Thursday, August 31, 2017

To Grow in Light and Truth

In the pre-mortal life Jesus grew in light and truth faster than any of the rest of us because he was more obedient. 
 (The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callistar pg.61.)

Isn't that remarkable?  

Doesn't that make so much sense?  And it follows that, if we want to become like Him, we will do what He did.

We become more obedient.

I am not talking about the kind of strict and rigid obedience practiced by the Pharisees and scribes of Christ's time.  Strict obedience to their cultural customs and harsh judgement of others who didn't keep their same code of moral conduct did not help them recognize the Savior in their time and likewise, will not lead us to Christ in ours.

I am talking about the kind of obedience Christ practiced.  

Obedience to promptings.  To personal revelation. 
Obedience to the will of the Father.

And how did He know the will of the Father?  
He spent time alone, seeking, fasting, asking.
He took time as often as he could to commune with Father, to listen to the Spirit.  The Father's voice was familiar because the Son spent time listening.  He knew who He was obeying.  

Obedience is said to be the first law of Heaven.   Why?

God the Father is obedient to the laws that govern the universe- like Justice and Mercy.  He is obedient not because He is compelled to be but because He chooses to be.  He, with infinite power, majesty and glory, chooses to obey.

If we hope to become our true selves, and reach our potential as children of God, we must learn to obey too.  Not because we are compelled to obey, but because we choose obedience.

I believe that we are given many opportunities each day to obey.  The Light of Christ, or the Holy Ghost, whispers suggestions to our minds and our hearts.  If we act on these promptings, which lead us to light and truth,
we receive more of them.

Isn't that remarkable?

It is said that the words of Christ will tell us all things what we must do.   

2 Nephi 32: 3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

What are the words of Christ?  Well, we have His words in the scriptures.  We also have His words whispered in our ears each day by the Light of Christ and by His holy angels.

Read that verse again.

2 Nephi 32: 3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

Angels speak the words of Christ.  And the words of Christ will tell us all things what we should do.  Wherefore, let us feast upon the words of Christ!

Isn't this awesome?

Heavenly Father is not leaving us high and dry, alone and stranded. He's giving us guidance and assistance all the time.  If we learn to listen to the Light of Christ and to obey,
He will lead us along.

Let's spend time seeking, fasting, asking.  
Let's take time, as often as we can, to commune with the Father, to listen to the Spirit, so that our Father's voice is familiar.  So that we know who we are obeying.  

By obedience we can grow in light and truth, like the Savior did.

Further Reading:  
Remember this awesome talk by Pres. Uchtdorf in April 2016?  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Visualization: Find Healing through Jesus Christ, the Master Healer: Seeking the Face of the Lord

This is a deeply personal subject.  What I am about to describe is sacred and holy to me. It is one of my great joys in life to walk people through this experience.  If I could, I'd have all of you come over, sit on my couch and close your eyes.  But since the world is large and my living room is small, and the Savior offers healing to one and all, I am offering this visualization to you today, here.   I absolutely would not share this online, except that I feel led to.  So I pray that this will be found by those who need it and will respect it.

First, offer up a prayer.  Ask to be forgiven of all that is keeping you from Heavenly Father's presence.  Ask that all darkness be removed from you, from your family, and from your home and property.
You might feel to ask if angels can come and minister to you.  Plead that your heart and mind will be open to promptings from the Holy Ghost so that you can be led to do Father's will.

Then, sit in a comfortable position.  Close your eyes.  Picture yourself walking in a beautiful place. Don't worry if you can't see anything. Pay attention to your feelings.

Notice the Savior in this beautiful place.  You see Him and long to hug Him but look down and notice that you can not.  Your arms are full of burdens, burdens that are weighing you down and holding you back.  You start to hand Him your burdens, one by one.  Each burden, sadness, anger, fear, any emotion or heavy trial you've been called to experience, disappears as you hand it over to the Lord.  You feel lighter and lighter as you hand Him these burdens.  His smile grows brighter and brighter as you offer up your hardships and make use of His infinite atonement to become cleansed from sin and supported in trial.
Now you can feel free to hug Him.  Your arms are free.  Your heart is light.  Express all the joy and praise you feel expanding in your soul.  Share the gratitude and love you feel for your Savior.  Ask Him for any blessing you need.
Hand Him your heart and ask Him to heal it.  And He will.
Sing praises to His name if you feel to.  Bow at His feet.  Offer up your heart and your spirit to Him.  He heals joyfully and wholy, restoring you.  Ask Him to fill you with light and charity that never faileth.  Ask Him to bless any family members that come to mind.
Before you leave, pause to savor the precious love He has for you and you have for Him.  Know that He is with you always, in your heart, and is waiting for you to come unto Him over and over.

