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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Science vs Miracles

I believe God is the Perfect Scientist.

How can we reconcile some of the seemingly contradictory tenets of science and religion? The Theory of Evolution, the Big Bang model, miracles...  Some may say these refute the principles of Christianity, however, I believe there's harmony.  We know God created man in His own image, but we know very little about how those bodies were created.  The "Big Bang" could easily describe an aspect of God's method to create worlds.  While I think science is often apt to answer the questions of "what" and "how," only religion attempts to answers the "why."

Jesus' first recorded miracle is His turning water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana (since Mary was the hostess, could this possibly be a sibling's wedding?  Or the Lord's Himself?  I digress...).  At first glance, this feels like science has no explanation - only a mysterious power could do this.  But if we think for a moment, we'll realize that God has already shown us a way to turn water into wine - just plant some grapes.  A vine can absorb water and transform it into its fruity juice (maybe add some fermentation time?).  The Lord knows that process perfectly.  And He can probably accelerate it or knows other methods for performing the same chemical reaction.  We are children in our understanding about all science can offer us.

How about communication?  If you brought a smartphone to the ancient Egyptians, they'd think you were a god and build a you a statute.  Now, you probably won't have anyone to talk to on that thing, but if you told them you could talk with your friend halfway across the world who also has a phone, they'd think that a miracle.  The Lord knows that process perfectly.  And He knows even better ways of communicating than using a clunky phone.  We are children in our understanding about all science can offer us.

Mathematicians and physicists have proposed the possibilities of teleportation and are even experimenting with microscopic particle teleportation.  If the Lord can teleport, He knows these processes perfectly.  And if He can't, maybe He's discovered how to move super fast or camouflage super well and teaches those things to His angels.  We are children...

In medicine, God allows us to begin participating in His power.  Do we not now heal the sick that centuries ago would be deemed incurable?  If you were to bring many of the modern cures we have to our same Egyptian friends, they'd make you a second statue.  Leprosy is such a simple cure, but was devastating long ago.  The Lord knows the processes of antibiotics perfectly.  I don't imagine he was giving shots to those He healed back then, but I bet He knows better administrations than that to help our bodies fight disease.  We are children...

God knows everything about science.  And He continues to impart that knowledge to His children at an accelerating rate.  More and more "miracles" are becoming commonplace.  I don't doubt that we'll someday have quite logical explanations for all the "crazy" things we read in the scriptures.  For now, I believe in God's power and omnipotence and am grateful He loves us enough to teach us even the simplest of His abilities.

Miracles don't necessarily produce faith (Laman & Lemuel are classic examples of this), but can confirm our faith and serve as motivation for us to do better.  As we strive to follow Him, we may someday realize the ultimate miracle He wants for us - the deification of man.  I don't know exactly what that process is like, but I'm sure the Perfect Scientist will explain it and all His mysteries when the time is right.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Archetypes of Christ - Isaac

Abraham's trial is a quintessential example for any of us experiencing sorrow or struggle.  Mirroring the format of my last post (an imagined mindview of the woman who sought to touch the hem of Jesus's cloak in order to be healed), I'd like to offer another story from the Bible: the binding of Isaac, or Akedah – this time from Isaac's perspective.

"Bind my wrists, papa."  I don't want to subconsciously rebel; I love my dad and will follow God’s will.  Isaac lifted his strong arms toward his aged father.  Abraham hesitated, but realized what his son was thinking and nodded as he picked up the straps.  "I trust you, dad."  Isaac said, as he climbed on the altar, laid down, and shut his eyes to the skies above.

It was only a few days earlier that the terrifying revelation had come.  Abraham had received many communications from God, but this one was incredibly alarming and confusing: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering.”

“Sacrifice him!?” Isaac had overheard his father exclaim to his mother that night.  “My own father tried to sacrifice me!  I thought this sort of practice was offensive to God!”

I’m his miracle baby, Isaac thought.  The one to fulfill the promises God made to him.  His heart ached as he considered his half-brother Ishmael, whom Abraham had already lost a few years before – it was tortuous to see him leave.  And now he’ll lose me – his chosen son, through whom humankind would be blessed.

