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Friday, December 4, 2015

Why we Vote

Next year is another election year. Get ready for all the nonsense to begin again.  I get so frustrated with the whole process that sometimes I think it is not even worth my time to vote.  The arguing, pandering, lies and the half-truths make it hard to know what is right.

In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah, chapter 29, King Mosiah established a democracy among the Nephites.  He explained that having a King was a dangerous thing.  A corrupt king could lead an entire nation to destruction.

He convinced them that choosing leaders by common consent was a better way to go.  So a chief judge was appointed by the voice of the people.

Mosiah taught that the people who were chosen to lead in a democratic election would tell where the people's hearts were.  If they were righteous, they would choose a righteous leader.  If they were wicked, the leader they chose would be wicked as well.

Considering that, think about where we are today as a country.  Are our hearts, as a nation, in the right place? Are we drawing closer to God?  I know what I think but I will leave it to you to answer that question for yourself.

As you prepare to participate in the process again, may I suggest that rather than worrying about what a politician promises or what he/she says, you consider who they are and what they have done.  We need leaders who have integrity. We need honest, upstanding men and women who will focus on the things that really matter. Ignore the noise.  Get to know who these people really are and vote for the people whose values most match your own.

Vote!  Even if you think your vote doesn't matter, vote. It does matter.  Christians need to vote because otherwise our nation will be judged wicked because we didn't speak up.  I believe we still are in the majority.  We just don't make enough noise.

Mosiah 29:27
"...if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgements of God will come upon you;..."

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

A question was posed in my Pathway group this week: Why must we keep moving forward to endure to the end?  The word "endure" makes one think of holding on tight, standing your ground, and just waiting until something horrific is over.  However, in a gospel sense, life is the trial and we must keep moving forward to endure to the end.

In 2 Nephi 28:24 it says, "...wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!"  That sounds, to me, contrary to human nature. When things are going good I want to relax and enjoy it. In fact that is the time when we need to get working and continue to move forward. We should constantly be looking for ways to bless others and making goals to better ourselves.  When we are blessed we are obligated to share those blessings.

Imagine Lehi's dream again.  Those who held fast to the rod(the word of God)  had to keep moving toward the tree of life. If they stood still, they would likely be bumped off by those coming along behind them and get lost in the mists of darkness.  Life is a test, a journey, not a vacation.

This journey is a lot easier if we are willing to act in faith.  Because God does love us, when we are obedient and act according to His direction, we will be more successful and  find comfort in the bumps along the way.   When we act on faith and follow God's plan, refusing to buy into the rhetoric of the world, we find true joy.

2 Nephi chapter 28 talks about false doctrines that come from the churches of the world.  They deny God by saying that He no longer exists or He no longer communicates with man or works miracles.  They claim to understand something that they don't believe even exists.  They teach what people want to hear rather than the real word of God.  “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things” (Isaiah 30:10)  They curry favor with man rather than God.

Don't be fooled by the precepts of men. The world talks of love and fairness and tolerance.  These are all good words but they can be deceptive and Satan uses them lure us away from the truth.   God is not tolerant of sin.  He does love us all but He would not be fair if there were no consequences for sin.  His laws do not change because society becomes more accepting of sin.

We are not to judge but to love all our fellow men and respect their agency as we expect them to  respect ours.  Respecting and loving them does not mean that we should embrace their philosophies.  We must always use the word of God as a lens through which we judge the philosophies and teachings of the world.  God's law is always the higher law.

"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost."(2 Nephi 28:31)

As we move forward, serving and blessing the lives of those around us, we must be careful not to be misled. If we fail to continue moving forward, praying, studying, serving, we will become overwhelmed by the mists of darkness and led astray by the philosophies of the world.  Holding fast to the word of God, and seeking the Holy Ghost's guidance, we can overcome the world.  We can endure to the end and we will be able to stand at the last day

curry favor:  to ingratiate oneself with someone through obsequious behavior.
obsequious: obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. 
Life is beauty, admire it. 
Life is a dream, realize it. 
Life is a challenge, meet it. 
Life is a duty, complete it. 
Life is a game, play it. 
Life is a promise, fulfill it. 
Life is sorrow, overcome it. 
Life is a song, sing it. 
Life is a struggle, accept it. 
Life is a tragedy, confront it. 
Life is an adventure, dare it. 
Life is luck, make it. 
Life is life, fight for it."
~ Mother Teresa

Saturday, October 24, 2015

2 Old Coots

How to BECOME like Christ...

