Sunday, September 14, 2014

I want to be like Alma II

When I was a child I thought that being the translated Alma must have been awesome. Here this guy was that had converted thousands and seen angels and finally when his life was over was translated and given the chance to be with the Lord. I had forgotten that this man had been through his own Gethsemane. He had to go through a change that I cannot fathom.

Alma grew up under a father who was on the run from a tumultuous king who thrived on women wealth and perhaps the death of those that opposed him. When the government was openly attacked after his father had left with him and his family, the king’s priests through rape victims, gained the trust of the Lamanites. Some years later found Alma and his family and I supposed that the young Alma II who had only known the gospel and running was quite relieved of the chance to stop running. Satan had a good hold of those wicked priests and had taught them a thing or two about seducing children and Alma II bought into their narrative hook, line and sinker.

Some years later when they all escape the turmoil, Alma II hooks up with some roughnecks who are the king’s sons. Finally he thinks he has freedom.  I can’t blame him. For years he had been taught to pray in his heart for fear of death by Noah’s priests and their legion of dark bare skin warriors. He turned to the gods of the Lamanites over the God of his father. 

Today I had the opportunity to talk about Israel and the prophet Hosea. It seems that Israel is so easily seduced by the coolness when it offers relief from pain and suffering and as much as we hear our parents tell us no we fail to listen to their warning. We become like Gomer (Hosea’s wife) or Alma II and think that we are going to be ok because either we believe that God will not punish us because we are the chosen ones of Abraham or that beat us with only a few stripes and tell us to go on our way. Some of the saints here in Medford OR tell a different story. They remind us that God doesn’t change and that should you be drowning in your own gull of bitterness, it is you that needs to call out and reach out to the Lord because you have turned your back on Him and not the other way around. 

When Alma II went though his change he was like many other prophets that have that experience that asks them to be a man over a childish destroyer. Alma II was shown his own personal hell. The scriptures say that for days he was in that gull and it took three days before he either believed what he was calling out to or that he was eager finally to be something better. The sons of Mosiah didn’t need that but apparently he did. Jonah went through it when he was in the belly of the whale so I am not surprised when someone is in a coma for three days suffering his own guilt and anguish. 

I love the Living Scriptures depiction of what he went through after as he attempted to convert those that he had seduced away from the church. It was not enough to say that he had repented until he had attempted to restore the faith of those that he had convinced to turn from their God. He had to go through more pain of rejection and it didn’t end there because later in his life he would go with the sons of Mosiah and attempt to convert the Lamanites for the next fourteen years risking life and limb so that someone could hear the word of the Lord. 

Times like those I stop my envy of the prophet and reflect inward on the things that I have done in my life. Have I converted the righteous to wickedness through my actions or lack of action? Have I been a good husband and father to my family and attempted to bring them closer to God as Alma attempted for his son (and perhaps whole family). Have I hidden my sins? Have I gone through a Gethsemane as Jesus has so that I could progress to my next level? Am I ready for my cross? Could I die for my religion or convictions? 

I am not sure that I am ready for such commitment. Sure as Gomer hit rock bottom in her life, so have I (I think) but I am as young Alma II climbing back up so that I can come to God with clean hands and a smile on my face. I look forward to my Father saying that I have done well and that he is well pleased with what I have done. I hope that no man’s blood is on me because of what I neglected to do or from the things I showed a lack of remorse for. 

My time will come one day and I am glad that Heavenly Father continues to show his mercy and miracles to me so that I can testify that He lives and so does His Son. I may have never beheld their faces but I don’t have to, to know that they live.  I am a son of God the Eternal Father and have been reborn though Christ my Savior. Could I ask for anything more? That is the greatest knowledge I could ever know or share. My life, as hard as it is, is awesome.

Image comes from Living Scriptures

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Vengeance is Mine saith The Lord

These last few weeks I have had the opportunity to look at justice and the outcome there of. Among the various things that could be said of justice is first the scripture Roman 12:19 and secondly is the quote my friend Doc Thompson said "Justice is not an outcome, it's not a verdict you like; justice is the process. Period."

