Monday, April 24, 2017

The Parable of the Medallion

       There is a parable that the Lord shared with me on Jan 4th, 2014. My daughter was taking a nap and I was reading scriptures and praying. While in the midst of this I fell asleep. I had one long continuous dream that was separated into different sections. Each section was related to the next but each also revealed something different. I'm leaving out a few parts that pertained to me personally but I am sharing the parts that had a broader message. The second part of the dream is where this begins. Christ was there standing beside me and He was showing me things. We watched a scene together. While we both stood watching the story unfold the Lord shared insights about what we were watching. The scene zoomed in and focused on a particular man in a community of believers who were seeking after God. I was a part of this same community.

        "There was a man whom the Savior loved very much. The man was on a quest to find his lord. During his quest he became acquainted with the idea of a medallion . It was a medallion that one could wear around around their neck. He wanted the medallion because he was told that it would endow the one who wore it with power from on high and he greatly desired this. During his pursuit for the medallion he began to lose himself in the search. The Savior stood by watching and waiting for the man to look and find Him there but the man did not see Him standing there. The Adversary also stood by and watched the man in search for the medallion. Satan was happy to find the man so focused in his search for the object of his desire. He devised a plan to place in the mans path the object the man was searching for. As time went on the man became completely consumed by his search. He never looked down to notice that the clothes he was wearing were tattered and torn and that he was covered in dirt. The Savior still stood by waiting for the man to look over and find Him standing there but he still did not see Him. Then one day at last, he found the medallion and was delighted that his search finally paid off. He put it on himself. When he put it on something powerful did indeed happen. The medallion seemed to magnify all of the desires of his heart and he was completely corrupted by it until he became the object of his desires and he and the medallion became one. After this his identity became lost. He was no longer recognizable as the foolish and weak man on a quest to find his lord. He had become an anti-christ fully and completely working against the Savior and His purposes.  He went about attacking those who testified of what they witnessed of his transformation and what he had become." After this scene ended the dream shifted and I was shown another separate but related scene that I will share next but for now I wanted to offer a couple keys of understanding that were given to me in order to understand this parable and scene more fully.

    Some understanding was given to me by the Lord as we watched the scene but a fuller understanding was given to me later as I prayed and pondered over what I had heard and seen. I originally had a lengthy explanation and discussion of these scenes and the parables themselves written out to help whoever reads this to come to the understanding that I was given over time but after taking more time to think about and pray about how the Lord would have me share this I decided I would instead share some scriptures that I was given and leave the rest to the reader to interpret and come their own conclusions about the parable with the aid of the Holy Ghost.

         The scriptures that came to mind were from Doctrine and Covenants 121.

34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
      Later I came across a quote from Oliver Cowdery giving further context to what Joseph received which is written in Doctrine and Covenants 85. I copied his quote in my journal. Oliver wrote about this passage in January 1834: "Brother Joseph says that the item in his letter that says that the man that is called and puts forth his hand to steady the ark of God, does not mean that anyone had at that time but it was given for a caution to those in high standing to beware lest they should fall by the shaft of death as the Lord had said. " (Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Vol 2, p 320, footnote 161.)

   I have often heard this caution given to church members with the context of the caution changed to mean that lay church members have no right to voice disagreements about things done in the church and that only those with certain authority or positions within the church are allowed to have such a voice. This attitude is backwards to the nature of the warnings given within these verses. In both doctrine and covenants 121 as well as Doctrine and Covenants 85 the warnings are given to those "who have been called" and those who "have authority as they suppose".  The warnings in Doctrine and Covenants 121 are clearly directed towards priesthood holders. The verses in doctrine and covenants 85 are specifically directed towards those who have been called to the " High Priesthood." If the verses themselves are not clear enough as to whom the warnings are directed towards Oliver Cowdery's quote offers yet further context and another witness as to the nature of the warnings as a caution to those "in high standing."

