Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Myers-Briggs Tells Me That I Like Kicking Nuns

So I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test (Hat Tip to my dear friend C. wrote a blog post about it [and yes, I do mean Hat Tip, Caitlin since I'm sure you'll end up reading this]) and no, it didn't tell me I'm a violent person. Actually I guess I am at least somewhat of a sensitive guy. I know I was pretty shocked too. I guess I'm something called an ENFJ, whatever that means. I know this isn't the first time I've taken this test, but for the life of me I can't remember how I've done before. Here's my scores:

Extroverted: 89%
iNtuitive: 25%
Feeling: 12%
Judging: 89%

And for the life of me, I can't tell you what on earth that all means. Luckily, they had some articles that do (click on the earlier link for one and here's the other). Here's some highlight quotes with some of my thoughts about it interspersed:

ENFJs are the benevolent 'pedagogues' of humanity. They have tremendous charisma by which many are drawn into their nurturant tutelage and/or grand schemes. Many ENFJs have tremendous power to manipulate others with their phenomenal interpersonal skills and unique salesmanship. But it's usually not meant as manipulation -- ENFJs generally believe in their dreams, and see themselves as helpers and enablers, which they usually are.

ENFJs are global learners. They see the big picture. The ENFJs focus is expansive. Some can juggle an amazing number of responsibilities or projects simultaneously. Many ENFJs have tremendous entrepreneurial ability.

ENFJs are, by definition, Js, with whom we associate organization and decisiveness. But they don't resemble the SJs or even the NTJs in organization of the environment nor occasional recalcitrance. ENFJs are organized in the arena of interpersonal affairs. Their offices may or may not be cluttered, but their conclusions (reached through feelings) about people and motives are drawn much more quickly and are more resilient than those of their NFP counterparts.

ENFJs know and appreciate people. Like most NFs, (and Feelers in general), they are apt to neglect themselves and their own needs for the needs of others. They have thinner psychological boundaries than most, and are at risk for being hurt or even abused by less sensitive people. ENFJs often take on more of the burdens of others than they can bear.
So I love the first line. That really is one of the biggest things I could aspire to be. I love to teach and I would love to be seen as a benevolent teacher. And I realize enumerating that sounds like I'm vain and a bit narcissistic, but I guess that's how it goes. I can very much affiliate with the manipulation thing. I know I can be a rather persuasive person, but I hate the feeling of being manipulative so I often defer from my persuasiveness so as to not be manipulative. I definitely am a "global learner". I look to learn from all elements of life and feel like I can learn from any of my circumstances and anybody I come in contact with. I think it's interesting that it mentions potentially having "thinner psychological boundaries than most" because I'm pretty thick skinned. But we never match up to these kinds of things entirely. I do often put aside my own needs for the needs of others. I can't tell you how many times I've put off homework or studying to go help a friend with their homework, papers, and studying.
Even more than the other Idealists, Teachers have a natural talent for leading students or trainees toward learning, or as Idealists like to think of it, they are capable of calling forth each learner's potentials. Teachers (around two percent of the population) are able - effortlessly, it seems, and almost endlessly-to dream up fascinating learning activities for their students to engage in. In some Teachers, this ability to fire the imagination can amount to a kind of genius which other types find hard to emulate. But perhaps their greatest strength lies in their belief in their students. Teachers look for the best in their students, and communicate clearly that each one has untold potential, and this confidence can inspire their students to grow and develop more than they ever thought possible.

In whatever field they choose, Teachers consider people their highest priority, and they instinctively communicate personal concern and a willingness to become involved. Warmly outgoing, and perhaps the most expressive of all the types, Teachers are remarkably good with language, especially when communicating in speech, face to face. And they do not hesitate to speak out and let their feelings be known. Bubbling with enthusiasm, Teachers will voice their passions with dramatic flourish, and can, with practice, become charismatic public speakers. This verbal ability gives Teachers a good deal of influence in groups, and they are often asked to take a leadership role.

