30 September 2013

A Public Service Announcement

Welcome to the new and improved version of A Journal of Sorts. Looks pretty spiffy, doesn't it? Here's what the changes mean to you:

1) You can now reach the blog by a normal URL. In this case, it's www.ANewDayDawns.com Many thanks to my new bloggy friend that helped with the name, and gave me the kick necessary to just. do. it.

2) You can subscribe via email, and get the posts sent to your inbox, so you don't have to worry about remembering to actually come to the blog and see if anything's new. You won't get to see my loverly new template, but I think I can live with that. ;o)

3) You can also subscribe via RSS feed, if you like. There's a handly little green tag at the right top corner of the blog (kind of like a corner bookmark) that says "RSS" on it. Right click on it, click "Copy Link", and then paste that url into your feed reader. (I'm growing to love Feedly, as my new reader, fwiw.)

So, enjoy! (And come leave plenty of loving, lavish comments . . . ;o)

He is the God of Rescue

Zech 8:6-7, 9:9-12, 16-17 NLT

“This is what the Lord  of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord  of Heaven’s Armies. “This is what the Lord  of Heaven’s Armies says: You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west."

Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt. I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River  to the ends of the earth. Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. On that day the Lord  their God will rescue his people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How wonderful and beautiful they will be! The young men will thrive on abundant grain, and the young women will flourish on new wine. 

God is big. Mightier than our wildest imaginations. More lavishly tender and generous-hearted than anyone we've ever known. Can heal and make new, loving, gentle creatures out of the most battle-scarred and broken.  He loves us. And He wants to fight our battles for us . . . he wants us to put away our weapons, and trust in Him for our peace and safety.

God wants me to trust Him. To turn myself, my life, my plans, my dreams, my everything over to Him, so He can take what I have, what I am, and turn it into something so breathtaking and achingly beautiful we might not recognize ourselves if we were standing in someone else's shoes. That's what it means, to Him, to rescue me.

Lord of Heaven and Earth, King of Kings, I will be Yours. I will offer up the weapons I hoarded for my own defense--whatever form they may have taken--to You. I wish no longer to wield them, with my mortal inaccuracy and corruptible arm of flesh. Continually make in me a new creature. I offer you my heart as a throne. Please make it a suitable habitation for Your glory, as You see fit to do.  And make for Yourself a river, flowing from that throne, to quench the thirst and heal the hearts that come within reach. Please, God. Make me Yours . . . and bless my brothers and sisters, Your beloveds. Let me love them like You do, and show me how to do for them as You would do in my place.  In Jesus' name, so be it, and amen.

29 September 2013

Love and Comfort and Provision

“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:4, 6, 7 NLT)

He loves us. Oh, how He loves us!!! 

And He WILL care for us, providing all we need. Walk in His ways--believe Him, believe what He has said He would do for you. 

Lord, I pray You would pour Your comfort over those who need You. Protect and soothe, shield and nurture. Show me Your will, and I will go and be. And the glory be Thine forever! Amen. 

I Desire The Lord

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Luke 12:31-34 NLT)

Him whom we serve will become the deserving object of our love, the focus of our thoughts. 

I've seen so many different ways to live--so many different focal points, and what harvests they yield. I'm so grateful that I've learned which one brings the filling of emptiness, the healing of wounds, an overflowing of love and joy and peace and life. 

God, You are so faithful. I can utterly trust You with everything I am. Your love is vast and powerful, yet so gentle. As long and reaching as the east is from the west, and yet will fit in my mortal heart. High and holy--and yet as familiar as children sharing a sink to brush their teeth, or doing the evening dishes with my family, elbow-deep in suds. I trust You. I declare Your Name to all who will listen, and rejoice in knowing Your goodness and the astonishing grace you hold out to each of us. You clothe us in Your righteousness, protecting and honoring us, and I willlove You  always for it.  :-)

28 September 2013

Faith: Heady Stuff

And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.

For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him. This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed out into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power.

When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (
Luke 8:15, 29, 47, 48, 50, John 7:38 NLT)

What is it about faith, about believing something, that makes the irrational reasonable? The power of belief our spiritual nature wields is formidable, indeed. The evil spirit drove the man to break shackles and chains; a feat most of us would shudder to contemplate. Jesus raised the dead--something believed to be wholly impossible--and told his disciples do to greater things than He had done.

