Sunday, October 19, 2014

I Am Way Blessed

"surrounded by all the things many people would literally die to give their families. Clean water. An abundance of food. Good health. Access to doctors, hospitals, medicine. Security. Safety. A support network. The ability to vote. The freedom to have a different opinion and not fear for her life.”
Brooke McAlary

Friday, October 10, 2014

to them gave he power to become the children of God John 1:12-13 Elucidating William Barclay

John states that we can become sons and daughters of God (heirs) only through our receiving Jesus Christ. This obviously isn't the generic "I am a Child of God" that denotes all of us having come from his presence, but rather the child or heir that Jesus spoke about during his ministry.   And the next verse states that this heirship does not come from any human impulse or act of human will; it comes entirely from God.  We cannot make ourselves heirs with Christ. What we have is an invitation from God to become his sons and daughters by entering into the relationship with Jesus Christ (receiving him) that he offers us and becoming empowered by that to, through his grace, become his heirs.

What God offers we are free to accept, delay or refuse.  A father may offer his child his love, his advice, his friendship, and the child may refuse it or prefer to ignore and take another path through life.  So it is with what God offers us.  He offers us the right to become his heirs, to truly be his children in all things, but we are not compelled to accept that.

Why "to them that believe on his name"?

Herbrew thought and language had a way of using "the name" that's interesting.  It did not mean a person's appellation, but rather his nature.  For instance, Psalm 9:10: "Those who know thy name put their trust in thee." does not mean that  those who know God's is called "Jehovah" will trust God, but rather that those who know God's character, or nature, or what he is like, will be ready and willing to trust him for what they need.

To "trust in the name of Jesus" therefore means to put our trust in his true nature.  He was the embodiment of kindness and gentleness and service towards us.  It is John's central doctrine throughout his gospel that in Jesus we see the very mind of God, the attitude of God to men.  If we believe that doctrine, then we also believe that God is like Jesus, as kind, as loving as Jesus was.  Therefore, according to John's thinking, to believe in the name of Jesus is to believe that God is like him, kind and loving to those who struggle, who are lost, who seek him, etc. etc..

And it is only when we believe that about God, that we can trust him enough and become close enough to him to respond openheartedly to what he offers us in terms of a relationship and submit ourselves to him and become his children.  And that, combined with the divine cleansing power of Jesus atonement for our sins empowers us to become truly God's sons and daughters, joint heirs with Christ.

How essential that understanding of the nature of God is!  How difficult it is to build a relationship with a God who you see as stern, judgmental, cold or distant, demanding, impatient or disappointed in us or in others with whom we struggle.  How much easier it is to build one with a God who we know acts, thinks and responds as Jesus does and therefore learn how to be that way ourselves as we approach God.

This is what Jesus opens to us: the possibility of moving from being intimidated or indifferent acquaintances of  our God that we perceive erroneously and, instead, opening ourselves to a trusting close relationship that is one of an attentive, responsive son or daughter and heir in every sense of the word.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

"All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood."

The following things are referred to as appendages to priesthood in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“the offices of elder and bishop”, “the offices of teacher and deacon”, Doc &  Cov 84:29-30
the Aaronic Priesthood, Doc & Cov 107:14
“All other authorities or offices in the church ” Doc & Cov 107:5
Looks to me like we all, men and women, if we work in any church capacity, work in the role of appendages (extensions of or additions to) priesthood (the power of God)
Which brings to mind:
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches."   John 15:4-5 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

"Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?"

It's one of the questions on a temple recommend interview.

First "restoration"
"Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.” (9th article of faith) Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."  

Dieter Uchtdorf, April 2014

Secondly  "the gospel".
“Behold, I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto youthat I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
“And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world."
3 Nephi 27
Do I believe in that gospel?  Do I believe that our understanding of it has increased in the "latter-days" through divine revelation and will continue to increase through divine revelation from God.
Though at first glance it may look like a question about  church history or the church as it was in early Christianity here now, or even Joseph Smith,  it doesn't say that.  It's a question about restoration and the gospel.  Good to think about.

Though I think I'd change "happy" to "like Him" if the lyrics were mine.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

What an Old Friend Said He'd Learned from the Example of My Father

"Be more patient
Have good humor
Listen to what the person is really saying, trying to understand what is in their heart"

~Mark Tanner

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Meeting Up with Cleopus, another disciple and Peter, Luke 24

"It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
 "And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
 "Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

"And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs....
"And  [after their encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus] they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon."

Two things I notice.  

First is that one of the disciples on the road is named in the text: "Cleopas".  The other is not.  Cleopas' name appears once more in the book of John in chapter 19:  “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

The commas make the distinction of individuals not perfectly clear but it is likely 4 women that are referred to here:
Mary the mother of Jesus
Her sister
a woman named Mary who is designated by her relationship (wife) to Cleopas
Mary Magdalene

If not it could be five:
Mary the mother of Jesus
her sister
another Mary 
the unnamed wife of Cleopas
Mary Magdalene

These four (or five) women are mentioned as having been present for the crucifixion.

On the third day after the crucifixion we find Cleopas heading to Emmaus.  Some scholars think it may well have been his wife with whom he was traveling home on that journey and who hurried back with him to Jerusalem to deliver the good news.  If so, add her to the women who loved him and mourned him and to whom He showed himself and conversed after his resurrection.

Second, the disciples greet the two disciples with the news that yes, they've heard.  Simon [Peter] has seen him too.

That's one interaction that we don't have recorded.  We have records of Jesus interaction with Mary Magdalene, and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and, later, with 10 of the apostles, and still later, with Thomas, but not this one with Simon Peter.

His interaction with Simon Peter, if added chronologically to this list, would probably be number 2 or number 3.  

This Simon Peter, who was, most likely, still wracked with guilt about and deeply repentant of his three-time denial of affiliation with Jesus and who had made the trip back to the empty tomb (with John in John 20) desperately hoping against hope that the story the women told might be true.

Jesus decision to spend time with Simon Peter so soon after His return says much. I believe, about His compassionate, forgiving, helpful, connected response to an individual who feels deeply the remorse for his temporary abandonment of his connection with the Savior and who loves Him and deeply wishes there were some way to be with Him again.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Linda Reeves recently referenced a talk given by Spencer Kimball when I was a child.

So I looked it up that old conference talk.  And below is the section she referenced.

This is good for me to remember in my life full of favorite activities and causes and responsibilities that I enjoy and that call for my attention.

"'Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else' (D&C 42:22)

"And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it [could be] paraphrased: 'Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shall cleave unto him and none else.' 

"The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. ...

"Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives self totally to the spouse: all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection with all dignity. Any divergence is sin—any sharing the heart is transgression. As we should have "an eye single to the glory of God" (D&C 4:5D&C 82:19) so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family."

From his talk, "Spouses and None Else", which you can read HERE

My mom and dad, who live this.