Tuesday, August 22, 2017

John 14:1-2 -- On Believing and Getting There

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
John 14:1-2

These are really comforting verses, and I really love the idea of God caring about us so much that he worries about us being troubled.  I mean, he knows things are going to be awesome in the end and that joy and peace are waiting for us--but he still doesn't dismiss our temporary worries as faithless and meaningless.  Instead, he encourages us and comforts us.

Christ encourages us to believe in him, and in his father.  Those are the things that we need to do in order to be prepared and to triumph.  I also love the mansions part.  I have no idea if we are going to get literal mansions, but even if it is just the symbolic idea of a mansion... a place where you feel safe, and where you have everything you need all the time... I think it will be amazing either way.

Today, let's work on not letting our hearts be troubled.  Let's believe in Christ, and trust that he is preparing a place for us.  Let's trust him, and work with him, and get there. :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

3 Nephi 24:2 -- On Abiding the Day

"But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap."
3 Nephi 24:2

This verse (and the almost identical verse in Malachi) is about the second coming of Christ.  The way that it is written it sounds kind of like a rhetorical question.  Who will be able to stand?  Obviously no one.  A refiner's fire is incredibly hot, to separate the pure, precious metal from the lead and dross, and to burn away other impurities, and fuller's soap is incredibly harsh, but it gets out the dirt and the oils so that the fabric is perfectly clean and white.

On one level that sounds super scary and feels like if we aren't perfect, we won't make it through that process.  On the other hand though, I think it is hopeful.  Comparing Christ's coming to refiners and fullers means that we're still at the potential stage.  Both of these processes are things that you do to prepare things... to make them better and get them ready for something great later.  If the analogy were to hospice care or layoffs, then I'd be a little scared.

I think the idea here is that we have to be willing to let go of the dirt and oil and lead and imperfection within ourselves--and that's who will abide, and who will be able to stand.  People who have already allowed God to change them into shiny, pure, clean potential. :)  Today, let's talk to God and let him work on us, and cleanse us.  Let's be willing to let go of the bad parts of ourselves, and become prepared, so that maybe we can enjoy the second coming instead of being scared.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Psalms 94:16-18 -- On Standing Against Iniquity

"Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up."
Psalms 94:16-18

It's hard to stand up to iniquity, and we often wish for someone else to intervene and save us. Sometimes the Lord does stand up for us, but much more often, he strengthens us so that *we* can stand up.  Without that help, our souls might remain silent and just go along with whatever it is.

Sometimes our feet start to slip when we are standing against iniquity as well.  We want to believe that standing up is enough, and that is all there is to the struggle.  But when we start to get tired and worry that we are going to go down and fall off the path, God is merciful and he helps us, and gives us something to hold on to.

Today, let's partner with God to give voice to our souls, and to establish a firm foundation for our feet.  Let's hold to the iron rod of his gospel, and always be willing to stand against iniquity, and instead choose love, and hope, and goodness.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Proverbs 1:10 -- On Not Consenting to Sin

"My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."
Proverbs 1:10

Simple, right?  When we think of sinners enticing us, we often think of kids or teens, because that's when peer pressure hits us hard, and we are hyper-concerned about what other people think, and even when we're out on our own for the first time and are trying to figure out our own way.

Unfortunately, we are enticed even as we age, sometimes from areas we wouldn't expect.  We face ethical challenges at home, in the workplace, in social situations, and even sometimes at church.  It's hard to stand up for what we believe when no one else is standing with us.  It's hard to be in situations where we feel mocked or looked down on for trying to live the right way.

Another thing that is difficult is making sure *we* aren't part of that group that is doing the enticing, either by accidentally triggering others' weaknesses or just through inaction.  It isn't easy to stand up, or stand out, but often when we do, we help other people who are also uncomfortable with the situation.

Bottom line, the verse says it all. We need to make sure that we aren't consenting to bad things.  Today, let's walk away from those sinners.  Especially the ones inside ourselves. :)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Hebrews 4:1 -- On Fear and Respect and Preparation

"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."
Hebrews 4:1

Fear is an interesting idea in the scriptures that is often hard to understand.  We're asked to love God, and read that "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment" (1 John 4:18), and yet we also read "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13), and lest we ascribe the idea of fearing God to the fulfilled Mosaic law, here it is in our scripture for today: "Let us therefore fear."  ... Yikes, right?  Why would we want to fear, or have fear in our lives?

Most of the time in the scriptures when we're told to fear God, it means respect.  No one should attempt to climb Mount Everest without a healthy fear of death for instance.  You have to respect the mountain, or it *will* crush you.  Not because the mountain hates you, but because you weren't prepared for the challenge.  And life is like that too.  It's a challenge that we need to respect and plan for.   D&C 38:30: "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."

This verse is about fear, but not fear of God.  More a fear of failure.  Not the immobilizing, overwhelming kind, but again, the respect kind.  We need to respect the challenge before us.  If we're going to be able to accept what God offers, it's going to take some effort and some work to become the kind of people that can stand in his presence.

Today, let's take hold of God's promise of rest, and let's be prepared for it.  Let's have a healthy fear of becoming worse than we are, and turn that into motivation to become better.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

1 Nephi 18:11 -- On Rope from God

"And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked."
1 Nephi 18:11

Sometimes we wonder why God allows bad things to happen to good people.  The very wonder, of course, kind of slides around the fact that we are all bad sometimes.  It's still a good question though.  The problem of evil, and why God allows it.  Philosophers have a field day with this one.

Nephi addresses one reason here.  God gives us the rope, and allows us to hang ourselves.  If we choose bad, he doesn't stop us immediately and force us to be good.  He lets it happen, but he gives us a conscience and lets us think about it, and we dig ourselves in deeper if that is what we choose to do.  On the other hand, this brings up a second reason that Nephi doesn't mention...that same time and situation, where the Lord is letting the evil happen and watching us do it, is the very chance that all of us have to stop ourselves, to arrest our descent into Hell, and to repent.  God isn't just giving us the rope to hang ourselves--it's also the rope that we can use to pull ourselves out of the pit.

The space between action and judgement is both our condemnation and our salvation, and it is up to us to choose which one is going to hold sway in our lives.  In this case, Laman and Lemuel waited for four days and had to be threatened (by God) with death by storm before they let Nephi go.  The Lord gave them four days, not to make Nephi suffer, but to give Laman and Lemuel a chance to change and rethink... which they eventually did.  That was a hard thing for Nephi, but on the other hand, it was important for Laman and Lemuel that they get that chance to realize that God was in charge and how much they needed Nephi.  ... The change didn't last of course, but this event made a difference to all of their lives, and probably affected events later on in their story.

In the end, "God shall wipe away all tears from [our] eyes" (Revelation 21:4) and "swallow up death in victory" (Isaiah 25:8).  Every wrong will be made right, even if that currently seems impossible.  With God, and a life after death, nothing is impossible.  I'm not saying that bad things are easy... far from it.  They are hard by definition.  Today, though, let's try to be patient as God throws other people a rope... and when he throws one to us, let's be really, really careful not to tie it into a noose for our own necks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

James 3:9-10 -- On Blessing and Cursing

"Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."
James 3:9-10

James is talking here about how we communicate.  He points out that we often worship God with our mouths, and then turn around and think that it is okay to curse his children.  "These things ought not so to be."  God loves all of his children, and he is the judge.  He asks us to love our enemies, so it's pretty clear that he is asking us to love even the people that most seem like exceptions to this rule, no matter how bad.

