Monday, October 29, 2012

Reconciling emotional dependency

There was a point in my mission when I realized that with some of the problems and struggles I faced all God had to do was show love for me and things got better. Here are some thoughts on that.

When we are loved and can see the evidence of that love we will be more confident and aware to the great things around us. When we see a lack of evidence that we are loved our confidence drops and we become introverted.
The important part of this love thing is whether or not we see the love that is around us. Those closest to us can love us and do it openly through their words, actions and so forth. But if we choose not to see it then that love has no effect on us.
Shakespeare said, "They do not love who do not show their love". Love is the great solution to life and it is not love unless expressed outside the realm of thought.
Now, God loves all and does it best. The great abundance in the universe that so many people draw invisible inspiration and strength from is this love. To finally recognize the great love which He has for us is inspiring and ennobling. It lifts us from our mistakes and fallen ways. So much in life becomes easy when this love is simply observed.
But this wasn't enough. God commanded us to love Him, and then love one another. Why? Because it isn't enough to simply be loved, we must love in return. Only then is the circle complete and life fulfilled.The film "Moulin Rouge" had questionable morals but they used one quote full of truth. They quoted Eden Ahbez saying, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return". And then we find another poignant idea in this quote by Edith Hamilton, "When love meets no return the result is suffering and the greater the love the greater the suffering". So why would I love if there's a possibility of suffering? The opposite of this is true. When love meets return the result is joy and the greater the love the greater the joy.
And so instead of being placed here on earth all by our lonesome we have people all around us. For those of us who enjoy our space and alone time this is a definite and ever present problem. Yet they will always be there. What a blessing? Endless opportunities to love, even just a little bit. In our world of increasing social isolation we must not fail to make emotional connections with the people around us, no matter how small. Otherwise we will slowly suffocate and die from lack of emotional connections.

Go out and heal your heart and the hearts of the world. Don't give into this idea of being emotionally independent, you will slowly starve yourself. And when you love remember that God has commanded us to love only TWO beings with everything that we are. That is God, and your spouse. These two are the only beings with whom you should put all your heart, they should keep it safe.

wedding song, the one I would have picked

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sharing thoughts from the scriptures, the Parable of the Good Samaritan

I'm currently taking a New Testament class at BYU this semester and I want to share some of the things I've learned in that class with more people.

Today we were learning more about the parables that Jesus Christ used in His teaching. Specifically the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10 and a few parables preceding and including the parable of the Prodigal Son.

The Good Samaritan.
We start in verse 25 of chapter 10 to provide a background for the purpose of this parable.
"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
In response the Lord directs this man to the Law, or as we would think, the scriptures. The lawyer gives the satisfactory answer of "Love thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."
Not completely done with the Savior this same lawyer asked, "And who is my neighbour?"

It is to this question that our Savior directs the parable of the Good Samaritan.

As was explained in my class, the city of Jerusalem was situated on a hilltop, or mountain top. Anywhere from there would be a downhill walk. So we begin with a man who walked down from Jerusalem to Jericho. We can see the symbolic comparison to our own individual lives in that all of us came down from our Heavenly Father's presence to earth.

Continuing, this man fell among thieves which stripped him and beat him half to death. Our teacher enjoys commenting on the Greek words used by the authors of the New Testament as they often yield deeper meanings. In this particular story the word stripped is translated from "Ekduo". The antonym of this word in Greek is "Enduo" and has the meaning to clothe. This word has use in sacred ideas and items as well, often used in the scriptures with respect to the death and resurrection of the body.
As we left the presence of God we, like Adam and Eve, fell from glory and so are left naked figuratively, as they were physically(and spiritually) when they left the Garden of Eden.

We are then told that two different men, both Jews, came upon this man " chance..." (verse 31-32). These words mean that they weren't expecting nor seeking out this fellow Jew. Within the culture of the religious leaders in Jesus' time it was widely understood that blood was unclean, and so were dead people. This man was dying and likely covered in blood. For these religious men it was instilled in them a fear to touch this man and be deemed unclean and unable to perform their priestly duties until proper cleansing had been accomplished. Fear because of cultural ideas. And so they passed by, ignoring the plight of this fellow Jew.

Then comes the Samaritan, a half Jew. Considered to be enemies to all of Jewry one might ask why this Samaritan was anywhere near Jerusalem or Jericho, yet here he was.
A distinction is made with the absence of an inclusion on this " chance..." category that the other two men were grouped in. With purpose this man "...journeyed, [and] came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him" (verse 33).