And yet, this faith, this belief, is so freely available.  We come to Jesus, continually drink our fill of the Living Water, and can be changed forever, led as quickly as we'll walk back to the place where we can be with Him forever.

Father, remind me. Show me. Keep me and bless me with more of this faith--the richest of all spiritual gifts. In Jesus' holy name, Amen.

This Mormon Girl.

I've just finished Joanna Brook's The Book of Mormon Girl.

Saying anything more than that seems to cheapen, somehow, the beauty in her story; the way it resonates in my soul. But Joanna's story has opened my own heart to tell more of my own. To open to view further the insular community I claim, in its beauty and strangeness, and yet its simple familiarity, too.

I also grew up watching Man's Search for Happiness on white cinder block walls with my few Primary classmates, my nursing fathers and nursing mothers weaning me on the unorthodox stories that are the very weave of the fabric of my faith. My ancestors crossed the plains, knew Joseph Smith, and several lines settled and thrived in northern Utah. The similarities in our Mormon heritage even extend to both of us descending from grandmothers whose mothers died in their infancy, and then appeared to them as angels when our grandmothers approached the later years of their childhoods.

I remember so clearly the isolation of simple means and outside-of-the-city stomping grounds, the treasures of knowledge books held, and their influence in my life.  Her southern California home sat against orange groves; mine in northern California between the verges of alfalfa and corn and highway 160's winding levee, where Mormons were even thinner on the ground. I felt, keenly, the isolation and separation from my peers that inner difference of Mormonism made, and reading of her arrival at BYU, her rejoicing in finally being one of many, brought back to life my own arrival four years after hers, right down to her dorm room in Helaman Halls, English classes in the basement of the JKHB, and the sweet gentleness of a favorite English professor's love of learning and of his God.

My adult life has taken a different tack than Joanna's: I married in the temple, and my husband and I have continued attending church without fail. But under the hood, where hearts beat and dreams spin, there are threads that run the same.  "As I wrote," Joanna said in her book, "agnostic Catholics, reform Jews, gay Christian girls, even stone-cold atheists, gave me a hard look, then nodded, and said: 'Yes, I recognize something familiar in the story you are telling.'"

And so did this Mormon girl.

Something beautiful. Something kind. Something gentle and true and delicate; and yet impossible to destroy.  Even pancaked between concrete and cinder block, her story beats quietly, with the power of a still, small voice.

24 September 2013

Heiress of The King

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You! (Psalms 84:10-12 NKJV)

I will hear what God the Lord will speak, For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord will give what is good; And our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway. (Psalms 85:8-13 NKJV)

When the men had come to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ ” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Luke 7:20, 22, 23 NKJV)

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Luke 7:47, 48, 50 NKJV)

God is good. He is not anything else--cannot be anything else--nor can He be the source of anything not-good. He loves completely and generously, and is so eager to forgive. 

I truly would choose one incredibly love-wrapped day as a lowly servant in the House of God than a thousand years of being without Him. I feel so eager to continually lay things down so I make room in my life for the awesomeness that comes from Him. When I make space for Jesus, He always comes into my life and overflows the spaces I've cleared, simultaneously filling them and washing them clean. And as I told a good friend Sunday evening who cautioned me to be careful what I ask for: "I have a Good God. I'm not afraid of Him."

God, You ARE good! There isn't anything good that doesn't add to Your glory, drawing Your children toward You. I praise You for Your kindness, for the absolute trust I can place in You, and the knowledge that I truly need never fear. The battle IS WON. I am more than a conqueror in Christ--I am His daughter, purchased and saved by His blood, and heir with Him to the throne*. How can I not rejoice and praise and live in wonder all my days? I love You, my God. Always!

*Rev 3:20-21

22 September 2013

"Chosen" gives no guarantee against falling from grace.

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” (Luke 3:7-11 NKJV)

John is speaking against systemic pride, against the habitual citation of blessings & promises over actual righteousness. The Jews were absolutely certain they were the best, the favored, the chosen ones. And they were--right up until they chose evil over good. 

I never want to fall into that all-too-alluring trap, to ease into the seductive trance of "all is well" and "we are the chosen" that lulls the conscience to sleep. 

