Today, the Christian world commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. As Mormons, we don’t have much of a Good Friday tradition, but I like to think about it when it comes around. It’s a lovely reminder of what is most important.
The blood spilled in Gethsemane reminds me of the sorrow of this world. May I remember the holy purpose of suffering. May I swallow my own Bitter Cup. May I remember that the trials and turmoil of mortality make me more fit for the Kingdom of God.
The betrayal in the Garden reminds me of my own temptations to sell the Master for recognition or anger or jealousy or greed. May Christ be the only God I worship. May I be ever loyal to Him.
The humiliation of the Cross reminds me of the price of sin. He was lifted up as a symbol of the pain we inflict on each other. He was lifted up to remind us that when we hurt, so does He. He was lifted up to draw us unto Him. May I heed His invitation. May I kneel at the foot of the Cross.
The burial in the Tomb reminds me that all that is corrupt must vanish. May I bury my own Natural Man. May I lay it to rest with Him.
Good Friday is the furnace of the Lord’s affliction. It is a reminder that we all must walk through sorrow on our way to Resurrection Morning.
I gave a talk at our ward Christmas party this evening, which I called “Behold, the Condescension of God.” Thought I’d share it here…
For RMA, who doubts everything (just like me)
I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting today that I wanted to share here: Choosing Faith in the Face of Doubt.
I’ve got a really scratchy audio recording, which has a few seconds of children fussing and crying at the very beginning (and, of course, throughout — it wouldn’t be a Mormon Sacrament Meeting otherwise!). 🙂
If you can’t stand the bad audio, I also created a PDF version you can download here: Choosing Faith in the Face of Doubt.
The full text is copied and pasted below…
Special Note about My LDS Lesson Recaps: Please feel free to use any of this material in preparation for your own LDS Relief Society lesson plan or sacrament meeting talk — no attribution required. 🙂
This lesson outline comes from a mini-workshop I taught this past Saturday at our stake women’s conference on Living a Christ-Centered Life. This is how it came to be: the stake relief society president caught me after church one Sunday and asked if I would be willing to teach something at the conference. I said yes. She said, “What topic interests you?”
I replied, “Well, Sister E., I’m happy to teach whatever you’d like, but you should know that I’m over the moon for Jesus.”
And thus this lesson was born.
For R, M, and D
I recently studied The Beatitudes in a class I’m taking on the life of Christ. I think they’re the most beautiful expressions of how to really live that I’ve ever heard — and one in particular struck me this time through:
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Jesus always surprises me. On face value, His teachings never make much sense, for He operates in a world of paradox and parables. Blessed are they that mourn? What’s so great about mourning? Surely Jesus isn’t suggesting some sort of masochistic approach to life, that when we’re hurting, we’re happy…is He?
So I’m a little bit behind, but I skipped week 4 for two good reasons. A)–I was busy last week; 2)–I didn’t love the topic, which was “list leaders who inspire you.” Call me cynical, but there aren’t many leaders who inspire me. I think that most leaders have a tendency to abuse their power and protect it at all costs, and that makes me wary.
That’s why I was much more excited to think about this week’s far cheerier topic: list the places you’d like to visit!
To set the mood, please enjoy this marvelous song as you read…
As best I can recreate it, here’s a short, 5-minute talk I gave on Sunday as part of our ward’s primary program. Topic? “I Know My Savior Lives.” Of all the things I’m thankful for in my life, Jesus is definitely top of my list. It isn’t possible for me to adequately express my feelings about the Master in five minutes or in a simple blog post, but here at least is the crux of the matter for me. Yay Jesus!! 🙂
So after a long conversation via IM today with my charming brother-in-law Brian (warning: his site contains extensive cursing), I decided to write a post about what I believe about God.
I’ll follow it up in a few days about what I DON’T believe about God.
