Monday, September 30, 2013

Isaiah 33:21-24

"But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.
Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.
And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity."
Isaiah 33:21-24

 This is cool.  I don't think that I fully understand the ship imagery here, but I really like the mental picture I get of the glorious Lord being a peaceful place for us, with lots of water.  And I think the lack of ships probably means that no-one is coming to conquer us or steal our stuff like pirates. :) 
I like the idea of the Lord  as our actual earthly judge, lawgiver, and king... no more corruption, and absolute confidence in the government. :)  He will always save us.
The next verse I'm not sure about,but again, it could be people coming to conquer and their ships and plans just fall apart.  Instead of taking over, they have to pick through their stuff to see if anything is still any good.
The last part is also cool... no one here says that they are sick.  And the people who live here are living in a state of consistent forgiveness.  They might make mistakes, but they correct them, and learn not to do them anymore.  Never getting sick would also be cool. :)
This scripture is talking about leading up to the second coming, and I think this part is afterward... but I think that it can apply to our lives now as well.  God led Moses and Nephi to promised lands, and the Lord himself is a promised land to each of us... a place of abundance and goodness, where he will always save us.  Today, let's travel to the promised land of God.  He offers us so much more than we can probably imagine... but he *wants* us to imagine it and to find our way there, to him.  As we work to learn more about him and his life and his laws and his gospel, he will help us and teach us, and save us.  And someday, if we work toward that idea of God as our promised land, then we'll eventually see the real, tactile promised land too, and get to hang out there, with God.  I'm sure it will be a good time, so let's plan on it. :)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mark 8:37

"Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Mark 8:37

 This is meant to be a rhetorical question in the scriptures I think... when an earlier verse asks what profit we would find if we gained the whole world and lost our own souls, or this verse where it it asks what we could possibly give in exchange for our souls, there is no possible answer.  There is nothing that would be gained, and nothing that we have that is worth that cost.  The problem is that sometimes we start thinking that there is. 
The world toys with the story of the devil fulfilling contracts for people's souls, and some people laugh it off as a minor issue.  Whether the contracts are literally true or not, the sad truth is that they are figuratively true.  Even if we never sign a contract, the choices that we make in this life are in essence showing God, and the world, and ourselves, what we would exchange for our souls.  It's pretty dramatic to say, well, choosing to do [fill in the blank] instead of going to church means that we are selling our souls for whatever it is that we did instead... and we can argue that it isn't true in the short term, surely. :)  But in the long term, with consistent similar choices, it becomes true.  We can trade God for Satan if we honor the latter more than the former, and make choices consistent with that.  Everything we do, and choose, is who we are becoming.  And that is scary sometimes.  Am I becoming a woman who yells at customer service representatives? :)  Am I becoming a woman who lies, or cheats, or is rude to other drivers, or pedestrians, or people on the subway?  Am I becoming power-hungry, or self-absorbed?  There are so many things that I am becoming, every day... so many things that we are all becoming... that it is important to see the ones that we don't want to be, and stop practicing those things before it turns us into those people that we never wanted to be.
Today, let's not let anything be more important to us than our souls.  Let's let nothing stand in our way of our relationship with God.  Let's make the choices that will turn us into the people we want to be, and avoid the choices that will harm us in the end.  ... Even if we have already made bad choices and we feel unredeemable, let's make the good choices anyway.  Often Satan throws some hopelessness at us to make us feel like we can never get back.  But, we're still here.  We still have choices to make.  Let's choose to turn to God, who can offer comfort, and hope, and forgiveness... and we can be the people who made it through even the most difficult choices, relying on God, and each other. :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mosiah 29:40

"And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established peace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure."
Mosiah 29:40

 I think this is amazing.  It's so deeply awesome for a king... or any leader... to care so much about his people, to establish peace, to teach and labor for their welfare, and to even be willing to give up personal power in order to help his society move to a better form of government.  This is an example that we don't often see.  Maybe that's why it is hard for us to believe in the compassion and love of God... because we so rarely see it from anyone who has power.  And yet, at least on a smaller scare, we do see it.  We see it in parents, who have extreme amounts of power over their children, and yet use that power to teach and love and often sacrifice personal power for the greater good of the family.  We also see it sometimes in teachers and other non-family organizations.  There are definitely good people out there who care more about people than power.  Mosiah was one of them in a perfect situation where he could help his whole society... and even if we as individuals aren't kings of anything at all, we can still use the power that we do have for good.  We can care about the people who help and serve us, and treat them with compassion and love.  When we're on the helping and serving side of things, we still have power, and we can use it to make life better for the people around us rather than worse.  Mosiah was a king.  He could have let people serve him and eaten the Nephite equivalent of bon-bons all day.  Instead, he studied and worked and made life better for everyone.  And not saying that bon-bons are evil.  Just saying that we can probably do some good and eat them for dessert anyway. :)  No matter how small the scope of our power, today let's follow Mosiah's example.  Let's make things better.  Let's love, and care, and improve things... caring about people more than power, and God more than gold. :) 

Friday, September 27, 2013

1 Corinthians 16:15-17

"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.
I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied."
1 Corinthians 16:15-17

