Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Author known or unknown

Had an interesting question come to mind today. Have you ever read something you thought was written by someone you respect, look up to, and give total credibility to, and then later on realized that the author wasn't who you thought it was? And then you had to go back and rethink whether or not you want to support or rejection what was said based on now knowing who the actual author was?  Or you thought the author was irrelevant and therefore passed over something vital?

That reminded me today again about the importance of distinguishing truth from error not by who the author is, was, or what title they have but instead by The Spirit which attends the message.  Either the confirmation of truth or lack thereof.  Either the filling of our minds with understanding and intelligence or darkness not merely the speaker, or their title. Scriptures say truth will come out of the mouths of babes (Matthew 21:16)(3 Nephi 26:16). Hebrews says to be not forgetful to entertain strangers as some have entertained Angles unawares (Hebrews 13:2). It's easy to be hasty and attribute or withhold credibility based on non scriptural criteria.

Someone can easily misunderstand, or misquote anyone and come to incorrect conclusions if they relied on the personality behind a particular message rather than the Holy Ghost. I find this is different than the mindset I grew up learning in school and even church for that matter.  So I've admittedly make mistakes in this area.  Christ and His light and or Spirit is what scriptures teach we should use to discern (Moroni 7:15-19). I've noticed sometimes this doesn't happen in a glance. Sometimes it takes living it. The truth in Christ taught by Alma in The Book of Mormon was likened to a seed that had to be planted and experimented with. That one wasn't just a passing judgment call. A person had to try it out to see if the seed grew with life or remained stagnant. It requires more effort to learn this way but I think the reward is worth it.

Here is one example.  I've tried to look for truths as the passage suggests and it's grown with life.  The below thought was sparked from: Tuscano, Margaret and Paul "Strangers in Paradox: The Nature and Purpose of The Priesthood." Signature books Salt Lake City 1990. Chapter 13, 19th paragraph down

God bestows gifts, callings, and truth inside other cultures and people, among Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Native Americans, etc. We are taught the Lord is working in many parts of His vineyard, not just one. If we have the truth, true priesthood, in its fullness, this shouldn't be cause for arrogance or complacency. We ought to live what we have and be compassionate and humble enough to accept or even seek out any truth that God has given others, which includes truth more easily recognized or understood by diverse and distinct cultures or people. Perhaps we are better served by recognizing truths others have to contribute, than by presuming western, modern, or technological superiority.

To me that resonates with truth.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Elder Uchtdorf - "Can we See the Christ?"


I loved the message recently given by Elder Uchtdorf . The title was "Can we see the Christ?"

"One night a grandfather was reading a story to his four-year-old granddaughter when she looked up and said, “Grandpa, look at the stars!” The older man smiled kindly and said, “We’re indoors, honey. There are no stars here.” But the child insisted, “You have stars in your room! Look!”

The grandfather looked up and, to his surprise, noticed that the ceiling was peppered with a metallic glitter. It was invisible most of the time, but when the light struck the glitter a certain way, it did indeed look like a field of stars. It took the eyes of a child to see them, but there they were. And from that moment on, when the grandfather walked into this room and looked up, he could see what he had not been able to see before.
We are entering another wonderful Christmas season filled with music and lights, parties and presents. But of all people, we as members of the church that bears the Savior’s name need to look beyond the fa├žade of the season and see the sublime truth and beauty of this time of year.

I wonder how many in Bethlehem knew that right there, close to them, the Savior had been born? The Son of God, the long-awaited and promised Messiah—He was in their midst!
Do you remember what the angel told the shepherds? “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” And they said to themselves, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass” (Luke 2:11, 15).

Like the shepherds of old, we need to say in our hearts, “Let us see this thing which is come to pass.” We need to desire it in our hearts. Let us see the Holy One of Israel in the manger, in the temple, on the mount, and on the cross. Like the shepherds, let us glorify and praise God for these tidings of great joy!
Sometimes the most difficult things to see are those that have been right in front of us all along. Like the grandfather who failed to see the stars on the ceiling, we sometimes cannot see that which is in plain sight.
We who have heard the glorious message of the coming of the Son of God, we who have taken upon us His name and have covenanted to walk in His path as His disciples—we must not fail to open our hearts and minds and truly see Him.

