I haven’t written in a while, I’m not going to give some kind of recap of life or excuse. Let’s just continue on… 🙂
As I sat in church today, I kept thinking about the covenant we make each week in sacrament meeting: to always remember Him.
And I wondered why, why is it so important to always Remember the Savior?
Now, this line of questioning is not out of doubt or disbelief. It is a way to seek more knowledge and understanding in my life. Why do we always remember Him?
We must always remember Christ because we have been commanded to.
I happen to believe that God is not arbitrary and that each commandment serves some kind of real function.
As I pondered this thought – remember the Savior, I realized that we are commanded to always remember Him because it is the way. It is the secret to our success.
In 2 Nephi, we learn:
“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” – 2 Nephi 31:20
After we first covenant with God in the waters of baptism, we aren’t done. We still have a life to live. We still must navigate the test of mortality.
Nephi tells us this. After baptism, all is not done. We must still rely on Christ’s ability to save us.
And we must do a few things: 1) Press forward with a steadfastness of Christ; 2) Have a perfect brightness of hope; 3) Have a love of God and of all men; 4) Press forward; 5) Feast on the words of Christ; 6) Endure to the end.
Then, we will have eternal life.
Now, think back on that promise made each week when partaking of the sacrament – to always remember Him.
In the covenant we make – to always remember God – we are given the help we need in order to do the 6 points needed in order to inherit life. Remembering Christ – ensures our steadfastness in Him; remembering Christ will help us to have a bright hope. Remembering Christ fills our hearts with love for Him and for others. Remembering Christ can help us to have the tenacity we need to push on and press forward in our lives. Remembering Christ will encourage us to feast on His words and stay close to Him. Remembering Christ helps us to endure to the end.
I love the elegance of God’s laws, commandments, and blessings. When we keep our covenants, we are empowered with exactly that which is needed for us to receive the gifts that God wants to give us.
I’v been thinking about families a lot lately. I feel like there are designs seeking to destroy the family. Actually, I know that there are. The adversary wants us miserable and captive. He knows that by attacking the family, all of society can be destroyed.
We can read about the joy in families in the scriptures. One example comes in the book of Mosiah. When King Noah’s people were about to be attacked by the Lamanites, King Noah directs the priests and other men in the land to flee into the wilderness. They do, leaving their women and children behind.
Some of the men don’t realize that King Noah had no intention of fighting the Lamanites, and they worry about their wives and children. They end up mutinying against King Noah, and returning to their families.
“And it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony, that they…
I came across this quote recently, and I couldn’t help but think of Alma…
Before relating this to Alma, I want to just talk about the quote. Plutarch was smart enough to “get stuff.” I mean, a lot of us are that way, right? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read about health and fitness. I logically “get” many of the concepts I’ve read about.
Yet – even though we “get something” and may even have knowledge, without application what do we really know?
Not only was Plutarch smart enough to “get something” from the words he read, he was smart enough to realize that the words and knowledge he gained was through experiences.
As for me – even though I had read a few books on the damage and problems that sugar causes the body, I never really got it until I had experimented for myself and saw how eating a diet without much sugar affected me. I really needed this experience in order to give meaning to the concepts that I had learned.
Alma the younger understood the power of experiential knowledge. In fact, he extended an invitation to the poor Zoramites that he taught:
“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” – Alma 32:27
Alma taught the people the word of God. And he didn’t expect them to believe him just on face value – just because he said to believe. Instead, Alma asked them to experiment on his words. Alma wanted them to try it out for themselves. Alma invited them to have their own experiences so they could gain their own knowledge and faith.
It is interesting to me that we approach nearly every subject this way – except faith. Do we expect to learn a language just by reading about it? No, we go on a foreign exchange program, we take an immersion class, we go to that country, we start studying on a language learning website, we practice saying words in another language.
If we desire to learn Calculus, do we just buy a textbook and peruse it? Probably not. We go through the exercises. We get a calculator, paper, and pencil, and then try to solve the equations.
Yet, for some reason, so many people think that in order to obtain spiritual knowledge, they will sit in church one time and listen to a sermon and get it. Or maybe they think that in order to gain a testimony, they must read through the Bible once without meditating, pondering, and applying the words.