      That being said, I believe there are applicable lessons from these verses that can and should be applied to each of our lives about how we should approach trying to influence others and the troubles that follow whenever any of us seek to use control or compulsion and thereby seek to remove another persons agency. I have found these verses incredibly instructive in my role as a parent and I strive to learn how to implement them in my daily life. I fail often but welcome the lessons that come through the introspection of those failures. I recognize that those who have been called to such positions in the church have a greater burden and responsibility placed upon their shoulders and I have compassion for them and pray for them. I'm grateful for the efforts of those who are called to serve. I have been blessed to know local leaders and church members who are the humble followers of Christ.  People who know me personally know it is not in my nature to want to assume the worst of anyones motives but the warnings that are offered in those verses are not from me. They are from the Lord who is a reader of the intents and thoughts of the heart. I seek to judge no one and leave that to God but I do disagree with some teachings and practices within the church and believe it is my right to disagree and to do it openly in the light of day. This is a right afforded by the Constitution of the United States which I believe was brought about by the hand of God.  I have no standing over others  from which to use to control, coerce or persecute others and I would not want the kind of standing or authority that would permit me to do so. I have a hard enough time just figuring out how to be a good wife, parent, and daughter of God. I am grateful those things alone remain my personal struggle.

             That's all I will comment on in regards to those verses and the parable I shared. I'll move on to the next scene I was shown:

         I saw a city. It was run down and poverty stricken. People were walking the streets in tattered clothing and were all bare footed. The buildings in the city all were run down and neglected except for one building. It was a church building. When I approached it, it reminded me of a catholic church somewhat and yet I knew it wasn't. I understood when I saw it and entered in that it was really a universal church. It was all the earthly churches in one. It represented what they all inevitably become over time. Once inside I came upon some priests. They were dressed in priestly apparel. Their dress was very fine with expensive fabrics and ornate designs. I came to a veil that was red in color. I saw a poor woman approaching one of the priests. She was desperate for food for her children and she was participating in sexual acts with the corrupt priest in exchange for food so she could feed her family. I was completely horrified by what I saw. I then saw another priest who had become aware of the first priests actions and approached him. I was so relieved at first thinking he would confront him, put a stop to this and help the poor women and children. 
          Instead of putting a stop to things he only intended to use the information to bribe the first priest for his gold and silver. He did not care for the women or the children at all. He didn't care for the poor, the needy, and the destitute. As I observed the scene I was given to know what was in his heart and what he was thinking. I knew he had already devised a plan to steal the first priests wealth if the bribe didn't work. For both priests their ambitions and lusts were all they seemed to be focused upon. Both priests didn't hesitate to extort others and use their institutional positions over others to get gain. The impression and message that rang through loud and clear as the scene unfolded was that they were ALL corrupt. I had supposed the second priest would act as a savior to the woman and that the desires of his heart would be better than the firsts but my expectations had been wrong. The scenes that I witnessed within this universal church were focused upon the priests. After this I saw the world around and how most people were just out for themselves. Mens hearts were failing them and everybody seemed to be left to their own devices. It was truly a sad and depressing scene. The next part of the dream was something that pertained personally to me again and then I woke up. When I awoke I remembered it all with such clarity that it surprised me.

            Just as reflection and prayer about the previous scene had brought scriptures and insights to mind so had this one. Multiple prophecies and scriptures from the Book of Mormon have come to mind but I'll post these from Mormon 8:

           34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.
35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?
39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?
41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.
            I'll just leave those verses and I won't say anymore other than to say that I believe these prophecies were truly written for our day and our benefit so we could avoid the judgements that will surely come not just to the nation and to the world but to those of us who believe the Book of Mormon is the inspired word of God but fail to apply it to our lives. President Monson recently shared his testimony of the Book of Mormon during general conference. I appreciated his testimony and I gladly add my voice to his about this book:

         “This morning I speak about the power of the Book of Mormon and the critical need we have as members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its teachings in our lives. The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated.” 









Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tolerance and Charity

              Tolerance and Charity

       I've been interested in restudying the Renaissance lately. It was a period of time where so much changed in the world and with it brought forth enlightenment and freedom. It didn't come without upheavals and terrible events. That period of time also happens to overlap with the period of time when the Christian Reformation began with figures like Martin Luther.

       I was doing some reading on a website that has been dedicated to commemorating the 500th anniversary of that reformation. Here is an excerpt from what I was reading: 

          "Despite the attention given to the 95 Theses, Martin Luther’s greatest contribution to the Protestant Reformation was another project: the translation of the Bible into the common German language, making it possible for laymen to learn the content of scripture. The New Testament was published in 1522 and the complete Bible (including the Apocrypha) in 1534. This was the event that made permanent the fracture between Protestants and Roman Catholicism. Once the language of the Bible could be read by the common man, the false traditions, hypocrisy and violation of Jesus’ teachings were exposed to view. Those who were most religious were unable to reconcile Catholic conduct with the Biblical canon, and soon the Bible was being translated into the commonly spoken languages of Dutch (1526), French (1530), Polish (1563), Spanish (1569), Czech (1549), and English (1526). Like a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, gathering energy and strength as it rolled forward, Martin Luther set events in motion that forever changed the history of Western Civilization.

Religious societies multiplied as different bodies placed greater emphasis on different facets of the Bible. Unfortunately, the example of persecution learned over a millennium and a half of Roman Catholic intolerance was not abandoned by the different Christian societies. Most of these daughters of Rome opposed, sanctioned and even violently persecuted those holding different religious views from the locally organized majority faith—thus the Protestants followed the unfortunate example of the church in Rome.

The early American colonialists fled to a new continent to escape persecution, but likewise proved to be intolerant of minority religious practices in their new land. By the time of the American Revolution the revolutionary political leaders had centuries of history to draw upon to deal with the question of how to address freedom of religion. The American Constitution, including the First Amendment, is the product of events set in motion by Martin Luther 500 years ago this year. 

The influence of Luther’s life on the world cannot be overstated. He began a revolution that a half-millennium later still affects the world culturally, politically, religiously and educationally. He was far more than merely a religious figure. He is one of the few people who have literally changed the world."

          As I was reading I was reminded again about the importance of tolerance. There is a quote that has really stuck with me on that topic. It was coincidentally said by the same person who's articles on this subject I happen to be reading. He said, " Tolerance requires disagreement. Insisting on agreement is not tolerance, but its opposite." - Denver C. Snuffer     

         This statement has resonated with me so much because it seems to be easy to lose sight of what tolerance really means. History inevitably  repeats itself when we can't learn from the lessons of the past. No matter what we all believe or what strongly held convictions we strive to stand up for, I believe there is wisdom in learning to be tolerant. Being tolerant means we allow for and give room for others to disagree with us and to have the freedom to live according to the dictates of their own conscience. Of course there should be some limiting factors on that such as when people seek to cause others physical harm and injury. I believe that thoughts and beliefs should not be restricted or limited and should remain as free as possible. We cannot restrict thoughts and beliefs without eventually restricting everyone's freedom and ability to live the way they choose including our own. What good is preaching tolerance if we only apply it to those we agree with? That is not tolerance at all. There is a tenant or article of the mormon faith that I strongly believe in.
  1. "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
      All men should have that privilege as well as the privilege to believe and act in accordance to whatever their beliefs are even if that belief is that there is no God or that there are endless gods. I believe in a God who loved us and loves us enough still to allow us to choose for ourselves. Whatever any of us believe I think we should be careful not to trammel others or persecute them. I do not believe opposition is evil or that criticisms are necessarily evil. As a general rule I think it is better not to be critical of individuals and I try not to judge people because we judge based on outward things but we often don't know the reasons behind things and the intent of peoples hearts. I believe that is something best left to God to judge and I am grateful to not have that responsibility. On the other hand, I do believe we have an obligation and a responsibility to judge between truth & error and at times criticize ideas. Institutions seem to be inherently at risk when it comes to discouraging dissent and becoming intolerant to criticism. As history has shown this applies to all institutions including churches. I think dissent can be done and should be done without attacking people and disrespecting their right to live according to the dictates of their own conscience. It isn't something I am perfect at myself by any means but it is something I try to strive for.  Speaking the truth for the truths sake alone is never evil. It takes courage to stand for whatever convictions we may have and many times that comes at a personal sacrifice and cost.  I am grateful for figures like Martin Luther and all other figures in the past who had the fortitude to voice their dissent. I do not believe we are ever harmed by it when it is tempered with tolerance and charity.

