let's worry less about our time and our minor-stress levels and more about how we're affecting other people. Who knows... maybe we'll learn something and stretch our comfort zones and our souls a little. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Acts 11:18

"When they had heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
Acts 11:18

I really like this verse. In this chapter and the one before, Peter is shown in a vision that he should help non-Jews to find the truth and baptize them into the church as well. When he comes back from converting a man called Cornelius, the other people in the church question him about Jewish traditions... why did you eat and hang out with those people when we shouldn't be doing things like that? And Peter rehearses what led him there... that Cornelius saw an angel, that a vision from God had told him specifically to do these things, etc. And this verse is where it is amazing. Instead of causing a rift in the church and causing people to doubt or leave... when they heard, they were happy about it, and glorified God, thankful that he was inviting not just them, but the entire world, to know the truth and work toward eternal life. ... I guess the reason that it hit me is that it seems like so often we *aren't* happy about things like that. We want to be special, and exclusive, and better... instead of welcoming everyone else in. It impresses me that these people saw the truth and the incredible goodness of God here rather than arguing and dissembling. I wonder if we can do the same. Today, let's do our best to be inclusive... to invite *everyone* to share the goodness and the blessings that we have. Let's help people reach towards God instead of deciding that some people aren't good enough, or don't deserve it. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mormon 9:14 -- On Finding the Happiness

"And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."
Mormon 9:14

I love this verse, and I think that it has changed the way that I think about a lot of things. Often in life we're tempted to just "suffer through" something and come out the other side saying, wow, that was horrible, but at least I made it. We equate sacrifice with suffering, and feel like God asks us to suffer in order to pass whatever test we have to go through. I think though that when we think those things, we're getting it wrong. Men are that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25), right? ... I think that the whole purpose of life is to be happy, and this scripture says that he that is unhappy will be unhappy still after judgment day. That sounds horrible... and it means that it is up to us to find happiness now. We can't "suffer through" and wait for it... or learn to be happy tomorrow. We need to find a way in whatever we're going through now. And if we can't, then something needs to change. God does ask us to sacrifice, but he doesn't ask us to sacrifice joy. Perhaps trade an inferior or temporary happiness for a longer lasting and greater one maybe... but never any permanent choice of joy for sorrow, or happiness for pain.
One of my favorite books is called Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis, and in that book the main character is the ugly daughter of the king, and usually lonely and unloved. At one point in the book she is traveling to the place where someone she loved was allowed to die for a reason that makes no sense to her, and she's sad losing the only person that she really cared about, and sad to have to live through the loss more, and angry with her father for allowing it to happen... so filled with negative emotion that it's crazy... and then she rides over this meadow that is breathtakingly beautiful and she's surprised by a feeling of happiness struggling to get through... the thought comes to her "why should your heart not dance?" ... and I think that is what God is saying to us as well. No matter what is going on in our lives, and no matter how bleak things can sometimes seem... at work, at home, at school... joy is still there, waiting for us to notice. We can always choose it, though sometimes it is hard to remember.
At the judgment, we're going to be restored to what we've learned to be while here on Earth. If we've learned righteousness and happiness, then we'll be restored to that. But God can't restore righteousness and happiness to us if we didn't have them in the first place. We have to find a path to happiness... and God shows us his path, but sometimes we forget the happiness part along the way, and think that it is okay to just go through the motions without feeling good about it. And that's an okay way to start if we're struggling to be obedient, but if we don't eventually find a way to like what we're doing, and *want* it... God isn't going to give us something eternally that we don't want and don't value.
Today, let's find the happiness in what we're doing now, and work on finding the joy in God's plan that we can take with us into the next life. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Luke 11:42

