Sunday, December 10, 2017

A&C Series - Do not Murmur

"Do not murmur saying, Too much has been required at our hands in too short a time. If your hearts were right it was a light thing I have asked. You hinder and delay and then you say I require too much of you and do not allow you time, when, if your hearts were right and you prepared yourselves you could have finished this work long ago."

Murmuring in the scriptures, to the best I can find, is always used negatively.   It's something that, if avoided, is universally a good thing.

Websters Dictionary: Murmur:

1: a half-suppressed or muttered complaint : grumbling
murmurs of disapproval

2a : a low indistinct but often continuous sound

1828 Dictionary: 

2. To grumble; to complain; to utter complaints in a low, half articulated voice; to utter sullen discontent; with at, before the thing which is the cause of discontent.


1 Nephi 2:12, Nephi gives an interesting cause for his brothers murmuring.   

12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.


I found that very informative.   Nephi in particular used the word "murmur" a lot in his writing, more than any other scripture author.  Nephi's brothers murmured because they "knew not the dealings of that God who had created them".  Their lack of knowledge caused them to murmur.  They didn't know what God was up to.  So they complained. 

So the antidote for murmuring?  Acquire knowledge of God's dealings.  Nephi says in a few instances in the BOM says that he murmured not.  And what allowed him to not murmur was a perspective that comprehended what God was doing.  Even if he didn't like it, or found it very unpleasant.  At least knowing that God is up to something, allows the person to show faith rather than murmuring.  This takes time and experience.  But enough others have done it that we ought to give it a try.  

In my experience, this hold true.  I'm inclined to do things like murmur when I see no point to something, or do not see God's hand on something, or feel like I'm enduring something pointlessly.

Which amounts to my own lack of knowledge of God's dealings.  I can see God's dealings all throughout scripture.  Unfortunately it's often hard to see it in your own life, when the dealing gets tough.  But from Nephi's example, faith in God's dealings is a realistic thing to obtain.  It's substantial enough to put faith in.  It's something we can lay hold on.  And there is evidence in scripture that God responds very positively when people do not murmur against him.

Our murmuring is something we ought to take accountability for.  It seems to always stem from our own lack of harmony with God, our own hearts which are hard or not right, or our own lack of knowledge. 

Isaiah 29: 24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A&C Series - Obtain a new heart

Flee from the cares and longings that belong to Babylon, obtain a new heart, for you have all been wounded. In me you will find peace and through me will come Zion, a place of peace and safety. 
A&C pg 7

Obtaining a new heart is preceded by being told to flee from Babylon.  Which suggests our hearts are set on the wrong stuff.  They are set on the stuff of Babylon. 

Consider this next quote in the context of a new heart:

“By getting in harmony with the Lord you find that, YOU are a lot more tolerable to others and others are suddenly more tolerable to you. Even defective others are more tolerable to you, if you’re in harmony with the Lord. Because if you can see them as the Lord sees them- they are beautiful, they are wonderful! Every one you have ever met is a child of your Heavenly Father and if you can get the heavenly gift then you stop seeing things through the lens of this world and you start seeing things as they really are.”

Denver Snuffer Zion Symposium Talk

This is different from how the world says to deal with intolerable people.  This suggests as WE align with the Lord not only are we more tolerable people, but others are more tolerable to us.

But back to the phrase I wanted to write about in this post.  "Obtain a new heart, for you have all been, wounded".  The linking word "for" connects the need for a new heart with wounds.  Our wounds create the need for newness.  A healed heart.  Hurt people tend to hurt people, healed people tend to help heal people. In another part of the A&C it says:

You bear the scars on your countenances, from the soles of your feet to the head, and every heart is faint. Your visages have been so marred that your hardness, mistrust, suspicions, resentments, fear, jealousies and anger toward your fellow man bear outward witness of your inner self; you cannot hide it.  (pg 7)

Our hearts are faint.  Our visages marred.  Actions like hardness, mistrust, suspicions, resentments, fear, jealousy and anger display what is in us!  It reveals us.  It reveals the mess we typically try and hide.  But we cannot hide it.

