Friday, June 25, 2010

The fulfillment of scriptures

The book of Revelation is the account of the last days and of Armageddon. It is available to us so that we can study and understand the events of our day and be watchful and ready for when Christ comes again.

Revelations 16:1-4

And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

  2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

  3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.


(the seas are dying -- and all the life in them)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

in each other's keeping

I really like this:

"it was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, carpeted stairs that September noon -- slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses. Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in her sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her -- if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood -- then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other's keeping and both were unafraid."

i adore the idea of the "sweet surrender" of marriage; of place one's happiness into the keeping of the one you trust, and love, best.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I love the friendship of Jonathan and David.

It says a lot about what true friendship entails; that Jonathan loved David "as his own soul" (Sam 18:1) and that the Lord was "between" the two (Sam. 20:23). I think in the same way that having God in a marriage makes a couple's love and commitment stronger -- having God in a friendship makes the connection more pure and powerful. God always improves everything He touches.

I've definitely seen that in friendships of mine that incorporate the gospel. Whether it's sharing experiences, discussing doctrine, or simply opening up hearts to God's love -- it has blessed me and these friendships immensely. I'm very grateful for that.

Heaven begun on earth

I've been reading L.M. Montgomery's Anne of the Island (beautiful book) and I came across something very thought-provoking...

"I'm afraid to die"
     "Why should you be afraid, Ruby?" asked Anne quietly.
     "Because -- because -- oh, I'm not afraid but that I'll go to heaven, Anne. I'm a church member. But -- it'll be all so different. I think -- and think -- and I get so frightened -- and -- and -- homesick. Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so -- but Anne, it won't be what I've been used to."
     Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to. There had been nothing in her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or make the life to come seem to her anything but alien and unreal and undesirable. Anne wondered helplessly what she could say that would help her. Could she say anything? "I think, Ruby," she began hesitatingly -- for it was difficult for Anne to speak to any one of the deepest thoughts of her heart, or the new ideas that had vaguely begun to shape themselves in her mind, concerning the great mysteries of life here and hereafter, superseding her old childish conceptions, and it was hardest of all to speak of them to such as Ruby -- "I think, perhaps, we have very mistake ideas about heaven -- what it is and what it holds for us. I don't think it can be so very different from life here as most people seem to think. I believe we'll just go on living, a good deal as we live here -- and be ourselves just the same -- only it will be easier to be good and to -- follow the highest. All the hindrances and perplexities will be taken away, and we shall see clearly. Don't be afraid, Ruby"
     "I can't help it," said Ruby pitifully. "Even if what you say about heaven is true -- and you can't be sure -- it may be only that imagination or yours -- in won't be just the same. It can't be. I want to go on living here. I'm so young, Anne. I haven't had my life. I've fought so hard to live -- and it isn't any use -- I have to die -- and leave everything I care for."
     Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable. She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true. She was leaving everything she cared for. She had laid up her treasure on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life -- the things that pass -- forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other -- from twilight to unclouded day. God would take care of her there -- Anne believed she would learn -- but now it was no wonder her soul clung, in blind helplessness, to the only things she knew and loved.
     Anne walked home very slowly in the moonlight. The evening had changed something for her. Life held a different meaning, a deeper purpose. On the surface it would go on just the same; but the deeps had been stirred. It must not be with her as with poor butterfly Ruby. When she came to the end of one life it must not be to face the next with the shrinking terror of something wholly different -- something for which accustomed thought and ideal and aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for; the highest must be sought and followed; the life of heaven must be begun here on earth.

I think L.M. hit this right on the head in many respects and it's something I've thought of myself -- of how important it is to prepare for the next life NOW -- that "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32) and that those preparations include gaining knowledge and intelligence -- which "will rise with us" and give us an "advantage in the world to come" (D&C 130:18-19) but also to develop meaningful relationships and establish the "sociality" HERE that we wish to "exist among us there" -- "coupled with eternal glory" (D&C 130:2). 

Life IS the time to prepare for eternity -- and death is but a stepping stone into eternal life. Understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation makes this so clear... and yet we still often misplace our attention -- giving too much focus to the "things that pass" and forgetting the "highest", which goes on.

I must try to do more to seek for and live the truly essential things of life -- to begin my own eternity now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"There'll be love there"

      "I'm going home to an old country farmhouse, once green, rather faded now, set among leafless apple orchards. There is a brook below and a December fir wood beyond, where I've heard harps swept by the fingers of rain and wind. There is a pond nearby that will be gray and brooding now. There will be two oldish ladies in the house, one tall and thin, one short and fat; and there will be two twins, one a perfect model, the other often called a 'holy terror.' There will be a little room upstairs over the porch, where old dreams hang thick, and a big, fat, glorious feather bed which will almost seem the height of luxury after a boardinghouse mattress. How do you like my picture, Phil?"
       "It seems a very dull one, said Phil, with a grimace. 
       "Oh, but I've left out the transforming thing," said Anne softly. "There'll be love there, Phil -- faithful, tender love, such as I'll never find anywhere else in the world -- love that's waiting for me. That makes my picture a masterpiece, doesn't it, even if the colors are not very brilliant?"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

father's day

My brother got asked to speak in church with someone from the stake. The topic he was assigned was "the righteous influence of fathers" and he prepared a lovely talk (I know because he practiced it on me!). It got me thinking about what I would speak on if it were me...

