Thursday, January 21, 2016

Stand in Holy Places

So much power has been taken out of the American people's hands by the government - by the gadianton robbers who hold civil office - that many of us wonder if government is really relevant
anymore.

Right now we've got a standoff here in Oregon, over in Burns, with some activists taking over some federal buildings, and holding their position with firearms against the government.  And now our governor is calling for the Feds to have another Waco siege to end the standoff and on and on. At any rate, there's a standoff over public lands that people believe should be private.

Additionally, there are some church members involved in the operation, and the First Presidency was very swift (within a single day) to condemn the action, saying there was no scriptural basis whatsoever for what they were doing.

Then I came across this from the Book of Omni which seemed applicable to the current standoff:
 27 And now I would speak somewhat concerning a certain number who went up into the wilderness to return to the land of Nephi; for there was a large number who were desirous to possess the land of their inheritance.
 28 Wherefore, they went up into the wilderness. And their leader being a strong and mighty man, and a stiffnecked man, wherefore he caused a contention among them; and they were all slain, save fifty, in the wilderness, and they returned again to the land of Zarahemla.
 29 And it came to pass that they also took others to a considerable number, and took their journey again into the wilderness.
 30 And I, Amaleki, had a brother, who also went with them; and I have not since known concerning them. And I am about to lie down in my grave; and these plates are full. And I make an end of my speaking.

Well, King Benjamin was led out of his lands of inheritance to the land of Zarahemla.  A righteous man and his people!  The Lord led them to a better place.  So was the Brother of Jared.  Lehi. The Mulekites. Israel out of Egypt.  They were led out of unrighteous places.  And on to better places.  Though they lost their lands so to speak in order to gain something better.  And in some cases, the Lord then led them back and they regained their original lost lands. 
Stand here.  Don't leave. 

At any rate, with all the activism and the conflicts in our world now going on, I've finally come up with THE answer to it all - the one the Lord wants us to follow - and it is really simple:

8 "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen." (Doctrine and Covenants 87)

That's it.

The adversary would love us to go charging around and surrendering the ground we've gained, leaving the chapels and temples and home teaching families and genealogy behind to go get involved in some political upheaval.  But we've been given our directions.  Stand in holy places and be not moved.

Tend to what we've been given.

Stand faithful in our duties and let the Lord worry about the rest of it.

The currents and winds of facebook, the news, the great and spacious building all would love to have us blown about here and there, scattered, but we're asked to stand and stay where we are and that's it!

So in all this activism, the question I ask myself is: is this causing me to leave my church and family duties? 

If so, then I shouldn't be doing it. 

The Lord will deal with everything soon enough that isn't right, but I can't help but feel that the adversary so badly wants us to leave our fortifications so he can divide and conquer and separate us from our strengths.

For now?  Tend to our duties and callings - and the rest - leave to the Lord. 

Is it easy?  I don't think it is.  At times it seems foolish.  But you know what's really foolish?  Getting caught up in things that are going to cost us our eternal reward or disrupt our families. 

There is a right and wrong in this world, but it is best to be led by the lord in these things and to have a testimony of what we're doing - and if we're not sure about what to do?  Well....stand in holy places and be not moved. 

And that....is that.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Mormons and Modern Militia


Ho boy - what hornet's nest have I stirred up with that title?

I know there are those, in our facebook world, who will just skim over this going "IS HE FOR OR AGAINST MILITIAS?.......Yeah....thought so...." and completely miss any points I make.

But for the thinkers in the crowd: 

Well....let's start with this:  I'm a Second Amendment Activist and Supporter. 

And I'm a member of the church.

I do not officially represent the church in my activism, nor in my blog - but I do have to remember, that anything I do reflects on my membership, even if I don't officially represent anything in those spheres.

I am in church leadership and must remember to conduct myself accordingly, nor can I - nor should I ever! - use my church leadership or my activism to sway one or the other.

I must also remember that I have made very solemn covenants that are above party, politics and anything else on this earth - I have to beware of anything I join or do that would create a conflict with those eternal obligations.

