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

That Love-Hate Relationship With Our Tech

computer, tablet, smartphone

Our personal technology gives us more information and less wisdom. We have endless, instant access to information. But we do not allow ourselves the off-grid time to process that information into anything more than knowledge. Leaving us knowledgeable fools, lacking wisdom and depth.

We are allowing others to think for us, groupthink was the term from 1984, if I remember. When was the last time you used a meme to chose or reinforce your position in an issue. A meme is not wisdom, it is almost a clear opposite to wisdom. Usually memes are emotional sound bites, made to stir up our heart into taking an ideological stance. But our heart was not designed for reasoning!

If we were to debate all the pros and cons of an issue, we would come to a logical conclusion that would be somewhat near the middle ground. But allowing our heart to be swayed by guttural sound bites throws our belief system to the extremes. We have chosen a path without engaging our own reasoning. Instead, we are relying on the fully formed opinions of others. These others clearly do not have our own best interests in mind, after all many of them are proven to come from other countries. They have their own agenda, in which they want your blind support. Why are we letting them think for us?

Part of it is laziness, but only because we are so busy and stressed with our own everyday problems, that we “farm out” the thinking, debating, reasoning, and reflecting of national or global issues to other sources. And though I could go on about how we become too busy and stressed to do our own thinking, I think I’ll save that for another day. (I should mention that both the problems of being too busy, and succumbing to groupthink are among my struggles, which is why I write about them.)

The brunt of it is, I know that each of us are highly intelligent creatures. To be clear, I’m not talking about IQ as it’s measurement of comparison with each other. I am referring to our God-given gifts of thought, logic, and reasoning which were reserved for man alone upon this earth. We need to take back our own individual thought processes. Cease from allowing our beliefs to be based on someone else’s fully formed opinions. And grant ourselves the down, or off-grid, or unplugged time to come to our own conclusions.

And forget not that “if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” James 1:5

Blessings,
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

True Feminism is About More Than Position

3 women standing together

True feminism doesn’t match well with the world’s feminism. While I do believe the goals of feminism are noble, I can only see the degradation of a woman’s true power through the current tendency to jockey for a greater position or title.

I understand that in all attempts to improve something, people and even societies usually go past their mark to an extreme, before returning and finding the sweet spot. In fact, this swing can happen multiple times, like a pendulum, before resting in the center. However, I think it is time for the voices of women on the other side of the spectrum to be heard in order to bring the pendulum back closer to the center.

So, what do I feel is missing in modern day feminism? —

Only the source of a woman’s greatest power and influence:

Motherhood

Through motherhood, women are at their highest level of influence. Women guide and direct everything about the little lives for whom they are responsible. We teach them what to believe in, what is important, what to learn. We groom them, nurture them, steer them in the directions they will follow their whole lives. We have all power over their little lives, if we are willing to give up all thoughts of self. They notice when we care for them and respond by following the path we lay out for them.

Now I know, I’m describing a perfect, theoretical child. I know as well as the next mom, that every child at some point (usually around an age ending in “teen”) decides to rebel against the best laid paths of mom. And usually this rebellion causes endless sleepless nights to the poor overwhelmed mother. This being understood, many children will still return to the patterns and programming built in by said mother. For better or worse, mother remains the most influential individual in most people’s lives.

So I propose that as women, we need to speak up more about this powerful position and help those around us to understand and support it more. I know that as we come to understand it and exercise it better ourselves, either as a biological, step, adoptive, foster, grand, part-time, surrogate, or unofficial (including teacher, aunt, nanny, next-door neighbor, mentor, etc.) mother; that we will empower our gender all over the world to become stronger and more influential.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

What My Peers Want

bruce-dixon-383618_cropped-w-title.jpg

Hi there,

I was teaching my children a lesson on the difference between peer pressure and positive influence, and it got me thinking.

Do you remember the story of Rehoboam? He was the grandson of King David. He became King of Israel only to drive Israel away and lose 10 of the 12 tribes. Just in case it’s been awhile since you’ve studied 1 Kings chapters 11 & 12, I’ll give you a quick summary;

  1. King Solomon, started out good and wise, but was led astray by his later “wives” into worshiping false gods. As he did so, his ego grew bigger than his budget and he placed heavy taxes on the people.
  2. After Solomon’s death, his son, Rehoboam, became king. The people’s spokesman, Jeroboam, asked him to lighten his father’s tax burden.
  3. Rehoboam asked for advice on the matter from 2 different groups of advisors:
    1. The older wise men, or Elders, who told him that the people will serve him more faithfully if he listens to their request.
    2. His “college buddies” (younger peers), who told him to “show the people who’s the boss” with whips and heavier taxes.
  4. Rehoboam showed that he’s easily swayed by his peers, and ignored the sage advice of his Elders. He increased the taxes and added harsh penalties for non-payment. (Brilliant, right?)
  5. Not surprisingly, the Israelites thought this was a boneheaded move. They rebelled and created their own kingdom with Jeroboam as King.
  6. Rehoboam lost 5/6ths of his kingdom, and the blessing of God for his inability to follow the wisest counsel.

So, my question is, in what way or ways am I listening to my peers instead of my Elders? Unfortunately, my parents have strayed from the gospel path, so their advice doesn’t really qualify as wise counsel. So first, who are my Elders? Then, what are they trying to teach me.

In my case, I can safely say my Elders are the older and experienced leaders of my church. I can look at their life critically and see if they have set an example of Christ. Are they living modestly? Are they managing the church’s tithes responsibly? Are they caring for the poor and needy? Are they living like Christ? Since they are doing all these things, I can safely heed their advice.

So, what are they trying to teach me? Well, from the front page of the church’s website, I can find these articles:

  1. Weaving Christ Into Our Souls
  2. The 3 P’s that Changed My Perspective on Talking to God
  3. How to Be a Strong Link in Your Family Chain
  4. Saved After My Daughter’s Suicide
  5. People Can’t Live Without Hope

What I don’t see is anything on protests becoming riots, gossip, or famous peoples’ wardrobes. There’s nothing on who is more fascist, how to decorate my living room, or what one world leader thinks about another.

I am trying to focus my daily thoughts and worries on how to draw closer to my Savior by following the advice of my church leaders. I am also trying to ignore the opinions of my peers. Truly, no-one needs to be offended by everything, and faith in God IS more important than fear of the world.

Here’s hoping you are finding peace in the chaos!

Blessings,
Sarah

 

Photo by Bruce Dixon on Unsplash