Tag Archives: religion

Genesis 1: 1, 26 – 28

Gen 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Hubble Frontier Field Abell 2744
Hubble Frontier Field Abell 2744

Gen 1: 27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them, male and female created he them.”

2 thoughts:  1) If there are people on other earths, why would they not look like us?

2) If gender wasn’t important, Adam and Eve would still be alone in the Garden of Eden.

(just some thoughts as I was studying my SS lesson from Genesis this morning)

The miracle-baby – Prepare for Christmas

I think it is interesting that St Luke starts his testimony of Jesus before His conception.  John, the Baptist, was also a miracle-baby although not in the way that Jesus was.  Luke wanted to start from the beginning and John was sent to prepare the way.  (note to self: preparation must be important)

Zacharias, Elisabeth’s husband, was a priest so we know they were righteous people.  He could not attend to his duties in the temple without her loving support. (Luke 1)  Zacharias received a revelation that his wife would bear him a son.  Actually, it was a pretty astounding revelation given by the personal appearance of the angel Gabriel.  Zacharias wondered about the mechanics of how that could happen because they were “well stricken in years”.  Younger people might wonder why Zacharias needed a heads-up about the pregnancy.  Older people might think that he needed encouragement or motivation to keep trying for a child.  🙂  Regardless, Zacharias was given sort of a time-out when he questioned how this could happen. (Luke 1:18-20)  An angel is standing in front of him telling him that it is going to happen and he questions “how?”  In Zacharias’ defense, Mary also questioned “how?”

Although I’ve never had an angel stand before me, I’ve had some pretty strong impressions that I should do something and I’ve questioned it.  So I can relate to poor Zacharias.  Even a priest with many years of experience isn’t perfect.  (there’s that lifelong learning thing again)  No doubt he had many experiences over the next 9 months that testified of the truth of the revelation he’d been given.  I would have loved to have heard (or seen) the conversation when Zacharias had to tell Elisabeth why he couldn’t speak.  I’m sure that not being able to speak gave him more time to think.  The only way he’d win an argument now would be by the silent treatment.  hahaha   It had to take at least a couple months for her to realize she was pregnant; maybe longer if she’d already gone through menopause.  They might have been ridiculed for having a baby so late in life.  We know she hid it at least until she was 6 months along.  When she was 6 months pregnant Mary came to visit.  Elisabeth’s baby “leaped in her womb” when she heard Mary’s voice. (Luke 1:39-41)  This was the first time that John, the Baptist, bore testimony of Jesus.

Zacharias remained speechless until 8 days after Elisabeth delivered the baby.  It is on the 8th day when they name a baby boy when he is circumcised.  They automatically thought he’d be named after his father but Elisabeth said his name is John.  That wasn’t a name in her family so they questioned the father.  Zacharias wrote on a tablet that “His name is John … and his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.” (Luke 1:63-64)  And he told them all that the angel Gabriel had told him about the child and about the Lord who would be born to Mary.

I have always identified with John’s mother, Elisabeth, because I am also barren.   I have always had enough faith to have a miracle-baby; up until the time I had a hysterectomy (which was welcomed because it relieved a lot of pain).  I am not being punished.  I have been blessed with a different understanding of what it means to be a mother.  Someone else bore my children for me.  They are, nevertheless, mine.  Sharing them doesn’t diminish my love for them.  Every experience we have can either tear us down or can prepare us for the Lord.  We have that choice.  Family relationships seem to prepare us the most.

Prepare your heart for Christmas.

Black Bear Family
Black Bear Family

He Will Heal Our Hearts

If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ and are not interested in a religious topic, skip this post.
As our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter grieve the loss of their stillborn son and brother and our sister-in-law grieves the loss of her brother, I wish I could take away their pain.  I can’t imagine the ache in their hearts as they miss their baby and brothers.

I know that Jesus Christ knows their pain and can lift the burden of grief as they (and we) pray to Him for comfort.

I used to wonder how Christ could relate to my pain.  He didn’t sin so how could He know of the pain and anguish I felt from making poor choices?  And how could He relate to pain from illness or grief when He had such a short life?

I’ve since come to understand the Atonement a little better.  Jesus Christ knew what His mission on earth was.  He knew He wouldn’t be here long.  Knowing His mission, and that He would pay the price for our sins, had to be an incredibly lonely feeling.  If anyone could honestly say “nobody understands me”, it would be Him.  He knew that God, the Eternal Father, knew Him and was there to strengthen Him.

We read, in the scriptures, that He did suffer grief and pain; more than I ever have.  But does He actually know what you or I are going through?  I mean, other than watching us go through it and feeling the heartache like a loving parent has for their suffering child?  I believe He has actually, physically, experienced everything that I have gone through.  He was able to do this through the miracle of the Atonement.  He asked the Eternal Father to bless Him to experience these things.

Alma, an ancient prophet, prophesied of Christ’s atonement: “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11–12; emphasis added).  Luke tells us that His pain was so extreme that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44, Doctrine & Covenants 19:18-19).  And He did it willingly; just so He could comfort us when we had to endure the pain.  I wonder if experiencing our infirmites made it easier for Him to endure paying for our sins?

Our pain doesn’t, usually, immediately go away when we pray that Jesus will heal us or lift our burden.  But, over time, as we trust Him and rely on Him and listen to Him, our pain gets lighter and we are able to bear it.

