Saturday, April 30, 2011

Let God Take Over

One morning as the prophet Jeremiah awoke the Lord told him to go to the potter’s shop. Being an obedient man, Jeremiah did as he was instructed. When he arrived he found the potter molding a vessel on his potter’s wheel, but as Jeremiah watched the potter made a mistake and marred the vessel. But instead of crying, fretting, or vexing over the damaged vessel the potter simply rolled the clay into a ball and started over.

As the new vessel began to take shape under the potter’s hands, the Lord said to Jeremiah, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6).

Sometimes we, like the potter, make mistakes, but if we waste time lamenting, worrying, or pitying ourselves we only do more damage. When we Live in Truth we realize that mistakes, sins, adversity happen but in the next moment instead of vexing we need to simply move on and trust in the Lord. We are in His hands and we simply let Him direct us as to what should be done next. We let God take over!

As Psalm 25:12 teaches, “What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

BYU Women's Conference 2011

It’s BYU Women’s Conference. I haven’t heard any statistics but this is the largest Women’s Conference I can remember. The Marriott Center was packed for Sister Beck’s talk this morning. It was an amazing talk on what she has learned from studying the history of Relief Society. She talked a lot about how the power of the priesthood should operate in our homes. She explained how authority and keys of the priesthood are different than power of the priesthood and how we as women should make sure that the power of the priesthood is always present in our homes. It was one of the best talks I’ve ever heard on the role of women in the Church. It will be broadcast on BYUTV in the next few days. Watch for it and don't miss it. Or if you don't get BYUTV be sure and read it as soon as it is available.

I’m sorry you couldn’t all be there, but here is a picture of the gathering so you can pretend. Imagine 17 or 18 thousand women surrounding you—all gathered in one place to learn more about their Savior. Imagine the feeling that would generate and the love, joy, peace that is present. It is electrifying!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Truth Illuminates


picture by AndrĂ© Kutscherauer © 2011
  http://www.ak3d.de/all/selfillumination-1/
C. S. Lewis once wrote, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."  

This captures one of the amazing ramifications of Living in Truth. When we Live in Truth (also known as Light) it illuminates the world so that we see things differently. When we are deep in the Pit of Illusion there is little light and we do not see things clearly. Life doesn’t make sense. Teachings of the gospel don’t make sense. We don’t see any meaning to life or what we are doing.

But when we Live in Truth that Truth sheds its Light on all aspects of our lives so that meaning is apparent, beauty is illuminated, and the gospel message becomes clearer. When we Live in Truth we see everything around us as it really is and that brings peace to the heart and joy to the soul.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is Religion?


Religion has become a much maligned word. But while many people are giving up on religions as contained in institutional churches, statistics show a majority of people in the United States believe in God. These people have determined that while there is a God, churches don’t really help them find Him.

These people might be helped, as can all of us, by stopping to contemplate what the word religion means. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary has several definitions.

Religion is:
(1) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
(2) the service and worship of God or the supernatural
(3) commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
(4) a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

In the scriptures the word faith is used to mean belief, trust, loyalty, power, or system of beliefs. But the most interesting and informative thing about the word faith for me is its history. There are two differing opinions of how we got the word. Everyone is agreed that re- means again. But some scholars think the word originally meant “painstaking observance of rites” or to perform the rites over and over again. Other Scholars believe the words originally meant ‘that which ties believers back to God’ so the concept is to again be with God. Another word that is related to the word religion is the word rely.

When we stop to ponder on what the word religion means it helps us visualize and realize what religion can mean in our lives. Religion ties us back to God. It is our mortal link to Him. It is what we rely on in order to return to Him.

As Latter-day Saints, we know that it is the covenants that tie us back to God and we understand the importance of making and keeping covenants. Those covenants are found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are the very things that tie us back to God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Miracles


Having survived brain surgery and Grizelda, I firmly believe in miracles. That was a BIG miracle, but I also believe in little miracles and in daily tender mercies from the Lord. Our days are full of them if we just take the time to pay attention. On Sunday one of those not so little miracles happened to me.