Come Unto Him.
Over and over.

As you repent, as you call upon the Savior, your burdens will be lifted or you will be strengthened to bear them cheerfully.  Your relationship with the Savior will grow and increase and you will find strength to be the Disciple of Christ He needs you to be and to become the person you were born to become.
I love you.
He loves you.

Further Reading:

This post, How I Learned to Visualize Giving My Burdens to The Lord gives some background on where this idea came from.

Scripture References:

Ether 12:19 19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Acts 2: 25-28 
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
(The bold emphasis is mine.)

Three Voices

In your head, at any given time,
are 3 voices.

The first one is your own.

This one wonders, questions, deliberates.
          "Should I do this, then?"
"I wonder if this will be better than that?"
                    "Maybe I'll go.  But maybe it's better if I stay..."

The second voice is the Light of Christ, or your conscience.

This voice points to Christ and leads you to do good.  
It is positive and direct. It will lead you to salvation, even by small and simple things.
 (Like putting away laundry, if that will lead to your salvation.)
It's a quiet voice mostly, preferring to say one thing, one time and then to wait.
                            "Go apologize."
      "Read your Scriptures."
                     "Pick up your socks."
            "Call him. Now."

The third voice is reactive.  It never leads to do good.  It often follows up the suggestions of good with a barrage of negative ideas or excuses.  
It can't stop with just one objection-this can be a key in identifying it. This voice is from the adversary.  

"I should read my scriptures.  But I'm too tired.  I can't find them. And I don't get anything out of them when I'm tired.  And I have to get up early tomorrow."

(Did you catch that?  This devious voice attempts to sound so reasonable, even responsible.... "I really ought to go to bed early!" Ha! Like this voice really cares about your well-being.)

More examples: 
*"I love church.  I'm almost ready, but I'm going to be late because my white shirt is dirty and my kids are fighting and they fought so much last week I didn't get anything out of it.  I bet lots of people were distracted by my kids and would appreciate it if we didn't come. I wonder if I should go this week? I wonder if I have it in me to do this today?"

*"I see that girl all alone.  I'd like to be friends with her.  I wonder if she needs a friend.  I doubt I'd have anything to say and would sound stupid trying to make conversation. Remember that one time I tried to talk to a lady I didn't know and it was all kinds of awkward?  I don't think I want to do that again. Plus, this conversation with my friends is so compelling."

Can you see all three voices?  The prompting from the Light of Christ to do good?  The questions and wondering from yourself?  The adversary with the barrage of reasons shutting you down? 

It's pretty apparent what's happening when they are all spelled out on a page...but it's trickier to identify when you are experiencing them as thoughts that move faster than lightening.  

Learning to identify the 3 voices is the KEY!!!

Once you know what the 3 voices are, you can figure out which one to listen to.  You will be able to follow the Light of Christ more and more often!

The Light of Christ will lead us to do good, to become better, and ultimately will lead us home, to that God who gave us life and offers us exaltation, if we choose to follow Him.  

These words are mine 
but this concept was taken from the book:

"Following the Light of Christ
into His Presence"
By John Pontius

             I recommend it highly.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Choose Joy!!

"Therefore with Joy shall ye draw
 Water out of the wells of Salvation!"

How Joyful we are going to feel while drawing Living Water out of the Wells of Salvation!  Right?  It's going to feel so exquisite to drink up the Living Water and never thirst again. I can hardly wait.

But.... while reading this verse, I had a jolt of insight that caused me to see it in a completely different light.  

What if joy is more than a feeling?  What if joy is also a tool?  

What if JOY is THE Tool we will use to draw up Salvation?  
Can you imagine JOY as the bucket?  

We tug on the rope of Obedience, 
drawing the bucket of JOY 
that draws up the Living Water 
from the wells labeled "SALVATION".

That is a reason to choose joy! 
Like Lehi says:  Man is that he might have JOY!  2 Ne 2:25

Choose JOY! 

Just a thought:)
What do you think of this?  What are your thoughts on Joy?

Further Thoughts To Consider:
1 Ne 13:37 And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.

2 Ne 9:1818 But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Swim Suits, Bodies and Pre-Earth Life

This summer I took my 6 year old daughter shopping 
for a New Swim Suit.

