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Saturday, June 29, 2013

08. Proactive Service

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the eighth examining the phrase "cometh unto me".

In light of my previous post, I believe there is a higher degree of charity we can render.  I call it "Proactive Charity."  Yes, it requires more from you.  Yes, you need to be more conscientious in implementing these things. But the payoff -- in terms of you truly aligning yourself with the Savior -- is incalculable.

Are you ready for a flat-out, full-on challenge?  Here you go:

During Your Morning Prayers

Consider including these three things in your morning prayers:
  1. Maintain your own "prayer roll", in either hard copy or electronic form (I maintain one on my smart phone).  In your morning prayers, literally place this list in front of you and pray for those on your list.  Go here to learn more about this concept.
  2. Also, fervently pray that God will send at least one person who you can help. 
  3. Finally, pray that God will bless you with all the necessary spiritual gifts needed to accomplish those tasks.  Ask that He bless you with (1) the Gift of Discernment, that you will recognize opportunities to render charity and (2) the Gift of Charity, to fulfill those opportunities.

During Your Day 

During Your Evening Prayers

Return and report to Father (go here for more on nightly "Return and Report" sessions).  Express gratitude for the experiences you were given that day.  Ask how you can better discern and fulfill opportunities when they come your way.  And ask that tomorrow, angels will go before you in preparing others to be helped by you.
Are you "willing to mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9)? Terrific!

Are you ready to deploy God's gifts, celestial prayer and and even the assistance of angels in doing so? Outstanding!

I would love to read about your experiences.

For an index of all past posts (by date), click here.
For an index of all past posts (by topic), click here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

07. The Three Degrees of Charity

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the seventh examining the phrase "cometh unto me".

"You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips."
-Oliver Goldsmith, writer / physician (1730-1774)

Kara Laszczyk knew discipleship was (and is) a desire to emulate and become more like Jesus Christ.  It's a willingness to sacrifice and serve in sharing His gospel.

But Kara felt somewhat hampered by her introverted personality.

"Discipleship is not passive," she said.  "I want to be more proactive about giving service instead of just waiting until a sign-up sheet is passed around,” she said. “I want to be a better visiting teacher. I want to look for some way that I can serve outside of the Church in my community. I want my first thought to be ‘What can I do for them?’ or ‘What do they need?’ not ‘Do I have time?’ or ‘How will this affect me?’"

"We need our Savior," Kara said, "but our Savior also needs us. He needs us to help and lift each other." (Source: "Discipleship at All Times, in All Things, in All Places", Ensign, February 2013)

In a previous post, I described the Three Degrees of Prayer.

I also believe that there are Three Degrees of Charity:
  • A lower degree of charity involves reactive involvement.  For example, you wait until you are informed that someone needs help.  You are not actively seeking opportunities to render charity.
  • An even better degree of charity involves beseeching the heavens for another's peace and healing.  Elder Bednar put it best when he said:
"Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord." ("Pray Always", October 2008 General Conference)
Look at that last part -- "praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord."  This is significant in light of D&C 93:1's next two steps ("calleth on my name" and "obeyeth my voice").

In my next post, I'll discuss what I believe is the highest, celestial form of charity that utilizes the very powers of heaven to enhance the lives of others.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

06. Becoming a Being of Light

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the sixth examining the phrase "cometh unto me".

Christ, the Being of Most Light, helps us return to the Light.
It's indisputable that historic and contemporary composers have and are creating music which is inspired by God.  Their music is a form of light, for at their most fundamental levels, both music and light are frequencies or vibrations.  Light from God and music from God can have the same effects on us.
"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." (D&C 50:24)
This light can quicken your understanding:
"And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;" (D&C 88:11)
This is so because:
"...if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things." (D&C 88:67)
Look at that one more time -- "that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things."  Not just a few things or a couple of things; oh no, "all things".  That's a pretty powerful promise there, and is only natural because "light cleaveth unto light" (D&C 88:40) -- including Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is "the life and the light of the world" (D&C 11:28).   