Then, because they haven’t put any thought or effort into their acquisition of spiritual knowledge, they don’t get any spiritual knowledge. Some may even proclaim faith, spirituality, or the scriptures as a fraud because of their own lack of experience.
I haven’t studied Calculus, but I’m not going to claim that Calculus is a farce.
Yes – going to church and studying the scriptures are important parts of obtaining spiritual knowledge, but the crucial key is to experiment and experience the gospel. Then those experiences will give you the knowledge of the word. They will make the scriptures and church even more meaningful.
How have you “experimented” on the word? How have your experiences helped to shape your testimony? If you haven’t experimented on the word of God, what is holding you back?
In case you didn’t see the title of this post, you can read it again right now…Protecting and religious liberty will protect all liberty.
First and foremost, we need to understand what liberty actually is.
Here is a list of the definitions of liberty.
Liberty is more than the “freedom to.” It is also the “freedom from.” This is an important distinction to make.
This is what we usually think of when we think of liberty of freedom. We have the freedom to choose, act, etc. In the gospel, the “freedom to” do something is agency. We are all blessed with agency. God loves and is the great protector of our agency. He doesn’t interfere greatly with our lives, but lets us choose as we will, even if it is something that will not please Him.
I also believe in freedom to choose, speak, think, believe, and exercise faith.
“Freedom to” act is not where freedom and liberty end. It is only the beginning.
As I mentioned earlier, God loves and is the great Protector of our agency. This is why He has given us commandments. Commandments and covenants aren’t arbitrary rules of a power hungry God. Instead, they are the “hacks” that enable us to live lives of liberty.
The commandments will keep us free from addiction, pain, strife, captivity and constraint. When we keep the commandment to forgive others, then our hearts are free from the captivity of anger and revenge. We then are better able to think and act.
In other words, “freedom from” helps to keep us “free to.” We become agents to act rather than be acted upon.
Liberty enables us to act rather than react to circumstances or actions of others. Liberty enables us to live abundant rich lives rather than live lives that may be indulgent but are riddled with addiction.
When we start to understand what liberty is, we naturally want to protect it.
The Constitution Protects Religious Liberty
It seems like people love to say that there is a “separation between church and state” as if religion needs to stay out of the government. The irony is that the first amendment of the constitution was written so that the government would stay out of religion.
These are the first words of the first amendment in the Bill of Rights. Remember that the Constitution wouldn’t have been ratified without the Bill of Rights.
I mean just think about the phrase – Bill of Rights… These are our RIGHTS!
And according to this amendment, the separation of church and state is all about congress and the government staying out of the business of any church.
Congress can neither make a law to establish religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof. Right now, we are being subjected to a potential loss of this right. Religious rights are being jeopardized.
If our government can create laws that will nullify this first amendment, then what will stop our government from stripping away other rights?
Today, I was blessed to hear the words of a living apostle, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He spoke on protecting religious freedom. He gave an example from The Book of Mormon. About 90 years before the birth of Christ, on the American continent, a democratic republic was organized by a dying king. King Mosiah didn’t have anyone to pass the kingdom on to (all of his sons were serving missions and refused). He decided to create a system of judges that would govern the land. These judges would be elected by the people.
Today, Elder Holland and quoted the following scripture:
“Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.” – Mosiah 29:26-27
This is an oft-quoted scripture, and most Mormons are relatively familiar with it. I believe that it’s true, too. There is safety in democratic practices because usually the majority of the people desire that which is right. Even if we don’t all believe in the same God or religion, most of us believe in the sanctity of life. Most of us believe we should be kind. Most of us think that lying and stealing is wrong.
Most of us, even if we go by different names and religions, still want that which is right.
But things change. And King Mosiah warned that when the majority of the people choose iniquity, then they will be visited with the judgments of God.
As I said, many are familiar with this scripture. Elder Holland recognized this fact, and then invited us to read a related, though less familiar scripture.
This scripture happens about 120 years after King Mosiah had created a democratic system. The people are still being governed by judges, but some changes have happened.
“And it came to pass that in this same year, behold, Nephi delivered up the judgment-seat to a man whose name was Cezoram.
For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.” – Helaman 5:1-2
Notice the last phrase in the second verse, “for the laws had become corrupted.”
