Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
I think it’s healthy to have differences in opinions. No mortal is infallible, and we all have much to learn in our search for truth. When someone challenges our beliefs and traditions, it gives us an opportunity to take another look at those beliefs and traditions. Are they founded in truth or in superstition and the philosophies of men?
On the other hand, I do not think it is healthy when one person or group of people uses threats, intimidation, manipulation, bullying, duress, fear tactics, and force to coerce someone else into believing as they believe. We should take our example from God who really does know the truth of all things. He uses persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge to help his children come to an understanding of the truth. D&C 121:41-42
When I share ideas and ask questions, I occasionally get comments like: you’re going off the deep end; you’re apostatizing; or if you don’t believe as we believe, you and your family are going to hell.
I loved swimming as a child. When I think about going into the deep end, I think about more freedom in the water. Of course it takes more skill, strength, and endurance to swim in the deep end, but there is so much more you can do there. Swimming in deep water also reminds me a statement by Joseph Smith.
“And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all these things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.” Doctrine and Covenants 127:2
It might not be a bad thing to swim in the deep end of the swimming pool.
I don’t think the cry of apostasy is a method that should be used to stifle sincere questions and suppress the sharing of ideas. When we ask God questions, he doesn’t call us an apostate. In fact, he commands us to ask him questions and assures us that we won’t be scolded if we do so. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5
As for going to hell, well that’s exactly what we all deserve. Christ is the only one who can lift us out of that awful pit. That being the case, I think I’ll let him be the judge of who’s going to heaven or hell.
I grew up in the Chicago area. There are so many things that I love about my childhood. There were many religions and cultures present in Chicago. I don’t know if I appreciated this diversity as a child, but I look back at it as a great blessing. Most of my friends had different religious backgrounds, and that’s just the way it was. I never felt forced to accept their beliefs. They came to church with me, and I went to church with them. We didn’t see it as a threat to either one of us. We were friends.
Everything wasn’t always good. There were some people who were intolerant of our family’s beliefs. I didn’t like that part. My younger brother seemed to get more flak than I did, but it was still hard on me. I saw people spit on him, scatter his things across the hall, and be just plain mean. I learned at an early age what it feels like to be an outcast. I started to learn how to find answers by going to God instead of looking at popular opinion.
Halfway through high school, our family moved to Utah. I thought it would be different. It was different in some ways, but very much the same in others. Although many more people in Utah share my religion, the friendships and intolerance were very similar. I have many dear friends that I treasure, and I like that part.
On the other hand, the religious intolerance is a challenge for me. There is a sameness that is expected in this culture. The freedom to be curious and ask questions is not valued. I wonder how we’re going to receive greater light and knowledge if we’re censored when we ask questions, oodles of questions, any questions, even forbidden questions.
It feels good to ask questions. It feels even better to learn that I’ve been wrong. Putting away false notions and ideas is liberating. Worshipping God according the dictates of our own conscience is a privilege to be claimed. It is highly unlikely that society is just going to offer it to us.
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. Articles of Faith 1:11
Sunday, January 29, 2012
25 And again, verily I say unto you, let all my saints come from afar.
26 And send ye swift messengers, yea, chosen messengers, and say unto them: Come ye, with all your gold, and your silver, and your precious stones, and with all your antiquities; and with all who have knowledge of antiquities, that will come, may come, and bring the box-tree, and the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, together with all the precious trees of the earth;
27 And with iron, with copper, and with brass, and with zinc, and with all your precious things of the earth; and build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein.
Come everyone, bring all you have to offer, and build a house to my name so the Father has a place to dwell.
28 For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.
29 For a baptismal font there is not upon the earth, that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead—
30 For this ordinance belongeth to my house, and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me.
31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.
32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.
33 For verily I say unto you, that after you have had sufficient time to build a house to me, wherein the ordinance of baptizing for the dead belongeth, and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world, your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me;
34 For therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory.
35 And after this time, your baptisms for the dead, by those who are scattered abroad, are not acceptable unto me, saith the Lord.