But let’s get the positives first. 🙂
1. I believe in God. First things first, I believe there is a God. While I think there are strong reasonable arguments for the existence of God, ultimately my belief in God has very little to do with reason. (In other words, I think my belief in God is REASONABLE, but reason is not the SOURCE of my belief.) Instead, the source of my belief is subjective personal experience with the Divine and intense spiritual longings that tell me it is so. I understand this might not be satisfying to skeptics. I don’t care. I believe for me, not them.
2. I believe in One God. In other words, I’m a monotheist.
3. I believe God is the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. Still, I think there is NO conflict between science and religion. I believe what we discover about science reveals more about God’s methods of creation and governance of the natural world as opposed to providing “proof” He doesn’t exist. The two need not be incompatible.
4. I believe in a personal God. I believe in a God who knows us INDIVIDUALLY and is concerned with us PERSONALLY.
5. I believe in a loving God. More than just a personal God, I believe in a God who loves us. This is because I have felt God’s love transform me.
6. I believe God is Good. Beyond the fact that God is personal and loving, I believe in a God who is All Good.
7. I believe God is Eternal, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Perfect, and Glorious. I don’t know exactly what all that means, but I believe it nonetheless.
8. I believe God is incomprehensible. As an extension of #7, I believe that the fact that I don’t know exactly what it all means is kind of the point. I think if a person could comprehend God, He wouldn’t be much of a God.
9. I believe Jesus Christ is God. I’m a Christian, and believe that Jesus was in fact God, who condescended to take upon Himself our sins and sorrows. I think the idea that a perfect, all-knowing, all powerful God would descend from glory to suffer with us is the most beautiful idea I’ve ever heard.
10. I believe that God wants to make us into something much more than we are. I don’t know exactly what the end result will look like, or even have the slightest clue what it entails, but I believe it’s gonna be good.
So those are the basics for me. What about you? What do you believe about God?
Last night, I participated in an Enrichment Night for another ward in our stake. Apparently someone let it slip that I’ve been known to sing on occasion, so they asked me to perform a song as one of the 10 virgins in a simple musical presentation.
I don’t love Mormon pop music, but the song wasn’t so bad, and of course I’m happy to share my talents when I get the chance.
When I walked in and saw the purpose of the meeting, however, I became somewhat conflicted. The theme was “Walk in the Light.” They had set up 7 tables all decorated around different topics:
Then they handed out a packet with this statement in the introduction:
Sometimes it is difficult and overwhelming to think about all of the things we could be doing like: preparing our food storage, giving service etc. So the Xth Ward Relief Society is hoping to help and support by focusing on our light in one area a month. … The lesson for the first Sunday of each month will focus on one of these areas and an enrichment activity will follow. Setting attainable and realistic goals for each area can help us improve.
Match: Complete 2 goals in each [of the 7] area[s]
Candle: Complete the match plus 2 additional goals in each area
Lamp: Complete the candle plus 2 additional goals in each area
Here’s where I’m conflicted: each of these areas are worthwhile. It’s nice to be spiritually-minded, prepared for emergencies, engaged in loving family activities, physically fit, service-oriented, personally fulfilled, and mentally strong. And it’s nice to have support as you attempt self-improvement.
But I can’t help thinking we’re missing the forest for the trees here. Far more important than any of these attributes is being Christ-centered. And by focusing so much time, effort, and energy on peripheral goals, we are neglecting the core of the matter: a saving relationship with Jesus…and all the fruits that come out of it.
Call me touchy-feely, but it seems to me that the more we focus on the practical to-dos–and less on the core principles of the gospel, which are faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ–the more we we become a religion about DOING SCHTUFF and less a place to worship our God and Savior.
What do you guys think? Am I being over-sensitive here (we all know I have a hang-up about this issue to begin with)? Or is there a solid reason for my conflicted response?
I believe this beautiful number speaks for itself.
A special shout out to my bro-in-law Todd for posting it on my Facebook wall. Thank you, Todd. It was the best thing to happen to me since…well, ever. 😉