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Monday, July 29, 2013

05. The Power of Spiritual Creation

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the fifth examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

In my previous post, we discussed patterns, which are:

"templates, guides, repeating steps, or paths one follows to stay aligned with God’s purpose.  If followed, they will keep us humble, awake, and able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit from those voices that distract us and lead us away." (Elder Paul E. Koelliker, "He Truly Loves Us", April 2012 General Conference)

The pattern described in this post is based on perhaps one of the most profound, spiritually heightening doctrines you've always known about...yet probably never taken full advantage of.

God's Pattern of Making Physical Things

Regarding the creation, we understand that:
"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;
And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word." (Moses 3:5,7; JST Gen 2:9; Abraham 5:2-5)
In other words, "the creation was two-fold, firstly, spiritual; secondly, temporal." (Elder Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1926, Afternoon Session, p.35).

Let's Personalize This Pattern A Bit

"The power of God is creative, both in a spiritual and temporal sense, for all things were created, first, spiritually and then temporally." (Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin, Conference Report, October 1944, Afternoon Meeting, p. 36-37)
Did you read that?  All things are first spiritually, then temporally, created.

Now see how Elder Bednar meshes that doctrine with another doctrine -- prayer:
"The patterns used by God in creating the earth are instructive in helping us understand how to make prayer meaningful. In the third chapter of the book of Moses we learn that all things were created spiritually before they were naturally upon the earth.
We learn from these verses that the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation.  In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day -- and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day.  Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other." (Elder David A. Bednar, "Pray Always", October 2008 General Conference).
Here, Elder Bednar provides us with a fascinating concept: You can spiritually create your day.  For example, in your morning prayer, you express the desire to be more patient with a child.  You reflect on those occasions when you spoke harshly or inappropriately with the child, recognize that you know better than this, express remorse for your weaknesses and visualize yourself behaving better.

Then as you go throughout your day, you keep a prayer in your heart for continued assistance and guidance.  You recognize potential situations where you might be inclined to anger, but do not.  You discern heavenly help and strength and humbly recognize answers to your prayer.  Even in that moment of recognition, you offer a silent prayer of gratitude.

You spiritually create your day, then go about physically creating it.  Do it again and again and again.

Just ponder this concept for a minute.  Imagine the ramifications!

Now, merge this doctrine with our discussion on D&C 93:1.

More on that...soon.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

04. Are You Missing A Pattern "In All Things"?

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the fourth examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

When God says He will give us patterns in all things (Hebrews 8:5; D&C 52:14), He's not kidding.

"There is pattern and order in the universe" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Lord, Increase Our Faith").  God takes patterns so seriously, that the symmetry of the cosmos is based on the repetition of patterns found throughout nature, from atoms to the entire universe.

"The fabric of the 'known' Hubble length universe, from galaxies down to the smallest atom, rely upon similar repeating patterns that generate micro-structures and super-structures which share a unifying patterned symmetry.  A pattern, be it recurring numbers, events, or objects, repeats itself in a predictable manner down to its essential elements (Ball 2009; Novak 2002; Wille 2010).  The pattern at the elementary level, therefore, becomes the basis, model, or template which is repeated on a larger scale to generate larger objects or series of events all of which exhibit the same or similar underlying pattern.  Hence, elementary particles have orbits, planets have orbits, stars have orbits..." (Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D., "Infinity, Patterned Symmetry, Pythagoras, and the Black Hole at the Edge of the Universe", Journal of Cosmology, 2011, Vol 13;

"It is only slightly overstating the case to say that physics is the study of symmetry." (PW Anderson, Nobel laureate)

Not only are patterns significant to God, but our adherence to them is of paramount importance:
  • When God instructed Moses how to build the tabernacle in the Old Testament, He told Moses to make various aspects of the temple "after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount" (Exodus 25:40). 
  • A similar statement is made in Ezekiel, while the Jews were held captive in Babylon.  In describing the dimensions of His house, God says, "Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern" (Ezekiel 43:10).
Instead of giving us commandments in all things, God gives us "a pattern in all things".  His greatest pattern is His Only Begotten Son, whom you can choose to follow (and reap the rewards He has in store for the obedient) or not. 

Personalizing the Patterns for You

"There are patterns for all worthy things if we will search for them." (Elder Marvin J. Ashton, "A Pattern in All Things", October 1990 General Conference; emphasis mine). 