There are things more powerful and eternal...
I think this is the biggest and most guiding principle in this age when we are seeing more and more people arm up, and increasing tension and conflict between citizens and those citizens working in / representing the government: Don't do anything that is in violation of your temple covenants or baptismal commitments. 

A few things I do know: the adversary is very active in our age.  One of the things that the adversary loves to do is to bombard us with lies, impressions and images to cause us consternation and conflict and drive away the spirit.  Do I think there is corruption in our world today? Do chickens have beaks? But I also know that the adversary wants us to make false steps that put us in conflict with our fellow man and jeopardize ourselves spiritually, and do whatever he can to make either of those happen.

As a piece of spiritual guidance in terms of resistance to unrighteous decrees, I would actually turn to the Declaration of Independence text. (No seriously, click it and read it - don't be one of those people who just skim, take a look at it).  Independence and resistance weren't take up lightly at all and I would urge every American to read not only of the restraint of the Founders, but also their meticulous documentation of the outrages they suffered, their attempts at reconciliation, and their concerns and principles they referenced before moving an entire nation to a war that - regardless of outcome - was going to involve increased suffering for those who endured it.  Read it carefully.  It is Divinely inspired.

But more than that, it is going to fall upon the Elders of Israel to uphold the constitution - that is our calling.  We cannot do that or fulfill that calling if we come out in insurrection against our own government.  We may contend against unrighteousness, but I would strongly recommend we be wise and prudent in how we do so lets we be the insurrectionists and the transgressors. 

If you've ever carried a firearm in the military and seen what a collapsed government looks like, you know the responsibility that comes with using force and carrying a firearm and what the effects can be.  You also know how exhausting it is to 'live by the sword' - it isn't a life that is conducive or facilitative to a lot of gospel principles.  It is hard to raise children, establish a home, grow crops, pursue education or engage in professional practice in the midst of war. 

Unfortunately, too many people today join militias, excited for the power and excitement, erroneously thinking as it was thought by many before the War Between the States, that there would be a few showy and "glorious" battles and everyone would go home for tea and crumpets and meet their mother and then it would be over.  War is ugly.  Revolution is ugly.  Conflict is ugly.  It is never "that" quickly.  Even the American revolution was eight and a half years long (seven and a quarter if you go from the declaration).

This is just me though.  I actually don't "love" guns.  I enjoy shooting them and owning them, but when I pick them up I know the responsibility that comes with them in hand-to-hand combat.  If I could, I think I would do away with them entirely and love to live in a world that doesn't need them.  However, I'm grateful to live in a land where I'm free to carry them.  And until all men are as Jesus Christ, I think it is prudent to be armed and capable.  However, as Elder Oaks pointed out once, the church's counsel is for us to stock up on food and water, not guns and ammo. 

If we really wanted to be "armed" - we need to be armed with righteousness.  For all the ills in the world, the gadianton robbers aren't able to stand against truth.  if we were righteous there wouldn't be anywhere for corruption to hide.  All of these issues with government corruption would be gone very quickly.  That's the power of the gospel.  It's more powerful than a bullet, more powerful than a navy....it's more powerful than anything.  A bullet can stop a threat.  But it can't save your soul.  Oh it might buy you time to repent or prevent there from being another victim, so long as you shot correctly and were justified.  But you can't shoot your way into heaven.  There are forces far greater and far more eternal than a bullet. Militaries can secure the peace.  But I've not yet, in my lifetime, seen a group of men stand behind a rifle or a pen who were as inspired or wise as those who wrote our founding documents, who can replicate what the founders did in the 1700's, and establish such a nation as this. We can defend our land against enemies with our rifles, but we can only hold and perpetuate our blessings through righteousness and eternal principles.  If anything, our wisest course of action would be to learn godly principles, uphold the Founders' work, and let the blessings of heaven influence abolish our need for guns and eliminate unrighteousness.

So!  