Father in Heaven, keep my eyes ever bright before Thee, so I might see myself as You see me, both the reality of my flaws & sins, and the covering of grace that makes me whole in Your sight. Let me walk in repentance straight for you, not turning away or tacking to and for, double-minded and miserable. I love you so, and I long for Your presence. In Jesus' glorified name, Amen. 

20 September 2013

Tangling with semantics.

A blogger I respect, who has done a lot to bring my family closer to Christ, has been excommunicated from the LDS church.

That, in itself, doesn't bother me much. The church is made of men, and men make mistakes. All the time. The thing that I'll admit bugs me is that they're using the wrong word to describe his excommunicable actions. They call it "apostasy", when what they cite in his letter is heresy.

From the letter:

"The council's conclusion was that several of the claims that you make in Passing the Heavenly Gift constitute clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church and its leaders. Consequently, the council determined that you should be excommunicated from the Church for apostasy."

That makes about as much sense, semantically, as saying that a man was convicted of arson for building a campfire, and teaching others to do so.

To help elucidate, I offer some definitions:

Apostasy (/əˈpɒstəsi/; Greek: ἀποστασία (apostasia), 'a defection or revolt') is the formaldisaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy (or who apostatises) is known as an apostate.
1. renunciation of a religious faith
Wikipedia has an page on Apostasy in Christianity, which is even more specific:
Apostasy in Christianity refers to the rejection of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian. The term apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia ("ἀποστασία") meaning defection, departure, revolt or rebellion. It has been described as "a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christianity. Apostasy is the rejection of Christ by one who has been a Christian...."[2] "Apostasy is a theological category describing those who have voluntarily and consciously abandoned their faith in the God of the covenant, who manifests himself most completely in Jesus Christ."[3]"Apostasy is the antonym of conversion; it is deconversion."[1]
I could go on . . . there are hundreds of sources for the definition of apostasy available.  I will share one more, though, that makes this all more difficult. The church itself defines apostasy in this same way: 
"When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy."
What the letter describes might generally be called a case of heresy:
Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs.[1] Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause,[2] and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion.[3]
Heresy is usually used to discuss violations of religious or traditional laws or legal codes, although it is used by some political extremists to refer to their opponents. It carries the connotation of behaviors or beliefs likely to undermine accepted morality and cause tangible evils, damnation, or other punishment.
But even then, it's kind of a loose fit.  The main points of contention, to my understanding, are that Passing the Heavenly Gift does not match the simplified history that the church has published, and includes inconvenient details such as mistakes and sins of past leaders.  But outside of that, this man loves the restored gospel, and hasn't ever abandoned anything, or stood in opposition to any doctrines or renounced the restoration.  Much to the contrary.

The disconnect astounds me.

18 September 2013

His Victory Covers All Sin

The priest will take blood from this sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the Temple, the four corners of the upper ledge of the altar, and the gateposts at the entrance to the inner courtyard. Do this also on the seventh day of the new year for anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance. In this way, you will purify the Temple. (Ezekiel 45:19, 20 NLT)

One annual sacrifice covers blunders and mistakes.

In the same way, the great and last sacrifice of the Lamb covers it all. Up until earlier this year, I had labored under a misconception that every sin and mistake had to be repented of individually. It was a belief I was never taught specifically, but was implied in the way repentance & Christ's sacrifice were taught. It was a guilt-ridden way to live, let me tell you. It is so good to simply walk in Christ . . . to continually live in an attitude of returning to the high place, of coming unto the Father.

Lord, I thank You for this incredible gift of freedom....of the blessing to walk in love and light, and no longer under condemnation. (Rom 6:18) It is so good!!!

17 September 2013

Come, and find Him!

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (Revelation 22:17 NLT)

God is so generous, lavish in His welcome and enduring love to all who turn to Him. 

I'm so, so glad I've finally learned how my Lord and Savior, and The Father, really see me. How they long for my company, and I don't have to try to earn (or qualify for!) their love or acceptance. It is there . . . always has been. I just needed to learn how to open my heart to accept it. Because until I did, I cut myself off from the Tree of Life. 

