Friday, September 30, 2016

The Salvation of Infants

As kind of a piggy back to this post, Article of Faith #2 can offer the world a whole lot of peace. 

I think specifically of mothers of babies who die in infancy, before the chance to have them baptized; mothers, and fathers, who think that their baby is lost and will never be in heaven, but instead in a dark and dreary state of limbo. I can’t imagine being a mother of an infant and thinking that this was the fate of my child.

We know from this Article of Faith that we are punished for our own sins and NOT for Adam’s transgressions. This means that babies aren’t born with “original sin” tarnishing their perfect beings. 

Babies who die in infancy are automatically with their God.

What an amazing doctrine to learn if you have never known this before. Jesus Christ Atoned for our sins. 

For all of our sins, everyone. 

This gives us the peace of knowing that we only bear the burden of our own sins.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Punished for Our Own Sins

Article of Faith #2: We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

While reading these scriptures through the lens of the second Article of Faith, some things really hit me differently.

Normally this passage in Nephi amazes me that a prophet of God would think himself a “wretched man.” This time I felt the words he spoke sounded like deeply fervent prayer. It seemed to me as though he was pleading with the Lord to save him from his weaknesses and praising Him for all the goodness He has bestowed upon him.

Keeping the commandments was the thing that stood out to me in Moses. Adam and Eve had been kicked out of the Garden but still looked to the Lord for guidance. When they received commandments, they obeyed and taught their children.

Something was also cleared up for me regarding the offerings of Cain and Abel. Cain was a gardener. Abel kept sheep. Cain gave the Lord some of what he produced with his labors. So did Abel. I always wondered why the Lord was so unhappy with Cain’s gift. Then it hit me. It wasn’t because he didn’t like the gift. It was because what they were giving the Lord was the “offering” of worship. God had commanded them to “offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord” for their worship. God was unhappy with Cain because he basically made a mockery of a sacred ritual.

Because we are going to be punished for our own sins, we need to do as Nephi and look to the Lord and pray fervently. We also need to do as Adam and Eve and obey the commandments.

2 Nephi 4:16-35
Moses 5:1-27

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Along the Road to Independence

The Patriot Philosophers had a positive outlook on mankind when determining the principles and structures of good government. They believed that True Liberty, which was the balance between absolute freedom (anarchy) and absolute order (tyranny), was possible through the Virtue of the People. They believed that certain positive qualities and characteristic had been implanted in the human soul and would lead the people to be able to exercise self-restraint to achieve True Liberty.

They espoused principles of both schools of thought: the Democratic principles of participation in government and protection of the people, and the Republican principle of representation where decision making authority is given to representatives of the people to make laws on their behalf.
They also believed in Natural Law – the will of God and His “higher law.” These concepts justified resistance and rebellion and their belief in the basic right to govern themselves.

The Colonists had a love, pride, and affection for Britain. After the war, a “pernicious project” adopted by Parliament to directly tax the colonists started the discontent. They felt their rights were being taken away. They weren’t consulted on taxes; their petitions for redress went ignored. After revolting the Stamp Act, Parliament made things worse with the Declaratory Act and the Coercive Acts in response to the Boston Tea Party. The Colonists still had the spirit of reconciliation in the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, but Britain wasn’t listening. They actually sent out troops to destroy militia munitions and arrest the patriot leaders, leading to the battles at Lexington and Concord. This brought them to the Declaration for the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms, which by the way has some most excellent language, if not a bit of drama. The Colonists felt they had to choose between unconditional submission to “the tyranny of irritated ministersor resistance by force.  They resolved to “die free men rather than to live as slaves.”

Prior to Common Sense, independence wasn’t really discussed openly – it was still considered treason. Common Sense pointed out why rule by king and monarchy was basically a ridiculous idea. Because it was accessible to everyone, the common working folk and not just the upper class, it became a widely accepted topic of conversation. It said what everyone was feeling; “that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still,” and got the people talking about it.

The Declaration of Independence was basically an indictment of the King and Parliament listing all of their offenses and violations of the “inalienable rights” of the Colonists. It then showed that based on those things, the Colonists were rightfully declaring their independence from Britain.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Beguile - The Deeper Meaning

In Moses we read of Satan seeking to beguile Eve, “for he knew not the mind of God.”[1] Satan wanted to destroy agency from the get-go by forcing everyone to return to Heaven and receiving the glory of not losing any of God’s children. We know how that ended.

