Sunday, January 1, 2023

Honest in all your dealings...

I've been reading the book, "Teaching Your Children Values" by Linda and Richard Eyre. If you are raising kids, I recommend getting it. It focuses on one value a month and you discuss it each week and then throughout the week you look for opportunities to reinforce the message.

The first value the book presents is: Honesty

It was good to discuss as a family and surprisingly, a lot of opportunities to be honest have presented themselves. I've always tried to be an honest person. Even being on this journey - I wrote a paper early on (which I linked on my very first post) and told my parents and siblings everything. I couldn't relax in their company knowing I thought something differently than they thought I thought...if that makes sense.

All that being said, I began to lie to our bishop and stake president when Temple recommend interviews came around. I told myself I wasn't lying but rather justifying my answers. Let me show you how with some of the questions:
Do you sustain the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local leaders of the Church?
Me in my mind before the interview: 
"What do you mean by prophet, seer, and revelator? I mean, I don't believe he is exhibiting any of those gifts but if I say that I sustain their calling and I recognize that he still may yet prophesy, etc. etc. etc....that works. And as for him being the only person on the earth to exercise all priesthood keys, well, I mean he's the only one who can run the church. So yes, yes I do."
When President Monson was president, my husband and I would justify our answer of, "Yes" by saying that (the current prophet) hadn't given us any reason not to believe he was a prophet, seer, and revelator. Even though he did not demonstrate any prophetic and seer and revelatory gifts and even though I believed they were, indeed, just ordinary men with the calling of a prophet, seer, and revelator, I answered, "Yes".

Here's another Temple question I justified:
Do you support or promote any teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Me before the interview: 

"Well, uh - what do you mean by "support"? What do you mean by "promote"? I don't give any group money and I'm not telling tons of people what I I don't. I mean, yes - I believe different doctrine than the church teaches (a lot different) but I don't "support" anyone or "promote" it. So I'm good. Right?"
Do you strive to be honest in all that you do?

"Um - yeah?"
Are you a full-tithe payer?
Me before the interview: 

"In the way that I've justified it in my head, yes. Will my tithing go to help the poor? I know it won't...I know it could go to an investment fund that will eventually build a mall or to that new fancy church in a building, building in a church in downtown SLC...but I won't be responsible for this abominational use of my money. Be it on their heads. I wash my hands of it. Like Pilot..."

Looking back now - what would have been better for me mentally and spiritually would have been to tell the truth. To let my bishop and stake president know that I didn't believe he was a prophet and that there hadn't been a true prophet since Joseph Smith. That I didn't believe and support various teachings taught by the church, and that I thought the way the church handles the tithing situation was just plain wrong and I can't give another dime to anyone other than those in need. I didn't need to turn in my recommend, but I at least needed to tell the truth because I know how they interpret the questions and I wasn't being honest according to the literal interpretation

But, my story didn't go that way for many years. I didn't take the time to ponder on honesty and contemplate having integrity with all. I just kept going - "staying busy", not thinking or pondering on "that" kind of stuff. I went on that way until a family member was getting married in the Temple and I would get sick to my stomach thinking about sitting in the Temple knowing I was lying. So my husband and I made an appointment with our (then) bishop, told the truth, and turned in our recommends.

What happened after that? We lost face with our relatives. One of my lifelong hero's said, "Why have you lost the light in your eyes?" We lost face with our Bishop. We got turned into the Stake President. Things got A LOT worse. I took comfort in lecture six of Lectures on Faith when it said:
5 For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge: realizing, that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest; and be a partaker of the glory of God.
So why am I writing this? Because it's a New Year and time for new contemplations. We review the past and take time to pause and make improvements. My situation is not your situation. Maybe the Lord will ask you to do something different. All I am asking you to do is to ask the Lord how you can be the most honest with your fellow man - because He is Truth. And He is the Author of Truth. Ask Him to show you how to have Integrity in all that you do so you can be in a state of being undivided. 
Jordan Peterson said:

“If we lived in Truth; if we spoke the Truth - then we could walk with God once again, and respect ourselves, and others, and the world. Then we might treat ourselves like people we cared for. We might strive to set the world straight. We might orient it toward Heaven, where we would want people we cared for to dwell, instead of Hell, where our resentment and hatred would eternally sentence everyone.”
M. Scott Peck said:

“Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful. We can revise our maps only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain. To have such discipline, we must be totally dedicated to truth. That is to say we must always hold truth, as best we can determine it, to be more important, more vital to our self interest, than our comfort. Conversely, we must always consider our potential discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth. Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.”
The problem is - we just keep going. We just keep moving and we focus on hoping to have our calling and election come, and to see the Lord, or to ascend to greater heights but we neglect the weightier matters. How can we ascend if we aren't walking in Truth? If we have unkind feelings in our heart and mind towards someone in our family or circle of friends? How can we ascend if we have offended someone - even if it was unintentionally...and even if it was two decades ago?

