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 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 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.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mortal Scars, Eternal Investments

You know...

Like people who are smart financially who put their money to work for them so they don't have to do as much work, Satan also likes to make investments that do his work for him.

He likes to leave scars.

Scars that make us do his bidding or feel his pain, long after the event is over.

He especially likes to do these in childhood when our spirits and minds are most tender, so he can leave scars well through most of our life that affect us.

 This is one reason why it is so important that we protect children from hurt because it really does damage over a lifetime.

This is one of the reasons it is so important for us to heal, learn to forgive, and allow the atonement to help us heal from past wounds - not because it does a service to those we heal from, but because it harms us not to heal.  We do things, and stumble in ways we don't want to and continue to affect our lives negatively and allow scars to ruin our destinies.

Similarly, Heavenly Father likes to give investments and he loves to start in childhood with our testimonies and such - missions, priesthood blessings, marriages and such - to help us build good habits and continue to receive blessings throughout our lives.

However, there's a few things are different between the two:  Satan likes to make us act without our awareness, and to hurt us and to cost us.  Heavenly father likes to awaken us, help us and bless us and heal us.

At any rate, undoing some damage may take years, decades, a lifetime, and sometimes we may not overcome some things in this life (like if it happens right before you die, probably not going to get over it in this lifetime....duh). And sometimes it helps to recognize when we are responding to scars - I think it helps us see who we "really" are.

Simple post.  Simple thought.  But it seemed profound and worth sharing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is What Teaws Us Apat.

This gay marriage controversy is driving me NUTS!  Especially among Latter Day Saints.

Since you're here, I'm going to tell you why:

Politics and political parties aren't going to save us or our religion or build the kingdom of God.

They may have an influence, but it isn't what we are to put our faith in.  They aren't the solution to the problems in the US or the world, and that's what too many church members are seemingly placing their trust in.

Going further.

It's fine and great that members understand the laws and the constitution and all that.  Great!  That's fine.  But seeings how none of my friends are in any political position of power to do ANYTHING about the law, other than get arrested for not following it, that's really not the point.

Our government is corrupt.  We know that.  The constitution has been and is being trampled and shredded.


We know that too.

But the question is, as church members, what are we to do about these issues with the power we do have?

I disagree with the Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis' actions in denying licenses to same sex couples even though ordered to - but not because I support gay marriage.  I don't.

Let's say that was a bishop or a stake president or one of the 70 who did that.  What kind of fallout would that have in the church, on membership, on missionary work?  It would be like banging on a beehive with a broomstick.  You might as well shoot yourself in the foot as far as the work goes.  You'd have just justified civil disobedience - or opposition to the law or even perceived law - and then put the church in the way of being sued or who-knows-what when people claim "President Monson made me do it."  Smart.  Real smart. (satire font).  Imagine the media fallout.

Not only that - the woman doesn't have any eternal power whatsoever!  Those marriages?? Till death, which will part them.

And they will never be sealed by genealogy work.

A Sealer, would forfeit his life before performing this ordinance on a same-sex couple, as well as the president of the church would revoke his keys and authority beforehand, or the Lord would take it. 

So let's say that they do want to force the temples to seal gay couples.  Do you *really* think at this stage of the game, with +140 of temples and a record number of missionaries and one chapel a day and more being built as well as recently purchasing 5% of the geographical landmass of the entire state of Florida for timber harvesting and growing faster than anything in the midst of a global recession that the church is just going to fold right now?  Yah, try that, let's see what happens.  Do you *really* think God is going to be silent in all this, with no consequences?

Do people really have a testimony of this work?  This is the stone cut out of the mountain that Nebuchadnezzar saw.   That's not to say there won't be opposition - oh certainly there is, has been and will be.

But like also with Nebuchadnezzar, nothing happens without the Lord's permission/allowance - as Christ said to Pilate "Thou couldst have no power at all except it were given thee from above."

So do people *really* think that this gay marriage thing is a surprise to the Lord?  That somehow it slipped by him and that we're being forsaken?  (Please stifle any 'yeah buts').

