Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Matthew 4

(April 16, 2015)
                How much faith and trust must it have taken for the disciples to leave what they had worked their whole lives for and to follow Christ?  They did not, at that moment, know or have the experience they would later gain.  They did not have any proof of who the Savior was.  All they had was an invitation – and the elect heard His voice and followed.

                It is a frightening consideration that the Lord may likewise be speaking to me and I am simply not hearing Him.  I wonder what actions Peter took before that day (studying the scriptures, showing mercy, prayer, and so forth) that prepared him to hear the voice of the Master and to know to follow Him?

Alma 40

(April 16, 2015)
                It is a frightening thing to consider the moment of judgment if we are found unworthy.  The thought that we could be damned – never to progress to the level that the Lord knew to be the highest source of joy – is simply terrifying.  I don’t know that this is how it would work, of course, but in my imagination I see the moment when everything new I could see has been seen, and everything new I could do has been done, and everything new I could learn has been learned.  And, still, an eternity stretches out before me.

                It is better, I know, to be righteous out of love for our Father – and I have learned far better to give my will over to Him out of a genuine love and trust for what He does for my life (though I am still far from perfect in this regard).  But when that doesn’t work or seem to be enough, the fear of the consequences of a life devoted to sin seems to be a significant motivator in and of itself.

Matthew 2-3

(April 15, 2015)
                There are thoughts that, when they strike you, change your entire view of the world.  This chapter had one of them.  Herod, when told of the Christ, consults with those with knowledge of the Messiah to find out where He was to be born.  He then, later, seeks to kill all of those children.  We know this, but it is the inevitable truth that it tells about Herod that is shocking.

                Herod knew that He was the Christ, and yet Herod sought to kill Him anyway.

                If Herod had not believed that this was the Christ, why would he have consulted to find out where the Christ would be born?  That only makes sense if Herod genuinely believed that the Christ was being born, and if his actions were deliberately designed to slaughter the infant that he knew to be the Messiah.

                Sometimes I think we like to pacify ourselves with the belief that there is no evil in the world and if everyone knew what we knew they would believe what we believe and do what we do.  But that is not the truth – some people, knowing the truth, still choose the direct opposite.

Alma 38-39

(April 15, 2015)
                I think that we each have a conceit that we are to not boast because we lack strength, but if we really had strength we could boast about it.  We consider this when we feel weak, because it accurately reflects our feeling of weakness but it also cleverly frees us up for a little bit of pride and boasting for those areas we feel legitimately up to snuff at.

                But even this is not appropriate.  Alma is quite clear with Shiblon – Shiblon admittedly had great strength, but he was not to boast about even this trait.  The reason goes back to why we are not to boast – we don’t boast not because we lack strength but rather because the strength that we have is a gift from God and we have no claim on any glory that may come from it.

Matthew 1

(April 14, 2015)
                I find it very telling that before Joseph received the visitation to know the truth of who the Christ was, he already made certain decisions that were correct and merciful according to his understanding at the time.  So many times, we are in positions to choose good or bad based upon our understanding.  Our understanding may be imperfect (or even outright poor), but if we make the right decision as we know it then the Lord has a way of either magnifying that decision or letting us know that it needs to be changed.

                The second thought was that the order of revelation was odd in light of what we would expect with our modern sensibilities.  Mary was carrying the Son of God, and had angelic visitations.  And yet, the name of the child was given to Joseph.  I am not certain what the significance of that is, but I am convinced that it does have some significance.

Alma 37

(April 14, 2015)
                We ignore secret combinations at our peril.  We think that the availability of the internet is an undisputable good thing, but there are things that are not meant to be widely known because these secrets are destructive.  Anyone who does not recognize that President Packer is correct when he states that there are things that are both true and not helpful is almost willfully blind.

                But secret combinations are the most dangerous.  It is frightening to consider the fact that Mormon, who wrote for our day, included so much information on secret combinations.  The only logical conclusion is that secret combinations would ultimately be the greatest challenge that we would face as members of the Church.