Teachers are highly sensitive to others, which is to say their intuition tends to be well developed. Certainly their insight into themselves and others is unparalleled. Without a doubt, they know what is going on inside themselves, and they can read other people with uncanny accuracy. Teachers also identify with others quite easily, and will actually find themselves picking up the characteristics, emotions, and beliefs of those around them. Because they slip almost unconsciously into other people's skin in this way, Teachers feel closely connected with those around them, and thus show a sincere interest in the joys and problems of their employees, colleagues, students, clients, and loved ones.
The second article relates the ENFJ to the role of a teacher. I don't know necessarily about how good I am at learning activities, but I do know I am good at simplifying things so most others can understand. Also, I always do believe in the ability of others to learn. I think anybody that knows me, knows I'm reasonably articulate and I can (and do) speak my mind quickly and easily. I'm opinionated, there's no real surprise there. Finally, I  do have a good ability to read others. I think that is one of the gifts of the Spirit I am most thankful that my Heavenly Father has bestowed upon me. I understand people well and so because of that I am easy to talk to and it's easy for me to help others.

Here's some famous ENFJ's:

David, King of Israel
Abraham Lincoln
Ronald Reagan
Barack Obama
Abraham Maslow, psychologist and proponent of self-actualization
Ross Perot
Sean Connery
Elizabeth Dole
Francois Mitterand
Dick Van Dyke
Andy Griffith
James Garner
William Aramony, former president of United Way
Gene Hackman (I had to include Gene Hackman if you know anything about my long standing joke with James)
Michael Jordan, NBA basketball player
Oprah Winfrey
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts quarterback

Overall I'm pretty satisfied with this evaluation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


So I was reading an article from the Wall Street Journal and came across an abbreviation I didn't recognize: Messrs. It was in reference to Bernanke and Geithner and I couldn't think what it could be other than maybe an abbreviation for Messieurs, which is the plural of Monsieur. That seemed odd to me since it was the Wall Street Journal, an American paper and they are both Americans. So I Googled it and sure enough, that did the trick. Messrs. is the plural of Mister, go figure. It's kind of odd that I don't recall coming across that anytime before this in my life. Of course Wikipedia sheds a bit more light. They say it is in fact an abbreviation for Messieurs, but it's what we use for the plural of mister. Bizarre...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Scripture Study 03.10.09

I continued my study of the Sunday School lesson today. I went through the study manual and answered the questions. Here's what I had to say.
• Read D&C 25:5, 14. What are some ways that husbands and wives can help each other in times of difficulty?
- Husbands and wives can help each other by offering consoling and comfort. Also, being humble helps greatly because we can find so much more joy in others. Husbands and wives can offer so much to each other by simply being patient, kind, and loving. In a marriage there needs to be a realization that you are working toward the same goal similar to the realization that you are working toward the same goal as our Heavenly Father. When we understand these things, we are more likely to succeed in our marriages and bless the lives of those around us.

• How can spouses show that they delight in each other?
- Spouses can show they delight in each other by being appreciative and speaking kind words. Always being thankful and complimenting others helps them to understand that they are important to that individual and that they find joy in what they’re doing.
It was interesting to see a bit of this focus on the ideas of marriage and how spouses can help each other.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Participation and Finding Value

So I was talking to my friend LeeAnn on Sunday. It was interesting to listen to her "get on her soapbox" as she put it. Basically a lot of what she was talking about is how people are so unwilling to appreciate what they have now, but rather look too much toward things like the grass being greener on the other side (and on the off chance you happen to read this LeeAnn and you feel like I misrepresented your ideas please correct me and I'll update this accordingly). It really is amazing though how much we find discontent in such simple things. We're seldom satisfied with what we have and are therefore convinced that something better must be out there. So often we think we find it, but really the charm of something new wears off just as soon. It's really more of a fascination with the novelty of things that are new and different.

Much of the context LeeAnn was speaking of was that of the ward. It's really easy to under appreciate a ward, that's definitely true. I mean we start taking things for granted so often and we're convinced that there's somebody better out there for us to spend our time with and such. Really we don't value the time we have or the people we're around enough. I mean think about the wonderful blessing that each day is. We have a new day every day to make ourselves better, to find joy, to learn, to grow, and to bless the lives of others. It is such a great thing and we definitely do not appreciate it enough. We see too much monotony in our life, when every day of our life is fantastic. I have a semi joking saying that I put on my Facebook profile that says "Every day of my life is fantastic because I get to spend every day with myself and I'm fantastic." And I do believe that whole heartedly, but my reasoning is really the key.

When we really understand and appreciate who we are, that's something that's very special. I know many people out there are not of the same belief system as myself, but I testify that we are children of a Heavenly Father who loves us dearly. As His children, that makes us pretty special. We are the literal offspring of Deity. How amazing and special is that! How wonderful does that make us! I in no way mean that to lift ourselves up in pride, but rather it is something to be so incredibly grateful for. Each and every one of God's children is so special for God would not create something that was not wonderful. We all have our flaws, but we are still children of God and that makes us absolutely spectacular.

