Tuesday, August 4, 2015 0 comments

Ending persecution in the church

In Mosiah 27, there was a situation in Zarahemla in which the members of the church felt they were being subjected to great persecution from the unbelievers and they complained to Alma and Alma took it to King Mosiah.

I think it is neat to see how both Mosiah and Alma handled it. After counseling with the priests, King Mosiah made a proclamation that no unbeliever should persecute members of the church, but Alma also sent strict commands throughout the church that there should be no persecutions among church members as well.  They recognized that the problem could be coming from both sides equally. (None may be so blind to the persecutions they inflict as the members of the church, convinced as they are of their rightness.)

I like the things they instructed the church in:

3 And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men;
4 That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support.
5 Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God. (Mosiah 27:3-5)

So I see at least four ways that the church leaders wanted members to adjust their own attitudes in order to help decrease the contention and persecution:

“there should be an equality among all men” (v3)  -- Church members may have a tendency to look down on non-members, considering them benighted individuals and even to treat them as second-class citizens. It may all be subconscious, but nonmembers can tell when they are at a disadvantage, and it hurts them, just as it would hurt us if we were ignored or dismissed because of being Mormon.  So, we have to remember we’re all God’s children, and we’re all brothers and sisters and treat each other accordingly.

“they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace” (v4) – This is about what we do when we are the butt of the pride and haughtiness of the other guy.  Yes, it is obnoxious when people are scornful and proud and treat us like we’re the crud stuck to the bottom of their shoe, but if we know we’re children of God, we can be temperate in our responses and refrain from creating an even bigger problem by reviling back.  If we are disturbed by someone else’s pride, then we have given that person power over us. This is about stopping the conflict before it begins and about choosing to not be offended. 

“every man should esteem his neighbor as himself” (v5) – It is one thing to believe in the equality of man, but to esteem others as oneself takes it further along the continuum of charity. Do I trust others like I trust myself? Do I believe in the goodness of others like I do of myself? Do I accept and have patience with the weaknesses of others like I do myself? When I have conflict, do I dialogue on the issues as I would want to be dialogued with?

“all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want” (v5) – Physical labor has a wonderful way of reminding one of their physical limits, which is humbling.  In the Law of Moses, priests would partake in the sacrificial meal when worshippers brought their sacrifices, and when the priests labored with their own hands, they would retain appropriate respect for the work that went into bringing those sacrifices.  When priests and teachers work too, they won’t lay burdens on the people that would be too heavy, knowing they themselves will have to bear them.  This keeps leaders from persecuting members.

I think this is a good thing to think about because I would like to be sure I have a way to stand up for righteousness without persecuting.  What do you think?
Sunday, August 2, 2015 3 comments

“How can I keep my covenant to always remember the Savior?”: Insights on the Youth Sunday school lesson

I had my first experience last Sunday with teaching from the youth Sunday school curriculum “Come Follow Me” manual. 

I really like how it is structured around questions because I’ve found good questions to be one of the best ways to get me interested in learning. 

At first glance, these questions seem both easy and difficult.  Easy because you feel sure that there is a good fast answer that you could give and then be done.  Difficult because you wonder how you could spend a full lesson learning about that particular topic.

I’ve found that in preparing these lessons, it is very important to read all the scriptures and talks suggested in the prep material, especially since the little blurbs describing the scriptures don’t often give a sense of the full deliciousness thereof.

I learned a lot from the lesson “How can I keep my covenant to always remember the Savior?” and I want to share some of the things I got from it that have helped me.

For a long time I have pondered how the sacrament prayer says we promise to “always remember Him” and I have wondered, “Does that mean all the time?  How does a person even do that going throughout a typical day?”  I’ve pondered this for years.  I’ve seen how my mind works, and I know that I can only focus on one thing at a time.   As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about what I am going to say, and that only, though I may take little mental breaks to deal with low-level concerns about other stuff in my life that pop up at me.

Also, I’ve had this idea in my head that “always remembering the Savior” means to think specifically about the events of the Atonement and Crucifixion only.  I’m not sure where this idea came from.

So I want to share with you some of the scriptures and pieces of conference talks that expanded my views.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

I think it is neat that while we promise to always remember Christ, this seems to promise that the Holy Ghost can help us remember too.  And I suppose remembering Christ’s words is part of remembering Him, so that will work too.

36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
 37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 37:36-37)

These two verses seem to me to describe a bunch of different ways of praying and looking at things while remembering the Lord. 

