I saw a video where Dennis Prager pointed out five distinctions that he says are at the core of the Biblical worldview:
- The difference between man and God.
- The difference between man and animal.
- The difference between man and woman.
- The difference between good and evil.
- The difference between holy and profane.
He points out that these distinctions imply order which further implies that there is an “orderer” (God). This way of looking at things caught my attention.
We should ask ourselves what the distinctions are between us and God that prevent us from becoming one with him (John 17). What are the distinctions between us and plants and animals who are also living souls that receive the breath of life (Moses 3:7,9,19). What are the distinctions between men and women and how do they relate to marriage (Mark 10:6-8). What is good or evil and what is holy or profane?Read Full Post 0 Comments
One of my go-to apps is the Bible app by YouVersion which offers a myriad of different Bible translations. Among my favorites for personal reading are the NASB, NIV, and the CEV for kids.
Today I came across another version I had missed before called the EasyEnglish Bible 2018. One of the first chapters I read when testing a new translation is Romans 14. I like this chapter for a number of reasons and the KJV version is pretty tough for me to understand so I like seeing how others have translated it.
I think of this chapter as the keystone for resolving the discord between those that profess different dietary choices such as vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, carnivores, etc.
I think that this is a chapter for everyone because the principles taught here go far beyond how we treat people that eat differently than we do.Read Full Post 2 Comments
In Zenos’ olive tree allegory quoted in Jacob 5 of the Book of Mormon, there are four particular things that the Lord of the vineyard and his servants do to nourish the tree so that it can bear tame fruit.
Instead of viewing the tree as the house of Israel, I would like to look at this allegory as if the tree represents us individually. How do these four things relate to how the Lord nourishes us personally?Read Full Post 0 Comments
I rarely comment on current events or things like this on my blog but I’ve been waiting on this announcement for quite some time.
My family has a lot of members and a lot of converts as well. Being a Latter-day Saint already separates us from them in some significant ways and essentially banning all of them from participating in our weddings was a hard thing.Read Full Post 2 Comments
There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning [Jesus]; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.”John 7:12 NASB
It is always interesting to see how people reacted to Jesus and what their opinions were. Even with Jesus himself, a crowd of people could look at him, listen to him, and still come to two completely different opinions about him.
“How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”John 7:14 NASB
That which comes by revelation is often valued less by the world than that which comes from the teachings of mortal men and their institutions.
“You have a demon!”John 7:19 NASB
A modern version I hear of this rather pathetic non-argument is “You’re a racist!” or “You’re a Nazi!”
If Jesus was such a controversial figure, then how can anyone else ever not be controversial? Perhaps by simply being quiet, drawing no attention to oneself, and never making a stand for anything at all.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.2 Timothy 3:12 NASB
I love symbolism so much. I spent years buying books and diving deeply into the subject almost obsessively.
I found a way to ‘flip a switch’ in my mind to where I started looking at everything differently and it constituted a massive leap in my understanding and spiritual growth. It’s great because anyone can do it, you just have to start.
A few years ago, I kind of entered this weird place where all the information I was cramming into my mind settled into a profound simplicity. Then, I just stopped studying the subject for a long time.
I’m not sure I’ll ever study it that intensely again but I’m glad I did; I regret nothing.
I learned that finality has no place in symbolism. If God wants to say one thing, he will say it clearly. When he wants to say endless things, he uses symbols.0 Comments
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.
If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.Matthew 18:8-9 NASB
This week we have been studying Matthew 18 in Come Follow Me and I have had a few discussions with family members about these verses and the weight of the implications that Christ is getting at here are very challenging.
Imagine for a moment cutting off your own hand or foot; imagine plucking out one of your eyes. Can you imagine the pain and the horror? Think of how losing a key part of your body will affect the rest of your life.Read Full Post 2 Comments
There is quite a bit packed
Among other things, Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man sowed in his field and leaven that a woman hid in some flour.
In both cases, a person performed a simple act, planting a seed and placing leaven in flour. Growth came from the living seed and the living yeast which then did all of the work.
I thought to myself that perhaps we vastly overthink things. These parables are great examples of Alma’s words, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass;” (Alma 37:6)
I’ve been thinking about never underestimating the power of a simple act and the unseen forces that are ready and prepared to generate incredible things, but are still waiting for me to act.0 Comments
The one component of Lehi’s vision that I have been thinking about for a while now is the mist of darkness. There have been many satisfying things I have learned from meditating upon this part of the vision and pondering what it means to our personal journies through life.
In Lehi’s vision, he sees “numberless concourses” of people seeking out the path which leads to the tree of life. This can be understood to potentially represent an individual’s journey to God by trying to discover a way to him.
But just as these people find the path, this mist of darkness arises.Read Full Post 0 Comments
I came across this story recently and it reminded me of the tragic complexity of history. We tend to look back and history through the narratives crafted by historians often get a glimpse of how hard some situations were to deal with.
Sometimes you cannot change the situation around you, but you can still find a way to do the best with what you have.0 Comments
Contention must be avoided at all costs. The entire media industry exists off of creating and distributing stories that stir people up into contention for the sole purpose of selling advertising or getting gain.
They are like Zeezrom and the lawyers that survived off of the chaos they helped create.
“Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek.”Alma 11:30
People who do this are evil, and we must cease to contribute to it. Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5: 9) Guess who’s children those who cause contention are?
“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”3 Nephi 11:30
The Book of Momon teaches us what happens to societies that embrace, perpetuate, and celebrate contention.Read Full Post 0 Comments
On Feb 28, 2019, at a Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction, there were some great things that Elder Bednar had to say.