Today, let's remember that God wants us to love, not to hate or criticize or mock.   Let's work on seeing the good in others, and on being the kind of people that we want to be... kind, loving, helpful... and honoring others as God's precious children.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Psalms 119:2-3 -- On Seeking with the Whole Heart

"Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways."
Psalms 119:2-3

I really like the idea that we need to seek God with our whole heart.  ... I also think that is a really hard thing to do.  We so often have divided hearts when we approach God.  We hold things back, and we want things that we can't have.  We have so many things fighting for our attention that we rarely stop to remember God, let alone seeking him with all that we are.

Today, let's work on seeking him with our whole hearts.  And if that's really far away, let's try at least more of our hearts than yesterday.  Let's walk in his ways, and avoid iniquity.  Let's not go chasing off after distractions, but make sure that we are always looking to the source of hope. :)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Alma 20:17 -- On Avoiding Anger and Rash Decisions

"But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold, thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved."
Alma 20:17

This is from a really cool story about Ammon and King Lamoni, and the person that Ammon is talking to here is King Lamoni's father.  In this story, King Lamoni's father didn't set out trying to be actively evil.  He believed the lies that he was raised on, and thinks that Ammon is one of the bad guys.  We know better, because we have a narrator, but he didn't, and so when he finds that his son is talking to, and has been "corrupted" by a Nephite, he's angry.  The problem is that he is *so* angry that he is about to kill his own son, until Ammon stops him.

Things work out in the end... don't worry.  This verse though warns us of the dangers, both of blindly believing that we are right, and of excessive anger.  No matter how cool we think we are, running things by the Lord (who asks us to look unto him in every thought anyway--D&C 6:36) is always the best choice.  Hasty and rash choices tend to not be very great ones.  And excessive anger can cause us some serious regret.

Today, let's choose to chill out a little bit.  Let's listen to others, and especially to God, allowing that we might not always be 100% right about everything.  Let's not allow others to enrage us or to control our fears or our actions.  And let's work on our tempers, since anger can put our souls in jeopardy.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

D&C 128:15 -- On Being Made Perfect

"And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect."
Doctrine and Covenants 128:15

I love the idea that we, as a whole human family, need each other.  It's also a challenging idea on one level, because: how?, right?  We've got enough problems just maintaining our own faith and developing our own relationships with God.  It feels sort of overwhelming to be responsible for everyone else too.

Luckily, this is where God comes in.  Just like he will never force us to do anything, he won't force anyone else either.  All we are required to do is try... to be the means that God uses to help people know the truth and to give people a choice.  As far as missionary work goes, we are God's servants in this, and if people want to know more, we should be ready always to tell them about the hope that is us (1 Peter 3:15).  And as far as making sure *everyone* has a chance, there is also genealogy and temple work.  As we do this work (which was referred to 1 Corinthians 15:29), we help God in his work to save us all together, so we can all be made perfect.

Today, let's remember that we are in it together.  Let's trust God, and be willing to open our mouths when he has a message to share.  Let's do temple work to help people who can't help themselves.  And let's love and be kind to each other.  We need each other.  We can't make ourselves perfect, but if we work together, and with God, he can make us perfect and whole and complete in him.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

2 Corinthians 8:3-5 -- On Giving Beyond our Power

"For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God."
2 Corinthians 8:3-5

This is Paul, talking about the people in Macedonia and how they were incredibly generous even though they were suffering.  I love the idea of them being willing to give "beyond their power" and that even though Paul and the rest had hoped they wouldn't, they were willing to sacrifice for them.

I like the phrase "Gave their own selves to the Lord," and the implication there that the reason they were able to give beyond their power is because they gave themselves to the Lord first, and then they were able to help others, by the will of God.

This can work in our lives as well.  With God, no matter what circumstances we are in, we can be okay, and be able to help and serve others.  As we give ourselves to the Lord, he will give us enough, and more than enough so that we can also provide for others.  It doesn't mean that we shouldn't be planning ahead and learning the lessons of self-sufficiency, but it does mean that miracles can happen even when it looks like on paper that it won't work out.

Today, let's give ourselves to God and have faith in him, and work to do his will.  As we do, God will help us be able to make a difference beyond our own power in the lives of others.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 -- On the Conclusion

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

I like scriptures that try to sum up the gospel.  They *should* work, right?  Things like "O be wise; what can I say more" (Jacob 6:12), or "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12)... those should be daily mantras for us, summing up the whole gospel.  And yet we resist.  We nit pick, we justify, we ask for specifics so that we can work around them. :)  Instead of 10 Commandments, we need hundreds or thousands.

This scripture sums up the gospel by instructing us to show reverence to God (which is what "fear" usually means in the scriptures), and to keep his commandments.  Simple, right?  And it even gives a reason, which is a huge bonus.  The reason is that everything gets judged in the end, and we're going to end up on one side or the other... good or evil.  So, basically: pick God's side. :)

Today, let's try to take some of the simple summary advice of the gospel seriously.  Let's work on showing reverence to God, and on doing as he asks.  We could get into the deep, awesome reasons why, but today let's not question.  Let's just do it, and see how the conclusion works out. :)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

John 11:35 -- On Weeping

"Jesus wept."
John 11:35

This is a very short but interesting verse.  Christ cries at the death of Lazarus.  For a regular person this seems normal, but for Jesus, knowing he was about to bring him back from the dead, it maybe seems a little bit off.  And it's kind of like that with God in general, right?  He's got this perfect perspective, and he can see, and control, anything he wants to, and still he's emotionally involved?  It's hard for us to see, and we often think that he is detached, playing games with us, and not crying over us because we feel distant and we have a hard time understanding or relating to God.

I guess on one level we can relate because we've probably all been emotionally involved in movies or books before, even when we knew how they ended.  We still cared, and were invested enough in the characters to feel for them.  Of course, Christ is like 30 billion times more invested in us (low estimate), because through the atonement he suffered our pains and sicknesses and for our sins, which is a very intimate look into each of us.  We don't think people understand because they haven't walked in our shoes, but He *has.*

I think this verse is amazing because it shows us very clearly that God cares.  He cares about what we are going through, because we care.  Even when he knows it will shortly turn around or be okay, he cares about us in that moment, and doesn't dismiss our emotion as pointless or counterproductive. :)  He feels it with us, and he can help us to stand and become stronger because he knows how it feels, and *also* for bonus points, knows how to help us deal with it, and learn from it.

Today, let's recognize how much God cares for us, and let's learn to trust him and his perspective. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Proverbs 23:23 -- On Buying the Truth

"Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding."
Proverbs 23:23

This reminded me of "Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy " (2 Nephi 9:51).  I think it is an important, perhaps even essential reminder for us all.  We should be using our physical and spiritual resources to accomplish our goals, and becoming who we want to be.  It doesn't work to try to separate the two, because all of it is part of God's plan, and kingdom, and we are partially both as well.

Buying the truth is much more important than investing in other things.  Today, let's invest with God. :)  Let's work on buying the truth, and wisdom, instruction, and understanding, and converting our whole selves to God, not just a little part. :)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Alma 12:3-5 -- On Thoughts, Lies, and Enemies

"Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit;
And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out—
Now this was a plan of thine adversary, and he hath exercised his power in thee. Now I would that ye should remember that what I say unto thee I say unto all."
Alma 12:3-5

This is part of the story of Zeezrom, who goes from being a bad guy to a good guy.  Awesome story.  These verses have some interesting points:
  • Lying to others seems to equate to lying to God.  This kind of makes sense if we think of the scriptures that explain "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40) and "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me" (Matthew 25:45).  Our interactions with each other are specifically called out as being equivalent to treating the Lord that way.
  • God knows our thoughts.  This is throughout the scriptures, but it's a good reminder.  God knows what we want and need before we express it, and there is no way to lie to him even when we are lying to ourselves, which we do a lot and should probably be wary of. :)  Being absolutely honest with God is a prerequisite to sincere prayer and a stronger relationship with God.
  • Lying and deceiving are provinces of the Devil.  When we do those things, we are following *his* plan, not the Lord's plan.
  • The Devil is our enemy, even when we allow him to use us.  Doing Satan's will is always going to result in our misery.  That is the ultimate end of serving him, just as joy is the ultimate end of serving God.  God is our friend, Satan is our enemy.  We need to sear that into our brains somehow, because way too often we follow Satan like a kid blindly trusting the kidnapper offering them some candy.  Let's recognize that Satan is trying to poison and kill us, and *stop* listening to him.
This lesson for Zeezrom is for all of us, so that we, like Zeezrom, can learn to be good guys, no matter how bad we have been in the past.  Today, let's listen to and learn from the Spirit, and do as God asks.

