Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Walls of Stone

Go read this little post. It is about our need to prepare for spiritual conflict by building "walls of stone."
(It also summarizes this person's reasons for starting a blog and I share similar feelings.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaching Part 2

Jesus is the Master Teacher. If we want to become like him it is logical to assume that we must take on this attribute with the goal of becoming a better teacher the same as we take on patience, love, etc.

We've also been commanded to teach. 
Deut. 6:5-7
 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
D&C 88:77-78
And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
And Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said that "Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, or will be, a teacher" (Gospel Teaching).

As I've taken the time to study it, I have discovered that there is an enormous opportunity in the scriptures to learn about the Savior, to know who he is, just by focusing on the methods and love behind the way he teaches. And I can also say, from personal experiences, there is little in the world that can compare to the feeling of having been a part of inspiring someone to live and love the gospel. 

Yet, despite all of this I hear people complain about having to teach in church, I see great opportunities for the teaching of vital doctrines squandered because of laziness or simply lost because of self-centeredness. 

Most of us have been part of class at one time or another where the Spirit was clearly present and we were taught and lifted in life changing ways. Most of us have had teachers we will never forget, and always be grateful for the impact they had on our lives. All of us will at sometime BE a teacher, to a formal class or friends, co-workers, and our own families ...and I think the role of teacher should be treasured much more than it is. So, I've decided that from now on in the lessons I have the opportunity to teach I am going to try emphasize this. I guess it will be my new mini-mission -- to help those around me appreciate and love teaching the way I do. (Starting with you! Learn to love it! You can do it!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Learning by FAITH

If you haven't yet read Elder David A. Bednar's address Seek Learning by Faith you NEED TO.
(and if you have... read it again! phenomenal!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I wrote this post in response to this video:

Watching this has really helped me understand my issues with vulnerability.

I don't numb with beer or food, but i do numb with anger. when i feel vulnerable i try to squash those feelings by getting mad, by running over in my head why whatever/whomever is "making me feel vulnerable" is the worst for doing this -- how dare they?! and like she explained, you can't numb the bad without numbing the good. my anger overpowers me and keeps me from the "whole-heartedness" that only comes through the essential connections that come from vulnerability.

she explains that vulnerabily is where "shame, and fear, and our struggle for worthiness" come from and but it is also "the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging and love." when i use anger to avoid feeling the negative, i keep myself from the "joy, gratitude, and happiness" that can come.

and the anger doesn't help. it makes me severe and upset, which only leads to more shame, fear, and struggle for worthiness. i fall into the negative cycle of it.

anger is part of how i make the uncertain certain -- when i don't know why someone hasn't called, for example, i push the vulnerability of that away with reasons that allow me to be angry, to put them in the wrong. to take my uncertainty (and the vulnerability of it) and give myself some answer, that they don't care or are selfish or rude, so i can again push away the vulnerability -- so that my worthiness is not at stake here, it's THEM not ME.

i blame in order to "discharge pain and discomfort."

Of course, this doesn't really work because sure i get angry but then there's always that thought that if i were just a little bit better, they would care enough...

and so i try to perfect - i try to figure out what is wrong with me, that i could change so that i am worthy of love and belonging - so i'm enough.

i need to better learn to let myself be seen, and trust i will be loved even with my weaknesses. i need to better learn to love with my whole heart, even when that love might not be returned, and trust that my loving can be a positive enough force to justify itself (even though it makes me vulnerable). I have to stop "catasrophizing" what could happen and BE GRATEFUL for now, and that I AM ENOUGH.

This is a big part of what the Atonement is for - it teaches us that we are loved despite our weakness, in fact, that we are loved because of our weakness:
Alma 7:11-12
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
Because the Lord has experienced all these things, he knows us: every physical and emotional pain, every temptation we've succumbed to, every weakness we struggle with, and because he has felt them and understands us so perfectly he is filled with mercy towards us -- he is filled with love for us. The word "succor" comes from the word "succurrere" which means to "run to the rescue, bring aid" (MW). He knows every bad thing about me and runs to me to love and lift me.

Understanding the depth of that love helps us understand how to love like that and lose our fear of loving.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:
When I struggle with insecurities and for feeling of worth it is because I am not seeing myself as I really am.

1 Corin. 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

The pure love that Christ has comes from knowing us perfectly. I am enough for Him to love me, and someday I will see myself -- and others -- as He does, I will "know even as also I am known." Until then I choose to trust the love of God.

I hope in the future, in moments of vulnerability, I will remember to rely on the Savior -- rely on knowing He loves me and I am enough -- and not fall into the trap of numbing myself with anger and blame. I'd never realized this about myself, to this extent, before today. Nor had I thought about how the Atonement can bless me with joy, peace, a sense of belonging, and pure love in my moments of vulnerability. I pray that I will remember. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

the affirmative aspect of the atonement

I'm reading chapter 21 of The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister and it's INCREDIBLE.

In this chapter, he explains the atonement's power to exalt. I knew the atonement was to help exalt us, but I guess I'd always kept it in simple terms -- that it cleansed us and enabled us to do good -- never really thinking beyond that, never fully realizing how absolutely necessary its exalting power actually IS. Which seems kind of dense of me, of course grace is necessary right? ...But not just grace, mercy as well.

