Monday, August 18, 2014

Week Fifty-nine

WEEK FIFTY-NINE August 18, 2014

Missionaries in the Lake Forest Ward have been working with the daughter of the Fifteen family for nearly a year now. Many missionaries, elders and sisters have come and gone. But the catalyst seem to come from our granddaughter of the same age who has been her pen pal for the last several months. After our granddaughter shared her baptism experience this young woman really started to apply herself and chose her birthday to be baptized. Our granddaughter sent a beautiful note that I decorated up in an envelope and gave it special delivery to the young woman. At the baptism twenty-six missionaries were in attendance, quite a crowd. The bishop asked all those who had actually been in the Johnson home teaching to stand and it was nearly one-half the congregation. Our granddaughter wrote: “I promise you your baptism will be one of the best things that will EVER happen to you. I really wish I could be there. But even if I can’t be there I know you will really feel the spirit. But the great thing about baptism is that you don't just feel the warm feeling inside you sometimes. You can feel it always. Receiving the Holy Ghost is another crucial part of being happy. And I know if you feel uncomfortable, or sad, or even angry, he will be there to help you and guide you in the right way. The Holy Ghost will be your forever friend. … And when the time comes open up your heart and let the spirit truly flow deeply in your soul. Jesus Christ loves you… You are his daughter.”

Recently we heard from Brother Two that he is saving plastic bottles and turning them in at the recycler to pay for lunch and parts for his remote control aircraft. So we decided to be of assistance. Took by a couple of bags over and dropped them in the bed of his truck. The next morning he texted us: “Strangest thing this morning. I found bags of plastic bottles in back of my truck. I know I’m good at getting them but it almost seems like they are gathering all by themselves from what I had yesterday. You wouldn’t know anything about this would you? Anyway thanks much”

Met with the Four family this week. After meeting with them regularly for about 12 months, and the last two months weekly, tonight he made a commitment. He had said the week previous that he didn’t know what he was here in California and was waiting for the Lord to tell him. I told him based on my experience he would have a long wait. I hadn’t had much success in waiting always the Lord expected something from me in return to justify my faith so to speak and allow the inspiration to flow. Further although the Lord willing receives us when we ask, not so much when we are telling. That is, telling the Lord what we want is not the same thing as asking the Lord for his direction. “I have a suggestion how you can know the inspiration of the Lord for you. It is called the Book of Mormon. [Something he has disparaged since our first meeting when he told me it was a summary of several Bible stories only the names had been changed. I told him at that time that since the author’s of both books were the same, meaning God, it should sound similar to him. I even have inserted some directions for you. Pasted in with a type which I was going to change out but since the book itself states “whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things than these” (Mormon 8:12).” He laughed. We reviewed together the first paragraph and the last two paragraphs of the Introduction. I pointed out that he now had the evidence in his hand. He was a good man. The Lord loved him and has nurtured him a long time. “You know who to receive inspiration from God. So prayerfully read and consider, asking the Lord if the words are inspired or of man. I promise you will know and also know what you need to do to become what God would have you be.” I told him this would be about the hardest thing he could do because of his current aversion to anything beyond the Bible. He said, “I will do it. I will make the commitment to read the entire book and prayerfully study and seek answers from God concerning its truthfulness.”

The inscription which Sister H said he read as I was saying something to his wife read: Brother Four, I am inviting you to embark upon a venture of eternal consequence. Your journey will fill you with wonder and awe for your Savior, and intimate feelings will swell within you enabling you to continue to emulate the example of the Master. As you approach this journey as Jeremiah urged Johanan, [He loves the prophet Jeremiah] acting only in obedience to the voice of the Lord your God, you will make connections among the experiences of your life and the solemnities of eternity—through which the nature and power of the Atonement will personally broaden as to its infinity and deepen within you as to its intimacy. I invite you to make this journey through the pages of this copy of the Book of Mormon. As you read you seeking the inspiration of the Spirit—willingly place yourself among the events you encounter. In so reading, you will “listen” to the message of the Holy Spirit, which will “feel” particular and specific to you, and will come in increasing and poignant waves. As you treasure up in your heart that which you have made your own, you will ponder the solemnities of eternity—allowing them to rest upon your mind—empowering you to see, to understand and to know what the Lord would have you do.”

Received a surprise email from the Bishop of one of our wards informing us he had accepted a work assignment in Japan. He had only been serving for just a bit over one year. He will be greatly missed. He has a big and loving heart and a very gentile manner.

Received a text from son of the Two family, who asked me how our week was going? I replied that we were having a great week. “What a blessing it is to share one's testimony of the gospel to so many people as you get to do on your mission.” He responded, “Thanks for sharing that. When do I start?” J I told him he had to be 18 to serve a full-time mission, but you can start sharing your testimony today. He replied, “I'm glad you are having a great week. It’s going to be such a blessing to share ones testimony about the gospel of Christ on my mission like you said. It’s going to be a great experience when I do.” This from a young man that we baptized only a year ago, now 14 years of age. I told him “I still get goosebumps remembering some of my experiences as a young missionary bearing testimony and then having the Holy Spirit testify to me that the words I had said were true. Great memories!!!”

Brother Two sent this chilling message, “I almost got bit by a large rattlesnake today. I had Nikes and shorts on. It was a large miracle. That snake was two feet away. No warning. I didn’t have a clue he was there! I about stepped on him! I know the lord protected me from it. I was out in the canyon to pray…. It was like a bull that snake and thick… I found a safe area and commenced praying and praising! It would of got me. Going to the temple with three names. My wife made it happen and you too.”

