Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Importance of Prayer

It has been a while since I did a log so I some writing so I first apologize for not being there for my readers. I have had a dry spell in inspiration but I am back. I wanted to talk about what matters. The prophets, apostles and, well, church leaders have all made special reference to being out there and serving your fellow man without neglecting the very thing that holds you together the gospel and your family.  I find that hard sometimes being on the road a lot. I am here in Bothell WA today and Tacoma WA tomorrow. I still don’t know how other priesthood brethren are able to do this.

Among some of the things that I have learned is communication. I still am a real stinker at it but being isolated so often has caused me to work on it almost daily so that I can keep my family, job and friends. Your ‘A’ game is necessary. Perhaps that’s what our Father sometimes is telling us. We need to communicate with him because our brothers and sisters with him keep him company at home but we are away in a very isolated situation. If we want to keep good ties with him we need to call him often. We know how often for ourselves, daily, twice daily, thrice daily etc; as often as our eager child like minds will allow.

I remember a time when I was on a mission in California how I and one of my companions would pray for what seemed a long time yet so short. We would really communicate with God not just text him and jump into bed (you all know what I mean). It seemed silly at the time because he was such an example of prayer to me. When we first as companions he got on his knees and was praying for about 10 to 15 minutes. He really wanted Father to know how he was doing. We were already praying in the morning for both companion and individual prayer, we prayed over all our meals but at night when we are quiet and alone he really touched based with the Lord. I attempted to follow that example and at first I was not used to even being in prayer for such a ‘long’ time. Five minutes into it The prayer was really awful (‘um well you know me hee hee…’). I really didn’t know what to say. I really had not talked to him like a father but more like Santa Cause (... and I want converts.. and a good day.. etc.). I suppose that it was pathetic.

I am sure that some of the learning experiences that we go through are like that and I even see that with my kids. I know what’s going on in their lives but I want to hear them express it. The sheer joy that they express is what I want. I am certain that Father wants that from us. We are discovering our lives over again here in our probation but like children at a new playground we forget to tell our parents how much fun we are really having here. We have fun and success; we find joy and really go to town here but when we talk to Father about it we are so vague and short.

That being said perhaps we need to get back to our roots and really pray; not just cliffs note it. Talk to Him. He’ll really appreciate it. 

Image is located here

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.