Monday, November 23, 2009
Every year at thanksgiving, we gather around a table full of food to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. I will be the first to admit that I am not a great historian, so I am not going to go into the history of thanksgiving. I am going to say that every year going through the list of things I am thankful for seems more like a memorized list. I'm thankful for my family, the bible, having food, etc.
Today I was listening to a podcast titled The Cross of Christ and realized part of my problem. Besides the obvious (my sinful nature), the problem with this holiday is that it is about what we are thankful for and not necessarily Who we are thankful for. I could even say that this carries right on over to Christmas, especially since both holidays are seeming to run together anymore (tried to find a Thanksgiving decoration lately?).
The past week, I have been reading John 20:1-18. How is the empty tomb and Thanksgiving related, you might ask, okay, I am known for stating the obvious, so I will just spell it out. Without the empty tomb, there wouldn't be anything to be thankful for. Just imagine for a minute that the New Testament never happened. We would still be stuck under the law and doomed to hell. But, guess what? It happened! And we are blessed because Jesus was cursed. He took our punishment for the sins we have committed. And because of this, we get to know and be with God someday!
1 Timothy 3:16
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
There are a number of things that attribute to the desire of youth to become missionaries in the Mormon church. For those of us that were raised in the church, we were taught how wonderful it was going to be to go on a mission. Our grandparents, parents, cousins, friends, etc. all talked about how great their missions were and intrigued us on how neat it would be to serve half way across the country or world even.
We were given saving boxes in church that had three slots in it. One for Tithing, one for Savings, and one for Missions. Typically you were to put 10% of your allowance, etc. into each section. I have to admit, I was never very good at saving money so my box was usually pretty empty. In order for me to go on my mission, my dad paid the cost of my mission. Others pay for their own out of their savings. Even others are sponsored by individuals in the church who are willing to help those who can't afford the costs.
At the time I served my mission, everyone paid the same amount into the mission fund every month (I believe it was roughly $325ish). That money was then placed in a mission fund and divvied out among all missionaries around the world based on costs of living. While I was in Russia, my monthly allowance was $200 (roughly 1,000,000 rubles at the time I was there). Our travel and rent also came out of this general missionary fund.
This way we could easily say that there were no paid missionaries in the Mormon church. It became a uniqueness that we were proud of. Again, work righteousness we were taking care of our own way and not relying on the church to provide for us (in most cases).
Another bonus was that we knew we would not be called to serve in the state where we lived. I remember when I opened my "call" letter. I did not know where I was going to be sent. No missionary in the Mormon church selects where they will serve. It is chosen for you at the First Presidency level (so we were told, not sure how accurate it is...). Anyway, my brother was sitting at the table when I was opening and trying to read my letter. I was so excited to learn where I was going.
When I found where it stated that I would be serving in Russia, I started screaming at the top of my lungs. My poor brother had to cover his ears I was so excited. In fact, I think my entire apartment building heard me screaming. The reason I am sharing this is to help you understand how important these "calls" are to Mormons. A mission ranks right up there with a wedding (for a girl).
"According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I guess right now I am on this kick because I've been listening for what passes as "Christian" radio on my drives to work lately. Honestly, I think traffic irritates me less than some of the songs that play on the radio right now. For instance, "I'm free to be me and you're free to be you." Really? Where is that in the bible? Holy jeans aside, I wonder what that artist is thinking. The biggest reason I've even tuned in lately is because recently "The Revelation Song" has become popular. Talk about worship!
Next have you listened to some of the commercials that are played? I think that might be a topic for another day, but if I hear one more commercial about the homebased business expo, I think I will scream (nothing against home-based businesses, the station has just had some weird commercials).
Okay, I'm going to get off my rant now. However, I posted a Grace Gems devotion that I felt was appropriate for this topic right before this post.
Monday, October 19, 2009
"Whoever claims to live in Him--must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6
Nothing is more striking to a close observer of human life, than the almost infinite variety of character which exists among those who profess to be Christians. No two are alike. Even those who are alike revered for their saintliness, who alike seem to wear the image of their Lord, whose lives are alike attractive in their beauty--show the widest diversity in individual traits, and in the cast and mold of their character. Yet all are sitting before the same model; all are striving after the same ideal; all are imitators of the same blessed life.
There is but one standard of true Christian character--likeness to Christ. It is into His image--that we are to be transformed; and it is toward His holy beauty--that we are always to strive. We are to live as He lived. We are to copy His features into our lives. Wherever, in all the world, true disciples of Christ are found--they are all trying to reproduce the likeness of their Master in themselves.
