Friday, May 27, 2011

"The Sabbath and the Sacrament" -- Elder L. Tom Perry

Perry quotes the words of Paul when he says "Be thou an example of the believers", and a great way to do this is to be a shining example of sabbath day observance.

My mom had to go to work last Sunday for a special training. Her manager apologized greatly and explained to my mom that it could not be moved to another day. My mom was proud of the example she had set and that her co-workers had no doubt as to how she spends her Sundays.

When God created the earth, He "blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." The word sanctify means "to make holy". If you think about the sacrament prayer, the same wording is used, that the bread and the water are blessed and sanctified. We believe that in this action, this ordinary snack is transformed into a substance that has the power to cleanse our sins.

So why do we not feel the same way about Sunday? That because it is blessed and sanctified it is truly a transformed day. We may think it is an ordinary day that has been given an extraordinary purpose, but in fact it is an extraordinary day with an extraordinary purpose.

He mentions the scripture Doctrine and Covenants 59: 9-10, 13:

"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up they sacraments upon my holy day;

"For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay they devotions unto the Most High....

"And on this day thou shalt do none other thing."

Wow, these verses are very specific and clear. You go to church, you rest, and praise God -- that's it. Now does that mean we should sit around and do nothing? Absolutely not! What better way to praise God than to spend time with our families?

However, it does cause me to think and will cause me to pause on the Sabbath and check to see if what I am doing fits into one of these categories.

And lastly, Perry said we need to "honor the Sabbath all day long." I know this is something I also need to work on.

I know the Sabbath is a special day and I need to treat it as such. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, so we all need to take advantage of the gift that the Sabbath is.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mark 10: 35-37

Jesus and His disciples are not walking to Jerusalem, and Jesus decides it is a good time to talk to them about His betrayal, trial, punishments, death, AND resurrection. You could imagine that this would be a great time of reverence, sadness, and lots and lots of questions! But instead, James and John approach Him and say:

"We would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire...Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory."

How amazing! It is like Jesus was talking to a wall. He had such an important message to deliver, yet it fell upon deaf ears. That is why the apostles were all so astonished when the actual events went down, because they were not listening when He told it to them.

Listening is a gift and an amazing quality to possess. It is an unselfish act and usually requires love for the speaker to give up your time to listen to them. Why is it so difficult?

It is because of selfishness. We must have that desire to love the other person and to listen intently and then help them or give input to whatever they needed to talk about. Sometimes that person has no body else in the world to tell their problems to.

Like with Jesus. These are His dearest friends, and they do not hear His words. It would be very depressing....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mark 10:17-22

Here is the story when a young man comes unto Jesus and asks Him what he must to do obtain eternal life. Jesus tells him to keep all the commandments, to which the man replies that he does.

"Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross and follow me.

"And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions."

What happened here! This man had such a great opportunity. Jesus, the very Son of God, gave him specific instructions on how to gain eternal bliss -- He even clarified that he would have treasure in heaven if he made the sacrifice now. So why did the man not do it?

The answer is simple: A lack of faith. If the young rich man could peer into his future, to gaze upon the celestial kingdom, he would sell all his possessions including the shirt off his own back to gain it. But he could not see it for himself, so he did not follow Christ's instructions.

This is a mistake EVERY SINGLE ONE of us makes. No one is following Christ as we ultimately could. But there is so much more we could do. A prime example is family prayer and scripture study. I believe very few families in the church actually do this and do it just as the prophets direct us. But why? It is because it is difficult and the rewards do not appear to outweigh the costs.

But how can we change our attitudes and follow Christ?

We need to have faith in His WORD only. It does help to have an excitement for the reward, but all it really takes is unconditional trust.

Every seminary, Sunday school, and young women class has done the object lesson where one student is blindfolded and another seeing student must lead them through a difficult obstacle course by voice only. The blindfolded student must have unconditional trust in their commander and realize that they can see so much more than them. Because of this, they should not hesitate or question the direction for a second.

We must remember that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can see all and desire to lead us through that maze to safety if we but listen.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mark 10:13-16

Here it says that the people began to bring their young children unto Jesus for Him to heal and bless them. But for some silly reason, His disciples start to shoo them away! For this Jesus is "much displeased" and tells them:

"Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."

These verses make me think of a lot of things:

(1) The nursery and primary programs. I have had people tell me that Primary is brain-washing and is forcing ideas into young minds. But what argument is that? This is a time when a person can learn most -- being un-inhibited by preconceived notions and pressures of the world. It is a place where they are taught love, honesty, kindness, equality, and many other generally wonderful qualities. Why would we want to forbid our young children from such an opportunity to be healed and blessed?

(2) Jace and I were having a discussion the other day about the movie "Toy Story 3". I said I liked the ending because Andy finally gives up his toys, or in other words, left his childish things behind to move onto college as a man. Jace, however, saw this scene in a negative light. He said that Andy does not need to give up his childhood to be a man, but that the Lord desires us all to be "childlike", or "meek" as the footnote suggests, or they cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

(3) I find it interesting that the footnote for verse 14 leads to Moroni 8:5-9. This is where the ritual of infant baptism is discussed.

I say interesting because it almost feels like Moroni is saying "forbid them!" rather than "forbid them not." However, it takes understanding of the principle of baptism to understand why it is "forbid[ing] them not."