As I read this and thought about the warning given by King Mosiah, I wondered – what came first? The wicked majority voice or the corruption of laws???
We are at a crossroads now. Activist judges and loud minorities are influencing laws – even laws that will prohibit religious liberty and limit the personal liberties of all who live here. I believe that the majority of people now desire that which is right, but if our laws begin to change, then how will it impact us?
If we elect those who both influence us negatively and limit our liberties, then we may start to see a change. We might witness a majority who choose evil over good.
Again – remember choosing evil over good doesn’t mean everyone is a Christian. It means that we will see more people who choose to cheat others (eg: Wall Street circa 2007???), we will see more people care little about human life and rights (eg: Any war torn country right now!.) When we have a majority that chooses evil over right, we will self destruct. So we must protect our liberties now – our religious liberties, so we can continue to be an innovative, vibrant, and abundant society.
I feel like I need to end this with some kind of advice on how to protect religious liberty. Here are a few ideas. They come from a talk given by the Apostle, Robert D. Hales.
Be informed – Get involved with the community to know what issues could have an impact on religious liberty. I must confess that I haven’t always done this in the past, but I will start now. This is such an obvious place to start.If you are reading this post and thinking that what I’m writing is nonsense, then take a few minutes to inform yourself – find out what is happening in regards to religious liberties. There is no need for anxiety, but becoming educated is crucial for any other kind of action.
In your individual capacity, join with others who share our commitment to religious freedom. – I like this – in your capacity. Today, I’m using my capacity by writing a blog post. You are using your capacity by reading it, and you could even choose to share it. Perhaps your capacity is greater. You could volunteer for a political figure or cause that will support religious freedom. I don’t have that kind of time right now. If you are a mother of young children, your “capacity” might include teaching your children. There is something that each of us can do. Share an article on facebook. Share a quote on Instagram. Donate time or money to a cause that supports religious freedom. Any bit helps. Just do what you can.
Live your life to be a good example of what you believe As Elder Hales said, “How we live our religion is far more important than what we may say about our religion.” Isn’t that the truth?! Becoming informed and getting involved really won’t matter much if you aren’t living right. Does this mean we have to be perfect? No! No one is perfect. But doing our best to live our religion will help to preserve religious liberty because it shows to others precisely why preserving this liberty is so important. We should be the kind of people that others want to live with. 🙂
Thanks for reading this long post. I hope it has been helpful and hopeful to you. I hope that you are inspired to stand fast in the liberties wherewith we have been made free – no matter your religious background. I hope that you will join me in rejoicing in and protecting our precious liberty.
So, I’ve been going back and forth and back and forth, and I finally decided to start a small side-project.
I want to blog about the Book of Mormon daily for a little while. I thought about putting it here on this blog, but I wasn’t sure about it.
Finally, I decided to start a new one. It seems crazy. Maybe it is. I don’t know. I’ll do it for a while and see how I feel. I’ll still post here when I feel like writing something, so this blog isn’t going anywhere.
If you want to check out the Book of Mormon blog, you can here:
Like most of the country, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Orlando today. I don’t understand the senseless violence that persists in this world. I recognize that my lack of understanding of such violence is a great luxury.
I’ve been blessed to live a peaceful life – one where I can pursue the desires of my heart. I don’t have to hunt or beg for food. I’m a woman, and for the most part, I don’t have to worry about social customs that might oppress or hurt me. I don’t have to worry about acid being poured on my face, I’ve been blessed with education. I can go for a walk or run on the street – just for fun. I don’t see armed guards. I don’t worry about war lords.
I live such an amazingly blessed life.
This world is messy and it always has been. I have the luxury of hearing about acts of violence and then scratching my head and wondering, “Why?”
Many of us do.
When things like this happen, we have other aftershocks or other consequential occurrences. People hold vigils. People set aside differences and pray for, serve, and support one another. So many people, when these times of tragedy come up, find ways to bear one another’s burdens. Whether we change our facebook profile to honor that person or group or we donate money, or make a quilt – so many people seem to care.
Another aftershock I’ve also noticed is reckless blame. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t blame the person or people who commit such acts of violence. I’m simply saying we shouldn’t be reckless about it.
