Thursday, July 30, 2015

You Know It's Love When...

What all kinds of love have in common 
From 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; 

This story was written by a family member and read by Laura Schlessinger on her radio show:

“When I was growing up, I used to wish my parents would divorce, and we would go live with my dad.  My mother was manic depressive schizophrenic, so she was not mentally capable of raising my brothers and sisters (six in all)….My father played both mother and father.  He would go to work, come home, fix dinner, clean the house and then play with us.  I never heard him complain about his life.  She was extremely hard to live with and unrelenting because of her disease.  She had very few good days (as we called them) but my father always treated her with love and respect.  Everyone who know our situation said he was a saint.

“I once asked my father why he didn’t leave her because of all the pain she caused all of us.  He expressed the following: that she, before her illness, was an amazing woman whom he loved dearly.  When she was at her worst he thought very hard about leaving (this was about 1961), but decided he couldn’t because we would all be put in foster care and no one would take care of her.  He said he put his trust in God to help out on the bad days.  It was truly for better or for worse….

“My mother in the last few years of her life had mellowed more and had more better days than bad.  They lived in an assisted living facility for the last two years of their lives.  The nurses told us they had never seen a more loving couple than my parents.  When the nurses woke them up each morning, they were cuddled together.  My mother worried about my dad as much as he worried about her.  They were married 55 years until they both passed away within two months of each other.”

charity envieth not; 

You cannot make someone love you, make them change, or control what others say and do.  Envy can come into play when you see something someone else has that you want.  Envy is also when you want someone to do something different or love you differently.  Loving relationships are full of contentment and approval.

charity vaunteth not itself, 

Some kinds of love have strings attached.  If there is an expectation of appreciation, admiration or attention, the kind or loving action is being used to elevate the giver.  It is also not loving to expect a loving action in return.  Love should not be used to buy, manipulate or form friendships or alliances.

Real love doesn’t debase the self either.  If the love given to others means neglecting yourself, the gift is not good.  Love comes from the overflow of good things not from emotional poverty.

Monday, July 27, 2015

10 Strategies for Ditching the Devil

The devil is real.  He and his angels are battling God for the souls of men.  But neither God nor the devil appear and make men do their bidding.  This gives us, mortals, the agency to choose between light and darkness.  After a series of poor choices, the outlook may be bleak.  So if the devil is having a heyday in your life, what can you do to get rid of him?  And by the way, we all make poor choices, so the darkness is familiar to all of us.  The strategies for winning though, are known by those who live in the light.  Here’s a few that I’ve thought of:

Mental Strategies

So the devil is going to play mind games with you.  He is the master of temptation.  When Jesus was alive, the devil came to him and said, I see that you’re hungry, turn these stones in to bread.  Jesus used the Word to counter him.  Then the devil said, “See all the kingdoms of the world?  All this power will I give thee…” if you worship me.  Jesus got strength from the commandment that says you should only worship God.  Then the devil challenged his identityThrow yourself from the top of this building and see if God loves you enough to send angels to save you.  Jesus was certain of his divine identity and refused to put God to a test like that. (Luke 4)

Strategy #1 — Use the Word to counter temptations of appetite.  The word is like a sword that cuts down the Devil’s logic. (Eph 6)

Strategy #2 — Use the Commandments to counter temptations of power and influence

Strategy #3 — Ignore the Devil when he challenges your identity.  You are the offspring of God and your divinity is not negotiable.

Strategy #4 — Sing a hymn.  The Devil hates holy music and he will leave you alone if you articulate in your mind the words.

Minesweeper Cutting Loose Moored Mines

Physical Strategies

Think for a moment about the strategies of men who make junk food for general consumption.  God did not inspire them to make food that damages the body so the Devil must be behind it.  Then consider yourself in state of emotional distress and along comes the Devil tempting you to reach for that easy pre-packaged snack.  If it is in your house, you will almost always fall to the temptation to eat it.  Eventually you will be enslaved to the consequences of an unhealthy body. (In using this analogy I'm not trying to be excessively critical of the foods we eat but to show how some things that are easily accessed can be tempting.)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Becoming Covenant Keepers

1.  Faith in God
We must begin by knowing enough about God to follow His guidance in the major decisions of our lives.  Without confirmation that He approved of the decision, we might not have sufficient faith to endure the challenges of keeping covenants

2.  What do Covenant-makers have in common? They keep their word.
- Bad Guys:  “I had to pronounce the oath whereby I was to say that should I betray the organization, my flesh would burn like this saint," Buscetta (a former Mafia Boss) said.  (LA Times, October 31, 1985)
- Good Guys:  “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” (US Declaration of Independence)
- God:  “I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep.”  Mosiah 26:20

3.  Accepting the Terms of the Agreement
Making an agreement with a bank includes terms and conditions.  Generally, entering into this type of agreement means that I will not default on my obligatory payment.  And if I do, certain penalties will be enforced.

Making an agreement with a spouse in marriage obligates me to perform familial duties.  My spouse relies on the strength of my word as security on this agreement.  Would a marriage be binding if one person didn’t agree to the terms?  In today’s culture, many people avoid making a marriage covenant.  It makes sense to question a person's integrity.  Fear of making covenants leads to a loss  of the emotional and mental security that an agreement of this nature guarantees. 

Making covenants with God entails an agreement to keep his laws.  “I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.  I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”  (D&C 82:9-10)  In return for our allegiance, he promises us eternal blessings.  Baptism is a sacred covenant with God.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Who's Got the Reins?

One of the most profound stories in the book Little Britches describes how the cowboys taught a horse to be ground tied.  They pegged the horse's reins to the ground just out of reach of water and left the horse there for a few days.  It was torture, but the lesson was never forgotten.  When the reins were down, the horse knew not to move.  This method is not used today as far as I can tell.

The reins guide the horse with the slightest of pressure.  The reins give the owner a lot of control.  This idea was used in the Bible to describe the relationship that God has with his followers.  God holds the reins and directs us with the slightest of movements.

"I the Lord search the heartI try the reins, even to give every man according to his waysand according to the fruit of his doings." (Jer 17:10)

How does God check our hearts?  He uses the reins to see if we will obey when we hear His whisper. It is a reality check not a guess.

My baby climbs.  He gets into things that he shouldn't and often spills liquid intentionally.  If I say "no" to him, he looks at me but he doesn't respond.  He probably understands the word just by the tone and manner that I say it but his heart hasn't been trained yet.

When God warns me, I should do more than just look at Him.  My heart recognizes His voice.  Unlike the baby, I have been trained.

The Bible says that God gave Jezebel "space to repent."  Her disregard for Him led to a heavy punishment.  It says that God will judge the works each one of us has done.  Our works will be judged by how we responded to the reins.  Our reward will be given at the judgement day. (Rev 2:20-23)

So what happens when we drift away from God?  Who has the reins then?  Well, God allows us to be driven as chaff or to be tossed as a ship without a sail or anchor.  He lets us experience life without the reins.