For years I have held the belief that justice was always going to be fair or that it was like karma. Its not. Those that are bullied do not always see karma 'get' their oppressors, the truth when revealed doesn't automatically get a officer of the law or someone with Force Lightning to come correct them. I have been so wrong and keep forgetting that even Alma the prophet saw people burn to their deaths; himself and his companion  put in prison because of the law. It was a harsh reality to see that the justice of God is different then the justice of the law.

The law isn't always fair. Justice, with as much evidence to convict, will send criminals to jail nor round up the varmints and lynch them. Cowboy justice and vigilante justice isn't the way of a just society as much as we might want it to be because we didn't get the result we wanted. Guilty men and women will get away from punishment we believe that they should receive but they cannot escape the vengeance of God.

In our society we do our best to mimic the way that God would have us run ourselves and do our best to be a rule of law and not a rule of men. However there those that want to exercise their own vengeance without justice first looking at the facts and while its true that the facts do not always reflect the truth we must not discount what it is able to reveal. The end result of those that would exercise their own 'justice' has lead to pillaging and looting; rape and murder.

I recall in my personal life the experience of a bully that had tormented me for months in Junior High and for the longest time I wanted justice. The truth was that I wanted vengeance. Some years later, like Alma the Younger who had become righteous, I saw the young man (my tormentor); he had cleaned up his life and had gone out and served the Lord. I inadvertently attended his home coming. I am certain that the Lord had made that arrangement. I was angry like Jonah who had waited for vengeance on the Ninevehites. It wasn't supposed to go that way thought it was. Jonah had thought that Nineveh had hurt his people so much and expected that they would not repent when he prophesied the destruction of the city but even the king called for repentance of his people and took not chance that even a maid or manservant, mule or camel not repent. Together they went through the gull of bitterness of repentance and had become pure in the sight of the Lord.

So where are we? These days I fear that we want 'justice' (really vengeance) for the law breakers and for the senseless killing, rape murder and disobedience that had run a muck. We want illegal aliens shipped back to where they came from and executions carried through. Why? We want vengeance but we are just children of the Lord not adults. We do not see what our heavenly parents see and like children in a car lack the experience that our parents do who are navigating our lives to where we will learn the most. We desperately want the Lord to say that He is going to turn this car around if we don't quit it and yet the call never comes; the car continues its course. I would put a charge of Israel to remember who is behind the wheel and that the Master will do what must be done but we must continue to be diligent to be a children of law and leave the vengeance to the one that will do it righteously and fairly. There will be times of pain and sorrow but God will wipe our tears and heal our wounds.

Be of good cheer for God will give us the best experience that we could ever have.

Image is found here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I am at home

I am here with my wife and children today enjoying the opportunity of being a husband and father. While I am on the road so long,it becomes nice to get away from work. That's why I am keeping it short and I'm going to say this, I have such a patient children and wife that I can't help but love the whole lot if them.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Basking in the Son.

Today I want to talk about the last son of Krypton. No I am not going to talk about the allegory messiah aspect of him but that there is something that each of us members of the church have and that is the Holy Ghost; ultimate cosmic power, itty bitty living space. I’ll explain.  

While at church I was privilege to hear a lesson in sacrament about the lessons of abiding by the rules of sports. When we engage in a sport we agree to honor the boundaries and rules of that sport. For Olympiads abiding by the rules is strictly important and a tenth of a second could mean winning and losing. What the Lord did for us here on Earth was he gave us a plan and with it came the rules of the game with eternal consequence and reward. Our boundless spirits with boundless understanding and potential would be given boundaries. The game was hide and seek and all we needed to do while here on Earth was find our Father in Heaven. Now with no memory of who he was he would make it fair by giving us the Holy Ghost and for many that companion would be a constant companion; a gift.

In the mean time we would have bodies not unlike our spiritual bodies with arm, legs, eyes and what not but it would have boundaries; limits. Being spirits we knew nothing of boundaries because we had been limitless so this was new but we were up for the challenge. Ok find Father and we will have a partner in the search; great.

Our bodies while here on Earth have been an asset for some of us and a hindrance to others. Without knowledge of the Spirit that can be a real crippling blow but with the spirit you realize how powerful you are both spiritually and physically. I have come to a realization that the give that was given to me as a young eight year old was the best thing I could have had; it like the yellow sun to the son of Krypton.