The key to appreciating that is to continue finding such value in others. I know one of the main things I do during the passing of the Sacrament on Sundays, is I look around at all of the individuals in the congregation and I think about how special it is that our Savior was willing to sacrifice everything to make sure that they could have the blessing of returning to live with Him. When we find this value in others it's amazing the value we begin to find in ourselves and the power we have to create differences in this life.

I suppose that's why, like LeeAnn, I'm such a big fan of willingly participating as part of the whole. Too often we avoid the group, whether it be just a generalized group or it's some sort of organization like our ward. We have value and we can add a lot to the ward. Also, there are so many things that those individuals in the ward can add to us. I almost feel guilty because of the fact my sense of gratitude has lead me to see how profound of a difference so many individuals have upon me that I am drawn to these individuals because I know of the difference they can continue to make in my life.

So take the opportunity to participate. Go out and learn what you can from others. Take the time to teach another those things you value and that are important to you. I think you'll be impressed about the difference it will begin to make in your life.

Scripture Study 03.09.09

I read the Ensign article "His Power in My Life" which deals with finding guidance through the scriptures. I think the portion I appreciated the most from this article was the first section in which it spoke about the power of choice. I am a big proponent of this idea of choosing to not let others' decisions affect us adversely and learning to look at our experiences for the blessing they are. We never really appreciate the fact the every single thing we do day in and day out helps to constitute the person that we are. Therefore, how we react to such experiences has a profound effect upon who we are becoming. We really need to take the time to appreciate that all experiences in our life can be for our benefit and learning. Sometimes wicked individuals do terrible things and they affect us in awful and harmful ways, but we can still learn to deal with it and learn from it. Thankfully I think most of us don't come across these types of situations that often. We typically just have others around us that might be a bit thoughtless at the moment and cause us some sort of injury. We can learn to look at it as an innocent mistake (because I honestly believe it typically is) and learn from it. I try quite often to learn from the mistakes of others, the examples that I see from them teaches me how to react in the future. I don't think less of them for their mistakes because I know how great my own are, but I am thankful for them in helping me to better myself by examining their lives, even if they don't realize I am doing such.

So I did the reading for Lesson 10 of the Sunday School manual today. It was simply Doctrine and Covenants Section 25, a section specifically given to the Prophet's wife, Emma. I don't know that I have a whole lot of thoughts on this section. It was a bit comforting to me. I can't deny I was starting to feel a bit down and lonely but as I began to read it brought me great comfort. I don't know that there were any particular words that brought such, but just the blessing of the Spirit. Of course I do still have a few thoughts on this particular section.

I must say this is a rather interesting selection of scripture. I think the Old Testament is really the only other time I can think of such direct revelation for a choice woman or "elect lady", as the Lord puts it. It makes me glad that we have this because it is an interesting insight into the mind and will of the Lord since it is irregular to see in canonical scripture to have specific revelations for a woman. Also, I cannot think of a time where the prophet's wife of any record has received such a revelation.

In the actual text I really appreciate the idea of the song of the righteous being a prayer unto God. Religious hymns do have such profound power (although I guess based off of what this scripture actually reads, it's possible that they not necessarily be hymns). I think we often undervalue the hymns and we treat them as not being a prayer. It makes me sad to see others speaking or being disruptive in any way during a song because most people would not do the same during a prayer. We really should learn to treat music in such a way.

I was also impressed by Verse 15, which reads, "Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come." I can't think of another scripture that phrases things in such a manner. The first sentence seems somewhat typical, but the statement of requiring such an effort to receive the blessings of being in the Father's presence is an interesting statement. May we keep in mind that this same statement applies to us as well.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Scripture Study 03.08.09

I was reading in the Joseph Smith manual from Chapter 29 for my study today. I must say I was very much impressed by this particular chapter. Joseph often has some rather powerful statements quoted in this book, but sometimes I feel like the book tries too hard to throw together a bunch of random quotes that don't necessarily have the best flow or logical sense. The older editions of The Teachings of Presidents of the Church series haven't struck me as having this kind of flaw as much as this particular one. However, today's lesson was beautifully sculpted as far as the true gems of quotes that were found therein.

