Tuesday, December 15, 2015
My friend Julia Devera is engaged to the love of her life, Victoria Lopez. I thought there would be no better person than Julia to base this post on and she so gracefully granted me permission to talk about her. I would like to introduce her to everyone.
Julia is a beautiful young lady who comes from a great family. They are so fun a silly and can laugh together. For Halloween this year they all dressed up as different characters from Inisde Out. She recently graduated from CSULB. In high school she was a blast to be around. We had several classes together and she's super smart. She's also very talented! She plays basketball and she plays the piano! In fact we took piano lessons from the same teacher and we performed together three times! Playing the songs Angels We Have Heard on High, Baby it's Cold Outside, and C.S. Themes and Variations.
This is a brief, brief introduction into who Julia is, and based on that, I can introduce the three keys to why I am able to love her, and three keys to how every Christian can love any homosexual.
A CHRISTIAN'S GUIDE TO LOVING HOMOSEXUALS
1.) Get to know people entirely, not just their sexual orientation. Julia is not "my lesbian friend." She is a great friend who has likes and dislikes, who loves her family and shares many core values with me. She is a talented person who shares in my love for music and sports and someone who will understand my math jokes. And yes, she happens to be lesbian. It's part of who she is but it's not her only attribute
2.) Do not try to ignore the fact that homosexuals are homosexual. If you use step one to find all the attributes of someone and use those to cover up the fact that they are gay, then you will have a hard time loving them because it's not something you can or should avoid forever. I have seen Julia kiss her girlfriend several times. Had I been trying to ignore the fact that she is gay, it would have made for a very uncomfortable situation, but I don't pretend she is anything she's not, or that she's not anything that she is. I accept the fact that I don't choose who Julia loves nor does she choose who I love and I'm okay with that.
3.) You are not God. Commandments are for us to learn and apply to our lives so that we can be happy. I believe it is a commandment to not be in a homosexual relationship, but I also believe it is a commandment to not drink coffee! What do I do with this information? I don't get into a homosexual relationship, and I don't drink coffee. What do I NOT do with this information? I do not tell every gay person and every coffee drinker that they are going to hell. First of all that's just rude and second, I am not God. I will not be the one who decides Julia's eternal fate, so I shouldn't try to. Julia knows what I believe on the subject and she obviously disagrees. It will do me no good to bring it up to her constantly, it will only hurt a friendship.
There may be those Christians who feel like it is beneficial for them to distance themselves from "sinners" and they have that right, but they don't have the right to be rude, or cruel, or mocking. They can respectfully abstain from making friendships with people who differ from them.
As for me, I love Julia, and I love having her as a friend. I look back with great fondness on our piano recitals. I feel like I have gained a lot from my association with her and she has always been respectful of my beliefs.
I hope that this has been an adequate response to the question at hand. I welcome any more questions or feedback. May we all feel God's love for us, and in turn, show that love to ALL of our brothers and sisters.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
The first reason is that the visitation of an angel is an extremely sacred experience normally given to those of a very high spiritual maturity. President Boyd K. Packer once stated, “I have come to believe that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others.” I strongly believe that angelic visitations still occur, though they are a very rare occurrence. I also believe that the previously given quote is the very reason we don’t hear of these experiences often.
The second reason that we don’t hear a lot about messages from angels is that most of the time we may not even notice it was an angel that gave us a message. I believe that this is the larger reason. The grand majority of angelic communication does not occur in face to face conversations. This is explained in the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 32:3 “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost…” That means that when we receive the still small impressions from the Holy Ghost, it may be an impression sent from an angel! What a fantastic concept, isn’t it? We do not need to see angels, to receive their message. As I have reflected on the times when the Holy Ghost has spoken to me, I cannot help but feel the influence of loved ones in some of those promptings.
I know that there is a great force of angels looking out for us and protecting us. I feel that this is important to understand because in a world that is increasing in corruption each day, we must remember that we will never be alone. When it seems that the opposition is too numerous we can recall the words of the prophet Elisha, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16).