Monday, August 7, 2017

1 Nephi 22:3 -- On Temporal and Spiritual Lessons

"Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual; for it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations."
1 Nephi 22:3

Nephi is explaining a prophecy of Isaiah here, and the part that caught my eye today is after his brothers ask if the words are to be interpreted spiritually.  ... Kind of like we do a lot too, especially with Isaiah... wonder how to interpret it, and whether it is literal or figurative.  Nephi's answer is interesting because he doesn't take one of the obvious choices, but instead confirms that the choices themselves are suspect.

God's lessons are almost always , as Nephi instructs, both temporal and spiritual. We can't only learn one side and not the other... much like the purpose of life (or one of them).  We got a body, and we're here to learn about it and use it.  Not just as a temporary, disposable caravan for the soul, but as part of the new whole we are becoming... spirit and body united and inseparable.  Not to trap us, but to enhance us, and increase our capacity for joy.

Today, let's remember that God's lessons are for every part of life, not just things that we should think about on the Sabbath.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Micah 2:10 -- On Arising and Departing

"Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction."
Micah 2:10

The phrase "this is not your rest" is a phrase that God speaks to us often I think.  We're not so much into the "Endure to the End" thing.  We'd rather be "One and Done" when it comes to the gospel.  Get baptized, profess our faith, read the scriptures, and then go home and do other things and pursue other interests.

That's not the gospel though, and that isn't God.  They aren't human-sized books to read or goals to accomplish.  They are perspectives, ways of life, relationships... things that grow, and things that we become, rather than something we can just do and be done.  And so we get trapped in ruts, thinking that we're done.  That we've changed enough, or grown enough, or suffered enough.  We put limits on God and we say, I'll follow you so far, but not beyond, because that's just crazy.  But God sees what we're doing--those kinds of statements don't limit *him,* they limit *us.*

Rest belongs to a God-sized story that we have barely begun, no matter our age.  When we look for limits, in essence we're saying, okay, I read the prologue, and I'm done.  Or ... cool, I think I'll stop in chapter 5.  It's just getting good and I want it to stay in this kind of anticipatory limbo forever.

When we live the gospel and endure to the end, we find that blowing past those limits doesn't just open us up to the suffering we predicted in chapter six, but also the understanding and acceptance.  We would also have missed the exciting bits in chapters seven through twelve, the eventual triumph in chapter 48, and turning the pages also allows the possibility of the happy ending and the true rest at the end of the book much, much farther along... one of many that we will read in God's eternal library.

Today, let's arise and depart the rut that we are stuck in.  Let's listen to God, and be willing to make him a part of our lives every day, not just once.  Let's keep reading to find the happy ending, and our true rest--this is not it.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

D&C 65:2 -- On Keys and Stones

The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.
Doctrine and Covenants 65:2

Interesting imagery here.  The key thing is cool, but it kind of reminds me of asking your parents for the car keys.  ... It involves a lot of trust and responsibility.  God is giving us the keys to his kingdom, not for the proverbial joyride, but because he trusts us to further his purposes... or at least trusts us enough to give us the responsibility and let us learn to handle it.

The idea of the stone cut from the mountain without hands that rolls until it fills the whole earth is another interesting idea.  The stone represents Christ and the gospel, and the fact that it is cut out of the mountain without hands might carry the idea that miracles from God are involved here: people couldn't do what Christ can do, and his gospel will roll forth.

Then, the two ideas of keys and stones are kind of strange together.  If God's kingdom is rolling forth without "hands," then why commit the keys of the gospel into hands?  And I suppose that kind of speaks to both the fact that the gospel will move forward with or without us individually, and also to the fact that God *wants* us to be a part of it.

Today, let's choose to be a part of the gospel, and work with God to move it forward.  Let's work on being part of the miracle, and worthy of God's trust.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ecclesiastes 5:10 -- On Satisfaction and Joy

"He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity."
Ecclesiastes 5:10

This is something that we probably need to remember.  We so often dictate our actions by our desires, forgetting God's admonition to bridle our passions.  Why should we bridle our passions? ... Because, among other things, this verse.  Nothing that we desire is ever going to be enough.  If we get silver, we just want more, and if we want more toys and we get some, we'll just think that we need even more.  When we chase our desires, they just grow.

If however, we bridle them and tame them, as the analogy goes, then we can enjoy them, when and where appropriate according to God, and still have everything else that God has promised.  As we learn to do things God's way, we actually get way more satisfaction and enjoyment out of life because we don't have the desire --> sin --> guilt progression going on.  Instead, we let go of the obsession with more more more and we can focus on better, happier progressions. :)

Today, let's look to God and seek him before we look to satisfy our latest desire.  As we do this, we'll trade some false joy in for the real thing. :)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

1 John 4:4 -- On Children of God

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."
1 John 4:4

I really like several things about this first.  First of all, the lesson that we are little children of God.  Being of God is critical to remembering how awesome we can become, and that we are connected to God in real ways, not playthings or afterthoughts.  And being children, although it almost seems opposed to that, is actually complementary, helping us understand that we need to be humble and open to learning.  We are the seeds of greatness, but we haven't really stretched our branches yet, and we need to learn to weather the storms so that we can endure and grow up tall and strong and good.

I also like the idea of overcoming the evil in the world and the trials of life because God is greater than anything that could stand against us, and he is in us... part of us... because we are of God.

Today, let's remember to seek the Spirit and to pray and to maintain our connection to God carefully.  With it, life is much better than without.  Doesn't mean the storms won't come, but it does help us weather them, and learn from our experiences rather than growing bitter.  Let's remember God is with us if we repent and do well and welcome him into our lives.  Let's stick with him, and overcome the world.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mosiah 2:38 -- On Repentance and Guilt

"Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever."
Mosiah 2:38

This is kind of scary, but it struck me as a good contrast to the idea of awakening to God.  This verse is about rebelling against God, and says that if we don't repent during our lives that we will basically awake to our own guilt.  I think this is what happened to Alma the Younger and also to Zeezrom, just a little ahead of time.  And this, rather than being a punishment from God, is actually a punishment from *ourselves* when we have to finally face the truth--we awaken to guilt because of a contrast within ourselves between who we are and who we think we should be.

That kind of awakening is a scary prospect, probably for all of us.  I think that the way to ensure that we don't awaken to guilt rather than awaken to God is to live what we truly believe.  It's so easy to get away from that, and to justify "small" transgressions, or to delay repentance further and further.  Even during this life though, the more we reconcile what we believe and what we actually do, the more we will be at peace... and, ideally, if we deal with it now, we'll never have to awaken to our own guilt later.  Today, let's work on that reconciliation.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Alma 5:7 -- On Awaking Unto God

"Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them."
Alma 5:7

The "their" in the first statement is referring to ancestors, specifically in reference to their ancestors as written about in the scriptures.  I really like the images here of God changing our hearts and awakening us out of sleep.  We so often don't really have a good handle on what we're missing with reference to God.  We're in darkness, and encircled by the bands of death and the chains of hell and we don't even realize it.  Until we really connect with God, we think it's just life... it kind of stinks in spots, but that is the way it is.