Last week we talked in class about the importance of the creation, the fall, and the atonement.  Each is necessary for our Father in Heaven's plan to be fulfilled.  The creation was necessary for us to be able to progress beyond the spirit world. For the same reason the fall was required.  We could not remain in the Father's presence and progress. We had to come to earth and experience mortality and because that separation was necessary, an atonement had to be made so that we could become perfected and be able to once again be in our Father's presence.

2 Nephi 9:7 tells that it had to be an infinite atonement and that without it none of us would be able to return.  That's right - none of us are worthy.  We all need help.   We all need a Savior.  Infinite means that it is for everyone, everywhere and it covers all sin and all fear and all doubt - there is no end to His willingness to sacrifice for us. There is no end to His love for us.

Last night I was able to attend a fireside with Dawn Armstrong, from "Meet the Mormons".  It was a truly moving experience.  She spoke about things that she had experienced in her childhood.  She talked about how darkness was scary and light was hope.  She had a horrifying childhood and was homeless for 3 years. She went through terrible things as a young woman and made some bad choices probably because she didn't know any better.  I felt for her.  I have some understanding of how it feels to be a child, unloved and afraid but not as severely as her.  I knew who I was and I was not alone.
I had the gospel  of Jesus Christ. She had nothing.

She told us how much the gospel meant to her and how excited she was when she was baptized.  Despite all she had been through, she felt God's love for her.  She accepted the atonement and became new and clean.  She embraced everything the church had to offer her.

Then someone made an ugly comment and she started to wonder if the atonement really had cleansed her.  You see, she had a kid and she wasn't married.  There will always be someone(often many more than one) who thinks they have the right to even for a second think to judge someone else.

These people don't understand the atonement at all.  I really believe the only people who truly understand it are those who have partaken of it.  Sister Armstrong understands it well.  She told us how she would go through those terrible things all over again because they taught her how to be able to better serve and care for others.  Isn't that why we are here? What more can we do to become Christlike?

That is what the atonement does.  It makes us more like Christ.  It makes us humble and teachable and it allows the Spirit to guide us.  When we become softer, God can mold us into what He wants us to be.

So, we all need to partake of the atonement in order to BECOME what He wants us to be.  None of us are perfect.  We all have things to work on.  Take stock.  Identify things that you need to change.  Take advantage of the atonement.  It is a gift but you need to make some effort to receive it.

Oh, yeah, and don't ever presume to judge anyone else.  I can tell from personal experience that if you look beyond the surface and get to know someone, you will be surprised at what is underneath.

Get to work.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

1 Nephi 15-22 ish

I contemplated a lot this week about the faith of Nephi.  Elder David A. Bednar gave a talk about inspiration.  He said that it often(usually) comes gradually, one step at a time and line upon line, precept upon precept.  This is significant because when the Lord asked Nephi to do something, such as risk his life and go back for the brass plates, or build a boat although he had no idea how to do so, he didn't question.  He just went to work.  He knew Laman wanted to kill him but he started walking back anyway because he knew that God was with him and the way would be revealed one step at a time.

When he was told to build a ship, he started looking for the materials needed and one thing at a time did what was revealed to him until the ship was complete. He didn't know how to build a ship but God did so he didn't worry.

On the ship on the way to the promised land, his brothers tied him up and he waited there for days while the storms nearly destroyed the ship.  His wrists and feet were sore from the ropes he was bound with, yet he did not say a word.  He waited there for the Lord to show His power because the Lord's promises are sure and He had promised to protect Nephi as long as he was faithful.  As soon as he was released from the bonds, he dropped to his knees and thanked the Lord for his blessings.

It takes incredible faith to walk into the darkness and trust the Savior to provide the light. Nephi understood that action was required before inspiration could come.  He didn't believe that God would provide.  He knew it.  He had a perfect knowledge.

In order to gain that kind of knowledge, we must be willing to step out of our comfort zone, act when we are uncertain of the outcome, step into the darkness, so to speak, and trust the Lord to bring the light, and show us the way one step at a time.  It can be uncomfortable but growth is often uncomfortable and the blessings are so worth it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Straight and Narrow Paths

This week we talked about the Iron Rod.(1Nephi 8-12ish)  Someone mentioned that iron would not have been the easiest material to work with in ancient times.  They would have been more likely to use wood to make a rod.  Iron must have been chosen as a symbol for a reason.  It is strong, hard and unyielding.  One cannot hold to the iron rod and reach out to embrace things of the world.  The rod will not bend to allow that.  In order to go for worldly things, one must let go of the rod. 

The rod of iron in Lehi's dream represents the Word of God.  In the confusing world we live in it is so necessary that we cling to the word of God as the standard by which we measure the philosophies of the world.  God's laws never change.  The rod is unyielding. 

