Cease from Anger (Part 3)

https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/jesus-christ-good-samaritan-1402940?lang=eng

When the Savior came to the Americas near the end of 34 AD, these were among the first words he spoke:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:29–30.)

Compare this with a verse of scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, one that I lean on constantly:

And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. (Doctrine and Covenants 50:23.)

Let’s think about these verses for a moment. If we are contentious, we are following the father of contention, the devil, and if we are saying something that is not edifying (or building up), it is not of God.

I’m sorry to say that at times I’m contentious and sometimes what I say is not very edifying (like, um, today). For me, both these weaknesses grow out of frustration, which grows out of impatience, which grows out of a lack of faith.

I am working on these natural-man habits. In fact, it’s a daily battle. Progress is ever so slight, but I give myself credit for every victory, small or great.

These quotes about the Twelve inspire me. First one is from Elder Neil L. Anderson:

“I’ll just speak of the Twelve, but in the . . . years I’ve been there, I’ve never seen anyone raise their voice. Never seen them angry. Never seen them sarcastic. Never seen them in an attitude of putting somebody down or even putting an idea down.”

Next from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

I have never observed serious discord or personal enmity among my Brethren. I have, rather, observed a beautiful and remarkable thing—the coming together, under the directing influence of the Holy Spirit and under the power of revelation, of divergent views until there is total harmony and full agreement. . . . I know of no other governing body of any kind of which this might be said.

That’s a pretty high standard to live up to, and I am so grateful that these men do live up to it. I look up to them. I am grateful for their examples. I want to follow them just as they follow Christ.

I can do better. We can do better. We can all “cease from anger.”

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil (Psalms 37:8; emphasis added).

P.S. Here are the other posts in the series: Cease from Anger (Part 1) and Cease from Anger (Part 2).

I’m Going to Make You Drink This!

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 7.12.35 PMToday in sacrament meeting, I heard an awesome story from the life of Elder E. Israel Pérez, a former area authority seventy from Guatemala. (It was published in the June 2006 edition of The Liahona.) I love the boldness and strength he discovered as he defended his personal commitment with faith.

Once when I was 16 years old, I was in a restaurant with some friends from church. A man who knew one of us came in. He said, “I want to invite all of you to drink some liquor right here and now.”

I remember standing up and saying, “None of us drink liquor. And if you want to drink, go find somewhere else to do it.”

This man was in his early 20s and much larger than I was—a very strong man—and he became mad. He brought a glass of liquor to me and said, “I’m going to make you drink this!”

I said, “Don’t try it. There could be unfortunate consequences.” [Love this line!]

He tried to grab me and force me to drink the liquor. The next thing I knew, the man was lying on the floor. I really didn’t have the strength to defend myself against that man, but Heavenly Father provided what I lacked.

Proverbs on Prosperity: There Is That Scattereth and Yet Increaseth

There’s a concept in holy scripture about giving and receiving that may seem contradictory to some. Simply, the more you give, the more you receive, and the more you hold back, less and less comes your way.

Here’s a powerful verse in Proverbs chapter 11 that demonstrates this:

There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty (v. 24).

For illustration, he’s another translation of the same verse from the New International Version:

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Compare this verse in Ecclesiastes, also in chapter 11:

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days (v. 1).

Now compare these words of Jesus:

Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. . . . For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath. (Mark 4:24–25.)

Giving generously to others—of our time, attention, or wealth—requires strong faith followed by action, or, in some cases, faith follows action. As the Savior said:

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17).

In other words, you don’t truly know until you do. You have to change behavior. You have to walk the walk. You have to get your skin in the game. You have to be committed and follow through if you want to know if a divine principle is true.

I love what Marion G. Romney said about this subject (quoted by L. Tom Perry):

I remember a long time ago, over 50 years, when Brother [Melvin J.] Ballard laid his hands on my head and set me apart to go on a mission. He said in that prayer of blessing that a person could not give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return. That’s been my experience. If the members of the Church would double their fast-offering contributions, the spirituality in the Church would double. We need to keep that in mind and be liberal in our contributions. (Welfare Agricultural Meeting, 3 Apr. 1971, p. 1.)

Doubling your fast offering? That is faith.

Finally, many of us are familiar with these words from Malachi:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (ch. 3 v. 10).

To receive, we must give, and the more we give, the more we will receive. When we are honestly generous, the bread we cast upon the waters will return to us—a crust for a loaf. It’s an immutable law. If you have not experienced it yourself, stretch your faith and try it. The reward of faith and generosity may not return to you in the way you imagine or at the time you think it will, but surely it will return multiplied. Of this I am certain.

7 Classes of Doubt

Courtesy LDS Media LibraryDoubt is normal and common. We are not going to escape doubt any more than we are going to escape temptation or affliction in this life. But as we grow stronger spiritually, doubt loses its sticking power.

Here are 7 classes or flavors of doubt. Are there more? Probably. Are these based on a double-blind, peer-reviewed study? Nope. These are only my life observations. (If you have tweak or one to add, please drop me a comment. I’ll add it and credit you.)

1. Normal doubt

We all experience doubt at one time or another. It’s part of our human wiring for survival. It’s okay to experience doubt, but if doubt drives us away from the truth or from loved ones or common sense or peace of mind, it’s probably more than normal doubt. This kind of doubt is the most temporary.

2. Accidental doubt

You chance on a conversation or some written or visual material, without seeking it, that casts confusion and doubt upon something you have believed for many years, perhaps your whole life. It puts a knot in your tummy. But as you have time to consider it for a few days, the doubt dissipates and you integrate the new notions with your current beliefs or forget about them. It’s not hard to recover from this kind of doubt.

