Sunday, July 26, 2015

Homage to a Great One

When I was 16 years old or so, I had an opportunity to learn piano from one of the great instructors in our community.  Nevelyn Knisely was a retired professor from Lebanon Valley College, a local college which specializes in music performance and instruction.  My mother had apparently asked a friend from church whose husband also works at the college for references of a good piano instructor for me.  I loved playing and had somewhat outgrown my previous teachers.  Our friend recommended Nevelyn highly, and I began playing again under her tutelage.

We focused primarily on modern classics with swift tempos which would entertain audiences.  Nevelyn enjoyed fast fingers, and had be practicing with two-handed double octave scales.  I tired of that quickly and soon wanted to quit.  I preferred to play pieces for enjoyment, and could not be bothered with rote scales, as cool as they were at first.  

I remember having her call on the phone, after my mom told her I wanted to stop.  "Please don't quit," she said.  "You've got such talent.  It would just be such a shame to see you quit.  Please just keep on playing.  We don't have to do scales."  So I continued on.  

Somewhere in my home I'm sure I have the recital pieces we played.  She would have each of her students do a solo piece, and then at the end she did 4 handed duets with all of us.  Those were some of the funnest pieces, and truly instilled a joy in me for playing which I had not experienced doing solos. 

Several years ago when I first began playing on my electric piano (gasp!), I had a prompting that when I returned to Pennsylvania, I ought to see if I could find Nevelyn and thank her for keeping me going.  When I returned, I asked my friend if Nevelyn was still alive, and she said that she was, but that she had Alzheimer's and was living in a nursing home.  I was prompted to go find her and play for her, even if she couldn't remember me.  But I let life get in the way.  

Eight days ago, as I sat down to practice the organ music for the upcoming Sunday, I had a similar prompting.  Go play for Nevelyn.  Music speaks to the mind and heart in ways that words cannot always reach.  Even if she wouldn't remember me, maybe the music would speak to her?  So at church the next day, I asked my friend again, "Have you heard how Nevelyn is?  Is she still among the living?"  She confirmed that she believed so, and that she was still in the nursing home.  

I intended to go visit her later that day, and got distracted.  I also felt lazy, and was intimidated with trying to figure out how to find her at this nursing home.  Really, could it be all that hard?  So I neglected the prompting, again.  

Thursday night... reminded in spirit again... Go play for Nevelyn.  

Friday afternoon, received an email from my friend.  She says it's interesting that I asked her last Sunday how Nevelyn was, as she had passed away the night before.  Ugh.  No.  No, no, no!  

Here is her obituary.  Her work was so prolific that they named an award at the college after her.  What a rare feat!  What a woman!

I am convinced that she was one of the great ones referenced in Abraham 3:22.  
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good...
Reading Nevelyn's obituary inspires me.  It's amazing what one person can fit into a lifetime, all before 16 years of Alzheimer's.  Today in Sunday School, the mutual friend from church mentioned that Luke 24:32 inspired the song "Thy Spirit Lord, Has Stirred Our Souls".  I have to believe that Nevelyn surely received the spiritual gift of music, and transferred the blessing of it to hundreds, if not thousands of individuals.  What a gift to the planet!  Thank you, God, for sweet Nevelyn Knisely.  I am truly sorry I didn't follow that prompting, as it would have been a memorable gift to have played for her one last time.  I keep praying that a raincheck will suffice, and maybe someday we'll have a chance to play together again.  I really hope so.  In the meantime I'll keep practicing, even if I'm wearing headphones and "no one else" can hear me.   

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Cave

Hi Casey, 

I know you're not taking song requests on earth right now, but regardless, I'd like to dedicate this post/song to my friends.  Which friends?  Well, to to the friend whose father is virtually disowning her and her family because she has a different view of the definition of "prophet", this is for you.  To the ones who were announced via Stake President over multiple pulpits to have been excommunicated (for kneeling during the sacrament) when they actually have not been cast out, this is for you.  To the ones who's casting off began a long while ago when the sister wore pants to her church just outside the Mormon Corridor, this is for you.  To the ones who are not permitted to speak in Sunday School because talking about Jesus was too "radical", this song's for you.  To the ones conflicted about their Church "closets" and where they stand for fear of losing your employment and support for your family, this is for you.  To those of you who decided to follow Joseph, Emma, and countless early saints' example by receiving rebaptism in living water for renewal of your commitment to God, healing, or cleansing (and then got cut off for it), this is for you too.  To those who are learning how to walk a razor thin line of acceptance vs ostracism, and following the voice of the Lord over and despite all, this post is for you.  And lastly, to those who are observing it all and still trying to make sense of how people can do all this and call themselves Mormon, this is lovingly for you too.  All of you. 