The next day I was reading and came across 1 Nephi 12:17.  Here an angel tells Nephi about those who let go of the rod and get confused by the mists of darkness and are led away to travel  on broad roads. 

So, what is wrong with a broad path?  Why must the way to eternal happiness be a straight and narrow path.  It is because the only way to exaltation is by holding on to the iron rod which is the word of God.  The path is only an arm's length width from the rod.  Like the rod, it is straight and unyielding.  Our paths become broad when we let go and wander too far from the rod.

I love the scriptures. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lovin' the east coast

I have never lived in Utah. I have visited a few times. It is really beautiful out there and I love that everything is so wide open and wild.  I like that there are not so many people.  I would like to live out west, except for all the Utah mormons.   I love the church. I love the gospel.  I just do not like the attitude that some west coast mormons have about anyone who does not live in the western US. 

I have been LDS all of my life. I have never had any desire to move to Utah.  I enjoy being different and having the opportunity to stand out.  It is a little harder to live the gospel when everyone else thinks your values are weird but it is easier to have opportunities to share your testimony when people ask you about the things that make you different. 

We are not less faithful.  Our testimonies are not weaker.  If anything I think we are stronger.  Some of us have had our families disown us because of our choice to join the church.  Our friends think we are crazy when we send our children off to serve missions and not call home or see us for18months -2 years.  They look at us like we are bad parents.  They think the word of wisdom is the strangest thing ever and we dress funny (especially here in FL).  And imagine how difficult it is to explain to our non member family and friends why they can't come to our weddings.  We are indeed peculiar people.

Personally, these things make me stronger and living here means that I will always have opportunities to serve those who really need it and there are lots of chances to share our testimonies with people who don't know their Savior.

We east coasters have our own pioneers, as well.  My father was the first branch president in the area where I grew up.  My mom-the first RS president.  We moved from an old office building where rats ran over our feet in sacrament meeting to a tiny little one room white chapel just like the one on Little House on the Prairie to a big church building that we purchased from a Baptist congregation and had to pull down a huge cross from the top of the chapel.  

There are lots of other pioneer stories out here.   We are proud of our history and proud of being east coast LDS.  We don't need anyone coming in telling us that we don't measure up because we live in the "real world". 

We are tough and we are hard working. If you want to fit in, please make an effort to respect and appreciate us and stop obsessing over how awesome Utah is.  We appreciate any new ideas you have to offer but we don't need to be fixed.  Join us and help us build up the church here or go home and take the easy road. 

I know it is a little harder to find LDS friends here because there may not be as many people who you relate to in church here but we are loving and we are willing.  Reach out and be a friend.  Let us know when you need something.  We are you sisters...and brothers.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pathway - 1 Nephi 1-5

Our teacher asked us to think about the tender mercies of the Lord.  I see them often in my life and I think if we look, we can all find them.  Life is tough.  Challenges in all areas plague us.  Little things that make the burden lighter, like my sweet daughters giving me a hug and telling me they love me when they see I am feeling down, something funny that one of the little ones does that makes me laugh and releases some tension, or just a cool breeze that is a welcome break from miserable Florida summer weather are to me sweet mercies.  In addition the Savior provides us with real comfort knowing that as Nephi said, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which He commandeth them.  1 Nephi 3:7

Nephi understood this and did things that were very hard to do.  He followed his father into the wilderness, leaving behind home, comforts and riches.  He went all the way back to Jerusalem twice as requested by his father, the prophet.  He built a ship - having no idea before hand how to do so because the Lord told him to.  He dealt with all sorts of difficulties brought on because of his brothers' disobedience. He did incredibly hard, uncomfortable things because he understood God's plan and he trusted the Lord. Anytime he had doubts, he prayed and sought confirmation for himself.  While those around him murmured and rebelled and even tried to kill him, he stood firm and blessed his family and future generations by his diligent obedience.

We can be like Nephi. We can pray to seek guidance, confirmation and assistance. We can seek the comforting influence of the Holy Ghost.  We can do hard things when we act with faith.  That means that we have faith first and then that we have to act.  As we act and seek the Holy Ghost we can recognize the tender mercies of the Lord as he makes our burdens lighter, makes it possible to do things we didn't think we could and helps us to grow stronger, better, and more capable.

Nephi became a great prophet by faithfully acting one step at a time.  We too can become extraordinary as we face our challenges with faith and act especially when it is difficult to do so.  Like Nephi,we can strengthen and lead those around us and positively influence  future generations.

Thought from the institute manual:
Boyd K Packer - "The understanding of God's plan gave context to the afflictions Nephi experienced."

With Laman and Lemuel, it was different.  They had to be afflicted to be reminded of the power of God.
Helaman 12:3