One reason for the diversity among Christians--is because even the best and holiest saints realize but a little of the image of Christ, have only one little fraction and fragment of His likeness in their souls. In one of His followers, there is some one feature of Christ's blessed life which appears; in another, there is another feature; in a third, still a different feature. One seeks to copy Christ's gentleness, another His patience, another His sympathy, another His meekness.
Therefore, a thousand believers may all, in a certain sense, be like Christ--and yet no two of them have, or consciously strive after, just the same features of Christ in their souls. The reason is, that the character of Christ is so great, so majestic, so glorious--that it is impossible to copy all of it into any one little human life; and again, each human character is so imperfect and limited--that it cannot reach out in all directions after the boundless and infinite character of Christ.
Care of Grace Gems
Missionary work is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Partially due to the fact that my brother just left for the Phillippines to serve a two year Mormon mission and partially due to the fact that his leaving has made my heart yearn for the people who I misled in Russia when I served my mission so many years ago.
My prayers are with my brother that God opens his eyes to the fallacies he is teaching as He did with me. I also am praying that the people who I misled in Russia might find the truth and in turn find Jesus.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This has been a constant battle with me lately. It seems like I keep asking for things which God has already told me "no." Why are we continually drawn back into the same pattern, even when we think that this time is different?
Why do we think that if we just ask in a different way maybe God will say "Yes" to our request? Or if we ask the same question over and over and over again, do we think God is going to "change His mind" and grant our request?
I am having a red herring moment. I have been challenged recently with scripture recall. I am so sure of a verse or a story that I am positive is in the bible, and when I sit down to find it, it is not there. This is such a hurdle! I know it comes in part from my Mormon background and the extra "scriptures" that I studied until I could recite most of the contents. There are times when I remember a passage that I realize later was in the Book of Mormon.
The reason I am bringing this up is that I just had one of those moments. I was trying to find a passage in the bible regarding a king who asked a prophet to ask God for something and when God said "no," the king asked the prophet to go back and ask again, this continued until God said "go ahead" which of course was against God's will and the king was defeated. Since I can't find this in the Bible, I am assuming it is from the Book of Mormon.
Why am I sharing this with you? I want to make sure that if you are reading my blog you understand that you need to check everything I say against the Bible for accuracy. I am fallible and will remember things from my Mormon past which seem right, but are not Biblical. I also need to know when something I am saying is not biblical so that I can discern between the truth and the false teachings that I was raised on.
For this reason I will close this post with a request for you to be as the Bereans: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11
Saturday, June 27, 2009
How has the economy affected you? As many of you know, I am currently in a season where God wants me in the workforce. Strange as it may seem, I was rather excited when my boss announced the layoffs for our department last December. My job was one of the jobs that were to end. I had it all figured out that I was going to get to stay home with my kids and attempt homeschooling, be a good wife and homemaker, etc.
God had other plans for me. A little more than a month ago, my boss called me into his office and asked me if I would consider staying on until October. It meant a change in my duties. I accepted. Since then I have been extremely busy and my husband has stepped up on more than one occasion to assist me with picking up the children from school and taking care of them. Even with his busy schedule.
Now before you say that I am being selfish by continuing to work. God knows that my heart yearns to be at home with my children. However, I continue to work for His Glory. Besides having the opportunity to witness to my co-workers almost daily, God is showing me that my desire to stay at home is, in part, a form of selfishness on my part. In my desire to control my situation, I have been using the desire to be at home to show how "good" I am. Pride has reared its ugly head in my life again bringing along its cousin control issues.
In the past, I have used my desire to be at home with my kids as a reason for not working hard and even in instances as a reason for despising my husband. I believe this is the reason God has said to wait and that it is not my time yet to stay at home. So to His Glory, I will continue to work until He says it is time to stay home whether five or twenty years from now. Instead of coveting what my homeschooling neighbors have, I will be content with what God has given me and work hard for the Lord in the career that He has planned for me.
"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." Colossians 3:23-24
Sunday, May 3, 2009
According to Brigham Young:
"The first school of the prophets was held in a small room situated over the Prophet Joseph's kitchen.... When they assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all over the room, and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the Prophet entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made the Prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the Elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry." - LDS Journal of Discourses, volume 12, page158.
According to this rendition, the "revelation" was in response to the complaints of his wife. Another part of the story that I have read is that Emma was fond of her tea and coffee parties, which is why the "revelation" also banned "strong drinks" which includes tea and coffee.
