Saturday, December 31, 2011

Paul Focuses on the Basics

Today I read Hebrews 10 where Paul continues to talk about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all of us. I find it interesting that Paul is spending so much time talking about this when his audience, to my knowledge anyway, are those who have already accepted Jesus Christ. Very strange indeed.

He has spent the last several chapters focusing on this concept and I really don't understand why at all. I understand that it is a stumbling block for the Jews and that they did not accept Jesus Christ as a whole, but did those who had converted to Christianity also have a hard time accepting Him or coming to terms with the idea that He was the promised Savior? Based on Paul's lengthy explanation and constant repeating of Himself, it would appear so.

Now, this is not so unheard of as our own modern day General Authorities of the Church including our own Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, frequently will talk about the same topics over and over again to make sure that we have it right. They focus on the basics of the Gospel because that is where our focus needs to be. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by what is going on around us, we can all too easily fall by the wayside. This can also happen if we are too focused on those things that are not the basics. We decide our level of commitment to the Gospel, no one else. We decide where our focus is. If we don't take the time to make sure that we are focusing on the basics and becoming perfected, well we are playing with fire to put it mildly.

To those who are tired of hearing about the basics I pose a few questions. Is your faith made perfect? Are you so faithful that you do not commit sin any longer? Is your faith so strong that you have a perfect knowledge of Christ and His Gospel? If the answer to any of those is no, then you are not ready to move on to larger things. Another question, have you no more need of repentance? The answer to this one for all of us is a resounding no. Everyone of us, even President Monson, requires repentance, for most of us on a daily basis. Those of us who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been baptized, and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, but do we have a perfect understanding of that gift? Joseph Smith once stated that the one and only thing that sets us apart from other religions was the Gift of the Holy Ghost. If that is the case, shouldn't we devote time and energy to understanding that gift?

When we allow our focus to shift away from these fundamentals, we are allowing Satan to come in and make a home in us. Now, this is not to say that learning other aspects of the Gospel is wrong. If that were true the Gospel Principles book would only have contained lessons on these 4 things. But what I am saying is that none of us are perfect in these 4 areas and that if we choose to study other topics, we must not allow our study of the basics to fall by the wayside. It is that important. The eternities and where you fit into them rests on this point. Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit

Today I read Hebrews 9 which is all about the covenant Christ made with Israel and how He fulfilled it during His time here on earth. Paul talks for a bit about the tabernacle that the Israelites had in the days of Moses and how it was built by hands and then states that Christ enters into the tabernacle made without hands, or our hearts.

Each of us needs to take the opportunity to allow Jesus Christ to enter into our hearts. We do this by performing the ordinances He has asked of us and by offering up an appropriate sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. That is a phrase we hear often in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but I wonder how many of us actually understand what it means. What is a broken heart and a contrite spirit?

To be contrite means to show remorse, or sorrow for what you have done. It means to be repentant and to have Godly sorrow. It means to have the desire to change and to be better than you currently are. It means to have the desire to be as Christ is, to live with God again and to make the changes necessary to become as we need to be in order to abide His presence and live with Him again. In other words, for Him to work the change in us so that we can become as He is, we need to offer up our pride, our sins, everything that we are that is not in harmony with Him and His teachings. God cannot abide sin in the least degree of allowance. Even any sin at all would cause Him to cease to be God. So we have to be cleansed every whit from sin if we hope to become as He is.

Jesus Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice for us so that we might be able to return o live with Him someday. It was always the plan that He would do this. We all agreed to it. In order to take full advantage of what He did, we have to want it. We have to want it as badly as we wanted to do the sins that caused us to need the Atonement in the first place. That is what it means to come to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. It means to want His will to supplant ours. A broken heart I have always felt to be self explanatory. When you have a broken heart you feel like you have let God down. It's the same feeling any teenager has felt when the love of their life, so they think, has spurned them. It is what turns us to God in the first place, that feeling of loss and helplessness.

Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our salvation Paul says. We need to do things His way. That is going to be very hard for some people, especially those who have a sense of entitlement about them. But unfortunately for those whose pride gets in the way, it most certainly is God's way or the highway when it comes to salvation. As Elder Jefferey R. Holland so eloquently put it not too long ago, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a fast food outlet, we cannot have it "our way". We must do it the way God has prescribed and we must be willing to shun all evil and offer up our sins and our pride as a sacrifice. Once we do that, we will be worthy to enter into His presence, His rest. Oh what a wonderful day that will be. Somedays I really long for it. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The New and Everlasting Covenant: the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Today I read Hebrews 8 which talks about Christ making a new covenant with the Israelites that is different from the one He made with them when they could not abide His law when Moses was around. As I read the chapter I kept wondering if it was the New and Everlasting Covenant or something different all together. As I got to the end of the chapter I still didn't have an answer but my hunch is that it is the New and Everlasting Covenant, or the Gospel of Jesus Christ since the Israelites don't currently accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

It makes me wonder if the those who belong to the Jewish faith in this day and age don't believe that Jesus Christ was/is their Savior out of habit because for 2000 years the Jews have said He is not, or if they really and truly feel He isn't? I suspect it has more to do with habit and the fact that it is probably ingrained in them that "Jews don't believe in Jesus Christ". I suspect it's kind of like most Christians and the sacrament or baptism or any of the other ordinances that most Christians only do because that is what Christians do, not because they understand it and accept it.

Such "faith" is typically called blind, or blind obedience. Latter-day Saints are often criticized by others saying they have blind obedience to the Prophet and the Quorum of the Twelve. And I will agree that there are some that most likely follow and do as they are told without thought or question. However, the rest of us, we either take the time to pray about what we are being told to receive that confirmation from the Spirit or we feel the Spirit testify to us as soon as we hear it that it is the word of God. Also, there has not been an earth shattering revelation from the earthly leaders of the Church in quite some time. All the things we are told in General Conference are things we all know we should be doing anyway. It's hard to be blindly obedient when you are only following what any person can read in the scriptures anyway!

Each of us must make the choice for themselves whether to accept the New and Everlasting Covenant or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what nationality we are. We all have the opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God is fair and just and will not deny anyone the opportunity to hear the Gospel, even if it is not in this life. God is merciful as well and give us the opportunity to repent of our wrong doings through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We only have to offer up a sacrifice to Him of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. That is not so much when you consider all He has done for us. Choose eternal life and eternal happiness. Accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Melchizedek Priesthood

Today I read Hebrews 7 which is about Melchizedek and the Melchizedek Priesthood. I have heard a lot about Melchizedek in my life and several conspiracy theories about him, most prominent is that Melchizedek and Shem, the son of Noah, are the same man. When I attended BYU I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a class on the Pearl of Great Price taught by Dr. Robert Millet, who is very well known among the scholar community of the LDS. He has written several books and is a fantastic teacher. But on the subject of Shem being Melchizedek, he stated that he will not be surprised either way. When he passes on and is meeting all the great figures from the Bible and Book of Mormon and he comes across Shem and he asks him if he is really Melchizedek, whether he gets a yes or a no answer he will not be surprised. That's kind of how I feel about it too. I could make the case for it being either way.

However, this chapter is chiefly about the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Oath and Covenant that go along with it. Paul makes an excellent point here that some might wonder if the Melchizedek Priesthood is really necessary. Paul points out that the Melchizedek Priesthood is necessary for salvation. He states that if perfection could come by the Levitical, or Aaronic Priesthood, what need would there be of a High Priest of the order of Melchizedek? The fact of the matter is that the Aaronic Priesthood is the preparatory Priesthood and is only able to perform the ordinances of this world, the sacrament, baptism by immersion, exhorting members to repentance and so on. The Melchizedek Priesthood however is able to perform the ordinances of eternal life, temple ordinances, eternal marriage, and bestowing the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Like Abinadi told the priests of King Noah so many years ago, salvation does NOT come by the Law of Moses, but rather the Law of Moses, which was officiated by the Priesthood of Aaron, is meant to point the way to Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the light the scriptures say and it is only through Him and His sacrifice that we are able to return to live with God one day. He is the author and finisher of our faith. We know the truthfully the Priesthood is His, but we call it the Melchizedek Priesthood to avoid too frequent repetition of the Savior's name, out of reverence to Him. Without the Melchizedek Priesthood and the saving ordinances it gives, we would be lost just as surely as if the Atonement has never been accomplished. We need to make sure we treasure the Priesthood and the eternal life it makes possible. Without it and the Atonement of Christ, this life is meaningless. I invite you to give thanks tonight in your prayers if it has been awhile since you last did so. I know I will be. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Choose to be Happy and the Sons of Perdition

Today I read Hebrews 6 which talks about the Sons of Perdition. I have always wondered how someone can do the things it require to become a Son of Perdition. Paul says that the Sons of Perdition crucify the Savior anew and putting Him to open shame. These are those who know for a fact that Jesus Christ lives and is real and yet they go about actively trying to stop the work of Jesus Christ and proclaiming He is not real and does not exist. Such mockery and downright snubbing of Jesus' goodness and grace is not tolerated by God, nor should it be.

