"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's All About The Heart

I haven't been able to stop thinking about the story of the rich young ruler since posting on it last week. I have felt impressed that there is more about this anecdote that we need to discuss. I love how the stories in the scriptures have multiple layers and lessons in them. This, however; makes writing short posts on them difficult for me. Focusing in on one lesson when there are so many to choose from requires a lot of prayer and effort on my part. Let's take another look at this interaction. Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights as well:)

When the Savior invited this young man to turn from his great possessions, give them to the poor and come follow him... he was asking him to put his heart where his mouth was. With God... it is all about the heart! On so many levels, this young man got it! He kept the commandments... he recognized the Savior... he knelt in humility at His feet. He was doing so many of the right things... but his inability to receive the Savior's invitation... indicated that he had yet to experience the mighty change of heart.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
3Nephi 13:21

A disciple is a learner of a discipline. As disciples of Christ we strive to learn His discipline, to model and pattern our lives... and in turn our hearts... after His. The very essence of who He is, is Love. It is the great motivator for everything He has ever done or will ever do. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Charity is the ultimate evidence of the converted heart.

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God;
and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

1 John 4:7

The person who is solely focused on "doing" the right things, rather than on "becoming" as He is... misses the "weightier matters of the law" and the entire point of this life.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1Corinthians 13:1, 13

In the end, who or what we love is all that will really matter.

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever and
whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him...
Moroni 7:47-48

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Turn Away From That Which Matters Least

In the 10th chapter of Mark we read the story of the Savior's interaction with a rich young man.
17- And when He (Jesus) was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
19- ... And Jesus said unto him...Thou knowest the commandments...
20-And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

Clearly, this is a young man who recognizes Christ as his Lord and Savior. He is eager and humble in his inquiry as he speaks of his desire to inherit eternal life. Jesus demonstrates that He also knows him and is aware of his obedience to the commandments.

21- 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.

This is a poignant example of the clarifying quality of the Savior's light which we discussed last week. Christ doesn't just "look" at or "see" him... but rather, he beholds him, perceiving impurity within his soul, and loves him. He shines light on that imperfection and then extends the invitation to turn away from that which matters least and receive that which matters most. At this point the young man has a couple of options. Because the Lord chastens those whom He loves (see Rev 3:19) each of us have stood at, and will continue to have opportunities, to stand at these same cross-roads. Let's read on and see how he responded.

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

Rather than receive the correction and move forward in and with the Savior... he was saddened at the required sacrifice. He demonstrated what he truly cherished as he walked away from the everlasting treasure, strength and love of Christ to retain his worldly goods. How could his soul not grieve?

What is it that the Savior invites you to turn away from so that you can more fully follow him?

In whom or what do your actions demonstrate that you trust?

Where do you spend your time and energy and what does this indicate about what you truly treasure?

I invite you to spend time in prayer and thought this week, seeking His loving correction. Ask Him to bless you with the strength and courage to overcome the weakness He will undoubtedly reveal to you. Move forward in faith, relying wholly on the merits of He who is mighty to save. Rejoice in His capacity to purify you and make you whole. Remember that you are here to become something greater than you currently are. This transformation requires that you love (verb) Him with all your might, mind and strength.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I am the Light of the World

"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

Think on the different functions of light 
and how the Savior literally is the Light.

It illuminates and enables one to see.
 As we view life through the Savior's light, the better path comes into view and we can walk in God's confidence.  Otherwise undetectable pitfalls come into view and we are able to choose the safety and assurance of the Savior's way.  His light illuminates the mind with understanding.

It nourishes and sustains life
In plants, light initiates photosynthesis.  In humans, it triggers the body's production of vitamin D.  The Savior's gospel is the essential nourishment for the soul.  Striving to follow His example and apply His teachings triggers life giving processes deep within the core.  As we continually seek and receive His nourishment ... our spirit becomes enlarged and life thrives within.

It purifies.
I remember my grandmother laying her whites out in the sun to bleach them.  In turn, the Savior's light is SO pure and SO potent that our natures can't help but be sanctified as we bask in His light.

It warms and comforts.
 For me, I experience a physical sensation of warmth and fulness in my heart when I think on the Savior.  His love soothes the aching soul.  His words speak comfort and hope to all who seek Him.