With God though, *everything* changes.  The possibilities multiply.  Hope blossoms.  If we can't seem to learn to love, or overcome a challenge, God will help us.  Even during the low points, God is there to strengthen us and teach us. He shows us the light in the darkness and changes our hearts for us, if we are willing to let him shape us.

Now that we know about God, let's not walk blindly into that everlasting destruction.  Let's awake unto God.  Let's allow him to show us the hope and the light and the endless possibilities that we could never otherwise see.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Numbers 29:1 -- On Rejoicing for a Day

"And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you."
Numbers 29:1

Reading this today, it reminded me of the Lord setting aside the Sabbath day in Leviticus 23:3: "Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings."

The addition of cool trumpets got me thinking about the whole idea as a sort of celebration.  Not avoiding work because God hates work, because he totally doesn't, but because he wants us to set aside some time to get together and enjoy and interact.  Maybe not a wild party, but still... kind of a party. :)

And ... maybe that's the way we should think about the Sabbath Day as well.  Fewer trumpets, but still a celebration and an opportunity to rejoice.  Not making light of sacred things, but letting go of the worries of the world, and focusing on joy and hope and goodness... taking a day off from the negative and the worries that we normally have to encounter.

Today, let's rejoice in all that God gives us, and take the opportunity to rejoice that he has placed before us. :)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Psalms 27:1 -- On Resisting Fear and Turning to God

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Psalms 27:1

We have so much anxiety in life, and I was reading this and wondering how much of it is needless.  God isn't going to stop every bad thing from happening to us in our lives, because challenges are how we grow and stretch and learn to become better than we are.  But even in the midst of the challenges, we can be happy and at peace through God.  It's not about finding a way to extract all of the trials from our lives, but removing our fear about, and our negative reactions to, them.

Not saying it is easy by a long shot.  When my house floods, I freak out when things go wrong, as we all do at times.  But learning to freak out less and trust more is part of the human experience, and really the core of this verse.  The Lord lights our lives... we don't need to be afraid of the darkness if we have him with us.  And with God standing beside us, we don't need to be afraid of anyone else either.  Yes, given, our lives can get dark and people can beat us up, and we shouldn't walk into bad situations thinking that we are immune.  With God though,  those physical things can't harm the core of who we are.  Like Job, if we endure and maintain our belief, we always end up better in the long run.

It's hard to believe that in the moment sometimes, right when things are going wrong and our world seems to be melting down around us.  When those times come, let's get on our knees.  God can strengthen and comfort us, if we turn to him rather than away from him.  ... Today, let's try turning in the right direction, and learning a little bit better not to freak out. :)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Genesis 41:53-57 -- On Faith and Famine

"And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.
And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.
And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands."
Genesis 41:53-57

Reading this chapter today it reminded me a lot of Noah, or Lehi, and in other ways like Moses, or the brother of Jared.  God consistently saves us from danger, and leads us to situations where we can grow and thrive and make a difference.  In this particular situation, God warned Pharaoh in a dream interpreted by Joseph, that there would be a great famine.  Thus, they had time to prepare.  ... Which I love, really.  Nephi and the Brother of Jared and Noah all had time to build boats.  God warns us ahead of time.  We can't always stop what is coming, but God helps us prepare for it.

Today, let's think about these things apply to our own lives.  How is God preparing us for the next challenge?  How is he leading us to places of growth and prosperity and encouraging us to help others?  Let's listen to his promptings, and do as he asks, so that we will be prepared for the famine or the flood, or anything else that comes along... able to stand fast because of our faith in God and his help.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Jude 1:24-25 -- On Presenting us Faultless

"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
Jude 1:24-25

These verses I think I have glossed over before as just kind of a farewell message sort of thing, not too deep or sincere, just something to say when you are signing off.  But, of course, when I actually really *noticed* them today, I found that they contained some incredible stuff.

The fact that God can keep us from falling, and present us faultless... both of those are incredibly amazing.  Those aren't things that I can do for myself, or that any of us can.  Those are things that *only* God can do... and which are two of the innumerable reasons that we love and follow him.  I don't want to fall.  I also want to show up in the end clean, and able to get through those "pearly gates." :)   However, I am fallible, and already fallen.  I've got plenty of faults, and I don't even always want to give them up.  ... So, in order to have a chance at heaven, guess what?  I'm going to need a LOT of help.  Not just pep-talk help, mind you.  Serious, in-depth help to change my mind and my heart and to help me learn not to keep digging holes and falling into them.

... And that's what we all need, right?  Someone who can help us change and learn and grow even when we have already failed a thousand times.  Someone who has the patience and faith in us to celebrate the tiniest progress and keep working with us as we work our way up to able-to-tie-our-own-shoes level, spiritually.

Today, glory and majesty, dominion and power to the only wise God our savior. ... Because we so desperately need one.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

1 Nephi 21:9 -- On Learning to Live in the Light

"That thou mayest say to the prisoners: Go forth; to them that sit in darkness: Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places."
1 Nephi 21:9

This is Nephi quoting Isaiah.  I really liked this today because of the "them that sit in darkness" part.  I think sometimes we sit in darkness because we don't really know a lot about the light, and it hurts at first, when our eyes have to adjust, so we kind of shy away, thinking that it will always hurt, or that we just have an affinity for the dark, when actually we would love the light if we were willing to walk in it for a way.  And whether we are in darkness through our own choices, or have been thrown into a prison of darkness, Christ frees us, and asks us to walk with him in the light.

We have a chance to be different... to be better, to walk in the high places rather than the low.  God gives us the ability, through the atonement, to escape even from the darkness within ourselves.

Today, let's take his offer.  Let's learn to love and live in the light, and let go of the dark parts of ourselves.  We can be anything.  We don't have to be tied to the parts of ourselves that are dragging us down.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ruth 2:10 -- On Strangers and Love

"Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?"
Ruth 2:10

This is from the story of Ruth and Boaz, when Ruth was gleaning leftovers in his field in order to support herself and her mother in law.  The fact that she is so grateful here and asks him why he is treating her so well is interesting, and seems to indicate that then, as now, people weren't always welcoming of immigrants and strangers.

I think that we all feel, at times, as Ruth did.  We are lost in an unfamiliar context and desperately grateful when people take mercy on us and welcome us in.  New places, new schools, new jobs, and even new health situations or new ideas are really hard sometimes to adjust to.  People who welcome us and help us through our adjustment seem like life preservers thrown to us just as we were starting to realize we were in over our heads.  Timely, and needed.

Luckily, we also all have the opportunity to be like Boaz as well, and help and comfort and lift people who are struggling--welcoming them and sharing our experience and kindness.

Today, let's remember that we are all strangers sometimes, and let's welcome and care for each other, as we strive to love as God does.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Psalms 35:19-20 -- On Learning the Language of Peace

"Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land."
Psalms 35:19-20

When I read this today, the "they speak not peace" struck me as a foreign language problem rather than a "saying mean things" choice.  ... And, you know, maybe it's both.  This verse is from a chapter where David is very preoccupied with what his enemies think about him and asking God to not let them talk about him behind his back so much.

We're not kings like David was, and we (hopefully) don't have as big of a problem with people talking bad about us, but I think we can all relate to what David is feeling here.  It's frustrating to be mocked, especially when people don't know the whole story or seem to not have a reason.

Learning to speak the language of peace is something that we all need to learn... when we are tempted to mock others, imagining ourselves in their place sometimes sparks some empathy and might help us keep our mouths shut and avoid later embarrassment.  But even when we're on the other side, and we are the one *being* mocked, we can work on learning the language of peace, and remember that we've all been on both sides.  Treating people with kindness, respect, and love when they don't offer the same to us isn't easy... at all.  But it's the only way to stop the reciprocal mockery and dehumanization once it has begun.  Otherwise we just spiral towards a place where we treat each other like inhuman slimebuckets, and we have also become the same.

