I came across a brother recently who mentioned that he lived in a rural area and had 13 families to minister to. He felt like this was a heavy burden to bear and was laden with guilt.
I’ve been overwhelmed at times with having many people to minister to in various callings and assignments. Sometimes you feel like you have no idea what to do and there can be a great deal of guilt.
What came to mind though are these words from Jesus that may be of help:Read Full Post
The more beautiful the music by which false doctrine is sung, the more dangerous it becomes. I appeal to all Latter-day Saints, and especially to our choirs, never to sing the words of a song, no matter how beautiful and inspiring the music may be, where the teachings are not in perfect accord with the truths of the gospel.https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-18?lang=eng
I’ve thought a lot about this over the years. I’m a fan of reading the lyrics to every song in my collection, and I really don’t like knowingly singing along to bad ideas.
It is tough because you can have some beautiful and inspiring music out there that can be totally polluted by the lyrics.Read Full Post
As I was meditating upon the various sources of ideas that influence man, my thoughts converged upon a simple model that I have been finding useful.
Ultimately, the mind of God is the source of all light, truth, and knowledge. The adversary, seeking to bring honor unto himself, aims to captivate the minds of men by means that avoid giving any praise unto God.
Our flesh has been programmed with many biological impulses that drive us to eat, sleep, reproduce, fight, or flee. We find things beautiful or ugly, we are attracted or repulsed, and we are interested or disinterested.
The other people we share life with can be a mixture of all of these influences. Other people can lead us toward or away from God, they can help us overcome or give in to the natural man.Read Full Post
There were a few verses I came across in my study of the New Testament recently that have been on my mind.
It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel? You also took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rompha, the images which you made to worship.Acts 7:42-43
Isn’t it strange to think that even after their great deliverance from Egypt that any of the Israelites would carry with them their idols under a full knowledge that it was indeed the God of Israel that delivered them?Read Full Post
On July 1st, 2010, I started this blog, and I forgot to post about it. If I am in the habit of forgetting any anniversaries, I hope this is the only one!
We are barely into August and my 10th year of blogging with this my anti-climatic 550th post and two more scheduled to drop this week. Got some thoughts on veiled idolatry and visualizing the sources of ideas.
I feel like I should do something for the big 1-0 but I’m mostly at a loss for ideas. I do have one kind of big idea that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time but I don’t know if I will end up doing it or not or even if I should do it. I have 11 months to think about it.
There is another milestone I’ll hit before the big 1-0, and that will be the big 4-0 at the end of this year. Here I am thinking about my blog and I still haven’t decided what I’ll do yet for my mid-life crisis.
Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.D&C 9:6
The Lord spake these words to Oliver Cowdery after explaining why his attempts to translate were unfruitful.
No doubt that Oliver felt frustrated that he was unable to translate like Joseph and had to be content with continuing as a scribe.
I can sympathize with Oliver because there have been times where I feel like I have failed at things that could have been amazing if I would have followed the instructions properly.
In this case, however, Oliver received something that few people do in these circumstances, he got an explanation. That alone is a great blessing because how often do we receive a detailed description from the Lord on the details of what caused our failures?
Although the past is unchangeable, we can learn from it and make better decisions moving forward.
We may not like how God is dealing with us at specific points in life, but we can remember the Lord’s words to Oliver and choose to trust His wisdom instead of murmuring.
And now I say unto you,
all you that are desirous
to follow the voice of the good shepherd,
come ye out from the wicked,
and be ye separate,
and touch not their unclean things;
and behold, their names shall be blotted out,
that the names of the wicked
shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous,
that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith:
The names of the wicked
shall not be mingled
with the names of my people;
This verse reminds me of Jesus’ teaching about a man not being able to serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24)
To follow the voice of the good shepherd, we have to “come out from the wicked”, “be separate”, and “touch not their unclean things.”
On the flip side, if we are touching unclean things, are not separate, and are hanging with the wicked, then no matter how much we may say we love Jesus, we are not following his voice.
What I love about the scriptures is the principles are so versatile. A million people could read these verses and find specific applications for their own lives.
A friend of mine who recently retired is building a home and called me recently to ask for my favorite scripture. He is collecting favorite scriptures from all of his friends and family and writing them on the beams throughout his home. Cool idea.
He’s going to make some kind of record of it so he can show you where in the home your scripture is when you come to visit.
I have a lot of favorite scriptures for various reasons but to only have ONE… I dreaded the task of narrowing it down. I had a list of top contenders and finally settled on Alma 26:16.
“Therefore, let us glory,
yea, we will glory in the Lord;
yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full;
yea, we will praise our God forever.
Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?
Yea, who can say too much of his great power,
and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?
Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”
I love the Book of Mormon for innumerable reasons and I love this verse, especially the final line. No words can really do justice to how we feel about God and what he means to us. All we can do is glory and rejoice and we can never over-do it.
Number two on my list was Revelation 7:17:
“For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
This is a talk I gave today (July 21, 2019) in my ward.
