Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Which City are You?

Teachings from Revelations 2-3 as it applies to each city addressed:

City: Ephesus
·        What they did to please the Lord: They found out who were true messengers from God and who were not and continued to work without rest for God.
·        How they needed to repent: They needed to return to their first love- God.
·        Promised blessings: They would eat of the tree of life.

City: Smyra
·        What they did to please the Lord: They were poor in spirit.
·        How they needed to repent: They needed to not fear the tribulations they would pass through.
·        Promised blessings: They would receive the crown of life and not suffer the 2nd death.

City: Pergamos
·        What they did to please the Lord: They did not deny the faith.
·        How they needed to repent: The performed acts of worship to other Gods and followed other doctrine.
·        Promised blessings: They would be given hidden manna.

City: Thyatira
·        What they did to please the Lord: They did works of charity, patience, faith, and service. They esteemed their brother above themselves.
·        How they needed to repent: Some needed to stop listening to a false prophetess named Jezebel.
·        Promised blessings: He would give them power over nations and give them the morning star.

City: Sardis
·        What they did to please the Lord: They live the Name.
·        How they needed to repent: They needed to be more watchful.
·        Promised blessings: They will walk in white with God.

City: Philadelphia
·        What they did to please the Lord: They kept God’s word and not denied His name.
·        How they needed to repent: They needed to remain steadfast.
·        Promised blessings: They would become a pillar in God’s temple and write His name upon them.

City: Laodicea
·        What they did to please the Lord: Not stated.
·        How they needed to repent: They were apathetic.
·        Promised blessings: They would sit down at God’s throne with Him.

These promises and blessings apply to all of us. It may not be that we need to work on all of them at once, but we ought to try to find which needs the most attention and overcome it. I feel that at times I am the city Laodicea. I am neither cold nor hot. I don’t brother to feel passionate with what’s right or wrong. Because my life is good I don’t seek change. I want to change that. I want to want God’s home with a passion that burns through my complacent 1st world life style and have a heart that is willing to live in squalor or riches, whatever, so long as I can get back to God with as many people as I can carry.

Because getting back to Him is all that really matters (D&C 63:20; 14:7). It at least that is how we should feel. If I allow myself to become complacent then I would lose that focus and the blessing because I would no longer desire it. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mark Twain's Conversation

Dear Clara,

Some of my friends are saying that Mormons are not Christians because you believe that you need to do righteous works along with having faith to be accepted by God. My other friends claim that if I join the Mormons I would be denying Christ’s grace. How should I respond?

Your Friend,

Mark Twain

My Dear Mark,

I am so happy to see that you are finally coming to see the light and feel the Holy Ghost prompt you to learn more about the church.

I am also very relieved to know that you have friends, particularly friends who care for your welfare. Joining the church without ripping out their hearts would make the conversation process a bore and far too easy; however, they do deserve a band-aid, just as much as you deserve the truth. If they want to understand what you are really getting yourself into then you might consider reading these verses from the New Testament with them:

Mathew 7:21 tells us that lip service is not enough, if we mean it than we do it.

Mathew 19: 16-17 says that if we want to enter into ‘life’ we need to keep the commandments.

Ephesians 2: 10 helps us to understand that God created us to do good things.

Revelation’s 20: 12-13 stated that we will we be judged by the works we did written in the book of life.

Frankly Mark, they are right that the act will not save us. In the words of a fellow member in Christ : “Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice- not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His.” (Brad Wilcox, “His Grace Is Sufficient”)

We work out our salvation because we love the job. We are showing Christ the surest form of flattery- imitation… or at least as close to imitation as our weak souls can handle. So yes Grace saves us, but only those who want to be saved- and those who want to be saved will show it through works.

Your Sincerest Friend,


P.S. I always knew you would come around.   

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Gospel Makes Sense, so Stick with It.