Today, let's work on learning, and living, the language of Peace, and translating for others when needed. :)

Monday, July 24, 2017

1 Nephi 21: 23-25 -- On Waiting and Building

"And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives delivered?
But thus saith the Lord, even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children."
1 Nephi 21: 23-25

This is Nephi quoting Isaiah, who was quoting God about the house of Israel in the last days.  Nephi was part of that, and so are we, if we are part of God's church.

The part I love in the first verse is "they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."  It makes me think of Lehi's dream of going to the tree of life, and people in the Great and Spacious building mocking people who had make that excellent choice.  Some people fell away because of that mockery, suddenly allowing themselves to doubt.  Here, God assures us that mockery can't touch us.  He seems to both command and assure us that shame has no place in faith.  We should not doubt, and also, there is zero reason to doubt as we wait, because God *is* coming.

I also love in the next verse where God tells us that he will fight our battles for us at this point in our future history.  He will deliver us, and save our children, against foes that seem insurmountable.  But to God, they obviously are not.

It is a message of triumph and happy endings, but there are also some hints about what we might face.  Mockery, impatience because there will be a lot of waiting, possible discouragement because our foes will seem unbeatable.  Then, as now, things won't always be easy to endure.  And yet, he tells us here that he will take of thing, and of us.  Today, let's believe him.  Let's cast aside our doubts and have the patience and faith necessary to move forward in God's path, waiting for the Lord, but also building up his kingdom while we wait. :)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

James 5:7 -- On Patience and Faith

"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain."
James 5:7

We often give deadlines to the Lord.  We need help *now* ... or we need proof within a certain time period, or we're not married by a certain age, or we want a child, or we need healing, or someone else does, or why isn't he fixing what's wrong with the world?  And we say to ourselves, well, if he's not going to help (on our timetable), then we're done, or he doesn't love us, or he's playing games with the human race, or he doesn't exist... whatever it is.

It's very true that we don't always understand why God does the things he does, or why he hasn't done certain things.  That can feel frustrating, and we don't always want to wait, or to do things on God's timetable.

The thing is, though... He's still God.  We can't rush him.  All we can do is frustrate ourselves.  If we have a difference of opinion with God, guess what? *We're* the ones that are wrong.  God can see the end from the beginning, and he isn't just daydreaming somewhere and then walking in late and saying "oops."  That's human frailty, which God doesn't have.  His timing is perfect.  It just doesn't always mesh with what we want. :)

James explains here that we need to have patience "unto the coming of the Lord."  Since this advice was offered after Christ's crucifixion, that date was unknown, and is still unknown, and it's been quite a while.  It's another way of saying that we need to endure to the end, or have faith unto death... or be truly converted.  A relationship with God is never, ever going to work if we think that he has to meet our deadlines, or if we are committed only until we get frustrated.  God asks for patience, not because he is trying to gain our approval, but because *we* need to take a step back and gain some faith.  We learn over time to realize that God is faithful.  He always keeps his promises.  He always holds up his end of a covenant, but we have to stick with him.

Today, let's work on trusting God, letting go of our impatience, and finding the peace that comes through faith.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Daniel 4:28-32 -- On Learning Humility

"All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."
Daniel 4:28-32

This is a good warning against pride.  We might not be as powerful as king Nebuchadnezzar was, but we all get similarly prideful, thinking that we are just that amazing. :)  And it doesn't mean that we aren't cool, just like the verse doesn't mean that Nebuchadnezzar was a bad king.  It just means that sometimes we think that we're the reason that everything is great, and we forget God.  Thus, the lesson.

It's okay to work hard for things, and to try to do the best we can with what we're given.  It's great to succeed.  But today, let's remember God's mercy and grace, and stop and thank Him for all that he does for us, and for the opportunities we have to be here and be able to work for things in the first place.  Let's try to find our way to humility before we end up learning it in a more difficult way.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Acts 11:5-9 -- On Opening our Hearts and Minds to Others

"I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."
Acts 11:5-9

This is an interesting story.  Peter had lived his whole life by a specific religious code in the Law of Moses that restricted what he could eat, and then he dreams this same thing 3 times.  His dream turns out not to be about food, but about people, but the principle carried over.  The gospel, just like Peter's diet in the dream, needed to expand.  Peter and the early church had been expanding, but only to a specific group of people, because they had been chosen by God in the past.  Here, God expresses his wish to also choose others.

I think sometimes we are like Peter in this.  We are kind of blind to people outside the groups that we belong to, not willing, or at least not usually *as* willing to reach out and help and lift and share with people that don't "fit" the gospel in our minds.  And yet, God is the God of the whole earth, and everyone in it.  And he loves all of us.

Today, let's be willing to follow God's promptings, even when they lead us outside our groups and comfort zones.  Let's do as Peter did, and open our hearts and minds to others, and be instruments in God's hands to bring kindness, compassion, love, and the joy of the gospel to everyone, everywhere... not just the people that are like us. :)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Leviticus 20:9 -- On Honor and Curses

"For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him."
Leviticus 20:9

Sometimes the commandment to honor our parents doesn't really get the respect it deserves.  This version specifically forbids cursing, and has the penalty as death.  Why so harsh, we ask.  Parents can be mean, and they are definitely not perfect, and sometimes they curse *us,* right?  So what's the deal?

I think, above and beyond the learn to love people part of it, which is amazingly important by itself, there is also the aspect of symbolism and the fact that God is our Heavenly Father.  If we can't respect the role of an Earthly parent, we're not going to be able to build on that and understand the role of a Heavenly Parent.

Parents represent a lot of selflessness and sacrifice.  And if we blow that off and think that it doesn't matter, then we're not on the same page with God.  Its such an important commandment because it is teaching us the basics of understanding love, sacrifice, selflessness, and obedience.  I would submit that, in a lot of cases the respect and honor that we show our parents mirrors the respect and honor that we show to God.  That's a scary, but also hopeful thought.  Scary because we *need* to do better, but also hopeful because we have someplace to practice, and to check to see how we're doing with the whole honor and respect (and not curse) idea.

For those of us who have lost parents, I think we can also learn from this... not just in a "kids these days..." way, but perhaps in comparing what we do for our own children to what God does for us, or remembering things that we wish we would have said or done... and still having a place to work out those desires.

Luckily, cursing our parents doesn't carry the death penalty these days, and so we have the chance to repent and do better.  ... But let's remember that some of this is symbolic.  Cursing God might not bring insta-death either, but if we don't repent for it, spiritual death (of our own choosing) is not far behind.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ether 6:11-12 -- On God's Guidance

"And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water.
And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them."
Ether 6:11-12

I like this.  It shows the relief of the Jaredites when they got to the Promised Land after almost a year at sea, and that they were grateful to the Lord.  Perhaps they had worried during that time that it was never going to end.  This was before modern shipbuilding, and (at least as far as we know) they didn't have any way to steer except trusting God that he was taking them someplace good.  Perhaps they didn't worry because they were that faithful.  I really don't know.

I do know, however, that we all have times in our lives that are like this.  We think that our lives are headed someplace good and we enter the barge, trusting God to get it where it needs to go, but during the journey we can sometimes start to worry and doubt whether we made the right choice.  We get sort of paranoid. Maybe we're going to drown.  Maybe we're never going to get anyplace, and just float around till we die.

