Thursday, December 16, 2010

Colossians 3:14-15 -- On Perfection, Peace, and Puzzle Glue

"And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
Colossians 3:14-15

These verses make me feel more grounded.  The first verse saying that charity is the bond of perfectness makes me think of glue, which is a way to bond things together.  And charity is kind of like that.  It isn't just love, which can be jealous and corrupt and selfish sometimes, but it is a pure kind of love... God's love, which bonds everything together, and makes us part of each other, and part of God.  Even though sometimes we feel oddly shaped and like we don't fit in, it's that bond that puts us all together in the puzzle and makes us all perfect, and whole, and complete.
The second verse is amazing as well.   Let the peace of God rule in your hearts... wow.  I think that so often we let something else rule in our hearts besides God and his peace.   Our anger, or frustration, or loneliness, or desire, or sorrow, or despair... so many things fighting for supremacy in there... but if we take a step back and let God in, all of that either goes away, or falls into a manageable place.   We get back our calm (which is really HIS calm) and we're able to make rational choices again. :) Just like in Alma 38:5... the more we trust God, the more we are delivered.   And oh, how thankful we should be to even be able to think straight sometimes. :) Today, let's accept some of the love and peace that God is offering to us, and then offer love and peace to the people around us as well.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2 Nephi 21:4

"But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked."
2 Nephi 21:4

The phrase "reprove with equity" struck me today. I think that is cool. We all need to be reproved sometimes, and need to reprove others... but how often is it done with equity? Hardly ever, I think. As kids, we might get yelled at for something that is completely unfair or that we didn't do... and although it does get a little better as we grow up, it still happens frequently (especially for call center employees I would say). We have a hard time seeing the whole picture. We're biased by so many things, and we tend to reprove people we love very differently than people we don't know, or that we have no particular affection for. We tend to just lash out at anything and anyone when we're frustrated. This verse might seem harsh on the outside, but the amazing chewy center is that God is doing it all with perfect equity. With righteousness and understanding and love. With God, we're never reproved for something unfairly, but on the other hand, we never get away with things that we shouldn't. God gives us another chance, but a chance to do better, not a free pass to go screw up again. And in the end, we will be judged by what we are choosing, and who we have become. Today, let's work on improving ourselves and the way we treat the people around us (including call center employees). :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2 Corinthians 1:18-20 -- On Being Agreeable

"But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
2 Corinthians 1:18-20

I like this idea of being Yea, and Amen... being agreement and concord rather than disagreement and discord.  The idea that God is positive and not negative... for good things.
It seems like what we should be too.  I think sometimes we get too much into the anti-spirit.  Being anti-whatever someone else believes, rather than pro-whatever we believe.  Today, let's try to focus on the pro... on the Yea and the Amen.  On the common beliefs, and what we can share and build on.  If we focus less on what makes us different, maybe we'll start finding things to agree on, even with people we never thought we would understand.
One thing that is amazing to me is how Christ in the New Testament was able to answer even the hardest questions... and how prophets who go on talk shows can do the same thing.  They never get trapped into saying something embarrassing.   Maybe part of it is this.  The amazing ability to always focus on the positive... on the yea.  To see the myriads of other options in conversation rather than the emotional denial of an accusation. :)  To find the positive and uplifting even in the midst of an attack.  Today, let's work on being yea.  On saying yes to something, even if our emotions are saying no. :)  Is that what they mean when they say people are agreeable? :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2 Nephi 8:11

"Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away."
2 Nephi 8:11

I love it when God gives us a glimpse of the future, helping us to remember how temporary our problems are, how ephemeral our pain, how insignificant our ambitions, and how short our sight. We get so wrapped up with the now and the obstacles and frustrations that sometimes we lose our perspective (and our cool). Today, let’s take a step back, remembering that God has it under control, even when we don’t. … I absolutely love the image of coming with singing unto Zion. I picture us all holding hands and walking up in a kind of Sound of Music shot… singing and happy, ready to make that gladness for sorrow and joy for mourning exchange. :) Maybe today we can remember that in the future everything will be okay. The happy ending is already there… we just have to keep turning pages. :) Perhaps that will help us enjoy today’s chapter a little bit more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alma 37:6

"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise."
Alma 37:6

Sometimes I think that we want something dramatic to change our lives. Kind of like John Donne's Holy Sonnet 13, saying "batter my heart" ... we want God to come down and strike us with lightning, or burn away all the parts of use that aren't pure... change us inside and out entirely. Even with non (or less) spiritual things... the perfect software, or the perfect diet... We jump to something dramatic like a cleanse or a fast before we consider the daily, everyday things that we need to change. Or we jump to a new software program without improving the process. It is so tempting to look for that quick fix, the fast, easy, one-time-only thing that will come in and make it all better. Small and simple means aren't only the way that God works with us, but how we can change our own lives. It's so tempting to want the lightning bolt or the angel, but remember Laman and Lemuel who saw angels and still went astray. It isn't the dramatic things that usually change us permanently. It is the smaller, internal habits and actions that we take every day. We know most of the things we need to do. We need to pray. We need to read our scriptures. We need to attend church. We need to love other people and treat them well. The basics. It's the Sunday School answer for a reason... because it works. The little things change us dramatically if we do them consistently... and they can harm us dramatically if we fail to do so. Today, I need to remember this... and thought maybe we could all use a reminder. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2 Nephi 2:15

"And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter."
2 Nephi 2:15

Sometimes I wonder why things that are bad for you seem so great. Fried chicken, chocolate cake... wow. YUM. :) And things that are good for you are often foul. Ever try diet cheese? ...And it goes well beyond food. People get addicted for a reason... it feels good. So many things have this amazing, but very temporary and dangerous, payoff. And sometimes it seems so wrong that we have to eat the not-so-great stuff to be healthy, or that the good-tasting stuff is really bad, or the things that seem so tempting to our feelings or emotions in many other ways are what we need to avoid. ... But this verse explains why things have to be this way. It wouldn't be real choice if all the good stuff was golden and shiny and the bad stuff was ugly and moldy. We have to learn to see things on a deeper level, to really recognize good and evil, not just what tastes or feels good in a particular moment. And hey... remember nectarines. :) They taste good AND they are good for you! Yes. :) Today, let's keep looking for the things that are good all the way through, and avoid shallower decisions.

Friday, October 8, 2010

2 Nephi 1:25

"And I exceedingly fear and tremble because of you, lest he shall suffer again; for behold, ye have accused him that he sought power and authority over you; but I know that he hath not sought for power nor authority over you, but he hath sought the glory of God, and your own eternal welfare."
2 Nephi 1:25

This struck me today... I think because I at first was thinking... why even say it. Laman and Lemuel aren’t going to listen. And then I thought... but maybe they should have, but pride and a need to be in control stopped them. So many, many things happened in their lives that could have convinced them of God and his power, and his love for them and their families… but they wanted to be in charge, or to be the center of attention, or just not to let someone else tell them what to do… even if they were wrong. And then I stopped thinking about Laman and Lemuel and remembered that the Book of Mormon is written to us... to me. And, wow am I exactly like that sometimes. And maybe all of us are kind of like this sometimes. ...We’re so addicted to roles and authority sometimes that I think we tune out anyone that doesn’t have some sort of power over us... even if what they are saying is exactly right, and we know that we are wrong. We stop listening. We have things in our lives that are overwhelmingly, obviously from God, but we only listen to what we want to hear, and let those moments of clarity fade into the background while we focus relentlessly on ourselves, and our desires, and our perceived lacks. We blame our problems on whatever scapegoat we can find instead of accepting responsibility for our mistakes, or realizing that opposition is going to happen in everything to make us stronger, not because the universe is biased against us. And somehow we never realize that what we’re complaining about isn’t actually a problem... it is the blessing and opportunity and privilege that we have to actually be walking the path to the promised land rather than lying dead with our riches in the land God warned us to flee from. Today, let’s learn from Laman and Lemuel’s blindness, and try to see past our own.

