Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nothing Higher

My religion has been a terrorist target here in the USA.  By supposedly pious Protestants as well as Satholics historically, and most recently by open-minded liberals while chanting that they want diversity of opinion.

Having sworn an oath to my country that involved the laying down of my life to protect others in the service of my country, and having experienced a bit of terrorism myself, I am very intolerant when it comes to the oppression of others.

You must always remember, whoever it is, they are a human being.  They have a mother, a grandmother,  a grandfather, a father, someone!  Somewhere who loves and loved them and had high hopes for them.  And even when that cannot be found in close proximity when you look at another human with some "messed up" ideology, an an abused and abandoned child, remember this: you are looking at someone so desperate for a chance to have a body with its experiences it afforded after winning the war in haven that they were willing to take upon them a distorted body, a malfunctioning brain, or whatever, and come into a family full of abuse and horrific circumstances as a helpless baby and to try and change the world from there.

Yesterday on facebook one of my fellow veterans cracked a joke about killing Muslims. 

I served in our Fine, Fine, United States Navy with a Muslim who covered me more than a few times in the line of duty. 

There is a Mosque next door to me literally across the street and I have worshipped with them and they welcomed me in to worship with them. 

Now I am not saying that "because I served with them and went to prayer with them that therefore things are okay."  No.  That's not it. 

I am saying, because they are a human being, they are entitled to - ENTITLED TO - that respect as a child of God.

As in: "Dad, one of God's children is at the door, he needs something."

"Treat him as a child of God and see what he needs."

I made the remark that not only has my religion experienced terrorism even with our chapel being burned down at one point in an act of arson, but that any Muslim can live with me if they respect my right to worship as I choose and they support liberty.

I also quoted Matthew and the Lord "With what judgement ye judge ye shall be judged."  

I don't know if I've been unfriended since then.

But if we are willing to kill people simply on the basis of religion and justify it....then that is exactly what the terrorists did to us on 9/11. 

And then we are no different.

And how can we expect God to bless us when that is our mentality - all while we wave the flag and sing "God Bless America"?

 On the issue of Muslims versus the west, the Muslims are the children of Esau.  That makes them our brethren. 

But God created the nations and separated them beginning at the scattering from the tower. To live with someone different than you in peace and harmony, complete with religious differences and even theologies diametrically opposed in some areas....there is nothing religiously higher we can do in this world.

That is the 2nd Great Commandment.

When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.

As I have loved you, love one another.

There is no greater way to bring the blessings of heaven down upon our nation or society.  Forget doctrines and ideologies - the blessings of heaven will be most fully bestowed upon us as a people when we live this commandment *amidst* diversity and despite it. 

There is nothing higher.

And when we do this, then we will have become one.




Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ripple

you....me.....everyone we see.....
Everyone's life is important.

Everyone.

Every.   One.

Think about it.

I know many of us may not outwardly seem to  know our life's purpose and certainly very few of us end up in the history books on the side of good.

But we weren't sent here to be famous.  Every.  Single. Life.  Touches others who touch others, both forward and backward.  Much like the ripple of a pond.  Not all of us make a "big splash" in the pond of history or of life, but all of us make ripples, some larger, some smaller, that are felt by all.

While Joseph Smith was certainly one of the largest stones dropped in the pond of life in these last days (or perhaps his work rather than being ripples was as the tiny stone cut out of the mountain) there are those around us who may never know Joseph Smith, who may not need Joseph Smith....as much as they need you.

That kind word and gesture can and has kept people from ending their lives.   Has helped hold families together when others decided to quit leaving a legacy of divorce and other tragedies that span generations from such a juncture in life.   I cannot....describe how important you are.  It cannot be written in words here.  You've impacted people for good in ways you will never know and which are known most only to those you have done them to.

Most of your worth and goodly influence and value will never even be seen or understood in this life.  Least of all by you.

That doesn't come until after this life.

But just as surely as the Lord has created Joseph Smith and set him at the head, and created The Son and set him at the corner...just as they...so has he created you and set you where you are.

For a purpose.

You may not end up in the history books, but again, you don't need to.  That isn't what we came for.  Even history books are forgotten.

But you will be hailed eternally by those around you who remember you, and your faith - and in many cases, the millions and often billions of lives you affected by your ripples for good that you never knew or never were able to see from where you were in this life.