Then we read “it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men.”[2] Here is Satan, trying to undermine God’s plan, but actually playing into it because he didn’t know the mind of God.

I pondered the word beguile. Most people say it means deceived or fooled. I have this note in my scriptures: Beguiled is an ancient Hebrew word not commonly used. Satan gave her a complex scenario. Eve had a decision to make.

I found an article wherein a Hebrew scholar, Dr. Nehama Aschkenasy, told the writer that the Hebrew word interpreted as "beguiled" is a “rare verb form of unusual depth and richness … no longer in use, [and] almost impossible to translate. ‘It is safe to say that it indicates an intense multi-level experience which evokes great emotional, psychological and/or spiritual trauma’ … and ‘makes it clear that Eve was motivated by a complex set of inner drives, anchored not only in her physical but also in her intellectual and spiritual nature.’ … She further suggests that because of this intense multi-level experience, Eve is caused to step back, reevaluate, reassess, and ponder the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[3]

Those who attend the temple experience this view of Eve. We are blessed to know that she was a woman of great courage and spiritual insight which allowed her to make the choice she had to make.

[1] Moses 4:6 And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.
[2] D&C 29:39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—
[3] Beverly Campbell, Mother Eve Mentor ForToday’s Woman: A Heritage of Honor, April 2, 1993, 11th annual conference of Collegium Aesculapium in Salt Lake City, Utah 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

True Liberty

We talk about liberty in this country, but how did the Founding Fathers define True Liberty? 

True Liberty is the middle ground between absolute freedom and complete control. On the one hand, with absolute freedom - there is anarchy, on the other, with complete control -  there is tyranny. 

They believed that when the people are living honest and virtuous lives, less control has to be exerted over them. This is True Liberty. The less honest and virtuous people are, the more control has to be put in place and liberty is lost.

This comes full circle back to agency and accountability. When people use their agency well and are accountable for their actions, they have liberty. 

Popular Sovereignty

Popular Sovereignty is the concept that the government will act based on the will of the people. 

This is a basic tenet of The Constitution. 

The power comes from the base of the people up to the government, not down from on high such as with a monarchy. 

I believe that this base of power has become flipped over. 

Under the guise of protection, better education, better health, etc., the government is pushing things down on the people. The government has become corrupt and beholden to special interest groups and a few people in power who want to change the face of America.

Agency vs. Freedom

Agency and accountability are words with which members of the Church are familiar. It is interesting to be discussing them in an American Foundations class. They really are, though, at the heart of what happened when the colonists began to revolt.

Given agency by our Creator, it is an innate desire of all men. We want to make choices for ourselves. Accountability comes into play when our agency to choose interferes with another person’s rights. All choices have consequences, good or bad. When we exercise our agency, we must be accountable and deal with whatever the consequences are. Laws are put in place to force some people to be accountable for their choices because they won’t do so otherwise.

I really appreciated how Dallin H. Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court Judge, distinguished between Agency and Freedom. 

Agency is how we exercise our will and our power to choose. 

Freedom is the privilege to carry out our choices.  

Everyone has agency. Most people in the world don’t have freedom.

Dallin H. Oaks, “Free Agency and Freedom,” 1987

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

They Deny the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Reading the talk The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent, by Jeffrey R. Holland, I had an interesting thought.

He mentioned that some people believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to not be a Christian church because we don’t believe in the “post—New Testament Christian history [but] return to the doctrine taught by Jesus Himself,” that of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost being separate, individual beings.

He mentioned the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds wherein they have “declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.”

Some also question our Christianity because we believe in an “embodied—but certainly glorified—God.” He said: “Any who dismiss the concept of an embodied God dismiss both the mortal and the resurrected Christ.”

Here is where my thought came.

If they deny the resurrected Christ, they deny the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is what it is all about. Without that we are all lost. What is the point of believing in a God who has given you absolutely no way to be saved?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to Make Colonists Revolt, 101

Coming to America as a colonist offered a lot of economic opportunity for people of every class. Land was so plentiful that there was more opportunity to own land, which in turn would give them the right to vote. This automatically elevated their status.

If people couldn’t afford to make the voyage to America, they could obtain passage as an indentured servant. Even though indentured servitude limited their opportunities in the beginning, once their debt had been paid, the opportunities were still there. Hard work and industry were rewarded.

