Sunday, February 25, 2018

Go, Ponder On These Things

“Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.” (3 Nephi 17:3)

The things we read or study in the scriptures aren’t going to just sink into our souls by accident. We must ponder on these treasures and pray about them, seeking for the blessing of personal revelation to teach us that we will fully understand what it is that our Heavenly Father wants for us.

Years ago, I knew a man who had given up every comfort in his life so he could devote his time to reading the bible. He sold his house and left his family and friends. He packed everything he felt he needed to survive his chosen lifestyle into a van and moved into a campground by a river. He spent every spare moment of his life reading the bible. He, however, never uttered a single word in prayer. He knew the bible both the old and new testament like no one else I have ever met. However, it was a knowledge devoid of spirituality or even understanding. I often asked him if he had found what he was looking for. Invariably, his answer would be, “not yet”.

I have wondered about him from time to time since then. I have also considered how much more there is to the words found in holy scripture or those delivered to us by modern servants of God than what we may gain through our own efforts and power. Even in a classroom setting, we will never find such great promise if we but rely only on the power and knowledge of man. The fullness of the gospel can only be obtained through the power of God. Only by seeking after it will we “be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of [our] sins.” (3 Nephi 12:2)

I do not want to be like this man who lived in a van down by the river.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Humility - the foundation of spiritual strength

“And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?” (Alma 32:14)

Since humility is the only foundation of spiritual strength, we are blessed when we successfully humble ourselves and prepare to receive the blessings of faith from our Heavenly Father.

I have lived through times when my pride or fear have interfered with my ability to embrace some aspects of the gospel. Conversely, I have experienced significant growth when I have been able to humble myself and submit to the will of our Heavenly Father. Although I have struggled too often, I do recognize the Lord’s guidance and blessings in my life when I successfully bend my will to His.

This morning, we experienced a weather event that first gave us freezing rain. The rain was then followed by snow. The combination of which proved incredibly slippery both on sidewalks and roads. As I drove to my office, I found myself driving down a slight decline toward an intersection. The slick environment overwhelmed the skills of many who would drive through. I watched as many cars slid into each other, some were spinning on the ice. I worked as best I could to drive slowly around the situation. Each time I touched my brakes or downshifted my tires would lose traction. It was difficult to maintain control. Just as I thought I was sure to get through the mess without personal incident, a small car sped up behind me. I panicked a little and touched my brakes trying to maneuver out of the way. Sliding, I was certain I would drift into the path of the speeding car. I am certain I was blessed as he slid past me without making contact with me nor did he bounce off the curb back at me. It seemed he was a hair’s width from making contact.

As this played out before me, a thought impressed itself on my consciousness - I was being blessed for paying my tithes and other offerings. How often do we really know why or when our blessings are bestowed on us? If I had not humbled myself and submitted to the Lord’s will, I would have been involved in an accident that would have surely caused major financial hardship and possibly bodily injury.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Does your God love you more?

As the year winds down and we're looking up the barrel of a new one, perhaps we could consider a new effort, a different chain of thought, a change in perspective. We've become so polarized, judgemental, stupidly blind to how others might feel. Let us, instead, be slow to pass judgement. We should allow increased brotherhood to brighten our lives and those with whom we cross paths.

When we encounter someone whose circumstances have left them in an undesirable place, perhaps we need to extend the helping hand, leaving our judgement behind.  For how does a critical thought or word lift anyone out of despair? 

Does your God love you more than your downtrodden brother? 

Politics seem to blind us to anything on which we might see eye to eye. This new year, perhaps we could change our focus. Rather than working to change our brother's foundational beliefs, let us work together on those efforts on which we already agree. Rather than holding so strongly to the 2% separating us, we could embrace the other ninety-eight.

Does your God love you more than your brother standing on the other side of the isle?

What separates you from your neighbor? What biases prevent you from accepting another human as your equal? What do you suppose puts you on a pedestal? Perhaps this year we could put those things aside and accept that we are all made of the same dirt. Our molecules are exactly the same. 

Whether you embrace an ancient God or modern technology and science, perhaps you should realize more fully that your God doesn't respect you or hold you in higher esteem than he does your brother. Perhaps we should take greater care to do the same.

Because I have been given much,
I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty Lord,
Each day I live;
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.

Because I have been sheltered, fed
By thy good care;
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share;
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
my roof's safe shelter overhead
That he too may be comforted.

Because I have been blessed by
thy great love dear Lord;
I’ll share thy love again
According to thy word;
I shall give love to those in need,
I’ll show that love by word and deed;
Thus shall my thanks be thanks in deed.

Lyrics by Grace Noll Crowell (1936)

Does your God love you more?