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.
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The Poetic Corner: The Keeper and the Ocean

The Keeper and the Ocean

take every word you sputter out
and every word received
the things you thought but couldn’t shout
the hate you couldn’t see
in all these things we’re not alone
we feel collectively, you’ll see
it’s the air we all must breathe
it’s the air we all must breathe

your mind is a pool of water
sending ripples to another
what you imagine up is falling in
you can create, you can destroy
you can end or begin again

but why is it we’ve lost control?
the evil we’ve let slide
the keeper of our conscious mind
too often letting go
an open doorway cannot stop
and cannot even slow
the fight of forces we don’t know
these are forces we don’t know

your mind is a pool of water
sending ripples to another
what you imagine up is falling in
you can create, you can destroy
you can end or begin again

you think you know what you perceive
but your gate-keeper is fast asleep
allowing wolves to kill the sheep
but it’s never enough
just to wake your keeper up

’cause your mind is an ocean
turning tidal waves into emotions
what you think inside is never safe
these tidal waves are sending commotion

your mind is an ocean
turning tidal waves into emotions
the storm inside is nothing fake
it’s what you create
that controls the motions

so calm the storm above the ocean
take the winds and waves and make devotion
calm the storm above the ocean
take your sin and hate and make devotion

 

We are in control of our thoughts and actions. God gave us agency to choose how we react to things around us, as well as agency to choose what we put out to others. What opinions to become words. What ideas to result in actions. Unfortunately, a lot of us have let our filters go unused, and let the keepers of our subconscious minds fall asleep, unable to keep track of things going in and out. This is honestly as much for me as anyone else. Please don’t think I’m trying to be “preachy”, I’m just saying what I believe to be true.

Christ taught the apostles that after He was gone they would eventually be killed and hated among all nations, and that men will betray one another and hate one another, and “the love of many shall wax cold.” We can see this in the world today. It’s becoming more apparent every passing year. As Satan gains greater hold upon mankind, he is trying in every possible way to destroy the filters God gave us. We are desensitized. Evil is more readily accepted and considered normal, whereas goodness and traditional values are being deemed as old-fashioned, close-minded, etc.

The Book of Mormon teaches us,

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Our minds are pools of water. In many cases they are oceans. They can be beautiful, inspiring, and calming, or they can destroy and level the progress of those around us. When we think something, it generates itself as an object within our mind and is dropped into this subconscious pool. A positive object will ripple out a positive wave, and a negative object will ripple out a negative wave. So what will you choose? Will you let your keeper sleep, and allow the crashing waves of negative thoughts destroy those around you? Or will you wake your keeper from his sleep, stand him up straight, and then strive to give him less tidal waves to stop?

James, in the New Testament, focused most of his writings on the “doing” aspect of the gospel. He spoke of the great destruction the words from our mouths can create.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (verse 10)

The thoughts in our minds create positive and negative consequences, both with an enormous power behind them. But the same mouth that compliments should not be the same mouth that tears down and defames.

King Benjamin, in the Book of Mormon, put it plainly,

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.