 I like the idea of being able to choose to addict yourself to something positive.  It's a cool idea that you could get comfort and joy (without any nasty side consequences) from something that you are so drawn to that you just don't want to stop coming back to it.  ... It's easy to think sometimes that everything we *really* want is forbidden, or to feel bound and restricted by our responsibilities or commitments.  ... But what if we didn't fall for that kind of mental trap, and instead saw life as an *opportunity* to absolutely fall into and immerse ourselves in something we love more than life?  ... So what if other people call it a burden or a responsibility?  If we love it, and we throw ourselves into it and get joy out of it, then it isn't a chore for us.  It is an addiction; a positive high. :)  It's a great idea, to find a way to serve God that you love and always want to do.  And maybe, the more we get to know God, the easier it will be to find things like that.  God's yoke sometimes feels heavy, but it's mostly psychological. :)  His burden feels lighter when we understand him better, and that he does all of it for us.
The other verses I liked as well, because they are about working together.  If we're addicted, awesome.  If we're not, let's learn from some of the people that are, and help them... since they're addicted, they probably know all sorts of projects that we could get into as we desire to help.  And the last verse is interesting too.  It almost sounds like chastisement, but I don't think it is.  It is more just an acknowledgement that all of us have strengths and weaknesses, and we balance each other out.  If there is something lacking in me, while I learn that ... or so I *can* learn that, it is okay if we bring in someone else that is good at that... it doesn't detract from me.  It only adds to the group.
Today, let's work on seeing other people as benefits to our collective success, rather than adversaries or challenges to our way of doing things.  ... And let's help God and other people by finding some positive addictions to get involved in.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Isaiah 1:15-18

"And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:15-18

 This is instructive.   In the first verse of the selection, God won't hear us because we're in the midst of sin.  Before that verse it is talking about idol worship and hypocrisy mostly... pretending to worship God, but really honoring other traditions, or worshipping without sincerity.  And in order to get back on track and be heard, we have to be sincere.  And if we're sincere about wanting to change, then we wash... we have to get rid of all of that black sludge that we've rolled around in so we don't track it all over the Lord's white carpet.  We have to wash our hands from the blood of animal sacrifice before we can show the Lord that we understand the symbolism of sacrificing our hearts and minds to do his will.  I also like the order here... first, stop doing evil.  Second, learn to do well.  Start doing good things to fill up those holes in our lives where the bad stuff used to be... so we don't fall back into the mud.
Today, let's go to God.  Let's reason with him, and start turning our lives around.  Nothing goes on our permanent record if we work it out with him.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Proverbs 4:18-19

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble."
Proverbs 4:18-19

 I really, really like the idea of the "perfect day," and I was thinking about a similar verse (D&C 50:24) last night.  I guess, previously, I thought of the perfect day more as being when Christ returns or the day everyone is resurrected to begin the Millennium, but reading this today in Proverbs got me thinking that this is really the idea of life.  To drink in the light, to excise the darkness... to keep working at that and working at that, becoming lighter and better, banishing more and more darkness from our lives, until one day... we're perfect. :)  And how amazing it will be to get to our individual perfect day. :)  Maybe it will be far beyond the bounds of this lifetime, but still so worth working towards.  This life is the beginning that can put us on that path. :)
I think the verse that talks about the wicked is also about us.  Sin and error are darkness... that is what it feels like.  It's confusing and frightening, and exciting sometimes too, but more in a horror movie way, as we watch ourselves entering the haunted house, or getting into the stranger's car, and all the other things that the audience knows are going to doom us.  We are uncertain when we're in darkness, and we wonder why we keep falling down and hurting ourselves.  It's hard to even remember what it was like to stand in the light. 
Maybe it seems simplistic to just talk about darkness and light instead of the complex choices that we all face every day.  I think though, that on some level that it *is* this simple, if we stop trying to justify.  At some point when we make a choice to sin, it is a very clear choice, and we know what we are doing.  And we pile darkness on after that because we want to hide our guilt even from ourselves.  And of course, it then becomes confusing and complex and we get ourselves into no-win scenarios all the time.  No matter what we do, it will hurt.  But if we hurt our eyes by turning on the light, then often, even though it can be extremely painful to see what we've done to our lives under a spotlight, we can at least find a less-painful way back home.  The pain of continuing in the darkness can end up much worse.
Today, whether we're standing in the darkness or in the light, let's walk in the right direction: towards God, who can give us a glimpse of daylight even in the darkest of pits.  Let's start down the path to the perfect day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Malachi 1:6

"A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?"
Malachi 1:6

 This made me think of how we look at God in our lives.  He *is* our Father in Heaven, but do we treat him that way?  And even if we look at him differently... as a master or a judge, or even a teacher, do we afford him the respect, obedience, and love that we offer to even the weakest or most despised earthly counterparts?  We might not always like the people who have authority over us in this life, but we still typically respect that authority, to avoid the consequences.  And we might not always like our earthly fathers either, but we still usually treat them like family, and work on those relationships.  How much more, then, should we respect, honor, and obey God, and work on THAT relationship? 
It seems like sometimes we treat God more like a combination pickpocket-used car salesman that also is disfigured and smells bad.  We guard our wallets, mistrust everything that he says, flinch from his touch, and feel ashamed to know him... or try to pretend that he isn't even there.  We all too often despise his name.
Today, let's think about the way we treat God.  He doesn't need us to change, but we certainly need it.  He is kind to us even in our cruelty, but if we want that relationship to bear fruit and to experience the blessings of having God as father and teacher and friend... then we need to treat him that way.  We need to get to know him, learn how he works, why he does what he does, and learn to love him.  There is so much potential in that relationship... and more joy than we've ever known... if we can just get over our silly, stupid biases and internal walls, and let him into our lives.

