Temptation and Turkish Delight

InThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund manages to stumble into Narnia by himself after Lucy had previously done so. Upon entering the wintery world, the White Witch finds him. She knew very well who Edmund was. She knew he was a Son of Adam, as the human race is known by in Narnia. She also knew that he was part one of the four rulers prophecied to destroy her and restore Narnia back to its original state. Unfortunately, Edmund did not know who she was. She beguiled him and gained his trust through satisfying his physical appetite for food. For the sake of turkish delight, Edmund allied himself with her.

When all four children came to Narnia, Edmund was a hinderance to their cause and instead aided the White Witch, once again to satisfy his sweet tooth. The “friendship” he shared with the witch quickly turned sour as her true motives became more evident. Edmund soon found himself a prisoner, his agency taken away, and perhaps worst of all… no turkish delight.

As Isaiah wrote, “for your iniquities ye have sold yourselves.” How often do we sell ourselves for things that do not matter? How often do we indulge our physical appetities, whether hunger, lust, or otherwise, while spiritually we starve? I’m certainly not perfect, and I can easily admit that I’ve forfeited a lot of blessings from the Lord that I would’ve received had I cared more about what was most important eternally, instead of what I had wanted in the moment. Edmund made the same mistake and chose a temporary satisfaction, even though he knew that there was going to be consequences later.

By giving in to temptation, he slowly gave up his agency until he was literally bound as a prisoner, his freedom granted only when he was rescued and Aslan stepped in to sacrifice himself on his behalf. In the same way, the devil desires to enslave us. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi tells us of some ways in which Satan tries to trick us,

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:21-22)

Let’s not make the same mistake as Edmund. In the end, everything was made right and he was crowned as a ruler over Narnia, yet it came through hardship. He suffered sorrow, enslavement, and then remorse when he was finally freed from the witch’s control. Satan desires to enslave us as well, but if we say no to his temptations we won’t fall into his grasp. We each have individual weaknesses. Edmund’s was turkish delight. So what’s your turkish delight? And are you willing to lay aside the things you want right now for the things that will matter eternally?

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The Unsurmountable, Philosophical, Theological Sitcom Analogy Theory

I’m not entirely sure what this has to do with the gospel. I’ll try to make it work, but basically this is a philosophy I’ve developed on my mission that has helped me get through a lot of hard times. The title of the blog came from my current (and hilarious) companion who I related the idea to. Ready? Here goes…

Sitcoms. I love ’em. Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, Seinfeld, etc. These are some sweet shows. For the sake of the anology, I’m going to focus on Seinfeld. Honestly, to enjoy Seinfeld, one has to get to know their inner sadist. It’s an extremely sadistic show with no character development whatsoever. Day by day, the main characters (and the unfortunate souls who have to associate with them) are put through countless misfortunes of all kinds. Physical injury, public humiliation, awkward situations, etc.

If the things that happened on the show happened in real life, they would be horrific, tragic, nerve-racking, and agitating. But they’re not. They’re funny. Why are they funny? ‘Cause it’s just a sitcom. We can laugh because we know it’s not real. If I revealed my secret ATM pin to an old woman and she shouted it just before she died, that would be terrible. However, when George did the same thing to Mr. Peterman’s mother, it was hilarious.

And so, here’s my philosphy. Your life, my life, and everyone else’s life is a sitcom, or rather, may be viewed as such. When tragic things happen, when we find ourselves embarrassed, or caught in an awkward moment, or when nothing goes right in the day… picture yourself or someone else watching your life in the form of a sitcom. Imagine an audience machine laughing during those awkward moments, or even cheering when you one-up someone at something. It makes it funny. Maybe this all just sounds crazy and weird, but it’s worked for me.

Yes, there will be times when true tragedy strikes, and this analogy will be rendered useless. But it works for most situations in life. Laughter is the best medicine as they say, so why not take it whenever you can? I’ve been able to laugh off more stupid/awkward situations than I can count. I just imagine myself as a victimized soul, subject to the  cruelties of a sadistic (yet funny and creative) team of writers.

Again, maybe this isn’t for you, but you can try it. I really don’t know how to connect this to Jesus Christ, but it’s something that’s meant to make life better. The Savior did say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. And truly, that team of sadistic writers doesn’t exist. Our team of Writers are not sadistic at all. They do have a sense of humor (and a perfect one at that), but They love us. They care about us and want us to be happy and succeed. Our team of Writers consists of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Together, they’ve written out a plan of salvation for us, a plan of happiness and progression.

Our sitcoms are filled with humorous situations like Seinfeld, but unlike Seinfeld, they’re full of character development. So… laugh at the hard times. Don’t let them get you down. Laugh, shrug, move on, and make your sitcoms awesome!

Deeper Magic and the Wisdom of God

In the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the character Edmund betrays Aslan’s trust and joins himself with the White Witch. He eventually realizes his mistake and comes back to the Narnian side, but this was done at a price.

Aslan offered to sacrifice himself to the White Witch to allow Edmund to go free. During the night, Aslan arrived at the Table where he was to be killed. The White Witch and her group were waiting for him. Though he was stronger than them all, Aslan allowed them to cut off his mane, mock him, tie him to the stone Table and kill him.

