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.
Zeal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I think it tends to amplify our actions whether they are misguided or on point. Sometimes we can focus too much on the letter that we miss the spirit, or the weightier matters. Those are some the lessons reflected on in this great video from the Messages of Christ YouTube Channel.
The following is a post created from a talk I gave in church this morning.
There is an idea in thermodynamics that everything in the universe eventually moves from order to disorder. The Book of Mormon is a window into how this happens in the lives of individuals and civilizations. Around 385 A.D., the bodies of tens of thousands of men, women, and children, lay strewn across the land as an entire nation went extinct save for a few.
Mormon, on of the last surviving leaders beheld this scene and cried out in anguish: “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss. O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen! But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return. (Mormon 6:17-20)
They had fallen, and they did so together, as one.Read Full Post
I attended a nice baptism the other day. A woman was baptized by her husband who had grown up LDS but drifted away for many years and had just returned to full activity.
The next day she was confirmed during a fast Sunday and during the testimony meeting, the man’s older brother got up to share some words. He talked about how he felt a little envious of the contrast his brother was experiencing after being away for so long and returning to the gospel fresh once more. He admitted a little envy of his brother in that respect and said:
“I’ve never felt like I needed the Lord because I’ve always done what I have supposed to.”
His words were humble, sincere, and in many ways, tragic. I could hear in my mind the criticism: “Well, there you go, another Mormon focused so much on being ‘perfect’ that he doesn’t see his own sinful nature.” I could imagine that argumentRead Full Post
I love the modern parables that often appear over at jrganymede.com. They often feature common animals such as bulls, parrots, rabbits, etc. Over time, I’ve started to see patterns in these parables of which animals represent different aspects of our society. Symbolic teaching is awesome because of how versatile it is so I’ll let you read it and come to your own conclusions. I love seeing this kind of commentary, I think it’s brilliant and fun. This recent one has to be one of my favorites.
The bull and his herd mostly ignored the jackrabbit who sometimes also grazed on the meadow. They would not turn aside from him, however, so he sometimes had to scamper out of their way. He resented having to move. “They should move away from me,” he thought, “I consume less and am closer to the earth.”
One day the jack-rabbit began the unnatural practice of digging burrows in the field. They gave him a refuge so he did not have to get out of the way. Best of all, [it] inconvenienced the cattle and even caused one cow to break her leg and be put down. He was delighted with the outcome, though he was also sure that it was not his fault.
The bull in particular became quite angry about the jackrabbit’s burrows. Though the bull never did any real damage to the agile creature, the jackrabbit still took the scorn personally. Brooding on these wrongs, as he supposed, he quite naturally fell in with the coyote, who also had angered the bull with his sneaking ways and nips at calves.
The parrots also soon took up the cause of the coyote and the jackrabbit. All over the fields and the meadows, they squawked that the bull had an unreasoning hatred for the coyote and the jackrabbit. “Why,” they said, “the bull’s anger has gone so far that it has even led to coyote nips at calves and dangerous jackrabbit burrows. The bull is dangerous.”
One day the coyote killed the jackrabbit and devoured him.
And the parrots squawked louder. They said the bull had caused the jackrabbit’s death, after one fashion or another. “The bull hated the jackrabbit. The jackrabbit was killed hatefully,” they said.
When a hound, sniffing the remains, said the scene smelled of coyote to him, the parrots flew around him beating his face angrily. The coyote was friends to the jackrabbit, they said, and equally hated by the bull. And besides, when killing the jackrabbit, they said, the coyote was acting like a bull.
Moral of the story: The media and memes talk nonsense.
There was once a craftsman who built a fine house.
As the years went by it served him well until one day he noticed a crack along the ceiling. He was disappointed to see this flaw in his otherwise exemplary work and quickly fetched his ladder and some spackle and went to work sealing the crack. A few days later, he noticed that the crack had reappeared. In frustration heRead Full Post
Jesus once told a parable about two debtors. The first debtor owed the king 10,000 talents, but when the time came to pay up, he didn’t have the ability to. The king commanded that this debtor’s whole family and property were to be sold to pay the debt. But when the servant pleaded for more time to pay, the king had compassion and forgave the entire debt. Nice king.
A little later, this same debtor went out to find a man who owed him money. He took him by the throat and demanded payment for the 100 pence he was owed. This man begged for more time to pay but was instead thrown into prison.
Well the king found out about all this and wasn’t too happy, he delivered this debtor over to “tormenters” until he was able to pay everything he owed.
So that’s the story, but it doesn’t really hit home unless you have an idea of what kinds of monetary sums we are dealing with here.
The second debtor owed the first one 100 pence. Back then, 1 pence was about a day’s wage or roughly $180 in today’s dollarsRead Full Post
It’s happened to me several times, in fact, the first 17 years of my life were lived without any real sense of the presence of God; at least that was my perception at the time.
Time went on, and God did manifest himself to me many times and in many ways. Some of these experiences were subtle and sublime, while others sound like something you’d read about in the scriptures. But then something unexpected happens…
Life was at times like a sailboat on a vast ocean, the wind filled my sails and pushed me forward with purpose and vision. Then, for no apparent reason, the wind ceases and there is a perfect calm. Often it isn’t this sudden, the winds fade slowly, almost imperceptibly, until the profound stillness dominates the scene.
