Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cleaving unto God.

I have loved this verse for some time:

"Wherefore...repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended toward you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts."  -Jacob 6:5

I love the idea of God cleaving to us, and that meaning has expanded for me as a mom. I imagine how much I love to hold Ethan and Caleb close--to calm their hurts and fears, to teach them new things, to keep them safe. And they cleave to me; they run to me with their hurts and their frustrations, their wants and needs, and I am always happy that they do so. This is the kind of relationship I can have with my Heavenly Father. In order to obtain, I have to follow the instruction to become as a little child, "submissive, meek, humble, patient, easy to be entreated," etc etc.  It is so wonderful and comforting and amazing.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The King's Image

I know I've been posting a lot of Widtsoe quotes, but I LOVE this:

     "A lump of silver is but a lump of silver in the marketplace, sold by weight under the changing market price. If that lump of silver be passed through the mint it becomes something more than a lump of silver. The King's Image pressed upon it makes it coin of the realm. Thenceforth with a value above its weight and market price it is in the King's service.
     "A human life is but a human life, lost in the multitude of indifferent lives, unless it enters the King's service, unless the King's image be impressed upon it. Then it becomes current coin of the King's realm, which may purchase joy, happiness, satisfaction, otherwise unattainable. Does a life bear the King's image? That is a vital question.
     "How may we so coin our lives? How secure the impress of the King's image? It is not a secret. By losing and forgetting ourselves in a great work, a mighty cause. Thus, we enter the King's service. Thus, we come to bear the King's image. Unselfishness! Selflessness! Great words; greater ideals! Keys to the solution of the world's problems! He who forgets himself in noble service will have success thrust upon him. Whoever mingles with his eating and drinking, with his daily toil and moneymaking, with his pleasure and his pain, the act of loving service of his noblest ideal, will rise to the heights, above the clouds, with the envying multitude below. He will be in the King's service. There is really no other way to true success.
     "You ask for the parts of the spiritual minting press? Here I sum! Faith in God; love of truth; obedience to law; courage to say no; sincerity in labor; temperance in all things; generosity, virtue, and industry. These are elements out of which unselfishness is born, and by which the King's image is impressed upon human lives.
     "...[M]ore seeking after truth, more sharing of it with others, until all of life becomes a mission of service in the King's Cause, until all may know that we are in royal service, in the service of the King of Kings. So is success won and joy obtained--everlastingly."

-John A. Widtsoe, in Alan K. Parrish, John A Widtsoe, A Biography, pg. 512.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The armour of love

"[T]he truth of the restored gospel is becoming understood in the world. . . . If persecution from without is diminishing, contention within is fanned into livelier flame. Of the two methods of destruction--persecution by untruth or discord among those who have accepted truth--the latter is deadlier. . . . Persecution from without is gradually vanishing. . . . But, at the same time, the danger of jealousy, strife and evil speaking among the members of the Church increases. . . . There must be an honest endeavor to love our brethren and sisters as well as the Lord in heaven--the first law of Gospel living. Love begets love. Whenever Latter-day Saints live in love together, their armour and their shield, all their weapons are of heavenly workmanship."

-John A. Widtsoe, CR October 1933

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scriptures = Friends

I loved how Elder Scott described the scriptures in his October Conference talk. I particularly liked how he spoke of the scriptures as friends. Who wouldn't want a friend like this?
Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high. They can become the key to open the channel to communion with our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
The scriptures provide the strength of authority to our declarations when they are cited correctly. They can become stalwart friends that are not limited by geography or calendar. They are always available when needed. Their use provides a foundation of truth that can be awakened by the Holy Ghost. Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.
Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change.
Pondering a scripture like that gives great direction to life. The scriptures can form a foundation of support. They can provide an incredibly large resource of willing friends who can help us. A memorized scripture becomes an enduring friend that is not weakened with the passage of time.
Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing.
-Richard G. Scott, October 2011 General Conference, Saturday Morning

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Organize yourselves...

Last night our "Scripture Picture," as we like to call it with our boys, was a picture of the Kirtland Temple, and this verse:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.     -Doctrine & Covenants 88:119

My first thought was this: "Ouch! That does not describe my house!" I have never been really good at organizing, but I don't think I have ever had things as bad as they are currently. I just can't seem to get things cleaned and put away, and EVERYTHING in this house needs a scrub-down. Sometimes I really can't get to it, and other times I just don't feel motivated to work on it.

But as I was telling the boys about the temple I envisioned the cleanliness and beauty and order of that place and knew I needed to create that environment here for them. There is a really important reason for doing so in the next verse:

That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High.   -Doctrine & Covenants 88:120

In short, Christ cannot be the focus if we are surrounded by mess and distraction. The Spirit can't dwell where there is dirt and disorder. That seems like reason enough to get myself going when I am lacking energy.

But if that isn't enough, here is an interesting thought: our Father is an expert organizer!  He organized all of the intelligences before the world was (Abraham 3:22). He organized the heavens and the earth (Abraham 4:1). He organized man's mortal body (Abraham 4:27)--and if you've studied the human body, that really is something amazing! So it is no surprise that God asks His people to organize according to His laws under His covenant. As we do so, we learn important skills necessary to become like He is.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giving and sowing

I know I posted once before about what it means to give yourself to your spouse in marriage. But I was thinking about it again recently and did a little studying on the word give. I think it applies to all of our relationships: with God, with our spouse, with those we are called to serve, etc.

