Wednesday, December 31, 2008 3 comments

Can you add to your height?


25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? (Luke 12:25-26)
I always kind of wondered about this thing Jesus said. I thought, why would Jesus consider that adding a few feet to our height was easy to do? Why would he call it “that thing which is least”?

Today I was pondering it and the Spirit pointed something out. Read the following verses that come right after the verses above:
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he provide for you, if ye are not of little faith? (Luke 12: 27-28, Joseph Smith Translation)
It seems that Christ was thinking of plants and what they do. A plant can grow and make flowers. Of those things a plant does, growing is certainly the least a plant can do. A human with powers of intellect and reasoning, whether he or she wants to or not, can’t decide to grow taller and then do it, as a plant does.

So Christ was trying to show that if the lilies can grow and flower through the providence of God and without working hard for it, then if we have faith, God will provide for us too.

However, when we accept this message, we suddenly find ourselves in a difficulty. What about work? We know we are supposed to work to become self-sufficient so that we don’t burden anybody.

A few verses before this, we get a hint that Christ was not telling us this about lilies to give us an excuse to loll about all day waiting for God to provide.
22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. (Luke 12:23)
This seems to tell us that there are more important things to think about than what we will eat and what we will wear. Going back to the plant metaphor, we know that plants grow and flower. But plants also bear fruit. Here is another plant parable Christ gave that elaborates on this point:
6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Luke 13:6-9)
So it seems that the whole reason that God provides for us—represented by aerating the ground and fertilizing, according to this parable—is so that we can bear good fruit, which represents good works. These good works are something besides the work at our jobs, because jobs are a gift provided by God for meeting our needs. The context before the above parable shows that one particular type of work we should be doing is repentance:
4 …those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwell in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:4-5)
This combined with the parable shows us plainly that the clock is ticking and that while God is merciful and longsuffering, putting in as much effort as He can to call us to repentance through His servants, waiting for us to decide to repent, giving us time to get our lives in order, if there is no progress in the time period that He gives us (and the length is longer than most of us would probably set for ourselves), if we don’t respond, He will root us up. Why should we spend time speculating on how much time we have? We need to repent now! (And what better way to spend New Year’s Eve than by thinking about what we have done, trying to figure out what we have done wrong, and then praying to our Heavenly Father to forgive us through the sufferings of Christ. Then we will be more ready to make our New Year’s Resolutions.)

Another type of work that Christ wanted us to do was the following:
Therefore seek ye to bring forth the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Luke 12:31, Joseph Smith Translation)
Since the time of New Years Resolutions is very near, I challenge you to decide on at least one thing you can do to get closer to God or to help build the kingdom of God. Here are some ideas:

Pray
Read the word of God a little each day
Go to church
Pay tithing
Help at least one person each day
Teach a friend something about your beliefs

I want to work on my prayers this next year and make them more meaningful. I also want to be a little bit more frequent in my blog entries. (Of course, that means I will have to keep myself a fit temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in to inspire me with ideas to write about.) I figure that improving my prayers will give me a means toward some of those other things on the list. Heavenly Father will answer my prayers to find people I can help and find opportunities to teach my friends something about my beliefs.

Happy New Year!

Image credit: "Orange Lilies", Gene Burch Photography, http://www.geneburch.com/gallery/v/Flowers/Orange_Lilies.jpg.html.
Saturday, December 27, 2008 0 comments

A prophecy by Isaiah about Egypt that has yet to be fulfilled

19 In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord.
20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.
21 And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it.
22 And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.
23 ¶ In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.
24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
25 Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. (Isaiah 19:19-25)
As a Latter-day Saint, I take this to mean some interesting things. It seems to say that the gospel of Christ will be taught and accepted in Egypt, that a temple will be built there, and most startlingly, an alliance will be formed between Egypt, Israel, and Assyria with free travel between them.

[H]e shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them – This seems to signify the Christ is the Savior of the Egyptians as well as the Messiah of the Jews. He saves from oppression.

[T]hey shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them – This signifies repentance, which requires faith in Christ as the Savior of mankind, and promises forgiveness and healing.

And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day – This signifies that the Egyptians will have a personal witness and testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ. They will know that He is the Son of God.

[T]hey shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it – This signifies the making of sacred covenants with the Lord and performing sacred ordinances, both at baptism and at the temple.

