Rubik’s Life Lessons II: Solving Takes Scrambling

Lesson Two

Even when you’re starting to become solved, you still have to get scrambled along the way. In order to place each piece of the cube where it needs to be, you need to twist some of the pieces out of place and then restore them to complete the move. Going through the repentance process, or any mode of change, will often require us to do this. Even after we’ve made some changes and see our colors matching up, we’ll still need to twist ourselves into some uncomfortable circumstances to continue making progress.

We will need to exercise patience and understand that we can’t just match up one side, then do another and anther until we finish the sixth side. In terms of the actual Rubik’s cube, it’s physically impossible. You can try, but eventually you’ll need to mix up the colors for a second in order to place other colors where they need to be.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (Romans 5:3-4)

We learn through these twists how to be patient in our repentance process. This patience helps us gain experience for future times when we’ll need to solve our Rubik’s cube again and again, and in turn this experience brings us hope that solving the cube is possible.

It’s not always fun. Before I understood a correct method, I would try and solve each side, one after another. Often I would get to the point where I knew I had to mix up a side already solved if I wanted to progress on another side. This is where I’d get stuck. I didn’t want to unscramble a side already solved. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to solve it again, or that I would just screw up the whole cube in general.

The end result of repentance is always a relief. There is no greater feeling than knowing that your Heavenly Father has forgiven you of sin(s). During repentance, however, it may not always be pleasant. It’s not meant to be fun. The feelings of guilt and shame are an inevitable consequence of mistakes, and they are something that must simply be experienced, but…

…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (Hebrews 12:5-7)

Being chastened, or rebuked, by God is not something He does because he wants us to feel terrible, or because He wants to bully us. God rebukes when we mess up because He loves us. He wants us to do better and He knows that sometimes a little tough love is in order.

I know that through the love of God and the grace of Christ, we can change. It might put us out of our comfort zone every now and then, but that’s just a necessary part of the process. A few twists and turns here and there and before you know it, your Rubik’s cube is solved!

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Rubik’s Life Lessons I: Easier Than It Looks

So, not too long ago some other missionaries serving near me taught me how to solve a Rubik’s cube. They had a Rubik’s cube in their apartment and, in frustration, I would watch them solve it over and over again. It got to the point that I had to be able to do it too. I had always wanted to be able to solve those stupid little obnoxious boxes. So I made them teach me their method and in a few minutes I found myself with a solved Rubik’s cube in my hands.

Strangely enough, there are a lot of life lessons that can be learned from this ingenious little toy. And so, this is the beginning of a series of short lessons that I’ve learned (and am still trying to correctly apply) in my life. I hope you enjoy them.

Lesson One

We are going to liken a Rubik’s cube to repentance, and for the sake of the analogy, let’s say that the Rubik’s cube in this lesson is an extension of yourself. Your spirit, your soul, your conscience, whatever term you would like to use. We come into this life with our Rubik’s cube solved. It’s perfect, but as we grow older some twists are applied to the cube and eventually we find ourselves all scrambled up. The colors are no longer in the right places and now we see that we need to solve our cube.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen someone solve one of these toys and thought “How in the world do they do that?” It just seems impossible. At least to me it appeared to be a task I would never accomplish. That’s often how we feel about repentance, and about coming to God to ask for forgiveness and then going out into the world to be a better person. We may feel that we will simply never be solved. We will forever be scrambled up and never experience the joy of having all our colors where they need to be.

You know what I realized after I finally got the solving method down? I realized it was so easy. I’m not saying that I understand the ins and outs of solving a Rubik’s cube, but I know a method, I apply it, and I solve the puzzle. I was amazed at how simple it was to solve it. When I solve it in front of people, they often express frustration at how difficult it appears and how they can’t figure out how I do it. I just tell them that I know a really easy method and I use it.