Father, thank You. Thank You! You know the depths of my heart, and what this all means to me, and mine. And I revel in Your love, Your acceptance. And I will praise You forever, and the Lamb who loves me in the same way, too. In His blameless name, amen!!!  :-)

16 September 2013

Something to remember: Dissent

From an interesting (and very long) article I've recently read:

"A difference of opinion does not constitute dissenting behavior
Scriptural dissenting behavior deals only with church doctrines, rites and government. Some people, though, cannot differentiate between scriptural dissenting behavior and the modern, generic definition of dissent, which merely means “a difference of opinion.” So any censuring they see, of any kind, is viewed as morally wrong, a violation of one’s right to free speech, as put down in the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The problem with that view, is that a church is not a public institution, but a private one, and like all private institutions, it has certain rules which its membership is expected to obey.
We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship. (D&C 134:10)"

God Always Signs His Letters

He said to me, “Son of man, watch and listen. Pay close attention to everything I show you. You have been brought here so I can show you many things. Then you will return to the people of Israel and tell them everything you have seen.” (Ezekiel 40:4 NLT)

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NLT)

When a prophet receives a revelation for the people, he proclaims it as such, under commission from The Lord. That's part of the prophetic gift....anyone who stands before God's people and confesses to be a prophet must follow this pattern. 

God doesn't send revelation to His people without identifying Himself to them clearly.  If it doesn't say something like that, pray to know what God would have you do with it.  

Father in Heaven, hallowed be Thy most Holy Name. Please, send Your prophets to all people. Make them mighty in Your power, and let the eyes of those who love You be opened to see them in truth. In Jesus' name, amen. 

15 September 2013

The Face of God

“And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” says the Lord God, “ that My fury will show in My face. (Ezekiel 38:18 NKJV)

The nations will then know why Israel was sent away to exile—it was punishment for sin, for they were unfaithful to their God. Therefore, I turned away from them and let their enemies destroy them. I turned my face away and punished them because of their defilement and their sins. (Ezekiel 39:23, 24 NLT)

I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. (Psalms 145:5 NKJV)

The concept of God's face being turned away from, or to, His people kept popping up today. Turning away because of iniquity, His fury against Gog showing in His face, and David meditating on the "glorious splendor of [His] majesty." These are all concepts that connote not only presence, but actual sight. 

God wants His people to see Him. He wants us to turn to Him, away from our sins & follies, and He will manifest Himself to us. He loves us like a mother does, loves us as His bride. The bonds of those love are powerful, motivating things . . . and He misses us terribly, deeply, and longingly. We, who are of the dust of the earth. 

Father, don't let me forget this. Keep before my eyes the remembrance of Your love--of all You've done for me, and for all of Yours. Give me the words to speak, plainly and undeniably, of Your love for your children, so I might speak Your love into their lives such that they'll never be the same. You are mighty to save, oh God of mine, and I glorify Your beautiful, generous, abounding name. In Jesus' name, amen. 

12 September 2013

The Arm of Flesh

Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up?  I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments.  But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.

Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.  Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” --Daniel 3:14-19, 28-29 NLT

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego's stand has always inspired me.  And, lately, I seem to keep running into this mountainous rock that is my knowledge of Jesus Christ, and the things He has taught me.  I know exactly how those three young men felt: not puffed up and pleased with themselves for making such a noble and impassioned declaration, but humble.  The spirit of what they said seemed to be: "You're welcome to do as you will with us, we're just not going to obey those decrees of yours. And whatever happens, we're not worried", with the feeling of "Have a blessed day," overlaid for good measure.  I feel strength in my testimony of The Truth growing surer and stronger, deeper and wider.  And it is good.

After the miracle, Nebuchadnezzar's conversion to belief in the Most High God is impressive . . . but his new decree is disappointing.  Yes, it's what everyone with a cause dreams of: a powerful person throwing their weight around to further your cause. And those same people rationalize that if that cause is the salvation of mankind, then so much the better!  Only trouble is, it neuters people's ability to make choices for themselves.  And as this life is a test, that leaves them pretty stuck.  Even though Nebuchadnezzer had stopped trying to physically destroy S, M & A, it seems to me that he just turned that destructive power towards his own people, but in a spiritual way.  It's like the enemy decided that if he couldn't burn the boys to a crisp, he'd happily trade that for the slow spiritual death of many, many others.  he's a tricky one, the old serpent. And we have to listen closely to the Holy Spirit so he won't catch us unawares.

God, I pray you would open my eyes to see where I am coercing or trying to force others to do good.  Temper my language, open my eyes, soften my heart, and make my ears to hear Your Word and Your Truth. Show me how to give freedom to those around me, the freedom that only comes in Christ Jesus.  In His holiest and most beloved Name, Amen.

