Thursday, June 25, 2015

True and Perfect Worship

"True and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God:

Keeping the commandments
Obeying the will of the Father
Emulating the life of the great Exemplar
to Follow
to Seek
to Believe
to Think
to Walk in his paths
to be Baptized
to Preach
to Heal the sick
To put first in our lives the things of his kingdom
to Live by every word that proceedeth forth from His mouth
to Center our whole hearts upon Christ
to Walk in the light
to Do the things he wants done
to Do what he would do under similar circumstances
to Be as He is
to Walk in the Spirit
to Rise above carnal things
to Bridle our passions
to Overcome the world
to Pay tithes and offerings
to Act as wise stewards
to Use our talents and means for spreading truth
to Build up the kingdom
to be Married
to Have children
to Teach them the gospel
to Perfect the family unit
to Honor our father and mother
to Love our spouse and none else
to Visit the fatherless & widows
to Keep ourselves unspotted from the world
to Work on welfare projects
to Administer to the sick
to Go on a mission
to Study the gospel
to Treasure up light and truth
to Ponder in our hearts
to Make them part of our lives
to Pray with all the energy of our souls
to Preach by the power of the spirit
to Sing praises
to Be actively engaged in good causes
to Be about our Father's business
to Love and serve our fellowmen
to Feed the hungry
to Clothe the naked
to Comfort those that mourn
to Hold up the hands that hang down
to Strengthen the feeble knees
to Stand valiantly in the cause of truth
to Influence for good in civic, cultural, educational and governmental fields
to Support laws and principles which further the Lord's interests
to Be of good cheer
to Be courageous
to Be valiant
to Keep the faith

"It is ten thousand times ten thousand things.  It is keeping the commandments of God.  It is living the whole law of the whole gospel."

- Bruce R McConkie
Source: How to Worship
Image credit Flickr/ jubileelewis

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Your Mental Garden

Resentment is an ugly thing
It crowds the roses out;
Keep your mental garden fair
Put harmful things to rout.

Seed-thoughts that you cultivate
Within your fertile mind,
Bring forth varied blossoms
According to their kind.

Anger, malice, worry, fear,
Are noxious mental seeds;
Quickly rid your mind of them
Before they choke as weeds.

Faith, gentleness, humility,
Truth patience, selfless love,
Are specimens of seedlings rare,
Approved of God above.

Your mental garden is a place
In which you daily dwell;
Let nothing ugly flourish there,
Safeguard and tend it well.

-"Your Mental Garden" poem by: Grenville Kleiser

My own thoughts have proven to be a huge challenge.  I have cultivated good seed-thoughts.  I have also allowed some like "I'm unloveable" to continue choking out the loving thoughts.  I have had mixed results trying to ignore ugly thoughts.

Thoughts are a mixture of half-baked ideas, dreams, desires, emotions, fears, memories, perceptions (both true and false), and temptations.

The most powerful negative thoughts put me into a deep depression where I hide in bed under the covers and try to close out everything while I try to deal with them.

The most powerful positive ones can keep me up at night because my mind is on a high jet stream and doesn't want to come down to Earth.

I'm going to identify dreams as the imagined bliss of some future scenario that we tend to wander over to for pleasure.  I think it is important to make a bucket list or a pinterest board of dreams so that they don't sink to the bottom of our consciousness.  Hope comes out of dreams so we need them to keep hope alive.

Half-baked ideas are the goals and plans we have that still require organization and analysis before we can act.  These can relate to anything from a upcoming vacation to the purchase of a new home.  I have found that my fears can get in the way of these plans but if I persist I can usually find a way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Holy Spirit of God

This post is about what the Holy Spirit feels like to me.  It is a description of my experience.  I hope to inspire you to study this topic and come to know what it feels like for yourself.

The Spirit Feels Like Joy
When I make a decision and it happens to be the right one, the Holy Spirit sometimes feels my heart with joy.  When I’m about to make the wrong decision, the Holy Spirit sometimes puts a sinking feeling in my heart or an unexplainable anxiety.

The Spirit Feels Like Love
When I serve someone with no thought of reward, sometimes the Holy Spirit fills my heart with God’s love.  Once I taught a Sunday school lesson to teens and at the end I told each student I loved them as they went out the door.  That day I felt more love for them because I extended myself beyond my comfort zone and said that particular phrase.

The Spirit Feels Like Peace
In sacred places, the Holy Spirit’s presence is peaceful.  I also feel peace when the Spirit is telling me “good job.”

The Spirit Fills My Heart with Patience
Sometimes I want things done quickly.  I’m a fast mover.  I fret about things when the process takes longer than I would like.  As I step back and exercise faith in God’s timing, the Holy Spirit gives me a patience that doesn’t come naturally to me.