So, a good reminder.  God is faithful.  He will always do what he promises... and he promises to lead us to the promised land, to help us do the right things, and to bless us with joy and eternal (awesome) lives.  Today, let's work on letting go of our doubts, and trusting that as we follow God, even in the uncertain times when we aren't sure what direction we're headed, he will always be leading us towards good.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Isaiah 53:5 -- On the Chastisement of Peace

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:2-6

These verses are about Christ, and at first glance, like much of Isaiah, it reminds me of my freshman English class in college.  We were in a large lecture hall, and she pulled up an E. E. Cummings poem to show us (here if you want to see it), and, staring at it, I just kind of shrugged my shoulders, ready to move on to something else.  Not something I would ever have paid attention to if it hadn't been for the class.  But as she talked and asked some questions about what was happening, and giving us some things to look for, and it suddenly all fell into place for me, and I learned to love poetry in that moment.

It isn't just Isaiah, but even just the idea of the atonement that is sometimes confusing.  We don't really get it, and aren't really sure if it is even gettable. :)  And the two together... Isaiah explaining the atonement.  Wow.  Let's move on, right? But we're going to jump in anyway. :)

The first verse seems to be talking about Christ's coming.  He grew up, the heir of a politically defunct line of kings, and he wasn't politically powerful or movie-star beautiful.  He wasn't dramatic or flashy, coming down and announcing to everyone that he had come to save the day.

He didn't escape hatred or persecution or sorrow or pain in his life.  He didn't seem especially or uncommonly favored over all other people if you only looked on the surface.  He wasn't one of the rich and famous that we follow just so that some of the same fortune will rub off on us.

He endured our sadness, but maybe we just thought of him as another luckless guy, picked on by the government, or even someone who deserved the suffering that God sent him.

The truth was though, that he only suffered for us.  He was wounded and bruised in our place.  We have peace are are healed *because* he was beaten and whipped.

If we're talking about what we *deserve,* we would all be lost, because we've all left God's fold and tried to live our own way.  But instead of asking us to pay the price, God allowed Christ to suffer in our stead.

Isaiah's words help us to remember that we are who we are, and have the opportunities and blessings we have through the grace of Christ, and by no other way.  Sometimes we look around at what other people have and we (at least figuratively) shake our fist at the sky, thinking "why not me?" or "I deserve more than this!"

And then God, kindly, reminds us that we really don't.  Christ paid the price that we couldn't pay, and he is actually the one that "deserves" something.  We're "less than the dust of the earth" (Helaman 12:7; Mosiah 4:2), but still "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10), and that's why he did it.  Because he loves us, and knew we would screw it up, and he wanted us to have the chance to repent and change and make it anyway.

Today, let's not stress out if we don't have as much as someone else, or if this chapter of life doesn't seem as equitable as we would have liked.  Let's remember Psalms 84:10: "I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

When we get the (figurative) choice between doorkeeper for God or a million dollar mansion with the bad guys, let's remember that Christ died to give us the ability to make that choice, and let's let go of our greed and our comparisons, and let's choose the right -- the good thing over the easy or selfish thing.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Micah 6:6-8 -- On Walking with God

"Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Micah 6:6-8

This is a good reminder that the gospel is a lot simpler than we sometimes make it.  We get overwhelmed and frustrated by our inability to be perfect, but sometimes we need to stop calculating the dramatic sacrifices that we need to make, and just get back to living the gospel.

God has showed us what is good, and we can focus on some basic things: being honest and fair in our dealings with others, loving mercy and offering forgiveness and kindness to others, and walking with God, in a humble way rather than like we are better than others. :)

I especially like the walking with God part.  Walking with God is something that the scriptures tell us that many prophets had a chance to do, and these verses basically say that we can do... if we focus on simplicity in our worship: staying in tune with God's spirit, and making sure we are always treating others as he asks.  That feeling of walking wherever we go, and having God with us, guiding and helping us through it all... that's something I think we all want.  Today, let's focus in, and work for it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Deuteronomy 13:3-4 -- On Proving Ourselves

"Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him."
Deuteronomy 13:3-4

We're tempted often, as were many groups in the scriptures, to follow people who tell us what we want to hear.  When someone comes along who tells us that we need to shape up, it's way easier to be skeptical rather than doing something about it.

These verses have a lot in here that sounds on the surface like God is demanding a lot of us just so he can feel powerful. ... proving us to see if we love him, and wanting service, love, and loyalty.  Sounds pretty taxing.  Why would God need so much reassurance of our devotion?  Is he an egomaniac?  ... But if we follow this line of thinking, of course, we are getting off track and forgetting that God doesn't do things for petty reasons.  God asks these things of us not because he needs an ego-boost, but because *we* need devotion and reminders in our lives in order to keep the spirit with us, and to be able to stay in tune with God.  *Everything* that he does is designed for our salvation--not our enslavement.

Let's not listen to false prophets or dreamers or people who tell us the nice things that we might want to hear, where life becomes a simple matter of doing whatever we want all the time and then getting everything we want in the afterlife too.  Just like we don't allow our children to remain in a state of selfishness and learned helplessness, God has to push us out of the nest at some point as well, so that we can learn to fly.  Let's accept that there are some rules, and that life requires some effort, and learn from God rather than trying to fight him or resist him.  Let's realize and *remember* that God is always helping us and doing what is best, even when things don't seem to be going our way.

Today, let's follow God, and prove to ourselves that we can really become all that we want to be, with God's help.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

3 Nephi 2:1 -- On Remembering

"And it came to pass that thus passed away the ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen—"
3 Nephi 2:1

This is another good reminder to remember, and one of the reasons that God asks us to pray and read and attend church and remember him in so many other ways.  It's because we forget *so* easily.

Miracles happen in our lives.  We know this, and we remember and acknowledge it if we stop and take the time to think about God working in our lives.  But when we are just barreling through and not taking time out for God, we get ourselves into trouble because we don't stop to think or to remember.  We start getting insular and selfish, and forget the ideals of Zion--loving each other, building a world without hate or poverty, and becoming one in Christ.

Today, let's not let ourselves be desensitized to the things of God.  Let's pay attention to where our hearts are, and remind ourselves what we believe in and what we hope for every day.  Let's soften our hearts and open our minds, and invite God to walk with us, and remind us of what hope looks like, and the beauty and perfection and joy that he has waiting, if we remember and continue to strive for it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Luke 11:1-4 -- On Learning to Pray

"And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."
Luke 11:1-4

This is a great lesson on prayer from Christ himself.  He first starts by asking them to address his Father in prayer, then to honor him and to pray for his will to be done.  We sometimes gloss over these parts of prayer, but they are important.  The one that strikes me as especially important today is the fact that we place God's will before our own, and before any requests.  Christ was a perfect example of this--living a life doing his Father's will, and even when there came a time in the Garden when the two things were not the same, he put his Father's will before his own (Matthew 26:39).

Asking for only a day's worth of bread is an interesting thing to ask for.  To me it suggests several things:
  • Not being too greedy or demanding of God, but instead being content with whatever he has to give us today.
  • Being faithful and believing that God will continue to help us tomorrow.
  • The whole idea of being sustained by God--remembering that he does, and will take care of us as we look to him.  Not that we shouldn't work to provide for ourselves and our families, but knowing that all of it is part of relying on God--knowing absolutely that we *need* him in our lives.
I also like how being forgiven is tied to forgiving others.  We often wonder why others can't just let things go and forgive us, and we plead for God to help us have another chance, but we rarely see it the other way around.  God, of course, sees both perspectives, and has asked us to forgive each other and leave judgment to him (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10).

The last part of the prayer acknowledges that we are going to have temptation, and asks God to help us with it and lead us away from it.  This reminds me personally that a lot of hard times in my life resulted from me walking in a direction that I knew God was warning me away from... he did his part, but I did not do mine.  Perhaps this has happened to many of us, so a really good reminder to ask for, and also to listen to, that guidance from God in our lives so that we know what to avoid.