I know this and other things are going to be used by the Lord in his work.  How, remains to be seen.  But nowhere in the scriptures are we told to fret about it, or take up arms or be civilly disobedient or even being perceived as such.  We are to be model citizens and be perceived as such in all circumstances and to the furthest extent possible.  We know all these things are going to bring to pass a lot of end-times prophesy.  Maybe one of the blessings is for us to have an opportunity to bear testimony about marriage to the world amidst these things.

Not only that, we have to discern and be knowledgeable about where our responsibility and obligations and those of others around us, begin and end  Now, you can say she wasn't legally obligated....and that's why she ended up in jail. (Go back to the government is corrupt).  But here's why I disagree with her further.  She never announced she was going to work on the issue, try to find a solution to it, seek a compromise...nothing.  It was about her rights, her beliefs, her values, her thoughts, and not at all about those she was obligated to serve who also have beliefs, rights, values, thoughts and feelings - it presented a "me me me" mentality -  and now imagine a Latter Day Saint doing this and the fallout we would have.

Not smart.  Not diplomatic.  Not wise.

And haven't we been commanded to be wise?

We've been commanded to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

In my profession as a mental health counselor I sometimes work with individuals struggling with same-gender attraction issues who are fine with being homosexual, but not fine with the social struggles.  I've also worked with gender identity issues - women wanting to be men and such.

And this is where my missionary experiences and the eternal perspective of the gospel comes into play.  I know that not everybody is ready to be, nor can be, a Latter Day Saint right now, today, here, etc.   I also know that people have been given, and chosen, different struggles in mortality from our eternal home before here - gender and sexual issues being among them.  I also know that some people may convert to the gospel later in this life.  And most, not until the next. 

While outrage is certainly understandable in our world being turned on its head, we also need to have perspective and faith.  Not just faith in the Lord, but faith in our fellow man as well.  I see plenty of outrage.  Not much perspective or faith.

While working with people on sexual issues, I tend to look at the issues as steps forward and progress towards the next step - eternal progression.

My last issue is that our conduct and attitude need to be conducive to people wanting to receive the gospel from us in the future.  Throwing down some pat answer like we're Einstein because we know the law and THAT settles it is a jerkish attitude to have in front of those who have different opinions.  Haven't Latter Day Saints figured out / realized / thought that these are big issues - very emotional issues and personal issues and lifelong issues to those people?  How do church members like trite answers about their religion, marriage, beliefs?  Not much golden rule being lived that I see - just outrage - and christlike demeanor being tossed aside.

All of these things that are happening are opportunities to teach and bear witness and build bridges!  We just have to recognize them as such.

I don't mean to minimize or deny - I'm just looking at perspective, different perspectives - the perspectives we seem to miss.  Perhaps  the perspectives we have to take if we are going to live our faith in a fallen world.

These are hard issues to deal with.  These are tough!  They tax us spiritually, mentally and emotionally!  But for the "supposed true church" (taking the perspective of a cynical/skeptical outisder having converted, myself, when I was younger) I would have to say: "I'm not seeing it."

I expect THE true church to know and reflect these things - especially if I was new to the faith.

Such a widespread seeming collapse of faith?  True church?  Really?  Have you looked at this from a non-members' perspective, the skeptical perspective?  No.  These aren't the actions or thoughts of the true church when people do this.

Marriage aside, lets look at something more pressing: the land of Zion and what the Lord has said - trust me these are related:

 25 Behold, the land of Zion—I, the Lord, hold it in mine own hands;

 26 Nevertheless, I, the Lord, render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s.

 27 Wherefore, I the Lord will that you should purchase the lands, that you may have advantage of the world, that you may have claim on the world, that they may not be stirred up unto anger.

 28 For Satan putteth it into their hearts to anger against you, and to the shedding of blood.

 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.