Right now, people are blaming all Muslims for this man’s decision. Some people are even blaming all of religion for the ills of the world. This is crazy!
So – a metaphor.
If a wolf, dressed in sheep’s clothing, sneaks into a pasture and starts to kill sheep – how do we react?
Are we confused? Do we start a diatribe against all sheep? Do we say, “Okay! That’s it! Every sheep in every flock everywhere needs to be eliminated because they are violent!” ???
Do we say, “These sheep have been the most dangerous group of animals in the history of the world! Every war, every bad thing, every atrocity – caused by sheep!” ???
Or are we going to be discerning? Are we going to take a look and notice that it was a wolf in sheep’s clothing – then go after the real problem?
Let’s call the evil act done yesterday what it is – evil. Let’s remember that most people – who go to church, who believe, who have faith are good. Let’s not be tricked by the wolf into doing exactly what the wolf is doing. Let’s not destroy one another.
Let’s have wisdom. Let’s love one another. Let’s destroy the thing that is actually destroying us – evil.
In the most recent General Conference, President Monson stated the following:
“May we choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith which will be our most effective defense against the designs of the adversary – a real faith, the kind of faith which will sustain us and will bolster our desire to choose the right. Without such faith, we go nowhere. With it, we can accomplish our goals.”
As you probably know (if you read this blog often), I could write an essay of at least 3,000 words on this subject. But I’m striving for brevity. So, here are a few thoughts on the faith we need to help inform our choices and empower us to accomplish our goals.
In our society, it may be tempting to think of faith as some kind of quaint virtue, or perhaps something even worse.
Faith is the first principle of the gospel. It is a subject we hear about time and time again.
Faith is a virtue, but it isn’t relegated to moral interests. Faith is real power. (By the way, virtue is power – not just something for boring, prudish people! You can read more about virtue here.)
Without faith that a seed will sprout, we won’t keep watering it, fertilizing it, and nourishing it. Therefore, without the vision, or faith, of what a seed will be, though that vision is so different than the seed itself, the seed will never become a plant.
Because faith is a true principle and power, we see can faith at work – not only in a religious sense, but in any case.
Let’s take Steve Jobs, for example. It was often said that he had a “reality distortion field.” The “reality distortion field” or “RDF” is described as follows:
“RDF was said to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. (Reality Distortion Field, Wikipedia)
There is plenty of criticism regarding Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” but the fact also remains: he believed a personal computer could be created. And it was created. He believed that they could figure out a way to put all of your songs in your pocket, and with the iPod, they did.
Later, now that we have been able to enjoy the success of Jobs’ ability to “distort” reality, we celebrate him as a visionary. We say this as if Jobs possessed some kind of magical ability. I don’t think that gives him enough credit. It really isn’t easy to “distort reality.”
I believe that this “reality distortion field” could be renamed to faith. Faith seems to “distort” our present knowledge and lead us to believe that with God, anything is possible.
Of course, faith is not a distortion. Alma teaches,
“And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” – Alma 32:21, emphasis added
Notice the last phrase – which are true. We learn more about truth in Doctrine and Covenants:
Though faith doesn’t often seem to coincide with our current notion of reality, faith is a belief in that which is true – past, present, or future. And the truth is, we don’t know everything right now. There is so much we can’t see, so much we can’t sense. Relying only on what we currently know and experience is an actual and incredibly detrimental distortion of reality. A distortion of true reality – past, present, or future – will result in our impotence.
So, how do we develop the faith that empowers? How do we choose to distort what we think we know now and believe in something that is yet to happen?
We can simply put our faith in God. He is our Father. He knows all. He created all. He does have all of the information. He will enable us to sense and see what we need to know in our lives – even if what He reveals to us isn’t aligned with our current sense of “reality.”
When we exercise our faith, we may be misunderstood. Some may say that our “reality” seems “distorted,” but with faith in God, reality is never distorted. God isn’t bound by time – past, present, or future. He sees and knows all now. Through the Holy Ghost, and according to His will, our Heavenly Father can impart with us the knowledge we must know in order to achieve our goals. In other words, with faith, we can also become “visionaries.”
I don’t know…when I think about faith this way, it just seems so powerful. Why wouldn’t we want to develop it?!?!