Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Primary song lyrics I appreciate

"I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created...."

"I'll walk with you, I'll talk with you....."

"I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in his ways. I'm trying to live as he did, in all that I do and say."

"Jesus said love everyone..."

"As I have loved you, love one another."

"Tell me the stories of Jesus"

"Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way."

"..for reverence is love"."

"Thank thee, God for everything."

"I thank thee, dear Father in heaven above, for thy goodness and mercy, thy kindness and love."

"Red is for courage to do what is right, yellow for service from morning till night."

and, just because it bounces and teaches at the same time and makes me smile

"For some must push and some must pull..."

What would be on your list?

Primary song lyrics I'd change

There are many Primary songs I like, but there are a few I'd change the words to

"I belong to the church of....."      No, the church does not own me.  I choose it and own it as mine to work in and serve in.  I belong to Christ.

"There's a right way to live and be happy..."   Actually, there's a right way to live and find Christ's peace.  Sorrow comes to all of us in this life.

"It is choosing the right every day..."   and also repenting and turning to the Lord when you mess up all the time too.  You should not automatically assume that success, peace or happiness is only achieved if you never choose the wrong.  Repentance is every day too.

"Follow the prophet...he knows the way...."  Well, it's way more complicated than that. Follow Jesus, listen to prophets, respond to what the Holy Spirit tells you is light and truth, forgive people called as prophets their weaknesses and appreciate their strengths, continue in faith.  Yup. Way more complicated.

"Scripture power, the power to win...."   Win? Really?  This life is not a competition.  Time in the scriptures increases discernment of what is wise and good and needful in life and in order to become a better disciple.  But it does not give you "power to win".  It actually decreases your interest in "winning".

Any Primary lyrics you'd change?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015


...from "The Road to Bountiful", by Donald Smurthwaite

"You first learn not to let your own concern come through in your voice, then not to frown, and then to smile when a baby has croup and a young, frightened mother calls at three in the morning, panicked and seeking your help.  You watch the seasons and wait for the burning heat of August to turn gradually to cool autumn, the the gray, clipped afternoons of January, slowly, in tiny steps, giving way to the first pale green buds of spring.  You learn to let this old earth turn on its hinges, and you realize you are a mere passenger.  You learn to let things run their course. You come to understand time and its meanings.  You learn there really isn't much difference between minutes and hours, days and weeks.  When you do try to move things faster than their natural gait, it is all to easy to become frustrated and then disappointed.  When you rush things you may lose their meaning.  I suppose God wants us to notice things and learn.  I suppose He gives us experiences that we might sort through them, retain what we should, discard what we don't need, and inch along toward what we are destined to be in the eternities."

Sunday, January 04, 2015

To Preach the Acceptable Year of the Lord, Luke 4:19

In the 4th chapter of Luke it is related that Jesus read the passage, Isaiah 61:1-3 in a synagogue, and then, while seated and expounding explained: "This day is this scripture fulfilled."

The Isaiah passage he read outlines the work he was anointed to do:
to preach the gospel to the poor
to heal the broken-hearted
to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind
(that these are linked makes me think of the freedom that comes when one is finally and truly able to "see" truth)
to set at liberty those who are bruised
(makes me think of the captivity and damage that comes from emotional trauma as well as physical trauma and sin)
to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Below is what Martin Luther King thought that last phrase meant, taken from a sermon he preached in 1966.  A good reminder of some personal guidelines as I start a new year.

. . And then the church, if it is true to its guidelines, must preach the acceptable year of the Lord. You know the acceptable year of the Lord is the year that is acceptable to God because it fulfills the demands of his kingdom. Some people reading this passage feel that it’s talking about some period beyond history, but I say to you this morning that the acceptable year of the Lord can be this year. And the church is called to preach it.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men decide to do right.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men will stop lying and cheating.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when women will start using the telephone for constructive purposes and not to spread malicious gossip and false rumors on their neighbors.

The acceptable year of the Lord is any year when men will stop throwing away the precious lives that God has given them in riotous living.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when people in Alabama will stop killing civil rights workers and people who are simply engaged in the process of seeking their constitutional rights.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will learn to live together as brothers.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will keep their theology abreast with their technology.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will keep the ends for which they live abreast with the means by which they live.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will keep their morality abreast with their mentality.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when all of the leaders of the world will sit down at the conference table and realize that unless mankind puts an end to war, war will put an end to mankind.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: and nations will not rise up against nations, neither will they study war anymore.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will allow justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when we will send to Congress and to state houses of our nation men who will do justly, who will love mercy, and who will walk humbly with their God.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain will be made low; the rough places would be made plain, and the crooked places straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will do unto others as they will have others do unto themselves.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men will love their enemies, bless them that curse them, pray for them that despitefully use them.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when men discover that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth.

The acceptable year of the Lord is that year when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess the name of Jesus. And everywhere men will cry out, “Hallelujah, hallelujah! The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah, hallelujah!”

The acceptable year of the Lord is God’s year.

