God’s Favorites. Wait… you mean He has them?

1 Nephi 1:1

“having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days”


Hang on. Did Nephi just say he was favored of the Lord? Isn’t that the same thing as favorite? Does the Lord have favorites, or am I just reading this wrong? What does it mean to be favored of the Lord?

1 Nephi 17:33-36

33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

Interesting. I guess that makes sense. Would the Lord have the Israelites go in and take over the land of Canaan if the native Canaanites had been righteous? Of course not. In fact, the Lord had tried to help them become righteous. He had done all He could for the native Canaanites. But they had rejected all His words, and proven that under no circumstances would they improve their lives. I suppose from the Lord’s point of view, the best chance they had was if He were to destroy them and then work with them on the other side of the veil. Where they stood now, they were getting into deeper and deeper trouble – not to mention forcing their children (by not allowing them to be exposed to the truth) to live lives of iniquity also. That’s hardly fair to the children.

So he had them destroyed so there could again be righteousness on the earth, giving future generations a chance for happiness.

Do you know what this reminds me of? Parenthood. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Two kids are playing. Kid #1 is playing peacefully with a toy. Kid #2 comes and pushes kid #1 to the ground and takes the toy. Parent scolds kid #2 and gives the toy back to kid #1. Kid #2 complains to parent and throws a temper tantrum, earning a time out. Kid #1 goes on playing, and kid #2 spends the next ten minutes writhing in the unfairness of the whole situation. Why doesn’t he get to play with the toy? Why does he have to go in time out? Why is the parent favoring kid #1? He’s not better than me! Why is he treated like a favorite?

Etc, etc.

Or how about when the two are told by the parent that if they finish their homework, they can stay up late. Kid #1 finishes homework, and kid #2 puts it off and doesn’t do the homework. Kicking and screaming, kid #2 goes to bed normal time, and kid #1 gets to stay up late.

Kid #1 is not ruffled. Parent isn’t ruffled. But kid #2 is bouncing on the floor in fury, ready to call the ACLU.

Alma 28:13

13 And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.

I guess it’s not God who’s making things so unfair down here. It’s us – with the help of ol’ scratch, of course. mr. angry-pants just can’t let an opportunity go to feed us with the claim that if there was a god, he would love us all the same and treat us all the same no matter what we did.

Of course God loves us all. He’s just being a good parent.

Beauty is in the Eye of God

I’m not sure where media came up with the idea that beauty has something to do with weight, but it’s not true. Actually, I think media has knowingly taken upon itself the role to make sure that the general population is ugly. In reality, they know nothing about beauty at all. The problem is, they’ve convinced us that their “standards” of beauty should be sought at all costs.

As a rather ugly guy, I’ve actually thought a lot about this. The world’s whole approach is to create totally meaningless standards that can only be met by the consumption of products and services that only they can provide. The only way they can keep the demand so disgustingly high is to make sure that 90% of the population is way below the expectation.

All the while, God keeps telling us, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; …for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

Of course, the world has to make itself louder than the voice of the Spirit in order to maintain it’s powerful status. But Beauty is NOT in the eye of the beholder. It is in the eye of God. God cares nothing about physical attractiveness, but he cares a great deal about the beauty that comes of bearing children, which naturally causes some flabbiness and increase of skin and weight.

Have you ever noticed that a mother carries a brightness in her eyes that is very obvious and beautiful – and unique to mothers? It first shows up when she is pregnant, and those who know the feature can often figure out she is pregnant before the slightest belly begins to show. And it’s beautiful! So why do we not see it? For the same reason that we turn our heads at the sound of a coin drop, while not noticing the dozens of bird songs surrounding us. The world has done its job well, training us that beauty is in features that it has chosen, and we are the unhappy recipients of its lies. There is a reason that satan is called the father of lies, as well as the prince of this world. He directs the world in its quest to keep the population depressed.

