Posts

Ongofu on Twitter!

For those of you who don’t know what twitter is – it’s a micro-blogging platform.  Whereas with a blog you post fewer, but longer articles, on Twitter you post a lot more frequent (and vastly smaller) ideas, thoughts, and ramblings throughout the day.  Each “post” in twitter is called a “tweet”.  Cute eh?

In any event, just like you can subscribe to blog updates, you can “follow” someone on twitter.  They even have tools where you can get TXT updates sent to your mobile phone (only recommended if you pay for unlimited TXT messaging).

In any event, while there are lots of “older” twitter users, Twitter really has a vast youth crowd, so this really helps me expand my reach out to a younger audience.  If you’ve followed me very long, you’ll know that I’m constantly looking for ways to expand my reach and touch more lives.

But more importantly, because with a blog I feel that more than two posts a day is simply too much (please let me know if you disagree), I end up NOT talking about so many things.  I only end up picking those few items I really feel necessary to explore more fully.  But Twitter enables me to share thoughts on all those smaller, less “robust”, but often just as meaningful things throughout the day.

In any event, if you’re interested in following me on twitter – simply click here:  http://twitter.com/rustysblog.

Of course, you can also subscribe to an RSS feed to read all tweets in your favorite RSS reader.

What’s more, I’ve built a page (here) where we can discuss any particular tweet you would like to comment on.  Simply type the tweet into your comment followed by any remarks you’d like to add.  That way we know which tweet you’re talking about.

Either way, this’ll be fun.

Rusty

Symbolism in Nephi’s journey to the promised land

The story of Nephi’s journey to the Promised Land is well known and widely told amongst Mormons.  It’s a beautiful and compelling story, rife with principles and drenched in doctrine.   But I sometimes wonder if we overlook many of the most meaningful and marvelous symbolic lessons within it.  Here I’d hope to explore at least a few of these, and invite you to share with us those that I’ve missed by adding your own comments.

If you’re familiar with the story, feel free to skip ahead to the first symbol, otherwise, perhaps you’d enjoy a brief refresher of what happened more than 2600 years ago (view the illustration).

 

Early in The Book of Mormon we find the story of the prophet Lehi, who was commanded to take his family and leave Jerusalem around 600 B.C.

After departing into the wilderness with little more than their tents and a few supplies, and after experiencing untold trials, the family of Lehi eventually made it to the seashore.  There, Nephi, a righteous son of Lehi, was commanded by the Lord to build a ship.  This ship was to carry them across the ocean to a promised land that had been prepared for them, a land where they would enjoy freedom and prosperity.

Nephi, who of course had never built a ship, least of all one that could sail across the ocean, didn’t doubt or complain.  Rather, he simply inquired “Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship…”

The Lord told Nephi where to go, and showed him how to construct the ship, using “curious workmanship”.

Once complete, and likely with much anticipation, Nephi and his family went into the ship, and launched into the sea.  They were carried before the wind for many days, after which many of them began to “rejoice”.  But they got carried away, and Nephi, fearing that the Lord would be angry, tried to persuade them back to humility and righteousness.

His two older brothers, Laman and Lemuel, weren’t keen on their younger brother acting as their ruler, so they took and bound him, and treated him “with much harshness”.  Upon so doing, the Lord, angry at their wickedness, caused the Liahona (a compass he’d provided them in the wilderness, and that worked upon their righteousness) to stop working.  A great storm arose, and they were driven back for four full days.

During all this time, Nephi remained bound, and in much pain.  On that fourth, and final day, when the tempest became “exceedingly sore”, Laman and Lemuel thought they would die, and so released Nephi and begged his forgiveness.  Nephi, in spite of his swollen and sore limbs, forgave them and did not complain about his afflictions, but rather worshiped the Lord and prayed for assistance.

The tempest died, Nephi took the compass, which resumed working, and after “many days” of travel, they landed upon the promised land (the American Continent), where they were blessed in abundance.

 

To Nephi the Lord said “And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land, and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.”

Always has the Lord blessed the lives of the righteous, and prepared for them a place or circumstance of similar abundance.  As we work to keep the commandments of God, and endeavor to be as obedient, faithful, and enduring as Nephi, so too will the Lord prepare for us a “land of promise”.