So I encourage you to take serious the admonition to "Arise and shine forth"!  Let your home be filled with inspired music, that you may "bring up your children in light and truth" (D&C 93:40,42).  Then "...let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (3 Nephi 12:16)

I believe that in receiving light, then freely sharing it -- anytime, anywhere -- you yourself become a being of light.

And ohhhh, the things God can do with a being of light.  The possibilities are profound, the education is endless, the blessings are breathtaking.

And it can all start with something as simple as a smile.

I challenge you to put these words to the test.  What do you have to lose?

In so doing, you're ready -- in fact, you're more than ready -- to take a fantastic, momentous step forward in coming unto God that utilizes spiritual gifts in ways you likely seldom use.

Are you interested in that next step???

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Red Thread of Fate

There's an ancient Chinese myth about the red thread of fate.  It says that the gods have a red string around each of our ankles, which is attached to all the people whose lives we are destined to touch. This thread may stretch or tangle, but it'll never break.

The threads that connect us are not bound by space or time.  At times, the threads are pulled tight, and either you are touched, or you touch another.  And even when those threads seem irreparably frayed...they never break.  Not completely.

Life is not only a factor of who our threads will inevitably tangle with; it's also a matter of what we do when those threads do meet.

Angels Who Visit Walmart

I recently chatted with an old friend, Randy.  I've known Randy for over 30 years, and have always found him to be an exceptionally meek, humble person who has always been fully dedicated to the Lord and His gospel.

Several years ago, Randy ended up going through a very dark, rocky time in his life.  It was unfortunate, and it left him alone and depressed.  One night, he decided to leave his apartment and go to Walmart, just to see some people and hopefully get his spirits boosted.  He walked there with his head bowed and his countenance fallen.  As he was about to leave Walmart, he caught eyes with an elderly woman seated on a bench.  She smiled at him, radiating a look of pure acceptance and love.  She said something nice to Randy, and they had a short discussion.  He ended up leaving Walmart not only a better man, but also a changed man, fully dedicated to spending every day, for the rest of his life, giving a smile to others...even complete strangers. 

Every morning, Randy prays that Father will send him a person to smile at.  Every night, he thanks Father for all the people who were brought to him, so he could smile at them.  Unbelievably, his smile even radiates through a cell phone.  Randy elevates, strengthens, inspires and enlightens -- literally.  Father supplies him with a rich abundance of light, which Randy then shares with others. 

And in so sharing that light, Randy is brought closer not only to the other person...but also to God.

A Challenge

Tomorrow is the summer solstice -- the day when God blesses us with the most physical light during the year.

How could this affect your spirituality?

Check out the scripture included in the banner at the top of this website:

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." (D&C 50:24)

Looked at in another "light", the summer solstice is a terrific day to bow down before God and to recommit to pass on as much light to others as possible.

As you can see, when you receive light (in my opinion, in gratitude and a commitment to share it with others), you receive more light (for which you will be grateful, and could share, when appropriate, with others).  This process continues in a never-ending spiral of greater and greater light until you enjoy The Perfect Day.

Let tomorrow be your day of recommitment.  Of greater light.  Of greater love.  (If you'd like some music to help get you in the mood, go check out Ryan Stewart's website.  Select either song #9 or #15 at the top right).

In my next post, we'll discuss just that -- beings of light.

Monday, June 17, 2013

05. Raise Others' Vibrations

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the fifth examining the phrase "cometh unto me".

In my immediate past posts, we discussed how music is a God-given gift which enjoyed a resurgence, a renaissance, simultaneous to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  These composers knew they were transcribing vibrations from God -- vibrations which we, too, can enjoy.

I believe that music naturally brings us to a point where we're able to take a step closer to God...a step which raises your vibrations, and the vibrations of others.

What to do with the light you receive

I believe that a person in tune with God (pun intended) has a responsibility to go forth and share that light with others.  And, as usual, sharing that light is a lot simpler than we suppose.