But we don't do what we do for fame, fortune or renown.  If you simply do what you can where you are to the best of your ability, then truly you will accomplish more than you ever imagined was possible in this life.  Simply being a good mother, father, husband, wife, daughter, son, cousin, friend...choose one.  They are all important.  Vital! 

If you haven't seen it, this is a movie about a simple man.  Turned from a wayward teen into a man who honored his priesthood and by simple faith had an impact that lasted generations and has touched millions down the line after him. 

I do not think we ever know when we are in history until well after the fact - at least not what most would consider historic - but I do know each day is what precedes the one that comes after it and each is important.  Just as our lives and missions are.

You matter. You are a necessary part of this plan that is far bigger than you or I or even Joseph Smith.  And your heavenly father wants  you to succeed and find joy in your worth and purpose - which purpose is to become like him and enjoy all that he has beginning right here right now where you are.



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Spies and False Prophets

ME!  Or....wanted-to-be-me
(From my journal this evening)

My dream job at one time was to be a spy for the CIA.

I didn't realize at the time that being a spy meant getting people to give you things they aren't supposed to, and getting people to do things they aren't supposed to, and at any cost - spiritually it would be pretty hazardous work.

But I wanted to be a spy.  By the time I felt like I was in a position to do it, my birthday for the closing application deadline was approaching annnnnnd.....I was too old.

I have ADHD, I wouldn't have passed the tests to be accepted anyways.  Once again, the Lord was looking out for me and blessed me with ADHD - something I absolutely hate - yet it plays such a role in shaping my life.

Not only that, I want to be able to tell my kids what I do for a living, tell them where I'm going - not live a life where my children could be the enemy and my wife as well.   No, that's no life to live - I am sure there is a Latter Day Saint somewhere who does do that but I do not believe that you can and be completing your spiritual mission in this life at no cost.

That being said, I would love to see what is at Area 51 and China Lake and all those other places.  I would love to see what we know we are really capable of.  I know from military experience that coverups are a part of military life - it is alllllll about control.  It is all about fear.  Money.  Politics.  Power. 

You know....those things Satan promises us.

But as I thought about it, there are things I know and have learned from the Lord, which as Paul says in Corinthians are "unspeakable" and "Not lawful for man to utter."  I have seen, experienced and been revealed things that no spy can tell me about the world to come.

And....that's the thing.  We live in an age of conspiracies.   When the media's as dishonest as ours is, of course you're going to get theories and conspiracies - they are as common as air it seems nowadays.  But...that's the problem, isn't it? 

These conspiracies masquerade as truth and enlightenment and....they aren't.

Secrets are not truth.  Man's works and secret works of darkness are not enlightenment.  To know the secret passcodes of the Gadianton Robbers does not get you closer to God nor make you more like him. 

Don't chase after them.
I'm here to tell you what REALLY happened...cuz I care...
 This is why I am wary of all the "truths" that are being sold and told on...well...pick a side, it doesn't matter.

They are all counterfeits.  They and their purveyors are false prophets who set themselves up as a light - having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. Alllll intended to convince you that their side is right, and that if you listen to them, you'll FINALLY get the GOOD things, be doing good and right, fighting the evil-galactic-whatever.

 But....Wanna know the real truth?  Follow President Monson.  Read your scriptures.  Attend the temple.  PRAY. 

There's only a few things we can take with us after this life anyways, and the secrets of our day are going to be made known anyways, but the things of God will only be known by those who obtain and seek them.

Do what you will, but that's....just me.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Verily

As I continue to read the New Testament, it is interesting how the Lord speaks to the people, especially on matters pertaining to himself.

He notes that he is different from mankind and from his disciples in all instances.  He never refers to God as "our God" but as "your god and my god."

But I noticed something else on matters of doctrine when he is queried by his apostles.  When they ask him of the doctrine of other sects, he never once says "that is correct."  In the case of the Sadducees he was asked the question of why do the Sadducees say that Elias must first come?   

He never said "That is correct."

Nor did he say "The Sadduccees are right."

He affirmed correct doctrine as it came from himself, not from another, and said that "Elias must first come."


He was the author and finisher of faith and salvation, he never once gave anything that could be construed as giving credence to a false teacher.