 32 I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.

 33 I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man;

 34 And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire.

We have a work to do in regards to redeeming the land of the Lord and we NEED to be on good terms - and have the ability to be on good terms - with our fellow man that we may accomplish this peacefully and invite them to join us that they might be saved with us.

We need to have more wisdom, more faith, more charity, more faith - because these issues are much bigger than marriage.

And Satan wants to - is striving to - divide us up into all manner of ites, so that he can have us war against each other and he's going to use this and everything else he can to do it.  But we also need to have the wisdom and faith on this and every other issue so that we don't unwittingly....become the wicked, and suffer the same fate because we have a lack of godly knowledge, wisdom, charity or the spirit.

"Oh be wise, what can I say more?" (Jacob 6:12).

I hope we can be wiser for our eternal sakes, and see these things for what they really are.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

False Priests Who Oppress....

I actually am leery of technology/social-media when it comes to the gospel.

I won't join most facebook groups dedicated to the gospel for a few reasons: 

The gospel is sacred.  It must be, and should be, treated as such.  It isn't to be trifled with.  It is the laws that govern our eternal existence, not some mere curiosity to be intellectualized and bandied about. Fascinating though it is, I think most of it deserves a little bit more than casual conversation.

And unfortunately, with the anonymity of the internet, too much that is so sacred is trifled with in a manner by Latter Day Saints that it wouldn't be over the pulpit.  I actually - not to sound like a goody-two-shoes - don't like to be around that or seen around that. 

This in mind, I am human - trust me I have my sins and flaws! - but I try to keep my blog in the public sphere within standards that I would share across the pulpit and could share in Sunday School. 

So for this entry - you get a twofer.  My commentary on LDS blogs and social media, which I generally don't participate in or do so carefully, and something I learned from the scriptures.

As I was reading the Topical Guide on False Priesthoods (I'm surprised it didn't head it "Priesthoods, False") it gave me some insight into the tarot card readers of the type that are so commonly seen around Portland where I'm from.

First, most of them don't have any power.  Most are liars and frauds.  They take your money while they put on a show.  String you along for your five free questions and don't really tell you anything until they charge you and then they make stuff up.  The second kind, actually do have power from Satan.  But between them both of the two types, one is a fraud and a liar who deceives for money, and the second actually has power from the prince of darkness used to destroy mankind - both are evil.  You don't get to be the second kind without making some deals, and I don't believe it happens accidentally or unkowingly. 

I was also reading about human sacrifice in the scriptures, and it was interesting to me that human sacrifice doesn't increase anything but only decreases posterity.  Unless you count increasing your damnation, regret, and the horror of your civilization.  But Christ's death brought about life.  Adam's death brought about life.  The deaths of animals was instructive in the law of sacrifice, and did cost you economically to do so - which was its own instruction in not sinning to death.  But human sacrifice?  Only cost you, and didn't gain you anything.

Just thoughts tonight as I was reading the scriptures.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ugh, Over and Out

Well, it's been almost a week and a half since I got fired from work.   If there's a bummer is that in 8 days I'd have been a permanent employee.  I would have had my government benefits next...Wednesday.

Gosh my experiences in the psychology field have been negative so far.   School was psychotic.  The state mental hospital was another one that was part of the negative experiences of school.  Now I've been fired from a prison where I wasn't given a fair shake and the boss two levels above me is reportedly an alcoholic with an unstable love life that includes seducing security officers away from their wives so she can change her name a lot.  Oh, apparently my trainer did that as well.  And much much more.  It was a *dark* place and that was just because of what my colleagues had going on in their lives.  Another's husband was an officer at the prison, got caught cheating, then blew his brains out in front of his wife and kids.  Another would constantly tell me how she wanted to be a man so she could pee standing up and that was her sense of humor.  Another was reporting everyone for anything she could - who would brag in meetings how she was a mean drunk and she reminded me of those nasty, alcoholic wives that hang around the Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts who have nothing going for them but the days gone by.  She was the start of my downfall rather than coaching me making reports to my superiors.

