RSS Feed

Posts Tagged ‘religion’

  1. Naming Rights to the Book of Mormon

    November 27, 2018 by Ryan

    The following is a private letter to Hank Smith.

    Dear Hank from Utah,

    I recently listened to your talk on CD titled “Scripture Power.” At the end, the gravelly-voiced guy from Covenant Communications said that the author would like to hear from his listeners. So if you don’t like what I have to say, remember that it’s his fault!

    At the end of your talk, you presented a theory that Mormon named The Book of Mormon after the place called Mormon.

    Recognizing that I am not an authority on this topic, and knowing that the correct answer to this particular question ultimately does not matter to our eternal salvation, I respectfully disagree with your philosophy and wish to present my own counter-claim.

    First, let me recap what I understand your position to be. You quoted the following verse in support of your opinion.

    And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.

    The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 18:30

    Your conclusion was that the prophet Mormon named “The Book of Mormon” after this place which he had a great reverence for.

    It is worthwhile to wonder why Mormon made such a big deal over, and wrote such a clumsily worded musing about the place of Mormon. In 3 Nephi 5:12, he let readers know that he was named after the place. It would be easy to conclude that being named after a place would plant a tender love for the scene in the Prophet Mormon’s sentimental heart.

    With that, I could almost go along with your theory about the naming of The Book of Mormon. Except that Mormon wrote something else that convinces me otherwise.

    I look to a passage in the Book of Helaman, which was also a moment when Mormon interrupted his narrative with commentary, to show that (I believe) Mormon intended for the overall book to be known as “The Book of Nephi.”

    And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi. Behold I do not mean the end of the book of Helaman, but I mean the end of the book of Nephi, from which I have taken all the account which I have written.

    The Book of Mormon, Helaman 2:13-14

    In this verse, Mormon clearly makes a distinction between discussing a small section he was abridging (“the end of the book of Helaman”) and the total tome (“the end of the book of Nephi”). If I am reading this right, if Mormon had gotten his way with naming rights we would today be trying to undo from our vocabulary the “Nephi Tabernacle Choir” and looking for a replacement URL for the website “”

    Perhaps supporting this, when Ammaron gave Mormon charge of the plates, he called the sacred engravings “the plates of Nephi” (Mormon 1:4).

    Therefore, I hold my opinion that the book was supposed to have been named “The Book of Nephi,” but probably Moroni called the book after his father’s name instead.

    Of course, it is entirely possible that we are both wrong. Mormon or Moroni may have wanted the publication named after Mormon’s father and Moroni’s Grandfather, Mormon (Mormon 1:5). He is only mentioned briefly, but he must have been an exceedingly strong and mighty man to have carried his eleven-year-old son all the way to Zarahemla! I get exhausted carrying my six-year-old up the stairs at my house. (See Mormon 1:6 and smile)

    At any rate, again, the name of the book is not important in the overall scheme of things (though it is fun to contemplate now and again). The message of the book is what counts. Thank you for your work to impart that message to the world.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Ryan from Utah

  2. Only One Plan

    November 15, 2018 by Ryan

    The sister said something from the pulpit on Sunday that has really bothered me. It was not unique. I’ve heard it many times before. I’m certain I will hear it many times again. 

    In describing the “war in heaven” before this earth was formed, she implied that we all met together in a grand meeting and we heard two plans presented – Satan’s plan and Jesus’ plan. 

    Well, I respectfully disagree. There were not two “plans.” There has only ever been one plan, the plan of the Almighty Father in Heaven. There was never a second option. As He counseled from the beginning, He would send His “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning” (Moses 4:1). Jesus Christ was the Guy. There was never a second thought or runner-up choice. 

    Jesus understood this very well, and accepted the status with humility. He said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” 

    Then Lucifer interrupted.  

    Satan jumped up and with dramatic and boisterous effort attempted a coup to derail our Heavenly Father’s wisdom and authority. “Behold,” the insubordinate commanded, “here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). 

    I say call it what it was – an open rebellion against God, right there in His immediate presence. 

