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Showing posts from August, 2016

Balancing Act: Fully leveraged and fully tethered

Fully leveraged on the one hand... We are told very clearly that the Lord expects us to exert tremendous effort in living the gospel.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30) ...it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)
This effort is meant to pervade every aspect of our lives.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; (D&C 58:27) Most people I know are not fully leveraged. They see their situations as unavoidable, and ignore the many things they could do to put themselves in a place where they could more fully study the gospel, seek the Lord, and help others. In the United States, we are drowning on opportunity, and an unfortunate number of people lack the faith to construct a situation for themselves that will allow th…

Eternal life is an acquired taste

God loves us and wants to bless us as much as we can receive it. The limit of God's blessing is usually understood to be our obedience. While that is true, it is not beneficial to think of this in the simplest sense, the sense that he blesses those that obey him and punishes those who disobey him, like a king who rules with an iron fist. This is not correct.

God does not benefit from punishing us. All that he does is for the good of the world.
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. (2 Nephi 26:24) God's punishments are better understood as the natural consequences of our disobedience to universal law. Instead of seeing them as the response of an angered dictator, we ought to see them as consequences that would have been avoided had we heeded God's instructions to do so.

It is a …

"For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake."

I would say that I've gone through a few phases of understanding about what the gospel is like.

In my first phase, I felt I had discovered a pearl of great price in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I sold everything I had to buy it. I thought the only thing keeping others from it was knowing about it, because that was all that had kept me from it. I was violently dismayed to learn that few, if any, recognize its value. Most do not recognize its value immediately, and few recognize its value even after a lifetime of living it, as they suppose.

 44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13)
In my second phase, I felt that God wanted to use to me to s…

Two Parables on Testing

The Parable of the Weightlifter and the Toddler There once was a man who enjoyed lifting weights. He had a young son who enjoyed being with his dad while he was lifting weights. Usually the boy stayed out of harms way while the father lifted weights. However, the risk was very high, as most things his father was doing would seriously injure him were he to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tremendous concentration and focus is needed to do weightlifting, but the father had to develop an ability to immediately switch out of this focus if his son entered into the lifting area at the wrong time.

The Parable of the Painter and the Carver There once was an oil painter. Her paintings would follow her stream of conscious. If certain areas turned out other than she expected, she could surgically scrape off that area with her putty knife and repaint it. Sometimes the whole scene ended up different than she expected, and she could scrape the whole canvas clean.

Her brother was a carver. …

Waiting on the Lord is Required for the Fullness of the Priesthood (Scripture Study Helaman 10:4-10)

The Book of Mormon contains the story of Nephi, one of several men in the scriptures who receive a special blessing from God.
4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
 5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
 6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this peo…

Inquiring of the Lord

After Lehi's account of his vision of the tree of life, Laman and Lemuel express their lack of understanding of the meaning of the vision. Nephi replied, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" (1 Nephi 15:8). The gospel, as it turns out, is full of mysteries. These lessons can only be learned through interaction between and individual and heaven---through the Holy Ghost, visions, voices, visitations, etc. Inquiring of the Lord is the process of earnestly seeking knowledge from God. Although this process can be applied to temporal questions, we see over and over and over again in the scriptures that it can also (and is most often) used for spiritual (i.e. doctrinal) questions.

Wherefore, I must tell you the truth according to the plainness of the word of God. For behold, as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me, saying: Jacob, get thou up into the temple on the morrow, and declare the word which I shall give thee unto this people. (Jacob 2:11)
Inquiring of the Lord i…

Matthew 8:28-34; Christ Offends Us

28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

 34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart o…