Friday, March 24, 2017

Nobody Asked Me, But...

So what do I think of all this stuff?

I think I lack wisdom.

What does fear say to do?

Fear says to run far and fast from all of this.

On what grounds?

Fear of making a mistake.

What am I going to do?

I'm going to read all the proposed scriptures and take the matter to the Lord in mighty prayer.

What am I going to ask?

Whether this work constitutes a covenant from him, more or less.

Monday, March 20, 2017

There Ought to Be Convergence

As men obey the commandments of Jesus Christ with diligence and with all the focus of heart, might, and mind, they come to common understandings through common experiences in the world and the ministrations of the Holy Spirit which reveals the true meaning of things.  Thus do men become of one heart and of one mind, the one heart and one mind being that of Christ, and thus there ought to be convergence of views and feelings among them which are disciples of Christ.

That's why it should not be surprising to hear the servants of God say similar things independently of one another.

And that's also why if a man will believe and diligently execute the commandments of Jesus Christ as far as he has received them in the scriptures and from the voice of the Lord, he doesn't need any man to teach him, for the Spirit is poured out upon him and he is taught from on high.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Self-Diagnostic for the Spirit of Contention

If you argue with someone because they're wrong, you have the spirit of contention.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Wo unto the Rich

2 Nephi 9:30 But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.
This is a universal statement with no exceptions: the rich shall perish along with their treasure, which is their substance.  Who then are the rich?

Benjamin answered this question for us by defining what it means to be poor.
Mosiah 4:24-25 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.  And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.
Those are the poor: their needs are met, but they have nothing more, and are unable to give to the beggars because they have nothing.

The rich, then, are they with no unmet needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter, and have substance in their possession - money, food, clothing - that they can give, or non-necessities they could liquidate.  They may have laid up their treasures - their excess substance - upon earth in their closets, their sheds, their garages, their recreational vehicles, their audio-visual equipment, their certificates of deposit, their health management accounts, their Roth IRAs, their checking or savings accounts, and so on, so their excess substance may not be in their immediate physical possession because they have hid it away to withhold it from men, but they indeed have excess to distribute to the needy and the beggars.

Those are the rich.  I figure most of my readers are, in reality, rich, and if they will scrupulously and diligently keep the sayings, teachings, and commandments of Jesus Christ, he will remedy their wealthiness with them, that they may not perish along with their possessions.

I recommend reading this series: The Dangers of Wealth and Inequality

Things don't have to be perfect, and I don't have to agree with them fully, to consider them worthy of consideration.

This is a time for action, to be up and doing, and not a time of many words.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Two Great Commandments of the Law

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
There are three accounts in the scripture of someone asking Christ what the great commandment in the law of Moses was.  Christ cited the first in response, and declared that the second was just like it.
Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.
Upon these two commandments, said the Savior to the lawyer who was testing him by the question, hang all the law and the prophets.

Love is both an emotion, meaning a feeling which motivates us to do stuff, and it is also a rule of behavior - the rule that when followed produces the stuff the feeling incentivizes us to do.  As love is in the power of the architect of the human heart, even God, to bestow, I don't concern myself with telling people to "just love one another and all is well!"  One may as well tell someone who doesn't know how to swim and is drowning in deep water: "Just stop drowning!  Swim better!  No, not like that!  Breathe air, not water!  Well, at least the sharks will get a nice meal...."

The primary effect and outcome of love is that we reconcile all conflicts in favor of the other.  To love God with all our heart, soul, and might, therefore, means to reconcile every conflict between us and God in God's favor.  If he asks us to do something we don't wanna do, we do it anyways.  Our own purposes, goals, plans, desires, whatever, take second place to our executing the least of God's commands or requests.  Also, we seek to advance God's purposes, so we teach his commandments, and not our own precepts nor doctrines, without fearing what men can do to us.  And we accept all that it pleases God to inflict upon us, without trying to avoid it.

To love our neighbor as ourself means, in practical terms, if we would do a thing for ourselves, we had ought to do that thing for others.  And, more - it means we do not withhold our substance from others, but give on request, and let those who take from us have what they sought without us trying to get it back.  This means, among other things, we do not build up stores of goods nor food nor money, because by doing that, we are withholding substance from others and taking more than we have need of; we exhibit covetousness thereby, demonstrating that we break the tenth commandment (at the very least).  Of course we reconcile conflicts in their favor, granting their requests as we grant our own, praying for our enemies, our abusers and our spiteful users, that thereby we ourselves may not be their enemy, but that instead we may be filled with love, that our duty to serve them seem not so onerous to us; we suffer their abuse and return good for evil, just as a loving parent would absorb the unthinking and unheeding blows of a two-year-old pitching a tantrum.  Just as we wish someone would seek us out when we are in trouble and trial and see to our needs or redeem us from bondage, so also we had ought to seek out others and see to their needs and redeem them from bondage as well, by paying their debts and their bills.  And, of course, we forgive everyone of all debts and transgressions against us, just as we do not hold ourselves as indebted to ourselves.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Ten Commandments