The Christmas season is wonderful in many ways. It is a season of charitable acts of kindness and brotherly love. It is a season of being more reflective about our own lives and about the many blessings that are ours. It is a season of forgiving and being forgiven. It is a season to enjoy the music and lights, parties and presents. But the glitter of the season should never dim our sight and prevent us from truly seeing the Prince of Peace in His majesty.

Let us all make this year’s Christmas season a time of rejoicing and celebration, a time when we acknowledge the miracle that our Almighty God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem the world!"  (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Can We See the Christ?", Liahona, Dec. 2010, 4–6)

The part that says "It took the eyes of a child to see them, but there they were." reminds me of primary. The past while I've been more involved with the primary at church and have found it very very enjoyable. The talk suggested we can and should see Christ. The scriptures confirm that we can see Him not only in symbols, but literally in reality. Scriptures do not say this is reserved for the afterlife, in fact they say it is available in this life, it comes in response to faith and is part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Replacements

In a church talk today someone quoted a scripture from 2 Nephi. It's chapter 32 vs 13.

It reads
" 13Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall afollow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no bhypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real cintent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are dwilling to take upon you the ename of Christ, by fbaptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the gbaptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the htongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel."

The speaker in the first line replaced "Son", with "the prophet". It then read: "I know that if ye shall follow the prophet, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy..."

I'm pretty sure Nephi didn't mess up when he wrote his words. He took the time to etch his words in metal plates using something like a chisel. I think we should read what it says since it took great effort for him to choose and record his words.

Replacing Christ with something or someone else to me is plain and very simply not good doctrine. My view of course.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mind boggling side effects

Saw a commercial today for a medication for gout. It talked about the causes and symptoms of gout and explained briefly about the uric acid in the joints. At the end of the commercial the disclaimer said that one of the most common side effects of the medication were gout flair ups.

Funny......Asinine, but funny.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Swaddling -


This post goes with the previous post on the inner wardrobe, they go together so read both.

"Swaddling. A very old and common practice among Near Eastern people was the swaddling of newborn babies. In many areas of the Near East this custom still prevails today, and is becoming popular again, and is recommended by modern pediatricians. According to this custom, mothers first bath their newborn infants, and then very gently rub a very small amount of salt which has been finely pulverized in a stone mortar for this great occasion. They also sprinkle their babies with a powder made of dried myrtle leaves. Eastern parents believe that putting salt on a babies body will make his or her flesh firm. This little ceremony also represented a symbolic testimony that the parents would raise the child to be true and faithful.

The swaddle is a square yard of cloth to which a parent attaches a long narrow band at one corner. Usually the mother wraps the infant in the swaddle with it's arms close to it's body and it's legs stretched out. Then she winds the narrow band around the body from shoulders to ankles. The infant looks like a tiny Egyptian mummy. People would swaddle their babies several times a day for at least 6 months believing that this would help their little bodies grow straight and firm. Again this is also a sign that the parents will teach the child to become honest straightforward and free from crookedness. In certain areas of the Near East to make a remark that a person may not have been salted at his birth is to arouse a great deal of trouble. Remember salt symbolically represents faithfulness, not to be salted or swaddles implies that the child was unwanted and its father unrecognized. We can see that this custom is very important and symbolically significant.

