Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
This morning I was relaxing in bed just thinking. I noticed something on my dresser that looked like a white paper plate. I wondered how it got there and why it was there. I couldn't figure it out.
On closer inspection, I could see that what I thought was the paper plate was actually the inside lid of my greeting card box I'd left there the day before.
After that, no matter how I looked at it, I could no longer see the paper plate. Yet, before I knew what it was, I was convinced that it was a paper plate and no matter how I looked at it, I couldn't see anything else.
I began to think about the relationship this can have to life, and I wondered, "How often are we sure that something is exactly what we think it is, but when we open our eyes to truly see, we discover that what we once thought really isn't?"
The Holy Ghost can help us see things the way they reallly are if we ask for his help.
And truth, once learned, makes it nearly impossible for us to see things the incorrect way we did before.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
In this book bits of stars fell from heaven to the earth. If anyone touched even a little bit of the star - or even touched the container the star was in - they would be filled with a warm feeling of joy and happiness. They would feel peaceful and calm and so light that they could fly. The light also had power to heal physical wounds.
The length of exposure determined how long the effects remained. With longer exposure a person was more permanently changed.
I compared this to the light of Christ. When we are filled with the light of Christ, our souls are filled with happiness and joy and we feel peace and our burdens seem light.
The more we are exposed to this light, the more we can experience these feelings, and our bodies and spirits begin to take on a new countenance - the countenance of Christ.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The people of Ammon laid down their weapons of war when they embraced the truth of the gospel. When the Lamanites came to destroy them, they refused to raise their weapons against them. The Lamanites killed over 1000 of them.
Joseph Smith, a prophet of God, suffered being tarred and feathered multiple times. He suffered the loss of children. In Liberty Jail he was extremely sick from being poisoned and from being exposed to very cold temperatures. And ultimately, he suffered death for the gospel.
It doesn't seem fair. These were righteous people. And these are only a few examples. There are as many examples of righteous people suffering as there are righteous people. So why does God allow the suffering of His people?
The other day I asked my 5th grade class what it would be like if I gave them 1st grade work everyday. They said it would be easy. Then I asked them if they would learn anything from it. They all agreed that they wouldn't learn anything.
Then we talked about how they could expect challenges this year that would cause them to struggle and even to become frustrated, but if they didn't give up, their knowledge and skills would increase.
It's easy to see how that works in school. It's sometimes more difficult to accept in life. Too often we want 1st grade work when we are on a 5th grade level. We want life to be easy - to be free from trials and sorrows.
But a wise Heavenly Father knows that we'd never learn and grow if life were easy. We'd never turn to Him for help if we never needed help. If we never turned to HIm, we would never come to know Him.
I read an article somewhere once that said something like this: Fair means giving each individual what he/she needs.
I often have to remind myself that God knows all from the beginning to the end. My own vision is extremely limited. What may not seem fair is probably exactly what I need to help me to learn and to grow.
Some of our trials are the direct result of our own choices. Some are the result of other's choices, and some are just the result of living on this earth.
No matter the cause of our trials, a loving Father in Heaven can use these trials, if we let Him, to guide us in learning so that we can one day return and live with Him.
"This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)
His full time job is to help us return to Him. We are in a school of life. We are going to experience all kinds of struggles and sorrows, but if we will turn to the greatest teacher of us all, He will teach us everything we need to learn.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
There are signs in our every day lives that if we pay attention can help us to avoid some of the tragedies or pitfalls of life. Likewise, there are spiritual signs that if we pay attention to them will help us to increase our faith and testimony.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I dreamed that I was driving a big new pickup truck (okay, not very realistic!). The truck was pulling a fairly large trailer similar to a horse trailer. I arrived at a bridge and had to stop because the load I was carrying was too heavy. Whoever was in charge told me that I needed to get rid of things that really didn't matter. I pulled things from various nooks and crannies in the truck and tossed them over my shoulder.