I also found it interesting in Luke 4 how he didn't give any time or benefit of the doubt to the congregation when he told them how wicked they were, and they went to throw him off a hill as a consequence.  I guess that's sign enough when you tell someone something about themselves and they try to kill you for it in a brutal manner and contrary to the law given by Moses - never mind that little inconvenient saying...commandment is it?  "Thou shalt not kill."

I also thought it interesting that the time was given to him to announce himself was in that synagogue.  The rest of the time, people were asking him "Are you the son of God?" and.....he didn't directly answer.  Why not?

Perhaps it is because by the fruits it was quite obvious who he was, and if you can't discern that, then what good does it do to tell you - no more than God would answer me about the LDS Church when I simply was asking and didn't want to really know because I didn't want to convert.  It wasn't until I was serious and ready to be baptized that I received my answer.

Another thing I have pondered is how, when the man of the palsy was dropped through the roof to him to heal, he did not say "I am the son of God, thy sins are forgiven thee" he simply said his sins were forgiven.  He didn't need the Sadducees' approval to say it, nor was he worried about what they thought.  The ordinance, the saying, was between him and the man.  And THEN - so that they might know - he then told him to arise and walk.

Lot's to ponder.







Monday, September 22, 2014

Smack!

Arguing with your spouse is like keying your car.

It is YOUR car you are damaging!

But in the battle between couples, one of the things that drives me nuts is getting people to take a look at themselves.  I recently posted about how I disliked marriage counseling, here's a few specific dynamics that make me want to climb the wall.

If you are arguing, and your partner takes off the gloves and gets "mean" you really don't have any right to complain because you were throwing punches - verbally - as well.  You can't fight and expect not to get hurt.  And if you're throwing punches....do you really expect them to just take it?  Or if they fight back is that....not fair somehow?

Further, if you're arguing and you wanna compare who is getting hurt because someone gave a "low blow" - well - how do you know you aren't doing just as much damage to them yourself?  How do you know they aren't feeling just as hurt and that's why they started getting mean?   Pretty selfish to argue and then complain about a "low blow."  Pretty low to discount the bruises you gave and then complain about the ones you received.

Remove the beam in your eye before you remove the speck in another's eye.

Not only that, you may not have started it, but if you are perpetuating it, you're just as guilty.  Maybe even more because you decided to continue it.

You're the problem!  Not me!
You may not have started it, but if you're arguing and fighting?  You're part of the problem.   If you're arguing...you're wrong.


Nobody's making you argue.  Nobody's making you be mean.  Someone decided to be nasty, and you decided to jump in.  Just a thought.

In the end, nobody wins with contention.  But the blame game?  Drives me nuts.  Whenever I see husbands and wives blame each other I wanna smack 'em both.  It seems more common with women in our feminized society that devotes entire sitcoms to how stupid men are, and I see a lot of therapists automatically take up with the woman, and the woman get all huffy when she's held accountable for her actions.  But then...we're not exactly talking about the healthiest aspects of society here...so...what do I expect? 

I suppose if I got what I expected...there'd be no career for me.  Either way...I hate husband and wife counseling.

Oh and minus five points for you if you think to bring up what men do wrong, in defense of women...we all know what men do because they devote entire sitcoms and movies and news segments and university educations and curriculi and political pedestals and billboards and social welfare to that.  Oh, I'm not saying it isn't bad, I'm just saying...everybody knows it. 

Minus another five points for mentally dismissing valid points and justifying unkind behavior thereby.  

Minus another five if you think I'm justifying unkind behavior. 

Minus another ten if you're getting defensive reading this. 

Plus 100 if you did any of that and can laugh at it. 

Plus 100 if you didn't do any of that. 

Plus 5,000 points AND eternal life if you refuse to argue because you see it as harmful, or apologize when you do and take responsibility for your own actions. 

And plus 1,000 if you are resolved to apologize and to not argue going forth.

Minus 500 if you think that in writing this I think I'm perfect and am ignorant of the fact that I've done and felt like these things above, and minus another 500 for concentrating on someone besides yourself and engaging in deflection and blame. 

Minus 1,000 points if you are going to use my weaknesses to justify your own. 

Minus 10 billion if I find you making a statue of me because you think I'm humble and you decide to worship it.

