Discussing foundational principles of… everything.

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.

What religion can learn from science

Appetite.  That’s what seems so prevalent in the world of science and so often lacking in religion, the appetite to constantly learn more, to not be satisfied with what we have, to continuously search, ponder, and strive to increase our knowledge and understanding.

It’s clearly not always the case- there are true spiritual giants among us, who set the example for the rest of us.  But by in large, it seems that more often than not, religion is often taken for granted, as though it’s a side-note to our lives.  As though it’s something that we think about on Sunday, or at Christmas and Easter, and not something that constantly occupies our minds, as we yearn for more.

But the world of science is constantly asking questions, trying to understand why, trying to get to the fundamental principles that lie behind the things that they observe.  They experiment, observe, take notes, draw conclusions, and then test those conclusions with more experiments. 

How often do we experiment upon the word of God?  How often do we take those experiments so seriously that we make a study of them?  How often do we strive to test our knowledge, and how unquenchable is our desire to further our understanding?

It’s so easy to let the urgent aspects of our life dominate our thoughts and monopolize our time, as the more important and everlasting side of us, that spiritual side, suffers the pains of disuse and apathy.

But we must learn, we must engage ourselves, we must seek learning, we must grow in knowledge and understanding.  Only then, will we be truly ready for the trials of life, and ready to stand firm amidst the buffetings, and the fiery darts of the adversary.  Only then shall our confidence wax strong in the presence of God, and shall the doctrines of the priesthood distill upon our souls as the dew from heaven.  Only then shall our foundation be so firm as to withstand the cunning craftiness of the adversary as he seeks to shake us from our testimony.

Joseph Smith once said “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… None but fools will trifle with the souls of man”.

Truth is light, and if it be in you it shall abound, and if your eye be single to the Glory of god 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 88:67)  What a glorious promise. 

As leaders, as parents, as friends, and as individuals, let us all find ourselves a bit more engrossed in the gospel of Christ, and a bit more anxiously engaged in our study.

Rusty

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What do mormons believe – Part 5

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

5th Article of Faith

Core to Mormon Doctrine is the notion of divine authority, the priesthood of God.  For something to be binding in heaven it must be done by the proper authority.  No man can simply declare himself an authority and conduct the eternally binding business of the Lord on the earth.  A man cannot simply aspire to an office, calling, or ministry, or declare any authority of himself or through his education or accomplishments (“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron” Hebrews 5:4)

But rather we believe that a man must be called of God by divine inspiration and revelation by those who are in authority, and then given the keys, or the rights, to administer in specific and limited ways.

So, you might ask, wherein do “those who are in authority” claim their authority?  The answer is the same now as it was in the days of Christ – from the Lord.  For the priesthood and the keys to administer thereof must be passed directly, by the laying on of hands, in an unbroken chain.

When Christ was crucified, there began a great apostasy, where truth diminished, the gospel became polluted with the teachings man, and the rights of the priesthood were removed from the earth, for those who held it were killed, or died.  Because of that great falling away, it became crucial for a complete restoration, not only of truth, but of authority, for the work of God must continue today as it did in Christ’s time (“he is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8). 

So Mormons believe that there was a great restoration, where the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, along with the priesthood authority to administer the gospel and the affairs of the church were brought back to the earth in their totality, through the prophet Joseph Smith.  And that since that time, those keys have been passed in an unbroken chain, by the laying on of hands, down through the generations to our present day, at all times overseen by a prophet of God, just as in times of old (“for surely the Lord God will do nothing except he reveal his secret to his servants, the prophets” Amos 3:7).

What’s even more interesting is that in practice, it creates a dynamic within the church that is indeed very unique.

For since all who serve are called of God, and don’t “graduate” or “earn” a position, you have no idea who might be called, or when.  Consequently, the people that lead the church today, even the very apostles and prophet, all come from different walks of life.  None of them aspired to their position.  And since the general “clergy” of the church are unpaid (very unique indeed), they all continue to work, serving the Lord in their various capacities in an entirely volunteer manner.