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The Book of Mormon includes the record of a people known as the Jaredites. This name comes from the principal ancestor of their people named Jared. Jared’s brother was a prophet and they lived at the time and place of the Tower of Babel spoken of in the Bible. When the Lord counfounds the languages of the people at the tower Jared and his family avoid this fate through earnest prayer. The Lord then promises them a choice land, and tells them that He will lead them there. This land is the Americas. The Book of Mormon tells us the desire of the Lord for these people, “And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop [at] the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should [go forth] even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people” (Ether 2:7). So, the Lord led this people through the wilderness and had prepared a way for them to cross the sea to the Americas. Despite this fact, the people halted their progression. “…the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth, even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents… upon the seashore for the space of four years” (Ether 2:13). Eventually they do figure things out and the Lord helps them cross the sea, but I want to reflect a bit on this cessation in progress, and liken it unto us.
The Lord has great blessings in store for all of us. He has an eternal perspective and knows our potential. He knows where we can end up in life. If we pray sincerely, He will be our guide. I think this is a very common occurrence. The majority of people at some time in their life become overwhelmed and find comfort in trusting in the Lord. This could be a result of difficult questions like, “I graduated high school, now what?” “What should I major in?” “Who should I marry?” “Where should I live?” I know that the decisions I made after highschool to attend BYU and in time to dedicate two years of my life to the Lord in Mexico, were decisions that depended heavily upon the guidance of the Lord. I felt his hand guiding me through those decisions. But maybe recently, I have pitched a tent. I don’t doubt that Moriancumer where the Jaredites pitched there tents, was a beautiful place. It was a virgin beach, and had at least enough plants and animals to maintain their group for four years. Like that beachfront property, I’m in a good place. I’m in a great university, I am very pleased with the two years of service that I gave to the Lord, I have a job—things are going great. There are many of you that might be in this situation, and things don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be comfortable. We feel like we’ve reached some destination, when really we’re still on the journey! We know we should be here because the Lord guided us here, but we are blinding ourselves to the fact that the Lord is saying, keep on going.
So how is it possible to change this? The Lord chastens the brother of Jared for his lack of prayer. The brother of Jared was a prophet. It is unlikely that he stopped praying. But maybe his prayers changed. He probably continued to thank the Lord for life and happiness, but maybe he stopped seeking that guidance from the Lord. Maybe he stopped asking questions and therefore stunted his flow of personal revelation. We can learn from this experience. We are not at the destination that the Lord has in mind for us. We need to keep on moving, and doing it with constant and profound prayer. Hear the Lord, and then don’t forget to seek that guidance continually. Don’t forget the feeling of the Holy Ghost as it whispers to your soul.
There is no better way to say it, then to quote Journey. “Don’t stop believing. Hold on to that feeling.”
Thursday, July 23, 2015
I feel like every person should imagine themselves in the shoes of Nephi. When we die, we will go to judgement before Christ. What detail of your life might he ask you about? I asked myself this question and recalled when a friend shared her testimony and it was extremely powerful to me. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it was as if Heavenly Father was talking directly to me through her. I could imagine Christ saying, “I commanded her that she should speak this words and they pierced you to the very soul. Was it not so?” I would undeniably confirm his claim, and then I thought about the question that would come after. “How be it that ye have not written this thing?” I could only imagine the shame, the self disappointment that I would feel in that position, and so from that moment of reflection I resolved to be better about keeping a journal, and doing it right.
A journal should not be a collection of gossip, but a collection of testimony, showing the marvelous works of God in your life each day. This journal will come to be a strength to you in your own life, and may very well be a strength to your posterity. On this subject, President Spencer W. Kimball said the following: “Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity.”
Friday, July 17, 2015
When Christ appeared in the America’s he shared many amazing teachings and performed many miracles because of the great faith found among the people. One section of his teachings was quite similar, actually almost identical, to the Sermon on the Mount as found in the Bible in Saint Matthew chapters 5-7. There are however some differences between the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple given in the Americas. Some of these differences come because the Lord adapts his teaching to different regions of the world, some come because of the timing of the sermons, one being before the Lord’s death, and the other coming after. And then there are differences that come because the Bible has been translated so many times that details may have fallen through the gaps. There is one detail in particular found in the third verse of Matthew 5 and the third verse of 3 Nephi 12. In the Bible this verse reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Book of Mormon’s equivalent reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The difference is found in four words. “Who come unto me…” These four words make a world of difference.