Friday, October 1, 2010

1 Nephi 17:21

"Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy."
1 Nephi 17:21

In this verse, Nephi's brethren think that he can't build a ship, and they regret leaving Jerusalem in the first place, thinking that it won't really be destroyed as their father predicted. They actually say in the previous verse "it would have been better that they had died . . . than to have suffered these afflictions." ... And I think what strikes me most about this verse is the "we might have been happy" part. I think a lot in life we look back on choices that we made and wonder what it would have been like, had we taken another path. What life would be like if this or that had happened... and as intellectually interesting as that kind of pondering can be, it has absolutely no relation to our real life and the real choices that we did make. We read in Mormon 9:14 "he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still." ... and sometimes it is good to review the past, to remember what God has done for us, and to try not to make the same mistakes. But it is our job and our quest to make our lives NOW whatever they can be... no matter what circumstances the Lord has given us. Instead of wondering what might have been, we need to choose happiness now. Find happiness... because it is there. It IS possible. We just have to find it... and God will help us. He wants us to be happy. He's cool like that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ether 6:3

"And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness."
Ether 6:3

In reading the story of the Brother of Jared this morning, I found myself floored all over again by this man's incredible faith. As a general summary, he asked God for light in the vessels they were going to cross the ocean with (which were closed with no windows), and God told him what wouldn't work (windows, fire) because of the nature of the journey, and then asked him to come up with an idea for having light in them. So the Brother of Jared made 16 small clear stones, and asked the Lord to touch the stones with his finger so that they would provide light. And the Lord did it. I wonder how often we take the same thought and the same dedication into solving the problems in our lives. They might seem impossible to resolve, because nothing in our experience works... could we, like the Brother of Jared, come up with something beyond our experience and trust God to make it work? As I was reading this I realized a little bit of what God asks when he tells us to come to him as a little child. I think in some measure we have to let go of so many of the limitations that we've learned in our lives, and consider more and greater possibilities, and stop accepting the impossibility of so many things. Sometimes impossible situations get resolved, and incurably sick people get well... miracles happen, and part of what it takes is us opening our minds and our hearts to a God who can do so much more than we understand. Today, let's try to approach problems, and God, with a more open mind, and remember that when God asks us to do things like build Zion, be perfect... or even fulfill our current calling or family obligation or employment requirement... that he provides a way for us to do as he asks. It might take some childlike, out-of-the-box, Brother of Jared thinking... and a lot of humility and faith... but nothing is impossible with God. Can we learn to see with new eyes today, and start working on a solution?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2 Corinthians 5:7

"(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"
2 Corinthians 5:7

Today this verse makes me think of the difference between what we believe and what we see. It's sometimes hard to resolve. God tells us that someday we'll be resurrected and have perfect bodies, but we experience age and sickness and disease, and it is hard to see or feel. God tells us that we can build a perfect society, with no inequality, and where the poor don't suffer... but we see a very imperfect society, where the poor do suffer, and where people desire many types of inequality. God tells us that we can be amazing people... like him, and yet we look at ourselves and see the terrible gulf between who we want to be and who we are. It's hard to see so much of what we believe sometimes... but it is still true. Today, let's work on Faith. On walking where we believe we can, rather than only where we can see. Let's step out into God's perspective and stretch our minds to see the miraculous possibilities of reaching beyond our shortsightedness. Let's be more than we think we can.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Isaiah 56:11

"Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."
Isaiah 56:11

These are some interesting analogies... and it seems to be all about perspective. The dog analogy starts in the verse previous as well, and along with the shepherd comparison, it seems to be about selfishness and perspective in this verse. Dogs might be limited naturally in their ability to reason and be unselfish... but not shepherds, and with both something else that they are focusing on is blinding them to what is important. And, it is themselves, and their personal gain that is distracting them. Greed, pride, self-interest... and this verse, and more (of course) are suggesting that there is something else out there, beyond our short-sightedness and inward-looking perspective. What is it? Well, this particular verse doesn't say, but it does suggest a way to find out... a way to see something else. And that is focusing elsewhere... on other people, on advancing their welfare, on helping them and expanding our perspective and our boundaries of what we care about and protect. The further we expand that sight-line, the less blind we'll become, and the more we'll be able to understand of God's perspective. Today, let's work on that... instead of being self-concerned today, let's be other-concerned. Not to judge them or require them to meet our standards... but completely other-focused... to listen, learn, help, lift, and love.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moroni 6:5

"And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to
speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls."
Moroni 6:5

This morning I am wondering how often we actually discuss the welfare of our souls with anyone. :) Maybe we should do that more often. Thinking about it right now, it seems to me to be the absolutely most important thing that there IS to talk about. It wouldn't make a very good pick-up line probably... "How's your soul?" is a little deep for a first contact, but really, isn't that what we worry about every day, and what we find out when we develop lasting friendships with other people? It is so much more important than our level of education, our career path, our clothing styles, or any other way that we usually judge ourselves or each other. If we're having problems dedicating time for scripture reading, or if our prayers are seeming somewhat repetitive, or if we're worried that our interactions with people aren't very loving... whatever it is, we should be able to share those things with our friends, and maybe get some help. :)
Need someone to call and remind you to read your scriptures? Need someone to read with? Need some ideas on prayer, or how to express yourself more kindly? ... I know I do. I think that we all could use some help, even if it is just talking about a scripture and how to apply it to our lives. Maybe we should open up a little in church, and get some of that insight from our fellow members. ... and in our daily lives as well. :) Let't not hide our souls under externalities... but instead, be more open and help each other. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Luke 18:14

"I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 18:14

I think this is interesting. In our society, confidence and even arrogance are admired and often rewarded. And confidence in ourselves is a good thing, I think. Ezra Taft Benson told us "never demean yourself" ... so I think that low self-esteem and inferiority and paranoia are challenges that we should work on surmounting as well. I think that the lesson here is not to stop thinking of ourselves as children of God, which we *are* ... and therefore of infinite worth... but maybe partially about how much we have to learn in comparison to God (King Benjamin tells us that we are less than the dust of the earth, and Nephi says "O how great is the nothingness of the children of men" mentioning the superiority of dust as well.), but also the way we think of other people. If we exalt ourselves or consider ourselves above other people, then by definition we think that other individuals or groups are below us, and not worthy of us in some way. if we humble ourselves instead, then we realize perhaps that even if we are in a higher position or have a higher rank, it isn't due to our pure superiority and inherent coolness... but because it is our calling for a while, and we should do the best that we can, but also listen to advice from those in any other rank (not just above), because they are equally good people, and we can learn from anyone. In church, I think this is often the case. I have seen a great bishop be released and become an equally great Primary teacher, with no bad feeling because of a perceived lower title... but imagining the same thing in corporate America makes me cringe. :) Perhaps today we can work on our personal humility, and applying it even in contexts where it is unfamiliar.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Revelation 3:8

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."
Revelation 3:8

This is interesting... later in this chapter is a more well-known verse, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him...," but in this one the door stands open. The two verses are directed to two different churches, the first one (with the open door) to the church in Philadelphia, and the second (the closed door) to the church of the Laodiceans. From the rest of the chapter, it sounds like the two different groups were different in how they were obeying and listening. Interestingly, there is a message to yet another church in the chapter that doesn't mention a door at all... just watching. So, I'm thinking that this kind of reflects the whole "turn to me and I will turn to you" theme as well. The more we listen to God and put him at the center of our lives, the more he will offer us opportunities and blessings. Maybe we have to watch for those opportunities when God visits our lives, and if we aren't watching, they might come and we're not ready for them.... maybe if we're paying a little bit more attention, there is a door and we see it and hear the knocking but sometimes don't take the time to open it, and although we had a better chance at that opportunity, it passes us by as well. Or maybe if we're listening hard and really trying, there is an open door, and all we have to do is walk through. ... we still could miss it, just like the others, but it's more obvious, and less likely. ... God blesses us all with opportunities and possibilities, but we don't always see or take those chances when we encounter them in life. Today, let's watch carefully for God's visits to our lives so we can do as he wills... and work harder at turning to God so that the doors will be more obvious, and more open, when they come along. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Zechariah 1:3 -- On Turning Unto God

"Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts."
Zechariah 1:3

This is an interesting verse and it comes to people whose parents the Lord hadn't been pleased with... so they may not have learned how to have a relationship with the Lord.  So maybe this part is one of the basics. Turn unto me, and I will turn unto you. It reminds me of some other scriptures... ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, or "as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much shall ye be delivered." It's a basic early lesson in relationship building with God. Turn, trust, have faith... take those steps towards me, and I'll be there.

