Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Apostles of the Lamb

Today we had a wonderful sacrament meeting. Our neighbors the Ensign's spoke. First Lisa gave a wonderful talk - I wasn't able to take notes because I had two little girls on my lap and Corey was home sick. But I remembered her sharing that she was talking to some youth, family members I think, who were not on the side of the church with regards to recent policy changes. Lisa defended the church so much so that they apologized for making her mad. She said "I'm not mad, I'm terrified!" She is passionate because she is terrified that the adversary is leading away these loving and tender hearts from the truth because of their desire to show tolerance and not offend. They are trying to love the best they know how, but they need to hold to the rod and not leave the church or fight against the Lord's apostles. She then share how she recently learned something new from the story of the tree of life. She used to think the great and spacious building represented the pride of the world. But there is a reoccurring phrase from 1 Nephi 11 that gave more insight as to what the building represents:

34 And after he was slain I saw the multitudes of the earth, that they were gathered together to fight against the apostles of the Lamb; for thus were the twelve called by the angel of the Lord.

35 And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

36 And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The great and spacious building represents those who fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And the great fall of the great and spacious building was a representation of the destruction to come upon all nations, tongues, and people that fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Don't fight against his apostles. I guess I was thinking of Mr Snuffer and Mr. Malone again and how they believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, but the heavenly gift has since been lost and we are not led by a living prophet anymore. I don't know if their opinions constitute fighting against the apostles, and I don't follow their blogs now, but do still pray for them to return to full fellowship with the Saints.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

BYU Devotionals

Have I ever said how much I love watching the 11 o'clock devotionals? (I love them.) I loved these two devotional talks today - both were awesome and it was the first time I'd heard both of them, which was a treat. Many times the devotionals are repeats of one's I've already heard, so I really enjoyed these. First was:

R.Bruce Money - "The Lord's Country and Kingdom - Your Passport" Read here, watch below.



And right after that was this great talk by David Hart entitled "Be Excellent: Becoming Who You Are in Today's World." Read here.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Screwtape Letter 15

I was talking to one of my wonderful neighbors today about our life as mothers - we talked a little about things we should do to enjoy the present moment (and help our children to do it, too.)
Reminded me of Letter 15 from Screwtape - I got out my old book and re-read it. These are some quotes from it that I love:

  • Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind
  • (Speaking of the present moment) ~ in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He (God) would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity, which means being concerned with Him, or with the Present--either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure. 
  • It is far better to make them live in the Future, (because) in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. 
  • Nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.
  • To be sure, the Enemy (God) wants ment o think of the Future too--just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. 
  • He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do.
  • We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present
(...so be "here"!)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stake Women's Conference with Elder Christofferson

We are very blessed to have Elder D. Todd Christofferson and his wife in our stake. We are extra lucky to have them in our ward too and as neighbors on our street. Today he spoke to the women of our stake in a Women's Conference. Here are some notes from his and Sister Christofferson's talks:

Theme: D&C 88:63 - Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Introduction from Sister Christofferson. He teased her later about her giving all the dry facts. Said that he appreciated all her efforts in largely raising their family as he was often gone. Said that he told her recently, "Dear, I'm here now!" to which she replied "I don't need you now!"

Allegory of the pianos: She went to visit a dear friend (they had written roadshows together) who was a Julliard trained musician in Nashville. The friend had a music room with two grand pianos and an organ. She had recently had her two grand pianos re strung and was anxious to hear how they sounded together. The friend attempted to persuade Kathy to play with her. Kathy declined, citing her lack of piano training (a few years of lessons). But the friend prevailed and Kathy agreed to play some hymns, even if it was just with one hand. Her friend played amazing arrangements and together they made beautiful music. Kathy said it was one of the greatest musical experiences she's ever had - said they could have made a CD out of the music. She then drew a parallel to Christ and the power of his atonement - that whatever meager melody we play, he will make into a beautiful symphony.
Elder Christofferson:
- D&C 88:63 is a warm invitation with no demand.
- To draw near to Christ is to align ourselves to His will and His commandments
- Turn our whole being to Him
- Christ tells us "repent and I'll work with you. I'll walk with you. I'll send my Holy Spirit. If you draw near unto me, I will draw near unto you.
- Learn to seek to pray according to His will
- D&C 46, 3 Nephi 19 "Pray what is given me to pray"
When you are praying for something that is expedient (when the need is substantial):

  • pray to give thanks for very specific blessings - this will invite the Spirit to the praer
  • have time for an extended prayer (example of a time when he felt this way, spent extended time in prayer - invited the Spirit - was given what to pray for)
atonement - yes forgiveness - AND justification

BUT also sanctification - made pure - ride ourselves of guilt/stain. We CAN be made guiltless an spotless. His grace achieves this. The vehicle is the Holy Ghost. (He will bring grace to us through the Holy Ghost) (See Sheri Dew, Amazed by Grace)

Story of when he was asked to interview a sister who had applied to receive a restoration of blessings. She had previously been excommunicated. He reviewed her file and saw what she had done in her life. He could hardly believe one person could have done so much evil. He even questioned that she should be there to be interviewed. But when he went into the room to meet with her, he could see the purity in her countenance. He knew he was in the presence of one of the most pure people he had ever met. Even since that moment, he has never questioned the far-reaching ability of the atonement. 

D&C 20 - Elder Christofferson's testimony that the atonement is REAL. IT is adequate. It is sufficient. 

HE is real. 
His resurrection is real. 

Apostolic blessing (the spirit came into the meeting, tangible feeling, the chapel was so quiet you could hear a pin drop) Elder Christofferson spoke with such quiet, and calm, and steadiness and power. he gave very specific blessings and promises. Same as a talk at Education week last year by Elder Andersen when he promised that in this time of increased wickedness,, there would be an outpouring of the Spirit to those who were striving to be obedient, and that the outpouring would be directly proportionate to our efforts to obey. 

That our faith will grow in this promise. That our willingness to apply it in our lives with grow. That hope will grow in our hearts that this promise extends to each of us personally. Give us faith to DO what we need to do to grow closer to Christ. That we will know what it is we need to do to draw closer. That we will have answers to our prayers. That we will e guided by the Spirit very often as we do pray. That the spirit will be a source of comfort more that it ever has been. That we will learn to recognize His voice. That it will be easier to receive answers. 

