Sunday, November 20, 2016
I was in a great class today with our new ward (our boundaries were rearranged) and it was in that first elders quorum lesson that there was a condensed discussion on the subject of the Tree of Life. For those that don't know what this is, its a tree that produces a fruit so desired that you would give everything for. For us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, its the gospel of Jesus Christ; the knowledge of God and his Son, the Messiah of the world.
While we were learning about how much faith played in our lives and our success on learning who God is and what He wants for us His children, we make the point that for each of us the fruit of the Tree of Life is different for each of us. For some this means that a person loves the sacrament, others it might be the role of tithing; the elements that bring out the best of us and strengthen our faith. As a side note, my faith has been built by trial of physical events that ask for me to pray and call out to the Lord for help. The Lord has been mindful of me and answered my prayers.
While I was in the course the idea of a tree that has had limbs grafted into it like a citrus tree that has oranges, limes and lemons. By itself the tree would only gain the experience of oranges or just lemons etc... but grafting a tree through painful for the tree creates something that can be so beneficial to everyone that owns one of these graft trees.
The Lord knows all too much about grafting but this part of my life where I am the tree and the fruit is now coming out of my work and faith is a new realization. I have always seen the fruit of the Tree of Life as an outside is a brand new thought. The fruit that I am called to produce must be sweet and desirable and bring others to the great and divine tree that all should seek to partake.
A bit of a big load huh?
Thankfully the Lord groups the trees of this fantastic fruit through gathering the saints. After all, the fruit of the saints are not always sweet (think of grapefruits). So mixing experiences and tastes of life is almost crucial. How grateful am I for that? Very. I love our savior and his master plan. I don't always understand it but man I love being a part of it.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Also known Lord here am I.
There are several examples of men who were asked to pass through fire or watch others pass though their own trial;names such as Alma the younger, Abenadi, Daniel, Shadrach, Meeshak Abendego just to name a few. What seemed odd to me was that my good friend Mike made a good point that when we come to these moments that we should be eager like Nephi and young Samuel and not ask how can I survive this or how can I do this and dwell on "Lord thy servant heareth" or "I will go and do". God at times is our teacher and provides a way. Sometimes we are asked to make a sacrifice and like a fireman pass through the flames not knowing that we will return.
In these harsh modern times we think that we will escape the a time a harsh as the holocaust or the bubonic plague. We think that we are more righteous or something; that the Apocalypse or Armageddon will be gentle.
As much as I would love to agree with the idea, I am under the suspicion that although we are a righteous nation, we are (the wheat) are surrounded by the wicked (the tares). The bundling is beginning. Do you remember that there is a great gathering of Israel. Those that hate the field that is white are also eager to burn the world so that no one survives. And while we are asked to prepare, we are also asked to fear not.
We are now at a time that calls for more courage, more faith and more charity than we have ever seen. We are asked to push as hard as we can to be the people that will shine like a beacon on a hill. Sure that makes us a target but with God at our helm we can face the struggle that is to come, the fire that we are called to pass through. We may die; we may survive, God will know and tell. When we meet our Maker, I hope to God that all of us that we will meet again and we will have a joy that cannot be quenched and a story that will make our ancestors and petigree proud.
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Luke: Ben! Why didn't you tell me? You told me that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered my father.
Obi-Wan: Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be the Jedi Anakin Skywalker and "became" Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So, what I told you was true... from a certain point of view.
Luke: A certain point of view?
Obi-Wan: Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. Anakin was a good friend. When I first met him, your father was already a great pilot. But I was amazed how strongly the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong.
I quote this film because I was starting to realize that God wants us to tell the whole truth. While He (our maker) teaches us line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, it is imperative that when we come to our maker with all our cards on the table. When we start out path of unrighteousness we cannot tell ourselves and others the truth from a certain point of view and keep our problems a secret. We must make the effort to bring the hard things to light. For some, the truth is like the sun to a vampire and we desperately want to coil back to the dark. The dark is our comfort, our friend and like warm mud is soothing. The problem is that its filth, our filth and in our sin, Satan mocks us. He does anything to further the experience; to push us further in that darkness that would bury us and keep us from those that love us and want to be friends of the light and knowledge that God gave us when we left his home; his side.