Although there were many freedoms of ownership and business, there were also restrictions placed upon the colonists meant to insure that wealth would funnel back to Britain. Exclusive trading rights were awarded to just a few companies, creating a monopoly on things such as tobacco and lumber. Because of the limitations, come people found ways to get around those restrictions. As a result, smuggling became prevalent.

Before 1763, the British colonists were proud to be subjects of the crown. They had, as Benjamin Franklin said, “an affection for Great Britain; for its laws, its customs, and manners, and even … its fashions.”

Because the war left Great Britain with so much debt, they took two measures to recoup some of the loss.  First was the Proclamation of 1763 which prohibited migration past the Appalachian Mountains into Ohio, to save administrative costs. The Colonists thought this would eventually loosen up and weren’t so concerned with this.

Second, a direct tax was levied on the colonies. In 1764 the Sugar Act was enacted. This was to be a tighter enforcement of the Navigation Acts, which funneled money through to Britain by taxing certain goods. The colonists weren’t very happy about this, boycotted certain goods, and the act ended up costing Britain more than it brought in. Parliament repealed the act.

In another attempt to raise money through taxes, Parliament enacted the Stamp Act of 1765. The colonists were not consulted on this tax and were less than thrilled. Violence erupted, property was destroyed, and “Stamp Men” were forced to resign due to intimidation and property damage.

Not only were they not consulted about this, but their attempts to petition Parliament went ignored. They felt their rights as British citizens, and the government’s commitment to the rule of law, were being taken away, not only economically, but also their right to trials by jury. The colonists felt they had to do something before things got worse and more of their economic freedoms and basic rights were taken away.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Godhead

Many religions believe the Godhead to be one being. This misnomer is clarified as Article of Faith #1 clearly separates the Godhead into three distinct beings. God is the Father; Jesus Christ is His, the Father’s, Son; and the Holy Ghost.

In Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision, he states that he “saw two Personages” and that one of them (God) called him (Joseph) by name, pointed to the other (Jesus) and said “This is My Beloved Son.”

This is a witness that the Father and the Son are two separate beings. The fact that Joseph used the term “Personages” further clarifies that they are human-like in their appearance, not some nebulous holy entity.

The dictionary defines personage as “a person (often used to express their significance, importance, or elevated status). Surely an attempt to put into words some of what he experienced.

Moses stated: “God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.”  Synonyms to similitude are: resemblance, similarity, likeness, sameness. Moses was like Jesus, the Son of God. Therefore, man is like God.

There were three similarities which stood out to me with the accounts given of Joseph Smith and Moses.

First, each was called by name. God knew their names. God knew them. I infer from this that God knows each of his children.

Second, Satan came in full force to both events. He tried to tempt Moses to worship him and subsequently threw one amazing tantrum: “Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: ‘I am the Only Begotten, worship me.’” He bound the tongue of Joseph with such power he felt “doomed to sudden destruction.”

Third, both Moses and Joseph Smith called upon God to defeat the enemy’s attacks. Satan has only the power we give him. God will always win. If we call on God, He will help us too.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Becoming More Faithful

A few days ago I posted about deciding I needed to return to my temple assignment just because it was something I had to do, not because I wanted to.

I had an experience this week which helped me realize why I needed to be there. I have been importuning in my prayers that my desires would be brought into alignment with what my Savior wants me to do. This experience made that happen.

I will go back to the temple next weekend. I will still be short on time and energy, but now, I am going back not only because I am supposed to, but because it is something I want to do because I realize how much I need it.

Working to exercise faith really can bring about miracles, changes of heart, and answers to prayer.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Help Thou Mine Unbelief

During a study session for my Becoming Project on faithfulness, I received a bit of pointed chastisement.

I took time out before writing this and posted about how crazy life has been the past few months to make my feelings more understandable. Because of all this crazy in my life, I have been seriously contemplating asking to be released from my temple calling, instead of going back in a couple of weeks when my leave time runs out.

Fall semester starts next week and I am taking two classes. Homework has been a challenge with Bubba in the house. I come home from work and he wants to spend time with “uh-ma.” With my new job, I no longer get to leave early on Fridays. I used that time for homework.

During my leave from the temple, I have thoroughly enjoyed having my Saturdays again. I have been using them to do homework, putter around and get things done in the house, and play with Bubba. Thinking about going back makes me sad. This shouldn’t be the reaction to returning to my temple assignment. Looking at the calendar yesterday, at the day I am supposed to go back, literally made me sick to my stomach. I stayed home from church yesterday and went to bed.