And God spake all these words, saying,
  1. I am the Lord, thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
  5. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.
A brief commentary:
  1. A God is that which we desire above all, that which we labor for, whose commands we obey, which we rely upon in our extremities to deliver us from our troubles, which gives us our security, which comforts us in our pains and griefs.  The most common God people have above the face of the Lord is mammon - the substance of this world - which God appears to us in many forms, such as money, finances, bank accounts, retirement funds, stocks, bonds, business, titles, claims, insurance, toys, gold, silver, petroleum, clothes, food, goods, and so on.  In these things do men place their trust and hopes, and for these things do men labor, and these things do men serve.  I would render the first commandment as "thou shalt render obedience to me above all other considerations."
  2. This commandment seems not to get a lot of notice, and for obvious economic reasons.  A graven image is any representational object - as opposed to a mere tool - whether in wood, stone, metal, plastic, bone, or any media.  A likeness is any visual representation in any media whatsoever, such as a painting, a picture, or a video, and so on.  The commandment is to craft none of these things for ourselves.  Not only is the commandment to not make for ourselves any of these things, but also to not bow ourselves down to them.  Not only are we not to make them for ourselves and not to bow ourselves down to them, neither are we to serve - labor for, do the bidding of, grant the requests of - such things.  This ends, among other things, selfies, movies, TV, inspirational videos, pictorial sales material and advertising, responding to pictorial adverts, statues, video games, picture books, textbooks with pictures of existing things, and so on - unless God has directly commanded us to make such a thing, in which case we make it not for ourselves - to serve our own purposes, such as to make money or gratify our desires - but for God.
  3. This commandment is interesting.  Take means to take with us, to carry, to bear off, to bear up, and so on.  While we normally think of this commandment as palming our crap off onto the Lord by falsely attributing it to him through attaching his name to things he has not said nor shown, it can also mean taking upon ourselves his name falsely by being baptized and not keeping his commandments, in which case we surely aren't guiltless.
  4. This commandment was the club the Pharisees and Scribes tried whacking the Lord himself with while he walked the earth.  Yet there are significant qualifiers therein: "thy work," and "thou shalt not do any work."  Obviously this at least covers the things we do for economic gain or to improve our holdings on earth.  What it does not obviously cover is works which the Lord God might do through us, such as healings or other good works, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned or the sick and afflicted, and so on.  And it does not obviously cover works which the Father did through Jesus, such as healings or other good works.
  5. Honoring one's father and mother means, at least, not dishonoring them, nor arguing against them, nor disobeying them, nor failing to give them what they ask for, nor failing to support them in their old age.
  6. Do not kill.
  7. Do not permit your loyalty nor sexual fidelity to depart from your wedded spouse, nor your heart to wander towards another, to desire them.
  8. Do not take what is not given to you.
  9. Do not tell lies about another person.
  10. Do not desire that which is in another man's possession.  If taken seriously, this ends economics, as economic transactions only take place because one or more people desire that which another possesses.  Paul said covetousness - the desire to possess something - is itself idolatry.  King Benjamin taught that if you don't have something and would not give it upon request if you did have it, you covet it, and are condemned.  The word that covers that is "desire," and the word which has been translated "covet," chamad, חָמַד, means "desire."  Better by far to give than to sell, and do not buy what you have no need of.

Friday, March 3, 2017

And He Spake a Parable unto Them...

Luke 6:39-45
  1. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 
  2. The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 
  3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. 
  4. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Let me proffer a possible meaning for this parable.
  1. Those who do not keep his commandments, a number of which immediately preceded this section, are blind, and shall be cast into hell along with all who follow them.
  2. None who walk in his discipline is better than him in any aspect and none know better than him, but every disciple who walks perfectly in his sayings, teachings, and commandments shall be equal to him.
  3. Why do you pay attention to the flaws in someone else's views, while you are yourself not keeping Christ's commandments and are therefore blind?  Or how can you say to someone else "Let me correct your views" when you are yourself blind because of your disobedience to Christ's commandments?  You fake follower of Christ, first be absolutely sure you are yourself wholly keeping the sayings, teachings, and commandments of Christ, and then you will be able to see clearly to correct those little errors you saw in someone else's views.
  4. By your words and your deeds shall you be known.
So what might I take from this possible reading?
  1. Keep all the commandments, including the one that says "judge not."  Even if I think I see something wrong in their view, don't bother to correct them unless they wish for my input.
  2. Remember that I am not even as the dust, which obeys the voice of God in all things; that until I am redeemed and brought into the presence of God through the veil I am evil and malicious and prideful and self-willed and selfish and fearful.  I do not know better than him and cannot improve upon his sayings, teachings, and commandments.
  3. Sit down and shut up; repeat the commandments, explain them, and do not bother trying to persuade anyone into my beliefs.  After all, if men do not freely and willingly do what Christ said to do, then they do not do what Christ said to do.  Since his sheep hear only his voice, there is no need to do other than repeat his words, and explain them to those who desire to help make up for the loss of literacy our generation is suffering.
A corollary to this - don't bother challenging others to append "thus saith the Lord" to whatever they're saying when I don't believe them; after all, since I didn't believe them before they said it, will I believe them after they say it?  No.  If I don't believe someone is speaking the truth, just drop them and go on my merry way.  The way of peace is to let every man do as they will, while inviting them to repentance by repeating the commandments of God in their hearing.  Let the contentious correct the contentious, until they have had their fill of conflict, that then they may have an appetite for peace.