Maybe we forget some of these basic lessons sometimes. Whatever direction we're facing today, let's try turning a little more toward God... and watch and see God's response. He is there, willing to help and bless us, and will respond to the smallest efforts on our part... and the largest.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jeremiah 2:32-33

"Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways."
Jeremiah 2:32-33

I was reading in Jeremiah this morning, and this chapter and the one after are very interesting, but I'm not sure I understand all of it. The part right here where it says "why trimmest thou thy way to seek love" could be interpreted in many ways... in fact, my sister thinks it means that diets are pointless. And although that is certainly a tempting interpretation, to me it seems more like taking a shortcut.
My close friend's brother is getting married today, and so I've heard a lot about all the effort that has gone into the maid's ornaments and the bride's attire, and my sister remembers exactly what she was wearing the day she got married. It seems like weddings are one of those things people don't forget. And so, even though we remember those things that are really important to us like that, we still forget the Lord. And it seems like God is wondering why we put him into the "easily forgettable" category in our lives. God should be as important as a wedding, and more important than any of those other things. And since God *is* love, and the love of God is the greatest gift we could hope to achieve... why do we take shortcuts around him, seeking exactly what he is offering us already? When we wander off into other paths seeking what God could give us, all we're doing is asking for temptation... for false covers for the holes that only God can fill in our lives. Today, let's return to God (as he asks in the first verse of the next chapter), and remember that there is no shortcut to love, or to anything else good. All those paths include God.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Proverbs 16:3 -- On Commitment

"Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established."
Proverbs 16:3

I was thinking about commitment today... that maybe that is what keeps us from our potential. We love the Lord, but somehow we also love Satan. And, because we are torn by the two sides... of life, of ourselves... desiring something of both, we never firmly commit to God. Or we do, and then re-think things at the first sign of temptation. If you think about it in terms of a relationship, which it really is, you can see how awful it is. God is our best friend one day, and the next we are bad-mouthing him, saying that he is okay, but Satan is our *real* friend. Like we are twelve again, and so desperate for acceptance that we don't really care what relationships we destroy.

On the other side of the scripture are thoughts, and I find this interesting as well. We wonder how to purge our thoughts of evil, to stop desiring things that are bad... we think this is why we can't commit. The truth is though, that commitment to correct action comes first. Then the thoughts clear up... then we find that inner peace that we are after... because we've finally made the right choice, and we aren't trying to balance on the fence anymore.

Commitment is a hard thing sometimes... whenever we commit to one thing we give up other possibilities. When we choose to go to lunch at one restaurant, we give up the choices at another restaurant, or the chance to order pizza, or the tuna fish sandwich we might have made for ourselves. When we take the analogy beyond food to whatever our chosen obsession is, it seems scarier. But until we make that choice about lunch, we are never going to get any food. And until we make that choice, we never have the chance to make the next one, and the next.

Choices are the way that we progress in life... towards Satan or towards God, and everything we do is going to bring us closer to or further away from our goal. Avoiding commitment is avoiding progression... avoiding the relationship entirely. We can't become closer to God when we refuse to make any choices regarding him. Today... let’s try committing to God. See what possibilities it opens up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

3 Nephi 6:12-13

"And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.
Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God."
3 Nephi 6:12-13

Sounds familiar. The unfortunate pride cycle. These verses are right after one of the most cool times in Nephite history... they as a people had joined together and overcome the Gadianton robbers (the ones that agreed to stop fighting were allowed to live and given land to do so) and were finally at peace. I wonder sometimes why we can't just enjoy the peace sometimes... why do we always have to stir things up? :) But they did, and these verses talk about some of the first things that started happening that interfered with that peace, and led to problems. Ranks, wealth, chances for learning. These might not have all caused the pride, they might just be side effects, but it all goes together. When we feel like we are better than other people, for whatever reason--our clothing, our money, our education, our rank at work, school, or church... or anything else--it is much harder for us to take the humble path, even with God. When we get into those mental traps, we're promoting inequality. In the verses that follow this, the inequality breaks up the church... destroys the peace that these people had achieved through a LOT of sacrifice and pain. Today, maybe we can try to salvage our own peace by modifying the way we think about others... and by the way we act towards them as well. Our society tolerates and even promotes inequality in many ways, but there are things that we can do to change that, to ameliorate the effects. If it is rank, we can do a lot to treat people as equals (because they are, even if they are "below" us in rank). If it is wealth, maybe we can learn to share and lift others with our generosity. If it is education, maybe we can find a way to share our knowledge freely in a non-condescending way. We all have talents and advantages, and things that we are better at than someone else. As people trying to build a Zion community, let's go out and share those things with others, and work together to succeed rather than hoarding for our individual profit. :) The people around us are our brothers and sisters... they are an essential part of a perfect society that embraces our differences and has room for everyone.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1 Nephi 15:24 -- On Avoiding Blindness

"And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction."
1 Nephi 15:24

I've read this verse many times, but it never really stood out to me before. This is Nephi explaining to his brothers the meaning of their father's (Lehi's) dream, specifically what the rod of iron means. The part I find the most fascinating here is "overpower them unto blindness." ... It's so interesting to think of what Satan does as that. An attempt to blind us... and blind us to what? Reality. He wants to draw us into his perspective, to see the world from a competitive point of view. To choose the great and spacious building over the tree of life, mockery over love. And he tries to get us to see things that way... to label or exclude people because of belief or bias... to see ourselves as somehow better than others. It's a big temptation... but the verse says that the word of God can save us from those temptations... those fiery darts, and that blindness that will lead us to destruction. And also that if we hold on to the rod we'll never perish... I'm guessing spiritually. Today, maybe we can work on holding fast to that idea... reading and absorbing the words of God, and remembering that God wants us to love, not mock. To build Zion... that perfect society where there is no poverty, no inequality, no exclusion... we're going to have to learn how God loves, and a whole new way of seeing people. We can only get that from the fruit of the tree, from learning love, not mockery. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2 Nephi 29:7

"Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?"
2 Nephi 29:7

This is a good reminder today that God cares about everyone, not just the people in one country or on one continent. It's a verse leading into a discussion of why it makes sense for there to be more writings than just the Bible and why God continues to talk to us. Which is a good point. :) God wants everyone to know what he has to say, because he loves us all. I think that helps us remember not just that God talks to all of us, but that we are still brothers and sisters across the continents. We aren't "stealing" jobs from each other, or better or worse than one another, or more or less worthy of compassion. There are an awful lot of people on this earth, and we're *all* part of building an ideal society, not just the people in one area or racial or ethnic or gender or even religious group. We need one another. Zion isn't about building walls to keep out the "undesirables"... it's about inclusion and acceptance, and finding a place for everyone. Taking care of each other. It's tough sometimes, because it is hard to understand people who are different than we are in fundamental ways... if they believe differently, or live differently, or if they don't share some of our core values. Today, let's look around us, and inside ourselves, for those barriers we have to other people, and try to reach beyond them. Let's pray, and learn, and find out why God loves that person, and we'll be at least halfway to experiencing that love ourselves.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Matthew 14:28-31 -- On Doubt and Sustained Effort

"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
Matthew 14:28-31

In reading this story, I think that we all have a little Peter in us. We see something new and amazing and we want to be able to do it as well. And so we ask, and we try, and we get a taste of success. And that is *amazing* and *stupendous* ... and proves that we can really be in tune with God and participate in miraculous things. ...But then we stop. We look around, and realize that what we're doing is impossible, or difficult, or that it has to be sustained, and we can't just get the trophy and sit back on that high for the rest of our lives. It's basically the same story as Lehi's dream, or the story of Oliver trying to translate the plates. We start to do something cool, we start going in the right direction, and prove we can do it... but then we stop and realize that it's tough. That we have to follow through. And, like in Lehi's dream, a lot of us are tempted to wander off into easier paths... even after we've tasted of that perfection. It's probably about some more mundane miracles as well. Prayer. Actually feeling a connection and communication with God... that is amazing and SO important and impactful in our lives. ... and yet, we let that slide sometimes, and can even regress to the point of wondering if scripture study and prayer are doing any good. :) So like Peter. Starting out strong, believing, experiencing... seeing the *proof* ... and then wimping out. Not that Peter was a wimp. He was probably the only one with strong enough faith to climb out of the boat. Just that we so often reach the incredible and then turn back to the mundane... the safe. Where we don't have to stretch ourselves or work harder to become more and more. We get to a point and say, there, whew. I'm good enough. ... but that is never true. We can't stop praying, or reading our scriptures, or living. :) Today, let's tune in to God, rekindle that faith, and continue the good, amazing things that we've started.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ezekiel 14:22-23

"Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.
And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord God."
Ezekiel 14:22-23

I like these verses because it is often hard to see the reasons. Why does God allow Jerusalem to be destroyed is the question that is being addressed here, but it applies to the questions that we have about a lot of the things that go on around us... why does anything bad happen? Why do corrupt and cruel people seem to prosper... how can the bad guys be allowed to triumph over the innocent? And it is true that this life is a test... that we need to have freedom of choice which means being confronted by good *and* evil choices... a world where evil gets wiped out immediately wouldn't really offer that. But I think that these verses go further. God is saying in essence, wait and look at the results of this destruction. Look at who is left, and their ways and their doings... you will be comforted and you will notice that there is a reason. Maybe it is because these people that are left are the ones who will build a better world. Maybe it's the same reason that Laban had to die. He wasn't going to build up a new people and share the records with them, and Nephi was. Or the parable of the olive trees... sometimes the Lord of the Vineyard has to cut away old corrupt branches to allow the new to grow, but slowly, so the tree isn't destroyed and the roots lost. ... God can see so much more than we can. So much farther. And yes, in the near-term single-perspective vision that we find ourselves peering out from a lot, things look really really bad sometimes, and cruel, and we almost want to give up on humanity and the world completely. And I'm not saying things aren't bad... but perhaps there is more hope there then we know. God is in charge, and even though he doesn't work on our personal timetable, and we don't always see the reasons right away... there are reasons, and there is hope. Today, let's work on seeing the hope and the possibilities... to find the way to effect change in the world around us rather than just giving in to despair.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1 John 2:9-11

"He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."
1 John 2:9-11

I think that this is a really good example of how we blind ourselves sometimes. We can be praying, reading our scriptures... attending church... and think that we are doing pretty well. And maybe we love people a lot… the people in our families, the people we go to church with… the people that agree with us about things. :) And maybe some of those “other” people really annoy us. Maybe they aren’t from our country, or race, or religion… maybe they are sinning in a way that we would never be tempted to sin. Maybe they just don’t agree with us about this or that political issue. Whoever “they” are, and whatever their actions or our beliefs about them, if we have hatred in our hearts, then we're really sabotaging our own efforts to walk in the light. And, really... we aren't seeing reality. If we could see into the souls of the people we dislike, do you think that any of them would be unlovable? Every person on this earth has something good inside. Something good to offer. And everyone (even us) has something bad inside too... something they need to clean out of themselves. If we focus on the bad parts, then we'll never have good relationships with anyone we place in that “other” category. If we focus on the good parts, then we can learn from anyone, and help them as well. Today, maybe we can catch ourselves when we’re saying anything negative about anyone, and try to remember that even THAT person, in whatever group or country, is worth something to God. We’re brothers and sisters… even with that person we can’t stand, or that group we’re fighting against philosophically. We're all in this together... this test of life. If we help each other, maybe we'll do better on the test then we could do individually. And... maybe it is *part* of the test. :) So, let’s not darken ourselves with hatred, and stumble... but see clearly in the light of love.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Abraham 2:8

"My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee."
Abraham 2:8

This seems cool and comforting to me this morning... in mortality, we're stuck seeing things pretty much linearly, and it is hard to see why the NOW options are less good than the eternal options sometimes. We work on our perspective, remembering at least short term that getting into an argument might be satisfying and not hurt us today, but it will down the line if we want to have a good relationship with this friend, family member, or coworker... and so many other now/later choices. But no matter how much we get that perspective down, and remember to focus on the long-term, we're very limited in what we can discern. We're still in the middle chapters of our story, and it is hard to see the ending... but God knows the end from the beginning. He knows exactly how things turn out, and what will happen, and with that perspective, he can help us through even the darkest nights, the toughest challenges, and the seemingly hopeless obstacles that we run into during the current chapter. He knows already how we eventually break those bonds, or escape the prison, or defeat the monster. And he can help us now, when we don't see any way out of the chains. Today, even if life seems hopeless and impossible in some way, let's remember that our sight is limited, and God will always give us a way to find the answers. He loves us and wants us to triumph in our story.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1 John 4:20-21 -- On Learning to Love

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
1 John 4:20-21

This scripture makes a good point. We strive to understand and love God through reading the scriptures, praying, going to church... we have to put forth effort to get to know him in this life, and to love him. Like any relationship. And that's good, and so important to everything... knowing him, and understanding his will in our lives. But sometimes we claim to love God without understanding what that means, and part of what is means is that we have to love each other... our brothers and sisters. And by brothers and sisters, not just our immediate families, but brothers and sisters in the sense of all of God's children.

As we strive to love God... to understand the immensity of that... we can't be satisfied with only loving our significant others, or our best friends. We can't be satisfied with only loving the people that are similar to us... those that share our faith, our race, or our nationality. All of the people on this Earth are our brothers and sisters. It's an immense concept, but an important one. How can we understand and love God without attempting to learn to love as he does? And he loves every single person on this earth. Even the ones we hate... or fear... or dismiss... or that annoy us in traffic. :) The ones who cheat us, or break laws. The ones that 'steal' our jobs, or who are on the other side of a war. God loves them. That person at work. That one relative... He loves them too. The people that we're scared of mugging us, or corrupting our children. The politicians, the used-car salesmen.

Today, let's try to expand our hearts a little, and to learn to love the people that we have a hard time loving. We're all sinners... we all fall short. And we all desperately need God's help. We've got that in common, if nothing else. :) Let's build on it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

3 Nephi 30:2

"Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel."
3 Nephi 30:2

You know, it is cool to me that God asks us to repent. He could just sit up there and let us end up wherever we wanted, and he knows that even the lower kingdoms are still going to be nice places to live... but for us, he wants more. He wants us to succeed more than we want to succeed. He wants us to rise beyond all of our mistakes and weaknesses, and become perfect... not a crazy dream, but an attainable goal, because God made it possible for us. Because of him, we can become better than we ever dreamed of becoming... because of him the sins in our pasts and even in our presents *don't* chain us to a less-than-perfect future. No matter what the score has been up to this point, we can still get an A out of life... still succeed, still grasp the ideal. And God wants us to... so no matter how dark it seems, or how unlikely it is that we will change for the better... we can, and will, if we let God into our lives. Our income and social status don't confine us. Our past doesn't define who we are. We are children of God, and he loves us and is working every second to save us from ourselves, and bring us home. Let’s accept his help. Believe in him, even when we can't believe in ourselves. Today, let’s retain some hope, and move forward. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

2 Peter 1:9

"But he that lacketh these things in blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
2 Peter 1:9

So, this is a really interesting scripture. The part I find the most interesting today is the forgetting part. I think that we get down on ourselves sometimes because we look back on everything we've ever done wrong... and the older we get, the longer the list is. And once we have that list in front of us, it starts looking like we're not that great of people... in fact, reading the list, we might not even want to be friends with ourselves. Our standards are higher than that. :) The thing is, though, that we *have* been purged from our old sins. We've gone through the repentance process, we've renewed our covenants each week taking the sacrament. The old stuff is gone. If we have any new or unresolved stuff, okay... but let's throw that old list of everything we've ever done wrong away. God isn't judging us that way, and that isn't the way we should judge ourselves. Instead, let's focus on the things that we might be lacking (from previous verses): faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity.

