Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Lordship of our Savior

July 17th 2016

When you hear the name Jesus Christ what is the first word that comes to your mind? I know from growing up in a church that word was “Savior”. I remember in fast and testimony meeting when a member of the congregation would stand at the pulpit to share their testimony, if they made mention of Jesus Christ, it was usually as Him being the Savior. Ever since I was a child, I have recognized Jesus as my Savior, but not until recently in life have I started recognizing my God by His many other titles or names. As I have come to love God on a much deeper level, one of the titles or names I am coming to know Him by more and more now is Lord.
Recently, while studying the scriptures, I used special software to do a word count for how many times “Savior” appeared in the standard works. Here are the results:

Old Testament: 15
New Testament: 24
Book of Mormon: 12
Doctrine and Covenants: 21
Pearl of Great Price: 6

Likewise, I did a similar word count for “Lord” and the results were drastically higher than those for “Savior”:

Old Testament: 7,278
New Testament: 734
Book of Mormon: 1,573
Doctrine and Covenants: 735
Pearl of Great Price: 202

In the scriptures Jesus Christ is more often referred to as “Lord” than “Savior”. Often when “Savior” is referenced, “Lord” is also referenced in the same verse. But what is a Lord? Webster’s 1829 dictionary defines it as:
“A master; a person possessing supreme power and authority; a ruler; a governor.”

To have someone as your Lord is to serve them and to submit to their will. Just as Jesus submitted to the will of His master, the Father, (3rd Nephi 11:11, John 6:48) we must also submit our will to our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. The Savior, Jesus Christ, saves us from sin and iniquity so that through His grace we are empowered to be able to submit our will and fulfill all things the Lord, Jesus Christ, requires us to do. (Jacob 4:6-7, Ephesians 2:8-10)

Although Christ is our Savior, that is not the primary position He should hold in our lives. The primary position He should hold in our lives should be Lord; Savior is a benefit of that relationship. Allow me to illustrate my point with an analogy to which many married people might be able to relate:

Let’s pretend one day I am lucky enough to find my true love and we get hitched and have a long, lasting, loving marriage. Let’s imagine that my wonderful wife has a magical touch about her and gives the most wonderful massages and back rubs. Let’s say that throughout our marriage, because of her amazing massage skills, I sometimes refer to her as my “sweet little masseuse”. Although this may be a be a cute name I call her, I would more often and more properly refer to her as my wife. Why? Because the title wife would declare the position she holds in my life, while the other title would convey a benefit I would receive from her being my spouse. 

Likewise, Christ’s position in our life should be Lord. Savior comes as a benefit of having him as our Lord.

Another question to consider about the Lordship of our Savior:
What was the main purpose for Moses leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt?

I always thought the obvious answer was to go to the promised land, which is partially correct; however, that was not the main emphasis the Lord had for the Israelites leaving Egypt. The MAIN purpose for the Children of Israel leaving Egypt was to SERVE God, not necessarily to go to the promised land.

“And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness”
(Exodus 7:16)

This statement “Let my people go, that they may serve me..” is repeated 7 times through the book of Exodus 4:22-23*, 7:16, 8:1, 8:20, 9:1, 9:13, 10:3
The LORD delivered, or saved, the Hebrews so that they could serve Him.
Ironically the children of Israel were quick to desire to serve the Egyptians instead of God at the first sign of danger in the wilderness.

“And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”
(Exodus 14:11–12)

The location that they were to serve God was in the wilderness.

“The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness”
(Exodus 7:16)

The specific place in the wilderness they were to serve God was at Mount Sinai where they were to LITTERALLY meet God. (Exodus 19:7-11) Before receiving the promises, or covenants (a promised land of milk and honey being one of them), they were to first meet the Promiser. You can’t live by a higher law, or receive covenants and promises from God, unless you first meet FACE-TO-FACE while IN THE FLESH the one who sets the bounds of the covenants. All other ordinances in the Gospel point to that event.

“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.”
(Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–22)

Receiving our Lord while IN THE FLESH is the will of the God, (JST John 6:44, John 17:3, John 14:21-23, D&C 130:3, 76:116-119, 93:1) and therefore by doing His will and fulfilling His commandments to converse with Him FACE TO FACE, you are fulfilling your role as a servant to His Lordship. Although God delivered the Israelites from Egypt and was thus their Savior, the Children of Israel failed to accept God as their Lord because they would not obey His will to come up the mountain to behold His face.

“Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fullness of his glory. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel;”
(Doctrine and Covenants 84:23–26)

Do not be like the Israelites who had to spend 40 years in the wilderness just to be left with the Aaronic Priesthood and the law of carnal commandments because they would not meet their Lord. Do not be like the early saints in Nauvoo, who, because of idolatry, made the same mistake by neglecting to finish the temple the Lord promised He would come to, thus bringing curses upon the Latter-Day Saints - leaving the whole church under condemnation to be left with nothing but the lesser priesthood. (see D&C 124,84:54-57)

Instead, be a profitable servant by accepting Jesus not only as your Savior, but as your Lord. Accept Him as your Lord by doing His will. Do His will by coming unto Christ now, while in the flesh! Seek to converse with Him and to behold His face today in this life. Jesus longs to have an intimate relationship with you; that relationship is the most real relationship one can ever have. You are the Lord’s work and glory because coming to know Jesus is life eternal. (John17:3, Moses 3:39) Let us be true servants of our Lord today by coming unto Christ.

The Precept of Eve vs The Subtle Serpent

Written June 5th 2016

We are warned throughout scripture to beware of the precepts of men.

“Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!” (2 Nephi 28:26)
What is a precept? The 1829 Webster dictionary, the language used in the time of the translation of the Book of Mormon, defines precepts as: 

“In a general sense, any commandment or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct.“
Google defines a precept as “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.” The precepts of men are the rules, regulations, beliefs, and policies enforced from an incorrect understanding and a lack of direct revelation from God. Those who abide by the precepts of men rely on their own wisdom, learning, and council while denying the power of God because they do not harken to the word of God and the Holy Ghost. (2nd Nephi 28:4-6) Hearkening unto the precepts of men always leads to sorrow, anger, and distrust in God. Allow me illustrate an example of why the Devil LOVES the precepts of men and how he uses them to turn us against God.

In the Book of Genesis chapter 2 or Moses chapter 3, the Lord God had already created man, but not yet woman. He places Adam in the Garden, then states in verse 16-17:

And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Moses 3:16–17, Genesis 2:16-17)

This was God exact word and commandment to Adam. Nothing more, nothing less. Keep this in mind as we proceed to an account of the encounter between Eve and the serpent Satan.

“And now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made. 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. And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.) “ (Moses 4:5-7, Genesis 3:1-2)

Notice the very first tactic used by Satan to lead Eve away from Christ. In the garden the Lord God made EVERY tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. (Genesis 2:9) Think about the diet of Adam and Eve - they did not hunt, nor did they farm nor need to slaughter livestock. Now think about the vast variety of fruits in the world God made available to them in the garden. They were truly blessed. Yet Satan’s tactic was to direct Eve’s attention from the bounteous myriad of fruit to the single one forbidden.
Continuing with the dialog:

“And the woman said unto the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; But of the fruit of the tree which thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said—Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Moses 4:8–9, Genesis 3:2-3)

So Eve tells Satan that God said, “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye TOUCH IT, lest ye die.” However, if you go back to the recorded account of what God told Adam directly in Genesis 2:16-17, before Eve was made from Adam’s rib, you will see that God said nothing about touching the fruit. Why did Eve believe that touching the fruit would cause death? Because it was her precept. She had not received that original commandment personally from God because she was not yet in the garden at the time it was given. She must have received knowledge of that commandment through Adam. I can imagine Adam walking with Eve through the garden one morning while coming across the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam could have said, “You see that tree? God told us not eat of that fruit lest we die. We better not ever touch it!!” You see how easily Eve could have misunderstood what God had really said if she did not receive it directly from God?

