- I really really miss Bob Marley. I was on an hour long bus ride to a far off fringe town of Dalarna with the driver playing Bob Marley the whole ride and it was incredible how much peace and happiness he spreads through his music. Of course, Mormon tabernacle choir is lovely and all….but 18 months of only being able to choose between Mormon tabernacle choir and Mormon youth pop (which I’d rather not listen to…sorry, we all are entitled to different preferences and “EFY 2008” will never be mine) and you can do with a little variety. There truly is power in music. Just as a bad song (whether bad in content or bad in quality) has the ability to force the spirit out of the room and fill you with darkness, angst or irritation, a good song can bring the spirit, uplift, inspire and make even the dreariest of rainy days filled with sunlight. This ability is not limited to the Christian music world. If you watch the “12 steps to Change” addiction recovery videos on Mormon channel (super well done but very heartbreaking and then uplifting) it was the lyrics of “Fix You” by Coldplay.. “lights will guide you home / and ignite your bones / and I will try to fix you” that inspired one addiction-wracked man to begin the repentance and recovery process. Indeed, that very song has helped me through some of my dark days. The gospel can be found through the lyrics written by inspired individuals inside and outside of our faith. There are few powers stronger than quality music.
2. Church policy has changed so I can no longer write about or post pictures of my Muslim or former Muslim friends on this blog in case they may be targeted by extremists and be put in danger. None of the former Muslims I’ve seen baptised or taught have been affiliated with any jihadi extremists so they are all quite safe, but this is a general rule for the entire world so I will honour it. I’ll let you know about how they all are doing and all the wonderful Persians and Arabs I will befriend, after my mission. Until then, for security sake, I will not be able to write about them or post pictures with them.
3. In my personal study, the parable of the sower and the seeds from the 13th chapter of Matthew really came to life for me and had significance on my soul this week.
In the parable the seeds are cast into four places- by the wayside, on stony soil, amidst thorns and in good soil. The first seeds by the way side profit nothing, being compared to the people who straight up reject the gospel.
The stony soil Jesus says is, “He that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it, Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
This can be applied in modern day to falling away from the gospel when we face hardships in life and expect the Lord to magically fix everything and He doesn’t, or leaving the gospel because it is politically incorrect or not what we want it to be and so “persecution ariseth because of the word” so “by and by (they are) offended”. Essentially, only wanting the things which are personally appealing and rejecting the rest. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it: “Every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity.” Which leads to either apostate practicing of Christianity or complete rejection.
And then the seeds choked by thorns;
As Jesus explained “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” It is the fall of millions and the most constant message of the Book of Mormon. Every mass turning of the people to wickedness in history begins with pride and greed. “but they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God.” (Alma 45:24) Of course, it isn’t really about the amount you have, but rather the percentage you are willing to give away. One can be incredibly wealthy but free of thorns while one can be incredibly poor and encased with thorns…. True, with the increase of wealth comes the increase of temptation, but the heart of the faith destroying thorns is in desires of the heart. True charity is, to quote C.S. Lewis again, when there are “things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.” remembering that it isn’t the amount, but the percentage of us we pour in and avoiding Pharisaic charity which C.S. Lewis explains as when “our pride hinders our charity; (and) we are tempted to spend more than we ought on the showy forms of generosity (tipping, hospitality) and less than we ought on those who really need our help.”
Finally Jesus speaks of the good soil as “he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold,some sixty, some thirty.”
What makes this soil prepared to receive the word and let the seed grow? It is in what they are willing to do for the seed, letting it’s roots sink deep and willing to change their life for it. To sacrifice for it. For as Christ said in a latter parable in the same chapter; ” the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
Often, we think for the word to grow we need to be perfect, to love perfectly, to live perfectly……..but that is the fruit of the word, what comes from letting the word grow, not the growth itself…. The growth is in our sacrifice. The stony soil and the thorny soil does not adjust it’s obstacles to let the roots grow and change their composition. Sure, they will let the seed grow, but they are not willing to move their rocks and thorns away so the roots can dig deep. It is when we willing alter our lives, sacrifice our selfish desires, that the roots can grown deep and strong and the fruit of perfection will eventually grow from us.
Anyhow, that is all I’ve got for you this week.
Just another week of knocking and contacting and walking and walking and walking and more knocking……..and testimony building.
Much love and peace,