It's possible... there is hope. Today is a new day, and even yesterday's list doesn't have to change who we are right now. If you were completely clean and a new person, what would you do today? ... Because guess what? We *are* new, and we get to choose who to be today all over again, no matter who we have been in the past. So people have expectations... by making new choices, we'll convince them to change those. Today, let's be great. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Alma 38:14

"Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy--yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times."
Alma 38:14

This is tough. It is easy in our lives to compare... we want to see how we're doing, so we start comparing ourselves to others. In one area we might think, hey, we're not doing very well, and we need to do better, and in another we might think... wow. I am SO much better it isn't even funny. And maybe that's natural, but we could be missing the mark. We aren't commanded to be better than the people around us... we're asked to be perfect: to emulate God. And by that measure, we're just not going to measure up... no matter how great we're doing. That is the point... and it isn't so that we can feel bad about ourselves at all. It is so that we can keep growing and progressing and not alienating other people that we could be helping, and that could be helping us. Even if we're ten times better than someone else in one area or in obeying one commandment, the likelihood is that the other person is at least 10 times better than we are in a different area or at obeying a different commandment. We're in this together, and we're asked to become a Zion people, which isn't about competition, but about cooperation, and helping each other reach perfection. Together, we can work on becoming more like God when sometimes, individually, we're just not going to overcome that glaring flaw alone. Today, let's work on not thinking that we're better than others, but on remembering how much work we have to do to become like God. ... And let's pray for others, and ask for their help, and help each other become better and reach farther than we can alone.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Romans 12:17

"Recompense no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men."
Romans 12:17

This seems difficult to me. When someone is treating you in a non-ideal way, it is hard not to return the favor. ... but I guess that is the thing. If we don’t try, then where does the cycle end? If we return evil for evil, then evil never stops. We have to be the barrier to evil, by taking it and letting it die right there. And I think that we would all like to be people who can choose to be kind and solve problems in a good way, no matter what external challenges we face. Christ always seemed to be able to do that. People would try to manipulate him into anger or saying something wrong, and no matter how they twisted things, he always knew the right thing to say, that would be not only be good, but that would help to teach the people around him as well. Perhaps it is the straight and narrow path ... in speech as with everything else. There is always something good to say, if we can only find it. :) There is always a way to respond to evil with good... somehow. God wouldn't give us this advice otherwise. :) The task is to find that one path amongst the other tempting paths of emotional, mental, or physical “revenge,” and to be able to be calm enough to control ourselves when we are tempted to respond in an evil way. The other part of the verse says to provide things honest in the sight of all men. To me that seems to take the principle a little further… offering not only a kind answer, but a kind self… a life that is free from secret resentments and bias… to not only act nice, but be nice, down deep, so you don't have to hide anything from anyone. Even if the media tried to dig up something on you, they wouldn't be able to find it. :) Wouldn't that feel good? To feel so clean and have such a clear conscience that no one anywhere could give you a guilt trip about anything? A difficult task, but a worthy goal. :) Though we might not be able to get there immediately, the more honestly we live, and the more we return kindness to everyone, no matter what they present us with, the closer we will be to that ideal… and to God. Today, despite the challenge, let’s work on taking whatever we are given and returning kindness, understanding, and love for all of it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

2 Nephi 31:20 -- On Hope

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
2 Nephi 31:20

This is a great verse. Steadfastness in Christ, perfect brightness of hope, love of God and everyone, feasting upon the word, enduring to the end. These seem in this verse to be the ingredients for eternal life. Today the “perfect brightness of hope” stands out the most to me… not that the other ones aren’t part of the recipe, but just that one seems tough. Sometimes I think that we get caught up in the world and we see lots of the bad stuff that is going on and impacting us, but it is hard to see the good… it is hard to hope. A friend posted a quote the other day that said “It will all work out okay in the end. If it isn’t okay, it isn’t the end.” And that is pretty much true. God guarantees a good, happy ending to our story. Not to give too many spoilers, but … it is tough, and in some chapters you wonder if it will work out, but the hero overcomes all the obstacles, and prevails. So, let’s get back to our heroic quests. Let’s press forward, believing that Christ offers us a happy ending… and take him up on the offer, feasting upon the words of life. The only way to lose is to lose faith in the characters and stop turning the pages. Let’s endure to that happy ending.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Alma 36:9

"And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God."
Alma 36:9

I think this shows how serious God is about our free agency in our own lives. The angel, instead of commanding Alma to repent, basically says, it is your choice... you can choose whatever you want for yourself, but you need to stop attacking the church. I'm not here to save you necessarily, but I am here to save them from you. ... and what a scary message that is. To go around dismissing and then actually warring against what your father has taught you all his life, and then one day to be reminded in an incredibly dramatic way that he has been right all along, and also that you're not in a very good position. It's a lot to take in all at once. ... and although seeing an angel is huge, maybe this kind of revelation happens to us as well, although in a smaller way. God shows us *all* where the lines are very clearly, and gives us a chance to turn around and change ourselves... to stop fighting against him, to stop the pointless and petty rebellions, or the outright defiance... to humble ourselves and start working to heal the wounds and the rifts that we've created. And it isn't very fun. Just as it wasn't fun for Alma to get struck down for three days, unable to talk or move. But even though it isn't fun... what an incredible blessing to him, and to each of us, that God cares about us enough to give us those serious warnings and reminders of who we need to be. Today, let's heed the warnings, and humble ourselves. Stop fighting against so many things, and accept God's will. It probably won't be fun, especially at first... but it will make an incredible difference in our lives, our relationships with the people around us, and in our relationship with God. And it will be fun, and happy, eventually. We just have to get over ourselves first. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

3 Nephi 24:10

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
3 Nephi 24:10

This is an amazing promise… for a direct and clear action, a blessing so immense that we won’t be able to soak it all up, because we just don’t have the capacity. And the Lord asks us to prove him in this… wow. Plus, isn’t it cool when we have a commandment that we can obey perfectly, and so clearly? We have so many other commandments where it is much harder to know when you’re doing them well, and that are harder to do in the first place. Today, let’s do it. Let’s prove the Lord. Let’s figure out our finances, write the check. Pay our tithing, and see what happens. I have absolutely no doubt that he will fulfill all his words, in this and everything else. And we can have the satisfaction of living one commandment perfectly… as well as anticipating a blessing that will be overwhelmingly good. :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Matthew 6:24

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24

Sometimes I think we try to live two lives… or more. Trying to put God at the center of our lives occasionally, and at other times switching something else in at the center… a person, a job, an addiction. Of course it helps our sanity to just be the one person, with one thing at our core. And God realizes that we try to split ourselves a lot, and that it is tearing us into pieces, and I think that is why he offers this verse, explaining that no matter how hard we struggle at it, we’re not going to be able to make it work. We can’t serve God and at the same time try to serve another overriding goal or agenda, or give in to Satan to any degree. God has to come first, and then things that fit in with God will come naturally (verse 33). Not because God is trying to be cruel or unfair… but just like the law of gravity… because that is the way it works. No other way... Nothing can take God’s place in our lives. Today, let’s look at our lives and see how many masters we are trying to serve. Maybe we can readjust our priorities today and keep God firmly at the center of our lives even when we would normally call in someone else. If the things that we let go are good for us, then they’ll be back in our new God-centric lives, even if they are a lesser priority. And if they aren’t good for us, then they’ll fall out of our lives. ...It’s scary, and risky emotionally, to let go of the other things that we want to hold onto that tightly. But it’s also a good way to not tear ourselves apart.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

3 Nephi 4:31-33

"And it came to pass that they did break forth, all as one, in singing, and praising their God for the great thing which he had done for them, in preserving them from falling into the hands of their enemies.
Yea, they did cry: Hosanna to the Most High God. And they did cry: Blessed be the name of the Lord God Almighty, the Most High God.
And their hearts were swollen with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; and they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction."
3 Nephi 4:31-33

I absolutely love that first image of a huge crowd/city/fort/army full of people just breaking into song all at once. I totally want to see the musical. :) In this chapter the Nephites defeat the Gadianton Robbers, which is... huge. So, they are pleased, and rejoice. The cool part is that they recognize that they never could have done it without God, and certain actions on their part... specifically repentance and humility. And maybe those are the things that it takes in our lives as well, to be saved from our enemies or our impending destruction as well. The Gadianton Robbers were massacring the people, and in the end, some of the robbers were destroyed, and some of them repented. But unless the Nephites had all gathered together, helping each other and working together, they couldn't have triumphed. I think we all have things in our own lives that threaten to destroy us as well. Maybe addictions, maybe pride, maybe the idolatry of valuing one thing or person in our lives more than we value the Lord. ...Whatever it is, the salvation that the Nephites sought is also available to us, through the same means. We need to be humble and recognize that we need God's help... and humble enough to repent and give up what he asks, and change our behavior as he asks. Just as with the Nephites, an army or any kind of force isn't enough to overcome destruction. Unity, purity, and goodness are the only things that are really going to make a difference, because those are the things that keep God and us on the same side. Anger and contention certainly won't... resentment, passion... no matter how strongly we feel or how badly we want whatever it is, we have to chill, and let all of those feelings go that are tearing us up. Let's channel that wasted mental energy into changing our attitudes and revising the way we see and treat other people. ... Be good and salvation will follow. Maybe not in exactly the way we envisioned, with us at the very top and our enemies below, crying... but salvation nevertheless, resulting in a better future for everyone.... Maybe then we could all spontaneously burst into song. Awesome. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mosiah 18:21-22 -- On Becoming the Children of God

"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God."
Mosiah 18:21-22

I love this idea of no contention and working toward a perfect society. These people were under King Noah, who hated them and sent an army out to destroy them... so they were in hiding, worshiping in secret... but still working toward perfection. And hey, if they could do it, maybe we can too. We might have the equivalent of an army breathing down our necks, ready to pounce... but even so, despite any external pressure, we can work toward this ideal.

