Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Our Heavenly Father

Alma, a Book of Mormon prophet, wrote, “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44). We can look up at the sky at night and have an idea of what Alma meant. There are millions of stars and planets, all in perfect order. They did not get there by chance. We can see the work of God in the heavens and on the earth. The many beautiful plants, the many kinds of animals, the mountains, the rivers, the clouds that bring us rain and snow--all these testify to us that there is a God.


Paul explained simply: 4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.


I great cartoon featuring 2 talking snowmen also expresses the absurdity of denying the existence of God.  2 snowmen were discussing where they came from when the first "Don't be absurd, noone made us, we evolved by chance from snowflakes."


The prophets have taught us that God is the Almighty Ruler of the universe. God dwells in heaven (see D&C 20:17). Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He created the heavens and the earth and all things that are in them (see 3 Nephi 9:15; Moses 2:1). He made the moon, the stars, and the sun. He organized this world and gave it form, motion, and life. He filled the air and the water with living things. He covered the hills and plains with all kinds of animal life. He gave us day and night, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest. He made man in His own image to be a ruler over His other creations (see Genesis 1:26–27).


The beauty of creation is a great testimony to the love of our heavenly father.  whenever I watch Star Wars movies I'm reminded somewhat of this.  instead of living on the earth with its temperature climate, had god not been so loving we could've been stuck on some icy snowball of a planet like Hoth, some volcanic planet like Mustafar, or some godforsaken desert planet like Jaiku or Tatooine.  


God is the Supreme and Absolute Being in whom we believe and whom we worship. He is “the Great Parent of the universe,” and He “looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 39).


We may take it for granted that we believe and know that God is a God of love.  In Greek and Roman times, The people generally believed in a pantheon of gods who disagreed on just about everything and watched humans fight and die on the battlefield for entertainment. you may think this doesn't matter much to tell you remember that this led to the masses being entertained by savage gladiators who fought to the death in the Colosseums.   Contrast this to Enoch who witnessed God weep after being shown the wickedness and resultant suffering of the people of the Earth.  Enoch was blown away at God's reaction.  God cared deeply for His children and suffered at our suffering. 


Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?


Some people may think of God as all justice and no mercy.  They may think Heavenly Gather is the one that cannot look upon sin with the lease degree of allowance while Jesus Christ is the merciful one.  but this is to forget that Jesus did nothing on His own but only that which He saw the father do, and only that which he was specifically directed by the Father to do.  so we shouldn't forget that it's heavenly father who is just as perfectly merciful as he is just. The plan are redemption in the atonement of Jesus Christ were entirely Heavenly Father's idea. Again, even though Jesus Christ effected the creation, atonement and resurrection, all these were Heavenly Father's ideas.


The Nature of God

The creation story in Genesis in the Bible tells us unmistakably that we are created in the image of God.  Because we are made in His image (see Moses 2:26; 6:9), we know that our bodies are like His body. His eternal spirit is housed in a tangible body of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22). God’s body, however, is perfected and glorified, with a glory beyond all description.


D&C 130:22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.


God is perfect. He is a God of righteousness, with attributes such as love, mercy, charity, truth, power, faith, knowledge, and judgment. He has all power. He knows all things. He is full of goodness.  All good things come from God. Everything that He does is to help His children become like Him. He has said, “Behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).


I'm not sure why our doctrine of God working to have His children become more like Him is so controversial.  This has nothing to do with Oedipus-like complex and taking God's place.  This has nothing to do with too many chiefs and no Indians.  The scriptures describe God as a King of kings and a Lord of lords.  When you compliment a doctor, you say they are the doctor's doctor. In a similar way, the exaltation of God's children brings honor and glory to our Father.  Our Heavenly Father desires to be the Father over other exalted beings like Himself who continue to serve and reverence Him and not just a smack of jelly fish. 


Why is it important for us to understand the nature of God and How can we come to know God?   


Knowing God is so important that the Savior said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).


John 1:4-5 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.


the Wicked and natural man cannot comprehend and understand God.  Gods thoughts are not our thought and Gods ways are higher than our ways.  It can be hard to understand why God wants us to live a certain way free from addictive substances, or loyal and virtuous lives.  But the key to understanding God, to living a life after the manner of happiness leading to eternal life (or life as God lives) is to fill our live with the light of Christ and the light of the God's Holy Spirit.