I remember a description of, or analogy about, how our trials strengthen us.  It describes how a wound in our flesh heals.  As it heals, it builds scar tissue.  The scar tissue is actually stronger than the original tissue.  It takes time, patience and endurance.  But, the wound DOES heal.  Maybe the love of family and friends is like the ointment used to comfort and protect the wound until it is scarred?

Our hearts go out to you.  We pray that your hearts will heal.  We love you dearly.

I looked and looked for the pastel drawing of Jesus and a todler looking into each other’s faces.  I couldn’t find it.  But this is about as close as it gets:

So, Mormonism is a cult?

Totally off-category:  This won’t be of interest to my regular readers of my travel blog.  Just ignore it or feel free to unsubscribe.  Maybe you found this by searching for “mormon, cult” though?  Since I know something about my religion, I thought I’d weigh in on the subject.  So, here’s a little info for you to consider:

When I think of a cult, I think of a group of people who believe in a person who professes to be authorized by God to lead them (a prophet).  That leader has convinced them to follow him (or her) without question.  For the leader to convince someone that way, and get complete compliance, would be a form of slavery or, at least, abuse.  So the leader would have to be very clever to convince them that they were “choosing” to submit to him.  This would require mental and emotional, or psychological, manipulation.  It causes an addiction of sorts; removing a person’s ability (or desire) to choose.  It has been called brain-washing.

A major characteristic of a cult is that the people need to be isolated from family and friends who are outside the cult.  This is so non-believers cannot influence their thinking or cause doubt as to the validity of the leader’s authority and teachings.

How are people able to “choose” to believe in such a person?  Are they weak-minded?  How would I make sure I don’t fall into such a trap?  How do I know what is true?  Is truth variable depending on the person looking for it?  I believe that truth, in all things, comes from God the Eternal Father.  Truth is not variable. God knows our individual needs.  He knows what we need at any given time during our life.  He knows what will bring us closer to Him.  If we are looking for the truth, about anything, we can ask God and He will reveal it to us through the Holy Ghost.  Ah, ha! …you say.  What does the Holy Ghost sound like?  How does he speak to us?  Now there is a life-long quest.  He speaks to me in many different ways; a peace of mind, a warm feeling, a thought, reading a scripture with the answer I’ve been looking for, advice from a friend.  It does not feel like fear or a threat or criticism or harshness.  Sometimes I’ve dismissed a prompting from the Holy Ghost; thinking “I knew better”.  I
later found out that it was a prompting that I should have heeded.  No one told me that, I just learned by experiencing the consequences.  It is this process that helps us use our gut feelings or best judgment to determine
right from wrong, truth from fiction and whether it is the Holy Ghost’s influence or some other.

So, getting back to Mormonism being a cult…the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ.  His mouthpiece on earth, in any dispensation since the beginning of time (check out the Bible) is called a prophet.  Keep in mind that a person cannot just proclaim to be a prophet.  Authority must be given from God.  (See above: How do I know what is true?)  Our prophets have never said anything to the membership without telling us to ask God to know if it is true.  The membership (individual or as a group) has never been isolated from family, friends, acquaintances or even enemies.  Even in the early days of the church, when they were moving to escape persecution, missionaries were sent out.  How many cults do you know of that would send out 2 19-year old boys to go into stranger’s homes to find new members?  NONE!  Because they’d lose them all!

If you need to enslave someone, without using drugs, you have to convince them that they don’t need to trust their own judgment but that they can trust you as the ultimate authority.

Well, the only ultimate authority, according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint doctrine, is Jesus Christ.  Ask God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, if something is true and He will tell you through the Holy Spirit.  Ask Him specific questions.  Should I apply for this job?  Should I be here with these people?  Should I read this article?  Should I read this book?  It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out, prayer.  You just need to be sincerely wanting an answer and willing to act upon that answer.  If we are open to the influence of the Holy Spirit, “gut feelings” will lead us to the truth.  It doesn’t matter if the prophet says it or we read it on the label of the mayonnaise jar; we can seek guidance from the ultimate authority, Jesus Christ, when we need to know the truth.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cult.  My study, prayer and experience tells me this
is true.  It is a religion that promotes the highest degree of freedom and liberty to the individual.  It’s chief cornerstone is Jesus Christ.  You’ll have to read the Book of Mormon to know what it says.  You can’t be brain-washed just by reading and sincerely praying to know if it is true.  The Book of Mormon doesn’t replace the Holy
Bible.  It supports it.  It adds a second witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Here are the Articles of Faith of the church.

Here are some recent teachings from our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and the Book of Mormon:

From the Book of Mormon come other precious promises, including promises of peace, freedom, and blessings if we “will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12).

From its pages comes the promise of “never-ending happiness” to “those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” (Mosiah 2:41).

From its pages comes the promise of “incomprehensible joy” to those who become “instruments[s] in the hands of God” in rescuing His precious sons and daughters (Alma 28:8, 29:9).

From its pages comes the promise that as we pray unto the Father in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, our families will be blessed (see 3 Nephi 18:21).

From a study of its pages comes the fulfillment of the prophetic promise that “there will come into your lives and
into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”

And from the pages of the Book of Mormon comes Moroni’s promise that through prayer, real intent, and faith in
Christ, we may know the truth of these promises “by the power of the Holy Ghost” (see Moroni 10:4-5).