Sunday, May 31, 2015

D&C 115:5-6 -- On Shining Forth

"Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth."
Doctrine and Covenants 115:5-6

I like this.  It tells us that we need to stand up and get going... we need to set an example and shine our light for other people.  Not only that though; it gives us some ideas about why.  We need to gather together to help each other, so that we can be safe from the scary last-days stuff.  We need to be a standard, and show people that it isn't hopeless... that there are safe places... that things aren't hopeless.  Even now some people feel that way, and I think that it might get worse as some of that Revelations stuff starts happening.  So, even if we aren't in the middle of a natural disaster, let's practice helping and lifting others.  Let's offer hope and a refuge where we can.  Let's be the people that make a difference for other people... for each other.  Let's be the lights that God asks us to be.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Abraham 5:14 -- On Being Alone: Good or Bad

"And the Gods said: Let us make an help meet for the man, for it is not good that the man should be alone, therefore we will form an help meet for him."
Abraham 5:14

I was reading this and wondering why it isn't good for the man to be alone.  We're often alone in life, and although of course we can make bad choices when we are alone, we can also make good ones. :)  Being alone doesn't seem inherently evil.  Thinking about it further though, Adam alone in the Garden of Eden wouldn't just be alone like we're often alone.  It would be more like hermit-alone.  Thinking about some of the major commandments... loving God and loving our neighbors... there is no way to learn to do those things all by ourselves.  We have to have examples and models and see other people and interact with them.  We have to learn what community is like rather than just selfishness, and to learn to build Zion, a perfect community, we need to see a lot of community so we have some raw material to improve upon. :)  If you think about it, Adam and Eve's experience with the fruit of the forbidden tree is a huge initial lesson in conflict resolution.
We don't always enjoy the lessons that come from being around other people, but like everything else in this world, God has designed experiences for us that will help us become more of who we want to be... to stretch beyond ourselves, help others, and learn so much more about people and the world and our places in the eternities. :)  We need other people; they are here for a reason. :)  Today, let's embrace that fact and learn about and love the people around us.

Friday, May 29, 2015

3 Nephi 18:22-24 -- On Meeting and Praying

"And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;
But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.
Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed."
3 Nephi 18:22-24

I like how God reminds us that church isn't an exclusive members-only club.  It's a place to learn about God and grow closer to him... to feel his spirit.  And if non-members want to come and join us, then that is great... amazingly great.  We shouldn't forbid them from coming, even if they aren't dressed exactly the way we think they should be, and even if they ask strange questions in Sunday School. :)  Instead, we should pray for them. :)  This is one way of being an example... helping the people around us, and holding the light of God for others to see.  One way that we do that is specifically prayer, which Christ mentions a couple of times in this selection.  I think prayer is one of the ways that we gain access to the light, and then blessing and serving others allows it to emanate through us... which is always a cool idea.  Being part of God in that way... being able to hold him up for others, and have access to that power and that truth.  Knowing that people can feel God's spirit when we teach his word and stay close to him.  It's part of being connected to God and building his kingdom, and it is an amazing feeling.  One that starts with consistent prayer.
Today, let's meet, and pray, and welcome others to meet and pray with us.  Let's pray for each other, and let's study and learn more about God and the gospel so that we can help others understand it as well.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

3 Nephi 27:16 -- On Being Filled

"And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world."
3 Nephi 27:16

The word that stood out to me as I was reading this today was "filled."  If we repent and are baptized in Christ's name, we will be filled.  Filled with what?  Doesn't say... but we can probably guess, from the similarity to other scriptures, with the Holy Ghost, with the spirit, with knowledge, power... so many things.  I love the idea of being filled.  And it kind of says something about our lives without God as well... that there is at least some emptiness there.  A space where God should be.  I think we feel that sometimes, maybe even before we know what it is, and we try to fill it in a lot of ways.  Some with alcohol or drugs, some with love or sex, some with food or philosophy, or really anything at all, just trying to make it go away, and feel whole.  But what it takes a while for us to realize is that this emptiness can't be filled in any of those ways.  We might blank out our perception of it for a time with other things, yes, but the only thing that can make us whole is God.  Everything else is a band-aid over a mortal wound.  Only God can really heal that hurt, and fill our emptiness.  ... And the cool thing about God is that when he fills it, he fills us to overflowing.  We are so much more whole than we have ever been, and we have extra to share with others.  Extra love, extra patience, extra kindness and gentleness... extra good.  Today, let's work on making sure God is in our lives, filling us up and helping us to become so much more than we are, or that we ever could be without him.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ezekiel 16:48-52 -- On Siblings and Moral Superiority

"As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done.
Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters."
Ezekiel 16:48-52

This is quite a lecture from the Lord, addressed to Jerusalem, so symbolically to the church and the believers about themselves in comparison to the non-believers.  And perhaps we occasionally need a reminder like this.  We have a tendency to think that because we have the gospel truth that we are better than other people, that they are evil and corrupt and we are good and pure and holy. :)  We judge our sisters (unbelievers or members of other churches) for sins which we find foreign and reprehensible, forgetting that our abominations are just as abominable, and often more so, as noted above.  We like to compare because we want to feel like our sins aren't quite as bad, and that we are naturally better in some way... it helps us feel more secure in our place and resistant to sin perhaps.  Unfortunately perhaps, it just isn't true.  We're all vulnerable to sin, even though it might have a different logo, brand, or catchphrase.  And *all* sin drives away the spirit.  Arguing whether one sin is worse than another is ultimately pointless since they all equally banish us from God's presence.
Today, let's try to stop alienating each other, when we are actually siblings.  Let's stop judging each other and thinking someone else's abominations are worse or scarier than our own.  Let's "bear our own shame" and look to ourselves and our personal burdens of sin, and start repenting as though our lives depended on it... for so they do in many ways.  Let's try to understand and help each other as sisters and siblings, rather than basking in our tempting, but largely imaginary, moral superiority. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