How can we be filled with divine light? To be filled with light, The first and greatest commandment is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matthew 22:37).  If we love God, we must love and serve Jesus Christ. Christ taught that if we love Him we will not only accept Him as our Savior but we will also keep His commandments. We love the Father and Son by feasting upon their words in the scriptures, by listening and harkening to their words we receive by modern prophets, by praying to Our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and then by loving and serving our fellow man. 


As we improve, progress, and purify our lives to live closer to how God desires that His children live, as we tirelessly feed His sheep, love our neighbor, and build His kingdom on the Earth, His divine light with grow within us and which will grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day.  And as His light grows within us, our understanding of God and truth will be magnified. 


Jesus Christ taught us in the Doctrine and Covenants through Joseph Smith:  


45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Garden Equity Lesson


2 Nephi 26:33 and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.


I am a proud father of 5 girls.  While modern LDS women are among the most blessed and free of any women, I recognize there is not complete equity in all things in the Church. When it comes to priesthood, God has designated different groups to hold and exercise His authority.  Before Moses, the priesthood was passed down from father to eldest son. After Moses, priesthood authority was reserved exclusively to the tribe of Levi.  During the time of Christ, the priesthood was given first to male Jews and later Gentiles.  Then following the Latter-day Restoration, the priesthood was extended to all worthy males. But if "all are alike" unto God, why still exclude women from some priesthood duties? 


While, I do know that God loves men and women equally, and I don't doubt that the current Church could do better to foster a more gender-equitable community, we should take care how we go about suggesting and making changes. The recent policy change to involve the entire Ward Council in planning sacrament meetings was definitely inspired. Our Relief Society, Primary and Young Women's leaders have made awesome and inspired contributions. 


While additional policy changes could be made, we should be careful about how we go about advocating for those changes. I was reading and pondering on the Adam and Eve story and was thinking the issues of gender-equality might parallel the garden story.


God put Adam and Eve into the garden both naked and forgetful. Satan was also placed in the garden to tempt Adam and Eve.  Ignorance is bliss, and Adam and Eve were no doubt enjoying the garden until Satan promptly pointed out their shortcomings.  The problem in the garden was how Adam and Eve responded to their criticism.  Instead of turning to God for help, Adam and Eve heeded Satan 's dietary and fashion advice. As we contemplate policy changes in Christ's Church, we need to similarly take care who we are listening to, and correct any shortcomings God's way and in God's time.


Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Monday, December 19, 2016

True Faith


Occasionally we will have a patient in the hospital who is on a breathing machine who is on four different pressers to keep their heart beating and they are clinically brain dead. However, when it comes to conveying this reality to the family, some don't accept the reality and say instead, "If we just believe strong enough, God will heal them".


I think this is a misunderstanding of faith. Faith is not the strength of our own will or strength of belief in God giving us what we want or to change Gods mind. Faith is aligning our will with God.


And what does God want? God wants to establish a perfect people and society built upon a foundation of temples and His priesthood authority where He can send his children to family who will raise them up "without sin unto salvation". 


When your purposes are aligned with God in this manner, like the Brother of Jared, you can move mountains.  I think this is why the Brother of Jared was said to have such great faith.  After God had destroyed Babel, Jared and His brother desired to establish a perfect society according to the design and will of God.

 

Matt 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?


When we pray, we are to pray over our flocks and fields.  But, do we spend most of the time concerned with personal temporal matters instead of praying about others and accomplishing God's purposes?


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Airport Miracle


A couple of weeks ago I took the 2 older children on a trip to Utah with me to visit my family while my pregnant wife and our youngest child enjoyed the weekend in Atlanta with her family. After being dropped off at the airport more that 2 hours from home, I realized I had forgotten my wallet. With an hour before our plane was departing, I doubted that we would be able to get though security without ID.


With less than an hour before our plane's departure, I attempted to call my wife on her cellphone to explain our predicament. Unfortunately, her phone went right to voicemail which meant that her batteries were most likely completely run down and she wouldn't likely check her phone until she arrived at her parents who lived about 35 min from the airport. My wife does have a phone charger in her car which I bought her for her birthday, but which she has rarely ever used. In fact, my wife often refers to the phone charger as an example of a gift I gave myself on her birthday.