I’ve noticed that God appears to leave me alone at certain points in my life. Alone to the degree that there seems to be nothing I can do to bridge the gap and I find myself in a void. Prayers feel unheard and questions begin to enter the mind. What happened, where did he go? Did I offend him in some way, is there something I’m doing wrong? I tend to look inward during these times and take an inventory of my life.
While such a practice can be healthy, it can also turn to doubt, fear, confusion, disaffection, anger, and apostasy. I think that it is common for many to reach this state of windless waters and abandon ship thinking all is lost.
Like I said, I didn’t always know there was a God, but I do now. Yet I’ve felt a little hurt at times where I’ve been in these situations where I’ve felt like I needed answers and the heavens were quiet. I know that the heavens must hear me, but I don’t know why there is no perceptible reply.
What I’ve wanted to know is “why,” why this abandonment? I’ve been in this most recent void for a while now, surviving on rations of remembrance and continuing my pursuit of faith through exploration and just living life.
It is through that continued exploration that I think I found my answer. A thought hit me while ponderingRead Full Post
The was posted over at Junior Ganymede and I just loved the ideas it inspired in my mind.
There are building metaphors in the scriptures and there are husbandry metaphors in the scriptures. Christ is the building block, for example, and the true vine.
I noticed something about those metaphors today. The buildings all seem to work. They are literally heavenly. In my father’s house there are many mansions. The New Jerusalem is the Eternal City. When something is wrong withRead Full Post
Why does my life feel like there is nothing but crap get dumped on me?
“I have digged about it,… and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long…” Jacob 5:47
My best friend moved away and I lost a good week’s worth of work from the flu; why must there be so much loss in life?
“I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not.” Jacob 5:4
Life was simple but now I have all these new situations to deal with. I’ve got these annoying new neighbors who just moved in and I just got this new calling that I reluctantly accepted. Why does all of this have to happen now?
“Now, if we had not grafted in these branches, the tree thereof would have perished.” Jacob 5:18
My life just feels like chaos and I don’t even know if God is aware of my circumstances.
“…it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard.” Jacob 5:51
***Phone rings***Read Full Post
THIRST, verb intransitive
1. To experience a painful sensation of the throat or fauces for want of drink.
2. To have a vehement desire for any thing.
When one is thirsty, but just barely, they will refuse perfectly clean water on account of the smallest smudge on the glass.
When one is thirsty, and near to death from dehydration, they will enthusiastically guzzle stagnant slime from a puddle on the ground if that is all they can find.
Many people today don’t drink enough water. They stay indoors, never break a sweat or move much, and are so “busy,” with so many things that they just forget to drink.
When is the last time you quenched your thirst for living water? How long has it been since you took a nice, long, refreshing drink? Or have you passed up many opportunities because of a blemish upon the glass that God hands you?
Picture in your mind’s eye a beautiful stained glass window where light from the sun passes through a collection of colored panes that transform the light into something wonderful.
Church is like the window and we are like those colored panes.
When we come together, the light of Christ shines through the window we create out of everyone’s collective “stained glass,” beautiful only to those have eyes to see.
Every single one of us, right at this minute, believes things that are wrong. There is an idea that you cherish, some way of seeing the world that seems so clear to you, but it is wrong, or at best, incomplete.
We all build paradigms in order to function in life and make decisions, it is a necessity. A paradigm is a collection of assumptions and/or ideas that form a model for viewing what you perceive as reality. When someone attacks your paradigm it is as if they are attacking reality itself! Let’s say that in your paradigm there is a God, perhaps because you know there is or perhaps because you really, really believe there is. If someone seeks to remove that cherished piece of your paradigm with a convincing argument, it can cause the whole structure to shake or collapse like a Jenga tower.
Sometimes we give up one flawed perception for another flawed perception, or we can enhance a true perception with one that is more comprehensive. When it comes to knowing God and his mysteries, it helps to understand that you will probably have to give up a lot of false notions and assumptions. We like to think that because we are Latter-day Saints and belong to “the true Church” and have “the restored gospel” that our paradigms are correct, true, complete, and superior.
I’m going to suggest that anyone who thinks that had better Read Full Post
The dominion of God’s people upon the earth seems to have been numerically small throughout most of history.
I’ve often heard people question why that is. Of the billions that have lived, very little have had access to God’s commandments in their purity (as we understand them) and even His own people have gone through cycles of apostasy and rebellion. Shouldn’t the world be filled with billions of believers with cities and nations of Zion everywhere, or at least ONE Zion somewhere? Instead we see a history of war, violence, suffering, poverty, disease, tyranny and oppression with tiny pockets of enlightenment or restoration here and there.
Is God inefficient or is something else going on?Read Full Post
There is a phrase I hear repeated every now and then among members of the church. Typically when there is an issue they come across that challenges their faith, they are able to either reconcile that issue one way or another or remain undecided.
Without the necessary information to arrive at a satisfactory understanding, the person says that, for now, they will put the issue “on the shelf”.
“The shelf” is the proverbial repository for issues that you no longer want to deal with at the moment for whatever reason. You don’t have the time, resources, information or desire to pursue an answer to the question so you “shelf” it.
Here’s why I really dislike this metaphor.
When you put things on shelves all they do is