“You know this is from God?” Isaac heard his mother inquire.  “Yes,” Abraham replied.  “He’s never led you astray before,” she assured.  “I haven’t always understood His methods or His timing, but I can’t deny the miracles He’s worked in our lives. I know you’ll do the right thing.”

“You’re right,” Isaac heard his dad finally declare.  “He’s promised Isaac will be a father to many.  If he really is to die now, I believe God could raise up our boy again to fulfill that promise.  He does not lie.”

Isaac's heart skipped a beat: I am to die, then.

The journey to Moriah had taken two days, and Abraham still hadn’t told his son what was to be.  I wonder how I should respond.  I should be scared.  Pain.  Suffering.  Death.  And yet… I am not afraid.  I see my life for what it is – a time to prove myself to God.  Could He really raise me back from the dead?

At the base of the mount, the small company stopped.  “We’ll need to take this wood to the top,” Abraham said, motioning to his servants.  Two men gratefully laid their burden upon Isaac.  This is heavy, he thought.  His back muscles ached as he balanced the load well enough to walk.

As the two made their way up the rocky climb, Isaac asked, “Where is our offering, dad?”  He doesn’t know I know.  “God will provide the lamb,” had been his answer to the question before.  I wonder how he’ll ask.  My every thought these past two days has been on how to respond.  I’ve tried to follow my dad and God throughout my life.  I’m not always the best, but I trust Them and I will try…

“The sacrifice… is to be you, my son.  I don’t totally understand why, but that is what the Lord has asked.  What do you think?  Would you…”

“Yes!” Isaac blurted out.  “Even if it was just you who asked, dad, I would do it.  But because I know it came from God, I am doubly willing.  My very life is a miracle and gift from God – I am willing to give it back.”

“My boy,” Abraham responded.  “You have been my support and strength for so long, but now will have to do so from the other side.”  As they finished their climb, they reminisced, recounting their blessed lives together.  Reaching their destination, they prepared the altar, and Isaac placed the load of wood upon it.

“Bind my wrists, papa.”  Isaac laid on the altar as his father tied his hands and feet.  “I trust you, dad.” He saw his dad’s trembling hands clench the knife, and just before his eyes closed, he caught a glimpse of his dad’s own eyes, painful yet determined.  He’s terrified, Isaac thought as he plunged into darkness.  And yet beneath that terror there’s a fire.  Faith.  Complete submission to the will of God.  A knowledge that regardless of what happens, things will be ok.

He could hear the robe rustle as his father raised the killing instrument.  Are things going to be ok??  Maybe I’m not really ready to die!  What about my family?  There’s so much more I want to do in life!  His arms reflexively strained against the bands that held him.  There must be another way!…

No.  There's no mistaken what must be done.  I can do this, he determined.  I will go to my God.  I will be what He asks of me.  He stopped fighting the restraints, and relaxed his arms, relinquishing himself completely.

Immediately, Isaac felt a wave of peace flow over him.  And then a warmth and bright light that pierced through his closed lids.  He opened them to a blinding figure above, gripping his father’s outstretched arm.  “Abraham,” the penetrating voice commanded, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad…”

My life is spared! Isaac rejoiced, his tears matching his overflowing emotions – and those of his father.  God be praised!

You were willing to give it all, Isaac felt a different Voice say to him.  You, indeed, shall fulfill all the promises I have made.  You have been saved, while I will face a different end when I, doing my Father’s will, offer myself up as Savior of the world.  These tests are meant to try you in the deepest way possible.  All will be tried as you and your father have.  Those hearts that can stand the wrenching will be fit for the kingdom of God.

A willing ram had come to offer itself, caught by devil’s snares to hold it back.  At the angel’s command, Isaac's place on the altar was turned over to the ram.

Isaac was caught up in the embrace of his father. “Well done, my son,” Abraham whispered.

