Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When Clothes Really Do Make the Girl

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Courtesy LDS Media Library
Yesterday, a sister missionary told me the story of a young woman who grew up in her ward. She was disconnected from the other girls. She dressed "goth" — everything was black, including lipstick. She didn't want to be with the other young women because she didn't feel like she fit in.

Then one day, the parents of the sister missionary said to the girl who dressed goth (with the permission of the girl's parents), "We want to take you shopping. We will pay for your clothes. Do you want to go?" The girl said yes and they went shopping.

Well, the girl picked out a whole new wardrobe, a whole new look. Lots of bright colors. It was fun!

Then something happened. The girl started looking at herself differently. She started feeling differently about herself. She started to attend Young Women. She found a new place in the world—because of the way she chose to dress and because of how that made her feel about herself.

She remained active. Later, she went on a mission. And when she came home, she married in the temple.

Those missionary's parents. They were guardian angels.

What is it about the clothes we wear and what they say about us? Our clothes—and the lack of them—are often a reflection of what is going on inside. They can also influence what is going on inside, and what goes on outside. It all starts on the inside, though.

I used to interview missionaries when they got home from their missions. Among other things, I'd say to them, "Don't go shaggy." Why? Because shaggy is as shaggy does. Shaggy looks invite shaggy behavior.

It's not about the clothes, really. It's about how you choose to feel about yourself and the effect it has on you.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Second Coming: The Day Cometh that Shall Burn As an Oven

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NASA Photo, Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
Just as a flood destroyed the earth and its inhabitants in Noah's day (see Genesis 7), prophets have told us that the earth will be destroyed by fire in a future day. Perhaps not far in the future.

This is not happy news. It's a terrifying prospect, really. Incomprehensible, a disaster of epic proportion. But it is well attested in scripture. And because it comes from scripture, it's not just a possibility and it's more than probability. It's a prophecy, and, soon or late, prophecy comes to pass.

In the last book of the Old Testament, we read an important question:
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. (Malachi 3:2–4.)
How will He be like a refiner's fire? Isaiah spoke of a time in the last days when the earth would be defiled by sin and the inhabitants burned:
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. (Isaiah 24:5–6; emphasis added.)
Malachi's well-known prophecy about the burning of the earth tells us that the wicked will be as stubble, as the fields after harvest:
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1; compare D&C 29:9; D&C 64:24; and D&C 133:64.) 
The apostle Peter wrote in his second epistle that the earth and the wicked works therein will be burned up:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10.)
How will the earth be burned? The prophet Nahum tells us that the earth will be burned at the presence of the Lord.
The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. (Nahum 1:5; emphasis added.)
Modern revelation also testifies that the presence of the Lord will be as a "fire that burneth":
And it shall be answered upon their heads; for the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil. (D&C 133:41; see also D&C 88:94; emphasis added.)
And another place the Doctrine and Covenants says:
And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire. (D&C 63:34; emphasis added.)
How is He like a refiner's fire? Perhaps because the light and power of His presence will have a purifying effect on the righteous and a destructive effect on the wicked.

Nephi tells us that the fire will actually be a protection to the righteous:
Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire. (1 Nephi 22:17; see also vs. 22–23.)
 Finally, the Lord's protection will be effective:
And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:3.)
When the saints, living and dead, are "caught up together . . . to meet the Lord in the air" (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17), they will be protected from the destruction that will take place on earth. How the two events go together, I am not sure. But I think they do go together.

(You can read more about the event called the "rapture" here. You can also find a list of all Second Coming posts on this blog here.)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Second Coming: New List of Scriptural Passages about the Second Coming

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Courtesy LDS Media Library
I've just uploaded another draft of a list of scriptural passages about the Second Coming of Christ. The original version listed 78 passages; this one has 112.

You can download the PDF here. You can also view the SlideShare version here. The original post from November 15, 2014 is here. I am sure I will continue to add to this list as time passes, but this is what I've found so far.

I'd also like to highlight a new page on this blog that links to all posts about the Second Coming on Put on the Armor of Light.

If you'd like to write to me about these posts, with comments, suggestions, or questions, please contact me here.