My problem is that I know I am supposed to go back.  I have been praying that He would help me change my desires to match what He wants me to do. This hasn’t happened. I have come to the slow realization that I have to do this because I have to do this.

Now to the chastisement.

I was reading the talk Help Thou Mine Unbelief by L. Whitney Clayton. There were three things that jumped out to me:

  •   To have faith in Jesus Christ means to have such trust in him that we obey whatever he commands. There is no faith where there is no obedience.
  • We simply go and do the things the Lord has commanded, even when we are weary, trusting that He will help us to do exactly as He asks.  As we do so, the Lord helps our unbelief, and our faith becomes powerful, vibrant, and unshakable. 
  • No matter who we are or where we live, there is much about our daily lives that is routine and repetitive. As we go about this dailiness, we must be deliberate about doing the things that matter most. These must-do things include making room first for the minimum daily requirements of faithful behavior: true obedience, humble prayer, serious scripture study, and selfless service to others. No other daily vitamins strengthen the muscles of our faith as fast as these actions.

There you have it. If I truly want to increase my faithfulness, this is what I have to do. I must simply go and do what matters most and trust that the Lord will take care of the rest.

The Only Thing That Stays the Same Is Change

I haven’t done much in the way of personal blogging lately because life has been really crazy and brought about some huge changes in my life and home.

During the middle of June, I took a leave from my Saturday temple assignment. I was having some health issues and decided I needed some time to get well. Little did I know that two weeks later I would catch a nasty virus from my grandson (aka Bubba) that would knock me out for a month.

About a week into July, my oldest daughter moved home with my grandson. She was staying in her old bedroom, which was being used as a storage room, on an air mattress and Bubba was in a pack-n-play. What we thought would be a few days, turned into a few weeks, and then the decision to divorce was made.

I had been looking for a new job for quite some time, feeling the need to go somewhere that had an opportunity for advancement. It had been really frustrating because I was either not finding jobs I would want to do, or I was applying for jobs and not hearing anything from them. On July 29th I finally had an interview, was called back August 3rd for a second interview, and then during the 4th and 5th had email exchanges about salary requirements, benefits, references etc. Monday the 8th, the job offer started with a request to begin in a week.

Talk about getting the ball rolling. I guess when the Lord wants you somewhere he will get you there! After five years working at the law firm, I gave notice on the August 9th with a start date for my new job on the 22nd.

Once the decision for divorce was made and that they would be leaving the apartment, the landlord wanted them moved out before the last week in August. My craft room/office/study space was going to be Bubba’s bedroom. I had one weekend to get rid of everything in that room. I didn’t have time to try and sell anything, so I decided I just needed to give it away. I posted on our Relief Society FaceBook page that I was giving everything away and asked them to please come take it.

I took Friday, August 12th off so I could move all my stuff into the garage and on Saturday, gave everything away. I kept a few staples: my sewing machine, crochet hooks and knitting needles, some embroidery stuff. Everything else went: stamps, ink pads, paper, yarn, Cricut, Sizzix, Big Shot, scrapbook stuff, books, containers, storage cubes, and shelves etc.

This was a really emotionally taxing time for me. I felt like I was giving away and ending a huge part of me and my life. I had to have a few cries but knew that I was doing the right thing. Bubba needed a room of his own.

That day we also had to have our pug, Sophie, put to sleep. She had been with us for 12 years. This was a very difficult day.

During all of this, I still had to go to work and do homework. I was taking a summer religion class that compressed 12 weeks of work into 7. Now that I was out of my office space, I was trying to do homework at the kitchen table. This was not easy with Bubba around.

August 22nd I started my new job. It has been two weeks now and so far I love it.

About a week ago, I finally got a desk put up in my bedroom. Now I have a place I can go to do my homework and shut the door.

As I said, these past few weeks have been crazy. They have been an emotional rollercoaster and the house has gone kind of topsy-turvy. We still have boxes in the garage and are still taking loads of things to D.I. We have been slowly baby-proofing, as much as you can do that in a house.

In the midst of this chaos has been some wonderfulness too. There have been lots of snuggles and laughter, spending time with both my daughters, and seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

We are still adjusting to our new normal. But we are adjusting together.

Do You Love Me?