I particularly like how Alma says, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings.” It gives me a picture of someone taking a problem to a counsel, much like ward counsels.  But of course, when you counsel with the Lord, it’s just you and Him. 

When I counsel with the Lord, I usually go to an empty room and shut the door so that no one can hear me, and then I talk out loud to Heavenly Father just as though He were right there in person listening.   “Heavenly Father, I have this problem and it is this: ________.  It is really worrying/frustrating/angering me.  I’ve tried ____, and I’ve tried _____ and I’ve tried ______.  I’ve thought about trying ____, but if I do that, then _____ will happen.  And if I try this other thing, then ____ will happen and I don’t want that either.  I don’t know what to do, and I need help."

When I get it all out, I sit there and think and feel. And the first thing I feel and know is that Heavenly Father has heard me.  That impression comes by itself and it is wonderful and comforting. And then the next feeling that comes is a great sense of hope and optimism, that things are going to work out. It is so buoyant and joyful.  And sometimes I get impressions of what to do, and sometimes I am led over a period of days to a solution, and sometimes things just… iron out by themselves.  Feeling heard by Heavenly Father helps me be patient when I don’t get immediate impressions of what to do.

One part of the lesson suggested showing the youth pictures of Christ’s life from the Gospel Art Book and inviting them to think about how remembering these stories could help them during their daily lives. 

I thought this was a curious activity, so I decided to try it on myself.  I had the Gospel Art Book at home and I looked carefully at the pictures representing stories from Christ’s mortal ministry and I found myself thinking of times in my life when I identified with someone in the picture, or with an experience Jesus had. 

When I looked at a picture of His baptism, I remembered my own and the sweet feelings of that.  When I looked at a picture of Christ ordaining his apostles, I remembered when I had been set apart for my callings by priesthood authority. When I looked at the picture of Christ talking to groups of children, I remembered experiences I’d had talking to and playing with children and what a joy that was.  So many pictures I could identify something in my own experience to link it with. 

That’s when it sunk in that remembering Christ could be more than just remembering His atonement and death.

From Elder Holland’s talk “This Do in Remembrance of Me” Oct 1995:

We could remember the Savior’s premortal life and all that we know him to have done as the great Jehovah, creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. We could remember that even in the Grand Council of Heaven he loved us and was wonderfully strong, that we triumphed even there by the power of Christ and our faith in the blood of the Lamb (see Rev. 12:10–11).
We could remember the simple grandeur of his mortal birth to just a young woman. . . .
We could remember Christ’s miracles and his teachings, his healings and his help. We could remember that he gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf and motion to the lame and the maimed and the withered. Then, on those days when we feel our progress has halted or our joys and views have grown dim, we can press forward steadfastly in Christ, with unshaken faith in him and a perfect brightness of hope (see 2 Ne. 31:19–20).
We could remember that even with such a solemn mission given to him, the Savior found delight in living; he enjoyed people and told his disciples to be of good cheer. He said we should be as thrilled with the gospel as one who had found a great treasure, a veritable pearl of great price, right on our own doorstep. We could remember that Jesus found special joy and happiness in children and said all of us should be more like them—guileless and pure, quick to laugh and to love and to forgive, slow to remember any offense.
We could remember that Christ called his disciples friends, and that friends are those who stand by us in times of loneliness or potential despair. We could remember a friend we need to contact or, better yet, a friend we need to make. In doing so we could remember that God often provides his blessings through the compassionate and timely response of another. For someone nearby we may be the means of heaven’s answer to a very urgent prayer.
We could—and should—remember the wonderful things that have come to us in our lives and that “all things which are good cometh of Christ” (Moro. 7:24). Those of us who are so blessed could remember the courage of those around us who face more difficulty than we, but who remain cheerful, who do the best they can, and trust that the Bright and Morning Star will rise again for them—as surely he will do (see Rev. 22:16).
On some days we will have cause to remember the unkind treatment he received, the rejection he experienced, and the injustice—oh, the injustice—he endured. When we, too, then face some of that in life, we can remember that Christ was also troubled on every side, but not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed (see 2 Cor. 4:8–9).
When those difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before he could ascend above them, and that he suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that he might be filled with mercy and know how to succor his people in their infirmities (see D&C 88:6; Alma 7:11–12).
To those who stagger or stumble, he is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end he is there to save us, and for all this he gave his life. However dim our days may seem they have been darker for the Savior of the world.
In fact, in a resurrected, otherwise perfected body, our Lord of this sacrament table has chosen to retain for the benefit of his disciples the wounds in his hands and his feet and his side—signs, if you will, that painful things happen even to the pure and perfect. Signs, if you will, that pain in this world is not evidence that God doesn’t love you. It is the wounded Christ who is the captain of our soul—he who yet bears the scars of sacrifice, the lesions of love and humility and forgiveness.
Those wounds are what he invites young and old, then and now, to step forward and see and feel (see 3 Ne. 11:15; 3 Ne. 18:25). Then we remember with Isaiah that it was for each of us that our Master was “despised and rejected … ; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). All this we could remember when we are invited by a kneeling young priest to remember Christ always.
We no longer include a supper with this ordinance, but it is a feast nevertheless. We can be fortified by it for whatever life requires of us, and in so doing we will be more compassionate to others along the way.
One request Christ made of his disciples on that night of deep anguish and grief was that they stand by him, stay with him in his hour of sorrow and pain. “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” he asked longingly (Matt. 26:40). I think he asks that again of us, every Sabbath day when the emblems of his life are broken and blessed and passed.