God’s commandments can become like a game of “telephone” if we do not seek from him directly. Communicated knowledge, knowledge passed from man to man, is easily distorted and misunderstood. Like Eve, when we receive knowledge by this means it is far too easy to declare “more or less” than what was originally given by God. (3rd Nephi 11:40, D&C10:67-68) It is far too easy to attach or replace our precepts to God’s word. 
On the other hand, revealed knowledge, knowledge given to us directly from God, is unmistakable. It is unshakable. It is pure truth. Direct revelation from God is the rock upon which Christ will build His church in which the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mathew 16:17-19, 3rd Nephi 11:39, 3rd Nephi 18:12)
Eve must not have sought for herself directly from God the commandment concerning the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and instead relied on her husband’s word. This is why Satan attacked Eve, because she was already misled by a false precept.
Satan then replies to Eve’s answer:

“Ye shall not surely die;” (Moses 4:10, Genesis 3:4)

Read the Serpent’s reply very carefully. He technically did not flat out lie to Eve. Eve’s statement included dying if she touched the fruit. God never said anything about touching the fruit and dying as a result, therefore Eve could touch the fruit and not surely die. Although twisted, Satan was telling the truth. Because of Eve’s misunderstanding, or in other words unbelief, or in other words “precept” Satan was easily able to manipulate Eve into partaking and ultimately doubting her Lord. I can imagine the moment Eve held the fruit in her hand and realizing that she is still alive and not dead for touching it- doubt and distrust in her creator would have filled her. Beliefs formed by the precepts of men will cause us to turn from our Lord. They will cause us to doubt, distrust, and even hate God.
Satan then says,

“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Moses 4:11, Genesis 3:5)

Again Satan is telling the truth. But now he is perverting the character of God in Eve’s eyes when he says, “For God doth know…” He is making it sound as if God has lied to her and God is holding back from her in order to hinder her progression. I think of how Anakin Skywalker felt toward Obi-Wan in Star Wars when he doubted his master, believing that Obi-Wan was jealous and holding him back. Likewise, Satan used the “dark side” to manipulate Eve into distrusting her Master.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat.” (Moses 4:12, Genesis 3:6)

Eve was attracted to beneficial traits of the tree. She saw it was good, it was pleasant, and it would make her wise. She was drawn to the good side of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She was drawn to what she perceived to be right. However, what she perceived, and what you and I may perceive to be right may not actually be right according to God’s perspective.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

Mainstream Christians are not drawn to the blatantly evil and vile of the world. They aren’t attracted to hard drugs, satanic concerts, or murder. Satan does not need to appear to you as a demonic being possessing magical powers in order to convince you to follow him. He is not so blatantly obvious. Don’t think because you are a good, church going Christian, you are oblivious to his tactics. He uses deception to seduce even the elect. (Mark13:22)

“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” (Moses 4:4)

When you are deceived, you think you are doing the right thing, when in reality you are doing exactly contrary to God’s will. What you may think is good may very well be evil. What you may think may be offensive to God may be of very little importance to Him, while some of the things you may think have a little or no significance may be considered heresy in heaven. Do not use your measuring stick of righteousness to judge what is good or what is evil. Do not hearken to the precepts of men when determining what is good. Instead seek to obtain for yourself and hearken to the voice of Lord and His word.
The devil would have us believe and perceive reality in shades of grey - that there is no absolute good or evil. This is false. The world we live in is completely black and white, light and dark, good and evil. There is no in between. Satan desires to blind you. Christ desires to give you sight. Although you may currently be ignorant, the battle between the forces of good and evil are all around us. I will leave this post with this warning given by Moroni and pray that the Holy Ghost may breathe life into the scriptures and give you sight to it’s true message as you ponder them:

“For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also. For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness. For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such. Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.
Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged. Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.
(Moroni 7:5–19)

June 4th 2016

Evil: add the letter "D" and you get DEVIL 
Good: remove the letter "O" and you get GOD
Put the letter "D" and "O" together and you get the word DO.
To DO is to exercise our agency or will. To DO entails actions. What we DO in this life is our decision. What we DO is really the only thing we actually have complete control over. It is the only thing that is solely ours to give. It is our choice to whom we surrender our DOing, or will, to. 
What will you DO, and to whom will you DO it for?
The DEVIL, or GOD?

The Irony of Pride

April 28th 2016

There are many things in this world that blind us, or keep us from seeing truth, such as unbelief, false traditions, iniquity, addictions. However, the most ironic one of them all is pride. Pride truly blinds, and it can blind the best of us. When we hear the word “pride” we think of boasting and cockiness, wearing nice clothes and driving expensive cars while looking down upon the poor. As bad as that behavior is, that is not pride in itself. That behavior is a result of, or the fruit of, pride. When we hear the word “humility” often we relate that to timid and shy behavior and people who think less of themselves. This, however, is not humility.

