Friday, May 22, 2015

The Tools of War

I am a combatant veteran of the United States Navy.  I served in a combat role, and have been in harm's way in the service of my country.  My father is a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran.  My grandfather is a highly decorated World War Two Veteran. 

As I look back on their wars and my own I contemplate the sides of war - this side and that - our side and time as I looked at the enemy across no-man's land, across a minefield and at their guns pointed at I watched the things that happen across a minefield between two opposing forces...I one day realized, that if those guys on the other side believed the gospel....we might not be at war on each side.

As I contemplate the fallen, and look at what destruction is being done at the head of my country in the White House and Congress - the massive destruction being done without weapons - by cold, corrupt hearts and lying tongues....I began to realize, the tools of war, aren't guns. 

We could have had peace a long time ago in the middle east if we would repent.  We could have peace now if we would repent.  The tools of war are lies and fear.

Interesting another tool of a different kind of warfare is kindness.  And it can take courage - bravery! - to be kind in the face of fear - to an enemy who may kill you.  So many virtues that threaten to unravel the snares of war and twists of conflict are brought about by home and visiting church kindness....forgiveness....repentance....

But the power of

I think if we used these tools more often....think of what we could bring about and how

Just musing....

When I look at war, I don't see "our side" and "their side" anymore, I see mankind in need of repentance all around.  Oh, that's not to say that we are always wrong for going to war - we read that there is a time for fighting and a time for peace.  But I know if we repent, wars would be far fewer in between, we would become an unstoppable force, and there would be truly peace - rather than desolate lands ravaged by warfare leaving women and children to mourn when it is over, and no real....anything to build on.  Except to prepare for the next war....

Just musing....

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mental Illness and the Whispers of the Holy Ghost

If you don't know, I have a Masters in Counseling Psychology, I work for the government in the Department of Corrections doing diagnosis and evaluations of mental health, and mental health treatment planning and a bunch of other stuff in a  prison.

That being said, I just finished at the State Mental Hospital and am quite familiar with schizophrenia and all sorts of hallucinations.  Today, in Gospel Principles, I commented briefly on the difference between the promptings of the Holy Ghost and an auditory hallucination.

I haven't had an auditory hallucination, but I deal with those and visual hallucinations in patients quite frequently and the difference is this:

The promptings of the Holy back to you and add knowledge to things you don't know and can't know.  The Holy Ghost warns you, keeps you safe, brings harmony, enlightens, brings peace, calms, soothes, enlightens, inspires, leads, directs, unifies.

Delusions?  Auditory hallucinations?  Don't generally do that....and definitely not reliably.  They are not grounded in reality, are distracting, harmful, hurtful, disruptive, disunifying, chaotic, create fear and paranoia, put people in danger, and most of the time I am told they scream things like "You're gonna die!" "Jump off a bridge!" Sometimes they whisper, but usually they leave their recipients in fear and confusion.  They aren't "linear" in that there is not progression of logic that can be reasonably construed to be logical.

Thankfully, the psyche field has now moved beyond "hearing voices means that you're mentally ill!" a-la-1950's, but now takes into account cultural differences for different religions that may claim hearing voices is normal - so hearing voices doesn't automatically garner you a "whacko" status in your psyche eval, but instead, is recognized that religion  needs to be taken into account. 

But in the end, the holy ghost is uplifting and positive, mental illness is generally harmful and disruptive.  And....we can run experiments to prove that the Holy Ghost is speaking to us - think of your own example and experience, and: voila! You have your answer, witness and testimony on the subject!

Holding Onto Forgiven Sins

In the Book of Enos - one of my favorite books because of his obtaining forgiveness of his sins through prayer, and going personally to the Lord - I don't know about you, but my sins trouble me, and I want desperately to return to my Father in Heaven, and yet...sometimes it just seems that sin gets in the way, and we need it taken care of.  The fact that a prophet of the Lord was also imperfect, and could pray and be forgiven, has always inspired me.  