"But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."
Luke 11:42

This chapter is interesting, and this part of it is mainly talking about the differences between external and internal devotion. Not that either of them is unimportant, because we should be helping others and setting a good example... but in this verse Christ is talking to some people who were mainly focused on the external, and what their religious devotion looked like to the people around them. Here, Christ says that the internal things are important as well. We need to clean up our emotions and our mental decisions as well, rather than just trying to promote a certain image to others. Sometimes that is harder than working on the external stuff... internally, there can be a lot of accumulated dust and dirt because no one sees so we rarely bother to clean. It is amazingly important though, to know God and be devoted to him internally, where no one else can see. That's what really changes our lives and the lives of the people around us... not looking cool and righteous... but *being* good, and compassionate, and serving others. And we can't get there without being converted on the inside rather than just going through the motions. Today, let's work on ourselves internally, and talk to God about what needs to change and how to clean out all the cobwebs. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ezekiel 33:17-20

"Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal.
When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby.
But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.
Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways."
Ezekiel 33:17-20

This is interesting stuff. I think we do wonder sometimes whether God is unfair or biased. And it is cool that he explains some of it to us here. He really does reward righteousness and punish wickedness, but it isn't about being righteous, earning righteous points, and turning them in for the cool mansion in heaven, or the specific blessing on page 45 of the redemption catalog. It is about who we *are* ... who we become. Read an article a few months back about a woman who was around 30 and had been living the gospel, which requires no sex before marriage. And that was long enough for her. She felt like she'd done what God expected, and didn't get the promised blessing, felt she was missing out on what all the people around her had, and now it was time to take things into her own hands. The article ended with her buying some condoms. ... I think a lot of us have felt similarly about different things in our lives. We feel like we're the exception, and everyone else has something except us... and that we've suffered enough. I don't think life works that way though. It is impossible to get to the point where we've done "enough" for God, or have enough points for eternal life, so now we can do whatever we want, or slack off and not try. When we think of things that way, we're missing the point. God is trying to teach us and help us achieve our potential. We're thinking of him as a zookeeper or a dog trainer rather than a schoolteacher or a parent. He's not whipping us or offering us a dog treat to show off to the crowds or do tricks for his personal amusement. He's also not a prison guard. This is a classroom, not a cage. God is trying to teach us what we can become and what we have the power to do... and misbehaving in class or throwing a tantrum because we aren't learning at the same rate or the same lesson as someone else, or because we aren't getting what we want is understandable, but pointless... it just distracts from the growth that we could be making. Our rewards are long term, and just like the physical 7-year-old that thinks that it will be an eternity before she gets to drive a car or go to prom, we also have to wait as we slowly become adults spiritually. Things might not seem fair to us as spiritual 7-year-olds, but when we grow up, we'll see that it all works out. Today, let's work on becoming and staying righteous... on learning our lessons about who we are, and who it is possible to be and not distract ourselves with our very inaccurate view of equality.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Alma 60:13

"For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God."
Alma 60:13

This is in the middle of Moroni's letter to the government, telling them that they need to send more people to the army and protect their people better. Right before this verse he addresses two topics... the fact that we can't just sit around and wait to be delivered, and the fact that God doesn't only allow the wicked to be killed. Here, he goes on to explain a little more. It stands out to me today perhaps because we're always seeing bad things happen to people around us, and I like this reassurance a lot better than the conclusion that some other people draw... that because bad things happen that God doesn't exist. If we were all going to be saved from 100% of pain and hurt and anguish, then we'd be in Satan's plan, not God's. We have to experience good and bad in order to learn, become better than we are, and reach our potential. And no, the bad part isn't fun, and yes, people die. Moroni was on the battlefield watching people die, and he wanted to change it, and he wanted things to be better, but he also knew that the things he couldn't change didn't mean that God was angry or absent. Those people weren't dying because God had judged them evil... and he knew that because bad things happen in the world doesn't mean that God isn't there or that he doesn't care. Even in the worst circumstances... perhaps more so in fact... God is there, watching and doing what he can to help without taking away our freedom to choose. Maybe like an earthly father watching his daughter learn to ride a bike. She's getting scraped up and bruising herself in the process, but he knows that if he takes her inside and prevents the injuries that she won't learn. And it isn't just physical injuries either. Can we stop people from experiencing social disasters or romantic rejection? ... We could try, but there are things that we need to go through in this life that are painful. And those things help us learn. And death, seemingly, is the worst of all because we can't see past it or learn from it. The test is just over. But even then, we have to remember that God can see past death, and that he's teaching the whole world. He'll make it all up... even death. It is hard for us to see or understand, but God ensures that everyone can have a happy ending if they choose it. Beyond death, beyond pain... a place of rest and happiness. Today, let's work towards that happy ending and like Moroni, do everything we can to make things better along the way.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