I skimmed through the Topical Guide under the word "give," and these 4 scriptures pretty much leaped off the page at me:

1. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
-2 Corinthians 9:6-8

He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly. It's funny that so often we expect to receive more without giving more. At least I do anyway. It's easy to think of all the things that want or that I would like other people to change or do better. It isn't as easy to think of how I can give more and love more. As much as I would like to think that I am not a selfish person, I think selfishness and self-centered-ness are the default settings for the natural man.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give. I think often it's better not to give than to give with ulterior motives or expectations. We should first "cleanse the inner vessel" so to speak, and make sure our motives are loving and pure and not manipulative or selfish.

God is able to make all grace abount...that ye...may about to every good work. Remember: God is a partner in an eternal marriage, and he has an interest in all of our relationships! His grace can make our relationships abundant if we give cheerfully.

2. The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor. He covetech greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
-Proverbs 21:25-26

[T]he slothful...refuse to labor. ... but the righteous giveth. It's interesting that giving is the antedote to slothfulness. Why? Giving requires work! And it takes our minds away from ourselves. Slothfulness here is related to covetousness--wanting something we aren't willing to work and sacrifice and give for.

The righteous giveth and spareth not. Righteous giving means we don't hold anything back. We shouldn't reserve any part of ourselves.

3. Freely have ye received, freely give.
-Matthew 10:8

Highlight: In any relationship, we should remember both what the other person(s) has given and also what Christ has given for us. More reason not to hold back or hold out.

4. Give, and it shall be given unto you; ...for with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured unto you again.
-Luke 6:38

Highlight: This principle of giving is a part of human nature! People respond to fairness, kindness, generosity and love, while demands and accusations put them on the defensive. Sometimes we just have to trust that our giving will come back around to us.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Preach My Gospel and Life's Key Indicators

For some time now (several months at least) I have been feeling like I should go back and study Preach My Gospel. There were things I needed to review and remember, habits from my mission that I should re-establish, and a focus on conversion that I hope to preserve as I teach in my family. But things kept coming up that separated me from my copies of the book (I have at least 3!), and I admittedly didn't pursue it as I should have. So of course John and I just received a calling that requires us to use it.

It reminds me of the biography of Elder Russel M. Nelson. Some time before his call to the Twelve, he felt impressed that he should learn how to play the organ and that he should get up extra early (you know, because as a surgeon he didn't get up early enough) to study the scriptures more thoroughly. He followed the Spirit and did both. And sure enough the call came, and he has been the organist during the meetings of the Twelve since then. Of course I didn't learn my lesson from the biography like I should have, but I finally did dig through our boxes to find a clean, new copy (#4?) of Preach My Gospel, and I've got some catching up to do.

After feeling a little bit stung and a lot inspired by Elder Arden's talk on using time wisely, I jumped to Chapter 8 this evening. A lot of the chapter focuses specifically on the key indicators for missionary work, and I was inclined to skip over it because it doesn't apply directly to me or my current callings (not to mention that I had gone over these hundreds and hundreds of times on the mission). But the first paragraphs of the chapter reminded me how the principles that apply to missionary work apply to all facets of our life. It doesn't even require that much creativity. Here they are, with my ideas added in:

You are assigned to do the Lord's work in a specific area [my home and family, my visiting teach-ees, my ward]. He wants you to watch over your area with love and great care. Your purpose is to help others come unto Him through baptism and confirmation [and temple covenants, and persisting in the gospel].

Do all you can to leave your area stronger than you found it. Meaningful goals and careful planning will help you accomplish what the Lord requires of you. As you care for the people in your assigned area, you will account to Him and to your mission leaders [my husband, my Relief Society Leaders, other ward leaders].

Your missionary call letter [patriarchal blessing, Church manuals of instruction, priesthood blessings, counsel when set apart, temple covenants, the scriptures] states:  'You will also be expected to devote all your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs [law of consecration]. As you do these things the Lord will bless you and you will become an effective advocate and messenger of the truth. We place in you our confidence and pray that the Lord will help you meet your responsibilities in fulfilling this sacred assignment.' This chapter will help you know how goal setting, planning, and accountability can help many people [my own children!, all who surround me] receive the restored gospel.

Stung again! So being thus inspired, I started thinking about what key indicators I should consider in my current callings. For more counsel on how all members should use Preach My Gospel, go here. Back to PMG (Preach my Gospel):

Perhaps you have wondered which of your many duties are the most important. To be able to answer this question, you must understand your purpose and know how effective use of time can help you fulfill this purpose. 

And here is the missionary statement of purpose:

Your purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.

This really isn't far from my purpose and calling. But I think one word is a bit narrow and another too broad for me as a wife/mom/VT/ward missionary/regular Church member.

The first word is invite. The missionaries do the inviting. They find and teach and challenge and baptize. But it is up to the rest of us to do the rest of the work. For example, I do need to invite my children to come unto Christ. But as a parent I have a responsibility that goes beyond inviting; it includes providing and preparing and often even proscribing and enforcing. So my key indicators need to be a bit more broad in their overarching objectives.

The second word is others. Not surprisingly, this word is a bit broad for my current callings. I do have a duty to everyone I meet (all my neighbors!), but I have been called to carry out a deeper and more focused work for specific people (my husband and children, people I visit teach, new members who need to be nurtured). So my personal key indicators need to reflect that the majority of my work is with a few important people.

I won't share my personal key indicators here (they're not formed yet, this post is already too long, and they will be different for everyone), but the important part of this study for me was reevaluating my purpose and considering what daily activities will contribute most to that purpose and what I should eliminate. It's something I think we all could do more often.

Monday, September 26, 2011

No moral turpitude?

