Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Defileth A Man

In Mark 8, we read Christ's instruction to those around him that it wasn't what a man ate that defiled him, but that which came out of his mouth that defiled him.

Okay, all you Gentiles and Mormons, we all know he was saying that dirty cups and plates and food aren't going to pollute us, but foul language and evil speaking is going to pollute us.

Got it.

End of parable.

We're so smart, us Gentiles and Mormons.

Aren't we?   Hey, aren't we?   Yeah, I'm talkin' to YOU.

Well.....since I'm reading the gospels back to back, this is the second time I've read this instruction.

And it got me thinking - he was speaking to Jews (and everyone else at the time).  But the Jews have a dietary code a bit different from our Word of Wisdom, and to tell them that they aren't defiled for what they eat which could include violating Mosaic Law on the issues of food...?   When there are entire chapters of Leviticus dedicated to what not to eat, what to eat and how?   And here comes a man who is now telling them that what they eat isn't what defiles them?  Oh, I know what the scriptures say about this parable and the peoples' response, but both you and I know that this was yet another consideration on this topic to them.   I'm not saying it is why they killed him, I'm saying that it was consistent with his teaching that he will have mercy and not sacrifice, and clearly they had a problem with him and his teachings.

But, now, even today, we have many faithful Saints who do not understand the word of wisdom to whom we could also say the same thing, that it is not what goes into the mouth that defileth, but that which cometh out, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice saith the Lord."

Make sure you bless it so it defileth not....
Oh gosh...look where I've headed.  Back onto my least-favorite-topic, the Word of Wisdom.  Maybe subconsciously it is my favorite topic.  Perhaps I'm in denial and need to see a psychologist.

But until that is determined, I will point out that what you put in your mouth can affect what comes out of your mouth, and I'm not talking about drinking Everclear and doing the technicolor yawn.  But if what you consume causes you to act differently and thereby defiles you, then...I would say it is safe to say that there is definitely some wisdom behind this word given to the weak and weakest of Saints.  Once again, we see a harmony of the scriptures with modern revelation with ancient testaments (even though they be called "new").

I don't want to, but I feel compelled to mention that the things that don't necessarily impact our behavior, like "hot drinks" were given in consequence of the designs of evil men that exist and shall exist in the last days, and that the Lord chose to warn us and forewarn us.  'Nuff said, that's all you need to know.  

At any rate, I didn't mean to foray into the Word of Wisdom, I simply thought it was interesting how a parable / instruction given by Christ could be congruent with modern revelation some 2000 years later. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Recording a Legacy

perfect ambiance and weather for reflection and journaling
I'm trying to build better spiritual habits, one I recently begun was reading my scriptures every single day.  I haven't missed a day now since March 20th of 2014, the 1 year anniversary of my father's

As I do genealogy (and I'm finding I got a lot to learn about that here now) I realized that there was much of the present that is missing and I needed to do something beyond finding the past.

I needed to record the present for the future, for when I become the past.

Now, in addition to reading my scriptures every day, I've begun journaling in our family journal every night to capture the day's events.

I've journaled for several years, but there are quite a few gaps, often of months or even years in the journal.  But in looking back, there are some real treasures of the family in there.  Like my children talking in the back seat with my daughter for some reason trying to see her food in the dark while we're driving and saying she can't see it, and my son who was maybe six at the time, telling her it is because she doesn't eat her carrots that she can't see them, and he eats his and so he can see them.

The other day we had a squirrel in the kitchen, that was certainly interesting, another time we had a bird in our hotel room that I had to capture, and another time an angel came and rescued us on our vacation from a locked car and car troubles....

And yet so much I've missed.

All things take on their own life and form over time.  Evolution is a principle of the gospel, and I've found, or evolved, a few things that I enjoy in journaling.  One, I always record the date.  I also record where I was when I wrote it next to the date, along with the day of the week.  It is interesting that some entries are +33,000 feet somewhere over the midwest flying to Minneapolis or to New Orleans, other entries are done in the Mojave Desert, or on vacations.  It just adds to the color of the entry for me.  I always, if I can, record the weather.  