The same goes for repentance and change. It seems daunting, like an infinitely high mountain that we simply can’t climb over, but that’s only Satan trying to tell us not to try. Our Savior Jesus Christ is there telling us that we can climb that mountain. We just need to rely on Him and press forward, using the correct method: repentance. We recognize our mistakes and weaknesses. We acknowledge them to God and confess them to Him. If we have wronged another, we confess our mistake to that individual. We ask for forgiveness from God, relying upon the Atonement of Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. We right our wrong. Give back what was stolen. Replace the lie with truth. Etc. Then we forsake the sin andstrive to never commit it again.

This is the method of change. It truly is simple, and that is the beauty of it. I know that repentance is a gift given to us from God, made possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. God wants us to change and put off the carnal man within us. He would not make the method too difficult to follow. It takes courage, faith, and perseverance, but it is simple and easier than we think if we rely on Christ.

What It’s Worth

There are only certain things we can hold on to when pass from this life to the next. Our wealth will not remain. Our house or our cars will not remain. Politics, social status, nobel peace prizes, and all kinds of worldly awards will no longer mean anything.

A prophet named Jacob, in the Book of Mormon, gave this counsel,

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness. (2 Nephi 9:51)

Jacob advises us to not spend our money on trivial things, nor to waste our labors on insignificant pursuits. An implication here is that hard work in of itself is not something we should be proud of. You can work hard to achieve pointless goals and such. What matters is that our labor is spent doing worthwhile things. We must work hard to achieve things that can satisfy us, not for the moment, or even for the lifetime, but for eternity.

So what should we labor for? What is worth all the energy of our minds and bodies to pursue? Jacob tells us to listen to his wisdom, and his wisdom is that we should come unto the Holy One of Israel, who is Jesus Christ. He tells us to feast upon that which can never perish. Jesus Christ and His gospel, His teachings, can never and will never perish. Unlike the mansions, the universities, the cars, the trophies, the worldly recognition, the gospel of Jesus Christ lives on forever and will never see corruption.

He tells us to let our souls delight in “fatness.” Here, fatness could be replaced by substance, or even spiritual nutrition. Jacob counsels us to take joy in the things that are truly of worth. Our families and friends. Our relationships with them. Our relationships with our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. Our knowledge and understanding of the Savior’s teachings. Our service to our fellow man. These are the things in our lives that have substance and add meaning to our existence.

I invite all to come unto Christ and learn of the fullness of His gospel, found in His restored church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For more info, visit the links on the side of this page.

The Poetic Corner: The Valley and the Wind

The Valley and the Wind

upon the dry and dusty ground
our feet, they drag
our hands, they drop
as we walk through the valley
of the shadow of death
it’s not an uncommon place
as our poets have said

all creation has breathed this air
we’re no different as we sink into despair
here under the glare of the sun
we break into skeletons

then the wind carries the voice of a prophet
sent to wake us from our dreamless sleep
’cause a wake up call is what we need
to join together what is torn
and mend our heart strings thin and worn

so pick up your bones the wind restored
let the Lord build up your broken form
take your shield and take your sword
face the storm
let’s face the storm

take heart and see
the scattering come to an end
stand up and breathe
this life the wind has sent
we are an army for the Lord

so pick up your bones the wind restored
let the Lord build up your broken form
take your shield and take your sword
we are reformed
let’s face the storm

 

In the 35th chapter of the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley floor in which lies the remains of a great army. The Lord tells him to prophecy and tell the bones to live.

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the fourwinds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37: 7-10)

This vision was a prophetic statement of both the Resurrection of all mankind and the gathering of scattered Israel in the last days. But we can also apply it to our everyday lives. We are the army for the Lord. As believers in Christ, we are of the body of Christ. But often we are not the warriors we should be. Rather than a mighty army, we are a valley of broken bones.Are we all united under the banner of Christ? Think about it. Truly, we are not. Individually, we often go back and forth between a mighty warrior and a heap of bones. What makes the difference?