I got up Sunday morning to write my post for this blog about the Resurrection. After it was finished I proceeded to post it, but couldn’t log onto the Internet. I did all the things I’ve done before when things aren’t working like check the cords, unplug the modem and plug it in again, turn off the computer and restart it, but nothing worked. Almost without realizing what I was doing as I worked I kept talking to God asking for help. It wasn’t a formal prayer, but I was addressing Him as if in prayer and just talking to Him. I spent a couple hours trying to post and was about to give up when suddenly I got an Internet signal and was able to post the test. Then I went on line to find the pictures I wanted and the Internet went out again. Again I unplugged, restarted, checked cords and nothing worked. Then all of a sudden I got the signal went on line long enough to post the pictures and again the Internet went out.

By then I was almost late for Church, so I got ready, attended Church, came home, and  had Easter dinner with D5 and her family. That night after the company had gone home and everything was cleaned up I went back to the computer to check my email. But again I couldn’t get a signal. This time I asked my husband and he couldn’t get a signal either and so we checked the desk computer and we couldn’t get on line with it either. So we called our service provider. After a myriad of questions she told us that the modem we have is out of date and no longer supported by them. “But I got on this morning,” I said. “You shouldn’t have been able to,” she replied. “We’ll send you a new modem.”

I’m posting this from work, and still marveling at the fact that the unworkable modem at home worked just long enough to post my entry on the Resurrection. 

Miracles happen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Isn't Over!


Easter day is over, but Easter is not. I know that the term Easter originally came from a pagan goddess, but we all assign meaning to the words we use and pagan goddess has nothing to do with what Easter is to me. Easter is the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and those continue on and on today, tomorrow, and forever. So before I stop rejoicing in the Easter season, I want to say one more thing. 

It is easy to read the story of the Passion of Christ (passion in this case means suffering) and be touched, but think about it in such universal terms that it doesn’t make a change in the way we think or act. But perhaps the greatest of all the Savior’s miracles is the fact that the Atonement while being infinite in that it covered all mankind for all time, was at the same time finite in that it was for me and for you as individuals. It was infinite in that through it the Savior can and will help me infinitely, but at the same time he knows every finite need and concern I have.

C. S. Lewis explains it this way: God “has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man [or woman] in the world” (Mere Christianity [1943], 131).

That is what I rejoice in as this Easter season comes to a close. That is why Easter season may end, but Easter will not. Easter is part of every day and when I remember that, I am a different person. Jesus Christ loves us enough to save us not just in the next life, but every day of this life if we just turn to Him and remember that every day is Easter.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen! Easter Morning

While soldiers guarded the sepulcher in which the body of Jesus Christ lay, the earth violently shook, two angels descended from heaven, rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. Overcome with fear the soldiers fell to the ground as if dead.

"Holy Women Near the Tomb" by Maurice Denis
The next morning, as soon as day began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and other women hurried to the tomb bearing sweet spices to anoint the Savior’s body. Worried about how they would roll back the heavy stone, they were surprised to find it already rolled back, and two angels guarding the entrance. Sensing the women’s fear, the angels said, “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6). “Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee. Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:6-7).

At the invitation of the angels the women then looked inside the sepulcher and when they had seen that it was empty the angels instructed them to go tell Peter and the disciples that the Lord had risen. The women returned quickly and told all they had seen. But most of the men took it as idle talk and refused to believe the women.

However, Peter and John hurried to the sepulcher and when they arrived Peter stooped down to look inside and saw that the linen clothes were lying undisturbed, but the napkin which had been about Jesus’ head was folded in a place by itself. The sight must have startled him. If the body had been stolen the linen would have been taken with the body or at least strewn about the room in disarray, but instead it lay where it had been and the napkin neatly folded. What could it mean? Perplexed Peter and John returned to their homes.

Overcome with sorrow, Mary stayed in the garden, and still weeping, peered inside the tomb one more time. There she saw the two angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain. Seeing her sorrow, one said to her, “Woman, why weepest thou?” (John 20:13.