(This often also works with people... even pickpockety ones, as above.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Psalms 73:26

"My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."
Psalms 73:26

 I like this.  It seems to be a good reminder of how temporary a lot of what we think of as "ourselves" is.  Our bodies aren't currently in an immortal state, and our flesh and our hearts are at risk of failure.  ... But, thankfully, that isn't the end.  Because of God, even our bodies will be resurrected and live again... our hearts and our flesh returned to us.  God is that strength to overcome death, and hell, and he is the reason that we will have an eternal inheritance.  He will restore our hearts... literally *and* symbolically. :)
Today, let's look to God, trust in him, and follow his instructions so we know how to return home to him.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Matthew 25:44-45 -- On Doing it Not

"Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
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 25:44-45

Mentioned this yesterday, but still thinking about it.  I think the opposite verses (39-40) are much easier to read, because we get to feel good about all the little things that we do for others.  Looking at it the other way is a lot harder, because we have to consider all the things that we haven't done.  The times that we've walked past someone who needed help, or not said the nice thing, or resolved the argument, or taken advantage of an opportunity to lift someone else's spirits.

I don't think that looking at it in this way means that we need to feel overwhelmed and guilty all the time, or that we need to quit our jobs and spend all our time volunteering in orphanages.  That is a good idea, of course, if we can afford to do so, but in general I think this just means that we need to be more aware of what is going on around us each day.  Improvement is a process in this as in other things... and opportunities will be there.  We don't necessarily have to go out of our way... we just have to see the needs of the people around us, and act on them.  Sometimes it will be as easy as responding more positively... strangers need support and love, as do people who have been imprisoned.  Other times, we might have to do more.  If someone doesn't have enough clothing to endure the elements, maybe we can help.  If someone is hungry or thirsty, we can probably share.

Today, let's see the needs of the people around us.  Let's treat them all like family.  Taking care and providing help according to the situation.  And as we improve, we'll start helping Christ more than we ignore him or turn him away... and eventually, with lots of practice, hopefully we'll be helping him all the time.  And then we'll be ready to face him. :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Leviticus 24:20-22

"Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.
And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.
Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God."
Leviticus 24:20-22

I guess I've always thought of the Old Testament as somewhat barbaric.  I know that as a world and as a society we've had to learn a lot over the years, but things often seemed a lot harsher as I was reading the Old Testament.  And maybe they were in some ways... but today what struck me is how similar this is to God talking about judgment day.  That everything will be restored.  And the flip side to "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" has been there all along.  Everything that we've ever done, or purposely omitted, is *meant* to come back to us.  What else could perfect justice be?  And with good things, that's wonderful, and will be so joyful.  But with bad things the only thing that holds back that justice... that perfectly right justice... is Christ.
So, today, I'm really thankful for the opportunity that I have to repent.  To not have everything that I have ever done brought back to me and answered upon my head.  And it isn't that I don't deserve it.  That's the point.  By justice, I absolutely DO deserve it.  But because of Christ, I can repent, and I can become a better person... and have hope that my better actions will be returned to me instead.  Because, through Christ's infinite mercy, I have that chance to start again, and learn kindness and mercy and love... and whatever else I would prefer to have answered on my head.
Today, let's all take advantage of the opportunity Christ gives us to be saved from our own actions... and let's learn, and change, and repent.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Colossians 3:3

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Colossians 3:3

 When this selection says risen with Christ, I think it means risen to a mighty change in our heart/perspective... dead to sin, risen to life.  More a baptismal image than written only to those who have been resurrected. :)  But even though that complete change in the nature of our bodies hasn't happened yet, we're still encouraged to set our affections on heavenly things rather than earthly things.   I think that is the way Christ lived.  Not that he didn't care for people... he did.  But people are also heavenly things.  And he cared more about their souls than their approval. 
In some ways, this scripture is saying the common phrase "get your minds out of the gutter."  I think that it goes further though, not just forbidding the bad, but suggesting a good replacement. :)  Instead of wallowing in the earthly, let's contemplate the heavenly... the possibilities of eternity. :)  When we dedicate ourselves to God, we're dedicating ourselves to a whole new perspective.  Trying to learn to think as he does, to see farther and to plan ahead.  Not only for next week, but for always.  We have to stop thinking only of what feels good now or the short-term win.  What truly matters as eternal beings, and how do we prepare to eventually meet God?
Today, though our time is short and ethereal by comparison, let's focus our affections on things that will still be there after our time is over.  People, relationships, learning, becoming better selves, and of course God, who helps us through it all because he knows what it will be like. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

1 John 4:17-19

"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us."
1 John 4:17-19

I really like the idea of no fear in love.  I think sometimes that we think it *is* part of love, or at least part of worship.  That we should be afraid of God.  Now, admittedly, the scriptures do say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but I think that it is a little different than being afraid of God.  I think it means more respect and understanding of who he is... the bigness and the all-encompassing grandeur of it, rather than being terrified.  These verses tell us that our love is made perfect when we can be bold in the presence of God.  When we love each other enough for that... when we have gotten our lives to that point.  And God, who *is* love as the scriptures also say, casteth out fear.  God doesn't want to torment us.  He doesn't want it, and why would he ever?  The only reason we are here is because of him.  Everything we have is from him.  We can only love him because he first loved us, and created a world and bodies and ... everything for us.  We are his work, and his glory.
Today, let's not fear God, unless it is the beginning of wisdom kind where we understand better who he is.  Let's learn of him, talk with him, get to know him better.  He loves us so completely and enduringly... no matter what we've done, he will still listen to us, and work to help us fix it, or mitigate the consequences if it is unfixable.  He wants us to have hope... to be happy.  Not to despair or suffer overwhelming guilt.  He'll help us to repent, and to be safe even from our own consciences if we work with him.  No one loves us in the world/universe/galaxy/all of creation more than he does.  Let's trust him, and be willing to turn to him for help with everything. :)  And when we've gotten to know each other better, we'll feel more confident, and the love will go both ways, and our love will become perfect. :)  Pretty cool. :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants 93:43 -- On Order and Deliverance

"And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house."
Doctrine and Covenants 93:43

 This is a good reminder.  I think that sometimes we want God to lead us to big things... some dramatic personal mission or maybe just we want God to help us with something big at work or school or whatever.  And here God reminds us how important it is to get our priorities straight. Before we go after the dramatic change in other areas, let's make sure our homes are in order.  And that could mean different things for different people.