None of these are professional “clergymen”, but rather ordinary people, called to do extraordinary things and make extraordinary sacrifices, enabled and empowered by the extraordinary power and priesthood of God.  Because he whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.  Through divine assistance, they’re able to conduct the Lords work on the earth, far beyond what would is befitting their native capacities.

How wonderful it is to know that we are led by men who have been called of God, chosen and called up to do his work, and who are given the authority and rights to function in ways that make the ordinances for our salvation official, binding, and eternal.

Rusty

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

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Gratitude, the key to righteous desire

Throughout my study of the scriptures, I often find recurring themes.  One of those is the use of gratitude to instill righteous desire.

One clear instance of this within the Book of Mormon is in the opening verses of 2 Nephi.  It’s around 575 BC, and Lehi and his family had just arrived in the Promised Land.

In the preceding chapters, Nephi, who had found his two older and very rebellions brothers – Laman and Lemuel – uncharacteristically open minded, had therefore been teaching them from the Book of Moses, and expounding upon the doctrine of Isaiah. 

Once he had finished, his father Lehi then wanted to speak to them.  I find it interesting to see the approach of this prophet as he endeavored to instill upon his sons some righteous desire.

If you read the first several verses (here), you’ll find that he simply lists out all the multitude of blessings they’d received.   He mentions how they were spared in spite of their rebellion on their trip over the sea, their obtaining a Promised Land, their being saved from the destruction of Jerusalem, etc.  And then he goes on to prophesy great things about America.

Additionally, within the scriptures, we often see this principle in action with those who have recently had poignant experiences with the spirit, personal manifestations, visions, etc. and who are subsequently filled with gratitude which leads to profound desire to do the works of righteousness.

When you recognize the hand of the Lord in your life, and you realize how much you’ve been given, the natural response is loyalty and the desire to do better, to “pay back”.  Corporations use this all the time to build employee loyalty.  Good leaders in any organization know how to leverage this principle in macro and micro scales.

So what is the practical application of this principle?

First, it speaks of the importance of recommitting ourselves to acknowledging the Lord in our lives.  If you want to ensure that you start each day with a healthy dose of righteous desire, try making a habit of counting your blessings.  Just try it, it really works.  Tomorrow on your drive to work, turn off the radio and just try thinking of all that you’ve been given.  Let your mind sweep through all aspects of your life, large and small.  You’ll find yourself amazed at what it does to you.

Secondly, this principle can be put to use by any leader, whether you lead a team, a corporation, or a family.  There are those within your sphere of influence that you can have a legitimate impact on simply by helping them appreciate the hand of the Lord in their lives.  Help them count their blessings.

Be the one to help them feel gratitude to the Lord, and you’ll be an instrument for righteousness in His hands, and you’ll find that all of you were enormously enriched by the endeavor.

Rusty

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What do Mormons believe, part 6

(Disclaimer: These views are all based on my knowledge and interpretation as an active Latter Day Saint, or “Mormon”, only the actual article of faith I list should be considered “official”.  Still, I try to be accurate and do my homework 😉

We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

6th Article of Faith

The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is organized according to revelation, with leaders that are called of God and not of man and who hold the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and is based on the same structure that Christ established himself on the earth. 

Hebrews 5:4 (and numerous references in the Book of Mormon) help us understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.   Throughout life we’re constantly bombarded with the challenge of discerning truth and right.  Those of you who are reading this post who are not Mormon face a similar challenge, to determine for yourself if the teachings of Mormonism are true (which you can know through personal revelation – James 1:5, Moroni 10:4). 

But how refreshing it is when we find instances, such as this, where the establishment of His church today is the same as it was in times past.  Seeing the same template of organization is one of the easiest ways to recognize His church.  For “by their fruits, ye shall know them”.  How is that so?  Because the things that they know, do, and believe, shall be recognizable as what He taught and did on the earth.