A quote from some CLE reading today commenting on the new California Rules of Professional Responsibility:

The ABA abandoned the concept of “moral turpitude” over twenty-five years ago when it adopted the first iteration of the Model Rules. The justification for removing the concept of “moral turpitude” is found in Comment [2] to Model Rule 8.4:

Many kinds of illegal conduct reflect adversely on fitness to practice law, such as offenses involving fraud and the offense of willful failure to file an income tax return. However, some kinds of offenses carry no such implication. Traditionally, the distinction was drawn in terms of offenses involving “moral turpitude.” That concept can be construed to include offenses concerning some matters of personal morality, such as adultery and comparable offenses, that have no specific connection to fitness for the practice of law. Although a lawyer is personally answerable to the entire criminal law, a lawyer should be professionally answerable only for offenses that indicate lack of those characteristics relevant to law practice. Offenses involving violence, dishonesty, breach of trust, or serious interference with the administration of justice are in that category.

I find it funny that "adultery and comparable offenses" are not considered "offenses involving...dishonesty, [or] breach of trust." Sadly, such is the world.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkeness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  -Isaiah 5:20

This seems like an especially good scriptures for lawyers (Christ addressed them not infrequently!):

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.  -Matthew 12:34-35

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sanctified through the Truth

Scripture for today:

And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  -John 17:19

First things first: consult the dictionary.

sanc·ti·fy[sangk-tuh-fahy] verb (used with object), -fied, -fy·ing. make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.
2. to purify or free from sin: Sanctify your hearts.
3. to impart religious sanction to; render legitimate or binding: to sanctify a vow.
4. to entitle to reverence or respect.
5. to make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing.

truth[troothnoun, plural truths
1.the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth. 
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. the state or character of being true.
5.actuality or actual existence.
I mostly an curious about the second half of the scripture: how are we sanctified through the truth? It reminded me of another scripture in John:
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. -John 8:32
In that chapter Christ elaborated a bit more on how that works:

Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth forever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. -John 8:34-36

So in one sense, we are talking about Christ when we say truth. He is the truth, so we are sanctified through Him.

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.  -John 14:6

But then why didn't He just say, "they might be sanctified through me."? Then we would miss out on the connectedness of it all. We are taught that all truth is one great whole, so as we learn truth and live it, we come to know Him.

For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. For the word of the Lord is truth and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit, and every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you... -Doctrine & Covenants 84:44-48 voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound. And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become singe to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you... Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.  -Doctrine & Covenants 88: 66-69

That is why we as members of His church are taught to be truth-seeking people. John A Widtsoe said:

Mormonism [is] a system of truth which includes all truth, which accepts all truth. . . . A system which leads its followers into a life-long pursuit of truth.  (Parrish, John A. Widtsoe, A Biography, 360.)

I get the feeling I could keep finding more and more on the subject (since truth has no end and all), but that will have to do for today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Driving directions.

To give myself a little credit, I have studied my scriptures since August 29th. But I could do a bit better. I went to the temple Saturday morning in a kind-of last-minute trip, since I needed to go to Oakland anyway. Of course I was in too much of a hurry to stop and double-check the directions, so of course I took a wrong turn and got totally off track up in the hills. I generally knew where I was in relation to the temple, but didn't know which windy road would get me there. Eventually I found a familiar street, got oriented, and found the temple, but I missed the 8am session.

As I was driving frustratedly (quite the adverb, eh?), I thought about how that experience encapsulates some of my busy days. When I don't consult the scriptures prayerfully, I wander. I still know the general direction in which I want to go, but it takes a lot more time and frustration to get there, and my tardiness may lead to missed blessings. Why am I so silly to neglect something so important, or to only give it a cursory thought or glance? I don't think I can ever know the scriptures so well that I don't need to consult them to guide my day =).

Monday, August 29, 2011

"The Word of Widtsoe"

I've been reading the biography of John A. Widtsoe for much too long (i.e. not very consistently), and I've been going over and over my current chapter on the Word of Wisdom, mostly because I am always trying to improve our family diet, but also have a serious love of ice cream and baked goods.

A few good quotes:

"Too many of our members feel that if they refrain from taking liquor, tobacco, tea and coffee, they are keeping the Word of Wisdom. They are doing so only in part. If the law be understood and lived, people would not be ill and the blessings promised may be fulfilled. Only so may they 'run and not be weary, walk and not faint.'"
-Parrish, Alan K., John A. Widtsoe, a Biography, 418.

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to give man health and happiness. Health is concerned with the spirit and mind as well as with the body of man. The Gospel is mistakenly supposed to concern only a man's spiritual heath. Mental and physical health forms the only assurance of spiritual progress. A a man who is physically or mentally ill is not truly happy, though he may approach spiritual peace. The three parts of man's nature are interrelated and depend upon one another's welfare."  -419

"December's lesson, 'A Merry Christmas,' concentrated on the trend to turn Christmas into a pagan holiday through eating excesses: 'Where plenty abounds, it is a continuous orgy of feasting and stuffing, munching and chewing sweets and pastries, with all sorts of harmful drinks, until the body sickens because of its abuse.' To those who celebrate as true believers, 'Christmas should be a sacrament and should be celebrated as such. ... Not a time of gloom, nor of disgusting bodily indulgence, but a season of joy and gladness, of gratitude for life and a determination to share the best one has with those who may be most in need."  -424 (from lesson by Leah Widtsoe)

Hercules and the Wagoner

A wagoner was driving his team along a muddy lane with a full load behind them, when the wheels of his wagon sank so deep in the mire that no efforts of his horses could move them. As he stood there, looking helplessly on, and calling loudly at intervals upon Hercules for assistance, the god himself appeared, and said to him, "Put your shoulder to the whell, man, and goad on your horses, and then you may call on Hercules to assist you. If you won't lift a finger to hep yourself, you can't expect Hercules or anyone else to come to your aid."