In this particular verse God was reprimanding people for not teaching their children light and truth, and that is very very important, but I think that the advice probably applies to other things as well... like making sure that our family relationships are solid.  Healing hurt that we've caused. Treating our families with love and respect.  Cleaning the house, clothes, and dishes.  Making sure we are getting our homework done instead of just playing.  And so many other things that just come down to making sure we're organized and our homes can be a peaceful, welcoming place.

Today, let's examine our lives, and make sure that our home environment is welcoming to God.  And if it isn't, or if it could be improved, let's jump in and start setting our homes in order.  And after that, we can worry about being delivered, or whatever else we would like God to help us with.  We'll feel better about it too.  This isn't about God holding blessings hostage until we do something for him.  It is about us needing to have our lives ready for the blessings that he really wants to give us.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Luke 9:23-26

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels."
Luke 9:23-26

 This is an interesting and seemingly contradictory passage.  How do you save your life by losing it?  I've been thinking about that this morning, and I think that the verses surrounding that statement help us to interpret it.  The first verse in the selection tells us that, if we want to follow Christ, we need to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily.  And the last verse explains that if we are ashamed of Christ and his teachings, that Christ will be ashamed of us.  So, I think that what we're saving is at least partly the respect of God and life with him, and what we're losing is at least partly the love of the world, and our own selfishness, as we strive to put God's will before our own.
Denying ourselves and taking up our cross seem like big burdens sometimes, and we wonder why we should.  Just for a ticket into heaven which by all accounts is going to be *another* place where we can't do whatever we want? :)  ... Which is a good point, in a way.  I think the question is, what do we truly love, and what do we truly want?  Christ prayed to his Father and begged him, "if it be possible, let this cup pass from me."  He didn't want, as an individual in that moment, to suffer and die and leave his loved ones.  But he put God's will before his own and did it anyway.  Why?  Because what he truly wanted and what he truly loved was God.  And he knew that the right thing to do doesn't always coincide with what we want in that moment.
I think (I hope) that we've all had times in our lives where we've done things that are right even though it wasn't necessarily what we wanted at the time.  But then, later, looking back, we realize and are grateful for the decision that we made, because it added to our long-term happiness.  And I hope as well, that we've had moments in our lives where we've made really bad choices based on what we wanted in a particular moment and later regretted the decision and had to do some extra work in our lives to bring them back to okay.  I think the lesson from these experiences is that we don't always want or do the things that are most conducive to our own happiness.  That sometimes to save our true selves, we have to give up some of the harmful parts of our lives.
The person who *always* wants and does the things that are most conducive to our happiness is God.  And when we deny our fallible selves of our temporary and dangerous desires, and instead follow Christ's example of doing what God wants, things turn out a lot better for us.  Heaven is going to be a place where we're happy.  Where we've learned, finally, to also want what is conducive to our happiness, and where we can enjoy life without the complications that come from the really bad choices.
Today, let's lose our bad-choice-making lives.  Maybe get them really, really lost someplace really far from civilization. :)  Then, when we're good and lost (symbolically, of course), let's turn to God, who always knows the way, and who can salvage and save our lives as better people.

Monday, September 16, 2013

2 Chronicles 16:12

"And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians."
2 Chronicles 16:12

This is interesting.  I don't think that going to the doctor is something that any of us need to feel guilty about, so why does it seem that Asa screwed up here?  One reason could be that physicians just didn't know how to deal with his particular disease back then, and God was really his only hope for a cure.  Another reason could be that God does know more, even than doctors.  I think the most likely reason though is just that Asa wasn't including the Lord in his life.  That's the mistake we all make, right?  We partition our lives into work and school and home and church... or whatever other groups we have... and there isn't a lot of crossover between them.  When we go to church, we think about God, and when we're at work, we think about work.  When we're at home, we think about that.  But the reality is that God is part of all of it, because he is a part of us, and we need that influence wherever we are.  At the doctor's office, in the hospital, at work, on the subway... everywhere.
This isn't a scare tactic, even though Asa dies in the next verse. :)   God isn't trying to panic us into stampeding towards him.  I think he's just trying to say... 'look, this shouldn't have happened.  My help is so easy to ask for, and yet you won't even look up or consider another solution.'  So, let's listen, and look, and consider.  Definitely not saying don't go to the doctor either. :)  Just let's include God in those decisions as well.  Maybe he has something to add.  Maybe he can help steady the surgeon's hands when needed.  Maybe anything... with God.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