It's time to get right with your fellowman. I did this about five years ago. I prayed and told the Lord that I wanted to be right with people I had hurt or offended. I had people come to mind and I wrote a lot of letters. One individual I hadn't seen in 15 years and went to high school with her but I told the Lord if He could make a way for me to apologize to her - I would (I have never had social media so finding people isn't easy for me). Low and behold, one day after exercising (a rare occurrence, unfortunately) I had this 'brilliant' idea to rush to Costco. There I was, beet red in the face, no make up, sweat pants and who do I see as I'm wheeling my cart past the member desk?? The girl from high school. I ducked and wheeled my cart VERY fast out the doors. "Phew! That was close. I look terrible...she looks amazing." Then the Lord gently said, "You asked me to help you - go apologize." Gulp. I did.

Do you have time for another story? I had someone in my life who hated me. They never said it, you could just feel it. And they weren't someone I could avoid. Their hatred slowly spread to others in the group who interacted with me and so when I would get together with them it became the most awkward gathering. I was mad. I would tell the Lord that I didn't want to pray for my enemies because - "I've done nothing wrong!" But it didn't matter - there were unkind feelings. So I decided I could pray for the desire to pray for them. And that was all the Lord needed.

A short time later, after spending a weekend with all these people who were actively ignoring and avoiding me, I wrote an email asking them to tell me what I'd done to make them hate me so much. No response. I nudged again. One response came in. The response seemed unbelievably petty. I shared it with the group, thanked them for having the courage to share and apologized. Then I asked for more. I received a response with pages and pages. Some were petty. Some were untrue. Some were true but there was a solid reason why I had done that thing and they were judging me.

As I sat at my desk reading this email I felt angry, so I prayed. "Lord, what do I do??" He responded, "It must be consumed in you." And I saw myself like a big furnace that burned up all their anger and hatred. Someone had to take their anger - and I could do it if the Lord helped me. So I responded back, owned it all, and gave a sincere and heartfelt apology. What did it matter if I felt most of it was untrue - it was true to them.

Did getting reamed and then apologizing change anything? Some things - yes. Other's no. I was still ignored by the chief instigator. But then we had a situation where an elderly relative was getting forgetful and we asked to take them into our home rather than having them be sent to a rest home.  We had six kids under the age of 9 yrs. and one was just barely two months old. Within two weeks the family member suddenly passed away. But that one act of taking them into our home...the act of sheer insanity which was spirit led - shifted the tides and what was once the worst situation became the best. What was once hatred became love. Only the Lord could have orchestrated that.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to know that if you chose to walk with integrity and truth and be honest in your relationships, even down to your recommend interview, it may make things worse. But who's to say that things getting worse is bad? When I asked to know why I was hated so much, things got way worse. But then they got FAR better! When we turned in our recommends things got WAY worse....but then far better!

Sometimes after hard days I just want to get away, far into the country where no one is around for miles and miles. I imagine a peaceful, stress free life there. One time I was imagining the perfect place to live which included a beautiful pond. I saw the pond was filled with healthy large trout and we could be self sufficient with our chickens and fish and other livestock. Then surprisingly and rapidly I saw the pond acquire some sort of bacteria which killed all the fish and wasn’t drinkable to sustain life on the farm. I watched as our family, seemingly ‘by force’, was required to move and also surprisingly, we were led to “where we were supposed to be next”. Where we were led wasn’t fancy. It was less exciting than the farm I had just been on - but it was where we were supposed to be.

What I understood from that little 'vision' was that frequently we view “bad things” that “happen to us” (anything from the loss of a job, relationship, moving, health, etc.) as though God is absent. It often makes us cry out in prayer, “WHY?!!”. But what I saw was that all ‘negative’ experiences are a potential gift to help move us to the next chapter of our journey. We could go one of two ways: 1. Murmur to God or 2. Ask “Lord, thy will be done - lead on.”

Lazarus had to die first before Christ could raise him from the dead....Lazarus had to die first.

I feel like what I have been through in the last few years has left me dead in a tomb spiritually speaking. And I’ve felt guilty about it and felt badly about it thinking I don’t have enough faith. Wanting to throw my hands in the air declaring that I don't know how to please God and just give up. But now that time has gone by, I think something in me had to die through these experiences. Or many things about me had to die first. And if ever I am to fully come alive again, or be renewed in all my strength….Jesus will have to be the one to resurrect me. To bring me back to life.