    Yet we, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have this revealed knowledge, often try to retell this scene more politely: We talk about the events as if they were a political debate. Following the debate, we stuck posters in our lawn clouds, talked about it with our neighbors, posted about it on our social media feeds, and showed up the polling stations on election day and filled in our ballots for our preferred candidate. 

    No, this wasn’t an option up for debate. This was a chaotic hostile takeover attempt happening right under the Father’s celestial roof. 

    Let’s be real here. Lucifer didn’t have a “plan” of any sort. What he had a narcissistic complex. He wanted himself on top, with that annoying “Beloved Son” and His Daddy out of the picture. Satan promised things he couldn’t possibly deliver, and wanted the power and glory and praise and recognition heaped upon himself – all for the small price of giving up our ability to choose for ourselves. 

    (Well, on second thought, I suppose I can see similarities to how many modern politicians behave.) 

    God Himself described to Moses what was wrong (see Moses 4:3): 

    • ‘Satan rebelled against me’ 
    • ‘[Satan] sought to destroy the agency of man’
    • ‘[Satan wanted] that I should give unto him mine own power’ 

    Satan was persistent enough that the Father had to completely banish Lucifer from His presence. He did so by asking Jesus Christ to cast him out. “By the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:3). It was an act which I’m certain did not cause any endearing loving feelings toward Jesus to stay in Satan’s heart. 

    Isaiah gave us a glimpse of this scene in his vision: 

    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    Isaiah 14:12-14

    To all this, Abraham added another critical detail. “And,” added Abraham, “at that day, many followed after him” (Abraham 3:28). 

    What was the reaction in the heavens to this event? Did they cheer or sneer at the departure of their political foes? Did we yell and taunt after Satan, “Don’t let the pearly gates hit you…?” No, our Heavenly Father and His Son did not do this out of vindictive or vengeful or jealous or prideful hearts. Joseph Smith described that “the heavens wept over him” and the many who were cast out with him (Doctrine and Covenants 76:26). 

    The heavens wept over Satan’s departure!

    Satan sealed his fate. It had already been counseled and made known in the heavens – I don’t believe only at one single meeting, but many times – that “They who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate;” while “They who keep their first estate shall be added upon” (Abraham 3:26). 

    Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet and Seer, described his and Sidney Rigdon’s joint vision of the event, which included a glimpse of the continuation of Satan’s rebellion to this day. They wrote: 

    And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning! …For we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about. And we saw a vision of the sufferings of those with whom he made war and overcame.

    Doctrine and Covenants 76:26-30 

    So please, don’t try to make it sound nice and pleasant. It was a rebellion, a war, a fight for our souls. It still continues today, as Satan calls good evil and evil good (see Isaiah 5:20) while trying to confuse and entice us to act out and rebel against our Father in Heaven’s plan. What Lucifer doesn’t tell us is that, as Isaiah saw, if we join his side, his “side” is actually the side of the pit of Hell. One day, when we see Satan for ourselves, we shall narrowly look upon him, and consider him, and say, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?!” (See Isaiah 14:15-16) 

    Who’s on the Lord’s side, who? Now is the time to show! 

  3. Mascots

    January 31, 2016 by Ryan

    I was driving down the main business district of my city yesterday. It was noontime, and it was snowing softly. My eyes were drawn to the sidewalk, where standing outside of a tax preparer’s office was someone dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Ol’ Lady Liberty was holding a sign, promoting the tax preparation services and offering a discounted price if you stop in right away.

    This is not the first time I’ve encountered costumed characters promoting businesses. Sometimes the costume is simply a worker in employee uniform twirling a sign promoting pizza. Around community events where I live, it is very common to see an owl, a wolverine, a cougar, and/or a bear, there to promote a college or a professional sports team. They do flips, sign autographs, or give away swag to draw more attention to themselves.

    I started to wonder if maybe we should have a mascot for our church? A member of the congregation could be assigned to stand outside and wave down motorists, encouraging them to come inside and participate in the services. I just wasn’t sure what the costume should look like?

    Although it would be best recognized by the public, it would probably be sacrilege to make a costumed character of Jesus Christ. Once at a Latter-day Saint historical site I interacted with a man playing the part of Brigham Young – could this be duplicated for every congregation? What about the golden Angel Moroni?