The Spirit Interacts More With Me When I am Meek
The ability to listen, accept guidance, let go of expectations, change — all these things work well when looking for and feeling the Spirit.  I feel the Spirit more when I’m not certain and I’m looking for direction.

The Spirit Feels Gentle
When the Spirit corrects me, I feel He is gentle — unless I’ve already made my choice and it’s the wrong one.  Unlike humans, the Spirit is not loud, critical, angry, insulting or harsh.  The Spirit  helps me to see where I have made a mistake while I still have a chance to fix it.  His corrections are often barely perceptible but if I listen I can change course easily.

The Spirit Feels like faith
When I have a sense that the Holy Spirit is with me, I am filled with faith.  Doubt doesn’t come from the Spirit.  Sometimes I take a small step in the wrong direction.  I feel it.  I try not to take big steps without some kind of confirmation.

The Spirit Gives Me Hope
When a trial is going on and the end is not in sight, sometimes the Spirit gives me hope to hang in there.  Sometimes I sense that the Spirit sent a person who has hope to stand beside me.

The Spirit Feels Like Power and Authority
Strong impressions from the Holy Spirit are rare, but when they include a confrontation with evil they feel powerful.

The Spirit Feels Like the Rushing of Mighty Waters
Once I had a spiritual experience while reading Psalms 18 that I attribute to the Holy Spirit.  It felt like an overflowing rush of water as in a waterfall.
The Spirit Manifests like an Idea in a Dark Room
Situations can get particularly troubling and when I ask the Lord for help, sometimes he responds by giving me a new idea that I’ve never had before.  I believe that the Lord speaks to my mind through the medium of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit Feels Like Growth
The way a seed swells before it grows is similar to how my heart feels when I feel the Spirit.  One time the seed of “Abiding in the Lord” was planted in my heart.  I didn’t understand it at the time.  Later it began to grow and I felt the truth of the idea.  I think the sense that something is true and that I am growing in my understanding of it comes from the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit Sometimes Presses
When the Holy Spirit wants me to do something that I wasn’t planning on doing, I sometimes feel a sense of pressing from a thought or feeling.  Once I kept getting an old widow’s name in my head.  I decided to stop in and see her.  When I got there, she was grateful because she had asked the Lord to send me.

The Spirit Constrains
This is like being pressed above but it is the sense of the word “no” in my head.  I find that these kinds of impressions are usually urgent.  While this type of impression is maybe the easiest to discern, it isn’t the most common.  The Lord expects us to make choices based on our knowledge and understanding without always giving us specific instructions like “no.”  

The Spirit Brings Things Back into Our Memory
This works very well for students who study and prepare for tests on Monday but don’t study on the Sabbath Day.  I’ve also had this happen while studying the scriptures.  The Holy Spirit will use a verse to bring to mind another verse and if I follow the impression I often get a train of new ideas.

The Spirit Teaches
Once I made a choice to sacrifice some of my personal time to go and help to janitorial duties at the church building.  The Spirit rewarded me by teaching me something new on a subject I was pondering.

The Spirit Edifies Gospel Instruction
During a Sunday school lesson I sometimes learn something altogether startling while teaching what I have prepared.  The students are also eligible to receive spiritual insights while being taught if they are aware and open to it.

The Spirit Guides
Sometimes I receive a prompting which leads me to make a discovery and maybe find more along the same line.  This is more subtle than an experience where the Spirit teaches me something directly.

“For the Holy Ghost to be fully operating” in our lives, Ezra T. Benson said, “we must keep our channels clear of sin.” 

He warned, “If our channels are  not clear of sin, then we may think we have received inspiration on a matter when it is really promptings from the devil.”

Verses for Further Study:

Image source: Flickr/ Hickory Hardscrabble

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Body of Christ Analogy

Paul devotes more than one epistle to the idea of the church as the “body of Christ”. He teaches, “There is one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.”  Eph 4:5-6  Each person becomes a “member” of the body at baptism.  “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free.” 1 Cor 12:12-13  

The “body of Christ” has a purpose.  It organizes or “equips the saints for the work of the ministry.”  Within the work of ministering, each member has a calling.  This calling could be notable like apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher many of whom travel around giving guidance. Eph 4:11  Or it could be seemingly insignificant like deacons and teachers who “should be appointed to watch over the church to be standing ministers unto the church.”  D&C 84:111 No assignment is too small to be noticed and more than once Paul questions whether the body can really function if every member does the same job.  1 Cor 12:16-17

When all the members contribute by doing their part in the Church, everyone is “edified together.” D&C 84:110  The saints receive instruction in the “knowledge of the Son of God” Eph 4:13, comfort (when “one member suffer[s] all the members suffer with it - 1 Cor 12:26), and protection Eph 4:15.

“And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him, him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.”  D&C 84:106