As I think about a "new heart" I'm reminded of a few related items that are prophesied for the last days that will become "new".  Scriptures speak of all things being made new again.  New heaven, new earth, new covenant, and new hearts.  First with the new heaven and new earth:

"When the pole star changes, which happens about seven times every 25,900 years, anciently that change was called “A New Heaven”. Likewise there is a different constellation that appears at sunrise on the vernal equinox, and that constellation tells you what age you’re in. When there’s a new constellation on the horizon at the vernal equinox, that’s called a New Earth. There will be a New Heaven and there will be a New Earth when Christ returns."


Christian Lecture #3 Atlanta-Fullerton Central Library – Atlanta, Georgia Thursday - November 16, 2017 Denver Snuffer

If we want to survive that return, we'll need a new heart. So how do we obtain a new heart?  If there are signs in the heavens and earth to indicate when there is a "new" heaven or a "new" earth, what are the signs of a new heart?  (see first quote above about being in harmony with the Lord)

Mosiah 5:7

7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.


The verse teaches hearts change through faith on HIS name. Not faith in man, not faith in government, not faith in your associates. Faith on HIS name. His power, His grace, His love, His mercy and long suffering. I personally think we need a direct experience with Christ and His attributes. That is what changes us. But that only comes from repentance. But we are so easily distracted from the weightier matters onto trivial things.  This next quote sums that up.

"Because this generation does not understand their precarious situation, they are unable to repent. But it is only repentance which can save some few souls. People are so quickly and easily drawn away from the challenge to repent before God into some other vain and foolish track."

Denver Snuffer Blogpost 

But if we do repent, speaking of latter day Israel: Ezekiel 36: starting in vs 26

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.


Jeremiah 31:33.  Also speaking of latter day Israel.

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.



 The Lord's law is to be written in our hearts.  Not on tablets of stone, due to a stony heart.  Even that law was designed to break the stony hearts.  We need the Lord to give us a new heart.  Not pretend our heart is good.  Or just refrain from letting the bad stuff out.  We need a new one.  And we can have confidence that he will, because he said he would, and his promises are sure.  We need to find a true message from God, find humility within us to experiment upon the word, act in faith, believing we can receive, and gain light by living the light God promises he will give to those who sincerely and humbly ask.  We need an open heart, a soft heart, a humble heart, new understanding, new feelings, in essence, a new heart. 

Anciently the “heart” was considered the seat of understanding rather than emotion. Therefore an “open heart” belonged to the seeker, the asker, the knocker on the door. (See, e.g., Matt. 7:7-11.)
Other Sheep Indeed- By Denver C. Snuffer, Jr. © 2017 Presented at the Salt Lake City Sunstone Symposium 

Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A&C Series - Study to learn how to Respect...

"Study to learn how to respect your brothers and sisters and to come together by precept, reason and persuasion rather than sharply disputing and wrongly condemning each other causing anger."  -
A&C pg8

The Lord said to study to learn how to respect our brothers and sisters.  Study what?  What is it we need to study so as to know "how" to respect our brothers and sisters and to come together?  The phrase implies we don't have a skill, and don't have a level of understanding that would bring greater respect and lead to respectful disagreement.

I've begun my study with scripture, and some very interesting ideas originating from the ancient teachings of other cultures.

Toltec Wisdom:

Here's an idea I read about that comes from ancient Toltec Wisdom.  It's titled: "Don't take things personally".  Taking things personally, according to this Toltec idea, is an example of "personal importance".  Personal importance or taking things personally is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about "me".   It's not. The idea goes further to say nothing other people do is because of you.  It's because of themselves.  It's their reality, their beliefs, their mind, their heart, their dream.  Everyone is living in their own reality, they are in a totally different world from anyone else.  They can't truly say something personal about another because they have not lived in the other persons world with their past, and their experiences.  Each persons point of view comes from their own life, not anyone else's.  The things we say and do are projections of our own minds, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions.  The good and bad others say to you,  the Toltec idea is don't take it personally.  It wasn't about you.  If we make it a practice to not take things personally we avoid many upsets in our life.  Our anger jealousy and envy will dissipate.  Because it wasn't always about us.  Our own anger, fear, and jealousy is very much about us however.  And that we must take responsibility for.

Another idea from this Toltec wisdom is to stop making assumptions.  The issue with assumptions is we believe they are the truth.  If we don't understand something, it's better to either let it go, or ask and be clear, rather than assuming.