"Jesus Appears to Mary" by Gregg Olsen
“Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

As she spoke, she turned back and saw Jesus standing in the garden, but with tears filling her eyes she didn’t recognize Him. “Why weepest thou?” he asked her.

Thinking He was the gardener she begged of Him, “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus responded, “Mary,” and at the sound of the familiar voice calling her name her grief turned instantly to joy and she cried, “My great Master.”

“Hold me not,” Jesus cautioned, “for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17).

Mary did as instructed and thus dawned the greatest day in the history of the world. Many mighty miracles followed as graves opened and the resurrected bodies of the saints came forth to minister to believers. 

Jesus also appeared to many other people and the world rejoiced in the fact that the great enemies of life, spiritual and physical death, had been defeated. Because He loved us so much, Jesus Christ saved us.

He is risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Crucifixion and Last Words of Jesus


Crucifixion was designed to cause death but to do so at at the slowest, most torturous pace. The agony was intense as wounds tore and bled, and muscles and joints pulled from tendons and sockets. But that is not what caused death. The strain of hanging by the arms eventually caused asphyxiation as the person lost the ability to breathe. 

That day on Calvary two others were executed alongside Jesus. One of them joined the Jewish leaders in deriding Jesus and cried out, “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23:39). But the other rebuked the first saying, “Dost not thou fear God. . . .We receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” 

Then to Jesus he said, “Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

Many of the women who had followed Jesus were sorrowing at the cross including Jesus’ mother. When Jesus saw her there he said,, “Woman, behold thy son!” Then to John he said, “Behold thy mother!” 

At noon darkness fell over the land, and for the next three hours the sun was hid. Finally after three hours of suffering, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

John tells us that then, knowing all things were now accomplished, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

In response someone dipped a sponge into a pot of vinegar, put the sponge on a hyssop reed, which would have been about three or four feet long, and lifted it to Jesus’ mouth. After He had sucked from it Jesus said, “It is finished. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Then bowing his head, as the Greek text says, Jesus breathed out his last breath and delivered up His spirit. 

Meanwhile at the temple the new course of Levites were performing the sacrificial rituals and at this same moment the trumpets announced that the ritual service was one-third over. Inside the Holy Place the veil separating it from the Most Holy Place ripped in two. The symbolism of this incident is beautiful. Before only the High Priest, representing Jehovah, could enter the Most Holy Place which contained the throne of God, and he was only allowed in once a year on the day of Atonement. With the veil rent, the way back to God was now open for all mankind. But there is something more. Josephus tells us that according to the Rabbis, the veil was a handbreadth thick. It was woven of 72 twisted plaits, each consisting of 24 threads (24 ply yarn!). Josephus, who tends to exaggeration, also informs us that the veil was so large it required 300 priests to lift it into place. But at the moment of Christ’s death it miraculously ripped in two from top to bottom.

Wanting the ordeal to be over before the Sabbath began, the Jewish leaders implored Pilate to expedite the crucifixion. Under orders, then, the soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves so that they could no long push themselves up by the small platform at their feet and would suffocate. But when they came to Jesus, He was already dead. Seeing this one of the soldiers thrust his spear into the Savior’s side and blood and water gushed out. This is significant in that it indicates that instead of dying by asphyxiation, Jesus’ heart literally ruptured making the cause of death a broken heart.

After the death of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathaea asked Pilate for the body and he and Nicodemus lovingly anointed Jesus with myrrh and aloes, wrapped Him in linen burial clothes and spices, and placed him in a never before used sepulcher over which was rolled a stone.

On Saturday the Jewish leaders, remembering that Jesus had said that after three days He would rise again, asked Pilate to place a guard at the sepulcher for they feared someone would steal His body and then claim Jesus had risen. Pilate consented, saying, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can” (Matthew 27:65). Given permission, the Jewish leaders sealed the stone door and set soldiers to guard the tomb. 

But soldiers would not be enough to secure this tomb.