Showing posts with label gospel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gospel. Show all posts

Monday, February 17, 2014

There is a Difference

 There is a great difference between
Black and white

Day and night

Sunshine and Rain

Happiness and Emotional Pain

There is also a tremendous difference

Between the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ

Sadly there are those who base their testimony upon historical figures or other members of the church, and when imperfection is revealed there are many that have gone astray.  There appears to have been some big hoopla lately about the plural marriage among some of the brethren in Church history – particularly Joseph Smith who doesn’t appear to have been honest with how it was done.

Joseph Smith was the first prophet in this dispensation.  The Church of Jesus Christ had not been on the earth for 15 centuries.  Cut the guy a break.  What example did he have to follow?  God had given him instructions.  Sometimes he followed them to the letter.  Sometimes, unfortunately, he felt that he knew better than God and would follow his own fears.  We all make mistakes.  Perhaps his seem more severe because of the position he was in.  
 


There were a lot of mistakes made in Church history.  Some that have been kept hidden from Church members – or so it seemed.  Like the Mountain Meadow Massacre,  the fact that the four men in Carthridge jail were given weapons to defend themselves,  or the sisters involvement in women’s suffrage movement or some of the hostilities that took place among polygamist wives.

At one time those in authority painted the church in a certain light – perhaps lifting it to a higher pedestal than it deserved.  Oh, certainly the church endured its hardship – but it was always the fault of the outsiders, never the members of the church.  The authorities would call the gospel perfect when they referred to the church and so many members would assume they meant the church was perfect.  And it was not.  It still is not.  The church is run by imperfect leaders who (hopefully) strive to live perfect lives – but let's face it: Only one man who has lived upon the earth was perfect.  Nobody else fits into the perfect category.  No one.  And thus church itself can never be perfect if run by imperfect humans.

Roland and I were married by a bishop who (at that time) happened to be state auditor by profession.  I had once asked him: “What is more organized?  The state? Or the church?” 
His answer bothered me a lot because he said “the state” and I think the government in this state is so severely flawed that it almost makes me ashamed to tell people what state I live in.  So what does that say about the Church?

For many the church is just for show.  That’s how it was for the Pharisees of old.  Church history does NOT represent the truthfulness of the gospel.  Sadly, there are several who seem to have a hard time separating the two.  But then again, why should we have to separate them?  If everyone lived according to the gospel, wouldn’t the church itself be perfect?  Think about it.

Why is it that everything has to (or should) be approved by the brethren?  Too many Inaccuracies or opinions given that are taken as gospel truth – though that was not the intent.  Even the best of intentions can sometimes have negative results.

Let’s use “pioneer Trek” as an example – an activity that has become popular for the youth of the Church.  The program has evolved into something more than what it was when I was a youth.  There was no “Woman’s Pull” – there was no “reenactment” of the Mormon Battalion.  What many participants don’t realize is that not all the men left the company nor were the women left alone.
 

         At the time Pres. James Polk sent for a recruit of 500 volunteers from Pioneer crossing party, the year was 1846 – the Pioneers at the time were crossing in Wagons.  They weren’t pushing handcarts.  Perhaps there’s a great metaphor and lesson in store for those involved – but in the minds of many they believe that’s how it actually was in Mormon history.  And granted, there probably were a few woman who had lost their husbands, sons and fathers who may not have had the support of the brethren per se– but not as an entire company.  There was always leader support.  Or so we assume (We do have the story in which Mary Fielding Smith is believed to have crossed the plains on her own; some part (or perhaps all) is based on true story that has become Mormon folklore – another part of Church history that we need to separate)

         So where am I going with this?  Nowhere really.  I used to be one of those who would take everything on face value and never actually research it out on my own.  Fortunately for me I have learned that “the Church” does not “the gospel” make and hopefully I may continue to be active in both but always keep in mind that even leaders (past or present) have faults just like me.