D&C 18:33-36 -- On Hearing God's Voice

"And I, Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it.
These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man;
For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them;
Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words."
Doctrine and Covenants 18:33-36

I like this idea that the scriptures are the word of Christ and speak to us just as loudly as hearing his voice in person.  I think perhaps that is an area where we can improve.  We think to ourselves or even say to others that if God himself came down in front of us and told us to do something that we of course would do it... so our excuse is that real life is a lot more uncertain.  And hey, occasionally it is.  I am not saying there is no uncertainty.  There are mistranslations and surely not everything labeled as scripture in our world was truly inspired.  Dealing with ambiguity is part of growing up and learning to think for ourselves, and part of the built-in challenge of this life: free agency.  However, in terms of the scriptures, I wonder how much we really are uncertain, and how much we just don't want the responsibility.  The scriptures are incredibly clear about a lot of things... do we really need God to come down and persuade us in person in order to understand his general guidelines and wishes?  Probably not.  In addition, God tells us here that his spirit and power accompany his words, so that is another thing that could help us.  If they come from God, we should be able to feel that spirit and power helping us to understand and correctly interpret.
And on another level just how amazingly cool... to remember that this is God's voice to us.  His message, his words.  What could be cooler than access to the mind of God, even if it is only the limited amount of scripture that we have?  A chance to listen to him, to learn from him, to get to know him better... we have those opportunities just as surely as Mary and Martha did in the New Testament.  Today, let's remember what a great blessing the scriptures are, and take advantage of the opportunities that they give us to hear God's voice and know his words. :)

Monday, May 25, 2015

John 13:13-15 -- On Servant Leadership and Dirty Jobs

"Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."
John 13:13-15

This is an interesting story.  Jesus gets up from his place at the table, dresses himself in a towel as though he were a servant, and washes the feet of all the disciples.  Then he changes into his regular clothes again, and resumes his place.
There is a lot going on here, but the idea of being a servant to those you lead is the one that I am going to address.  I think that this is a powerful lesson in that context.  The disciples followed Christ.  They stayed with him and learned from him, and in these verses he acknowledges that, and says, yes, I am your leader.  And yet, as the leader, he chose to serve and do a probably very dirty job, since there were no paved roads back then.  It was a job that probably everyone considered beneath them, and yet he did it for them, as their leader.  And then he asks them, and us, to do the same for each other.
We're all leaders in different things and in different ways, and often when we are in charge of something we feel that we are above doing the "dirty work" or the icky stuff.  We get to delegate.  We have people to do that for us. :)  But Christ got in there and did the low job, serving directly rather than just talking about it.  Lots of symbolism here about cleanliness, and also I like the idea of learning to accept service.  Peter protested that Christ would wash his feet, and Christ told him that if he didn't allow it, he had no part with him.  Kind of like insisting he allow him to serve.  Which is interesting, and I think instructive.  As we learn to serve others, we also have to learn to accept service and be grateful for it, rather than insisting that we don't need the help.
Christ asks us to do as he has done.  So, today, let's work on our humility.  Let's be willing to serve those we lead.  Let's be willing to get in there and directly interact and get dirty while getting to know people.  Let's not insist on high positions as an end in themselves, but let's focus on the reason for all of it: helping each other to be clean.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

2 Peter 3:8-14 -- On Meeting Up at the After Party

"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
2 Peter 3:8-14

A lot of verses today, but there is so much goodness packed in here, I wasn't sure where else I could break it. :)  I love the idea that one day for God is like a thousand years for us.  It's a whole perspective-resetting idea.  That maybe we will live the whole of our lives on earth, and discover that we've only been gone for like half an hour.  Our impatience and suffering here will seem laughable when we think of how long we truly had to endure it. :)

I like the idea that God doesn't want anyone to perish, and that he keeps working towards repentance.  We often think in our impatience that God is delaying his coming, and that things need to change NOW.  But he waits so that we all have more time to repent, and change.  He doesn't want anyone to fail.

The end will come, and everything will burn, which is a scary thought... but I like that it is followed with the idea that we are looking for new heavens and a new earth.  That the fire that destroys also cleanses and renews... like a phoenix, or the "baptism of fire" that the scriptures speak of, meaning the Holy Ghost.  I also like the idea of the new place "wherein dwelleth righteousness."  ... Haven't we all wanted to live in a perfect place at some point, or at least try?  A place where there is no corruption or hate and where we are loved and accepted and welcomed?

Maybe we aren't ready to live there yet, because we have some corruption or hate or dishonesty or intolerance still churning inside of us... and if so, Peter suggests that we work on our holy conversation and godliness, and on promoting peace, and being clean from spot or blame. :)  Which is a good idea.  I want to live in a place like that, and I want to be the kind of person that could live there.  That's the whole challenge of seeking Zion, or Heaven.  It isn't just finding our way there.  It's becoming the kind of person that we would want to meet there.