This helped me realize that always remembering the Savior doesn’t mean I am restricted to only thinking about his suffering in Gethsemane or his crucifixion.  I can think of all the other parts of His life too.  In fact, since many things I do are similar to things He did, I can think of Him at those times and ponder how He did those things.

From Elder Eyring’s Oct 2007 general conference talk “O Remember, Remember”:

When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.

He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”

I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.

The years have gone by. My boys are grown men. And now and then one of them will surprise me by saying, “Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when …” and then he will tell me about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day.

My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness.

I really liked this bit from Elder Eyring’s talk because it shows how looking back over the day to see what God has done for us is yet another way to remember Him.  And what’s even cooler is that it shows me that journaling about what we notice is actually a way to make a tangible memorial of how we’ve been keeping that covenant.  And that memorial becomes a memory aid for our future selves so that we can remember even more.  It builds on itself. 

From Elder Christofferson’s talk “To Always Remember Him”:

I wish to elaborate on three aspects of what it means to “always remember him”: first, seeking to know and follow His will; second, recognizing and accepting our obligation to answer to Christ for every thought, word, and action; and third, living with faith and without fear so that we can always look to the Savior for the help we need. . . .

You and I can put Christ at the center of our lives and become one with Him as He is one with the Father. We can begin by stripping everything out of our lives and then putting it back together in priority order with the Savior at the center.  Whatever we “get away with” in life or manage to hide from other people, we must still face when the inevitable day comes that we are lifted up before Jesus Christ, the God of pure and perfect justice.  We know that challenges, disappointments, and sorrows will come to each of us in different ways, but we also know that in the end, because of our divine Advocate, all things can be made to work together for our good.

So I see a bunch of different ways that we can remember Christ from what Elder Chrisofferson said. 
1)   Seeking revelation about what we should do.
2)   Looking at everything we do with an eye towards how Christ would approve or disapprove of it on the day of judgment (and of course choosing to not do what He would disapprove).
3)   Setting our life priorities with Christ first.
4)   Facing challenges by trying to discover how the Lord will make them be for our good.
5)   Looking to the Savior for help in our challenges.

It’s a good bet that a lot of this is pretty engrained in us already.  (Or at least it should be.)  It is neat to know that these things constitute part of fulfilling that covenant to “always remember Him.”  I guess I had never thought of it that way before.  I never thought they were related to that promise to “always remember Him.”

After all this, when I was studying, I remembered something I’d learned long ago as a writing tutor about Cognitive Load Theory.  This theory says that a person can only keep in their working memory a limited number of things at a time, and when more things are put on it, stuff drops off.  We can only remember so much.  As a writing tutor, this theory was the reason we encouraged students to write down on their papers what they were going to do to fix their paper so that they could still remember it all once the tutoring session ended. 

But I could see a new application of Cognitive Load Theory when I related it to the covenant that I would always remember Christ.  It meant that I would have my list of mental things that I’d need to remember, and Christ required that I place Him on that list and keep Him there all the time.  When I take little mental breaks, and check my mental lists, Christ needs to be there. 

As I’ve been trying to practice this, I’ve noticed that it really does feel like Christ is with me, at least in my mind.  I have to wonder if this is the same thing that Christ experienced with respect to Heavenly Father when He said:

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29)

I told the class I was teaching that they were lucky to be getting this lesson this early in their lives because it really has the potential to change everything.  Little changes in things we do often mean the harvest is multiplied.  I think if I had had this lesson and applied it at their age, my life would have been much better.  I would have been able to avoid a lot of the mistakes I made. 