In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord – The altar, as a part of the temple, is used here to poetically represent the temple, so if there is an altar in Egypt, that means a temple is built there too.

Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance. – This shows us that the Lord blesses all those who listen and obey, no matter what race or nation they come from. Isaiah prophesies of the Lord’s future delight with these nations for their righteous acts when they come into His covenant.

If you read the U.S. State Department’s 2007 report on the status of Egypt’s International Religious Freedom you will see how much of a miracle all of the above will be.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008 0 comments

A Christmas poem

It's nearly Christmas! I really can't express the full extent of my feelings of gratitude for Jesus Christ and all that He has done; words can be very empty things, especially on a blog. Instead, I'm going to inflict a poem on you. It's one I wrote about three years ago, so please forgive me ahead of time for its weakness. Any good feelings you get out of it will be a gift from the Lord.

Background: At the time of Christ's birth in Bethlehem, the Book of Mormon tells of a people who also looked forward to the birth of Christ and the crisis that faced them because of their belief. This story can be found in Helaman 14:1-9, and 3 Nephi 1.
The First American Christmas

A prophet up on city wall did give the land a sign
For all to know from east to west the birth of Christ divine
“You’ll know,” said he, “in five year’s time you’ll see a star so bright,
From dawn to dawn when it appears you sha’n’t see any night.”

In five years’ time the wicked said the sign had not appeared
“Your faith in Christ is all in vain, a foolish dream”, they sneered.
The valiant ones watched for the sign each night as Samuel said
Although their death date had been set, belief they would not shed.

With all the Christians in the land faced with a martyr’s fate,
The prophet Nephi knelt and prayed, “O God, assuage the hate!”
Assurance and calm comfort came - the time was now at hand
That all would know that Christ had come, each one throughout the land.


And Lo! That very night the star was seen up in the sky!
“And night is like the day! Behold!” - the universal cry.

All those who’d not believed it’d happen fell down on the ground
For they knew then that Christ had come; on earth He could be found.
That God-made-Man who was fore’dained to save all of the earth
Had saved a host of Christians just by virtue of His birth.

This isn’t just a pretty tale about the way-back-when.
It’s just for us, to brace us up before He comes again.
In future days, of unbelief and threats we’ll have our fill.
In spite of those who’ll say He won’t return, we know he will.
And when the wicked say that Christ’s return is far too late,
Then that’s the time when we will know we’ve not too long to wait.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008 2 comments

Peace, be still.


I’ve always been fascinated by that story of Jesus on the boat calming the storm simply by saying, “Peace, be still.” How amazing that those words could do so much!

I was thinking about it today, thinking about what causes waves and wind. I know that waves on the ocean are caused by the wind blowing over it. The stronger the wind and the longer it blows, the larger the waves get. And winds are caused by areas of high pressure and areas of low pressure in the atmosphere, as areas with lots of heat energy try to dissipate that energy away. Hot air expands as the molecules vibrate more, taking up larger areas and pushing into areas with less heat energy.

In those storms, the air molecules were exerting lots of back and forth pressure on each other and the water beneath, and pushing the waves higher. Each water drop was pushing the water drop next to it, up and down. For all of that to go away, truly everything had to be stilled. The Creator of the earth spoke to the elements and they obeyed.

It’s the Christmas season. How many of our wars and arguments and pushing and shoving could be ended if we listened to that declaration of “Peace on earth, good will toward men” and “Be still and know that I am God”?

Image: Jesus Calms the Storm, by Daniel Bonnel, courtesy of Images of Christ Project, http://www.iocproject.com/gallery/painting.php?sort_mode=title&sku=10049
Friday, December 19, 2008 2 comments

Christ talks about new wine and old bottles

No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
And no man putteth new wine into old bottles, and the wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. (Mark 2:21-22)
I’ve always thought that this was talking about how the people of Christ’s day were so wrapped up in the Law of Moses that they didn’t want to change to the higher law that He wanted to teach them. I guess I based this on one of the other versions of these verses that appears in Luke in which there is this bit that follows after:
No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better. (Luke 5:39)
Today I saw these verses in a different way. I saw that fairly close contextually to these verses, Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He had come not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance and that the sick needed the physician, and not the healthy.