Today, let's remember that our earthly suffering is small compared to eternity.  It doesn't mean that our emotions are worthless, but it helps to put it all into perspective.  And let's work on being the people that we want to meet in that new heaven and that new earth.  If we are, then our awesome reward will be that we will get to meet each other there... in about twenty minutes. :)  See you then.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Proverbs 28:1 -- On Being Bold as a Lion

"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion."
Proverbs 28:1

I like this.  It is a good reminder that God is reality.  That he saves us from paranoia and fear, and that he is our confidence as we face challenges and weaknesses.  If we have faith in him, we know that there is nothing in life that we can't face with his help.  We know that we are so much more than mortal, and that our potential stretches far beyond this life.  Let's go forth with boldness, unafraid of what the world can throw at us.  With God, we can face it all, and there is no need to fear.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Proverbs 14:29 -- On Slowing Down and Counting to Ten

"He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly."
Proverbs 14:29

It's sometimes hard to think of emotions as things that we can learn and control.  We like the idea that they just are, and we don't have control over it when they take us over... less responsibility that way. Unfortunately for our escapist tendencies, God asks us specifically to "bridle all your passions." We also learn in Psalms 145:8 some of the attributes of God: "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy."  God is slow to anger as well, and so as we try to emulate him and walk as he walked, we should probably work on that.
In striving to understand and control our passions / emotions, the speed thing often comes up.  When we are out of control, we act immediately and often devastatingly, harming ourselves and others by venting our emotions before we really understand the situation or have considered the consequences.  It is probably fair to say that we "exalt folly" when we rush in.  Slowing down gives us space to think and make better decisions.  So maybe one of the first steps we can take is to just slow down those reactions.  The whole idea of counting to 10 or counting down from 5 is a popular one, and perhaps often mocked, but those might be good steps to take in learning to calm ourselves down, which is essential to taking this slow and learning to make wiser decisions.
Today, as we go throughout our days and experience emotions and react to things, let's really think about what we're choosing, and let's work on emulating God and being slow to wrath.  Let's find a way to calm ourselves down when we start getting out of control... and out of control is sometimes just saying something that we have to apologize for later.  Let's stop before we go there.  Let's work on loving the people around us and treating them well, even when our current emotions make things harder.  Let's stay in control of what we say and how we treat people, and take responsibility for our actions, even when our emotions are extreme.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

James 2:8-10 -- On Discriminating Against our Neighbors

"If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
James 2:8-10

The idea of having respect to persons is a hard one for us, I think.  It might be easier if we just called it discrimination, but that word is loaded with a lot of negatives, and we don't like to think of ourselves that way.  Unfortunately, we so often do it without even thinking about it.  Our society is set up to discriminate between rich and poor in a lot of ways.  And other way that we discriminate are so small... what people are wearing, what their teeth look like, how they smell... and let's not say they, let's say we.  We discriminate against each other for things like how we dress, whether we're married or not, what sins we have committed, what lifestyle we live, what church we belong to, whether we vaccinate our children, or homeschool them, whether we believe in global warming, whether we're on Facebook, or play video games, or exercise, or based on weight or height or skin color, or our career, or whether we have children or how many, or whether we're attracted to the same sex or not. We discriminate against each other based on whether we live in our parent's basement, whether we have a degree, whether we have a car, or can spell, our IQ, sense of humor, our social skills, what music we listen to, what (or whether) we read, our citizenship status, our political affiliation, what language(s) we speak, whether we have health problems, mental or physical, and many, many more.

Earlier in this chapter James mentions discrimination between rich and poor and treating them differently, which is a large issue in itself, but as we can see, there are an abundance of ways that we have respect to people in this world, and treat them differently, and decide some people are better or worse.  Too often we fall into the trap of thinking only of close neighbors, or that it is enough to love our families and friends, and it is okay to kind of think the rest of the world is a little lesser, or treat them poorly.  But as we learn in Luke 6:32 and Matthew 5:46, it isn't enough to love the people who love us.

So, what?  We have to love homeless, smelly atheists who dress badly, and used car salesmen who listen to country music and have 9 tattoos and a nose piercing?  Even felons, addicts, or people who hate us or disagree with us?  ... Clearly, the answer is always yes, no matter how many adjectives and nouns we mix and match here.

Today, let's think about God's commandment to love our neighbors, and let's take it more to heart.  Let's really work on treating people well, and not thinking of any group as better than another.  Not saying it is easy.  Some of our discriminatory ways of thinking are pretty deeply ingrained.  And we definitely don't have to agree with everyone or participate in their lifestyles.  But we do have to learn to love them... love each other.  We're all different, with different challenges, and with different things to offer others.  Let's get to know people and understand how to love them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