 

Nephi’s ship, can appropriately symbolize our own lives.  Just as the Lord commanded Nephi to build a ship, strong, and secure enough to carry his family to the Promised Land, so too has he commanded us to build our own lives, and make them strong enough to carry ourselves, and even our families to our own “promised land”.

What’s more, of the ship Nephi observed:  “Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me…” (1 Nephi 18:2).  So too, have we been commanded to live, not as the world liveth, but as God lives, to build our lives not after the manner of men, but after the manner of god.

Only then, will we find our lives a vessel sufficiently capable to weather the storms of life, to provide shelter for those we love, and that will allow us to endure to end.

 

Not after the manner of men

When the Lord told Nephi to build the ship, not only was it after a fashion completely foreign to him, but it was a work that he’d never before done.  But never did he complain, never did he doubt, rather always he simply went forward with faith.

Many times in our lives we may be asked by the Lord to do things that we have not before done, or that may seem impossible.  But our faith should be in God, for with God, all things are possible. 

Of this, Nephi said “If god had commanded me to do all things I could do them.  If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. Now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?”

We must always remember, when seemingly overburdened, or overwhelmed by the requirements set before us, that while relying solely on our own native capacity our task may be impossible, but when we involve the Lord in our lives, we augment our capacity with his, and can do anything.

Seek the Lord often

It is also enlightening that Nephi includes “I did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things”.

How often then do we seek out the Lord, how often do we find ourselves on the “mount”, or in the temple, or seeking the Lord in other holy places?  Doing so is a critical component of receiving the necessary inspiration to guide us as we build our own ships.  It is true, that as we seek the Lord he will show, even unto us, great things.

Line upon line

It should also be noted, that while Nephi knew what he was building, he was not given it all at once.  He said “And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship”. 

How often we want to know it all, to see the end from the beginning, but generally it is simply not so.  Instead we are given line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.  We are expected to build our lives step by step, strengthened by the exercise of faith and our ongoing reliance upon continued revelation and intervention from the Lord.

As Nephi, we too must seek the Lord often, and not shun aspects of our lives that push us out of our comfort zone.  For again, we’re building the ship, our lives, after the manner of God, according to his vision, and not our own – a principle so beautifully portrayed in the famous poem “Life Sculptor” by George Washington Doane.

 

The compass provided by the Lord to Lehi and his family clearly represents the spirit of God, the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  It’s profound and vital guidance hinging upon our own righteousness, humility, and willingness to obey.  Often we may find ourselves directionless, wondering which way to turn, with feelings of isolation and helplessness.  But it doesn’t have to be so.

We too have been provided a spiritual compass, but its value is only as good as the heed we give it.  When we attempt to steer our own lives, on our own course, and look not for the directions from the Lord, we too may find ourselves lost, alone, and facing the fierce winds of the world.

But by repenting of our sins, turning back to God, and asking for his help, we’ll find our course correcting itself as the spirit takes hold of the reigns of our life.  The seas of the world seem calmer when we sail with God, in truth, the very wind that so previously tortured our existence, becomes the pushing power that drives us forward.  But only when we remember God, and include him in our lives.

 

At times, we may find ourselves in the position of Nephi, endeavoring to teach, but finding ourselves regularly rejected, or even persecuted.  But as with Nephi, we must never let fear of failure or fear of man, prevent us from proclaiming the gospel, and standing up for that which is right.

And in those times when, alas, even confronted by our fiercest adversaries, may we too be as forgiving as Nephi, too focused on an eternal perspective to let the fleeting actions of others long win our attention.

 

Perhaps even more often we find ourselves in the position of Laman and Lemuel.  There are inspired leaders, such as Nephi, all around us.  These leaders seek to guide us, they care for our souls and seek our welfare.  But often their counsel comes sharply, is unwelcome, or at least unexpected.  Often, just as Laman and Lemuel, we shun that counsel, whether in anger or not, and by so doing, bind those leaders, at least symbolically, from their ability to help us.  Not with physical cords, but with mental, emotional, and spiritual deafness.  By turning a blind eye, and a deaf ear to their inspired guidance, we bind them just as Nephi.