I command you all to build a house unto me so I can restore the fullness of the priesthood, which you have lost. I’m telling you that this is the way that I have ordained. You will have sufficient time, but focus and dedicate yourselves, and consecrate all that you possess to my purposes. Don’t get distracted or preoccupied with your own business. During this sufficient time period, your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me. But if you allow this opportunity to come and go without being diligent, your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me. You will be rejected as a church, with your dead.
36 For it is ordained that in Zion, and in her stakes, and in Jerusalem, those places which I have appointed for refuge, shall be the places for your baptisms for your dead.
37 And again, verily I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name?
38 For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was.
39 Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.
40 And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people;
41 For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.
Washings, anointings, baptisms, solemn assemblies, memorials for sacrifices, and oracles are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house. My house that I have commanded you to build is a place to receive conversations from heaven, revelations, glory, honor, and endowments from Me. It is a place where I can come to you, talk to you, minister to you, and reveal mine ordinances unto you. I want to reveal to you things that have been hid from before the foundation of the world that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times. I‘ll reveal unto you how to establish Zion. Don’t let this opportunity to establish Zion pass you by!
42 And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.
43 And ye shall build it on the place where you have contemplated building it, for that is the spot which I have chosen for you to build it.
44 If ye labor with all your might, I will consecrate that spot that it shall be made holy.
45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.
46 But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them.
47 And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord.
48 For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practise before me, saith the Lord.
Through Joseph, I will show all things pertaining to this house. If you labor diligently, the spot will be made holy. If you hearken to my voice, you will not be moved out of your place. Does this mean that the Lord will protect the saints from their enemies, watch over them with his power, and make the temple a holy place? With the Lord in the midst of Zion, will the saints need to raise the arm of flesh in their defense against the powers that want to drive them out of Nauvoo?
The Lord also gives the penalty for failing to hearken to His voice. You will not be blessed. You will not have my protecting hand over you. Then a serious warning comes: But if you go ahead and build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath neither fulfill the promises which you expect at my hands. Instead of blessings, you will experience cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments.
We may find some valuable answers by accepting God’s words at face value. By simply reading church history and looking at the results, we may determine whether or not the saints exercised faith, built the temple within the allotted time, and fulfilled the requirements set out by the Lord. Did they have a temple ready to receive the fullness of the priesthood while Joseph was still alive? Was Zion established? Did they receive Christ’s presence and His protection? What does history reveal?
To be continued . . .
Saturday, January 28, 2012
We’ve had friends and neighbors helping us with meals this last week. You’d have to be pretty brave to even offer to bring our family a meal. In our home, food evaporates. Most people probably think, “Now, how much food do they really eat? Will this be enough?” We really do appreciate the kindness shown to us.
Last Saturday, Lyle and Jenny Henriod brought our family a big pot of soup. The baby wasn’t even six hours old, and they were already at our door ready to feed the crew.
Sandra and Dave Sorensen brought in some yummy potato casserole earlier this week. I’ve gotten some our favorite recipes from Sandra. Recently, she taught me how to make homemade potato soup and chili. Whenever I ask her for a recipe, she tells me that she really doesn’t have a recipe. She then tells me how she makes it. I come home, try it, and the children love it. I’ll have to learn how she made that potato casserole.
Nancy Sjostrom just showed up one afternoon with her arms loaded with food. It was a welcomed surprise. She also made this teddy bear quilt for Emma (see picture). With her busy schedule, she didn’t have to make the extra effort, but we appreciate that she did.
Lisa Clawson asked the children what they wanted to eat. One said chicken alfredo, another said macaroni and cheese, another said brownies, and another said cookie dough. They were so surprised when they saw that she creatively met all of their requests. We had a tasty dish that was a combination of macaroni and cheese and chicken alfredo. For desert she made cookie dough brownies. The children kept talking about how everyone got what they wanted. Good job Lisa! Not many could have pulled that one off.