If there are patterns in all of God's creations -- even "all worthy things" -- don't you think He would have a pattern for how He wants His children to "calleth on my name"? 

Of course.

"The patterns used by God in creating the earth are instructive in helping us understand how to make prayer meaningful." (Elder David A. Bednar, "Pray Always", October 2008 General Conference;

Do you truly understand God's proper pattern of prayer?

Do you think your prayers have reached their fullest potential in helping you see God's face and know that He is the great "I am"?

In my next post, we'll examine God's proper pattern of prayer -- one that is perhaps rarely, if ever, mentioned -- yet it's underlying principles are discussed in the scriptures and by a modern-day apostle.

Monday, July 15, 2013

03. Rising Above Spiritual Mediocrity

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the third examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

Years ago, I watched kind of a corny movie named The Singles Ward.  In it, one of the secondary characters always carried around a planner.  I wouldn't be surprised if he took it into the shower with him.  To give him credit, though, he did seem impeccably organized.

When it comes to spiritual development, I've always been a big proponent of throwing away the planner.  Planners seem so..."Mosiac".  As Christians, we can and ought to do better.

Instead, you should be asking the Holy Ghost what your top "spiritual development" priority should be.  Sometimes, I'm told a priority I hadn't even considered that would never have made it into my virtual (or even literal) to-do list.

So, I invite you -- today -- to do something simple:
  1. Just find a quiet time and place sometime, and say a prayer.  Ask God for one word or phrase -- just one -- that summarizes your top spiritual development priority. 
  2. Next, study the story of the Brother of Jared (Ether 2-3) as well as D&C 9:7-9.  Develop a plan to turn that weakness into a strength.  Note: Your plan doesn't need to be perfect, but should reflect the best you can devise.
  3. Pray again.  Present your plan to God.  Listen to what He says about it.
  4. Finally, write down your impressions.  
"As we seek answers from God, we feel the still, small voice whisper to our spirits. These feelings—these impressions—are so natural and so subtle that we may overlook them or attribute them to reason or intuition. These individualized messages testify of God’s personal love and concern for each of His children and their personal mortal missions. Daily reflecting upon and recording the impressions that come from the Spirit serve the dual purposes of helping us (1) to recognize our personal encounters with the divine and (2) to preserve them for ourselves and our posterity." (Paul B. Pieper, "To Hold Sacred," April 2012 General Conference).

I believe that the process of awaking and arising to a level where you're aligned with your privileges (with respect to the Holy Ghost) is simple; it's we mortals who do a bang up job of complicating it. 

Proceed simply.  Confidently.

And feel free to let us know how your session went, either by posting a comment (below) or anonymously (here).

In my next post, we'll talk about one of the greatest ways to spiritually awake and arise (with the influence of the Holy Ghost being fully utilized) that you've probably seldom heard of, nor even utilized.

Friday, July 12, 2013

02. Are You Living Far Beneath Your Privileges?

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the second examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

If you truly want to know God, you need the active assistance of the Holy Ghost to do it the right way.

"We believe that the Holy Ghost, and that holy men in these days speak by the same principle; we believe in its being a comforter and a witness bearer, that it brings things past to our remembrance, leads us into all truth, and shows us of things to come; we believe that 'no man can know that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost.'" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.243).
Why is the Holy Ghost's influence so critical?  Because the Gift of the Holy Ghost:
"…quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being." (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. [1965], p. 101)
Indeed, the Holy Ghost takes you beyond the superficial:
"The Holy Ghost will teach us, providing perspective about 'things as they really are, and . . . things as they really will be' (Jacob 4:13; D&C 39:6; 75:10). This sense of proportion is needed daily! Not only does He reach mortals in their many niches, but the Holy Spirit 'searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God,' and this must be so because the 'things of the Spirit of God . . . are spiritually discerned' (1 Corinthians 2:10, 14). The Holy Spirit is thus ready, if we are, to take us well beyond being superficial so that we can learn the things of most worth." (Neal A. Maxwell, The Promise of Discipleship, p. 95)
By the power of the Holy Ghost, you may know the truth of all things (Moroni 10:5) -- including being brought back into the presence of God:
"I further testify that I would rather have every person enjoy the Spirit of the Holy Ghost than any other association, for they will be led by that Spirit to light and truth and pure intelligence, which can carry them back into the presence of God." (James E. Faust, "The Gift of the Holy Ghost--A Sure Compass,"Ensign, Apr. 1996, p. 6)

The Sobering Truth

I believe many of us tend to be satisfied, at one point or another, with our relationship with the Holy Ghost.