The Spirit of the Lord breathed life into the dead soldiers. If we do not have the Holy Spirit with us, we cannot be a mighty warrior. Now, although the Spirit is what quickened the dead bones and gave them life, who was it that was the bearer of the prophecy? Ezekiel, the prophet. The Lord could have simply let Ezekiel watch as He breathed life into the soldiers, but he commanded Ezekiel to prophecy instead. The army stood and was united under the voice of God’s prophet.

We have the words of the prophets with us, both ancient and modern. We have the visions and prophecies of Ezekiel in the Old Testament and we also can hear the voice of a living prophet. His name is Thomas S. Monson. Iknow that he is a prophet called of God. I know that God speaks to him as God spoke to Ezekiel. Under his voice we can be revived, and under his voice we must be united.

How can you know if this Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet of the earth? Read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. You can receive an answer and discover for yourself that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom on the earth, and that there is a living prophet on the earth as well.

 

Pray. Fast. Conquer Demons.

A man came to Jesus with his son and, kneeling, asked the Lord if He could heal him and cast out the devil in his son. The man explained that he had already brought his child to Christ’s disciples, but they were unable to help. Saddened by that fact, Jesus rebuked the devil and it departed from the child. Later, His disciples came to him and asked why they could not cast out the demon.

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:20-21)

The Savior explained to them first their lack of strong faith. Not so much a lack of quantity, but a lack of quality. A mustard seed is indeed small, but it’s the energy and life stored within it that Christ wants us to realize. Out of a mustard seed grows a large mustard plant. It’s not that we only need a small amount of faith, but our faith must be strong and able to yield great results.

Second and, at least for the sake of this blog post, most importantly, Christ tells them that “this kind” can only be dealt with by prayer and fasting. Even having strong faith alone wasn’t enough. They needed to take the extra step and do something more. This short, sweet, and simple sentence uttered by the Savior shows the huge impact that prayer and fasting can have in our lives.

We all have our demons in our lives, those sins we keep repeating or those attitudes we keep having. We all have them. We all find ourselves vexed with “demons” at one point or another. We have often tried to conquer these devils, big or small, and failed time and time again. Perhaps you’ve had the hopeless thought that you’ll never overcome those habits or addictions that plague your life and bring you down. I’ve certainly had that thought more than once. But like the devil that vexed the child, perhaps the devilish addiction or behavior that so vexes your life “goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

I know that there is great power in prayer and fasting. Jesus obviously would say so as well. Through sincere prayer and fasting, our devils can be cast out. To read about fasting, and some other of God’s commandments. Visit this link.

Called In His Name

We’re known by a few different names. Some call us LDS. Some call us Latter-day Saints. Most call us Mormons. A lot of people even refer to us as the “Mormon Church.” In fact, the actual name of the so-called “Mormon Church” is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think a lot of people forget this very important detail, or at least definitely overlook its significance.

The Church is not named after a random person or a mode of ministry. If Jesus Christ had a church, it would certainly be named after him, it would be The Church of Jesus Christ, which is precisely what the “Mormon Church” is. We did not come up with that nickname. In fact it began as a derogatory term which was eventually accepted by the Latter-day Saints. We don’t mind being called Mormons, but as for the title of our church, we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ. Since we are in the last days as foretold by the Bible, the add-on “of Latter-day Saints” is used.

In the Book of Mormon, when Christ came to minister to the inhabitants of the Americas, He established and organized His church just like He did in the Holy Land. There were disputations, however, concerning the name of said church. This is what Jesus said,

And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. (3 Nephi 27:8)

We are called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because we are Jesus Christ’s church. If it is His church, then it should be named after Him. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established upon the earth. We are not an American church. We are not Joseph Smith’s church. We are Jesus Christ’s original church restored after centures of spiritual darkness.