It says in verse 12 that "little children are alive in Christ" and because of this need no repentance or baptism. Ok, that makes sense. But then why is infant baptism described as a "gross error" and "solemn mockery before God"? This is the case because as more and more infants are baptized, which has not effect, less and less adults are being baptized -- those who actually need it.

So it is not merciful or nice to continue baptizing infants, because it is detracting from the real and true ordinance of baptism by immersion for those beyond the age of accountability.

(4) Irregardless of age, however, children should receive blessings. In the church, a baby's life begins when it is given a name and a blessing. Although the baby cannot remember it later in life, I believe the baby can hear it and understand it in terms of the Spirit.

Father's blessings are also essential. Unlike patriarchal blessings, Father's blessings are "one time use." We get them at a specific time when we need it, become strengthened by the words and the Spirit, but then get another one at the next needed moment. It is because they are individual and immediate. Children are not strangers to hard times, even if they seem trivial to adults. And for this reason they are eligible for blessings and should be frequent recipients.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mark 10:8-9

Here again are the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus in doctrine by questioning Him about divorse. But of course, Jesus replies with beautiful and pure doctrine:

“And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”

I looked up the meaning of “twain” and it is simply “two”. So I would translate this to say:

“And the two of them will become one being. So you can hardly tell the two of them apart, because they are so unified.”

How great is that? Right now, being unmarried at 24, I think a lot about marriage. I am anxious to be married – but I am even more anxious to be with a man who “fits” with me. It seems that every man I have dated in the past, that we have been “twain” and not “one flesh.”

I believe this would have been kind of shocking news at the time it was given. This was a time when men ran the show and men and women were not viewed as equals. I can imagine these Pharisees scoffing at Jesus at the thought of becoming as one with their wives, and women in general.

But now that I think about it – maybe this is my problem. When I date guys I never begin by considering us equals. It is either that he is so much better than me, or I am so much better than him. All those comparisons stem from things such as major, income, looks, etc. etc. the list goes on. But how does Jesus view us? As equals. It is only fair that I do the same, and then execute judgment later.

Verse 9 goes on to say:

"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

Marriage is so sacred. See, this verse here is more shocking to the world today than back then. Divorce has become commonplace -- almost expected. But the Lord knows it is possible to work out our problems and to stay close to Him in working them out.

I was talking to Jace Nava the other day about verse 8 and the insights I had. He gave me his own thoughts too. He said that the wording used here in verse 8 is the same as the Lord uses when He talks about Zion, like in Moses 7:18:

"And the Lord called His people Zion, because they were of one heard and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness, and there was no poor among them."

Jace said, "isn't it interesting how the Lord describes Zion in the same was as marriage? Zion is such a huge process to get to, but it begins with two people."

A couple needs to be like this -- of one heart and one mind, especially dwelling in righteousness, and neither of them feeling poor: spiritually, physically, or in the amount of love and care they receive. Someone in a couple should not feel they are carrying the weight of the relationship on their shoulders, but should feel equally yoked. I believe this is becoming more and more of a problem today as men and women are beginning to feel entitled to more than the other for some reason.

I have an idea! Rather than a husband or wife waiting around to receive what they feel they deserve -- why not instead they do something unexpected and sweet for the other? They would not be caving in, it would actually come back to them 100 fold in gratitude and appreciation! And they would feel great doing it! So why don't we do it more often?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mark 9: 40-48 (JST)

I chose to write here about the Joseph Smith Translation (a) because it is the true translation of the Bible and (b) because it has an entirely different meaning than the King James version.

In verse 40, it reads:

“Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off, or if they brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not he shall be cut off. It is better to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into Hell.”

Then 44 goes on to say:

“Therefore, let every man stand or fall by himself, and not for another, or not trusting another.”

The other day I was talking to my friend Ariel Russon (she was actually the one that motivated me to start studying my scriptures again). She had been making a lot of positive life changes and was reaping the benefits. She was encouraging me to do the same – to stop being so lazy and to make steps towards becoming a better person. While she was giving these suggestions, I was spurting out as many excuses as to why I was not being productive – many of which were blamed on other people.

But what I believe this scripture is saying is that we cannot live by those excuses forever. When the judgment day arrives, we will have no one to hide behind. And in a more immediate sense, we cannot be using those excuses now if we want to have a full and happy life. We have to take full responsibility of our actions and change our beings to be more like Christ.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mark 9:17-29

This story means a lot to me today. A man approached Jesus with his son who was both dumb and deaf, and it was so severe that he would slip into convulsions and foam at the mouth.

The man first tried the apostles to see if they could heal his son, but they could not do it. This really saddened Jesus.

When I read that I thought about myself. I am sent to this earth to be an instrument of Jesus Christ and to do His will as He is not here. He expects me to be prepared and ready to "heal" His children as they need it. We truly are His hands on the earth.

When He hears the apostles couldn't heal the boy, He says:

"O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you?"

And I hear that has Him saying:

"Ashley. I have taught you. We have communed with each other. You have a solid testimony of the gospel -- yet you keep your gifts to yourself. I gave you gifts so you could be there for others when I am not there, yet my children are leaving your presence unhealed. How long will this go on?"

I feel like I have so much potential but have been useless to the Lord lately. It is all about preparation -- being ready at all times to serve.

In verses 28 & 29, the apostles ask -- why couldn't we heal the man? And Jesus relies, "This kind can come forth by nothings, but by prayer and fasting."

Christ was prepared and the apostles were not. They both held the same priesthood powers, but one could employ them and the other could not.