11 January 2022

In God We Trust

Just in case one thinks this will be about slogans on coins and bills, this isn't about money. This is about who we trust.  When it comes to very important matters, those we trust become very important as well.

As time passes, you should learn that people and their institutions are not very trustworthy. Too many expect the local store to always operate in ways that make customers happy, but a business can't do that consistently.  Sometimes inflation intervenes, wages rise, and prices go up. If a customer has a fixed income, that isn't the store's problem and you can't trust the store or its owners/managers/employees to make sure the price of goods are always affordable for you.

The larger problem is that people are expecting far too much in almost every way from every external source.  Physicians must provide painless and complete heath. Governments must provide large assets (such as houses) at no or little cost to citizens.  God must punish the wicked immediately and rain down personal happiness, protection, and joy constantly, obedience notwithstanding. Many people have become very demanding of cures for every ill and that someone else must make the cure happen for them.

As a priest of the Hebrew God, I mostly concern myself with what people expect from my God. Larger than that and more importantly, I promulgate the concept that God expects behavior and devotion from us and he has already specified what the rewards will be.  The biggest problem is that, for a growing number of people, God's promises are simply not sufficient for them.

We don't command God, or rather we shouldn't, yet this is how most people approach him, with demands. God is treated like a butler and, if you happen to be a bit more obedient to his commandments, the modern person expects more reliable or more responsive butlering. This is the quick road to atheism, its spritualist variants, or throwing oneself at demonism.

For the most part, humanity is "firing" God, setting up their own alternate dieties in the form of communities or governments. This was all prophesied long ago, but many can't see it. The problem is more about narcisistic people who want everything without a cost in money or effort and has little to do with God at all. When one rejects God, God lets one be on their own. When enough people reject God and chase their own demon-inspired ends, we get the mess we are in today and worse and it is not God's problem to fix.

What is the antidote? Return to God and trust him. If one keeps the commandments of Christ, one will have a more guided life, which brings more joy than tears - not exclusively, but more often. I have little hope in the redemption of nations at this point, but there is certainly the opportunity still for individuals and families to embrace a trust in God and his promises to the obedient.  Put your trust in God!

14 December 2021

Time is Running Out

Many people spend time making bigger choices, such as buying a car or a house.  These things should be considered and the more information you have on big decisions, the better your decision will be.

There is no decision larger than who or what your God is.  I wrote about that before. It is important to choose wisely what gets your fullest devotion.

Sadly, circumstances are not working in favor of taking lots of time to make your choice on approaching God or not. Because of all the terrible things that people are doing in our world, God will soon take away the opportunity to have his blessings:

3 Nephi 15:10

And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

This comes directly from the Father, Jesus is relaying the message. If you are an adherent of the teddy-bear version of Jesus, that is not the person you are dealing with, but his tough boss.

The sins of the Gentiles are described. Do you see these things happening commonly these days?

Rejection of "the fulness" of the gospel, combined with iniquity, is a sin against the Father's gospel. Jesus cannot absolve you of current iniquity and procrastination on this.

If what is described happens (is already happening?), the Father says that he "will bring the fullness of my gospel from among the Gentiles".  Everyone should consider themselves a Gentile in this context.

What is "the fulness of the Father's gospel"? I think it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the priesthood and its holders, the scriptures, missionaries, and everything that goes with these.

Here are some recent words of President Nelson regarding this:

As President of His Church, I plead with you who have distanced yourselves from the Church and with you who have not yet really sought to know that the Savior’s Church has been restored. Do the spiritual work to find out for yourselves, and please do it now. Time is running out.

When the time comes, that is it. The Gentiles (those who have not embraced the gospel and been baptized through the proper priesthood) will be cut off. I don't know if individuals can beg their way into the gospel after this time, but my basic warning remains - Don't bank on it.

Mostly likely, there will no longer be cute missionary kids knocking on your door and pleading with you to hear the message of the restored gospel. It will be hard to find and you will have to work hard to impress God to hopefully acquire it.  

30 November 2021

Destinations

Often enough on this blog, I have spoken of exaltation, or becoming as God. One could look on that goal as being like a destination. Others, in this case Jesus Christ, have reached the destination of exaltation and have mapped out a path that we can follow to come to the same place.  I have sometimes called this the Mariner's Log and those within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often call this the Plan of Salvation. Whatever the name, the road to take and the destination to which it leads are the same.

As with any destination, as log as you are on the proper road, faced in the right direction, and moving forward, you will reach it. Prophets and the Savior himself called this road the "straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life." It doesn't matter how slow you move as long as you are on this path, you will reach the promised destination, just as you will on any road.