I have in my long life of twenty years meditated upon what characteristics I want in a future wife. Never has the thought come to me, “I want a wife who is poor in spirit.” Quite the contrary, I want a wife who is spiritually powerful. A wife who knows the scriptures, who loves God, who is actively participating in church assignments and activities. I want a spiritually rich wife, and I want to be a spiritually rich husband and father. I am certain that this is what God and Christ want as well. Christ wants us to be spiritual giants but there is only one way to achieve that: humbling ourselves and allowing ourselves to be strengthened in Christ. Then and only then will we become candidates for the kingdom of heaven.
A person who is poor in spirit is someone who has weaknesses and recognizes them. This is good, and preferable over the all too common sin of pride, but a Book of Mormon prophet teaches us what happens when, after we are poor in spirit, we go to the Lord. Ether 12:27 reads, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” From this verse we can learn what kind of person someone who goes unto Christ is. They are not spiritually poor, or weak. They are strong. Not strong in their own strength, but strong in God. That is what Christ wanted for us, that we can find wealth, spiritual wealth, and that we can recognize the only source of that wealth is Christ himself.
We can all go unto Christ by making and keeping sacred covenants with him. We will then find that as we honor those covenants we will find ourselves closer to Christ, and spiritually enriched.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Wednesday in my Book of Mormon class we studied Helaman 12 where Mormon pauses from the narrative to remind us of our nothingness. “O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.” -Helaman 12:7-8 It is a lengthy and strongly worded sermon and a wonderful lesson on the importance of humility. But there was a concern raised about going too far: becoming “humble” to the point where we become self-deprecating. This concern and the discussion following has stayed with me and I wanted to try and decipher the secret a little more for myself and hopefully for anyone who reads this.
The first key I thought of is perspective. In Doctrine and Covenants section 4 God describes one of the important characteristics that we should strive for is to have an eye single to his glory. Often I have found myself meditating on what exactly that means. Through much study I have come to believe that it means that we see the same way he does, or come to have a single eye with him. We need to adopt God’s perspective. In the case of our nothingness we need to have his perspective in two ways. First, how does God see us in comparison to him? In a sermon given by one of the leaders of the LDS church Dieter F. Uchtdorf, he spoke of how God sees us like toddlers still learning how to walk. This should be humbling to us. We need to understand that compared to God we are completely powerless. At the same time this perspective can help us avoid self-deprecation. Do we get mad at a baby who can’t walk? Of course not. In the same way we need to have God’s perspective and see that we are so very young. We will fall, but God doesn’t get angry with us. He will encourage us to get up and try again.
We also need to adopt God’s perspective in seeing ourselves in comparison to others. We had a great lesson on this subject in church on Sunday. They brought three people to the front of the room. Two of them stood shoulder to shoulder and the teacher asked who was taller. It wasn’t hard to see. Then he had the third person stand on a table and look straight down on the two girls. The teacher asked which was taller and the man on the table observed that from his perspective, it wasn’t possible to tell. This reminded me of a great talk in an LDS conference by church leader Dale G. Renlund. In this talk Elder Renlund shares the following anecdote:
Some years ago a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done.
One day, while they were riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, “You know, Curtis, compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.”
I love that quote, “Compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.” It is a constant reminder that life isn’t a competition with other people! We can’t become proud because we understand that God isn’t comparing those “worse” than us to us. And we can’t become self-deprecating because God isn’t comparing those who are “better” than us, to us. We must always maintain God’s perspective.
The second key is much more simple and yet we often find it difficult to do. The key is turning outward. All problems of pride or self-deprecation come because we are thinking too much about ourselves. To heal our bodies we must turn inward with medicine and surgery, but to heal our spirits we must turn outward with charity and service.
I know that by following these rules, we can all be humble followers of Christ, and we can remember our nothingness as taught by Mormon, as well as our self-worth and great value in the sight of God.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.