         I’ve always been taught to pray about my understanding of things to know if it’s true or not – as far as the gospel goes anyway.  I don’t think it’s necessary for me to pray about my understanding of Church history or what saints were involved doing what because whether this pioneer story or that hand-me-down passage really turns out to be true or not, what pertinent difference does it make to my own Salvation?  My testimony needs to be based upon the truths that Christ taught and not what happened in the personal lives of our forefathers.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Some Tarry and Some Labor





Matthew 20:1-16 gives us the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  I had always looked at the parable as one about missionary work – about the hereafter, about those who spend their whole lives in the Church striving to do what is right and having someone who has put other’s through hell repent at the last hour. 
         
          I have labored so many hours in the hot burning sun – and God is telling me that if Maleficent should choose to repent, that her reward will be the same as my own.  That she is entitled to all the same blessings as my own.  I’ll admit that I haven’t accepted this interpretation very graciously.  But then who am I to think of myself as better if she truly surrendered herself and did/does repent and actual develop a "compassion" if you will? 

          Slaving in the vineyard is hard work.  I have often thought that I am really just so tired of being there.  I never gave another thought to those who are “waiting in line” – those would be laborers that remain at the job site in hopes that the master will return with something for them – any kind of a position that will give them some kind of wage.

          In today’s economy, it is easy to see why they would stay and tarry – but they would also hold signs that say, “I will work for food”  “Please help me.  I’m poor” and so forth. 

          I never gave the tarrying laborers a second thought.  I hadn’t thought of this parable with a different perspective until today.  And for the first time I saw myself as one of those who has stood in line more than once – and still find myself standing at times. 

          For the message that was shared today focused on those that are standing in line – for those who are doing everything diligently (to the best of their ability) and showing up at the labor site day in and day out and feel like they are just not being picked – that they, that we will never feel the blessings.

          Carrie is the wife of the second counselor, and I am married to the first.  We were actually on opposite ends of the room, but our eyes seemed to be connected to our mouths – that is every time we would make a comment or participated by reading, our eyes would leak and start a chain reaction of making our voices crack.

          She didn’t go into detail about why she was crying - but I think many understood.  She and Dan have been trying to adopt.  It’s been a painful process.  Why, when they attend their Church meetings, and hold callings, and serve diligently are they still waiting in line?  Why can they not labor in the vineyard?  For how long must they tarry? Why does it have to be in God’s due time?



          I have spent many years asking myself that one.  It was painful to watch those I had taught in sunbeams to get married and have children long before I even had a prospect.  People my age were experiencing their second and third season of life.  I was still in the first season and wondered if that was it. 

          The instructor who shared the lesson is in her 40’s and has never been married.  Actually there are several sisters in my ward who have never been married.  Some have friends moving through autumn and some have actually arrived in winter.  I’m probably somewhere between summer and fall – sort of like the weather is now.

          Surrendering ourselves to Him is hard.  We need to have faith that He really does know what’s best for us – that the trials we endure right now are just to make us stronger down the road.  That our “waiting in line” isn’t done in vain – that there is a purpose.  We need to endure while we wait – impatiently or not.  We can’t control His time.  So why not accept it graciously?  

          Perhaps if I dwell on the subject long enough, I can learn to accept it graciously.  I have been blessed.  And I need to focus more fully on those blessings.  Because right now I really am not very gracious about the whole tarrying matter.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chopped, Snipped, Spliced and Discarded – I could SO use that Money



          Before Roland and I moved from our first house, he introduced me to the reality show “Chopped” a one hour show that gives four chefs the opportunity to create appetizers, entrees, and desserts using four specific ingredients – most I haven’t been familiar with or think of as too bizarre to belong with  either the rest of the ingredients or in the particular round.




          I would think that there is more than eight hours of footage for each episode of “Chopped” – thus it is not just the chefs competing who get “chopped” but the editing as well.  It sickens me to know that all this wasted footage exists – that so much tape ends up on the floor.  The expense that goes into these reality series (Wife Swap is another example) and all the waste.  I could really use the money that is spent on wasted film.  So many Americans could – especially in this economy that seemingly continues to spiral downhill.  Where are the priorities of this nation?

