Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Signs

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
John 2:23 
In the King James version the word "miracles" is used as the English translation.  However, the Revised Standard Version uses the word "signs".
The Greek word here is different than other words also translated into the English word "miracles" in the Bible ("teras" and "dunamis").  Teras is a marvelous thing with no particular moral significance.  Dunamis means "power".  It's at the root of the word "dynamite" and refers to a power that effectuates undeniable change.  But the word in this passage is "semeion".  It means an act that reveals something about the character of the person doing the action.
In this passage, John is indicating that Jesus' actions that others observed while he was in Jerusalem manifested to them something about the character and nature of God, with whose will Jesus was in complete harmony.
However, Jesus did not articulate aloud who he was at that time.
   But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
John 2:24-25
He knew the nature of men, how they may misunderstand words or jump to conclusions based on their assumptions when something is articulated.  Declaring his messiahship would have been destructively interpreted by the people in Jerusalem at the time.  So he simply let his actions speak, and those who could truly understand what those miraculous actions signified about his holy character and the power and nature of God learned what they needed to know.
When you read the "signs" manifested in Jesus acts, what do you learn about the nature of a loving and powerful God?
Which made me think....
In temples there are signs mentioned.
Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.  ~Brigham Young (Oration delivered on laying the South-East Cornerstone of the Salt Lake Temple, April 1853, Journal of Discourses 2:31) 
We may see them or memorize or remember those signs, but do we seek to see and understand what they might also teach us about the nature and purpose of our loving and powerful God?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I Am Way Blessed

"surrounded by all the things many people would literally die to give their families. Clean water. An abundance of food. Good health. Access to doctors, hospitals, medicine. Security. Safety. A support network. The ability to vote. The freedom to have a different opinion and not fear for her life.”
Brooke McAlary
http://www.slowyourhome.com/humanity/

Friday, October 10, 2014

to them gave he power to become the children of God John 1:12-13 Elucidating William Barclay


John states that we can become sons and daughters of God (heirs) only through our receiving Jesus Christ. This obviously isn't the generic "I am a Child of God" that denotes all of us having come from his presence, but rather the child or heir that Jesus spoke about during his ministry.   And the next verse states that this heirship does not come from any human impulse or act of human will; it comes entirely from God.  We cannot make ourselves heirs with Christ. What we have is an invitation from God to become his sons and daughters by entering into the relationship with Jesus Christ (receiving him) that he offers us and becoming empowered by that to, through his grace, become his heirs.

What God offers we are free to accept, delay or refuse.  A father may offer his child his love, his advice, his friendship, and the child may refuse it or prefer to ignore and take another path through life.  So it is with what God offers us.  He offers us the right to become his heirs, to truly be his children in all things, but we are not compelled to accept that.

Why "to them that believe on his name"?

Herbrew thought and language had a way of using "the name" that's interesting.  It did not mean a person's appellation, but rather his nature.  For instance, Psalm 9:10: "Those who know thy name put their trust in thee." does not mean that  those who know God's is called "Jehovah" will trust God, but rather that those who know God's character, or nature, or what he is like, will be ready and willing to trust him for what they need.

To "trust in the name of Jesus" therefore means to put our trust in his true nature.  He was the embodiment of kindness and gentleness and service towards us.  It is John's central doctrine throughout his gospel that in Jesus we see the very mind of God, the attitude of God to men.  If we believe that doctrine, then we also believe that God is like Jesus, as kind, as loving as Jesus was.  Therefore, according to John's thinking, to believe in the name of Jesus is to believe that God is like him, kind and loving to those who struggle, who are lost, who seek him, etc. etc..

And it is only when we believe that about God, that we can trust him enough and become close enough to him to respond openheartedly to what he offers us in terms of a relationship and submit ourselves to him and become his children.  And that, combined with the divine cleansing power of Jesus atonement for our sins empowers us to become truly God's sons and daughters, joint heirs with Christ.

How essential that understanding of the nature of God is!  How difficult it is to build a relationship with a God who you see as stern, judgmental, cold or distant, demanding, impatient or disappointed in us or in others with whom we struggle.  How much easier it is to build one with a God who we know acts, thinks and responds as Jesus does and therefore learn how to be that way ourselves as we approach God.

This is what Jesus opens to us: the possibility of moving from being intimidated or indifferent acquaintances of  our God that we perceive erroneously and, instead, opening ourselves to a trusting close relationship that is one of an attentive, responsive son or daughter and heir in every sense of the word.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

"All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood."

The following things are referred to as appendages to priesthood in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“the offices of elder and bishop”, “the offices of teacher and deacon”, Doc &  Cov 84:29-30
the Aaronic Priesthood, Doc & Cov 107:14
“All other authorities or offices in the church ” Doc & Cov 107:5
Looks to me like we all, men and women, if we work in any church capacity, work in the role of appendages (extensions of or additions to) priesthood (the power of God)
Which brings to mind:
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches."   John 15:4-5 


Sunday, October 05, 2014

"Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?"

It's one of the questions on a temple recommend interview.

First "restoration"
"Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” that “He will yet reveal.” (9th article of faith) Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."  

Dieter Uchtdorf, April 2014

Secondly  "the gospel".
“Behold, I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto youthat I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
“And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world."
3 Nephi 27
Do I believe in that gospel?  Do I believe that our understanding of it has increased in the "latter-days" through divine revelation and will continue to increase through divine revelation from God.
Check.
Though at first glance it may look like a question about  church history or the church as it was in early Christianity here now, or even Joseph Smith,  it doesn't say that.  It's a question about restoration and the gospel.  Good to think about.

Though I think I'd change "happy" to "like Him" if the lyrics were mine.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

What an Old Friend Said He'd Learned from the Example of My Father

"Be more patient
Have good humor
Listen to what the person is really saying, trying to understand what is in their heart"

~Mark Tanner