Everytime I thought I was finished, the man would shake his head and tell me to remove more stuff. As I was removing all the junk from the truck, the thought went through my mind that this was an allegory to life:
Oftentimes we are carrying heavy loads in our lives. They might be spiritual loads for which we need to repent or forgive, or they might be physical loads due to having too much and we may need to simplify. Either way, there really is no reason to carry so much - it makes life difficult and we often suffer unnecessarily because of it.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
"If good things are coming, they will be a pleasant surprise. If bad things are, and you know in advance, you will suffer greatly before they even occur."
I think the advice that followed was even more important:
"When people consult me, it's not that I'm reading the future; I am guessing at the future. The future belongs to God, and it is only He who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstance. How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity."
This also reminds me of a song by Janice Kapp Perry:
THE WOMEN YOU’LL BE SOMEDAY….
I see an old woman rocking there.
The sun shining softly on her silver hair.
I wonder the secrets she holds deep inside,
Is she smiling or hiding a tear in her eye?
She watches our day as her story unfolds
For you see, she is you grown old.
And with every decision you make today,
You’re creating the woman you’ll be someday.
Just for now the old woman depends on you,
She waits and she watches
As you make her dream come true.
Be kind to the woman waiting there
For time passes swiftly and you must prepare,
Hold fasts to the values more precious than gold.
And you’ll bless the old woman who waits down the road.
She watches our day as her story unfolds,
For you see, She is you grown old
Only you can decide her eternal role.
Just for now the old woman depends on you
She waits and she watches
As you make her dreams come true.
Be watchful Young Woman, Chose well today.
Remember to live for the woman, You’ll be someday!
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE OUR FUTURE BY CHANGING OUR TODAY.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Fall always makes me hungry for stews, pumpkin pies, and homemade ginger snap cookies.
It is also a time of harvest. The farmers are gathering in their crops, the home gardener is enjoying his fruits and vegetables, and many homes are filled with the smells and sounds of canning and drying.
It reminds me of a scripture in D&C 12:3 "Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God." (also repeated in D&C 4:4, and 14:3 - so I figure it must be pretty important)
I have heard this scripture used most often with missionary work, but I want to take a slightly different twist on it.
The field that is ready to harvest is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we want to reap the blessings of the gospel then we need to put forth the effort that is required for those blessings.
The farmer cannot reap the benefits of his crops unless he goes into the field and does the work of gathering in the crops.
The gardener cannot reap the benefits of his plants unless he goes out into his garden and picks the produce.
And so we must go into the garden of the gospel and work in order to receive the blessings.
The scripture says that we need to reap while the day lasts. I think this means all day long - or without ceasing. It must be a continued effort.
Have you ever tasted a tomato straight out of the garden? The flavor is indescribably delicious. In comparison, a store-bought tomato has no more flavor than a piece of paper. Store-bought produce has to be picked before it is fully ripe and can never reach that full flavor.
What I'm trying to say is, the richest harvest comes straight from the field or garden. The heart of the gospel contains the full flavor and can be enjoyed by all who desire and are willing to "thrust in the sickle".
Why be satisfied with mediocre produce. Begin to enjoy the full flavor today!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Repentance is open to EVERYONE. Christ atoned for ALL of our sins, and we can be forgiven if we are willing to repent.
We are all in need of the forgiving power of the Atonement.
My understanding is that Christ is the only one who has the power to forgive sins because He already paid the price for them - justice was paid in full, and Christ can now show mercy to those who repent and their debt has already been paid.
Yet we are commanded "to forgive all men." (D&C 64:8-11)
It isn't even a requirement for the offender to have repented in order for us to forgive him/her. We don't make the sin go away when we forgive - only Christ can do that. When we forgive we aren't saying that we condone the sin. I don't completely understand it, but I do know that because my vision is extremely limited I cannot honestly judge another - "Let God judge" (D&C 64:11) I think this is part of why we need to forgive. I also know that the greater sin lies with the person who does not forgive. (D&C 64:9)
When the woman was taken in the act of adlutery and brought before Christ, He said, "He that is without sin among you, Let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7) He didn't say, "He who has never committed adultery cast the first stone." This tells me that we do not have the right to condemn others for their sins - even if we are free from the sin ourselves.
"Succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." (D&C 81:5)
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I thought about how this compares to life - If we keep moving forward we will eventually reach our destination as long as we are on the right road. Maybe more accurately put - we will eventually reach the destination for the road that we are on. If we want a certain destination, then we'd better make sure we are on the road that leads there.
There is a song from My Turn on Earth that says something like this:
- If you choose the very first step on the road, you also choose the last - so if you don't like the end of the road, you better back up - you know you better back up fast.
We get to choose every step we take down a road, but we do not get to choose where the road takes us. The destination for each road has already been predetermined. You can't take a road to Rigby and expect to end up in Hawaii.
Take a look at the road you are now traveling. Will it take you where you want to go?
If you're on the right road, keep moving forward and have an enjoyable trip.
If you're not on the right road, then STOP! It won't do any good to continue traveling on the wrong road. Ask for directions if you need help finding the right one.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger.
But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant,and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.
This story has often been used to illustrate how people are led to commit sins. If you are living a righteous life and someone asks you to rob a bank, you would, of course, not do it. But if you start out committing somewhat smaller sins like cheating on a test, telling little white lies, or whatever, pretty soon these smaller sins don't seem so bad and worse ones are compounded on them until when someone makes the suggestion to rob a bank, it doesn't seem like such a bad thing - or you just don't care anymore.
This, of course, is just one example. I don't know anyone who has ever robbed a bank, nor do I know anyone who knows anyone who has, but there are many many other examples of sins that do effect my life, the life of my loved ones, and others I know.
I want to add a twist to the story that might bring it into even more perspective.
Suppose the frog is someone's pet. I'll call this someone Fred to make the story easier to tell. The frog has jumped into the pot of cool water and is happily swimming around. Fred is looking frantically around the house for his pet frog. It doesn't occur to him to look in the pot until it is almost too late.
When Fred finally discovers his frog in the water, the frog is barely alive. Fred dearly loves his little pet and is quite upset at finding him in this predicament.
Should he watch him perish while thinking - You stupid frog. Why did you jump in the water? Well, it was your choice. You're the one who is going to have to suffer.
Should he reach in the boiling water, pull the frog out, and try and rescue it?
Should he just give up and walk away?
It may be easy to say that he should reach in and rescue the frog while there is still a chance that he might live. I would agree. But how often do we opt for the other two choices with the frogs in our lives? It's something to think about.
Let's not wait until it is too late to rescue the frog's in our lives.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
There are two types of natural laws - the kind of laws we have no choice to obey like the laws of gravity and aging and the kind of laws where we can choose whether or not to obey them. The law of human nature or moral law is the latter.
Selfishness is an example that goes against the moral law. Think of people you know who are selfish. Do you admire them? Do others admire them? My guess is that you can think of people who are selfish, but you cannot think of anyone who admires them for their selfishness. They may have other qualities that can be admired, but their selfishness is never admired.
According to Lewis, if anyone argues that there really is no such thing as a moral law, they will soon disprove their own theory. They may break a promise to you and justify their actions based on their belief that there is no moral law, but as soon as you break a promise to them, they will cry that it is unfair. Unfair based on what?
Moral laws are truths that we have no ability to change. We can only choose to obey or disobey, but we cannot change them.
Nobody ever obeys these laws completely. There are always excuses available for why we did not obey. Lewis says, "I do not succeed in keeping the law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm."
The fact that we make excuses is proof that we believe very strongly in these laws.
"The truth is, we believe in decency so much - we feel the Rule of law pressing on us so - that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility."
I find it interesting that we only make excuses for our bad behavior but not for our good behavior.