In a very informative and entertaining unscripted role play with a real ward council, Bednar started off by saying this:
“I will never ask a question that has one right answer that you have to say.”
I thought that this was such a great thing for a teacher, parent, or instructor to say. I think that we can often do a disservice to our people and children when we play “guess what’s in my pocket” and try to get people to fish for what is in our mind; I’m guilty of this from time to time.
This profound statement implies that the answer doesn’t lie hidden in the mind of the brilliant instructor but that the learner has the power within themselves to solve a problem. This is tremendously empowering and I think it honors the contributions of others rather than glorifying the instructor.Read Full Post 0 Comments
“But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.”Helaman 13:27-28
I was listening to this chapter and what stood out to me first was “gold”, “silver” and “costly apparel.” I was immediately taken back to the vision of the tree of life and the parallel themes:
“And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.”1 Nephi 13:8
Wealth and fine clothing seem to go hand in hand. If we look at the clothing as a symbol, it can represent any physical display we put on to reveal our desires and ideologies to others. We can clothe not just our bodies, but our language and our actions to publicize our allegiances.Read Full Post 0 Comments
Sometimes we limit what God can give us by the “receptacle” or “vessel into which something is received” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) we bring to him.
We may come to God begging for spiritual food while holding out a single finger instead of cupping both hands or lifting up a massive basket. Do we come to God expecting much but with nowhere to put what he is willing to give?
It is written that he willing and eager to pour out great blessings and knowledge, but we must come ready and able to receive them.
A small child can only receive simple ideas because their capacities are limited, but as they grow and learn their abilities to receive increase exponentially.
Desire is essential and powerful, but if we want to receive more, we need to increase belief, faith, hope, knowledge, understanding, meditation, and pondering to construct a spiritual receptacle that can receive more.
“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” – 2 Nephi 28:30
My feelings about the Church’s new Come Follow Me plan for families has been a little mixed. I’ve gone back and forth about it but have been willing to give it a shot and see what happens.
Initially, I felt like a church-wide focus on all the same scriptures across all programs from Sunday School to family study was a little too correlated for my taste. I prefer to create study methods that are tuned to our needs.
We have ventured forth anyway, and some exciting things have happened. First, it was a little rough; we didn’t know how to organize personal study with family study and the manual. If we studied the same stuff together every night, what did we study personally? With a chapter or two a week, that could be read in minutes, reviewing the same chapter alone and with family for 7 days straight and then again at church, that seems like you’d get a little burnt out! I still don’t totally understand it.Read Full Post 2 Comments
I’m not sure if anyone has made this connection before, but in studying Matthew 4, I noticed that there were some pretty striking similarities to what Jesus went through in the desert and the vision that Lehi and Nephi had.
Both accounts begin in the wilderness.
- Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness… (Matt 4:1)
- I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness. And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. (1 Nephi 8:4-5)
Hunger and Fruit
In the desert, Jesus has fasted for 40 days and nights while in Lehi’s vision, he tastes the fruit of the tree after several hours (not days). This contrast between extreme hunger and the vivid description of tasting the fruit is striking.Read Full Post 3 Comments
Lehi obtained an explicit promise from the Lord (2 Nephi 1:9) concerning his people, and in its concise form it reads:
Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments
ye shall prosper in the land;
but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments
ye shall be cut off from my presence.
– 2 Nephi 1:20
This promise is in the form of parallelism where the keeping or not keeping of the commandments brings prosperity or a state of being cut off from the presence of God.
You’ll notice that I have colored some particular words and phrases in each verse where I see some similar themes. The reward for keeping the commandments is prospering in the land, and earlier in verse 9 Lehi breaks down what this prosperity will entail:Read Full Post 0 Comments
Bishop Dean M. Davies begins by sharing a story that involved the selection of a temple site with Gordon B. Hinckley. While on the surface the story itself isn’t all that impressive to me personally. One side of my mind says that this was merely a matter of selecting a different site out of many that could have equally worked.
President Hinckley was a senior man with decades of experience, insight, and intelligence and had an idea in his mind of what to look for. The implication is that the Lord was directing all of this and I’m not saying that he wasn’t. On the one hand, this isn’t a mind-blowing story, it’s not parting a sea or translating ancient scripture, but on the other, maybe there is a different message.Read Full Post 1 Comment
This past weekend I attended a conference at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX where President Nelson and others spoke. He made a particular point of talking about the weaknesses that we all have to one degree or another and segued his message into Ether 12:27.
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.”
It’s probably one of the more well-known and quoted verses in the Book of Mormon, and I have pondered it off an on for as long as I have been aware of it. What weakness is God showing us? Will he reveal some hidden weakness that we don’t perceive? Perhaps. If we already see the weakness, what purpose would there be for God to show us something that we already see?
As I heard this verse read at the conference, the Spirit framed it in a particular way in my mind. One of my favorite spiritual gifts is the ability to see things in whole or in part as God sees them. I saw a connection between that gift and this verse.Read Full Post 2 Comments
Elder D. Todd Christofferson is someone that I look forward to hearing from and his talks always seem to have some very rich ideas in them that are worth pondering. He started off talking about Elijah and the priests of Baal, interesting stuff worthy of a whole post but I feel more like skipping ahead.
In the most recent general conference, President Russell M. Nelson declared: “You don’t have to wonder about what is true. You do not have to wonder whom you can safely trust. Through personal revelation, you can receive your own witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church. Regardless of what others may say or do, no one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true.”
The quote is consistent with my experience, at least in principle. There is a wrestle that occurs in the search for truth. The desire of the individual is the key factor in whether or not they find what they are looking for. In this pursuit, one will become very well acquainted with failure as various avenues are explored.Read Full Post0 Comments