The Virtue of Remembering- Hebrews 12:1, 2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold

COMMENTARY

Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race before us
Since we have such a hope, we are very bold
Yesterday we considered how Paul inspired the Hebrew saints with the memory of all the miracles that had been done to their ancestors. Immediately after this is his statement from Hebrews 12, that all of these examples of the faithful ought to empower them to be faithful themselves.
Thus Paul used the stories of the Old Testament prophets to inspire those that were familiar with those legends, but to those that were not, such as the saints in Corinth, he instead recalled their own firsthand experience of gaining hope in the message of Christ, and tells them that such faith should make them bold. It is the same message as to the Hebrews, but it is rooted in a different set of memories.
The point is that each of us is given something to start remembering the goodness of God by. For some of us it might be the words of the scriptures that we learned in our youth, for others it is the example of good men and women who pointed us in the right direction, and for others it is the first time that God spoke directly into our hearts. Whatever it is, each of us have something to think back to that inspires us to do great things.

Seeking Spiritual Witnesses- Question

Scriptures, and the testimonies of others, are full of spiritual witnesses: moments where God showed up for an individual in a very personal and powerful way. It might be an angelic manifestation, hearing a heavenly voice, receiving a miracle, or just a powerful message spoken straight to the heart. Those that have not yet experienced these moments wish that they could. Those that have had them wish they could happen more frequently!

Much of my childhood I found myself trying to “make” spiritual experiences happen. I would try to convince myself that I was having one when I wasn’t, and fear that some might have happened without me even realizing it. As a father I am now anxious that my son have spiritual experiences, but I don’t want to repeat in him the same frantic, second-guessing game that I employed.

I would like to explore this concept over the next few days, that of how we can properly pursue and recognize God’s witnesses to us. In the meantime, I would love to hear about your own experiences as well. What ways have you found to foster spiritual experiences? Have you had any control over when or how they occur, or is it entirely up to God? How have you been able to tell the difference between an actual witness versus your own mind playing tricks on you?

Knit Our Hearts- Personal Example

Last week the city I live in had a festival, one where the entire community pitched in to create a number of family-centric events. On Saturday they planned to have a little carnival, and each of the local church groups volunteered to run a different booth. At each one children could pay one ticket and then play a simple game and win prizes.

My church branch called me the week before to see if I would be willing to take ownership of the booth along with one other couple. They probably would have asked my wife as well, but she was had volunteered to take the women youth to a girls’ camp that week.

All of which is to say that I was assigned a task, and had as my only companionship an older couple that I did not know very well. I knew of them, I had heard them speak at various times in church meetings, but I honestly couldn’t remember ever having a direct conversation with them in the past. I felt that we simply moved in different circles.

Over the course of that week we spent hours together. We had planning meetings, we sought out additional volunteers to help run the game, we setup the booth, manned it, and finally took everything back down at the end of the day.

In all that time we spoke a great deal, but never did we have that “magical moment” where we suddenly realized that we had so much in common. Life is not a Hallmark Movie, and at the end of it all we still move in entirely different circles.

And yet…at the end of it all I did feel that I had made two friends. Because in the end we did actually share something together. An experience. It was a little something, but it was mutual. And whenever we share something, no matter how small, we start to build a kinship.

Too often I limit my friendships to those that I share personality traits with. To like you, I have to find something like me in you. And there isn’t anything wrong in seeking those relationships, but it is restricting if they are the only ones I will consider.

Sharing personality traits is good, but I can also learn to love others by sharing experiences with them. And then, if I continue to share experiences and build bridges with a wide variety of brothers and sisters, perhaps eventually I will also learn to love others just for sharing in our common humanity. For sharing in the journey of Earth life. For sharing a Father in Heaven. For sharing a divine potential.

Our Dual Nature- Moses 6:55-56

And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment.

COMMENTARY

They taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good
How do you know that you want to go to heaven? Because you have been told it is a place of peace and love. How do you know that you do not want to go to hell? Because you have been told it is a place of suffering and sorrow. But how do you know that you want peace and love, rather than suffering and sorrow? Because you have experience both, and therefore know which experience is pleasurable and which is painful. Even before you committed your first sin, you were educated on the differences between the two so thoroughly that you cannot mistake one for the other.
If you had never received that education, words like peace, love, pleasure, good, suffering, sorrow, pain, and evil would merely be words. Meaningless, and impossible to judge one against the other.

Wherefore they are agents unto themselves
So what is our purpose here on Earth? To gain knowledge, to learn the difference between good and evil, and to choose the better part. Because of our awareness we are able to choose a path. Not only that, but we can also turn to another path if we later change our choice. We are free to be our own agent, to steer ourselves to our own destination. We are not be some dumb entity that is puppeteered into its destiny, we choose it for ourselves.
And that is truly something worthy. For this, a God would die.