    Or maybe the mascot should be more subtle, like the pizza store employee in uniform. Maybe the mascot for our church should look just like you and me. Jesus Christ once declared to His followers, “Ye are the light of the world. … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). To another congregation, he removed any ambiguity by clarifying, “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:24).

    Perhaps this is the best choice for a mascot – us. The best way to attract others to the faith is to show our example: our broken hearts, our contrite spirits, and how we manifest by our works that we have received of the Spirit of Christ (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:37).

    Twirling signs, gymnastics, or other gimmicks might not be necessary.

  4. And They Remembered His Words

    September 2, 2015 by Ryan

    I’d like to discuss a short piece of advice. Something that we all can learn from.

    St. Luke, chapter 24, verse 8, reads in its entirety: “And they remembered his words.”

    In the verses before this, “they” were described as “perplexed thereabout” and “afraid.” They were certainly grief-stricken too at the sudden change in their lives and overwhelmed by the events they had witnessed. Stress, chaos, and emptiness must have filled their souls.

    Two men in shining garments reminded them of the words Jesus had spoken, and the very events that He had foretold.

    And they remembered his words.

    All it took was a recollection of the words of the Master.

    And they remembered his words.

    They returned to where the saints had gathered, and told them these things.

    Remembering restored their courage and faith.

    Remembering renewed their confidence.

    As they talked, their words came across as idle tales to the others who had not yet remembered and connected the prophecy with what had transpired.

    Treasure up His words, whether spoken by His Own voice, or by the voice of His servants. Study His words, and remember!

    Then when the rain descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon your house; when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind; when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the sure foundation; the rock upon which ye are built! (see Matthew 7:24-27 and Helaman 5:12)

    Our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, was also described by another name. St. John introduced him as “The Word” (see John 1:1).

    And they remembered his words.

  5. A Cause of Much Sorrow

    February 22, 2015 by Ryan

    This week in the news  President Obama has been participating in the “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism,” and the threat of terrorists extremist fighting in the name of Islam. He made a point that “if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people.” Using lies and deceptions, they are seeking out young people and persuading them to their unrighteous cause. If there is a void in their lives, they seek to offer fulfillment by joining their organization.

    As I listened to this thought, the Gadianton Robbers of The Book of Mormon came to mind. From The Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 1:27-29:

    27 And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people.

    28 And it came to pass that in the ninety and fourth year they began to increase in a great degree, because there were many dissenters of the Nephites who did flee unto them, which did cause much sorrow unto those Nephites who did remain in the land.

    29 And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers.

    The characters, locations, and tools are different, but the story runs parallel. In the next chapter (3 Nephi 2:11-12), we see what happened:

    11 And it came to pass in the thirteenth year there began to be wars and contentions throughout all the land; for the Gadianton robbers had become so numerous, and did slay so many of the people, and did lay waste so many cities, and did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land, that it became expedient that all the people, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, should take up arms against them.

    12 Therefore, all the Lamanites who had become converted unto the Lord did unite with their brethren, the Nephites, and were compelled, for the safety of their lives and their women and their children, to take up arms against those Gadianton robbers, yea, and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and their liberty.

    The war commenced, and after a couple of years, there was still no successful resolution. Mormon’s explanation was that “because of the wickedness of the people of Nephi, and their many contentions and dissensions, the Gadianton robbers did gain many advantages over them” (3 Nephi 2:18). They could not pull it together as a people and they struggle for quite some time.

    I’m not intending to prophesy or declare that this is exactly how history will repeat itself; but I do foresee that the struggle will go on far longer than it should. As a nation today, most people are not paying any attention to this problem while they push for a redefinition of marriage; make wink-and-nod jokes about drug use and pornography; and fill their minds with entertainment glamorizing violence and sexual messages. Like the Nephite people, our nation won’t be able to come to the unity and resolve necessary – and mostly to recognize the need for repentance, and to call upon God for support – to let it happen.

    I say that because I’ve read the book and seen how it turned out the first time around.