1 Corinthians 14:26

"How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying."
1 Corinthians 14:26

Paul is talking about people in church here... everyone has an interpretation, or something that they love and care about to contribute to the worship service, but he advises that all things should be done in an edifying way. And that hit me today as I was reading, I guess because things have been kind of stressful lately, and I think when we get stressed, it is easy to do things in a non-edifying way. Not just in church, but everywhere. We all still have things to contribute to the conversation or to the solution, wherever we are... school, work, home... but God asks us to try to do all of it in an edifying way, remembering the people around us, and even if the circumstances are stressing us out, bending over backwards to lift other people up and not tear them down. Today, I am going to try to remember this, and I invite you to as well. Let's not blame other people for our problems, or focus on the negative, but wherever we are, and whatever our circumstances, let's find the good and do what we can to edify and lift. :) After all, that's the idea, right? To build a better world, to become better ourselves, and to help our brothers and sisters come unto Christ. Sometimes we look at ourselves and realize that we aren't really being those Zion people... so let's get back on track. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 98:1-3 -- On the Positive Side of Afflictions

"Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;
Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.
Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord."
Doctrine and Covenants 98:1-3

I like God's perspective on adversity. Sometimes we are so in-the-moment that we forget to step back and get some perspective, and see that whatever is happening in our lives isn't the whole picture. This life is essentially coursework in learning who we are and becoming better, and those obstacles and adversities that we run into are not designed to crush us, but to make us stronger, or wiser, or more compassionate. This verse says it very well... "all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good." That's pretty amazing, if we can see past the immediate worry and pain. No matter what is happening today in our lives, let's take God's advice... to not fear, and to be patient. Whatever happens, even if in the short term it seems unendurable and crushing, if we hang in there and endure it, and work on learning from it, we'll learn and grow and come out the other side even better than before.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Matthew 25:45

"Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
Matthew 25:45

The verse without the "not" in it is a lot more popular, probably because it seems more positive, and we can think about being rewarded for our good deeds... if we do good things for people in need, then God recognizes that as a good thing that helped him personally. His work is to help us all, and so we are in effect supporting him through supporting the people around us. :) ... This verse reminds us that we need to do those good things in the first place though. If we see someone in need and refuse to help, even though we have the opportunity and means, then God recognizes that as a missed opportunity on our parts, and again, takes it personally... in essence, we refused to help God. Today, let's work on being more aware of the people around us, and as we see their needs, let's do all we can to help them. This not only helps God in his work, but helps us to learn compassion and love. Building Zion isn't just about a place or a set of beliefs... it is about all of us as people, as a community, working to live together and support each other. We need to learn those things before we can be a part of that kind of ideal society.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 98:11

"And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God."
Doctrine and Covenants 98:11

I like the mixture of instructions in this verse. We're supposed to forsake all evil, cleave to all good, and live by God's word. :) It's a cool balance. I think of forsaking all evil, and sometimes that leaves us a hole where we used to have something, and we aren't sure how to fill that space in a positive way. But if we cleave to all good, and follow that up with talking to God about it and reading his word, then we have a lot more support and a better chance of success. If we're trying to live by God's word, sometimes we come to places in our lives where we aren't sure what God wants us to do... but forsaking all evil and cleaving to all good helps us to know how to act when God asks us to learn to walk on our own. Today, let's walk away from evil, fill our lives up with good, and remember to include God in our decisions and talk to him about our concerns.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Revelation 21:4 -- On Knowing the Future

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Revelation 21:4

Wow. This is amazing. :) I know that we need all of these things in our lives now, in order to learn, and choose, and become who we're meant to be... but isn't it incredible to imagine a life without those things? No tears, no death, no pain. It's hard to imagine, but also surpassingly cool. And you have to consider it from God's perspective too... that finally, even though he has had to allow his children to learn some hard lessons... finally, in the end, he is going to be able to wipe away all our tears, to make *everything* alright. 