Plus 20 billion if the statue is particularly good looking, comes with my own yacht and lifetime retirement account, a villa in some tropical place, and my student loans paid off.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

God's Guilt

Those feelings of sorrow - sorrow for sin - those feelings and pangs of remorse and regret....

Those feelings the overwhelm our hearts with grief, and move us to tears....

Those feelings of shame and sadness for our shortcomings....

Cannot be manufactured or created.

They come as the product of a life lived righteously.  Those feelings are a gift from the Lord that enlighten our minds and our understandings.  As we see our lives in the context of the spirit that flows into it, our hearts can't but ache for those things we've done wrong and those we've hurt.

But those feelings only come from the Lord and are a gift to us.

piety? enlightenment?  humility?
There are those who wish to generate those feelings by lifestyles of suffering and deprivation and call it piety and enlightenment.  But there is a difference between contrived suffering, and the insights of the holy ghost that come from a life well-lived, not from a life and mentality of self-deprecation and self-loathing.   We are the elect, the children of God, his literal spiritual offspring!  It is Satan who wants us to hate ourselves and debase ourselves and distance ourselves from the Lord saying "I'm not worthy!"  True...but follow him anyways. 

But hating ourselves is different from a painful awareness of our shortcomings as we strive to become more Christlike.  God helps us understand him, see ourselves better, and have a better idea of where we are going and what we are working on.  Satan simply wants us to hate ourselves and separate ourselves from God.  Self-loathing becomes its own form of pride as we begin very often to tout our unworthiness and debase ourselves to be seen of men.


If we don't think we feel the way we should, we need to repent and draw closer to God, not hate ourselves and beat ourselves up and distance ourselves from God. 

Colored Beams

Racism, and all its attendant....everythings....is one of my pet peeves.

There are, what I call, "Professional Racists" at work today in our nation, stirring people up, asking for money while playing on peoples' fears.  Worse than ambulance-chasing-attorneys, they are ever dividing people up and starting conflicts which have never helped anyone.

But more than that is the hypocrisy of the professional racists.  I prefer not to spend time pointing out sins because there are simply too many to number, and it is easier to point out eternal principles and let it stand that anything contrary to that is a sin.  But at times, you have to call out sin for what it is.

They claim they want diversity, but can't handle it when they got it.  They aren't interested in diversity.  Further, unless you belong to the demographic AND the mindset they want you to belong to and hold, you will never be right in their eyes. 

If you are the right color, but don't think the way they want you to, they use all sorts of racist epithets against you and tear you down as an enemy to "the cause".   It truly is a dark time to be alive in this world.  You'd have thought we'd be free by now, but instead of everyone being free, we are more enslaved than we were sixty years ago in the middle of the civil rights movement.  Instead of being equals, and setting aside differences and forgiving old wounds and looking to the future...the professional racists stoke the memories of yester-century, keep alive the old hatreds, spend time looking for any offense no matter how slight, to condemn and to march, to explode in the news even if it means you have to hide for your life, and to keep the money flowing into their coffers.  And what's more...millions have bought into the rhetoric.

People who might have been neighbors, peacefully, intermarrying with children going to school and living and loving together instead are divvied up against each other.  They blame others for their feelings, they claim entire races are responsible for how they feel, and no matter what you say, if you aren't the right color, your answer and your efforts are going to be wrong. 

You lost before you even tried to help.

And yet, if you don't try, then you're racist.

And if you do help, you're still going to be some second-class helper, because you aren't the right color and don't truly know how they feel, you're just motivated by guilt.

Yes, it is a dark and twisted mentality.

There is nothing you can do right in this conflict by these people and this mentality.  And this mentality, unfortunately isn't confined to one race.  It isn't embraced by all people, but it is had by all races. 

If we had the love of Christ in us, we wouldn't have to put multi-racial pictures on a cereal box to show we are "open-minded" as a society.  We could have any color of person on there and know they are good people and not think anything of it.  Are we so insecure that our experience of eating cereal has to be some exercise in affirmative action?  Yes...we are.  Or at least, they want us to be.

If we would "first remove the beam that is in thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to remove the mote that is in thy neighbor's eye" we wouldn't expect someone else to be responsible for how we feel, and run them through an exercise in psychotic futility and pre-planned failure.  We would take responsibility for our own feelings, and ask others to forgive us before we demand that we be apologized to by them.  Instead, marches are organized by race, color, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender you name it and outrage is expressed listing off the sins of all those not in the group, as if that group or those individuals have never....ever....offended anyone.

