Friday, February 24, 2017

Tis the gift to be simple

Jacob 4:14
“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble”

I just read an ensign article written by Elder Cook in 2003, where he discussed looking beyond the mark and losing sight of what is really important in our life. He mentioned that members will replace doctrine with the philosophies of man, develop gospel hobbies and become principle extremists, and place more emphasis on rules rather than doctrine. I think that there are times where it is appropriate to delve into a topic to try to understand deeper doctrine, or to more fully analyze a principle, but if that becomes the main focus then it will blind us of what is truly important. In this scripture, Jacob says that the Jews looked beyond the mark. The mark is Jesus Christ and his gospel. They were blind because they were too focused on rules and regulations that they had added to the Law of Moses. For me, this means that I shouldn't tamper too much with policy or esoteric matters, but that I should constantly ponder the simple truths of the gospel principles and the divinity of Christ. The gospel is meant to be simple, even though it is eternally complex. We should strive to have our focus on Christ, and not on anything else. If we do that, everything else can fall into place, and we will gain understanding with time, since that plainness that God took from the Jews will be with us.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What a Wonderful Life!

Image result for It's a wonderful Life

Many know of the story portrayed in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946) of a man named George Bailey. This altruistic protagonist goes out of his way and abandons his ambitions to serve others and help them satisfy their needs and their achieve desires. in spite of the communal and financial plight he faces throughout his life, his guardian angel shows him that he has truly had a wonderful life, and certainly the viewer would agree that George Bailey is the depiction of a truly wonderful person.

What emotions filled the life of George Bailey? Pain, love, stress, joy, agony, mercy, depression, compassion. If we imagine him sitting in his heavenly home (I know he is a fictitious character, but just imagine) What would he consider valuable? Just the positive moments in his life, or would be he grateful for all of it? I imagine that he would have gratitude for both the good and bad times, understanding that, in hindsight, trials provide tremendous growth, while blissful periods provide meaning and motivation.

We may not have trials quite like George Bailey, but we may. Trials are not necessarily produced as a result of misconduct (though they definitely can be). This is the same with the delay of expected blessings (at least in our minds they don't arrive at the desired time). With these agitations in our lives, we may not realize that they are as grains of sand that infiltrates an oyster. Those agitations can produce something as lovely as a pearl, if we let them. I think that it's easier to recognize this if we keep in mind the Lord's promises. Here's one that I have been thinking about for the past couple of weeks:

D&C 90:
 24 Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.

The Lord promises everyone that if they live righteously, pray always, and work diligently (for whatever it may be: a job position, a GPA, a developing habit, an eternal family, etc.), everything will come together for their good. It may be soon that it happens, it may be later. I can't tell anyone when, nor can it be predicted. I'm sure in saying, however, that it will happen, because the Lord will always keep his promises. With that view of life, even without hindsight, but maybe even foresight, we too will have a wonderful life like George Bailey.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Willing Spirit Over Weak Flesh

I often think about what motivates me, and what gives me drive. Here are a couple of things that motivate me:
Inspiring poems
Coming of Age movies
Statues of families
Rocky soundtrack
Pep talks to myself in the mirror
A cute girl (who else do I strive to impress?)
Chocolate milk
Outstanding individuals excelling in whatever they do best.
My mom's pep talks (they're the best)

With that list in mind (I could probably continue with it) I think what I should credit most to my will to move on is the power of prayer. Jesus once said to his disciples that the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. When we was with the Nephites, he taught them this:

3 Nephi 18:

18 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.

 19 Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;

 20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.

As humans, we naturally want to do what's easiest. We naturally want to put in minimum effort and conserve energy for...the next time we need to conserve energy. Life is full of things that require our energy, whether it be mental, physical, or spiritual. We all have a finite amount of energy, and sometimes things can be too strenuous, even if we are putting in a great amount of effort. However, I know that we can summon strength, spiritual and physical, from the Lord through prayer. Power to overcome temptation. Power to carry on in a difficult time or task. Power to be cheerful amidst adverse aspects of life. As verse 20 says, it can be given to us if we are believing. The energy we need to progress in this life can be found through faithful prayer.

Friday, February 3, 2017

"For the power is in them"

I have been rather curious about genetic engineering and designer babies for quite some time, and I have been thinking about it quite a bit this week. It's a rather controversial topic, and it's not easy to discuss. Something people fear is that designer babies will create a society where those that are genetically enhanced look down upon those who are not. A misconception of genetic engineering is that a person can be programmed to a point and that the person's life would be outlined. That technology is far away from existing, but even if it did, that concept would still be false. Our lives are not determined by our genes. It's not determined by psychological theories or any ideologies for that matter.

I was reading In Doctrine & Covenants this morning, and I found some scriptures that inspired me. They inspired me in a notion to continue in my interest for genetic engineering and to seek revelation to see what God can tell me about it, but as I write this I see that they can be applied in another way.

D&C 58:
 27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

D&C 90:
24 Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.

D&C 123:
17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

D&C 58: 27-28 grabbed my attention. I realized that there are many things in existence that can be used either for good or evil. We can make a conscious effort to bring to pass much righteousness, as the scripture says.

Basically, the inspiration I received was to continue to investigate the issue of genetic engineering and designer babies. That's what I'll do. But on that wise, I realize that no matter our genetic makeup, we determine who we will be. Of course, we cannot control our genotypes or phenotypes, but we have been given power to be agents unto ourselves. Scientific studies are part of God's plan, and they provide great information on human health, composition and behavior. But these findings shouldn't limit us in anyway, they are to empower us. Above all, Heavenly Father has given us our agency so that we can become more like him; to act instead of bein acted upon.

Whatever you strive for, don't limit yourself! Keep trying, keep getting back, keep moving forward.

Also, check out this TED talk.