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)