So, my understanding of what Callister explains is that the atonement isn't just a redeeming power, restoring what was lost in the Fall of Adam & Eve, it is also an affirmative power, a positive process of exalting, that absolutely requires mercy. Paying justice is not enough to be perfected, we need the affirmative process of "becoming a saint" "through the atonement of Christ the Lord" (Mosiah 3:19). We need mercy! Justice "is neutral, always neutral" and we only pay the balance of a debt to justice, so there is no positive outcome. That's why repentance and mercy are ESSENTIAL. Repentance involves "the internal desire of man ([which seems to come as a result of mercy being extended]) combined with the external power of God, so merging in miraculous harmony that it enlarges, endows, and enlightens the human spirit" Yes, it satisfies justice, but by a POSITIVE process that actually adds to our souls. We don't simply endure the payment of a debt but instead open a humbled heart to the Atonement, to the mercy of our Savior, which changes our nature for the better and "gives us the capacity to live the celestial law."

I guess I knew this, but I'd never really put all that together that way, that "if we decline the Savior's invitation to let him carry our sins, and then satisfy justice by ourselves, we will not yet have experienced the complete rehabilitation that can occur through a combination of divine assistance and genuine repentance."


p.p.s. C.S. Lewis said that the atonement "would have occurred for Glorification and Perfection even if it had not been required for Redemption."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Bad in Life

Broken, uncompleted lives are the best possible reason for a hereafter in which the scales of justice are balanced by a just God. To believe otherwise is to attribute to God a lack of sensitivity that we find regularly in good men.      -Henry Eyring
It's perplexing how often we question the existence, perfection, or love of God in the face of the bad that goes on in the world and in our lives.  I guess because it's so much easier to write Him off than to seek to understand Him.

Friday, September 16, 2011

sabbath observance

I read this quote today by Mark E. Peterson (from the 1975 Ensign talk "The Sabbath Day")
Our observance or nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us.
 I had never really considered it before, but any given Sunday God could look down at the earth and know quickly and easily who of his children were really HIS.

Ex. 31:13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.
To "keep" the sabbath is to show the Lord that you are His. And it's amazing the kind of condensed power exists in this one day to be reminded of and recommitted to God. If we "keep" it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

mormon bloggers

I like how these two ladies responded to this question:

So, what are your thoughts on the nature of the relationship between your faith and your church upbringing and the way you engage in culture, the world, style, fashion, design, etc?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reflections of a Scientist

Henry Eyring is a prize-winning theoretical chemist and member of the church. I need to bring up the last part of his book, Reflections of a Scientist. When I read it, I was overcome by its sensibility and honesty, and I really connected to his feelings and ideas about the church.

He explained that:

I could leave the Church and abandon its teachings if I could figure out some way to do so honorably and consistent with my desire to know the truth, no matter what the source. I find myself unable to build out of my experience an acceptable case for disbelief. In fact, the case favors belief. It goes something like this:
     1.The physical universe exhibits striking characteristics: the complexity of the nucleus, the exactness of the atom, the unity of life, the predictability of the everyday world, and the enormity and longevity of space.
     2. Not only is the universe complex, exact, orderly, and predictable, but it is also running down. The second law of thermodynamics indicates that since a closed system can only run down and can never get wound up in the first place, either there are some exceptions to these natural laws we don't know about or the physical universe is not a closed system. That is, there is something or someplace outside the physical world from which energy was obtained to fire the "big bang."
     3. The combination of intelligence and power that assembled the materials and energy, set off the "big bang," and provided order, complexity, exactness, and precision in the physical universe is called the Creator, the Supreme Being, God, and so on.
     4. As scientists believe that nature is not capricious, and therefor we can expect things we can't measure to behave in ways similar to things we can, it is reasonable to assume that the Creator's world is also a place of order, complexity, exactness, and precision. This is an example of the importance of postulates in science and religion. In order to see to learn truths about the physical world we must assume some things we can't prove. (An example is uniformitarianism -- the proposition that the rules as we now observe them were the same in the past and will be in the future and that therefore we can understand the past and predict the future based on what we observe now.) Similarly, in order to see for truth in spiritual things, we must adopt some basic assumptions or postulates that also can't be proved.
     5. Basic spiritual assumptions or postulates might include: (a) God exists; (b) God has curiosity and interest in what he has created; (c) God knows me; (d) God is at least as compassionate and just as the good people I know.
     6. The truth of these postulates are determined by seeing if the resultes of "experiments" can be best predicted by their adoption. That is, as we experience life, study history, and seek communion with God, is what we find best explained by the acceptance of our postulates?
     7. God is tolerant of our efforts, He's willing to have truth discovered "line upon line, precept upon precept." That is, he doesn't mind that we don't yet know everything about science and religion.
     8. The gospel is truth. All truth is part of the gospel regardless of how the truth has been learned.
     9. The safest course is to work like the dickens and do even more than is required to be done. That's the way I get the most freedom to maneuver.
     10. Most important, the foregoing nine points don't answer ALL the questions. If I take everything I know from the scriptures and the prophets, and everything I know from science, and reconcile them, I still have as many unanswered question as I have ones with answers. No intellectual approach nails down everything. In this life there will always be unanswered questions. In fact, each answer seems to raise more questions. That's the way it is in science too, and I don't apostatize from science for that reason. Actually, that's what makes science, and religion, fun. Faith is feeling good about myself, feeling good about God, and muddling along after truth as best I can.
     11. Finally, perhaps a believer never does more disservice to religion that to support the truth with bad arguments. The listener spots the obvious errors, becomes impatient, often "throws out the baby with the bath," and turns away, even from true religion.


The truth of 1-5 has been confirmed through my life's "experiments" and the church has helped me accomplish this. 6-11 come across to me as an effective philosophy for continuing on and the church supports me in doing so. So I can agree with Dr. Eyring when he states "I am certain that the gospel as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true. It's a better explanation of what I observe in science that any other I know about. There are still lots of things I don't know, but that doesn't bother me. I'm a happy muddler. The gospel simply asks me to find out what's true as best I can and in the meantime to live a good life. That strikes me as the best formula for living there could be." Me too!