Jesus wept when he saw Lazarus had died. Perhaps He wished He could have spared people that pain of loss and hopelessness? Perhaps He weeps to see us suffer so much and often for our lack of trust in the Lord.

By John Bloom:
“We know how this story from John chapter eleven ends. But in the horrible days of Lazarus’s agonizing illness and in the dark misery of the days following his death, Martha did not know what God was doing. He seemed silent and unresponsive. Jesus didn’t come. It’s likely that she knew word had reached him. She was confused, disappointed, and overwhelmed with grief.
And yet, Jesus delayed precisely because he loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus. He knew that Lazarus’s death and resurrection would give maximum glory to God and his friends would all experience maximum joy in that glory. It would make all their suffering seem light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17).
When Jesus makes a trusting saint wait in pain, his reasons are only love. God only ordains his child's deep disappointment and profound suffering in order to give him or her far greater joy in the glory he is preparing to reveal (Romans 8:18).

Before we know what Jesus is doing, circumstances can look all wrong. And we are tempted to interpret God’s apparent inaction as unloving, when in fact God is loving us in the most profound way he possibly can.”


That’s why the Apostle John wrote, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:5–6).
The word “so” connecting those two sentences is stunning. The most loving thing Jesus could do at that moment was to let Lazarus die. But it didn’t look or feel like love to Martha.

“Martha, the Teacher has come. He’s near the village.”

Martha’s emotions collided. Just hearing that Jesus was near resuscitated hope in her soul — the same hope she had felt the day she sent word for him to come.
But it was quickly smothered with grief and disappointment. Lazarus had died four days earlier. She had prayed desperately that Jesus would come in time. God had not answered her prayers. What could Jesus do now?

And yet… if anyone could do something, Jesus could. He had the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Martha hurried out.

When she saw Jesus, she could not restrain her grief and love. She collapsed at his feet and sobbed, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus laid his hand on her head.

He had come to Bethany to destroy the devil’s works (1 John 3:8) in Lazarus. He had come to give death a taste of its coming final defeat (1 Corinthians 15:26). He had come to show that now was the time when the dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who heard would live (John 5:25).

Martha did not know all this. Neither did she know that what was about to happen would hasten Jesus’ own death—a death that would purchase her resurrection and both of Lazarus’s. She didn’t know how this weighed on him, how great was his distress until it was accomplished (Luke 12:50).
But Jesus’ wordless kindness soothed her.

When Martha’s sorrowful convulsion had passed she said, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

Jesus gently lifted Martha’s eyes and looked at her with affectionate intensity. “Your brother will rise again.”

His living words revived her hope. Could he mean…? No. She dared not let herself hope in that way. Not after four days.

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Yes. Lazarus would rise again on the last day. Martha had no idea how deeply Jesus longed for that day. But Jesus meant more than that.

He replied, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

The power with which Jesus spoke caused faith to swell in Martha’s soul. She wasn’t sure what this all meant, but as he spoke it was as if death itself was being swallowed up (1 Corinthians 15:54). No one ever spoke like this man (John 7:46).

She answered, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
As you enter into this new year, please take time to contemplate honesty in your relationships and seek to have no unkind feelings among those you have, do, and will interact with. 

Please fast and pray about President Nelson being a true prophet, seer, and revelator in the way that the church intends that question when they ask it. Keep in mind that a few years before president Nelson became the prophet he said, "Our sustaining of prophets is a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities. Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us." (link). 

Questions to ask yourself: 

Did I sustain President Nelson as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator?

What does it mean to make an oath to a man - an oath that is "binding"? 

What does it mean that if we sustain that man, we have a "legitimate binding" upon us?

What does it mean to have a legitimate binding that causes us to "uphold their prophetic priorities"?

Is it necessary to make an oath to man to uphold their priorities, even if that man is a prophet? 

If I have made an inappropriate oath to a man, will it inhibit me from receiving pure revelation from God?

How does one break a binding oath that is not with God so we can receive answers from God? 

Does a close relationship with God require me to make an oath to a man or from a man?

What does it mean to "repent of the oath" that you have made? (Mormon 5)

Some of you reading this may have already prayed about President Nelson being a prophet. But now I have given you new information. You have a binding oath upon your head - he declared it. If you have a binding oath to uphold him and his priorities, can your revelation truly be pure revelation?

Ask the Lord.

Cleanse You
Calee Reed

No comments:

Post a Comment