Category Archives: religion

Wonderful! Counsellor!

Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Christmas Nativity
Christmas Nativity

After all the preparation and anticipation is over, there is peace.  Reality sets in.  The day has finally come for Jesus’ arrival.  He is here.  Now what?  Now we continue on; not as we were before our preparations started, but with a bigger heart and more willing to follow Him.  Remembering how we felt when giving to others and recreating that feeling by continuing to give of our time and friendship and love.  God submitted Himself to this lowly state of mortality to experience pain, sickness, heartache and evil.  Why?  So He would know how to succor His people (you and me).

And peace, good will toward men!

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And on earth peace

Luke 2:14    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Sometimes it’s easy to find peace.  Sometimes we have to look for it in order to find it.  Sometimes we even have to wait for it, having faith that it will come.  I know that I feel peace when I read about Christ and think about Him and what He has done for me and His love for me.  I also feel peace when I am doing something for others.

With Wondering Awe

Luke 2:8-14

An angel appeared to the shepherds as they were watching over their flocks by night.  Here again, these men were tending to their responsibilities when they received this incredible vision announcing the birth of the Savior of the world.  Verse 8 says “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God”.  I think of a choir singing when I read that.  The Waldport Branch is fairly small, but when we sing, we sing loud.  The Christmas carols sung this week were so heart-warming.  The choir director narrated the Christmas story and orchestrated the musical numbers sung by the different choirs: Primary, Relief Society, Priesthood, a family, a piano and then voice solo and the Branch Choir.  We sang as a congregation a couple times during the program.  Our choir director has a way of getting us to sing out and it is beautiful.

A young couple with their first infant daughter were sitting next to us.  The look she had when she looked at her daddy’s face was like she was in complete awe of him.  She had a slight smile as her eyes were wide open and bright and her mouth was open.  Infants are full of pure love, no judgement, just love for whoever they are focused on.  What a beautiful Christmas message she gave me.

This is one of my favorite Christmas hymns:

http://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/with-wondering-awe?lang=eng

With Wondering Awe

With wondering awe the wise men saw
The star in heaven springing,
And with delight, in peaceful night,
They heard the angel singing:
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to His name!

By light of star they traveled far
To seek the lowly manger,
A humble bed wherein was laid
The wondrous little Stranger.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to His name!

And still is found, the world around,
The old and hallowed story,
And still is sung in every tongue
The angels’ song of glory:
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to His name!

The heavenly star its rays afar
On every land is throwing,
And shall not cease till holy peace
In all the earth is growing.
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to His name!

My Mother
My Mother

Yeah, that’s the look of “wondering awe”.  (I always try to find a picture for my blog.)

Jesus: the Firstborn and Only Begotten

In Luke 2:7 it says “And she brought forth her afirstborn son”.

I’ve been thinking about the meaning and importance of Christ being the Firstborn and the Only Begotten lately because that’s what our Visiting Teaching lesson is for the month.  Because He is the firstborn son, he inherits all that the Father has (reinforced by traditions of the day).  As He is the Only Begotten, we are able to receive the same.  This is my simple understanding of the scriptures:  During His life on earth, His followers described Him as their “King”, meaning he inherited a royal status.  His enemies thought that was because of His lineage through Joseph who descended from King David.  While that was correct, on the surface, there was more to it.  Jesus inherited the kingdom of God because He was God’s only begotten in the flesh.  We are all spirit children of God.  But Jesus is the only one that He fathered in the flesh.  Jesus would need both mortal and immortal qualities in order to perform the Atonement and the resurrection in our behalf.

The lesson says it better than I can so I’ll just share it here and I added a cute Christmas video:

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is called the Only Begotten Son because He is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. He inherited divine powers from God, His Father. From His mother, Mary, He inherited mortality and was subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and death.1

Because Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father, He was able to lay down His life and take it up again. The scriptures teach that “through the atonement of Christ,” we “obtain a resurrection” (Jacob 4:11). We also learn that all “might be raised in immortality unto eternal life” if we “would believe” (D&C 29:43).

As we come to understand more fully what it means for Jesus to be the Only Begotten Son of the Father, our faith in Christ will increase. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Faith in Jesus Christ is the conviction and assurance of (1) His status as the Only Begotten Son of God, (2) His infinite Atonement, and (3) His literal Resurrection.”2 Modern prophets have testified: “[Jesus Christ] was … the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.”3

From Our History

In the New Testament we read of women, named and unnamed, who exercised faith in Jesus Christ, learned and lived His teachings, and testified of His ministry, miracles, and majesty. These women became exemplary disciples and important witnesses in the work of salvation.

For example, Martha bore strong testimony of the Savior’s divinity when she said to Him, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27).

Some of the earliest witnesses of the Savior’s divinity were His mother, Mary, and her cousin Elisabeth. Soon after the angel Gabriel visited Mary, she visited Elisabeth. As soon as Elisabeth heard Mary’s greeting, she “was filled with the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:41) and bore testimony that Mary would become mother to the Son of God.

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Mary and Joseph obey the law of the land

Luke 2:1-6

In these scriptures, Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph had to make the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem when Mary was “great with child”.  The government required that they go back to the city of their family heritage (“because Joseph was of the house and lineage of David”, Luke 2:4).  This was for tax purposes.

I’ve always thought how hard of a journey this must have been for Mary while being that close to her due date.  I am not familiar enough with the area to know how far of a trip it was.  I don’t know if she was on a camel or donkey or on foot.  I imagine she walked part of the way and rode part of the way.  It’s certainly not as comfortable as driving my temperature-controlled truck with cushioned seats on paved roads.

But, what struck me today about these scriptures, is that Mary and Joseph were meeting their civil responsibilities.  Regardless of the difficulty, they didn’t make excuses, they just went.  “And…while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6).

Our 12th Article of Faith is: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”  There is no caveat for living in a country under an evil dictator.  Sometimes I wonder about that.  I feel so fortunate (blessed really) to have been born in and live in the US where we are able to vote in or out our government officials.

But it wasn’t the government’s plan that Jesus be born in Bethlehem.  It was God’s plan.  Prophecy is fulfilled whether or not we know we are participating.  I think I benefit more, though, if I am a willing participant.  I know my life would certainly be more difficult if I did not obey, honor and sustain the law.  The scriptures are full of examples of people receiving inspiration while they were meeting their family, career and church obligations.  Besides, I like my freedom.

Who is Jesus?

A person’s title(s) gives us insight into who they are.  Tim LaHaye has said that “no man has ever qualified to be called any one of these titles.  To understand who Jesus really is, all must be considered together.”

THE ALMIGHTY

The Word

My Lord and My God

Our Savior Jesus Christ

WONDERFUL

COUNSELOR

The Everlasting Father

The Prince of Peace

Alpha and Omega

The First and the Last

The Christ

JEHOVAH

The Beginning and the End

The Lord

MESSIAH

Savior

The Holy One

Lord of All

Emmanuel

The Way, The Truth, The Life

KING OF KINGS

LORD OF LORDS