We don't typically talk about the Sons of Perdition because it is not a happy topic and because most of do not need to worry about becoming a Son of Perdition. Not only that, but it is a fact that what we focus on will be what we aspire to. That is why we always hear Conference talks about what we should be doing and how we should be behaving. It is SO important to make sure we are focused on the things of the Savior and doing what we should be doing. The scriptures say that where our treasure is there will our hearts be also. This also applies to doing what is right and living the Gospel.

When we have our hearts focused on the things of the Spirit, we will be more happy and more content with life. We will not flutter about and go from every whim of fancy that strikes us. The Gospel provides stability and helps us know what the best thing for us to do and what for us will make us truly happy. It is always up to us to choose what path we want to travel and what we want to be doing. But why would we choose anything other than happiness? Most do and I never can understand it. I am so very thankful that I have known about the Gospel my entire life and I did not have to search for it. I am truly fortunate to have the Gospel in my life. I hope you too are happy with where you are in your life, and if you are not, change it. Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Called of God

Today I read Hebrews 5. I have always liked Hebrews 5 because it talks about listening to the Spirit and being called by revelation. I have always found it so interesting that so many of the Christian faith who become ministers or preachers talk about hearing the call and being called. I have always assumed this came from a misinterpretation of verse 4 which says that no man taken this honor unto himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron. What most people forget though, is Aaron did not "hear a call", but rather his call was communicated through his Priesthood Leader, Moses.

When Moses was at Mount Sinai and conversed with the Lord face to face, he was told to ordain Aaron and his sons. This is the true meaning of this verse. We are not to volunteer our services when it comes to service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather we are called by our Priesthood Leader, be that our Bishop, Stake President or even higher up the ladder. Even Jesus Christ was chosen. We are told that God asked who to send down to earth to be our Savior and Jesus Christ volunteered, however so did another. And it was God that ultimately made the choice and chose Jesus over Lucifer.

Some might state that our missionaries are volunteers and not called of God. But those who think such forget that God has said through His Prophets that every worthy 19 year old man is called to serve a mission, that it is a Priesthood obligation. The filling out of the application is merely our way of notifying the Apostles and Prophet that we are ready. They then go the Lord and He ultimately makes the decision where that missionary will serve. This is just one more example of the correct order of things and as we know God's house is a house of order.

I also like this chapter because of verse 8 which in talking about Jesus Christ states that though He were the Son, He learned obedience by the things He suffered. I have always taken this to mean that despite His divine nature, Jesus Christ still had to go through this life just like all of us do. Nothing was given to Him that isn't given to us. He had to learn line upon line, precept upon precept. He just learned it a lot quicker and had divine teachers. So I guess you could argue that He had a leg up on us. However, the fact remains that Jesus had to go through this life just like all of us do. Despite His divinity, He had it just as hard as us. This was of course by design so that He would know how to succor us in our infirmities and weaknesses. There is someone that knows EXACTLY how we feel at any given time. Some people get really upset when other presume to know how they are feeling, however, Jesus truly does know. He's been there and felt it before.

He understands us and is there for us. If we will just reach out through prayer, we can be comforted in our time of need. But going back to the scripture itself, Jesus had to learn to be obedient just like we do. He had to learn to put His desires to the side and do what Heavenly Father wanted Him to do. We know from the scriptures that when it came time to perform the Atonement, He didn't want to do it. He had to put aside His own desires and do what God wanted Him to do. If we want to be like He is, we will have to learn to do the same. As always though, the choice is ours and we are not forced to be like Him. But it is the only way to true and eternal happiness. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

Today I read Hebrews 4 where Paul talks about entering into the rest of Heavenly Father. On this day where we commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ it got me thinking about God and His mercy. Those of you who read this and are parents know that there is no love that can quite compare with the love you feel for your children. It transcends everything and if it were possible you would shield them from any pain and suffering that they would ever have to go through.

Now, times that love by a thousand and it probably won't begin to be what Heavenly Father feels for us. Heavenly Father has known us far longer than any of us have even been alive. I personally don't see how any love could be stronger or more pure than what I feel for my little girl, but I believe that Heavenly Father's is. I believe that He would literally do anything in His infinite power to help me if He thought it was for my benefit. What Heavenly Father DOES have that I do not, is perspective. He understands what is best for me and while it may pain Him to see me suffer, He knows I will be better for it. Just like a parent must watch their child suffer through a shot because he/she knows it will help the child in the long run and potentially save their life.

Heavenly Father loves us enough that He allowed His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come down and suffer all the pain, agony, sorrow, loneliness, emotional torment and every other painful emotion that man can feel, so that we might have a chance to return to live with Him. Paul talks about entering into God's rest, or in other words, partaking of Eternal Life, the kind of life God enjoys. When we do what He asks of us, and accept the Atonement into our lives, it will change us, literally. We will be a different person. I look back just 8 short years ago and I am amazed at the memories that I have and that they are me. Songs I used to love now cause the Spirit to leave. Movies and TV shows I enjoyed, I now cringe and think, "I used to watch this???". I am a different person than I was then. I'm closer to the Spirit now and it is largely due to the positive influence of my wife. Never underestimate the influence a righteous woman can have over a man! I don't know where I would be without her help and her companionship.

God loved us so He sent His Son, the Hymn goes. And it is very true. God sent His most precious treasure, His only physical Son, in this life, to earth for the sole purpose of suffering and dying. Jesus had nothing to learn but everything to teach. He did it willingly, for you and for me. I truly believe that in the throes of agony during which He took upon Him our sins and pains, He reminded Himself why He was doing this and thought about us individually. Don't let that be in vain. Accept His sacrifice into your life and allow it to change you for the better! On this most holy of days where we celebrate His birth, even if it wasn't December 25th, take a moment to say a prayer and thank Heavenly Father for what He gave up for us. His most precious Son. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Admonish Thy Brethren in Humility

Today I read Hebrews 3. The verse that jumped out at me was the part about exhorting one another daily lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. This is important but can really backfire on you. I remember once in college I had two roommates who were brothers and we were very good friends. We lived in a townhouse that was 3 floors for 4 months, just the 3 of us. After that year I went to live for the summer at their house and work on their father's farm. One day I remember we were eating lunch at a local fast food place and one of them got a drink of iced tea. I tried to kid with him that he didn't need such things as they were against the Word of Wisdom and he totally flipped out on me. Called me self righteous and told me that my soda I was drinking was just as bad for me as the tea was and told me to stop being holier than thou. I was actually pretty hurt by it and how angry he got about it when I was trying to help him live the Gospel.

Now life went on and our friendship continued unmarred but I was shocked how he had reacted to my statement and it has been my experience that most people who are not doing what is right react that way. They are very quick to point out what you are not doing right because what you are saying cuts them to the core. Nephi said that the wicked taketh the truth to be hard because it cuts them to the core. And it does. No one likes correction because we have to admit we are doing something wrong. The natural man does not like to do that at all. But as Paul says, we are to admonish one another. One of the recent talks in this past General Conference, I think from Elder Ballard, stated that when we fail to correct someone who is doing that which is wrong, we are thinking more about ourselves than we are about them. And truly we are. If we fail to give correction because we are worried how they will receive it, how they will react to it, we are more worried about our own feelings than we are about the well being of that person.

Some may think to themselves it is not their place to admonish because they are not the Priesthood leader or that they should not say anything to the other person because they have their own problems. The whole beam and mote idea, who are they to admonish when they have their own issues with following the commandments. But I think that is the wrong idea to have. For one thing, we should help succor and uplift where we are strong and ask for help where we are weak. To me that is not focusing on the mote in your brothers eyes. That is instead looking out for the well being of your fellow men.

It is a fine line to walk that is for sure and we need to make sure we are doing it for the welfare of the other person and not out of a sense of haughtiness. The way to make sure you have the right intention is to make sure you are trying to cultivate a feeling of humility about you. As you strive to be more humble you will be able to look upon your fellow Saints with a sense of love and care and will know how you can help them. We will see them as Jesus sees them as our fellow brothers and sisters. I think the other half is to make sure we don't overlook our own sins, for they are many. Each and every day we need to make sure we are repenting of what we have done wrong because we are not perfect. As we work towards perfection however, we will have the Spirit about us all the more and will cause those around us to want to be better. They won't be able to help themselves, it will be a natural reaction. Wouldn't it be nice if that was the goal of everyone on earth? What a world that would be! Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Finding Common Ground

Today I read Hebrews 2 and from the moment I read the chapter heading I had one thought, and that was finding common ground when teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As missionaries for Jesus Christ we were taught when learning the most effective way to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ that it is best to build on what the person already knows. We see examples of this in the scriptures too, Ammon and Aaron do a very good job of doing this in the Book of Mormon when they teach King Lamoni and his father respectively.