It would be only natural that Mary, the mother of Jesus, would salt and swaddle her newborn infant. Jesus was to be true to God and His word. His swaddling represented loyalty and faithfulness to his heavenly father as well as to his parents. Swaddling bands were frequently embroidered with symbols indicating family history and genealogy. According to ancient and modern custom, to be acceptable, the embroidery must be exactly the same on both sides; this was a type showing that the outer life and the inner life were the same, that they were never to have a wrong side to their character. "

(Nielsen, Donna "The Holy Child Jesus: Notes on the Nativity" Brigham Distributing 2007)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Inner Wardrobe

Colossians 3:12

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

This could be called the inner wardrobe. When I see this picture, I see sacred examples of living this scripture. When I think what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph preparing for the birth of Christ it brings me to a calm and quiet place. What truly beautiful people they must have been and surely still are.

Colossians reminds us what we should clothe ourselves in.

Compassion: Compassion extends love and mercy to one who is in need. God is compassionate. I wonder what kind of compassion Mary and Joseph had.

Kindness: Returning kindness in exchange for unkindness. A higher law. What and example Jesus truly was, no doubt he saw and learned from the example of his earthly parents.

Humility: Recognizing who is actually in charge and what matters most. Jesus was born of humble birth, He was a king, yet His birth was humble.

Gentleness: (also called meekness). Not weakness; but power under control. Blessing others through quiet strength, through love rather than force. I bet Mary and Joseph were good examples of this. Christ taught that the meek shall inherit the earth. Interesting that inner clothing as in this case can eventually lead to physical blessings.

On the outside things like cotton, polyester, wool, or various fabrics make up our clothes and can be important. We have specific clothes for specific occasions. They can create or enhance aspects of our appearance or have symbolic meaning. On the inside our character and traits and attributes make for an inner type of clothing. There was meaning in the swaddling clothing Mary wrapped Jesus in at his birth (see this post). Mary no doubt had on the right inner clothing as she wrapped her newborn Baby in His first piece of outer clothing. What a moment that must have been. Oh Night Divine.

Speaking of the outer and inner. President Benson taught that the world works from the outside in, but Christ and his teachings work from the inside out. More on this in the next post.

Colossians began by saying "therefore as Gods chosen people, holy, and dearly loved". Knowing who you are is important. Hand in hand with this is also knowing "Whose" you are. (3 Nephi 15:24) (1 Corinthians 7:23). Knowing "whose" we are, or can become can be extremely inspiring and uplifting. What we put on matters.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Looking Beyond



To quote Elder Uchtdorf from the Christmas Devotional. "If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season we will surly find it." How true.

I think if we look for what is wrong in any context, with our world, our fellow man, and ourselves, we will surly find it. But if we look beyond that, we may see what really matters. One tool of the adversary is to purposely distort the truth. That's why it's important to get a good view. With the correct view we can discover truth which can truly change a heart, but distorted truth will not accomplish the same thing. When seen clearly, what was "wrong" with something or someone can be seen in the proper light. I'm sure people in my life have overlooked many a shortcoming in me. Certainly my parents friends and family have overlooked plenty through the years. I'm grateful for all who have looked beyond my errors and seen something better. Quite a few examples come to mind, my wife being one. Not sure how to thank such folks for how they've treated me other than to behave likewise towards them and others.

Quoting Elder Uchtdorf again "Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. Nevertheless, if we look for the good, we can see this time of year (or in my view any time of year) with new eyes. Perhaps even with the eyes of a child. The Grinch saw the good in Christmas when he learned to look past it's worldly trappings. If we do the same, we can with the Grinch proclaim maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more. " -italics were my words.

I think we all get caught up in such trappings. Whether Christmas commercialism, or just everyday life, the news and the economic forecasts. It's so easy to get caught up in it, not just during a Christmas season. When trapped by it all, pretty soon we don't see much else. Hard to look past something when it's right in our face. And yet, there is plenty beyond the trappings to capture and enlighten our gaze. I refer to God, and his ongoing involvement in each persons life. That is a work worthy of our gaze. I'm so thankful to have learned of Gods nature, and oh how he must with great long suffering look beyond our humanness moment by moment. What a gift it is, to look beyond and with new light see what really mattered.