I really want to be changed because of what I’ve learned from this lesson.  I think it could make a big difference my life.  I recognize it will be something I need to work on continually, and I really hope it doesn’t turn into something I do just for a week and then forget about.  Because I know that I have a tendency to do that, as Mormon wrote:

1 And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
2 Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
3 And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. (Helaman 12:1-6)

It is likely that I will forget, but I want to remember.  I suppose Satan will try to tempt me to forget, to think that it is too much effort to try to remember Christ always. 

But it’s not.  It just requires a thought. You can’t get much easier than that.  I just have to mentally reach for Christ and keep reaching.

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (D&C 5:36)

What do you do to always remember Christ?  What mental habits have you built for yourself?
Friday, July 31, 2015 0 comments

Re-examining Jesus’s appearance on the road to Emmaus

When Jesus visited two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, they were talking of the events of Jesus’s crucifixion and the news of the resurrection and were sad.  The main cause of their sadness seems to have been a sense of betrayal—they had trusted Jesus to be the one who would redeem Israel militarily, but contrary to their expectations He had been crucified.  They seemed to not know now where to look for redemption, and the stories of Christ’s resurrection only confused them.

When Jesus meets them, He asks them about their concerns and he listens to them, and when they’ve gotten it all out in the open, His answer is instructive: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)   I suspect that the term “fools” was not just an epithet meaning “unwise,” but also one expressing they were in a spiritual state bordering on apostasy.  For them to forsake Christ because He had not militarily redeemed Israel would be apostasy. 

Quick sidenote: What do you suppose was Christ’s tone and manner as he said this to them?  Was he loud and harsh?  Or was he gentle?  What would have better conveyed his concern for them?

Anyway, thinking about these things, it seems to me that Jesus’s visit was meant to pull back into the faith two disciples who were wandering because the prophesied events had not gone according to their expectations.  Through the rest of His visit with them, He shored up their knowledge through the scriptures, and when they finally recognized Him through spiritual manifestations, they had gained the foundational knowledge upon which to base their testimony.  Then, His actual presence, when they recognized Him, had much more power.

I think this has a good lesson for us.  We or others around us may struggle with testimony when prophesied events happen differently than expected.  Christ (and by extension Heavenly Father) still cares for these and desires they obtain personal witness as well.  The witness needs to be built upon a better understanding of the scriptures, spiritual witness, and also personal experience.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 2 comments

Afflictions consecrated for our gain

1 And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.
2 Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain. (2 Nephi 2:1-2)

That part about God consecrating our afflictions for our gain has to be one of those very comforting, but often overlooked principles.  We often repeat that bit from D&C 122 about our suffering being but for a small moment and how we will be exalted if we endure it well, but this adds the principle that our afflictions can become advantages to us and that we can profit from them.

I ran across this scripture at the end of May and I wrote about it in my scripture journal because the week before I read it I had taken a fall while mountain biking.  I scraped up my right palm pretty badly and I had a pretty bad gash in my right knee, along with a sprain that I didn’t notice until my cut was healing.  I found myself limping about, trying to keep my right knee straight so that the gash would have time to close.  I had to spend some time on crutches to give it a rest. Bending my knee was uncomfortable, and I yearned the day it would finally heal, when I’d be able to bend it normally and be active again. 

I wondered how that affliction would be consecrated for my gain, and I can now look back and say that I feel more sympathy for those who injure in those places.  (I’m sure we all wish we could have the proper sympathy without having to suffer something like that, but experience really is a great teacher.)  I also learned that it is possible to persevere and do things anyway when they have to be done. 

When our afflictions help us learn greater charity and perseverance, that certainly consecrates our afflictions for our gain.

How else might it help?
Monday, July 27, 2015 0 comments

Mosiah reads the record of the Zeniffites and the people’s reaction

And it came to pass that Mosiah did read, and caused to be read, the records of Zeniff to his people; yea, he read the records of the people of Zeniff, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until they returned again.
And he also read the account of Alma and his brethren, and all their afflictions, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until the time they returned again. (Mosiah 25:5-6)

This is interesting because it seems that even though the Book of Mosiah only gives us the record of Alma from the time they left Nephi-Lehi to the time they got to Zarahemla, evidently their record also contained history from further back to Zeniff.  It would be really interesting to see if they redacted King Noah’s history to reflect how things really were.

And now, when Mosiah had made an end of reading the records, his people who tarried in the land were struck with wonder and amazement. (Mosiah 25:7)

Why might it be helpful to us to know that these records were read to all the people? I suppose it gives us a preliminary picture of what it will be like in the day when all the books are opened and everyone’s works are read upon the housetops.