(We've been very blessed with hand-me-downs for her so she's never gone swim suit shopping before.)

She found 3 suits that caught her eye and we took them into a fitting room.  
She was so excited to be shopping!  She was so excited to be in her first fitting room EVER!  Everything was so fun for her.

She tried on the first swimming suit, 
looked in the mirror, gasped and said, 
"I look amazing!!"

Since that day she wants to go swimming all the time.  
Because she looks amazing!  Because she feels amazing!

I love the joy she feels in having a body.  Aren't bodies amazing? What a marvelous gift from God.

In the dressing room when she gasped in delight at her swimming suit, my heart captured that moment and longed for her to always feel that same joy in, and complete acceptance for, her body.

Statistically, it's not gonna last.
Around 8-10 years of age most girls start feeling unsatisfied with their bodies and say things like, "I'm fat" or "I'm going on a diet."
8 years old.  Second grade.  

I've always thought this was a sad commentary on our society and that it's an attitude picked up by absorbing the body-obsessed culture around us.

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend about this topic and my eyes were opened to a new way of seeing this... 
are you ready?
During the conversation I was reminded of an experience a different friend shared with me months ago.  Her daughter came to her in tears -so sad- and almost ashamed to admit what was troubling her.  When she finally felt ready to confide in her mom she said,
"I'm sad because I don't feel beautiful.  I don't think I'm pretty."

This daughter is 8 years old.

And here's some background on this girl.  She is home-schooled, meaning she isn't picking up this social concept on the playground at recess.  She isn't being bullied or teased. 
 She watches very little TV.
In short, she is somewhat protected from the prevailing attitudes about bodies in our society and culture.

The interesting thing to me is her age.
She is 8.

In our LDS culture, 8 is a pretty big deal.  At 8 she is accountable, of age to make commitments to the Lord, old enough to understand, to choose and to take responsibility for her choices.

At 8 she can be baptized.
And at 8 she is feeling shame about her body.
That she is not enough.

Who do we know that does not have a body? 
And will never get a body?
And is desperately working to get us to disregard our bodies as miraculous gifts AND necessary AND crucial to our progression?

AND is working to shut women down and stop us from doing good and becoming who we came here to become? 

Yep.  That guy.

I've learned to look at what the adversary focuses his attacks on most heavily and study it to learn why it is worthy of such attention.

And bodies are definitely under attack.  
The diet industry is huge!  Fat-shaming yourself or others is rampant.  We see people on both sides of the spectrum.  Some obsessively working out and dieting so that their bodies become an object of worship for themselves and others.  Others abusing their bodies or disregarding their bodies and letting them become out of shape and overweight.  ( I'm not judging here!  I'm in a body too!)

I have felt to repent for fighting against my body.  For not caring for this remarkable gift Heavenly Father gave me. For saying and thinking mean, hateful things about my body.

Poor body!
It's doing a great job- breathing, moving, keeping up with all my impulsive schemes, providing hands to serve and arms to hug- and it has not gotten a lot of thanks for all of this service.

The news that we were going to receive bodies caused us to shout for joy! We were willing to face hardship and risks all for the sake of obtaining a body and progressing to become more like Heavenly Father.

So here's my challenge to you today.

Make peace with your body.
Take care of it.
Forgive it for not being perfect!
(None of us are in this fallen world: 
none of our bodies, none of our spirits.)

Ask it to forgive you.
(I'm serious here!)
And then commit to working together.  You are on the same team.

Be grateful for your body.
Pause and think of all the things you are grateful for- 
all the things you experience because of your body.

Walks in nature

Then, ask Heavenly Father how you can care for your body.  
He knows.  
He created it. 
Ask if there is something your body needs, 
something you can do to nurture your body.
Taking care of your body is the best way to show your gratitude for this marvelous gift, 
this gift that makes you stronger than the adversary.

And when you feel inclined to disregard your body,
stop and remember where that feeling comes from,
and shut it down.

More Reading:
 * James E. Faust's The Great Imitator conference talk. 

"The power to resist Satan may be stronger than we realize. 
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 181)."

* The topical guide: Body, Sanctity of
(Here's a few of my favorites! There's lots though- check it out.) 
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

 1 Cor 3: 16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

3 Ne 28:39 Now this change was not equal to that which shall take place at the last day; but there was a change wrought upon them, insomuch that Satan could have no power over them, that he could not tempt them; and they were sanctified in the flesh, that they were holy, and that the powers of the earth could not hold them.