I left the meeting with so much love and gratitude for Elder and Sister Christofferson - for their service, their sacrifice, their example, their friendship. I feel so grateful for the leadership of the prophet and his apostles in this day. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

God Will Bless You

I totally loved the devotional by Dean M. Davies today ~ especially what he said about how God answers our prayers in miraculous ways so that men can't say that we did it on our own but will know that it was the work of God and that we will give the glory to Him. Really gave a lot of insight to questions and thoughts I've been having about prayer. Loved it!

read/print here

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Character Development

I have so much I wish I could write. I don't do much these days except nurse Owen and read books or watch tv. We watch PBS Kids and BYUtv during the day. I am loving the BYU devotionals and the BYUtv episodes of Turning Point especially. I have so many thoughts after the devotionals and wish I could write them all down. I'm way behind though and don't have time at the computer much (Owen has been having a rough week - really fussy, possibly colic?) But this past Tuesday I watched the live devotional with BYU President Worthen. He talked about character and becoming. It went along with so many thoughts that Corey has shared with me lately, about how hard work is and how "he wasn't in this for the personal growth." He wanted to have, but God wants him to become, hence all the opportunities afforded him for character development. That's what we're all here for. On Tuesday I also finished reading the book "Preemptive Love" (recommend!)
The author, Jeremy Courtney, seems to have righteous desires and just wants to do some good and help, but wow, even with his heart already in the right place he still had a ton of growing experiences! (...and some of his make ours not seem so bad!) Everyone has trials, and they seem to be perfectly tailored to us. And just when one trial ends, there is another situation ready to take it's place. And that's because that is what we are here on earth for. I also loved these Turning Point episodes that are using cars (Naskarz), construction (Hana Build), ballet, parkour, rowing, etc, as a means to help youth and people BECOME. That is God is doing too - that's what we are here on earth for - to have these experiences that will help mold our character to hopefully become like our Savior and our Father in Heaven.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Fist of God

An article shared on facebook reminded me of this story that I will quote below. First, my friends comment on the news article from Kate Kelly about how it's okay to leave the LDS faith if it doesn't spark joy ~ As I read it, I found it sad that she wants women "to follow their own hearts, aspirations, and dreams" (Doesn't mention following Jesus) and to "put your faith in yourself and in women" (not in Christ. She doesn't even mention the names Jesus or Christ in her article.)

From my friend's facebook wall ~
"What concerns me about this article has nothing to do with her stance on Mormonism. It's that it feeds our culture's idea that if something isn't constantly bringing you joy, you should discard it. If that were the case I would have scrapped my marriage, my children, my extended family, my job, and my religion long ago. Life isn't about being joyful all of the time. It's about being useful, compassionate and making a difference. And those qualities come from wrestling with difficult things and not bailing at the first sign of distress, regardless of your religious affiliation."

I totally agree with that! We are to see joy, but the greatest joys are found through the greatest trials, as the life of the Master should attest. That truth is very well illustrated by this story that I'm going to type up now, from the book "Journey to the Veil" by John Pontius - page 115 - 119

~~
THE FIST OF GOD

In 1997 I was working on a large wheat ranch in Idaho that my father had recently purchased. I needed a break from college and decided to help on this farm and then return to BYU. We had worked veyr hard to make this farm work. It consisted of 720 acres of sprinkler-irrigated land. We had installed new irrigation equipment, drilled new wells, replaced and rebuilt most of the original farm equipment, and worked like slaves day and night.

Normally you move the sprinklers every twelve hours. We decided to put a larger nozzle into the sprinklers and movet eh water every eight hours. This put the same amoun t of water on the field but let us cover more acreage. It took about three hours to move the pipes each time. We moved them at 6 am, 2 pm, 10 pm and then started over, sleeping between sets.

I promise there is a spiritual message coming....

The effect of this was that we couldn't attend all our church meetings. We were too busy moving water and trying to catch up on sleep. When we realized this, we fasted and prayed, and my father decided to turn off the sprinklers on Sunday. His reasoning was that if we did the Lord's work and kept His Sabbath holy, then He would work whatever miracle it took to make the crops grow.

This is a huge mistake normally. You can lose a million dollar's worth of crops by turning off the sprinklers just one day. Still, that Sunday morning we shut off the water and went to church. our neighbors urgently whispered to us that they had noticed that our water was off when they drove to church. When we told them why, they just shook their heads and walked away.

During this time, the ward was building a new chapel. We had small pieces of time between water sets, and we spent most of them working on the church. We paid a full tithe, fasted often, served and served, and held prayers together at the beginning of each work day before leaving to go home. We were on the most spiritual high I had ever experienced in the "real world" up to then.

The crops prospered. They were lush and full. People stopped, got out of their cars, and took pictures of our fields, because nobody had ever seen such an amazing stand of wheat in that area. Our neighbors incredulously asked us how we had done it.

It had been early fall when we shut off the water. Now the fields were golden, within a few days of being ready to harvest. We estimated we had seventy five bushels of wheat to the acre. The average for that area was fifteen to twenty. We rejoiced and praised God all day long. It was such a wonderful feeling to know that we had been obedient and that the Lord had rewarded that obedience with such an abundant crop, in spite of the apparent stupidity of turning off the water on Sunday.
I was sitting in the cab of a large John Deere combine. I had just repaired and greased it up. It was running with the front beater bar spinning in front of me. It sounded perfect. I was happy as I looked up, and being about twelve feet in the air, I could see all across the valley. At the northwest end, there appeared a small black cloud. I watched as it came our way. I turned off the noisy machine and shouted for my Dad and brother to look.

We stood there and watched as this black cloud approached. It was about a mile across; the rest of the valley was sunny. This little cloud hit the end of our first fields and began to hail. The stones were about one-half inch in size. Our farm was "L"shaped. The cloud went east across our fields, turned abruptly eft, and traveled up the other leg fo the farm. Just beyond our fields, the cloud broke up and dissipated. No other farmer's fields were affected.

It was the fist of God. In shock, we staggered out into the fields, and eery head fo weat was empty. The ground was a golden carpet of ruined grain. There was no way to pick it up off the ground fast enough before it would decay. We were devastated--financially, emotionally, and spiritually. We could not fathom why God would allow such a thing to happen.

I went home. There was nothing else to do. We were bankrupt. I went to bed and prayed and prayed, and I admit, I moaned and complained. It didn't seem fair. It actually wasn't fair.

During the night, I had a vivid dream. It was so real that I could feel the breeze on my face, smell the smells, and hear the world I was viewing. It was as Paul said, "Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannon tell." It was that real.