Apostasy: I do not think it means what you think it means.

For my LDS readers, you may or may not be aware that Denver Snuffer, blogger and author, has been excommunicated. If you'd like to know details, please read this post, and then this one. If you want a more complete picture, read the ones in between.

Throughout the last couple of weeks, I've watched some of the vast online discussion, as well as doing plenty of thinking and participating in some real-life discussions. Here is the truth, as it has distilled upon my soul: the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold the legal right to excommunicate whomever they wish, for whatever they wish. That’s how private organizations work in this country. They are free to strip individuals of their membership, for whatever reason, because the law of the United States grants them that right. Whether or not any individual excommunication is pleasing to the Lord is something said leaders will need to take up with Him.

The usage of the word “apostasy”. The church, (and most everyone), is using it incorrectly, wresting the meaning of the word.

Definition of APOSTASY
1: renunciation of a religious faith
2: abandonment of a previous loyalty : defection

What Denver did in writing Passing the Heavenly Gift is called heresy.

Definition of HERESY

2 a : dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice
b : an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards

In PtHG, Denver transgressed the tradition of glossed-over history and infallibility of leaders, both powerful dogmatic tenets of Mormonism today.

The main problem I see arising from this kind of excommunication is that members might no longer feel they can trust the corporate church to treat them reasonably, and we might once again adopt the culture of double-speak and mistrust that once reigned in the last gasp years of polygamy. I pray that destructive situation doesn’t come again.

The beauty and glory of the victory of Jesus Christ is that all of us, despite our mortal blunders and unattractive traits, can be justified, sanctified, and loved . . . and with the touch of the Master’s hand, can be agents for revolutionary change and glorious salvation in the lives of those around us. It makes me so, so sad that we as church members are not welcome to acknowledge the flaws and mistakes of our leaders, even though that is the best way to learn from them.

10 September 2013

The gyre is perning.

I've had an interesting reaction to Denver's news. It's utterly peaceful, but solemn. And it feels like everything has shifted, somehow. 

I wonder what comes next.

09 September 2013

On Sabbath Observance

A friend recently asked a question about Sabbath observance on facebook. I wanted to keep a record of my response, as I'm pretty pleased with what I learned as I wrote it. :o)

We've been reevaluating how we spend our Sabbaths, because they weren't doing our family any good. Spending time together is important, but it felt like Sundays should be more than just hanging out in our living room. It was beginning to feel like our Sundays weren't much different from the Puritan Sabbaths you read about from over a hundred years ago, where they all sat in their living room, dressed in their Sunday best, and could do nothing but read scripture or ponder or pray silently, from sun-up to sun-down. We weren't tying our children to kitchen chairs ;o), but we felt so isolated--and we knew that was doing no good for the Kingdom of God. We were put here to have relationships with each other, and with God. I've long felt a lot of pressure to feel like the company of my husband and children should be all I need . . . but really, our life as a family is SO much better when we reach out to others, and spend time with them. (Spending time as a family doesn't mean your family needs to be alone, either.) Yes, visiting the sick or elderly is part of that, but so is just spending time with other families or people we know. Wherever we go, whatever we do, the Light of Christ should shine from us, illuminating the world. We don't have to be preaching or reading scripture or cloistering ourselves in our homes to keep our modern Sabbath holy. The Sabbath is something we live, something we create in our hearts, that floods the world around us and bathes it in our Savior's love. In Christ's time, Saturdays were the Sabbath--the day of rest. Sundays were the day the believers gathered to celebrate the Victory of Christ over sin and death. It was a day to have a big'ol Resurrection Party. Building relationships is what Christ is about. (Hello, Eternal Families!) But it's not just about that kind of family. It's about loving and being kind to everyone around us--the family of God. Our modern communities are so fractured and brittle . . . and I say if you help repair that through your daughter's friendships at a birthday party, then go for it. My question, if I were in your situation, would be: How am I approaching this party? Am I going to distract myself from the fact that I'm not living every minute bathed in the love and light of Jesus Christ? Or will I shine His love into the hearts and lives of those I'll be with? I'm not saying that every Sunday should be spent at parties, or that we should never have family time. Each family is different . . . there are some Sundays, when our family has felt besieged and battered, that Vern and I gather the children around us and we all soak up one another's comforting company. Sometimes we're blessed with an unexpected visit from a friend or ward member that loves us a whole lot--those visits are especial treasures, because someone listened to the Holy Ghost and came when we were in need. But there are plenty of other days when we have an abundance of Christ's love to share, and I feel like always staying home puts that light under a bushel. (I'm wracking my brain, trying to remember where in the scriptures it says that Sundays are a family day . . . I've read it in a ton of secular books & magazines, but can't remember if/where it's in the word of God . . . ) But really, it's not about birthday parties on a certain day of the week. That's the spirit of the old law, the law of performances and ordinances that Christ fulfilled with His victory. It's about the state of our hearts, and whether or not we're living the will of our Lord. "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt 22:36-40 KJV) If there are traditions or practices in our lives that don't support and help us fulfill those two commandments, then those traditions need close and prayerful examination to determine if they're really doing what Jesus Himself told us to do. Bottom line: if Christ is enthroned in your heart, you can listen to what it says, and know that He'll be pleased with your choice.