When reading John 21:15-17, I was reminded of the amazing talk given by Elder Holland, The First Great Commandment, in which he beautifully portrays this interchange where the Savior asked Peter three times if he loves Him.

How will we answer the question “lovest thou me more than these?” 

What does “these” represent in our lives?

Christ told Peter if he loved him, to feed his sheep.

“The Greek verb translated in English as “feed” actually means “to shepherd, to tend, to take care of.” In the Hebrew translation the verb means “to lead.”[1]

I read a beautiful statement by Ezra Taft Benson regarding this:

“We realize, as in times past, that some of the sheep will rebel and are ‘as wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd.’ (Mosiah 8:21.) But most of our problems stem from lack of loving and attentive shepherding...

“With a shepherd’s loving care, many of our young people, our young lambs, would not be wandering. And if they were, the crook of the shepherd’s staff, a loving arm, would retrieve them.

“With a shepherd’s care, many of those who are not independent of the flock can still be reclaimed.”[2]

Do you love the Lord? What do you have to give up to feed His sheep?

[1] Verse by Verse The New Testament, Ogden and Skinner, pg. 706
[2] ibid, 706-707

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Jesus was Terrified and Astonished

The suffering of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane is a story with which most everyone in the world is familiar. We know this is where he took upon him the sins and sorrows of the world. We know that three times he went to his apostles, whom he had asked to "watch with me," and found them sleeping. We know this is the place where Judas betrayed him.

With all we know about this event, it is impossible for our finite minds to comprehend what it all really entailed. I gained some profound insights into the experience Jesus had through my study this week.

Sin affects our whole being; mind, body, and spirit. Something I had never considered before when thinking about the Atonement, was that this was something Christ had never experienced. He was perfect and had never sinned.

“And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy.”
Mark 14:33

 Not only was he taking on the sins of everyone, he was partaking of the experience of sin for the first time.

 “The Greek word translated as “sore amazed” means “terrified surprise or astonishment.[1]

Sin was such a new and unexpected thing for Jesus, a shock to his perfect body and spirit, it literally terrified him

Think about that!! 

Jesus Christ was terrified by the experience of sin.

What does this tell us about how we should react to sin? Why are we able to sin without being terrified?

I read some very interesting things in my study and wanted to share them with you; though a bit long, well worth the read.

“Being perfect, Jesus did not and could not know what sin felt like. He did not have the experience of feeling the effects of sin—neither physically, spiritually, mentally, nor emotionally. Not until Gethsemane, that is. Now, in an instant, he began to feel all the sensations and effects of sin, all the guilt, anguish, darkness, turmoil, depression, anger, and physical sickness that sin brings. All of this the Savior felt and much, much more.

The shock to the Savior at this moment must have been overwhelming. Because he was perfect, he was also perfectly sensitive to all the effects and ramifications of sin on our mental, emotional, and physical makeup. His makeup was such that it could not tolerate sin or its effects, just as our systems cannot tolerate poison, disease, extreme heat, cold, dehydration, or a hundred other harmful substances and conditions. More significantly, as Mark describes for us, the experience Jesus had of finally comprehending sin as well as the feelings that issue from sin were absolutely surprising to him. He had never experienced these sensations. Not only did it surprise him but it terrified him. For the first time in his eternal existence, the God of heaven and earth was experiencing the terrifying feelings associated with sin. Jesus felt something in Gethsemane he had never known before.  Perhaps that is the full meaning of Alma’s words that the Son of God, the Messiah, would be born as a mortal so that ‘he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people’ (Alma 7:12; emphasis added).

“Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote: “Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, ‘astonished’! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fulness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined!” (Ensign, May 1985, 72-73).” [2]

How much more do we now understand this plaintive plea: "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou will."(Mark 14:36)

Beautifully summed up by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

"In that most burdensome moment of all human history, with blood appearing at every pore and an anguished cry upon His lips, Christ sought Him whom He had always sought—His Father. “Abba,” He cried, “Papa,” or from the lips of a younger child, “Daddy.”
"This is such a personal moment it almost seems a sacrilege to cite it. A Son in unrelieved pain, a Father His only true source of strength, both of them staying the course, making it through the night—together."[3]

[1] Verse by Verse The New Testament, Ogden and Skinner, pp 579-599, (emphasis added)
[2] ibid
[3] The Hands of the Fathers, Jeffrey R. Holland, April 1999 Conference, (emphasis added)