That's unfortunate, because -- truth be told -- most members live beneath their privileges with regards to the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Brigham Young made a significant statement about our capacity to receive revelation versus the actuality of it happening in our lives. He said,
"There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God's people, he may have the Spirit of God to signify to him His will, and to guide him and direct him in the discharge of his duties, in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied however, that in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges" (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 75). 
In other words, we are all entitled to revelation.  Unfortunately, in most cases, we live far beneath our potential.

I don't think Brother Brigham was just talking about the early saints. Here's a modern-day apostle's update on how many of us are doing:
"The gift of the Holy Ghost truly is one of the greatest blessings available to members of the Church. Actually, many gifts can come from the Holy Ghost. These are needed in every age and dispensation but certainly no less in the commotion-filled last days of the last dispensation. They are likewise needed at every stage and in every situation of life. ... Yet, for different reasons, many of us live far below, or are unaware of, our privileges!" (Neal A. Maxwell, The Promise of Discipleship, pp. 92-93).
In fact, for some -- even those who are members of the Lord's church -- the Gift of the Holy Ghost lies dormant.
"The overall gift of the Holy Ghost truly is one of the greatest blessings available to members of the Church. We all need to stress-for ourselves and for those whom we teach-the vital connection with the gifts of the Holy Ghost. These gifts are vital at every stage of an individual's life and in every situation of life. Members of the Church have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, but in many it lies dormant-somewhat like the ancients who had received the gift but knew it not (see 3 Ne. 9:20)." (Neal A. Maxwell, "The Holy Ghost: Glorifying Christ," Ensign, July 2002, p. 56).
Are you one of those who lives below their privileges with respect to taking full advantage of the Holy Ghost's influence?

If so, what can you do about it?

We'll dive into that one in my next post.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

01. "Calleth On My Name"

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the first examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

In past posts, we discussed effective strategies to help bring you closer to the Lord and to feel His presence:

And we've begun perhaps the most in-depth online analysis of D&C 93:1:

Most recently, we spotlighted charity, and gave you some easy-to-implement methods to increase your love and charity towards others.

You can't overstate the importance of charity in your life.  It is one of the surest ways to eliminate gloom and increase happiness and light in your life:
"We should have before us a strong desire to do good to others. Never mind so much about ourselves. Good will come to us all right if we keep our minds outside of ourselves to a certain extent, and try to make others happier and draw them a little nearer to the Lord. … When you find yourselves a little gloomy, look around you and find somebody that is in a worse plight than yourself; go to him and find out what the trouble is, then try to remove it with the wisdom which the Lord bestows upon you; and the first thing you know, your gloom is gone, you feel light, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and everything seems illuminated" (Pres. Lorenzo Snow, Conference Report, Apr. 1899, 2–3).

The Next Step: A Personal Invitation

D&C 93:1's next step in seeing the face of the Lord concerns your desire and ability to "calleth on my name".

Instead of my going on and discussing how we can do this effectively, I'd like to invite you to tell others how you have effectively called on God, to the extent that you actually felt Him speak to you.

In the next day our two, feel free to contact me anonymously (click here) or leave a comment (below).

I look forward to hearing how you've called on God.

You never know how your testimony might just strengthen others out there!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

09. Here Comes the Son

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

Who you are, and who you are becoming,
is far and away the loudest and most conspicuous
knock on the doors of heaven possible.
Truly Coming unto God

When you implement a life filled with celestial-level charity, you're not only helping someone.  You are spiritually coming unto God in the very way He has asked us, begged us, to consider:
"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:37–40)

Your Perfect Alignment

Like the Savior, you are more diligently about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49) to love and to serve others — to feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and comfort those that mourn (Matthew 25:37–39), to hold up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees (D&C 81:5) — to believe and live the Savior’s doctrine, to follow after Him in His very footsteps, and put first in your life the things of His kingdom.
"For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things." (D&C 88:40; emphasis mine; also see D&C 50:24)

It's simple: As you increase in your light, you grow closer to the Savior.

You come to Him...and He, to you.

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