And aside from the refreshing sameness of church structure, how invigorating it is to know that at the head of His church today, just as in times of old, we are guided by a holy prophet, called of God, who holds all the necessary keys and authority of the priesthood to officiate in the church of God and all the necessary ordinances required for us to reach our exaltation.

The belief in a true and living prophet is very unique to Mormonism.  For we believe that God truly is the same today as he was yesterday, that today, just as yesterday, he works through prophets.  “Surely the Lord God will do nothing save he reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).  These prophets play a crucial role today, as they did in times past, in teaching and testifying of the Savior and his gospel, and in warning us of those timely issues that we face, that we might, at all times, be prepared.

How wonderful it is that this prophet, the apostles, and other church leaders were called of God, and did not aspire, nor ever seek for their positions, but rather agreed to give up their lives to serve the Lord, when they were asked.  I find great inspiration in the organization of the church, and enjoy the distinctive flavor of divinity in its structure and workings.

Rusty

See also Part 1Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

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A brief history of me – why I think we’re not limited by our past

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/a-brief-history-of-me-why-i-think-were-not-limited-by-our-past/

The covenants we keep…

… are kept and broken by degrees.  Let me explain.

DISCLAIMER:  This is just a thought, not doctrine, just my humble opinion.

First, let’s establish the concept that covenants are sacred contracts.  It’s where we say we’ll do certain things, and in return Heavenly Father promises to do certain things.  These kinds of solemn agreements should not be taken lightly (as all too often they are), because they are eternally binding, with eternal consequences (one important reason why adequately preparing for the temple is so important).

Within those covenants that we make, there are specific boundaries that are set.  These are hard and fast, totally inflexible, kept or not kept.  But I don’t think it stops there. 

I see these boundaries more like “minimum requirements”.  Whereas we could be content to sit just on the safe side of those boundaries, perhaps as close to the edge as we can get (like this), we could also choose to extend far beyond those minimum requirements.

I propose that there are a vast array of degrees beyond the expressly defined boundaries, wherein lie the greatest blessings, and as we choose to live a continuously higher law, stretching ourselves above and beyond the bare minimum, we begin to experience a sweetness of life that we had not known existed.

I look at it sort of like a garden hose attached to a water faucet.  Turn the faucet on, only slightly and sure, it’s on – the water’s flowing.  But then you start to open it further, and further, and further, and now you’ve got real water pressure.

Similarly, I think covenants can be kept (and broken) by degrees.  And by holding ourselves to a continuously higher law, we open up the conduit to heaven to its full extent, and experience a true outpouring of blessings.

It doesn’t happen all at once, but by degrees – line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.  We just have to aim a little higher, and then aim again, and not settle for the bare minimum.

Rusty

Swimming in the devil’s pool

The Devil’s Pool is a natural rock pool at the top of Victoria Falls in southern Africa near Zimbabwe.   During most months, the water surges down the river, shoots over the edge and slams into the ground 300 feet below, sending mist all the way back up.

But from September to December the water levels decrease, making it possible to swim in the Devil’s Pool, without being washed over the edge.  You can swim up to two inches from the very edge of the pool and peer over into the chasm below.

It’s such an exhilarating experience, that many tourists go there every year, during this time, to try it.

Here are some photos to show you exactly how close you can get to the edge…

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVN9KnWy-H8]

 

 

I can only imagine what a stunning and frightening experience this must be. I think the people that do this have got to be far braver (or crazier) than I.

Still, I can’t help but consider the spiritual analogy so strikingly illustrated in these photos.  How it is that we try to get as close to the edge as we can.  Blinded by the exhilaration of the moment and overwhelmed by the emotions of the now, we convince ourselves that we’re only looking, as we ease closer and closer to the brink, and peer into the chasm below.

So I ask you, are you swimming in the devil’s pool? 