05 September 2013

Oh Tyre, I Bid Thee Farewell

I will send you to the pit to join those who descended there long ago. Your city will lie in ruins, buried beneath the earth, like those in the pit who have entered the world of the dead. You will have no place of respect here in the land of the living. I will bring you to a terrible end, and you will exist no more. You will be looked for, but you will never again be found. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” (Ezekiel 26:20, 21 NLT)

This is the final part of Tyre's prophesied destruction. As I read through it, the difference between Tyrian self-sought glory and the glory that comes to those who seek God stood out crystal clear. Those who seek after and glorify The Lord will be splendid and have all they need physically. There will be no poor, peace will abound, and God Himself can dwell there. 

But in the places of those who seek their own wealth & fame, God is not welcome. And because they didn't seek Him and let Him provide for their needs, they were utterly destroyed. 

Which pattern do I predominantly follow in my life? Whose glory do I seek? Mine? The world's? Or my most utterly-complete, generous and ever-faithful Yahweh's?

Father Almighty, please open my eyes. I know I sometimes squeeze them shut, or train them on things of no worth, when I'm tired and feeling alone. Please come and comfort me with Your presence. Make the pull of Babylon evaporate, and let my eye be single to your glory. Comfort me and surround me with Your vivid, joyous peace that fills me with the completion of Your enabling love I pray, in the name of Your Holy Lamb. Amen. 

03 September 2013

Left Field

S: Ezekiel 20:26, 31 NLT

I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I had given them, and I allowed them to give their firstborn children as offerings to their gods—so I might devastate them and remind them that I alone am the Lord. For when you offer gifts to them and give your little children to be burned as sacrifices, you continue to pollute yourselves with idols to this day. Should I allow you to ask for a message from me, O people of Israel? As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will tell you nothing.

Observation: Child sacrifice is mentioned pretty often in Ezekiel. And I keep getting the same impression every time I read the verses that mention it: Judah was proud of it. It wasn't purely some crazy-twisted Occult thing they all rejoiced in. It was them doing what Father Abraham had done, but doing it even better: they went through with the sacrifice even though God never provided an intervening angel or ram in the thicket for them. They wore their horror like a badge of honor, a symbol of their devotion to a pagan idol. They looked right past the whole point of Abraham's experience and turned it into a horrifying tool of occult.  

Application: Is there anywhere in my life that I'm looking beyond the mark? Going far beyond where The Lord wants me to in scripture or life because I want to go the extra mile, or demonstrate my faithfulness? 

Prayer: Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be THY name, and no other before Thee. Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto You and The Lamb, the One True Sacrifice. Open my eyes to the truth of what is around and before me. Teach me through Your Word and Your Spirit the way to go and the steps to take in it. And open that same view to those I love, that we can follow You and not fall to the same kind of fate as Your ancient people. I glorify Your name for the good and loving Father You truly are, and Your tenderness and patience with me, and all of Your children. In Jesus' holy name, Amen. 

02 September 2013

The Parable of the Bread

She entered the classroom that day, weary and hungry. She didn't look any different than any of the others, nicely dressed and sitting quietly waiting for the class to start. But what they couldn't see was that she hadn't had enough to eat for days. She did her best to put a good face on it, to smile and chat politely. But every so often, she knew her hunger was visible to those not wholly lost in their own lives.  It confused them, and she could see their discomfort, so she picked up the Bible and began to read.