While Lisa was visiting, Charlene Heaton stopped by with a gift for the baby and an armload of pizza rolls. We saved the pizza rolls for the next day and enjoyed every last one of them.
I just got a call from my friend Kim Wengreen. She asked if she could bring us dinner tomorrow. John and the children will be excited. They’ve really pitched in and helped with the meals during this pregnancy. They are so appreciative when someone brings in good food. They love tasting something new and different. For some reason it tastes better when they don’t have cook it. Or maybe it just tastes better than daddy’s special:)
We’ve enjoyed all of the food and appreciate the kindness shown to us. Thanks again.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Through the door, I could hear her slowly walking away, no verbal response. Immediately, I felt heaven speaking to me as God gave me a clear message. A very simple sensation went through my body, and a voice (not audible, but it just as well have been) basically said, “John, get yourself out of the chair, stop thinking about yourself, and pay attention to your daughter’s request. She needs to talk to you!”
I got up, opened the door, and saw her walking away down the dark hallway. I called to her, “Hey, actually, I have some time, and I’d really like to talk with you.” I invited her in, and she returned a big smile. We sat down, and she proceeded to explain what was on her mind. She wiped a tear from her eye, and I could tell that she had been thinking about something. She wanted to talk about some questions that had been on her mind for a while.
A question was recently asked in one of her youth classes, “How many of you are excited to prepare for and be married in the temple of God?” She said, “At first, I raised my hand, but then I put it back down because I don’t know for sure if I want to or not.”
She then asked a series of questions and in essence said, “Dad, I wonder if the temple ordinances are real and legitimate. Are they? What about baptisms for the dead? Are they valid? How about endowments? Marriages? Family sealings? I am told that if I am married in the temple, then I will be with my husband and family forever. Is that true? Am I guaranteed eternal life and happiness just by going to the temple, being married there, and remaining a faithful member of the church? Is that all I need to do or is there something more that comes from God?”
“What about others who are really good people? What about people who seem much more righteous than me but for one reason or another choose not to be sealed in the temple? Does that mean that I am saved and they are not? What does God really require of me to obtain salvation? How do I know if I have the promise of eternal life?”
As she put forth these sincere and very important questions, I realized she was searching for truth, and she wanted to know the answers. She wanted to know true doctrine, not just what others say and believe. She’s realizing that people, religious institutions, and organizations almost always hold opposing views and conflicting doctrines. Putting our salvation in the hands of men, or in the “arm of flesh” is unwise, unreliable, and out of order. When we trust in men instead of God, we bring a curse upon us 2 Nephi 4:34, 2 Nephi 28:31. My daughter, like many others in all walks of life, wants to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
With this on my mind, I had the impression to share the Lord’s words with our family during “family devotional”. I trusted that this would answer some of my daughter’s questions. This also provided the opportunity for the rest of the family to “tune in” and benefit from her questions. Here’s some of what we talked about.
In November 1831, the Lord revealed, “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually— ” D&C 1:30
Within just a year, their status as a church had already changed. In September 1832, the Lord revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith the following concerning the updated status of the church:
“And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. D&C 84:54-58
One hundred and fifty four years later during general conference, President Benson said, “We have felt that scourge and judgment . . . The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent.” President Ezra Taft Benson
The church is currently still under condemnation for failing to take the message of the Book of Mormon seriously. Most members of the church have not removed this condemnation. That scourge doesn’t have to be applied to us as individuals, if we will "repent and remember the new covenant" offered. To qualify, each person must bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom.
The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel D&C 20:9. Anyone who repents and receives the covenants offered in the Book of Mormon will be numbered with the house of Israel and the remnant of Lehi’s seed, be part of Zion, and receive from heaven a promise of eternal life. 3 Nephi 16:13-15, Ether 13:1-12, Mosiah 26:20.
In January 1841, Section 124 of the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed. The church had been under condemnation for about nine years and the fullness of the priesthood had also been taken away D&C 124:28. The saints had lost the opportunity, collectively, to possess the fullness of the priesthood. “For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” D&C 84:22 Joseph plainly taught truth to the saints and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God. Joseph was much like Moses in leading the people.
