Sunday, November 16, 2014

Engaging with the Gospel

I think the most powerful thing Satan can do is to get us to “like” the Gospel of Christ without having a real relationship with it.

There are certainly times in my own life that I treat the Gospel like a Facebook page of someone I admire. I like it, but let it do all the work. I wait for that page to post stuff, and if I’m lucky, I might see it come across in my Facebook feed.  If it’s something good, I read it or watch it and like it, and if really good, I might share it. For example, Church on Sunday can sometimes feel like a post in my life. I’m never disappointed by it coming and I often “like” it. But do I engage with it? And then during the week, do I continue to engage with the Gospel in a way that builds a real relationship? Or am I just a passive “fan”?

This was on my mind a lot today. As I pondered this, I also extended the thought to my relationship with my Savior. Am I a “fan”? Or am I truly engaged in a relationship with Him?  Am I just watching His “posting” in my life, or am I also reaching out to him in active prayer and repentance and service? If I were to evaluate my relationship with God, Christ, and the Gospel in general, where would I put myself?

When I post things on Facebook, I have a few solid people who are awesome at commenting and liking and sharing on a consistent basis. I really appreciate that. However, I also have some friends who I (sorry) forget that we are even connected – because we both never seem to engage in anything beyond being “friends” and watching without engaging. And some of them seem to never login anymore.

This is understandable with social media, but with Christ and with the Gospel I can’t afford to not engage.

For example, if you aren’t engaged with your favorite brand online, how would you know when the sales promotions are and how to take advantage of them? How would you be updated on things? You would only passively. Have you ever bought something and then later realized that had you done some research or even just paid attention to things, that you would have seen a promotion on that thing – but instead you missed it?! I have. Not a great feeling.

Our Father in Heaven is always trying to feed us information. Do we “hide” it, “unfollow” it, or just plain not log in? Do we passively wait for God to send us a message through trials and difficulty? Or do we actively seek Him out and engage?

As I have pondered this about myself, I realize that I have a long ways to go to feel like I really, truly engage with the Gospel enough to take advantage of all the opportunity it provides me. So tonight I write this in gratitude for having this thought being “posted” in my heart today and for the Lord engaging with me through the Spirit. Now, I share it with you.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Most Exquisite

This is the thought on my mind tonight:

There is no greater reward and nothing so exquisite as the joy of togetherness. It is the reward of the highest covenant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - indeed even the real promise of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

There is then, by necessary opposition, no greater punishment and nothing so excruciating as loneliness and being disconnected. This is the real battle of our world.

From my experience, one of the loneliest experiences is that of the guilt and shame that comes from feeling like you've disappointed those whom you most want to make proud - in a way that makes you feel disconnected from them and their love.

If you have a loved one who might be feeling that, I urge you to remember how lonely your disappointment will feel to them. Then work to reconnect through understanding and love.

Sometimes the biggest struggle for someone isn't the things they do wrong and their consequences. In fact, often those things are done when the person isn't in a state of mind or place that is very rational or well - especially if they struggle with mental illness/disability of some kind.  No, the toughest part can be dealing with the constant disappointment that others show to them. It's the double punishment of the deed and the separation from love and acceptance - the struggle of never feeling like you are ok. Sometimes they just need to feel like they are ok.

This doesn't mean looking past errors or wrong doing. It doesn't mean dropping consequences. But how you deal with those is critical. So please, just remember that you trying to fix or punish or correct, if done poorly, can carry it's own worst punishment.

I know of both the exquisite joy and beauty of our Savior's love and merciful hand and the joy of togetherness through love and acceptance from both my Savior and my wife and my children. I also know the excruciating pain and trial of loneliness and despair. Even Christ only spoke out once about his pain - at the moment of his feeling forsaken - left alone - by His father. I hope we take these thoughts into consideration.

God himself says it best:

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
 43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
 45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-45