God’s Tiers of Learning – Tier 1

When the Israelites left Egypt, they had been in living in captivity for centuries. They were not an enlightened people, they had just begun the first step on the path of recovery from all the bad habits and thought distortions that had helped them survive the worst conditions imaginable. These habits and mental justifications become ingrained so deeply, that tens of thousands of the Israelites chose to perish in the wilderness rather than accept a new, higher code of conduct.

How often do we see this pattern repeated around us? So many loved ones and friends would rather cling to the justifications for their behaviors rather than accept the work required in following Christ (or any great religious teacher at this point). Much of our current culture is bending over backwards to rationalize their desire to “do away” with religion, morality, and God in their lives.

This poisonous mindset did not work out well for the Israelites in the desert, and someday soon, it will work just as badly for the sad milllions around the world. I have not counted the number of times the Israelites were given a chance to follow a simple commandment, and chose to suffer death instead. I can only imagine the heartbreak and frustration God felt while watching this play out over and over. Whether it was looking up at the brazen serpent, or not going into Canaan after they complained that it would be too hard. Again and again, they fell by thousands and tens of thousands to the natural consequences of their disobedience.

God, in His long-suffering nature, suffered with them through this painful transition time. Recognizing their spiritual weakness, He gave them strict, but simple commandments. These commandments, the Ten overarching ones, along with the many daily and habitual ones, are commonly referred to as the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses, especially the Ten Commandments, were designed by God to bring His people, then and now, out of slavery. How can we relate to this slavery? Slavery is the complete loss of freedom, the inability to choose for yourself any of the basic decisions like; where you will sleep, what you will eat, etc. When we allow ourselves to be led astray by temptations and addictions, we bind ourselves in a form of slavery to our carnal nature. Take a moment to envision how the following choices can limit our options and restrict our freedom to act for ourselves:

  • Alcoholism
  • Gluttony
  • Violence against others
  • Vandalism, theft
  • Drug addiction
  • Pornography
  • Insert your own ideas

The path back out of the bondage from these choices is never easy. Even the laws of man recognize the need for rehabilitation clinics and psychologists and a myriad of social services to aid people back into a state of freedom. God set out His plan for the path to recovery thousands of years ago. He guided the Israelites lovingly, patiently through the desert of rehabilitation; sometimes with harsh interventions, but always, every day, letting them know that He was present.

The lessons He taught them, the commandments He gave them, were designed to bring them out of captivity, not just their bodies, but their minds and spirits as well. The liberation of their minds and spirits was a much longer process than their bodies, but He stayed with them, guiding them as a loving parent, throughout the process. Until finally, they were a people prepared to establish a great nation in the promised land.

As we work to establish ourselves in an “American Dream” or other such vision of success, let us study the first tier of learning set out by our loving Father in Heaven. Study the Ten Commandments and the journey of the disobedient Israelites, and we can find our own Promised Land.

More on the Tiers of Learning to come.

Blessings,
Sarah

Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

I Am Undeserving

Psalm 100:4

The Lord has blessed me in such immeasurable ways, that I cannot begin to understand them all, let alone re-pay him.

I am grateful for my husband, he is loving, considerate, passionate, hard-working, he cares deeply about our welfare and gives his all to provide for us. He is also less-than-perfect in all the best ways for me. Working to overcome my pride and take care of his fragile heart, have made me a better wife and woman in general. I love him so completely.

I am grateful for my kids. I am blessed with three amazing children that I get to watch grow and learn every day. I am also blessed with one brilliant, defiant son from my first marriage who challenges me to grow farther and fastest than I ever imagined. I am also blessed with 5 step-children who amaze me with their capacity for respect and forgiveness. These nine beautiful souls have touched my life and my heart and caused it to grow beyond my comprehension. I love them each so dearly.

I am grateful for my rental home. I am blessed with just the right amount of space to teach my kids and let them be safe exploring outside. We have enough room for all our kids to be comfortable at night, even if they all come visit at once. We are in a good neighborhood and enjoy our neighbors.

I am grateful to have two cars again. It is truly wonderful to be able to go to the library and the homeschool coop while my husband is at work, without having to wake everybody up at 6 am to get ready and take him there. I am grateful that these cars are well-maintained and will last us a good long while, barring anything unforeseen.