3. Careless doubt

You don’t keep your eyes and ears and heart within wise boundaries. As you sling your attention around Interwebical vastness, you find the unsavory, the dark, the bleak, the lurid, the accusatory. It makes you sick as much as it makes you wonder. You have a hard time filtering this version of doubt. It pummels you, and you may even seek it out for a season, but you eventually shake it off (though they haunt your thoughts from time to time). Or it may take you down a valley road.

4. Obsessive doubt

This doubt thumps you hard. It’s like a fish hook—hard to pull out without pain an injury. It is known by it’s most common name worry. It rolls around in your mind day and night. It won’t leave you alone. Normal relief does not come in a matter of days. It keeps pounding you, day in and day out. It takes you weeks, months, and perhaps years to shake this serpent off.

5. Intellectual doubt

This doubt comes as a result of intellectual inquiry while setting aside spiritual inquiry. It is a lopsided doubt that denies, then denies, and denies. In order for this kind of doubt to flourish, you have to shut 3/4 of the windows in your mind and pull the shades. It is marked by pride, argument, put downs, and a host of relationship killers. When the need to assert your intellect exceeds your need for human connection, especially with those you love and have made covenants with, the fangs have set in and you are taking on venom. You are spiritually poisoned under the guise of intellectual “purity.” This one takes time to sort out and recover from.

6. Wilful doubt

Wilful sin produces wilful doubt. Consciously and perhaps defiantly going against what you know is right produces this type of doubt. It drains the soul of memories or reconfigures them. It turns its back on good habits, common sense, virtue, friends, family, promises, covenants, and eventually, hope. This doubt takes root when sin takes charge and becomes anger driven. Stubborn addictions are often present. The natural man gorges on this kind of doubt. Survival and recovery rates are low and slow, but this is not a hopeless case. In my view, there are no hopeless cases.

7. Nefarious doubt

Finally, we have descended to nefarious doubt. This kinds of doubt drags the doubter, and all he or she can take along with them, down to hell. This doubt knowingly, willfully, and gleefully casts doubt on nearly everything. It has a mission call to the Hades South Mission. It is devil inspired and devil driven. It is the doubt of the spiritual sociopath. It leans on the doorbell of perdition. It’s bad news. Really bad. Survival and recovery rates are the lowest. Once again, as long as there is a God in heaven, there is hope.

Soon, I’ll post something on the remedies to doubt.

What President Monson Said about Kindness, Charity, and Love

Courtesy LDS Media LibarayWhen President Monson spoke at the beginning of priesthood meeting instead of the end this past April, I felt on edge. It is hard to fight the feeling that his time is short. (Of course I don’t know that for sure: I feel it. And many times, feel turns into know for me.)

I listened intently to those brief remarks.  I have since thought, “Could he have spoken on a more vital topic than the pure of Christ?” My answer, to myself? “No.”

Here are a few thoughts from the talk that got my attention.

  • “We do not honor the priesthood of God if we are not kind to others.”
  • “Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all . . .” (Moroni 7:46.)
  • “‘Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others'” (from Joseph B. Wirthlin).
  • “Let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior’s example by being kind, loving, and charitable. And as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home.”

What President Monson Said about the Book of Mormon

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President Monson’s words were precious and few at our last general conference (April 2017). In two talks, he covered a lot of ground in a matter of 6 or 7 minutes.

I was deeply touched by what he said about the Book of Mormon. What if these were the last words we will hear from him across a pulpit? I think they may be and are therefore worth our careful attention. We’ve been hearing from him for a long time. I mean, I was five years old when he was called as an apostle.

Here are some highlights that jumped off the page at me. Simple, to the point, and very poignant, especially the promises at the end.

  • There is a “critical need [for] members of this Church to study, ponder, and apply its [the Book of Mormon’s] teachings in our lives.”
  • “If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so.”
  • “If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one.”
  • “I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.”

Reclaiming Our Innocence

https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/jesus-with-children-craig-dimond-82779?lang=engMy wife and I recently went to dinner with our youngest grandson, along with his mom, our daughter, and his older brother. Our youngest grandson is two.

During dinner, he was smiling at me and trying to get my attention. He was excited to tell me something. I turned my attention to him. Then he told me with a huge smile on his face that he had played with Playdough with his grandma (not my wife but his other grandma). His mom chuckled because that little event had take place four weeks earlier!

What my little grandson told me touched me deeply. Imagine being so excited to tell someone about something as simple as playing Playdough—and it happened a month earlier.

Young children in their innocence. Simple needs, simple joys. Untarnished, pure, and appreciative. Full of wonder, with hearts of gold. No ego on their radar. Of such is the kingdom of God (see Mark 10:14–15). As we read in the Doctrine and Covenants:

Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. (D&C 93:38.)

Again, in verse 15 of Mark 10:

Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Innocence is hard to come by when we are stranded in Egoville, the walled town where most of us adults live. In the town is a hill with a machine gun nest on top, a machine gun of defensive words that we use to position ourselves as the winner of every argument, the victim of every wrong, and the one who is always right. It is hard to be innocent when we are blaming, complaining, and ungrateful—the triumvirate of the ego-bound. It is hard to be innocent when we are stuck. And it is hard to be truly happy without some degree of innocence in our lives.

We can reclaim our innocence through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, through repentance, and accepting forgiveness, through a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Where else can we find the path back to innocence, back to our childhood?

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:6–7.)

I believe our innocence stems from our original infancy, before God formed our spirits (see D&C 93:29–30,36). I believe that this essence—our purest essence—is our true inner child. I believe we must go back to our origins to move forward in the eternities, leaving our false, unoriginal selves behind,

For the natural man [or the ego] is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19.)

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