You and I are not in a film. We cannot tell the truth from a certain point of view. Those that would say that our sacred covenants (the Lords secrets) should not be thought of as secrets that should be kept because we cannot tell people and that should be our truth from a certain point of view. God wants us to keep our covenants and to tell the feelings of our experiences. You cannot even do that with your sin. You fail to tell people of how sin makes you feel. Is the Spirits comfort and assurance felt when you sin vs. when you are in holy places or learning holy things? You know that's not true.
When we realize that we can improve and become something that we should of been in the first place we become as Paul and Alma and do the 180 degree turn that needs to happen so that we can draw close to the Lord with more then our words. Remember the words of the hymn; of my favorite hymn, Lead Kindly Light.
This hymn causes me to choke up because this is what I feel when I sin; when I pull from God and really want to pull close to him. I want to be and enjoy being human but the frailty and persuasion to sin and do dumb things cause me to reach out for something that might save me and that is something that the people of this world need more then anything, a sense of hope that something, someone will save us from our sins.
May we all find our path with truth, not as we see it but as god sees it. We can become what God wants us to become but we must make the effort. We must begin to see what God sees in us so that we can be like him.
Have a great week.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
I recently was “pre-shopping” couches and spending time with my beloved. I realized that I was learning more about the one I love and I have been married for for almost eighteen years. I have learned so much about my wife. There is more and more layers that come out of my marriage that I never knew and I like it.
When I attempt to really dig deep in what I have done in the past part of me says write it down. We are encouraged over and over (well not strongly recently) that we should write it down. You think that your mundane life, you're wrong. I don't and you don't have a ordinary life. I find it interesting that if the roll were reversed that our ancestors would read our stories with equal interest as we do to theirs. Think about it, when I tell my kids about renting a VCR or that we didn't have a microwave growing up or walking a mile to school at the age of five, my kids are astonished. The funny thing is that I am only twenty-five years older then they are. My world is not much different then theirs. There is the same government, towns, land marks etc. That aside, the history that has happened in those twenty-five years that separate us is a big difference.
When I was a kid we race around the neighborhood and the neighbors knew us and we knew them. Our world was one were nameless authority was something less to fear then our own parents because of love and respect of family, community and county. We did all the crazy things that kids did in the '80's and it was fun.
Now had I written it down, my children would have a great story to tell their own kids. Alas I have been through some trauma and memory has been lost. Now when the memories come I make an attempt to write it down so that I have something. Not all that awesome stories of a mundane person are going to be there but I am making the attempt. On Sundays I am writing in a journal (an old journal that I have not written in since '06 (before my last boy was born). When I began reading what sparse of a story I had written about myself,I realized that there was some great achievements that I like about myself. I felt so bad that I had not taken the time for me that I am now taking some time to fix it.
I know that some people take their journal to do a spot check on themselves spiritually or some place to keep their secrets but I don't like my secrets on paper. Perhaps its because I want to put my best foot forward when my children read my story. I know that when you write your personal struggles and what not, your reader can see a side of you that they can relate to but for me that a scary place; especially because my medium is here on the web.
The thing I want to walk away from this is this, you and I have a great story. Get out and make it happen. You have the greatest story that has never been told. Only you know the story from your point of view and when you think about it, the story is fantastic.
The image is from when I worked in Seattle, WA.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Last week I wrote about some simple discoveries about the restoration and I want to continue that thought with this... What moves the gospel to places were it has never been? I mean for example what moved the princes of the Nephites to teach the gospel to the blood thirsty Lamanites? After stewing on the subject for a while I realize that what has brought the gospel to places where it has never been is faith.
Turning back to our restored car, the gospel in its completion moves a man no where, touches no nation, compels no man without the faith that moves them to do that witch they have never done. Who built boat because of faith? Nephi, Noah, Jared. Who taught the gospel to the natives? John Taylor, Aaron, Amon Omner and Himni. These are just a few examples of people who took the restored gospel (or more likely allowed the gospel to take them) to places where it needed to be.
I admit when weird things like this become my discovery that I realize that I am still being taught by God in my adulthood. I remember when one of the prophets said that they were still learning the gospel from the temple even in their senior years, I thought they were crazy but now, teaching the gospel to children has changed my view of this and perhaps even my understanding.
