Sunday, September 28, 2014

Insights from "Lost Teachings of Jesus on The Sacred Place of Women by Alonzo Gaskill

I have been a fan of Alonzo Gaskill, since I read one of his others works "Odds Are You Are Gonna Be Exalted" and when I saw this, I knew I needed to get it. Its a short books, only 70 pages or so. Let me share what this book is about, and then I will share some quotes from the book and share my feelings on those. In this book, it talks about a journalist, in the 1800's who discovered some of Christ's other teachings, that was protected for hundreds of years by a monastery in Tibet. In the manuscript this journalist finds that travelers that lived in the time of Christ's ministry, and records his teachings, and a portion of this was dedicated to the value of women. Now I will say this, I have no clue if this manuscript is actually from the time of Christ, but many of these things, are in accordance to the teachings of the gospel and what many prophets and apostles have already mentioned many times and is considered doctrine. As I was reading this story, I was overcome with a feeling of love, and that Christ had a reverence for women. Over the years at times I have struggled with depressions and low feelings of self worth, due to some circumstances of when I was growing up. I sometimes have struggles with seeing my own worth and value. As i was reading through this, my heart became full and I knew that this was how my Heavenly Father saw me and that no matter what, I am loved and cherished, that they see my value and how they see the deeper part of me and see my potential in a way that no one else can. Now I would like to share some insights with you that gave me a deeper meaning at my own identity and who I can become and who the Savior really sees.

1. On her depends the whole existence of man, for she is his natural and moral support. 
Too often we humans forget the debt we owe to our mothers. They give us physical life, and then most spend the remainder of their days trying to fill us with spiritual life--teaching us morals, spirituality, faith and obedience. Till their last breath, they emotionally support us because of the nurturing spirit that resides within their souls.

My Thoughts -As I look at my own mother, and all that she sacrificed for me, for my well being, I am overcome with feelings of love and gratitude and I hope I can be the type of mother that is selfless and putting my children's needs above my own...whether they are spiritual, emotional, physical. To be the type of mother to create a nourishing home that is full of the spirit and love and harmony. 

2. In the same way, love your wives and respect them; for they will be mothers tomorrow, and each later on the ancestress of a race. 

The Lord introduces into His discourse the sacred doctrine of deification. He indicates that, through the Abrahamic covenant, each faithful woman will be blessed to be the mother of children--ideally in time, but certainly in eternity. And He reminds His hearers that every woman who is sealed in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage will be "ancestress of a race". She is destined, through Christ and her faithfulness to Him, to be queen and priestess--a goddess--throughout all eternity! Alonzo Gaskill shares what the Apostle Paul taught "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it...So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church; For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." -Ephesians 5: 25, 28-33) He reminds us that we are nurturing husbands and wives.

My Thoughts: What I really liked about this section was that he is speaking to both men and women. That the Savior saw our full potential, and is giving a message of our destiny and roles, and that we are partners in marriage. Neither is better, that each role is to lift each other up and build a healthy and happy life together. I think this discourse, Christ is trying to show the value of women in the Gospel and in the eyes of God. That men were considered above women in every way, and women had no rights, but he is trying to show that they deserve love and respect. But in this section Alonzo Gaskill also speaks to the women in the Church, to live up to this divine calling and future that is ahead of us. That we also need to take a self examination on our own worthiness. Are we doing all that we can to live up to it? Are we being loving, nurting, respectful, and considerate of the men in our lives?

3. Protect your wife, in order that she may protect you and all your family, All that you do for your wife, your mother, for a widow or another woman in distress, you will have done unto your God. 

The woman's primary role is not to be a physical protector, but rather a protector of that which is sacred--the sanctity of the family, the sacredness of the home, and the testimonies of the children. She insures that the home is a spiritual haven from the world and its influence. She must be holy, because she is called to protect that which is holy.