Heaven helps those who help themselves.

Jones, V.S. Vernon, Aesop's Fables, Barnes & Noble 2003, 102.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More on patience and perfection.

My brothren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.      -James 1:2-4

I already posted somewhat about patience in suffering bringing about our perfection. I love how this verse emphasizes that point - that when we allow our trials to work in us, patience has its "perfect work," making us "perfect and entire." Patience makes us whole! And the last phrase gives me an idea of one way that patience makes us whole: we want nothing. I think that more often than not, "wanting nothing" doesn't mean that we have everything we might want. Far from it! I think that it means that by exercising patience in trial, we learn to let go of the things that we want but that aren't God's will for us right now. We learn to be content with what the Lord has given us and are willing to wait on the promises He has made for as long as we need to. We learn to choose happiness regardless of our circumstances. And then we are whole, wanting nothing.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life...  -James 1:12

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ...  -Hebrews 13:20-21

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cleaning and Filling.

Love these old journal entries! Things I had forgotten that I had learned...

John & I went to the temple to proxy in initiatories... It is remarkable how much I always learn despite the fact that you hear the same thing repeatedly. There is a pattern that always seems to be prevalent on the Gospel--that of cleaning out and filling up. We are constantly being cleansed the purified, that we may be filled. Baptism cleans us, then we are filled with the Holy Ghost. In the sacrament again we are reminded that we are cleansed, then we covenant to remember the Savior so that we may be filled and have the Spirit's companionship. The same occurs in the temple ordinances.

This pattern, it seems, should inform my daily efforts. I should constantly strive to clean out the mundane, the things unworthy of my time and contemplation, and fill myself with the Spirit and the things of the Lord.

Faith and Suffering: Hebrews 11

I've read the beginning of Hebrews 11 many times in lessons about faith. It recites many familiar examples sacrifices that were made by faith and of the miracles that resulted. But I missed something huge at the end of the chapter. The recital turns to examples of people whose suffering was not rewarded in this life.

And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these having obtained a good report through faith, received not he promise:
[and here is where the Joseph Smith Translation makes a HUGE difference]

God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.                      -Hebrews 11:36-40

It's amazing to me how I find certain themes popping up in my study at certain times in my life. I don't think it's any coincidence that I studied this chapter, then our Relief Society lesson yesterday was on the same talk about the Atonement and pain that I just posted recently. The teacher read a quote (which I should find and put here) about how parents should not try to keep their children from all suffering, because it is for their good. It reminded me about how I feel each time Ethan has a surgery or any other procedure--I want to take it all away! I feel like I would do anything to take his place. But the Lord knows Ethan, and he will be perfected through the trials designed specifically for him.

Chapter 12 of Hebrews continues on the theme of enduring trials, suffering, and chastisement.

My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  v. 5-7

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  v. 11

I think that many people center their case against God around the idea that a loving god would not allow us to suffer. Or would not allow us to suffer for very long. Or would not allow some people to suffer more than others. But I say that god would be a pointless god. Why even put us here if the only purpose is for everyone to feel good and then come back? That was Lucifer's plan! Sounds attractive, but how would we learn to love each other or Him? I am not saying that God relishes in our suffering, but He allows it because He knows that it will ultimately bring us greater joy in the long run. We come to know Christ as we endure hard trials. We come to know Christ as we reach out and alleviate the suffering of others. We need those experiences. I am grateful to know that our Father has a purpose for us, and uses this time on earth as an intense schooling through which each individual can be perfected through Christ and prepared for the limitless opportunities of eternity.

Foundations: The Wise Man and the Foolish Man

Another old journal entry:

I find it interesting that I have never heard a lesson taught using the version of the parable of the wise and foolish men from Luke, because it emphasizes a point that isn't so clear in the other accounts.

Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them,... he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.   Luke 6:47-48

The key here is that the wise man dug deep until he hit the rock, then laid a firm foundation upon it, while the foolish man built right on top of the earth. I had always envisioned one house being build up on a mountain and the other down on the sandy beach, but not so by this account: both hear the word, and were standing on Gospel soil, but only one dug down and rooted his house so that it stood firm upon the rock of our redeemer, Jesus Christ. Digging deep into the Gospel requires DOING the Father's will--that is what brings that testimony that makes us unshakable against the adversary.

There is a cheesy video of children's songs that my MIL bought and that Ethan loves. It includes the song "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man," and is illustrated by kids building a house with Lincold Logs on a rock, then on the sand. At the end, to illustrate the lyrics "the house on the sand went smash," a bucket of water was dumped to knock down the house. During one viewing (there have been many!) John remarked that it was funny that they had to use a bucket of water on the house in the sand, because in reality the house on the big slippery rock would have fallen more easily. That's where the teaching in Luke makes things clear; it's the foundation on the rock that holds the house fast. The rock won't move, but we must be affixed to it. The sand, on the other hand, will shift, so you can't lay a good foundation upon it--the foundation is worthless if it's not on the rock.

*Also note: the great & spacious building in Lehi/Nephi's dream was in the air--it had no FOUNDATION. And great was the fall of it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The gift of repentance

I ran across this old journal entry today:

I think it is interesting that when Peter told the other disciples about his vision instructing him to take the Gospel to all, the disciples exclaimed, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance." (Acts 11:18) Funny, they didn't say salvation, but repentance. That is the real blessing - to change, to become more like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and not just to escape punishment for our wrongs.