1 Timothy 6:12

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith. :)  I like that.  I think it is interesting that there is often fighting or battle imagery when talking about the gospel, and our efforts to stay faithful.  One thing that it probably illustrates is that God is very aware that it isn't always an easy thing.  Some days it is a joy... others a struggle, and still others an outright war, at least internally.   We know that for Christ as well, it was hard at times.  So, maybe we don't need to feel guilty that we aren't always 100% enthusiastic about every aspect of the gospel, all the time.  ... Doesn't mean that we get a free pass to turn to the dark side of course, but we could be a little easier on ourselves at times.
I like that it is called a good fight.  Most fights probably aren't.  They end up being selfish or cruel... we say things that we don't mean, we hurt people.  The fight of faith though... everybody wins. :)  We're fighting to stay true to our beliefs.  To follow through with our commitments to God. :)   And even though in frustrated moments we sometimes doubt, those are the things that will bring us true joy.
Today, let's acknowledge the difficulty without letting it overwhelm us.  God will support us when we need it.  And when we get our breath back, let's get back in there and fight.  Our only opponents are ourselves, and with God as our coach, there is no way to lose unless we give up.  Let's keep fighting.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

2 Kings 9:3

"Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not."
2 Kings 9:3

 This is interesting.  It made me think of the story in the New Testament of the woman who poured the oil over Christ's head as he sat having a meal.   Maybe this verse was another foreshadowing of Christ.  But it is also interesting just from an Old Testament perspective.  The interesting thing is that it works... the prophet goes and uses the oil and tells this captain (Jehu) that God has anointed him king.  And then the prophet runs out.  And the people around him ask him what happened... who was that crazy guy?  And when he tells them, they immediately support him, blow trumpets, and rebel against the king.  Do they do it because they recognized it as coming from God?  Did they do it because it was an excuse to take over?  No idea.  But I think that it is amazing that it worked.  That God could give someone simple instructions like that and cause the overthrow of a kingdom.  It is kind of like Christ telling someone to fish, and take the piece of money inside the fish to pay taxes with.  Or telling someone where to find a donkey to just take.  I think all of these things show quite clearly how completely God knows what is going on.  He knows all about politics, and fish, and people who are willing to give up donkeys to the Lord.  ... And of course we could go on, but I think it is clear just from those examples that he knows how to solve all the problems.  He knows everything that is going to happen, and when, and how.  And if we work with him, we can tap into that perfect timing a little bit. :)  We can know what to say, and what to do, in those really important moments of our lives.  We just have to listen, and act on the spirit.
Today, let's work on listening to God.  If we can't tell his voice from our own yet, that's okay.  It takes practice and faith.  But it comes.  And if we do know the difference, let's stay worthy of hearing that voice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

2 Nephi 9:20-21

"O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth call things, and there is not anything save he knows it.
And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam."
2 Nephi 9:20-21

 I never really connected these two verses in my mind before today.   I had them as two separate things in my mind... God knows everything, and he suffered for us.  Today, though, as I read these verses, it strikes me how closely related these two things are.  Someone who knows us so thoroughly ... knowing EVERYTHING.  Our hidden selves that we never share with anyone.  What we're most ashamed of in our lives... the glorious triumphs of our lives that maybe no one else would even care about, but which were immeasurably important to us, because of what we learned or chose or became because of those moments.  First of all, even if he wasn't the creator of everything and our Father to boot... when anyone knows anyone else *that* well, how could there not be love there?  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  And then... the intimate and complete knowledge of our pains.  The guilt, the sorrow, the frustration... the pain of not living up to who we want to be, the pain of loss, the pain of absence that feels like a hole in your soul... and he knows it all, about everyone.  And not only does he know it--he chooses to take it on himself, and save us from suffering it, if we only repent.
I think most of our lives we consciously or unconsciously yearn for someone who knows us... who loves us anyway.  And here is God, all along. :)  Knowing us better than parent or spouse or friend, and able to save us from ourselves.  Loving us even though he knows us to the core.
Today, let's hearken to his voice.  Let's talk to him, and accept his friendship and love in our lives.  Let's take the leap and love him back. :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Matthew 25:29

"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."
Matthew 25:29

 This verse comes right after the parable of the talents.  That parable is hard to understand sometimes.  Because it is using money as a symbol, it is easy to get caught up in that, and say... well, of course the person who was given more money made more money, and the one who was given almost nothing had to protect it so as not to lose it.  Why would the boss (symbolic of God) take away everything just because he didn't double his money?  Are we buying our way into heaven now?
But of course, God doesn't do crazy things like allow himself to be bribed, so what is this story really trying to say, and especially this verse?  Why would God take away from me if I have nothing?  Today I was thinking about that, and what struck me is that it isn't about stuff.  It isn't about stuff at all.  If I have more stuff than you, God doesn't care at all if I multiply it or divide it or add to it or subtract from it.  We only get into that stuff mindset because we're hypersensitive to money and what seems to have value to us... but when God talks about talents in the parable, he isn't talking about money talents or even really the what-we're-good-at talents.  He's talking about who we are.  And if I come from the premortal life to this life and I stay exactly the way I am, and learn zilch about myself or the world or grow at all, then *that* is rejecting the gift that God has given me.  The opportunity that we have to be here on this earth and to learn and to grow and to become so much more than we are.  And yeah, maybe we have different opportunities in this life... some 10 some 5, some 1.  And maybe we learn different lessons.  But the point is that we take what we have and we run with it.  We don't sit around moaning about how we got shafted and throw away that gift of life.  Even if there's only one thing we can do here, or one lesson to learn, that's what we're here for, and who we have the opportunity and the gift of being able to become.  ... And who knows.  Maybe the person with one opportunity already learned everything else in the premortal existence and needs to learn less. :)  I have no idea how any of that works, but neither does anybody, so we can't assume that if we're disadvantaged here that we were disadvantaged there.  All we can say, really, is that it is another obstacle, which is another opportunity to grow and overcome and become better.
And so yeah, whether it is 10 or 1 in the end, God is going to reward us by how we dealt with what we were given in life... not by how many it was.  Not by our financial success.  Not by our pile of stuff.  By who we became.  Today, let's stop complaining about where we are.  Let's take what we have and run with it.  Make it into the best sort of life.  Bring happiness to others and ourselves.  Be everything that we can possibly be. :)  That's the happy ending.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