Some of us have had an opportunity to read our parents’ journals. What about our grandparents or great grandparents’? What will we learn from their lives? What will strike us with wonder and amazement about their accounts? Might we begin to see patterns that we would not have seen if we only read our parents’ accounts? Might we begin to understand how each generation affected the following generation?

For they knew not what to think; for when they beheld those that had been delivered out of bondage they were filled with exceedingly great joy.
And again, when they thought of their brethren who had been slain by the Lamanites they were filled with sorrow, and even shed many tears of sorrow.
10 And again, when they thought of the immediate goodness of God, and his power in delivering Alma and his brethren out of the hands of the Lamanites and of bondage, they did raise their voices and give thanks to God.
11 And again, when they thought upon the Lamanites, who were their brethren, of their sinful and polluted state, they were filled with pain and anguish for the welfare of their souls.
12 And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites. (Mosiah 25:8-12)

We see here that records have the potential to arouse all kinds of different emotions, from every end of the spectrum, from pleasant to unpleasant. Joy, sorrow, gratitude, and pain all seem stronger when you knew the people in the story, and it is cranked up a notch when it is people you’re related to. We wish the story could have nothing but good, but we may be disappointed.

We also see that the people who had been part of the story became a sort of witness of the truth of the record. The people who escaped from the Lamanites were a witness that they had escaped, while it is sad to think of those who were not there because they had been killed by the Lamanites.  Also, Alma and his people just being there were a second witness of the power of God to deliver His people, and also they could attest to the polluted state of the Lamanites, who they had to escape from.

I suppose we may think that we have to choose an all-encompassing observation and emotion through which to see stories, but it may be hard to do that. Stories can be complex, and so can people, mixes of good and evil.

When I apply this story to myself, it makes me wonder what other records besides my journal will end up saying about me. I hope it is good things. I hope I can repent of my sins fast enough that my sins as recorded in others’ records will not be mentioned to me at the last day. 
Saturday, July 25, 2015 2 comments

Moses’ pattern for what to tell children about the meaning of the commandments

I like these verses because they have a nice answer to the question “Why do we do these commandments?”  Actually, there are several answers, only implied and three stated.

20 And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord our God hath commanded you?
21 Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:
22 And the Lord shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:
23 And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.
24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us. (Deut. 6:20-25)

The first one is implied.  Because the Lord brought us out of Egypt miraculously and to a promised land [we owe Him allegiance and fealty.]

The next are stated. 

2) “for our good always” – The commandments are for our good.

3) “that he might preserve us alive” – The commandments continue the Lord’s work of salvation in our lives, both temporally and spiritually. They restrict us from harmful acts and require us to do things that help us grow.

4) “it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments” – Obedience leads to a change for the better when coupled with faith in Christ’s atonement.

It is always interesting to see how different people explain the necessity of keeping the commandments of God.  There are so many ways the commandments bless us that keeping them always seems like an adventure.  It's a cheerful thing to live obediently in hope of seeing how the Lord will bless us even if we’re not sure how.

Thursday, July 23, 2015 0 comments

Thoughts on the witness of the Spirit in the four Gospels

One of the things I’ve noticed recently as I have read through the four gospels is how confident Jesus is that His witness of the Father and His teachings are confirmed by the witness of the Spirit.  He taught fearlessly things that no man can know without revelation and that no man can hear and believe without the confirming witness of the Spirit. His confidence that His witness was confirmed teaches me to trust that my witness to the truth will also be confirmed. It teaches me that it is the Lord’s work to confirm witness, while my work now is to give witness.

I think we have to all learn that in order to do missionary work today.  In a secular world that denies the unseen, or among religious people who deniy the power of the Spirit or the power of godliness, it is really tempting to begin to think that it all depends on us and how smart or eloquent we are.  Thankfully it doesn’t depend on us, and that is why we all can share the gospel.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 1 comments

A thought on Jesus’s Intercessory Prayer

Recently I got to teach Sunday school lesson #24 “This is Life Eternal” which covers roles of the Holy Ghost and the Intercessory Prayer.

One of the questions in the lesson really made me think and I want to post some of the thoughts I had about it and what I learned.  

Here’s the question:

Even though Jesus knew that he was about to suffer intensely, for whom did he pray?  (see John 17:6-9, 20)”

Here are the verses referred to:

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. . . .
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Looking up those scriptures, the answer was, He prayed for:
--those who believed in Him
--those who would believe on Christ through His disciples words

Why did He pray for them (and us, since we are ultimately included in the effects of that prayer)? 