Too often, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Check out what happened when the Savior smiled at His Nephite disciples:

"And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof." (3 Nephi 19:25)

"And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus." (3 Nephi 19:30)

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.  It's the freest form of spiritual and emotional therapy around.  It simply and effectively shares the light you have received.

Are You Up for a Challenge?

I challenge you -- I dare you -- to do this: 
  1. Every morning for the next week, pray that Father will send you someone to share a smile.  Then, actively look for opportunities to share those smiles.  Elevate.  Strengthen.  Inspire.  Enlighten.
  2. Every night, thank Father for all the people who were brought to you, so you could smile at them.
  3. Repeat process.
If you want to take things a step further, choose one person who made your week go more smoothly, then send him or her a quick thank-you note.  It's a small time commitment - maybe 10 minutes.  But the results are powerful.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Inspired Music as a *Powerful* Spiritual Weapon -- A Testimony

In my post here, we saw how inspired music can be a powerful spiritual weapon in casting out evil and helping us feel the spirit. 

Below is a comment I received from an anonymous reader of this blog.  It's a fantastic confirmation of this concept.

I invite you to read it, and to remember that when all else fails, sometimes God's vibrations can fight your battles in ways nothing -- and no one -- else can...

From "Anonymous"

I am going to post anonymously today...usually I post with my name. But I just wanted to confirm to you the timeliness of the Lord in when you posted what you posted.

I have always loved inspiring music, but tend to appreciate silence more over the years due to having so many children and just appreciating the sound of silence (many mothers know what I mean).

Over the years, I have almost come to exclude music (outside of piano lessons being practiced) from my life, not intentionally, but just not thinking about actively going and putting on some inspiring and uplifting sounds because I am sooo busy and don't have a handy sound system, crave the quiet, etc., etc.

Jump to the present day....

Things climaxed in the last few days with two of my married and one teenager. These were VERY VERY serious matters that were putting me through what I would described as my greatest tests yet in this life.

To make a long story short, last night [June 10] was the worst of the worst, and I determined to fast today [June 11]. Before bed, I decided to look at your blog and saw that I hadn't read your June 9th post yet.  I read it, and determined to make sacred music a part of my day today while I fasted for these two children.

I chose to listen to Dallyn Vail Bayles (I think that's the spelling) CD entitled "Prayer". I listened to it all day at home, and in the car as I drove and hour and a half to visit a dying aunt. [NOTE: you can listen to a song from Dallyn's CD, "Better Than I", here.  For more information about Dallyn, go here].

I cannot describe to you the power of the spirit that I experienced today.  It was truly an inspired post at an inspired time.  The heart of my raging suicidal teen softened, evil was dispelled from my home, contention gone, patience and love flowed from me, I was inspired to write to my married child under the influence of the spirit, counsel that her heart received with thanksgiving and rejoicing instead of defensiveness and rejection.

I have received peace in turmoil that has been so deep, I have truly felt the spirit of the Lord in a profound way this day.  The tears of joy and love of the Lord have flowed continually this day...amazingly it has been tears of joy and peace amidst true turmoil.  It has been truly an unexplainable experience.

I thank you for taking your post on this scripture in a direction I had not even considered, and realize I have been neglecting this most powerful key to be used in my home.  Thank you so much.

Thank you, Anonymous, and God bless you for your wonderful testimony.

One of my favorite phrases is "Gloria in excelsis Deo" -- Latin for "Glory to God in the highest".  And so it is with the inspiration received for many blog posts. 

I look forward to hearing more from you, Anonymous, as you experience many more miracles in your life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Fascinating Postscript to a Previous Post

You'll want to read this.

I wrote my Thursday, June 6, 2013 post ("D&C 93:1 [Cometh Unto Me, Part 3] -- Today...You Will Hear God") a few weeks before it was posted.  The day before -- on Wednesday, June 5th -- I took one last look at the post before it went out.

It seemed incomplete.  It wasn't starting off right.