Pride and humility are polar opposites of each other.
Pride is comparing yourself to other people and constantly seeing yourself in their eyes while possessing the inability to see your own standing before God. Humility is comparing yourself to God’s word. Its seeing yourself, and accepting who you are, in God’s eyes, and therefore possessing the capability to accept direction from Him.

“Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths! Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide” (Helaman 12:5–6)

The proud easily forget who they really are because they are slow to remember their God. Because they are blinded by their own self perceive greatness, they are unable to see their own weaknesses and therefore are unable to allow Christ to guide them.

“Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.” (3 Nephi 6:13)

Humble followers of Christ are penitent before God. They have no hypocrisy or deception when approaching Christ. They are contrite, with full purpose of heart and real intent to repent of their sins. (2nd Nephi 31:13) They are penitent because they know and accept their standing before God for what it really is, and seek to better that relationship with their Savior.
Living in poverty or denying yourself a prosperous life does not make you humble. Having a sad countenance and crying, “Wo is me!” while whipping yourself on the back and appearing to your peers as if God is cleansing you through your trials and sacrifices does not make you a humble follower of His son. (Mathew 6:16-18) It makes you just a prideful as the rich man because you seek for the admiration (or pity) of men. Just because you claim to have ended up with the short end of the stick in life does not make you exempt from pride. You are still choosing to be a player in the game of envy and comparison.

“Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty. Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.” (Alma 32:15–16)

Blessed are they who will accept who they are in God’s eyes, and therefore accept direction and commandments from Him, WITHOUT having to be compelled through tribulations.
Trials are not a requirement for humility; however, they are a blessing because they do humble us:

“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.” (Ether 12:27)

The Spirit of truth is of God, Christ is the Spirit of truth, (D&C93:26) and truth is knowledge of thing as they are, as they were, and as they are to come. (D&C93:24) In other words, truth is to know things as they really are, and since Christ is the Spirit of truth, to see yourself in God’s eyes is to see yourself as you really are. Because of pride, which is to compare yourself to other men as oppose to comparing yourself to God, it is very easy for us to be blinded to our own iniquity.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5)

Pride is so ironic because it turns the best of us into complete hypocrites without us even being aware. We become as the Pharisees and Scribes who, because of the pride of their own self-righteousness, condemned the Savior of the world to the hang on a cross. It causes us to pay such close attention to everyone else while being completely blind to our fallacies and condition before God. We accuse others for the exact things we ourselves are guilty of, but fail to even see it within ourselves. Be very cautious upon how you judge others, because with that same judgement you will also be judged. (Moroni 7:18) Because your words will justify you, or condemn you. (Mathew12:36-37) So do not allow pride to blind you from your own condition and turn you into a hypocrite.

To be humble is to accept light and truth from God. In order for that to be possible, we must be willing to accept correction. We must be willing to put aside our preconceived notions and expectations when receiving further light and knowledge from heaven, because often that revelation will contradict our current ignorant understanding. Pride is unwillingness to accept God’s direction.
In the Old Testament book of 2nd Kings, chapter 5, verses 1-14 ,we read of a general named Naaman who desired to be healed of his leprosy. Because of prior beliefs, he had an expectation that if he went to the prophet Elisha, Elisha would come out, lay hands upon him, call upon the name of the Lord, and heal his leprosy right then and there. (5:11) However his expectations were dashed, and he was angry, when he was told by Elisha’s messenger to go wash seven times in a dirty river in order to be healed. (5:10-12) It was not until he humbled himself, or in other words accepted God’s direction to wash in the river, that he was finally healed. (5:13-14)
Pride makes us angry to things that do not jive with our current understanding. It creates cognitive dissonance and gives us negative emotions upon hearing a truth that we do not comprehend. Offense is taken when no offense was ever given. Pride causes us to be puffed up in our own understanding (2nd Nephi 9:28-29, 28:18), which then causes us to persecute those who do not believe according to our own understanding. (Alma 4:8) To be humble includes a willingness to be wrong, and therefore a capability to accept counsel and direction from God.