If I was going to leave my personal, spiritual advice?  We become who we spend time with, and certain causes have fates and eternal destinies tied to them.  We need to beware and be discerning of who and what we spend our time and lives an energies focused on.  I am grateful for my military training and experience with a firearm.  My life would be incomplete without it.  But more important is my life with the priesthood, blessing and serving others.  I have a testimony that there are going to be manyy menacing forces in this world, and many fights to take up - but the most important fight for us to be in, if we have the priesthood or gospel covenants, are going to be those of the gospel. 

The adversary would LOVE for us to disqualify ourselves from service with the Lord.  But right now the most important war to be won, isn't going to be with guns. 

At the risk of being redundant, I was serving my mission when 9/11 was carried out.  I had finished my military service not long prior, and I told my mission president that I was going to leave my mission and re-enlist.  I couldn't sit out here while there was a war going on.  My mission president told me that there were millions who could go join that war, and only a hundred and sixty who could do what we were doing.  I was called there. It was my choice. (I decided to stay and am so glad I did)

There are times and places for civil disobedience, but I think we shouldn't go looking for them as Latter Day Saints.  We are called where we are, and the Lord needs us there with our priesthood, our faith, our love and service, to build HIS works.  There are times when it is necessary to take a stand, and times it is necessary to raise our voices.  But keeping this picture in mind, I think will help us have a better idea of when those times are.  And perhaps just how to do it. 

Focus on temple covenants, baptismal covenants, and service first. 

While I support the right to own guns, I think too often we overestimate their power and influence and underestimate the power of the priesthood and faith in bringing about the changes we desire.

I would point out that it took a lot to unify the American continent against the British in 1776.  A lot of planning, prayer, and consideration - a LOT.  It is very easy to divide us and separate us when we take up arms with a militia and do not have national support or unification.  And this threatens to separate us from our covenants and families and eternal obligations. 

Satan loves conflict.  And wants to draw us into it.

And right now we need to refuse to be drawn into the fray and protect those things that we can that can only be protected and nourished by the priesthood and our church covenants.

So....my thought in conclusion? 

Be wise. 
Seek first the kingdom of God and all else shall be added unto you. 
Study your patriarchal blessing and live it, and seek to live it. 
Attend the temple. 
Do your family history.
Prayerfully fast, attend and partake of the sacrament. 
Study your scriptures. 
Listen to the church leaders and mouthpieces of the Lord for they won't be permitted to lead us astray. 
And....be still and know that I am God. 
Beware not to be driven with every wind and wave and tossed and lose your eternal inheritance under the guise of establishing/protecting righteousness.
Stand in holy places and be not moved.







Monday, December 28, 2015

A Childhood Place

Foggy mornings 
Rainy mornings
Sunshiney gray days
On brilliant snow 

Warm blankets 
Heated mornings 
Repeated warnings
It's time to grow!

Foggy bus stop
school bells a ringing
now cold morning
time now goes too slow. 

Soft pillows
Mom's embrace
Warm baths
But...that human Race!

Tests a taking
Interest faking
I don't want to be here
I want to go play

Endless summers
Over too soon
 Childhood ending
I want to stay!

Snowy winters
In a hot-tub
Stars dancing 
They know my name

Leaves of the forest
Bird songs chorus
Rocks and rills
My conaissance claim

Curled up
under a christmas tree
twinkling lights shining over me
making life for now so much sweeter

My best friend 
and me
cuddled up and dreaming
vie for space in front of the heater

 I fall asleep
to the sounds of the family
vacuum, dishwasher 
or shower 

Life's childhood pleasures
so frustrating and impatient
seem to have lasted
too short of an hour

And then it is over
out of the house!
New adventures!
stark reality awaits

And what I have traded
For all that awaited
the shocks and shudders of adulthood
on my soul, grates

And now that I look back
 I wish I could go back
to any of these 
childhood places

To lower the curtain 
on a life uncertain
and these tiring
adulthood paces

To do it again
To go back 
and be ten
Oh my! What have I forgotten?  

For now, it seems
glad for memories
Now untouchable, 
unreturnable, 
but I try when I dream
As I lay on grown-up sheets of cold satin

 




 


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Fog of Hurt, Fog of Hate

Having basically treated only men for the past 7 years of my profession, I suddenly find myself treating rooms full of female offenders in group therapy.  Which I've not done before. 


