Sunday, April 29, 2018

Approaching the Throne of God

Below are 10 things one MUST consider before approaching the holy throne of God.

1. Location.  Are you in the church, the temple, or a serene setting like a home or sacred space that has been properly prepared for you with reverence and serenity?
2. Modest dress.  Are your shoulders and knees covered sufficiently to not cause embarrassment or shame before the Lord? 
3. Grooming.  Men, are you properly shaven and hair combed and parted on the side?  No improper hair coloring or extreme cuts?  Women, is your head covered at least with hair, and perhaps even a veil, head doily, bonnet, headband, or other covering? 
4. Music.  Have you prepared the visit by singing or playing at least 3 hymns on your electronic device or instrument?
5. Scriptures.  Did you take time to study at least a handful of scriptures before approaching the throne?
6. Home.  Is your home cleanly, allowing you to properly focus on parting the veil?
7. White.  Are you not wearing any dark colors, which might invoke an improper spirit?
8. Kneeling.  Are you kneeling properly, with your knees on the floor, and not sitting on your haunches? If you're in a temple, are you properly NOT kneeling, as that would cause disruption, distraction, and feelings of disrespect in or toward others?
9. Arms.  Have you ensured that your arms are properly folded across your bosom, not causing distraction to yourself or others who might be with you by their flailing around?
10. Words.  Are you comfortable using the proper prayer language, beginning with addressing your Holy Father by name, followed by thanks, then asking what you came for, and closing in-the-name-of-Jesus-Christ-Amen? 

These are all certainly things one needs to take into account before beginning to approach the Lord. 

Or they could just talk to Him in the car during heavy traffic. 

Or while lying in bed, drifting off to sleep. 

How about while sitting cross-legged on a park bench eating lunch. 

They could wear jeans and a ratty t-shirt.

One could have their arms overhead, and be hanging upside down on a gymnasium bar in workout gear.

Can we call out in prayer to our Lord in our fields, our closets, our workspaces, our dinner tables, our backyards, our garages, schools, and bathrooms?  Or must we restrict ourselves to proper attire, proper form, and proper words? 

I don't think the Lord cares.  While this post might come off as mocking satire, that's not the intent.  There are religious individuals who feel very strongly about these details, and while I mean no disrespect to them, I do mean to question the importance of these rules and regulations they've interpreted.  If we can get past the formalities, I think we might discover the Lord in our everyday lives so much more.  These ideas are common beliefs that very well have the power to prevent us from allowing the Lord more fully into our lives.  I pray to dispel them from mine, making it ever easier to approach the throne. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pelé & Priesthood

It was the writings of Daymon Smith that convinced me to view the idea of "priesthood" differently.  He refers to it in a way as to suggest that, similar to the word neighborhood – which suggests an association of neighbors – that priesthood might similarly refer to an association of priests. 

What's a priest?  In religious terms, it is one who has been chosen to participate in religious rites.  In spiritual terms, a priest would be one who receives the power of God.

It supposes me that there are many priests on earth, who have no formal religious ordination, but have received power of/from God.

Pelé: Birth of a Legend, demonstrates this concept.  Below are the final few minutes of the movie.  (I recommend the entire movie.)  The movie largely focuses on how Pelé advances in the soccer world, as a very young man (17 yrs old), and is trammeled in his talents and skills.  He is forced to make a promise mid-movie that he will NOT play soccer on the world stage in the fashion that comes to him naturally.  It was called ginja.  To be permitted to continue playing he must play someone else's way. 

In the minutes preceding this clip, we see Pelé's teammate giving him the encouragement he needs to ignore the promise he was forced to make, and to play with the gifts he was born with, and developed through his life's experience.  It wasn't that his teammate said so, but the friend acknowledged and supported him in being who he was born to be.

Some poignant moments:

  • Pelé's playing in a stadium filled with European "enemies" of sorts.  The opposing coach had been quite scornful toward their team earlier in the movie.  Sweden scores, confirming the public scorn the coach had launched prior to the game. 
  • About 4:50, Pelé looks above the jubilant crowd, and observes the handful of dark-skinned Brazilians, nearly in the peanut gallery, and so much more is conveyed than a losing side's sadness.  He realizes he's been playing someone else's way the whole game, and their team has been on the losing end because of it.  Seeing Brazilians high up in the crowd reminds him who he is. 
  • About 8 minutes, he looks at his teammates with whom a special bond had already formed.  Time seems to slow as these men are reconnecting.  They have already become close enough as to form a very strong brotherhood.  It manifests here. 
  • About 8:48, commentators observe that he's "smiling".
  • 8:53 the Brazilian commentator speaks of the players acting in "perfect harmony".
  • 9:00 the movie shifts to the view of Pelé's father, sitting among his peers in a crowded room, watching his son from very much afar – around the world even, through a tv barrier. You feel his pleasure, honor, joy for his son.  He smiles deeply.
  • 10:45 Pelé's dad discovers his wife in the crowd of jubilant Brazilians, watching via tv, and they connect. 
  • 11:45 Pelé faints and his brothers hoist him up on their shoulders.  
I was shown that this is priesthood – an association of priests.  Or in other words, this is how priesthood functions.  Priesthood is when I think of my friend and she calls me, needing help, because we are connected invisibly through love.  It is when I'm in the shower, and am led to offer to volunteer to serve someone just before they ask me for help.  It's a stitching power, which while invisible to most mortals, knits our hearts together so that the unlikely can happen in some sort of synchrony.  It's a sort of heavenly magic. 

This kind of priesthood cannot be controlled, sold, or harnessed, because it's not something that man can pass around like some sort of tangible "thing".  Unless one has this power of love.  Then the power is often nearly tangible.  When there is not love, it is broken, as the stitching is less strong. This is why Christ indicated that the greatest commandment is to love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.  If we cannot have love for all three – God, our neighbors, and ourselves – we have no priesthood, or association of priests.   

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Water, Blood, Spirit, Dust

And so I give to you a commandment to teach these things freely to your children, 
saying that by reason of transgression comes the fall, which fall brings death. 
And inasmuch as you were born into the world by water
and blood
and the spirit
which I have made, 
and so became of dust a living soul, 

even so you must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten, that you might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory
For by water you keep the commandment. 
By the Spirit you are justified. 
And by the blood you are sanctified. 
And so it is given to abide in you, the record of heaven, 
the Comforter, 
the peaceable things of immortal glory, 

the truth of all things, 
that which quickens all things, 
which makes alive all things, 
that which knows all things, 
and has all power 
according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
And now, behold, I say to you, 
this is the plan of salvation to all men
through the blood of my Only Begotten, 
who shall come in the meridian of time. 
Moses 6:58-62, Simplified