I had a question come to mind today. What if we were to look past? Look beyond the bad, ugly, problems, defects and endless troubles. Not pretending they don't exist, and therefore do nothing to improve ourselves or world, but settin gour gaze heavenward, and looking beyond. Maybe there is a higher reality going on behind the scenes if we can for a moment set aside our bias, our world view, let go of our self image, and our endless fears and concerns and other trappings. What lies beyond may forever impact how we "see" the present. Almost reminds me of a part in Disney's The Lion King when Rafiki the monkey asks Simba to look into the reflection in the pool of water. After Simba only sees the initial appearance the monkey says "Look... harder".

If the Grinch's heart can grow after a change of Christmas perspective imagine what ours can do. Christ is what Christmas is about. Christ wasn't just a historical figure with higher teachings who lived and died. He's the light of the world, and still is. He died and rose again. He is not still dead. He gives light to the world, and loves to a degree that will overwhelm any soul. He is our light. This is the reality behind the scenes. My view anyway.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A witness



Read something on the newly redesigned church website today Lds.org that perhaps is one of my favorite things I've ever read on there.

"Ancient Apostles of Christ testified of His divine nature and mission. Modern Apostles continue to bear witness that He lives. But their witness serves best when it motivates us to gain a witness for ourselves. We can know—just as His Apostles do—that He lives"

That third sentience is something I don't hear often. Glad it was there. I think it should be front page material, fundamental to the role of an Apostle. The little video that went along with the topic I thought showed honest and sincere testimonies from the Leaders. Those testimonies combined with the above quote I think is a message worthy of study.  Such experiences are not just for leaders.  They may be in a position to lead, but that is no limit on each individual finding God for themselves.

The website also has a little drop down menu for requesting a copy of your Patriarchal Blessing, its simple. The site also now has study tools online. I'm not one that likes to write on the pages of my scriptures. I like to just leave the text as it is and keep notes elsewhere for reading or study. That way when I read a verse again it's fresh, and my mind can be clear and open to new things rather than seeing marks or other notes about previous thoughts or connections I had made. So I'm a fan of the online study tools.

Cheers for the updated church website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We have done many wonderful works

3 Nephi 14: 22-23: says

"Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

It says "many" will say these things to the Lord at that day (judgment day).

A friend Denver posed these questions in regard to this scripture:

Who will claim to have "prophesied in [His] name?"
Who will claim to have "cast out devils in [His] name?
Who will claim to have done "many wonderful works" in His name?

Interesting questions....who will claim that kind of thing? Will I? Will you? Why would someone need to claim that? How does someone both do these works in Christ name and yet have Christ profess to not know them? It must have been lip service, a show to get attention, gather a following or praise of men, yet lacking in a fundamental element. A relationship.

I notice a difference in how Christ refers to works and his ministry and how those "many" refer to prophesying and casting out devils and doing wonderful works. It struck me that the "many" get stuck on themselves. They draw attention to themselves saying: Have WE not prophesied?...have WE not cast out devils?, have WE not done many wonderful works? As if trying to set the record straight that THEY did all these wonderful things and therefore deserve something in return. Their wording shows they saw themselves as the ones initiating these wonderful works although the 'we' was not said directly each time.

On the other hand here is one of Christ's examples during his ministry that to me sheds light on this. John chapter 14 vs 10-11. “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

Christ pointed to His Father and the harmony in their relationship. The "many" seem to have spoken Christs name with the lips yet had a heart far from him (Matthew 15:8). The heart is what matters. There was no relationship. It appears "wonderful works" can be accomplished but not in a way that is approved of by Christ. This is a very interesting glimpse into the day of judgment. Seems Christ is giving us hints about the future and how to have the judgment day be a joyous one, instead of one full of regret.

More from John 14
vs 13-14 “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

I conclude therefore we should seek, ask, and knock and come to know God. We are invited to have that relationship. We are invited to prepare now for the day of judgment, there needn't be any surprises. Better to find out if your inadvertently "working iniquity" while the day lasts.  And instead accept the privilege and honor of worshiping and serving the true and living God.