When we do this, we are left unto ourselves, to face the world alone, and we find the wind against us gaining strength, with the seas and troubles of life working against us.

We must not be like Laman and Lemuel of whom Nephi proclaimed “And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts”.

We must elect to be humble, before we’re compelled to be humble.  Life is too good, too sweet, too rich for us to waste our time with the self-inflicted burdens that only come from “going it alone”.  Instead, may we embrace the Lord, and let his strength be our own, that our lives might be lived in righteousness, and that we too, may find ourselves with our families, safe in a Land of Promise.

Rusty

P.S.  To read or listen to the full story of Nephi’s marvelous journey online, click here.

Writing on an open canon, line upon line

One of the foundational principles taught in scripture is that we are given “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little”, but many overlook the magnificent implications of this profound principle.

The unstated, but astoundingly clear premise of this principle is simply “what I have given you, is not all I have to give” and “what I have taught you, is not all I have to teach”, followed with a resounding and exhilarating “…there’s more”.

What beautiful and compelling doctrine, for at its heart is the promise of continued revelation, and the assurance that what he has already taught us, will be added upon.

That refreshing realization revitalizes our search for truth and renews our need for a religion whose philosophy embraces the ideals of ongoing communication from God.

For God has always communicated with Man, through prophets, an ancient and historically proven  pattern.  And as he does so, they record his words, as they did in Ancient Isreal which brought us the Bible.

And within the Bible Christ himself declared that he had other sheep that should hear his voice, other people to visit and teach.   Those too heard his voice, and recorded his words, bringing us the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, and another witness that God gives man line upon line, precept upon precept.

And finally, the Lord restored his pattern of prophets to the earth, through Joseph Smith, thus renewing the ongoing availability of prophetic guidance and instruction to the true followers of Christ, that our divinely outlined “line upon line” instruction may be endlessly fed by inspired leaders of God.

That’s the miracle of Mormonism, wholeheartedly embracing the principle of progression, line upon line, precept upon precept, ever looking for that next line, that next precept, rather than the devestatign proclamation that “we’ve had enough”.

Rusty

P.S.  Click here “Discussing an open canon” for further reflection and discussion on the subject.  See also a video of Jeffrey R. Holland discussing an open cannon on “Gods words never cease

Are Mormons Christian? What truly defines a Christian?

This post is a continuation of the series “Are Mormons Christian“.

In the comments on the post “Are Mormons Christian? Do doctrinal difference define us“, the Pondering Pastor and I began a most crucial discussion that strikes at the very heart of this matter.

The post was about the importance of having a commonality of definitions of terms for accurate communication.  How differences in belief do not disqualify someone from the definition of Christianity, since in truth, we all differ to some varying degree. 

If our doctrine differs by degrees, is it therefore possible to be 50% Christian, or 80%, depending on how greatly your doctrine departs from what is orthodox?  And is orthodoxy truly the best measure?  Wasn’t Christ himself unorthodox in his day?  How about Luther?

So to say to one “you’re not a Christian”, simply because their beliefs diverge from your own, is a definition that does us no good.

But then what is a good definition?  If the exact alignment of the details of our doctrine cannot qualify us as Christian, what can?  What is fair?  What is the righteous way to judge?

Fortunately, that answer has already been given.  Surely the Lord knew that so many varying beliefs would sprout up, and as such, gave us the mechanism with which we may judge.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

That is how you know a Christian.  Not by what they say they believe, but by what they demonstrate of their beliefs through their actions.

For as Matthew continues “…not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 7:21)

In that chapter the Lord clearly teaches that men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles.  If you’re finding grapes, you’re not in a thorn bush, but a vineyard.   “…neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit”, but a “good tree bringeth forth good fruit”.  Hence, by their fruits ye shall know them.

Much can be discussed about doctrine.  What you believe, how you interpret scripture, what manner of baptism you subscribe to, etc.  But those don’t define a Christian.  Being Christ-like is what makes a Christian. 