I thought I'd share the second song on Sigh No More, called "The Cave".  I love it when CDs actually include the lyrics in the insert, and this one does.

I think my favorite part (visually) is at 1:15.  Wait for it...

Here are the lyrics, which I am grateful to say are good to read.  Previously when I'd heard this song I misinterpreted them (I thought he said "will let you choke" rather than "won't let you choke"), and it gave a totally different meaning to the song.  Now that I have read the lyrics, I'd say it speaks well to the strivings of the day.  I've added lots of link-ups for context on how it speaks to me, although even the link-ups don't quite speak accurately – just close.  You can decide if it works for you.  Probably not with Mumford was intending, but most songs can often morph into what we want them to be.  So I'm taking a moment for some cathartic release on behalf of my friends.

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun it rises slowly as you walk 
Away from all the fears and all the 
faults you've left behind 

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater you see
But I have seen the same I know the

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways

'Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
And know my call despite my faults and despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
And I'll find strength in pain 
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence when you know the maker's land

So make your siren's call

'Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

And I will hold on hope 
And I won't let you choke 
On the noose around your neck
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again 

I think I could come up with a million variables on each line.  Either way, it speaks.   

Monday, July 20, 2015

We Need More Jesus

Two Sundays ago, this letter was read in our combined Priesthood/RS Meeting, regarding the Church's position on same-sex marriage.  A friend of mind asked for some practical applications on how to act in response to this, especially at church.  She didn't really enjoy the answers given, so I offered her two thoughts.  I'll elaborate one here, prefacing it with some scripture.

When Alma and his brethren/friends were visiting the Zoramites, he was lamenting their odd sense of worship.  In fact, it tormented him such that he began calling out to God.  I want to call into question some things he says that were we to imitate, we may find a bit peculiar.  

Alma 31: 26.  O Lord...
Alma 31:27.  O God... O God...
Alma 31: 28.  O my God... 
Alma 31:30.  O Lord God... O Lord...
Alma 31:31.  O Lord... O Lord... 
Alma 31:32.  O Lord... O Lord...
Alma 31:34.  O Lord...
Alma 31:35.  O Lord... O Lord...  

13 times.  He calls on the Lord God 13 times in one prayer, and he was not specifically (or only) using the name Heavenly Father, as we often do.  Was Alma's prayer ineffective, because he used "vain repetition" of the word Lord or God, and did not address his prayer directly to Father?   

Alma 31: 36:  

Now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words, that he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him.  And behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  

I told my friend we need a lot more Jesus in our meetings.  If we had so much awesomeness in Jesus, so much sincere prayer, calling without shame on the name of our Lord, we would have no need to distract over what issues are sin, because we would truly have no desire to sin.  We would be healed weekly.  Liquidating sin is cake once you really know Jesus.  I have to wonder if the clapping of hands and filling with the Holy Ghost looked a lot like this video depicts, in the streets of Vegas. 

After Alma clapped his hands on his friends, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, here's what happened next.  

And after that they did separate themselves one from another, taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on.  

And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.  Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith. 

O Lord, my God, bless us with more faithful prayers, even like unto Alma.  Let us not be afraid to truly call out to You in pure faith.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

13 Years, going on 14

This weekend my husband and I are celebrating 13 years of marriage, and begin into our 14th year together.  (Happy Anniversary Babe!)  We got married in the Washington D.C. temple.  It was an extremely hot day, and my flowers were the most beautiful shade of pink, and they smelled heavenly. When I think of our wedding pictures I laugh because I remember Dan's brother complaining of having to wear a tux in the ridiculous heat.  It really was hot out.  

We had an awesome deep blue Nissan Maxima rental, and my friends Alicia and Brendan wrote on the windows with window chalk.  They surprised us and made it to the wedding, along with lots of other really awesome friends.

