Sunday, April 29, 2018

Approaching the Throne of God

Below are 10 things one MUST consider before approaching the holy throne of God.

1. Location.  Are you in the church, the temple, or a serene setting like a home or sacred space that has been properly prepared for you with reverence and serenity?
2. Modest dress.  Are your shoulders and knees covered sufficiently to not cause embarrassment or shame before the Lord? 
3. Grooming.  Men, are you properly shaven and hair combed and parted on the side?  No improper hair coloring or extreme cuts?  Women, is your head covered at least with hair, and perhaps even a veil, head doily, bonnet, headband, or other covering? 
4. Music.  Have you prepared the visit by singing or playing at least 3 hymns on your electronic device or instrument?
5. Scriptures.  Did you take time to study at least a handful of scriptures before approaching the throne?
6. Home.  Is your home cleanly, allowing you to properly focus on parting the veil?
7. White.  Are you not wearing any dark colors, which might invoke an improper spirit?
8. Kneeling.  Are you kneeling properly, with your knees on the floor, and not sitting on your haunches? If you're in a temple, are you properly NOT kneeling, as that would cause disruption, distraction, and feelings of disrespect in or toward others?
9. Arms.  Have you ensured that your arms are properly folded across your bosom, not causing distraction to yourself or others who might be with you by their flailing around?
10. Words.  Are you comfortable using the proper prayer language, beginning with addressing your Holy Father by name, followed by thanks, then asking what you came for, and closing in-the-name-of-Jesus-Christ-Amen? 

These are all certainly things one needs to take into account before beginning to approach the Lord. 

Or they could just talk to Him in the car during heavy traffic. 

Or while lying in bed, drifting off to sleep. 

How about while sitting cross-legged on a park bench eating lunch. 

They could wear jeans and a ratty t-shirt.

One could have their arms overhead, and be hanging upside down on a gymnasium bar in workout gear.

Can we call out in prayer to our Lord in our fields, our closets, our workspaces, our dinner tables, our backyards, our garages, schools, and bathrooms?  Or must we restrict ourselves to proper attire, proper form, and proper words? 

I don't think the Lord cares.  While this post might come off as mocking satire, that's not the intent.  There are religious individuals who feel very strongly about these details, and while I mean no disrespect to them, I do mean to question the importance of these rules and regulations they've interpreted.  If we can get past the formalities, I think we might discover the Lord in our everyday lives so much more.  These ideas are common beliefs that very well have the power to prevent us from allowing the Lord more fully into our lives.  I pray to dispel them from mine, making it ever easier to approach the throne. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pelé & Priesthood

It was the writings of Daymon Smith that convinced me to view the idea of "priesthood" differently.  He refers to it in a way as to suggest that, similar to the word neighborhood – which suggests an association of neighbors – that priesthood might similarly refer to an association of priests. 

What's a priest?  In religious terms, it is one who has been chosen to participate in religious rites.  In spiritual terms, a priest would be one who receives the power of God.

It supposes me that there are many priests on earth, who have no formal religious ordination, but have received power of/from God.

Pelé: Birth of a Legend, demonstrates this concept.  Below are the final few minutes of the movie.  (I recommend the entire movie.)  The movie largely focuses on how Pelé advances in the soccer world, as a very young man (17 yrs old), and is trammeled in his talents and skills.  He is forced to make a promise mid-movie that he will NOT play soccer on the world stage in the fashion that comes to him naturally.  It was called ginja.  To be permitted to continue playing he must play someone else's way. 


In the minutes preceding this clip, we see Pelé's teammate giving him the encouragement he needs to ignore the promise he was forced to make, and to play with the gifts he was born with, and developed through his life's experience.  It wasn't that his teammate said so, but the friend acknowledged and supported him in being who he was born to be.

Some poignant moments:

  • Pelé's playing in a stadium filled with European "enemies" of sorts.  The opposing coach had been quite scornful toward their team earlier in the movie.  Sweden scores, confirming the public scorn the coach had launched prior to the game. 
  • About 4:50, Pelé looks above the jubilant crowd, and observes the handful of dark-skinned Brazilians, nearly in the peanut gallery, and so much more is conveyed than a losing side's sadness.  He realizes he's been playing someone else's way the whole game, and their team has been on the losing end because of it.  Seeing Brazilians high up in the crowd reminds him who he is. 
  • About 8 minutes, he looks at his teammates with whom a special bond had already formed.  Time seems to slow as these men are reconnecting.  They have already become close enough as to form a very strong brotherhood.  It manifests here. 
  • About 8:48, commentators observe that he's "smiling".
  • 8:53 the Brazilian commentator speaks of the players acting in "perfect harmony".
  • 9:00 the movie shifts to the view of Pelé's father, sitting among his peers in a crowded room, watching his son from very much afar – around the world even, through a tv barrier. You feel his pleasure, honor, joy for his son.  He smiles deeply.
  • 10:45 Pelé's dad discovers his wife in the crowd of jubilant Brazilians, watching via tv, and they connect. 
  • 11:45 Pelé faints and his brothers hoist him up on their shoulders.  
I was shown that this is priesthood – an association of priests.  Or in other words, this is how priesthood functions.  Priesthood is when I think of my friend and she calls me, needing help, because we are connected invisibly through love.  It is when I'm in the shower, and am led to offer to volunteer to serve someone just before they ask me for help.  It's a stitching power, which while invisible to most mortals, knits our hearts together so that the unlikely can happen in some sort of synchrony.  It's a sort of heavenly magic. 

This kind of priesthood cannot be controlled, sold, or harnessed, because it's not something that man can pass around like some sort of tangible "thing".  Unless one has this power of love.  Then the power is often nearly tangible.  When there is not love, it is broken, as the stitching is less strong. This is why Christ indicated that the greatest commandment is to love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  If we cannot have love for all three – God, our neighbors, and ourselves – we have no priesthood, or association of priests.   

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Water, Blood, Spirit, Dust

And so I give to you a commandment to teach these things freely to your children, 
saying that by reason of transgression comes the fall, which fall brings death. 
  
And inasmuch as you were born into the world by water
and blood
and the spirit
which I have made, 
and so became of dust a living soul, 

even so you must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten, that you might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory
  
For by water you keep the commandment. 
  
By the Spirit you are justified. 
  
And by the blood you are sanctified. 
  
And so it is given to abide in you, the record of heaven, 
the Comforter, 
the peaceable things of immortal glory, 

the truth of all things, 
that which quickens all things, 
which makes alive all things, 
that which knows all things, 
and has all power 
according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
  
And now, behold, I say to you, 
this is the plan of salvation to all men
through the blood of my Only Begotten, 
who shall come in the meridian of time. 
Moses 6:58-62, Simplified

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Internet

Feeling awfully poetic of late, so for you, a poem of sorts, called The Internet, inspired by recent realizations post 2/14, which I feel heralded some sort of "shift", which I don't fully understand, but recognize nonetheless.

The internet...
invisible

powerful

connective

addictive

informative

liberating

oh, the internet!
Possessing a partially loaded tree of knowledge and wisdom but who really wants to eat
the

tempting, bitter, sweet fruit?

Close your eyes! Turn it off!

Wow, the internet!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Show Your Power

A literary lament. A dirge, of sorts, and a mourning with those that mourn. 

He that believes in me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do.” 
Does anyone really believe this? 
Do any actually walk the earth who do 
what He does or did? 
It’s been almost 2000 years.  
Evangelists, preachers, apostles, prophets, believers, followers, missionaries, apostles... 
Where are those that believe on Him, 
who will not just pray, 
but heal 
the flu by laying on hands, 
without medication, therapy or vaccination? 
I call bull! 
Who will raise the dead at these quarterly massacres 
and prove their righteous monotheistic power 
and successional authority holds any weight? 
Show up, Christians! Mormons! Catholics! 
Where are your beliefs and your believers? 
Who will heal the blindness by spitting in dirt 
and anointing the eyes 
like the Jesus we claim to follow? 
Who will cast out demons 
(or even acknowledge they exist!) 
and their impounded implements 
and heal the lepers, 
the cancers, 
the Lyme’s, 
rejecting 20 rounds of antibiotics 
or 30 rounds of chemo? 
Where are you (we!), believers??? 
I don’t know that I believe 
that our national, traditional belief holds power 
when we parade and wave the flag 
but have nothing to show for it 
but pristine lawns and whited sepulchres. 
“They draw near to me with their lips 
but their hearts are far from me.” 
Tonight, I see disillusion in my heart. 
“Show your power, oh Lord, our God.” 
We sing it 
but do we believe it? 
I don’t know.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Name of Christ

Webster's 1828 Dictionary defines covenant in multiple ways. The third definition is interesting to me.
3. In theology, the covenant of works, is that implied in the commands, prohibitions, and promises of God; the promise of God to man, that mans perfect obedience should entitle him to happiness. This do, and live; that do, and die.
The covenant of redemption, is the mutual agreement between the Father and Son, respecting the redemption of sinners by Christ.
The covenant of grace, is that by which God engages to bestow salvation on man, upon the condition that man shall believe in Christ and yield obedience to the terms of the gospel.
After Benjamin finished discussing his final sermon to his people, he asked them if they believed his words, to which they replied that yes, they did.  They express that they were willing to enter a covenant with God to

  1. do his will and 
  2. to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he would command, the remainder of their days.  