These are our guidelines, and if we will only follow the guidelines, we will be ready for God’s kingdom, we will be doing what God’s church is called to do. We won’t be a little social club. We won’t be a little entertainment center. But we’ll be about the serious business of bringing God’s kingdom to this earth.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Watching Conflicts Between Well-Intentioned People Who Really Want to Do the Right Thing

We start by accusing the other, either verbally or silently, of that which we perceive as a wrong-doing, using that wrong-doing as an excuse to justify as reasonable and acceptable our (certainly not virtuous) act of distrustful  accusation.

Because we wish to maintain our perception of ourselves as in the right, we try to hide or deny our dismissive, judgmental attitudes towards those we accuse, playing polite and trying to behave outwardly in a civilized manner, but we cannot fool those we've accused.  Our attitude and feelings towards them are definitely clear to them.

Feeling obviously accused and judged, even though we may have never verbalized our accusations, they take a defensive stance, and, in turn, either silently or verbally accuse us as the ones perpetrating offence and antagonism, seeing themselves as innocent, wrapping their responses in polite phrases while seething inside, denying in turn the error of their own accusatory feelings and responses to us.

We in turn perceive their response to us and feel just as offended by it as they were by ours.  In our minds their defensiveness and accusations give us "proof" that we are acting on the higher moral ground and that we are justified in judging and accusing them of failure to do what is right.

Because we are so absorbed in our own feelings about the conflict and our feelings in response to their accusations we do not see what is going on.  We do not see that instead of trying to hurt us they feel mistreated and intentionally disregarded.  We do not see that in their response to us they are trying to deal with the judgmental person we have become; that they are only responding to the kind of person we've given them to respond to.

In sum: We concentrate on what we perceive as their misdeeds in order to find proof  and reassure ourselves that they are to blame, that they are the reason we're in this conflict, not us.  And they focus on our misdeeds to for the same reason.  And round and round it goes, tying us tightly  to our responses to each other into an endless, edgy conflict in which each blames the other and exonerates self.

It is the antithesis of dialogue and comprehension, masquerading as civilized discourse.

Adapted from C. Terry Warner's book "The Bonds that Make Us Free".

Monday, December 15, 2014

This quote reminds me of something said at the veil

"Recently I reviewed this Primary song. You’re familiar with it. It says, “Mine is a home where ev’ry hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood pow’r, With father and mother leading the way.” Mine is a home where every hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood power.... It isn’t just when Dad is there. It’s not just when Mom is there. It’s not just when a priesthood ordinance or blessing is being performed. It’s every hour as covenants are kept."
Julie Beck, BYU Women's Conference 2011

Priesthood power, the power of God, given to his children,  is real.  It is real in the lives of women and men of God.  I have seen it, felt it, watched it, and been humbled to be a vehicle for its healing (both physical and spiritual) and enlightening effect in the lives of my brothers and sisters in ways that I feel are too profound to articulate.  And I have been aided, healed, enlightened and comforted by that same power of God conducted via the words, actions and ordinances of brothers and sisters who served as conduits of priesthood power as well.

There is 'power in the priesthood'.  And it's not just when an ordinance or a blessing is being performed, though we talk mostly about those since they are so clearly recognized by the ceremonial actions involved. And it's certainly not just when a church leader, male or female, oversees a meeting or counsels with others  or a decision is made, another time when people may see it, or think they are supposed to see it.  Those are the times where function makes us notice.  Those are the times that any even disinterested person watching will assume that "priesthood" is being "exercised".

But priesthood power, like an iceberg, has 10% of it visible to an uninformed observer, while 90% of power in the priesthood moves slowly and powerfully, observed only by those who submerge themselves enough to look and experience it and recognize it for what it is.

Throughout the ages different subgroups of people have been  ordained to take responsibility for the the visible 10% of priesthood work..  Instructions as to which groups should be called to do that and how many of them have changed multiple times even in the last 180 years, not to mention the changes in previous eras.  And since that seems to be a pattern it makes sense to me to assume that they will change again, perhaps many more times.

However, we sell ourselves short when we, men or women, so focus on the 10% of priesthood work that involves ordination that we ignore or fail to see or dismiss as irrelevant, or never employ or recognize the amazing 90% that is not tied to administration or ordinances but wields the power of God in amazing, healing ways.. And my experience is that way too many of us, both men and women, do exactly that.

" [F]or man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart," said the Lord to the prophet, Samuel.  And we think, sure, we understand that, it's about people.  But I believe it's not just about people.  Way too many of us are fully aware of the "outward appearance", the formal manifestations, of priesthood and are so very blind to the heart of what priesthood power, given by God to his sons and daughters, really is. 

Yes, that 10% is beautiful. Yes it is a blessing.  Yes, the people who do that 10% are often listened to (and also anathematized) more than others and, by some, are believed to have more "clout".  But it strikes me as ironic and sad when we don't see or understand or live or experience the power of the 90% that is more far-reaching than we even allow ourselves to imagine, and when we think that all there is to priesthood is that 10% of priesthood responsibility that is, for now, given to some 3% (if you live in the Philippines) to 27% (if you live in Utah) of members of the church.  We sell priesthood short when we believe that that 10%  of evident function is what priesthood entails..