But you can be the exception. You can learn to see beyond the world’s ridiculous aspirations, and see beauty, including your own, as God sees it! The moment you ask God for His view on things, He’ll open to you a whole new vision that is so much more beautiful, so much more exciting, and so much more fulfilling than ANYTHING the world has to offer.

Once you see things that way, you may glance back, and see all the myriads clamoring for another lost pound, another lost wrinkle, or another face-lift. There’s a reason those clamorers are depressed. There’s a reason they can never seem to grasp what dangles just before them at every moment, and it’s not because they are too ugly or too fat, or even too sinful. It is simply because they have let satan distract them from something that he can NEVER have – true, eternal beauty.

Under his direction, the world shouts, “You’re too baggy, you’re hideous, you’re too wrinkly!” All the while he is silently scared to death that you will notice the real beauty that is you, because the moment you see that, he has no power over you.

That is the moment when life becomes grand and beautiful. That’s the moment that you realize that you are already living your “happily ever after.” That’s the moment you realize that all of your dreams are already being fulfilled.

Don’t let satan distract you from that. God knows who you really are, and is anxiously waiting for you to ask Him about it so He can explain it to you. You may know it already in theory, and you may have heard it over and over in Sunday school, but you should hear His personal explanation of it to you. I promise it’s worth the asking.

– and don’t let up until He tells you everything.

The LDSF Society

While it’s true that I belong to the LDS church, some weeks, with the kids crawling on the bench, and the floor, and each other, and me, and the baby,  I feel more like a member of the LDSF society. Not to be confused with the fundementalist church, this is the Latter-day Sunday Fiasco society. In the LDS church, the family gathers for sacrament meeting and all listen and enjoy the spirit in the meeting. But in the LDSF society, kids jump on benches, and parents do sweet sixteens up and down the chapel, racing kids in and out of the meeting, wails drowning out any and all audio reception.

Just today I woke up about halfway through the meeting (yes woke up – It was a long morning for the parents of said munchkins), I woke and discovered marker markings on my hands. What the?!

That’s when I noticed my kids coloring with markers and eating cereal next to me. Where did they get markers? We don’t even allow those in our house, let alone at church! And cereal? We had oatmeal for breakfast because we’re out of cereal!

Then the culprits revealed themselves as the kids belonging to the family sitting next to us on the bench. Ah. Well, they’re a great family, so I guess it was okay, but it did help me realize the importance of staying awake at church… especially as I remembered the marker markings and got self conscious about my face…

I only had to take Tootles out once – well, I guess you could say it was twice, since we had to go back in after he calmed down in order to fetch the diaper bag, since his foyer tantrum had released an ominous unpleasant smell. I would have had Jenni fetch it for me, but by then, she was out with another kid.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…

His truth is marching on.

The sheet music is finally ready! Click to learn how to buy it.

Battle Hymn of the Republic has always been my favorite patriotic song, as it captures the why of all that the founding fathers of America did. The strength of their devotion to God, and the faith they had in Jesus Christ gave them the courage to move forward when they knew it could cost their lives and the lives of their families.

The lyrics were written in 1861 by Julia Ward Howe. The tune belonged to another song, which was more of a spoof than a serious song. When a friend suggested to Julia that she write new words to the music, Julia took the challenge. The new lyrics came to her when she woke early one morning. She said, “I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, ‘I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.’ So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.”

Here are the original lyrics:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

Making Moments: Biathlon

Today I was in my room, working on a Sunday project, and I could hear Tootles reeking a bit of havoc in the other room, so I went out and scooped him up and brought him into my room. I cleared the bed of blankets and pillows and started bouncing him on it.

Jumping on Mama and Baba’s bed is one of his very favorite activities, though we usually try to discourage it. Well, he went straight from frustrated anger to excited laughter. I wrestled him, and even got out the video camera.

I suppose stopping him from one inappropriate activity and getting him doing another slightly inappropriate activity probably isn’t the best approach in terms of discipline, but it brought a big smile to his face – and mine.