Personal Online Journal

Friday, July 20, 2018

Coming to Ourselves: The First Timid Step

I have been listening and reading "Bonds That Make Us Free Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves". This morning I was thinking about how I might introduce the book to my children.

I first read an early form of this book before it was published. I attended a class from the Arbinger Institute around 1997. The concepts in the book were a paradigm shift for me. I recognized how many of my problems were of my own making. After over 20 years, I have not put into practice many of the principles in this book. I hope to instill in my children the principles and practices that this book teaches and causes to inspire.

I hope to further nurture a climate of change and accountability and growth in my family and friends. Part of this is selfish. I know that I have a better chance of changing, being accountable and growing when I ask it of those nearest to me.

The last part of the sub-title stood out to me, "coming to ourselves". It reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
(Luke 15:17-19)
What does it mean to come to myself?

Coming to myself is one of the first steps of repentance. We become aware of what we have created. We resolve to go, confess and accept the consequences. In the story of the prodigal son, he did not think it possible that he could be restored in his relationship with his father. His father showed him immediately that he urgently longed for a restoration. He ran and fell on his son's neck.

Matthew R. Linford describes how the father in this story risks the shame from the community. He loves his child. God rejoices in our turning to him. He runs to us and embraces us regardless what others might think of him.
As Bailey notes, in Middle Eastern culture, a man of the father’s stature would always walk in a slow, deliberate way. He would never run, let alone race. In addition, for a man in robes to run, and especially for him to race, he would need to gather his robes in his arms and expose his legs. Both running and exposing his body would cause him tremendous shame in his community — these would be unthinkable acts. Thus, no doubt to his utter amazement, the prodigal son sees his father take at least some of his shame upon him, racing partly naked through the village. This act would draw at least some of the attention and scorn of the community from the returning child to the benevolent father.
("The Parable of the Benevolent Father and Son", Matthew R. Linford, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 22 (2016): 149-178, Quoted on
While he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Gordon B. Hinckley said that a joyous return is possible for any “who have taken your spiritual inheritance and left.” 
“Note the words of the parable of the prodigal son: ‘And when he came to himself.’ Have you not also reflected on your condition and circumstances, and longed to return? 
“The boy in the parable wanted only to be a servant in his father’s house, but his father, seeing him afar off, ran to meet him and kissed him, put a robe on his back, a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and had a feast prepared for him. 
“So it will be with you. If you will take the first timid step to return, you will find open arms to greet you and warm friends to make you welcome.
("Viewpoint: Repent and Return to Christ" quotes "Everything to Gain—Nothing to Lose", Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference Oct 1976. Emphasis added.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right"

In February 1847, nearly three years after the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, he appeared to President Brigham Young and gave him this message: 
“Tell the people to be humble and faithful and sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach [you what] to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits. It will whisper peace and joy to their souls, and it will take malice, hatred, envying, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right.” 
(Brigham Young, Quoted from "Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church: Joseph Smith Chapter 7: Baptism And The Gift Of The Holy Ghost", Original in Brigham Young, Office Files, Brigham Young, Vision, Feb. 17, 1847, Church Archives.)

You may surround any man or woman with all the wealth and glory that the imagination of man can grasp, and are they satisfied? No. There is still an aching void. On the other hand, show me a beggar upon the streets, who has the Holy Ghost, whose mind is filled with that Spirit and power, and I will show you a person who has peace of mind, who possesses true riches, and those enjoyments that no man can obtain from any other source.
(Wilford Woodruff, "The Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2011), 46–56, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 5.)
You will find if ever we seek to do something else besides carrying out the dictates of the Holy Spirit, we will get into the fog and into darkness and trouble, and we shall be ignorant of the way we are pursuing. Every day that we live we need the power of the Lord—the power of his Holy Spirit and the strength of the priesthood to be with us that we may know what to do. And if we will so live before the Lord, the Spirit will reveal to us every day what our duties are; I do not care what it is we are engaged in, we should first find out the will of the Lord and then do it, and then our work will be well done and acceptable before the Lord.
Through all my life and labors, whenever I have been told to do anything by the Spirit of the Lord, I have always found it good to do it. I have been preserved by that power. … Get the spirit of revelation with you. And when you get that you are safe, and you will do exactly what the Lord wants you to do. 
(Wilford Woodruff, "The Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2011), 46–56, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 5.)
Every man who receives that Spirit has a comforter within—a leader to dictate and guide him. This Spirit reveals, day by day, to every man who has faith, those things which are for his benefit. … It is this inspiration of God to his children in every age of the world that is one of the necessary gifts to sustain man and enable him to walk by faith, and to go forth and obey all the dictations and commandments and revelations which God has given to His children to guide and direct them in life. 
Every man should get the Spirit of God, and then follow its dictates. This is revelation. It doesn’t make any difference what the Spirit tells you to do; it will never tell you to do anything that is wrong. 
(Wilford Woodruff, "The Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2011), 46–56, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 5.)
Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. 
My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. Let this Easter Sunday be a defining moment in your life. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly. 
("Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives", Russell M. Nelson, General Conference Apr 2018)

See also "Learning to Recognize the Spirit,” Family Home Evening Resource Book (1997), 64

Monday, July 02, 2018

Suicide Prevention: Understanding Suicide

From Dale G. Renlund, "Suicide Prevention: Understanding Suicide", Mormon Channel on YouTube. 2 Jul 2018
There's an old sectarian notion that suicide is a sin and that someone who commits suicide is banished to hell forever. That is totally false.
I believe the vast majority of cases, will find that these individuals have lived heroic lives and that that suicide will not be a defining characteristic of their eternities.