I thought of my own father and how much of ME has come from him. I have read that the attributes of righteous parents are magnified in their children...I dunno if I'm quite near "magnified" but I will agree with the scripture in John 8:28 that "...I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me..." 

I've always felt that anything I ever knew I learned first from my father. So much of how I view the world, the gospel, and myself springs out of my father's view of those things. My dad isn't perfect, but for good and for bad, the things he has taught me have made me who I am and I wouldn't change that. That is one of the largest of the MANY righteous influences my father has had on me.

How blessed I am to have had a father who is good!

I remember reading in Mosiah about Alma the younger and how much of his eventual conversion was a result of his righteous father. When he was in the depths of sorrow and bitterness it was his father's words, of Christ, that he remembered (Alma 36:17) and it was his father's prayers that brought the angel to him in the first place (Mosiah 27:14).

Boyd K. Packer emphasized this important effect in a conference report (April 1992) when we quote Orsen F. Whitney as saying:

 "The Prophet Joseph Smith  declared--and he never taught a more comforting doctrine--that the eternal sealing of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father's heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God." (Conference Report April 1929)

What a blessing and a comfort to have a righteous parent -- and motivation to be one!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"feeling is so different from knowing"

...there are times when common sense has no power over me. Common nonsense takes possession of my soul.

L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, June 13, 2010

making time for temple work

While reading about temple and genealogy work today I came across this quotation:

'Sister Susa Young Gates..once asked her father (Brigham Young) how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that must be done, if all are given a full opportunity for exaltation. He told her there would be many inventors of labor saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work. The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord.' (Archibald F. Bennett, Improvement Era, Oct. 1952, p. 720)
It got me thinking of all the time I have available thanks to modern life... and how I waste it on frivolous amusements and irrelevant activities! The advances of our day were inspired by the Lord, not just to make life easier for the sake of ease, but to give us more opportunities do the "most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel" (D&C 128:17).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Matthew 22

In Matthew 22 Christ teaches about the two great commandments -- to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength; and to love others as we love ourselves.

I often study scriptures the way I would if I were going to teach what I was studying. What popped into my head here, was that I would ask my class, What does it mean to love God with all of you HEART? With all of your MIND? With all of your STRENGTH? 

What do you love with your heart? When does the heart get used? I think of the love I feel for friends and family and romantic love. Does my heart feel that same swelling for God?

What do you love with your mind? HOW do you love with your mind? I think this is like a mental affiliation for something. Like intellectually I love beautiful language -- great literature. I delight in words. I also love interesting facts and science and stories so I desire them. These are things my mind loves. Does my mind feel that same hunger for God? Do I seek after and take pleasure mentally in contemplating the Lord?

What do you love with your strength? This one I think can take a lot of different directions. What first came to mind was bodily enjoyments; eating, physical affection, even adrenaline rushes. These are things we love with our bodies. Do we love God as much? I also thought of what we spend our strength on. What we do with ourselves. Do we want to spend our strength on God the most?

I tried to think about these and answer them myself, but I'm more interested in feedback. Since I'm not teaching this lesson to any class anytime soon -- if there's anyone out there with anything to add, I'd appreciate it. Leave me a comment. Tell me what it means to you to love God with all YOUR heart, mind, and strength.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

City Lights

This is one of the most sweet and romantic scenes in movie history.

THE BACKGROUND: (from wikipedia)

The plot centers around Chaplin's, broke and homeless he runs into a drunken millionaire and talks him out of committing suicide. The millionaire takes to the tramp as his "best friend for life," giving him nice clothes, going to parties and even giving him his Rolls Royce. The tramp meets a poor blind girl whom he sees selling flowers on the street. He falls in love with her and when the girl mistakes him for a millionaire he keeps up the charade.
To keep up the illusion that he is wealthy while the millionaire is traveling abroad in Europe, he gets a job as a street sweeper. The tramp learns that the girl's rent is overdue and she and her grandmother are in danger of being evicted from their apartment. However the Tramp must find a way to raise the $22 overnight after losing his sweeping job. In one of the funniest and most memorable scenes he enters a boxing contest to raise money for the girl, which also fails. Eventually it is a casual gift of one thousand dollars from the returning millionaire which will pay for not only the rent but also an operation for the girl's eyes the Tramp read about in the paper. Unfortunately like many of the tramp's efforts things go wrong and he is mistakenly accused of stealing the money when the millionaire is sober. The tramp manages to get the money to the girl, telling her that he is going away shortly before he is arrested and imprisoned.
Several months later, the tramp has been released, and, searching for the little flower girl...

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Language is naming. Naming is our way of trying to make sense of our world. I think this is why we have given so many names to our God. It's our effort to understand Him.