Paul knows his audience, they are the Jews, sometimes referred to as Hebrews. He knows that they have always been looking for a Messiah, or a Christ to come. He is trying to help them understand that Christ has come and has redeemed them, which would be a very hard thing to understand for most of them because they were looking for a militant Savior, one who would throw off their oppressors, the Romans. We all know of course that such was not the case and that Christ will come as a Savior of the political and physical sense only the second time. His first coming, He came to save our souls, our bodies and our spirits.

Paul continues his introduction of the Savior and his re-enforcement of who Jesus is to those who already believe and trying to convince those who don't believe yet. Surely Paul knew that his words would not reach only those who already believed, much like our own modern day Prophet and Apostles know that their words for General Conference are heard by those who are not of the Latter-day Saint faith as much as they are heard by those who are. But that is one of the reasons our speakers in General Conference focus on the basics of the Gospel. It is the common ground that 90% of all Christian faiths agree on.

When we find the common ground that almost all people can agree upon it is easier to help those who are unfamiliar with the doctrine to come to understand what we are trying to teach. It can take some time to make sure that we are communicating effectively and to really find where someone already understands, but it is very worth it when you do finally find that common ground. When you can see that light of understanding come on in someone's eyes who is truly trying to understand what you are teaching, it is a feeling unequaled in this world! Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jesus Christ is Special

Today I read Hebrews 1, Paul's opening to the Hebrews that is all about Jesus Christ. I sometimes in the past, and imagine others have as well, wondered if Jesus is really all that special. What I mean by that is, could any of us have done what He did if we had been in the same circumstances as Him. I think Paul's point of this chapter is that Jesus Christ IS special.

Paul points out that none of the angels and none of the rest of us are going to be rewarded the way that Jesus has been. This is because of what Jesus has done for us. Because of what He did, we will all be able to return to live with God someday. We know from the scriptures that Jesus was our elder brother in the Pre-earth life. From modern revelation we have been taught that Jesus was the first Spirit created by Heavenly Father. He had the longest to prepare for earth life and He was the most obedient. He was uniquely suited to performing the Atonement because of who He was.

He was the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is the only person in the history of the world to have Heavenly Father as His literal father. This is what enabled Him to perform the Atonement and to be Resurrected. He was able to never make a mistake because the veil had been taken back. He knew who He was and was able to resist everything that came His way. So perhaps if we were given all the same opportunities we could have done it to, but the fact of the matter is, He is the one who did it. He volunteered. He came down and made it a reality. He is that special because He is the one who did it.

I personally am really grateful to Jesus Christ for what He did for us. Paul is writing to the Hebrews who most of them don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah. His purpose is to remind those who do believe and to convince those who don't. Jesus is the Christ and He did come down just to save us and if He hadn't, our lot would be very pitiful indeed because we would all be cast off. Thank heavens for Jesus and for His love for us. I don't even want to contemplate where we would be without Him. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brothers in Christ

Today I read Philemon and the part that stood out to me was the part about being a servant or a brother. It reminds me of Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants. He starts out being addressed by the Lord as Joseph my Servant. Later the Lord addresses Joseph as Joseph my Son, and finally as Joseph my friend. The reason I bring this up and why I think I thought about it is because of Paul's verbiage how he starts off referring to Philemon as a servant but then changes to his brother.

This is because when you experience certain things together, it changes your relationship with that other individual. Anytime you experience something traumatic it strengthens the bond between the two individuals and one can't help but grow together. A good example of this is missionary companions. After my mission I lived out West for a number of y ears attending school and experiencing life. There were quite a few times where I went to an old mission companion's home to visit him. After the first time I did that, he thought it was very amusing because his family was confused. He said that I'm not the normal type of person that he usually hangs out with but they can tell that we are very close and best friends and so it confused some of his siblings, not so much his parents. But it's almost impossible to go through something with strong emotions connected to it, like a mission, and not develop good, strong bonds and ties to the other person.

This is why Paul calls Philemon his brother, for he is his brother in the Gospel. We are all brothers and sisters in the Gospel as we are all in this together. Each one of us has a responsibility to share the Gospel and to live our lives as an example of the Gospel and its blessings. It is very important that we look upon each person as our equal and that we have true humility and not lift ourselves up, even in just our own eyes, but rather that we recognize that we are all beggars as King Benjamin put it. We are all equal to each other in every regard and should not allow our worldly status to puff us up and look down on others who do not have as much worldly status as we do. We are all brothers and sisters in the Gospel of Christ and that is what is important. If we treat each other like they are our brother or our sister, no matter what, then we are going to treat them with the respect that they deserve. We will treat them the way that Jesus does, the way He would if He were here. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Today I read Titus 3 Paul's closing to Titus. The phrase that stood out to me was Paul's counsel to Titus to be meek. It got me thinking about meekness and the world. Meekness is not a quality that is really prized among the worldly, which is sad because if we were all meek then there would be no crime and no contention. But in the world's eyes meekness is a synonym for weakness.

I looked up the definition for meek just to make sure I had the right one and its most common definition had to do with being submissive when under pressure. However, the one that I like and that I'm sure Paul was using is gentle and docile. Can you imagine if everyone in the world was gentle and docile? They would be slow to anger and would be a lot more pleasant to be around. I remember the first time I met my father-in-law, my wife, at the time fiancee said that he described me as a gentle-man. I mistakenly thought he meant gentleman but then my wife clarified saying no, he meant a gentle man. In a word he was calling me meek. I took it as a great compliment and so should any person described as such.

I don't know where this idea that we have to be macho men came from but I guarantee if we had to pick one of the two terms to describe Heavenly Father we would choose meek over macho. And since our goal is to be like Him, shouldn't we strive to be meek? And truly what is wrong with being gentle? You might get mocked for it but so what, let it roll off you like water off a duck's back. We should not be worried about the world but rather what God thinks about us. We should cultivate the qualities that Christ has and let the world fend for itself. As for me, I am going to emulate the Savior and I think we can all agree that meekness was one of His qualities so I want it counted as one of mine. But I guess everyone has to decide how they want to be for him/herself. Just decide quickly, time won't wait forever. Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Most Important Work You'll Ever Do is in the Home

Today I read Titus 2 and the part that impressed me the most was when Paul was telling Titus to teach young women to be virtuous, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their own husbands. I am reminded of the scripture in Jacob 2 in the Book of Mormon where Jacob tells the Nephites, and us, that God delights in the chastity of women.

I have always been tickled by women's liberation, as it is called anyway. It has always made me laugh. Now, don't get me wrong, I am most certainly glad that women can vote and are no longer treated as second class citizens, but the fact that women need to be "liberated" from being a mother or a wife is quite humorous to me. I mean, does a man ever get liberated from being a father or a husband? Of course not, but then again, women's liberation was actually from being a mother who stays home with the children. As if any career outside the home is going to be more important than raising good and righteous children. Why do we hunger for the praise of man? The answer of course is because we fear man more than we fear God. We should only be concerned with what God, and our spouse, think about us.

I most certainly believe that the most important work anyone will do is within the walls of their own home. This is true regardless of gender. I don't care if they are the President of the United States of America, if that man is not a good father, he is failing. That is why I don't really ever want a position of power. It tends to come with certain expectations that they will sacrifice everything for it and quite frankly, the most important thing to me is my family. I want to be able to spend time with my little girl and my wife and that is more important to me than earning tons of money. Children don't want every toy under the sun, they think they do, but what they really want is to spend time with their parents. President David O'McKay once said that no amount of success can compensate for failure in the home, or something close to that, and he is right.

Raising good and righteous children who know and love the Lord is every parent's number one responsibility. And the ones who have the most influence over making sure that happens is the mother. It's extremely challenging if not impossible to make that happen if the mother is not at home but instead out proving something to herself that she can make it in the corporate world. Now, I do not want to beat down those whose situations require two incomes out of necessity. There are those families that the father cannot find work that will pay sufficiently so that the mother can remain home. Rather I am talking about those where the mother works because they want to maintain a certain lifestyle or because they desire the praise of man. If there are children under 18 in the home, the mother's place is in the home. Now, I don't see a problem once all the children are school age to having a part time job so that the mother can be doing what she wants to do while the kids are at school. But I really do feel it's that important for the mother to be home with the children if they are home.