On another note a few scriptural examples have come to mind about disagreements.  We have plenty of examples of how not to disagree with each other, but what about the successful ones?  Those can easily go unnoticed.  It's a little like social media.  It's common to post things online that go terribly wrong.  Or contrarily, show off how amazing your life is, or some fun vacation, or some expensive something or other.  But how many posts do you see where someone describes a financial sacrifice they made to stay on a family budget?  About an argument they didn't have with a spouse because they chose to be humble and avoid anger.  The good examples are often lost in the mix of the loud or distracting messages.   The good examples often do not draw our attention.  But they are there, humbly outside the spotlight.

Scriptures

This next scriptural example has gotten some attention.  It's good though. Moroni and Pahoran's letter exchange. Moroni censures Pahoran, thinking he is being a lazy and idle and corrupt politician and has neglected God, the commandments, and his duties, and has thus caused enormous suffering for Moroni and his troops.  Alma 60.  Give it a quick read.

Pahoran does not take the censure he receives personally.  Why?  How is it Pahoran didn't take this personally? It's because he had a clear conscience.  In his words:  Alma 61:9:

"And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart. I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people. My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free."

"My soul standeth fast int hat liberty in the which God hath made us free".  He had nothing to hide, had no evil for which to defend.  He had repented.  His desires were righteous.  He didn't need to defend them because he seemed to have had that unique knowledge that the course of life he was pursuing was pleasing to God.  Imagine the inner freedom that knowledge gives you and the offense you thus never need to take?  Thus, Moroni's censure did not trigger anger in his heart.  His heart was right with God.

Disagreeing in 2017

A few thoughts about practical 2017 disagreements and showing respect.  We all have hopefully heard the stats about how it's not what you say, but also how you say it.  Online communication makes this an enormously big issue as we have no body language to help us, and can so easily project our own feelings and thoughts onto someone else's words.  One study I read shared surprising data that people are more likely to interpret online comments more negatively than the authors intended, as compared to the same message written on another platform or other medium.  Online can be potentially messy. 

We sometimes have very very poor communication habits which are full of contempt, judgement, and condemnation.  Especially towards people who's names we don't even know.  I suppose we feel safer behind a keyboard and out of view. 

A few ideas

A few ideas on my mind regarding respecting each other through our inevitable disagreements, and not accusing or wrongly condemning each other.

1.  Who likes being grouped with people who do or say things you disagree with??  How fun is it to be labeled as if you held or participated in things you do not?   It's no fun.  Yet our communication does this to each other time and time again.  We label, and group people unfairly sometimes.  One easy step is to stop speaking for others.  Taking care of when using the word "we" unless you know for certain you can and do speak in behalf of whomever "we" is.

2. They say a mark of maturity is the ability to exercise self restraint.  In both word and tone.  But just refraining from condemning or judging others when you speak (or type) still leaves the issue open as to what was in your heart that caused you to even have the condemning thought or idea or tone in the first place.  Ideally what comes out of our mouth stops defiling us, as Christ taught was what defiles a man, but instead is a natural expression of our changed heart.  I believe we should care more about our own hearts, and what's in them, than whatever it is we perceive is in the hearts of others.  As it may just be a projection of our own. 

3. When the scriptures say someone is "slow of speech" I don't think that means they had a speech disorder.  It' was something else. 

4.  We all know our families pretty well, and while yes we may have disagreements with them, sometimes frequently,  sometimes intense, yet at the same time we often will show high loyalty to them, and forgiveness when asked.  Because we know them, understand them and their weaknesses, and yet still love them.  We've seen the good in them.  So another practical idea is we can get to know people better, and as we learn about their life, we understand them, and then we can avoid some of the anger and disputes as we see more of where others are coming from, and the good they posses and the good they intend to do.  We need to get to know each other. 

5.  Sharp or soft?  The only times the scriptures say we are to use sharpness is when reproving by the Holy Ghost.    But even in those cases, the scriptures say to show forth an increase of love.  Disputing sharply just adds wounds to a person who is likely seeking healing, nor more injury.   When we have a broken bone or injury, our natural reaction is to protect, and guard it.  To protect against further injury until the issue is healed.   We are all wounded, from head to to according to the A&C.  Broken bones are sensitive.  Even if covered by layers and layers of a bandage or hardened cast.  So are broken people, even if covered by layers and layers of  hardened mental or emotional walls.