Today, let's take some advice from the best source, and learn a little better how to pray.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

D&C 6:14 -- On Noticing the Answers in Our Lives

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, blessed art thou for what thou hast done; for thou hast inquired of me, and behold, as often as thou hast inquired thou hast received instruction of my Spirit. If it had not been so, thou wouldst not have come to the place where thou art at this time."
Doctrine and Covenants 6:14

This is a verse where God was talking to Oliver Cowdery.  Oliver was looking for confirmation that what he was doing was right, and what God mostly told him (although there are many, many other things in this excellent section) is that he had already asked and gotten an answer to that question.  God kindly told him again, but it seemed like an instructive moment.

I think that this same thing happens to us, probably often.  We pray and pray and we want God to tell us something, or help us with something, when actually God has answered every one of our prayers and has been guiding us and nudging us in the right direction the whole time.  Sincerely, read the verse above and insert your name after the "thou" in the first sentence.  It applies, doesn't it?

It's okay to be uncertain sometimes, as Oliver was, but here God is helping us learn how to be certain.  One way is to look back at all the times that we've inquired of the Lord, and what he has done for us.  Moroni 10:3 states this principle exceptionally well, and the two steps there are "remember how merciful the Lord hath been" and "ponder it in your hearts."  Often, just a mental review will help us realize how much we already know, how much God has been working in our lives, and how he has led us right here, to where we are now.

Today, let's do the mental review and see how God is working in our lives.  And let's also keep praying and keep working at recognizing God's hand daily.  It's always there.  We just might have to pay a little more attention. :)  As we do, we'll learn better how to trust God and to exercise our faith, knowing that God will help us, just as he has in the past.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

John 15:9-11 -- On Love, Obedience, and Joy

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
John 15:9-11

I like the combination here of love and obedience and joy.  I think sometimes we have a gut reaction against people telling us what to do, and so "obedience" is almost like a bad word.  It doesn't seem to equate with love or joy... but here, God is telling us that it does, or at least that, with him, it can.

We're really just toddlers sometimes, aren't we?  We often have massive tantrums when we're told to do crazy things like... wear clothes, or eat food.  God, here, is just telling us that if we listen to him, and do as he asks, that he can help us more... we'll be able to have the spirit with us and feel his love, and we'll also be a lot happier.

Not saying that it isn't hard to overcome ourselves and listen to God, but what he asks makes sense, and will make our lives (and eternities) so much better.  Let's not let the screaming toddler part of our brains steal that from us.  Let's do the things that will bring us joy, and help us abide in his love.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2 Corinthians 2:14 -- On Triumph in Christ

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."
2 Corinthians 2:14

I love the wording here that God causes us to "triumph in Christ."  And isn't that so true?  We're often, in this world, tempted to see the negative around us and even encouraged by society to "face reality" and see the truth of evil, and pain, and death.

Those things are true, and perhaps they can help encourage us to make a better world.  However, if we think that they are the only truth, or focus on them without seeing the beauty and love and goodness in the world as well, then they just lead to discouragement and hopelessness.  The much, much greater truth is that Christ has overcome *all* of those things, and God (and good) wins in the end.  We all triumph, and there is a happy ending waiting for anyone who chooses to keep trying and keep seeking Christ.

I talk about a happy ending a lot, of course, and sometimes it is frustrating *now* to think that we have to wait that long.  And to help us with that, there is another overwhelmingly cool word in this verse: "always."  God doesn't just promise us a happy ending later.  He is in our lives now.  Mormon 9:14 tells us that if we're happy now, we'll be happy after the judgment day... which means it's possible *now* and God is will us *now* helping us to find ways to triumph every day.

This doesn't mean of course that there aren't times to mourn in our lives or that we have to be always laughing, or that clinical depression doesn't happen.  We all have different challenges, and I am not trying to diminish them... but God always is.  He is helping us to bear up our burdens with ease, so that we can't feel them on our backs.  He is saving us from the darkness, even of our own minds.  He is there with us as we mourn.  Through him, every moment of our lives, we triumph.

Today, let's work on focusing on the good things around us.  Let's open our minds and hearts to Christ and the good and joyful things around us, even as we acknowledge that there are sad and evil things as well.  Let's choose wisely, and embrace our opportunities to triumph in Christ.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Alma 17:1-3 -- On Staying Converted and Unified in the Lord

"And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.
Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God."
Alma 17:1-3

Alma and the sons of Mosiah are all great missionaries in this verse, but when we first meet them in Mosiah 27:8, they are unbelievers who secretly go about trying to subvert the church.  One day, as they are going about being bad guys, an angel appears to them (Mosiah 27:8-18), and that changes everything.  And here, years later, they meet back up and they are still converted.

Seeing an angel is a big deal, no question, but we should give these men some credit as well.  Remember, Laman and Lemuel who also witnessed an angel and kept on being bad.  And, personally I think we all know how hard it is to change and how easy it is to fall back into old habits.  Alma's angel definitely didn't force him to be good.  In fact, he said "Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off."  That's a pretty strong statement when God sends an angel to stop you from harming others, but says you can go ahead and harm yourself if you so choose.  Kind of makes you rethink your priorities.

Alma, and the sons of Mosiah who had all been there when the angel first came to stop them, all stayed true to God.  They turned their lives around in a remarkable and permanent way.  They studied the scriptures, they prayed, they fasted... they became true men of God, as their fathers had been.

We all have conversion experiences in our lives, and experience remarkable blessings from God.  They aren't always as universally dramatic as the angel seems to be in this story, but I think that they are powerful in their own way in our individual lives... and we have the opportunity to make powerful, permanent changes in our lives as well.  They didn't start out being good guys, but they changed. They made it.  We can too.

Let's wax strong in the knowledge of the truth.  Let's search the scriptures and pray, and learn to fast effectively.  As we work and study and do good, we will be blessed as these men were, and we will also rejoice greatly to see each other again, unified in the Lord, in the resurrection... if not sooner. :)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

D&C 121:24-25 -- On Time, Mercy, and Swift Judgment

"Behold, mine eyes see and know all their works, and I have in reserve a swift judgment in the season thereof, for them all;
For there is a time appointed for every man, according as his works shall be."
Doctrine and Covenants 121:24-25

This is a good reminder and warning for us all, that God is very aware of the things that we do.  Although it is kind of intimidating and scary on one hand, it is also loving and compassionate in a very real way.  God would not warn us if he didn't love us.  You don't give second chances to people unless you want them to take them, and learn to change.  Our appointed times are there for a reason.

God says here that there will be a swift judgment, and then says "in the season thereof."  Those two things seem contradictory, and perhaps they are in a way, since the very nature of life places opposed, but balanced, influences in our lives in order to give us free agency.  Since we sin, our souls are subject to justice, which we deserve, but God offers us mercy through the atonement to save us from justice if we will repent.  In that context, swift, but delayed, justice makes sense.  God grants us time during our lives to repent and to change and choose differently... to become whoever we want to become, no matter who we are now.  And during any part of our lives before God's final judgment we can turn around and repent and change... but when our lives are over, and the world is judged, it will be swift and final.  We'll be judged based on who we have become.

Today, let's get started on the becoming. :)  Let's take advantage of the time that God has given us to change.  Let's repent of our sins and make sure that the judgment will be "pleasing" to us, rather than fearful (Jacob 6:13).

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Omni 1:23-26 -- On a Whole Soul Offering

"Behold, I, Amaleki, was born in the days of Mosiah; and I have lived to see his death; and Benjamin, his son, reigneth in his stead.
And behold, I have seen, in the days of king Benjamin, a serious war and much bloodshed between the Nephites and the Lamanites. But behold, the Nephites did obtain much advantage over them; yea, insomuch that king Benjamin did drive them out of the land of Zarahemla.
And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall deliver up these plates unto him, exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.
And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."
Omni 1:23-26

This is another selection from someone we don't know a lot about in the scriptures.  After this Amaleki adds that his brother is missing because he went with a group to go settle in some land controlled by the Lamanites, which is interesting later on when we learn about their history, but these verses are all we know about Amaleki himself.