I believe that in heaven priesthood is shared and employed regardless of gender.  I believe that celestial life is, as the Doctrine and Covenants clearly explains, one of fully and equally shared light, power, and divinity and glory.  It is clear to me that inspired telestial and terrestrial patterns of organization (one of which we live with now) are simply that, inspired telestial and terrestrial patterns.  And I believe that we, as individual members of the church, including us women, don't even live up to those terrestrial patterns as they are given to us today..  

I have always believed that a child surrounded by 9 Christmas gifts that he refuses to unwrap in his frustration at not having, right now, the one his brother is currently opening is missing something important, not only in the presents that surround him but also in his understanding of what is possible and in his relationship with his sibling.  A child so responding is demonstrating juvenile behavior.

I believe it is good to rejoice in a gift that a sibling receives.  I believe it is good for each child to truly embrace and study and employ the gifts of power of healing, light, revelation, inspired leadership; the godly power: priesthood, that is given to God's children when they seek to understand it and wield it with light and truth.

"Yet, for different reasons, many of us live far below, or are unaware of, our privileges!" ~Neal A Maxwell  [The Promise of Discipleship, pp. 92-93] 

In my lifetime I have witnessed women in the church heal others, both physically and spiritually, through the power of God.  I have witnessed them guide and lead under unmistakably divine inspiration and watched God's power flow through them.  I have also witnessed women and men who have no idea that is possible, that think that such is only for those who do the 10% of priesthood work that is visible to the casual observer.  That is not so. But as long as we only see or experience the 10%, we will easily experience the frustration and sense of powerless that comes with that perspective.

To focus on what is not currently our prerogative without taking the time to fully learn about that priesthood power which is, in all it's glory (and I'm not talking about childbearing or childrearing or performing ordinances or overseeing meetings, or "presiding" in case you are wondering) available to us, is I think, short-sighted.  

"What has been your past experience or attitude when you have listened to or taught a lesson on the  priesthood? Be honest. Was your first reaction something like, “This doesn’t apply to me. This is for the men and boys over 12.” Or when you have read your scriptures and come to a part that mentions  priesthood, have you thought to yourself, “I’ll just skip this part. I don’t need to know this”? In the recent 2013 Worldwide Leadership Training, Elder Oaks emphatically stated: “Men are not the priesthood!” To me, that is a wake-up call as well as an invitation to all of us to study, ponder, and come to better understand the priesthood. Sisters, we cannot stand up and teach those things we do not understand and know for ourselves."
Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President, BYU Womens' Conference 2013

As I said, I believe that priesthood power, the power of God, is freely and equally shared among God's children in celestial realms of glory.  And I also have come to believe that many of us, both men and women, are far from understanding or experiencing or recognizing or having faith to pursue and learn and know how that power, that huge, magnificent 90%,  is available to each of us, to work miracles through us, here on earth in its current, terrestrial, temporary earthly configuration.

If we cannot live up to our privileges and stretch and grow enough to "abide the law of a terrestrial glory" (Doc. & Cov. 88:23) how can we presume to think we are ready to abide a celestial?  Changing the law about the 10% will make things look better.  It may make some people feel better and some people feel worse.  But if we have only changed the outward, publicly observed 10% and do not seek to know and understand, as individuals, and look upon "the heart" of priesthood power available to work through us, that part which so many of us just barely know or which we feel is beyond our ken, we will continue to miss all that God hopes for us both now and in the eternities.  Changing the outward appearance is not what is needed.  We need to come to understand the heart.

I agree with Linda Burton.  We've been given a wake-up call.  We should not be shirking. We are called, as disciples, to study, ponder, understand and live the power of God.  The men and women I know who have done so are amazing, humble, powerful saints.  

Monday, December 08, 2014

S.R. asked "What do you do when your faith and your reality are in opposition?"

I thought about that for a while, looking at my understanding of "faith" and my understanding of "reality".

It turns out that I figure that probably neither my faith nor my perception of reality are 100% accurate.  And because of that, I try to live gracefully with that understanding of my own imperfect faith and perception,  which imperfection, I believe, is part of the life of every person whether they know it or not. So I have learned to primarily focus on trying to act according to the principles and qualities of life and interaction that I am learning are most essential to approximating my understanding of the teachings of Jesus in the books I believe are divinely inspired and the guidance I imperfectly receive through prayer. 

I believe that my (or anyone else's) understanding of what is, and what will be, or what we hope will be will always, to one extent or another, be "through a glass darkly" throughout my life. And I believe that faith ultimately consists not in what I expect, nor what others declare, nor what I hope will happen now or any time in the next 1000+ years, but rather in my determination to live and act, as best I understand, according principles that I understand to be of God, and according to whatever divine, loving inspiration I think I personally have (imperfectly) received up to that point in regards to my own interaction with others, regardless of my circumstances, the perceptions or understanding of others, or the contradictions surrounding me or my perceptions. 

In other words, living by faith in a contradictory world is, for me, choosing to live according to the light I have received so far, knowing that my perception of the light (and anyone else's) is imperfect, and continuing in spite of that. 

And I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that in order to live such a life charity and patience and gentle forbearance towards myself and others are as completely essential as is my commitment to light and seeking to walk with God.