"I'm sooooo going to win..."
I've had my strong feelings about the genders going back to law enforcement when I've had women bat their eyes at me and show their cleavage only then to take a swing at me and try to plunge a knife into my back so to speak.   I've noticed that in a good number of domestic violence cases, the woman swung first and then got the guy thrown out on the street.   I had a number of women attack me in the line of duty, and when I fought back, they became enraged that anyone would dare fight them back - there was a sense of entitlement so often.

I've sat in too many graduate classes where men were portrayed as *THE* aggressor always, that men have everything handed to them because they are male and they have tons of power, etc. Seen the "safe spaces" that women get, the new ideas that men need ongoing, continuous permission from women to have sex or she can charge him with rape at any time if she feels like she was raped....and on and on and on and on and on.

So what's the answer? 

What's the solution to all this?

Which policy do we need to enact to solve these problems, and which gender has it the worst?  Who is the most wrong?


Hold it right there.

That line of thinking is exactly what Lucifer wants us to think. 

Who is hurt more?

Who is hurt worst?

Whose crime is worse?

Who deserves to be punished more?

And then Lucifer wants us to line up in separate camps by gender because we've been hurt, and take a stance against the opposite gender.  Then he wants a few of us to join the other camp, to give the impression of diversity so that the whole gathering has an air of sophistication and logic to it and then.....

FIGHT.

Stop again!

Is Christ concerned, by his atonement with who is hurt more? Did he atone based on who is hurt the worst?  Did he sacrifice his life based on which crime is worst?  Is he going to enter into the judgement seat based on who is in need of more punishment?

No, he didn't.  He doesn't.  He isn't going to.

All of this battle of the sexes is a very cleverly designed trick to make us think we are pursuing something good and right (justice, equality) when in actuality we are being split against ourselves, against God, and against those who could save us.

Would Lucifer LOVE to split up Adam and Eve based on whose crime was worse in the Garden of Eden?

Interesting that Adam and Eve both quickly gave an account of their transgressions and even Adam said "and I did eat" (taking responsibility) versus "I had NOTHING to do with this."

Right after all this - after this huge row that was going to cost them their lives - Adam and Eve were found in the presence of God covenanting with and to each other that they would work together.

Adam and Eve made a mistake - but they couldn't complete their mortal missions if they hated each other.   None of us would be here.   I'm sure Eve could have gone back to the cave and put up signs about tolerance and diversity, and Adam could have taken sensitivity training, maybe taped off some areas in the cave for them to respect boundaries and Adam could have practiced some validation responses - but think about the world that would have created.

Think about the one we are creating when this is what we do.

All of it is a counterfeit for gospel principles and gospel living.  It's a false religion that people STRONGLY believe in, dedicate their lives to - in the name of justice and equality and righteousness - when really they are oppressing themselves and those around them.  Were they Adam and Eve, this world could never have kicked off or ever started, with these types of responses.

And any time we see these groups divvying up the crowd by gender or by color and by offense, start categorizing offense by whose is worse, marching here and there rather than hitting their own knees and asking forgiveness for their own sins, striving to never offend again.....you can guarantee that someone has fallen for the lies and is missing the point. 

Men and women are different.  Our offenses are different generally.   Our hurt is different in some ways.  But they are still offenses.  They are still hurt.  And they disqualify us from returning to our Heavenly Father.  We are going to stand accountable individually  for our sins.   So rather than getting sucked into the trap of becoming "the accuser of the brethren" and get caught up in taking sides....we really need to recognize that all of these offenses aren't right, and the attempts to rectify them aren't right either - unless it leads us to personally repent and join with others and progress towards our heavenly father.

Hurt is hurt.  Harm is harm.  Sin is sin. Each of us will stand accountable individually.  And if we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven.  If we do not judge righteously, then we will not be judged righteously (with what judgement ye judge...).  Those groups and slogans aren't going to hold sway at the judgement bar of God - but far too many of us have fallen for these traps and chosen to believe in something else other than repentance and of God's kingdom..