I am grateful to have reliable internet service and a computer. I am blessed to be able to have the resources to build a business that I can run from within our home. I love being able to care for and teach our children, as well as hopefully have the means to provide the extra income we need to pay down our debt and save for our own home.

I am grateful for cellphones. I am blessed to be able to talk to my husband and other family members regardless of the distance between us.

I am grateful for indoor plumbing and a hot water heater. I am blessed to be able to drink and cook with clean water, and shower in very warm water.

I am grateful for our refrigerator and freezer. I am blessed to be able to store and preserve foods, so that we may eat healthy food.

I am grateful for our furnace and fireplace. I am blessed that my family can be warm at night, even when it’s 5 below.

I am grateful for many other temporal blessings that the Lord has provided my family and I. Perhaps I will continue counting them another day.

For now, Blessings to You, and Thanks for stopping by!
Sarah

Man’s Laws Are Not the Answer

We need to turn our children to Christ

Our country is shaken and mourning from yet another mass murder at a school. Yet as we mourn, we are becoming inured to the tragedy of it, and turning more to rallies and politics. We are turning away from our homes and children and churches, and turning up our volume and anger and disgust. In short we are turning away from Christ, which is precisely what will contribute to the problem.

If we truly want the answer to the violence that plagues our children, we have to acknowledge that Man does not possess the answer. Nor can Man create any law that will heal our children’s hearts. We need to accept that in order to heal our children, we need to turn to them, and turn them to Christ.

We need to accept that in order to heal our children, we need to turn to them, and turn them to Christ.

Try this, set aside a few extra minutes with your child tonight (or over the next several nights, depending on how many you care for). As you tuck them in, ask them some of these questions:

  • How did your day go?
  • Did you have any trouble with anyone today?
  • Can you think of a way that you can improve your relationship with them?
  • Did you notice anyone struggling or lonely today?
  • Can you think of ways that you could show them Christ-like love tomorrow?
    • Smile at them.
    • Wave hello.
    • Say, “Hi.”
    • Sit with them at lunch.
    • Talk to your friends about being nicer to them.

As you have a conversation about showing Love to others with your kids, you will help them become part of the solution. Remember Christ’s words:

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. – Matthew 22:39

Man’s Laws have second and third order effects that we cannot fully comprehend, but God’s Laws are perfect. Love each other and we are all healed.

Blessings,
Sarah

Gratitude for Boredom

bored dog

When I was young, my mom told me, “you can’t be bored if you have a brain.” Undoubtedly, she told me this after getting sick of my repeated complaints of boredom. Fearing that I wasn’t using my brain well enough, I took her admonition deeply to heart. So much so, that I never say, “I’m bored” anymore, not even to myself.

I can look back and see how I have used her advice to avoid boredom while doing repetitive tasks. The most routine of these tasks is daily scripture reading. This is a task that could easily be seen as boring.

Fortunately, I have learned that pushing through the initial reluctance for this repetitive task, has kept my faith strong and endows me with copious blessings. Not only faith-based, but also in knowledge gained. My capacity for understanding the mysteries of God increases every day that I delve into the same scriptures again. It is truly thrilling to gain new and deeper insights into these outwardly mundane verses. I am grateful for a God who challenges me to push past my procrastination and discomfort, and guides me to expand my mental ability as well as my spiritual strength.

Blessings,
Sarah

Small Steps Can Heal the World

boy climbing stairs

Hi there,

Do you struggle, like me, to know if you’ve helped heal the world at all today?

There are great and terrible evils afflicting us in these days, and I wonder often if I have done anything to help. And even more, I wonder if my small deeds and small prayers have made anything better.

These are troubling times we live in, the world around us is seeming to go mad, even our own loved ones in some cases (like mine). The attacks of our adversary are hitting closer and closer to home.

I don’t know about you, but visiting with my loved ones over the holidays was a discouraging experience. I have family who used to be my closest allies, who now throw nasty little jabs into our conversations. Worst yet, I worry that I am guilty of the same. After all, can’t they see that their position is just plain crazy?! But of course they can’t see it, in fact, they think the same thing about me.

The fundamental divide that is wedging itself between us, encompasses every aspect of life. Once upon a time, not that long ago, you could have a civil conversion with anyone about anything as long as you steered clear of politics and religion. But now nothing is safe, not sports, not the weather, not what you had for supper, and not your little girl’s favorite color.