  6. Why is Jesus Christ Important to Me and You?

    February 5, 2015 by Ryan

    A few weeks ago, I learned about a “differential” as I was reading a newspaper insert about automobiles. The writer to the advice column said that their mechanic had told them that their differential was off, and this was causing them problems with tire tread and brake pads. The writer wanted to know if he could go to the auto-parts store and buy a new differential and install it himself?

    The columnist explained that a differential is not really a single part, but a principle of physics. When a car is moving forward or backward, perfectly straight, the wheels all turn at the same speed. But if the car turns left, the left wheel has a smaller radius to complete the turn than the right wheel has, so the right wheel must move a little bit faster or else it will get dragged along. This is the differential. Wheels are connected by an axle, but by necessity they can move at independent speeds to complement each other.

    As I thought about this, I wondered two things. One: How have I lived this long and not noticed this before? Two: what gospel principle applies to this new found knowledge?

    Almost immediately, it seemed easily applicable to my marriage. A single wheel has potential to roll any direction, any speed, free and unfettered. That same tire, by itself, can’t pull as great of a load or accomplish as much. Attach that tire to an axle and give it a companion, and the two have potential to pull a load with them. As the twists and turns of life arrive, they have to adapt to them and stay synchronized with each other, make decisions together and heading in one direction in unison. There will be a differential in the relationship – sometimes one will need to move a little faster, and sometimes the other, but they will share the load and a common purpose, and accomplish something greater than the one could alone.

    I was happy with this analogy, but continued to think on it more. After all, natural laws often have relationship to eternal laws, so what else could this be compared to?

    It could also be applied, to a more imperfect extent, to being teamed up with the Lord. In St. Matthew 11: 29, Jesus commanded, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” In His time, they did not have automobiles, but they did hitch teams of horses or oxen saddled together with a harness called a yoke. This was the equivalent of an axle-of-old connecting the two animals. The same principle of a differential applied to making turns here. He said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…” Maybe this suggests that even though we cannot yet ride equally to Him, we should still make the covenants, get hitched up, and make the effort. Learn as we travel. As always, He will be our differential.

    It is also interesting, in that commandment, that it is still our choice. Unlike the animals, we are asked to take that yoke upon ourselves – to put ourselves in that position. He gives us the opportunity, figuratively, to be teamed up with him in pulling the load and accomplishing the tasks. That thought, of itself, is inspiring to dwell upon.

    My analogy is certainly not perfect, because Jesus does not simply make up the difference; He makes all of the difference. In fact, if my analogy were more literally applied to my life, my tire is sitting on a patch of ice, spinning and spinning, but never able to go anywhere of any substance without His help.

    From the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23, Nephi explained why he placed his efforts in writing the scripture and teaching his people. “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved,” and I take the liberty of adding a few extra words here, “[before, during, and] after all we can do.”

    What kind of “grace” do we receive before and during our lives? To me the primary gift of grace is the guidance and gift of the Holy Ghost – the comforter, or the Spirit of truth. We also receive the “tender mercies” of God, or the miracles that bless us day by day.

    In the Book of Mormon, Aaron, one of the sons of Mosiah, is a missionary that obtained an audience with the King of the Lamanites. After exchanging a few introductory remarks (“Do you believe in God?” and then finding out generally what the king believed and understood about God), Aaron got busy teaching. Here is how he did it. Alma 22:12: “And … when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king.” Aaron read from the scriptures. Pay attention to the topics he emphasized. Continuing verse 12: “How God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen.”

    Skip to verse 14: “And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself;” Stop. That is a very valid point to make. That is the tire spinning on ice. That demonstrates the great differential in operation between us and our God. What can we do about it then? Continuing: “but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth;” Stop. What does “and so forth” mean? Using what I know from other teachings, any time I hear about faith and repentance, it is followed by baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endurance in keeping the commandments. I presume that this belongs here too, but that Mormon is abbreviating the exchange to be brief in writing.

    Continuing: “and that He [Christ] breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; [I really like that phrase, the “hopes of glory” – I see that as my hope, and your hope, and your neighbor’s hope, all rolled together into one great hope!] and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.”

    Aaron placed his focus on explaining to the old king why Jesus was so important to him, and he used the scriptures to help prove his point. If we had the time here today, I’d do the same as Aaron, and read the scriptures to you. I won’t read them all, but I do want to read a few more important verses.