Benjamin was glad that they expressed this willingness, and declares to them that
"this day he has spiritually begotten you for you say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name therefore you are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters and under this head you are made free and there is no other head whereby you can be made free".
He invites them then, to take upon themselves the name of Christ – those who have entered covenant with God, and declares them to be found at the right hand of God.  Why?  Because they will be called by the name of Christ.

I sat with this awhile, wondering by what name I am called.  My name is Jen.  My formal name is Jennifer.  My old friends and my family sometimes call me Jenny.  Some of my best friends call me JenHead and my husband calls me Sweetheart.  My kids call me Mommy, while those who don't know me at all beyond my last name call me Ms. Kindrick.

What would it sound like to be called by the name of Christ?  Do I retain any of these names?  Or do I add Christ to them?  Jennifer Christ?  Or just Christ? 

Do I call myself a Christian?  Because in 2017, that denotes a different idea than what I suspect Benjamin was expressing.  Or maybe it does?  Do I call myself after the name of Mormon, believing in the Book of Mormon?  This makes me scratch my head.  We were never told to call ourselves Mormon, or after his name.  But it does help people know that we believe (or purport to) the Book of Mormon – which end up pointing us to Christ anyways.

The stipulations for being called this name are agreeing to do his will and to be obedient.  Are Christians willing to do this, when they pronounce that they have been "saved" on "July 11, 2013", or whatever date they "accept Jesus into their heart"?  Is this not very similar to what Benjamin is asking here?  Typically when they are saved there is an understanding that their life is changed, and from my limited experience it is not something they take lightly.

Benjamin says that this name will never be blotted out, except through transgression.  It is possible for the name to be blotted out of our hearts.  We are to be capable of hearing the voice by which we are called.  The forthrightness of God is explained by Benjamin like this:
"Does a man take an ass which belongs to his neighbor and keep him I say unto you nay he will not even suffer that he will feed among his flocks but will drive him away and cast him out I say unto you that even so will it be among you if you know not the name by which you are called."  
In all the times I've read the Book of Mormon, I don't think my eyes ever really saw this line above.  God will not claim us as His, if we are not truly begotten by Him, becoming His by taking on His name.

He further explains that he desires that once we are called by this name, we "always abound in good works that Christ the Lord God Omnipotent may seal you his."  Seal you his what?  Seal you as his, might be a more clear way to explain it.  We are as though we now have that intimate relationship with him.  In essence, we are moved from being called Ms. Kindrick to Jenny or JenHead.  It is so simple yet so profound.  This is the process by which we are sealed by Christ to himself.  It begins simply, with our willingness to be taken into his family. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

IF/THEN of Mosiah 2, King Benjamin's sermon

King Benjamin's people had a deep response to his relaying of the message from the angel of the Lord.  This post is a general summary of this chapter, in list form.  As described in Mosiah 2 (Simple Edition), the people hearing his message:
  • Fell to the earth (Quite dramatic, in my opinion.  How often do I fall to the earth willingly, at a message or sermon?)
  • Fear of the Lord came upon them
  • They viewed themselves in their own, personal, carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth
  • They cried aloud in one voice, begging for 1) mercy, 2) atoning blood of Christ, that they might 3) receive forgiveness of sins and 4) that hearts may be purified
  • They expressed belief in Jesus Christ the Son of God who created heaven and earth and all things who will come down among the children of men
After they had done this, what happened: 
  • The spirit of the Lord came upon them
  • They were filled with joy
  • having received a remission of their sins
  • having peace of conscience because of their exceeding faith in Jesus - who HAD NOT YET COME - but they believed Benjamin's account
After all this, Benjamin their king begins to speak to them again, in this very interesting sermon.  He's not yet done.  He gives many important if/then statements, worth pondering.

