The Waters Shall Fail – Get Prepared

Bridge Spanning Lake Oroville in 2011
If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news, you’ve heard that the west is experiencing drought conditions. People throughout the west are being asked to take shorter showers or landscape their yards in ways that conserve water. But in California, 80% of the water “taken” from the environment goes to grow food.

From pictures like these 1 showing record low water levels in rivers and reservoirs, we can see the drastic change in surface water levels.

What these pictures of surface water don’t show, however, is the loss of ground water from California aquifers, earth’s “water batteries.” California has lost an estimated 63 trillion gallons of water from her aquifers since the beginning of 2013. 2

Why does it matter? It matters because water is food. And California provides 50% of the food eaten in America. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. Shocking before and after pictures of California drought reveal extent of the dry spell, UK Daily Mail, 27 February 2014, available online at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2569919/Shocking-pictures-California-drought-reveal-extent-dry-spell-relief-way.html, retrieved 29 August 2014.
  2. Adrian Antal Borsa1, Duncan Carr Agnew, Daniel R. Cayan, Ongoing drought-induced uplift in the western United States, Science, published 21 August 2014, available online at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/08/20/science.1260279, retrieved 29 August 2014.

Casual about our testimonies

There was a time when many members took most every doctrine or teaching seriously.  Things were pondered and prayed over as individuals and families.  In the past, there were fewer challenges: television and movies were generally family friendly. The biggest problems in school were running in the halls and chewing gum in class. Marriage didn’t have to be defined as traditional or otherwise. Families spent time together, because that was the norm.

Now, we live in a day when the traditional family is in the minority, among divorces, living together and other arrangements. Many choose not to have children, or at least delay until later in life. As we all carry no fault insurance on our cars, we now wink at no fault divorces. Family friendly movies are harder and harder to find.

Worse, our members are succumbing to many of the things of the world, simply because of a casualness that has arisen in our ranks.  Many don’t think twice about watching an “R” rated movie, regardless of the strengths or problems in the movie.  Many do not think twice when their friends divorce, or marry for the nth time.  Temple sealing cancellations are no longer a rare event.

A bishop friend of mine told me that he was having to explain to youth that oral sex is sex. Sexting becomes a norm for many, as does other sexual intimacies.

In our casual view of the world and the gospel, do we spend too much time justifying the time we spend in and of the world?  Is being too casual with spiritual and worldly things causing  spiritual casualties?

When we watch R or PG-13 movies that are very sexual or violent in nature, how are they impacting us and our families spiritually?  When our quality time with our kids does not include quality prayers, scripture study or FHE, how does such casualness impact us?

In the Book of Revelation 3:15-16, the Lord spoke out against those who are lukewarm:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Laodicea was a city without a source of water.  In the distance was Hieropolis, where hot springs bubbled forth, making the place a resort for aching bones.  On the other side of Laodicea was the city of Colosse, known for its refreshing cold springs.  Waters from both Hierapolis and Colosse were sent to Laodicea by a series of acqueducts, providing the city with water to drink.  However, by the time the water reached the city, it was neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm.

When we are casual about our lives and our spirituality, we are like Laodicea – lukewarm, because we have no internal source of life giving water.  We tend to lean on others’ testimonies and works.  Others do the hometeaching and visit teaching. Others, who are a source of hot or cold water, become bishops and Relief Society presidents and nursery leaders.  Casual people allow others to prepare their kids for missions, the temple, take them to seminary, and gain a testimony.

Why? Because their own source of living waters is dried up. The world fills them with worldly interests and awe, while they die of spiritual thirst.  There is no refreshment, when they must borrow from others’ testimonies.  Second hand spiritual strength is lukewarm at best, especially when delivered over long distances and with no inner source to strengthen it.

Sadly, this also holds true with our Sunday meetings.  Too many of them are filled with talks that have no spiritual resonance.  They are lukewarm, casual in nature, because the correct preparation was not made.  They may be filled with good humor and interesting facts, but be bereft of the spirit. How often do the hot and cold waters evoke a refreshing of spirit in our meetings?  How are our children to learn to receive revelation, if we cannot provide them with a source within ourselves?  And how will they recognize or hear the whispering of the Holy Ghost, if all our efforts are casual ones?

Guest post: liberal Mormonism, a parable

This is a guest post by Tom Stringham.

At a conference for members of an animal rights group

Julie: Hey Ross! Good to see you here. It’s always good to come to these conferences.

Ross: Hi Julie! You too! I know, they’re fun.

Julie: So what have you been up to lately—hey wait, why are you drinking chocolate milk?

Ross: Sorry?

Julie: Well, you’re drinking chocolate milk. That’s dairy …

Ross: Oh, well yeah. I get that most members of the group don’t do chocolate milk, but personally I don’t see what’s wrong with it. I think a lot of members are a little judgmental of people who eat some kinds of eggs or dairy.

Julie: You think I’m judgmental of people who eat eggs and dairy?

Ross: Well maybe not you, but yeah, I definitely feel judged when I drink chocolate milk or even talk about it here.

Julie: Isn’t that because you’re hanging around with a bunch of vegans?

Ross: I think we could be more accepting as vegans.
Continue reading

First Presidency message for September urges preparedness

I have heard people say that the Church is not emphasizing preparedness as much these days as it has in the past. The September First Presidency message says being prepared and out of debt is urgent.

We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have a supply of debt and are food-free.

I repeat what the First Presidency declared a few years ago:

“Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for adversity by having a little money set aside. Doing so adds immeasurably to security and well-being. Every family has a responsibility to provide for its own needs to the extent possible.

“We encourage you wherever you may live in the world to prepare for adversity by looking to the condition of your finances. We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve.”1

Are we prepared for the emergencies in our lives? Are our skills perfected? Do we live providently? Do we have our reserve supply on hand? Are we obedient to the commandments of God? Are we responsive to the teachings of prophets? Are we prepared to give of our substance to the poor, the needy? Are we square with the Lord?

We live in turbulent times. Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past.

Into the Darkness and the Light

Pondering death can be tricky. There are several emotions that are involved with the thoughts, from hope of an afterlife to the fear of pain and suffering. Hearing about a person who took their own life, was killed by actions that could have been avoided, accidents and disease, or at the hands of another is always unpleasant. The saying, “they are resting and in a better place,” can be slightly reassuring, but that doesn’t take away the fact the person is still gone. Grief felt by the survivors heals over time or destroys the soul. Those who are religious believers are not alone in facing emotional pain. All people must face death eventually.

The beauty of most religions is a faith that there is much more than this life to look forward to experience. Every good and bad time here in mortality can be worth much more than what currently can be imagined. For Christians, this idea comes from the the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ where his mortal teachings are more than morals to live by because, “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinth. 15:19). How precious it can be to open the scriptures and read about Angels and Visions given to mortals as a witness that our person continues long after death. Joseph Smith said, “The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God” (History of the Church, 3:295). To live by faith is life eternal.

Despite the great blessings promised with faith, everyone experiences doubt. Perhaps all that we have been taught and come to believe is not true. The alternative is absolute darkness. Once our lives are over there will be nothing. It is a scary and sobering thought. While Joseph Smith discussed a vision he had of seeing family and friends rise from the graves on the day of resurrection to once again meet and hug them, he said, “More painful to me are the thoughts of annihilation than death. If I have no expectation of seeing my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment, and I should go down to my grave.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 295). It is hard to imagine living with the idea that first we are here conscious of existence and then some day we are not. Continue reading