    From the New Testament, St. John 6:38, 40: Jesus explains, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    It is explained by Jesus even more clearly in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:14-15: “And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw [or attract] all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.”

    So that verse tells us that there will be a judgment which is based upon our works. But Aaron told us earlier that “since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself.” So how does that work? How can we have any hope if this is to be the case. Well, let’s keep reading one more verse:

    3 Nephi 27:16 “And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled;”

    Filled with what? With grace! With “hopes of glory”

    Continuing, “and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.”

    That is the awesome opportunity! That is how it connects! That is what Jesus has done, and will do for us, if we do our part. If we follow Him and His commandments, he will hold us guiltless before our Heavenly Father at our day of judgment!

    When I think of how that day of judgment will play out, I can’t imagine any way better than how it is described in the Doctrine and Covenants section 45:3-5: “Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.”

    These ideas just begin to explain why Jesus Christ is so important to me.

    As far as the grace we receive to help us during this life, here are a couple of verses:

    St. John 8:12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

    St. John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

    Father Lehi said it very well, as recorded in 2 Nephi 2:6-8: “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; [that describes what should be our effort to spin our wheel at and maintain the correct speed] and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.”

    In the last verse of the hymn, “With Humble Heart” by Zara Sabin goes like this:

    As I walk daily here on earth,
    Give me thy Spirit as I seek
    A change of heart, another birth,
    And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee.

    When I think of how important Jesus is to me, I could claim as my own the words of the Hymn “I Stand All Amazed” by Charles H. Gabriel,

    I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
    Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
    I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
    That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
    Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
    Enough to die for me!
    Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

    Perhaps Paul said it best, as he stated simply to the Philipians (4:13): “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

    I believe and feel that way too!

    I declare it in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

  7. The Word of God

    September 21, 2014 by Ryan

    Some observations about “the word of God”

    • is quick and powerful (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:29)
    • is sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow (Doctrine and Covenants 11:2; 33:1)
    • shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:29)
    • will lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:29)
    • will land a man’s soul at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven (The Book of Mormon | Helaman 3:30)
    • will do good to him that walketh uprightly (Old Testament | Micah 2:7)
    • healeth the wounded soul (The Book of Mormon | Jacob 2:8)
    • is quick and powerful (Doctrine and Covenants 11:2; 33:1);
    • is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Doctrine and Covenants 33:1)


  8. Man May Become

    February 19, 2012 by Ryan

    Some who are opposed to my faith casually call out a belief that “As God is, Man can become” as evidence of sacrilege. I’ve heard that ridiculed and flatly rejected by many Christians.

    I can’t really blame them. On the surface, when tossed about in a casual phrasing like that, it does sound arrogant, pompous, and absurd. After all, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). It sounds disrespectful to God to think I could sit equal with Him!

    Yet ironically, whether they realize it or not, all followers of Christ already believe the concept is not only possible, but has already been done in at least one instance.

    Let me illustrate by reasoning together.

    Do you believe that Jesus was born of Mary? Did He poop His diapers? Did He spill His juice bottle? Did He run and stub His toe and cry about it? Did He hit his thumb at least once with the hammer in Joseph’s woodworking shop?

    Surely He did. He lived a human experience. He learned His social and academic skills. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

    He grew from a baby into a boy. From a boy He grew to a Man. And from a Man, He became a God. He was the same Being the entire time, but moved through the stages of life in a progression to get to Godhood.

    Jesus is our example for living!

    Now, let state the obvious: There is a key difference between Him and us. The difference is that Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Because He was without sin, the process worked faster and more perfectly for Him. For our part, each has broken some laws of God and has complicated our lives and progression. All-in-all, however, the same pattern is in place. We grow, develop in spirit, fill our minds and souls with wisdom, repent (our extra step), and enjoy the grace of God upon us.

    Just as He outgrew childish things and became a Master over them, so do we. Paul described the process of maturation and self-mastery with these words: “But when that which is perfect [another translation might read ‘whole’ or ‘complete’] is come, then that which is in part [or ‘incomplete’ or ‘partial’] shall be done away” (see 1 Corinthians 13:10). The encounters of human growth and learning didn’t get Him down – He learned to master His mind and responses to them.

