Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pure Faith

Last year on this day I was enticed to spend a year focusing on love.  Pure love of Christ.  I know I haven't been perfect at it, but I feel like grace has been given to me, to rise and increase in the amount of love I have been able to give, receive, and nurture.  It's truly been a blessed year.

This morning when I asked where I should read, I was led to Ether 12:14-15:

Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost. 
Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.
The last few days have been tumultuous here.  Emotions have run high, and tension has nearly matched it.  I find it beautiful that the Lord led me to these verses first thing in my day.  My faith has been lacking.

I tend to believe that while the Lord has awakened me from a deep sleep, it is unlikely that He will awaken those I love.  I tend to forget that He is all wise, all merciful, all knowing.  He knows when people need to awaken.  He knows I also need to exert and grow in faith.  So while the past year I spent hyper-focused on LOVE, I hope that this coming year I can focus on FAITH and see if by my faith I might find those I love encounter baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.  And perhaps even miracles like those witnessed among the Lamanites.

ROCK ON.  Let's bring down those walls, baby!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Heart Singing

Today in church we sang this song.  Oh how my heart sings with it.


This afternoon I got to hear "Sister Sally" share her witness of Yeshua.  I haven't finished it yet but have heard about half so far.  My heart is also singing with some of the new things I learned, particularly how Jesus will speak to us in our learning language.

For example, if we are visual learners, we may learn through visions or dreams.  If we are auditory learners, we may learn through audible lessons.  People who are kinesthetic learners may learn through feeling and touch.  WOW!  What a rich insight!!!  I never considered this before.  Perhaps I ought to more intensely explore my own gifts and talents and expect that I may find Jesus waiting there for me.  I highly recommend giving her witness a listen.

From the song above, Even So Come, by Chris Tomlin:

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon
Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
There will be justice
All will be new
Your name forever
Faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon
So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon
LOVE!!!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

In the Attitude of Self Righteousness

In my opinion alone, 

I believe the typical atmosphere of Sunday School, Relief Society and Priesthood classes lends to an attitude of contention, self-righteousness, and pride.  I confess I am guilty of these heinous sins and contributing wholeheartedly.  

The constant need to explain our own interpretations of scripture or feel-good quotes lends to the natural belief that our interpretation of the matter at hand is the best and correct one.  We take pride in offering the most unique and thoughtful explanation which no one has considered before.  We do this on a weekly basis, for two hours.  And then some of us go a step further and take it to online forums.  

When we suppose weekly for two hours that our correct interpretation is better than the interpretation of the person next to us, our beloved brother or sister, we fill our hearts with pride.  We place enmity between us, and our heart is grows harder.  

Add to this the preceding hour of talk & testimony of participating in the "one true church" which is more special, peculiar, and wonderful than the church across the way and we have a beautiful, luscious, delicious recipe for pride, haughtiness, and self-righteousness.  We have found and thereby now possess it all!  We have no need for more light, knowledge, or progression.  I don't think that's what the Lord intended when He called us his church.  And I don't know that that compliment still holds true.  Should He join us in our meetings, would He approve of our discussions? 

"They draw near unto me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."  

Not a one of us is guiltless.  At least not this one.  

Bravo, saints.  Bravo, one true church.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Voice after the Destruction

My children and I were studying 3 Nephi 9 tonight.  We have been sloshing through 3 Nephi at a snail's pace, which is actually great because it has allowed me to really study these verses so closely. Tonight I noticed a pattern in this chapter.  Some things of note: 

  • There were 15 cities destroyed, which are described by name by the Voice, Who speaks to the remaining inhabitants of the land.
  • The city names of those destroyed or changed are Zarahemla, Moroni, Moronihah, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno, Jacobugath, Laman, Josh, Gad, and Kishkumen.  
  • Zarahemla was the Nephite capital.
  • Moroni was named after Captain Moroni.
  • Moronihah was likely named after Moroni's son, Moronihah.
  • Laman, named after first Lamanite leader. 
  • Kishkumen was one of the first participants in the development of secret combinations preceding the destruction of the government prior to Christ's visits. 
The number 15 is significant.  The most prominent thing that comes to mind is the 15 leaders of the LDS Church whom are considered and sustained as "prophets, seers, and revelators".  

These phrases of destruction are repeated: 
  • I have burned with fire (vs. 3)
  • I have caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned (vs 4)
  • I have covered with earth (vs 5) 
  • I have caused to be sunk, and the inhabitants thereof to be buried up (vs 6)
  • I have caused to come up in the stead thereof (waters) (vs 7)
  • I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof (vs 8)
  • I buried up (the inhabitants) in the depths of the earth (vs 8)
  • I caused to be burned with fire (vs 9)
  • I did cause them to be burned (vs 9)
  • I caused to be burned with fire (vs 10)
  • I did send down fire and destroy them (vs 11)
  • And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land (vs 12)
A tally of the above yields these stats: 
  • Burned: Zarahemla, Jacobugath (where secret combinations were housed), Laman, Josh, Gad, Kishkumen = 6 cities
  • Sunk into water: Moroni, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Jerusalem = 4 cities
  • Sunk into valleys and hills: Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno = 4 cities
  • Covered with earth: Moronihah - 1 city
However of most note is the repetition of this line, in various forms, which is the answer of why the destruction happened: 
  • Because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people (vs 2)
  • Because of their iniquity and abominations (vs 2)
  • To hide their iniquities and abominations from before my face (vs 5)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them (vs 5)
  • To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 7)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them (vs 7)
  • To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 8)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them (vs 8)
  • Because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth (vs 9)
  • Because of their secret murders and combinations (vs 9)
  • For it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land (vs 9)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them (vs 9)
  • Because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations (vs 10)
  • Because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them (vs 11)
  • That their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face (vs 11)
  • That the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them (vs 11)
  • Because of their wickedness and their abominations (vs 12)
When I read verses with children they tend to tune out when the same lines are repeated over and over.  So it is peculiar to me that the Voice repeats the culpability of each city, name by name, with details of each one individually.  As though each city were a child, asking, "What have I done wrong?"