                That reality leads to a host of unpleasant secondary consequences.  But ignoring them doesn’t make them go away – it just means we are ignoring an important lesson the scriptures are trying to teach us.

Malachi 3-4

(April 13, 2015)

                Ultimately so much of the trials of our human condition equate to nothing more than the response we have to the proposition “it is vain to serve God.”  There is no challenge which does not melt away when we accept that God is fully in charge and He does all thing for our benefit and the benefit all of His children.  There is no task that is too much when we realize that He is the one doing the heavy lifting and we are asked (primarily) just to show up.  It is only when we respond negatively to this question that we find ourselves slipping and falling.

Alma 35-36

(April 13, 2015)
                It is interesting how the Zoramites had such a compulsive need to “follow” those that believed in God.  Once those people had left and taken up with the Ammonites, there was no reason for them to ever be a concern to the Zoramites again.  And yet, the Zoramites felt compelled to follow them and seek to continue their oppression of them.

                This struck me as a good example of a very real characteristic of human nature.  There are groups of people for whom it is not enough to get what they want – they need to make certain that disfavored individuals or groups are destroyed.  Whether it is, in my situation, the fact that I have someone who each and every time I withdraw from conflict that person escalates, or the active attempts by certain people to find offense in each circumstance (searching the internet for hours to find someone saying something for which they can be offended), they pursue until there is no place left.

                It is, I believe, because a person in the grips of a certain type of issue cannot deal with the idea that there are places where others are free to find happiness and peace – particularly the happiness and peace that they lack.  If they cannot be happy or at peace (and they refuse to look at their own behavior for consideration of whether that is the source of their unhappiness), then no one else can have happiness.  And rather than consider themselves as potentially the source, they seek out conflict so as to always have a convenient target to blame.

Malachi 1-2

(April 12, 2015)

                It is hard, when we face trials brought about through the actions of others, to remember that those who oppress us are still children of our same Father.  We want to lash out in some way – to seek our own protection and defend ourselves and find justice (as if justice didn’t condemn us as well).  But the truth is that we have no right to do any of that.  The only thing we can rightfully do is wait upon God – He is our Father and theirs.  He will do what He can to save their souls and ours.  Ultimately all will be made right – any actions contrary to that amount to us attempting to ascend to the throne of God in the same way that Satan did.

Alma 34

(April 12, 2015)
                There are certain virtues that are impossible to fully understand.  Gratitude, I have learned, is one of them – no matter how far down the rabbit hole of gratitude we go, we cannot reach the bottom because there is more we still stand in need of being grateful of.  Prayer is another of these virtues.

                Each time my life is blessed by prayer, I wonder how it is that I have lost sight before that point of how wonderfully prayer can bless my life.  And each time I commit to never forget these blessings and rededicate myself to more prayerfully living my life.  And yet, each time I am surprised when the full power of prayer is once again revealed to me. 

                I am grateful that the Lord is patient, because I am such a slow learner.

Zechariah 10-14

(April 11, 2015)
                I can imagine the anguish that the Jews will feel when they see the prints of the nails in Christ’s hands and feet, and He tells them that these are the wounds which He received in the house of His friends.  But do I realize that the same will be said for me?  Christ suffered for me, and the day will come when I will stand before Him.  I imagine at that day, I may very well be able to see the wounds which He bore for my sake.  How will I respond when He tells me that the wounds which I see are those wounds He received for my sake?  Guilt?  Shame?  Gratitude?

Alma 33

(April 11, 2015)
                These past several months have been enlightening to me, to be certain.  I really feel an empathy with Zenos and Zenock and the poor people of Ammonihah in a way that I did not before.  I can understand what it is to be isolated from the Church – something so very important and yet, at the same time, something vulnerable to human frailty.  I can understand that pain, and that under those circumstances the alternatives are to abandon hope or to cling closer to Christ.