As always, thank you for reading!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Second Coming: Caught Up to Meet Him

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Courtesy LDS Media Library http://media.ldscdn.org/images/media-library/gospel-art/new-testament/the-second-coming-39618-mobile.jpg
At Christ's Second Coming, faithful saints, both those on earth as mortals and those in their graves, will be caught up to meet him in the clouds. What is the so-called "rapture" and when will it take place?

We know that Jesus will not be alone when He comes. Jude, the Lord's brother, quotes Enoch, telling us that Jesus "cometh with ten thousands of his saints" (see Jude 1:14).

The traditional Christian source text for the "rapture" is found in 1 Thessalonians:
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14–17; emphasis added.)
It appears that the time of being "caught up . . . in the clouds" will take place at the same time that Christ actually comes. He hinted at this dramatic time in His Olivet discourse when He said:
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:40–41; emphasis added.)
Modern revelation also speaks of this amazing day:
And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him. And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—they are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God. (D&C 88:96–98; compare D&C 109:75; see also D&C 78:20–21; emphasis added.)
So when Christ comes again, He will come with thousands of saints and will be joined by thousands of saints who are yet mortal or who have not yet been resurrected. Those who will be resurrected at this time will be "first caught up to meet him."

What a spectacular moment that will be. But an even more important moment is this moment. What can we do, you and I, right now at this moment to better prepare ourselves for the great and dreadful day (see Malachi 4:5)?

Note: A new page on this site lists all the posts on this blog that discuss the Second Coming.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 1986

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Courtesy LDS Media LibrarySmoke rose impatiently
through pearly blossoms,
like the prayers of the saints,

and the tonic of flowers
begged him to overthrow
darker persuasions.

From a faded tulip chair, he
looked up at me and said,
"Why seek ye the living among the dead?"

He inhaled the light and fragrant day, and, sitting back, rested mute bones against impossibility.

—Michael James Fitzgerald


Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Dream of Pilate's Wife

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One of the vignettes that haunts me from the story of Easter week is about the inspired dream Pontius Pilate's wife had and the warning she gave to her husband because of it.

We know that Jesus was destined to be offered as an infinite sacrifice, and that such a warning could have not stopped the infamous deed, but I've taken a few lessons from this glimpse of Pilate's wife—her nature and her attempt to protect her husband.

Here is the passage, just one verse from the gospel of Matthew:
When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. (Matthew 27:19.)
I have learned over the years to listen to my wife. She has an astoundingly accurate sense about people, for good or ill.  It's one of her gifts. It's what I call a "creepometer." If she warns me about a person or a situation, I listen. She is always right about these things.

Now about Pilate's regret. Did he have moments of self-condemnation after the crucifixion? Did he ever say to himself, "Why didn't I listen to my wife?" I have asked such questions of myself. I suppose most husbands have, whether they admit it or not. Of course, I don't know if this was the case with Pilate, but I wonder.

And what of his wife? What exactly did she dream? Was she a believer? Did she become one?

What warning could we accept today, from the scriptures or from someone we trust, to save us from future regret, or, worse, a damning sin?

This video doesn't depict the scene mentioned in this post, but it gives us a taste of the inner conflict Pontius Pilate might have suffered. He walked away, but could his conscience ever be free again?

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Place Called Gethsemane

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Courtesy LDS Media Library
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron [or Kidron, to the east of Jerusalem] unto a place where was a garden which was named Gethsemane [or garden of olives], into the which he entered.

And he saith unto the disciples, “Sit ye here, while I shall go and pray yonder.”

And when he was at the place, he said unto them, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful, sore amazed, and very heavy.

Then saith he unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Tarry ye here, and watch with me.”

And he went a little further from them, about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and fell on his face on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

“O my Father, Abba, if thou be willing, all things are possible unto thee. Let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come unto the disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and saith unto Peter, “Simon, sleepest thou? What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And again, he went away the second time, and prayed and spake the same words, saying, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”

And when he returned and he found them asleep again—for their eyes were heavy, neither wist they what to answer him. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Then he cometh the third time and saith unto them, “Sleep on now, and take your rest. Behold, it is enough, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

“Rise, let us be going—behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”

"For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men."

(Passages combined and arranged from Matt. 26:36–46;,Mark 14:32–42, Luke 22:40–46, John 18:1, and D&C 19:16–19. Punctuation mine.)