I was looking at a large farm. The fields were lush and perfect. The roads were lined with flowering bushes and ornamental trees. It was like a farm planted in the middle of a Disneyland park. I saw a large yellow machine in the distance and walked toward it. They were harvesting the wheat, and the hopper was rapidly filling with a golden stream of grain. The driver was hardly paying attention tot he machine; he was singing and dancing on his platform. There was no dust and very little noise. On the ground, there were a half-dozen women and as many men dressed in white. They were laughing and dancing right in front of the machine. Some of them were mere inches from the big threshing wheel.

I began to fear for their lives when I suddenly understood. The machine could not hurt them. It was against he laws of "nature" as they existed in this world. The machine never broke down or needed repairs. It just worked flawlessly.

I began learning things--more like remembering them, as if I had always known this place. Their world existed without opposition. The rains came exactly on time. There were no weeds, no insects, and everything they tried to do was successful. these people had grouped together to own and operate this farm. They were very wealthy because oft he abundance of their harvest. They were dancing to praise God and to rejoice in their continual good fortune.

I realized that the beautiful park-like plants and flowers grew there spontaneously, just because the people enjoyed them. In my mind's eye, I saw them moving a house-sized boulder so they could farm there. One man put his hand on the rock, and it slid across the ground with a great noise. he expended no more effort than pushing a child on a toy trike. By divine decree, the stone could not resist him.

I became aware of every other aspect of this world. They could do anything--or nothing. They could not get hungry or could or become sick. If they wanted to sit by a pool and sip syrupy drinks, they could do that forever, If they wanted to build an empire of factories and become obscenely wealthy, they could do that too, and they would succeed--by divine decree, they would succeed. Nothing would oppose them. There were no taxes and no laws except one; they could not harm, injure, cheat, or hurt anyone or anything.

I was thinking this was the celestial kingdom and was beginning to ache to be there. A voice interrupted my thoughts and said, "No, this is the telestial kingdom."

I was flabbergasted, but more information flooded into my mind. These people had lost their ability to sin, to hurt, to injure, or to even disobey the law. They were free to do anything else, but they couldn't disobey. I mean, it was impossible. If they attempted, they would find it impossible, just like the big machine couldn't injure the girls dancing right in front of it. They had lost this part of their agency.

I then realized that these people weren't living as couples. They didn't marry. They had friends and lived with them as they chose, bu they were not able to be sexual, and these associations of friends were both large and small, but they were not intimate.

They could not participate in governing because there was no government. Their leaders weren't even from this world, and their decisions were not subject to disobedience. It was simply impossible. They could not vote. They had vast choices in what they could do, but zero agency to disobey the law. There was no punishment, because there was no ability to disobey. I realized then that this was similar to what Satan had promised to do just before the war in heaven.

I noted that there were no children, anywhere. There was no priesthood, no authority, and nothing that resembled faith, because they could plainly see the miracles of God everyday of their lives.

At this point I was thinking that if this were the telestial kingdom, it wasn't too bad at all; as a matter of fact, it sounded quite wonderful, especially after the catastrophic loss of our farm just hours before. I remember thinking this would be an acceptable outcome for my life--but then something inside me rebelled. "No! I want to make it to the celestial kingdom."

Then the same voice returned to my mind. "In order to enter the celestial kingdom, you must be willing to submit to My will, and to endure whatever experiences you need in order to qualify for that kingdom." I suddenly realized that the loss of our farm was one of those experiences. It wasn't random, and it wasn't a punishment. I couldn't imagine why, but God knew we needed that experience, as unjust and unfair as it seemed at the time; if I wanted the greater reward from life, I needed to stop complaining and murmuring and just submit. Somehow this harsh pathway was the right one, and it led to the celestial kingdom, not just to a nice farm where it never hails or snows.

Shortly after those events, we lost the farm. I helped my father and mother pack up and move to Alaska. I had relocated my family to Rexburg and was working to earn tuition to return to college. My wife and I had almost nothing; it was three years lost. One morning, I awake and "knew" we had to go with Mom and Dad to Alaska. I hated the idea. I had other plans. My wife had a dream that night as well, and she also "knew" we had to go. We both cried as we packed our few belongings and turned north.

Alaska has been a fertile field for me. You have read my blogs about my father being the first Wasilla bishop. He rose to every occasion, activated and baptized hundreds of people, and sealed his own eternal joy.

As for me, moving to Alaska gave me a chance to write, publish a few worthwhile things, raise a family, make too much money, and cleanse my soul. It also was the only path that could have filled my would with the fire-hardened faith that now illuminates my way and has gifted me with such sweet and eternal assurances. I "know" it was where I needed to be. It was harsh, and it was far more challenging that I could have ever imagined, but I thrived.

I marvel that it all began sitting in a threshing machine, watching the fist of God change the direction of my life. Praise the Lord.

~~

My closing thoughts - yes, man is that he might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25) but the greatest joys come by our losing our lives and turning our will over to God, not seeking to save our lives (Matthew 10:39). Let God take control, and if that leads down a long, lonely, bumpy road or up a difficult and steep mountain, we can trust in Him that it will give us the experiences and lessons we need. And, though it might not give sparks of joy in the moment, it will be for our eternal good in the end. We need to trust God and turn our lives over to him, keeping his commandments and seeking go do HIS will, not our own.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

God Isn't Afraid of Your Darkness

I read a post today that I really liked by Nikki Yaste called "An Honest Testimony from a Not So Typical Mormon"

My favorite part:

God’s love isn’t this red hot type of love, it’s a willingness to love those things that are messy. Those things that are ugly. Those things that we have done that we would rather not talk about. God isn’t afraid of you. Of me. He isn’t afraid to see our darkness because His love is perfect. His light illuminates every corner of our hidden hearts. Elder Maxwell said this,
“Personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the alter. Instead it is a willingness to place the animal in us upon the alter”
I liked that cause when I look around the world and see the mess around us, I feel a little like it's too messy and too bad, so when I pray I for our country and for the world, I feel like all I can say is "I'm sorry things have gotten so bad!!" I feel like I hardly know what I can even to do to help stop these problems... But I've been reading the old Testament, and have decided that things were pretty bad and messy back then too, but God was patient then and worked with them, and he's patient and long suffering with us, he seems to do pretty good at working with what he has. He's seen the worst. Not just during the history of this world, but during Christ's suffering in the Garden, he's seen it, he's felt it, and he overcame it. He conquered it, he's won. He beat it and isn't afraid of it, of us, of me and you and our problems. So yeah, I really liked that part of her story. It also reminded me of the quote by Elder Holland that I love from his talk "Laborers in the Vineyard" -

...however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.
His hands are stretched out still...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Only Believe Truth