                I am very grateful to the Church, and to my leaders within the Church.  They are good (though imperfect) people, and I appreciate the many things that they do for me.  But I have learned that while the Church is the Kingdom of God on the Earth and the rightful home of the keys of Priesthood authority, ultimately it is possible to be separated from the Church (even based upon falsehoods) and to at the same time grow closer to Christ.  I might have understood that intellectually at one point, but these months have taught me that lesson spiritually.

Zechariah 7-9

(April 10, 2015)
                Even when we do good things (like fasting), it is essential that we do them for the right reasons.  It is fine to fast, but if we are fasting for ourselves rather than fasting for the Lord we are not doing anything of eternal significance (just losing a little weight).  Of course, we lack the capacity to change our motivations by effort.  So that puts us in an impossible (you might even say fallen) position.

                We cannot be complacent with doing the right thing for the wrong reason (though that is often better than doing the wrong thing).  Instead, we need to continue to do the right thing, but at the same time call upon the Lord to change our hearts so that we begin to do that task for the right reasons.  If we are fasting, we should approach the Lord (if we find our motives are impure) and let the Lord know that we can do what we can do, and ask the Lord to change our hearts so we can do it in His name and for His glory.

Alma 32

(April 10, 2015)
                The concept of seeing a sign in order to believe (particularly why that is bad) is something that I never really understood until I had my own crisis of faith.  I always thought that I had faith, and that faith came from the fact that I had seen and experienced things that allowed for no other explanation than that the Gospel was true.  To say the Gospel wasn’t true was to, in essence, concede to myself that I didn’t experience the things that I experienced.

                Then, sadly, my failures caused me to carelessly abandon my testimony.  I lost so much of what I once had.  I remembered the experiences of my past, but yet that someone wasn’t enough.  I had no other explanation, but I considered in my heart whether there could be some other explanation that I simply didn’t know about.  I found that I could rationalize away even the miraculous events I had been blessed to participate in during my times of doubt.

                Now, having been blessed and preserved to regain my faith, I look back on that with a great deal more understanding.  My faith was not a result of those experiences, but rather those experiences were the result of my faith.  When I abandoned my faith, I had no more of an explanation than before but I chose not to believe those experiences any more.  When my faith returned, it was a decision rather than a consequence of those experiences that brought about my return to faith.

                It is not so much that there is something intrinsically wrong with miracles as a basis for faith, but rather that miracles are utterly incapable of performing the job of being the basis of a testimony.

Zechariah 4-6

(April 9, 2015)

                This represents such a wonderful reminder – we are to participate in advancing the work of the Lord, but ultimately it is not by our might or our power, but by His Spirit that things are accomplished.

Alma 31

(April 9, 2015)
                The concept of having our sorrows and afflictions swallowed up in the joy of Christ is a potent one.  I have experienced this a time or two (though, sadly, not nearly as much as I should experience it).  There are times when challenges face me or people wrong me and I find myself bitter or seeking justice or some similar, dysfunctional response.  But other times, I manage to remember why I am on the Earth, and what I am supposed to be learning, and how I am to be helping others.  I lose myself.

                Sometimes it can be only the most fragile of things, lasting just a moment.  But sometimes it is more persistent and potent.  But during those times when my perspective is eternal and my focus is on the Savior, I find that all of my frustrations are swept away – swallowed up in the joy of Christ.  It is a wonderful place to be, which naturally leads me to question why I don’t allow myself to stay in that place more frequently than I do.

Zechariah 1-3

(April 8, 2015)
                Sometimes it feels as though the slide towards Gomorah of society (to borrow a phrase) is an inevitability.  There are cancers in the world that I cannot see a way to be rid of, and for some areas of morality it seems as though the train has already left the station.

                But we know that isn’t true.  As bad as the world seems sometimes, we are offered a pair of protections.  First, no matter what happens to the world at large if we fulfill our stewardships we will ultimately be given what the Father wishes to give us.  Secondly, the Lord can fix this – He can fix absolutely everything – in a single day.  Not only can He do it, but we know that He will do it.

