Friday, March 27, 2015

Dungeons and Fires

And Alma went forth, and also Amulek, among the people, to declare the words of God unto them; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost.
And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them.
And it came to pass that they went forth and began to preach and to prophesy unto the people, according to the spirit and power which the Lord had given them. - Alma 8:30-32

We read these verses this past week during our family scripture-reading time.  I really love the experiences we have of Alma and Amulek's mission together.  I say mission, not like the current interpretation, but the sense that they had a mission or a task they were to accomplish.  Alma was pretty much ready to wipe the dust from his feet when it came to the city of Ammonihah, but an angel of the Lord stopped him, told him to return, and he was led to Amulek's house.  Little did he know, Amulek would be pre-alerted likewise by an angel to receive him.  Their mission together is so remarkable, it is amazing to me that it is so often overlooked.

The parts highlighted above.  What do they mean?  They could not be confined in dungeons.  How?  Why?  Can you imagine what that looks like?

It was impossible to kill them.  IMPOSSIBLE!  Meaning someone or some people tried, possibly at least once, but probably on more than one occasion (to ensure the first attempt was not just a fluke).  Those who wished them harm had no power over them.  No weapon could be formed to harm them.

BUT, unlike magicians and master showmen, they weren't about magic tricks, to amaze and tease their audience.  They did not show forth their power until the very last moments, when they were bound and cast into prison.  (I guess that could resemble some magicians, who like to lock themselves up and get stuck in water tanks.)  But this was not entertainment, as they had a REAL message to share, beyond sheer shock and awe.  The Lord wanted to show forth his power.  But since it was not the appointed time for him to come directly, he showed forth his power in them, by proxy.

Why does God use servants like Alma and Amulek?  And how do we know when we encounter true servants?  A few thoughts, following the pattern of Alma and Amulek.

  • True servants will be humble.
  • They will follow the pattern of scripture.
  • They seek not their own, but are endowed with power to be preserved, when appropriate.
  • They will receive angels.
  • They preach repentance.
I did not intend to take this post this direction, but will trust that someone needs those words.  I intended to write about the wonders of how they escaped the dungeons.  How did they?  Have you ever stopped to think HOW this happened?  Was their body changed, to be able to escape?  

In the book, Visions of Glory, we learn of how "Spencer" becomes translated.  When I read this verse this past week, I wondered if Alma and Amulek of necessity experienced translation.  If I recall correctly, it seems that the body is quickened, and it may happen slowly or quickly.  I thought it really cool to wake up and read this post this morning, grateful someone else had some thoughts on the matter.  

Additionally, perhaps the use of portals was used, as Spencer describes in Visions of Glory as well.  Portals are something I think of akin to watching Star Trek, but it's not hard to imagine.  It's a conduit or opening, allowing someone to move from one geographic location to another.  If God can walk through walls, appear in spaces without coming through doors, and float down from the heavens, I think it's entirely plausible that such a thing as a portal to travel between locations would be possible.

When I opened up my scriptures this morning, I asked God where I should read.  I always like this method of knowing where to read, as some really great things are opened up when I trust that I can hear the voice of God.  It gives me joy to feel a connection in this way, as often the verse I read is undeniably sent from Him.  Helaman 5:23 came to mind.  Here's what it says:

And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them for fear lest they should be burned.  Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned; and they were as standing in the midst of fire and were not burned.  
This is ANOTHER perfect example of two souls who were obviously changed, somehow, so their bodies could permit the miraculous to be happening around them.  They were not burned!  Even though they were standing in the middle of a blazing fire, or so it appeared to all present.

How wonderous are the dealings of our God.  How does one attain such faith, to become so changed?  If he have faith as a grain of a mustard seed, you can move mountains.  It appears that understanding the true nature of faith would be the first step in the right direction.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Are We Children of God?

This has been sticking out in my mind and heart lately.  Is the idea that we are "children" of God instantaneously because we are here, a true statement?  Please consider some quotes from Joseph Smith, from his "King Follet Discourse".  (We have four accounts of this discourse.  I highly enjoyed reading all of them.  They are some of the most beautiful expositions on the nature of God's eternal plan that I have ever read.)