I felt drawn to research the composers I listed in the bullet points.  I read a bit about them, and noted their birth and death dates.  Soon, it became apparent to me that the works of these great composers roughly coincided with the works of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Hence, I wrote a new section on that blog ("The Other Restoration You've Probably Never Heard Of").

After I posted that entry to this blog, I received an email from a friend, Yvonne, who referred me to an Ensign Magazine article.  It tells the story of Albert Roustit, a musicology student in France, who discovered the Restoration of the Gospel through the study of music theory.  He went on to write a remarkable book called Prophecy in MusicHere is a link to the Ensign Magazine article written by John Green in 1974 about Roustit and his research, and here is a link to Roustit's book.

The interesting thing is, I never knew about Roustit -- and his discovery of the Restoration through researching music history -- until after I had posted my thoughts about it above.

I do love a good confirmation.

"A man can get nearer to God by music than any other method except prayer." (Pres. J. Reuben Clark)

Amen, Pres. Clark.  Amen.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

04. Inspired Music: A Powerful Spiritual Weapon

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the fourth examining the phrase "cometh unto me".

In my previous post, you read about music composers who transcribed feelings and vibrations they attributed to God, and transformed those raw elements into music, which in turn helps you come unto God.

"The source of their inspiration is the same power which enabled Jesus to work his miracles.  It is the same power which created the earth, and the whole universe." (Michael Ballam)

I have my own, personal testimony that the power of music can heal a soul. Indeed,
"Elder Boyd K. Packer has wisely suggested memorizing some of the inspiring songs of Zion and then, when the mind is afflicted with temptations, to sing aloud, to keep before your mind the inspiring words and thus crowd out the evil thoughts (see Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 28).  This could also be done to crowd out debilitating, depressive thoughts." (Pres. Ezra Taft Benson, "Do Not Despair," October 1974 General Conference).

But what about homes and families?

Several years ago, I gave a priesthood blessing to someone who was having a lot of troubles in their home.  In the blessing, the person was invited to do something to help restore order to the chaos and light to a dark situation:

"If you will play inspiring music, evil will flee from your home."

I'd never considered that before.  The solution was so simple, so easily implemented.  Sure enough, within days, the person reported to me that their home life had dramatically stabilized.

Can that be true?  Can music help you gain a toehold over the stresses, tensions and conflicts which inevitably arise in your home and your family?

For an answer, take a look at 1 Samuel 16:23:
"And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him."
Here, the efforts of a simple shepherd boy, playing a harp, had power over (and cast out) evil spirits -- an extremely simple solution to a complex problem.
"Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." (Psalms 32:7)
The spirit chooses wherever it wants to dwell, and many times, it chooses to dwell in music.

And I believe that by playing inspirational music in your home, you can proactively create an environment that literally resonates with light -- an environment that the evil one will forsake (D&C 93:37).  And in so doing, you are fulfilling the injunction given to you to bring up your children in truth and light (D&C 93:39-40).

I promise you that God speaks to you.  Often.

Sometimes, it's through beautiful sunsets.  Other times, it's through a clear, starry night.

Sometimes, His voice is as thunder.  Other times, it's a still, small voice.

And in all these variations, there are vibrations.  There is light.

There is music.  It's all around you.

All you have to listen.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

03. Today...You Will Hear God

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the third examining the phrase "cometh unto me".

The Other Restoration You've Probably Never Heard Of

The Prophet Joseph Smith was born on December 23, 1805.  He was assassinated on June 27, 1844.

During his lifetime, major composers by the names of Franz Schubert (1797-1828), Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) lived at the same time.  Others, like Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) lived and died shortly before Brother Joseph.

I believe -- and I think the facts demonstrate -- that during this time period, God was also speaking to others who heard God's voice and recorded what they heard for all generations of humanity to partake of.  True, they didn't have priesthood authority.  But they had something different: gifts and talents from God, which were used to bring us back to Him.

These composers received holy vibrations in ways others never did.  They transcribed those vibrations into the music they composed -- vibrations which you can listen to, now, anytime. 