It seems to me that Jesus was using the wine bottles (back then they were bags of animal skin) as a comparison to show how it was necessary to be born again. (After all, what are we but bags of skin holding red blood instead of red wine?)

Jesus was trying to say that if He tried to fill us up with the higher law and teach us His ways, if we weren’t born again, there’d be such a disconnect between what we knew we should do and what we wanted to do (because of our carnal fallen natures) that we wouldn’t be able to take it and we’d explode and discard everything we learned, just like new wine in old bottles would burst the bottles and the wine would be spilled and the bottles would be marred.

So we have to repent and be baptized (be born of water and of the spirit) in order to receive Christ’s teachings. It will make us into new creatures with no desire to sin and new desires to serve God.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 0 comments

Volunteering at the cannery


Today I volunteered at the Mesa wet pack cannery. With hair net, rubber gloves, earplugs, 20-second soaped hands.. We bottled maple syrup. I don’t know whether it was the real stuff or not. We bottled syrup for 4 ½ hours. My job was to put a little red cap on the bottle and give just one twist. It couldn’t be too tight. That’s what I did for four hours by a conveyor belt, and my pant legs around my ankles got completely soaked from all the water that was dripping of the conveyor belt. (It had to be mechanically sprayed down to keep it from getting uncleanably sticky from any spilled syrup.) I was sooooo glad that this kind of assembly line work is not my day job!

It was really interesting how we were oriented to the job. They showed a 9 minute video that started out with the really well known comedy sketch of Lucille Ball scrambling to wrap chocolates on an assembly line and getting totally backed up as the conveyor belt whizzed by at high speed. (Hilarious and painful to watch at the same time.) Then the video switched to showing the church’s wet pack canning, with lots of inspiring music. As a viewer I got the feeling that this operation was not a hurry-hurry type of thing and that it was more worker friendly. We saw people working factory equipment. We saw people smiling. We saw lots of bottles of food. Then the scope of the video began to include other parts of the church welfare program. We saw people weeding fields of crops. We saw people working at Deseret Industries. We saw people in Africa getting boxes of donated clothes. We saw people shopping at the bishop’s storehouse. We saw families eating. We saw a whole bunch of these things in really short clips one after another, bam, bam, bam, and I started to feel overwhelmed by the wonder of all of it. I thought, Man, if the Lord gave me a heavenly vision of the whole scope of the church’s welfare program, I think this is exactly what I would see! And that’s when it hit me that it was important for me to have this vision, this global view of the great work I would be engaged in so that I could appreciate it as more than just some piddle-y mind-numbing task, and the video was meant to give that vision to everybody.

You may think I’m a complete dweeb, but I was so inspired by what I saw that the first two hours I worked away quite happily, amusing myself by singing hymns.

Image from http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.ci.kirkland.wa.us/
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Messianic Prophecy – Walking on the Water


Did you know that when Christ walked on the water he was fulfilling a prophecy made in one of the Psalms?
16 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.
17 The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.
18 The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.
19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. (Psalms 77:16-19)
Now compare to this story in recorded in Matthew..
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid….
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (Matthew 14:24-27, 32-33)
I see three things that are fulfilled from the prophecy above. 1) There was a big storm. 2) Christ’s path went through the sea. (This shows that “path” meant “walking” and not just “going by boat”.) 3) To this day nobody knows what was under his feet that held Him up. (“thy footsteps are not known”).

The Book of Matthew in the New Testment points out a number of places where Christ was fulfilling prophecy during His mortal ministry, but obviously Matthew didn't catch this one. Maybe we should look closer at the Old Testament to see if there was anything else that was missed.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walking_on_water, painting “Walking on Water” by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1888.
Thursday, December 11, 2008 2 comments

Famine watch. Also, my story about housing.

2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face….
6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom….
8 ¶ Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.
9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.
11 ¶ But ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget my holy mountain….
12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.
13 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:
14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. (Isaiah 65:2-3, 6, 8-9, 11-14)
This is a stiff prophecy of Isaiah’s and I have a feeling it is about to be fulfilled in our day, especially that part in verse 13 about hunger and thirst.

Have you noticed that oil prices have dropped by more than half? Good for us. So far. That’s taking away profit margin from oil companies. And demand has plummeted too. But those dropping prices… if they fall too far, then it becomes unprofitable for companies to remain in business, so they will close operations.