I don't know if I want to list somewhere how negative an experience that was in its entirety, but I feel like I need to take a shower or have brain bleach at times.  Not because of anything the inmates/my clients did, but because of the...messed-uppedness of my colleagues.


And yet here I am asking what I did wrong and analyzing myself as to why I couldn't keep the job.

I could go on but I won't.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Anyway the Wind Blows

Join the political cause of the day! Right here!
Yet another outrage this week that requires people to change their profile pics, their causes, their outrage and support on facebook more often than Sneeches changed the stars on their bellybuttons.

People suddenly throw rainbow flags on their profiles....who have never marched in a parade or donated money to the gay pride movement before in their life.  People outraged over the death of a lion in Africa...who have never taken a hunting, ecology, taxidermy, environmental studies class in their life.  Who are suddenly "outraged" and descend into name-calling and arguments on facebook.

What's going to happen next week that we're going to be outraged about?

And what did we devote our lives to this past year to stop/help/improve?

The Facebook Advocacy is worse than a bunch of ADDers on caffeine, multi-tasking at an all-night squirrel convention, honestly.

Not only do I sometimes want to scream "Pick a cause and stick to it!" but I also wonder just how healthy this is spiritually for a society.

Unfortunately so much gets done in our politics when the winds finally blow with a gust, just right, in the direction certain movements need them to - yet consciousness and awareness has never been permanently raised beyond a facebook photo that gets forgotten over time. 

I try to keep my social media commentary from blowing every which-way as most people know I am a member of the church, as I know it might reflect poorly on the church. But honestly, I never feel like I'm getting the truth in the first place, ever.  I honestly think that I'm not going to know what's going on for at least a year after the first media-storm. 

(Like Trayvon Martin was mixing ingredients for a drug that makes you aggressive and that didn't even come up for a few weeks after his original shooting - just saying the media is different than the history books).

Beyond that though, there are causes, there is truth, and there are principles.  What principle are we abiding by when we chase cause after cause by only changing our facebook profile pic like a bunch of Sneeches?

I just find it pretentious to say I care when my support is marginal at best and my own jury is still out on the affair because it takes me over a year to form an opinion if only for the basis that I know the media isn't telling me the full story.

political activity and direction....go ahead....stand here
So! I have a few groups on facebook for a few different things.  Randomness where I sometimes rant.  My personal page which is about family and I rarely rant there. A psyche group that is almost entirely about work.  A genealogy group about LDS temple work and I try to put comments/ posts in the applicable sections.  I actively support the 2nd Amendment through facebook activism / information and letter writing - and whatever the church inspires me to do or be doing, but otherwise?  That's about it for me.  The world is full of corruption, I know it.  I'm a part of it personally with my own sins and if anything that keeps me a bit steadier because I remember my own weaknesses - but.....really the outrage of the week and then overlooking things like Planned Parenthood harvesting human body parts (Satan's Synagogue if there ever was one) getting ignored in the news?

I drove by an abortion clinic in Portland, the Lovejoy Surgicenter (isn't that sweet sounding?(satire font)) and I saw with my spiritual eyes a man in the spirit running around begging people to hear him to let him be born.  He was frantic.  He was tall and thin and handsome.  I was the only one who could see him.  A pro-life protester got kicked by an angry boyfriend there for the "surgery" and I leaned out my truck window and said "God Bless You" to the protester - who was just sitting there with his sign - and suddenly the spirit man saw me and recognized someone supported his side and he came over and looked at me and then gave me the biggest, celestial hug out of this world!  It was so incredible - an utter explosion of love and I couldn't believe it happened.  He was racing around his energy renewed.  And then today I read of Planned Parenthood's doctors pawing through fetus parts saying "another boy!" - no.  No.  Humans don't do that.  No.  Life is sacred.  Your oaths don't allow you to do that or joke about it.  Imagine that was someone you love's body parts they were saying that about. Wow. No.

And yet....we flip out more over the fag flag (as I call it - it's very pretty though) and Cecil the Lion than we do the destruction of our own cities and families and flesh because that's the way the wind blows.