“Thanks, papa,” Isaac answered as they started down the mountain.  “God did provide his own lamb in the end.  He has again given me the gift of life – I will make Him proud of how I use it.”

References: Genesis 22:1-19, Hebrews 11:19, “Antiquities of the Jews” by Josephus, “Power from Abrahamic Tests” by Truman Madsen

Friday, November 11, 2016

Can He heal me?

The Gospel's account of the Savior's healing a woman with an issue of blood provides a powerful lesson for those dealing with issues of shame, doubt, or despair.  Taking some (major) scriptural liberties, I'd like to share a possible version of this account from the woman's perspective:

Jesus.  The 'Holy Man,' she thought.  Although it had only been a few weeks since He had begun to visit the nearby towns, the rumors about this godlike Man spread like hungry flames across a dry grassland.

Some said He was a revolutionary or a lunatic, others a wise teacher or even something more than human.  Her belief in the legends about His ability to cure, however, was the major force pulling her to the street she worked her way towards now.

He is a Healer.  For 12 years I have suffered...  Could He be the answer?  Once a well-functioning member of the community, she was now completely penniless, having spent over a decade on doctor after doctor...  She didn't know how it had actually come about, but the constant bleeding that had started those 12 years before had turned her life into a nightmare.

It wasn't so bad at first.  A "niddah" had to avoid contact with anyone for seven days every month during that part of a woman's cycle - the blood making her "unclean."  She assumed this bleeding was related to that and would soon stop so she could get back to her life.

But it didn't, and she hadn't.

The seemingly permanent status of "unclean" created a wedge between her and her friends.  One by one, they began to avoid her.  She was banned from attending synagogue.  Her husband writing a bill of divorcement and casting her out like a broken piece of furniture was the final crushing blow.  12 years.  I'm so tired.  Tired of being alone, hated, hopeless...

It was a long shot, and she knew it.  But something inside of her pushed her on to join with the massive crowd gathering.  She edged her way nearer the center of the street, luckily finding herself only a few people away from the open space that allowed the approaching small procession to pass.

That's Him.  I can feel it.  But there are so many people.  And Jairus is with Him.  Jairus was the synagogue ruler, with whom she had had no contact since that fateful day so many years ago.

Her heart dropped.  I shouldn't be here.  Even touching the people around her was making them unknowingly unclean.  She felt awful.  I should go, she thought. What was I thinking?  Every person in this multitude is more deserving of His power than I am.  And yet, something was making her stay.

She crouched as some of His disciples walked by.  Her heart pounded as she saw Him approaching.  You'll make Him unclean!  a voice shouted inside.  You'll ruin His ability to help others!  But... maybe if I just touch a bit of His clothing...  The recent legends talked about Jesus using only His hands or voice to enact the miracle in someone's life.  I don't deserve that.  I shouldn't even be here.

He was only a few steps away now, and she caught a glimpse of His face.  This is no ordinary man.  A rush of emotions flooded through her, the most powerful telling her the legends were true.  I believe.  I don't deserve it, but I believe even just touching a tassel of his robe will heal me.

She knelt and leaned forward between the rows of people crammed in front of her, reaching towards the approaching Man.  Everything in her head told her she was foolish to expect anything and would be punished someday for this.  Her heart, however, was convinced.  As her fingers closed the gap to the fringe of his robe, she remembered her teachings about the hem or border of a garment symbolizing that person's authority.  His authority has healed others.  It can heal me.

A final thrust of her arm put her off balance, her face beginning to fall to the hard cobblestone road below.  And then...  For a split second, her fingers grazed the robe.

Such power.  Immediately, she felt her wound closing and the bleeding stop.  She wondered in amazement, trying to pull herself back to her knees.  I'm clean!  Over a decade of suffering, and it's over!

The elation didn't last long.  The procession had stopped and the Man turned to the teeming throng.  "Who touched me?"  The question came quietly, with no rebuke.  Sudden guilt slapped her in the face and she started to shrink back into the crowd, thinking to run.  He knows.  I can't run from a God.

