Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fantastic Mr Fox

My family watched “Fantastic Mr. Fox” last night. It was very family friendly and we all laughed and laughed. The humor was quite subtle and sophisticated. The overall message of the movie was “be true to yourself.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I liked this video and thought I would share it- just a little reminder of what the season is about and what Jesus Christ means to me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A key to revelation

I found this while researching my talk on “The Father’s Gift of Christ”.  It was linked from a reference to John 3:19-21:


“It was asked   me by a gentleman how I guided the people by revelation. I teach them to live so that the Spirit of revelation may make plain to them their duty day by day that they are able to guide themselves. To get this revelation it is necessary that the people live so that their spirits are as pure and clean as a piece of blank paper that lies on the desk before the indicter, ready to receive any mark the writer may make upon it. When you see the Latter-day Saints greedy, and covetous of the things of this world, do you think their minds are in a fit condition to be written upon by the pen of revelation? When people will live so that the Spirit of revelation will be with them day by day, they are then in the path of their duty; if they do not live according to this rule, they live beneath their duty and privileges.”  (JD, BY, 8:131a)


It struck me that it is the love of worldly things that holds back revelation.   To have the spirit in our hearts continually, we make room for it by sacrificing worldly pursuits.   I found this has definitely been true for me.    Some time ago, I noticed that R-rated movies had a strongly negative impact on my ability to feel the spirit.  My wife and I thought about it and we consciously decided to put those on the alter.   We began to feel the spirit more strongly in our lives.  This set the ball rolling for us to later cut out PG-13 movies, and later pretty much all television.   We filled in the gaps with more noble pursuits and carefully selected programming.   This ended up having a huge effect on me spiritually.  When I finally removed all of those barriers I had unwittingly kept up, it was like a flood gate opened in my mind.   The best I can describe it is that I became a different man.



Friday, July 02, 2010

Isaiah 45: Unwitting Messiahs

Isaiah 45 begins with a remarkable prophecy concerning Cyrus, ruler of the Persian empire. In this prophecy, it is stated that the doings of Cyrus will be for “Jacob my servant’s sake”, and that Cyrus himself will be guided and prospered in performing this work, which will eventually lead to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.  (Keep in mind that Cyrus was born about a century after the death of Isaiah.)    In these verses, Cyrus is referred to as a Messiah (anointed one).  This is unusual, as he is the only (as far as I can tell) non-spiritual figure in the scriptures referred to in this manner.  If we understand the term “messiah” as a type, however, we can understand why it was applied.  A Messiah is a Savior, a deliverer, and this is exactly what Cyrus was to the Jews in his time, restoring them to their homeland, and setting the foundation for the construction of the second temple under the reign of Darius.

What I pondered on the most from these verses is that they made it clear that the Lord is guiding a person who is not of the same religion as Isaiah- and as an emperor, a person likely possessed of serious moral hang-ups.  We see this pattern repeated in the story of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2).  I think this has relevance to the saints of this day.  While there is doctrine that is true and correct, and there is a true church, we can sometimes forget that all people are God’s children and the light of Christ is a gift to all of us.  God’s purposes are accomplished in a wide variety of ways, and often in a manner that does not seem logical to us.    Some people are kept from God’s truth for purposes known only to God.  Others are led to it quickly and directly, again for divine purposes.   Sometimes God blesses and guides wicked people while at the same time letting the righteous suffer and struggle through darkness.   All the more that we should be careful in judgment and be slow to discount others simply because they don’t fit the molds we have created. 

In verses 5-19, the Lord speaks through Isaiah to establish his supremacy and involvement both in the events that happen on the earth and in his thoughts and plans concerning his children.   This stands starkly against the widely held falsehood that God is a distant God, caring little about the affairs of humanity, which is supposedly too far beneath him to arouse His concerns. Many people attribute their beliefs to the day-to-day relief of physical challenges.  War, disease, and the absence of prosperity cause them to think that God is not there, or that he is angry, or that He doesn’t care.  Or as a friend of mine pointed out, when peace and prosperity come, we tend to attribute that to a present God, and in some cases so present that our God becomes the very materials that were involved in bringing us peace and prosperity. 

The passages here are very clear.   God has his hand in everything- light and darkness, peace and evil (v7).  This last bit about being the creator of evil is a little confusing to some.  I was reading Calvin’s commentaries and he pointed out that “evil” is from a Hebrew word that can simply mean “bad fortune”, and in this case “evil” is contrasted with “peace”, which lends to that interpretation.   We also know from modern revelation that God in not the author of any evil acts (Alma 5: 40, Moro. 7: 12). Therefore, we can understand that in terms of blessings and cursings, God performs both and since he is the only God, we should not attribute these happenings to anything else.   As was pointed out in the beginning of the chapter, this supremacy extends to everyone, including the heathen nations.  Whenever they accomplish great things, it is because it is within the confines of God’s will that they do so.  This is not to say that God controls them like puppets, but rather that they operate within the bounds that he has set for them.

Verses 20-25 present for us the natural conclusion of this discourse on the nature and power of God and they show us the kindly and merciful nature of God.  They are an invitation to come unto God, to abandon the worship of idols in favor of one (the only one) who is mighty to save.   Isaiah invites us to substitute the shame and remorse that will attend procrastination with the joy and gladness that come with making correct choices now. 


Friday, May 07, 2010

What's the big deal about wearing an American Flag?

By now, you’ve probably heard about the boys who got in trouble for wearing American flags on the day classmates would be celebrating “Cinco de Mayo” at their school. Here’s a quote from an msnbc article about this incident:

“Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal's office.”

Point 1: The American flag is not a bandanna, nor is it likely these guys wear bandannas on an ordinary day.
Point 2: It’s a group of guys all sitting together wearing USA paraphernalia. This was a calculated gesture.
Point 3: The school administrators made a reasonable request which was flatly refused.

There are plausible scenarios to condone or condemn this action, but this is NOT about what we have a legal right to do or not do. We must quit appealing to the law to justify behavior. We don’t need a law to tell us how to behave as a civilized people. Do I have a right to hold up my middle finger? Sure! Do I have a right to use swear words? Absolutely! I can do these things pretty much any time I feel like and anywhere I feel like. But my momma taught me it’s not polite to say “f*** you” to other people. And yet that is _precicely_ what these boys were doing to the Hispanics in their school by deliberately coordinating to wear and display American symbols on a day that is special to Mexicans.

Now listen to the defensive parents who can’t teach their children some simple manners:

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous," Julie Fagerstrom, Maciel's mom, said. "All they were doing was displaying their patriotic nature. They're expressing their individuality."

I don't think so. Your kid is behaving like a pompous jerk and is acting no more patriotic than the congressmen who are running this nation straight into the ground. We often appeal to the "Power of Pride," but that's nothing compared to the power of humility.

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men … and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever. D&C 121

Spencer W. Kimball wrote:

When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)

Do we have a legal right to treat other people rudely and disrespectfully? Yes we do, but what a sad place to live in if people don’t exercise the self-control to refrain from exercising that right. Let us be kind to each other and see the grace of God fill in where we are weak.