          Recently there was a documentary on NBC called: “Mormons in America: NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams" and actually I feel a certain amount of emotion which I stated in my last post.

I think Rock Center handled “Mormons in America” well.  Some accused of focusing too much on the small percentage that “don’t really represent the entire church” well guess what?  It’s that small percentage that the world will be looking at. And I think it’s wonderful that it has been presented to the world (or nation anyway) that there might be a better understanding.



          Abby Huntsman does not represent the entire Church.  Who does?  Some criticized that the creators of the program should have gone to the authorities or at least devout members to for a more accurate understanding.  But we are a very diverse people – even among ourselves.  The gospel values are true regardless of its members.  But the members are not perfect.  We are not all cut out of the same mold – and the world needs to know that there are struggles that many members face that don’t always correspond with what the gospel principles teach.

I think the documentary was handled very nicely.  And I think Abby did a great job letting people understand her position but still being respectful of the Church. She probably has a better hold on what a non member might feel.  There are many who have left the church who experience that “ah-hah” moment after they’ve been away for it – not that they disagree or become uncomfortable – but all the sudden understand the meaning of “a peculiar people” and understand the non-members view – whereas those who are so close to the surface don’t have that same understanding.  They don’t see the forest for the trees.  Corey explained it a little bit in this post  

          There are many members (or former members) who have had their feelings hurt for whatever reason.  Treated like outcasts.  Overaggressive concern isn’t handled correctly either on the part of the leaders or the interpretation of the member (I think more of the first; as an example Abby’s bishop told her that she wouldn’t receive the same blessings – and although it may have been said out of concern – it hadn’t been communicated in a proper manner)  I like the way Clive Durham said it in this post 

          Bishop, stake president, and other leadership positions are held by people.  Imperfect people. Some, who unfortunately abuse their power, some, who should have never been put in that position to begin with.  Some who would rather not be there and wonder why the position was accepted in the first place. 




          Julienne (sp?) and Al Jackson do NOT represent all members.  A large majority, perhaps.  But certainly NOT all members.  Mitch Mayne is told he can keep his position in the Church so long as he remains celibate.  Celibate?  Really?  In a Church that pushes marriage and family? (And there are many who actually do push)

          That was Corey’s plan - to remain celibate – though he wasn’t fulfilled.  He would have been able to keep his membership – but still not feel whole – not complete.  He did NOT go in search for a partner.  Truth is, when they initially met, he tried to avoid it. 

          Their first encounter together was working on the same production in Las Vegas.  The two of them started out with a casual dinner, but after a while Corey's feelings deepened towards his partner.  He started to have feelings that he had been  told all of his life were wrong to have.

Corey returned home from Las Vegas the first Christmas after they had met.  Relieved in some ways not to be tempted by something he had been trying to avoid all of his life.  Yet torn because he really did have emotions for this guy.  And what a wonderful guy he is.  I really really do like Corey’s partner.

          Eventually it turned into something very beautiful.  Both celibate.  Both wanting to wait.  Both yearning for God to be a part of their “marriage” and I have no doubts that He is.  Corey had to give up his membership.  But he did not give up on the gospel.  He still attends Sunday meetings (minus the priesthood which he was never comfortable with in the first place) and though it’s often hard for him not to be able to participate to the fullest – Corey is happier than he has ever been in his entire life. 

          Corey is very knowledgeable in the gospel.  He is very well rounded individual.  He doesn’t represent the entire Church – even when he was a member.  But he does make an impact.  A GREAT impact.  He has a very strong and beautiful testimony.  He is one of many pioneers on a path that is slowly being smoothed over and more widely traveled – and yet too many who are on that path feel alone and unwanted and aren’t always handled with care.  Corey, fortunately, has had amazing support. Yet it seems to be a rarity with far too many.



We have a friend who is strongly opinionated and probably more of a feminist than Joanna Brookes.  She is married to one who has been on the high council as well as other prominent positions.  Both strong in the gospel.  Each representing what sometimes appear as conflicting ideas.  And I love them both.  And I respect them both.  And I am personally grateful for the diverseness.