                So we don’t have to see a way whereby things can be restored – we merely need to trust the Lord when He says that He can restore what needs restored.

Alma 30

(April 8, 2015)
                There seems to be an inevitable progression between priestcraft on the one hand and sexual immorality on the other.  We see it in the modern conceit of “spiritual but not religious,” which is more accurately described as a vague belief in God so long as that God doesn’t tell me what to do (thus justifying any sexual indulgence desired).  We also see it in the larger attacks of certain species of feminism (primarily third-wave feminism) and the gay-marriage movement, who first attack religion through priestcrafts and ultimately reach a point of dismissing religion altogether.

                That is a subject large enough to merit pages of response.  But the single, central topic that I do want to mention is the reality that when priestcrafts are engaged in to permit license, the natural and inevitable consequence of that is not a more permissive religion but the abandonment of religion.  Korihor followed that road, and each of us must decide for ourselves whether we will join him.

Haggai 1-2

(April 7, 2015)
                One of the things that I think we lose sight of – with our easy access – is just what a privilege it is to have a temple of God.  How many people have longed their whole lives to have a temple to visit?  How many Jews were born, lived, and died without the temple they knew was so important?  And yet we (and I put myself in that category) are so casual with our temple worship that it becomes a duty, or a burden, or is dispensed with altogether.

                I think that I need to better refocus my attention on the temple and to keep in mind just how lucky I am to have it in my life.

Alma 27-29

(April 7, 2015)
                I have often been struck by the interchange between Ammon and the king – how Ammon interposes his desire to have them go and how the king reminds Ammon that he still needed to take the matter to the Lord.  No matter how certain we are of the right course of action (no matter how self-evident it may appear), we still have the obligation to take our course before the Lord.  He may be silent for many or most of what we take before Him (then again, of course, He may not) – but either way we have that obligation.

                I think that is a big part of our obligation to take no action before going to the Lord in prayer that He may consecrate our actions for our good.  We are servants, and the servant can do nothing without the Lord.  We may seek to be profitable (and not slothful) servants by being out and about doing good, but everything we do in His name (and everything we do should be in His name) we should first take to Him.

Zephaniah 1-3

(April 6, 2015)
                Under the circumstances in which I find myself, I admit to a great deal of desire for vindication on my ‘enemies.’  Those who have lied and continue to lie about me, those who have and continue to hurt me, and so forth.  But the better course of action is always the one advised here – to seek out meekness and personal righteousness, and to allow the Lord to fight His own battles.

                Perhaps the Lord will defend me, and bring about justice as I see things.  But perhaps the Lord will deal with those who hurt me the way that He did the people of Ninevah – and that they will turn from what they are doing.  The latter clearly seems to be the better choice from every perspective except mine as I struggle with the pain of certain circumstances.  I need to abandon those weaknesses that compel such thoughts in me and to hope for the best for others regardless of how they treat me.

                It is simple in concept, but a challenge in execution and something that I am still struggling with.

Alma 25-26

(April 6, 2015)
                There is a great deal of power that comes from reaching the point where we recognize that the word of the Lord is fulfilled in every particular.  This, ultimately, is what faith is all about.  We sometimes view faith as though it was this amorphous thing whereby we think that God lives and thus we are given power.  But in reality, faith is something far more difficult and far greater in consequence.

                As I learned a while ago, if faith has moral consequence faith must be an exercise in moral agency.  This faith amounts to a decision to believe.  In most cases, this is presented as a choice to believe God when He tells us something – believe that He will fulfill His word.  It isn’t enough to believe that the Lord told us to love one another – we must also have sufficient faith to trust that if we love one another (even those who hatefully use us and persecute us), that the Lord will make up the difference and protect us and lift us up.