It is also curious that these are the very first words the people hear from the Voice.  A line by line explanation of what has happened to them, and why.  Prophets, saints, and those sent are listed jointly in some combination six times.  Abominations are listed seven times.  Wickedness listed eight!!! times.  Iniquities listed twice.  Sin listed once.  Blood of prophets (PLURAL) and saints (PLURAL) listed five times.  All repeated in detail.    

Additionally, when I think of these things that are worthy of destruction, I tend to lump them all into one big issue.  But why would the Voice break them down so many times?  Does sin = iniquity?  Does iniquity = wickedness?  Does wickedness = abominations?  And do murders = combinations?  Or do combinations = murder?  If "wickedness" is listed eight times, it would be interesting to discover all the other verses in the Book of Mormon where "wickedness" is used as an adjective, and explore what was going on to merit that descriptor.     

How would it be to do a case study on each city, and discover its personality?  I know off hand that the city of Moroni was quite literally on the beach, in the south-east, much like modern-day Florida.  And it was sunken.  And the city of Moroni's son, Moronihah, the great military leader, covered with dirt.  Where the choices of destruction significant?  

But despite all this, 
"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins and be converted that I may heal you?  Yea verily I say unto you if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life!  Behold mine arm of mercy is extended towards you and whosoever will come, him will I receive and blessed are those who come unto me.  Behold I am Jesus Christ the Son of God."  - 3 Nephi 9:13-15 (part), punctuation changed

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pure Love of Christ

Moroni 7: 47-48
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
I have fallen in love with Moroni 7 this week.  The entire chapter seems to be written in reverse.  Today I feel to highlight these verses above.  I never seem to have time or words to do this verse justice, but feel it's important to put this out there.

If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, you have been blessed with being filled with this love.

What love?  The pure love of Christ.

If you have not yet received it, pray unto the Father with all the energy of your heart to receive it.

As can be seen by studying the entire chapter, this pure love of Christ is the basis upon which faith to move mountains is built.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Remembering Jesus this Memorial Day.  Hope yours is memorable.  We remember the fallen.

Our freedom was paid for with a great price.  We are redeemed, the debt paid, the burden forgiven.  Of all the fallen warriors, I celebrate Him.  Thank you, Jesus.       

Monday, May 16, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reborn

Tonight I experienced an awakening moment, where a lot of things came together in blinding realization.

In the Book of Mormon we read about those who experienced the baptism of fire.  They knew it not, because it happened so gradually upon them.  My ah-ha moment came in considering the nature of the covenant of baptism (or rebaptism), and wondering to what degree my soul has been baptized.

When we are baptized, we make a visual expression of our acceptance of Jesus, our commitment to him, and our desire to have our sins cleansed and remitted.

Following (re)baptisms in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 11), immediately Jesus teaches the saints how to participate in the emblems of his body and blood.  With all of this there is to be no disagreement nor contention.  In the prayer we illustrate to God that we seek and commit to eat and drink these emblems to "always remember him".  Always is a big deal.  It sounds to me like a pretty serious commitment, especially if it's a COVENANT.  

As I drove home tonight a song came on the radio that is quite an immoral song.  While I try not to be too judgmental, this song glorifies rape and defilation of chastity.  I listened to the catchy tune, the swinging and volleying of pitch.  I remembered seeing a favorite comedian of mine sing this same song with his entertaining band.  Then I remembered an awards show where the band (not the comedian, but the original group) was included in raunchy demonstrations before the crowd, which I can only assume the participants were deluded, drugged, or possessed to do with their bodies what they were doing publicly.  As my mind started getting disgusted that I'm still listening to this song, almost as if he read my mind, my son turned the channel.  Thank you Jesus.

Why did this song turn me off?  Over the last year I hardly have ever been able to listen to it.  In fact, I can hardly listen to any pop music any longer, for many, many months.  Why?

My ah-ha was realizing I have been reborn.  I have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.  I have been redeemed, and can no longer tolerate drooping in sin.  The degradation of women, the glorification of sex, drugs, and defiling of anything that is good is no longer tolerable, even for a few moments.

Not that I want or seek to judge those who do.  And not that I did anything of my own merit or righteousness.  But my spirit, my body, and everything pertaining to it has been changed, that it can't withstand these things before feeling like a dog turning to its vomit.  It is repulsive.  Intolerable.  Insufferable.

There is no more tolerance for my personal willful, or blind participation in sin.  I have committed to always remember Him, and choose out of the nonsense.  I can't just zone out and ignore it like I used to.

For this reason I have not been able to peacefully attend church while honoring my conscience.  I have been incapable of acting like I am ok with settling for the doctrine to be defiled.  It's not that I don't want to see my friends, or associate with those I love.  It's that I cannot do it in that venue.  It would be breaking the covenant and I can't do it anymore, despite missing those loved ones.  Only should the Lord direct could I begin again to do so.

Further, I have not been able to pretend that the small things don't matter.  They do.  Where much is given much is required.  Many are called but few are chosen.  How does one be chosen?

So what to do now?  I wait upon the Lord for further light and knowledge.  I hope that by abiding this commitment He will bestow upon me, my family, and those who are wondering what in the world I am doing, great blessings.

Like Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, "I am waiting for you Vizzini!"  "I am waiting for you Jesus!"  Only Vizzini was dead by then, and Jesus is risen, so I can have much more confidence than Inigo had.