The instructor walked to the front, and the most tantalizing aroma wafted by as he passed . . . that of freshly-baked, homemade bread. He placed the box he'd carried on the table up front, and began placing one fabric-wrapped bundle after another on it, filling the entire tabletop. He unwrapped the fabric on the first to reveal the biggest, most lovely, most aromatic loaf of bread he had ever seen. It had just been sliced, and a few pieces tipped over, letting out yet more steam and filling the room with its fragrance. Then the instructor did the same for the other bundles, and there was bounty--enticing, delicious, and nourishing--more than enough for everyone there to eat their fill with plenty left over.

"Today, class, we're going to talk about bread," the instructor began, excited for his topic. The entire class paid rapt attention, feeling the delicious pull of the bread's promise.

"First, let's talk about the history of bread making." He explained some of history of bread, a little of the science behind fermentation and sourdough culture, and why it was such a perfect food for mankind. She grew hungrier and hungrier, trying her best to listen. A wonderful teacher, his presentation was engaging and interesting. But it couldn't compete with the demands of her stomach, which had begun to cramp in earnest.

"Now, class, I want you to imagine how wonderful bread tastes, and think carefully about the best bread you've ever eaten." A few moments passed, and he continued, "Now, we're going to break out into small groups, and talk about our favorite experiences with bread." She managed a pathetic smile as she turned her chair and joined the circle of class members that had been assigned to her. She listened to their stories, many of them heart-warming and wonderful. She spoke about her own memories of deep nourishment, but felt like her intense hunger separated her from them somehow. They'd glimpsed it again as she spoke, and she saw their discomfort plainly. They didn't connect with her the way they connected with one another.  She was talking about something completely different, something vital to her existence, while they shared anecdotes and asides.  They had spoken about all of the great varieties of bread they'd gotten at various stores in town. Bread with fewer calories than usual, or made with ingredients they couldn't pronounce (they mentioned it, chuckling), but that tasted so good they didn't care what was in it, and how much they craved it, even after eating their fill. They didn't know the kind of bread she tried to speak of--the very kind of bread still sitting up at the front of the classroom. Bread she had discovered with my own hands, that she knew well, and had nourished and filled her many times before. She even reminded them of the aroma of the bread up front, but they could no longer smell it.  While they agreed it smelled divine, it didn't seem to mean anything to them.

"Okay, class, let's hear what you learned in your groups," the instructor called out. Each group chose a spokesman, and for nearly the rest of the period she listened to recaps of each group's discussion. There were more good stories, some spiritual, some warm-fuzzy, some interesting, others intellectual. And still, the bread waited on the table. Her mouth had gone dry from all its watering, and the cramping in her stomach had finally eased, replaced with a dull nausea.

"Thank you so much, everyone, for your participation today," the instructor said as the last spokesman sat down. "I'd like to take this opportunity to bear my testimony of bread, and its importance in our lives; to give thanks to the man who drives the delivery truck bringing bread to our store every week, to the miracle of the truck itself, that we can have so much bread delivered so often, so those new to bread making could still enjoy bread every day, to the advertisers who go out and devotedly find new people hungering for bread, and most of all to the dispatcher who directs every driver in every truck worldwide, ensuring everyone gets the same bread each week . . . "

The instructor closed with a heartfelt, tearful testimony of the bread sitting on the table. Of its delicious flavor, the perfect composition of the ancient wheat that wouldn't make anyone sick, even celiacs. Of how much it had blessed his life, and how much he hoped we would search it out, taste it, and know for ourselves the goodness of it.

And as he spoke, she realized she would not be offered even a tiny taste the bread. While it was there, begging them all to take, eat, and be filled, it never crossed the instructor's mind that feasting would be the only way for his class to understand everything he said, to fill them with a powerful desire to feast again and again, and to share it with any and everyone who would accept it.  Instead, he had used up the precious class time in discussion, distracting the class with issues peripheral to the bread . . . and she began to wonder if he had ever really tasted it, himself.

He sat down, the closing prayer was said, and the students were ushered out. She walked slowly away, her arms a poor comfort, wrapped around her still-queasy middle.

(Please note: This is a parable.  I used female pronouns for the student in order to more easily differentiate the student from the instructor. I am not, nor have I ever been, personally short of food.  Thank you.)