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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One in Purpose

The nature of God is something that has been distorted throughout the centuries. What Christ taught about the Father, the Spirit, and Himself was plain and easy to be understood, but Satan’s influence has corrupted such important doctrines. Thankfully, the knowledge of God’s true nature has been restored in these last days.

Let’s start with a very significant little word. One. Christ says He and the Father are one, but what does He mean? Are they literally the same person? Same substance? Split personalities?

Paul stated, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:17)

Was Paul stating that joining ourselves to the Lord, obviously intending to mean following, literally joins our spirit with His? Do we spiritually melt into Him? Probably not…

In His intercessory prayer, Christ pleads to the Father (I’d like to think He wasn’t talking to Himself) to bless the apostles and those who will believe on their words. He said,

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)

So could Christ possibly be making a metaphor with the whole “oneness” thing? Nah! He’s probably being pretty literal. Seriously though, joking aside, the Savior obviously isn’t saying that He and the Father are literally the same person, or even that the origin of their substance is the same.

I know I’ve made previous blog posts about this, but I’m not doing this simply for the sake of parroting myself. This is truly important, for how can we pray to our Heavenly Father if we don’t even understand what He is, what He looks like, or who He is? If He’s the Son and the Spirit, but not the Son and Spirit, and the Son is the Father and Spirit, but not the Father or the Spirit… how can you comprehend exactly who or what God is? To what or to who are you sending your prayers?

Well, I’m going to tell you what’s real, not out of any intellect of my own mind, but by the blessing that I have been taught the truth. God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three separate personages. God and Christ both have bodies of flesh and bone, for we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The Spirit has no physical body, but He is still a person like the Father and the Son.

I wouldn’t mind going into greater detail, but I feel that this can be better explained by another, someone who is a far greater teacher than I will ever be. His name is Jeffrey R. Holland, and he is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Like Peter, James, John, he is an Apostle for the Lord Jesus Christ, a special witness of the Savior. This is what he has to say about this topic. Like I said, he can explain it far greater than I can.

Click on this link and read what an apostle of the Lord has to say about the Godhead.

 

The Poetic Corner: The Roots

The Roots

here at Your feet, i give my friend
my hands can’t help, my voice can’t send
the right words to wake her from sleep
she doesn’t believe
she doesn’t need You, she thinks

her tree has withered
but the roots still exist
as much as she hates it
as much as she resists
Your love rings true
deep down where the sun
has yet to dry the roots

there in the sand, i see my friend
my hands can’t reach
her feet can’t stand
upon that ground
i tried and found i was sinking down
but Your hands lifted me back up
please do the same for her
she’s far from home
please bring her back to Earth

her tree has dried
but the roots still remain
as much as she denies it
as much as she complains
Your love rings true
deep down where the sun
has yet to dry the roots

Written about a friend of mine back home, I think this can apply to all of us at one point or another. Sometimes we are the friend, doubtful and losing faith in our Father in Heaven and in our Savior. Sometimes we are the narrator, helplessly looking on as a family member or friend struggles with their collapsing testimony of Christ and His gospel. Whatever role we take, we sometimes forget about the roots. In this case, I’m not talking about the roots in Christ’s parable of the sower. The “roots” in this poem is the Light of Christ within each of us.

The prophet Moroni, the last author in the Book of Mormon, gives us this explanation,

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.(Moroni 7:16, 19)

The Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Christ, is within each of us. He is the light and life of the world. Even those who try to reject the Savior still have His light within them. For some it is dim, but it is still there. This is our root system. Everyone and everything possesses these “roots” because although our Father in Heaven is the creator of everything spiritual, Christ, under the direction of the Father, created everything physically.

So whether you are the one doubting, or the one trying to help the doubter, remember the roots. The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, woman, and child. It is the light within each of us that drives us to do good. So dig down and find the roots. They can once again grow to a tree.

Articles of Faith VII: Gifts of the Spirit

Seven is the best number, right? This should be a super long one. Well, nope, it’s rather short and simple.

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

These are all gifts of the Spirit, something that we, as a church, strongly believe in. The Holy Ghost can do amazing things, and when His influence abounds… miracles happen. These miracles are often in the form of these gifts. We can all have them, though we all don’t possess the same gifts. We each have our individual strengths and weaknesses in every aspect of our lives, especially the spiritual aspect.

Paul speaks of the gifts of the Spirit to the Corinthians,

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Let’s break up the seventh statement and go through it.

Gift of Tongues (and interpretation of tongues) – This one is simple: foreign languages. When LDS people speak of this gift, we aren’t referring to someone having a seizure in their pew and spouting off jibber jabber no one else can understand. When we speak of the gift of tongues, we are literally meaning the ability to communicate (and be understood) in a different language. Thousands of LDS missionaries are blessed with this gift when they travel to foreign lands and need to learn a new tongue fast. The Spirit of God is not a spirit of confusion. He is a spirit of understanding and comprehension.

The Gift of Prophecy and Revelation – These two gifts often go together. We can all receive personal revelation for ourselves and those we have stewardship over. This is prophecy… on an individualistic level. We can all be prophets in this sense. However, only the prophet can receive revelation for the entire Church and the world. Today, the prophet is Thomas S. Monson. As God’s prophet on the earth today, he can receive revelation for us all.

Visions and Dreams– This one is touchy, and should be handled delicately. Many of us have had interesting dreams in which we have had a special spiritual experience. Throughout the world’s history, prophets of God have had visions and dreams. In fact, we find in Numbers 12:6,

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.

This is actually a rather common way for God to communicate to His prophets. Like I said though, it’s a delicate thing. Personally, I don’t know too much about this topic, and I honestly can’t say I’ve had any first hand experience with it.

Healing – Numerous times did Jesus Christ heal. His apostles also healed many times. This gift can be separated into two categories: faith to heal, and faith to be healed. It takes faith on both ends. Some are blessed with tremendous faith to heal, while others have tremendous faith that healing can take place.

To put it simply, we believe the Spirit of God is still very active in our day. Miracles have not ceased, and if they do, it will be because of our lack of faith.