Women control so much in this world, far more than they realize. If all the women were to stand up and decide that the praise of the world did not matter, then this nonsense that a women is only worth something if she has a career would go away. But just as we can't change what is right and what is wrong by legislation, it doesn't make it right for women to leave the home when it is not necessary for a career just because everything thinks it's ok. God sets the standard for what is right and through His servants the Prophets we have been told that if at all possible the woman's place is at home raising the children with the help of her husband. I don't see how any woman can find that unrewarding to watch their children grow up in the Gospel. For me, being a father is SO much more rewarding than my career outside the home. Watching my daughter grow up and say prayers with us as a family is a wonderful thing that I wouldn't trade for anything. I hope you too are having those experiences. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ther Pure in Heart find the Pure in the World

Today I read Titus 1, Paul's letter to Titus. I was impressed by part of the letter at the end where Paul says that to the pure, all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure. I have found this to be very true in my life. I have found that people who are jaded and have a chip on their shoulder think that everyone else has a chip on their shoulder too and that nothing can be as good as it seems.

I have a friend, a very good friend actually, that no matter what someone tells him, he is skeptical. I can recall hearing stories and even watching movies where it says that it was based on true events and he will disbelieve it. Now, I grant you that sometimes, there are those shows and movies that will say they are based on true events and they are not, but even the ones that you can verify are based on a true story he will doubt it. Whereas I am more willing to believe what people tell me, perhaps even a little too willing. Some have even used the word naive. However, I think that looking at the bright side of things and trusting in the goodness of people tends to make things a bit more pleasant in general.

There's an old saying that says whether you think you can, or you can't, you're right. And I think that is what Paul is saying here also. If you think the world is corrupt or if you think the world is good, you are right. You will see what you want to see. There are good and bad people in this world and no matter what we do, we will be around both types of people. But you can either be affected by those that are bad, or you can be affected by those that are good. Which would you rather have? I know I would rather look at the world in a good way and understand that not everyone shares my belief, but I don't have to associate with them. And perhaps my attitude will be infectious, who knows? Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fight the Good Fight

Today I read 2 Timothy 4, Paul's closing to the second epistle to Timothy. Paul talks a little bit about the last days again in this chapter but it is not his main focus. He says that there will come a day when people will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they leap to and fro and have itching ears. That definitely sounds like this day and age to me. I mean, how do people react when you try and teach them the gospel, if they'll even listen to you? I sure have.

I have also heard stories of various Christian churches that will "fire" their minister because they don't like what he was preaching and will look to hire a new one. If that is not leaping to and fro after their own hearts I don't know what is. Truth is truth and it doesn't change just because we don't like it. Nephi stated that the wicked take the truth to be hard because it cuts them to the very core of their being. I have found this to be true and not just with the doctrine of Christ. Think about the last time you were given criticism, constructive or otherwise. Was it easy to hear? Probably not. We don't like being told that we are doing things incorrectly, but sometimes that is exactly what we need to hear. But if we are on the other side of things, on the telling part, we are really doing a disservice to the person by keeping it to ourselves and by not telling them what is going on and what they need to change. We are more concerned with our own feelings than with the feelings of the other person.

The last part of this chapter that has always stood out to me is Paul's assertion that he has fought the good fight, has finished his course and has kept the faith. I remember as a missionary that's all I wanted was to be able to say I had fought the good fight and had kept the faith. It makes me wonder, what qualifies as fighting the good fight? Because Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, bitten by snakes, people attempted to murder him and all kinds of other horrible things that I am sure we don't even have a record of. So does fighting the good fight mean we have to suffer like he did? Heaven forbid! Rather it means that we must be faithful like he was.

It is a hard thing to endure to the end. We have to be completely dedicated to the Gospel because quite frankly life is interesting. The world finds all kinds of ways to distract us and make us think that the world is more fun and enjoyable than living the Gospel. For example, the world would have us believe that it is more satisfying and enjoyable to just have a bunch of random sexual partners than it is to be married. Married couples are almost always portrayed on TV as fighting all the time, never having sex and generally being unhappy. And then there are the single people on television which have sex all the time run around getting drunk, another method of the world to have "fun", and being happy. But the truth is, the world has it backwards, wickedness never was happiness. People might think they are happy and enjoying themselves, but really, deep down almost everyone longs for the peace and happiness that the Gospel brings. They want that meaningful relationship with a spouse and they want to be able to have a family. They yearn for it because their Spirit remembers what our life was like before we came here even if our physical memory can't remember.

To fight the good fight is to remain true to your covenants and to do what is right at all times. It is not always easy. It takes work but it is the most worthwhile work you will ever do. I can promise you that. Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Scriptures are for our Edification

Today I read 2 Timothy 3 where Paul describes the people of the last day and I have to tell you he is spot on! He describes us as lovers of their own selves, absolutely. We are obsessed in this day and age with ourselves, how we look, how people perceive us, whether or not someone has treated us poorly, we are definitely more concerned with ourselves than with anything else. Covetous, we talked about this one just the other day, we all want what we don't have. If you need proof of that, just go watch TV for about 10 minutes and you'll see commercial after commercial of things you "need". Boasters and proud. These two go hand in hand and if you have ever been around someone who likes to play what I call the one up game you know all about this.

He goes on to name lots of other traits that I do not have time to talk about in depth. Some jumped out at me that I thought were interesting, such as disobedient to parents, unthankful and despisers of those who are good. We definitely see all of these traits these days and it is sad that we see them in adults. These are very childish traits but we are seeing them more and more in adults these days also. However, there is a remedy for such traits and Paul tells us what it is later in the chapter.

At the end of the chapter Paul talks about the scriptures. He says that all scripture is given by God and is profitable for doctrine and for reproof and for correction. I think we don't use the scriptures enough and in the right ways like we are meant to. I think that the scriptures are meant to be a much more integral part of our lives. We are meant to spend at least 30 minutes per day studying them and some of us don't even crack open the scriptures. It always warms my heart when I am at work and I see someone with the Bible open on his/her desk and studying from it. These are men and women who know the importance of studying the word of God. They understand that the scriptures are meant for our instruction and our edification.

If we all read and used the scriptures as we are asked to and meant to, this world would be a much better place. Even without modern scripture such as the Book of Mormon, if everyone just read the Bible and adhered to its teachings this world would be such a happy place. I long for a world where that happens. But until then, I suffice it to know that I am trying to do my part to make sure this world is a better place by living the teachings of Jesus Christ. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Focus on the Basics of the Gospel

Today I read 2 Timothy 2 and I've got to be honest that nothing about this chapter stood out to me, nothing at all. There were several phrases that sparked thoughts and ideas, but they are mostly things that I have talked about in depth before. Such as the idea of avoiding contention, focusing on the things of Christ as opposed to the things of this world. All of which is very excellent advice and should be heeded by people of all generations. Right is right no matter what generation it is. It doesn't matter what the world does or thinks, right will still be right and that is all there is to it.

As I glance back over the chapter though, there is one phrase that kind of stands out to me. Paul says to avoid foolish and unlearned questions as they do gender strifes. In other words, there are some questions that we should not be asking. For example, I think an example of a foolish question would be asking where Kolob is. Or asking if Adam had a belly button, or if Jesus was married here on the earth. These are all questions that serve no purpose at all. For one thing, there is no proper answer for any of them, well except for Adam having a belly button, he did by the way, but there is no point to ask them. What does it matter to us if Jesus was married on the earth? Why does it matter where Kolob is? I can almost guarantee it we cannot see it with even our most powerful telescopes. So why bother even contemplating such things?

There is a reason that every General Conference, the speakers focus on the basics. Building up our faith, repenting of our sins. Prayer, being a good husband or wife. All these things are very basic because those are the things we need to be focusing on. No one in this life is a perfect spouse. Those are the types of things we can control. We can control if we say our prayers every day. We can control the quality of our prayers. We have control over how we exercise our faith and if we read our scriptures every day. Those are the things that will be of worth to us.

As we focus on the basics, we will get better and more spiritual. If we try and focus on the larger things that we can't answer anyway, we will only cause strife or create stumbling blocks for ourselves. Now, that is not to say that we can't ask or answer questions that don't have to do with the basics. If you are long time readers, you all know very well I like to ponder things that don't have answers to them and to try and work them around in my mind. But if push comes to shove, I will respond that the basics are where our focus needs to be, that is the only way we are going to be safe and make sure we are focused on the right things. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I am not Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ

Today I read 2 Timothy 1 the opening of Paul's next epistle to Timothy. The one part of this chapter that stood out to me was Paul's counsel to not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This has been on my mind of late. I have been pondering what it means to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and what it means to not be ashamed.