We were so clueless!  It makes me laugh, looking back.  Marriage for time and all eternity is a big deal, and we really didn't make that big of an inquisition when we decided to give it a go.  In Mormondom as well, you know it's the most special thing you can embark on, but beyond that, you're really not given that much of what to expect when you go into the temple.  (Or when you come out!)  I remember quite a bit of everything back then, and thoroughly enjoyed the day.  We've stuck through quite a bit of drama, and hope to have many great years together.  The good news is, we tied God into our commitments, in a three-way deal.  So even if I were a pretty lousy wife, or if Dan is not the perfect husband, we can ask God to patch us up.  And God is the best marriage partner ever.  EVER.  Thank you Jesus. :)  After 13 years you're still the best partner in the marriage.  We're trying to gain on ya, but you're still light years of perfection ahead.    

As we were enjoying the Sabbath today, Dan gave me a "small gift".  Two music CDs, one was Brad Paisley's Mud on the Tires, and the other was Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More.  We got Mud on the Tires back when we were living in Florida, during our first year of marriage.  It's probably our first BP CD, and totally led us to fall in love with all his music.  Such a gift to us to have through the years.

I'm pasting in a link to one of my favorites.  If you're part of a goofy couple, your loved one might really enjoy it.  Dan still lets me listen to this song repeatedly.  In fact, this is one CD that we have listened to over and over again during our many cross-country trips during our first years of marriage.   We used it so much that it's grown scratched up, so the time is right to get a new one.  

Piano, electric & acoustic guitar, steel guitar, banjo, violin.  Best part of instrumentals is 4:40.  And lyrics: 

You overthink things
You say what if
We're not meant to be
You know what?
So what
Make a mistake with me

Nobody goes through this life
and does everything perfectly
We're all gonna fail
So might as well
Make a mistake with me

Sometimes baby when we take
the chance that has this much at stake
We look back and in hindsight
What seemed wrong looks more like right

So I say worst case
We'll be left with 
lots of good memories
It's the chance we have
It's worth that
So make a mistake with me

So I'm telling you
the right thing to do
Is make a mistake
Make a mistake
Make a mistake with me

Whoops, help me out

Here's to 14. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

With a Twinkle in His Eye, Mormon 8:31

"I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home. … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’” (Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78.)

"Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day.  But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity." - Mormon 8:31

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Root of the Gay Dilemma

Late last night I read a post on a blog (I linked it so you can read it before proceeding), which brought up a potential quandry for the LDS Church, to remain with or to part with the Boy Scouts of America.  The Boy Scouts will be making a formal decision, whether or not to allow gay scout leaders in their ranks.  The potential policy change caused a lot of inner soul searching for me, and I'm still in the thick of it.

The Bible, most especially the Old Testament, teaches that men lying with men, and women with women, is an abomination.  Most of the laws and commandments in the Bible stem from a principle which fits into God's plan.  There are a lot of laws and commandments, such as not eating bacon, for example, which the Christian world at large disregard.  Even so, practicing Jews refuse to eat bacon or meat from bi-cloven hoofed animals.  For breaking this commandment, one would face the condemnation required, should they be ascribers to the Mosaic Law.  

[Sidenote: I watched this video from Todd White a few nights ago which really blessed my understanding of Condemnation vs. Righteousness in relation to Christ and the Mosaic Law.  Please watch if you get a chance.  It's worth the time.] 

Previously I've written that I think there are other sins to worry about, and we are just as potentially guilty of many of them.  I wonder if our condemnation is just as dire as those who live a homosexual lifestyle.  As I pondered the heart of the sin, the question came, "Does God approve of homosexual relations?  If so, why the commandment not to?  If not, why?"  The answer I had was because it thwarts the plan of bringing souls into mortality.  If one is living a lifestyle which prohibits child birthing, they are limiting opportunities for children to come to the earth.  

If that wasting of such an opportunity is an abomination, it makes additional sense why abortion is such a horrid sin (beyond the murder-in-the-womb element), but it also raises the question for me, in what other instances might our actions thwart God's plan by prohibiting souls to come to earth?  

Birth control pills?  Vasectomies?  Tubes tied?  Condoms?  Are these thwarting God's plan?  No, really.  

Are those who use these things, or have partaken of these surgeries, likewise thwarting God's plan?  

Is the condemnation the same?  Can we say it does not fall under the same heading as gay relations which cease the reproduction of offspring?
I know I for one, tend to believe that I don't conceive of more children because I don't feel capable of mentally handling more.  At the moment it would do me in to add to my "collection". :) I am just as guilty as preventing further life to be born as one who chooses a homosexual life, am I not?  Is there justification for me, because society, and Christians in general, find "family planning" or birth control acceptable?  So why does it cause me such concern if gays are permitted into the Boy Scouts?  Is it a skewed view I have, because society passes judgment (or lack thereof)?

