The Rim of the Moon

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blood_Cresent_Moon.jpg

Along a keen edge
of dark and light
I ran an unsuspecting
finger

and left behind a
sunset drop
in memory of this
forgotten world,

its atomic trouble,
double-barreled blame,
shark-toothed schoolyard terror,

from which I flee
like an invisible child
flying home
one last time.

Michael James Fitzgerald

“My Peace I Give unto You”

https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/mountain-landscape-905815?lang=eng

Within hours, Jesus would suffer beyond all comprehension, and yet he left these words—among His last—with His apostles:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27.)

“My peace”? What is His peace? I’ve been pondering that one today. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Lasting peace, real peace, is rooted in Jesus Christ. He was one with our Father, and He was at peace with Himself. He is the example of peace. Though He was thronged by mockery, persecution, betrayal, even torture, in this world, He overcame the world (see John 16:33). Overcoming the world, or real peace, comes when nothing in this world can break our connection with God.

We may find temporary peace in this world of ours, but lasting peace comes in the presence of God. We can find that presence at home, in nature, in the temple, or simply in our hearts. To be present with God, we must be present in ourselves. We must have a temple in our hearts, our own private holy of holies.

Peace is also the fruit of unity. Unity is the essence of God’s life. God is at peace with all beings in the universe, though they may not be at peace with Him. Which leads me to my conclusion.

You can be at peace within yourself, and with God, no matter what others are doing and saying around you. You can know peace, the peace that Christ gives, in spite of earth and hell. Peace can dwell in that private, invincible part of you, that place no one may enter or intrude upon without your permission.

Key Verse: “He Will . . . Deliver You” (Mosiah 7:33)

https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/limhi-ammon-escape-mormon-thompson-1135903?lang=eng

King Limhi’s people escaping captivity.

I love this verse. I only recently “discovered” it. King Limhi, son of wicked King Noah in the Book of Mormon, gathered his people around the temple in the land of Nephi and made this amazing promise.

But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 7:33.)

His people, who were in bondage to the Lamanites after the raucous reign of Limhi’s father Noah, were told to follow three distinct steps in order to win deliverance from their enemies.

  1. “Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart”
  2. “Put your trust in him”
  3. “Serve him with all diligence of mind”

A short and simple formula, but the promise is staggering.

To me, following #2 is easier than steps #1 and #3, but all are needed. If you follow #2, #1 and #3 will come naturally, eventually.

P.S. The word perseverance does not appear in the verse, but it’s there, nevertheless. Perseverance is the key to success in life and faith.

I also like this cross-reference, 14 chapters later.

And now all the study of Ammon and his people, and king Limhi and his people, was to deliver themselves out of the hands of the Lamanites and from bondage. (Mosiah 21:36; emphasis added.)

“All [their] study” was to “deliver themselves” from bondage. Though they called upon God, they also called on themselves to do their part. I believe God wants to help us fix our problems, not to always fix problems for us, with little interest or participation on our part.

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).

The Six Destructive Ds

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/04/faith-in-the-lord-jesus-christ?lang=eng

Over the last few days, I’ve listened to Elder Kevin Pearson’s conference talk on faith in the Lord Christ (given in April 2009) several times. I was particularly fascinated by his “Six Destructive Ds.” I share them here (emphasis mine).

First is doubt. Doubt is not a principle of the gospel.It does not come from the Light of Christ or the influence of the Holy Ghost. Doubt is a negative emotion related to fear. It comes from a lack of confidence in one’s self or abilities. It is inconsistent with our divine identity as children of God.

Doubt leads to discouragement. Discouragement comes from missed expectations. Chronic discouragement leads to lower expectations, decreased effort, weakened desire, and greater difficulty feeling and following the Spirit (see Preach My Gospel [2004], 10). Discouragement and despair are the very antithesis of faith.

Discouragement leads to distraction, a lack of focus. Distraction eliminates the very focus the eye of faith requires. Discouragement and distraction are two of Satan’s most effective tools, but they are also bad habits.

Distraction leads to a lack of diligence,a reduced commitment to remain true and faithful and to carry on through despite hardship and disappointment. Disappointment is an inevitable part of life, but it need not lead to doubt, discouragement, distraction, or lack of diligence.

If not reversed, this path ultimately leads to disobedience, which undermines the very basis of faith. So often the result is disbelief, the conscious or unconscious refusal to believe.

The scriptures describe disbelief as the state of having chosen to harden one’s heart. It is to be past feeling.

These Six Destructive Ds—doubt, discouragement, distraction, lack of diligence, disobedience, and disbelief—all erode and destroy our faith. We can choose to avoid and overcome them.

I loved his statement, “Doubt is not a principle of the gospel.” If it is not a principle of the gospel, where does it come from? Four times in scripture we are commanded specifically to “doubt not” (Matthew 21:21; Mormon 9:27; Doctrine and Covenants 6:36; 8:8.) Because of these verses, I believe that not doubting is actually a principle of the gospel.

Mormon Pioneers: “A Shoe Came Flying at Me”

https://www.lds.org/media-library/images/wagon-wheel-760412?lang=eng

I found this little pioneer story in an article by Stanley B. Kimball in the Nauvoo Journal (now Mormon Historical Studies).

In 1866, near the Platte River, a pioneer named Robert L. Overseen lost one of his shoes. He was not allowed to ride in a wagon at the time, so he was in a pretty tough spot.

“The foremost quality of our pioneers was faith. With faith in God, they did what every pioneer does—they stepped forward into the unknown.”—Elder Dallin H. Oaks

He offered a prayer from the heart, the only kind of prayer a pioneer in need could offer. This is what happened: “As soon as I had uttered the prayer, a shoe came flying at me. Someone had thrown it out of a passing wagon.”

He said the shoe was a little on the small side but he could still use it. What a blessing. Imagine how grateful he must have been. The greater the need, often the greater and more genuine your faith.

P.S. Drat. I couldn’t find Robert on the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel site.