For actions are the evidence of faith.   Remember, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20)

And as we read in John “though ye believe not me, believe the works:  that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:38)”

That is the one true, fair, and righteous way to define a Christian.  By their works, not their talk.  “I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:18).

Rusty

Conference Countdown – Ways to participate

As I mentioned here, General Conference is fast approaching, and we’ll yet again have the incredible opportunity to listen to a living prophet and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, along with many other general authorities of the church, and hear what specific instructions they have for us, knowing the unique trials facing us today.

To ensure that the maximum numbers of people are able to participate, the Church has gone to great lengths to make conference available in almost every conceivable format and in almost 100 different languages.

First and foremost, you can watch the live worldwide broadcast (click here for a broadcast schedule – pdf), but it will also be available on the radio, as video streams, audio streams, and even an all new media player option.

 

NEW MEDIA PLAYER!

Their new media player constantly monitors your network and optimizes the stream quality accordingly so you get continuous play (no pauses).  And in addition to live video, it also gives you a number of great new features, including…

 

  • Instant access to completed talks
  • Instant access to completed conference sessions
  • Access to other video archives (so many good videos)
  • Let’s you pause and restart whenever you want

Click here to get the new media player (also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and American Sign Language).

Click here to see all your viewing links and options, including a list of all languages covered.

The 178th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), will follow the following schedule (all times MST, click here for more time zone information).

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

10:00 a.m. – General Session
2:00 p.m. – General Session
6:00 p.m.  – Priesthood Session (not publicly broadcast, but viewable at most Stake Centers)

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

9:30 a.m. – Music and the Spoken Word (Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
10:00 a.m. – General Session
2:00 p.m. – General Session

Don’t miss it.
Rusty

Mormons Are Christians

As I posted to the question “Are Mormons Christian“, the answer, of course, is a resounding and emphatic yes, and I explain why that answer is so clear.

The dictionary, used to determine socially accepted definitions terms, defines a Christian as “one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ”, and “one who follows Jesus Christ”, and of course, Mormons do.

Still, there are some who seek to strain at the definition of Christianity, to have it be somehow exclusive, and who somehow claim authority over that name as if it were a kind of brand that they could copyright and control, thereby denying all others their right to associate themselves to the term.

These, who would claim the corner on Christianity, endeavor to cast doubt upon the “Christianity” of others (such as Mormons) simply because their beliefs aren’t identical to their own.  But in doing so, they illustrate their own improper understanding of what being Christian really means.

Still, these people work diligently to perpetuate certain common arguments intended to confuse and mislead those who sincerely want to know.  For this purpose, I have decided to entertain open discussion of these arguments here.  I do this for those who have been confused by some of these things, that they might hear the full truth, and then consult with the Lord for themselves, rather than accepting in full the personal opinions of others.

Below, you’ll find a set of posts based on the most common of these arguments.  Click on each post to read the argument, the answer, and for discussion specific to that topic.  If there are additional arguments not listed here, please let me know in the comments here, and if necessary, I’ll create a post dedicated to it for further discussion.

(note:  I’m writing these sections now, one by one, and will post them as they’re done.  If you have comments pertaining to one of these, please save it for the dedicated post, so that the conversations can be more focused.  If not listed, then feel free to post here, and I’ll add to this list appropriately.)

Rusty

The approach of fall – hints of change

The first leaves of fall on my driveway.

The first leaves of fall on my driveway.

Wednesday morning, I was walking out to my car to go to the gym, when suddenly I was stopped dead in my tracks.  There were leaves on the ground.  There were no leaves on the ground Tuesday night, when I went to bed, I was sure of it.  But this morning, they were all over my car, and scattered over my driveway and lawn.

I had the shocking realization that summer was dying and fall was creeping around the corner.

I don’t know what it was about that moment that struck me so, but for a short time, I was mesmerized.  I got in my car, pulled into the street, and just sat there, staring at those leaves, feeling that unmistakable feeling that always accompanies change.  It’s a feeling somewhere between unease and excitement.

At that moment I realized, how refreshing it was, the ability to experience change.

Whether it’s the simplicity of the inevitable change of the season, or the unavoidable turn’s life brings our way, or the far more substantial capacity for us to elicit change within ourselves.

