Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hardened or Softened

One section of the Book of Mormon tells of a lengthy conflict between two nations. It lasted many years. As this verse says, it affected different people in different ways, even those belonging to the same nation and who were suffering the same hardships.

The pandemic we are currently experiencing is comparable to a war, or any other long-term event that causes widespread suffering, and we see the same pattern repeat itself: some are of those affected are becoming hardened, cynical, hopeless, or selfish, while others are becoming more softened, caring, sensitive, and generous. We should all strive for the latter. To be clear, allowing ourselves to be "softened" doesn't mean we won't suffer, nor does it mean we don't take care of or protect ourselves and our families. Rather, it means that when we do suffer, we don't allow ourselves to become bitter and we remember to take care of others around us, to the extent possible. This has the added benefit of reinforcing a sense of control over our situation, which in turn empowers us to grow from our trials. If we ever feel ourselves becoming hardened by our trials, one of the best remedies is to serve others who are also suffering. By so doing, we'll be helping them and ourselves.

Stay hopeful. This current trial won't last for ever. Neither will any others that will come in the future. We have the ability to come out the other side better than we were before it started.

from Sour Peppers

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Basilisk Speedpaint (Style Study)

from Jay Lark Studios

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

He is Risen!

I've heard it said that to some is given the gift of knowing that God lives and that Jesus Christ is His Son, while to others is given the gift of believing that this is true. I have never seen an angel. No burning bush. No pillar of light. But I have felt the still small voice. I believe in Christ.

I believe because I choose to believe, and the universe feels much brighter, kinder, and more hopeful because of it.

I believe because the Gospel of Christ makes sense to me as a beautifully elegant plan from a loving Heavenly Father for the benefit of all of His children.

I believe because of the way I feel when I think about Him, and the peace and warmth it brings me, sometimes when I'm not even expecting it.

I believe because of the positive impact that following Him has had on my life and the lives of those I love.

I believe because of the miracles, large and small, that I witness when we trust in Him.

And I believe because of the sometimes inexplicable yet very real confidence that I have that He is in control and that in the end, all will turn out well for those who rely on Him.

My testimony is not perfect, but I don't need it to be. The light I have is enough to keep searching for the next step, and I hope enough to help brighten the way for others. I trust that one day it will be perfected in Him. In the meantime, it is enough for me to say that I do believe in Christ.

He is God's Son. He lived a perfect life. He taught the way of happiness. He suffered for the sins of the world. He was slain and He conquered death.

He is risen. Happy Easter!

(You can download the image above as a high resolution, 5"x7" image that's suitable for printing here.)

from Sour Peppers

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Hear Him!

"...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!" (Joseph SmithHistory 1:17
This weekend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commemorated the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's first vision in response to his humble prayer. On that day, he saw both the Father and the Son in a grove that we now call sacred in upstate New York. Furthermore the Church has issued an official proclamation reaffirming the truthfulness and the importance of this miraculous visitation.

Why should we care? The reason members of the Church attach so much importance to this event is obvious. But what about our friends of other faiths? Does this event matter to them? I say it does. Young Joseph's almost unbelievably bold claim supports what is taught in the Bible: that to him or her who asks, it shall be given (Luke 11:9), and that if we lack wisdom, we have but to ask of God in faith (James 1:5-6). God has not left us alone. He has provided the way for us to receive guidance, provided we are willing to hear him when he speaks!

This promise remains in effect today. "Knowing the truth of Joseph Smith’s testimony requires each earnest seeker of truth to study the record and then exercise sufficient faith in Christ to ask God in sincere, humble prayer whether the record is true. If the seeker asks with the real intent to act upon the answer revealed by the Holy Ghost, the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s vision will be manifest" (Gospel Topics Essays: First Vision Accounts). I share my own testimony with you that I know from my own experience it is true: God answers the prayers of those who ask in faith. He spoke to Joseph, and He still speaks with His children today.

from Sour Peppers

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Mourn and Comfort

Followers of Christ have pledged to serve others. That includes bearing their burdens, visiting them in times of sickness or loneliness, providing for their physical and spiritual needs, and in short, loving them as Jesus would love them. Perhaps one of the more difficult things we've been asked to do is to mourn with those that mourn. We'd much rather try to cheer someone up than watch them be sad and even partake of their sadness. However, this is often what is most helpful to one who is struggling emotionally.

Consider the story of the raising of Lazarus. As always, Jesus is the perfect example for us. Even though He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He wept with those who were grieving (see John 11:33, 35). When we encounter those who are sad, even if we believe the cause of their sadness to be trivial or short-lived, we should acknowledge their feelings and allow them to express those feelings, even if seeing their pain causes us to feel pain ourselves. When we do so, we are, in a small way, emulating our Savior who took upon Himself our own pains.

from Sour Peppers

Sunday, March 15, 2020

All in our power

At the time of this writing the world is currently experiencing a pandemic of the novel corona virus. Many schools, businesses, and places of worship and recreation have shut down. It's true that there are many other things in the world that cause significantly more suffering and death. However, perhaps what's most distressing about this present challenge is a feeling of lack of control. This virus doesn't discriminate and isn't caused by any lifestyle choice beyond the simple act of going about our normal day-to-day lives and interacting with those around us. It can feel like an unstoppable force. It can feel as if we can do little more than wait for the storm to pass and hope it does as little damage as possible.

And yet, during this and other challenges, there are still things we can do. There are things we can control. No matter how frightening or insurmountable things may seem, let us focus on the small things we can do to improve our situation and that of others, and let us ask God to show us what those things are. For, if our God is able to multiply five loaves and two fishes into a banquet for over five thousand, He can surely multiply our meager efforts to the blessing of our lives and those of our friends, family, and neighbors.

from Sour Peppers

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Forgotten purge

Imagine a person imprisoned for a crime. They know their guilt and that their imprisonment is just. But then somebody sets them free by making things right in ways that they could never have hoped to do on their own. This person makes arrangements for the prisoner to leave their cell and lead a happy and productive life outside.

How tragic would it be if the very next day they forgot that they had been freed and continued to live their life in prison as if nothing had changed?

In the verses leading up to this passage (see 2 Peter 1:4-8) Peter encourages us to exercise godly virtues such as diligence, temperance, patience, and kindness. He then promises that if we will do so, we will not be "unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." We are warned however that if we don't strive to develop these attributes, we can forget the light and knowledge we once possessed, reverting to living life as we hadn't been forgiven and saved from former sins.

As dire a warning as this is, it can also give one hope, for the inverse is also true. If we want to increase our knowledge and understanding of our Savior and our confidence in His ability to free us from the ills of this world as well as the negative effects of our misdeeds, we can do so by being more charitable, more patient, and more loving to those around us. For by doing these things we will be more closely modeling our life after Christ's perfect example.

from Sour Peppers