I like the introduction to King Benjamin, who is one of my faves.  We get to know up front that he is trustworthy and righteous before we launch into his story.  I also love what we get to know about Amaleki himself, from only a few verses.  He cares about God, and he cares about us... the people he is writing to.  He gives us advice, and a way to tell what is from God and what is not.  He advises us to pray and endure. :)

My favorite part is "offer your whole souls as an offering."  It's a huge thing to say, symbolically, and yet it is also perfect for his short message to us, because it helps us to understand how serious and thorough our commitment to God needs to be.  It isn't enough to just glance up at the sky one day and say, okay, God, I admit that you exist.  If we want to learn and participate in all that God is offering us, it requires an all-in commitment.  We have to actually get to know God, and work at understanding why he does what he does, and how we are a part of it.

It's also scary, given.  Sometimes we think that committing to God means that we will lose ourselves, or that God wants us to become Stepford Wives.  And yet, as Matthew tells us, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25).  It's exactly in that risk of full commitment and faith that we discover our true selves, and finally understand that God can make more of us than we could make of ourselves.  We find our that yes, we might lose part of ourselves, but that the good part always stays, and grows, once we are able to let go of the bad part.

Today, let's listen to Amaleki's words and offer our whole souls to God.  Let's take the scary step and fully commit to God, because as we draw nearer to him, he will draw nearer to us (D&C 88:63), and we'll feel more of the spirit and have more guidance in our daily lives than we've ever experienced before.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Alma 19:16-17 -- On Abish

"And it came to pass that they did call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth, save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father—
Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay prostrate upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people."
Alma 19:16-17

I've always loved the story of Abish.  It's pretty short, and we don't get any more detail about her background, but it shows, I think, the miracle of everyday people.  We don't know the name of Abish's father, but we know he had a vision.  God was working, as always, with anyone willing to listen to him.  She lived in a society that was hostile to her faith, but she stayed true, and when this miracle and opportunity came along, she was in tune enough with the spirit to recognize what it was and act on it.

Abish comes back into the narrative very briefly again in verse 28 as she gets back from gathering everyone, and sees that they are fighting.  She cries, and we understand her tears, because she was just trying to do good and help people, and she worries that she has made things worse.  She then helps to restore sanity to the situation, not by giving a speech or bearing her own testimony, but by awaking the queen from whatever vision or paralyzing joy had overtaken her.  (The queen is amazing too, but that is a different topic.)

Today, let's remember that we don't have to be in the spotlight to make a difference.  Living our lives in a good way, and setting a good example matters.  We don't have to be better, stronger, faster, or any other superlatives in order to matter to God and to be important in the world.  We can all make an impact.  Let's remember Abish and live our lives doing good and staying close to the spirit--not demanding attention or high position, but always ready to do as God asks when opportunities arise.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Abraham 3:19-21 -- On Superiority, Potential, and Infinite Love

"And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.
The Lord thy God sent his angel to deliver thee from the hands of the priest of Elkenah.
I dwell in the midst of them all; I now, therefore, have come down unto thee to declare unto thee the works which my hands have made, wherein my wisdom excelleth them all, for I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen."
Abraham 3:19-21

So, going along with the idea that we have always existed, these verses add some interesting perspective, and give us insight into why God is God, or at least one of the reasons.  He's smarter and wiser than everyone else. :)  I really like the idea of us learning to love and follow the person who was the best of us, and that his goal was to help us become like he is.

Some people see the idea that we could ever become like God as blaspemy.  I think it is one of the coolest ideas that ever was.  Not only that potential within us, which is basically like learning you are really a superhero, but the idea that the person at the top *wants* that... wants to share everything he has, and to have us join him in the joy that he has found.  That's not only amazing, it is the way that things *should* be, for us all.  We have some very human ideas about blame and pride and superiority sometimes, and they get in the way of our relationships with others, and they get in the way of our relationship with God.  God doesn't have to step on us to feel superior.  He *is* superior, and he is lifting us up so we can learn to be better than we are, and so he can enjoy the eternities with us.

He loves us.  He wants us to join him.  We ask him to cut corners for us or let us slide on things... but those things need to be learned in order for us to learn and grow enough to join him in Heaven, so he loves us enough to keep encouraging us to do better.

Today, let's remember that the Lord is more intelligent and amazing, than any human we have ever met or heard of.  Let's not assume he is petty, insecure, and competitive just because we are, or other powerful people seem to be. :)  Instead, let's learn from his example.  Let's love the people around us, and work on helping and serving, and being the kind of people who could be comfortable in God's presence, ready to learn and progress throughout the eternities, and grateful for his infinite love.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Alma 5:27-28 -- On Serious Questions

"Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?
Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life."
Alma 5:27-28

These are some pretty serious questions.  The whole chapter, really, asks some great questions that can teach us a lot about ourselves and about God if we take the time to consider them.  I think the "sufficiently humble" might be the scariest one for me here.  Sometimes when I am actively trying to be humble, I let some backhanded indication of irritation through, which does *not* make things better... only worse.  ... I hope that's just me, and the rest of you have it under control, but I fear that my experience is all too common.

The answer here, I think, is that in order to be humble sometimes the best thing to work on is not humility, but love.  If we aren't sincere about caring about others or treating them kindly, then of course we're going to come off badly.  We care more about getting in our little dig or feeling justified rather than truly helping someone or letting things go to clear the air.

It's amazingly sobering to think about being "called to die at this time," isn't it?  And it probably should be.  We waste so much time comparing ourselves to others and trying to be right, or better, or at least not being wrong, that we waste some amazing opportunities to love, and learn, and prepare.  When we are called to die, what will be our regrets, and what will we want just a little bit more time to do?  Definitely not pursue an argument, or prove we're right.  We'll likely want to have a good relationship with God, and with others, and to know that we lived a good life and repented of the things we did wrong so that we can leave the world confident and at peace.

Today, let's get started on that, okay?  Let's ask ourselves the serious questions, and not wait until it is too late to improve the answers.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

D&C 93:29-30 -- On Light and Truth and Independence

"Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence."
D&C 93:29-30

I think it is so interesting and cool to think that we, or at least some part of ourselves, even if not exactly the way we think of ourselves now, were in the beginning with God, and that in some way we have always existed.  To me, it seems to make so much more sense than if we just appeared out of nowhere.  God, of course, is still truly our creator in so many senses, because he took that intelligence or spirit of ours and he made a spirit body for us, and then a physical body for us when he sent us to earth, but there is that core that has been around for a very long time.

Not only does this mean that we have a deep history waiting for us when the veil is drawn, but it seems to mean that freedom / agency isn't just an earthy thing, but an eternal one--an immutable law.  That is especially interesting if you consider Satan;s proposal in the War in Heaven.  Did he know what he was proposing was so contrary to the nature of... everything?

It is interesting to say that truth and intelligence act for themselves.  And that intelligence *is* the light of truth.  Some truth doesn't seem very "light" or hopeful, so I wonder if the light of truth refers to the good part of it, or if all truth is good because it is truth/it is real, and it has light because of its inherent goodness and shininess.  Or, you know, option 3 where it is neither or both in some way, since God's thoughts are way, way above mine. :)

Today, let's remember that light and truth are an eternal part of us, and things that we have an internal affinity for.  Let's stay tuned in to that, and not deaden it with sin, darkness, or lies.  Let's rejoice in our independence, and act for ourselves, in good ways that lead us and others to God.

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