And I think we might too easily leap to the conclusion that it was the fact that Enos prayed all day and night that secured his forgiveness of sins.   But last night I noticed another step, or facet, hidden in Enos' endeavors that I think we miss, and yet trip over all the time:

 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

 Interesting that in verse six, it notes that it was because Enos knew that God couldn't lie that his guilt was swept away.  

How often has God told us that our sins are forgiven and we don't believe him? 

Can we, in essence, by not believing the Lord, hold onto our sins?  Can we be worthy and qualify for forgiveness, having repented and been faithful, but through a lack of testimony, through a lack of belief....hold onto our sins and not let them go, even when the Lord says that we are forgiven?  

Oh, absolutely. 

In Alma 34 we read:  31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

 I know our Protestant brethren really struggle with some of the LDS cultural concepts of the forgiveness of sins, as they see forgiveness as much more instantaneous and miraculous than the LDS often do.  Very often we think of repentance as more of a lengthy process of works rather than an instant act of faith. 

Truly there needs to be some works of repentance and improvement if we are to be forgiven.  Again, Enos did pray all day and into the night before he was told he was forgiven.  But when he was finally forgiven, it was this last acknowledgement, this last testimony, where he knew the Lord could not lie and he accepted what was given, that swept his guilt away, instantaneously and completely. 

Enos could have easily said "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!  What I've done is so terrible, I can't be forgiven!  I don't deserve it!  I am not worthy...." and then continued on his way refusing the Lord's forgiveness and absolution.  He could have set himself above the Lord  by doing this, in essence, calling him a liar!  But it must be noted, he knew the Lord could not lie.  If we do not know this, if we refuse to accept the Lord's forgiveness when we've been told we are forgiven, we are calling the Lord a liar.  We are telling him he made a mistake!

Now, think on this..."..with what judgement ye judge ye shall be judged" (Matthew 7:2).  If we refuse to accept the Lord's judgement that we are worthy and forgiven, even though it is given to us, if we judge ourselves as unworthy despite the Lord's assurances we are, we can qualify ourselves for less than the Lord is willing to give us. 

But it was the acceptance of the Lord's atonement that was the final step.  

And we have to take the last step and accept it.  He can't do it for us, and he won't do it for us.  We have to choose.

And it is all wrapped up in the next verse of Enos when he asks the Lord how it is done, and the Lord replies: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen.  (verse 8)

 It wasn't because of the length of his prayer.  It wasn't because his father, Jacob, was a prophet. It wasn't because he was out in the wilderness away from civilization.  It was because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Believing the Lord, turning to him, turning away from sin, accepting what was given.  These are faith!  Faith unto repentance and forgiveness!

Otherwise, we may be holding onto forgiven sins, and thereby separating ourselves from the Lord.  It does us no good to repent only to choose to deny the Lord afterwards and keep ourselves from him! That's an exercise in vanity if there ever was one.  

Called To Serve....

I've moved into a small ward in a fairly remote place now.

My town is only 2 miles long and about 5 square miles and 11,000 people.

There are four LDS wards though.  Nevertheless, the ward I'm in I guess covers most of the farmland to the west and our ward is shrinking.

More people are moving to Idaho for lower taxes and cheaper houses.

Our Elder's Quorum meets with the High Priests weekly just to keep the numbers in the meeting up.

This isn't new.  When I was in the military, I was First Counselor in the LDS Military Group in Cuba and I think we had maybe 20 members or so.  Nevertheless, it was a very weighty calling, and we were the only organized LDS group in the entire country.

Now I've been called as First Counselor in the Elder's Quorum.

I'm not sure what all this is going to entail but I know that I've been called.

To preside in the only quorum that has the keys to the Melchizedek Priesthood at the ward level.....that's a weighty responsibility.

I've prayed to know what the Lord would have me do in my calling and what he wants my energy focused on.  And I've started reading the church manual on priesthood responsibilities.

My one thought going into this as we need to improve home-teaching is this: what if the Holy Ghost was as diligent as we are in home teaching?

Or other callings?

We need to magnify our callings.  Learn them, and magnify them. 