1 Corinthians 11:31 -- On Monster Problems and Meltdown Mode

"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."
1 Corinthians 11:31

This is an interesting statement, and one that I think points to the real goal of our lives.  We are God's children, and just like earthly children, the idea is not to remain young and dependent on our parents our whole lives, but to grow up and learn to do the things that they do.  With God it is more perfect, since he doesn't model bad habits like we do, and there is a lot more to learn, but the idea is the same.  We should recognize the deficits in our lives and do something about them instead of staying stuck in the same rut or waiting until our lives go into meltdown mode before we take action.  Unfortunately, that is the way that we often learn.  We don't want to face the hard things, so we put them off and put them off, and sometimes it seems to work.  They resolve themselves when we ignore them.  However, this strategy is not a great one long term, since it teaches us nothing about how to face the problem when it doesn't go away on its own... and by that time it is gigantic, and unusually grouchy.
When we refuse to face things, God sometimes needs to step into our lives and show us what is happening.  He judges that the time is far past that we should have dealt with this issue, and we really need to learn it.  Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to get us to take action is showing us how our lives are melting down because of inaction.
I don't like meltdown mode at all.  It stresses me out, and makes me feel out of control and like I can't handle anything. :)  But I live there too often because I put off important decisions and refuse to solve problems until they're big enough to eat me.  So today, join me in working on staying out of meltdown mode, and tackling some long-term issues.  No, it isn't fun, and yes, it feels overwhelming... but I think we all know, from this verse and from personal experience, that it is better to face the problems when they are smaller and less grouchy.  Let's get in there, figure out what we need to change, and make a plan.  And let's support each other in this.  Even the most even-tempered problems can get scary when we let them go a long time... it's hard for all of us.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

D&C 25:10 -- On Seeking A Better World

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

Good advice, but very hard.  We get caught up in the world, because we're here, because it is all around us, and we often forget to step back and get a more spiritual perspective.  I think that is why we are sometimes counseled to keep reminders around... put spiritual pictures or quotations on the wall or the desk, keep spiritual music in mind, etc.  We need those reminders about not getting too enmeshed in the stuff that doesn't really matter.  Today, let's step back a little when we feel like the world is taking over our minds and emotions.  Let's remember that God has promised us more.  Let's step back, get some space between what is happening and how we are reacting, and give that space to God.  Let's pray, and read, and find other ways to remember him and always seek something better.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alma 40:21-23 -- On In-Between Opportunities

"But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets.
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame."
Alma 40:21-23

This is an interesting selection, talking about the in-between time between death and resurrection.  Alma is explaining to his son how it works, and mentions both that we will be in happiness or misery based on our choices in this life, as also that it is before the final judgment.  Like the space that Adam and Eve were given before death as a space to repent, this seems like some time that God planned into the system so that we could accomplish some things, like temple work.  Temporary misery in life doesn't have to mean misery forever, and hopefully misery in this in-between time doesn't always have to mean that either, if we do the work to get everyone saving ordinances.  Obviously, this doesn't mean that we can go and take back our actions in life and replace them with others, and those actions will be part of our judgment and will be restored to us.  But people who didn't get baptized for instance, we can make sure that ordinance is done, so that everyone has a chance at salvation.
Today, let's take advantage of our in-between time of life and work on repenting and learning and loving and helping others, so that we don't have to suffer even temporary misery after this life.  And as we have the opportunity, let's go to the temple and help others as well. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hebrews 11:13-16 -- On Looking Forward With Faith

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
Hebrews 11:13-16

This chapter runs through a list of people from the scriptures that accomplished things through faith.  And, as these verses say, then they died, not having received the promises of God.  Of course we receive a lot from God in our lives, but his promises of eternal life and never ending happiness aren't things that FedEx can deliver.  They require patience, and faith... which all these people had.  And they looked forward to the day when all promises would be fulfilled.
We're in a similar situation.  God grants us multitudes of blessings, but some big things, like resurrection for instance, are things that by their very nature, we can't have yet.  But we, like they, desire a better place than this.  A place where people don't harm each other.  A place where people are working together towards good; a place where we belong.  And, as it also says right here, God has prepared a place for us.  A place where all the promises can and will be fulfilled.
Today, let's do as the people from this chapter did, and know that God is faithful.  Let's trust him to keep his promises.  Let's lives our lives as they did, looking forward to the perfect days ahead, knowing that they will be there when we arrive. :)  Let's work towards something better.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Romans 3:23 -- On Falling Short and Staying in School

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Romans 3:23

This is a good reminder that we all need Christ's atonement in our lives.  By ourselves, none of us meet the requirements of heaven.  But because of Christ, we can still make it.  Even though we fall short, if we are doing all we can, then Christ makes up the difference.
I think we give ourselves too much credit sometimes, thinking that we can do it all on our own, or that we're in a significantly better position than other people.  But when it says that we come short, it isn't just half a percentage point.  It isn't an essay question that was judged too harshly.  It's more like we're trying to buy a house with 15 cents, a nail, and a pile of Monopoly money.  And we're all in that situation... no matter how many pennies we've saved up, none of us comes close to the real price, which Christ paid for us.
That doesn't mean that obedience is worthless, or that keeping the law of the gospel is pointless.  It just means that we really need God.  He is the one that stands between us and the law and gives us more time and leniency as we learn and grow.  We still need to learn the things that the law requires.  Instead of losing our place in heaven the first time we sin, Christ's intervention allows us to recover from our mistakes and get back on track.  It's kind of like he is paying our way through College after we lost our scholarship.  We still get all the benefits of learning and becoming what we want to be.  We just need some help or we won't be able to stay in school.
Today, let's remember how much we need God.  Let's be thankful and prayerful, and remember everything that he has done for us.  And let's take advantage of this time that Christ has given us, and learn all we can, and become the sort of people who will change the world for the better.