“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
– President J. Reuben Clark
 There is also a line between voicing dissent and becoming a persecutor of others and then a hypocrite. This is something I have been continually reminded of and I think in many ways how we treat each other says more about us and our beliefs and matters more than those differences we might have. I believe there is wisdom in tolerance and that knowledge without wisdom can be reckless. We need both. We can have all the knowledge in the world but if we don't have charity, we are nothing. I believe charity is the bedrock of all other desirable, righteous and Christ like attributes.

1 Corinthians 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Moroni 7

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A New and Glorious Morn - He lives!



O Holy Night

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name                                                         

      This is my favorite Christmas hymn. The words have such a profound and personal significance for me. I'd like to share a personal experience of mine to explain why those verses resonate so deeply for me. Especially the first verses. I'm prone to write too much so I'll try to keep it short and simple but no words can ever be enough to explain it. It is probably why songs are such an apt way for us to show our praise, adoration, and gratitude to Christ. 

       I was a believer or so I thought. Somewhere along the way I had picked up a lot of false ideas and misconceptions about God and about Christ. I had a misunderstanding about His character, perfections and attributes. These misunderstandings translated into unbelief. I carried on for years not really realizing that even though I believed in Christ I didn't really beleive He would or should save someone like me. I didn't beleive I was worthy of saving but I knew for sure everyone else was. I still don't see myself as worthy but now I know that doesn't matter. Because He is mighty to save. I kept trying to do all the heavy lifting and thinking I needed to make myself spotless before I could be saved by Him. I had to make my best efforts and then He would make up for the rest. But where did my best efforts end and His making up for things begin? No matter what I did or how hard I tried I constantly failed at things and there would always be more I could do. Ultimately I was trying to save myself. Some of my efforts were a necessary aspect of repenting and just trying to be a better human being but I just didn't get it. I didn't get that with the Lord, its a show up as you are invitation. 

      I reached a place eventually where I tried to forget everything else and I just focused on what was in the scriptures and apply what I was reading to myself. I read the stories and testimonies of people who had come to know God face to face for themselves and who had received such transforming experiences and blessings through the Savior. I came to eventually beleive that it was my privilege to be able to do the same and receive the same blessings. The scriptures said God was not a respecter of persons and that He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. 

      I was a busy mother of three young kids. My daughter was just a couple months old so finding loads of quiet time to pray and be alone was not really possible but I snuck away to pray when I could and during the day while I did various activities my mind would usually drift off into prayers and thoughts of spiritual things. I became determined that I would continue to seek Christ and petition Him until I knew my standing and I had received my own more sure witness from Him. I wanted to be able to exercise faith like Enos, Abraham, Alma, Jacob, Joseph and countless others in the scriptures and elsewhere. During the evening on October 21, 2012 as my daughter slept I petitioned the Lord once more in prayer. As I prayed I had thoughts and ideas come to mind. The basics of what came to mind was that He had already forgiven me and given me the answer I was seeking. I wondered how and when and then an experience from the past was brought to my mind and some understanding about things began to unfold. It just came in the form of a still small voice. There was no whirlwind, no pillar of fire, and no burning bush. I could have easily dismissed the thoughts and ideas as vain imaginations from my own mind but this time I didn't want to. I wanted to beleive and exercise faith so I pushed away the doubts. When I did, I just felt this amazing peace and the guilt and the burden that I had carried around for so long was just gone. I cried tears of joy and thanked Jesus for what He had done for me and for His amazing love.