                This is the faith that comes from knowing that the word of the Lord will be fulfilled in every particular, and this is the faith that comes only (at least in my experience) through painful lessons and the choice in difficult situations to trust the Lord and to see thereafter His promises fulfilled.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Habakkuk 1-3

(April 5, 2015)
                I admit to understanding somewhat how Habakkuk feels about the wicked destroying the righteous and his confusion as to how the Lord allows it.  I am in a situation right now where my life is still being turned upside down by the wicked actions of another (whether brought about by genuine evil or mental illness, the results are the same).  I continue to remain in a position of stasis – unable to move forward in the way that I want (and I view my desires as righteous), because of the remnants of previous lies and deceptions.

                But the reality is that those who seek to hurt us can’t – none of them can.  The Chaldeans cannot hurt Israel, and those (both those working against me and those who are doing their best but are misled by the deception) who impact my life cannot hurt me, either.  The reality is that the Chaldeans only could destroy Israel because the Lord loved Israel and wanted Israel destroyed.  Likewise, those in my life only have power to hurt me because the Lord gives them that power, and only because the Lord loves me.

                I may not have been guilty of the things that I have been accused of falsely, but I have certainly made enough mistakes in my life to deserve the chastening of the Lord in whatever way He chooses to give it to me.  To quote Micah again, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against hi, until he plead my cause.”  I can bear any indignation because though I might not be guilty of what I am accused of I have still sinned against God, and if I bear patiently He will ultimately plead my cause and if “he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness” then it all certainly will be worthwhile.  I am not oppressed by others any more than Israel was conquered by the Chaldeans.  The Lord chastened Israel, and he is chastening me, and I am grateful for it.

Alma 24

(April 5, 2015)
                For some reason, a large number of thoughts came to me as I was reading this chapter today.  The first was the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, and how their behavior and decisions were a good template for repentance.  Sometimes in my life there is the desire to repent, but I likewise want to just take a step or two back from the behavior I was previously engaged in. To use a fictitious example, it is as if I want to repent of eating donuts but I still want to spend may days eating scones…or tiptoeing up to donut-holes.

                But rather than stepping back gradually, I have learned that repentance works best when I step completely back.  If I want to repent of eating donuts, I forego donuts, donut-holes, scones, bear claws, éclairs, and on and on.  Rather than identifying the law and getting close to the edge, I have to identify the principle and move far from the edge.  That is the only way that I have discovered that repentance works for me.  When I do that, the Lord seems to accept my offering and frees me from my sins.

                The second thought was the faith involved in praising God in the very act of perishing under the sword.  I think we would all like to believe that we could do that, but I fear how I would respond under similar circumstances.  We need only look at the butchery of those killed by the Islamofascist terrorists to understand the fear and pain of those going through such and experience.  What this shows me, though, is what sort of conversion is possible if we fully and completely give ourselves to the Lord – I may not be there yet, but it is possible to be there.

                My third thought was on the reasons why those once enlightened by the Spirit become more hardened when they turn away from it.  We each have weaknesses and fail on a regular basis to follow the Lord as we should.  But there seems to be a difference in how the Lord treats weakness and how He treats rebellion.  Two sinners engaged in the same actions can be treated remarkably different (and I base this solely on my experiences of committing the same sins under different circumstances).  When the sinner wants to keep the commandments and fails, the Lord seems to pour out His Spirit more abundantly to reinforce and strengthen the sinner.  When the sinner openly rebels against God, the Spirit withdraws.  The sinner is more hardened because they know what they are choosing against.

Nahum 1-3

(April 4, 2015)
                One of the things that I learned to do with the Book of Mormon was to view the various cities during the war chapters as symbols of the aspects of our character.  The Lamanites made a useful symbol for sin, and the Nephites for righteousness (though the reality wasn’t as clear-cut, as the text makes obvious).  By viewing it in this way, the whole conflict becomes a useful symbol for the battle for each of our souls, with the ebbs and flows and the importance of defending our weaknesses and relying on the Lord and so forth.