Obviously to be ashamed means that you are embarrassed to be associated with something. So how would we be embarrassed by the Gospel of Christ? Well the first thing that comes to mind is being frightened to speak up. What have we to fear as disciples of Jesus Christ? If we are doing His work, why do we need to fear man and what they can do to us? All they can do is destroy the body, which I will freely admit that none of us really wants, but this life is temporary. Now, that is not to say that we should go around shouting from the rooftops that we are a Christian or that we are in peoples faces all the time, not at all. But it does mean that we wear our religion on our sleeve.

What I mean by that is for example, do you take advantage of situations that come up when you are offered say a cup of coffee or alcohol, do you politely decline it and leave it at that? If you do, then I would say you are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Those are perfect opportunities to share the Gospel and inform them why you will not partake of such things. Again, you don't have to be offensive and you don't have to look down your nose at them for doing so, but you can let it be known that you don't do those things because it is a commandment of God.

One way we can be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ is by giving in to peer pressure. If someone is doing something that you know is wrong, do you cave in? There have been so many times in my life I can think of instances where I had to stand up for what was right. I won't list any one example as I'm sure each of you has just as many and probably very similar to the ones I have had in my life. Suffice it to say, at least once a week since I have become an adult I've had an opportunity to either be an example or to be ashamed of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes it's enough to just be a good example to those around us. You will stand out as you live the Gospel of Christ. People will notice that you don't use foul language, that you don't drink alcohol that you don't do the things that the world does. When they ask you about it, that is the time to stand up and talk to them about it. That is the time to be an example for Jesus Christ. That is what it means to not be ashamed. To behave in such a way that you can spread the Gospel for Him since He is not here. Like Paul I say I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. I let it be known that I am a Latter-day Saint and I am proud of it! Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Love of Money is the Root of all Evil

Today I read 1 Timothy 6 where Paul closes his epistle to Timothy. In this chapter, Paul teaches Timothy that the love of money is the root of all evil. I remember when I was little I misunderstood and thought that money was the root of all evil and I was real confused how little slips of paper or numbers on a screen can be the root of all evil. It wasn't until later that I realized that money is just a means to an end, economy if you will, and that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil.

The love of money is at it's center greed and covetousness. We want what others have, what we assume is the good life. It is the love of money that causes all the great evils in the world. Murder for hire, prostitution/erotic dancing, pornography, alcohol production, tobacco farming, illegal drugs. Each of these destroys lives, some in a very physical sense, others in a far worse spiritual sense. And all are done because people love money and will do quite literally anything for it. I once heard the statement that everyone has a price, and for most people I think that is true. Their integrity is so low, that it can be bought. From what I understand, there are whole websites devoted to seeing how much money it takes the average woman to take her clothes off and be put onto the internet for the whole world to see. From what I have heard sadly all too few of them it is not much money at all. Dozens upon dozens of movies all focus on the gangster lifestyle where money is everything and if someone owes you money you destroy their belongings or kill their family members. All the worst evils in the world all done because someone wants more money.

Now, in our society money is what we use to further our economy so money is necessary and to that end we have an established societal norm that for goods and services rendered, money will be paid. This is colloquially known as work. When we have performed an agreed upon service, our employer pays us accordingly. The problem comes when we get greedy. It never fails to amaze me the greed of some of these big corporations and the people at the top. I honestly don't see why anyone in this country needs to earn more than at the most $500,000 per year. Anything more than that is just greedy. That much money will earn all the comfort of life and then some. And yet we have people earning in the millions and millions of dollars each and every year when that money could be put back into their company to improve production, or even better, pay their employees a little more.

I could probably go on for quite a lot longer on how correct Paul is but frankly, I would honestly just be repeating myself. I have always been satisfied with what was enough for me and my family to live comfortably and pay all of our debts. I don't need to be rich and I'm not sure I would know what to do with myself if I did. In the end what is important to me is spending time with my family, not how much money I earned. That is how I spend my time and I don't care how important my job title is, nothing will ever come in the way of my family and family time. Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Good Woman is a Treasure

Today I read 1 Timothy 5 where Paul talks about caring for the widows and the proper manner of life for women. I imagine that this chapter causes quite a stir among those who find it debasing for women to be a stay at home mother, as Paul counsels women to marry young, bear children and guide the house so that the adversary can find no place in it. I really liked this verse for 1 very important reason.

I have always been baffled at women who date and marry men that they know are bad men. Men who have really bad habits and yell at them and treat them really poorly. I remember one of my own girlfriends from college had dated a bad boy just before she met me. I asked her why and she said at the time she had thought she could help him. When I met my wife and asked her about this strange phenomenon she said that a lot of women will date a man not because of who he is now, but because of who he can become later. I told her I thought that was silly, that if you can't live with what you have now, how are you going to stick around for when the later comes around. My wife also told me that for a lot of women it's a pride thing, they think they can change the man in question. My wife even admitted to at times thinking she could change certain habits of mine.

I laughed when she told me this and said that was just silly. That no woman( or man for that matter) can change a man(or woman). It is impossible to change another person. Only that person can change him/herself. However, a good woman, can cause a man to WANT to change. I remember when I met my wife and she found out that not only did I watch rated "R" movies, that I had quite a number of them in my DVD collection, she did not ask me to get rid of them right away, but rather stated they would need to be gone before the children came along. I readily agreed as I knew I shouldn't be watching such movies anyway. Well it was not 2 days later when I went to the temple and decided that if I was going to get rid of my rated "R" movies some day anyway, why not just do it now. So I went home and packed them all up and got rid of them that day. My wife, at the time just my fiancee, was shocked. She couldn't believe that I had done that. When she asked me why I had done it so soon, I shrugged and said that she made me want to be better than I am.

A good woman, or even a good man, can make a man, or woman, desire to change. I remember watching the movie Big Fat Greek Wedding with my wife and I remember the mother tells the daughter that while the father may be the head of the family, the mother is the neck and tells the head where to look. I thought that was a perfect analogy! A good, righteous women does more for this world than any two men combined. The priesthood holder may be the head of the family, but often times it is the wife that urges the family to have family prayer and family scripture study. It is the wife that is the teacher of the children since the husband has to work and doesn't get as much face time with the children. A good, righteous women most certainly guides the family and can keep Satan at bay. I am constantly in awe of my wife and what she does day in and day out. I could not do her "job". I am not built for it. She has so much strength and so much of the Spirit in her it amazes me all the time. She never fails to point me in the right direction if needed and to support me, even at the cost of her free time. She always supports me in giving service and in fulfilling my priesthood duties. She reminds me of things I have forgotten and that I need to be an example to those around me. She never lets me forget to take an opportunity to teach my daughter. She is stronger than any man I have ever met in my life.

The world would have us believe that women are nothing more than sex objects. The opposite end of the spectrum is that the world would have us believe that women don't need men at all and they'd be better off without them. But the truth is that women need men just like men need women. But women are strong! They guide the family and support their husbands in their righteous endeavors and decisions. Paul is right that a good woman is meant to be married and bear children, if physically able. A good woman is also meant to help guide her husband and children in the right path and the way they should go. A good woman is God's agent here on the earth. My wife is such a woman and I thank God every day for her companionship. She is a true helpmeet and I don't know what I would do without her! Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Marriage is Ordained of God

Today I read 1 Timothy 4 which talks about in the last days that people will teach and preach others to not get married and to abstain from meats. We have already talked about why abstaining from meats is wrong and how we see this in lots of people these days those preaching the false doctrine that eating meat is wrong. Paul teaches that animals were made by God for the use of man in thanksgiving. Since we have already talked about why teaching others to abstain from meat is wrong, I want to focus on the falsehood of abstaining from marriage.

I was thinking about it today as I read and Satan is a lot more subtle about this one. There are very few people that go around declaring that marriage is wrong or unnecessary. Rather he has gotten us as a culture to accept the falsehood that it is ok to live together and even have children together outside of marriage. We have bought into the culture that sex is ok outside of marriage. That everything a married couple can do an unmarried couple can also do. This is the great evil that Paul saw and warned Timothy about.

Growing up these past 30 years it has been really sad and interesting to see how our society has changed. When I was younger most TV shows were about families and married couples. Now most of them focus on single people and having sex all the time with various different partners. The damage to families has been slow and subtle much like a tree growing through a rock. The tree slowly grows and snakes its way into the concrete and rocks and slowly but surely it destroys the rock or sidewalk. This has been what has happened to our society as well. We have slowly accepted a change here or a change there and now we are completely different from where we were 20 years ago. All in the subject of "tolerance" and acceptance. We have been spoon fed the lies that if we stand up for what is right, we are insensitive to those who are different.

