Friday, October 23, 2015

A Defiled vs Sanctified Heart

This morning I had a wonderful study period with my mom.  We studied Matthew 14-15.  There was a part which stopped us up, and we had a hard time processing what Jesus was saying, so we drew a drawing to help break it down.

Matthew 15 discusses how the scribes PLUS Pharisees came from Jerusalem to Jesus.  (He didn't seek this discussion, they brought it to Him.)  They challenge Him, saying,

"Why do Your taught ones transgress the tradition of the elders?  For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." (Matt. 15:1)
In various feasts and ordinances the priests are to wash their hands as part of the ordinance.  In Passover feasts, the participants are to "wash their hands" as part of the ceremony.  It is considered cleansing and representative of washing away of sin.

One distinction I like in this translation (The Scriptures) is that the King James use of "disciples" is changed to "Your taught ones".  It brings to mind that the people who followed Jesus were being taught by Him, much like when I enjoy learning from various gurus of our day.  These people followed and studied with Him, learning from Him routinely.  I can think of a few living people I do this with.

So the scribes and Pharisees wanted to know why those who were taught by Him didn't follow the tradition of the elders in washing their hands when they eat bread.  Christ responds,

"Why do you also transgress the command of Elohim because of your tradition?  For Elohim has commanded, saying, 'Respect your father and your mother,' and 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' 
But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated," is certainly released from respecting his father or mother.'  So you have nullified the command of Elohim by your tradition.  
Hypocrites!(!!)  Yeshayahu (Isaiah) rightly prophesied about you, saying, 'This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.'  
Referring to the drawing again,

on the left side is what Elohim's law declares.  We are to respect father and mother.  If we do not respect them, but curse them, the principle is that death follows.  This was part of the law that was given after Moses had to return to the mount because the Israelites were worshiping other gods.  So this is a basic law of heaven that is being instituted in as simple of form as possible.  Respect your parents; honor them.

Contrast this with what the scribes and Pharisees were teaching, which was "If you kids can pay off your parents (or benefit them through some means), you're released from needing to respect them.  You can pay your way out of the relationship."  (I assume a Hebrew scholar will understand this verse more than I, so this is my layman's interpretation of it.)  If you note the arrows in the drawing, in the Law from Elohim, the love and respect and honor goes from child to parent.  It illustrates gratitude, and promotes harmony from one line of descendants to another.  It imitates the respect, love, and glory Christ shows to his Father.  Gratitude is one thing that ties hearts together, and when a child shows gratitude for the sacrifices of their parents, it allows the parents to be honored and reciprocate love to the child more readily.  It seems to be a natural law of the universe, or a law of heaven, I suppose.  It is a true principle in my life at least.

However on the right side, it encases greed, selfishness, and lack of relationship or respect from child to parent.  It is self-serving.  It is disharmony.  The child has no eternal gratitude but to pay off the parent with some form or money or "profit".  The relationship becomes more temporary, as ties seem to be severed and released.  They are "free".

{As a sidenote, this resembles Satan's efforts in the councils at the beginning of this world.  He wanted to collect the glory, severing his ties with Elohim.  In essence create his own, disconnected kingdom with no reciprocation of gratitude, glory, or respect for Elohim.  "Glory be mine" mentality.  See Moses 4:1-4.}  

This discussion expresses the heart to me of what Jesus is saying.  After the scribes + Pharisees interrupt their lesson, he gathers in the taught ones and explains the whole crux of the matter.
"And calling the crowd near, He said to them, "Hear and understand: "Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man, but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles the man."
Then his taught ones came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees stumbled when they heard this word?"  
But He answering, said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be uprooted.  Leave them alone.  They are blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind leads the blind, both shall fall into a ditch."  
And Kepha (Peter) answering, said to Him, "Explain this parable to us."
And Yeshua (Jesus) said, "Are you also still without understanding?  Do you not understand that whatever enters into the mouth goes into the stomach, and is cast out in the sewer?  But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and these defile the man.  For out of the heart come forth wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, whorings, thefts, false witnesses, slanders.  These defile the man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.  And Yeshua went out from there and withdrew to the parts of Tsor and Tsidon."  
How is (y)our heart?  Do the things which come out of it defile us?  Or does it sanctify us?

So thankful for this powerful lesson.

Love You Jesus.  Love you, reader.   

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Which End of the Pride Cycle

Anyone who frequents an LDS Sunday School class will understand what is frequently labeled the "Pride Cycle".  We'll say that it is a major message of the Book of Mormon.  Peace ---> prosperity, wealth ---> pride ---> war ---> destruction ---> humility ---> peace ---> prosperity, etc.  And on and on it goes.

This article just surfaced:  Elder Oaks, 2nd in seniority in the LDS Church, says it is wrong of Kim Davis to object to stamping her name on gay marriage certificates implies that it is not appropriate for those holding civic positions to act contrary to the laws of the land. (UPDATED: 10/21/15 after reading the update from mormonnewsroom.  Elder Oaks' commentary was a bit more benign than the SL Tribune made it out to be.  They found what they wanted to make it an incendiary article.  It is still grievous, but Elder Oaks was more tactful and lulling than the Trib made him out to be.)

"Believers should ... acknowledge the validity of constitutional laws. Even where they have challenged laws or practices on constitutional grounds, once those laws or practices have been sustained by the highest available authority believers should acknowledge their validity and submit to them."
This essentially is saying to current members, "If you are in the position that Kim Davis is, don't expect us to have your back as a member of this organization.  We won't.  Sign the paper woman."

