Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Table Fellowship



SUPPING WITH THE LORD: A LITURGICAL THEOLOGY OF THE LDS SACRAMENT
By Kathleen Flake

A friend passed this article along to me and I am again reminded how fresh, how enlightening, and how intriguing the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is.  This article is on the Sacrament, as viewed from the LDS perspective.  It's not something you normally hear, yet it's full of truth and light.  It will add understanding to anyone who's interested in understanding more of the ordinance we participate in each week.  She says "The sacrament is an ordinance and, as such, is an instrument designed to mediate salvation. It exists to make the saving power symbolized by a past event present with us now."

It's so easy to slip into a dull and darkened mindset which excludes important truths. She describes in one part: "....They (meaning the ancients) had come to believe that God having chosen their forebears was an accomplished fact that only needed memorializing, not renewing.  Consequently, their remembering God had become only a psychological recollection of him, not an acting toward him."  I wonder if this ever happens in our day?

In speaking of the obedience aspect to the Last Supper she says: "Many Saints obey the Word of Wisdom, motivated by its benefits as a health code. It is a matter of logic to them: "If I do ths, I won't get cancer." Others pay tithing, motivated by its promise of temporal security. It becomes an investment of sort: 10 percent for a stake in the open "windows of heaven." Sometimes obedience is a matter of convenience: "If I stay home this morning, everyone will ask why I wasn't in church." Obedience hire becomes the path of least resistance; sometimes it's simply easier to obey than not to obey.  There is, of course, an enormous amount of obedience offered in fear: "If I don't do this, God will get me." Guilt and need are also common motivators: "If I don't do this, God will abandon me." Finally, some obey without thought: "Just do it," their t-shirts exhort. This obedience has virtually nothing to do with thinking of him, much less remembering "this hour."

What about testimony in the absence of memory? This seems the most impossible, yet it is just as pervasive. The same Saints who obey out of logic, perceived benefit, and fear will often rise on the first Sunday of the month to witness the rationality, the benefit, or the protection offered in various commandments. They will do so without ever relating their experience to an understanding of Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Lord."

"The essence of what we do when we, as latter-day disciples, remember the Lord's saving actions and promises at the table, is to covenant-to remember that we may be remembered, to promise that we may obtain promises, to keep our promises so that God will keep his."

The idea of a "second" meal, a second sacrament (as occurring when Jesus instituted the sacrament in the Americas) in connection with the sacrament and true fellowship, was something that had never crossed my mind. I found the idea added light. 

If you have ever felt you maybe aren't getting all that much from this ordinance, or simply want to gain more from this ordinance, read the full article here:  https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/091-18-27.pdf

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The inner game



"Men play games, because God first plays a game."

"When the mind is free of any thought or judgement, it is still and acts like a perfect mirror.  Then and only then can we know things are they are."

There is the part of ourselves that all of us deep down desire to be in harmony with. It's a part of us that is non judgmental, non striving, and not critical. It's the childlike part of us that learns through experience and is extremely competent.

While speaking of this childlike part of us that is a superior learner he says "soon he realizes that learning in this way (by direct non judgmental experience) is a very different experience from that of being fit into a preconceived model of correct form. It is the experience of learning from the inside out, instead of from the outside in, and it is always a beautiful thing to see."
"Learning to play with natural forces is a useful experience in every living.  From it we can learn to act in harmony with our changing surroundings, other people, and ourselves. Relying on gravity clearly demonstrates the advantages of blending with and using existing forces to move toward a chosen goal.

-Tim Gallaway, The Inner Game of Tennis

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Opening the door to a familiar voice

My Friend David Christensen posted this on his blog and it's so good I had to share it as well.  Here is a link to his blog.  http://davidkat99.blogspot.com/2011/09/doors.html

"Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not."
Matthew 25: 11-12

"The door is a place of peculiar sanctity and importance. The difference between the outside and the inside is that of two different worlds. In large houses the door-keeper sits at the entrance to answer inquiries and conduct visitors within, and at night he sleeps in a small room within the entrance at the side of the door, keeping guard over the premises. He is charged with the protection of the family. In smaller homes, a servant or family member calls out, "Who is it" If the visitor be a well-known friend, he exclaims, "It is I!" or "Open." The recognized tone of the voice is sufficient and no name is given.

When knocking at a door, an individual did not give their name because it was felt that an impostor or thief might try to gain access by using the name of a family friend. The voice of the one wanting to enter had to be recognized. This was a well-known custom anciently. So in the parable of the foolish virgins, when the Lord says, "I know you not, " he is saying that he does not recognize the virgin's voices. There hadn't been enough geniune interaction that their voices would be familiar. 

The door would remain closed. This is quite sobering to think about the importance of having geniune interaction with the Lord that not only He recognize our voice, but we recognize His."

(Donna Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Invitations



Kelsey and I got to talking about invitations today.  We talked about the many offers you have extended to you in life.  Some are in the form of an invitation to go on a blind date, try something new, could be an invitation to read a book, or an invitation offered by God in the scriptures.  There are many many many more.  We got to talking about how people respond to the invitations offered them.  