My Thoughts 
This was a great section to read and I learned much in this part of the book. Growing up this was very evident in my home, my parents were very firm in the gospel, and always taught us to be spiritually minded. What the Savior is teaching us here, is that there is importance in women's roles as mothers and nurtures of the home. That the husband is to provide and protect the family, but the wife's job, is to make sure that that which God considers to be holy, is to be protected and nurtured in the ways of the Gospel...there is so much responsiliby that He is giving us here. This is no small matter. In fact, its a big deal, and one we must take seriously. How much our Father in Heaven trusts us to care for those that are sacred and loved much by him, but he is letting us have the opportunity to raise them to be righteous men and women. 

I want to end with a quote by Spencer W. Kimball " There can be no heaven without righteous women, To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is a especially noble calling. The righteous woman's strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times."

Heavenly Father doesn't need us to be perfect right now, he just needs us to be working on becoming more like Christ. He needs us to be working steadfastly, always improving ourselves, and making our best effort. That we have so much aide, most importantly, we the the Savior as our Redeemer, our guide and counselor, and our friend!! He is with us every step of the way and with Him by our side we can accomplish anything!! Let us have faith in this journey and in our future, let us believe that we are blessed daughters and sons of God, that we have a great purpose and destiny!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Understanding Truths About The Garden: Part 1

Over the past couple of years, I have been doing a deeper study of the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve and what really happened there, and what it means for us. Last year I was able to attend a Conference at BYU, and it was about a month before the new movies were put in the temples. I took a variety of classes, but quite a few talked about the Garden and what it symbolizes for us, and I started to gain a deeper understanding of Adam and Eve...but more specifically Eve. In the history of the world, Eve has been blamed for the sins of man, even among some members of the Church, I have heard people I know in my ward of the time, that Eve is to blame for all that goes wrong...and I always had a issue with it, because Eve has always been a heroine for me in my life. As I started to study her in more depth, I gained a deeper love for this woman of courage and conviction to do the right matter the cost to herself.

When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden, they were given instruction. , walked and talked with God, they were able to build their marriage and enjoy the comforts and peace of the Garden. Heavenly Father had a plan that was set forth, and when He put Adam and Eve on the Earth, it was the beginning. We don't know how long Adam and Eve were in the garden, I imagine that it was for quite some time. Heavenly Father had much personal time with them, and we know that He laid out the plan for them. But he also gave them certain instruction, one of the most important, was Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:16–17). But there was also another commandment that they knew of "to multiply and replenish the earth" Now this is a paradox. God laid out the circumstances, the plan, and enough knowledge, so that they could make a decision on what to do next. He was very clear with both Adam and Eve that they each had a choice.

When Lucifer came to tempt Eve in the Garden, this moment is also a paradox as well...but one we don't always see. Lucifer was against the plan, that we would all have agency, to have the Atonement and be cleansed and be able to return to our Heavenly Father, making our own choice to do so. When he tempts Eve to partake of the fruit, he is only furthering the plan. However it is his nature to tempt. He couldn't resist. Just like in the parable of the serpent and the fox, where he asks the fox for a ride across the river, and before they are completely across, the serpent bites the fox, and before the fox dies he asked the serpent "why did you bite me, now we will both drown?" and the serpent replies "It is in my nature". the same is true with Lucifer tempting Eve. Even though it went against what he fought for in the first estate, his instinct is to tempt us even if it goes against his own agenda.

When Eve was tempted and took of the wasn't a quick decision. Eve debated and thought this through carefully. She knew the consequences of doing so, but she also knew that it needed to happen in order for the Savior to come to the Earth, so that the Atonement could happen, and so that all mankind could be saved. She made a selfless act, one that would remove her from the presence of God, and also she didn't know the reaction of Adam, and knew that they would be separated and they would be alone. She was willing to give up the man she loved and was married to, as well as her relationship with her Heavenly Father, so that the right thing could be done for all of US!! What courage she must have had. Not knowing exactly would happen, but knowing that it had to be done. She chose a life of hardship, and trials and temptation, so we could have a chance. If it wasn't for her act of selfless love we wouldn't be here and the Atonement would never have happened. Adam showed his wisdom by following her example.