The lesson is entitled "Living with Others in Peace and Harmony". Early a story is recounted by Lucy Mack Smith in which she tells of a mob who came to attack Joseph. Joseph very simply reasons with the men and they were overly taken with him. I found this quote from one of those gentlemen (which is recounted by Mrs. Smith so take that as you will) to be rather humorous, it reads, "This is the last time you will ever catch me coming to kill Joe Smith or the Mormons either." This man certainly had a drastic change of heart, but it's interesting to hear his almost callousness toward the idea of causing harm to Joseph or the Mormons. Joseph's powerful spirit and righteous ways helped to reform these men quite promptly.

Early in the lesson we read about becoming peacemakers and the blessings of peacemakers. Joseph states:
"If the nation, a single State, community, or family ought to be grateful for anything, it is peace.

"Peace, lovely child of heaven!–peace like light from the same great parent, gratifies, animates, and happifies the just and the unjust, and is the very essence of happiness below, and bliss above."
That really spoke so powerfully to me. First, Joseph develops this idea that peace is one of the foremost gifts that we should be thankful for. I suppose when we really think about it, this is no major surprise for peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. With peace we are able to find joy and happiness and receive answers to our prayers. Peace is what will always see us through and it is one of the chief blessings the Savior has promised us. Second, Joseph mentions the idea of peace being the key to happiness on this earth and bliss in the eternities. I suppose this really is so true in that peace is what will always bring us joy. When we find that peace in our lives always, we shall always be happy and find the love of our Savior throughout our lives.

Joseph also developed strongly the idea of lifting each other up. Far too often we are so critical of each other. I think we really need to learn the idea of just learning to look past the small things. I think one of the happiest realizations in my life is coming to the recognition that everything we do in life is so insignificant compared to what really matters. So what if somebody says something a little harmful to you? It really is no big deal, you will be laughing about it someday. A girl breaks your heart? Probably won't be the last and it makes for a great story. We're all trying hard to do the right thing in this life. I think there are few people that are actively pursuing the destruction of others. Sure a moment of weakness might invade and they just might do something intentionally harmful, but I think typically their character is still rather kind, they still want to attempt to do what is right. You'll make mistakes yourself. Be quick to overlook the mistakes and flaws of others. Joseph states:
"We [hope that our brethren will be careful of one another's feelings, and walk in love, honoring one another more than themselves, as is required by the Lord."

"The man who willeth to do well, we should extol his virtues and speak not of his faults behind his back."

"Now, in this world mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves."
Joseph recognized that we do in fact have some severe weakness, but how precious are we for recognizing the strength and blessings others really are in our lives. We all have an influence upon one another, we should learn to look past our differences and buoy each other up. We can make such a profound difference in the lives of others by simply saying a kind word or expressing appreciation. I've often spoken with my mother about how much the little words of "Please" and "Thank You" really can go such a long way. I think my mother every opportunity I have for being such a wonderful person and setting such a good example for me.

The chapter concludes on a semi-random note, but it does tie into the idea of building up others and maintaining peace with those around us. The freedom of belief as stated in the 11th Article of Faith is a crucial gift that all mankind should be able to enjoy. So often here in America we insist upon such rights for people, but we seek to deny others of such things. We belittle and berate them for believing differently. Joseph celebrated the opinions of others. I think it is wise we attempt to do the same. I think we so often assume others are entirely wrong and simply tear others down for their opinions. However, again this is a matter of it not necessarily being as big of a deal as we make it. Opinions enable us to look at the picture from so many different angles. Nobody on the face of this earth comprehends all things, so there are valuable things to be learned from all. Our Heavenly Father can help us to see from different angles and so we must trust that He can give this gift to all. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does not have a monopoly on truth. That being said, I do believe a more complete fulness of truth can be found in the teachings of this Church. However, I believe every Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew and any other religion on the face of this earth has some valuable lessons that they can teach me. I hope they do teach me, I hope I get to learn from them. And I celebrate them for the sake of practicing their religion. Joseph stated, "Our religion is between us and our God. Their religion is between them and their God." I believe God will judge us relative to the light and knowledge we receive in this life. Therefore, I believe we will all be accountable for our faith, whatever it may be. Sure, some eternal standards always will come into account, but so much of it is determined by us doing the best with what we have. While I do believe I belong to the true Church of Jesus Christ, I do not have all light and knowledge and cannot possibly hope to accomplish everything that would make me perfect. Thankfully, my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ require of me to do the best with what I have and to seek to grow what I have some more. I seek to do that day in and day out and I feel I will be rewarded for that. I like Joseph, celebrate our differences of opinion and thought and am happy that we all can learn so much in this life and grow closer to our Father in Heaven.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Scripture Study 03.07.09