Don't take my word for it. Here's what they said:
  • Mozart, who composed in pen, said he wrote down the notes God gave him.  Beethoven, Schubert and Bach said the same thing.
  • Bach would dedicate evey composition he wrote to Jesus Christ. At the beginning of his manuscripts, Bach would write I.N.J (In Nomine Jesu-"In the name of Jesus") or J.J. (Jesu Juva-"Jesus Help Me").  He would then end each composition with SDG (Soli Deo Gloria-"To God alone, be the glory") on the last page. (source)
  • Beethoven is quoted as saying, "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy" (makes sense, being as though inspired music is from God, and much of wisdom and philosophy are from man).
  • In Arthur Abell's book "Talks with Great Composers", Johannes Brahms actually described what it was like for God to inspire his whole soul with music (read the last two quotes from Brahms here:

The Healing Power of God's Vibrations

Clearly, "Music is part of the language of the Gods" (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pp. 553-54).  The orderliness, mathematics, physics, psychology and more of music was used to herald the birth of His son, who healed mankind.  It has an equal power to help deliver you from darkness and heal you in the light.

In a previous post, I mentioned how music, composed by my friend Simon Daum, has helped heal me of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I recently asked Simon about his composing:

Question (to Simon):    How do you get inspiration to write your songs?
Answer:    I think my greatest inspirations come from life itself.  There is so much beauty in nature, so much hope in the gospel, and so much peace in good relationships.  Writing music is the best way to express all such feelings, hopes and dreams.

Question:    How have your songs affected you, and your spirituality?
Answer:    Receiving inspiration feels like a gift given to me.  It helps me to remember who I am and where I truly belong.  It helps me to remember what life is really about.  It has blessed my life tremendously

Question:    Tell me about a song (or songs) in which you clearly felt the spirit was guiding your efforts.
Answer:    There are quiet a few.  One I can remember quite well is one of my older songs called "Be Still" (to hear this song, click here to go to Simon's website.  "Be Still" is song #26).  I just got the idea and couldn't stop composing.  I worked on it the entire night and after 8 hours the song was finished.  It felt like it just had to be written.  It was similar with my latest composition called "Longing for Home" (which you can listen to here).

Are You Ready to Hear God?

I'm willing to bet that you'd love to hear God, right?.  Well, why wait!  Therefore, I give you a challenge, and ask a favor:

My challenge to you: Sometime soon, listen to the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Bach and Brahms. Listen for the vibrations from God.  You can also hear my friend Simon's songs on my immediate previous post (here).

My favor I'd like to ask of you:  Next, please submit a comment to this post. Let others know what non-hymn music uplifts, motivates, inspires you (I ask for non-hymns because we already know hymns bring about such results; I am asking about music we may not know is also inspired of God).

My blog is dedicated to highlighting things you can do to return to God.  Above is a sure strategy to do just that.

Go forward in faith.  Be believing...

...and enjoy listening to God.

Monday, June 3, 2013

02. How a (Mortal) Angel Helped Heal Me

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the second examining the phrase "cometh unto me".

From God to Composer to Listener...and back to God

It's interesting how sometimes, God will bring someone into your life who will unwittingly act as an angel of mercy.

Enter Simon Daum.

I've never physically met Simon.  He lives in Germany, and I live in the US.  He composes music, and I listen to it.

Here's a link to his music: Simon's Youtubes

Is Simon an angel of mercy?  Knowing him, he would categorically say no, not eeeeeeven close.

Yet as I listen to Simon's compositions (as well as other inspiring music, which in many cases are not hymns), my mood changes.  I'm happier.  I'm optimistic.  I smile.  I laugh and joke more.  I have more (good) energy.

I am healed.
"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." (D&C 25:12)
No wonder Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "Give me control over him who shapes the music of a nation, and I care not who makes the laws".  Music is powerful -- so much so, that the composer Franz Liszt said, "Music should be composed with the object of returning mankind to an awareness of the spirit and to the true worship of God".

And THAT is exactly what happens.

In my next post, I'll explain how God uses music to bring us unto Him.