As our father, I can imagine that will be amazingly joyful for him as well. :) Today, let's remember that this is our future--that further on in the story everything gets better, and not lose hope now. Let's live and hope and love, looking forward to and trusting that God knows what he is doing, and learning the lessons that we can only learn in a world where pain and sorrow and death are possible... but uplifted knowing that all of these things are temporary. Someday our father will lift us up, wipe away our tears, and save us from them all. Knowing the future helps, sometimes. :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Doctrine and Covenants 6:34

"Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail."
Doctrine and Covenants 6:34

I really like the message of confidence and peace in this verse. Seems like we're always looking for that inner core of calm and confidence that only God can grant us, and it seems so easy to lose and to start feeling worried or uncertain about so many things. And he tells us here that we don't need to fear. We should go on doing good, making the world a little bit better a little bit at a time. And even if everything combines against us, we have God on our side, and God wins against everything else. Today, let's let some of that background confidence and peace that God offers us soak in and remember that no matter what, with God things are going to be okay. And if things are going to be okay, we don't have to fear or escape... we can focus on doing as God asks, and do good... making the world a better place through our actions. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Luke 24:16

"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men."
Luke 24:16

Was reading this and thinking... wow, that's tough. To always avoid offending everyone, including God. A great goal, but kind of overwhelming. And then I thought about it more and looked at it a little differently, and the word "exercise" jumped out at me. Just like physical exercise, which tones up our body, there are spiritual exercises that we can do to tone up our souls. :) And this is one of them. Keeping our consciences clean isn't something that is possible for most of us if we think of it as though it has to stay pristine all the time. Just like your body collects dirt, and we have to wash it... our spiritual selves collect spiritual dirt if we aren't exercising them constantly. Skip reading your scriptures one day and you get a few little spiritual dust mites. :) ... don't say a deep sincere prayer when you wake up... a few more. At some point we need to get to those things and clear the air between us and God... make sure that things are okay, and that exercises our souls, and shakes off the dust. :) Sometimes it takes more... baptism or taking the sacrament washes us clean. Occasionally if it's really bad, it's time to talk to the bishop about how to get the blackness out. (They're really good with the spiritual stain remover.) ... so now I look at this verse and it isn't about always avoiding offending people. That is a good goal, but I know that when I slip and offend someone, part of my spiritual exercise is to clean off that mistake, to apologize, or do what I need to do to make it right. Then it is like daily calisthenics or going to the gym. If I keep working at it, then it isn't overwhelming. Every day, I work at polishing off the spots and getting back some of the cool glowy shininess that I imagine when I think of looking at a soul. :) Today, let's remember that spiritual accomplishments can be done through daily exercise and don't have to be done all at once... and let's work on cleaning off those back spots and getting back our glowy shininess. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Luke 19:26 -- On Giving and Taking

"For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him."
Luke 19:26

This verse is near the end of the parable of the pounds (the whole parable can be found in Luke 19). Out of context it seems very hard to understand. Why would God give more to people that already have, and take away from people who don't? If we think about it spiritually rather than physically though, it makes a lot more sense. God already blesses people with the spirit with more light and more knowledge, and people who reject the spirit... they get less and less until they know nothing at all of the Spirit. In that context, it makes sense. People who welcome God into their lives are going to accept the blessings he offers, and be able to build on them to get more. People who reject God and what he offers aren't going to be able to even keep the spiritual blessings that they once might have enjoyed. Our spirituality is growing or shrinking... it can't just sit.