Unbeknownst to the White Witch, Susan and Lucy had followed Aslan and had witnessed the awful scene. In the morning, when everyone had left, they approached Aslan’s lifeless body. Their despair over his death was only felt for a short time though, as the Table cracked and Aslan appeared to them, brought back to life, vibrant, and his mane restored.

Confused, Lucy asks Aslan if what happened was magic. Aslan said that it was indeed magic, and that there was Deeper Magic that the White Witch wasn’t aware of. If she had read the inscriptions on the Table with the wisdom that comes from the Deeper Magic, she would have known that a willing sacrifice on the Table, in place of a traitor, could not actually be killed. The Table would crack and the victim instead of rise, fully restored.

This, of course, is an allusion to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. What I like about the event, though, is the fact that Aslan’s wisdom and knowledge far surpassed that of the witch. She thought she had won, but she had only delayed her defeat.

I take comfort in the fact that God is all-wise and all-powerful. Although Satan may have great manipulation over the fallen world that we live in, he cannot know the mind of God. God’s wisdom and greatness are too awesome, too superior for Satan to comprehend.

One example of this is the Fall of Adam and Eve. Satan tempted Eve, thinking to destroy the plan of God by making them fall from their state of being. Instead, he was only progressing our Heavenly Father’s plan, by being the catalyst for the mortal existence of mankind, necessary for us to gain the experience we need and progress on to the next stage in our existence.

And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world. (Moses 4:6)

The White Witch sought to destroy Aslan, but she didn’t know the Deeper Magic that came from Aslan’s father, therefore she failed in her attempt. Satan sought to destroy God’ work, but he as well did not have the wisdom to comprehend God’s  great plan of salvation for His children, therefore he also failed in his attempt.

We can trust that God knows all, and that all things that seem wrong will be made right by His power and His wisdom. Satan truly has no power, but what we give him. He may think himself intelligent, but God is infinitely greater. So when things become rough, and perhaps all seems lost, remember that God has it covered. Aslan knew what he was doing, and so does our Heavenly Father.

Father’s Day! Yeah!

Well, it’s soon to be Father’s Day. Let’s be honest, Father’s Day definitely doesn’t get quite as much recognition as its counterpart. It should though. It’s quite an understatement, but… fathers are important. The role of a father, to me, is the role of the protector, provider, and example-giver.

The father shows his children how to act and how to get things done, but most importantly, I believe, the father presides over the family. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a patriarchal order. That’s not saying the males are better than the females, but their role is to preside and be a leader, and do so using God’s priesthood.

My own father has a been an awesome example to me of that, of dedication to the Lord. I’m grateful that he’s always been faithful to the gospel, even when my family experienced hard times, when it would’ve been easy to give in and give up. He’s also been a great example of working past weaknesses. We all have faults of course, and many people, including myself, try to justify idleness, transgression, or sin with their weaknesses. My dad, however, has always pulled through. Even when I knew he was struggling, and even when I thought that if I was put in his shoes I would’ve given up, he never did. The Lord and his family were too important to him. For that, I’ll always be grateful, and I hope that I will be able to reflect those righteous attributes that he possesses. I hope that when trials come, I’ll put the Lord and my loved ones before myself, like he has done and will continue to do.

Dad, thank you for… well… being you, for being an example, and for expecting me to go on a mission. I definitely needed the push, and I’m thankful for it.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! You’re awesome!

Our Father, the Emperor-Over-the-Sea

I’m really surprised I haven’t made a lot of blog posts about the Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe I’ve been afraid it would be too cliche. Whatever the reason, I’ve gotten over it. C. S. Lewis was most definitely an inspired man, and his works can teach us a lot of good principles. The Chronicles of Narnia is a profound series, in my opinion, because it takes those wonderful principles and presents them in a way that even a child can understand.Thatis the true mark of genius.

The first principle in the first lesson Mormon missionaries teach is this: God is our loving Heavenly Father. The concept of the Trinity for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs from most mainstream Christians. We do not believe they are literally one personage, but three separate beings with one purpose in mind.

Lewis actually teaches this principle quite well in the world of Narnia. Aslan, of course, is a symbol, or perhaps incarnation, of the Savior Jesus Christ. Just as Christ is our King, Aslan is the king of Narnia. He rules over the Narnians and they love and respect him. Jesus Christ is also the Son of God, one of His many titles. This isn’t just a title though. Christ is literally the Only Begotten of the Father, meaning that He is the only one who was, is, and ever will be phyiscally related to God as well as spiritually. Although Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is still subject to the Father. He stated often, even when He was a child, that His purpose was to do the will of the Father and not His own will. Therefore, the Father is the Ultimate King and Ultimate Creator.

Under the direction of the Father, Christ created the world. In that way, Christ can also be referred to as the “Father” because He is the Creator of our physical bodies and the world we live in.