I love looking forward with one eye... not that two eyes isn't fine from a physical perspective, but the idea of having one focus in our lives, one central theme and goal... and that solid, strong core is what makes us strong. Able to withstand the armies, the storms, and whatever else comes our way, and stay grounded in God, and love for our brothers and sisters.

Today, let's work on removing contention from our lives... no matter the armies or other obstacles in our way. And thus we become the children of God.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1 Peter 2:18-20

"Servants, be subject to your masters will all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward.
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
1 Peter 2:18-20

I think this applies to a lot of modern life… not only if we’re in a service profession, but really in anything we do… we are servants in some good ways… serving the people around us. Often “being subject” is hard for us… words like submissive or meek or humility… they seem weak or lacking backbone, and we know that we need to stand up for ourselves. I think what we forget sometimes though is that we don’t need to be paranoid of being stepped on all the time… that it is really about the people around us, and not our personal insecurities. … It’s true. It’s only human to get angry or upset when people treat us badly. … But that’s part of this test of life, and we’re here to learn to be more than human… to be more like superheroes… and literally to become like God. That takes a little bit (okay, a lot) of rising above the natural man. No matter how amazing and cool we are (and we are amazing AND cool, no question), life is still going to be hard sometimes. I’m sure some we bring on ourselves, but we are definitely going to go through things we absolutely don’t deserve, and we’re going to face things that are in no way fair, or fun. And those are the times when we have the opportunity to shine the very brightest. When we take those really incredibly unfair things… the rotten parts, and make those into better situations, and react well even when other people are out-of-control lashing out at us. That’s when we prove our worth, and learn the most about how to transcend the meanness of life. Today, let’s work on extraordinary patience and faith… go beyond what we have to do in normal situations, and work on being kind to people who hate us, and reacting positively to people who are cruel to us. Those can be today’s superpowers. We’ll save walking on water for later. ;)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Micah 2:10

"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

Sometimes I think that we find things in life that we want to be our "rest" ... we want that to be where we stop and take up roots, or where we settle, or we want this person or this career to be the "one" that we stay with...
But God has other dreams and plans for us, and our ideal isn't always his. Often we have to let go of the rest that we have dreamed for ourselves because it really is polluted, or destructive... or maybe just impossible because God has something better in store. Rest assured that it will be something better... even if better is unimaginable right now. :) God will never let us down in that regard. The message is clear though... until the end of our lives, never stop searching, because there is always more. We can't stop and become complacent because there are always things that the Lord would have us do, and Zion to build. Today, let’s remember to arise and get on with it. We’ll find our true rest eventually.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Amos 5:18-19

"Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness and not light.
As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him."
Amos 5:18-19

This is pretty powerful, and some good imagery. This could be talking about Christ's earthly ministry only, but I'm guessing it probably also applies to his second coming. ... Sometimes I think that I do look forward to "the day of the Lord" because it seems like with the Lord around, anything would be better than it is now... but here we are warned against thinking that way. Maybe when I think it, it is more of a cop-out, trying to avoid my responsibilities to improve my life now, or the world and society the way it is. Perhaps we all feel like that at times... wishing we could skip to the end and not have the middle chapters where the hero climbs the mountain and wrestles the anaconda... yikes! Better to skip to the happy ending. And God is just warning us that there are worse than anacondas out there, and please don't wish for the end when we haven't prepared ourselves for it by living through the middle chapters... where the hero also gets stronger and better and purer by going through that middle stuff. The world also gets better, because as we are taught in the scriptures over and over... one person, with God, *can* make a difference, and by living our lives and building Zion, we do that. Today, let's focus on the middle chapter we're in. Let's be the heroes we should be, making the world better, saving the people around us, and generally doing good. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hebrews 12:9-11

"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
Hebrews 12:9-11

It is a hard thing to hear sometimes that God is displeased or wants us to change. We often expect that source of unconditional love to also be a source of unconditional approval... and it just isn't. God loves us unimaginably much, and because he cares so much, he wants us to grow and improve... just like an earthly parent might want a child to actually learn to tie his or her shoes, or learn the alphabet, or to ride a bike or drive a car, or to go to college and learn some independence rather than allowing the child to sit and learn nothing because they are upset or lazy or scared of learning. It isn't that the parent doesn't care... it is the realization that the child needs to learn certain things in order to progress and gain comfort in the next stages of life. God chastens us *because* he loves us, and we need that sort of feedback in order to improve. So today, even though it isn't fun, let's listen to the Lord's feedback, and examine our lives and find an area in which we need to improve. As we grow and change, even the pain of realizing our mistakes will be overwhelmed with the peace and joy that comes from changing and purifying ourselves.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2 Chronicles 15:1-2

"And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you."
2 Chronicles 15:1-2

I think that this is cool. It shows both how God can influence us to help others by inspiring us with his Spirit, and it describes the interactive relationship that we have with God quite well. To have God's Spirit in our lives, we have to live worthy of that inspiration. If we value our relationship with God and want to have him around, we aren't going to do things that offend the Spirit, and God will be there to help us... but if we reject the Spirit, or ignore what we are being prompted to do or not do, then we are choosing to give up that companionship with God. ... And this not to say that he will forsake us permanently... I think he'll be found if we sincerely choose to seek him again. Only that he forsakes us when we offend his Spirit and actively work at blocking him out. And then we get a chance to live life without God... which is unpleasant, if we've had the Spirit around helping us and now we don't. Like amputating your heart. ... Today, let's work on seeking the Lord, welcoming his Spirit into our lives, and not forsaking God. I think that having God not forsake us in return would be a big enough reward... but as additional bonus prizes, if we do this, we also get extra guidance, extra joy, and extra peace. :) Sounds like a great day. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

1 Peter 1:22

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."
1 Peter 1:22

There are some very interesting and cool things here... one of them is that it seems that we purify our souls through obedience to the truth. That is an interesting thought... as we struggle through the challenges of this life, trying to be obedient, we knock off the rough edges and polish up our souls. :) Like fighting upstream in a river... the river is going to wash away anything that isn't part of you... and you have to want it really badly to not float downstream. And when we are in there long enough, we're going to get all polished up like the cool little river rocks. When we finally arrive at our destination we will arrive with fire and determination, completely cleansed of anything that didn't help us to get there... plus we'll be the most awesome swimmers that ever were. :) Now, if you don't like swimming, you can substitute your own analogy... I think it really works with almost any serious goal in life... writing a novel for instance. It takes focus, determination... getting rid of distractions, consistent effort... and editing and re-editing, until, in the end... you have a refined product... the manuscript, but also yourself. The process makes you better, more focused... polished. :) Or just living... trying to be obedient... polishes you. I took a jewelry class once and the polishing machine was interesting... you put a piece of rough jewelry in there, and then you put in a bunch of similar things... if it was a rock, you put in a lot of little rocks. If it was silver, you put in a bunch of little silver things... (they sell the "things" in the jewelry catalog, but I can't remember what they are called, sorry)... and then you turn it on... and they mosh up against each other, and whatever you put in comes out shiny and polished. We do that for one another. Just hanging out in the world... with people like ourselves... we become more polished people.
The other thing that I like about this scripture is that we are supposed to love one another "fervently." Isn't that the greatest word? We love so conservatively sometimes, I don't know what it is... fear of rejection... reluctance to commit... trying to establish an overabundance of boundaries... who knows. But fervently, I like... and obviously God does. :) Like when your roommate comes home throws her arms around you to say hello. :) Or the friend at work that always says "You are awesome." ... fervently. When we love people, they should KNOW it, don't you think? Know it in a big, definite way. We save all the fervency for romantic relationships... what an utter waste. Okay, not a waste... but miserly? Everyone in our lives should know that they are cool, that we love them... that they are valued and amazing individuals. So what if it is scary...? Let’s be fervent today. Go out, tell people how amazing they are... tell them how much we love them. Tell them that they are amazing and funny and cool... tell them that they are the rock-solid consistency that you need in your life. Tell them that they make you laugh. Tell them that they save you from yourself when no one else will. Tell them that you admire their honesty even when it smarts a little.... be expressive, be caring... make sure that they know that they are loved. Fervent is the word of the day.