Corey's dad sent me a link to this article today. I love it! It is a great merge of thoughts I love from two books I've read - 1) it goes along with the same thoughts shared in John Pontius' book "Following the Light of Christ" about the 10 virgins. 2) She also explains her thinking which is similar to what Virginia Pearce shares in her book "Through His Eyes" - how we need to stop and dissect our thoughts and really see what it is we are believing, like Sister Pearce explains via her Belief Box idea ~ is it True with a capital "T", an Eternal truth? - or true with a small t, aka "good advice" or a lie? Anyway, good stuff, I wanted to repost it here for my future reference

(This article is adapted from Darla’s book Trust God No Matter What! Follow this link to learn more.)
Author note: After another General Conference (April 2015), I feel so much gratitude for the opportunity to be immersed in light and truth. Part of learning “line upon line” is to become better at recognizing and letting go of previous misconceptions. General Conference always helps me do that. In President Uchtdorf’s talk “Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth” in our last October conference he said, “It seems to be a trait of humanity to assume that we are right even when we are wrong.” In my experiences over the years, believing things that are not true has accounted for most of my doubts, fears, and lack of trust in God. Deception is one of the adversary’s best tools; consequently, I keep coming back to the necessity of recognizing it. Matthew 24:24 warns that in the last days, “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” I have found it vital to seek the Spirit to help me sort truth from error. The following chapter from my Trust God book documents some of that seeking.
One morning when all my children were still young, I crept out of bed early, grateful for some time to myself with the scriptures. I remember precisely why I was looking for answers. I’d recently attended a presentation about the five wise and five foolish virgins; I was more than a little scared of being one of the foolish with no oil in my lamp.
I opened my scriptures and started looking up references that contained the word “virgin.” I sat there amazed when, in the early morning stillness, two scripture verses gave me a precise explanation of what it takes to be one of the wise virgins. The Lord said, “And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins. For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived . . . shall abide the day” (D&C 45:56-57, emphasis added).The spirit of fear doesn’t come from God, and I wanted to get back into the faith mode; I wanted to believe I could be among the wise virgins. Somehow the idea I’d heard of gathering one drop at a time through one righteous act at a time didn’t seem entirely right. So much of my problem seemed to be connected with my never-ending to-do list. Could doing still more really fill my lamp? Daily serving a large family of young children and fulfilling numerous church callings, the more I pushed myself to do more, the more exhausted I was and the emptier my lamp felt.
Only the Holy Ghost can keep me from being deceived
I’ve since learned that only as I take the Holy Spirit as my guide can I even abide this day—let alone the day of the Second Coming. Only the Holy Ghost can keep me from being deceived, and can keep my perfectionistic nature from misinterpreting the best messages. I have learned that I am foolish to think I can fill my lamp with oil by running hither and yon “doing” without the Spirit. Even my best-intentioned service can hinder and not help if not directed by the Spirit. I am wise only as I listen to the Holy Ghost and follow the promptings. And I can avoid deception and discern truth only as I take the Spirit as my Guide. That scriptural formula from Doctrine & Covenants 45 is the basis for this chapter.
The Many Faces of Deception 
I’ve been deceived about many things in my life; I’ve believed in lots of myths, false traditions, and what author John Turpin calls “false member teachings” taught in lieu of solid doctrine. [i]Nothing can mar my ability to trust God more than being deceived about fundamentals. Over and over I’ve learned that the problem is never with God’s plan or His doctrine or His character, or what He expects of me but with my incomplete or faulty understanding of it.
The Devil is the Great Deceiver
How does deception come about? How do false ideas implant themselves in my mind even though I sincerely see myself as a seeker of truth? The following scripture answers those questions:
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. . . wherefore, he [Lucifer] became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind.”
(2 Nephi 2: 16-18)
Much of the emotional pain I’ve known in my life has been the result of Satan’s subtly enticing me to believe things that aren’t true; he concentrates his deceptions on the things he knows will make me most miserable. That’s his job! (see 2 Nephi 2:18) He doesn’t care how he makes me miserable, as long as he accomplishes it. If he can’t ensnare me into abusing alcohol and drugs, he is just as satisfied to make me miserable by bombarding my mind with constant “evidence” that I am not measuring up.
Deception is one of the devil’s primary tools for misery-making and for eroding our trust in God. Part of the deception is not realizing when it is happening. This could be another definition of “foolish” virgin: being blinded to the subtle false beliefs that operate subconsciously. That understanding gives me great motivation to pay attention to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that is so often connected to my internal voice. When I look for guidance on the outside, not trusting my true internal voice, I often miss what the Lord is trying to tell me and listen to some “arm of flesh” message instead.
The Challenge Has Always Existed
Satan deceived Cain. He deceived all but a handful of people in the days of Noah. He deceived Laman and Leumuel. The challenge of sorting out doctrine from myths and traditions is nothing new. When the Pharisees found fault with some of the disciples for eating with “unwashen hands,” the Savior said, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups; and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them Full well ye reject the commandments of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:7-9). He continued, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered; and many such like things do ye.”
My husband was raised in the Salt Lake Valley, but did not join the Church until he was nearly forty—just before I met him. “Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” was one thing that kept him on the outside for so long. He and his friends used to call members “latter-day Pharisees” because of all the many “traditions of men” they seemed to use as measuring rods by which to judge non-Mormons as “less-than.”
Dispelling Myths with Gospel Light
So—the adversary, the great deceiver, has always been at work trying to convince people to believe myths and false traditions that would cause misery and emotional pain and distract them from true gospel principles. He is the source of all the false traditions of the father referred to in Doctrine and Covenants 123:7: “urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion.” Taking the Holy Spirit as our guide is the only solution, the only safeguard from deception.
Now, let’s examine specific myths rampant in our current culture, and attempt to cast the light of gospel truth on each one. I’ve only reached these new conclusions as I’ve asked for the Spirit’s guidance, and I ask you to accept only what the Spirit confirms as truth to you. We can usually tell that the Spirit is showing us the truth if the idea resonates with an “Ah-ha”! kind of feeling and sheds more light on our lives.
Myths That Cause Unnecessary Pain and Erode Trust in God
I’ve learned that the roots of my self-doubt and self-persecution grow deep in the soil of false ideas and myths. Here are some examples:
  • To be righteous I have to always be nice, happy, busy, in a hurry, striving. 
I’ve written a lot about this myth and how I’ve benefited from seeing that it IS a myth. Suffice it to say that the truth is found in the example of the Savior. He always put the eternal well-being of his children above their comfort in the moment. He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, who never hurried, whose life epitomized surrender to His Father’s will.
  • Service is the panacea for all ills. Lose yourself in service and you’ll forget all about what’s bothering you. Any action but service is selfish.