Friday, May 15, 2015

D&C 59:7 -- On Thanking the Lord

"Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things."
Doctrine and Covenants 59:7

In this part of the section, the Lord is reviewing some commandments, and right after forbidding theft, adultery, and murder, he mentions this.  I really like the idea of this as a commandment.  It is something that we can start doing right now.  Thanking God.  And I think that it helps us with some other commandments, like loving God and loving our neighbors.  When we are thankful, we are usually a little bit more humble, and we realize that we need God, and we need help from other people that God sends us as well.  When we are thankful we stop thinking that life / other people / God "owes" us anything, and we start realizing how incredibly blessed we are every day to be where we are, with what we have, and by the people around us.  That mindset changes the way we think about everything, and helps turn us into better people.
Today, let's thank God for everything that we have.  Let's focus on the positive things that we are blessed with and see all of the good that we have around us.  Let's remember Him in all that we do, and try to have that grateful attitude as we go throughout our day.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

D&C 20:29-34 -- On Taking Heed and Praying Always

"And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true;
And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.
But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God;
Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation;
Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also."
Doctrine and Covenants 20:29-34

These verses seem to be basically telling us to not become complacent.  We can't assume that we are golden and that the test is over.  We have to keep working to improve, keep trying to learn and understand.  Rest is okay, of course, but not quitting.  Other places in the scriptures tell us to pray always, but this is some really good background about why.  It's for our own protection.  Maintaining our communication and relationship with God is essential to our well being, happiness, and salvation.
Today, let's take heed, pray, and keep praying.  Let's keep doing the good things, and not give up or be "done."  Let's protect ourselves even in the best times by looking to God and learning all we can.  He is the path to justification, sanctification, and everything good. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

3 Nephi 28:10 -- On Joy and That One Guy

"And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;"
3 Nephi 28:10

This is something that Christ said to the three Nephites who requested to remain on the Earth until the Second Coming, bringing people to the gospel.  A few verses earlier it mentions that this is the same thing that John the Beloved asked for, so theoretically we have at least four people who are over 2000 years old, still on a mission for God.  That's a long time to be on a mission... but you know, how could "fulness of joy" ever get old? :)  Even cooler, for these guys, their bodies were changed, both to allow them to live that long, but also it says "that they might not suffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world."  Nice bonus.
I wonder if this is the ideal for all of us, to work towards this fullness of joy.  Not necessarily that we are all needed to stay on the earth on missions for thousands of years, but the ideal of caring about our fellow beings enough that we think that would be a valuable option for our lives.  I think we too often get insular, just focusing on the area and people we know and not wanting to branch out. It makes sense in some ways.  We want to limit stress, not get overwhelmed, etc.  But in order to get to where John and the three Nephites were when they desired these missions, wanting to bring generations of people to Christ, I think we might want to open up a little, and learn to love different kinds of people, who are *all* our brothers and sisters.  Even that one guy that gets on our nerves. :)
Today, let's work towards this fullness of joy by focusing on trying to love that one guy.  Maybe get to know him more, or do something nice for him.  And hey, if we master being able to love that one guy, maybe we can branch out more.  Foreigners.  Used-Car Salesmen.  Lawyers.  ...Anyone. :)  Maybe we'll learn that they (we) all have something to offer, and have a deep, eternal value.  Maybe we'll realize how absolutely worth it it would be to spend thousands of years on a mission to help as many people as possible know Christ.  And I think that doing the experiment with that one guy today will open us up to more joy, and as we go further and further, loving more and more people, someday we'll hit that fullness level, and never be empty again. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

D&C 59:15-19 -- On Being Thankful and Cheerful

"And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul."
D&C 59:15-19

I like this selection, and the lesson, which is basically "attitude matters."  Sometimes we don't like that lesson, because we want to be our little rebel selves, raging against "the man," whoever the man happens to be, and throwing out snark in order to deal with stress.  And, you know, as a stress release I think that works sometimes, but here I think that God makes it clear that *he* is not the man that we should be raging against.  To read the rest of the instructions and hear what God would like us to do to get all of these blessings, we can read the first part of this section.  Good stuff.  But I like the fact that after the list of commandments, it tells us that we need to be thankful and cheerful as well.  These are obviously things that can't be forced.  If someone holds a gun to your head and says "smile!" you might be able to do it, but unless you are a master actor, it is unlikely you will be able to feel it.  God isn't forcing us to be thankful and cheerful.  I think he is teaching us a really good lesson... that whatever we do, we need to really have our whole selves behind it, in terms of doing it because we want to do it, not because we feel like we "must."  It isn't bad to start out that way, but we have to convert our hearts as well as our actions if we are going to be able to be dedicated to anything as thoroughly as we need to be dedicated to God.  And, even though our happiness and thankfulness is already a reward of sorts, because we are happy doing what is right, the icing on the cake is that "the fulness of the earth" is ours.  God will bless us abundantly, if we are thankful and cheerful in our obedience, which again, is already inherently designed to make our lives better. :)
God plan is pretty cool, I have to say. :)  Today, let's remember that, and be thankful and cheerful as we follow it. :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Alma 56:47-48 -- On Passing on the Faith

"Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."
Alma 56:47-48

The idea that faith can be passed on through the generations is pretty cool.  Of course we all have to get our own testimony, but I think that our example and confidence in God can make a huge difference in people's lives, as it did in this case.  This is the story of the stripling warriors, who went into battle with this amazing confidence, and who fought and were injured, but not one of them died in the battle.  Not one, when casualties were normal in the rest of the army.  That kind of faith works miracles.
We can't pass that kind of faith down to anyone if we don't have it ourselves.  So, how do we get it?  I think it comes little by little through obedience and practice.  Things like reading our scriptures, praying, and keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  We think of them as the basics, and sometimes gloss over them, because how can something so small matter?  But the small things add up to big things, and learning that kind of smallish faith is the only way to get to the largest faith. :)
Believing is not enough.  We often want it to be, and we think that God must be mean if he doesn't grant us blessings that are just as good as anyone else's... he loves us, right?  Why worry about little things like scripture study?  ... But I think what we often forget is that these types of miracles happen *because* of faith.  God can only heal us if we have faith that it can be done.  Our choice has to be involved, because God is not about forcing anyone.  Obedience and righteousness are *necessary* to the process.
Today, let's do the little things that turn into big things, and have faith in God.  More than just belief, faith is belief backed with action.  We trust, and we take the step that God advises, rather than waiting to see if it works out for someone else.  It doesn't mean that we shouldn't prepare for whatever we can, but it does mean that God prepares for things that we can't anticipate, and that things will work out.  Let's learn that confidence through our obedience, and then share it with others. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Alma 17:11-13 -- On Knowing How it Ends

"And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.
And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.
And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken."
Alma 17:11-13

These verses are describing the beginning of the mission of the sons of Mosiah.  Earlier in the chapter, Alma (the younger) meets them and rejoices that they are still strong in the gospel, so this part is the beginning of an extended flashback of their mission.  It is kind of cool because we already saw how it turned out... that they made it through and found success in this great work that they had undertaken, and then we get to go in and read the details, knowing ahead of time there will be a happy ending.
And you know, if we think about it, this is the same kind of cool that our whole lives are, if we can just have a tiny touch of faith.  God has promised us a happy ending.  We know that things work out in the end.  Resurrection, perfect bodies, no pain, no sickness... eternal happiness... all of it.  And even in this life we know that sadness can be swallowed up in the joy of the Lord.  Doesn't mean we get everything we want right now... I think that is one reason that God counseled the sons of Mosiah to be patient in long-suffering and afflictions.  Those things happen.  But if we hang in there, and stick close to God, the happy ending is still always there waiting for us.  I think that is a lot of what 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 is saying.  That trouble and confusion and persecution can come, but it doesn't have to defeat or destroy us.  We can be okay in the midst of it, if we trust in God's promise of a happy ending.  Today, let's try to stop worrying and freaking out so much about things, and let's trust God.  Let's live our lives, knowing that we are getting closer and closer to the happy ending.  Maybe it will be a little easier to get through this chapter that way. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Job 38:36 -- On the Source of Wisdom and Understanding

"Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?"
Job 38:36

This whole chapter is God pretty much reminding Job of the vast difference between ourselves and him.  The difference is huge, and vast, and overwhelming.  We can't make people wise, or grant people understanding... and that is just one of the small things that we can't do. :)  I think that this chapter is a good reminder that we have a long way to go, and that we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves and think that we've learned everything and mastered everything that God asks of us.  There are always more things to learn, and more that we can become.  We're not finished.
On the other hand, the vastness of the difference between us and God also points out how much he cares for us.  We're like little children, asking questions that we can't understand the answers to, and always jumping ahead and thinking that we're "big."  And he loves us and teaches us anyway. :)
Today, let's remember how much we still need to learn.  Not so we can beat ourselves up, but so that we can look to God as the source of that wisdom and understanding... and all the rest that we need. :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Moses 3:17 -- On Choosing for Ourselves

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Moses 3:17

The fact that we have several scriptural versions of the creation story is interesting.  I think that it means that God wants us to know where we came from. :)  In this version in Moses (compare to Abraham 5:13 and Genesis 2:17), it mentions that God specifically told Adam and Eve that they could choose for themselves.  He just explains the consequences of the choice.
God knew that the fall had to happen in order for his plan to go forward.  We had to know good from evil in order to progress and learn all we needed to learn, so God was planning a redemption from the fall before it even happened.  So, if he knew it needed to happen, and had already planned a way to overcome it, why did he forbid it?
I think that this is something that happens to all of us in our lives, actually.  God knows that we are going to make some bad choices, and that from those choices we are going to learn some important things, and he has a plan already in place to allow us to overcome our poor choices.  So, why does he tell us not to make bad choices?  I think the answers are the same.  Even though he can see ahead and knows that we will learn a lot, and has planned for our recovery, the choices we make are still going to cause us pain, and he wants us to find ways to learn that don't require so much self-torture.
In Adam and Eve's case, in order to go to the next level of learning, they had to make the choice.  And when they did, he was ready.  He taught them the gospel, explaining that despite death, he had a plan.  They would be redeemed from physical death and be resurrected, and that they could also be redeemed from spiritual death depending on their choices.  He taught them how to repent and apply the atonement in their lives, even though from an earthly perspective, it hadn't happened yet.
Of course, this doesn't mean that we should make bad choices lightly.  We kid ourselves into thinking that we will make bad choices and then turn around, but it is amazingly hard to repent of something you walked into with your eyes fully open like that, as well as the fact that making bad choices lowers our resistance and makes it easier to make more of them, and continue on a bad path.
Today, as we choose for ourselves, let's remember to apply the atonement in our own lives.  Let's repent and reach for God's plan, which is always in place to save us from ourselves. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 -- On Handfuls of Stress

"Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit."
Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

This is an interesting passage about envy.  We often compare ourselves to each other, and want what each other has.  Someone has a nicer house, someone has a higher salary, someone has a more loving relationship, someone has children, or more children, someone else is in perfect health or just seems happier.  And, despite the fact that some of these things are ours, we want the ones that we don't have, and we let it grate at us, and make us feel that somehow life is unfair or we are getting a raw deal. :)  When we do this, we're like the foolish man, "eating his own flesh" ... meaning, destroying himself from inside with this envy.  I really like this last verse, because it is a good thing to think about.  Is it better to have less, and have peace in our hearts and our lives, than to worry about how much we have and feel robbed all the time?  The scripture says yes, and I think we can all agree if we think about it.  Having one handful of stuff and the other full of quietness and peace is better than two handfuls of stuff in your pockets and a double handful of stress to go along with it.  Today, let's try not to compare and worry about what we don't have.  Let's instead enjoy what God provides, and learn some contentment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

D&C 123:16-17 -- On Doing it All, Cheerfully

"You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."
Doctrine and Covenants 123:16-17

We get overwhelmed in life sometimes, thinking that we can't do enough, can't make a difference, can't do what anyone expects, let alone what God asks: perfection.  We can get to feeling like life is too hard, and that it is just something that is to be suffered through.  It's easy to get discouraged and think that suffering is what endure to the end means, and that our only joy and rest will come after this life.  There are some flaws in this type of thinking however. One is Alma 42:8, which refers to the gospel as God's "great plan of happiness."  This indicates that happiness is what the whole plan is about.  The other is Mormon 9:14.  Talking about the judgment, it says "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still."  That definitely suggests that we can, and should, be happy now if we want to be happy eternally.
Happiness isn't just another requirement on top of all the rest, like someone forcing you to smile, or "say it like you mean it."  God will never force us into anything at all.  He respects the freedom of choice he has given us, and he knows that we'll never become all that we can be without making the choices for ourselves.  I think that instead of being a requirement it is an opportunity.  God *wants* us to enjoy our lives, and wants us to find happiness.  Maybe we should let go of some of our anxiety and try to enjoy it. :)
Of course this doesn't mean that sadness never happens, or that we should bail on our obligations to God or ditch our responsibilities to our families.  We probably shouldn't even quit our jobs and move to a tropical island, although that is a valid option for some. :)  What it does mean is that we should let ourselves enjoy the journey.  We should find the joy in service and in our daily lives, and if we just can't... then we need to change ourselves or change our circumstances.  Sometimes that means just taking time to relax and notice nature, but other times it might mean antidepressants, or finding a different job or not volunteering for extra things anymore.  God doesn't require us to do it all, and he doesn't hate us if we need help.  Let's make the changes that we need to in our lives so that we can find happiness and bring joy to others.
Instead of being overwhelmed, let's remember that small changes can affect our whole lives... like the helm of a ship.  We can change direction and focus and accomplish a lot without having to (uselessly) move the ocean out of the way.  I love the line "let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power."  ... Too often we focus on doing more than we can do, and we don't even think about whether we can do it cheerfully or not.  We take on too much, or we are so worried about juggling it all that we can't enjoy it.  Today, let's *cheerfully* do all we can.  Let's find a level we can accomplish, and enjoy, and then as we improve, we can increase that level as long as it is still balanced with joy. :)  Let's choose our priorities carefully, making sure that God comes first, and we'll find that other things settle into more manageable spots. :)  And then, when we are cheerfully engaged in doing all we can, let's be assured that God will do his part, and make things right.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Matthew 14:35-36 -- On Reaching out to Christ

"And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;
And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole."
Matthew 14:35-36

Sometimes we look at the miracles in the scriptures and wish that we could live in that time, when all of this was happening.  To be part of that society, to be able to hear Christ's sermons, to be able to touch the hem of his garment and be healed seems overwhelmingly desirable.  And I totally agree that it would be amazing to be able to walk beside Christ and have a conversation with him, and learn from him personally.  I think we forget though, that most of the most desirable things about that time are available to us now.  We have the opportunity to talk to God whenever we want to.  We have his words and can read and study them.  We might not be able to see him or physically touch the hem of his garment at will, but he is still there, willing to heal us if we come to him and have faith.  Today, let's rejoice in our ability to have the gospel, the scriptures, and access to the Lord through prayer.  Let's listen to him and follow him just as we would if he were here... because he is here, in our lives, as much as we allow him to be.  Let's have the faith to go to him, to reach out, and to be healed.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Job 34:31-32 -- On Looking Inward

"Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:
That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more."
Job 34:31-32