Precept, reason, and persuasion

Precepts are general rules to guide and direct behavior or thought.  Having correct precepts, and agreeing on them is how I believe everyone can begin to come together, and show respect for each other.  The A&C says to use the scriptures and whats found in them to govern our conduct.  Applying precepts to ones self, not others.

Reason.  Sometimes We want to use intellect and ideas to compel the heart.  But in lots and lots of cases that does not and will not work.  Coming together involves reasoning through ideas and concepts, but also the feelings those ideas and concepts provoke, which will be different depending on the person and their past.  We as a culture are sometimes terrible at languaging our feelings in healthy ways, let alone reasoning through them.  Because we tend to be unskilled in solving the impasse of two peoples differing feelings, we unfortunately resort to anger and bitterness.  But if the heart/feelings could come together, the mind would catch up very quickly.

Persuasion.  Can't persuade without love.  Love is very persuasive, but requires longsuffing and sacrifice.  Enduring abuse, returning good for evil.  Until at some point, you break their heart.  And then the truth is evident or can be accepted.

That's it for this phrase from the A&C.  Hope it prompted thought.  So much more could be said.  This is just my first attempt to begin thinking through this phrase fro the A&C.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A&C Series - How do men come unto Christ?

And how do men come unto me? It is by faith, repentance, and baptism, which bring the Holy Ghost to then show you all things you must know.
A&C Pg3


The A&C sets out in plainness how to come unto Christ.  

The one I wanted to talk about was by faith.  Faith as we hopefully all know implies action.  Action consistent with a correct belief.  Everyone acts consistent with some belief.  But the Book of Mormon says the modern audience the book speaks to has "unbelief".  Which goes beyond just a lack of belief, but having beliefs that are incorrect.  So we need to get correct beliefs, then act on them. 

As to faith.  

Mountains aren't moved by looking at life through eyes of doubt, and surrendering to our confusion and despair. Mountains are moved through faith. They move by looking at our lives through the eyes of faith. Without faith, New Testament says, we cannot please God. Not wishful thinking, or some pop psychology power of positive thinking, but a Christ centered faith that is real, tangible, and has substance to it. The faith view is that He is the one behind our life's challenges. He is the one providing them as an opportunity for us to demonstrate our faith in Him. He is the one that gives us challenges and then will walk by us to see that we succeed. We have to view life and our challenges that way or our faith will not have any fruit. God IS involved. He is NOT distant. He is intimately involved, but we lack the faith to see it because we often do not view our lives or challenges in a spiritual context. We think they are just physical dilemmas. So we have to look through a more correct lens.

Whatever the challenge is in our lives, we can see it as purely a physical or temporal problem, or we can view the thing in a spiritual setting, in the correct light, which is the ongoing battle between faith, and skepticism.   Faith in God to deliver you, or doubt.

The issue is never just physical. It's always about our faith in Christ or our doubt of Him and his involvement. Faith includes seeing your life through eyes of faith. One of the effects of this is it often lifts your mood the minute you begin to demonstrate a smidgen of faith.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A&C Series - Teach your Children to Honor Me

Teach your children to honor me
A&C Pg 11

D&C 68: 25

"And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents."

It's pretty clear it's the parents responsibility to teach their children the Gospel.  Not the state, not the grandparents, not the neighbors, not a Church, not primary teachers or youth group leaders.  While those people may play meaningful and or important roles, it's ultimately the parents responsibility to teach their children the Gospel, specifically Repentance, Faith in Christ, Baptism and Holy Ghost.

When the A&C says to "Teach your children to honor me" I first read it with emphasis on the word "honor".   As opposed to something like dishonor.  I thought, how and what would bring honor to the Lord?  How does one honor him?  How does obeying him play into honoring Him?  How does a parent teach their children to do this?  I'm currently trying to figure this out and do this with my own children.  I think more important than words, or data, is my example.  And I have work to do.     

During a fellowship meeting a week or two ago one of the youth spoke up and read that sentience about teaching children to honor the Lord but put emphasis on the last word, "me".  Which immediately brought into my mind all the contrasting and sometimes competing things or people that children could be taught to honor.  Which are not God.  I was so thankful for how she read the sentience.  It caused my mind to open up.  