1 Peter 1:22-25

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
1 Peter 1:22-25

There are some great things in here. I especially like "all flesh is as grass" today. It has kind of a vegetarian ring to it. Seriously though, I think that it reminds us that so many of the things that we focus on so narrowly sometimes aren't really what is important. And other things are. One of them is love... not just for people we already care about, but everyone... we have to learn to care about even the people we don't really get along with. And that is part of what being born again is... letting go of all of the petty irritations and biases and grudges, and listening to the word of God rather than our own corruptible natures. God's way lasts... and ours will disappear, and everything will change. But if we love people, that remains, and we don't have all those regrets later. Today, let's work on remembering how temporary our conflicts are, and how lasting eternal friendships will be.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2 Nephi 26:31

"But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish."
2 Nephi 26:31

I think it is sometimes hard to balance work and life, and sometimes we can feel like we're only laboring for money rather than for a higher purpose. Maybe though, a lot of it is about attitude. It's easy to get sidetracked into seeing life as a lot of effort just to survive... but it is really more than that. Even when we don't like parts of our lives, overall we're doing more than just surviving. We interact with other people, and even just with that, we can make a huge difference depending on our attitude, conversation, and example. Even at a job that is something chosen out of desperation, there are ways to improve the environment or lighten the burden... even if it is just for one person. Today, wherever we are and whatever we're doing, let's try focusing on Zion... on society and our interactions with other people... and work on doing everything we can to help others and lift them up. In doing so, we build Zion... perhaps just the tiniest bit, but making a difference in one situation and for one person still counts. Zion is made of those types of people... who make a difference in small ways, adding up to a better world.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2 Nephi 10:23

"Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—-to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life."
2 Nephi 10:23

Sometimes life gets us down. Could be many things... conflict, personal failings, having to watch things happen that we don't have a lot of control over... sometimes even just a general sense of malaise where we don't even know the exact cause. It's like eating cardboard or asphalt. We figure, well, it's not very good, but it's what we've got. It is hard feeling like that, and not knowing quite how to break free of it and back to the happy "man is that he might have joy" parts. So, how do we break out of the darkness into the light? This verse talks about one way. We remember the freedom that God has granted us. We get to choose how we feel, where we go... even in the worst of times or the worst of circumstances, we can choose to find the good. God wants our happiness, and we know that our purpose is joy. So, let's find it. Yeah... we're going to screw up sometimes. And yeah, some things will happen that will break our hearts and threaten our peace. But we don't have to choose to let those things destroy us, or take away our happiness... or our senses of humor. ;) We get to choose, every day, to turn away from death and darkness and towards life and light. We don't have to choose sadness or suffering... Christ suffered *for* us, and gave us the incredible gift of being able to walk out of the darkness, even darkness we deserve, and back into the light ... and hope... of God and all that he offers to us. Today, let's take advantage of this greatest of gifts and work at choosing life and happiness, and remembering that there are other options which have to be much tastier than whatever we are currently snacking on.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Romans 12:9

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."
Romans 12:9

Dissimulation is when you conceal your true feelings or intentions. I think here, and in so many other scriptures, God is telling us to be sincere and real. Now, or being nice until we can actually learn to feel love towards someone sincerely is one thing... at least we're working on it. But in an old job I used to sit very close to the sales force, and one of the guys who was right next to me would call people and be very sweet to them on the phone, and then the instant he'd hung up the phone, he started in swearing at them using the filthiest language possible. ... I think maybe it isn't so black and white with all of us, but we often do the same things. Pretend to be kind when people are around to protect the image, and then when no one is around, telling our closest confidante exactly what we really think. We go around trying to be two people... and maybe God is saying here, hey... don't do all that hard work trying to be two people. Just be one. Choose one, and be it sincerely. Love what you love, work on staying away from evil... hang out with good things. Even though we often worry whether our true selves will be accepted... by the Lord, or by anyone else... the truth is, if we can relax our efforts to be different people and just strive to make that one person a little better each day... we'll be less stressed out, and God will be truly happy with us. He loves that one person that we are down deep... and always has. Today, let's work on merging all our personalities and being real before the Lord. :) And let's try to get that one core personality to love people a little more... to choose the good and not the evil. Little by little, let's try to both be good, and real.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

John 20:24-25

"But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."
John 20:24-25

I think it is probably very natural and very human for us to doubt things that we've never experienced or seen for ourselves. No matter how well Thomas knew Christ, he somehow didn't really believe somewhere deep down that he could just return to life and come back to them. Then eight days later, when he got a chance to see for himself, he believed. Only eight days... but imagine what those eight days would have been like, had he believed. We do the same thing, often. We doubt the power Christ has to heal us, for instance, and so we stay broken. We doubt the power that Christ has to cleanse us... to change us... to change the world. Like Thomas, God offers us evidences of his power in our lives. Sometimes it takes us a while, but we eventually realize in each case that God can help us do things that would be impossible alone. Imagine though, what would happen if we believed right away... how much happier we'd be... just like Thomas, but in our case, the transformation of many more than eight days. Today, let's try to go just a little further with our trust and belief... and turn that time when we're waiting to see the Savior touch our lives into a time of joy and anticipation rather than a time of mourning and doubt. Jesus *is* risen... and he *will* heal us and help us.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jacob 5:74

"And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning."
Jacob 5:74

This is part of the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, prophesied by Zenos, and quoted by Jacob so that it could come down to us. :) If anyone hasn't read it, in general it talks about the Lord of the Vineyard and his servant and taking care of the trees and nourishing them so that they will bring forth good fruit. Sometimes they don't, and at one point all the trees brought forth bad fruit. It's a story that talks about the house of Israel and the gentiles as trees and how God takes care of us all and encourages us to be good. The whole thing is in Chapter 5 and it is fascinating. Anyway, this verse I love because it is toward the end and talks about their eventual success in preserving the good fruit... so much so that "they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal" ... which sounds a lot like a Zion society. I think it helps us to hope that we'll eventually get there. And if that is where we're headed, there is a lot to work to get done in becoming a Zion people... unified, equal. Today, maybe the first step is to actually consider it. What would be different in ourselves if we lived in a Zion society...? And when we have at least a partial answer to that question, then perhaps we'll have our focus for today. How can we change ourselves to encourage that unity and sense of oneness to start and to grow?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

3 Nephi 26:9

"And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them."
3 Nephi 26:9

This verse is talking about the abridged nature of the scriptures that we're reading, and also seems to apply to a lot of things, not just scripture. It would be awesome to get more scripture (especially here when Christ visited the people): to know more, understand more, all of it. But then I read this verse, and the one after (which gives the consequence of not believing these things), and I realize that sometimes we don’t really believe or accept or act on what we have already. So I guess that is what we need to work on first. Let’s prove that we can handle what we have, and that’s when we’ll get more. :) We do, sometimes. Conference talks and getting to hear the words of the prophets add to what we have... and we can increase even more if we value it and use it. Today, let’s start by exercising a little faith, a little prayer, and making today a day where we remember God through it all... proving to ourselves that we can apply some of our scriptural lessons. :) If we keep at it, I’m certain that we as individuals will learn more, even if we as a people don’t get another book of scripture for a little while.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2 Nephi 32:9