The scriptures teach the true doctrine of service: King Benjamin taught, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). I have experienced the joy of that kind of service many times. For example, I vividly remember an experience years ago in a Church farm apple orchard. Late afternoon sunshine made dappled leaf shadows on our faces as we climbed the ladders and picked the fruit. Just a hint of fall was in the fresh-smelling air. The feeling of camaraderie was palpable as ward members joined together in this happy labor. I thought at the moment there was nowhere I would rather be. I had come to the orchard with a full cup. I had strength, I was emotionally intact. And I was there because I truly wanted to be.
How different from another time I remember when I went in a desperate attempt to fill my own unmet needs—to prove that I was worth something. Even though I was already worn out and my family needed me, I went out of duty because I needed the others involved to think well of me—no matter how many personal priorities I had to ignore. At other times I have turned to service looking for an excuse not to look at my problems, not to think, not to feel.
Service was never meant to keep us from facing personal conflicts or family problems. Secondary service to those outside our home can distract us from filling primary responsibilities. Service was never meant to eclipse our lives so we have no time for a personal healing journey with our Savior. Only He can heal us from personal and family issues.
There is danger in service that we use as a substitute for the Savior’s healing love.
There is danger in service that we use as a substitute for the Savior’s healing love. It comes with an agenda, with the unspoken message that you had better cooperate to meet my needs. In effect, I’m saying, “You better appreciate and validate me and want what I am willing to give and not something different. And if you don’t, what you will feel from me is disappointment, maybe even rejection.”
There is such a difference between this kind of codependent service and Christian service—between serving to fill our own needs and serving out of charity when willingly led by the Spirit. When our heart’s desire is aligned with what we are doing, the energy flows. Our service is honest. People pleasing is not honest, and it drains energy. Service that drains or weakens either the giver or the receiver (instead of filling and strengthening) is not the real thing. Service when we are running faster than we have strength or giving more than we have to give, has consequences that are not positive.
The Savior’s unwavering service and sacrifice was motivated solely by His love for us. If I am motivated by that same love, I can rise above my broken-ness, my sins, weaknesses, my lack of understanding, my prejudice and judgments, my impurities, my woundedness to truly bless others. I can know when my help might hinder, or when my strength might be better spent on building up my own spiritual stores. When I offer water to the thirsty I can only truly give from whatever the Savior has given me. The Savior always offers Living Water. Some of my time must be spent in seeking and receiving that Living Water, and the wholeness that it brings. 
  • God can never accept me until I somehow achieve perfection in this life.
I remember my relief upon hearing quotes from Elder McConkie and from the Prophet Joseph that it will be a great while after we leave this life until we actually achieve perfection—and that the Lord does not expect it here. The Book of Mormon tells us how we can become perfected in Christ, only through His grace, and by the power of God. (See Moroni 10: 32, 33.) There is no other way.
How sad that I was middle-aged before I even read the footnote of that oft-misunderstood “Be ye therefore perfect” scripture in Matthew 5:48. The footnote explains that the word “perfect” is from the Greek word that means “complete, finished, fully developed.” Am I going to be fully developed or finished anytime soon? Not a chance!
I remember hearing a talk about this scripture where the speaker pointed out the context of the whole sermon Jesus gave which he concluded by saying “Be ye therefore perfect.” Jesus was talking about loving perfectly, loving as He loves, being born of the Spirit so that natural man tendencies are overcome and charity becomes our motivating force. And Jesus was talking about accepting His perfect love for us, letting Him lead us through the process of spiritual rebirth. He certainly was not commanding us to love perfectly without His help. He wasn’t commanding us to never make mistakes—which has often been my own flawed definition of being perfect. Those new perspectives on that scripture settle gently on my soul, comforting, encouraging—so opposite an effect from the “do everything right, be perfect now” false doctrines.
Here’s another myth along the same lines:
  • I have to “do all I can do” and make myself worthy before I can get the Lord’s help. I have to make myself worthy of the Atonement.
That is precisely like saying I have to make myself well before I am worthy to go to the doctor. There is also real danger here of falling into the trap of thinking that the less I need the Atonement, the better I am. This is one of the most pervasive and powerful of Satan’s deceptions; it keeps me from drinking deeply of the true gospel of repentance. Satan tempts me to wander off instead into Korihor’s “management of the creature” ideas (that my success and happiness depends on how well I manage my own life—on my planning and goal setting and self-improvement and accomplishments).
How many times has my spiritual progress been stalled because I haven’t taken my whole mixed-up self to the Lord—right now? The false idea that “all I can do” must come first puts me just where the adversary wants me because all I can do myself is of no import spiritually. I can’t make myself worthy. Only the cleansing power of the Atonement and the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost can cleanse me and make me whole. I need spiritual help to even begin the cleansing process. When the Lord said, “Come unto me,” he meant now, in whatever spiritual condition we find ourselves. He wants to walk with us every step of the way. So often it is only my prideful thinking that I should be able to do it by myself that keeps me from letting God do His work in my life.
A friend of mine said, “The Atonement is one of the least understood principles in all our ’self-help‘ society. We have been mercilessly taught for decades that we have what it takes to change our lives, that all we have to do is learn more, try harder, do more. This is the lie that keeps us from the real Changer of lives and hearts.”
  • Right choices should protect me from adversity.
One day I had a conversation with a woman who was hurting badly because she felt her trials were evidence that the Lord didn’t love her. The following revelation, giving to Joseph Smith, one of the most righteous men who ever lived, reveals the truth:
If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils . . . If thou are accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee . . And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
(D&C 122: 5-8)
I’ve been inspired by the perspective of many who have suffered severe trials such as Rob, a burn victim. He said, “I would not now wish one thorn less on the path I’ve been on.” He explained how his experiences had helped him to know that the Redeemer and Heavenly Father live and love Him, and that he has begun to really enjoy the peaceable things of the Spirit. He said, “I testify that the Lord does support those who love and serve Him in their time of affliction and that He eases their burdens according to His infinite love and wisdom.”
The promise that all things shall give us experience and be for our good casts an entirely different light on any difficult experience.
A part of the myth that right choices should protect me from adversity is believing that there is intrinsic value in the absence of pain. Rex D. Pinegar, in a 1993 general conference session said, “The Lord’s peace is not without pain, but in the midst of pain.” Kahlil Gibran said, “And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; and you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your field. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.” [ii]
I’ve heard that the height of joy we experience is equal to the depth of the pain. Christ descended below them all—and so experienced the greatest joy. True joy and honest sadness are opposite sides of the same coin. If I numb out and refuse to go deeper into sadness when sadness is appropriate, I also shut myself off from joy. Honest sadness and grief are free-flowing. They make me feel more alive. Depression and despair, however often involve blocking, stuffing, not feeling or expressing honest emotion.
As I accept the need to be willing to feel, to accept what is, to feel the freeing emotion of grief, I can turn away from the binding emotions of depression and despair. When I stay close to the Lord many times, He eases my burden, eases my pain, helps me sort out my accountability from the accountability of my loved ones.
