Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hooray for the Truth!

I'm still alive! Besides the bathroom remodeling it is the end of the semester and yesterday I taught three classes and graded over 150 student journals. It is a fun thing to do because most of the students write things that are interesting to read, but it is also a tedious thing to grade that many journals in one day. But I got it done in record time! I went to work yesterday at 6:30 a.m. and came home at 9:00 p.m. It was dark when I left home and dark when I returned home, but I know that somewhere in between those dark walks to and from the car there was sunshine. (My office has no windows!)

I've been so busy, but have been waiting excitedly to share a scripture with you. It is a verse that talks about the Pit of Illusion which the Book of Mormon calls vain imaginations. (See 1 Nephi 12:18 and Roman 1:21.) This verse is found in Helaman 16:22;

"And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and agaisnt that which should come."

That pretty well sums up the opposite of Living in Truth and what it means to live in the Pit of Illusion. It is foolish and vain and people who dwell in the Pit are disturbed, or as I call it vexed, all of the time.

I might be busy, but today I'm celebrating the fact that I don't have to dwell in the Pit of Illusion. I know how to Live in Truth! Three cheers for Truth!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beginning, Middle, End

I'm in the middle of a remodel job in my home and I've decided I missed my calling in life. I've enjoyed getting bids from contractors, lining up work crews, and making all the decisions about what goes where and when. But it has kept me busy so I've been a little sporadic with the Good News! I hope you haven't given up on me.

I did discover something fun the other day that I've been eager to share. The word for truth in Hebrew is transliterated as emeth and in Hebrew it consists of three letters. I had known that before, but what I didn't realize is that the three letters are the first letter of the alphabet, the exact middle letter of the alphabet (thirteen letters before and thirteen letters after), and the last letter of the alphabet. Jews teach that the word itself testifies that truth must be the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things.

When Living in Truth it is a good thing to remember--truth must be our beginning, our middle, and our end!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Skip and Sway

Last night, tired after teaching three classes ending at 6:40 pm, I walked out of the building to go to my car which was parked about 150 yards away and found the skies weeping profusely. I don't know what the sky was so sad about, maybe how cold it had turned, but I had to navigate to my car without an umbrella or other fixtures with which to protect myself from the tears.

But I Live in Truth and the Truth was that it was raining. Weeping skies are something I can't change so I had two choices. I could get all grumpy and ornery and fill myself with the pain that is better known as self-pity or I could live with the rain. Like I said, I Live in Truth so there was really only one thing to do and I did it. I started humming, "I'm Singing in the Rain" not at all like Gene Kelly does it, but you might recognize it if you heard it. (I'm not a singer!) Then the magic happened. The music began to dance in me so that I found myself skipping, swaying and splashing my way to the car, arriving wet but in very good spirits.

The water dried shortly after I arrived home, and I am still laughing about my dance to the car. Oh what a beautiful life Truth is!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Formula For A Satisfied Soul

There is an amazing promise found in the writings of Isaiah: “If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:10-11).

Most words here are translated very well, but the meaning is a little clearer when you know that in the first verse the word darkness could have been translated gloominess. What this says to me is that when we reach out to help and assist the poor and the afflicted, the Lord will heal our poverty and afflictions. But the most important promise is that when we help others, the Lord will guide us at all times and feed our hungry souls even in times of dire distress so that we won't be gloomy. His Living Waters will flow to us continually.

These verses are encouraging to me because they are doable. All of us have the capacity to reach out to others. We can give a smile, a note of appreciation, a hug, a meal, or whatever we have because we all have something to give. And in return for giving what we have, the Lord gives us more. He will “guide thee continually.” What a great blessing!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Seeing By the Truth

picture by AndrĂ© Kutscherauer © 2011
We are doing some bathroom/kitchen remodeling in our home and at times electricity goes out, water is unavailable and chaos is everywhere all the time.

Yesterday the new lights were finally installed in my kitchen and as I turned them on for the first time last night my whole kitchen looked new. The wood of the cabinets was brighter, the stone on the counter tops looked like I had just polished it, but all that was different was the lighting. This make me think of a quote from my friend, C. S. Lewis; "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."  

Like my kitchen with new lights, when we Live in Truth (also known as Light) the world looks different. Truth illuminates the world so that we see things that we've never noticed before and we see them more clearly and distinctly. When we are deep in the Pit of Illusion there is little light so that the things we are trying to see are distorted and blurred and indistinct. 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 because we can't see clearly.

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 3, 2013

It's All About Love

Today in my New Testament class we discussed the three epistles of John, known in the New Testament as 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. 1 John is one of my all time favorite chapters of scripture for two reasons. The first is that it is all about Living in Truth. For example, "The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth" (1 John 2:8). In my own words, when you are Living in Truth the bad things of the past are over, you don't need to think about or dwell on them, and today the true light shines. If you step out of the dark past, you are walking in light. The best part is that you can step out of that dark past anytime you want and the light is waiting for you.

The second thing I love about 1 John is that it is all about love. I never read this without feeling that some unseen power has risen from the page, wrapped arms around me and is hugging me tightly while whispering reassuring words of comfort in my ear. Verses like, "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God" (1 John 4:7). and "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16), and "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18).

If you are every feeling discouraged, down, dismayed, depressed or any other negative feelings read 1 John 1-5 and let the words wrap you in love.

Monday, April 1, 2013

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!