There are 29,000+ wards and branches in the church, and that means 89,000+ bishops and counselors, all affirmed by the First Presidency.....that's a lot of people to be responsible for.  That's more than I've ever managed in a company - the most I've managed is about 75.

They can't do it all or even be responsible for everyone in a ward. 

I guess that's my job now to help inspire people to take care of the missing and inactive. To magnify our callings.

It is going to be interesting sitting in council with the Stake President much more often than I ever have in my life.   I'm grateful that I can kneel in prayer to my Heavenly Father and ask my temptations and shortcomings be taken away so I can be worthy to serve, because this is a weighty responsibility, and my worthiness is always a .  It was completely unexpected, too.  I was hoping for a calling to genealogy or something.   I didn't expect this at all.

I have another interview for a calling I guess in a bit and I'm not sure what this is about - the whole "calling" thing is kinda strange to me how they speak to the husband first, and so on.  So I'm not sure who this calling is for, me or my wife, but the High Council wanted to speak with me, and I wheedled it out of them what they wanted to see me for, and then they asked me to bring my wife along so.....what....two callings? 

I am not sure. 

I just know that this was entirely unexpected.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Marriage - Gay, Polygamous, Straight and Otherwise

There's a huge debate going on in our nation right now. 

One that I think is going to have a huge impact on a lot of things.

Whether or not the government can require states to recognize gay marriages.

Here's what I think:

First - we believe in being subject to the law, honoring and sustaining it.

Second - we've been given the power to change it by our creator, and this has been enshrined in our constitution.

That being said....allow me to weigh in on my small corner of the internet.

First, a marriage between two men isn't marriage by definition.

But then....we also believe that men are free and should be free to believe what they will.  If two men wish to call themselves husband and husband...who am I to tell them they can't?

People are going to do what they want.  

Our nation was founded on the principles of liberty.  As regarding marriage, the first amendment prohibits congress from prohibiting the free exercise of religion.  So if a part of your religion is gay marriage, the government can't stop it.  If part of your religion is polygamous marriage....well....the government did stop that, and gay marriage too - but strictly read, they weren't supposed to.  Otherwise God's church wouldn't have presented a test case to keep the practice nor would it have been entered into in the first place on polygamous marriage.

But the bottom line in our land of liberty is that we have the freedom to choose.  Our laws aren't supposed to compel us to do good, but to allow us to and uphold us in doing so.   The issue with the gay marriage debate is about us being forced to go against our beliefs on marriage - forcing religions to marry people they don't believe they should....or forcing you to bake a cake for someone you don't want to and threatening to bankrupt you if you don't.  That's the real issue.

I think personally we are spiritually dead as a nation because we don't live the 2nd great commandment.  We put our trust in laws, rather than in God.  I am not in favor of gay couples marrying and having children, but I do not see where the laws as written can stop them, nor do I think it is in the child's best interest for it to happen - but the simple fact is....our society and it's views are changing....and as the constitution and bill of rights were written....that's our choice as consenting, mature and accountable, straight, polygamous or otherwise.....(good luck marrying an animal because you need consent).  I think we should more than focusing on laws focus on learning and choosing what is right....

I dunno.....we the people.  I think if we lived the 2nd great commandment, most of our ills would go away - on this and every other issue. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

A.M. Static

I've been an AM radio junkie since about 2003 when I got off my mission.

I first heard Rush Limbaugh then, and....given all that I'd seen in the military, and all that I had seen on my mission....Rush was the only one who was getting the story right.

I listened to Rush for about 12 years.   Sean Hannity.  Mark Levin.  Glenn Beck.  Hugh Hewitt - I loved Hugh, he was fun to listen to.  Tony Snow....I even have a personal email sent to me from Tony Snow before he died of cancer when he was the White House Press Secretary under Bush, in response to an email where I told him I was praying for him.  He said he believes in prayer very much and thanked me for my thoughts of him.  Larry Elder.  Victoria Taft.  Michael Savage.  Laura Ingrahm.  Tammy Bruce.  Mike Gallagher.  Lars Larson......I knew them all and listened to them daily at work.