"All men say God created it in the beginning. The very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better. Hear it all ye ends of the world, for God has told me so. Before I get through, I will make a man appear a fool if he doesn't believe it. I am going to tell of things more noble...
God never had power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself. Intelligence exists upon a self-existent principle; it is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it...
The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God found himself in the midst of spirits and glory , and because he was greater, he saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have the privilege of advancing like himself – that they might have one glory upon another and all the knowledge, power, and glory necessary to save the world of spirits..."

How does this line up with "I am a child of God"?  Or "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us and we love Him"?

Another scripture, which further puts forth the nature of our beings.

"Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are...eternal." (Abraham 3:18)
This is not to say He did not create our bodies.  Not so.

"In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God."
(Moses 6:9)
It appears that He has created our bodies, however our spirits have no beginning or end.

I wonder if understanding our true nature is half the battle in overcoming depression, self-doubt, or overall misery.  Joseph taught that one could not truly know God without understanding the nature of His being (or Be-ing).  It stands to reason that this is just one teaching where we may be a bit skewed, and readjusting direction may help us find greater understanding of God's course for us.   

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Upside down, Inside out

It all started in 2004, when I got bored with the radio and started listening to talk radio, and this freak-o guy that had the song, "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous" playing as his theme song.  I began looking at all my political views upside down, inside out, wondering how people could never put themselves in one another's shoes and expect the other side to always cave to their demands.

Then it turned into examining my own religious beliefs, upside down, inside out.

Then it turned into medicine, upside down, inside out.

What happens when you look at things upside down, inside out all the time?  Eventually the only thing you believe, and the only thing you trust, is the Source of all Truth.  I suppose that is how He would have us be, if we are to never trust in the arm of the flesh. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Don't Understand


This quote is from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  I love the man.  I used to repeat this belief, but since being awakened, I see everything differently.  Everything.

Sweet Elder Holland, what about this?
"We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory." - Joseph Smith, Article of Faith #10
When I was a kid, if I recall correctly, we learned the Articles of Faith as songs.  Maybe I wasn't a kid.  Maybe I was just a teacher.  Do any of you remember having Article of Faith included in any of your Primary Presentation lineups in the last 20 years?

And what about this?
"God will gather out His Saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered."  -Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 71
And then 3 Nephi 21.  Read it!  Now!  If you don't believe the Book of Mormon, and if you don't believe Joseph Smith, then why go to such effort to print millions of and have missionaries give them out free?  I don't get it.

May God bless you. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Source of Truth and Light

I felt pretty crummy after last night's post.  I don't think I explained the idea very well, but it's a start.  The biggest awakening came when I realized that Satan didn't just want to be the one to redeem, but that he wanted God's glory.  And he said, "Here am I, send me... wherefore give me thine honor."  I don't just want the honor from whatever comes from this world being built, experienced, and lived.  Let me have it all.  In essence, "I can do it better than you.  Let me show you.  Here AM I.  My way is better.  And no one will be lost.  We have lost some before, and it's grueling, so let's not do that again, shall we?"

When I think on this further, I think of energy flow.

Let's look at two words.  Selfish, and selfless.

Narcissism is selfish.  Everything is about the self, and all the attention, glory, praise, adoration, and energy goes to the one who is the narcissist.

Love is selfless.  It is said throughout scripture that God IS love.  Does one just feel love?  How is love best manifest?  I believe it is felt, for me, most powerfully, when it extends beyond my person.  It is positive energy flowing outwards.  Inevitably it is love flowing towards people, places, and things.  It often feels like gratitude and joy.

To set the two side by side, at the discussion in heaven, we see an interesting juxtaposition.  God the Father, being ALL LOVE, the Great I AM, facing a Son of the Morning, obviously having understood something to make it to the highness of his position.  Do you find it interesting when  he says, "Here am I?"  Isn't God the Great I AM?  This Son of the Morning faces Him and says, "Let me do it.  My way.  And let me be the recipient of all the glory."  All the love will go his way.  Let me greed it in.