Children could be taught to honor:  (directly or indirectly)
A Church or a Religion (a trademark)
Trends
Academics
Scholars
Science
A Leader
An Entertainer
Actors/Actresses
A Politician
Cultural beliefs
Cultural doctrine 
Myths
"Follow the Prophet"
A Bishop
etc etc etc.

In order to honor Christ, all of us, including our children will need to be able to distinguish inspired moments, and inspired words that originate from God, relayed by mortals, from all other moments of life and things said by well meaning people.  

The best explanation and description I've ever read on this topic is below.  It's about distinguishing who you follow.   Brackets inside the quote are mine.  The example given of President Hinckley was relevant at the time the book was written but any person could be substituted in its place.  

"The Gospel requires us to proceed carefully, to be sure. We are required to find the voice of the Spirit for ourselves. Every Saint must become, in their own right, a prophet or prophetess. Not to lead others, but themselves (Numbers 11:29). For each must choose for him or herself to find and follow the Master’s voice in his or her life. The only sure rock upon which salvation remains to be found is that same rock of revelation which Christ assured Peter was secure to trust. If you follow [Insert leader] President Hinckley solely because he is the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you are following a man. But if you follow President Hinckley because you hear the Master’s voice in his counsel and teaching, then you are following the Lord, and not a man. There is a great difference between the two. One honors the Lord and leads to exaltation. The other misses the mark and makes such followers Telestial (D&C 76: 98-101). This distinction is pivotal to salvation itself. It is not merely rhetorical, but of such substance if you fail to understand it you fail in the test of mortality itself. This is what we signed up for in coming to mortality. We accepted this challenge and expected it. Now it confronts us. So the test is afoot and must be taken with caution and humility."


The Second Comforter Pg 232 


Should Zion come, it wouldn't last more than 1 generation if the children are not taught to honor the Lord.   I personally pray for God's help in fulfilling this parental obligation.  Because I need it.  

Friday, November 24, 2017

A&C Series - Care for the Orphan

Be tender with one another, pursue judgment, bless the oppressed, care for the orphan, and uplift the widow in her need for I have redeemed you from being orphaned and taken you that you are no longer a widowed people. Rejoice in me, and rejoice with your brethren and sisters who are mine also. Be one.
A&C pg 7 

Care for the orphan.  Does this mean take care of kids who's biological parents are not in the picture?  It would certainly include that.   Care for, show compassion for, love, nurture, support.  All the things a child would need.  One such idea would be something like this.  Link.  I know the person sponsoring this fund, it's legit. 

Psalm 10:18 reads: "To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress."  Or bring justice to the fatherless, and oppressed.   "Fatherless" has more than one meaning.

What's interesting on this topic is how the word orphaned is used in the above paragraph from the A&C.  The word orphan is used twice.  But it's not in the sense of absent biological parents.  It's in the sense of Christ and God as our father.

One of the verses of scripture promising Christ as Second Comforter is John 14:10.  The King James version reads: "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.".  However almost every other translation renders it something like this: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you"

The A&C says God has redeemed a people from being orphaned.  Or a people who had no parents.  As we know from the Book of Mormon, we can and must all be born of God, becoming His sons and daughters.

Mosiah 5:7

"And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters."

Mosiah 27:25

"And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters"

When the Lord says to care for the orphan, perhaps we can think not just of biological terms, but also in terms of those who have not yet known Christ or the the Father or become his children.  Those who have not been adopted and redeemed through Jesus Christ and His Gospel.    

To care for the orphan seems like call to invite others to baptism, and being born again.  So they are no longer fatherless.  Seems like  call to invite people to join with a covenant that makes not just an individual, but a "people" redeemed from being orphaned and taken that they are no longer a widowed people.  

This Answer and Covenant has the Spirit of God resonating in it.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A&C Series - Pursue Judgement

"Be tender with one another, pursue judgment, bless the oppressed, care for the orphan, and uplift the widow in her need for I have redeemed you from being orphaned and taken you that you are no longer a widowed people. Rejoice in me, and rejoice with your brethren and sisters who are mine also. Be one." 
A&C Pg 7. 

