Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Birth Day Risen Resurrection Holy Day

A few days ago some friends shared this with me.  I don't understand half of what's being shared, but it appears that this Easter Sabbath is an extra noteworthy one.  Last year we celebrated Passover and honored Easter in an uber low key way.  This year we're celebrating it (Easter) in full, in light of it being a momentous occasion.  I felt this article taught me a lot.

Also, the last two days we attended various worship services that we had been invited to.  One was a Maundy Thursday service, and the next was a Tenebrae service.  Both included performers singing this song.  I love it so much I think it's worth sharing.  Man of Sorrows, by Shane and Shane.

Perhaps you've heard this song before, but I'm pretty new to Christian Contemporary music, so this one is completely new to me.  Being raised LDS we avoided songs which praise the cross as an idol.  So that part made/makes me a little uncomfortable and in most cases I usually just replace the word cross with His name, but regardless of our thoughts on that part, it's a really, really beautiful song of praise, wholly appropriate for this fabulous weekend.  Listen to it twice and I can guess you'll have trouble getting it out of your heart and mind for awhile.

Happy Resurrection Birth Day Sabbath!  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Entangled or free?

Galations 5:1

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
If our relationship with "Christ" puts us in bondage, ask who it is that we are actually entangled with.

Christ is the author of liberty.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Unknown Land of Secret Combinations

Hot on my mind lately has been the nature of secret combinations.  When I started this blog several years ago, it was a direct result of having been burned by being a part of one.  I didn't realize it at the time what was going on, but after studying the scriptures my eyes had been opened to what had taken place.  I failed at keeping the secrets of the group, and therefore was expedited OUT of it.  Recently again, I experienced the burns of a secret combination, only this time I was on the outside, watching how they work towards outsiders.

It is regrettable to me that more time is not spent in discussion on this topic in Church.  I have spent quite a bit of time in Primary, so I really can't lament that it's not covered at all (since I wasn't in Sunday School anyway), but rarely is it a hot topic for discussion.  Yet ironically I feel it is one of the biggest downfalls of the Book of Mormon people, and Mormon even comments that it brought down the whole Nephite civilization.  I don't believe much time has been spent on consideration of how we might see secret combinations in our day, except perhaps in the periodic lessons on the parts of the Book of Mormon preceding Christ's coming.  I suppose the topic may get 20 minutes of thought every 4 years or so.  If that.  

Helaman 7 begins the prophecy of Nephi, son of Helaman, who expounds all manner of the wickedness of the people who preceded the coming of the Lord.  Nephi was a phenomenal example of how to know the Lord, for he was given to preach and call repentance, as well as hear the voice of the Lord directly.  He is given power to seal on earth and in heaven, as well as move mountains.  

Prior to Nephi-son-of-Helaman hearing the Lord speak power unto him, Nephi was contemplating the nature of sin that engulfed the Nephites, such that the chief judge's brother had murdered said chief judge.  
"And it came to pass as he was thus pondering – being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities – and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him..." - Helaman 10:3
Worth noting is Nephi's observation of their

  • secret works of darkness
  • murderings
  • plunderings
  • all manner of iniquities
We can likely understand what the last three works are.  But what of the first?  Are secret works of darkness only those things which are done in whore houses?  Or are these only applicable to places where secret, dark oaths are made regarding murder?  Like gangs?

This is something I can imagine which caused Nephi some confusion, as to how such a delightsome people could turn to secret works of darkness.

I don't know how to stress how disillusioned we are to think that we do not have such things among the best of us.  I have come to know for myself that we are riddled with secret works of darkness, and even foster such things.  How?

Consider the tight knit group of girls at church, be it in Young Women's or Relief Society.  Where are their loyalties?  To one another, or to you as someone that one of them visit teaches, or serves in any capacity?

How about the Bishop and his counselors?  Do they have loyalty to you, as someone perhaps confiding in their abilities to provide counsel?  (Am I stretching this too far?)  Do these men share your confidences with one another, to try to lift you up in prayer?  Do these counselors then take the burden home, sharing with their wife, who then shares with her tight knit group of friends in a private Facebook group?  Possible?  I know I have heard stories from bishop's wives who assert that their husband spent so much time on their knees in silent prayer on behalf of their ward family.  This is phenomenal, and beautiful.  But I can't imagine that all bishops are this strict with confidences.  Maybe so?  Perhaps it is a spiritual gift which comes with the mantle.

If not, this has great potential to become a secret combination.  Call me crazy, but it bears great capacity to be true.  Perhaps there is no intent to do murder, but there is great potential for a confidence to be broken, whether implicit or implied.  It is right to note that we ought not trust any man but God, so perhaps the consequence of private information being leaked is par for the course.  But in truth, "secret" information has been shared in "secret counsels" and has been provided to spouses under the commitment (oath) of secrecy, that one ought not share.  We foster this simply in the structure of our private meetings and presidencies.