Weather its self adds to the mood of an entry.  Especially in Oregon with the rain we get here.  Some nights are just to die for with the rain softly falling outside the window, and a cool rainy breeze blowing in the open window while listening to it fall to the ground.  Perfect weather and ambiance for writing and reflecting on family events.

And lately, I've taken to giving the entry a heading, such as a recent one titled "Squirrel!" to make certain events easier to find. 

I recently learned that there are specific types of pens to write with called "archival pens" for journaling as well.  They are waterproof, they don't fade, and are acid free.  I found one at the store the other day for $2.19.

But at any rate, while I like to spend time online, I've found that the slower pace that writing by hand requires, gives me the opportunity to practice my cursive penmanship (always something that can use refinement), and the time to reflect and pour my heart out to future generations in a place where I don't worry about the things I worry about with writing online.  I have freedom!  And a place to write the sacred things of my heart to future generations.

Though I have found that, like a graduate paper, we edit and edit and edit until our paper says what we mean, and takes all things into account as it is supposed to so we can demonstrate our intelligence and ability, a journal shows our imperfections over time, as well as our growth.  It is important that we write things that we would want written and read in the future in there.  Much as we wish we could edit our lives like a paper, a journal should be inspired, I believe, as we cannot readily edit what is hand-written.  In the past, I've written a lot about world events, but it seems the drum-beat of war has become so steady, so continuous in our world, that it is almost unremarkable as to what is going on.  Hence, I have turned my attention to more spiritual, and personal affairs.  Things you won't find in the news a thousand years from now.  (That's a pretty profound principle, simple, but profound I think).

Yah....not quite this fancy....
At any rate, I've now found that taking the time to journal really does add to my spiritual depth.  I find myself counting the blessings of the day, and I also find myself remembering things through the day saying "Oh, I'm going to have to write that tonight!"rather than simply passing through life.  Journal writing is a spiritual activity!

Last night, I finished the last entry in the first volume of our family journal.  It spanned 9 years, 5 months, 18 days.  And a LOT happened in between then.  Now I gotta go find the second volume my wife gave me for Christmas to start writing in that. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Most Important __________

As I struggle to find my place in the church membership, I've found myself at odds quite often and seemingly outside the church very often.  I've blogged about this before, but wish to write on what I have learned about it a bit more.

I have very little patience with anything less than maximum power in the gospel.  In this world, there is nothing more important than this work and the things related to it.

When I hear excuses from people on things like about cub scouts not being contacted because the ward covers a vast geographical area, I grow very, very, very impatient, realizing that megalithic international companies can and will change multibillion dollar operations on a dime and in a day just to maintain a competitive edge.   Please don't talk to me about how hard it is.  If it was important, we'd get it done.

I want it done by yesterday.

And yet...what to do....especially when it impacts my children?

Well...one is that I'm supposed to be being the best dad I can possibly be.  I am supposed to be loving my family, having fun and finding joy with them.

And when I'm doing that...my children are going to learn how to discern their way through the rest of it all....a lousy den leader isn't going to matter as much for example.

I don't have all the answers on all the dynamics of everything, but if I'm doing anything other than inspiring the kingdom of God forward....I'm doing it wrong.  

Do we have weak leaders?  Yes we do.  But how can I strengthen them?  And that's the question.  When I bring the spirit into the ward in my personal life, that strengthens others.  When I bring the spirit into the ward in my family life, that strengthens others. 

We are told that "No success in life can compensate for failure in the home" and that "the most important work you do will be within the walls of your own home." 

I'm only now beginning to understand what that means.  It isn't because the other work isn't important (scouting, genealogy, etc.).   It is because there isn't anything that has as big an impact on all the other work as when we are faithful and diligent in our families!

Scouting isn't a substitute for healthy families.  It is a compliment to the work done within our families.   Genealogy isn't a substitute for church involvement and family home evening.  Genealogy is what happens when we are involved in church and are holding family home evening.

Just as our children are going to make mistakes when they are little, and we have to have faith that they will grow up and "get it" - we have to have patience in the process - we have to do the same in the church.

I'm finally finding my place in the gospel...and the funny part is...it was within the walls of my own home and in my own spirit and life the entire time...

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Scribes Say That....

In Matthew 17 we read: 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Well....Elias was John the Baptist. 
trust me....I got this....
Who was beheaded and cast aside....