Easy answer: Because Jesus loved His disciples (and us).

But what might He have been worried about that brought Him to petition the Father so feelingly as is recorded in John 17?

I admit that I had to think really hard about this.  I admit that I’m not as caring as I probably should be; I have a hard time remembering to pray for others, so I had to work hard to imagine why someone else would, even Jesus. 

I think Jesus was profoundly concerned about how His death would spiritually affect His disciples.  Consider that He knew why He’d have to die, and even though He’d tried to prepare His disciples for a while to accept the prospect of what had to happen, He must have seen that they were still clueless and that that they had misconceptions about His role.  He was also concerned about how His prolonged absence after His ascension would affect them, whether they’d be able to carry on and endure. 

What can we learn from this? 

I think that if we follow Christ’s example, we will care about and pray for those who will be affected by things that happen to us, especially when our injuries or sicknesses, temporary absence, or death is likely to put a burden upon others.  Jesus reached out to others and prayed for others when He could have been very self-focused.

I hope I can remember that the next time something happens to me.

Sunday, July 19, 2015 0 comments

How we abide in God’s love

This is Christ speaking to his disciples in the upper room at the time that he also instituted the sacrament.
If ye keep my commandments,
ye shall abide in my love;
even as I have kept my Father’s commandments,
and abide in his love.
(John 15:10)
Christ and the Father may love us unconditionally, but for us to feel that and know it, we have to keep the commandments.  If we don’t keep the commandments, we disconnect ourselves from that love, as if a light were to disconnect itself from the electrical socket.  The electricity is still available, it is just not flowing through the light.

I love this scripture and the truth it contains.

Today let’s try a little harder to keep the commandments so that we can feel that love.

Friday, July 17, 2015 0 comments

Re-examining Job's Friends' Views of Who is Wicked

Some time ago I listened to a Maxwell Institute podcast with Mark Larrimore about how the Book of Job hasbeen viewed through the ages, and I found it interesting to see how the way Job is read could change so much over time.  (I highly recommend the podcast, by the way; the hour it takes is worth it, though don’t be afraid to skip forward a few minutes at the beginning to get to the meat of the discussion.)

One line of thought in the podcast that was suggestive of further avenues of studying Job was that these three friends talking to Job instead of just one suggests they all have slightly different views, and since they explore the difference between the righteous and the wicked, that suggests their views on that are slightly different as well.  It challenged me to go back and look at what Job’s friends say, all with the understanding that ultimately God is not pleased with what they say, since God rebukes them at the end.

What became pretty clear to me is that Job’s friends speak in sweeping generalities about what happens to the wicked, and yet, they also claim to tell what they have observed.  So they each have specific cases of people in mind that they talk about, people they consider wicked.  And we may know people like this, which makes us often agree with them.  But the fact God is not pleased with their views should warn us that our views are just as morally skewed as Job’s friends’.

So ultimately, if we can figure out where Job’s friends go wrong, we will also be able to correct our own wrong views about how God’s justice plays out in this life and not be so quick to judge others.

First let’s look at what Eliphaz says in Job 5:2-7, 12-14:

For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.
I have seen the foolish taking root: but suddenly I cursed his habitation.
His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.
Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground;
Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward….
12 He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise.
13 He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.
14 They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.

Eliphaz refers to the foolish, the silly one, the crafty, the wise, and the froward.  But what is going on in their lives, if we ignore all the name-calling by pretending the name-calling is just blanks?

Someone is killed by an angry man (v2).  Another is killed out of envy (v2).  Another person’s children die in accidents where no one is there to save them (v4).  Another person’s crops are stolen secretly (v5) or they are robbed of their produce (v5), taken by force.  Another person makes plans and then can’t carry them out (v12-13).  Another has no idea what to do when to everyone else it is completely obvious (v14).  

Are we to reason that because these things happen, the people they happen to were wicked?  Eliphaz seems to argue it is so.  Really?  I don’t think so.  

This tells us that we should read carefully to distinguish whether Job's friends are describing a sin or whether they are describing what they consider to be a consequence of sin.

Next let’s look at what Bildad says in Job 8:11-19:

11 Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?
12 Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb.
13 So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish:
14 Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider’s web.
15 He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.
16 He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
17 His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones.
18 If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.
19 Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.

Note that Bildad refers to these people as “all that forget God” and as “hypocrites” in v13.  But if you just look at what occurs in their lives, he’s talking about people who seem to prosper very early on and then fall just as quickly (v12, 16-17).  Or these people hoped for something that doesn’t come to fruition (v14).  Or they depend on their families to help and their families let them down (v15, 18).  But that could happen to anyone.

