Sunday, April 23, 2017

Christ, The Good Samaritan

 
Jesus Christ frequently taught in parables.  In addition to a positive superficial meaning, parables had an additional deeper and more profound meaning pointing to His devine mission. The parable of the Good Samaritan is no exception.

[A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho] We are all represented by the "certain man".  The decent from Jerusalem to Jericho represents our premortal existence and leaving Gods presence to come to Earth. There are not very many references to the pre-existence in scripture.  This is an exciting one. 

[and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.]  During mortality, Satan lies in wait to spiritually injure us and steal from us our divinity and righteousness. 

[And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.]  Worldly religion and even The Law of Moses have no interest helping or cannot even if they wanted to. 

[But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,]   Christ is the Good Samaritan who is looking to save us, the Poor Wayfairing Man. 

[And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine,]  Christ has the power to heal spiritual wounds by repentance (wine) and covenant (oil).

[and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.]  Not only will Christ return, but Christ commends us into the care of His Church (inn) and His authorized servants (host) who have been called and empowered to act for Christ. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Hope

 

Easter is the holday when the Christian world commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why is the life and resurrection of Christ important?  When I try and understand the importance if something I try to imagine life without it.  What would life be like without Christ?


Philosophers and sociologists have tried to define exactly what makes humans different from animals.  In another sense, we could ask, what causes humans to act differently from animals?  Why do some humans act in selfless, self-sacrificing ways to strangers, turn-the-other-check, and forgive? I believe it is because of the light of Christ and our faith in Jesus Christ. 


God, who is the creator of the universe, lives.  However, God's existence wouldn't necessarily impact human behavior if we didn't know about His existence and nature. God, being God, could greatly control our lives regardless of our knowledge of Him.  But that's not how God works.  God has revealed that He is not about controlling our lives.  Instead, God "leaks" information about Himself and His will, so that only those who are seeking Him will find Him.


For those that have found God, our Heavenly Father has revealed to us by His Son Jesus Christ commandments.  It is through these commandments that we learn that "the natural man is an enemy to God"  and it is God's will that man act with restraint. If it wasn't for this revealed knowledge, there would be no reason for humankind to not just be controlled by our fears and appetites.  Without God, it would be "dog-eat-dog". God's commandments make us free by giving us a choice. We can be hungry but choose to fast; offended, but choose to forgive.


If it wasn't for Christ's atonement and resurrection, humankind would have no hope for redemption.  So many decisions we make in life are based on fear and scarcity.  We fear death, and we fear not having enough.  These fears cause us to hoard resources, and take what we can get now instead of sacrifice the good we have now for better later. 


All humankind are imperfect, sinful, and mortal.  But because of Christ, we have a hope that we can repent, improve, and one day be resurrected and become citizens of a perfected society.  Without Easter, the hearts of man would become hopeless and depressed, and resign ourselves to just "eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we die". But because of Jesus Christ's power over sin and death, His disciples can enjoy a perfect brightness of hope.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Why did God [curse] is the ground for [our] sake?

Under the Father and Christ's direction, the human family participated in creation. This includes the nobel and great ones and maybe the not-so-nobel.  However, all things serve a purpose. God did need to create an oasis of the Garden for Adam and Eve amongst a violent world filled with briars, thorns, and predatory animals.  Adam amd Eve were tasked with "keeping" and preserving the garden which served as a protection.


Abraham 3:24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

However, with the fall, Adam and Eve were cast out. The garden was not preserved, and they were then exposed/subjected to the thorns, briars, weeds, random violence and unfeeling cruelty of the universe-- for their good.  The purpose of life is a test to be subjected to adversity/suffering and see if we will still choose to be patient, obedient. loyal, valiant and devoted to God.  
So the creations/works of the nobel and the less-nobel all serve Gods greater purposes and human-kinds greater good.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Covenants and Contracts


 

My wife Ruth is a realtor and spends every day writing contracts associated with the sale of residential real estate. She made a excellent point about the difference between worldly contracts vs heavenly covenants. Contracts are long and filled with fine print because they based on mistrust and the consequence of what will happen if one or the other side does not meet with their obligations.  Gods covenants on the other hand are clear and concise because they are based on love, our best interest, and God always will do exactly what he has said he will do.  