Change is beautiful, it brings variety, it sharpens the senses, increases awareness, builds character, creates memories, and more than anything, the changes we are empowered to make within ourselves carries the distinct flavor of divinity.  The power to enact change.  The power to influence, ourselves or others.

 This week, I have felt grateful for change.  As challenging as it sometimes is, may we embrace it and leverage it to propel us to even greater heights.

Rusty

Nathan Sharp, inspiration through art

Last week, when I was creating the post about what President Monson said he wanted for his Birthday (here), I stumbled upon an incredible LDS artist, Nathan Sharp, who has an astounding array of religious (and other) drawings.

I emailed Nathan to ask permission to use his remarkable portrait of President Monson in my post, and we began talking.  I found his words inspiring.  He wrote:

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and ‘art’ is defined in so many different ways by so many different people that sometimes it is difficult to understand.  I am a simple man and I am inspired by the things that surround me.  I find joy and purpose in watching my children imagine and grow.  I find strength in their innocence and unyielding faith.  My heart swells and tears come to my eyes when I hear the Star Spangled Banner and my soul is moved in profound ways by the sacrifices that are made every day, all around us, in our wonderful country.  I’m not looking to make social comments but, rather, to capture the moments that make us who we are.  Each of us is the hero of our own story and that story will take us down a path that is unique from all others.  My artwork comes from my story but I hope that it crosses paths with the experiences of many others as they travel their own road.  If something is stirred in the hearts of others as they see it and if they continue on their way stronger, more inspired, or more grateful than they were before, then I would consider myself successful in my expression of the moment.

As you’ll see by glancing at some of the artwork below, I’m quite sure he succeeded.

You can find out more information about Nathan, as well as peruse and purchase his work on his website:  www.NathanSharpStudios.com.  His prices are very reasonable (for instance, an 8×10 of President Monson is only $15).

Here are some of my personal favorites, others are below…

Cost of freedom

Miss You Daddy

Daddy come home

Dawns early light

Dawn's early light

Please visit Nathan’s site (www.NathanSharpStudios.com) to view more of his work.

Is “anti” contrary to Christianity?

You can be “non” without being “anti”. 

I’m not a protestant (I’m Mormon), but that doesn’t make me anti-protestant.  The two are mutually exclusive.  And there’s a big difference from being “non” (like being non-Mormon), and being anti.  One is innocent, without malice, while the other is focused upon criticism and destruction.

I recently commented on another post, that as I study the life of the Savior, what I find is not a pattern of him being “anti” anything.  He didn’t seek opportunities to refute others.  Instead, he demonstrated a life of building, creating, of going around teaching the gospel, creating truth and testimony, performing miracles.  The times when he DID become more hostile or accusatory are when others sought him out to refute him, or to persecute him.  They were the “anti’s”.  Instead, His life was one of tolerance and love, understanding and empathy.  His conversations were not crammed with criticism.

Such were the teachings of Rabbi Gamaliel of Tarsus as described in Acts who counseled Saul and others against persecuting the saints.  Acts chapter 5 describes an event where Gamaliel encouraged moderation, saying “take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men… refrain from these men, and let them alone:  for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:  But ifit be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against god.” (Acts 5:38-39)

This is wisdom.  This is the character of Christ, whereas “anti” is an attribute of the adversary.  The one is centered around moderation, love, patience, kindness, tolerance, and understanding, the other centered around destruction, negativism, criticism, and judgement.

Theodore Roosevelt said it well:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbles, or how the doer of deeds might have done them better.  No, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again…  Who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

If you’re going to be “anti”, be anti about principles and morals, things like “anti-abortion”, “anti-dishonesty”, “anti-drug abuse”, but don’t be anti about people or religions, for such is not the character of Christ.  As the Lord taught Peter, we must have compassion, and forgive all men their trespasses.

 

Rusty

Sacramental cleansing

At my nephew’s baptism this last weekend, my brother in law spoke and used a wonderfully vivid analogy I’d like to expound upon.

He lives in Hawaii, and as you might expect, regularly visits the beach with his family.  He explained that each day, hundreds of people would come to the beach.  They’d spend hours playing on the sand, building castles and sculptures, and digging holes.  At the end of the day, the beach would be left scarred, nearly completely covered with signs of such daily use.