So their doctrine was correct, but they didn't know what it was they were seeing.  So truly they weren't the watchmen  that the people should follow - they were blind leaders of the blind.

It is interesting to note - though this may be a grammatical or a cultural point on how they spoke or responded to questions, we've seen the Lord was very precise in how he spoke even in referring to "your God and my God" in differentiating himself from even his apostles - he never said "They are correct" in response to this question.  We don't see the dithering diversity attitude with the Lord, ever. 

Many are they today who profess this or that doctrine of baptisms, scripture or the spirit, and they are correct, yet, like the scribes, they do not recognize or acknowledge the work of the Lord and who actively fight against it.  All this being said...if this is the case...what good is the doctrine in the hands of the people who profess it?  

Just a thought....

The Gates of Hell

In Matthew 16 we read:

 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

I try not to get into semantics too much in conversations with others when it comes to proving a point, though I'm willing to wade into them if it means exploring depth, and furthering understanding. 

That being said, the only reason I would bring this up is to further understanding and explore the depth of the scriptures:

The "it" that Christ is speaking of, I do not believe is the church, but is the gift of revelation that the gates of hell shall not prevail against. The subject in the verse is revelation, not the church, the church is the object in the sentence.

Think about it - the church as an institution was overcome - unless we are speaking of other branches of the House of Israel that continued after the end of the Middle Eastern Christian Church in places such as the Nephite civilization.  That and we have to realize that John the Beloved asked to tarry in the flesh till the Savior come in his glory as also did at least 3 Nephites and doubtless others elsewhere (mark my word!).  That being said, I believe that there has always at every time been at the very least one (1) priesthood holder upon the earth since its creation - whether that constitutes the "church" or not, I do not know.  But if in this case, revelation, or simply truth, was what the gates of hell should not and could not prevail against...how powerful is truth?  And in order for there to be revelation....there has to be someone to receive it, meaning again....(a lot of assumptions here) that there would always be someone on the earth to receive it. 

tie over my shoulder...out in the world...unofficially preaching my opinion here
Oh, we could turn to Amos 3:7 and realize the Lord would do nothing except he revealETH (continues to) his secrets the prophets, and the Lord was surely working during the Dark Ages and other times and at all times....why would he abandon his creation and leave no priesthood upon it?  Talk about surrendering the planet! 

So while there was a long, dark night of apostasy, I do believe the church was taken from the earth as an institution among mankind, but the priesthood has always been present since it was first given, and with that priesthood, the gift of revelation.  And how powerful is the priesthood and revelation if it only takes one man to hold it and receive it to maintain the creation of God. 

Whether all this be true or not, I have not the authority to declare it.  But until something convinces me otherwise, I will say, I believe it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Danger In 32 A.D. In a Loaf of Bread

In the New Testament Book of Matthew I read something that might ordinarily slip past me, but caught my eye this evening:

 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
 ¶Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. (Matthew 16). 

Now at this point, I'm not certain what they interpreted the "beware" on a food item to be a caution against.  Poisoning?  Some intrigue leading to a murder involved during an exchange of leaven or bread with the Sadducees or Pharisees?  Or simply a ritual uncleanness that would make one unfit for the Kingdom under the Law of Moses, although at this point in the story, Jesus has discoursed pretty thoroughly on the uncleanness and rituals of the two sects.   At any rate, it is clear they thought that it had to do with the food its self at first.

But for them to jump to a conclusion, and make the leap to think that it is a warning about bread of the sects - gives just a hint as to their esteem of these groups, and possibly what the groups were capable of and their awareness of it.

At this point in the Book of Matthew, John the Baptist had called the sects a generation of vipers, and the sects were soon to tempt Christ into admitting to treason against Caesar so they could put Christ to death under Roman law (convenient how they hate the Roman occupation, but will quickly use Roman law to execute one of their own), and had sought all sorts of ways to cast them into trouble. 

So when we see all these things (and more that I haven't listed here) it is clear that being a disciple of Christ was actually a dangerous proposition, and the people they were dealing with and teaching were dangerous - as the deaths of the Apostles and Christ himself would witness.  But the fact that they knew it at this time, or that there is a hint at this stage of the story of their awareness of it, and of who the sources of it could and later would be, casts a very dark pall over the realities the Apostles were not only aware of, but had to contend with in their discipleship.  It makes me wonder how they were able to do any work at all among such a truly wicked generation!

