Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vitamins Aren't Enough

I sit in sacrament meeting, watching a couple in our ward report on yet another mission and wondering why it irritates me. Shouldn't I be glad they are serving? They are only doing what the Lord has asked (as they point out several times in their talks.)

I don't know exactly why I feel so tense and distressed. They speak of how much the Lord loves the people in wherever-it-was-they-just-got-back-from. Which is true, I know that is true, and the thought brings me joy. So what is my problem?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Young Women's Values—Integrity

Integrity: moral uprightness, the state of being whole and undivided

I have been putting off this particular value because it has always been my favorite, and because until fairly recently, I've been feeling anything but whole and undivided. Or morally upright, to be honest.

I have learned something now about integrity.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rights vs. Responsibilities

This is an amazing post on entitlement that deserves some discussion.

He addresses it in a business sense, but in what sense could it be applied to our relationship with the Lord? With our families?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Being a Wife, Being a Sex Slave?

Pornification Nation (Warning: Explicit Descriptions)

This article beautifully illustrates the effect that pornography has on women from a non-LDS Christian. By definition, pornography objectifies women and increasingly degrades them.

And that is an effect that happens regardless of whether or not a man is married, or a couple consumes pornography together.

How can we not see this?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Apostasy and the Commandment to Forgive, Part 3

Apostasy and the Commandment to Forgive, Part 2

Jesus explains in Matthew 18:15-18 the process of what to do if one of Christ's disciples (ostensibly a member of the Church) should trespass against you. First, you should discuss it with him, then if he does not listen, involve the church, and then if he does not listen to the church he is no longer your brother in the gospel (v. 17). I believe this means that you still treat him with respect, but no longer trust him to behave as a disciple should behave. The Lord also gives the church the power to "bind and loose". In context, this would seem to mean that the church has power over membership covenants.

Peter then asks how often a person should be forgiven. Christ says, essentially, that we are to forgive ALL debts we hold against someone because we are debtors to Him.

Which brings me to a very personal illumination of forgiveness.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Apostasy and the Commandment to Forgive, Part 2

Apostasy and the Commandment to Forgive, Part 1

As I said in the previous post, the "little child" spoken of in Matthew 18 is not a literal child, but is one who has humbled themselves as a little child in Christ's service. Also, Alma in Mosiah 26 was faced with the same problem that many discuss today: when a dissenter within the Church should be excommunicated. I am also comparing this to what I have learned in the process of divorcing the husband with whom I once covenanted before God.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Futility of Morality

"Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me."
—Hymn #166, Abide with Me!

It is discouraging to try again and again to do the right thing, to follow the teachings of Christ and, again and again, look around and see those who act for themselves prospering.

I have been reading a little Nietzsche lately, and while I know he is chock-full of the philosophies of men with almost nothing of God in his words, somehow what he says about the master- vs. slave-morality resonates with what I observe. I feel the pull of just letting go and doing what seems best for me, rather than trying to act as I believe God would wish.

Job, Jeremiah, David and even Joseph Smith witnessed the seeming triumph of wickedness over good. It is hard when you have done everything as thoughtfully and carefully as you can, have turned the other cheek and forgiven, have tried to rise above life's disappointments, but your life is nothing like what is promised. Either there is something wrong with the system, or there is something wrong with you. And deep down, I can't believe there is something wrong with the system.

I want to clarify that I'm not looking at specific lack of blessings. I'm just looking at an overall trend of what I have accomplished or been blessed to receive versus what I have been promised.

But despite repeated failure, there is something deep in me that cannot concede defeat. I know what path I have chosen, and I know there is no option of going back now. Even if I fail to teach my children morality because they are surrounded with immoral success, even if I conduct the rest of my life alone, even if I never succeed in overcoming my personality flaws that keep me from realizing happiness (alone or not), I will trust my Savior.

Oh, Thou who changest not, leave me not comfortless!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Covenant of the Holy Ghost

In Doctrine and Covenants, we are taught that those who are baptized should have manifested by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto a remission of sins. This indicates that it is not impossible to feel and be guided by the Holy Spirit, and even receive a remission of sins before we have been baptized and confirmed.

What is the difference between feeling the Holy Ghost and receiving the Holy Ghost?

Often, when teaching the gospel principle of the Holy Ghost to those new in the Gospel, we explain that it is having the Spirit with you always versus having it with you sometimes. I am sure this is accurate on one level, but as I've listened to many discuss the actions of the Spirit before and after excommunication, I've wondered if there isn't something more that we don't usually understand.

When we refer to "baptism," we really ought to be referring to "baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost," as Elder Packer suggests. Baptism without confirmation (or receiving the Holy Ghost) is only half an ordinance.

When we are baptized, we are dedicating ourselves to a change in behavior. We are being initiated as disciples of Jesus Christ, promising to humble ourselves in His service by repenting of sin, to follow His commandments, to represent Him in His absence, and to witness through our words and deeds that He is the Savior of the world, no matter our circumstances.

In order to help us with this VERY tall order, He promises the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will guide us in our actions, teach us all things we should do to be a representative of Christ, and create in us a "remission of sin" or, like cancer, an "abatement or diminution" of sin. This means that even though we are fallen and live in a fallen world, we can be blessed with a lessening of the effects of the Fall.

So the difference between feeling the Holy Spirit, and receiving the Holy Spirit is that when we are baptized and given the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have dedicated ourselves to Christ and His Church. When we live true to the covenant we made to be His disciple, we are granted the gifts of the Spirit in pursuing that work.

When we are excommunicated, though it is possible to feel the Spirit and even experience the gifts of the Spirit, it is without the framework of covenant. And although a baptized person may not feel the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, it is when they are not being true to the promise they made to make their work His work.

It is completely understandable that a person who is baptized or excommunicated will not feel an appreciable difference in the influence of the Holy Ghost in their lives at the moment of the covenant making or loss. The difference isn't in their access to the Holy Spirit, as God speaks to all of His children who seek Him. The difference is in the life purpose of the individual.

The difference is in us.

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