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Spring LDS General Conference 2017

 

A few thoughts and quotes from "General Conference":

Elder Erying- gathering all things in one both in heaven and earth = family history

Covenants paramount, obedience exact

Elder Renland- Christ ate with sinners, offers hope.  Will save from sin but not in sin.

Perfect brightness of hope = watching a taped football game already knowing the outcome. In life, we already know the outcome so we don't need to get stressed about a bad penalty call, etc.

Preserve gospel language at home.  Keep language pure, don't mix with outside influences.  The gospel is our true native language.

Pres. Monson- charitable = being kind, be kind. We do not honor priesthood if we are not kind.  Study Book of Mormon daily.


Elder Bednar-  Mission Call = Called to serve,  assigned to labor in a place. Not called to a place but to "the work".  Focus your young men on Priesthood, Temple, and Mission.


Pres. Uchtdorf- chiefest of all is servant of all. People will tell you your great, dont inhale it.


Elder Rasband- respond to first promptings.  Be a first responder.


Pres. Utchdorf- don't dwell on the evils of the world.  Fear not and be of good cheer.  Serve God and our fellow man.


Elder Christiansen-  warning voice is civil and joyful.  Successful must preach what you practice.  Stop feigning neutrality. 


Elder Cook-  Malcolm Gladwell says 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any [skilled] field. This applies to gospel learning. Financial success does not = blessed.  Expected to endure adversity well. 









Saturday, February 18, 2017

Family Discovery Day


RootsTec 2017 was held in Salt Lake City Utah and recently concluded. RootsTec is a convention dedicated to family history and genealogy.  RootsTec is akin to other conventions such ad ComicCon or CES.  2017 Celebrity attendees included LaVar Burton, HGTV Property Brothers and Buddy Valastro (Cake Boss).

https://youtu.be/wzgX9IDA3-A

President Russell M. Nelson was the keynote speaker at a special LDS session of the conference. Elder Nelson shared an account of his grandfather AC Nelson who was visited by his recently deceased father and told of the importance of family history and temple work. Missionary work continues in the spirit world after death but those that accept the gospel cannot receive all the blessings without having their ordinances performed in holy temples by the living. The account begins at 15:00.


President Nelson invited each of us to make a commitment and sacrifice to do more family history and temple work this year. 

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Oaths and Covenants


Kindergarteners, Boy Scouts, police officers, doctors, lawyers and politicials do it.  Why do we make oaths and enter into covenants? Life will eventually give you many reasons and excuses to break your promises.  Oaths and covenants give you a divine reason not to break your promises even when life circumstances may seemingly justify it.


The selfishness, disobedience, obstinance, disloyalty and rebellion of mankind would give God every reason to allow mankind to destroy ourselves. But because of the covenant He has made with His prophets, and a few faithful of His people, He will keep His promises and preserve a remnant and eventually save and redeem mankind upon the Earth.


Here are a few oaths I made in my life:


Pledge of Allegiance: 

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


Scout Oath, Boy Scouts of America:

 

On my honor, I will do my best;

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.



Hippocratic Oath (Declaration of Geneva)

University of Utah SOM:


I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity.

I will practice medicine with conscience and dignity.

The health and life of my patient will be my first consideration.

I will hold in confidence all that my patients confide to me.

I will maintain the honor and noble traditions of the medical profession.

I will give respect and gratitude to my deserving teachers.

My colleagues will be as my family

I will not permit personal considerations to interfere with my duty to my patients

I will maintain the upmost respect for human life.

Even under threat I will not use my knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity

These promises I make freely and upon my honor.


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.