Being a member of the Church in the 1800s had its perks; there were revelations and miracles, but it also involved people mobbing you and setting your stuff on fire.
How about building a city out of a snake and mosquito-infested swamp? Next, there was the whole leaving the United States and going on a horrible family road trip for hundreds of miles across an incredibly boring landscape.
After that long journey, they came to the mountains. Now they had to climb way up there with all their stuff and build another city at the top. They kept going and built more cities, hundreds of them; these were hardcore people.
Fast-forward 170 years or so.Read Full Post
Can you have truth without sacrifice?
Can you have empathy without sacrifice?
Can you have happiness without sacrifice?
Can you have love without sacrifice?
Administering to someone is still somewhat of a foreign land to me. I still have many questions that I grapple with on this subject.
There are several kinds of blessings that are performed by the laying on of hands. Most of them typically involve giving words of comfort, instruction, or guidance that is intended to be inspired by the Spirit of the Lord.
I’ve wondered to what degree that I should keep my own thoughts and biases out of that process. Is it even possible to dictate word-for-word exactness the will of the Lord to someone? Is that even the goal?
Why should we say anything at all and not just lay hands on the person and wait for God to do his thing? Why are we requested to speak? Maybe mortal interaction provides more than we realize.
Perhaps it isn’t our specific words that ultimately matter, but the desires and intents of our hearts. Maybe the words we speak stir faith within all the parties to a sufficient degree that God can work within us. The Spirit can then carry to our hearts and minds the will of the Lord in its purity.
I don’t think it is a bad idea to ask a person what blessings they would like from the Lord even if what we think they need may seem obvious. For example, someone might be in the hospital for a broken leg but the blessing they desire may be something veiled from the naked eye.
Why not ask? Why not allow them to reveal their desire like many did when they came to Jesus asking for specific things. Isn’t faith demonstrated in the asking?
I’ve always liked this lyric from the Creed song What if. I think about them in the context of King Benjamin’s words:
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch … your thoughts, … and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.Mosiah 4:30
Watch your thoughts; an important, a critical warning. Our thoughts are influenced by everything around us in ways that are more powerful and significant than we may realize.
What happens to the mind when one dwells continually on a particular subject or idea? What if one’s thoughts become consumed by particular ideas? What if the ideas do not originate from the mind of God?
It seems that beyond simply watching our thoughts, we should also be watchful concerning ideas that influence our thoughts as well and diligently seek to discover their origins.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.John 15:1-2 NASB
Both branches that are “in [Christ]” get cut but for very different purposes and with very different results. I went to the dictionary and found this definition:
Prune: To lop or cut off the superfluous branches of trees, to make them bear better fruit or grow higher, or to give them a more handsome and regular appearance.http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/prune
Then, I just had to look up “superfluous.”
Superfluous: 1. More than is wanted; rendered unnecessary by superabundance; 2. More than sufficient; unnecessary;http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/superfluous
This reminds me of times where I felt like I was being a good disciple but suffered what I felt was an unnecessary loss. I have also felt that despite my best efforts, the prosperity I desired kept slipping from my grasp.
When you prune something, you are cutting it back, taking away what is unnecessary or more than is needed so that it can bear more fruit. Getting cut back doesn’t feel pleasant at the moment; it can feel more like punishment.
Maybe I should learn more about the fruit that God is trying to produce in my life versus the fruit I am wanting to produce.
The Hebrew word for covenant means “to cut” so when God is “pruning” or cutting us back, is there a connection to covenants and in what respect?
Whining shows what has power over us. Whining, in many ways, is the opposite of worshiping the Lord. Worship is when we glorify God for who he is and acknowledge what he has done for us, but whining is ignoring who God is and forgetting what he has done for us.Kyle Idleman, Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart
I got all the good feels when one of my daughters gave me this keychain which originally read, “Best Dad.”
After a few weeks, I noticed that two letters had broken off and my keychain now implied that I was a B.S. or Bull S*** Dad.
It is striking to consider how something that was created with love could convey a completely different meaning than was intended because critical pieces were missing from my view.
That got me thinking about how I see God, the gospel, my life, and other people.
And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
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 13:25-28
One of the keys to navigating between truth and error involves examining the principles that undergird the particular ideologies we come across.Read Full Post
This is an excerpt from a book by Sheri Dew about President Nelson  and I wanted to share it along with some commentary.
As President of the Quorum of the Twelve, President Nelson encouraged frequent conversation with his Brethren about the “imbalance between what we are doing as a church and what we must do” as he described it.
Those who drive by or enter Latter-day Saints chapels see beautiful landscaping, nice parking lots, and handsome buildings with basketball courts inside. And yet most of the people of the earth live in China, India, and the Middle East- areas where billions live stacked on top of each other, wall to wall.
This discrepancy between the “first world” experience and these other nations we hope to take our faith to is pretty sobering especially when we consider the vastly different lifestyles.Read Full Post
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
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