In using the Samaritan as a model for Himself Jesus Christ may have been referring to more than the widespread application of this commandment to love thy neighbor. By his birth Jesus is half of Mary, a Jew, and half of God. With that in mind we see the Samaritan binding up the wounds and caring for this man who had been left half dead and stripped of all that he is.

 Be as the Good Samaritan and seek out those who have fallen among thieves, bind up their wounds and assure their recovery.

Luke 15-Parables of how people are lost, and then found

In Luke chapter 15 the Savior is criticized by the Pharisees and scribes for receiving, "...sinners, and eateth with them".
Responding with parables Jesus Christ gives us the parable of the lost sheep, the silver coin, and perhaps the most famous of parables, the Prodigal Son.

This parable is obviously commenting on the "sinners" referred to by the Pharisees and scribes. It is wonderful that not only does Jesus tell us how some are lost, but also how they are found.

Sheep are a favored symbol for the followers of Christ. By nature sheep will wander aimlessly in search of food or water without a shepherd to guide them. Sometimes a sheep will begin to wander and soon find itself lost and away from the flock. It is the shepherd who then goes out and searches for that one lost sheep. The caretaker of the flock is responsible for going out and finding this sheep, and perhaps those are employed under the shepherd.
Here we can see that the Savior is The Shepherd and under Him are servants who act as shepherds over parts of the whole flock. There are many of God's children who have wandered away from the flock of the Gospel without even knowing or recognizing it. Before they can turn around and go back they find themselves lost and without any knowledge of how to get back. We who are shepherds must go to them that have wandered and are lost, they may not find their way back without our help.

The silver coin is unique in that this symbol is inanimate; although some of us may have been tempted to imagine a silver coin jumping out of this woman's pocket, I know I have imagined that before. The loss of this silver coin was out of neglect, however. No coin which we own will ever be lost by it's own wandering. It is when we forget, leave alone, or perhaps drop it on the ground unawares. The woman in this parable, upon learning of the disappearance of a single silver coin, lights a candle and sweeps the house until she finds it. Visualizing this one could see her looking under the table, picking up rugs, going into the corners, searching all her cupboards and exhausting all possible places the coin could be. So it is within the Church of Jesus Christ. There are those who because of neglect and being forgotten, are lost by the wayside. No one can be saved alone. This Church was organized because no individual can be saved without brothers and sisters in the Gospel. When one of our brothers or sisters have fell away from the flock because of neglect on our part, it is our responsibility to "...light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till [we] find..." Again, like the wandering sheep, these will be brought back by the efforts of those within the flock of God.

The final parable in this chapter is much different than the previous two in that the symbol given is not an animal or an inanimate object. Rather the symbol is a greedy and prideful son of a wealthy father. In brashness this son demands of his father the portion that would fall to him in the event of his fathers death; as would be the case when the estate of the father is divided amongst the children. After this willful rebellion against his father he takes that which he's been given and spoils and wastes it all away in a far off country. A famine ensues and this young man who has wasted away his all in "...riotous living..." is now left destitute. He is forced to assume the job of feeding swine in the field; the lowest of any occupation in all of Jewry, to just get by. He is at such a rock bottom that as he feeds the swine he is looking to the food he's given the pigs and desires to eat it himself. Think, if you are Jew and a pig is an unclean animal; despised more than most animals, and you are considering eating what they eat and eating with them, you have to be at rock bottom. It is at this point that we read of the prodigal son, "...he came to himself..." He resolves to return to his father and pray for forgiveness. These who have willfully rebelled against God and left the Church in search of the forbidden come back when they have hit rock bottom and "...come to [themselves]..." We must see in the parable that the father didn't seek out his son. In both previous parables the lost was sought after and recovered. Surely that father was praying and begging God to protect and keep his son that he may one day return to his home. Surely it took a great deal of time before this revelation came to the rebellious son. We know that his father did not stop praying for his wayward son. When the prodigal son began his journey home his father was evidently looking for him on the horizon, "...when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him"(emphasis added). The father exclaimed, "...this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found". For those who have willfully left the fold of God, we must pray and wait for their return. That prayer must be unceasing, constant, and fervent. It must be to a point that because of our anxious concern we are looking on the horizon, expecting and waiting their return. When we see them we must run and greet them with love and celebration.

In all three of these parables the recovery of that which is lost is immediately celebrated. The news was spread to friends and family and many rejoice. Although Jesus repeats the truth that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, this joy need not be limited to the heavens but should spread to all around us here on earth.