The constant debate is exhausting. I’m worn out. I want to reach across the divide and draw my estranged family members closer to me, but I also want to run away to a quiet farm in the middle of nowhere and not emerge till the Savior comes.

So I do what I can, I ignore and forgive the snide comments. I overcome the urge to avoid my relatives. I attempt to walk with Grace. I try to help us heal, even if it’s only a little bit. Maybe if we all do a little bit, we can close the divide a lot. After all, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

How Quickly We Fall Prey to the Spirit of Contention…

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Hi there,

My heart is heavy today. I have fallen prey to the spirit of contention. This article is a personal spiritual chastisement for allowing my self to get upset over something so trivial.

I have a dear sister in volunteer work that, unintentionally, has made it very inconvenient for myself and a couple dozen other volunteers to complete our latest project. My reaction initially grew into outrage and contention. I was so angry at her for making it so difficult for us to do our job, and for slowing down the service we were trying to do. Grrrr!

And then a small voice whispered that perhaps she was doing the best she knew how. Which, of course, is the truth. And then I started thinking of ways that I could help her to eliminate the inconvenience for the other volunteers. And though I’m still working past the emotional flooding that comes from all that anger, I’m working in the right direction now. This scripture runs through my head:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. 3 Ne. 11:29

And I realize that if the father of contention can stir me up, it means I have the power to overcome it and reach for the Prince of Peace. I am grateful for the power I have to turn away from our adversary, and I am grateful for the whisperings of the Spirit that remind me of that power.

Repent means to turn towards Christ, which also means turning away from sin. I can turn towards Christ and humbly ask for his help to reject contention and seek after peace. I know that this is a small matter, but we know that through “small and simple means” can hearts be changed and nations be saved.

One of the vices that comes with building a public following is that I spend more time on social media than I had previously. I am trying reach out to and get to know people of all walks. Sadly, digging through the media sites, I run across terrible happenings, wildly biased reportings of current events, and attacks on anybody and everybody who doesn’t agree. I am brought down in sorrow reading all the contention in these public forums.

My hope and prayer is that each of us, individually, can be strengthened to forgive, repent, turn from contention, and seek diligently after peace. As we do so, I know that our nation and our world can be healed.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

Divided We Fall

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Hi there!

I’m going to try to keep this as neutral politically as I can, since, really, this article is more about division within self. But I would be remiss if I didn’t use as an example the political division happening within our country (United States) right now.

So enough disclaimer let’s jump right in. Our country is falling apart around our eyes. Every “side” knows it, though the reasons quoted are different. But I think it’s safe to say to you that it’s a conspiracy from all sides. The over-arching, supreme leader of this conspiracy is the Adversary himself. He is exploiting our weaknesses and egging us on in anger and hatred of those who believe differently than us. We have all fallen prey, at one moment or another, to thinking cruel things about those on the “other side” of the conflict; I know I have.

And we know where this is leading, for Christ taught us in Matthew 12:25: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand”

The thing is, this is not just happening on the global and national and local scales, but this is also happening in our own hearts. He is stirring us up to anger against our parents, siblings, spouses, and even ourselves.

Be honest now, how much do you beat yourself up?

I know I could beat myself up over how often I beat myself up! Heheh. But this is not Christ’s way. Did he lecture and destroy the confidence of the woman accused of adultery? No, of course not. He knew she was repentant, she didn’t need a lecture. He simply told her: “Neither do I condemn thee.” Then he followed with the best part, “Go, and sin no more.”

That’s all. As they say in Meet the Robinsons, “Keep Moving Forward.”

Christ wants us to Forgive as we have been Forgiven. That means ourselves, our spouses, our parents, our siblings, our Mayors, our Judges, our Police Officers, our Governors, and our President. Also we must forgive our church leaders, and all those who basically drive us nuts. But this isn’t an admonishment, this is to let you remind you that you are allowed to move forward.

You are allowed a second chance. You can restart, renew, refresh your growth and discipleship. You can be forgiven when you stumble, and you can learn to let go when someone else stumbles.

You are loved dearly by Our Father in Heaven, and, perhaps annoyingly, so are they. They are human, and so are you. Maybe they should know better, and maybe they’ve forgotten, and maybe they are just being swept up in the tide of discontent. Don’t follow.

Let the world go by, because you are blessed.

Blessings!
Sarah