Am I misunderstanding?  Does Satan have some ulterior motive, with which he intended to share this love?  The fact that he has a sense of greed for glory indicates to me that he somehow flipped from learning whatever principles allowed for godhood and priesthood, to a state of believing that incoming love and incoming glory were worth more than outgoing love and outgoing glory.  I don't even fully understand this, but I think there is something to this.

Am I content to live a life of love, and let go of the need for increased glory-seeking, brought about by my own works?  Or brought about by my pride and making myself higher or better or richer than another?  Can I be simply content and completely edified to experience daily joy and love with my children?  What would it take to grow into godhood, being like This Father, rather than the Deceiver?  How would I guarantee an ever-increasing amount of Love, outwards?  How does one do this and continue to be filled?

Gratefully, The Father gave us The Son as the perfect example, to get a good idea how to start.  He is The Source of Truth and Light.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Sin of Narcissism

For a long time I've been pondering on one particular subject.  It might seem clear as day to everyone else, but it really puzzled me, and I felt like there was more to this concept.  It has concerned me for so long, I began praying and asking for understanding.  It is about this.  

In Mormonism, we tend to re-tell the story of the pre-mortal life.  The nutshell version goes like this.
God the Father presented a plan.  He wanted to offer us an experience where we go to Earth, get a body, and get tested to see if we can return to Him.  He needed a redeemer, and Satan steps forward and says, "Here I am, send me."  He presents an addition to God's plan, but the catch is, Satan won't lose one soul; all will return, but he will get the glory.  

Then Jesus steps forward, and says, "Father, thy will bedone, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:2)  We teach that he prefers to offer us agency on earth, and 2/3 of the host of heaven follows Jesus' plan.  1/3 follow Satan.  Jesus wins!  And we all come to earth, get a body, and have to find the correct church.  Once we find his correct church, we just have to do all the right ordinances, endure the end, and all will be saved because we did all the works we could, and Jesus' grace and Atonement cover the rest.  Right? :)  This is the story a sister in my ward summed up this past Sunday.  

I'd like to present a new version, one which might align more with our scriptures.  In fact, it might align more with truth, although my mind is currently veiled from remembering any of this, so my own interpretation might be just as erroneous as the nutshell version.  

My question I have been asking for some time is this.  What was so wrong with Satan insisting that not one soul is lost?  I mean, we teach that if we follow the prophet, we will never be led astray.  What's wrong with that?  This is not far from Satan's plan, if we really think about it.  So why is this a bad thing?  Do we not want all the souls to return?  

Our explanation?  Well, by doing this, we remove agency, as all mortals would need to do exactly as was required.  We'd have to keep all the commandments, and perhaps it would be a grueling experience.  What would that look like?  To follow Satan's plan, where not one soul would be led astray?  That's probably a question I really don't care to look too closely at.  Seems kind of ugly.

This past Sunday, I came upon another question, when reading Moses 4:1-4 in Relief Society.  The verse that really stuck out was this one: 

1. And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
2. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
3. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
4. And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.
I was going to create a really long post with this, and hopefully soon I will have more steam, but for tonight, I want to share this much.  Two points.  

One, this was not just a war over agency.  We already had it (vs.3).  It had already been given to us of the Father.  To belabor the war in heaven as a war completely over agency is not accurate.   

Two.  Satan wanted the Father's power.  Even more, he wanted to dethrone Him.  Yes, we may have heard this before, but let's take it a step farther.  I want to claim that the reason that Satan was so thoroughly thrown down was narcissism.  

Last week I went to an activity, in a sheer state of near depression.  It was a week of overwhelm, and I went to a ladies activity, almost seeking some sort of refuge.  I mean no offense to anyone who may read this, but after attending and pondering the evening, I experienced a wild amount of unveiling of this information.  I hope to lay it out clearly.  

The greatest sin is narcissism.  

Satan was thrown down for his insane amount of pompous, arrogant, proud narcissism.  

Our world is filled with, through and through, an ever increasing amount of narcissists.  