The story of Job is an interesting one that I think has a lot of lessons for us.  Overall, it helps us understand that bad things happening to us aren't always the result of wickedness.  It also gives us an amazing example of faith in the midst of tragedy.  I think that some of the value of the book also comes from the advice of Job's friends.  These verses are some of that advice, and even though Job hadn't actually done anything wrong to bring tragedy upon himself, his friends aren't sure of that, and one says that whatever the circumstances, it is always good to tell God that we are trying to learn, that we accept chastisement, that we are willing to learn.  That we understand that we can't see everything, and we're willing to change.
I think this is really good advice for us as well.  We are blind to our own failings sometimes.  That's not all bad... if we realized all of our failings consciously at all times, it might be a little depressing.  But going to the Lord and asking him to be able to see what we need to work on helps, because we are only asking to see the part we can do something about right now. :)
The huge idea here is that we need to look inward for solutions and causes.  When Christ told his disciples that one of them would betray him, they asked "Is it I?"  They first looked inward, trying to see if there was a fault there, and were worried about their own commitment.  We too often look outward when faced with a similar situation.  We try to convince ourselves and others that our sins are caused by someone else, and we are often successful at placing blame and even at having others accept it, since we all have doubts and fears.  Cain blamed Abel for not being accepted by the Lord, and thought getting him out of the way would help him.  We often think that our parents or our spouses or the circumstances of our birth, or genetics, or society, or the devil "made" us do something, or "made" us a certain way.  And we think, somehow, that whatever those circumstances are, that it takes away our choice and forces us to sin.  ... Please don't misunderstand, I am not saying that things don't sometimes happen to us that we can't control.  I am not saying that the victims of abuse are themselves responsible for said abuse, at all.  What I am saying is that whatever has happened to us, just like the tragedy that Job went through, we still get to choose.  And we all have the ability to rise above our circumstances.  We can be holy even when the context makes it unlikely, with God's help.  But first we have to look inward.  We have to take this advice, and go to the Lord and ask him to teach us the things that we can't see.  We have to be willing to accept responsibility and to change.
Today, let's go to the Lord with our problems and first ask "Lord, is it I?"  Let's stop blaming the people around us, and focus on changing ourselves.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Psalms 86:11-12 -- On a United Heart

"Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.
I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore."
Psalms 86:11-12

The idea of uniting a single heart is an interesting one, but as I think about it, it seems like something we probably all need.  We go throughout our lives and we want this, and that, and the other thing, and we're all over the place in terms of committing to God.  So many other things get in the way that our firm commitments and determination to put the Lord first often become kind of wishy-washy.
I really like the idea of praying to God so that our hearts will be united, individually. :)  If we can get all the conflicting parts of ourselves on board, facing in the same direction, then we have a pretty good shot at reaching a destination.  If we just keep wandering around, chasing different desires, then we're not going to end up anywhere we want to be.
It's tough to be consistent with the little things sometimes... reading scriptures, praying sincerely, paying tithing, dressing modestly, and all the rest... trying to keep all of the little details straight.  But the little things *are* the big thing.  The big thing just comes sort of disassembled, and we make it as we go.  Our tiny decisions and actions each day add up into who we become.  And that consistency and attention to detail help us keep our hearts united in putting God first.
Today, let's ask God to teach us to unite our hearts.  Let's walk in his truth... let go of conflicting emotions, desires, goals, and praise him with all that we are.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Psalms 23:1 -- On Not Wanting

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
Psalms 23:1

This is an interesting statement, whether you interpret want as having a lack of something, or just wanting more.  It means that with God, we will never be without the things that we need.  That we will never want more.  We do seem to be without from time to time though, and we often want more... we sometimes want things that we can't have and that would destroy us, in fact.  So, how does this work, then?  I think the main way that I see is that the sentence is one of determination.  We're saying that we accept the Lord as our shepherd, and that we are determined to be content with what he provides.  So, yeah, maybe we don't have money for the latest toys this Christmas.  Maybe we sometimes want things that we can't have.  But in both cases, our choice to accept God as our shepherd includes the determination to make due with coloring books instead of robots when necessary, and to keep our desires within the boundaries that the Lord has given us.
In addition, I think that it really does mean that we won't experience either of those things anymore, eventually.  As we learn and become closer to God, we change our hearts, and we stop wanting things that would harm us.  We start yearning to be the people that God has shown us we can be.  We stop looking at life to see the holes and where we are missing something, and we see that our lives are filled to overflowing with blessings, and that we don't feel empty anymore.
Today, whether it is a promise for the future or a determination that guides us now, let's accept the guidance of the Lord in our lives.  Let's allow him to shepherd us, and we will never be left wanting.

Friday, May 1, 2015

1 Nephi 8:14-15 -- On the Way to Happiness

"And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.
And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit."
1 Nephi 8:14-15

This is part of Lehi's dream, which is worth reading if you haven't. :)  Lehi's version is in chapter 8, and then Nephi sees the same vision and interprets it in chapters 11-15.  Good stuff.  This part struck me today I think because "they stood as if they knew not whither they should go."  We all feel lost sometimes in this world, and we can't always see the path ahead.  From where Lehi stood, the destination was clear, but for his family, it wasn't.  And so he called and beckoned to them, trying to help them find happiness and joy, as he had.  And, while we should always respect each other's right to choose, I feel like we need each other a lot in this same way.  We all have times in our lives where it is really hard to find our way, and we look for those examples and guides to help us through the confusion and darkness to the tree of life.  Left to ourselves, we might end up somewhere we don't want to be.  Today, if we feel lost, let's turn to people who are in tune with the Lord to help us find our way.  Let's listen to the prophets, read the scriptures, and put in the time and effort necessary to get our own answers from the Lord.  And if we are headed in the right direction, let's encourage our fellow travelers.  Let's help those that are lost, and show them the way that we have found to happiness, so that they can follow it if they choose to.  

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