And the credit crisis. (Which I think is really a debt-default crisis causing a trust crisis.) Banks are making it really hard for companies to borrow money for their day-to-day operations. (And I don’t understand why businesses borrow money for the day-to-day expenses. That doesn’t sound like a very self-reliant model.) Banks are also making it hard for companies to borrow money to buy their inventory. (Buying inventory on credit doesn’t sound very smart to me either.) So if fewer people can buy inventory, then there will be less inventory and we will have shortages. When shippers, distributors, and other middlemen in the supply chain become unable to obtain credit to fund day-to-day operations, they will be forced to fold. When this happens to the farmers, food shippers, and grocery stores, we will have famine.

I’ve already read some news about farmers being unable to obtain loans to buy fertilizer. Hope you have your food storage.

And houses. When nobody has money for a down payment, no one is be able to buy a house. And when no one is able to buy, no one is able to sell. And if no one is able to sell, then no one can move between houses. So the price of houses will drop to practically nothing, forcing those who bought at higher prices upside down. Just as businesses walk away from a market when they can’t make a profit, homeowners walk away from a house that puts them in debt for more than it can fetch on the market. Of course, this is all pretty obvious to everyone now.

I remember back in 2004 and 2005 there were a lot of news stories that talked about the immense amount of debt that Americans were carrying. I remember wondering if anyone listened to those stories. They were a warning. I suppose they were easy to ignore; the consequences took several years to work through the whole system, and it is easy to ignore warnings and think they are too “alarmist” when the consequences don’t come immediately.

I suppose you’re wondering what my husband and I did during those boom years. Well, we had our own learning experience a little earlier. We bought a duplex in Austin, Texas a few months before September 11th. Austin was going through its own little real estate bubble at that time and we bought near the top of it. We were just married and we were eager to have our own home to live in. Yeah, we bought. Two mortgages, 80% and 10%, I think it was. And then September 11th happened and the economy tanked. And there was the “Tech Wreck” when technology stocks took a nosedive. Around 2005, we moved to Phoenix and we needed to sell our duplex. By that time Austin’s real estate bubble had popped. Somehow we managed to sell and we just barely broke even. (Talk about a miracle! Boy did we feel blessed that we got out of that!)

And we got to Phoenix just about when its housing bubble was close to the top, right at the time when prices were more than a little insane, right when it was hard to find any house with a For Sale sign in front of it that didn’t say “pending” or “sold”. And prices were much higher than they were in Austin, so.. we rented. We could have bought something out in the boondocks, but we didn’t want to drive for hours everyday to get to work or school. After experiencing the Austin-bubble-poppage, we were not excited about jumping into a repeat performance in Phoenix.

I think that at least one reason so many people bought houses was peer pressure. My husband remembers all the times his co-workers kept telling him, “You really should buy now; prices are only going to go higher. They’re never going to come down. They might stagnate for a while, but historically, home prices never drop.” (Sounds like a sick joke now, doesn't it?) Who knows how many times these conversations were duplicated across the city… or the nation? How many people caved and bought because of this?

We muddled through the pressure of all those flyers that were stuck in our door jamb. ("Why throw your money away when you can buy with no money down?! 6% interest rate! 4% interest rate! 3% interest rate for first 5 years!") We heard the stories about people buying houses and then selling them for an obscene profit a few months later. We read the stories of the people who sold their house in California for half a million and then bought in Arizona and retired. Sighhhhhh.

For a while I worked for a plumbing company in their estimating department. I saw all the house plans for all the new communities they plumbed. I heard about the numbers of houses being built. Do you know how hard it is to keep from buying a house when you are working in the construction industry?! People are always talking about buying or looking and about what options they want. One fellow I worked with liked to change his plumbing fixtures every so often for a new look. I’d wonder, When will it ever be our turn to buy?

Finally, I complained to the Lord about it. And I got a very strong impression that the day would come when we’d be able to get whatever kind of house we wanted for a song and that the Lord was going to squeeze people’s wallets so much that George Washington was going to scream. That gave me the courage to hang on longer.

We rented through the boom. We’ve saved money for a down payment. We’re starting to look at houses now. My husband really wants to buy. He dreams of a house around which he can plant a peach tree and a cara cara orange tree and get loads of fruit. I’d like fruit trees too, but I’m not ready to fully cast off my caution. Waiting through the boom years taught me something very valuable—it’s okay wait and save even when people say it’s crazy.