We need to wake up, and be careful not to fall in the fog that the adversary creates of hate and hurt.  Neither are going to help us and only the savior can save us.




Friday, December 11, 2015

Confused With Hate

There are a lot of things right now in our world, as Latter Day Saints, being confused with hate.

For example, the LDS church's recent reaffirmation of its stance on homosexuality is being confused with hatred - when actually it is an act of compassion to not disrupt families by having children live a religion that would disrupt the family - yet still setting the standards of the Lord.   Of course that's not how some people see it.

Excommunication is seen as an act of hate - when really it is relieving a person of the condemnation that comes with sinning under a covenant and is a difficult act but an act done in love.  And of course, that's not how many people portray it or see it.

And now with terrorism on our soil coming at us in the name of religion - those who wish to stop it until we can figure out what's going on - are being accused of hatred and religious discrimination.  Even Latter Day Saints who support the notion of safety are being told they aren't living the religion....by those who have no authority to say such things.

Satan loves to play the "Hate Card" doesn't he?

Recently the church came out with a statement in response to the tumult going on on politics stating that it as politically neutral, but also that it did not believe in religious discrimination.

Well...if I can point out, the church, and governments of nations, have two different jobs and two different destinies. 

The LDS church is right now expanding into those parts of the world dominated by Islam and is doing so peacefully and is striving to maintain peaceful relations to protect its missionaries and its interests.  The church doesn't want to be associated with or even give the appearance that it has anything other than goodwill towards the world - and this is not only a safety issue but a prophesy issue: 29 Wherefore, the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood, otherwise there is none inheritance for you.  30 And if by purchase, behold you are blessed;  31 And if by blood, as you are forbidden to shed blood, lo, your enemies are upon you, and ye shall be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance.  (Doctrine and Covenants 63). 

This church needs to be seen as an ambassador of goodwill towards the world to be good stewards of the things that the Lord has given us, so we can bless all mankind with them. 

Meanwhile, nations have a different responsibility in the world of men.  They are responsible for protecting the lives of their citizens, and unfortunately, neither pacifism nor isolationism have worked for the United States who found themselves drawn into world wars that they didn't wish to be a part of while other nations were swept under as evil forces marched across the world.  Which...to undo when the United States finally joined the war, cost tens of thousands more lives than had it been stopped initially, or been prevented.

Now while we might think it wrong to raise arms as Latter Day Saints, yet even in the Book of Mormon the Lord has clearly justified nations in going to war to protect themselves, and has in the past led his nation of Israel to war - and the time shall come again when Zion's enemies will not dare come upon her in war: 70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. (Doctrine and Covenants 45). 

But what to do right now?  

Well...one of the most important scriptures I can think of is Jacob 6:12 "O be wise; what can I say more?"

Wisdom requires a cognizance of all the caveats and considerations on a subject.  

Most Latter Day Saints have not been faced with war or the decisions that come with it.  The decisions that have to be made in war are ugly - many decisions have to be prepared for and made in advance because the horror of them is too overwhelming to make on the spot, and you'll freeze up and be killed if you're making those decisions in the line of fire or heat of the moment.

Before you go to war, you need to decide now what your life is worth, what your family is worth, what your values are worth, what you're willing to do to protect them and yourself beforehand, and recognize that the guys you're going up against aren't going to stop to think about those things that you value because they have their own values - they aren't going to think about your values for you but are going to try to end them.  That's what it means to be an enemy.  Don't confuse an enemy with a competitor or a rival - I'm talking about enemies here. 

Unfortunately, desiring to defend yourself and your family - which are responsible things to do that the Lord approves of - are being compared with and equated with hate.  Ah, that cunning devil, so so so cunning that he can convince Latter Day Saints they are being faithful in neglecting their families in these cases.  But what so many Latter Day Saints are failing to do - have always failed to do - is differentiate and distinguish the different roles and responsibilities of different organizations, or even been familiar with their own scriptures.