Pain and the Atonement

My mom hurt her back a few weeks ago. I read this talk with her today over the phone. I think we both needed it. Warning: it is a tear-jerker.

Kent F. Richards, "The Atonement Covers All Pain," Conference Report, April 2011.

Patience and Discipleship

I love Elder Uchtdorf's talk, "The Way of the Disciple". I was tempted to dump the whole thing onto the blog. I may end up doing it in bits and pieces in different categories. But since my life seems to be keenly focused on teaching me to have patience, I'll start with this:

Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.
Discipleship is a journey. We need the refining lessons of the journey to craft our character and purify our hearts. By patiently walking in the path of discipleship, we demonstrate to ourselves the measure of our faith and our willingness to accept God’s will rather than ours.

-Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Way of the Disiple," Conference Report, April 2009.

This also reminded me of Elder Lynn G. Robbin's talk, "What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?" He said:

Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do’s are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can’t earn checkmarks with to be’s. I can take my wife out for a lovely evening this Friday, which is a to do. But being a good husband is not an event; it needs to be part of my nature—my character, or who I am.

-Conference Report, April 2011

That's the problem with trying to develop character traits like patience: by definition you are never done! If you ever stop acting patiently, you are no longer patient. So the lesson is never-ending and will never be over (until your life is over, anyway). Talk about a trial for an impatient person!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For ye are dead...

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
...seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
Colossians 3:1-10

This gives new meaning to the saying "dead to the world." That's actually what I should want to be =). I like the verb mortify used here--make every un-Christlike characteristic dead!

The Atonement: Symbolism of blood

We've been attending my home ward for the past few weeks, and a girl that I have been vaguely acquainted with both here and in Long Beach just came home from her mission. During Sunday School, she mentioned that her mission president challenged them to study the Atonement for at least part of their daily study, and she spoke of the way that it helped her to connect the principles of the Gospel. I thought this was a pretty good idea, so I have started by reading one scripture each day from the topical guide about the Atonement in addition to whatever other study I'm doing that day.

The first is Leviticus 17:11:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The surrounding scriptures forbid the Children of Israel from eating the blood of any creature, because the blood is the life of the flesh. Immediately another scripture came to mind:

O remember, remember... yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.   Helaman 5:9

There is no other creature, no other way that we can be saved, but through the blood (the life!) of Jesus Christ, which He gave on our behalf. I imagine it being very powerful for those early Saints to receive the sacrament, which represents the blood of the Savior, while they were forbidden to drink the blood of any other creature. They were used to the idea of animal sacrifice, but this was that Great Sacrifice to which all others had pointed, and it was the only sacrifice that truly brought them life.

The third scripture in the list goes back to the same symbolism in a different context:

As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.  Zechariah 9:11

I liked this reminder that the covenant between the Lord and His people is based upon and centered around His atoning blood. I think it emphasizes both the fact that it is His blood that saves us as well as the fact that we must keep our part in order to make His blood have its intended effect in our lives.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Peace of God.

I have been loving to study the epistles of Paul. They are kind of like reading a dear Abby column because they address specific problems of particular people and gives counsel about human problems that come up in the Church. Every day there is something new I want to write down, but because of life's commotion lately, I haven't gotten my scriptures and the computer together until tonight.

I am a worrier. Panic and anxiety run in my family, so I try to keep a check on my stress level, but I definitely worry more than needful much of the time. This was so, so needed lately.

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing [or, "don't be unduly concerned about anything"]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think of these things.
...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:4-13

It's really the same lesson I've been taught time and time again - go to the Lord, do what needs to be done, and then let it go. Somehow I feel like letting go of the worry and stress is letting go of control--as if I were really in control of what happens =). But that trust is what it takes to receive that peace which passeth all understanding.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Fast.

John and I were having a discussion about fasting, and I looked up this article that I had read some time ago. I wanted to save it here for future reference.

Fasting is a very personal matter, usually done with a specific concern in mind. Therefore, the purpose of the fast and the special considerations of the individual involved govern the motivation and the nature of the fast.
Most of us fast in conjunction with our membership in the Church and its law of the fast. Generally speaking, there are three purposes for such a fast. First is to increase humility and spirituality of the individual fasting. Second is to provide assistance to the needy by contributing fast offerings equivalent to the value of the food which has not been consumed. Third, physical benefits may be derived personally.

In the General Handbook of Instructions (1968, p. 40), we read, “A proper fast day observance consists of abstaining from food and drink for two consecutive meals, attending the fast and testimony meeting, and making a generous offering to the bishop for the care of those in need.” Thus, the use of water is excluded in this kind of a fast.

Now, a word of caution—some fallaciously reason that if a little of anything is good, a lot is better. The inadvisability of excessive fasting was explained in some detail in the June 1972 Priesthood Bulletin, “We are informed that some … engage in rather lengthy fasting. It is not advisable that they do this. If there is a special matter for which they should fast, if they would fast one day and then go to the Lord humbly and ask for his blessings, that should suffice.” Moreover, Joseph F. Smith wisely counseled, “Many are subject to weakness, others are delicate in health, and others have nursing babies; of such it should not be required to fast. Neither should parents compel their little children to fast.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 244.)