But as Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated, you can't change what is fundamentally right by changing some laws. Right is right and that is all there is to it. The proper unit is family and men and women are not to have sex unless legally and lawfully married. It is heartwarming to see that despite it all, most people still have that desire to get married. They have a fundamental desire that no amount of societal disapproval can beat out of them. Most women especially have a desire to be married still and this is good. Because women certainly drive society in a big way. I am certainly glad that most people still have that fundamental desire to eventually get married, despite the fact that they are going about it in the wrong order.

Things are only going to get worse I'm afraid but thankfully the desire for marriage is not just societal but is fundamentally hardwired into each of us. I don't think that marriage will ever go away, although I could be wrong on this front. The one thing I do know is that no matter what Latter-day Saints will always desire for marriage and will always follow the pattern. I for one can't imagine not being married. I love my wife more than anything or anyone in this world and can't even imagine not being with her. I thank Heavenly Father all the time for leading me to her and for the institution of marriage. I hope your marriage is just as happy. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bishop, God's Stewards on the Earth

Today I read 1 Timothy 3 where Paul outlines the requirements for a bishop and for a deacon in the days of Paul. I must admit that I laughed out loud at one point because Paul says that a bishop needs to have his household in order because how can he be expected to manage the affairs of God if he doesn't have his own household in order. I laughed because it is a running joke in the Latter-day Saint community that the wildest most out of control kids in the ward are usually the bishop's children. Now of course this is a stereotype, much like a general's daughter in the military, but it's enough of a stereotype that it made me laugh.

I once read an article about a general authority that was talking to a member of another faith and was asked why our deacons do not match the description set forth by Paul. I will be honest that I don't remember what answer the general authority gave, but the other church that has the office of a deacon doesn't match the description given by Paul either. But as I have said before, I am not here to bash other people's religious faith but rather to share my impressions from my reading.

A bishop is in charge of the welfare of all those in the ward that he leads on behalf of Jesus Christ. He needs to be concerned with the physical and spiritual welfare of those in his charge. His is perhaps one of the hardest jobs in the church. I know it must be very challenging to be under that kind of pressure but it is a great responsibility too. To be put in charge of that many of His children, Heavenly Father has to have great trust in those who are chosen to be a bishop. I have always tried to make their job a little easier if at all possible. We can make our bishop's calling easier by looking for ways to help and by accepting the call to serve when it comes our way. I have always been taught that when you are asked to serve in the ward in whatever capacity, you accept the calling. There are those however that don't understand this principle. They only want to serve in certain callings. Now, I don't think that it is a prestige thing, in that they only want to serve where they can be seen by others. Rather I think that they genuinely don't want to do the calling in question, such as serving in the primary.

But we need to remember that our bishops have the Spirit of Revelation to guide them and that when they come to us with something they have most likely been guided by the Spirit. They know the needs of those in their care and know who can best serve those needs. Just recently in my own ward we had a situation where we had to replace the Elder's Quorum counselor and the name that came up was a surprise to everyone because of the schedule this man has. When the bishop was told the name he stated that he would need to think and pray about it, but as he did so, the Spirit confirmed to him what it had told the Elder's Quorum president, truly revelation at work. When we question a calling we are essentially calling into question the bishop's ability to hear the Spirit. People don't tend to look at it that way, but that's what it truly is. Because if we believe that the bishop is in tune with the Spirit then we need to believe that any calling we are asked to fulfill comes by the Spirit of revelation too. If you struggle with that, perhaps it's time to take it to the Lord for some revelation of your own. We need to remember that the Lord is ultimately in charge of the church and that any bishop or even prophet for that matter is just looking after things for Him while He is not on the earth. We need to defer to our local priesthood leaders just as we would to Jesus Christ if He were on the earth. Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Role of Women

Today I read 1 Timothy 2 which bounces around a little bit but spends quite a bit of time on the role of women. In several, if not most, societies throughout history, women have been treated like second class citizens. Some could interpret Paul's instructions to Timothy as proof that Paul also felt this way but I don't think that this was the case. I think that similar to the covenants made in the temple, Paul is trying to teach Timothy that women should be obedient to their husbands. Now of course this does not give the husband he right to rule over his wife but rather it should be a partnership with the ultimate decision resting with the husband.

I can't imagine treating my wife like she was inferior to me. She does so much for our family and household. She is a stay at home wife and so she does probably 75% of the chores, she takes care of our daughter at least 90% of the time. How could I not do all that I can to ease her lot in life? She does so much for me and for our daughter she almost never has time just to herself. But that is her personality. She loves to give service and views doing those things as a service to me and our daughter and so she likes to do it. However, despite how much she enjoys it, I still try my best to make sure I help her in anyway that I can.

The one part of this chapter that has always stood out to me and is confirmed by what we learn in the temple is what Paul says about man and woman being deceived in the Garden of Eden. We know from modern revelation that the devil approached both Adam and Eve and tempted them concerning the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We know that Adam was approached first and he shut Satan down hard. He would not even entertain the idea of going against the commandments of God, not for any reason that Satan could offer. So Satan gave up trying to tempt Adam and went another direction. He went and found Eve. When he found her, he told her several truths about the fruit. However, he included one lie, that she would not die if she ate the fruit. Thereby, Eve was deceived but Adam was not. When Adam was told what had happened, he made a conscious choice to partake of the fruit so that he could remain with his wife, Eve and fulfill God's first commandment to him, to multiply and replenish the earth. But he made that choice with full knowledge that he was disobeying God and that he would be punished for it.

I remember the first time I realized that Paul had written this down somewhere I was pretty impressed. The casting out of Adam and Eve is very misunderstood by most Christian religions and the fact that Paul points out that Adam was not deceived by Satan but rather Eve was to me clarifies that their transgression in the Garden of Eden was not sexual in nature. But that is all I wanted to say on the matter about that verse and how I liked it. Some religions have used Paul's words here over the years to treat women poorly as we mentioned above. However, this was not Paul's intention. I am supremely confident that Paul understood that women are to be our partners in this life and to be a helpmeet to their husbands. Perhaps they were putting women in positions of leadership such as trying to make them Bishops. Without the proper context of why Paul is saying the things he is, we really do not know what is going on. But the bottom line for sure is that women are NOT second hand citizens in the church. They perform very necessary functions that only they can do. Our wives are our helpmeets, not our servants and should be treated as our companions. Heavenly Father will most certainly hold us responsible for how we have treated our wives in this life and I plan to be able to hold my head up high and answer that I treated her like the queen she is. I hope you do the same. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Laws for the Wicked

Today I read 1 Timothy 1 where Paul begins his epistle to Timothy. He says some interesting things in this chapter but the one that stood out to me the most was probably verse 9 where he says that the law is not made for a righteous man but rather for sinners and he goes on to list out those sins in detail.

I find it interesting because the righteous man looks upon laws as something to protect him/her. He does not look upon them as burdensome and something to keep him from having fun. Whether it is the laws of man or the laws of God, the righteous will obey them with pleasure and will look upon the laws as a protection. I have often pondered the question what makes a man obey the laws of the land? Is it simply fear of punishment? Is it because laws are meant to be obeyed? Is it because we love the Lord and we have been told that a good Latter-day Saint follows the laws of the land?

We have discussed in the past why people follow the commandments of God. But following the laws of the land is slightly different. The reason being because in most of us, there is not that love of those who created the laws like there is our love for God. I think honestly most people obey the law strictly out of fear of the consequences. We don't want to pay the fines or go to jail if we are caught. Very few of us obey the law because it is our duty to uphold the laws of the land. There are very few people who obey the laws of out patriotism, but it is important to know where you stand in this just as it is important to know why you obey the commandments of God. Because as Paul says, if we are truly righteous, mean we are righteous because we want to be, we are going to obey all the laws just because that is who we are.

When Elder Bednar came and spoke to us last year in September, he asked us a question. He asked us if we enjoyed living the commandments or if we felt it was a chore. Did we enjoy living the Word of Wisdom or was it a constant struggle? Then he said something really interesting. He said that the reward for following the commandments, was more commandments. When we live a good and righteous life, we are expected to live a better life going forward. At the time I thought that was an interesting thing to say, but now I realize that he is right and we won't necessarily be given more commandments from God so much as we will find other ways to live a better life, a life more in keeping with His character. We will start to avoid certain shows and movies, certain types of music and books. We will start to change to be more out of the world than we were before. We will want to become better men and women because that will be the natural thing to do.

When we live the commandments, it changes us and we no longer even have to think about living them anymore, they are part of us. We don't need to question if we are going to drink that cup of coffee anymore, it will be repulsive to us. We will not have to wonder if it is right or not to do a certain activity. We will know! So Paul is correct, the law is not given for the righteous, because the righteous have no need of it. They are living it already and it is a part of them. That is what Paul meant and he is right. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Work, an Eternal Principle

Today I read 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul's closing to the Saints in Thessalonia. He talks about something that has been on my mind of late, work. It really blows my mind how we have somehow developed a culture in this country of not working. That the ideal is to not work a full day for wages but instead to just sit around and let others take care of them. And we wonder why depression is so prevalent in the United States.