The Cross and the Open Tomb

So, maybe you’ve wondered why there are no crosses on or inside LDS church buildings, or why Mormons typically don’t wear crosses. In fact, as most have noticed, we tend to have nothing to do with the cross in terms of using it as a symbol. Well, that’s for a couple of reasons. I’d like to try and explain why this is. It’s really quite simple, so pay attention.

Mormons don’t despise the cross in any way. We don’t believe it is a bad thing or something of evil that we must stay away from. It’s simply not something that we do. We recognize and teach the importance of Christ’s crucifixion. In no way do we lessen the significance of that event. It is, after all, a part of Christ’s Atonement.

With that in mind, why don’t we use the cross as an outward symbol? For one thing, we don’t believe that we need a symbol like that to let others see that we are Christians. Honestly, I think my behavior should reflect my belief in Christ, not a pendant on a necklace or even a fish on my car. If a cross is what you rely on to let people know you believe in Jesus Christ, then you… have some things to change about yourself. Just saying.

We also prefer not to place a symbol of death at the center of our worship. In fact, neither did the original Twelve Apostles. Nowhere in the Bible is the cross mentioned as an outward symbol. Of course, the expression to take upon a cross is used, signifying a desire to endure and sacrifice for the cause of Christ. And yes, Christ died for us, but more importantly, he rose from the dead. Christ lives. The primary reason The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not use the cross is because we focus more on Jesus’ resurrection than His death. If Christ had not risen, His death would have meant nothing.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. (2 Corinthians 13:4)

Paul certainly feels that the resurrection is important. In fact, he takes all of chapter 15 in 1 Corinthians to explain it. Here are some of his words.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

As I said before, Latter-day Saints don’t use the cross because we prefer to reflect upon the fact that Jesus Christ is alive, and not just that He died. So no, Mormons don’t “worship” the cross. In fact, we don’t worship any object. We worship our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives, and we don’t need to put giant crosses on our church buildings to let others know that we believe in and worship Him.

 

In the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses…

One his way to Damascus, and in the process of going about to destroy Christ’s church, Saul received a glorious vision in which the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him. Through this event, Saul was converted and his zeal was turned into an instrument for good. As one of the Twelve Apostles, he became known as Paul, and boldly proclaimed the Christ and the reality of his experience on the road to Damascus.

Like Paul, Joseph Smith also received a vision, in which he not only saw the Savior but also God the Father. Naturally, this event completely altered the course of his life, as did Paul’s experience did for him. Here we have two individuals who both had a rather extraordinary vision engendering a lifetime of unique discipleship full of great joy and also great pain, and all for the sake of furthering the work of God.

Another thing that these two men had in common: they were both accused of being crazy.

Before Festus and King Agrippa, Paul testified of his vision, that he had indeed seen and heard the risen Lord, and that the brightness was “above the brightness of the sun.” Also, that Christ had told Paul he had a mission for him to accomplish, that he was to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles.

Upon hearing this testimony, Festus spoke up, loudly, and said, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” (Acts 26:24)

To this Paul said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.”

Joseph Smith, among the many things he was accused of, was said to be a lunatic. Some people today even believe he was actually put into a mental institution. But Joseph Smith was not insane. He was a mere fourteen years old when he told others of his experience. He suffered great amounts of persecution his entire life for making it known. He was tarred and feathered, thrown into jail multiple times on false charges, taken from his family and friends, lost many of his children, and watched in anguish as his fellow saints suffered the same tortures at the hands of evil men.

What had he to gain from making up a fairy tale? He had nothing to gain. He did not deny his vision because he knew it was a true, and he knew that God knew it. I know it as well. I know Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. Like Paul, he faced his opposition with boldness and proclaimed the truth for what it was.

If you don’t believe this to be true. That’s okay. I’m not here to convince you, I’m here to invite you. Read from the Book of Mormon. In Matthew, we read that you may know a true prophet from a false prophet by their fruits, or the consequences of what they have taught and done. The Book of Mormon is the fruit of Joseph Smith. By reading it with a sincere desire and an open heart, you can know Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God.