I think that the principle probably applies to a lot of things... talents or pounds, spiritual and physical. We have to do something with what God gives us. Our testimonies, our scriptures, our callings, our families, our friends, our muscles, our jobs... and so much more. They aren't given to us to just sit there. God gives us things so that we can learn. And if we don't jump in and learn something, then maybe that opportunity or blessing will go away. But if we do jump in and learn that lesson, then we'll get a follow-up lesson, and will learn more and more. The important part is that we impact it... we make the choices whether to accept more or less by what we do with what we currently have. Can we handle it? Are we making good choices? If so, maybe God will see if we can learn to handle more. If not, we might need a little less... a more remedial lesson, until we grasp the concept.

Today, let's not take what we have for granted. Let's use it to help people, and increase our abilities, our knowledge, and our strength, so that we can do more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Isaiah 32:17 -- On Peace, Quietness, and Assurance

"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
Isaiah 32:17

I really like this because it is basically telling us what the result of living the gospel is. And when I think of the opposite of peace... war, or stress, or grating loud noise, or uncertainty and worry... then I really want that peace for myself. Especially the inner peace part where I am happy with who I am and God and I are on the same page. And I think that we can have that on an individual level if we work at it by praying and reading the scriptures and sincerely trying each day to do as God asks and keep the Spirit with us.

Imagine, though, what the world would be like if everyone did that, and if everyone had that calmness and confidence. No more insecurity, no more uncertainty about the big things. The effect is tremendous and life-changing in our individual lives, and it only gets larger and better the more people join in. :) People who are at peace aren't going to yell or bring disquiet or stress into other people's lives either. Today, let's be part of the solution... getting and spreading peace and quietness and assurance.

Monday, April 25, 2011

2 Nephi 29:13

"And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews."
2 Nephi 29:13

I love foreshadowing in the scriptures, and things that give us hints about what is to come. I think that this is one of the clearest verses in that regard. We have the words of the Nephites, the Book of Mormon, and the words of the Jews, the Bible ... stories of how those two peoples lived the gospel for hundreds of years and how different people reacted to the gospel and to Christ in their midst. And very clearly this verse tells us that someday we will also have another record of the lost tribes of Israel, and that those three records will be available to us all. It ties into 3 Nephi 16 where Christ tells the people "I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem" and says that he is going to go visit them. Wouldn't it be glorious to read that third record of Christ visiting his people? And I wonder if in that record it mentions other sheep, just as it does in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. :) Either way, we know that there is a whole other major book of scripture out there to look forward to. Today, let's read and study the records that we have now, and prepare ourselves for more. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1 Corinthians 16:15-16

"I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth."
1 Corinthians 16:15-16

I love "they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints." I think that is awesome, and it makes me realize/remember a couple of things... first, that all addictions aren't bad. And second, that maybe this is what we should all be striving for. It's basically the same as "anxiously engaged," but for me it makes it all click into place in a different way. I think of things that I could say I am "addicted" to, and invariably, I *love* them... I wish I could do them all the time. I wish I had this life where I could just jump from one of them to another and not have to deal with any of those regular mundane chores that I am NOT addicted to. :) Imagine feeling that way about the ministry of the saints. :) Imagine feeling that way about the gospel in general, and our callings specifically. I love that idea. And maybe we catch a glimpse of that sometimes. I know that I sometimes feel that way about the scriptures, or about prayer. I love it... it makes me feel fantastic, and connected, and ... whole. But feeling that way all the time... I'm not there. I want to be though... and that brings us to the second verse. It asks us to submit ourselves unto such... unto those people that are addicted to ministering to the saints. :) And in terms of learning how to have that same addiction, and how to feel that way all the time, it makes so much sense... submit to those people that we can learn from, and who are dedicated (and addicted) to our welfare. :) I love it... I love the idea of being addicted, and maybe for the first time in my life, I actually *love* the idea of submitting as well. Because it is how we learn, and something that I so much *want* to learn. :) Today, let's work on getting that incredibly positive addiction in our lives, and learning from those people that we see already have it. :)

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