Why is homosexuality the measuring stick of a civilization's righteousness or wickedness?  In the Book of Mormon, sexual sin was not so descriptive to delineate between homosexuality, adultery, polygamy, etc., but rather it was labeled "lasciviousness".  Is our acceptance of lasciviousness in general a litmus test?  Does our legalization of gay marriage, and the government's possessive nature of the institution of marriage mean we are more tolerant of not only private sins, but also public ones?  Have we permitted the governmentalization of religion and spirituality?  In essence, have we become a theocracy, where the religion of the day is atheism?   

As a whole, I feel like society's judgments are often off, and traditionally misguided.  This might be another case where we justify our sin while pointing out the faulty character traits or sins of another.  Does God approve of homosexuality?  I don't believe so.  Are there male souls born into female bodies?  I believe it certainly is possible, as wow, what a test that would be for the male soul and those who are around him/her.  Are there humans walking around with spirits of the opposite sex attached to their souls, causing gender confusion?  I believe so in many counts.  (Dr. Melvin Fish talks about this in his books, worth considering.)  I also believe it is a sin and a condemnation that we do nothing to administer clearing of those spirit attachments, and consider that kind of healing to be witchcraft or priestcraft.  What do we have to say for ourselves, that the real gifts of healing from same-sex attraction are not found in our ranks?  As "key-holders", are we going to be held accountable for our deficiency in administering these gifts?

The other day I posted a post regarding a Church survey I had participated in.  My stance was to share that I believe we ought to make Church a more Jesus-focused place, and less about pointing to sin.  After reading Anonymous Bishop's post about the gays, I will say that my heart was blown to pieces, but now I wonder if I've gained some bandaging.  All I can do is thank Jesus for offering me some mild confidence in my answers.  I believe my turmoil with the Boy Scouts, and also the Church, is more over their fiscal choices on belt loops and certifications, rather than their flip-flopping over how to handle homosexuality.  There are less expensive ways to instill positive values in boys.  Look at what we do (or did) for the Young Women.

(Photo source, thanks Vintage Kids Stuff!)

Can we not duplicate that for the boys, gender appropriate?  I remember as a young girl, I couldn't wait to get to Girl's Camp to be like my big sisters.  And the most they earned, after 4 years of camp, was a neckerchief with one patch, and two patches if they completed another 2 years and became a "Summiteer".  (Although truth be told, there was more variety in patches throughout the history of the program.)  We ought to sincerely consider our participation in extravagances where such funds really could be providing for those who are "roughing it" on a more permanent basis. 

Thank you, Jesus, for providing me a measure of clarity.  I hope I'm listening to the right Spirit in this view.  It feels much better, and much more loving, patient, and kind than the one which ostracizes.  As for whether or not my son will attend his first scout camp this next month, the jury's still out.   

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What do you think, Jesus?

If you told me a year ago that the Church does opinion polls to gather the insights of its members, I'd have probably been skeptical.  I read about it in various blogs, but just didn't pay much attention.  However in the last 11 months, I've received 6 invitations to complete an opinion poll for the Church.  I have completed every one I've been asked to complete.  The topics have ranged from gay marriage to youth issues (I'm not supposed to discuss them with other members, like you people reading this) to other procedural things which I don't really recall.  At first I felt obliged to provide the info, but I noticed afterwards that I indeed felt quite slimy.  Why?

Well probably because I felt like I'm contributing to a Wizard of Oz scenario.  We believe in modern prophets, modern revelation.  If we believe in these, then why would there ever be a need to opinion poll, ANYONE?

When I presented the fact that I've received 6 invites in less than a year to my husband, he said, "You know it costs a lot of money to have polls done, right?  Like Scott Rasmussen and Zogby are making bocu bucks.  Like millions...  You've gotta pay someone to come up with the questions, to send out the letters, to gather and collect the data... yeah, it's not cheap.  They're probably having focus groups and such.  At the end of the day who cares?  If you're trying to get the pulse of the Church members... why do you need to poll them?  Did King Benjamin have focus groups and pollsters going around?"

I don't know what cost this comes to the Church at.  Probably much less, I would think, seeing that it's an in-house operation.  And to be honest, this post isn't about nit-picking at money.  But it is about bringing to light the fact that this is going on, and if you know me, you know I'm anything but a liar.  And I just got my 6th survey request.