If we would love thy neighbor as thyself, we wouldn't substitute quotas and affirmative action for Christlike love and charity.

The bottom line is?  I live my faith and I know how God wants me to be.  But if you aren't helping me to be that, and are accusing me, rather than lifting me, are faulting me for the past rather than helping me build the future, if you fault me for something I have no control over no more than you do, if you aren't grateful for your blessings that God has given you and can't stand the fact that I too can be blessed, if you spend your days counting whose blessings are greater and rather than seeking your own blessings seek to take away the blessings of others, then you are the problem with you.  Not me. 

Nobody else is responsible for how you feel.  And nobody, but your parents brought you into this world, no more than they were brought into this world by their parents - who made us like we are.

But just because someone's feelings are hurt, doesn't mean I'm to blame.  And I certainly didn't create history that others who look like me made no more than you are.  I'm trying to build a better future.  I am responsible for who I am, nobody else.  I am responsible for how I treat people, but I can only do my best, I cannot control how they perceive it.  I rely on them to give me the benefit of the doubt that I am doing my best.

But until we accept that we need to repent of our individual sins without being concerned about others' sins and refusing to repent until we are satisfied they have repented enough for our tastes....we are never going to achieve "The Dream" that was spoken of some 60 years ago that way.

I know this to be true.  And if they wanted the dream, we could have had it already.  There are millions who do want it.  But the "leaders" - the professional racists - aren't interested in it. It doesn't pay as well and they don't believe in themselves enough to be able to do anything other than to start fires and then charge people to put them out. I know because "by their fruits ye shall know them. "

And I also know, no matter what I do, I am going to be criticized by those who are servants of sin themselves.  People who wouldn't know Godly virtues if it was standing in front of them - the type who would crucify the Lord while professing his name.


As for judging, I do not. But I can and do and must discern what is right and wrong, and I know, there are many with ill intentions purporting to be on the side of right, and many others with good intentions who are unwittingly on the side of wrong.  All these I will strive to be right with, but know at some point, I must turn judgement to God and let him weigh me, and not the ever-changing fads of the media. 

I must love my neighbor as myself.  And if my neighbor insists that I must hate myself because of my color or their perceptions of my sins, then by their own rhetoric, I can never love my neighbor, and we can never live The Dream.  We will never have peace. 

And so...I let God be my judge and strive to have charity myself in a world that makes it increasingly hard to grow it.   I'll let Thomas S. Monson and those under him and those to come direct what I need to improve in.  And despite the strife, I will strive to be on the right side with my accusers, and try to be at peace with those who want conflict, to the best of my ability, until the Lord decides to judge us all for our works in this life.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Wayward Sign

Today as I pulled into the church parking lot to work on employment applications, I noticed a sign pointing to the employment center.  It was at the end of the church's driveway, not visible from the street really, almost invisible.   It was like one of those "Wet Floor" signs but it was white and said "LDS Employment Center ---->".

Now, if you're into business, you know that a sign put out like that isn't really the most effective marketing strategy.  But this wasn't really marketing, to be fair, and yet at the same time...I see so many things like this in the church.  Half-done, half-witted, half-baked, half-planned....

It drives me nuts!!!!

And yet....it is the fastest growing denomination in the world (or thereabouts).

That sign, today became A sign to me, of the hand of the Lord in this work.

We don't have to have the most powerful marketing strategy in the world.  Those who are looking for this will find it, the Lord will lead them there.  We aren't looking to attract the world.  We're looking to attract the faithful, and strengthen the weak.
overkill....and exceedingly great was the fall thereof....

And that....doesn't require the Vegas strip to do.  Just a bit of faith, a bit of effort, and then let the Lord do the rest.  Let his spirit work.  There are unseen things at work in this world of flesh and clay, heaven at work that if we would stand back and see, we could see it progressing.

I'm going to see if I can get a picture of it tomorrow but it is a reminder to me that the Lord's hand is in this work.  It isn't going to be built according to man's education, wisdom or training.  Sure, we can lend our talents to it, but it isn't going to be built that way.  It is going to be built by the Lord.

"1 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it" (Psalms 127).