Little children are humble because they do not compare themselves to others. They don’t fear looking dumb for appearing naïve because they know they don’t know anything, and therefore they pester their parents with the why’s and how’s of life. They don’t have any prior expectations or preconceived notions to hinder them from receiving direction. They are inquisitive and anxiously desire knowledge about the world around them.
We arrogant adults don’t like to appear unknowledgeable in front of our peers. What we don’t know scares us. Appearing inadequate, or unsuccessful, to others is embarrassing so we put on this fake act for the world around us. As opposed to seeing ourselves as little children see themselves, for who we really are, we choose instead to remain in prideful ignorance, cowering in our little bubble of comforting lies. We MUST willingly humble ourselves before God and become as a little children, or we are damned to remain in an ever continuing cycle of pride.

“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” (3 Nephi 11:37–38)

Inviteth All

April 17th 2016

Often we get set into this mindset that in order for us to have communications with God we need to be these idealistic, devote, church-going saints. We develop this misconception that God will only speak to those who are perceived as “righteous authority”. We inherit this unbelief that God will not speak to us as much as He speaks to “leaders” of church organizations because of sins, mistakes, weaknesses, disabilities, lack of church membership status, and social rank. We bar ourselves from entering into God’s rest when we compare ourselves to man’s measuring stick and not Christ’s standard. However, God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34) What Christ requires is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. (3rd Nephi 9:19-20) He will talk to anyone.

In the book of John chapter 4 we read that on the way to Galilee while passing by Samaria Jesus approached a woman at a well. The disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat, so Jesus and the woman were alone. (John 4:7-8) Jesus and the woman began to have a conversation. (John 4:9) It was a big cultural “no-no” for a woman to talk to a man alone like this during this time in Jewish culture. Christ went against tradition by doing this, and the woman was willing to engage Jesus in conversation. This shows she is not your typical goody-good church-going girl. This woman was also a Samaritan. Samaritans were regarded by the Jews as being dirty and impure. Samaritans were to Jews what “half bloods” and “muggles” are to the Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter, yet Christ still took time to speak with her. Later in the conversation the dialog goes as follows:

“Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”
(John 4:16–18)

Not only is this woman a “filthy” Samaritan, this woman has previously been with 5 different men, and the man she is currently with is out of wedlock. In this cultural setting this woman would be branded as a dirty slut and be ranked among the lowest of the lows in society, yet Christ is still conversing with her. He loves her and is teaching her! He sees her for who she truly is! Despite her lack of apparent measurable righteous, this woman is seeking and waiting for the Messias, Jesus Christ.

“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.”
(John 4:25–26)

The Lord also spoke to Cain after Cain slew his brother Abel. (Moses 5:33-35) If God will talk to a whore, or a murder, what makes you believe He won’t talk to you?

Christ didn’t come for the self-righteous who would reject Him through their own pride, false traditions, and vain religion. ( Luke 18:10-14 ALMA 31:12-29) Christ came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician but they that are sick. ( Moroni 8:8, Luke 5:31-32) Jesus Christ came for those who would humbly accept Him. (ALMA 32:1-20)
God is no respecter of persons, therefore He invites ALL to come unto Him.

“He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.”
(2 Nephi 26:24–28)

Whoever you are, whatever you have done, whatever your circumstance may be in life, whatever your family situation may be; Christ invites you to come unto Him! You can have that relationship with our Savior. He forbids no one! If a man tells you that you cannot come unto Christ, that you cannot have a relationship with Jesus, that the Lord won't speak to you, that man is a false teacher and has not a relationship with the Lord himself. (JST Luke 11:52)

“For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; 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”
(2 Nephi 26:33)