Well, I started my day off with another Ensign article. Today was a poem. I'll admit, poetry doesn't usually do much for me. It's kind of funny because I love music and typically that is for its lyrics, the lyrics speak powerfully to me. Also, I have a great love for Shakespeare and other well written works. The flowery poetic feel really speaks to me. But for some reason, poetry standing alone is lost on me. Shakespeare's sonnets? Yeah, not my thing. Of course that still doesn't really explain the music thing, since most music really is poetry set to music. I guess I'm just bizarre like that and the music continues to speak to me.

So the poem is entitled "Hand in Hand". It was a rather interesting poem because of the fact it did not focus on anything overly religious (unless I missed it). Rather, this poem was about the love this gentleman had shared for his bride for many years. Every evening they would go round and round a local cul-de-sac talking about each other's days and sorting through problems. It certainly was an endearing poem and it was interesting to see how they would sort through everything. I can't deny this wasn't the best written poem, but I did enjoy the message. It was a nice heartwarming feeling. Certainly that is what I hope for in my own relationship, something that close and open. Those of you who know me pretty well, know that I'm a pretty big fan of honesty, openness, and transparency. I think those are three things in our lives that if we could learn to implement more fully, we would be more happy all around. May the Lord bless us that we can find that sort of communication in all of our relationships.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

President's Weekly Address 03.07.09

President Obama gave his address for the week. It's entitled Toward a Better Day. Here's the vid:

For the complete text click here.

I definitely have to give it to him, he certainly does everything he can to keep things sounding optimistic. Although if there's one thing I'm critical of, it's this focus on the past. He just keeps talking over and over about this huge deficit that he's inherited and how so many terrible mistakes have been made in the past and they'll change that. I hope he's right that they'll change it, but I think most of us have gotten the message about the economic irresponsibility. I mean we feel it on "main street" as he so often likes to reference.

Of course he mentions ARRA and about how it's going to create so many jobs. But assuming it all works the way he plans, it still worries me. He says the jobless rate is up to 4.4 million and ARRA is supposed to create 3.5 million jobs. That doesn't sound too bad, other than he says those jobs are supposed to come over the next two years. Now I'm no math major, but I'm pretty sure that 3.5 million is almost a million less than 4.4 so that means we would still have 1 million less jobs than we did beforehand and those 3.5 million aren't even supposed to come around for 2 years? Yeah, I see a little bit of a problem there. Now the one thing I will say, we can't expect him to be a complete miracle worker, but it seems like there must be something faster than that. I don't know, economics definitely is not my specialty.

Of course I still feel like I'm getting the same Barack Obama campaign politics I got before he was elected. I think there are few people that love hope and change more than myself, but I fail to see the substance of it really coming from President Obama. Sure, Barack is definitely a major change from President Bush in most of his core beliefs, but what about the actual processes? It seems to me like we're still getting more of the same. I just never felt like Obama really had a plan and it seems to be a continuation of that. ARRA and everything else they have been working on they admit isn't necessarily going to solve the problem (and I'm enough of a realist to realize that A. there's no quick fix and B. it probably will take multiple things to fix it) but there seems to be enough uncertainty there that it worries me. They stand confident that they will fix the problem, but do not necessarily seem confident that their policies will fix the problem. The planning just doesn't seem to be there. I said while he was on the campaign trail that I didn't feel like he had real plans articulated, but rather just those rather grandiose ideas of hope and change. Sure it makes you feel good inside, but when it comes down to actually getting it done what is going to happen? Currently it seems like the Obama Administration is simply doing something for the sake of doing something. They don't want to be caught sitting on their hands, which I think is a reasonably admirable quality. Of course it seems like a better idea to really find out what is best and what will work and implement that. Right now it seems like they're simply fueling the fire by throwing money at it and hoping it extinguishes the problem.

I hope it does Mr. Obama. Or else I'm really going to want a change.