Pursue Judgement.  As in bring justice to.  Not as in become judgmental, or start judging other people. Perhaps it's more in the spirit of Isaiah 1: 17: Learn to do good; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow."  Or Psalm 10:18 "To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress."

Comparing this paragraph from the A&C, Isaiah, and Psalms, I conclude existing scripture and the A&C again  resonate with the same Spirit.  

If we seek justice for, or in other words seek for righteous judgement, we can help the oppressed find relief, and bring justice to the fatherless.  Who are the fatherless?  Are they not those who know not their Father which is in Heaven?  But the Lord has redeemed His people from being orphaned.  What great cause is there to rejoice, and to pursue judgement so others can be brought in.  There is cause to pursue judgement for the widow who suffers, and for all those who know not God.   For God has offered to redeem.   His hand is moving again. 

This thanksgiving my mind is on the prophesied judgments to come upon this land.  For those who were scattered, and driven, and only a remnant remain.  God's righteous judgement will come.  We can repent, and seek to gather those sheep who will, so that a righteous judgement can be pursued. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

A&C Series - Forgive One Another

I descended below it all, and know the sorrows of you all, and have borne the grief of it all and I say to you, Forgive one another. 
A&C pg 7.


The instruction to forgive one another is preceded by the Lord reminding us of who He is and what He has done.  He descended below everything any of us will endure.  He knows the sorrows of us all, and has born the grief of it all.  He is the context within which we are instructed to forgive one another.  It's possible alongside Him, because he has already done it.  He is "quick to forgive sin".  And we are supposed to be like him. 

I believe forgiveness is the key which empowers us to walk away from the spirit of bitterness and anger. If we do not, we end up in a self-imposed prison, locking up our hearts in separation from God and others.  The mind can lead the heart, so if the heart isn't quite ready to let go, or forgive, the mind can lead the way and the heart can follow.

In my experience what sometimes holds the heart back from forgiving is the offense and the hurt may never have been acknowledged, or validated or expressed in a healthy way.  So the hurt just lingers.  Then walls get put up inside, and a person may subtly try to prove how "right" they are about how "wrong" others are.  Endlessly seeking to feel understood.  It's healing with someone genuinely listens to you, and shows empathy without judging.  Love heals.  Listening with no agenda in many cases allows the heart to feel validated, and once that happens, letting go is more natural.

If you want to help someone forgive listening to them and understanding how and why they may have felt the way they did can be a great step.  It goes awry when we have a hidden agenda, or ignorantly tell someone they shouldn't be feeling what they are feeling.  That doesn't help peoples hearts unite, it tends to do the opposite.

But back to the scriptures: Ephesians: 4:30-32 "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

The Answer and Covenant has similarities and carries the same spirit as Paul writing to the Ephesians.

In my experience, when you receive from God, you are then able to give of what you have received.

Consider this:

In most cases it is our disrespect for ourselves that impedes coming to Him. We tend to think we aren't good enough. However, because He is quick to forgive sins, it really doesn't matter if you are not good enough. One of the first orders of business when you come into His presence is that He forgives you. He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance,(D&C 1:31), but He has the capacity and the ability to forgive sin. Therefore although your sins may be as scarlet, He can, He will and He does, make you white as snow (Isa 1:18), no longer accountable for your limitations. Therefore you needn't fear, but you can approach boldly, our Lord (Heb 4:16)

-
Christ: The Prototype of the Saved Man, 40 Years in Mormonism Lecture 7 Ephraim, Utah


Lets forgive one another.  And show some respect for ourselves.  We can forgive right here, and right now.  God is willing to, and we have been asked to be like Him.   

Follow up 12/4/17:

I was pondering on this subject one night after writing this post and the scripture came to mind in the NT where the friends of the disabled guy lower him through the roof to get to where Jesus is and Jesus forgives his sins, and then heals him and he gets up and walks.  The religious leaders present question among themselves about Jesus having power to forgive sins.  They scoffed at Jesus doing such a thing.   

After thinking through that scripture, I wondered about God asking us to forgive each other.  It's a repeated commandment to forgive.  And God doesn't ask things without providing a way to do it.   The question came to my mind:  Does the commandment to forgive others come accompanied with or embedded with an actual power to forgive sins?  It seemed like blasphemy at first, that anyone but God could forgive sin.  Makes sense to me that only Christ can forgive sin because he paid the price for them, thus he is the only one who can forgive them.  And yet.....  he tells us to forgive others.  So, in some small way, do we have an ability, albeit small, to forgive sins?  If we are Children of Christ, would not the power to forgive sins be within us? 