O holy night!The stars are brightly shining It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!Long lay the world in sin and error pining

 I had carried around the weight of my sins and failings for so long and then He came and removed the burden just as His birth on that evening long ago was the herald of good news for all mankind.

      That night I wondered at how I could have already received such blessings and still hadn't experienced this kind of joy and peace before. So I asked Him, " If you already gave me these things then why am I only experiencing this now?" The next day I continued to rejoice and the question still kept coming back to my mind. I shared the good news with my husband and a couple close friends and just continued to thank God and think about the odd order of things in my life. 
      The following morning 3 days later on October 23rd, I woke up and almost seemed to spring out of bed. I am not normally a big morning person but this morning I just woke up feeling really happy, energized, and grateful. As I approached my bedroom door the question I had asked in the previous days suddenly came back to my mind and then immediately following I heard the voice of the Lord very clearly and powerfully. "For what doth it profit a man if a gift is given him and he receives not the gift?" I was just under the door frame when I heard His voice. It was as these scriptures describe from Doctrine and Covenants 85:

6 Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest
       With the words came a flood of understanding about things in my life and how things had been designed to happen in this way and in this order to teach me things about God's love for me and for us all. In that moment I understood so clearly that without God, I am nothing. But because of Him, I am everything. I finally felt my worth and that it was great and that the worth of every soul is great. I wrote those words on my blog intro years ago when I first started this blog. I am reminded of my favorite Christmas hymn again.

Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoicesFor yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

        The words that were spoken to me sounded like scripture but I was not familiar with those words. I promptly opened my lap top and started typing in words in my search engine and then lo and behold there they were right in front of me in latter day scriptures only with a slight variation.

Doctrine and Covenants 88
32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.
 33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.
        This time there were never any doubts to push away. When I heard His voice there was just no denying who it was or where it came from. It took real mental exertion for me to exercise faith in the still small voice and the thoughts that had come to mind before and beleive it was from Christ. But this time was different. There was just no denying the source because the words came with power and conveyed intelligence that was not my own. 

Ether 1:6-7
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.
But because of the faith of men he has shown himself unto the world, and glorified the name of the Father, and prepared a way that thereby others might be partakers of the heavenly gift, that they might hope for those things which they have not seen.
Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.
10 Behold it was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God.
11 Wherefore, by faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way; and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled.
12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

    God not only answered my questions but he gave me another witness of Joseph Smith's legitimacy as a true messenger of the Lord and of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord could have answered me in any way he wanted but he chose to use those scriptures and to expound upon them so that I might understand. The scriptures he quoted me were from revelations received through Joseph Smith. When the Lord visited those on the road to Emmaus he used the scriptures and expounded upon them to enlighten their understanding of the events which were occurring in their time. The more we study the words he has already given the more we place ourselves in a position to receive more from him.

Alma Chapter 12:
 9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
  10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
  11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

 I have often reflected on the lessons of that experience. I never would have had opportunity to receive those answers had I not asked the questions. I would have never asked the questions had I not been reading the words and the testimonies left us in the scriptures by his divine influence. I also reflected on the significance of him answering my question as I stood under the door frame. Asking questions through the veil is how we knock. He has said that if we knock, it shall be opened unto us. 
 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh. findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened

        This is my testimony. God is real. Jesus Christ is real and what has been testified and written about Him in the scriptures are true. He was sent by his Father to be our Redeemer. He did nothing but what he saw his own Father do and his Father's will. He won the victory for us all and He is more anxious for us to receive him and for us to know him than we are. There is nothing he has not done or would not do to be with us and bless us. He alone stands at the gate and he freely offers us the gift of eternal life but we must accept it and accept him through repentance and by faith. He eagerly forgives sin and will heal and comfort the broken hearted and the contrite. We don't have to do the heavy lifting or put off coming to him because we are dirty. He will clean us up if we yield our hearts to Him. He desperately wants to heal each of us so that we can receive joy and he will grant us the grace necessary so that we can continue to repent and grow in light and truth. It is a process that will continue into the eternities.