As we talked I immediately identified at least 5 major offers or invitations that were presented to me that have significantly changed the course of life.  A great deal of life deals with our response to life's invitations. Sometimes we choose between two good things, sometimes we choose between a rock and a hard place.  But the kind of offers that most intrigue me are those times when we either accept or reject something, or turn down an invitation without any thought or consideration. I think this is directly related to our humility.  The humble are willing to accept things that the proud simply will not accept.  Of all traits in scripture humility can profoundly affect each day of life.  

I'm thinking about the offers the Gospel extends.  They are profound, deep, and life altering.  Many of them literally life saving.  They deal with our salvation.  Scriptures prophesy that many will reject what God offers (Mormon 8:31, 2Nephi 28:8), or be mislead to think they are just fine without them (2 Nephi 28:21).  Others will accept part of what God offers, and still others albeit a few will accept all of what God offers (3 Nephi 14:14).  I think I've known early on that I would not be satisfied being in any other category than the last one.  I've tried to live my life in such a way so as to be consistent with that.  I think it's very very important to recognize when we are presented with the offer to learn something, accept something that is contrary to what we would normally think and feel, or to simply participate in something that our initial reaction would have labeled or judged as not worth our time or effort.

There have been many many things offered to all of us.  Think for a moment of all the offers life has made you, whether direct or indirect.  We can all identify people who reject things offered to them.  As I look at the trend of their life there is a noticeable difference between that attitude, and one who is willing to humbly consider each offer.  I admire those who at least try things out and make a determination for themselves if an idea, the teaching, the viewpoint, or the body of knowledge, had any truth to it.  I find I enjoy the company of folks who are this way.  I hope to always be open to truth from whatever source.

I looked back on the past few years of my life today and was happy to find few instances of regret. It's been difficult to accept new things, many of which challenge my beliefs, and challenge me personally to become something much better. I've noticed by and large people have a hard time being confronted with anything that makes them uncomfortable, or challenges them, or upsets their traditional way of thinking.  I include my self in this category.  The most common thought is "I don't need that", or "he or she needs that, not me".  The thought is usually a faulty conclusion to a very short mental process that weighed information before even gathering the facts.

Avoiding or rejecting what is unfamiliar or challenging may work for some, but I think there is a better way.  Approach life understanding that there is more to know than we can even learn here opens doors instead of closing them. The Gospel's invitations in my view deserve the most careful and prayerful consideration.  They are real, in spite of what anyone else around us does or doesn't do.

I thought the below was a great little story that relates to this topic.

"Once upon a time there was a man that lived by a large river.  One day he heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. The report said that the whole town should evacuate immediately. But the man said, "I'm religious, I pray. God loves me" and so he sat on his roof and waited for God to save him. Soon after this, the waters began to rise. A man in a rowing boat came along and he shouted. "Hey! Hey you! You up there. The town is flooding, here jump in the boat and I can take you to safety." But the man shouted back: "Oh it's ok, I don't need your help. I'm religious, I pray, God loves me. God will save me." The man in the row boat tried again to persuade him to come to safety but to no avail.

A few hours passed and a helicopter came hovering overhead. A guy with a megaphone shouted. 'Hey! You there! The town is fully flooded. Let me drop down a ladder and I will help you to safety.' But the men shouted back that he didn't need any help, he was fine the way he was.  He would wait for God to rescue him and answer his prayer. After all, he was religious, he had prayed, and he was going to wait for God to take him to safety. 

The waters kept rising and the man eventually drowned. When he got to the pearly gates he demanded an audience with God. 'Lord,' he said, where were you?  'I'm a religious man, I lived a good life, I prayed and I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?'  How could you not intervene?  Why didn't you do something?  God said, 'I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowing boat. What on earth are you doing here?"

This post is about accepting what God offers us, no matter how it may look, sound, or initially appear.  Humility is always the way to go.  Humility is willing to accept and receive new things, ideas, and truths.  Pride and stubbornness can't accept, refuses to see, and won't learn.  I personally think the humble will find out that God is very involved in each of our lives.  They will find the way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What qualifies them for the work?

D&C 4 vs 2-5 says "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
 For behold the field is white already to harvest and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
 And faith, hope, Charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work."

At the medical clinic we see a lot of missionary candidates coming in for their various physical, mental, and emotional evaluations as well as immunization requirements.  These are eligibility papers that must be filled out and signed by a doctor for the forms to be valid.  I read the paperwork the other day for one of the "Missionary candidates", and thought the stated requirements were interesting. It was all relevant stuff, I didn't find them strange or anything to raise an eyebrow about.  It's very similar to a physical exam for any other activity of long duration which can take a toll. 

As I read the various boxes to be checked and signed I realize the need the church has to ensure the mental, emotional, physical, state, as well as immunization records for missionary candidates.  I see why things are done this way.   Can you imagine the problems they'd have if they did it any other way now days?   

What struck me however was what the scriptures say qualifies someone to serve the Lord.  It's a desire to serve God, and the attributes listed above in section 4.  But you can't measure scriptural attributes with a blood test, nor does an MD degree confer the ability to assess the Lord's qualifications for service.  Hence the need of revelation and divine inspiration for a person called to the work.  Not just a medical form, and an area of the world with open slots to fill.  A missionary in the truest sense of the word points to He who is the center of  it all.  Many have been missionaries per say in my life.  Some wore name tags, some did not.  But I thank the Lord for sending true messengers.    

I support missionaries.  I support missions, and I love the Lord and His work.  But being "disqualified" for service does not mean you are disqualified in the truest sense.