Of course, you can choose whatever destination you please.  We make this choice through our beliefs, actions, and intentions. Many people are not interested in exaltation so do not seek it. Some are caught up in the things of this world and follow a variety of paths that might lead to goals such as wealth or fame rather than God. Others may want exaltation, but either follow poor advice or disregard important elements that Christ requires along the way. It is very easy to be distracted away from the road that leads to a life like God's life.

God's purpose for the lives of his chidren is that they become like him. He has sent a Savior, given many prophets and apostles, established a church, and many more things to help each man and woman find the path to exaltation, face us in the right direction, and make our way forward. Avail yourselves of these things and you will one day reach the destination and share the joy of your God!

10 September 2021

"...ye shall not resist evil,..."

In this time of dubious justifications for dwindling liberties and forced compliance, it is good to recall Christ's teachings on such times as these. I take some excerpts from the retelling of the Sermon on the Mount to those in America in the Book of Mormon, but the concepts are the same as those found in the biblical Book of Matthew.

3 Nephi 13:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time he shall get thee, and thou shalt be cast into prison.

Christ doesn't want us to do jail-time that we may not escape.  Although a few of his servants were cast into prison, it is not something he wants for us.  We are to comply with our adversaries to avoid incarceration. Note the use of the word "adversary" - we are not to join the other side, only to work together as partners when it is advantageous. Don't make others destroy you as you can't preach to the living if you are dead.

3 Nephi 13:30 For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.

Though we may feel set upon or treated unfairly, we remember Jesus and how he persevered in the face of injustice. Fighting for one's rights is likely to land us in hell for our unrighteous actions, for the ends often do not justify unrighteous means. The killing of innocent combatants to get to an evil leader may still require some eternal payment. The cross is the symbol of punishment misapplied in Christ's case and a physical proof that even when faced with tyranny, we will continue to be obedient to the Lord's commandments and our covenants with God.

3 Nephi 13:39 But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, ...

In the end, evil reveals our true intentions.  Will we follow Christ in all things, or will we throw him aside when difficulties and rationalizations come?

In spite of lies and confusion all around us, Christ tells us to continue to look to him.  Our mission in life is not to destroy evil but to individually overcome evil as he did and not to be individually overcome by evil. As we retain our faith and hope in the promises of Jesus in spite of a sinful world, we will be victorious in our own lives and be another example to others on how to overcome and gain the real victory.

01 August 2021

Living Up to Your Commitment

A rather unique doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reveals that all of us had an existence before birth as spirit children of God.  The Bible mentions this in reference to Jeremiah (1:5) and Job (38:4, 7). Revelations 12:7 talks of the "war in heaven", where the spirit children of God chose to follow either Jehovah (Christ) or Lucifer (Satan).  Satan's followers were cast down and Christ's followers were prepared to come to earth through birth.

When you chose Christ before you were born in mortality, it wasn't just a choice, it was a commitment.  You said you would follow Christ - that is why you are here.  Mortality is called a lot of things, but it may be thought of like a very extended military "boot camp".  It is designed to ascertain if you are qualified to be part of God's "army".

The biggest thing to remember is that you committed to this.  You enlisted in God's development program. I suppose you can say that you did not bargain for the trials presently faced, but it was all explained to you previously, including the fact that you would not remember anything prior to your enlistment.  Once you start down this path, you can't bow out until you complete "boot camp", at least not honorably. That is literally suicide on a few levels.

Repentance and baptism are described in holy writ as the gate that opens upon the path to the promised life with God:

2 Nephi 31:17-18

Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

Our lives are designed to be the testing of our committment to Christ and God that we gave before our birth. It is well to remember that punishments promised to the disobedient are proportionate to the committments and covenants we made.

Training is rigorous, to be sure. It is a proving ground, to say the least.  It was what God offered - the path forward.  Christ laid the trail and showed us the way. We must all prove ourselves worthy to continue on the path and every committed person will pass this test of mortality.  You can do it.

31 July 2021

The Importance of Finding Joy in Simple Things

This world is crazy and it is just getting more so.  How do I cope?

I spend workweek evenings living on an acre of desert land I bought within commuting distance from my job.

My first shelter was a geodesic dome greenhouse that I built from a kit.  I didn't anchor it down as well as the instructions said and a big wind picked it up, tore it apart, and deposited it in a neighbor's field.  I found it and rebuilt it again, did a better job of tying it to the ground, and ultimately covered it with a much more durable tarp.  I don't live in it anymore, but it has proven very good for storage.