It overcomes darkness.
Darkness and light cannot exist in the same space. In Christ's presence, Satan flees.  Confusion and deception cannot withstand "the Truth" (Jesus Christ) which sets our minds and vision free.

It heals.
Red blood cells are drawn to light enabling damaged tissue to heal.  The Savior suffered unspeakable pain which caused Him to bleed from every pore... that the door to our healing might be unlocked.   
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: 
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. "

It clarifies.
Under bright light; detail, flaw and impurity otherwise unnoticeable comes into view.  Under the Savior's revealing light, flaws within our character come to our awareness.  As we press forward in Christ, we will resist the temptation to feel overwhelmed and hopeless because of our weakness.  We will rather glory in our infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon us. (see 2Cor 12:9-10) We will rejoice in His companionship as we struggle and work to apply the healing power of the atonement to those impurities.  We will recognize that when we are weak , then are we strong... through Him that redeems us.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Righteous Judgment

 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
John 7:24

We are commanded both directly and indirectly throughout the scriptures to judge "righteous judgment".  The Savior's direction to "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine", "Beware false prophets, ye shall know them by their fruits" and "Succor those that stand in need of succor" all require that we make righteous judgments of our fellow men. In order to effectively use our moral agency we must make judgments between that which is good and that which is not... between those we can trust in and those we cannot... those we should follow and those we should not.  Sometimes a righteous judgment can be as simple as determining those who may need our help.

One talk which I have found particularly illuminating on this subject is, "Judge not and Judging" by Dallin H. Oakes.  I recommend it highly. 

In the 10th chapter of Luke we read the account of Martha as she hosted the Savior and her sister Mary for dinner.  She labored in the kitchen while Mary sat at the Savior's feet receiving of His goodness.  Placing yourself in Martha's position, can you not just see yourself thinking, "Don't mind me in here.  I'm just trying to get dinner together so that I can sit down and enjoy the Savior's company too."?  I certainly can!  Really, it wasn't the most considerate thing for Mary to leave her sister to finish preparations on her own.  In Matthew 18:15 the Savior teaches us the way to handle these types of situations... which simply are a reality of the human experience.  He says,

"Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone..."

When we take the Savior's counsel and openly address our concerns with and only with the person involved, we give the offender the opportunity to see and recognize that they have caused a problem (which they may or may not have realized) ... and we give ourselves the opportunity to understand another point of view. This often leads to our own realization that no offense was intended and was possibly even imagined!
When, on the other hand, we sit and fester, our judgment typically grows in harshness. 
Picking up on the story...
40- But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?  bid her therefore that she help me.
41-And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
Note that the Savior acknowledges her concern, before delivering a clear yet gentle rebuke...
42- But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. 
To me it is significant that the Lord offered no correction of Martha's priorities until she complained to the Savior about her sister's priorities.  
... with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Matthew 7:2

I have become very mindful of the fact that I set the standard for how the Lord will judge me by how I choose to judge others.  If I spend my time criticizing others, either openly or in secret, I am in essence inviting the Lord's criticism of me.  If I condemn those around me... I invite the Lord's condemnation.  If on the other hand, I extend mercy and compassion to those around me... not only do I feel greater internal peace, but I invite the Lord's mercy and compassion on me in my weak and flawed effort.  

An indispensable addition to this truth is that when we stand before the judgment bar of God, we will be judged according to "the word, that which I have spoken..." John 12:48  Our Father and elder brother, Jesus Christ, are the only two who can truly know what portion of the word we had the opportunity to either receive or reject in this mortal probation.  Consequently they are the only two who have the right to administer final judgment.  We should never venture to take this responsibility upon ourselves.

What a blessing it is to view those with whom we associate through the lens of kindness and compassion!  


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hi There:)

This week my parents came to visit for a family baby blessing.  It has been so wonderful to get to spend some time with them!  Today particularly has been filled with tender moments, conversation, laughter, great food and just general love and goodness.

So here I am... it's 11:22 p.m. and I have yet to write my post for this week!  Aaargh!  Please forgive me!  I have had many thoughts and impressions as I have studied over the last several days which I am anxious to share with you!  I am going to save them for this coming Sunday! 

This week, I invite you to be mindful of your thoughts in regards to those around you.  Do you find that you are often critical or condemning of others???  In the upcoming post we will discuss the Savior's pattern for judging.

Have a wonderful... self watching week and thank you for your companionship!  It means so very much to me...

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