Moses also plainly taught truth to the children of Israel and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God. “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount.” Exodus 19:17
“And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21
Remember how the children of Israel hardened their hearts, rejected the fullness and were driven into the wilderness? The Lord took Moses out of their midst and the Holy Priesthood also. They were left with the lesser priesthood, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel. D&C 84:23-27
Joseph Smith, the chosen head of this dispensation, sought to open the heavens to the people and establish Zion. Joseph made an intercession for his people and made the necessary sacrifice and offering that was sufficient before the Lord. I believe Joseph’s very life was the offering made. He pled before the Lord in behalf of his people that they might have another chance to receive the fullness of the priesthood and thereby obtain the gifts from heaven that are required to make claim on eternal life. The Lord was well pleased with his offering and acknowledgements. D&C 124:1
The Lord then proceeded to make an oath and promise with Joseph in behalf of the group. The Lord laid out the requirements. God revealed what He promised to do if the people exercised faith, built a temple, and fulfilled the requirements He set forth. A new opportunity to claim the fulness of the priesthood was open and available for a period of time. What joy! What kindness! What mercy! What compassion! What love and charity demonstrated by Deity! It must also be remembered that with every blessing there is an associated curse or penalty for failure to abide the terms of the covenant. Here are the terms of this oath and promise D&C 124:25-48.
To be continued . . .
Monday, January 23, 2012
Being the 12th child, she has many brothers and sisters who simply adore her. Everyone gets excited as they carefully hold their new baby sister. Nothing but smiles as they gaze into the eyes of this beautiful gift from heaven. Without a doubt, Emma will never lack attention and love. There is always enthusiasm, life, and love offered for her.
In Emma’s opinion, nobody’s like mom. She lets everyone clearly know when “holding time” is over and she is ready for her mom. Her mother is the best God-made source of food, warmth, comfort, and love that a little girl can get.
I feel humbled and very grateful for Jennifer. She is my wonderful wife, and the amazing mother of our children. For me, she is the perfect companion, wise counselor, and faithful friend. I respect, honor, and love her deeply.
She has sacrificed her personal time, desires, and dreams many times over and over again. She’s spent nearly half of our 20+ years of married life being pregnant, sick, tired, large, uncomfortable, and just plain miserable. She has sacrificed much, even placing her very life in jeopardy for the life of another and another and another and another…….…
The rest of her time is devoted to her family. Somehow she finds time to spend with each child and me, individually and collectively. She makes a happy and peaceful home, and it really does feel a bit like heaven. Her personal walks and intimate talks, mingled with bedtime stories, kisses, and fun make lasting impressions never to be forgotten. Her faith, vision, and love, coupled with mighty determination are felt by one and all. I believe the teachings, wisdom, and love she so willingly shares with each of us will ripple through all generations of time and beyond. Mom is home. I suppose that is one of the greatest gifts a mother can give.
Once again we were able to have the baby at home. It was especially calm and peaceful for me. I don’t know if Jennifer would say the same. After a long night of labor, she was tired and ready to lay down with our new little daughter.
Tonight Jennifer was holding Emma, and Joseph came over so excited just to look at his new little sister. Jennifer asked him, “Do you like the baby?” His eyes lit up and he replied, “Yes,” with a great big smile on his face. She asked, “What do you like about the baby?” He said, “the head.” :)
An individual started the prayer by addressing our Heavenly Father. He gave gratitude for the atonement of Jesus Christ. He expressed a sincere heart felt thank you to God for many specific things. He then petitioned God for help and pleaded for blessings upon others, locally, nationally, and worldwide. He verbally explained to God certain situations and how heavenly assistance, mercy, and grace were desperately needed.