The generous offering to the bishop is understood to represent the financial equivalent of at least two meals. A liberal donation so reserved and dedicated to the poor is ennobling to the soul and helps one develop charity, one of the greatest attributes of a noble human character. (See 1 Cor. 13.)
The personal benefits derived from fasting are substantial. The scriptures tell us that a certain kind of devil goes not out except by fasting and prayer. (See Matt. 17:21.) The supremacy of the spirit over the appetites of the body is affirmed by the mental discipline of fasting. This strength fortifies us in our combat with other temptations prompted by physical appetites that, if uncontrolled, would be destructive to our welfare. While some have physical conditions that preclude fasting, most people are not excluded on this basis. To me, a successfully completed period of fasting from food and drink on fast day brings a degree of self-confidence. Fasting is real evidence to oneself and to his maker of gratitude for the gift of health and strength which permits one to be able to fast. Surely this is a great privilege and blessing.

-Russell M. Nelson, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Apr. 1976.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Spiritual Education

We are spiritual, as well as mental and physical; and our education, to be complete, and fully satisfactory, must take into account the demands of the spirital nature of man, and provide for religious instruction. The man whose mind and body alone are trained is not necessarily a safe citizen. . . . Spiritual education is the best known means of causing men to use their powers for human good.
-John A. Widtsoe, "Right Education as a Force in Obedience to Law," Improvement Era, November 1922, 74-75.

The man whose mind only has been trained may be likened to the ship with great engines and a huge propeller ready to drive the ship forward, but without rudder, hart, compass, or definite destination. When we add to the man, so trained, spiritual training, then it is as if we add to the ship, with its wonderful machinery, a compass, a chart, a rudder, and a dependable intelligence which controls the whole machinery, above and below deck, so that the vessel may reach a safe haven, according to a definite purpose.  
-John A. Widtsoe, id., 77.

The love of truth must be fostered if men are to travel the road to happy useful life. Unless you have learned to love truth your colege course has been in vain. Amost the prime purpose of college training is to enable men to distinguish between that which the powers of men have found to be true, and the inferences . . . that are drawn from such facts of observation. . . . Men must cling to truth at whatever cost. That must be the constant, most important teaching of the schools.
-John A. Widtsoe, "Serve you 'Won Generation,'" Improvement Era, July 1938, 393.

Spiritual perfection, under the true laws of God, should be the aim of all men; the trained mind and the vigorous body may be used in winning such perfection. The will for righteousness transcends in importance, any intellectual accomplishments. It is for the development of the greater power that the Church Schools have been established.
-John A. Widtsoe, "The Church School System," Improvement Era, August 1923, 865.

I feel like I've lost a little of the savor of learning new truths and applying them for the benefit of anything but getting babies to sleep or avoiding tantrums. I hope I can revive it as I teach my kiddos so that they can catch it.

This also makes me reflect on my legal education at BYU. In law, it seems so easy to subjectify truth; it makes me want to reexamine the role of truth in law practice. Maybe I'll get really ambitious and write some really profound article and get it published in the Clark Memorandum. Maybe I'll forget about it entirely. And now I'll have this post to remind me later and make me feel guilty if I've done the latter =).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walk as children of light.

Over the course of my adult life I feel like my threshold for appropriateness has steadily climbed higher while the available entertainment has become increasingly smutty. It makes for a sparse selection. Luckily I'm not too big on TV or movies anyway (I'd rather do something). Anyhow, reading Ephesians 5 reminded me why I really should remain aloof from all of these things. It lists various sins that are unbecoming of saints, exhorting,

Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.   
Ephesians 5:7-12 (emphasis added)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Be ye kind.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice;
And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

I really needed to read this the other day. I think I'm going to memorize it so I can recite it to myself. Now, I don't think I would describe myself as malicious, but I also don't think it's a huge secret that I can be pretty moody. I'm sure my mom and siblings could attest to that; looking back I can tell I was that way even when I was little. And the worst part about me during a bad mood is that I'm usually convinced that I'm right about whatever I happen to be dwelling on during said mood.

I was in such a mood when I read this, and it certainly was humbling. More often than not, I just need to forget about whatever it is that I am brooding over and follow the commandment (yes, commandment) to be cheerful and kind and to direct only positive feelings toward others. I remember being a teenager and having an argument with my sister. Because she knew it would get my goat, she threw out, "You're only hurting yourself if you get mad; you can't control what people do, you can only control how you react." This was the worst possible argument because it totally disregarded my legitimate reason for being mad at her, and it was totally true. But really, most things that we get irritated or even angry over don't matter enough for us to dwell on. It doesn't matter who was right or wrong or what should have been done; it matters that we love God and love others and maintain good relationships with them. This is especially true with our families, with whom we spend the most time and therefore have the most run-ins, but who are the very most important to our spiritual welfare and eternal progression.

 I also think this scripture is particularly potent because it reminds us that God forgives us "for Christ's sake" - Christ, who forgot Himself completely, gave His whole life, then suffered and died so that we could be forgiven. It is because of His love for us and for all of the people with whom we associate that we can be forgiven.


Can ye be angry, and not sin? let not the sun go down upon your wrath.  Ephesians 4:26, JST

See that ye love one another; ... learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires... And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.  Doctrine and Covenants 88:123, 125

Perfectness and peace sounds a lot nicer than a bad mood. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011



I'm giving a lesson in MiaMaids on temple marriage in a couple of weeks. The feeling in these videos is so starkly contrasting to me; I hope they feel the same way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Chosen Generation

As youth in the Church we are told repeatedly that we are a chosen generation, that there are more temptations and more trials than in the past, and that we have to be stronger than generations past. I think that there is truth in that, but I also think youth can sometimes excuse themselves in their behavior because things are "so much harder nowadays." This quote from President Hinckley in his famous "6 Be's" talk is refreshing:

Of course you face challenges. Every generation that has ever walked the earth has faced challenges. We could spend the entire evening talking about them. But of all the challenges that have been faced in the past, the ones we have today, I believe, are most easily handled. I say that because they are manageable. They largely involve individual behavioral decisions, but those decisions can be made and followed. And when that happens, the challenge is behind us.

- Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth," 12 Nov 2000.

So true, particularly here in the U.S. There are plenty of people in the world that struggle with basic necessities like food and shelter, but most of us in the U.S. will never, in our poorest conditions, be at that state. Mostly we need to worry about our own choices. When we stay in control of our own behavior, life is generally pretty smooth!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sow, sow, sow.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

-Galatians 6:7-10

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

-Psalms 126:5-6 him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.

-Proverbs 11:18

Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall also ye reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.

-Doctrine & Covenants 6:33

Considering thyself.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

-Galatians 6:1

This takes me back a few (okay, several) years. I have always been blessed with really good friends. My patriarchal blessing counsels me to be selective and associate with people who have my same standards. In high school, about half of the people I spent my time with were LDS, and the other half might as well have been for the good influence they had on me (otherwise, they probably wouldn't have hung out with us). In college, pretty much every free moment was spent in a church-related activity (Institute, IWA, LDSSA, Relief Society, FHE, dances, callings, and other activities - they sure are good at keeping young adults too busy to get in trouble), and all of my friends were the same way. Then came a mission, then BYU Law (where I knew all of about 5 people who weren't members of the Church), then marriage and kids (which means I generally only hang out with moms from my wards).

Often I feel that the real challenge is finding someone who doesn't have my standards with whom I might share, and on occasion I've questioned whether I should try to find new circles of friends. But there is a danger in that, and I've seen it claim people I've known and loved. If you jump into a circle of people who are spiritually malnourished, it can turn into a black hole - sucking the light and life out of you. Thus Paul warns that we can't forget to maintain ourselves as we try to reach out. If, on the other hand, you draw someone with a spiritual hurt into a strong circle of good friends, they are easily uplifted and restored. I saw that multiple times in my group of friends at Long Beach State. They were amazing, and loved and lifted anyone who would come. So I suppose I want to have that again. It will require being in one place long enough to make like-minded friends (when will that happen?!?!), and then to reach out together to some who may need restoring. Kind of like this.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Our Savior was obedient even when it meant great physical and emotional pain, even when it meant being whipped and mocked, even when it meant that his enemies would torture him while his friends abandoned Him.

-Elder Water F. Gonzales, CR April 2011

I too often fail for much less.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Paul on Measures.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure... Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly...

2 Corinthians 10:12-15

I need to study this further. It has been too long since I've slept for me to feel like I've captured the message. But I do think I caught the gist; Heavenly Father has set the rule by which we are measured. Measuring ourselves by any other standard--especially by comparing ourselves--is unwise. It creates ill feelings and false pride, and distracts us from becoming in fuller measure what our Father wants us to be.

A Cheerful Giver.

"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work..."

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Not usually a grudging giver, but often lean toward doing things "of necessity" instead of doing them cheerfully. I'm generally pretty cheerful when I sign up, but then get bogged down in the execution, ignoring that last part about abounding in good works through grace (not through worry!).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Everything happens for a reason.

That's what people always say. But I don't recall ever having seen it so straightforward in a scripture before:

  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 
  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

2 Corinthians 1:3-6

In other words, Paul felt that when he was comforted, it was so that he could comfort those he served, and when he suffered, it was so that he could relate with those who suffered, and both so that he could better know Christ.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sometimes I need a little motivation.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58

Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.
Doctrine & Covenants 60:13

"...repent of that which ye have done, and begin to be up and doing..."
Alma 60:24 

"And now, my beloved son, ...let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God."
Moroni 9:6

"Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today."
Doctrine & Covenants 64:25

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beholding our little ones

Elder M. Russell Ballard has taught us the importance of the Savior’s admonition to “behold your little ones” when he said: “Notice that He didn’t say ‘glance at them’ or ‘casually observe them’ or ‘occasionally take a look in their general direction.’ He said to behold them. To me that means that we should embrace them with our eyes and with our hearts; we should see and appreciate them for who they really are: spirit children of our Heavenly Father, with divine attributes” (“Behold Your Little Ones,” Tambuli, Oct. 1994, 40; emphasis added; “Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 59).

There is not a more perfect place to behold our little ones than in our families. Home is a place where we can all learn and grow together. 

It is here in our families, in an atmosphere of love, where we see and appreciate in a more personal way the divine attributes of His spirit children. It is here in our families where our hearts can be softened and in humility we desire to change, to become more childlike. It is a process by which we can become more Christlike.

Have some of life’s experiences taken from you the believing heart and childlike faith you once had? If so, look around at the children in your life. And then look again. They may be children in your family, across the street, or in the Primary in your ward. If we have a heart to learn and a willingness to follow the example of children, their divine attributes can hold a key to unlocking our own spiritual growth.

-Jean A. Stevens, CR April 2011

Teaching the Sabbath

I thought I'd note some of the counsel that Elder Perry gave about teaching children to honor the Sabbath day.

"Our youth may think the old saying 'Sunday best' is outdated. Still, we know that when Sunday dress deteriorates to everyday attire, attitudes and actions follow. Of course, it may not be necessary for our children to wear formal Sunday attire until the sun goes down. However, by the clothing we encourage them to wear and the activities we plan, we help them prepare for the sacrament and enjoy its blessings throughout the day."