The power of the Holy Ghost unlocks to your spirit truths that you would have not had if you had not taken the time to learn it though the prism of the Holy Ghost. What I mean is every day that you spend with the Holy Ghost in your life you become more and more enlightened and you begin to see the world differently; you are able to do and say things in such a way that it changes you and those that you intended to change. 

Each day you expose yourself to prayer and the scriptures you gain a new color to your rainbow.Although Satan would have us think that we will be like Icarus and fall because we attempt to gain power from the Son (see what I did there), it is completely different we become more powerful and gain the chance to win the challenge of seeing Father, well, that just comes easier and easier. It just takes time to bask in the power and influence of the Son.

Image found here.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Don't be Seduced by the Coolness

I am so not perfect. I might be creative and spiritual but I am not perfect. I was in the foyer (because I was late to church) and I had forgotten to turn off my phone ringer and the darn thing began chiming telling me that I had a tweet (or something like that) and I realized that this could have been embarrassing if I had been in the chapel. Then it hit me, I was looking at my phone while I was ‘listening’ to people bear their souls in testimony and was not feeling the Spirit! Again… embarrassing… I wanted to justify my behavior initially because I was a visitor but the Spirit came to me and told me that although I was not telling my testimony, I should pay attention; that perhaps for a second I could feel the Spirit and learn something. I had become seduced by the coolness.

I am not sure who has or who has not heard of the phrase. It comes from a television show called Phineas and Ferb. In ‘Put that putter away’ Candace warns her friend Stacy to not be seduced by the coolness. It’s interesting how something in a funny and witty cartoon could stick to me so much that I encouraged my family to make that one of our house rules (rule 6) because it could be applied to so many things and is so simple to remember.

All day I thought about the lesson learned and how I could make it stronger for me. It was during priesthood that I think I heard the answer. In life there is so many distractions and our lesion was on plotting your course in life. It was not enough to avoid sin but to create barriers (emotionally spiritually and physically) to avoid sin and to  keep an eye single to the ‘Glory of God’ as it were and through little goals and coursing your mindset you could avoid the ‘Coolness’. How easy it has been for Satan who is also a goal minded person to pull us under because what we thought, saw, sang, etc was ‘cool’ or ‘harmless’. A navy oriented person would tell you that it only takes one degree to be off course and that could be the case with being seduced. Sailors daily and (perhaps by the minute) not only chart their course (set goals) but monitor their course to insure safety and success.

When things rattle the course they do not give up but assess the situation and reestablish their bearings so that they can get back on course. We must be just as vigilant in our lives to do the same and learn from the sailor. Our lives will have rocky water and sometimes we will need to repent and correct our course but if we are prepared for the road ahead our need for correction is minimal and our course then can stay true. 

Heavenly Father asks us to hold to the Rod of God (the word) and hang on because there will be times when the Coolness will be so enticing that you will be tempted to be near the Rod without holding it tightly. Those are the most dangerous times because when the storm comes you are not prepared and easily swept away by every enticing thing that would keep you from your Father. I would exhort you all to check your course again and check your compass; are you on a Celestial path? If not, ask yourself why and then why not. You have the potential to be on the path and whatever it takes from climbing out of the filth that you have heaped upon yourself or merely dusting yourself off you can be on that path again. God wants you to succeed. Don’t be seduced by the coolness.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Luke I am Your Father

Today I was racking my brain with what the Lord wanted me to write about. For hours I thought about how rough my week was and how I had prayed and prayed to have a solution to the problems that I had had this week thinking that the blog post would be about perseverance or something like that. I was sure that it would be about me me me…. I was wrong.

At church I was given the opportunity to have such great speakers especially one missionary that spoke with such power and vigor that the spirit couldn't be denied. I thought, ‘well this was great and now we are done. There will be no need to have the other two lessons as this missionary has summed it all.’ Again I was told by the Spirit, ‘you are not writing about this’. Really? Wow! Then what?