Jesus Christ is the Savior, the Shepherd and Great Redeemer of our Souls. May we never fail in our faith and seek out those who are lost. Let us bring them back.
In the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

To God

In reflection of my life I see times where I have seemingly fallen in love with pictures, ideas, movies, places, and people. When I say I 'fell in love' I attempt to describe the surge of longing and adoration I feel so suddenly for the subject before me.
A question always floated around my mind, "Why this? Why do I love this?". The reasonable part of my mind told me not to worry and let it be, love is love. Of course I thought on that from time to time. Because of the inspiration and motivation endowed upon me by these things I loved I felt a desire to connect them, simplify the map towards self-motivation.
It became clear as I thought back to some rather dark points in my life, each less dark than the one prior. Marking the end of these dark times was a time I would say I 'fell in love'. Those with whom I fell in love embodied specific characteristics, or I ascribed to them specific characteristics. Purity, faith, beauty, kindness to name a few. When I began to compare each individual I realized what it was that inspired me so much.
My inspiration is the truth. If it is light it lifts my eyes and strengthens my heart. I am blessed with courage in the presence of light. It is God, the embodiment of light, with whom I fall in love.
No doubt I will continue to love many things in this life, however I will know the source of that which I love.

To that woman I fell in love with, and will fall in love with again and again

"I see my God in you"

Selfishness, or Pride

The great destroyer of everything.

This is a blinding influence. It tells one that one deserves more, better, things that you currently do not have.
What is God's way of breaking us down and stripping us of our pride? He takes away what we have. He can do that in a great number of ways. We can give it all away for some supposed better thing. It can be taken by someone else. Or God in His miraculous ways can cause nature to take what we have away from us. In whatever way He chooses, what we have will be taken away.
Standing in the emptiness, the void of what is then gone, we gape and wonder how we ever missed all that we had. You're telling me that I had all of that? Why? How did I miss it? Why didn't I see it? It was right in front of me?
After a time of grief over what we've lost we see that it is all God. We didn't see what we had because we were prideful. Too busy looking over the fence to see what it is that we didn't have. Ingratitude for what we had and because of that God was offended. Maybe even others were offended, your friends, family, loved ones. But as sure as the sun sets God will do as He will. Pride must be pulled down and brought to its knees. And so we lose from time to time.
It's necessary to feel unhappy and regretful of the time and effort you didn't spend in thanking God for what you had. Especially since it's now gone. And one only hopes that we recognize what God is trying to do. Otherwise we are left to curse God for our misfortunes and we are left to ourselves.

Beware of Pride. Unless you strip yourself of pride you will lose everything.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Defining Love

Within the culture of my life I am surrounded by 'the media'. So many images, ideas, and words being spit into my face every way I turn.
The greatest of all our emotions, our thoughts expressed in poetry or novels, has not escaped the twisting and manipulation of our culture.
When 'LOVE' flashes across my mind there follows images of princess' and knights in shining armor, and as of now actually blank. I attribute the blank to my lack of mental energy. However you know what I mean.
Please, can we go back to that love which God gave us?

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 1 Corinthian 13:4-7 (For those who don't normally read the KJV Bible, just switch the 'eth' endings with 's')

But charity is the pure love of Christ...
Moroni 7:47

What greater love can we have than the love of God? Should not this be the love we have between each other?
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves...
1 Peter 4:8

...wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing.
2nd Nephi 26:30

Nothing. Don't we all fear being 'nothing'? Being nothing to that person we admire, or our employer, our family. Without love what good are we to our family?

The 'media' has taught us their values, the opinion of a few selfish people. We buy into it because it's easier. Yet at the cost of all that we are. Remember, without charity we are nothing.

Back to that question, should not this be the love we have between each other? Further specifying, should not this be the love we have between us and our spouse?
Let me clearly say YES!!!!!!!
No greater love is found than the pure love of Christ (John 15:13).

Then if there is love to be found in a marriage relationship it must be the pure love of Christ, or charity. It must suffer long, be kind, envy not, pride in itself, behave out of line, must not seek selfish desires, not be easily provoked, it must not think evil, and must not celebrate wrong doing. This love must bear ALL things, believe ALL things, hope ALL things, and endure ALL things.

Why? If love does not match up to these qualities(and others not mentioned) then it is not love at all but selfish pride set up to the destruction of that individual and all relationships surrounding them.
Anything but charity is "nothing" because it is worth nothing.

If you want to do this you may have come to the point of realization that it's hard to be ALL of these things and more.

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be , forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.                 Mosiah 3:19

It is by the mercy of God we have repentance, an opportunity to change. Because Jesus Christ has pure love he did that which shows no greater love. The Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life for us, His friends.

Don't worry or let yourself be overwhelmed. Say a prayer, believe that God loves you and start small. Pick one small thing and start working on it. Right now.