I'm not supposed to say what the topic for this one was about, but I will say that I let them know I don't see the need for opinion polling if we are a church built upon living revelation.  Are we not?  If God is directing the Church, which "god" are we serving by asking mortals what they think about every jot and tittle, and then shifting policy, procedure, or in this case, resources to match the trending beliefs?  Shouldn't we be more concerned about asking Jesus what He thinks?    

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Very Elect

Matthew 24:24

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  

More than once I have had either friends or family suggest to me that my beliefs, whether Mormonism in general, or this new-fangled "stuff" I seem to believe in, is deception.  I pose the three questions, for all who may read.

If one utilizes scripture to understand the word of God, is the likelihood high or low that they will be deceived?

If one is neglecting scripture, is the likelihood high or low that they will be deceived?

Where do you fall in your beliefs?

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Mind of God

There is a passage of scripture in the New Testament that has received quite a bit of attention in recent years.  I confess I have a hard time understanding it.  I have read it again and again, and even read entire books on the subject, but still there is some ambiguity and confusion over it, however I'd like to take a moment to share a few tidbits of understanding that I gained today.

For the past two weeks, the Holy Ghost has been the topic of discussion in some way, in both Sunday School and Relief Society in our ward.  I want to consider the following verses, right off the bat.  

  • John 14:15-31
  • John 16
  • Galatians 5
  • Alma 32:28
Prior to Christ's death and resurrection, he warns his disciples of what is to come.  They don't quite understand.  Forgive me in this post as I take a little editorial leeway and capitalize one word repeatedly which is not normally capitalized.  

"But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?  But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.  Nevertheless I tell you the Truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him* unto you." -John 16:5-7  
[*Side note:  the Greek translation renders each instance of the word "him" as gender neutral.  In essence, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost is not necessarily a male figure.  Why is the Greek translation worth considering?  See here for a solid answer.  I'll asterisk the word "he" just for kicks in this post.

Additionally, the Greek word for Comforter is παρακλητος, or paraklhtoV (pronounced par-ak'-lay-tos), and is also represented as the words helper, counselor, advocate, among others.]

He is warning them.  Saying in essence, "I'm about to go away, but none of you are willing to ask where I'm going.  But you're sorrowing nonetheless.  But this is THE TRUTH regarding the Comforter.  Let me explain..."  

A few breaths before, he also explained,   
"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he* shall tesitfy of me:" -John 15:26

And a few breaths before that,

"If ye love me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he* may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him* not, neither knoweth him*: but ye know him*; for he* dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." -John 14:15-17

And back to where we started, with preparing to be killed,
"Howbeit when he*, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he* will guide you unto All Truth: for he* shall not speak of himself*; but whatsoever he* shall hear, that shall he* speak: and he* will shew you things to come.  He* shall glorify me: for he* shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he*(I'm unclear if this refers to Spirit of Truth or the Father) shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." -John 15:13-14   

In the Lectures on Faith, which Joseph Smith dedicated significant time and effort on, we receive further light and knowledge on the nature of the Godhead.  He explains in a series of questions/answers, with attending verses as evidence.  These passages have given me greater clarity and understanding on the Spirit of Truth of which Christ speaks.  From Lecture Fifth:

"16: Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?  They do.  John 5:30: "I [Christ] can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."  John 6:38: "For I [Christ] came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me."  John 1-:30: "I [Christ] and my Father are one."  
17.  What is this mind?  The Holy Spirit.  John 15:26:  "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me [Christ]."  Galatians 4:6: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts."  
18.  Do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead?  They do (Lecture 5:2).  [Let the student turn and commit this paragraph to memory.]  
19. Do the believers in Christ Jesus, through the gift of the Spirit, become one with the Father and the Son, as the Father and the Son are one?  They do.  John 17:20-21: "Neither pray I for these [the apostles] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."  
20.  Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?  It does."

It was important for Joseph to instruct that the Holy Spirit is equivalent with the MIND of God.  And that the Holy Spirit is the same mind that the Father and Son possess.  As we receive the Holy Spirit, is it noteworthy to consider that should we believe this, that we indeed are taking upon us the MIND of GOD?  Do we become one in mind, therefore one in intent, purpose, understanding and knowledge?