But at any rate....if you haven't noticed....our world is in trouble.  Lots and lots of trouble.  And then....not as much as it seems, at the same time.

Over time, I came to realize a bunch of things about Facebook and AM radio and even the news.

Very little of them, on them, by them....has anything to do with those things most sacred to me that I have been charged with keeping sacred in this life before I return to my heavenly father.

I've become convinced that the adversary has been working so hard, so long, on the American government that it has, over two centuries of corruption, become to where you and I are powerless in it.  There's all these three-letter organizations over which we have no power anymore who run our lives for us - IRS - DEA - EPA and so on.

And then you listen to AM Radio....they are right....and yet, they are wrong at the same time.

They are wrong, because, while the left may be the problem it is us, not living the virtues of the right, that is also causing us so much heartache.

I really don't need to listen to a radio station and fill my life and time with the rotten things that crooks and criminals in the great and spacious building are doing that affect me that I have zero power over; meanwhile I ignore - and am not learning - how to take care of the very things that they don't have power over most directly, namely my marriage and my children and my spiritual well being by listening to that AM Static

about as uplifting as the news....maybe even more...
I'm convinced that all of this is just designed to make you stressed out and frustrated and keep coming back to search for truth - and it is truth - but it isn't the truth we need.  

Keep listening to Mark Levin (he's pretty vitriolic)...or any of the others and you will never have peace.  Listen all you want to Rush and Sean.  But if we wish to change our world, change our hears, have peace amidst the storms, we need to take refuge and plant our feet on gospel sod.  Stand in holy places and be not moved.

Whatever is going on in Baltimore right now with the riots?  I've got to maintain peace in my own family right now.  Getting amped up over a single city thousands of miles away...or any of the police shootings....and being powerless to stop them....isn't going to benefit me any, spiritually, eternally.

I need to live right now.  Right here right now.  If I put my face right up to the screen, and turn on some can look like the whole world in front of me is violent.

like this but mine's cooler :)
....The other day I about finished our new Family Home Evening planner.  Can't buy them like I make them (I make them out of wood, handcrafted and woodburned) and nobody on the radio or news is telling me I need to.  Our children look forward to it, especially when their name ends up on the activity or snack.  But it is one of those things that makes our home flow and peaceful and that helps my children and me and my wife finish our journey spiritually and emotionally in this world. 

We do need to know what is going on in our world - but much of it is in Lehi's dream.  If you know your scriptures, you know more of what's going on than they can tell you on the news.  But don't let it corrode your soul. Fill your spirit and your heart with the good news of Christ and let that change the world where God has put you in those lives that you matter the most in - and leave the rest?  To God.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deeper Waters

My life right now....getting deeper and moving faster...
I've been a facebook junkie for years. 

I think in hindsight I've posted a little...too much...on there.

And now?  Life has taken a radical turn with my new career. 

I do psyche assessments at a ridiculously fast pace compared to anything I've done before.

And a consequence of being so focused on that....when I get on facebook, I just see mental problems.

I've got issues just like anyone else, but my main issue is...I need a break from it when I get off work. 

I see thinking errors, sarcasm, criminal mentality, dependent personalities, people who put way too much out there who should be seeing a psychologist and taking their pills instead of typing it on facebook - although some of that I'm asking for by belonging to some groups - one group I had to leave, it was an LDS mental helth group and....I just, personally, have this thing against ex mormons who come in posing like they have an innocent question and then use the pretense of inquiry to bash the church and blame their mental problems on the church - I don't mind ex mormons so much as the pretentiousness and lies that so often come with them to attack my faith and blame something else for their problems rather than their own choices and accountability - more mental issues of a maladaptive sort.

In the past I've answered questions for friends  - was a good chance to practice psyche - but I think I'm done doing that because it is too exhausting on top of work right now - the psychology of a prison is incredibly, incredibly dark - very very deep and dark - and the stuff I have to sift through to get to the truth and then not set off defenses, build a working relationship *around* lies and get doors to open.....that's an art and it's exhausting. 