    As always, Jesus is our example for living.

    Believers won’t dispute that He went on to obtain His full reward with God the Father. He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God (see Mark 16:19 among many others). Notice that He didn’t unseat the Father; instead the scriptures always describe taking a place to the right side of Him.

    Does it diminish the position or rob God the Father to know that Jesus has also ascended to that title of Godhood? Heaven forbid the thought! Jesus has ascended to His Father, and has done all that must be done to earn the title of a God.

    If we are trying to follow Jesus, then next it is our turn. Paul told us, through his letter to the Philippians, to think like Jesus did in this matter. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philippians 2:5-6)

    Paul continues in verses 7-9 to tell us more about what Jesus did. He didn’t make Himself popular in the eyes of men. He willingly served others. He remained humble. He remained obedient unto death. It was those qualities of meekness and love that God “highly exalted him.” Those qualities sound very much like the same ones we should emulate.

    Because again, Jesus is our example for living.

    If I can work on those things, and mastering my emotions, and developing my ability to respond to the Holy Spirit – and if I appeal for and receive sufficient grace and forgiveness from God – then maybe I can get to that point in some eternal day. I don’t mind if I sit on the right, or the left, or in back – if there is a chair nearby the Heavenly Throne, I will be happy and content to take it. I’d even sit on the floor, or stand against the wall.

    Listen carefully to this verse in the context of our discussion: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). When we think of inheritances on earth, they are finite – ‘stuff’ is divided among siblings, so no one can have all. However, God deals in real estate infinite; the power and glory of God can be distributed without dividing, diminishing, or diluting the original. Christ inherited all of the glory, and we are invited to become joint-heirs with Him.

    Have I mention that Jesus is our example for living?

    Becoming as God is not a reward that man made up. It is clearly offered in the promise that we can each inherit all that the Father has. It is implied as a result of obedience to God’s laws. It is exemplified by the Son of God, who fulfilled all righteousness and showed the way.

    If God has held out the goal and offered the reward, then I intend to “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) and ask what I need to do to qualify for it.

    I’ll start with trying to work on Philippians 2:7-9. If I can get those down, I’ll work on the stuff in the Sermon on the Mount. I’ll seek out the grace of God, and repentance through the mercy and power of Jesus Christ. I’ll make covenants with God to show Him that I am committed to following through on keeping His commandments. I’ll seek and receive the promised blessings and graces for that obedience. There are basic things to work out. I’ve got to temper my own self. I can’t do any of this alone. Especially I cannot make myself ascend to the position of a God. I can’t even ascend on my own to be a member of His heavenly choir – or even His angelic custodial staff. That any of that is to happen, it will be if and when, at some future time, God the Father is ready and willing to bestow such a gift on me.

    I’ll always bow the knee in worship of the Savior and the Father in Their rightful places. I do not aspire to unseat them – Lucifer already tried that, and where did it get him? (see Isaiah 14:12-17) They will always hold that place of authority and order over me, for as long as there are eternal worlds without end. “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

    And with that context, the idea of becoming like God doesn’t seem so far out there. Jesus was a child of God, and He did it.

    And after all, He is my perfect example for living.

  9. Marriage Rights and Wrongs

    June 24, 2011 by Ryan

    This writing will be an attempt to solidify many thoughts I’ve considered recently. I apologize if it doesn’t gel together completely. It has been on my mind and I wanted to get it in writing quickly.

    There has been some very emotional discussion about marriage recently, as another state has narrowly voted to accept marriage between two individuals of the same gender.

    Many are declaring that the “rights” of a minority are being affirmed and upheld in this decision. I caution anyone listening to consider that making up new “rights” is a very slippery slope to travel.

    Now that we all have open minds and embrace new ideas, how far do we want to swing that door of acceptable marriage practices?

    For example, is America finally tolerant enough to accept a man who petitions the government for recognition of his marriage to two women simultaneously? All of the parties are consenting adults, after all. All of them love one another with devotion, and seek to openly pledge that love before the world. How is it different than any of the emotional arguments that have persuaded us recently? The two women could now marry one another under the law, so why should we forbid a third party to enter the relationship?