As my 2 children and I stood to one side of airport security, and still unable to reach my wife on her phone, I approached one of the airport security officers to explain our situation. Our plane left in less than an hour, I was more than 2 hours from home without a wallet, and my wife who dropped me off at the airport was unreachable on her phone and would be most likely unreachable until she arrived at her parents home. The security officer told me that he was sympathetic to our situation but that they required some form of ID to pass airport security. I walked back a little dejected to where my 2 kids and our carry-on bags were resting. My 6-year-old daughter who was aware of our situation must have seen the discouraged look on my face and began to sob.


At that moment the thought entered my mind and heart to take my children and our bags aside and offer a prayer to our Heavenly Father for assistance. We found a quiet and discrete nook off to the side of airport security and there offered a humble prayer with my 2 children explaining to God our situation, and asking that I would be able to reach my wife on her phone and that we could find a way to get past airport security and make our airplane. After concluding our brief prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, I immediately called my wife again on her cellphone.


As it turned out, my wife answered the phone on the first attempt. I immediately explained our situation, and told her about our prayer, and then I asked her how she thought to check her phone and plug it into the charger. My wife said the thought and feeling just came into her mind and heart to check her phone. She noticed that the battery was down so she plugged it into the charger that I had been using to charge my phone on the way to the airport. My amazing wife then suggested that we might use my son's "Identi-Kid" ID which she told me he was carrying in his backpack. This ID was a professional-looking laminated credit-card-sized card with my and my wife's name on it, our address, but our son's photo and fingerprint.


I approached the same security officer again with my child's ID, and to my relief, and after a pat down and a search of my bags, we were cleared to pass through security with plenty of time to make our flight. Additionally, my wife called her sister who lives down the street and who has a key to our house to verify that my wallet was at home. It turns out that my wallet was resting right where I had set it out the night before with my keys. Somehow the keys made it into my pockets but not the wallet. My sister-in-law was kind enough to overnight my wallet to me in Utah which I received the very next day.


While some might look at this series of events as a lucky coincidence following an unfortunate oversight. I consider this a clear and unmistakable answer to prayer. Although, I do not wish to make a habit of forgetting my wallet while traveling, I am thankful I could use this incident to demonstrate to my children the power of prayer and how we must rely on our Heavenly Father in times of need and adversity. I am thankful to a kind and gracious Heavenly Father for His merciful and loving kindness in answering a humble prayer. Additionally, I am thankful to my wife who i can always count on to be in-tune with and responsive to the Holy Spirit.


While these kinds of answers to prayer are not exclusive to members of the LDS Church, the same promptings of the Holy Spirit that lead me to pray and that inspired my wife to check her phone, is the same power by which I know that there is a God in Heaven, the Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God like the Holy Bible and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's true church on the Earth.


(this is a repost of an older story with my son's Ident-A-Kid ID used to satisfy airport security requirements)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

2016 Augusta Stake Free4All


Just a report on the successful completion of the 2016 Augusta Stake "Free4All" hosted by the Augusta Ward. Stake members and the community donated lightly used clothing, house wares, toys, furniture, etc.  Donations were received beginning on Tuesday until Friday night. Tables were set up in every room in the church.  Each room was dedicated to a different category of items:

Primary: Children's clothing
Cultural Hall: Adult clothing
Relief Society: House wares
Nursery: Toys
Young Women's: Books and electronics
Basement: Furniture

Needy stake members were invited to help sort items during the week and Friday evening and had first dibs on anything they needed. Bishops and RS presidents could also set aside items. Then come Saturday morning, the remaining items were open to the public.  Posters were placed around Augusta advertising the event.  People started lining up at 630AM.  Doors opened at 8AM after a prayer. 

LDS Volunteer members wore our "Helping Hands" t-shirts and name badges. LDS Members helped participants carry items to their cars and give direction. Colorful signs inside the building directed participants to different areas.  As items were depleted in smaller rooms, remaining items were transferred to the cultural hall and rooms were cleaned and set up for Sunday as the morning progressed.  The chapel was kept closed off. 

Missionaries operated a table with pass-along cards, Book's of Mormon and helped visitors carry items to their car. 

Goodwill/second-hand organization arrived at 2 PM with a truck and remaining items were boxed and taken away.  Remaining trash and broken unusable/unwanted furniture and items were thrown in a separate roll-off dumpster and taken to the dump. 

We ended the give-away/free4all at 1 PM, finished cleaning, locked up, and drove away by 2 PM.