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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

GRUDGES

I have never been one to “stew” about things or let my mind focus too much on bad events in life.

Oh, I was pretty upset with my parents when they divorced (I was six). It took a little while for me to settle down but generally I think I have learned to move on from negative experiences without too much angst.

Maybe that’s why it is difficult to understand why people keep regurgitating offenses from the past like they are a kind of badge of honor to be flaunted in the face of others. Oftentimes, it seems like they are trying to use the “offense” as a means of validating their lives instead of moving forward to new adventures.

To constantly review past offenses is painful!
It takes away from future happiness and seldom results in anything uplifting.

I mention this because of the incident, a few weeks ago, where a little girl shared her ‘testimony’ in church and was shut-down by the Bishop of her ward.

Disclaimer: As a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there has never been a time when a member of any congregation I have attended has been asked to stop and sit down. There have been times when I wish it had happened!! But I have never actually witnessed the experience.

So, what would inspire the Bishop of that ward to stop the expression of testimony from that little girl?  Is he a bigot and hateful to those who claim to be different?

NO!!

The problem wasn’t the little girl. The issue was the people who were sitting in the congregation, filming the whole event for posting on the Internet. They had an agenda and the little girl was simply a pawn in their scheme.  I wonder, truth be known, if a 12-year-old little girl can really have such a deep conviction about her sexual orientation without help from someone who should know better.  Regardless, the “set-up” nature of the experience puts it in a bad light.

You see, testimony meeting is a time to share what we believe about the gospel of Christ. It is set aside, once a month, to allow faithful, struggling, and not so faithful members to stand up in front of their friends and neighbors to express their feelings about the teachings of Christ. Members are encouraged to speak from the heart and witness the truths they have learned about the doctrines and teachings of Christ in their personal mortal experience. They are given full sway to say whatever comes to their heart pertaining to things they have experienced and believe regarding their membership in God’s kingdom.

What testimony meeting IS NOT is a time to pontificate (though some do that every week), tell stories (yes we get that also), or to expound on doctrinal issues (we also get that from time-to-time).

BUT, most especially, it is NOT a time to try to share false doctrine.

Some of the messages members share can push the limits of the guidelines and the Bishop has to gauge whether to intervene or not. But there is (at least) one area where those who conduct the meetings cannot remain seated.

When a member, old or young, begins to profess as truth things that are considered false doctrine in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints action must be taken. The tender testimonies of the members in the congregation are much too sacred to allow someone who is trying to lead others away to continue in their process.

I am confident that there will be few who witnessed this event who will hold the young lady totally responsible for her presentation. She has reached the age of accountability but the influence of her mother (as reported by many sources) was the main motivation for her ‘testimony’ experience.

What does her mother seek to gain?  I can only guess.

According to reliable reports, Two years ago this mother was relieved of her membership in the Church for practices or beliefs that violated her covenants as a member. Not being privy to the details, I can only guess that her experiences in the Church became a “burr in the saddle” of her journey through mortality and she concocted this plan to embarrass the Church.

Which brings me back to my opening gambit.

Why is it that people can’t let go of hurt or perceived injustices they have in their lives?

In much of society, there seems to be a need to “get even” with those who have offended. 

But what positive does it do for the offended, their families, and loved ones when they exact their payment?  Is the doctrine of the Church going to lose truth because of the drama?

Wouldn’t it be much simpler to move on and adjust to the new norm in life?

From personal experience, I can validate the benefits of giving up fretting about things over which I have little or no control. The need to ‘get even’ has never made me happier. Forgiving and moving on has ALWAYS resulted in a more comfortable experience.  I think Jesus had something going when He counseled us to forgive all, no matter what offense had been given.

I feel bad for those who can’t forgive.
The Savior said:
Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.  I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. 
(D&C 63:9-10)

Reality is that none of us know enough to NOT forgive. We cannot make the judgment necessary to determine if someone is worthy of forgiveness. Only Christ, who has suffered for all we do, has that right and the ability.

So, in that vein, I forgive the mother (and others) who used the little girl to further their own purposes. I hope she can find some peace in her heart so she can let go of the ill-will she has towards the members and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I hope there comes a day when she can see that her actions hurt no one but herself in the eternal scheme of things.

And I hope for the same when it comes to the judgment of others I have offended.

Monday, May 15, 2017

PRACTICE

Well, my long layoff seems to have affected my ability to come up with subjects to share. This is my third fourth attempt to write something meaningful and I’m afraid it won’t be much better than the first two three iterations. But I’m not giving up without a fight.

The last couple of weeks we have been covering Revelations in my class. It’s a pretty exciting book of scripture – if you are ready to learn and listen. But if it is the end of the school year and you have other things on your mind, it can be somewhat confusing (and maybe boring).