Let’s see what Eliphaz says in Job 15:20-35: 

20 The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.
21 A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.
22 He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.
23 He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.
24 Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.
25 For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty.
26 He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers:
27 Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.
28 And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.
29 He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.
30 He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away.
31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity: for vanity shall be his recompence.
32 It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.
33 He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.
34 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.
35 They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.

What have we got here?  Eliphaz seems to think that those who suffer in constant physical pain all their days without knowing how long their life will last has to be an oppressor (v20), probably reasoning that a person suffering chronic pain must have caused chronic pain to someone else and is just getting a taste of karma.  Then he describes the pessimistic rich man (v21-24).  He also seems to think in v25-27 that a person is directly fighting against God if they become really fat. (Huh?)  Then he describes the rich man who lives all alone in a big house (v28) or in a house that is falling to pieces (v28), or who has sudden financial reverses (v29-33). 

He ends with a scatter-shot of curses—the hypocrites will be made desolate, those who take bribery will be burned, as well as the mischievous, vain, and deceitful.  Okay, we know hypocrisy and bribery is definitely bad.

But the thing about hypocrisy is that the bad stuff usually happens in secret.  It is usually pretty difficult to detect hypocrites, so it is a good bet Eliphaz is referring more to people who say one thing and do something different, but all in public.  And there are degrees of this behavior inconsistency, as there are to all things.

Bildad gives his contribution in Job 18:5-21:

5 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.
6 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.
7 The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.
8 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.
9 The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.
10 The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.
11 Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.
12 His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.
13 It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.
14 His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.
15 It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.
16 His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.
17 His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.
18 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.
19 He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.
20 They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.
21 Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.

Bildad seems to be describing those who don’t know what to do (v5-6), those who can’t catch a break and those who are hampered by their own weaknesses (v7-8), those who are victims of others’ wickedness, (v9-10), those who suffer from generalized anxiety (v11, 14), and the weak (v12), even those who have no sons or who lose all their children, extended relatives, or even progenitors (v13, 16-17, 19)..

But what have they actually done that is wrong?  Or is he just reasoning backward and saying that since those bad things happened, that is an automatic indication of wickedness? 

Then there is Zophar’s assessment in Job 20:5-29: 

5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?
6 Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds;
7 Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he?
8 He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.
9 The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him.
10 His children shall seek to please the poor, and his hands shall restore their goods.
11 His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.
12 Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue;
13 Though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth:
14 Yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.
15 He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly.
16 He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper’s tongue shall slay him.
17 He shall not see the rivers, the floods, the brooks of honey and butter.
18 That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not swallow it down: according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein.
19 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not;
20 Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired.
21 There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods.
22 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.
23 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.
24 He shall flee from the iron weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.
25 It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.
26 All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle.
27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.
28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.
29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God.

Zophar describe the rich man whose children feel the need to give restitution (v5-10), the miserly and dissatisfied rich man (v12-14), the rich man who is finally forced to give back (v15-18), the rich man who dies leaving nothing to his descendants because he spent it all himself (v19-21), the rich man who is killed and robbed of everything (v23-28). 

Zophar obviously does not have a good opinion of rich people in general.

The sins that he describes the wicked having committed are that they have 1) oppressed and forsaken the poor, and 2) violently taken away houses he didn’t built.   It sounds like Zophar is describing money lenders when they have to eventually confiscate collateral when people default on their debt.  However, those who borrow money and don’t pay it back are technically “thieves and robbers,” according to the law of Moses, so lenders are within their rights to collect.

Then we have Elihu’s view in Job 36:9-14:

9 Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.
10 He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.
11 If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.
12 But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.
13 But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them.
14 They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.

Elihu describes those who were warned of their wickedness by misfortune and refused to listen and who died violent deaths in a state of ignorance (9-12).  Then he describes as wicked those who keep making people mad (v13), those who don’t complain when they are imprisoned or handicapped (v13), those who die young (v14), and those who live among the unclean (which I think he means spiritually unclean and dirty) (v14).

You know, I’m not so sure that some of those things Elihu describes are actually bad things.  You show me handicapped person who doesn’t complain or a person in prison who doesn’t complain and I’ll show you someone who has amazing self-control. Also, you can easily imagine some of those things happening to both good people and bad alike.  (Who among us is so good that they never make anyone mad? Or never repeat an offense?)