1 Corinthians 6:7-8

"Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren."
1 Corinthians 6:7-8

Why don't we take wrong, or let it go?  Why don't we suffer ourselves to be defrauded?  That's hard... I know that some things have happened to me in the past where I was clearly cheated or taken advantage of financially.  And I have let some of those things go, but it was really, really hard.  I'm thinking about why, and maybe it is just because I felt gullible, or mocked, or stupid... believing the "taxi" driver on my first trip into Manhattan from the airport for instance.  I thought that I was cheated because I seemed like/was an obvious tourist.  Targeted.  And other things seem to have that in common.  The situations made me feel stupid or vulnerable.  ... And maybe that is most of it.  We want to be smart and cool, and when people make us feel dumb and stupid, we want to fight back.  Pride, mostly.  Maybe, if we could step back with a little more humility, we'd see that the wounds to our pocketbooks were minor, but to our egos quite large.  (I'm definitely not saying that anyone should stay in an abusive relationship, by the way.  I think that is beyond the scope of this verse.)  And even when there is more damage than just ego, this is still an interesting question that is posed to us.  Why do we go to law with one another?  Why don't we accept wrong, and fraud?  ... and in the second verse, why do we do the same things to other people?  These are our brethren... our neighbors.  They are part of our Zion society that we are trying to build.
In some cases, there might be a valid answer to these questions.  But before we go out and start a lawsuit, or treat someone poorly, or cheat... today, let's answer these questions for ourselves, with God's help.  Let's not treat each other as strangers. :)  Let's treat each other as siblings and friends.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Romans 12:10-12

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;"
Romans 12:10-12

Today this struck me I think because of the "not slothful in business" part.  I think sometimes mentally we have this division in our minds about what is God's realm and what is the rest of life, and business doesn't really seem like the God part, you know?  Of course ALL things are God's and we have to adjust to thinking about God and being directed by him wherever we are... and so maybe this helps with that, because all of these things are things that we should be doing today, right now... not on a Sunday or a religious holiday.  When we go to work or school or run errands today, let's be kindly affectioned one to another.  We can serve the Lord by doing whatever we do that is good with fervency and dedication, keeping the spirit with us.  We can rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation with work things, or school things, or family things, or Walmart things. :)  And definitely we can continue instant in prayer with all of it.  Might even make things better. :)
Today, let's include God in our lives... every part of them, and every minute of them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

John 3:11-13

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?"
John 3:11-13

In these verses, Christ is speaking to Nicodemus.  The first verse of the selection is interesting to me because it is very plain and clear and authoritative.  Lots of people talk about religion haltingly or almost apologetically.  Christ just says it how it is.  ... He says basically that they are talking about things that they *know* and have *seen.*  Things that you can feel through the senses. :)  If he can't believe those things, then how is he going to follow when they get to the advanced things that he doesn't have direct evidence of? :)
I think this applies to us a lot.  We want to know those heavenly things, but we argue over the earthly ones.  It's like asking our parents to teach us advanced particle physics, and yet still refusing to learn our times tables.  If we refuse the *foundation* for the knowledge, we'll never be able to understand what we're asking for when we get it.  Sometimes we say to ourselves, well, I have a testimony of this or that, but not of this other thing... but that's okay... I'll just move on without that.  And, depending on what that is, sometimes it is impossible to move on.  Some of the principles of the gospel--many of them--are foundational, and we have to build on them afterward.  And so even if we can move on in some areas, at some point we have to come back and get more foundation before we can build any higher. :)
Today, let's get back to basics with the gospel.  Let's re-examine the things that are holding us back.  Let's talk to God about it, and see if looking again and being open with God will allow us to see things a new way.  Let's make sure that prayer, scripture study, and church attendance are solid.  Let's work on repentance.  Let's listen to the spirit.  If we haven't been baptized, now is the time.  Really hard to move on without that foundation and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  And if we have all of that, faith is another foundational principle... and which of us has enough of that? :)  Let's make sure that our gospel foundation is strong and wide and solid, so that we can accept all that Christ chooses to bless us with, and learn and become more than we are.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Helaman 15:7

"And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them—"
Helaman 15:7

This verse struck me today because it seems to have a clear progression.  Truth --> Faith --> Repentance --> Change.  And clearly, the Lord is an integral part of the progression, affecting the entire process.  I love the idea that all of it is for us.  I think that is hard to see sometimes.  We think that obedience and faith and confessing our sins... we think that is all for God, or maybe for someone else that we've hurt.  And maybe in an abstract way, it is... but the main point of all of it, of everything that God asks... it isn't about anyone else.  It is about effecting change in our own lives.
Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not saying "yay, we can be selfish." :)  I think we have a long way to go in learning not to be, in fact... in learning to love each other and build communities where we can be honest with each other and help each other rather than hiding our real selves and pretending to be cooler than we are.  ... But even learning that stuff is learning to change ourselves.  Learning to change ourselves into the kind of people that know how to love... that know how to be emotionally available without being behind several locked doors.  That know how to feel the spirit, and really communicate with God.
I think it is important to know that everything that God asks us is for our benefit.  Not our benefit in some universal, abstract way either, though it is also that... but I am talking about directly beneficial to us as individuals.  I think that helps us remember God as our friend, coach, and parent, rather than an ultra-demanding overlord-government flunky.  And it could also be important to remember that our work is to change ourselves, and not to change the people around us.  I think this helps us remember not to meddle, and that other people can be cool without being just like us. :)
Anyway, today, let's work with God on internalizing truth, through faith and repentance, and working on that mighty change in ourselves that helps us to love, and learn, and grow and eventually become who we've always wanted to be.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Moses 6:47-50