At the activity I went to, I arrived late (normal).  I sat in the back, and was then invited to sit next to a sister.  It felt remarkably comforting.  As the night went on, I admit I was feeling extremely introverted, almost wounded, out of sheer exhaustion from the labors of the week.  This was one time where I thought I might find some solace at a church activity.  There were several sisters who I got to talk to.  In talking with one, then one, then one, then one, I noticed a pattern: no one really cared about a single thing I was saying, at least not enough to let go of the activity and actually just converse more than 2 minutes.  

Yes, they cared, I'm sure.  Yet when the opportunity came up to continue on in the craft, or continuing talking to me, they chose to step away, mid-convo, and carry on with the craft.  

I came home seriously bummed.  I didn't even say goodbye to anyone.  I don't take it personally, because I know it wasn't me.  It was an activity to do an activity, and maybe I'm a poor sport for expecting it to be anything other than that.  But when I arrived home, it hit me.  

People like talking about themselves.  Email.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Social Media (like this awesome blog).  Look around.  Selfies, selfies, selfies.  Look at my kids.  Look at my job.  Look at my money.  Look at how awesome, awesome, AWESOME I am!  Heck, I am so awesome, I'm better than the next guy (pride).  I'm so awesome, I'm going to be the best ______ in my field, better than the person who taught me the ropes.  I'm worth so much more than I'm getting paid.  And everything is for sale.  

Doesn't that just make you feel creepy, just to read it?  It makes me shiver to write the words.  Satan got hewn down for his insane amount of narcissism.  And the best thing, in his world, that we can do is imitate him.  Not one soul will be lost, because they will be so flipping awesome, so perfect, so self serving.  And when we imitate him, and only care for ourselves, we have no love.  All we care about is ourselves.

Look at our country.  My husband has long said a certain man in power is quite the narcissist.  What does it mean, when the leader of the free world cares nothing for the ever increasing amount of poor and unemployed, yet takes entourages on endless -- and I mean ENDLESS -- vacations?  The man has played more rounds of golf than I have put on makeup this year.  Seriously.  No, seriously.  What kind of example is this to the people who put him there?  What is wrong with the people who put him there?  They were narcissists, seeking only the best for themselves, thinking this man would save them.  I remember the speeches, in front of white pillars, echoing speakers, as if he were some type of god.  Now, he gets to act like one.     

When we are the farthest from God, we have no love.  No concern for the beggar, no concern for the poor.  No concern for the sick.  No concern for the 21 Christians who lost their heads this week.  No concern for the sweatshops that give us cheap clothes.  No concern for the people in various lands who dumpster dive for trash to eat, or are so poor they do not even care to bury their dead.  No concern for any number of ills that we really can't solve, so we don't even try.  

My biggest concern this week was that my laptop crashed, after beginning this post.  It was as if Satan knew that I would have just a smidge of something to expose, and hijacked my laptop.  I am praying sincerely for something to be salvaged, but the man fixing it says it's highly unlikely I'll get anything off it it.  Four years of family pictures (b/c I'm too wrapped up in taking pics to actually take the time to get them developed), four years of work documents, important files... hopefully not gone, but quite possibly.  As I prepared to write a post about narcissism, all the things that make me think of myself could be inaccessible.  And to think I could have spent hours and hours printing them out.  But what does it serve humanity or my brother, to be self-inflicted with endless albums of photos, cropped and mounted just so?  Or endless stacks of "important documents"?  

I see the irony, and once again, realize I have so many flippin' idols.  I am yet SO SO far from putting God first.  I would pay $100, no $250 to get those pics back, but do you think I'd trust to put $250 into some effort to help Christians in Iraq?  Am I a narcissist?  I could say no, but I really don't think we have any comprehension of the nature of the people that exist in heaven, or will make up Zion.  So much of what we do is just nonsense.  What stops us from overcoming narcissism?  The only answer I have is love.  What else could there be?  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Shielding

After I wrote my last abysmal post, I had a bit of a very large revelation.  I was blown away by it, and scribbled as much as I could into my journal.  The next day, I went to my computer and began typing up an outline, so I could clearly share.  I didn't know if I was to share it here, or go so far as to write up something more extensive, but I began writing to get it out of my head.