    Or perhaps we should reexamine the behind-the-times thinking of age limits for the parties involved. If a fourteen-year old male wants to pledge his love to a sixty-two-year-old male, what should stop the two from joining in holy matrimony? Amend the example and make the younger partner into a female, and ask the same question?

    If you are shivering with repulsion on these ideas, then you are simply intolerant and bigoted. There can be no other explanation for your hatred and inhumane refusal to recognize the rights of these minority individuals. Are they not seeking the same happiness that you are entitled to? Should their right also be protected?

    My point in proposing these examples is not to advocate for them; rather, it is to open your eyes to the very real possibilities of what new marriage-defining may come next.

    So let me take you back to a discussion of basic rights.

    The largely accepted definition of marriage in European and later American culture has for centuries been defined as between one man and one woman. This definition likely came from religious preferences and teaching. Some would seek to dismiss any further argument or enforcement simply because of the religious definition. I again caution you to carefully consider that attitude.

    There has existed another religiously-based teaching for centuries. It is taught as a religious principle in many faiths that it is wrong to take the life of another human being. This religious ideal has found its way into American law. Should we now dismiss this too, simply because it has a rooting in religious tradition. Or is there wisdom in it?

    Apply the same question to the marriage debate. Recognizing that many religions stake a claim in the question, set all of that that aside and ask if it is beneficial? If a principle is of value, it should be able to stand on its own merit.

    A marriage between a man and a woman ideally will provide an opportunity for children to be born, raised, nurtured; and to grow to responsible adulthood. That is the ideal. This is probably the societal benefit expected when marriage was granted legal recognition and status.

    Some have argued that many marriages between one man and one woman fail frequently to fulfill that  purpose. Some marriages are entered into carelessly and recklessly from the beginning, and bear society no good. Many marriages suffer as years go by, and they fail. If your objective is to hold up examples of failure and say, “I want the right to do that too!” – then more power to you. The framework was available to the couple that they could succeed – that they didn’t was their own fault.

    The framework of traditionally-defined marriage does not allow same-gender couples to accomplish the same societal objective. It cannot.

    A counterfit $20 bill, though it be called a $20 bill, and painted to look like a $20 dollar bill, does not hold the same value as the genuine article.

    Psychologists are confirming in many studies that the nurture of a mother and the presence of a father in a home is beneficial to raising healthy, well-adjusted children. Yes, there are exceptions. Some children come from broken homes; some split time between homes with real parents and step-parents. Some come from homes with only one parent available. Some homes with both male and female parents are present but do a miserable job of parenting. There are always exceptions to the rule. If we are honest about what we know, we will acknowledge that no home will be perfect, but we know where the best chances can occur, and societies interest should be to encourage that framework and discourage the others.

    It will be interesting to see how and where this debate takes us. Religious freedom will certainly play into the debate. Will religious freedom be trampled by laws forcing the acceptance of new types of marriage? Will religious institutions that provide adoption or foster care programs be required to set their beliefs aside to accommodate secular policy? Will church-owned schools be forced to enact policies that contradict their stated religious missions?

    I read that some believe the acceptance of new marriage definitions will eventually be embraced upon the entire nation. As you might infer from my thoughts expressed today, it may take me some time and consideration before I do any embracing of the matter.

  10. I Thank Him

    April 26, 2011 by Ryan

    I heard someone express a testimony by starting each sentence with “I thank Him…” The speaker only did this for a short few sentences, but I liked that style and wanted to try writing something like it myself. It was harder than I thought and I realized that I might never “finish” it. So here is my unfinished first-attempt.

    I thank Him for the confidence I receive in knowing that He is a God of truth, and canst not lie; that He cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said.

    I thank him for knowing that His promises, declared by His servants the prophets, are sure.

    I thank Him, knowing He orchestrates a way through great chaotic interaction of natural forces alongside both the good and evil designs of men; He acts in wisdom, and knowest all things.

    I thank Him that if I do what he has asked (search diligently, pray always, and be believing), all of these forces will be orchestrated for my good.

    I thank Him, that He sent His Son. I thank His Son, that He finished the work that Our Father gave Him to do.