David Whitmer stated:
“Some of the men were excessive chewers of the filthy weed, and their disgusting slobbering and spitting cause Mrs. Smith... to make the ironical remark that ‘It would be a good thing if a revelation could be had declaring the use of tobacco a sin, and commanding its suppression’' the matter was taken up and joked about, one of the brethren suggested that the revelation should also provide for a total abstinence from tea and coffee drinking, intending this as a counter dig at the sisters. Sure enough the subject was afterward taken up in dead earnest, and the 'Word of Wisdom' was the result ” - David Whitmer quote in Des Moines Daily News, October 16, 1886, page 20.
More information about how the Word of Wisdom was followed in the early days of Mormonism can be found here.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Last week we had the opportunity to take the Lord's Supper again. It was the first time that it did not feel like a ritual to me. I finally got it. While chewing the wafer I realized it represents Christ's body being crushed by my sins. Every time my teeth crushed the wafer, I felt worse and worse about the fact that it was my sins that did that to Christ. And just as I was in the depth of my despair, the "wine" (grape juice) representing the blood of Christ came and washed away the remnants of what I had done to the wafer just as the blood of Christ washed away my sins. This is a poor description of my realization. However, I know that the meaning is clear. God Lives! Christ is Risen! What more is there?
Amazingly, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with someone close to me this past week. The fact that it happened so naturally is evidence of Christ's work in my life this far. Although I am sure that there are many who could have done it more eloquently, but the fact that God was able to use me gives me cause to rejoice in Him. I am looking forward to tomorrow night and yet dreading it at the same time. I am excited to share my story and God's Love with those who will attend, yet fear that in my weakness, I will not be as effective as someone else may be. However, my faith lies in Christ and I know that it is not me who reaches a person but Him and I will rejoice in the fact that He will use me for His purposes.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2
Friday, April 17, 2009
"He appeared first to Mary Magdalene--out of whom He had cast seven devils." Mark 16:9
Mary of Magdala was the victim of a fearful evil. She was possessed by not one devil only--but seven. These dreadful inhabitants caused much pain and pollution to the poor frame in which they had found a lodging. Hers was a hopeless, horrible case! She could not help herself, neither could any human support avail. But Jesus passed that way, and unsought, and probably even resisted by the poor demoniac, He uttered the word of power--and Mary of Magdala became a trophy of the saving power of Jesus.
What a blessed deliverance!
What a happy change!
From delirium--to delight,
from despair--to peace,
from hell--to heaven!
At once, she became a constant follower of Jesus, catching His every word, following His winding steps, sharing His toilsome life; and withal she became His generous helper, first among that band of saved and grateful women--who ministered unto Him of their substance.
When Jesus was lifted up in crucifixion, Mary remained the sharer of His shame--we find her drawing near to the foot of the cross. She could not die on the cross with Jesus--but she stood as near to it as she could. She was the faithful and watchful believer--last at the sepulcher where Jesus slept; first at the grave whence He arose!
Thus, grace found her a maniac--and made her a minister!
Grace delivered her from Satan--and united her forever to the Lord Jesus!
May I also be such a miracle of grace!
(courtesy of Grace Gems)
Monday, March 30, 2009
However, even with all of the trials I have faced God has still given me more than I deserve. He gave me six extra months at my job after being told I was being downsized. He has given me four beautiful children who can always bring a smile to my face when I am starting to feel down. He has given me a husband who has a stable and thriving job. He has given me a sorrow for the poor choices I have made in the past and an awe for His great mercy. He has given me a despair for the results of my actions and a great hope in His Son Jesus Christ. When my sinful nature starts to turn inward, He pulls me back out by showing me someone who is struggling worse than me. How is it that He can be so merciful when we are so wicked?
I wanted to shout it to the world today. I wanted to go stand on the corner with just the Bible in my hand and tell of the glorious goodness of Jesus Christ. But you know what I did instead? I came home and I finished the dishes the girls started, I made dinner for my family, and I found out that my parents have put their home up for sale. Then I learned that we may have to put ours up for sale also. At least if I had gone out and stood on the corner with my Bible I would have been prepared for the blows. But through all of this, God has never failed to provide.
Therefore, through the trials that I am facing, I will continue to praise God. My Comforter, My Redeemer, my Rock. And, I think tomorrow, I am going to go out on that corner and open up my Bible and start telling everyone who passes of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Care to join me?
HE cares for ME!
by - Charles Spurgeon
Courtesy of Grace Gems
"Casting all your care upon Him--for He cares for you!" 1 Peter 5:7
It is a happy way of soothing sorrow, when we can feel--"HE cares for ME!" Christian! do not dishonor God, by always wearing a brow of worry! Come--cast your burden upon your God! You are staggering beneath a weight--which your Father would not feel. What seems like a crushing burden to you--would be but as small dust to Him. Nothing is so sweet as to,
"Lie passive in God's hands,
And know no will, but His."