Scripture Study 03.06.09

I read from The Ensign today. The article I read was entitled "Walking by Faith, Not by Sight". The article recounted the faith of a dear sister in Chile who had lost her sight during cataract surgery. However, the faith that she still employs is rather heart warming. Apparently she has not let the lack of sight slow her down as she still does make household chores such as cooking and ironing. I have a difficult enough time doing that with my eyes, I can't imagine how she does it without. But it really was a touching story as she explained her spiritual vision really is enhanced for her lack of sight. She's learned not to let her eyes get in the way, but to see things as they spiritually are.

Faith is such an interesting subject and it requires us to look past what we may temporally understand or see sometimes. Faith requires us to walk into what we may not understand or comprehend and there we will find the light and truth. I hope the kind of faith expressed by this sister can help see me through. I can't deny the frustration I've had in searching for a job and thankfully I still have a comforting feeling that everything will be ok. My Heavenly Father and Savior still love me, I have a family that is willing to do everything they can to take care of me, and I have some really great friends. Some things might be hard along the way, but I can make sure to have the sight to see the rich blessings that do await me if I will but continue on in righteousness.

In History of the Church, B. H. Roberts is continuing more of his presentation of the apostasy. I'm growing a bit tired of it all really. From a scholarly perspective I'm sure it's fascinating, but it's written in a somewhat dry manner and it doesn't seem the most concrete all the time. I was reading specifically about a lot of the heresies that had invaded the Church. There was one quote that I did especially enjoy though concerning the actions of many:
"Several come to church only on solemn festivals, and then not so much for instruction as diversion. Some go out again as soon as they have heard the lecture, without conferring or asking the pastors questions. Others stay not till the lecture is ended, and others hear not so much as a single word, but entertain themselves in a corner of the church." (p. LXXI)
This sounds so much like many that claim to practice their faith today. I definitely do not absolve any Mormon of such guilt either though. There are Sunday Mormons just as much as there are Sunday Christians. But it is interesting how so many of these terrible traditions of attending church only on holidays or really not practicing what is being preached began so long ago. I guess it's no real surprise. Humanity has not changed in the thousands of years they have been on the earth. We presume ourselves to be smarter and wiser than those of old, but I think when it really comes down to it, we're no better. We might have some better technical knowledge and such, but we still make the same stupid mistakes. I am so thankful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to help me make sure that my course is right.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Scripture Study 03.05.09

So today I was reading more from The History of the Church. Not going to lie, this portion has been a bit drier. I have a tough time completely diving in. It's difficult reading too. B. H. Roberts (he's the author of the Introduction which I'm still in) is still recounting the apostate circumstances of the early Roman Church. I must say, I feel like Constantine was a pretty bad dude. Sure he did something that had some decent intentions through his adoption of Christianity, especially after the various persecutions handed down by former Roman emperors. However, in his adoption he basically seized control of the Church and its doctrines, thus corrupting the purity of what was once Christ's Church. Also, he turned around to persecute the pagans and other heretics. A quote from one of the ancients relative to this basically called out Constantine on the utter hypocrisy of persecuting those that were not of his faith. The teachings of Christ extol all sorts of tolerance, patience, persuasion, and love but Constantine would not allow those of differing faiths to practice such. Roberts relates the story of Christ's rejection by the Samaritans and the call of some of the apostles for fire from heaven to scourge the Samaritans. Christ did not agree with this because Christ did not come to bring such punishment but to lift us to heaven.

I guess that really is so much of what we need to keep in mind about Christianity, it's all about lifting us to a higher plateau. Tearing others down is never the goal of our Father in Heaven or Christ, but rather they seek to help us gain something far more than what we have. The hope and happiness they offer us is found in seeking the betterment of all mankind, not in the tearing down or destruction of those who may not be like us. I think a strong witness of this is the influence that these sorts of actions have upon us. When we serve others in this way, we feel the joy and happiness that comes through finding success. Also, when others assist us in this way, we feel a similar blessing and in both cases we draw closer together. Doctrine and Covenants Section 50 testifies of this. We read, "He that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." This joint edification and rejoicing a sign that the Spirit is manifest.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Scripture Study 03.04.09

So I've been reading History of the Church by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I own the complete 7 volume collection and I have for about a year and a half and have never really read it. I have scanned some portions of it or referenced it for background on certain sections of The Doctrine and Covenants. It is interesting because it contains many of the revelations of the Prophet and it also contains The Doctrine in Covenants in context of Joseph's history. I figured I would finally read the books because we are studying The Doctrine and Covenants for Sunday School. It's been an interesting read thus far, but I'm still in the introduction. It's got a nearly 100 page introduction that kind of develops a lot of different ideas. Currently it's talking about a lot of the origins of the Great Apostasy.