                Surprisingly, I cannot recall having ever done the same thing with the Bible.  But these chapters truly seem to lend themselves to that reading.  If we take Ninevah as a symbol of our weakness and sinful nature, then the entire reading takes on a new perspective, as we see that not only will the return of Christ bring about political liberation, but it will also result in the healing of our wounds (self-inflicted and otherwise) and the destruction of those aspects of our lives that are contrary to God’s will (if we so choose).

Alma 23

(April 24, 2015)
                For all of the talk about the intimidation and persecution supposedly brought about by those who believe (and, in Utah, it is centered on ex-Mormons or NOMs attacking the faithful), the pattern that exists in this chapter holds true throughout the scriptures and most of modern history (with, admittedly, a few egregious counterexamples).  Those who believe accept that those who do not believe must have the freedom to choose their way.  All the believers request, when they are ascendant politically, is that they have the freedom to share the Gospel.  Others can believe the way that they choose.

                When those who have rejected the Gospel are ascendant (as we are beginning to see now), it isn’t enough to have a fair and level playing field – they seek to actively hamper the sharing of the Gospel message.  They seek to use whatever mechanisms of force are available (the sword in the time of Ammon, the power of the State to close down florists who won’t provide flowers for a gay wedding today) to destroy those who believe.

                Those antagonistic to the faith will argue that this is the same thing that believers have historically done with laws against abortion or homosexuality or even prohibition.  They don’t recognize that the laws passed by the believers are focused on actions and consequences – people actually getting hurt (in almost every case children, even though that is cliché).  Meanwhile a florist who does not provide flowers for a gay wedding provides nearly no injury at all (especially since a dozen other businesses stand ready to perform the same services).  It isn’t about getting what you need in their case, it is about destroying those who disagree with you.

                I think this must ultimately come down to the confidence they have in their own position – they are barely able to quiet the voice of their own conscience and cannot abide any external voices that reinforce the voice inside them telling them their behavior is sinful.  Ironically we all are sinful, but that goes from a part of the human condition to a fatal flaw when we cease to recognize that the problem is with us and begin to feel the problem is with the law.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Micah 6-7

(April 3, 2015)
                There were two thoughts that struck me powerfully as I read through this section.  The first was on Micah’s words as to what the Lord requires of us.  If we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, that would be enough.  Put in another set of words (paraphrasing Nibley), the things we can do which angels envy is to repent (do justly) and forgive (love mercy).  Then, when we repent and forgive, we can choose to give our will over to God and allow Him to make of us what He will.

                The second thought was just how wonderful the conclusion of Micah was.  The promises made, that the Lord would not cast us off, and the understanding that Micah evidences are powerful.  Micah understands that whatever bad happens to us, we cannot be hostile to God as a result because we have all sinned before Him (the distinction is not between those who sin and those who do not, but rather between those who repent and those who do not).  He knows that it is the Lord who can make him both clean and whole, and knows that He will do so in His own time.  The conclusion of this book was simply powerful.

Alma 22

(April 3, 2015)
                I think I might be repeating myself, but I have always been struck by the language of King Lamoni here about rooting the wicked spirit out of his breast.  I have, from time to time, fought with warts, and that is what my thoughts always come back to when I read this plea.  Warts are something that you can cut out, freeze off, burn off, electrocute, take acid to, or just about anything else and they still end up staring you in the face.

                You see, you can pull out, destroy, or cut away the visible issue but what you don’t address is the virus that is at the heart of the wart.  Likewise, we can fight our habits, our sins, our behaviors, and so forth but ultimately the same problems tend to recur because we aren’t dealing with the true issue – our rebellious heart.

                Just as our blood must fight the virus for our warts to finally go away, His blood must fight our nature for our sins to go away.  We cannot win this battle on our own, because we end up playing spiritual “Whack-a-Mole” – knocking down one vice only to have another rear its ugly head.  Now this is a good fight to have, and we must keep fighting our sins and weaknesses in order to get the Lord’s help, but these fights aren’t what win the battle.  We fight, but it is the Lord that grants us victory.  Only He can root out the wicked spirit from our breasts and make us whole once more.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Micah 1-5

(April 2, 2015)
                It is tempting to excuse our imaginations, under the theory that what we imagine has no bearing on what we actually do.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth…a point driven home by the Lord when He warned against those who devised iniquity and worked evil upon their beds.  The Lord’s caution is a caution to all of us who refuse to control our imaginations – what we imagine in our heart is ultimately what we do in our lives.

