29 September 2014

Nothing Can Separate Us

"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? 

No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."                     ~(Romans 8:31-39 NLT)
Others may try to do all of the things listed above--to condemn, to be against, to accuse--but in keeping with God's promises, when we are His, when we walk in His Will according to the Holy Spirit, the flesh has no power over us. More than that, fleshy causes cannot injure the peace our Lord Jesus offers if we trust in Him. We may still mourn loss, or ache inside for those who are hurting . . . but the Lord our God will be with us, will not leave us comfortless.

Father, I rest in Your Son. I trust You, and Jesus, to do as You have promised me. I trust in Your words, that when You said You will send a comforter, that You will, every time it's needed. You have done so faithfully in the past, and I trust in You completely to continue. You showed us the way to eternal life, through Your Son . . . and I TRUST that You will not change the terms on me. That what You have said, stands. That what You have decreed for my good, You will not revoke. That my faith in the Living God will not be returned void, but will reap love, hope, and joy as I continue faithful in what You have told me. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Father. I will rest in, rely on, trust in, and walk with You. I will NOT fear, I will NOT doubt. I will REJOICE in my King, and shout His praise from the tops of the mountains! In Jesus' saving name. Amen.

28 September 2014

My Testimony

Today was Fast and Testimony meeting in our ward. Vern went and bore his testimony. I was unable to attend, and so I wanted to bear my testimony here, to stand as a record both in this earth and in heaven.

Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I believe he saw the Father and the Son, was called by them to bring forth the Book of Mormon, and gave us a tremendous amount of truth in his short life and ministry. God has called many men and women to work in various parts of His vineyard. Joseph Smith was one, and laid the foundation of a tremendous work and wonder that has only just begun.

The Book of Mormon is the word of God, as are the Pearl of Great Price, the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, and the precious contents of the Bible.

Jesus Christ lives. I have felt His presence. He has forgiven me of my sins, and I have received the Holy Ghost. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man approaches the Father but by, and through, and because of, Him. He is the Savior of the World, who died and rose on the third day to ascend to His Father in glory and be exalted upon high, to sit upon His Father's throne, and be an advocate with the Father for each and every one of us. He has subdued the world under his feet, has cast satan out of Heaven, and awaits us with open arms. I know that, unless and until we each accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, and admit no one else in that place in our hearts, that we are denying ourselves blessings and favor and healing and peace that passes understanding. I plead with everyone who reads this to seek Him, and to receive Him, and all He offers.

I have grown closer to Jesus Christ through the last year and a half than I ever have been before; have come to know Him in more facets of His character than ever before. He is my God, seated in Heaven with Father. He is also one of my dearest and most intimate friends, Whose love is as the ocean, someone Whose spiritual presence has come to comfort me more times than I can count, and Who is not only willing to fill me with His love and comfort, but is eager to do so the instant I turn my mind and heart to Him. I have found Him in scripture as I have studied and then journaled here, and He has led and prompted me through so many things. He has snatched me from death and hell, and calls me Friend. The generosity of His love and grace never ceases to amaze me--and He continues to outdo Himself in the healing and teaching He generously gives. The love I have for Him is geologic in scale, and the idea of admitting any mortal, regardless of office or calling, into the place that is His would be a deep betrayal of everything He has done, everything He has given, everything He has made of me. I have a personal witness of the spiritual glory and power of Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth, the One to Whom Nephi wrote his psalm, and Who Ammon rejoiced in when he boasted in his God.

I also bear witness that God is moving, today. He is setting captives free, He is calling new workers into the vineyard, and He loves and works in the hearts of ALL who seek Him earnestly. He pours out His Spirit upon all flesh that will receive it, and calls all who will come, to come and labor in His vineyard now, today. He still works through miracles, through prophecy, through the manifold Gifts of the Spirit, and these works are evidenced by the Fruits of the Spirit. As Mormon wrote:
"[F]or it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made. (~Moroni 7:37-38)
 Jesus Christ saves. He lives! He has spoken to me, and I bear witness of His love, His forgiveness, and the Life He offers to every one of us. And, as Alma said, I say these things, not because I know "of myself", but because I am born again, and I know these things through revelation from the Living God. In His holy, beloved, marvelous name: Jesus Christ. Amen.

23 September 2014

About that path . . .