But no matter how scarred the beach became, early the next day, there it was, clear and clean, as though no one had ever stepped foot on it before.

He explained that late at night, high tide would come in, and the waves from the ocean would crash against the sand, washing away the marks of the past, and leaving in its wake a clear and pristine surface, ready again for another day.

He observed how much this is like baptism, and after baptism, the sacrament.  During the week, our lives naturally begin to show signs of wear, the signs of life, proof of our imperfections… the scars of mortality. 

Still, each week, we have the opportunity to present ourselves at the feet of our Savior, to cast our burdens upon him, to take His name upon us, and to wash away the marks of the past.

Spiritual entropy is unavoidable, but in His divine mercy and love, He has provided a mechanism whereby we might regularly cleanse ourselves, and become pure again.

Our gratitude to Him for such a reachable and attainable instrument should cause our hearts to swell and our minds to expand, but all too often the commonness of the sacrament causes it to lose value in our eyes. 

It’s the law of scarcity.  Those things that we perceive of being most scarce, we place the highest value upon.  Yet here is something directly within our grasp that is powerful beyond comprehension, and available to us on a weekly basis.

How grateful I am for the magnificence of the sacrament, for the love it symbolizes.  May I try harder each week, to present myself in the environment of the sacrament with a bit more humility, a bit more gratitude, a bit more self reflection, and a bit more reverence, that each week my life might be freed of the scars of the past.

Rusty

Testimony of the First Presidency – Conference Highlights

In the wake of the magnificent 178th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many highlight videos have been posted to YouTube, successfully leveraging this new media to proclaim the gospel, and teach the truth, that a whole new generation, intimately familiar with this style of on-demand communication, might be equal benefactors in such magnificent content.

A few of these I’ll highlight here, as they are strong and compelling predecessors to my weekend post – Are Mormons Christian.

For now, here are sections of the testimony of our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and President Henry B. Eyring.  The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons).

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_Zpu-VeuCE

If – by Rudyard Kipling

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/if-by-rudyard-kipling/

The things of God are of deep import

Joseph Smith once said the following…

“A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of, because the things of God are of deep import, and time, and experience, and careful, and solemn, and ponderous thoughts can only find them out.  Thy mind, oh man, if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation must stretch as high as the utmost heavens and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss and the broad expanses of eternity, thou must commune with God.  How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God than the vain imaginations of the souls of men.”

We have been blessed to come to the earth during a time when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, and the great and everlasting principles of eternity have been manifest in their purity, and we have great claim to that knowledge.

The Lord has said:

“How long can the rolling waters remain impure?  What power shall stay the heavens?  As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:33).”

There is much truth for us to discover, and an endless source from whence we can find it.  With living prophets and apostles whose very words are scripture, with the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, and with a great many other inspired works to choose from, the saving principles of eternity are before us, and we have but to exert some effort to make them ours.

The value of such exertion is clear, and enduring. 

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.  And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19).”

We are also assured that the scriptures contain the words of Christ, his very voice and spirit.  And that “His spirit abideth and hath no end and if it be in you it shall abound.  And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.” (D&C 88:66-68).

But that very same, almost unimaginable blessing of full comprehension is followed immediately by the warning to “cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you” (D&C 88:69).

Does that mean we should be humorless, or without gaiety?  I think it means that the things of God are of deep import, as Joseph Smith so eloquently described, and we need to be anxiously engaged in exploring the words of God and endeavoring to enrich our minds with the principles of eternity.

As we prove our commitment and demonstrate our thirst by throwing ourselves at the study of the scriptures and other inspired works, then line upon line, precept upon precept, the doctrines of the priesthood shall distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven.

By so doing we build a foundation for our souls, built with the words of Christ.  A foundation that will keep us firm and steadfast amidst the fiery darts of the adversary and even the most assailing of life’s challenges.

May we all remember that the things of God are of deep import, and apportion our time appropriately, for the worth your soul is great in the eyes of God, and He is anxious to pour down knowledge upon you.

Rusty