"And as Enoch spake forth the words of God, the people trembled, and could not stand in his presence.
And he said unto them: Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe.
Behold Satan hath come among the children of men, and tempteth them to worship him; and men have become carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God.
But God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must repent."
Moses 6:47-50

This is interesting stuff... and it is interesting as well that it had such an impact on the people.  This might have been the first time they were hearing some of this... or maybe Enoch was just that powerful of a speaker.  Most likely it was the spirit of God though.  I think that sometimes, even if we have heard something a thousand times, it can still hit us hard because God helps us to see it in a different way, or we finally realize how to apply it to our lives.
The partakers of misery and woe part... if we're partakers of those things because of Adam's fall, which is also the reason that we are here, does it follow that those things will go away at some point, since Christ's atonement covers all of that? :)  I wonder what it was like before misery and woe... and what it will be like after. :)  What kind of amazingness is in store without those things?  How radically changed the world will be. :)
Satan tempts us, and so we become carnal, sensual, and devilish (which is a good list of things to avoid).  In the next verse though, God tells us how to overcome that.  Through repentance.  Even if we are filled with all three of those things, we can repent and change.  And hey, if misery and woe can go away, I'm thinking that so can our individual weaknesses and challenges.  Just because Satan tempts us doesn't mean that he owns us.  God always provides a way.  We just have to find it.  And believe that God can help us make those changes.  All of this negative stuff is just temporary.  Part of learning.  Today, let's focus on the eternal, and make the changes in ourselves to become who we want to be.  Let's repent, and make sure we can talk to God whenever we want.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ephesians 4:17-20

"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
But ye have not so learned Christ;"
Ephesians 4:17-20

I think sometimes we forget what it is to be a child of God.  We want things to be "normal" and we want to fit in with the rest of the world.  We want to win at the game of life... instead of the game of eternity. :)  It's true.  We are vain.  We think we are pretty dang cool... and we blind ourselves with our own ignorance, and our own lust and greed.  Those are the things that matter to us.  What people think of us, or what people will give us, or what people will do for us.  But this isn't at all what we learn from Christ.  He asks us to walk a very different path than the one that we are used to... and he teaches us what it is to be a child of God.  That we look to God instead of the world.  That we serve others instead of expecting them to serve us.  That we put fame and money and lust in their proper subordinate places.  That we open our eyes and learn to feel and see all over again from God... to come out of the ignorance of spiritual blindness and emotional non-engagement.
God isn't a part-time job.  I realize that it would be a lot easier if he were.  We could pray, catch a few scriptures, attend a few meetings, and then go back to life.  But God *is* life.  It's full time with no weekends off.  24/7.  And you know what?  That's okay.  God's yoke is easy and his burden is light, right? :)  ... I think that what we find difficult and almost overwhelming at times is not what God asks, but it is trying to cling to all the stuff we left behind.  In our ignorance, we still think that we can drag our greed and lust and vanity (and all the rest) along with us.  Our pain doesn't come from serving God, learning from him, feeling his presence in our lives always... it comes from trying to do both.  Trying to be two people.  The one that looks to God, and the one that wants to grab all the toys and never to share.  And that is what this verse is about.  Counseling us not to walk as other people walk... to let that other life, that other self go.  After we've been born again, after we've changed our hearts... we don't need to try to go back for our old rotting other zombie self and get it back.  We have better already. :)  Today, let's let go of our inner zombies, okay?  Let's walk in the newness of who we become through God. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Malachi 2:10

"Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?"
Malachi 2:10

Why can't we all just get along, right? :)  This verse is interesting because it says that we should get along because we are in the same family, created by the same God... and asks why we would dead treacherously with our brothers.  We live in a world where being in a family doesn't necessarily equal getting along, but it usually (hopefully) does still mean that we won't rob each other blind. :)   And, at least for me personally, I can see that I would truly treat people differently if I were dealing with one of my brothers instead.
The thing is, I *am* dealing with my brothers, and sisters, all the time, no matter what I do.  We all are.  Maybe we forget that too easily, or never actually realize how huge that idea is.  We don't always get along in families... you know.  But there are different rules.  We can't dismiss each other.  We have to learn to get along.  We defend each other if something bad happens.  We hope that good things will happen.  We rejoice when our siblings learn. or become better.  We are included in their lives, even if it is peripherally.
Imagine... even with our least-loved siblings, if we loved the rest of the world that way, and kept them in our inner circles that way.  Even most of our poorest relationships with a sister or brother would turn the world into a near-paradise, if they were applied universally.  And with the ones that wouldn't, well, we probably need to be nicer to our families. :)  But the main lesson here is that we have a lot to learn about inclusion and oneness.  We can't build a Zion community if we think of everyone else as strangers and aliens... people who don't belong, who we don't like... who aren't part of us.  And I am not saying it is easy, but today, if we want to learn this lesson, let's think about the people around us that we don't love.  That we don't want as part of our community... and let's figure out how to change that.  On *our* side... without them doing anything.  God loves them.  *He* wants them as part of his community.  Let's ask him to teach us why.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Acts 19:35-39