The stories of the Gospel are like ogres... er... onions, no they don't stink or make you cry (well most of the time) but they got layers. Sometimes you dig in and discover them sometimes its by complete blessing (I am certain that its not by accident) that these moments hit you like a ton of bricks. The spirit becomes overwhelming and you cannot deny what you just learned through the spirit and while you are not whisked away to some place like Moses or Jesus you have your own version of a vision and see things the way God intended you to learn them.
Sometimes the gospel scares me to death because it is so serious but like a good body of water you need to just jump in and absorb the moment. I am certain that there will be more moments like this. As they say God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I might change but I know that it is for the better because I have fuel to drive me.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
I find it increasingly amazing how God can teach us all so much in such a simple way. Earlier this year I was teaching the four year old class about the restoration of the gospel (something that could be compared to the complexity of the human body or American tax code). It struck me by the Holy Ghost through inspiration that I should use something physical to explain something so diverse and broad. I wanted to desperately to say that the restoration was necessary and that only God could do it through chosen servants but how?
It was then that I realize that we, the children of Adam, love restoration. We rebuild stuff all the time; cars, buildings, antiques, etc. There is nothing that we have attempted to really figure out how it was built in the first place. The inspiration continued by telling me that I should use the car as my chief example. One the day of the class I drew a busted up car on the chalk board and explained to the children that at one time the gospel was like this car. I then asked them if this car could be driven. They looked at the drawn car with its trunk smoking, tires flat, and busted up ends and with smiles on their faces coyly said no... I then asked them to explain why I could not go to the store in the car. They then began to show piece by piece why I could not go to the store.
After redrawing the car to a more perfect form I then asked them to tell me if I could then travel. There was headlights and taillights and good tires and again I asked them If I could go. The good children asked if there was gas in the car and I told them no. They immediately said that the car needed gas. I then showed them that that the Holy Ghost is like fuel in a car. Even if every aspect of the gospel is restored it means nothing if men and women are pushing the gospel to their destination. The fuel of the gospel needed to be part of the restoration.
When I was done with my lesson, I could not believe my mind. I had taught with the spirit a lesson that I finally understood. I had taught the lesson of the broken mirror for many years on my mission but the way that it had been taught, all things could be done with a tiny mirror as with a bigger mirror, it just might of taken longer. This has been a frustration though still a good tool with teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Taking a step back and looking at it, it has become different and new and fresh to me.
The week that followed, I heard complements of the lesson as my four year old class had told their parents about the restored gospel and how important it was to be fully functional and working so that we all could understand Jesus and his message to the church. Some parents were very impressed that their child could understand such a concept that was sometimes vague or overwhelming. I could only give credit where it was due and thanked my Heavenly Father for teaching me the restoration.
The image is located here.
Monday, February 16, 2015
I recently gave a talk in church that was based on a talk called Living the Gospel Joyfully and while I was speaking the Lord in my mind asked me to compare the blessings that Lord attempts to give to a proverb from Star Wars; Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to Suffering.
While giving this talk it came to me that when we put up our umbrella to resist the rain of blessings or the sunshine of the light of Christ shine upon us. The turn around is that when we see others get the blessings of heaven and our own sins blind us from seeing our own blessings we are quick to become fearful. Has God forgotten me? Am I worthy of no blessing at all? Our own ambitions and hesitancy keeps us from pressing in a good direction that would lead us to strengthen our faith and regain our blessings through repentance and the charity of God; we go down a path of witch many have not returned. As children of God we know all to well that the proverb of the Jedi ring true but there was no alternate so that we could avoid this path so I propose this one...
Faith leads to Trust, Trust leads to Charity, Charity leads to Happiness. I know that it might seem cheesy by making a mirror of this age old movie quote but I think that seeing its opposite opens our eyes so that we can see both the good and the evil paths and make our new choices with what we have learned.
When we are quick to judge because we decide to look at the blessings of others over what is on the other side of the scale that they are called to balance, we fail to realize the blessings we have in conjunction with our own blessings. Let us remember to have faith so that we might build upon that over fear. Lets hope that we do not listen to our fear and short comings over our faith and inner power that God has given us both to grow with and share. We have the makings of greatness in us, let us bear one another's burdens and show the strength of the Lord.
Image is found here.