I had a prompting on Saturday of the spirit of one of my ancestors to go and start finding my father’s family. I went to the genealogy class today and though that the work had already been done and there was nothing for me. I was intrigued and loved the class and thought I’d take a moment to see the website and I was certain that I would see the whole family. Man I was wrong. There is a feature that shows all of your family in a circle and half of it would be mom and the other would be dad; my dad’s half of the pie was GONE! I knew that there was some members of the family that had done the work and I could even recall from memory my dad’s genealogy up to the fifth generation but on this website it didn't exist.

As I listened to the class, I head how you could put photos and stories of your family in the site and I realized that my family story had only half been told. The stories of the roofer that had raised a family in PA or the German soldier from WW1 that had left his home country to raise his children in the States only to be a soldier of WW2 was not told. These and several more had never been told and their songs never sung except in my home.

Such anticipation and excitement changed my view of how I was going to tell my story and show that there was more than a story of a simple coal roofer’s grandson who took time to recreate his history for all to see. I know that I have had a great story. The shock and surprise that I can create in story and fable is, in fact, what genealogy is all about. My son asks me about the stories of our family and what he has accomplished. He wants to know of the metals and honors that men have given to our fathers and mothers; he wants the stories of their courage and tenacity; he wants their greatness to rub off on him. I’m no soldier; I am a son and great-grandson of one. I’m no roofer but I am a grandson of one. My mother’s family already knew the importance of the stories of the family and created a book (about 300 pages) of the family that she came from and I need to see if I can do the same with what my father’s family has done.

What does that mean for you? Do you remember what Uncle Owen told Luke? He told his nephew that his father was a miner on a space frigate; turns out that the secrets were always there if he let the Force guide him. Are we letting the Spirit guide us and show us the secrets and great discoveries that await us or are we hoping that the spirits of our fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts, no matter how far away they are from us be lost or forgotten because of our negligence.  I thought myself the matter closed but no longer. I aim to do some work so that they will not be lost. Please do  the same.

Image is from here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Push Along

Lord, give me the ability to fit the task and forgive me for asking the task to fit my ability.

I am certain that this is a simple prayer that could be given by every saint if they knew what we were going to be asked to do. Reflecting on that phrase or proverb I have come to realize today that I have been asking for a career that fit my ability and not the other way around. Not because I am prideful (though I am sure that I am) or that I was not suited for other jobs. I just had slipped into a shallow pool of thinking fearing that I could not swim or that the sharks of my mind would kill me in the water. I realize that for a moment I have become as Peter and have begun to sink into the water because I relied too much on the strong arm of others and my faith was not sufficient.

All too often we saints have been brought to a new learning and understanding of the gospel and the way that we approach the new knowledge can be much like a primitive man approaches fire; either it’s with faith and courage or fear and anger. The examples that we go through in our lives reflect that in our willingness to go forward with faith or run like hell away from it. David faced his Goliath upfront and direct because he had faith and not with a sword or battle tactics swimming in his head. Our jobs or responsibilities should be faced with the same faith of David. Instead of saying why, say why not? Moses led with a speech impediment; I can work in communications (or whatever my job is in the moment) with my lack because the Lord will lead the way and direct me (and my career) in the way that I should go.

Nephi liked the scriptures a lot and would often apply them to himself. He wanted to use the example in such a way that he could do the Lords will and do it as others had done it. For those that fail to see how the Lord could help us in our jobs and careers, we must remember that God inspired men to create the world that we enjoy. There is no technical data or complex skill that he doesn't already have a full and complete understanding and He likes sharing. Sometimes my prayer would be ‘Lord, help me help my stupid self.’ I need to change that to ‘Lord, teach me to meet and exceed the needs of my task so that I can do it in the future and remember the experience’. Brigham lead saints across a country untamed and established a territory; Joseph read and translated a book when he didn’t know how to read it; 

I am certain that the Lord can help each and every one of us in our own personal struggles. Just have to have faith, pray and apply yourself to the task. ‘Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along’, says the song. We get nowhere if we sit and ask the Lord direction but are not willing to get a compass and our shoes dirty. We must remember also that they that are with us outnumber those that are against us; just do your best and the Lord will help you fill the gaps.

Image is from here.