Don't Let Sin Keep You From Love

April 6th 2016

Often when we sin, transgress, or make mistakes we consider ourselves unworthy and undeserving of God’s love. We consider ourselves unworthy and undeserving of anyone’s love. We become unwilling to receive love and therefore unable to love others. Due to shame and guilt, we seek to run away and hide ourselves from God, and we come not unto Christ. (Mormon 9: 3-5) This is not Christ’s will for you. Christ wants you to be close to Him, and to talk with Him, despite your offences. It is Satan’s will that you be as far away from Jesus as possible. That is why the evil spirit teaches you not to pray, or in other words not to have communications with God. (2nd Nephi 32:8) Jesus however wants us to have open communications with Him therefore He commands us to pray always. (2nd Nephi 32:9) He wants you to be close to Him. He wants us to be comfortable in His presence and not be fearful. Just as Jesus commanded Luke to fear not when Luke recognized his sinful state before the Lord, (Luke 5:8-10) the Lord commands us to fear not. God doesn’t want us to be hung up over past transgressions; therefore, Christ is quick to forgive sin and He will remember it no more. (Jeremiah 31:34) He would rather prefer it if you don’t remember your sins. He knows you and will call you by name. (JSH 1:17) He stands at the door waiting for you to let Him in. (Revelations 3:20) This is His character because He wants so desperately for us to know Him and receive His love, but it is us who does not allow that relationship to be established. We should not let our past mistakes hinder us from receiving love. We should not allow our sins to keep us from loving others.

Religion vs Relationship

March 27th 2016

About 2000 years ago, Christ the Son of God condescended to this world, dwelt among men, took upon Himself the sins and pains of mankind, was crucified and died on the cross, and was resurrected on the third day. Why did God do all this? Was it to establish “Christianity”, a new religious institutional system which man must follow in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven? God’s “religion”, although presented differently according to the conditions of the children of men, (D&C46:15) has always been same since the days of Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to Christ, and to our present day. That religion, the purpose of this life or the plan of salvation, is to come to know the Father in heaven the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent. (John 17:3) The purpose of this life is for you to come to know God personally for yourself.

So the purpose of Christ coming to Earth 2000 years ago was not to establish a new “religion”, but to establish a relationship with YOU. He fulfilled the law of Moses, which points to just that - entering into His presence. (Alma 25:15) Without Christ, man could not come to know God. Christ is the mediator between us and the Father (John 14:6). The main purpose of the atonement is not just limited to us being justified and receiving forgiveness. IT is SO much more than that! The purpose of the atonement is to make us AT-ONE with Deity. Just as the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and Christ in the Father, and the Father in Christ, and the Father and Jesus are one (3rd Nephi 11:27). Likewise, we become one with the Father, and Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, through the at-one-ment. In the great Intercessory prayer given by Christ just before suffering for our sins He shows us the purpose of the atonement in the garden of Gethsemane as He petitioned the Father on our behalf, as recorded in John 17:19-23.

“And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
(John 17:19–23)

Often times we forget the whole purpose of Christ’s sacrifice. We get so caught up in our outward religious practices that we neglect our relationship with the Savior. Often times through our organized, correlated religion, we become as the Pharisees and Scribes, so heavily devoted to our practices, daily and weekly routines, traditions, rules, policies, checklists of ordinances, and loyalty to our church organization and its authorities that we become blinded by looking beyond the mark of our salvation (Jacob 4:14). We cannot even recognize the Son of God when He is right in front of us. Just as the Pharisees and Scribes did, you, too, can live your whole life devout to a religion or church, and never come to know God. IF by your religion you have not established an actual relationship with your Savior Jesus Christ, becoming of one heart and one mind with God, the religion you are practicing is in vain. The traditions you abide in are nothing but dead works.

”Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, Ye never knew me: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
(JST Matthew 7:21–23)

Did we not serve proselyting missions? Did we not magnify our church callings? Did we not give a tenth of all we have in tithes and attended our church meetings? Did we not get baptized at the age of eight into the church and were we not married in the temple? Did we not follow all our traditions as given to us through our church? All these wonderful works are pointless if we have not developed a relationship with the Lord, personally, with Him ourselves. It is the Father’s will that we receive Christ and have a relationship with Him. It is the will of the Father that we receive the testimony of Jesus Christ for ourselves. (JST John 6:44) It is NOT the will of the Father for you to simply stay in the boat, go to church every Sunday and temple once a month, pay your tithes, obey your leaders, and repeat that pattern till you die. Abiding in Christ is so much more fulfilling and desirable than abiding in ignorant traditions. So live the “pure religion” of God by coming unto Christ.

Now I am not saying that religious ordinances are not necessary to obtain a relationship with God. However, consider the following statement by Joseph Smith… 

“You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half--that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” (TPJS pg 314)

You can be baptized into a church, but if you haven’t come unto Christ with a broken heart and contrite spirit and been baptized by Him with fire and with the Holy Ghost…if you have not established that intimate connection with God, is the baptism even worth anything?