Are there aspects of your life where you may be getting too close to the edge?  Are there others in the pool with you?  Are your children too close to the edge?  Are you standing by watching someone swim in the devil’s pool, without exerting any effort to help them out?

If you’ve felt any of these questions striking too close to home, then I exhort you to step back, look hard at your surroundings, and take stock of the precarious nature of your position.  For the floodwaters can come unexpectedly, and when they do, you don’t want to be found in the devil’s pool.

Please, get out now.

Rusty

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It is not the critic who counts

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/it-is-not-the-critic-who-counts/

What do Mormons believe about works?

Many have asked me what Mormons believe about “works”, and how we reconcile those beliefs with the notion of being saved by grace, through the mercy of Christ and His atonement.

Indeed, Mormons believe that our salvation is made possible by the mercy of Christ, and were it not for his everlasting Atonement, we could not be saved.  For man is carnal, mortal, and imperfect, and as such, will inevitably sin.  But the atonement of Christ makes it possible for us to be forgiven for our sins by paying the demands of justice if we will repent.

For as the scriptures tell us, God is Just, and it is always required that the laws of justice be satisfied, for there are consequences for sin (as we read throughout the scriptures).  But if man will repent, the Lord will intercede with the demands of justice, having paid the price already himself.  Such is mercy. 

But if man will not repent, he cannot be saved, for no unclean thing can dwell with god.  And not only must we repent of our sins, but we must strive to live the gospel and keep the commandments, and there are certain things we must do in order to earn our salvation.

Baptism, for instance, is required for salvation.  So is obedience.  For why would God give men commandments if he did not expect them to be obeyed?  And why would he require men to repent, or why would his servants, the prophets, so continually preach repentance, if repentance were not necessary for salvation, or if obedience were optional and there were no consequence for disobedience?

Hence we believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (1st article of faith).

The following are just a very few verses I’ve selected from the Bible that help provide the scriptural basis for these beliefs.  But the burden of proof of this doctrine of works is not upon Mormons, for the scriptures I reference here (among many others) are clear and present.  Rather the burden is upon those who believe contrary to this scripture, to come up with some alternative explanation for these and other verses.

Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

Hebrews 5:5-10 “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

Romans 2:13-16 “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

2 Thessalonians 1:1-10 “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 1:22-25 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

Romans 2:5-11 “And revelation of the righteous judgment of God: Who will render to every man according to his deeds…”

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one 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 16:27 and Revelation 22:12-15 “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”

Luke 6:46-49 “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

John 7:16-17 “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine…”

John 14:15-21 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Acts 1-:34-36 “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

Titus 3:8 “That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.”

1 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.”

Revelation 22:14-15 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.”

1 Samuel 15:22 “To obey is better than to sacrifice”

Matthew 7:15-20 “Ye shall no them by their fruits”

Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”.

Galations 5:20-23 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest…of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have no works? Can faith save him?… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Rusty

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Advice From Bill Gates?

This has come to me in email a couple times.  It’s apparently an extract of a speech given by Bill Gates at some school.  Looking online, that appears to be in question, but regardless, the principles are worth reading…

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school and you won’t be a vice-president until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Rusty

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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

The Plan of Salvation – Love leads to action

As I mentioned in my prior post “Pondering the Plan of Salvation”, I mentioned how I thought that in nothing was the love of God more plainly manifest than in the Mormon doctrine of the Plan of Salvation.  The deeper you understand and appreciate of the Plan of Salvation, the more convinced you are, and aware you become, of the tremendous love of our Father. 

Knowledge of God’s love instills within our souls happiness and hope, confidence and courage.  It’s an enabling power that moves us to action. 

Reflecting on the times I’ve felt the spirit the strongest, I find that those are also the times I feel the most pressing need to act, to do something. 

Why is it that feelings of love and gratitude tend to be action motivators? 

Is there a way as a parent, a teacher, a leader, a son/daughter, or as a spouse that we can use this principle to incite positive momentum in others?  Is there less benefit when so contrived?

Rusty

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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