Even though Adam and Eve suffered the repercussions of their choice, it is a transgression of a law, and not a sin with evil or malicious intent. In their hearts, they were to do what God ultimately desired. There is much that we can learn from Adam and Eve, one is that they are symbolic of our journey here on the earth.

I have a firm testimony in the fall and the circumstances that initiated the Plan. There is much more in this story, than is just on the surface. There is much symbolism and depth that can help us on our own mortal experience. Bruce R. McConkie said this "The temple is to us as Eden was to Adam and Eve. The story of Eden, in fact is a light that reveals the path that all must travel to return to the divine presence."

The Message of the fall is about US!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Values and Everlasting Purposes of Covenants

Lately, I have been trying to dig a bit deeper into part of my life, that has made my life even more meaningful....Covenants. What a wonderful concept that is for all of us.

Purposes Of Covenants: 
Laws that God wants us to adhere to so we aren't subject to influence of worldly influences. These guidelines are very specific.

  1. Incentives and Rewards-Life is challenging, as we are informed of covenants-the blessing of covenants can give us a boost at times in our lives when we are really struggling. It will help us remain obedient to those commitments. there should be no hesistation when holding God to His word. 
  Personal Experience that shows this: A couple of years ago, I was going through one of the most hardest times of my life. I had just suffered a fourth heartbreak, and lost one of my dearest friends. I started to become depressed, and I was struggling with other issues as well. My testimony was strong but not what I needed it to be. I kept having a thought coming into my mind that I needed to be endowed. At this time I was about to turn 24, and thought that I needed to be 26. I haven't had the opportunity of serving a mission or marriage, so I was a bit confused. Then my wonderful Bishop at the time, called me into his office. He talked with me about considering going to the temple to get my Endowments. I was baffled, because I hadn't told anyone what had been on my mind...except one Heavenly Father knew. In that moment I knew that my Father in Heaven has been watchful of me, even with all my struggles and failings, He has always been there and has been guiding me no matter what I have done...he is by my side...forever. I knew at that moment, while talking with my Bishop, that this was the right call...that this is exactly what I needed to heal. As I went through the process of becoming ready to go through the temple, I was constantly feeling the power of the Holy Spirit, and feeling His guidance in my life. As I went through the Temple, and partook of those powerful covenants, I was able to see a small glimpse of His plan for me, of His love and His guidance in my life. I discovered a power within me that I didn't know was there. I was surrounded in the Temple with people that had supported me in this decision, and had been there with me every step of the way. What a blessing this has been in my attend the temple whenever I feel a urge...whether I am down, or sad, or need a spiritual boost...I can just go to the temple, and serve, and be able to connect with my Heavenly Father in a way I wouldn't be able to otherwise. Where there is no outside worldly influence, where I can just concentrate on the power of my Father's love and compassion. Amen.

  • Gateways and Ordinances-one has to participate in if one wants to return to God and be Exalted to the Celestial Realm. For Example: Baptism- has two dimensions of a covenants. 
  1. Get rid of the stains of wickedness-unblemished and perfect. Christ was baptized to fulfill All   righteousness. 
  2. Is making a commitment of "This is my work and my glory-to bring to pass immortality and eternal life of man".( Moses 1: 39) Its taking on a positive commitment. These gateways are essentials. So we can fulfill our individual destiny. 
  • Patterns and Measurements Of Righteous Behavior-It helps us to know we are on the right track. As we establish these patterns, in a challenging world, this will become part of our Eternal nature. We are proving worthy until we see greater things. 
Keeping Covenants Help Us: 
Know God's Will: Covenants teach us as they provide us with knowledge on how to achieve our unique destiny. Divine Covenants empower as they give us authority to share special gifts with others. Satan will do everything he can to bring us down with him. There is always more knowledge and testimony we can gain-there is much for us to gain. If we tell our self we have enough knowledge, than we would lose that knowledge and testimony. We need to keep doing and enduring to the end, never giving up or stopping our progression and journey to Exaltation. Keeping covenants help us become more Godlike. They sanctify us as they make us Holy and worthy of Eternal life. Keeping Covenants provide a safety net in a dangerous war with the great and abominable church. Robert Millet said this " Victory will not be won through hand to hand combat, sea to air missiles, or nuclear devices. Victory will come because the power of God will descend upon the covenant people of the Lord; these people will be armed with righteousness and the power of God." 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Journey Toward Becoming His