I am full of gratitude that Jesus Christ, the God of the universe, with His countless worlds, would condescend to this pathetic and wicked world we live in to suffer the pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind for us. (Alma 7:11-12) I am full of awe and amazement that God would have the patience, compassion, and charity to have a relationship with a weak and lowly sinner like myself. The power of the atonement of Jesus Christ is a real thing. It is the only thing that can truly change our hearts, sanctify our souls, and make us perfect. The awesome thing is, is it is available to ALL who will believe! It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, ANYONE can have a relationship with Jesus. He invites all. (2nd Nephi 26:23) He wants you to be close, to be one, with Him.

If you find yourself stuck and trapped in your mundane religious traditions seeking for a relationship with God by relying on a church or someone else, you are not going to find it. You are not going find what you are looking for in a man, or an organization, or in anything of this world. You will only be able to find what you so desperately yearn for through Jesus Christ. No one else can give that to you but our Savior Himself. We must live a pure religion by coming unto Christ.

Dirty Carpet

March 3rd 2016

I am very grateful for light, because light allows me to see. It gives clarity to my perception of the world around me. Because of light I can comprehend what really is. The greater the light, the greater my comprehension of what it is I am looking at. Since I began working at my job at the rehab and nursing facility I have walked up and down the same halls thousands of times, never questioning the quality of lighting. However, the other day the maintenance team replaced all the old lightbulbs on my hallway and the lobby with brighter higher-powered light bulbs. So instead of the light fixtures emitting a boring, dull, yellowish glow, the hall is flooded with a bright, exhilarating, white radiance. Now when I compare my hall with the other halls in the facility there is a much lighter, energetic, and happy atmosphere because of the greater lighting. The beauty of the interior, the paintings on the wall, the furniture, the wood floor, and décor was enhanced because of the lights. Lighting changes everything. I feel so much more energetic and positive at work, and my residents do to! I never want to return to the lesser light.
Then I looked beneath me at the carpeted floor of the lobby and something caught my attention which I never noticed before. The dark brown carpeted floor was filthy, it’s surface polluted everywhere by slightly darker stains. Why have I never noticed the dirty floor before? I pointed it out to my fellow staff and they were equally surprised by the filth! Why have they too never noticed it? It was because it was not an obvious thing to see until the floor was put under a greater light, revealing its filth- revealing the truth.

“..truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24–25)

Truth is to know things as they really are, were, and are to come. Truth is what it is. It doesn’t need to be pretty, it can be ugly. It doesn’t need your opinion, justification, ideas, or interpretations to exist. Truth is independent in itself and cannot be created, destroyed, or altered. (D&C 93:29-30) No matter what you do you cannot change the truth. The only thing you can do is to either embrace it, or hide from it.
Light enables us to behold the truth and to see it for what it really is. When there is an absence of light in our life we become blind. That is why we need Jesus who is the light of the word (Alma 38:9, Ether 4:12) to give us sight so that we can behold the truth. He gives His light to all those who love Him and obey His commandments.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:28)

We need light in order to see truth. This is why the Glory of God is intelligence, or in other words LIGHT and TRUTH (D&C 93:36)

The Holy Ghost testifies of truth. ALL things, whether or not it is pleasant, can be revealed unto us by it’s power. (Moroni 10:4-5) Many Mormons and Christians believe that the Holy Ghost communicates to us through emotional feelings and that if something doesn’t give us a happy positive feeling inside we can consider that thing false. This precept is false doctrine! The Holy Ghost does not communicate to us through emotions, WE have emotional reactions to the truth that the Holy Ghost bears witness of. The Holy Ghost, and our emotional response to it bearing record of the truth, are two separate things.
Here are some examples of different reactions to the same truth: 

-A teenage girl and a rattlesnake hunter are out in the desert on a hike. Another hiker coming down the path tells them that there is a rattlesnake up ahead. The reactions between the girl and the hunter to hearing the truth of the upcoming snake will be completely different. Whether or not the reaction is a positive one, it does not change the fact there is a rattlesnake up ahead.
-Nephi’s reaction to truth compared to Laman and Lemuel’s reaction throughout the book of 1st and 2nd Nephi.
-Alma’s reaction to the truth proclaimed by Abinidi compared to the reaction of King Noah and his priest in Mosiah chapters 11-17.
-Alma the younger’s initial reaction to the truth of coming into the presence of God in Alma 36:13-17 in comparison to his later reaction in verse 22.