Now me?  I'm not an Anti-Nephi-Lehi.  I'm not.  I'm more of an Orrin Porter Rockwell, and my hero of the Book of Mormon is Teancum and Chief Captain Moroni and his title of liberty.  Am I to be more of an Anti-Nephi-Lehi?  I would be hard pressed to do so from the things I was exposed to in the military.  I will be if the Lord tells me to be and gladly and prepare to meet him.  But in the meantime - we need to get smarter than we are being as Latter Day Saints.  We need to stop being products of babylon and using babylonian reasoning and equating "everything" with hate, first off.  Second, we need to read our scriptures.   Even the Nephites in Alma 30 were commended as being wise for tying up Korihor the anti-Christ and leading him out of the land and not allowing him to stay and be disruptive.  Actually, if Latter Day Saints  read their scriptures - which we know they / we don't from Doctrine and Covenants 84:57 and we are still under condemnation for not reading and understanding and doing what we've been given - we would know that what is in the Book of Mormon isn't just history, it is a template for addressing a lot of the problems in our world today, from the individual to the international level. 
A good man

There are some ugly, ugly decisions that have to be made, and there are a lot of ugly realities in our world.  We don't get to pick how the world sees us all the time even when we are nice, or have to uphold the standards of the Lord as we saw in the beginning.  Neither do we get to choose whether or not we are at war - especially if someone declares it on you.   We need to stop making the mistake of making the exceptions the rules in our world and focusing in on the examples of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis and their solutions, and forget that men like Moroni and Mormon were prophets of the Lord and were military commanders.  

Again, the Latter Day Saints who are out saying that those who support this and that politically aren't actually living their faith...don't have the authority to say that.  So Satan's got people all tied up!  He's got them declaring things they don't have authority to declare, ignorant of the full scope of issues, and calling things hate that aren't hate and is doing it all in the name of religion. 

I think right now saying "all is well in Zion" would not be advised, and rather than being concerned with who else is doing what....I would reccomend we read our scriptures and focus on our home teaching for right now. 

But that's....that's just me.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How to Use and Get the Most Out of Your Patriarchal Blessing

Have you received your patriarchal blessing?

When is the last time you read it?

Have you memorized it?

Did you stop reading it because you memorized it?

I'm going to tell you a secret to getting the most out of your patriarchal blessing:

READ IT!  Again and again and again!

Read it, study it, and pray about it often!

I read mine at minimum once a month on Fast Sunday while I fast - I think fasting should be done with our patriarchal blessings as we plot our journey's through life - there is a lot of good advice in there while we are fasting and seeking extra inspiration, and us mormons?  We don't read them often enough.   I also put it in my temple bag and take it into the temple with me, along with a batch of names ready for ordinances.  My advice though is to read it discreetly in a corner of the celestial room so it doesn't look like you're reading ordinance cards.  Or even take it to the atrium / waiting area at the front of the temple if you don't have time to or are unable to go in yet.  That works just as well.  I find that the Lord seems to "highlight" things in my blessing when I'm at the temple.

I find I can find out "where" I am in life - when certain warnings seem to be highlighted, or certain acknowledgements of things the Lord is happy with - and the thing is that it always seems to change and go deeper the more I read it.

Memorizing it isn't enough.  There is something to be said for physically looking at it and noticing the physical proximity, arrangements, and wording of certain blessings to others as I go through it over time.  Further, words that I thought meant one thing, came to mean other things to me and I realized that not only were there blessings there, there was also counsel if I looked carefully enough, in places I didn't know there was counsel.  As I mature spiritually, it continues to go deeper and deeper and bring me more and more understanding.

But more than that, some meanings are only understood with the passage of time - which is why we need to read it often.  Some things we simply aren't ready to understand yet, and certain life experiences will color the blessing so that we understand more of it as time goes on.

Now I know so many latter day saints have said that their blessing didn't come true.  I can't account for that in others' blessings.  But I can say, all blessings of the Lord are conditioned upon our obedience - that giant "IF" that is our part.  But I do know that when we read our blessings, even if we have been unfaithful, I know we can see when we look carefully that the Lord knew what we would do before we did it - even if it included wrong choices or inactivity - I just know I can see my own choices that the Lord knew I would make in mine and it is the same Lord who gives them all - I also know he speaks to us according to our understanding sooooo check for that while you're in there!  I think you'll be surprised.  