"Parents, now is the time to teach our children to be examples of the believers by attending sacrament meeting. When Sunday morning arrives, help them to be well rested, properly dressed, and spiritually prepared to partake of the emblems of the sacrament and receive the enlightening, edifying, ennobling power of the Holy Ghost. Let your family be filled with love as you honor the Sabbath all day long and experience its spiritual blessings throughout the week. Invite your sons and daughters to 'arise and shine forth' by keeping the Sabbath day holy, that 'their] light may be a standard for the nations.'"

-L. Tom Perry, CR April 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Paul on Revelation

I am trying to process this. Thoughts?

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-16)

My one-sentence translation as it stands:
When the scriptures say that "man" can't receive the mysteries of God, they refer to "the natural man;" by putting off the natural man and receiving the Spirit, we can receive all things.

(Okay, I sort of cheated on the one-sentence thing with the semicolon. At least I only used one...)

Friday, May 6, 2011

On Lace.

We took a much-needed trip to the temple last night. I sat staring for a few minutes at the lovely handmade lace that you always seem to see in temples. I have always said that I would make a terrible artist because I'm not patient enough; I never want to put in the time to perfect all of the details - that doesn't seem particularly relaxing to me. That's why I don't sew with pins or patterns, I don't draw or paint, I don't crochet or cross-stitch anymore, and I can hardly even bring myself to scrapbook. I can't seem to produce any patience in addition to what I'm required to exert on a daily basis.

But as I sat there I thought that I should regain an appreciation for what can be created by patient attention to detail, because (like most things around us) that lace seemed to be a metaphor for life. We do one stitch or loop or tiny section at a time, but we don't get to see how the whole tapestry will fit together--or appreciate the fullness of its beauty--until we look back on how everything connects together. And the beauty of the entire piece is enhanced because we know all of the stitches and loops and pieces that produced it and can appreciate the effort that it required with satisfaction. That is part of the joy of creation - the process.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wisdom and Simplicity, or Learning the Hard Way

Can you tell where I've been reading lately? Here's some more great counsel from Paul:

I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.   Romans 16:19

The footnotes give the Greek translation of the word for simple as blameless or innocent.

Right off the bat, this reminded me of feelings I had toward the end of law school. During my penultimate semester I took a class on internet regulation, and a large portion of the class focused on pornography, since that was a field my professor was working hard to help regulate. I wrote a paper for that class on law and moraliy, and then expanded that into my 30-page substantial writing requirement during the following semester. For both the class and the paper, I read through a lot of studies and watched a lot of forums, and I recall feeling ambivalent about the studies that were conducted about pornography. On the one hand, they seemed necessary to evidence the damage that pornography can inflict on its viewers, but on the other hand it didn't seem quite right to make people watch pornography in order to study its effects. I myself wouldn't feel comfortable participating in such a study. Yet that exact study seemed so pivotal in substantiating my point.

Paul reminded me of the fundamental problem: the world insists on learning things the hard way! It should be enough for us to study and familiarize ourselves with what is good, so that we can quickly recognize and cast away evil. If we are wise as to the good, we don't need to study evil in depth to know we should avoid it. But the world, which so often mocks and derides the good, requires proof of a terrible consequence before possibly admitting that something may be bad. Thus the Lord instructed:

Wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth.   Doctrine & Covenants 38:30

With respect to parenting, I am reminded of how the Savior himself was raised:  Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.  (Isaiah 7:15) We don't need to teach our children all about evil in order for them to avoid it. Spencer W. Kimball told a story of a young man who had gotten involved in various perversions. When asked where he got the idea for such things, he said that he'd gotten it from his bishop. In an attempt to warn the young man about every possible evil, the bishop instead planted unworthy thoughts in the boys' head that, when fed, manifested themselves in sin. (See Faith Precedes the Miracle. I don't have the book here, or I'd find the page.) The world will do all it can to teach our children about sin. We can focus our energy on showing them the sweetness of every good thing.

UPDATE: Funny, today (May 4th) on Facebook someone posted this quote from Brigham Young:
We should not only study good, and its effect upon our race, but also evil, and its consequences. (JD 2:93–94.) Ha ha ha. So clearly there has to be a balance; we can't just ignore that evil exists, and we should acknowledge and even study its consequences. But still that does not require becoming an expert in evil itself. Always a balance...

Patience + Scriptures = Hope

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.  Romans 15:4

Monday, May 2, 2011


But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ... So then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God.  -Romans 14:10, 12

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of hte law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the aw, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able ot save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?   -James 4:11-12

It is so easy to fall into the trap of comparing and judging. I know how I should be; Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. (Romans 14:13) But it's easy to slip, especially when I can tell others are judging me (particularly my mothering!). Paul pinpoints a common reason we judge:

Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. (14:22)

If we have faith and are confident in ourselves and our path, we won't feel the need to defend and compare with anyone else, and we can just learn from the good that we see in others. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. (14:19) 

Friday, April 29, 2011

"The rich rewards come only to the strenuous strugglers."

See The Teachings of David O. McKay, comp. Mary Jane Woodger (2004), 300.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


When I take a step back from whatever is going on at a particular moment in my life, I recognize how my circumstances and sense of spirituality fluctuate and progress. I think that's necessary to keep me growing, but I still struggle during the thinner times. I found Paul's reassurances to the Romans really comforting this evening.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but he Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered... And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose... He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?                          
Romans 8:24-26, 28, 32

Sometimes I feel like the reality of the Gospel and the purpose in my life are easier to see than at other times. But if it weren't so, I wouldn't have to have faith or hope or patience. It is enough to know that God loves me and gave His Son for me, and that He will give me all that I need, regardless of whether I know what exactly that entails.