Often times the truth will conflict our traditional beliefs and can cause us to have negative feelings which can cause us to harden our hearts to not believe it, but that does not make it less true.
Here are some example of the truth not giving people “warm fuzzies”:

-“And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord said unto him: Look upon the ball, and behold the things which are written. And it came to pass that when my father beheld the things which were written upon the ball, he did fear and tremble exceedingly”
(1 Nephi 16:26–27)

-After God shows Moses many marvelous things Moses feeling insignificant states that man is nothing. (Moses 1:10)
-Jonah’s reaction to God’s command to go preach unto Nineveh. (Jonah 1)
-The Pharisees’ reaction when Jesus rebuked their religion.
-The reaction of every wicked group of people God sent messengers to preach repentance unto.

Our reaction to truth and the word of God is completely up to us! If hearing or reading truth gives you an “icky” feeling that doesn’t mean that is the Holy Ghost telling you it isn’t true, that just means you don’t like it. That is your personal reaction to the Holy Ghost speaking to you. You shouldn’t seek to hide from the truth or harden your heart to it just because you don’t like it. Doing so will lead you to destruction:

“And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.” (Alma 12:10–11)

Revelation is informational, not emotional. Joseph Smith taught “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.,) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pg 151) He also stated, “The first comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence.” (TPJS pg 149) The Holy Ghost relays information to us, that is why it can be referred to as the “record of heaven” (Moses 6:61) Emotions do not store information, they store feelings. Words store information. That is why revelation is composed of words which the spirit speaks to us through it’s voice. A voice we are supposed to listen to, not feel.

“..he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be..”
(Jacob 4:13)
“Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:66)
“Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God..” (Moroni 8:8)

Emotional reactions do not have the power to edify, enlighten, and expound the mind. Only the truth, which is informative and can only be comprehended by pure intelligence, can enlighten, edify, and expound the mind.

“And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:46)

God is rational and is completely logical. It is us humans who do not have the light to see things as they really are who are the irrational and illogical ones. Because God is good He is willing to condescend to our level of intelligence to reason with us and teach us in our own language according to our own understanding. (D&C50:11-12, 2nd Nephi 31:3) Jesus will fill us with light and truth. Light, which is the power of the Holy Ghost which enables us to see and comprehend things as they really are, and truth, because God is a God of truth.

“The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:26)

Jesus is the truth. So to embrace truth is to also embrace Jesus. To ignore truth is to also ignore Jesus. You can’t have faith unto life and salvation if you choose to forsake the truth. Because when you ignore truth, no matter what your belief or opinion may be, there will be a matter of doubt and uncertainty in your mind; and where doubt and uncertainty are, faith cannot be. For doubt and faith do not exists in the same person at the same time. Because when you have doubt you cannot have unshaken confidence; and when you do not have unshaken confidence, faith is weak; and when faith is weak you will not be able to contend against all the oppositions, tribulations, and afflictions which you will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and you will grow weary in your minds, and the adversary will have power over you and destroy you. (refer to Lectures of Faith 6:12)
This is why light and truth forsake the evil one! (D&C 93:37) All truth is faith promoting, because the truth, no matter how ugly some of it may be, allows us to have unshakable confidence in God and in reality. The Holy Ghost will reveal the truth of ALL things unto you, even if that truth will make you, your ancestors, or your church organization look bad. There is nothing God won’t reveal unto us if we come unto Him with a broken heart and diligently seek and ask. Truth is liberating. This is why it is the truth that will make you free (John 8:32)

So when Christ gives you greater light and you look down and noticed the filth of the dirty carpet beneath your feet what will you do? Will you dim the lights or turn a blind eye to the mess? Will you choose to harden your hearts and cower behind your ignorance because the truth is not pretty? Or will you rise up, take initiative, and do something about the filth? Will you have the courage to boldly step into the light and face the truth for what it is?