"We do not really grasp who we are until we know whose we are" -Truman G. Madsen
In the journey of true discipleship, in learning to become more, to becoming His, we need to learn how crucial being and become are. If all the doing and believing aren't shaping us into what God wants us to be, then they aren't enough. In our culture, we have many lists, of things we need to be doing. There are commandments and covenants, and there are standards which we need to live by. Sometimes I think in this world of chaos, we think all we need to do is to be doing things. To be praying, reading the scriptures, attending the temple, going to all of our Sunday meetings, paying our tithing, home and visiting teaching, service, just to name a 'few'.

 A little over a month ago I had the tremendous opportunity to attend Education Week at BYU in Provo. What a blessing and exactly the type of experience I needed. S. Michael Wilcox, a favorite of mine to listen to, gave a series of lectures on "The way back to heaven: Parable of the crystal stairs". He shares a parable that was something I never heard before, but understood the process of becoming more. I would like to share that parable now. The human imagination is a great tool that God used to help us understand more. In this parable of the Crystal Stairs: We are wanders on this plain "mortal existence" There is a sense of longing we feel, a "divine homesickness". There are many stairways on the plains, made of different materials. Wood, metal, stone, marble, and brick. These stairways are built from the ground up. But the stairway we really want is one that comes from Heaven. As you are wandering searching for that special staircase, you then see a bright light from above. And descending from that light you see a crystal stairway. Every step is beautifully etched. Then a being appears and says "My stairway is strong, you may club it and I will show you how". He slowly ascends the stairway. One group leaves, one group takes their belongings and as they set their feet on the first step, the stair shatters. They then go to climb the staircase of men. Another group leaves their belongings and as they ascend the stairs up into the clouds. fearing the height, abandon the crystal stairs. The final group, leaves all and climb each step patiently off the plain and into heaven-where most beautiful things await us. This is such a beautiful world, but Adam and Eve called it the "lone and dreary world" Lehi sees the mortal world and a "dark and dreary wasteland". There is much in this world, but what we long for is spiritual nourishment.  There is a poem by Matthew Arnold that explains this dreary wasteland and wandering and yearning for something more.
"Dover Beach"
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

We need to be true to one another in the world of the "Plain". There is always one who is walking beside us, always with us guiding and directing us. He leads us to the way to heaven. On this "plain" there is something that helps us-that sense of longing, we are made for a better world. We are something more than what we are. There is something in us that draws us to that stairway. As we find and climb each stair, we start to let go of those things that hold us back. Pride, greed, selfishness, in leaving the world behind, and embracing what God has in store for us.

In this lecture he discuss the importance and journey of becoming more. That all that we do in the Church is for a real purpose. It isn't so it looks nice on a eternal resume. It is to show us the importance in becoming more like Christ, in the journey of becoming His. Elder Dallin H. Oaks encourages us to become "Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become" There is so much that Heavenly Father has in store for us, so much that is beyond on imaginations and dreams. He has a real reason for asking and pleading with us to do and obey His will and commands. They are so we can learn our spiritual capacity and power. This life is a journey in learning to come unto Christ, so that we are becoming more, we are becoming His.