Which brings me to some family-oriented myths that have caused me pain—all intertwined with misunderstandings about accountability:
  • Nothing is more important than family
Because the family IS so important, this one can easily slip by as the truth. However, the family unit is composed of other people over whom we have no control, only influence. For those whose families are broken apart, in chaos, or nonexistent, this myth can be a killer. It is vital to recognize that one thing is more important than family—and this one thing does not depend on the decisions of others, only our own. It is our personal relationship with our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). This is the “good part” the Savior referred to.
After I divorced and re-married, the difficult consequences of my divorce and trying to “blend” families were settling in on me. I was ward organist, and during one fast and testimony meeting I was sitting behind the organ where I had a pretty good view of many families in the ward, but wasn’t conspicuous myself. As the meeting progressed I found myself looking at all those seemingly perfect intact families and thinking, “Why couldn’t I have had that? What is wrong with me? Am I basically flawed or what?” I found myself stuck in the thought that if the intact family is what matters most, then I had already failed, and I might as well just give up. My emotional pain at that moment was so sharp I could hardly breathe.
Shocked at my thoughts, I realized that words that caused such despair could not be coming from the Holy Ghost and could not be true! I prayed a heartfelt prayer to know the truth about my situation; the message I received then was hope and love. Tears streamed down my face as I felt the Lord’s assurance that I was still one of His priceless children, that He knew me and loved me, that all was not lost.
I began to regain my spiritual sanity as I recognized that while there are many things about my family situation I cannot control, I am in control of (or at least am in control of my choices in regarding to) the one thing more primary, more important than family—my relationship with God and Christ. They must be the primary source of my security and support, not the family. It is to God and Christ that I owe my primary allegiance. It is Christ’s name I agree to take upon me each time I take the sacrament; It is His family that is most important to belong to. No one need be lost spiritually because of situations in the family over which we have no control. We are accountable only for our own choices.
Reality tells us that many people have to step away from family—some in order to join the church, some in order to extricate themselves from seriously dysfunctional family systems that threaten their ability to live a life of discipleship. In Matthew 10: 35-37 the Savior said, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother; and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Fortunately, not many of us must make the choice between family and the Lord; but when the choice must be made, choosing to follow the Lord is always right.
I love the scripture, “Wherefore, I beseech of you brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ” (Moroni 7:19). If I choose to “lay hold upon every good thing” and am born again as a child of Christ, I will be part of His heavenly family no matter what choices others make. I believe all who accomplish that goal will be sealed together as His.
Here’s another killer myth:
  • Mothers are responsible to set the mood [or tone] in the home.
With intense feeling, Colleen Harrison, mother of twelve children, said she was, “writhing in pain over the insane pressure of believing I was to be THE one who sets the mood in the home. With 13 (THAT’S THIRTEEN!!!) other people living there with me, I’m supposed to set the mood in the home. Who am I supposed to be?” she asks. “Not even God [will trample agency to] ‘set the mood’ in others who don’t choose to be influenced. Look at our Heavenly Father and Mother and how not peaceful and perfect the ‘mood’ got in their home during the war in heaven!! Was that HER failure? Was our Mother in Heaven accountable for Lucifer’s bad moods and bad choices? Look at the Lord and the original Twelve Apostles. In spite of having the Lord right with them, walking and talking with them, they sometimes bickered and expressed negative thoughts and feelings! Another example is Sariah: was it her failure to set the proper tone or mood in her home that caused the lack of love and harmony which Laman and Lemuel’s choices brought about?”
Colleen put into solid words the frustration that so many mothers have felt with that concept. The clear truth is that we can only control our own emotional temperature. And while our example and influence in the home is great, each person chooses how they will respond. The Lord said, “And let every man choose for himself” (D&C 37:4).
In order to exert righteous influence, the mother needs to put first whatever makes her feel strengthened by the Lord’s support. That usually includes prayer, scriptures, meditation, and exercise. The Savior tells us in the Mary/Martha story that the “good part” is not focus on serving others, it’s focus on the Savior. (see Luke 10:42.) As He fills our spiritual needs and strengthens us, the resulting influence prepares us to offer the most important kinds of service.
When a mother operates in the flow of the Spirit and feels spiritually supported, she has a circle of influence, an unseen flow of light around her. She invites her children to be part of that and share the good feelings, honesty, healing, and joy. It happens “without compulsion” as Doctrine and Covenants 121 describes. They use their agency to choose to partake—or not.
If I choose to react negatively to someone else’s negativity, the flow of the Spirit is interrupted. But if I choose to focus on Christ, the flow of light and feelings of love and support from God to me can remain unaffected–separate from the choices of anyone else. I’ve seen those who choose to “stand” in this “holy place” no matter what anyone else chooses.
Each mother can create a personal Zion, where she and God dwell together—but it’s an ongoing process and a daily choice and other family members may or may not choose to dwell in that “Zion spirit” with her. There is an awesome flow of the Spirit when we make choices that can lift and bless others who choose to be blessed. But choice is always supreme.
Anytime I feel disconnected from God, I can choose to do the things that are most likely to renew that connection. I am highly motivated to do so when I realize that I can’t lift anyone else if I’m feeling bad about myself.
The next myth goes one step father and is even more dangerous:
  • It is my responsibility to get my children to the celestial kingdom and if they don’t make it, I won’t either. 
Can I fail at other people’s stewardships?
Can I fail at other people’s stewardships? Here’s another accountability issue. Once parents have taught their children correct principles, how can we think we are accountable for their choices in regard to those principles? How could a just God hold one person accountable for the choices of another over which he has no control and all too little influence? How many hours in a week do the average parents see their teenagers? What other influences are they being subjected to when they are not at home? Even in the most perfect setting—a home with a perfect Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, 1/3 of the children chose to turn away from the truth. Can any mortal parent provide anywhere near a perfect environment? Were Adam and Eve to blame for Cain’s choices? Did they lose their exaltation because he lost his? Were Lehi and Sariah accountable for Laman and Lemuel’s choices? Would the Lord bar the way for their eternal progression because two of their sons repeatedly chose to ignore spiritual counsel—even from angels?
I remember a day when I requested time with the bishop because my heart was breaking over some wrong choices one of my sons was making. I admit I was feeling it must somehow be my fault. After I had told the bishop the sad story he said, “Darla, you need a blessing,” and proceeded to lay his hands upon my head and give me one. I was reminded of the reality that I cannot choose for anyone but myself—it infringes on God’s sacred law of agency to even try.
I cannot repent of anyone else’s sins or be responsible for anyone else’s choices but my own. “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself (2 Nephi 2:27). It makes me crazy when I try to exert control where I have none—over the choices of my loved ones. I repeatedly fail; success is impossible because I am on Satan’s turf. He was the one who came up with the idea of making everyone choose the right. When I step over that line I waste my precious energy on a futile, unrighteous cause.