Ironically enough, when I went to write more yesterday, my computer died.  Like, black screen of death, died.  I turn it on, and hear the fan running, and get the recovery screen up, but it will not power up completely.

Yes, my computer was attacked by the adversary.  Don't laugh.  I mean it!  Can it be explained any other way?  Of course it can.  But I see the irony as highly intriguing.

It's got all our family pics from the last 3 or 4 years.  I was a goof and didn't back them up in that long.

So next time I get a mind blowing understanding and find myself inclined to share, I will pray for my computer.  Yes, I will do it and not be ashamed!  :)    

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Failing

Yesterday I quit my kids' cyber school before finishing.  We weren't really even half way done.  I was ready to smash their computers because the program the school uses is crazymaking.  I think they made the program that way so people wouldn't want to do it, and would go back to the building for school..

Today I missed my daughter's special "Release Time" where she learns about Jesus at the local church.  Completely forgot until it was halfway over.  

We were late for storytime at the library for my son, because we took too long getting ready to pick up my daughter from school before hand.  10 minutes late.  So we kinda pretty much missed the story... at storytime...

We missed Activity Day Girls last night because when we got home from buying Valentine's cards for school (for Friday) it was already time to leave for Activity Days, and we hadn't even thought about dinner yet.  And I was feeling worn out.

I almost forgot my son had to show up at the school for band today.  My mom took him in.  

I got reprimanded for not submitting a sports registration for my son's team.  I only finished half of it.  The lady who is the secretary wrote some words in all caps in an email to me.  I didn't appreciate that.  

I also forgot to order materials for a class I'm teaching next week for 15 people.  I ordered them today, but it will be a miracle if they come in on time.

My kids' insurance renewal was due today.  It's not in.

I'm a week behind in getting an account fixed for my work.  Two clients have been waiting on me daily.

My son's lacrosse team is doing a fundraiser, and we only got notice of it via a curt email (FROM THE SAME GIRL WHO LIKES THE CAPS LOCK) last Friday.  The info is all on the website, the lady said, but it wouldn't print right from our computer.  We needed another day, but we got them in a day late.  Today my husband had 9 more orders come in, so I get to be the fool who calls to see if they'll still accept the orders.  After they already gave me an extension.

My chest has been feeling like a sumo wrestler has been sitting on it for about two weeks.  It feels like I have a knife in my back and a dislocated rib, but after 2 chiropractor visits to two different chiropractors, it still hasn't changed much.  If I had my own insurance, I would get it checked out, but until then I am using prayer, chiropractic, massage, essential oils, supplements, meditation (when I can), and spiritually sighted friends to help me figure out why I can't take a deep breath.  Apparently my heart needs a lot of help.

There are two loads of laundry that were washed on Saturday sitting stacked in their baskets in my bedroom.  There are at least 5 loads waiting on me to be washed.

I can't fit my favorite jeans anymore.

Relief Society is tonight, and they're making pillow cases.

Dinner is mini Peanut Butter Cups.  

Sometimes I wish we could be a little kinder to one another.

On the plus side...

My kids are over their colds and strep throat (although one has an ear ache).  Praise God!

My kids are no longer fighting like cats and dogs every day.  Praise God!

My kids are learning that mommy is not perfect.  Praise God!

My son (who still attends school) is actually getting his work done.  Praise God!

My other son is ENROLLED IN LACROSSE AND I KNOW HOW TO USE THE CAPS LOCK TOO!  Praise God!

We (HOPEFULLY) don't have to pay an extra fee, since we SUCCESSFULLY completely the fundraiser in a handful of days.  Praise God!

My clothes are mostly clean and so are my ears.  Although I'm getting fatter, which much mean I'm eating well. :)  But in my affirmations I say "I'm so skinny and awesome!"  Because skinny is cool.  Praise God!

And the best part?

I just got an email asking to complete a survey for the Church Information Division. :)  YAY!  I LOVE surveys and opinion polls.  Praise GOD!!!

Just praising God makes me happy.  Perhaps that's the best medicine for all kinds of stress.