The portions I read today developed the notion that the original Christian Church fell away with the Apostles. Wickedness and false traditions crept in which corrupted many of the standards. This was only exacerbated by the work of Constantine. One of the facts I found kind of funny was Constantine waited until the last year of his life to be baptized. The idea was that way he could have as much purity in his life and as he prepared for the afterlife. I guess that was a rather common practice back then and I would say it is inherently fallacious because it almost seems like a way of attempting to deceive God. Baptism is a necessary ordinance, but it avails us nothing if it is not done for righteousness' sake. Postponing baptism for this kind of reason does not sound like it is performed in righteousness. The introduction of the book was rather condemning of Constantine as a whole. I guess some of the records of him do certainly give him much glory, laud, and honor, however, he was largely responsible for much of the corruption of the Christian Church and some accounts liken him to Emperor Nero. Overall, there was certainly nothing performed which strengthened the standards of the Church but rather it became corrupted under the work of Constantine. This was only a further manifestation of the Great Apostasy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (My Scripture Study)

So I think one of the things I probably have done a poor job of with this blog is really articulate a lot of my religious beliefs. I know most people that do in fact read this blog are good friends of mine so they know that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It's funny that I haven't written much about my religious beliefs because they are such a heavy part of my dialogue from day to day. Also, I believe heavily in practicing my religion and studying my religion, so day in and day out it is a major focus. So I think I'm going to try to incorporate a lot of what I learn from my religious studies in this blog. I already conduct most of my religious studies along with my computer because I love how easy it is for me to organize all of my thoughts and notes, so that will also make it easy to import my studies to this blog. I try to make sure that every week I read the lessons before Sunday School and Priesthood on Sunday.

So today I was wrapping up my study of the Sunday School lesson. This week it's Lesson 9. The focus is upon The Only True and Living Church. Here are my notes:
• On what date was the Church organized in this dispensation? (See D&C 20:1; 21:3.)
- April 6, 1830.

• Read D&C 20:68–69. What do these verses reveal about the Lord’s expectations of us as Church members?
- The Lord expects us to manifest unto the Church our understanding of the commitment we have made before we can receive the ordinances of the sacrament and the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost. There must needs be a manifestation of works and faith that are in accordance with one that has been received into the Church of Christ.

• How might your life be different if the Church had not been restored or if you were not a member of the Church?
- If the Church had not been restored or if I was not a member I am sure I would not enjoy nearly as many rich blessings as I do now. The peace that I feel through the Spirit would be absent. I am certain I would not be such a right seeking individual if I did not enjoy the blessings of the gospel.

• What can you do to more fully enjoy the blessings of membership in the Church?
- To more fully enjoy the blessings of my membership I can become more appreciative. Appreciation is one of the greatest keys to joy in our lives. There are various aspects about my membership that I do not appreciate to the extent that I should. Also, I can find more opportunities to serve. I know I have not been as good about going to the temple lately, that is something I should certainly increase. Temple attendance brings rich blessings and unfortunately I have been missing out on many of them. Also, finding ways to more fully magnify my calling and priesthood helps as well. I know in the case of my calling there are many things that we are coming up short on and I can fix that rather easily. With the priesthood, I think it helps when I recognize what my duties as a priesthood holder are more fully and I recognize just how wide and encompassing they are. I know recently I was enlightened into the idea that when I am Home Teaching I am exercising my priesthood. I hadn’t ever really thought of it like that, but I’m pretty sure anytime I undertake anything for the sake of righteousness, my priesthood is at work simply because I am a priesthood holder and that is part of the blessing of that supernal gift.
The reading assignment for today was interesting. It's always nice to have some reminders of some of the basics of the formation of the Church. I must say though I don't like it when I am given questions that are so plain and factual such as the date the Church was organized. It's a very important fact for Church members to know, but it just seems to basic. The question and scriptures about the expectations of Church members I found fascinating. I didn't remember those specific answers to the standards expected of recent converts. But I am grateful for the opportunity I had to ponder a bit more on appreciation. Gratitude is one of my favorite concepts in life because I feel like it honestly makes us so much happier of individuals. Recognizing gifts brings us joy and helps us to share that joy with others. It's interesting how something so small can make such a profound difference.