IF:   
  • IF the knowledge of the goodness of God has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, worthlessness, and fallen state
  • IF you have come to the knowledge of the goodness of God and his matchless power, wisdom, patience and long suffering towards you, and the knowledge of the atonement prepared from the foundation of the world
  • IF you know that salvation might come to you that will put your trust in the Lord
  • IF you will be diligent in keeping his commandments
  • IF you will continue in the faith, even unto the end of your life (mortal body)
THEN:
  • THEN you receive SALVATION through the atonement prepared from the foundation of the world, which is available for ALL mankind - who ever were since the fall of Adam, who are or who will be until the end of the world.  
These are the keys of salvation.  Keys of knowledge which open doors of information.  Benjamin just told you.  He underscores even more: 
  • There is NONE other salvation except this one
  • There are NO other conditions whereby man can be saved
  • BELIEVE in God, that he is, that he (this "Jesus Christ", as explained above) created all things in heaven AND earth
  • Believe that he has all WISDOM in heaven and earth
  • Believe that he has all POWER in heaven and earth
  • Believe that man does not COMPREHEND all the things which the Lord can comprehend
  • Believe that you must repent of your sins, forsake them, and humble yourself before God
  • Believe that you must ask in sincerity of heart that he will forgive you
Can you do this?  Is this possible?  Is this believe attainable?  

IF: 
  • You believe these things? 
THEN: 
  • Do them
IF: 
  • IF you come to the knowledge of the glory of God
  • IF you have known of his goodness
  • IF you have tasted of his love
  • IF you have received a remission of your sins which causes exceedingly great joy
(Have you?  These people did.)

THEN REMEMBER: 
  • Remember the greatness of God
  • Remember your own nothingness
  • Remember his goodness and long suffering towards you unworthy creatures (lol! Don't mince words Ben!)
  • Remember to humble yourselves even in the DEPTHS of humility
  • Remember to call on the Lord daily
  • Remember to stand steadfast in the faith of what is to come (or what came, meaning Jesus)
IF:
  • You do this
THEN: 
  • You will ALWAYS rejoice!
  • You will be FILLED with the LOVE of God
  • You will ALWAYS  retain a remission of your sins (because it can be lost)
  • You will grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you
  • You will grow in the knowledge of that which is just and true
  • You will not have a mind to injure one another
  • You will have a mind to live peaceably
  • You will have a mind to render to every man according to that which is his due
  • You will not suffer your children that they go hungry or naked
  • You will not suffer that your children transgress the laws of God, fighting and quarreling one with another
  • You will not serve the devil, the master of sin, the evil spirit enemy of all righteousness
  • You will teach your children to walk in the ways of truth and soberness
  • You will teach your children to love one another
  • You will teach your children to serve one another
  • You yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor
  • You will administer of your substance to those in need
  • You will not suffer the beggar to put their petition to you in vain
[What stuck out to me dramatically, was an understanding that the blessing of being capable of teaching my children to have love for each other was part of the "then" section.  It is a byproduct of the remembering listed above.  I try so exceedingly hard to teach my children these things, but it ought not be difficult.  If I take care of the remembering above, I am virtually promised, per this message, that the mind to live peaceably among my family will be a consequence.  This would not have dawned on me had I not printed out this section, and begun circling "if" and "then", and underlining what appeared to be connected.]  

IF:
  • You impart of your substance to the poor, diligently
THEN:
  • You win the prize
[Again, imparting of my substance to the poor is a byproduct of the remembering section above.  It ought not be difficult.]   

IF:
  • You do not watch yourself
  • You do not watch your thoughts
  • You do not watch your words
  • You do not watch your deeds
  • You do not observe the commandments (which Benjamin admits there are so many ways to sin, he cannot number them)
  • You do not continue in the faith of what you have heard
THEN: 
  • You must perish

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Observances of Mosiah 1

Study observances from Mosiah 1 (Simple version)

  • King Benjamin's father's name is Mosiah
  • King Benjamin uses the words "suffer" and "list" quite a bit more than the average speaker.  (Original BoM uses "suffereth" and "listeth").  
  • 1828 Webster's Dictionary defines "list" in this manner, as the 6th definition of the transitive form of the verb -  "To hearken; to attend; a contraction of listen, which see". 
  • King Benjamin "could not teach them all within the walls of the temple".  This infers that variant teaching was typically done inside the temple, rather than strictly routine teaching or strictly ritual. 
  • His teachings, appropriate for the temple, were done outside the temple, open invitation.  Attendance was encouraged. 
There are obviously quite a bit more deeper messages in this chapter.  At the end, he relays a very important prophesy delivered by an angel of the Lord, which causes the people to literally fall upon the earth in the next chapter.  What would it look like, for the fear of the Lord to fall upon the reader of chapter 1, like the listeners did live in the flesh?