We had a dinner meeting with the One family and introduced them to the California Fish Grill which instantly became a favorite of theirs. We then retired to their home and had a good gospel discussion.

We received a request from one of the young elder to answer three questions: 1) What does 2 Nephi 9:13-14 mean when it says perfect knowledge. If we are to benefit from all wisdom gained in this life how do these two statements go together? There must be a simple explanation.

Simple explanation is this: 2 Nephi 9:13-14 has reference to our understanding as we leave this life and enter the spirit world. The wicked will have a perfect knowledge of their wickedness. The righteous a perfect knowledge of their righteousness.

The prophet's revelation, D&C 130:18-19 refers to the resurrection and states that what we learn in this life will rise with us in the resurrection, in other words, will continue with us through eternity. Thus the value of continuing to study and learn here because we are filing it away now to come forth with us in the resurrection.

2 Nephi 9 references guilt and righteousness, D&C 130 references knowledge. Of course the greatest knowledge one can obtain is how to be saved. So the Prophet Joseph said, "A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for it he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are upon the earth." (TPJS, 217) "Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge... If a man has knowledge, he can be saved." (TPJS 357) So if that knowledge rises with you it enables you to be saved.

2) What is the meaning of the vail in the temple being "rent" directly after Christ’s death? It's really vivid and powerful imagery and I would like to know what it means.

To rend is to tear in two. Rent is the past tense of that tearing. The Holy of Holies was the most sacred place in the tabernacle and later in the temple. It was separated from other rooms in the temple by a veil. It was that veil, in the temple in Jerusalem, which was torn in two upon the crucifixion of Christ, thus exposing the Holy of Holies. Perhaps symbolically demonstrating God had rejected the Jews who had rejected His son. Or, that Christ was now the way, no longer the Mosaic Law.

You seem to be curious like I am. Here is a little tidbit of interest to me. Solomon's temple was 30 cubits high (1 Kings 6:2), but Herod had increased the height to 40 cubits according to the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. There is uncertainty as to the exact measurement of a cubit, (usually considered about 18 inches, from the elbow to the finger tip) but it is safe to assume that this veil was somewhere near 60 feet high. Josephus also tells us that the veil was four inches thick and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart. The book of Exodus teaches that this thick veil was fashioned from blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. And yet miraculously and without human intervention, the veil seemingly of itself tore in two the whole length, from the top to the bottom.

Friday night we participated in the M&M social at Rimgate Park (Members & Missionaries). We had a big crowd, about 50-60 and 21 of them were non-members. Had good visits, food, basketball and volleyball.

Sunday we attended the Aliso Creek block. At the start of Sacrament meeting I introduced myself to a sweet looking lady who told me her name. When I told her I hadn’t met her before she said she knew me. “I was in the Sunday school class a few weeks ago when you taught us about the scriptures. You gave me a feeling I had never had before about the scriptures, about how sacred they are and the feelings you felt whenever you picked them up and read them. So I have been doing that and they have come alive for me. It has been a wonderful experience. Thank you so much for opening my eyes.” Wow, I was touched.

The lesson today was on relationships as I had some strong feelings this entire week. Perhaps because of my presentation to the Six family last week. But as the week unfolded and I pondered more there seemed to come to my mind an understanding I had never before appreciated. I started by asking who among them had a friend. Then thinking about that friend, what qualitied made them such a friend? We had a lively discussion. We then talked about relationships, what they were, how they are developed, what nourishes and feeds them discussing all that about our relationship with God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, Family members, Church members and finally Non-church members. I asked them to consider two scriptures: D&C130:2, “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there (only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy)” and Moses 7:18 “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”

The promise of the Lord in in 130:2 is that relationships and sociality will exist on the other side of the veil if we live worthily. Quoted Terryl Givens: “Joseph was affirming the fact that heaven is constructed out of a web of human relationships that extend in every direction. By the time his work was done, he had laid the groundwork for men to be sealed to their wives across the eternities; for parents to be sealed to their children and their children’s children and to their parents and their parents’ parents across infinite generations; and for friends to be bound to friends in a great assembly and Church of the Firstborn.” ("Lightning Out of Heaven” BYU Speeches 2005-2006)

Then shared a number of statements by Joseph Smith on friendships and concluded he rejoiced in his relationships to God, family, and friends. In fact, the privileged status of personal relationships was not just incidental to the Restoration; it was a primary focus. One of the visitors present raised his hand and said, “I feel I need to pay more attention to relationships, spend more time developing them, and with non-members too.”

I suggested the restoration was to establish a people to prepare the way for the Second Coming, a community of Christ and asked how we were doing. We read 4 Nephi 1:2-3 “there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another… And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.” We discussed just what the heavenly gift may be reviewing Ether 12:7-9; Moroni 7:41; and D&C 14:7.

I then suggested that the way to build a Zion-like community seems to be in building relationships. That through relationship we become a people for whom the words “brother and sister” carry more than metaphoric significance.

Lorenzo Snow: “The associations that are formed here, will be possessed by [us] in the eternal worlds… The same forms of relationship here will still exist beyond the veil; the ties here formed will grow stronger in the other life which is to come. [Salt Lake Daily Herald, Oct. 11, 1887, 2.]

Received a voicemail from Sister Six: “Probably should be no visit today because of some unfortunate events that have occurred in the household this week. Mind blowing things. We are trying to deal with them hour by hour. So don’t make the trip out her today.” Following the meeting block Sister H Jan and I went to visit Sister Six anyway, Sister H to give her a hug. She invited us in and discussed the whole matter. In a nutshell some kids had taken their car and gone joy riding. All the way to Missouri. Brother Six was flying there to retrieve his car.

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