Again, Job’s friends hardly ever describe specific acts of wickedness, but instead describe the misfortunes that happen to those they think are wicked.  It is as if they reason backwards from circumstances.  “You had this bad thing happen, therefore you are a bad person.” 

Now, compare this with how Job himself describes what happens to the wicked:

7 Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?
8 Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes.
9 Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.
10 Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf.
11 They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.
12 They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.
14 Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
16 Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.
17 How oft is the candle of the wicked put out! and how oft cometh their destruction upon them! God distributeth sorrows in his anger.
18 They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away.
19 God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.
20 His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
21 For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst? (Job 21:7-21)

Job, in contrast, explores the often prosperous circumstances that the wicked enjoy.  Clearly he has seen people who sin, who do not repent, and who nevertheless live long lives and gain great resources and influence (v7).  He lists their pleasant position:
--They get to see their children grow up and establish families of their own (v8)
--Their families aren’t afraid of anything, nor do they seem to be chastised by God (v9)
--Their livestock multiplies like normal (v10)
--They have scads of happy children (v11)
--They make and enjoy music just like everyone else (v12)
--The live in wealth (v13)

To judge by what happens to them, they do not seem wicked at all.  Yet, Job asserts they are when they don’t want to learn anything about God and they think their material prosperity means they don’t need to know God or serve him and they think there is not advantage or profit in serving God or praying (v13-15).

I think this is an important point. When Job describes the wicked here, he doesn’t even mention people who do unkind and oppressive acts. (He takes it for granted that his friends understand that is wicked.) Instead, he points out how wickedness is a matter of the heart—the disregard for God, which leads to neglect of faith, repentance, and obedience that would ensure an eternal reward.

He also points out that despite how the wicked enjoy their pleasant earthly circumstances, if they don’t repent God still lays up their iniquity, which is another way of saying that the pile of sins they are collecting is growing bigger and bigger by the day, and eventually they will know the bitter reward of wickedness (v19-20).

In another place, Job discourses on the variety of wickedness in the earth:

2 Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.
3 They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.
4 They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.
5 Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children.
6 They reap every one his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked.
7 They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold.
8 They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.
9 They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.
10 They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry;
11 Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst.
12 Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.
13 They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.
14 The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.
15 The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face.
16 In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.
17 For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death.
18 He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.
19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned.
20 The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered; and wickedness shall be broken as a tree.
21 He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow.
22 He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life.
23 Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways.
24 They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn. (Job 24:2-24)

Job tells his friends that for all the wickedness people do and seem to get away with, they may be exalted for a little while, but eventually they die.  They may seem to live in safety, but God sees everything they do and rewards them according to their works.

13 This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.
14 If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.
15 Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep.
16 Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay;
17 He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.
18 He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper maketh.
19 The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not.
20 Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.
21 The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.
22 For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand.
23 Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place. (Job 27:13-23)

Further, he describes as wicked those who oppress and he says that their children will be massacred (v14) and dissatisfied (v14), that they won’t be mourned by their surviving spouse (v15), and even if they gather riches, at the end the just and innocent will enjoy those riches instead (v16-17).  He also says the rich’s power is temporary (v18-19) and only confined to this life, and they are punished with fear (v20) and natural disasters (v20-22), and social storms that hurl them out of their place (v23).

I notice that Job states the final results of wickedness, and the earthly punishments that come upon the wicked, but he doesn’t make the mistake of saying that all those who experience those things are wicked.

While his friends insisted Job had to have done something wrong that made him deserve all his suffering, and while they argued that God could only be just to allow what happened, Job knew that what had happened to him was unjust because he knew what true justice was.

Job’s friends pointed out a lot of human weaknesses and labeled it wickedness. They also pointed out a lot of tragedy thinking it was indicative of wickedness.  But they also said that man was born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, so there was at least an acknowledgement that man could not escape trouble.

From this exercise, I think I’ve learned that some things I’ve thought were indicative of sin were actually just human weaknesses, like those who just can’t catch a break. I also learned that some of the suspicions we harbor against the rich are unjust too.  It teaches me that to condemn others because of what happens to them would be a sin. I hope I can remember what I learned so that I am less likely to judge others.  It also teaches me that everyone deserves help in adversity.

As a postscript, I want to re-mention that I’ve realized the implications about divine justice from the story of Job are that if God allowed that suffering to come on Job, God could not leave the divine scales of justice out of balance indefinitely.   If suffering was given, then later compensation would be given too.   This brought me to the intriguing idea that God allowed that suffering to come on Job knowing it would qualify him for much greater blessing, some of which came in mortality, and some of which would come afterward.