After conversing with God a few minutes, he paused, and someone else in the congregation (about 30 in number) began praying. Their prayers were sincere and heart felt. They did not multiply words, 3 Nephi 19:24 but spoke by the spirit with real intent Moroni 7:6-9, Moroni 10:4-5. About five to seven people prayed following this pattern of expressing their desires and gratitude to God. They spent the majority of their time praying for others. The prayer was closed in the name of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps what I enjoyed the most was the feeling I had inside. I felt that the words spoken were real and had meaning. They came from the heart. It was a touching experience for me and left an impression on my mind and soul.
Having experienced this “new” pattern of prayer, we were prompted to implement it in family. A couple months ago, we began using this approach to pray together at mealtime and during morning devotional. At first it seemed very novel and out of the ordinary, but now it feels accepted, established, and inspiring.
At family prayer, dad assigns someone the responsibility to begin and close the family prayer. Each family member has the opportunity to freely speak to God as the spirit guides. Sometimes just three or four people pray verbally while the others are silent. Other times nearly everyone feels to participate and speak to God. Everyone has the opportunity to express his or her heart to God and commune with heaven.
Since we have implemented this practice, it has proved to be a very positive experience for our entire family. We tend to perceive and identify more circumstances and needs around us. We now pray a lot more for each other and our neighbors (friends and enemies alike). The words actually have more meaning and purpose. The children enjoy hearing their individual needs and desires expressed to God by their parents and siblings. Everyone seems to take great joy in hearing specific prayers in their behalf.
We, as parents, have been astounded by the power of a sincere and simple prayer coming from a child. Adults can pray like children too, but it takes humility, meekness, and faith, accompanied by sincere desire. We feel very blessed to have become aware of this way of praying. We are amazed at the improvement we have witnessed in our family life. Our connection with heaven is more solid and each member feels more empowered and happy.
As we petition God for specific help, sacrifice our own will to conform to the will of God, and reach out to others, then miracles happen, blessings appear, and help from heaven comes. We are all much more excited to communicate with God through prayer than ever before because He really does hear and answer prayers.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
See also: Mega Churches – Robbing the Poor, Part 1
"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8
When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4
"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5
"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy - age 6
"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4
Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7
"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" Emily - age 8
"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen," Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6
"There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them." Jenny - age 8
"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle - age 7
"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6
"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore," Cindy - age 8
"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6
"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine -age 5
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 7
"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." Mary Ann - age 4
"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4
"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen - age 7
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross." Mark - age 6
"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget," Jessica - age 8
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry." Roger Knapp
The disciples asked Jesus a searching and eternal question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:1-6 To deceive, offend, or betray a little child who believes in Christ is a cruel sin and carries serious consequences.
On multiple occasions, Jesus taught that one of the requirements of salvation is that the recipients become as a little child. Matthew 19:13-15 “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” Luke 18:15-17
Those who fail to become like little children forfeit the kingdom of heaven. It may be valuable and worthwhile for some of us “hardened older folk” to soften up a bit and be more like a child, believe like a child, and love like a child. What do you think?
Jesus shows his redeeming love for little children, invites them into his presence, and blesses them with gifts from above. An ideal example of this is recorded in the Book of Mormon when the people of Nephi on the American continent were gathered around the temple in the land of Bountiful. 3 Nephi 17:1-25 Jesus showed himself unto the people, ministered to them, and they received the fullness of his gospel. He loved; He healed; He blessed; His joy was full; and He wept.
“And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again; And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones. And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them. And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children.” 3 Nephi 17:21-25
After Jesus ministered to all present, Jesus further ministered to the children while the adults participated as observers. As angels descended out of heaven and encircled those little ones, the parents watched and eavesdropped on the Heavenly ministry to their children. Were the children participating in something that the others just overheard, viewed, and witnessed? What distinguished the children from the rest? I believe children and those who are like children have a connection with heaven that others may miss.
The greatest embodiment of love is Jesus Christ himself. He is the very definition of love and he lived the highest level of it. God is love. 1 John 4:8 His love cleanses and redeems those who love Him. Love renews and creates. It empowers and overcomes. Jesus Christ overcame all things. I believe His greatest victory was His infinite ability to love.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34-35 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13