The dome made a lot of noise and even though I had a fine bedframe and bed, I was losing sleep with the original polyester sheeting cover snapping in the wind and getting torn up over the weeks.  I thought about how to solve the problem and settled on buying a trailered MacGregor 25 sailboat from a guy on a nearby lake.  It was much cheaper than a comparable RV and gives me the added bonus of naturally being secure from cows and coyotes that tear things up.  My bed and frame are shoe-horned in the galley area and I don't have to worry about my 1-ton boat blowing away.

Recent rains have brought out horseflies and mosquitoes, so I have a mosquito net up to protect me from the various bugs that like to nibble on me when I try to sleep.  So far, the situation works well and I have weathered some strong storms that shook the boat hard but kept me dry and protected.

You may be wondering why I titled this "finding joy in simple things", after I describe what a lot of people would describe as pretty strange and primitive living conditions.

I get out on the deck of my boat and look up at the sky.  I get there when it is still light out and I look at the clouds in the sky.  As time passes toward dusk, the clouds get colored and are amazing to behold.  There are often stormclouds that come off the mountains just east of me, bringing very pleasant and cool breezes (I like a good stiff wind) and dramatic scenes as the sun sets.

Once the files and mosquitoes settle down after dusk, I can get out from under my mosquito net and look up at the stars, which are simply incredible.  If the moon is not casting a dim light over the desert at the moment, I can actually see the march of the constellations and planets and even the Milky Way is usually visible, looking like a spray of clouds in the heavens. I usually drift off to sleep that way and something will wake me up later to actually move into the galley and get into my proper bed.

Mornings supply a similar scene as sundown, although with colors like pink and purple. 

So, in the face of corruption and unkindness from all directions, I can get away and enjoy the beauties that God, our Father in Heaven, has provided for us.  It probably doesn't require a desert locale or a boat to look into the skies and enjoy the wonders of the heavens, but I know that it took a conscious choice to re-aquaint myself with them. You might do something similar and find elusive joy.

As we toil through a world falling into despair, we can turn to simple and unaffected things with which God has blessed us and find joy in his promises of a blessed future to those who turn to him. Better things can be ahead!

22 July 2021

Repentance Means Change for the Better

My readings in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants have inspired me to use this blog to repeat and repeat the charge to all that we must repent. I woke today thinking that it might be useful to help people understand what I interpret repentance to actually is and, perhaps more importantly, what it looks like.

Repentance is a change of heart and behavior that better aligns us with Christ and his commandments.

It is a short statement, but there is plenty packed into it.

First, it is important to gain a personal understanding of God, his Christ, and what they command us to do. Jesus did what his Father (and our Heavenly Father) told him to do, even the difficult things. Much of what we know of God comes to us from the example and teachings of Christ and his prophets throughout time. Jesus went about doing good and we should do the same. I know it would have been very useful for Jesus to have rallied his followers into an army, taken control of local government, and forced the people of Judea to behave better, but that isn't the right way to effect a change of heart. Christ lived the life more like an itinerant preacher, moving from place to place, teaching and healing and serving as an individual man and encouraging his followers to do likewise. A lasting change of behavior only comes with a authentic change of heart, not just some display or pretense.  It cannot be forced externally but cultivated internally.

Second, Christ is perfectly aligned with God - Jesus commits himself fully what is commanded of him and he follows through on that committment, even when it is difficult.  The act of taking on himself all the sins of the repentant and dying on a cross as a young man was a tremendous sacrifice that God required of him.  God has other work for us to do to show our devotion to him, certainly less dramatic.  Primarily, he asks us to put aside desires and devotion toward wealth and fame and instead "impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally.” (Mosiah 4:26) In doing these things, we align our lives with Christ's and do the good works God commanded us to do.

Again, repentance is a change of heart and behavior. As we read of the doings and teachings of Christ and the words of God's prophets, we let them affect our hearts and begin to feel more charity and love toward others. We desire to help those in need, both physically and spiritually.  I think it is useful to begin helping others even if we don't yet feel much love toward them - our service will soon bring on such feelings. As we do this, we will begin to feel toward others as Jesus does and behave more like him. Worldly concerns will fade in comparison to the service we can do. God will bless our efforts with resources and further opportunities to continue to serve others in meaningful ways that bless rather than coerce. We will feel greater joy in life, no matter what troubles we may personally face.

Our mortals lives are like a schooling opportunity: as we come to understand God and Christ and obey them, we learn how to become our best selves and qualify for the greater opportunities that they enjoy and desire to share with us. It all starts with changing our hearts and actions, which is repentance.