For the teacher and the student.

Not that I don’t get why some are less than interested, but when we cover the events of Christ’ Coming and the students totally miss the significance of what John is teaching – well, it is a little frustrating. It’s not like the expectation is for them to see the deeper meaning of all the prophecies but it would be nice if they actually tried to understand some of the simple things.

And I guess they do…to a certain degree. But not where I was hoping they might be when we finished our discussions. Instead, they remember that there will be earthquakes and hailstorms along with droughts and floods while most of the earth is in turmoil.
What they miss is the joyful experiences the righteous will have as they welcome the Savior back to His earthly home. All the powerful messages about redemption and renewal are lost amidst the worry/excitement over the outward disasters on the earth (and the concern for what to do after school is out).

The dragon, woman, and baby. Lot's of symbolism.


Maybe that’s a little like how we look at life on a daily basis.
It’s easy to see the challenges we face as we struggle through our probation. And the mortal nature of life invites us to justify/explain the failures that slow us in our quest for peace. These might be good things, but when they are the total focus we cheat ourselves of a better life.

To dwell on the disasters that will rend the world in the last days is to ignore the powerful spiritual experiences God promises to those who remain faithful. For every Armageddon, there are ten other events that lift and provide joy for the righteous followers of Jesus Christ.

The same is true for our daily walk.

Mishaps occur, but if they are the focus, there will be misery instead of learning. Growth comes when trials are examined, evaluated, and released as experience and not packed in our luggage. The backpack of life will weigh down the soul who chooses to retain all the negative.

To anticipate joy is to release misery. Fear is replaced as peace rises to the top of our focus. And finding and following the True God of this world (not the one who thinks he is) sets us up for the joy that is Eternal Life.


With lots of PRACTICE.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LOOK WHO'S BACK

After nearly a year’s hiatus, I have determined that it is time to renew my association with this little blog. The reasons for my absence are many and varied, but not worth speaking of in detail. Let’s just say I have had some difficulties finding time to spare for writing in general. The hope is that I can get back on a regular schedule and keep things current.

Now, some of you may wonder why I would come back at all!

It’s not like anyone really missed my messages – as witnessed by the meager number of visitors before my ‘break’. And yet, there was always an emptiness in me that yearned to go back and share more of my vision of life. Maybe it’s just so I can organize my thoughts and solidify what I feel about the world and my part in it. For whatever reason, there is an itch that needs to be scratched so here I am, scratching.

I am wont to discuss politics because so much is depressing and unsavory. The results of the last election, while not as disastrous as expected (though who knows what the future will bring), have left a nasty feeling that doesn’t appear to have an ending any time soon. The distastefulness continues to grow with each new ‘crisis’ but no one wants to find real answers to the problems. So much rhetoric and so little substance on all sides of the debate.

The best thing to report is the birth of another new grandson. William Nicolas was born to Josh and Heather last summer (I have stopped putting in dates for security reasons). He’s quite a handsome little fellow, just like his brothers and cousins. There were some difficult days early on (lots of colic) but he is a very happy boy right now. That puts our grand total for grandchildren at seventeen (that's not a number, that's a brag). How wonderful that is for a couple of old folks to enjoy.

Many of the outside activities I used to enjoy have been unavailable for a time. The Jordan River Temple has been closed for more than a year so we have nowhere to work on Wednesday night. We miss those experiences and can hardly wait for the reopening (which seems to be delayed even longer). The lack of time has curtailed any fishing experiences and with all the other events that have occurred (maybe I can get into those later) grandma and grandpa have been on the run most every day.

Last summer I was invited to participate in a teaching experience online through BYU-Idaho. For the last three terms I have ‘taught’ (mostly my job is to guide self-teaching) classes to students all around the world. My furthest student was from South Africa but there have been some from South America, England, Ireland, various parts of the U.S. and even right here in Utah. The process is interesting but the experience is delightful. My ‘students’ are from all social levels and come in a wide range of ages. The things that they accomplish are amazing and, I believe, truly inspired. If you haven’t heard about the program, check out BYU-Idaho Pathways for information.

My regular job is still the same – teaching the gospel of Christ. This year we are (almost done) focused on the New Testament. What a powerful testimony of Christ and His work as we study Him and His apostles. This is probably my 2nd favorite book of scripture (after the Book of Mormon) because it is so easy to find Jesus in the teachings. And the Savior is the whole purpose for what we do as teachers.


Well, I don’t want to wear out my welcome on my return from obscurity. The hope is that further postings will come about on a regular cycle. Who knows what that really means but we shall see. Until then, thanks for reading and take a moment to respond if you have something you think I could use. mw