O child of suffering--be patient! God has not overlooked you in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows--will also furnish you with what you need. Do not sit down in despair.
There is One who cares for you!
His all-seeing eye is fixed on you!
His all-loving heart beats with pity for your woe!
His omnipotent hand shall yet bring you the needed help!
The darkest cloud--shall scatter itself in showers of mercy.
The blackest gloom--shall give place to the morning light.
If you are one of His family--He will bind up your wounds, and heal your broken heart. Do not doubt His grace, because of your troubles--but believe that He loves you as much in seasons of distress--as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead--if you would leave providing--to the God of providence!
If God cares for you--why need you care also? Can you trust Him for your soul--and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens--He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! Be done with fretful worry--and leave all your concerns in the hand of your gracious God!
Friday, March 27, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I was reading my daily verses last week and came upon a confusing verse: Exodus 4:24. I decided to study it using commentaries and corresponding verses (still new to Hermeneutics, not sure I did it exactly right) and ran across a sermon by W.A. Criswell which talks about women (Moses' wife in particular) who can be overbearing to their mild husbands. Now I am not sure how biblically sound his theory is, but it started me thinking again about how I would like to be remembered: as a woman of fury, or as a woman of virtue (Proverbs 31:10-31) who loves God. I hope for the latter and fear for the former.
But God is good and He knows my heart. And through Jesus Christ, I have been washed clean and will stand before God someday with an advocate who died for me and who took the punishment that was reserved for me. Then why should I fear what people think, other than fear that in my weaknesses I do not turn them away from God. However, God works all thing for His Glory... even my weaknesses.
"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. " Romans 8:26-28
Friday, February 6, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
The three heavens are:
- The Celestial Kingdom (reserved for Mormons who have met all of the requirements of the temple and have, according to the Doctrine and Covenants, entered into the new and everlasting covenant (polygamy) and paid their "fire insurance" (10% tithing) faithfully, and so on and so on and so on)
- The Terrestial Kingdom (reserved for people who never had a chance to hear about Mormonism... very few people will end up here what with baptisms for the dead and all the missionary work going on in the spirit world before the judgment... more Mormon mythology)
- The Telestial Kingdom (reserved for everyone else... well... except for a select few which will go somewhere worse)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Whenever I post something, I try to evaluate my motives behind what I am posting. Many times I fall short of having pure motives (if pure motives are truly possible with my wretched nature). I am both drawn to leading and shy away from it for this very reason. However, I know that God is able to take my meager offerings and use them for His good. I know that if I am going to lead/teach, I will be held to a higher standard than if I do not, but if I avoid leading/teaching for fear of being held to a higher standard, then is that not being selfish?
This then becomes the Romans 7:14-25 struggle. And as such shows my weakness, in which I shall continue to post and teach and whatever else God may choose for me to do. For through my weaknesses, others' may see God's marvelous workings and their faith may be made strong. For God has promised: "power is perfected in weakness" (from Paul speaking of the thorn in his flesh 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
My final question at the close of this post is are you praying for those who lead you and those who teach you? Today we have a new president, and though I did not vote for him, I know that God has chosen him to lead the country at this time. It now falls on me to pray for him that he may lead the country in accordance with God's will. And so I will pray for the president just as I am praying for my pastor, my family, and my local leaders.
Friday, January 9, 2009
My weakest and most difficult moment during my recent trials, came last weekend when I was stuck in bed, literally. Prior to visiting the doctor first thing Monday morning, I could not take care of my children or my husband. I could barely stand, let alone walk. I do not know what caused my back to spasm as it did. But I do know that God was there helping me through it and teaching me with it. Wednesday, I was able to return to work with minimal pain.
During this trial, the selfish part of me asked God to heal me, and the person God is making me into added to my prayer that if He chose not to heal me, that He would use it for His Glory. Not only did He heal me, but He used my trial as a teaching tool for me.
When I was at my weakest and did not think I could take a step but knew I needed to get to the other room, I cried out to God to give me the strength to push through my pain. He gave me strength. When I needed help to get into the bathroom, He sent my amazing husband in to help me up. He also gave me the courage to be weak. Yes, I admit, I am afraid of being weak and needing to ask for help. But God showed me that I have a wonderful support in my husband. And through this trial, God showed me person after person who continue on everyday and somehow manage to get past the pain and heartaches that I was merely tasting for a moment. And maybe in the same way strengthening me to be able to get through the trials that are yet to come.
Oh, how I pray that I can be a window to His Glory and stand strong through the trials that are to come and yet be weak when He desires me to be weak and pliable.
"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name." Psalm 63:1-4