That and people really, honestly, don't actually want help so much as to hear that they are right.  I've had a friend call me - and ask professional help - and I gave them the best I had on criminal psyche and then they didn't tell me the whole story (typical for anyone talking to a shrink - we all wanna look good and aren't ready to have someone climb in our head - maybe too emotional and forgetting a ton of details? - either way I don't blame them but still annoying - don't ask for help if you aren't going to be honest...or be honest about what you really want....) and then it keeps turning out I'm wrong about everything I'm sharing until I had just about had it talking with them on the phone.  I was about to throw my hands in the air and call it quits and was annoyed by the 1/2 hour mark. 

At any rate, something has come out of this right now.  I get people whose lives are falling apart in my office - destroyed - and the most touching line I've heard so far was this said by a man in hysterics and sobbing and barely holding it together in my office...he hid a drug problem from his family but was apparently successful in the meanwhile, pushed his kids through school and they are very successful with their grades even, until one day...a traffic stop led to his arrest and being outed in front of his family, and they lost everything - are going on welfare and losing their home while he's locked up.  He sobs "I'm not a big time corrupt criminal, I'm just a stupid drug addict." 

I began to cry with him he was in such a bad place and drew on so much that I had learned as a missionary to comfort the brokenhearted...and I told him "....I'm so sorry....that's such a hard road you're" and he about choked and said I was the first person who seemed to care in this system that doesn't care at all.  Kindness doesn't cost us anything. 

But out of it all....things are moving so fast for me that the space on facebook no longer suffices to even express a complete idea it seems.  It seems so fast paced that it seems all the space on facebook is a sustained, perpetual, endless, repetitive AND redundant, incomplete idea. 

yah I need to be doing this
I don't even know what to type anymore there. I only get a handful of people who see it anyways.  So why not spend a bit more time here and make it deeper and more meaningful....or go spend my time with my family recovering from work? 

At any rate, I've realized the cyber world isn't a healthy support and not the best friend - it works while getting through school and such but darn....the stuff really has hit the fan now....seriously....and much much more is needed....

At any I'm doing woodwork again in my garage, though I'm so exhausted from being a caretaking husband I don't get to do as much as I want to or could....I don't get to work with my wife....I care for her or do things myself if I'm not running around with my kids.  But in the meantime....I'm just learning to have faith and that God has called me here and that my blessings will be fulfilled. 

So deeper waters are where I swim for now, I rather enjoy it, but I certainly have some growing to do.

Led Out - Oh Babylon Oh Babylon We Bid Thee Farewell

I took a job working far, far away from my home of living in the Portland, Oregon area, recently.

In fact, the place is known as being "remote" and there isn't much here.  It is the least populated region in the state, and one of the poorest.  When I go to the store, often they don't have what I am looking for on this or that, and there isn't another store nearby to go to search for it.  I might even be saving money simply because things aren't here!  And while it is remote, to the few thousand who live here and the small towns, populations of 150 and so around here, it is home. 

In fact, when I came for the job interview, I was told it was "in the middle of nowhere" and I thought "Yeah yeah yeah" and didn't think much of it.  It turned out to be 75 miles between gas stations before I pulled in here.  Oh, and some mountains on the last leg ate up gas more than a leisurely drive.  I thought, on my drive in, that the remaining miles were going to be no problem for my fuel and I would refuel as I pulled in, but the hills ate up the gasoline I had much quicker than anticipated (having never been here before) and I found myself white-knuckling it into town for my interview, praying I made it.  Great introduction to Nowheresville.

But for now we have a nice house, a yard, and plenty to go see and do in the outlying areas that we haven't done before.  Scenery anyways, because there isn't much city to see.  And the weather here is just blows through.  Lot's of wind here.  Freezing and snow in the morning, sunburn in the afternoon, or it is bright and sunny and hot through the windows, but freezing outside.  I never quite know what to write in my journal on the weather entry when I journal.

But we have left Portland, and now.....are in the middle of nowhere, really.  Not sure why out here but yes, out here, is where we've been led.