"And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly."
Acts 19:35-39

This is an interesting chapter... this part is the end of an uproar about Christian missionaries, but before they were called Christians.  When they found some of Paul's traveling companions, and knew that they were Jews, they listened to people who said that their world was going to come apart if people stopped believing in idols, and started getting into that mob mentality... the one that we probably all get into when people use scare tactics on us, and we believe that the things that we are used to and that are familiar are going to be taken away.
I like that this story is here because someone comes in and talks them down.  Doesn't let the mob rule.  Reminds them that there is a civilized way to deal with these things if there is a problem, so let's calm down a little and not start depending on mob justice.  Someone like that we could have used at many other places in history.  And I think it is also something that we need to remember in our own lives, from both sides.  Let's remember not to be the mob.  There are better ways to solve our problems. :)  ... But also, let's remember how hard it is to change.  How tough it is to have our feelings and beliefs... and things that we think are part of us... challenged.  Unless God asks us to specifically, let's not call each other to repentance with threats of lightning or guilt... but instead let's teach with peace, and compassion, and the recognition that we *also* have a lot to learn.  ... It won't always hold off the mob, but it might keep us humble, and it might help us relate to one another better. :)  Even if we're not involved in the conflict, let's be the guy who talks the mob down and keeps everyone calm.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Isaiah 54:4

"Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more."
Isaiah 54:4

I really like the idea of "thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth" here.  In the chapter, God talks about forgetting a couple of types of shame.  I am not sure what the reproach of widowhood is, unless it is like the reproach of being single... you don't really fit in with the married masses.  Whatever it is though, and all the other types of shame, in the chapter and probably in the world... we get to forget.  We get to move on, and be different people, and not worry about those things anymore.  Maybe that doesn't initially seem like a big deal, but how often do we dictate our lives by the past... what we've done, or felt, or how people look at us, or what they expect of us?  Letting go, in this deep way where God says it, and not just us, means that there isn't anything at all that can possibly hold us back from anything good that we want... it's kind of like screwing up your life when you were a teenager, and having a felony on your record.  That kind of thing stays with you forever.  It's hard to shake.  You can change a lot of things, but people still expect you to be that person.  It changes where you can work, who you can date, what you can study in school... all because of one mistake in the past.  And maybe with our personal shame it isn't just one, and it wasn't that long ago.  But to God, it doesn't matter.  Someday, all of that will be gone... won't affect us at all.  On our side, repentance definitely helps the process go forward, and speeds it up, but interestingly, this verse isn't even about repentance.  It is just talking about the last days, and how things will be different.  Maybe someday we as a society won't hold things over each other's heads anymore. :)  Maybe we'll all fit in.  Maybe we won't judge people by their pasts.  ... And you know... it already IS the last days after all.  Maybe, even now, we can move on from things that we regret, embrace each other for who we are trying to be, and support each other as we become new.

Monday, September 2, 2013

2 Nephi 28:8

"And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God."
2 Nephi 28:8

Self-justification.  We're all familiar with the concept, I'm sure. :)  So easy to talk ourselves into "little" sins... thinking that oh, God will be okay with this, or that other thing... they weren't big sins.  He'll understand.  And, you know... God totally *comprehends* why we do things like that.  He understands on that level, but here, and elsewhere in the scriptures (D&C 1:31) he makes it very clear that he doesn't understand in any "that's okay" or "I agree" sense.  We deceive ourselves when we think that God will be complicit in our sins to *any* degree.
I think that this is one of those pits we fall into when we forget that life isn't about a scoreboard or graded on a curve.  It doesn't matter ... at all... whether the people around us are sinning or behaving perfectly.  Our actions are still *our* choice and our responsibility.  And even that isn't the real point.  The real point is who we are turning ourselves into.  Every choice we make brings us closer to that end result... and even if we can hide who that is from other people, God knows... and so do we, if we stop to think.  The picture of Dorian Gray is there in front of us, and God, on display all the time.  He sees what we are becoming on the inside.  Instead of trying to get God to let us off the hook for little things, let's think about what those little things are doing to us.  Are we letting more and more things slip until they become big things?  Are we learning integrity, honesty, love?  Little things add up, and in total, they sum up who we will become.  Today, let's take a look in the mirror, at least spiritually, and see how we're shaping up... and if we don't like it, let's start changing some of those little things and get ourselves pointed in the right direction.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

1 Peter 4:8-9

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Use hospitality one to another without grudging."
1 Peter 4:8-9

We had a lesson on charity today in my ward's Relief Society, and it made me think about how important charity is... that we can know so much, and be so much, but if we don't have that kind of love, then those other things don't matter. What we need is that kind of love *coupled* with those other things... and then they matter again, and are valuable. And in this verse I especially like the "fervent" part. :) When we feel God's love for us, I'm not sure how fervent it feels to each of us, but I think that is a great description. Along with all the other things that the scripture says about charity... it is patient and kind, and not envious or puffed up, rejoices in good and not bad, behaves well, isn't selfish... fervency makes it all just that much more real. :) Selflessness with fervency? Tough to do, but how cool if we can get that nuance, you know? And the idea of learning to love each other the way that God loves us all... I really like that. To think that we could learn to understand how God can love everyone SO fervently and completely, and be so selfless... that our happiness and joy is his glory. I want to learn that... to feel that.Today, let's start by trying to be hospitable to others without grudging. :) And if we can master that, then let's move on to more advanced studies in love. :)

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