Saturday, May 16, 2015

Come, O Thou King of Kings

One of my favorite hymns has always been "Come, O Thou King of Kings". It was written in one of the toughest times in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints's history: when saints were driven from their homes, and crossed the frozen plains, often bleeding in exile from Missouri, Parley P Pratt penned the powerful words of the saints' desire for Christ to return and save them.

Whether on big scale or a smaller scale, we all desire the Savior to come to us that we may feel peace once more, to redeem us from whatever is holding us down, indeed for Him to set us free. We should be "Calling upon the name of the Lord day and night, saying: O that thou wouldst rend the heavens, that thou wouldst come down" (Doctrine & Covenants 133:40).

Whether He comes ten months from now or ten decades from now, He is coming! Make sure you are excited for the King's return. As President Hinckley once said, "I don’t know when the Savior will come. I’m ready for Him. I hope it isn’t too long in this evil-filled world. I do not know. ‘Come, O thou King of Kings’; I can sing that with conviction.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Guardians of an Altar" (For the Strength of the Hills, Hymn 35)

The past few weeks have not been easy for me. It seemed as though the heavens were brass, and my pleadings were doomed to deflection back to earth. I would speak, and silence would remain. The contact lack was so difficult and prevalent, even the scriptures couldn't help, and I still felt very disconnected from the eternal world.

Then, after many days, a thought came into my head, "We are watchers of a beacon Whose light must never die; We are guardians of an altar 'Midst the silence of the sky" (For the Strength of the Hills). With that thought, revelation began to flow more freely. I pondered on those lines again and again.

I'm sure I allowed myself to become a little more distant from heaven, through complacency. However, I'm sure also that revelation stops for other reasons to each one of us, through no fault of our own, because the Lord needs us to learn about ourselves. On the way to the top of the mount, there was no indication that Abraham was getting any revelation until he came to the altar to sacrifice Isaac. He would not have learned how deep his loyalty to God was until he was asked to do the very thing God saved him from many years earlier.

Regardless the reason, during those times when heaven seems silent, we continue forward, we remain guardians of the altars. The temples center on altars in making covenants. The chapel has an altar where the emblems of the sacrament are placed weekly as an ordinance to renew our covenants with God. Each altar encompasses our sacrifices to God through our covenants. What does keeping our covenants give Him? As C.S. Lewis masterfully put it, "Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self---in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart."

Covenants do just that, so in times of silence and in times of revelation: keep on keeping your covenants.

"To know the only wise and true God"

God's nature is one of the most important doctrines to understand, but it is also historically one of the most widely debated topics. Many ecumenical councils were held on the subject in the second and third centuries A.D. Unfortunately, the creeds, in seeking to pacify all opposing parties to solidify power for the emperor, destroyed the fundamental understanding the church had previously held on God's nature were brought to naught, and relatively few people have any semblance of who God is.

Compare the feelings you have while reading the Athanasian Creed:
"we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
To the feelings you have while reading The First Vision:
It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally. After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
You only need to meet someone to know what they are like, and God is no exception to the rule. The Lord is not some distant, detached mass or force somewhere out in space. His whole work and glory is intimately intertwined in us. He loves each one of us very much, even those He does not trust, and especially those who wander and stray far from him. Indeed, we have a God who looked upon "the people, and...wept" (Moses 7:28).

Knowing God's nature requires us to share this knowledge with the world. No man can be saved unless they know who God really is. In the High Priestly prayer Christ himself prayed, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). You cannot do that with "The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible," but you can do that with God.

Coming to know God is a quest of a lifetime. We cannot perfectly know Him now, because of the difference in degree we have with Him, but remember: "when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). We can only be like Him if we follow Him, and we can only follow Him if we know Him.