We have talked in the past that God is a god of work. He does things and does not just sit around basking in the adoration of His creations. But that somehow got lost in the message to His children. It is important that we also be working to provide for ourselves. I really don't understand how anyone can have good self-esteem if they are not working and are able to work. It really drives me crazy how our welfare program is run. I think that if we actually employed people to survey the people who apply for welfare, it would end up costing us less despite all the money we would have to pay these investigators. But I am getting off topic.

My purpose is not to complain about those who are not working but rather to extoll on the virtues of work. Whether we realize it or not, our self image is very much affected by our ability, or lack thereof to work. Those who are on welfare, depending on their circumstances, have either shut out the voice inside them that tells them they need to be working, or are dying inside because they are unable to work to provide for themselves. Now, some are legitimate in their inability to work. Some desire with all their hearts to earn their own way and to provide for their loved ones but can't for one reason or another. Just like King Benjamin I say they are justified because of their desires. But there are those who have found a way to take advantage of the system and get around working for a living. I don't know how those people can live with themselves and frankly how they can not be bored to tears. I enjoy a good vacation just like anyone, but if I don't work for too long, I get bored out of my mind. I start chomping at the bit for something to do. It generally takes about a week and a half of vacation. Anything more than that and I actually miss work.

It is important to be able to provide for your family and there is no job that is too menial. If you are striving to work and provide for your family, I firmly believe that Heavenly Father will bless you for it. For a period of about 9 months I was working 2 jobs because my wife was unable to work and our bills were such that we either needed more income or less expense. Since less expense was not an option, I picked up a second, part time job. I did what was necessary to provide for the needs of my family rather than be a burden on society or the church or my family. It was a sacrifice and I didn't see my wife for more than about 15 minutes per day on the days I worked both jobs. But I was able to provide for my families needs. That is what was important to me.

God is a god of work, as we have said. If you need proof of that, go read Moses 1:39 again. He states it is His WORK and His glory. It is against the law of heaven to get something for nothing. There is no such thing as a free lunch and we need to make sure we are working to our maximum capacity as our circumstances and health will allow. God will bless us for our efforts to provide for our families and to be anxiously engaged in a good cause. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today I read 2 Thessalonians 2 where Paul again tells the Saints about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This certainly was a popular topic for the Saints there. However, Paul's focus this time is to let them know that before Jesus comes again, there has to first be a falling away, or an apostasy. Can you imagine how frustrated the original Apostles must have felt? To know that despite it all, all their hard work, there was going to be an Apostasy and that all the Saints will dwindle and fall away? I know I would have felt very defeated and hopeless and wonder why I was being asked to do it in the first place if we knew for a fact that everything was going to fall away.

Perhaps the Lord comforted them by letting them know that their writings would survive and would be a great comfort to future inhabitants and future believers of Jesus Christ. Or perhaps they didn't mind and were just obedient followers of Jesus and did what He asked them without question, I really don't know. I know how I would have reacted and I would have been fairly frustrated with it all. It also makes me wonder why an apostasy was necessary? I know why it happened. I know that as the Apostles were killed and not replaced that the doctrine became obscured and eventually was misunderstood all together, but why did it have to happen? Surely if the Lord had desired it, they could have kept up the Quorum of the Twelve.

I have often wondered about this, and certain other things that God has done over the millenia. Some make perfect sense to me, such as why those who have black skin were not able to hold the priesthood for so long, I can understand that, assuming my thoughts on the subject are accurate that is. But why did there need to be an Apostasy and why did there need to be a Restoration and the Dark Ages? The answer of course is we just don't know. Perhaps it was the lack of good communication and so it was hard to keep in touch with all the churches? History has shown that when congregations are left to their own devices, incorrect doctrine crop up as does symbology and other incorrect doctrine. So perhaps it's as simple as there was not an effective way for all the churches to communicate with each other and so it would have been an impossible task to keep all the churches pure as far as doctrine is concerned. That certainly makes logical sense to me. Who knows if it is the correct one though.

The only thing we know for sure is that there was an Apostasy and that the Apostles knew it was coming. The prophets of old knew it would happen too from what we can read in Amos 8. It was no secret except to perhaps the church in later generations. But I am not here to prove anyone wrong or to point fingers and especially not to mock. I am here to read the scriptures and give my thoughts and impressions on them. And my thoughts today are that there was indeed an apostasy and by necessity, a Restoration of all things much, much later, done by the prophet Joseph Smith. This is my testimony and the truth. Until tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The World Will Burn at His Coming because of His Goodness

Today I read 2 Thessalonians 1 where Paul begins another epistle to the Saints. He starts out talking to them about the Second Coming. I have remarked on it already, but I find it really interesting that the epistles to the Saints in Thessalonia have so much to do with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the last days leading up to it. I guess like most other Saints at the time, they assumed Christ would not be gone long. At least that is the common thought about those times.

Paul tells the Saints that the Lord will bring fire and punishment when He comes again. And truly He will. But it is not punishment out of vengeance but rather the natural order of things. We live in a telestial world, as is evidenced all around us. A telestial being cannot abide the presence of Jesus Christ. He is too pure and perfect for such filth and sin. His very presence, His goodness will cause the very air to burn with its intensity. He will refine the world by fire and bring a terrestrial law to the world. All those who cannot or will not abide by a terrestrial law will be burned as well, not out of vengeance, but as part of the natural order of things.

Truth be told, it may sound harsh but it really is another of the Savior's tender mercies. Those who are living a telestial law would not wish to meet the Savior face to face. Such a meeting would be extremely uncomfortable for the person. If you need proof all you need to do is to read Alma's account to his son, Helaman when he recounts his three days of repentance and how the very idea of coming face to face with God racked his body with inexpressible horror. I have likened it in the past to having to face your earthly father when you have done something wrong.

I remember when I was a kid we had a black walnut tree in our front yard. My younger brother and I used to love taking an old broom handle and trying to hit a black walnut we had tossed into the air like a baseball. Well one day my brother was doing this like normal and he caught the walnut on the tip of the broom handle and went off a wrong angle, much like a foul ball. Unfortunately for my brother, it flew straight into our dad's office window, cracking the whole thing beyond repair. My dad happened to be at a meeting and did not get home for several hours and the whole time my brother was just sick with worry to the point he almost literally made himself physically ill. He was just sure that our dad would kill him and do horrible things beyond retelling to him. Now of course our dad did no such thing. He talked with my brother and a rule was made that we could no longer hit the black walnuts in the front yard near the windows and I'm pretty sure the insurance paid for the window. But the idea of talking to my dad about what my brother had done, a true accident, was horrifying to him. Now imagine having to meet our Heavenly Father and recount what we have done, not by accident, but by willful design. How much worse would we wish to not have to have that interview? Like Alma I think we would rather cease to exist.

But all must come before Him to be judged and to find out what kind of a person we are. We will be faced with the reality that we have caused our Savior pain and that if we had just lived a better life, He would have had an easier time of things. But we all make mistakes and we all have an equal opportunity to correct those mistakes and to become better people. As we strive to live a good and righteous life, while it will be heartbreaking to meet the perfect being that we have caused indescribable pain to, it will also be a warm, wonderful experience as He will welcome us with open arms and proclaim that it was all worth it. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Avoid All Appearance of Evil

Today I read 1 Thessalonians 5. Paul speaks again briefly about the Second Coming and how if we are prepared then we have no need to fear and don't need to worry about when it will be because it won't matter. We will be watchful and be faithful because we will be living the Gospel of Jesus Christ to its fulness and so we will be prepared whenever it happens to occur.

This chapter also has the famous line from Paul to abstain from all appearance of evil. Very few lines in all the scriptures have see as much use as this one by parents and church leaders of all Christian religions. But I wonder how many people understand just what it means? People use it to warn their children and their charges away from bad situations. I remember once I was pondering if it would be wrong to have a female roommate in an apartment where no sexual activity took place at all, just literally roommates and I was told to avoid the appearance of evil rather than a straight answer of "that's probably not a good idea".

When I read this chapter today and came to that verse, the thought that popped into my mind was the story of the man who needs to hire a stagecoach driver to drive him over the mountain and he interviews 3 men and asks them how close they can get to the edge. The first says he can drive within 6 inches of the edge without being in danger. The second driver says he can get within 3 inches of the edge. The third replies that he has no idea because he stays as far away from the edge as possible. The third is the one that is hired and the lesson of course is you stay away from temptations. You don't ask such questions as how far can you go physically with a member of the opposite sex before you have broken the law of chastity. Rather your goal is to remain clean and stay away from the line or edge or whatever terminology you wish to use.