The moment I read this, I was reminded of a book I'd never read, but everyone seems to own, called Standing for Something, by Gordon B. Hinckley.  I pulled it from our shelves, and flipped randomly to a chapter called "Making a Cause for Morality".  Here are a few lines, which I feel are aptly applicable.

"I feel sorry for today's generation, which seems bereft of heroes.  Men and women who by virtue of their contributions and achievements seem larger than life, and who can be admired for the full breadth and depth of their moral makeup, are a vanishing breed.  
On the other hand, I am satisfied that there are millions of good people in America and in other lands.  Many married couples are faithful to each other.  Their children are being reared in sobriety, industry, and faith in God.  Given the strength of these families, I believe that the situation is far from hopeless.  I am satisfied that there is no need to stand still and let the filth and violence overwhelm us, or to run in despair.  The tide, high and menacing as it is, can be turned back if enough of the good people I have mentioned add their strength to the strength of the few who are now effectively working.  The challenge to recognize evil and oppose it is one that every moral, virtuous person must accept." (Standing for Something, p. 39) 
What an interesting contrast.  At the beginning, we have Elder Oaks, who was quite familiar with President Hinckley, making the case that we ought to follow the 12th Article of Faith and stick with the laws of the lands.  Then we have President Hinckley, saying we ought to stand for something, and rise above the tide.  (President Hinckley even quotes Pope John Paul II, which I find ironic since Pope Francis has become involved in the Kim Davis debacle.)  The question then is, do you view gay marriage as Kim Davis does – as something morally bereft, or what scripture calls the "abomination of desolation"?  (See Mark 13:14.)

What is "desolation"?  I define it as a place where no thing grows.  A land left desolate has nothing living in it.  A generation left desolate would not have children, or posterity, or "seed".  Combine the elements of massive number of abortions of unborn babies, along with the increasing popularity of alternative lifestyles, leaving both families with fewer children being born, as well as humans refusing to mate entirely, and the case can certainly be made that we may indeed be entering this period that Daniel warned of.  I don't know.  What do you think?

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Jud├Ža flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. (Mark 13:14-27 - the rest of the chapter is enlightening as well.)  
I've heard a lot of people refering to these signs.  I don't know if they apply to us today, or if it will be for some future generation.  We sure have signs that could be pointing to these.  Is it time to flee to the mountains?

President Hinckley continues:

"It all begins with our own personal virtue.  Reformation of the world begins with reformation of self.  We cannot hope to influence others in the direction of moral virtue unless we live lives of virtue.  The example of our virtuous living will carry a greater influence than will all the preaching, postulating, and theorizing in which we might indulge.  We cannot expect to lift others unless we are standing on higher ground.  Respect for self is the beginning of cultivating virtue in men and women."  (Standing for Something, p. 39)
So I'm a little confused.  Hinckley says it starts with us.  We must live virtuously.  Integrity means to not only hold to true to what you believe, but to stand for it without being divided.  To be whole.  A house divided against itself shall not stand.  It is not structurally sound otherwise.  

How can members of the LDS Church stand divided on this, as currently advised from the 2nd in seniority, via carefully crafted statement?  We support traditional marriage, but only when it's convenient?  Only when it doesn't draw attention to oneself?  Only when it protects our assets?  Only when we're not employed as the clerk of courts, required to put our signature on marriage licenses?  Only when it's really convenient?  Stand for something then?

Elder Oaks.  Seriously.  You've left me speechless.  So I'll quote Helaman.

"But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God." (Alma 45:24)

It seems to me that this is more about retaining the wealth of the "kingdom" than standing for anything of God.  God would have us treat one another kindly, yes, and with great love, despite our sexual preferences.  Would God have us rely and fall back on the law of the land, if we knew it was opposed to His words?  Is Article of Faith 12 inspired?  Or does it require one to follow the arm of the flesh?    

Ahhh.  Now it all makes sense.  This is how we roll.  Unless we are stand for something. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Shining One which Beguiles

Bereshith 3:1: (Genesis 3:1, from The Scriptures edition of the Bible)

And the nahash was more crafty than all the lives of the field which (insert symbol for YHWH) Elohim had made, and he said to the woman, "Is it true that Elohim has said, 'Do not eat of every tree of the garden'?" 
I am unable to correctly type the word "nahash".  In my new copy of The Scriptures, "nahash" has a dot under the h, signifying that the h is pronounced a little throaty.  The index describes what nahash is:

"A proper name, meaning shining or shining one.  Often translated as serpent.  Also see 'Serpent.'" 

Back in August I discovered the website which described Controversial Truths.  I enjoyed the beginnings of what I read, and in turn decided to try their edition of the Bible, called The Scriptures.  I received my copy almost a week ago, and was so excited to give it a try.  Since ordering, it is interesting that while it did not come up before in my searches, but I have since discovered a website crying foul against the copyright owners of this book, as well as Christians saying this is an Anti-Christ version.  It seems apparent to me that all things must have their opposite, and those with opposite voices certainly feel to cry out in their opinions.  

Thus far, in my reading of this book, I have greatly enjoyed where it has taken me.  I have had to remove all fear, and consider opening up to greater truth.  There are already parts of this version that are not in agreement with Joseph Smith's translation, but they have done the best job they could in accurately translating from the documents which were available.  The translators do not claim to do their work through revelation.  Despite that characteristic, I have already easily read through several chapters, where when reading the King James version I tend to quickly lost interest, due to not understanding what common words mean.  See here for more links to learn more about this edition.  

As for today, it is interesting to understand again, that the serpent that beguiled the first woman was described as a shining one.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two are Better than One

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.