"But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."
2 Nephi 32:9

Reading this today my first thought was why... why would we need to pray first, since God already knows what we're doing, and why? And then I prayed about it, which is always a good thing to do when I don't understand. :) I think there is a lot here. One of the reasons is that it helps us to build a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Another is that it helps us to remember what is at the center of our lives... who that central figure is. We often act as though we are that central figure... and sometimes, when life isn't going very well, we are. But when we do this--when we make the effort to put God first--then our lives go better, and we are more centered in general. That focus on God instead of on ourselves gives us a little more room to listen and understand before we react... when we remember that our actions and lives aren't about us and how offended/sad/lonely we are (or whatever we're feeling), but that they are about God and that relationship. We can keep our cool better; we can perform better; we can be happier. That's how we make even our daily jobs and daily routine spiritual. We pray about it. We look for ways to dedicate our lives to God, even while we're living in the world. So, today, let's pray about whatever we're doing. However routine our day is today... this is how God will bless us: by dedicating it to our welfare, and helping us find the spiritual in the midst of the mundane. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

1 Peter 3:15

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."
1 Peter 3:15

I like that this verse tells us how to handle pain and suffering... even suffering when you haven't done anything wrong. First, we need to be devoted to God within as well as without... knowing who he is and our relationship to him, and remembering that as we go throughout our days... keeping that in our hearts. And the second part is amazing as well: to always be ready to tell people why you have hope, even in the middle of affliction or suffering. To be able to do that, we have to have a little hope, and we really need to think about it. It comes back to the first step as well... if we know God, and keep that knowledge and devotion in our hearts and minds, then we know, absolutely, that he will deliver us out of our suffering or pain and make things okay. When we're in the midst of it, we can't see anything else, or a way out, sometimes... but God knows the way out, and will provide comfort and confidence, even in the worst circumstances. Today, let's brush up on our reasons for hope... and be ready. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

1 John 2:4-5

"He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him."
1 John 2:4-5

This is interesting... I wonder if it means that we lose our knowledge of God as we get farther and farther off the path, or that when we sin, we obviously haven't gotten to know God, or we wouldn't do it in the first place. I'm guessing the latter, but I really don't know. It is interesting to think about it the other way around too... we come to know God through living his commandments. There isn't a way to separate the relationship from the gospel. Kind of like people... we come to know other people through being involved in their lives, knowing what they love... those kinds of things. And how can we possibly know God without knowing that everything he does is directed towards us, and trying to get us to come back to him? How can we participate in his life without working towards the same end? We don't know him if we can't keep the spirit with us...
I like the second verse too... the love of God is perfected in us if we keep his word... it's part of knowing him, but also part of knowing and loving others it seems. ...and "hereby know we that we are in him." ... The unity that comes from knowing God and participating in his plan. We become part of something bigger than ourselves, and become more than we are in the process. And not in some science fiction body-snatching way either. :) When we know anyone really well, and have a fabulous friendship, then we almost become part of each other... we know what the other will say, we participate in the other's joy, we have that kind of connection that is unseverable.... and who better to have that kind of a friendship with than God? In fact, I'm sure any other comparison falls short... having God as your close friend is better than anything I can imagine. :) The first step is keeping the commandments... let's go for it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Isaiah 27:3

"I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day."
Isaiah 27:3

This scripture is talking about the vine of Israel... basically, all of us as we’re either born into the vine or adopted into it. :) I love the way that he talks about us here, the way that he cares for us and watches over us... night and day, lest anything hurt us. :) You get the same kind of image in the allegory of the olive trees, how he balances the roots and the branches, taking away the wicked branches only when they threaten to overwhelm the good. Life can get unmanageable sometimes when we don't remember that a lot of the things that we worry about are really the Lord's job. Ours is to listen, learn, play nice (helping others rather than hurting them), and grow into ourselves. Obedience is something that we all have to learn as children... we don't always comprehend why we can't play in the street, or why we have to stay away from the cool, shiny knives... but learning to obey our parents anyway prolongs our lives. And so it is with our spiritual lives as well. Listening to God, our Heavenly Father, and doing what he says is the best way that we can protect ourselves from unknown dangers... for he does love us, and care for us... "every moment." Including today. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Doctrine and Covenants 19:38-41

"Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing--yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof.
Behold, canst thou read this without rejoicing and lifting up thy heart for gladness?
Or canst thou run about longer as a blind guide?
Or canst thou be humble and meek, and conduct thyself wisely before me? Yea, come unto me thy Savior. Amen."
Doctrine and Covenants 19:38-41

This scripture has a lot of stuff packed in there. Starts out with a common theme... pray always. Prayer is always a good idea. God is pretty dang wise, and tapping into that storehouse of knowledge ... and power... just adds to *our* wisdom, and power. :) Plus, he loves us and it's always nice to talk to people that love you. :)
So, then it goes on and it tells us that if we pray we'll get greater treasure than we could ever find upon the earth... some of those we just talked about... blessings of knowledge and wisdom and power for good .... *so* cool...
Then, can we read this without rejoicing? :) This reminds me of the book "Till We Have Faces" by C. S. Lewis (my absolute favorite)... one of the scenes has the main character going on a very depressing errand, and on the way she rides through beautiful fields and is overwhelmed by the glory of it... and thinks that she hears a voice saying to her "why should your heart not dance?" but she is determined to be sad. ... and so, yes, we *can* read this, and other amazingly cool things without rejoicing and lifting up our hearts for gladness... but *why?* Our hearts *should* dance... our souls should fly.
If we pray, we don't have to run around any longer leading ourselves blindly... God can show us the way. And he will never lead us astray. Instead of being blind, and sad... we can be happy, and have God, who can see, as our guide. :)
And here's how... pray, as in the first verse... and be humble and meek. I think we have to be humble to accept God's wisdom, and recognize that he knows more than us. :) And then the Lord says, come unto me... sometimes we go through life wondering what the point is, what we are working for... and this is it. God is the goal. To be with him, to be like him, to know and feel and see all that he is and does, to become everything that he is.
And behold, can *we* read and know and comprehend all that God has in store for us, and how he leads us and helps us every day, and how he gives us hope... without rejoicing and lifting up our hearts for gladness? Sure, it's possible... but why try?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

3 Nephi 30:2

"Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel."
3 Nephi 30:2

You know, it is cool to me that God asks us to repent. He could just sit up there and let us end up wherever we wanted, and he knows that even the lower kingdoms are still going to be nice places to live... but for us, he wants more. He wants us to succeed more than we want to succeed. He wants us to rise beyond all of our mistakes and weaknesses, and become perfect... not a crazy dream, but an attainable goal, because God made it possible for us. Because of him, we can become better than we ever dreamed of becoming... because of him the sins in our pasts and even in our presents *don't* chain us to a less-than-perfect future. No matter what the score has been up to this point, we can still get an A out of life... still succeed, still grasp the ideal. And God wants us to... so no matter how dark it seems, or how unlikely it is that we will change for the better... we can, and will, if we let God into our lives. Our income and social status don't confine us. Our past doesn't define who we are. We are children of God, and he loves us and is working every second to save us from ourselves, and bring us home. Let’s accept his help. Believe in him, even when we can't believe in ourselves. Today, let’s retain some hope, and move forward. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Doctrine and Covenants 101:36

"Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full."
Doctrine and Covenants 101:36

This section of the Doctrine and Covenants talks about some of the things that are going to happen in the last days. Fascinating stuff if you want to catch it... especially verse 23. After all of those verses, some of which talk about scary things happening to the earth, God gives us this verse, which is basically saying, yes, all of that is going to happen, but don't be frightened. We've looked at other verses that show us that we do need to learn to be happy in this life, but here we're also shown that that joy isn't full... later it will be, and so much so that even death isn't something that we should be afraid of. I kind of like that idea, since living in fear seems to kind of stunt growth. :) Even though we know the end will some at some point, and bad things will happen, and some bad things could happen to us... the point is not anticipation of possible pain. Physical consequences pale in comparison to spiritual consequences. The point is, live so that the fullness of joy that God offers us can be ours. Live so that if the world ends... or something else tragic happens on the way to work or school... that our lives mattered, that we tried to make a difference for good. Today, let's go and do the best kind of good we can, without fear.

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