But still even more - our patriarchal blessings are our own personal scripture where the Lord has spoken to us.  The Lord has told us that until we use what we've been given, we will not be given more (3 Nephi 26:9-10).  But even more than that I know we are accountable to the Lord for understanding that scripture we have been given.  There is no other who can interpret it for us - even in reading the church's handbook of instructions, neither the patriarch or our bishop is to interpret a patriarchal blessing for us. It is truly between us and the Lord. And...we are accountable.

SO, if you want to know what to do with your patriarchal blessing?  Keep a copy in your scriptures, put a copy on your phone, keep a copy in your temple bag, read it at least once a month and every time you go to the temple, fast about it, and READ it and pray about it often.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Caught in the Middle?

You know...just when you think it's bad in this world and can't get any worse, it does.

Even listening to the speakers at General Conference, some of them with their pauses and facial expressions as they testified of how bad things are going to get...really gave me pause.

But where does it all leave me as a Latter Day Saint?

I feel so often like I am caught between two worlds, two extremes.

The one is my military experiences and training, where you're ready to do whatever it takes to survive.

The other is to represent Christ at all costs.
How I feel....most days in our world....

Now, we live in a world where hard things have to be said, and it seems no matter what you say you're going to offend people and be accused as a "hater" and a "disturber" of the peace.

Then, you're told you're not Christlike for speaking the doctrine of Christ on important things - like President Monson who had to clarify the church's position on gay marriages and relationships. 

I got a letter from him, personally, to me, the other week.  Did you know that?  It was a personal letter, talking to me about my life's circumstances and my family and he gave me some counsel and some wisdom and said he was praying for me, and greeted my family.   It was in response to a letter I sent him thanking him for his inspiration of love and compassion as a general authority.  I realized after last conference he isn't going to be here much longer, and I couldn't be so inspired to be a better person by him, and just let him pass and not ever tell him.  So I had to write and tell him how he has impacted me, it was inspired to do so, I just knew I needed to tell him and thank him.  And then unexpectedly, and much to my surprise, a week later, there was a letter from him to me, personally signed by him, thanking me for my letter to him.

And then I see him maligned in the press, and even in the church! 

Wheat from chaff, sadly.  Wheat from chaff.  If we ever take our membership so lightly, and consider membership in a religion to be a casual affair, we aren't fit for the kingdom of God.

But then there is a difference between being an apostle and being the president of the United States. Each have different hard truths they have to speak - and yet...it seems that either might be considered today to be inappropriate in the other's realm.  Almost like religion and government have nothing to do with each other - like the affairs of our world and the affairs of our souls are mutually exclusive things that aren't ever supposed to overlap.

I'm a Latter Day Saint.  I'm also a veteran!  I'm a dad!  I'm a citizen.  I'm a husband!  I'm a mental health counselor!  I've got things to say, and things I think on every topic.  Or, I think I should.

And yet...I seem to be caught in the middle, between two worlds, because I'm not *just* any one of those things. 

Meanwhile, my last job at the prison as a mental health counselor, really gave me pause spiritually.  I know, by the spirit, I was going to lose my exaltation if I stayed there.  I know I was going to get caught up in something, end up staying for the money, and I was being warned by the spirit all this was going to happen - until I knelt in prayer and asked God that it wouldn't happen.  Then a couple days later, I was suddenly walked out.  Terminated. 

Terminated in answer to my prayers. (Gosh that's hard to swallow because that was my dream job and I worked so hard to get it and it was good money too).

And then to think, or be told, I was going to be deceived and succumb and fall.  To know the scripture "I will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able" and hear it applied to me...I've been pretty proud of my spiritual insight...but to hear that I'd "met my match" and I was playing around with something too big for me to handle? 

I was saved from it, that I know.  

But wow...how mighty I am not...?

It's a lot to take in. 

Meanwhile...I just feel caught in the middle, and that increasingly, I'm not going to be able to walk in between two sides and am going to have to pick one side or the other.

We've been told that would happen....

And now I can see it more than ever.