All seen in the interpretation of a warning about bread.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Strength In Kindness, Keep Your Lamp Lit

I've been reading Matthew 12 and pondering it over the past few days - how if we aren't kind to others, or if we have a disagreement to others, we are to reconcile those disagreements before we even serve the Lord or go to the temple.

It is very clear that how we treat others is more of a measure of our discipleship than any other commandment we keep, as loving our neighbor is the Second Great Commandment.  And when we are faithful and compassionate to our fellow man, we are faithful and compassionate to our Lord thereby.

But we live in an age - especially with the social media that surrounds us and pervades our lives - that is tumultuous and designed specifically to stir up our hearts and souls against our fellow man.  It is calculated to create uncertainty, fear, lead us to abandon time-tested principles of faith in a knee-jerk reaction of war against those who we are told are or should be or we should think they are our enemies.

But what if....we just repented instead?
keep yours lit, don't let it go out!

What if they repented?

It could happen, you know.

"Oh, but it won't" I can hear the imaginary people in my audience, saying.

Okay, perhaps not everybody all at once right now, though the scriptures do tell us that every kneel shall bow and every tongue confess....

Can you or I tell though, out of the masses, who will and will not repent?

And....how many people think you or I need to repent?  We certainly can't control whether others repent.

But out of the masses we DO control if we repent ourselves.

And this is the amazing thing, doctrines aside, baptisms aside, scriptures aside, temple ordinances aside, marriage covenants aside, sabbath aside, tithing aside....all that aside - if we are living and loving others and helping them be better people and care about others, we are helping them live the most important part of the gospel.  We are helping them convert.  They are feeling the spirit. They are living the gospel!  Whether they believe in it or not.

And perhaps this is why the Second Great Commandment is so important.

But perhaps beyond that, in being kind in a world where it is so easy to not be kind, we become more of a master of ourselves than if we just react.

On that note, it is interesting how Christ has talked in his scriptures about a day of wrath that he is waiting for.  This guy's self-control is such that he can go through what he did and hold his temper for 6,000 years, and in the middle of being murdered say "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."  That being said, the cry from the devils who possessed a man before being cast into the swine was perhaps as much an inquiry as it was a taunt "Art thou come to torment us before the time?" meaning has he changed his mind, lost control, finally had it with them and been goaded into doing something other than what he planned and decreed?

There certainly is something to be said for for self discipline in how we regard others and how we keep the commandments of the Lord.  Does one crime erase another?  Does unkindness cover and heal unkindness?  Shall we be dishonest and cruel because life is hard?

We have to note that the golden rule does not tell us to "do unto others so they will do unto us what we would have them do."  No, that is manipulation.  It simply tells us to do it.

There is a lot of kindness in the world, but the unkindness?  We need to be careful not to let the darkness extinguish our light.  We need to keep our lamps lit.  The bridegroom soon cometh.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Creating A God's Body & Being A Doctor for Free

The creation of our Lord's mortal tabernacle has been the subject of much speculation as to exactly "how" was Mary made pregnant with child.   I've heard some...interesting theories in the world of mormondom on the topic.

The Lord made Adam, and made Eve from Adam, and God could have easily made the Savior the same way Adam was made.  But from the creation of Adam, we see there are no limits to how the Lord can create life - so in the case of Mary, we needn't assume the Lord is limited, as we are, to how life can be created to suit the Lord's purposes.

As for the Lord healing people, certainly the Lord could have spoken the word and had all disease and illness eradicated from the world. In a single word.  But instead, people had to come to him and ask.  And then they were answered.  Much as it is with prayer and the blessings of the church.

Kind of like a doctor - I could think of the Savior's profession as being like that of a doctor or psychologist or something - and this was what he did full time.  He went around and healed people!  It was his skill.  His trade.  His profession!  And yet....for it?  He charged nothing.  Except that they ask for it.

The implications of this I haven't yet realized, but it is what I am reflecting on as I have started the New Testament in my daily scripture study.