And now my son wanted a blessing the other night because he didn't feel like this was home to him and was feeling homesick.

Amazing thing about blessings.  You don't get to choose what to say.  I've noticed brethren who know their scriptures really well and have great faith are more articulate in blessings because they know the word of the Lord and his plan, but apart from those differences, we don't get to choose what to say.

In the blessing I told my son - it was said - that great judgements were getting ready to befall the earth (didn't say how soon, just soon) but that, like Lehi, we have been led out and away from that city to a safer place.  (????!!!!!!!!) 

Rewind about 18 years back in Portland, Oregon.  Elder Oaks and some of the 70 were giving a conference in Portland Oregon.  One of the things I remember the general authorities saying about Portland was, "The time will come when we will no longer feel safe anywhere in this city but in the walls of the temple."  Who might believe that back in 1998?

Now fast forward to 2015 (I keep thinking it's 2016 for some reason, why does it feel like 2015 was last year?).  Oregon's corrupt government is passing gun laws to make criminals - felons - out of law abiding citizens who believe in the 2nd amendment - and destroy their lives, their families, their livelihood - with the same laws, lies and logic that Hitler used to disarm his nation.   I'm a gun owner.  Were I to stay back in Portland, career would be destroyed and so would my family.  Or the violence that is going to come would catch up to us.  Either I have the option to move across the border to a gun-friendly state because I'm not going to surrender my firearms or metaphorically put a yellow star on myself so me and my family can be identified by these crooks.  Only a fool would.  And when men and women lie to pass laws and then call it justice, and then will throw you in prison for breaking their"laws" is a dangerous time, indeed.   It is a dangerous time.   The time to flee and wake up is before the calamity hits, by watching the signs.  When Hitler starts passing laws against Jews, waiting until you are in the gas chamber (respectfully) is not the time to decide to flee Germany as a Jew.  Waiting until Babylon conquers Jerusalem is not the time to leave.  It's pretty clear things are happening in this world.

I am amazed by what I learn in a priesthood blessing.  They aren't mine to choose as to what to give or say.  More than a few times have I been told things that surprised me and I had to double check before I pronounced the blessing that the inspiration was real - only to have another give the same blessing to the same person some time later who I never knew and never spoke to about the incident and never knew about the earlier blessing, either (whew!).   I did not know as a father and priesthood holder, that we, as a family, were being led out.  I will be at this job for some years.  And I know it is a calling, my job.  But I did not know we were being led out, among other things.  What could happen in 20 years while I am here?  If the past is any indication....a lot.  Maybe even "everything."

I am a lot closer to my fellow Latter-Day-Saints not far from the Mountains of Ephraim, rather than in a city that a single earthquake will totally destroy the transportation infrastructure with fourteen bridges crossing the river tying the city together, and be rampant with disease given the drug culture and so much more there....and...I just think it is amazing to be here.  When and what will happen?  I don't know.  I only know what was said by the general authorities, and what was said by the Lord that I was told to say, and that I am supposed to be here.  But for now....

I did not know, but we have been....led out.  Like Lehi.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Where's the Risk? (Satire)

Okay, my wife's permanently crippled and is in a wheelchair for the rest of her life - so this is cool and all because most people don't get to do this in a wheelchair....but then I thought....."He's already paralyzed from the waist down....where's the risk?  That's like half the awe on this is what they risk..." 

Not that I look for people to risk their lives, and not that he's not risking anything but...just suddenly.....I dunno....

Friday, April 24, 2015

Polygamy's Catch 22 (Satire)

I don't think men can win with women in the realm of polygamy - not that men can win with women anyways.   Interesting how a man's business with his wife - them two together -  suddenly becomes the business of women everywhere on the topic of polygamy...

If you are open to the is clearly and obviously only because men have no depth whatsoever to their personalities other than a desire for more and variable sex. 

If you are not interested in the idea because of things like say, living in a house full of women jealous and angry at each other would drive you crazy, then you're a sexist chauvinist. 

I could go on, but I won't.  I'll stop there.