Mormons hear that word a fair bit. I’d wager that that we hear most in these two context: The Great Apostasy, and
personal apostasy.
In case there are any non members reading this blog (which is highly unlikely) the Latter Day Saint (LDS) community considers the time after the martyrdom of the apostles the ‘great apostasy’. The authority to govern God’s affairs here on earth was taken with their deaths and no replacement was made by the apostles (who had the power).
A personal apostasy is when someone decides to leave the fold of God and make theit own doctrine or follow another teaching.
Each of us can have a personal falling away. Each of us may choose to not obey God’s commandments. If we do so than that is a personal apostasy.  It’s easy to do with so many churches proclaiming to be the right one. It’s even easier thanks to all the people who deny God’s miracles because science proves it away (or does it prove the existence of miracles?) And it is simpler yet with so many telling us that it doesn’t really matter what you do. There either is no God to condemn you, or if there is He is too loving to do so.
In the New Testament, through Paul’s epistle, we meet a saint who was preparing for the Great Apostasy and against the possibility of a personal apostasy. His name was Timothy. Paul gave great advice that would help all of us prepare against a personal apostasy:

  •  Remember why God gave laws: for the sinner. Are am I perfect? No. Are you? Don’t kid yourself. Therefore we are not the exception to the rule.  (Timothy 1: 7-13)

  • God calls His authority into service- not man. If there seems to be a conflict than with this and you're not sure if your leader was called of God, hold on to the doctrine you know to be true (even if it’s doctrine you’re not fond of). God’s servant will teach it with authority. (2 Timothy 1:7-13)

  • Be a good Soldier and take the punches of the world. There will always be reason to break rank but if you are faithful and keep to your uniform (meaning be kind gentle, and Christ-like) God will recognize you as part of His army and add the medal of eternal life to your uniform.  (2 Timothy 2:1-2)

  • Be faithful to the knowledge you have gained of truth and build on it. Seek for more knowledge and truth from your trust scriptures. (2 Timothy 3: 10-17)

  • Share what you know. The other team is working hard to get followers- including you. Don’t let them fill your ears with their garbage. Be an advocate for truth. By doing so you will find others who can help hold the banner. (2 Timothy 4:1-8)

I have found that taking a hard stand to defend and honor what I do know helps me to accept and understand concepts or doctrine that I don’t quite comprehend. I have had moments when I needed to ask myself if being a discipline of Christ was worth the uncertainties and worth defending the aspects I didn’t comprehend. I think back to what I know. Jesus DID perform the atonement, Joseph WAS His prophet, the Book of Mormon IS true, and President Monson Is His prophet. So yea- it’s worth it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Don't ask me, I just work here.

Sometimes I feel conflicted between what I consider to be genuine compassion and desire to help another person, and sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong. 

I sympathize with Miss Molly Stark from Owen Wister’s “The Virginian” who confessed to a friend :
“I know I’m white livered, I never crowd and stare when somebody is hurt in the street. I get away.”

To the which her friend replied “ staring ain’t courage; it’s trashy curiosity” (p. 237).

I admit that I like to see everyone at their best and can at times feel uncomfortable when unhappy events occur. I feel like I would want to just be left alone to wallow in self pity and I assume that everyone else feels the same. I don’t feel like I have the right to intrude on the intimate heartaches of another person.

And it’s true that I don’t have the right to pry open the chest of their heart and spread the contents out to everyone around me. I don’t have that right, but that doesn’t leave me free of obligations. I am a Christian. I was baptized into Christ’s fold and I call myself a “latter day saint”. If I am striving to be a saint than I need to helping my brothers and sisters that surround me.  I don’t need to know their life history to decide to love them and help where I see the need.

Paul suggested to the Romans- whom he also called saints (Romans 15:31)- that they didn’t need to spend their time debating what was good or bad about their neighbor (Romans 14:1-13).  Instead they should “be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16).

I guess what I’m getting around to is I’m going to stop worrying about whether or not it’s my place. If I really am a disciple of Christ than it is always my place to love and help out a fellow wandered.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Down the Block