Abstain from all appearance of evil. I have always heard it used in the connotation to not put yourself into the path of temptation and truly that is important. There is nothing to be gained from tempting the devil and everything to lose. However, I think there is another aspect of the scripture too. Think about those that you know that are open in their sin. They have a certain look about them, they act a certain way. Most Latter-day Saints are pegged right away because we are different. But different how? Most of the time it is our speech and the way we carry ourselves that people notice. We take care to avoid the appearance of the wrongs in the world and the evil around us. We don't listen to certain kinds of music, if you can call it music. We don't watch certain movies and truth be told when I see parts of certain movies that people rave about and get all kinds of awards I just shake my head and wonder how such movies can be so popular. It's ridiculous the things that are classified as entertainment these days. Are we avoiding the appearance of evil in our entertainment? Television is really good at sneaking in worldly views and evil into our homes in seemingly innocent ways.

If we stay away from the edge completely, we have nothing to worry about. If we live our lives trying to get as far away from the edge of what is acceptable rather than bordering right up on it, then we are avoiding the appearance of evil. We need to make sure that we are taking action and not just reacting to the world. We need to take a stance and stand up for what is right and go no further. It is up to us to stand as examples for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in this life because they are not here. We need to live as they live and do as they do for a happy life. That is avoiding the appearance of evil. That is what it means to be a true disciple. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Back to the Basics

Today I read 1 Thessalonians 4 where Paul spends quite a bit of time talking about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I have often wondered if when Prophets and Apostles talk about the Second Coming and future events if they have seen them in vision or are they just passing along what God has communicated to them through the Spirit? I know John the Beloved saw all the things in vision that he wrote down in what we call the book of Revelation. Likewise Isaiah saw most of the things he wrote down in vision we are told. But when Paul is talking about the Second Coming he states it with such conviction that it makes me wonder if he has seen it in vision.

Paul also talks in this chapter about how we should behave and how God wants us to avoid fornication and unclean acts. This is all things we have read about several times in the scriptures already over the past 2 years and there is not much else to say on the subject as Paul just gives it a cursory mention before moving on to the Second Coming. Paul spends a lot of time talking to the Saints in Thessalonia about the Latter-days and about the Second Coming. I have often wondered why that is. A good speaker, writer, singer or whatever else you might imagine, tailors their message/performance to his/her audience. And so I wonder why Paul spends time talking to them about the Second Coming and last days. Did they have questions about when the last days would be and when Jesus would come again?

I went through a phase, as most Latter-day Saints, and probably other Christian religions too, often do where I studied quite a bit about the Second Coming and what would happen and what I could do to prepare myself. But I found in all my studies that I am never going to know when it is going to come and quite frankly even if I did, it would do me no good. As I have stated in the past, the Final Judgement is not so much a judgement as it is a detailed analysis of who we are and what we have become. There is no death bed repentance. No final confession that will absolve us of our sins. So knowing when the Second Coming is going to happen is pointless. We need to instead focus on the basics and what we can do to become better men and women. That is going to be far more beneficial to us than knowing the precise hour the Savior will come again. Because if we are living a good and righteous life, He can come in the next minute or the next 10 years and it won't change anything. We will still be prepared.

That is why in General Conference more often than not, the Prophet and Apostles all talk about the basics and repeat what we have heard hundreds of times before. Because that is what we need to know in order to be prepared. That is what is going to help us more than knowing the nitty gritty details of the Second Coming. If we focus on one thread at a time, we will weave the whole tapestry before we know it and will not be discouraged at how far we have yet to go. Take it one day at a time. Be the best man/woman you can be today. That is what you can control and that is what is going to make the most difference in your life. That will help you more than anything. Until tomorrow.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Perfect Your Faith

Today I read 1 Thessalonians 3 where Paul is asking the Saints in Thessalonia to perfect their faith and recounting more of their decisions and the thoughts behind them. I sometimes wonder if the Saints put as much stock in the Apostles and their words back then as we do now? Well, as much stock as we should put in our Apostles words, we don't follow our Prophet or the Apostles counsel nearly as well as we should.

As I have been pondering on the words of Paul today after reading this chapter, it got me thinking, how does one perfect their faith? If faith like a testimony and it grows through usage? And I think it does actually. I think that in order for our faith to increase, we have to exercise it. Think about it. Faith is often characterized as walking along a path that is only lit at your feet a few feet in front of you and then you come to a spot that is no longer lit until you take that first step into the unknown, only to find that your path is lit for a few more steps. How many times in the past have you had to go out on a limb and trust God only to find that He is there beside you all the while and there was never really any danger of you falling?

Faith if grown by having it be rewarded. We humans are fallible and prone to turn back if we are not shown results. Heavenly Father knows this and so while He tests our faith in Him, He also rewards that faith. He sends us the Holy Ghost to confirm what we read in the scriptures and when we hear truth. He answers our prayers to Him. He gives us companions to help us through this life and gives us a prophet so that we are never left wondering what God would have us do.

So the answer is yes, faith is like a testimony. It grows through usage. Much like a muscle, if we go too long without using either a testimony or our faith, they grow frail and prone to failure and might collapse on us when we need them most. Love is the same way. It is impossible to fall out of love as some characterize it. Rather you don't continue feeding that fire that caused you to love that person in the first place and eventually you will stop loving them. So it is with faith. If we stop doing those things that increase it, it will decrease. There is no standing still. There is no status quo. There is increase and there is decrease. We are on that escalator moving the wrong way, we've got to keep pressing forward or we will lose ground. And despite what so many like to believe, if they do lose ground, it is no one's fault but their own. We choose to be offended. We choose to let someone else's actions get in the way of our perfection and salvation. We choose to stop going to church. We choose to lose our faith and turn away from God.

Choose happiness and faith instead. Don't let someone else dictate your eternal salvation. Take control of your own salvation and choose to remain strong no matter what. Your salvation is between you and the Lord and your eternal companion. No one else. Work with those two beings who are most important in your life and perfect your faith so that you never fall away. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

God's Method

Today I read 1 Thessalonians 2 where Paul reminds them of the tactics he and his companions used when preaching the Gospel to them. While it seems to me that Paul maybe does a bit of an overkill, his point is a good one. God follows the same pattern He always has since the beginning of time and the earth was created. God does not use guile, He does not deceive, He does not use force or does not argue.

It's interesting to me that so many Christian religions can feel animosity towards one another when we are all trying to do the same thing, bring about the salvation of man. I can remember multiple times while on my mission being verbally attacked by other missionaries of various faiths. While at other times I can remember pleasant exchanges with missionaries where we rejoiced in our mutual love and faith in Christ. I can remember on particular instance with much fondness. My companion and I had just finished tracting a street and had taught a first discussion and placed the Book of Mormon I had been carrying so all I had in my hands was my bible. As we were walking back to my car, I noticed a pair of missionaries for another Christian church also tracting the street. They were Chinese, a younger woman probably in her 20-30's and a much older gentleman probably in his 70's or older. I remember the older man came right up to me, did not say a word and turned my hand over so that he could see what I was carrying. When he saw it was the bible he got so excited and danced a little jig right there in the street and showed me his bible and smiled and said "The Bible!". The young woman also smiled at me and then they left. It was a very pleasant, all be it strange exchange.

Paul points out to the Saints that he has never used force to preach the Gospel but rather has always taught with the Spirit. And that is important. As I mentioned God follows a pattern and since God is not physically here, He is represented by those who claim His name. Today in the world there are millions that do not believe in God because of the many atrocities that man has committed in God's name. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the list goes on and on. It is quite ridiculous how man thinks they can do anything they want and that God will ok it. The arrogance of man never fails to astonish me. I have often wondered how such men and women feel when they get to the other side and realize they were not serving God but were serving instead the devil. Sometimes I wonder how many of them were serving the devil knowingly. I will probably never know and it truthfully does not matter. All that matters is that I know whom I am serving and I do it in the right way.

Alma taught that the preaching of the word of God had a greater effect on the hearts of man than anything else, including the sword, or threat of death. This is because the Gospel of Jesus Christ can change mans' hearts. Are we really changed in heart however if we do not do things God's way? We need to make sure we are not trying to impose our methods on God. I love the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels and Sherlock Holmes is always complaining that people try and change facts to suit theories instead of changing theories to suit facts. We should not try and change God to be what we want to be. We should change who WE are to be what God wants us to be. He can see the end from the beginning. Isn't that the sort of person you want to listen to? Until tomorrow.