Food for thought. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Answer and Covenant (A&C) Series

As part of my own personal study and attempt to live and honor the Lord's words I wanted to do a series of posts centered on the instructions given in the Answer and Covenant (A&C).

These will only be some initial thoughts and discussion about items taken from the A&C.  I will keep them within their context and hopefully discuss them in a meaningful way that can perhaps please God.  If you find yourself reading these, maybe it will prompt thoughts of your own, or additional understanding for your own life.  There is probably a lot more that could be said about each item or phrase I discuss.  But here's to at least starting a discussion, sharing ideas, and speaking openly about the way God has asked us to live. 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Prayer Contrast

Sometimes contrast is worth more than a thousand words.  It can really provide clarity and sharpen the image you are looking at.

In the past 3 months two different people with LDS backgrounds were both asked about prayer. One of them is an Apostle in the LDS church sustained as a prophet seer and revelator. The other was excommunicated from the church by the leaders for apostasy. The first claims authority.  The second claims no authority other than the truth shared. They both answer a similar question about how to improve ones personal prayers.  The answers are very different and each very informative but in markedly different ways.  I'll share both, along with a third example by a prophet from scripture that I find relevant to the other two.  

So here are the three, in random order.  Notice the contrast between the speakers familiarity with God and subsequently the closeness (or lack of) they then advocate and teach others is possible.

See if, based purely on the content of each quote, which you think was said by which. Apostle, apostate, or scriptural prophet, and then see the answers in the comment section.  See if number 2 or 3 would most improve the next prayer you offer.

Number 1:

For I spoke to him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.


Number 2: 

We've received many, many questions about becoming better at praying in general.  Question: "I'm a senior in high school, and I'm having trouble having good prayers, more like conversations with God. Do you have any suggestions, or what do you do?"

I'll start by saying, be modest in your expectations. God is close, and He loves you. And He would love to have a conversation, but remember He is God. And the idea that you're going to--I always worry when someone is speaking to Him in too familiar a way, because it is not easy. Heavenly Father's words, His ideas, are not exactly ours.

And so the idea of having really a conversation where you're chatting with Heavenly Father is probably a little bit of a lofty goal. My own feeling is, I pray as if He's there, as if He is listening. And He is listening. I believe He's always sending messages to me. I really do.

But sometimes there's long silences, for me at least. And so when [Questioner] speaks, you see, of a conversation in her prayers, she's making it sound a little more casual than I think it's possible to be. We're dealing with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  And They are so far above us in terms of Their powers that--in fact, I've been with people who chat as if they're chatting when I've heard them pray. And I thought, "You're a little more familiar than I am with that one."

Because I would think that if you can just get the feeling that He is hearing you, and then if, on occasion, answers come back often clearly in your mind--sometimes not--maybe by just reading the scriptures. I think the answer comes that way. But the conversation is not quite like he [pointing to associate] and I together, for instance.

We talk with each other, and it's very personal.  [Associate] and I have had wonderful conversations. But I don't have conversations with Heavenly Father like that, at least I don't. I do a lot of the asking. And then I wait and then I wait. And then answers come, but not in what you'd call a conversational mode. 


Number 3

Question: I know you are used to far more profound questions, but do you have any suggestions on how to make prayer meaningful? I find it hard to pray, given that God knows whats in my head and what I will say, but I have been making an effort to pray more. Any tips?

Answer:

Talk like you are addressing your most intimate friend and have nothing to hide. Tell Him about your regrets, hopes, frustrations, concerns, fears, and confusion. Before long you will discover that whatever you care about God also cares about. He can give perspective that changes everything. Prayer should not recognize the distance between us and God, but should become the way we close that distance.

End of examples. 


Side note: 
There is a fairly clear pattern of prayer by those who know the Lord.  It's my view that God is not the one requiring continued distance between us and Him and putting his hand up to keep us at a distance.  It is us that keeps God at a distance because of the things we are often taught.  Something Nephi prophesied about: false teachings and corrupt precepts of men, which cause even the humble followers of Christ to err.