"I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.  When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble." -Proverbs 4:11-12 ESV

David taught Solomon that his steps would be sure and strong, that he would find solid solid footholds where he went. I had always assumed the path along which God would grant that travel looked a lot like this:

But reading this morning, I realized that there was no guarantee of level ground or mild weather in those verses . . . that sometimes the path our Lord leads us over looks like this:

Father of Heaven and Earth, I trust You. When You speak, I choose to BELIEVE what You have said above ALL ELSE. Above the wisdom of men, above traditions, above what my own eyes and flesh and intellect may assert. When You say my steps will not be hampered and I will not stumble, I will step out boldly, in full confidence in Your Word! You ARE the God Who Provides, the God Who Heals, the God Who is Faithful. You are Truth, Love and Light! I rejoice that faith is such an unconditional thing, that I need not second-guess or labor long and hard to decide whether or not You are Trustworthy. When I seek You, You ARE found. When I dive into Your Word, You feed my soul. When I turn my heart and mind to You, You do not leave me with deception and emptiness, but fill me with pure knowledge that enlarges my soul and fills it with faith, hope, and love. Lord, lead me today, I pray with all earnestness of heart. Whatever You have in Your heart for me, I will accept, for You are the Lord God Almighty . . . the One who desires nothing more than true closeness with me, with each of Your children. You long to care for us, to bless and strengthen us; and Lord, I accept whatever You have before me, today. I choose to lay my life down for those You have placed in my care, for those I am called to love, and to lead to freedom in Christ, in the name of Him Who I love every bit as much as You, my wonderful Jesus. Amen!

02 September 2014

God's Words Are Not Perishable

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." ~Matthew 24:35 NKJV

I have often heard, throughout the last five years or so, that modern revelation trumps ancient revelation. That, in the case of contradiction, current leaders' words carry a greater weight of God's authority. A phrase commonly taken out of context to support that teaching is from Doctrine and Covenants 1:38: 

". .  . whether by my own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." 

That fragment has long since passed the point of cliché in its use to imbue men's words with God's power.

The verse in Matthew gives us an important key: God's words are not perishable. They have no expiration date. 

The commonly-omitted bulk of D&C 1:38 agrees:

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

In this verse God refers to what He has already spoken; what His servants had already proclaimed which the early saints had in scripture. The Lord's words not only won't expire--a date after which they suddenly are no longer good, after which we are no longer required to obey them, after which they are no longer Truth--but they "shall all be fulfilled". ALL. 

The declarations of the Living God are eternal--and we must handle them with care, for our very salvation hangs upon them. 

"And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard works (I think that is why we call them "standard"—it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false; regardless of the position of the man who says it."

(Apostle Harold B. Lee, "The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator," Address to Seminary and Institute of Religion Faculty, BYU, 8 July 1964)

Up until five years ago, that is what I was taught. That is one of the recurring themes of the Old Testament, as well. 

I have heard some jaw-dropping interpretations of scripture offered in order to wrest from them agreement to modern statements. I'm not a silver-headed gospel scholar, but I most certainly can read, and have read, the scriptures for myself, and am capable of understanding what they say in plain language. English has been my study for more than two decades now, and the interpretations currently presented simply do not have the grammatical support of the language in which they are written. 

"Nevertheless, through you [Joseph Smith] shall the oracles [scriptures] be given to another, yea, even unto the church.

And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house." ~D&C 90:4-5

Today is the day of descendant storm. The wind howls, rain beats, and the violence thereof has made itself amply manifest in my life. Our God is not a God of storms, but of shelter. He is the God Who Hears, and the God Who Heals. It is not He who sends the tempest, but the enemy of our souls. And it is in agreement with the Word of the Living God that we find rest. That I have found rest, when the words of men--earnest and well-intentioned though they were--failed me.

Don't repeat my damning mistake. Take God at His Word. 

His unchanging, eternal, and sure-foundationed Word. 

Father in Heaven, thank You. Thank You for Your constancy, Your faithfulness, Your patience and Your unending mercy, grace, and forgiving love. I rejoice in Your unchanging nature, and that You look upon all flesh equally--that every one of Your children have the same opportunity to approach You, to receive the bounty You offer ALL who come unto You in repentant humility. God, You are WONDERFUL! And I will rest my soul in the shelter of Your Truth, and stand unshaken upon Your Rock. In Jesus' name, amen!