                One of my favorite books is the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The One Ring of Power is a template for our thoughts – it has the power for the wielder to do what they want without fear of consequence.  That was the corrupting influence of the ring.  Likewise, in our thoughts we have the capacity to do whatever we want without fear of consequence or respect for the agency of others.  In a very real way, what we imagine in our hearts is a more accurate reflection of who we are than what we actually do in our lives.  What we do might be constrained by possibility or consequence or similar external concerns.  The only constraint on what we think is ourselves.

                The Father wants to give us all that He hath, but how can He possibly give that to someone who cannot control their thoughts – because when someone has all that the Father hath, that person will be freed of consequence or external concerns and only the internal limitations will have the capacity to control.  If we cannot control our thoughts, we will not be worthy of what the Lord has in store for us.

Alma 21

(April 2, 2015)
                Mormon saw our day, but sometimes it still shocks me how well he was able to provide for us in the Book of Mormon.  In particular, I am shocked at how precisely the recitations of the Nehorite religion mirror the efforts of some outside the Church (and even within the Church) to attack it.

                There are those who deny miracles, and argue that if miracles were real there would be more of them and they would have experienced them too (why have we not seen an angel?).  There are those who claim that those chosen by God have no ability to preach repentance because preaching repentance necessitates an assumption of sin (the tolerance fetishism in modern society, placing it as the highest virtue).  Finally, there are those who believe that everyone will be saved, and thus making repentance unnecessary.

                To anyone who cruises the bloggernacle, each of these positions must sound familiar.  Satan has been using the same techniques to lead the children of God astray, and there have been those who choose to follow him.  It is essential that we are ever-cautious to avoid being seduced by such damnable philosophies whenever we encounter them.

Obadiah 1; Jonah 1-4

(April 1, 2015)
                It is a common flaw to rejoice in others’ misery.  After all, we aren’t rejoicing in the misery of those we like, or our friends.  If we are tempted to rejoice in someone else’s misery, they are usually someone who we are opposed to (or who have hurt us).  It is easy for us to say in our hearts that the person who hurt us is only getting their just deserts, or deserves what they get, or anything of the sort.

                Of course, those who rejoiced at the fall of Israel had similar reasons to rejoice – Israel took land from them, and oppressed them, and so forth.  But Israel was more than a mere country – it was a people with a special relationship with God.  So too are those who we see that we might be tempted to experience a similar joy in misery in a relationship with God.  The one suffering is a child of God, and we should never enjoy their suffering for suffering sake.

                On the contrary, it is possible to see their challenges and rejoice (as did Alma with his son) when it seems the challenges are the works of God bringing the person back to the fold.  But to rejoice in another’s misery as ‘punishment’ not only places us in the position of judge, but it also ends up causing us to account good for evil.  We view the Lord’s efforts to bring His son or daughter back to Him as the cruel and capricious actions that we would take were we in His shoes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Alma 20

(April 1, 2015)
                So often it seems that we, even in the Church, judge spirituality through objective measurements.  But here we have a clear indication that this is inappropriate.  We have two sets of missionaries going out – Ammon on the one hand and Aaron and the rest of the other hand.  Ammon has a successful mission (objectively) while Aaron and the rest end up in prison and abused.

                Yet we have Mormon’s language that this had little to nothing to do with their levels of righteousness – it was merely that the Lord saw fit to send them to a more hardened people.  Likewise, we cannot possibly judge the spirituality of those around us by the results of their behavior.

                We may need to make temporary judgments, but these should be made with extreme care and always remain temporary.  The permanent judgment comes from the Lord and only He can judge the actions that are taken and the motivations behind them.