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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
“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
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