One thing I’m not sure about is when I’ll know that housing prices in Phoenix have hit “song” level. Actually, you know what I’d consider “song” level? A price so good that we could buy the house outright with no loan needed. Do you think I’m crazy? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I've seen the credit crunch squeeze George Washington. (I think it is still squeezing as I write.) "Song" level prices may be just around the corner.
Monday, December 8, 2008 1 comments

Isaiah's experience with repentance

1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 ¶ Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:1-5)
Isaiah was privileged to see the Lord at the temple with a whole retinue of attending seraphim. He heard them saying to each other how holy the Lord was. (They didn’t just say the Lord was holy, but “holy, holy, holy”, which is the ancient middle eastern way of expressing the superlative form, just like we would say “holiest”.) He saw the temple doorposts quaking at the sound of the Lord’s voice and saw the cloud that veiled his presence from the people around.

What was Isaiah’s reaction? “Woe is me! for I am undone” (Undone seems like an old way of saying a person is humiliated, eternally cast off, unworthy, unclean, and lost to the respect of reputable people.) In the middle of this incredible vision Isaiah became profoundly aware of his own sin. “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” It’s hard to believe that the prophet Isaiah could have been a person with a foul mouth, but that was the case. He must have realized the Lord knew all about him and he couldn’t hide anything from the Lord. All he could do was lament the unworthiness of himself and his people.

And then something amazing happens.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. (Isaiah 6:6-7)
It seems incredible that Isaiah would have a hot coal from the temple’s altar touched to his lips by an angel to take away his sin, but the action was profoundly symbolic. The altar was where the sin offerings and burnt offerings were burnt, symbolizing the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. To have a coal from the burning mass taken and applied to that body part that he had just been lamenting the filthiness of would teach in an unforgettable way that because of his faith, the future sufferings of Christ were being applied to his sin and purifying him because of his godly sorrow.

Then something even more amazing happens.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
9 And he said, Go, and tell this people… (Isaiah 6:8-9)
The Lord asks who He can send to be a servant of heaven. And Isaiah volunteers for the job of going to tell his people about God.

This is very significant, because it shows that once we have repented of our sins and they are purged away, the Lord immediately puts us to work doing good where before we were sinning. Isaiah used bad language, and once he repented and was forgiven, he volunteered to use his language for the Lord’s work of sharing the gospel. (For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. [1 Corinthians 6:20])

This scripture teaches me that when I repent, I must expect not only to stop doing what was bad, but I must be willing to do good things instead. The amazing thing about the Atonement of Christ is that it makes that possible, by taking away our desire to do evil and substituting a desire to do good. I have experienced this in my life and I want everyone to experience it.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 1 comments

The Necessity of Real Intent

6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
9 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such. (Moroni 7:6-9)
One of the things that strikes me in these scriptures is where the focus is in these scriptures. We are used to thinking that people who do good things are good. We are used to thinking that a person who prays is religious. These verses seem to point out that it is the real intent behind the acts that indicate whether we are good or evil.

Real intent is a very tricky thing. We can’t read each others’ minds so we can’t really say for sure what anyone intends. (That’s something that God has to judge.) How do we really know when someone is offering future help just to be polite or offering help because they sincerely hope that we will take them up on it? We don't. We often assume they are just being polite. And I think we sometimes try to put on a show for each other, pretending we have good intentions when we don’t really.

Why is having real intent so important? “[E]xcept he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing”. Having real intent is beneficial to us and does something for our own souls at the same time that our good acts help others. The Lord wants that benefit for us, because it brings us a little bit closer to Him.

I’m really glad that I ran across this scripture as the Christmas season starts. Christmas is certainly the season of giving, so I want to be able to give and have it be as good for me as it is for the people I gift.
Monday, December 1, 2008 0 comments

Increasing knowledge and power

And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God. (Alma 18:35)
This is such a short verse, but it gives us so much information about how to increase knowledge and power in our lives. It teaches us that both knowledge and power come from the Spirit of God when it is in us. It also says it comes “according to” our faith and desires in God. That seems like scripture code for “in proportion to”, meaning that the greater our faith and godly desires, the greater the knowledge and power the Spirit gives us.