Elder Holland said "we know that somehow "happiness, heart, love" are not enough to describe the living son of the living God. Those are abstractions, and he is clearly the least abstract being in our lives. so while we must be fully aware of the limitations -- in our lives, in our language, in our ability to comprehend or appreciate -- we still do well to praise Deity by name and in some small way come to know him better by what he says he is."

He has told us Him names in scripture. For this reason I am going to devote some time to studying the names of God. More to follow...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"For Times of Trouble"

I read Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's address For Times of Trouble this morning. I just wandered across his book "However Long and Hard the Road" and this was the first chapter, so I sat down and read it. I'm so grateful that I did. To help you wander across it as well, here is a link to a transcription of the actual talk.

And here are some highlights:

    "Remember, (quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald) "Trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement -- discouragement has a germ of its own." 
     To those who are trying hard and living right and things still seem difficult, I say, take hard. Others have walked that way before you.  Read Noah again. Go out there and take a few whacks on the side of your ark and see what popularity was like in 2500 B.C.
     Does the wilderness stretch before you in a never-ending sequence of semesters? Read Moses again. Calculate the burden of fighting with the pharaohs and then a forty-year assignment in Sinai. Some tasks take time. Accept that. But as the scripture says, “They come to pass.” They do end. We will cross over Jordan eventually. Others have proven it. I stand before you as a living symbol that anyone can make it through school, fill a mission, and find a job.
     Are you afraid people don’t like you? The Prophet Joseph Smith could share a few thoughts with you on that subject. Has health been a problem? Surely you will find comfort in the fact that a veritable Job has led this Church into one of the most exciting and revelatory decades of this entire dispensation. President Kimball has known few days in the last thirty years that were not filled with pain or discomfort or disease. Is it wrong to wonder if President Kimball has in some sense become what he is not only 
in spite of the physical burdens but also in part because of them? Can you take courage from your shared sacrifice with that giant of a man who has defied disease and death, has shaken his fist at the forces of darkness and cried when there was hardly strength to walk, “Oh, Lord, I am yet strong. Give me one more mountain” (see Joshua 14:11–12).
     Do you ever feel untalented or incapable or inferior? Would it help you to know that everyone else feels that way too, including the prophets of God? Moses initially resisted his destiny, pleading that he was not eloquent in language. Jeremiah thought himself a child and was afraid of the faces he would meet.
     And Enoch? I ask all of you to remember Enoch as long as you live. This is the young man who, when called to a seemingly impossible task, said, “Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, [I] am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech?” (Moses 6:31).
     Enoch was a believer. He stiffened his spine and squared his shoulders and went stutteringly on his way. Plain old, ungifted, inferior Enoch. And this is what the angels would come to write of him:
     And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and     he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him. [Moses 7:13]
     Plain old, inadequate Enoch—whose name is now synonymous with transcendent righteousness. The next time you are tempted to paint your self-portrait dismal gray, highlighted with lackluster beige, just remember that in like manner have this kingdom’s most splendid men and women been tempted. I say to you as Joshua said to the tribes of Israel as they faced one of their most difficult tasks, “Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5)."


You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. That’s another satanic suckerpunch—that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, “I’ll change”—and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend—indeed you had better spend—the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as for Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Even if you have serious amends to make, it is not likely that you would qualify for the term, “the vilest of sinners,” which is the phrase Mormon uses in describing these young men. Yet as Alma recounts his own experience in the thirty-sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, his repentance appears to have been as instantaneous as it was stunning.
     Do not misunderstand. Repentance is not easy or painless or convenient. It is a bitter cup from Hell. But only Satan, who dwells there, would have you think that a necessary and required acknowledgment is more distasteful than permanent residence. Only he would say, “You can’t change. You won’t change. It’s too long and too hard to change. Give up. Give in. Don’t repent. You are just the way you are.” That, my friends, is a lie born of desperation. Don’t fall for it."

(Go read it all... for me to include anymore, I'd have to include the whole thing!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

it comes today

C.S. Lewis:
     "We take as starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something else -- call it 'morality' or 'decent behavior,' or 'the good of society' -- has claims on this self; claims which interfere with its own desires. What we mean by 'being good' is giving in to those claims. Some of the things the ordinary self wanted to do turn out to be what we call 'wrong': well, we must give them up. Other things, which the self did not want to do, turn out to be what we call 'right': well, we shall have to do them. But we are hoping all the time that when all the demands have been met, the poor natural self will still have some chance, and some time, to get on with its own life and do what it likes." 
     "We are still taking out natural self as the starting point." As long as we are thinking that way, one or other of the two results is likely to follow. Either we give up trying to be good or else we become very unhappy indeed. For, make no mistake: if you are really going to try and meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier. In the end you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, 'live for others' but always in a discontented grumbling way -- always wondering why the other do not notice it more and always making a martyr of yourself. And once you have become that you will be a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish." 
     "The Christian way is different" "Christ says 'Give me All. I don't so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it No half-measure are any good I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down... I will give you a new self instead, In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours'."
"That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the fist job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other points of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind. We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us."