The Truth Makes Us Free

We have the formula: knowing we are human and vulnerable to deception, we need to take our thoughts to the Lord and receive the truth. Only following this process throughout our lives can we avoid Satan’s deceptions. Only as we take the Holy Spirit as our guide, shall we abide the day. In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth really does make us free. Not free from trials or sorrows, but free from the bondage of the devil, free from the emotional pain that comes from believing things that are not true. Free to trust God, no matter what!

[i] See John C. Turpin, Stress Reduction for Mormons, Covenant Communications, American Fork, UT, 1991.
[ii] Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923, Alfred A. Knapf, inc., New York, 52.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How To Usher in the Millenium

Elder Cooks talk from this past conference had a reference to this April 1973 General Conference talk by President Kimball, "The Family Influence" given when he was President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles ~ I loved this quote:

"O my beloved hearers, what a world it would be if a million families in this church were to be on their knees like this every night and morning! And what a world it would be if nearly a hundred million families in this great land and other hundreds in other lands were praying for their sons and daughters twice daily. And what a world this would be if a billion families through the world were in home evenings and church activity and were on their physical knees pouring out their souls for their children, their families, their leaders, their governments

"This kind of family life could bring us back toward the translation experience of righteous Enoch. The millennium would be ushered in. 

"Enoch was asked questions about himself; he answered, among other things, “… my father taught me in all the ways of God.” (Moses 6:41.) And Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him. Enoch and his people dwelt in righteousness in the City of Holiness, even Zion. And Zion was taken up into heaven. Yes, here is the answer: righteous, teaching parents; obedient, loving children; faithfulness to family duties. These qualities in a home make for security and character in the lives of children."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

X-Athiest

I got linked to this video below by David Wood via the comment section of Matt Walsh's facebook where he shared his latest post. This is a 30 minute video, but I'm glad I watched it. Then I watched it again tonight with the kids tonight after family scriptures where we read this General Conference message by Elder Renlund. As long as we keep on trying, God can work with us. That message and this video remind me of this quote by Elder Holland from another General Conference talk -

"It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines." - Elder Holland

I liked the symbolism in this video of being in a deep subway where the light can't been seen and how that was symbolic of David's state of mind and the fruits of the life he was living. I wish that all athiests could see, feel, and come to know what David has. Grateful for his testimony of Christ. HE is the way, the truth, and the light, the only hope of this world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

America and God's Eternal Rules

Wanted to share a speech I listened to last week - I thought it was prophetic and powerful. America is here on the earth to serve God's purposes and to do his will. We cannot follow the trend of moral relativity (excellent talk there). There are laws and rules that God has ordained and if we want his blessings, we must follow them. America, especially, has made a covenant to serve Christ, we must not forget him. I've been reading the book "The American Covenant Vol 1" by Timothy Ballard and it is excellent and shares insights along the same lines as this speech. (The American Covenant is written from an LDS perspective, he also wrote "The Covenant" for a more general audience) I pray we will serve Christ.


Here is a transcript of Rabbi Cahn's message in Washington:

It is April 29, 2015. Two hundred and twenty-six years ago this day, George Washington readied himself for the first ever presidential inauguration, to take place the following day—the day America as we know it came into existence, with the President's hand resting on the Word of God. That day would conclude with America's first government gathering in prayer to dedicate the nation's future to God.  
A century and a half earlier, another seminal event took place on the same day. On April 29, 1607, the voyagers on the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and the Godspeed, gathered together in prayer at Cape Henry to set a wooden cross in the sands of Virginia Beach, and dedicate the new civilization to the will and purposes of God.  
America's biblical foundation would be affirmed and reaffirmed over and over again by its forefathers, from the Pilgrims of the Mayflower, to the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, to the leaders of the first American colonies who declared publicly and in writing that the new Commonwealth had come into existence solely for the glory and purposes of God.  No historian can rewrite that. No president can expunge that. And if a thousand angels swore on a thousand Bibles that this was not the case, it would in no way alter the fact that this American civilization was conceived, established, dedicated, and founded on a biblical cornerstone—America was brought into existence for the will and purpose of God.  

On this night, over two hundred years ago, George Washington held in his hand the first ever presidential address. In that address was a prophetic warning. It was this: "The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of Order and Right which Heaven itself hath ordained." In other words, if America should ever turn away from God and His ways, if it should ever disregard His eternal rules of Order and Right, then His blessings, the smiles of Heaven, would be removed from the land.  It was an ancient warning. It had been given in Hebrew words by the prophets to the kingdom of Israel. But Israel turned away from God and disregarded His eternal rules of Order and Right.  They drove God out of their government, out of their public squares, out of their culture, out of the lives of their children; they worshiped idols and served other gods. They celebrated immorality and they persecuted the righteous. They lifted up their children on the altars of foreign gods. And the blessings of God were removed from the land and replaced by judgment.  It is two and half thousand years later, and America has made the same mistake. We, too, have turned away from God. We, too, have driven Him out of the government, out of our public square, out of our culture, out of the lives of our children. We, too, have profaned the sacred and sanctified the profane. And we, too, have killed our most innocent—over fifty-five million of our unborn children—and our collective hands are covered with blood. What we were warned never to do, we now have done.  And now we gather in the city named after the one who gave that prophetic warning. And yesterday, in this city, in the building that sits across from this hill, the Justices of the Supreme Court took up their places on the bench to decide whether America should strike down the biblical and historic definition of marriage. The very fact that that event should take place as such is a sign in itself, that this is the America of Washington's warning. It's here, and this day of which he warned is now.  