Anyone can exercise faith and come to know God for themselves.  Sometimes the process requires us to examine our beliefs, and the fruits present in our lives so that we can cast off incorrect ideas of his character, perfections, and attributes that might be causing unbelief. Reading the scriptures aid us in casting off our unbelief and false traditions that might create a barrier between us and God. I have found  reading The Lectures on Faith to be a great aid for that also. It is why they were written. They contain and expound upon the doctrine of Christ. Faith requires us to act. He has set His hand again in our day and today is a day of Salvation for all who will receive Him through faith,
repentance, and baptism. I share these things so that others can hopefully be encouraged that he is real and that they can come to know God for themselves and receive answers.

Ether 12

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
 28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.

May all of our hearts be merry and rejoice this Christmas. 

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.





Sunday, October 2, 2016

                               The Waters of Life
This beautiful stream in South Carolina is where I was baptized today on October 2, 2016. 


                                                    Mosiah 18:8-10
 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
 10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

        This was the desire of my heart today as I entered the waters of baptism.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to act in faith and renew my covenants with the Lord and to do it in accordance with the straight and narrow Doctrine of Christ without anything taken away or added to it. There was no need for me to profess faith, belief, or loyalty to anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ, my redeemer. He is the Holy One of Israel and the keeper of the gate and there is no other way or means to the Father or to receive eternal life but through Him. 

                                                     2 Nephi 9:41
41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.

                                       Doctrine and Covenants 10:65-70
65 For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts;
 66 Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.
 67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
 68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
 69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
 70 And now, remember the words of him who is the life and light of the world, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Amen.
         As I've reflected on the events of today I realized how fitting it was that I ended up being rebaptized in this place in S.C. It was in South Carolina that my earnest search for God really began. The place where this baptism took place was even not too far from where I received my baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It has been my desire to be rebaptized for a few years but the opportunity never seemed to quite arise. This synchronicity was not and couldn't have been planned by me ahead of time. I had no idea my husband would end up taking a job offer in Georgia after graduation. I had no idea that the person who would baptize me once again would happen to live near where it all began for me 10 years ago. God's symmetry and timing never ceases to amaze me. I'm grateful to God for setting His hand in my life. I'm grateful for the entire journey I've been led through by His infinite wisdom. Every part has been necessary and has taught me something about Him that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. I'm grateful for the kind and wonderful people God has seen fit to place in my path to love me, help, and teach me.

      Rosh Hashana or The Day of Remembrance has begun as I sit and write these things. It is the Jewish New year but it is a day that has significance to all mankind as the day commemorates the creation of Adam and Eve. Our first parents.  God created the world and everything on it in "5 days" and it was on the 6th day that God created father Adam and mother Eve. What I understand so far of this holy day or holiday is that it is a time for remembrance and reflection. It is a time to remember our divine creator through which all blessings flow and it is a time to reflect on the past year and decide in the moment how we will go forward and what we hope for in the new year. It is a time to pray for the world and for the good of mankind. These are limited and short explanations of what the holiday is about but it also seems to be a beautiful synchronicity and blessing to have been able to repent and renew my covenants with the Father on the last moments of the year and begin the new year with introspection and praying for my hopes for myself, my loved ones, and the world for the coming year.

      The signs of the times are all around us. The parable of the fig tree in Mathew chapter 24 comes to mind:
 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
 36 ¶But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not theangels of heaven, but my Father only.
 37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
         Rosh Hashana in part celebrates the free will or the free agency that God has given us to choose for ourselves whether we will remember Him and keep His commandments that He has given us. The past is complete, the future has not come, and the present is the day we are to prepare to meet God. Today is a day of salvation and it can be for all those who wish to enter the waters of life freely and to be partakers of the heavenly gift.

                                                      4 Nephi 1
And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.
 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.