Aslan also has a father, the Emperor-Over-the-Sea. Although Aslan is the king of Narnia, his father is still superior to him. With a song, Aslan created the physical world of Narnia, yet the powers of Deep Magic (the laws by which Narnia is governed) come from the Emperor-Over-the-Sea. Aslan’s father is the ultimate steward over Narnia, and Aslan acts in proxy to him, just as Christ acts in proxy to the Father.

Aslan is not the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and vice versa. They are clearly separate beings in the novels, and so are the Father and the Son if we read the scriptures.

I know that God the Father truly is our Father in Heaven, the Father of our spirits. I know Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, and the Savior of mankind. He is the Lion of Judah.

Heart & Mind

Recognizing the Spirit of God can sometimes be a challenge. Going through life and facing difficult challenges and decisions, we desire to do what God would have us to do. Sometimes we’re unsure of what exactly that is and we may think, “Why can’t God make this more clear for me?”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely felt this way quite a bit. If only there was always a clear, undeniable, supernal feeling for every right decision in life. It would certainly make it easier to choose our correct pathways. But that isn’t how it works. God didn’t place us here with a dumbed down version of life. It’s a complex, difficult life, filled with many gray areas and multiple pathways to follow. Thankfully though, God did give us a means whereby we can make the right decisions.

The Holy Ghost is that means. He’s the third member of the Godhead, and fulfills many roles for us. One of those roles is to be a guide, spiritual roadsigns, if you will, pointing us to God. Although only members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may be bestowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost (which entitles a member to His constant companionship on conditions of obedienc), anyone can feel the influence of the power of the Holy Ghost. I wrote a previous blog specifically about the comparison of these two subjects. You can read it at this link.

So how do we feel the Spirit? How does He communicate with us? How are we to listen? I’m going to focus on the two primary channels the Spirit uses to speak to us. You wanna take a guess? One is our heart, the other is our mind.

Speaking to Oliver Cowdery about receiving a testimony, the Lord declared,

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3)

Impressions from the Holy Spirit can come as strong, swelling motions within our heart, or they can come as enlightenment and increased understanding within our mind.

Again speaking to Oliver, the Lord said,

Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spiritof truth;

Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:15-16)
 
 No being other than God knows our thoughts. No being other than God knows our hearts, as we read in 1 Samuel, “the Lord looketh on the heart.” And as I said in a previous blog post, these two things, and our Spirit, are God’s territory. Nothing can touch them, not Satan or any other worldly thing. Satan can influence us physically and through temporal emotions, but he cannot quicken our understanding, nor arouse our hearts to feel charity and love.
 
By these two channels, you can know when the Spirit is speaking to you. The feelings of the Spirit cannot be duplicated by another source. I know this is true, that through our hearts and our minds, we can know of truth when we experience it.

Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words

a song for Thy peace like a river does flow

my lips to the sky, Thy glory is known

yet open my eyes to see just beyond

there’s more to Thy grace than singing a song

our tongues are quick, yet our feet are slow

we say we believe, but how do we show it?

actions speak louder than words they say

so let’s drown out the world with hands we raise

not in shallow praise, but lifted for others

our sisters and brothers

to bring about change in the world today

’cause the devil dreams on an idle horse

so what could be worse than abandoning movement?

you never think that you’ll feel the remorse

a silent hearse is slowly beckoning

so shut your eyes and tell yourself

you’re singing praise, you’re safe from Hell

your hands are raised, your pastor tells

the congregation they’re saved

but last time i checked what’s contained in the word

it’s not enough to say “Lord, Lord”

but to do the will

and fulfill

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)

To me, worshiping God, and worshiping Jesus Christ, is more than just going to church. It’s more than just singing hymns. It’s more than raising your hands in a “Hallelujah!” or saying a memorized prayer. Worship is about who we are and what we do with ourselves, not simply what we say.

To hear the gospel of Jesus Christ is not enough. We cannot justify ourselves because we go to church every so often to sit and listen to a sermon or a lesson. We cannot justify ourselves because we sing a worship song with our hands raised over and over again. I speak as my own opinion, andinmy opinion, such so-called worship is shallow. It doesn’t amount to anything. It creates no progression within one’s soul. It does not deepen one’s understanding of God, or Jesus Christ, or the Holy Ghost. It does not help one to understand Christ’s atonement. It is not bad or evil by any means, but I feel that there is a better way.

Apply what you learn at your worship service. See how you can use it in your every day life. Make note of what you need to improve on. Pray and look for opportunities to progress as a follower of Christ and understand Him better.

As Paul states, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13) Receiving the gospel means nothing if we do not live the gospel, using the principles that the Savior taught. Jesus Christ died, “leaving us an example, that [we] should follow his steps,” said the apostle Peter.

When Christ visited the inhabitants of the Americas, teaching them of salvation and eternal life, He said, “Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” (3 Nephi 15:9)

We must endure to the end to receive eternal life.Enduringis certainly not idleness. It’s perseverance. It’s courage. It’s faith, love, and obedience. It’s awareness. It’s everything that involves a life of diligent seeking and diligent service. This life is our probationary state, as the Book of Mormon also teaches. We’re here to prepare to return to God again, so let us live our lives accordingly, not with our hands raised in idle worship, but raised in service and love.