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“Don’t touch that!” “Be careful!” “Don’t climb up there.” “Don’t eat that plant!” “Stay where I can see you.” “Don’t bite her!”  “Be kind.”

Isn’t it interesting how parents universally have expectations for their children? Even before they can express themselves and begin to crawl rules and guidelines are set in place to ensure their safety. If those rules are obeyed life is much simpler—for everybody!

No good parent would leave his two year old to run on the road, or let him touch a hot stove. And we would not think much of a parent who didn’t love and care enough to protect and keep their children safe and happy.disciplining-children

I read the following on Facebook some days ago.

“Religion says you need to straighten up and serve their church and pay tithes to be saved. God says you need to accept his free gift of salvation and told his church to SERVE YOU until you accept. I’m sorry that the church isn’t fully obedient and for some reason they expect you to be, but just ignore them, don’t believe the lie you need to serve them and obey their rules to be saved. Just accept the free gift.”

I didn’t feel inclined to comment on my young friend’s post that day. Perhaps I was too tempted to pick it totally apart. However my thoughts keep returning to his sentiments. I do find it interesting that he included a phrase to ponder– “for some reason they expect you to be (obedient)”.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Doctrines and Covenants 130:20-21

So many people’s hackles go up when confronted by rules. Especially the laws and commandments taught as part of religion. It truly is a testing ground for some. My way? Or God’s way?

Perhaps it’s our pride or rebellion. Perhaps it’s the belief that we are powerful and able to rule our own world. We want to change the rules to make them comfy and palatable-to match our desires. Maybe in the same way that children think they know better than their elders and fight to be independent, we fight being obedient to Heavenly Father’s plan.

“Today we find ourselves in …a war of thoughts, words and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.” L. Tom Perry

Because I had never considered them closely in light of today’s practices, I was fascinated with a portion of a General Conference talk, “Obedience to Law is Liberty” given by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding the Ten Commandments. He said:

“One way to measure ourselves and compare us to previous generations is by one of the oldest standards known to man—the Ten Commandments. For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil.

In my judgement, four of the Ten Commandments are taken as seriously today as ever. As a culture we disdain and condemn murder, stealing, and lying, and we still believe in the responsibility of children to their parents.

But as a larger society we routinely dismiss the other six commandments:

–  If worldly priorities are any indication, we certainly have “other gods” we put before the true God.

–  We make idols of celebrities, of lifestyles, of wealth, and yes, sometimes of graven images or objects.

–  We use the name of God in all kinds of profane ways, including our exclamations and our swearing.

–  We use the Sabbath day for our biggest games, our most serious recreation, our heaviest shopping, and virtually everything else but worship.

–  We treat sexual relations outside marriage as recreation and entertainment.

–  And coveting has become a far too common way of life. (see Exodus 20:3-17)

…A useful way to think about the commandments is they are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy.”

I am grateful to be a member of a church that teaches the importance of obeying all of Heavenly Father’s commandments. For many years I admired the writer of Psalms and marvelled at his expressions of deep praise, love and gratitude for the laws and commandments of God. Psalm 119 comes to mind.

We admire Abraham for his faith and obedience. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18) and other great ancients-Enoch, Noah, Joseph, Moses and many others- because they heard the voice of the Lord and obeyed.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ set us a perfect example of obedience. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. John 8:28-29

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:10-11

We parents plan to protect our children from all dangers. And we have desires and aspirations for them to be filled with happiness and well being. Would not a Heavenly Parent even more so  plan for the protection and happiness of His sons and daughters?

“In the universe, too, where God is in command,

there is law—universal, eternal …law—

with certain blessings and immutable penalties.”

It makes us sad to watch a child deliberately shatter a guideline and hurt himself. I wonder how it makes our Father in Heaven feel when we use our agency to completely disregard His guidelines. We miss out on the countless blessings He might have showered upon us.

“The Lord will not force himself upon people; and if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation. If they are content to depend upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then, of course, the Lord will leave them to their chosen fate. . . . 

“The Almighty is with this people. We shall have all the revelations that we shall need if we will do our duty and keep the commandments of God. If men could just realize that there may be sound even though few ears hear it. There are revelations even though most minds be materialistic and most hearts impenetrable” The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 454

Over the years, I’ve often wondered why the predicated blessings are not listed with each commandment to answer my ‘whys’. Several times I’ve been enlightened with the reasons for a particular commandment after I have determined to keep it.

It may take years to recognize the promises and blessings attached to Heavenly Father’s commandments but when they are received, they are sweet indeed.

How have you been greatly blessed for keeping one of God’s commandments?

A few times in my life I’ve had occasion to visit Pentecostal church services. Once, a small band played jarring loud music followed with exuberant shouts of praise. Another time, at a tent meeting the congregation prayed aloud-everyone at the same time!

This was intermingled with an evening of enthusiastic singing and clapping. Confused and feeling empty, I believed I was the problem because I had not recognized the Spirit.

Yet, eight years ago, when I desired to find a church that believes in the Holy Spirit of the New Testament, I did consider revisiting these charismatic and energized services.