Once upon a time down the block from your house lived a family named the Jones. Across the street from their house, and down the same block from your house, moved in the Johnsons. The Jones, being hospitable neighbors, brought them cookies the day they moved in and helped them unpack. Mr. Jones and Mr. Johnson shared a love for whittling and within days were very good friends. They spent their afternoons together whittling on the porch of one or the others home. The Jones family was an older couple and Mr. Jones acted as a mentor and instructor to the young Mr. Johnson.
Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Jones also became good friends. Mrs. Jones would watch the four year old boy when Mrs. Johnson needed to run errands and when Mrs. Jones needed help managing her facebook account Mrs. Johnson was by her side ready to ‘like’ every annoying cat video posted.
One day while watching Johnson Junior a neighbor stopped by the Jones home to inform Mrs. Jones that a “new” episode of the Lawrence Welks show was going to be on the local PBS station. Mrs. Jones was thrilled and soon fell in to talking about the good days with her neighbor. Time passed and Mrs. Jones realized that she hadn’t heard from Johnson Junior for a while. She searched the house high and low only to find him lying passed out on the floor with an empty bottle of moonshine that her grandfather had made during the era of Prohibition. Mrs. Jones couldn’t decide if she was more distraught to have a drunken child passed out on her great grandmother’s rug, or that this memory of her grandfathers outlaw days were on their way back up Junior’s throat.
When Mrs. Johnson returned she displayed an unhealthy hue of purple in her face listening to the story. She marched her child home and did not speak to the Jones at all for a solid week. Mr. Johnson was forbidden from the porch and found that he only knew how to whittle sticks into smaller sticks. Mr. Jones made masterpieces but had no one to admire the work without Mr. Johnson because Mrs. Jones was too busy trying to understand what to do with a hash tag. Junior learned to make cans fly off the shelves at the supermarket.
One day Junior managed to find Mrs. Johnson’s bracelet that her mother gave her before her spontaneous journey to the center of the earth (from which she has yet to return) and flush down the toilet (possibly to be reunited with its previous owner). The deed was accomplished within seconds. Mrs. Johnson’s eye welled up and she decided to eat a bucket of ice cream. Her thoughts were full of toilets, bracelets and moonshine. Then she made cookies. Then she made the long journey across the street to a home just a block from your house and made apologies.
Mr.  Johnson is now learning to make a whistle and Mrs. Jones puts more hash tags up then your Aunt Mildred.
“So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.”
2 Corinthians 2: 7-8

Monday, March 2, 2015

Just Different

When girl grows up in community choked with Mormons, and when that girl happens to be a member of said affiliation, she comes to accept certain cultural beliefs as definite truths:
1.      Caffeinated drinks are equal to alcohol.
2.      If you can’t cook your family will suffer all the days of your life.
3.      Working outside the home is distasteful for a woman, at times is a necessary evil, but you’re creating a broken home if you actually enjoy it.
4.      Listening to rap music is like listening to Satan hum in your ear.
5.      Brigham Young University is the only acceptable institution of higher education.
6.      Women only serve a mission if you can’t get married and have nothing else going on.
7.      You will grow up to be married in the temple sometime between the age of 19 and 21.
a.       The man you marry MUST be Mormon- MUST be a return missionary- MUST be able to support 25 children… at least.
I would agree that caffeinated beverages are not healthy, cooking is a useful hobby, I loved having a stay at home as a kid and would hope to be able to do that for my children, I prefer mellow tunes, BYU (and its sister schools) are cheaper for Mormons, you probably shouldn't apply to serve a mission if you've got something else going on (like being on parole), and the mission is a good experience that will help anyone with future life problems. BUT if a person veers from this path it doesn't mean they took the elevator to hell.
I can’t say that I actually know many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that hold these ideas to be self evident truths, but I do think that it’s spinning in the back of many members minds.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t hammer out all your biases in one stroke!
Once upon a time the prophet Peter struggled with this problem. In Acts 10 he refused food that God set before him in a vision three times because he said that they were “unclean”. How Did God respond? He said “What God has cleansed, that call not thou unclean” (verse 15).
Even Joseph Smith “marveled greatly’ (Joseph Smith History 1:44) when he received a vision that overthrew all the cultural ideas of ‘truth’ that he had been taught.
Only our Heavenly Father decides who is ready to progress in His gospel and He does not base it off of who can make the best cheerio-spinach casserole. We do that. And we prevent others from coming to the church and progress by imposing these cultural beliefs on them.
So how do we stop ourselves? How can we be true to ourselves but accepting of the other vessels around us that God has called clean?

I don’t know, ask Him.