In Sunday School and Relief Society, for two weeks in a row, I shared this quote:

"The Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence." - Joseph Smith
Frequently as a missionary I would share Galations 5:22-23 as a way to help investigators understand the fruits of the Spirit.  This, I would say, is how we know when we are feeling THE Spirit.  But is it THE Spirit, necessarily, when we feel these things?  I never quite explained fully what Paul was teaching in these verses, so I'd like to highlight the backstory to the verses we use so much.

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in the time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." - Galatians 5:16-26   
Here the word "truth" is not mentioned in our English translations, however we are talking about the fruits, or the things that come FROM the Holy Spirit.  If we add in the words "of Truth" after the word "Spirit", we might find a new way of looking at what Paul was getting at.  When we are in a place with pure intelligence, with Truth, with the Mind of God, we are not of the law requiring us to be carnal creatures (or are we?).  In essence, I propose what he is saying is that we are above carnal, above the law, and in connection with the pure Mind of God, the Holy Spirit of Truth, and will manifest fruits which are highlighted above in yellow.  It sounds like something higher.  We inherit (in-here-it) the kingdom of God.  Here and now.

One more verse to tie it into the Book of Mormon.

Alma compares the word to a seed.

Now, we will compare the word (aka "truth" or "good") unto a seed.  Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions (fruit), ye will begin to say within yourselves–It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul (fruit); yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding (fruit), yea, it beginneth to be delicious (fruit) to me.  Now behold, would not this increase your faith?  I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge... And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow (fruit), ye must needs know that the seed is good.  And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect?  Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand."  -Alma 32:28-9, 33-4  
A friend, who inspired this post in my mind a few months ago, shared with me that she felt "the Spirit" at a local amusement park ride.  She questioned her understanding of the traditional explanation of what the Spirit is.  I hope this post helps friends like her, who are truly bewildered by the modern definitions we give in Sunday School regarding what the Holy Spirit is.  There is so much more clarity when we dig into the scriptures.  I don't understand everything, but I feel like I have learned a lot from her asking the question.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Stiffnecked People, Helaman 5:3

What does "stiffnecked" mean?  This morning I was led to Helaman 5:3.

"Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction."  

Last November I took a course on how to do deep tissue massage on the neck muscles.  There are really quite a number of minute muscles in the neck.  I always thought it'd be interesting to see if there were particular thoughts or emotions tied to given muscles of the body.  Some believe that the body, also called the temple, holds a record of the "Book of Life".  That each cell in the body records our daily occurrences, thoughts, and DNA.  So what does it mean if a people at large becomes stiffnecked?  Do they all  need bodywork?

For me, it means inflexibility.  My neck has been somewhat misaligned for the last week or so, and yesterday I went to the chiropractor.  His intention was to realign the vertebrae in my neck, however the muscles were so tight from it being out of alignment that it was nearly impossible for him to adjust it properly.  He said, "I'm just not satisfied with how it's moving," and recommended I return in a few days once it had loosened up from the current adjustment.  How does this compare spiritually?

Between the bones/vertebrae, the muscles, and the nerves, the neck is a major channel between the head and the rest of the body.  If you have ever awoken with a kink in the neck, you'll know how much it can irritate the whole day, or even several days, until the kink can be resolved.  Some people will even have surgery, thinking that to fuse the bones in the neck is the only fix for such things.  How sad.

Here in Helaman 5:3, we learn the people could not be governed by the law, nor by justice.  They had lost all sense of what was right.  The only direction they knew was to allow things that would prove to their destruction.  Why would a people choose such things?  Surely if they knew it would destroy them, they would choose an option which allowed for self-preservation.

The preceding verse explains a little more.  Verse 2:

"For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted."

It appears that choosing evil over good is a direct correlation.  Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people that could not be governed by law nor justice.  They chose evil, knowing full well it was evil, and corrupted their own laws.

Perhaps the solution to any civilization which finds themselves in a stiffnecked predicament would be to soften the neck muscles, realign the perspective, and allow greater flow between the "head" and the "rest of the body".  How very symbolic.  When the neck is properly aligned, all parts of the body function more properly.  The digestive system, immune system, circulatory system, respiratory system, and in essence, all systems function properly when there is a proper connection, even a proper "flow", from the brain to the body.  If Christ is the head, and we, as individuals, are the "members" of the "body", a misaligned neck has all sorts of ramifications.  But fix the neck, clear the musculo-skeletal-nervine connection, and what a healthy body you will find!