I expected noisy obtrusive clapping and singing to become a part of the paradigm shift I’d have to undergo. I was willing to learn to adjust if that’s what it would take to ‘get the Spirit’.

“the Lord was not in the wind…the Lord was not in the earthquake…the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” 1 Kings19:11-12

Afterwards, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I became aware of a quiet and reverent attitude that I had not anticipated, and one that I deeply appreciated.

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

In fact, as I pondered the alternative choice, I was very relieved that Heavenly Father led me to a church that is not as demonstrative as I’d thought one must be and where I never would have felt comfortable. I have rejoiced about this many times. His ways truly are higher than our ways.

“As for God, His way is perfect” 2 Samuel 22:31

testimonyThe feelings I receive from the Holy Spirit are similar to those I had experienced at different times over the years while I was quietly reading my Bible. Then, my heart would swell with truths that filled my soul, God’s peace and love feeling very near.

“The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all.” Boyd K. Packer

I love our services. There is no mistaking the Presence of the Spirit, although our meetings would never be considered charismatic in nature.

Feelings of peace, gratefulness, love and joy are magnified when God brushes the heart. And often overflow.

When have you felt caressed by His Spirit?

It seems that every human being that ever has lived on this earth has had the opportunity to feel and to know what it truly means to be utterly and desperately alone. Forsaken. For one reason or another. Physically or mentally, feeling completely isolated, suffering deep searing heart pain, at least once in a lifetime.

Likely, this is true several more times per life span than is often admitted or noticed. I have been that lonely. Have you?

Do you know the wracking sobs that make you feel as though your heart is bursting irreparable into a million pieces? Have you known the mind numbing terror of a mental prison, hardly breathing for fear?

An abused terrified child feeling there is no one to turn to for protection. A teenager completely rejected by his peers. A troubled marriage.  Serious illness. Longings for one’s elusive soul mate. Living alone, following the death of a lifetime partner. You easily can add to this list.

There is so much potential for loneliness in one’s lifetime that it is a wonder that anyone ever experiences any joy and happiness. Yet, we all at a deep level believe it possible and desire to be happy.

I’ve contemplated the idea of loneliness for a number of weeks. Ever since I wrote “Do You Stand Alone?”, I have been astounded at the number of people from all over the world that have found this blog by searching on the words ‘alone’ or ‘all alone’.

They continue to land here each week since then. And bounce off the page onto the next web site in hopes of relieving their agony of heart and soul. Most seek in vain.  Henry David Thoreau wrote, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. How true. And very sad.

Each desires and seeks relief from brutal, heart breaking and heavy burdens. Often we long for those closest to us to notice our pain, to fill the void and provide relief. Often they are the ones who most disappoint. Few find relief. And fewer still know where to seek that fount.

“The kingdom of God is…righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” Romans 14:17

Are you longing for someone to enter your life that knows and understands you completely? Have you longed for someone to listen to your heart with compassion, perfect understanding and most of all love and acceptance?

Who knows exactly how it feels to be abandoned by family or friends, rejected, abused, completely misunderstood, and forsaken?

He feels your pain

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Jesus Christ has experienced your pain. He knows how you feel. He has felt your feelings.  You are promised that He will succor you. He is simply waiting for you to ask Heavenly Father for help and to believe that He, the resurrected Christ is powerfully able and willing to bless you as you have need.

“Fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full,

but in Me your joy is full” Doctrine and Covenants 101:36

Have you heard? Do you believe this? Do you know Him and trust Him with your all?

Have you felt His loving arms around you when you are most wounded?

We each have a special place within us provided solely for the privilege of discovering Christ’s divine touch, His blessings and gifts. A special place where His hand is meant to connect with mercy. He is able to fill the void and provide peace and comfort so profoundly, that there cannot be a doubt ever, of the depth of His knowledge of you- His precious child.

He is aware of all your feelings, of all your pain, of all your fears and of all your sorrows. He  knows it all.

“In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”  Psalm 16:11

Long ago I knew these teachings. But I didn’t understand how it could possibly be true. How does the great God of the universe stoop to my level to comfort me? What does He care about my petty thoughts and the small details of my insignificant life?

Yet, it is true and this is my testimony. He does reach for and comfort me each and every time I fall to my knees and submit in despair. And when I seek Him with happiness in my heart He kindly multiplies my joy until I cannot contain it.

“If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.

If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful.” D & C 136:28-29

How truly amazing it is to serve a risen Savior who is faithfully mindful of me-even me- every moment of the day and in every situation of my life.

Jesus Christ lives today. He did not die 2000 years ago to remain sleeping till the end of time. He knows you very intimately-even more than you know yourself. He knows every thought that crosses your mind. He especially knows how much you suffer.

He is prepared to run to meet you as soon as you become willing to acknowledge your need for Him. Listen to your heart. Only He can fill that empty awful void you feel deep in your heart.

“Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13

There are countless other reasons to turn to our Lord Jesus Christ and to seek Him for our eternal salvation. Our innermost beings seek that joy and happiness that only He can give. He freely and willingly gives to all who seek Him.