Perhaps this is what God intended.  But perhaps not.  I submit that there is a great potential for evil among us in these "tight knit groups", and we ignore the warning of the Book of Mormon by never, ever ever ever ever talking about secret combinations in Church.  These opportunities for secret combinations, secret trusts, secret oaths, and loyalties being severely broken causing hearts to burn in sheer pain of the disloyalty are rampant.  We foster these kinds of environments.  And we are all likely unknowingly guilty or participating on various ends of the situation, without even thinking twice.

Think I jest?  Or exaggerate?  Ask yourself, how many private meetings have you been in where secret confidences were shared with you or another soul?  Was permission granted for these things to be shared?  And what should happen if the private information was shared, without permission?  Would relationships be severed?  Could forgiveness be easily granted?
"Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people.  And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments." -Helaman 10:4 
Let us rid ourselves of secret works of darkness.  The need for cliques which cause those watching to feel excluded, secret groups where we gossip about others, or places where people can "only trust one another" and "have one another's back" ought to be reconsidered.  I understand the need for some privacy, and I'm not saying that from time to time we all need a close friend or three to help sort things out.  (Hello, Jesus?  Can you help me out?)  I would consider such friendships a gift.  But to have secret groups, book clubs, BFFs, etc. at the outright exclusion of others looking on who would enjoy participating in such a group only serves to destroy the unity of the whole.  Why would an onlooker bother attempting to foster a relationship with someone who is known to be a part of such a thing?  Could they trust that anything spoken in their company would not be shared and chewed on by the private group?  It is not Zion, and Zion cannot be achieved when such things abound.  For the hearts are not pure when others are deemed "less" than those in the group, and pride rules the day.  Seek to root these things out.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lucky Duckie

My son absolutely loves ducks.  If I'm not mistaken, "duck" was probably his first word as a baby. He had his birthday this past week, and wanted a blue stuffed animal duck as his primary gift.

The only problem is, there are next to zero blue stuffed ducks in the marketplace.  We searched for months, well before Christmas (it was his request then too), and finally found ONE.  Not a single duck more, unless we looked into the rubber duck category.

His grandma actually found this one pictured above and ordered it, and it came just in time for his birthday.  It if would have been left up to me, he would not have received it in time, because I didn't think the odd thing around this ducky's abdomen would have been acceptable to him.  But it suited him just fine, and he loves it.

This morning, as I was preparing for a much awaited dentist appointment, I heard my boys playing with this duck.  They were calling him "Lucky Duckie".  (I realize I'm spelling ducky/duckie two different ways.  I think "Duckie" as more of a personal name... evidence that yes, I'm neurotic sometimes.)  It was fun to hear their squeaky little pretend voices, talking about Lucky Duckie as their friend who had a voice with his own desires and interests to share.  The thought came to me that I should take Lucky Duckie with me to the dentist, so that when I would be stressed out in the chair, perhaps this stuffed animal would help me smile.  I entertained the thought just enough to realize I needed to be more brave.  But it would be my first visit to have this kind of procedure, so I figured I would keep on praying and hopefully the anxiety would leave me.  I'd been nervous for weeks, and finally the day was here.

Needless to say, I walked out without the ducky, wanting to be a "big girl" and went to the appointment, carrying on with my day.  After some tense moments at check-in, the dentist she pointed out in good humor that I was dressed colorfully for the appointment.  I was wearing spring green pants.  I added to her smile by pointing out that I was also wearing green socks with shamrocks on them, for good luck, calling them "lucky socks".  (Going to the dentist has long been a cause of such anxiety, I do all I can to brighten it up.)  After we got started, and after sitting in the chair for about 75 minutes, the dentist went out to take care of some impressions for my tooth, and up in the corner of the room, wouldn't you know it, but I saw this:

It looks like someone wanted me to know that this appointment was lucky, after all.  With a half numb face and tongue, I pointed it out to the dentist, how hard we had looked for a blue ducky for my son, and we all had some good laughs on the nature of toys these days.  She said it belonged to another dentist, but since the hygienist pulled it off the shelf in the corner, I was able to find out that it is a Beany Baby toy.  Never thought to search under that name for my son's toys!

I don't know about you, but I'd say this was a pretty lucky moment.  In fact, more than lucky, I'd call it a miracle, as evidence that Jesus was with me, as were angels, helping this dentist do safe, nearly pain free work.  The entire time I was praying her hands would do perfect work, as though Christ were at the helm.  He knows best what my mouth needs.  If I'm not perfect in my faith, to heal my teeth without intervention from medical professionals, having Him guide her hands was the next best thing.  I'll take the blue ducky as a sign that my impressions were true.  He was indeed there, as I suspected.  Thank you Jesus, thank you Father.  What a gift to know I was not alone in this.    Yes, I call it a sign and a miracle, thank you so much.