We have become a civilization in spiritual schizophrenia, a nation at war against its own foundation. The Supreme Court opens its sessions with the words: "God save the United States and this Honorable Court." But if then—if this honorable court should overrule the word of God and strike down the eternal rules of Order and Right that Heaven itself hath ordained, how then will God save it?  Supreme Court Justices, can you judge the ways of God? Can you, with manmade verdicts, overrule the eternal laws of God? There is another court, and there is another Judge. And before Him, all men and all judges will give account. If a nation's high court should pass judgment on the Almighty, should you then be surprised if the Almighty should pass judgment on that court and that nation?  

In the Book of Jeremiah, it is written: "Has a nation ever exchanged its gods? Yet my people have exchanged their glory for that which cannot help them." Let us not pretend as to what we are now doing. We are doing that which Israel did on the altars of Baal. We are exchanging our God for idols, our light for darkness, and our glory for that which cannot save us. Are we ready to risk that which comes on the other side of that exchange, the day when the blessings of Heaven are removed from the land?  

We began with a word from the President of our first nation's—or the day that he began as President. I now speak a word to the President of our nation's most recent days. Each time I have spoken here, I have asked a question. I'll now answer it. Mr. President, with all respect that is due, what happens if one assumes the presidency by placing his left hand on the Word of God, and then, with his right hand, enacts laws that war against the very same Word of God on which he laid his hand? Such an act invokes the judgment of the Almighty. To swear an Oath on the Word of God in which it is written "Defend the weak" and "Do not murder," and to then to not defend the weak, to not protect the unborn, but, instead, to advance their murder, is to invoke the judgment of the Almighty.  To swear an Oath on the Word of God, in which its written, "Do not cause your brother to stumble," and then to seek to force those who uphold the Word of God to transgress the Word of God, by partaking in the killing of the unborn and the celebration of sin, is to invoke the judgment of the Almighty.  And to swear an Oath on the Word of God, in which its written, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people," and then to take part in the leading of a nation away from "the eternal rules of Order and Right that Heaven itself hath ordained," and against the very Word of God on which you laid your hand, is to invoke the judgment of the Almighty.  

When the leaders of ancient Israel turned away from God, when they abolished His precepts, and broke His covenant, they did so in the shadow of Moses, whose voice cried out to them in warning.  Mr. President, when you address the nation from this house, look up. Look up above the Senators and Representatives, above the Supreme Court Justices, and above the invited guests, and you will see a face—the only full visage in that wall—looking back at you. It is the face of Moses.  And if that face could speak, it would say this: "No man can overrule the laws of God, no order can annul the order of God, and no judgment of man can stand against the judgments of God. Invoke not His judgment, but choose life. Lead in the way of repentance. Invoke the grace of God, that He might have mercy on this land."  

We have come to a most critical moment. As Elijah stood on top of Mount Carmel and cried out to Israel in its hour of decision, in between two altars and two gods, his voice now cries out to America and says: "Choose you this day whom you will serve." 

Seventy years ago, the Chaplain of the United States Senate cried out in the same voice, and said to this nation, "If the Lord be God, then follow Him! But if Baal, then follow him and go to hell!"  

Tonight, America stands at the crossroads. And as Elijah came to the summit of Mount Carmel to make a declaration, we have come this night to Capitol Hill to declare that our god is not Baal. Our god is not Molech. Our god is not the government. Our god is not money. Our god is not power; not pleasure. Our god is not political correctness or any other man-made thing.  

We have come to this hill to declare that there is only one God, and He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the God of Israel and of all nations. He alone is the Rock upon which this nation has come into existence.  

And from this high place we make this declaration: "We will not bow down our knees to Baal. We will not bow down our knees to political correctness. We will not bow down our knees to a morality that is as shifting as sand in the wind. We will not bow down our knees to the laws and precepts of rebellion or to the sacred cows of moral apostasy. We will not bow down our knees to the idols of man. We will not bow down to Baal. 

We will bow down our knees only to the Lord our God, come what may, and we will have no other gods before Him." For some trust in chariots, and some trust in princes, some trust in supreme courts, some trust in White Houses, some trust in governments, some trust in Wall Streets, some trust in powers, and some trust in idols.  But we will trust in the name of the Lord our God, the name above all names, above all kings, above all powers. We will trust in the only name given by which we can be saved.  We will trust in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, the Judge of all judges, the Light of the World, the Glory of Israel, the Foundation Stone upon which this nation came into existence, and the only answer, the only chance, and the only hope America has, that it might once again shine with the light of the fire of the presence of the glory of the Living God, and not go to hell, so help us, God. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hearts Are Brave

So, we are in Brazil right now. We will be here for a few months. On our second to last Sunday, as I was pondering again on the adventure ahead of us, We sang this song for the closing hymn in sacrament meeting. The words from verses 3 and 4 of this song just made me weep, I couldn't even sing, I just sat and the tears flowed.

Yes, this might be hard trip, as I know Brazil was hard for me last time - just lots of differences from our spoiled life in America. But maybe having done this before will make me better able to handle it. And I'm almost in my last trimester, so that might make it hard. But I'm also glad I don't have to go to my ob visits, which I don't enjoy (never have anything to report or any concerns, thankfully, so am glad to just be able to skip out on all of them, we'll be back when I'm around 37 weeks I think). Friends comment on how brave I must be, but I don't really think I am, but I am willing to go to support Corey. But again, back to the song, verse 2 started to get to me, as I thought of how I want to be faithful to God and strong as the saints of old - pioneers crossing the plains, so many who lived in years past where death was a part of life. They didn't have Costco or Walmart, but they were faithful and true and have won the contest God sent them to run...

Oh, may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, Fight as the Saints who nobly fought of old, And win with them the victor's crown of gold. Alleluia, Alleluia.

How did they fight their battles? How did they win the crown? Through relying upon Christ - he is our rock, our fortress and our might. If I am able to do anything hard, it is through His power

Thou art our rock, our fortress, and our might; Thou, Lord, our captain in the well-fought fight; Thou, in the darkness drear, our one true light. Alleluia, Alleluia.

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, Alleluia.

This might feel like a long warfare here in Brazil, but I'll continue with my simple challenges. And if I keep perspective, I know that they really are simple. So many people in the world live with true challenges. Brazil isn't war torn Syria. I watched this video (also here) shared on someone's facebook page Monday, and then today also saw this one. I can live in Brazil and figure this out - it may be a little hard and different than American life, but so easy compared to the reality other people and nations face, right?

Let the song of triumph call us onward. Christ can help us, He is brave one, and He is the one that can help make our hearts be brave and our arms be strong. Alleluia, Alleluia!
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