Saturday, January 28, 2012

God came down

Philippians 2: 5-8

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Mosiah 13:34

34 Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?

I liked this thought about God, and the humility He possesses. 

Jesus manifested His greatness by taking steps down. While the rest of the world is intent on climbing up...up the corporate ladder, rising up to a better neighborhood...up to higher education...rising up to a higher office—Jesus stepped down, for us.

He was God, equal with God, and He deliberately emptied Himself and came to earth in the form of a humble servant.  Jesus stepped down from glory and equality with almighty God, to the cruel Roman cross, where He hung for our sins before an angry, jeering mob, despised and rejected by mankind.

That’s a big step down, from the highest height, to the lowest, most humiliating death known to the world at that time, death upon the cross.  His descent below all things informed Him how to minister to anyone, with any challenge seeing as he descended "below them all".  But having had the humility to go down, he then ascended. 

In a sense we too came down.  We left our home above and now live in a telestial world three degrees below God. 

As we see around us the perspective of rising to any worldly height we can, may we also have the humility to see in Christ's teachings something beautiful.  A call to see our lives in the context of eternity and the Gospel of Christ.  If we feel that tug of the Holy Spirit, calling you to let it go, to humble yourself, let go of the ego or the need to be in charge, and step down to serve others, remember what Jesus did for us.  Through obedience, we come to know great joy.  Christ promises a "fullness of joy".  I'm of the impression that humility is the way to joy.  Jesus said 1And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:12).  Humility is freeing. 

“There is, therefore, something in humility which, strangely enough, exalts the heart.”—St. Augustine

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diploma's, a Degree of Glory?

The following picture is displayed on various walls of the University of Utah LDS institute.  Sorry for the glare.  It reads "A Degree of Glory You can Have in this life"  It features an Institute of Religion diploma. 

I'm attending an institute class with a coworker who's not a member but wanted to learn about the Book of Mormon.  He said for me to choose what class to take.  Since The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, I chose that class.  We've been to a few classes now.  I asked today if he liked it, and he responded "neither like it nor dislike it".  Although I hadn't said anything or given any visible sign of anything, he commented after class that he could tell I wasn't enjoying class all that much.  He said from his perspective almost all of the students give off the same unfulfilled impression I was giving off. This lead to a very interesting discussion about what we are being taught in the class.

The words of the poster substituted the scriptural form of glory for worldly achievements and signatures from men.  Implying that diplomas are all that are possible in this life.  Worldly degree's have no glory and no salvation to confer or offer.  Now I realize it's advertising and it's cleverly mixed with some scriptural language.  But it also struck me as reflective of our cultural beliefs.  Scripture authors experienced God's glory and presence in this life.  Rather than teaching that, we tend to imply that such things are not possible in this life, and therefore getting a diploma is the next best thing.     

At some level the play on words in the poster is funny marketing, but it begs the question of what we are marketing and for what purpose.  Hopefully we never fall for the suggestion that worldly diploma's (or even LDS institute diplomas) equal glory, and that we needn't look towards or believe that anything else is simply not possible in this life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Ministry of Angels

This morning I was reading about how the ministry of Angels is one of the signs of legitimate faith (Moroni 7:37).  I see it in the temple ceremony as a crucial part of the path walked by Adam and Eve.  I see it in the lives of the prophets in scriptures.  I also was remembering how the Aaronic priesthood holds the keys to the ministering of angels.

D&C 130:5 says .."But there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it."   It includes Spirits of Just men made perfect, Translated beings, Resurrected beings.  And even "Holy Men that ye know not of" D&C 49:8.  All of those and others are worth thinking about.

So the question arises have you ever been ministered to by an Angel?

I can attest to the truth of Angel's ministry.  I got to thinking about where God has invited people to start or continue to receive the ministry of Angels.  The answer I came up with was by receiving what has already been given.  This lead me to the Book of Mormon.  It's the work of an Angel.  A resurrected being, Angel Moroni, delivered the plates to Joseph Smith who translated them.  The book is the work and ministry of Moroni who is as we know an angel, and the message is from God. (Or so it claims to be, and I find the claims true)  So if I read the book, and grasp the actual message and meaning God (and of course Moroni) wanted me to get from it.  If I truly receive it, and act on it, and experience the intended outcome, then Moroni's ministry has taken effect on me personally.  I would have been a recipient of his ministry.   

I find this a wonderful place to start our mind and heart to receive more of the ministry of Angels.  Not so much mythical figures, but the ministry of heavenly messengers sent from God, carrying authentic messages which prepare you to receive further light and knowledge and eventually return to God's presence.  As depicted by the conclusion of the temple ceremony.

So if you've never been ministered to by an angel, there is something anyone can do about that right now.  Angels have a ministry, and if we want to progress further, and receive more, perhaps we should receive the ministry of those angels who have already ministered and are waiting for us to receive what has been offered.  Then it would make sense God would provide something further.  If we can't see the book of Mormon as the ministry of an angel then what better place to start?  That's what it is isn't it?  We can start seeing angels with the eye of faith and receive authentic messages from God that will redeem our souls.  It may end with grand and glorious things, but we can start with something each of us already has or can get free of charge from any missionary.  Preparation almost always eases fear.     

Charles Nibley was a member of the First Presidency under President Heber J Grant.  The last conversation Hugh Nibley had with his dying grandfather included this from Charles: "he reflected on his life and on the compromises he had to make in his business dealings, he looked at Hugh from his bed and said, "You see that window? If an angel were to come through that door, I would jump right out that window."  (Quoted by Boyd Peterson of FAIR)

Business dealings don't tend to prepare us for Angels.  However prayer and fasting does, as I see evidenced by Joseph and many authors of scripture.  I would imagine an angel would be somewhat deterred from visiting a person who was going to jump out of the window upon their arrival.  But who knows.... 

So with all this....I'm going to ask God if I'm getting what he intended me to get from the Book of Mormon.  Maybe it's good timing that a coworker wanted to take a book of Mormon class at the institute and asked me if I'd go with him as he's not a member and doesn't want to attend alone.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Harvard Grad and the Fisherman.

I didn't write this little story and I'm not sure who did.  But I loved it and wanted to post it.
I came across it on

Here's the story:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied that it only took a little while.

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The American laughed and said that was the best part.

“When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions… Then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandkids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”