Trembling, she struggled to her feet and pushed through those ahead, falling down at the Man's feet.  "I... I touched your robe," she stammered.  "I heard of your power to heal and thought if I could just touch your robe, I could be rid of my 12-year plague."  She glanced up for a moment, "and it worked.  But I didn't mean... I'm sorry... I..."

You thought your life was hard with mortals spurning you.  You have now earned the spurning of a God...

"Daughter," He interrupted.  His voice was powerful and commanding now, yet somehow soft and soothing.  "Be of good comfort.  Thy faith hath made thee whole.  Go in peace."

She wept.  Tears flowed down her cheeks, eagerly splashing to the dusty street below.  She had never felt such love in the past 12 years, or even in her life.  Her eyes connected again with His.  Mortal with Divine.  Thank you! she exclaimed, though no words exited her lips.  The message was clear, however, and He responded with a look that enveloped her being.  You deserve it, child, she felt Him say.  You are mine just as these, and I love you.

References:  Matt. 9:18-22, Mark 5:22-34, Luke 8:41-48, 1 Sam. 24:4 (see footnote 4a)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Substance of Faith

Faith is a substance. Alma talked about "having faith” (Alma 32:21). Moroni said "faith is things" (Ether 12:6). Paul said, "faith is a substance… an evidence” (Heb. 11:1). We often describe the deceptively simple principle of faith with words like belief, confidence, action, trust, and hope. And it is all of those. An element that is less commonly discussed is the substantive nature of faith.

“Now faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Joseph Smith said, “From this we learn that faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen.” Well, Brother Joseph, what are these ‘things’ that we hope for but can’t see? If we were to pose the interrogative to Ether, he would probably quote himself and say the ‘things’ are “a better world, yeah, even a place at the right hand of God” (Ether 12:4).

So faith, then, is the substantive assurance that we will have eternal life with our families and a God who is our Father. It’s a sweet affirmation from the Lord that He is real and we are going to make it. Sounds desirable.

If that’s what it is, how do we get it?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that "faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness… the greater the measure of obedience to God's laws the greater will be the endowment of faith" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 264).

So when the Savior tells us to “Have faith” (Mark 11:22), He may mean for us to “Have confidence,” “Have trust,” or “Have more assurances that you’re going to have eternal life, and to get those, you’ve gotta recognize the power of the Atonement, follow me, and be obedient.” (I'm sure the Savior would use much more profound and dazzling language than "gotta," but you never know).

In his Lectures on Faith, Joseph gives three prerequisites to having faith:

1) An idea that God exists
2) A correct understanding of His character, perfections, and attributes
3) A knowledge that the pathway you are pursuing is acceptable to Him

When we believe in God, understand who He really is, and follow His commandments, we will be blessed with faith – internal promises of our eventual exaltation.

In answer to those that say simple belief is all that matters – accept Jesus then do what you want – C.S. Lewis gives a blunt reply: “The answer to that nonsense is that, if what you call your ‘faith’ in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not Faith at all – not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity). Thus, real faith requires action and obedience.

Faith is not only a principle of action, but one of power as well. Somehow, when we align ourselves with God and natural law, we gain power. Because of the Savior, our acts of righteousness can build up reservoirs of faith that can be used to move mountains – mountains of schoolwork, addiction, weakness, relationship struggles, sickness, uncertainty, worries, and fear.

“It was by faith that the worlds were framed. God spake, chaos heard, and the worlds came into order” (Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith). Was it by ‘belief’ or ‘trust’ or ‘hope’ that the worlds were formed? I think they played a part, but the faith of miracles and god-like power is the assurance that you are becoming like God. Those assurances from God provide great power to accomplish god-like things.

So let’s be a little more obedient. Let’s get assurances that we’re on the right path. Let’s build our faith, so we can have the power to do what God does, bless who He would bless, and become what He has become.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seeing Above the Trials

I thought I'd list a smattering of quotes that have had a deep impact on my life, particularly during difficult times.  I imagine others probably experience trials as well, so I hope something here will bring some sort of comfort or perspective to endure, persist, and triumph.  Trials are specifically calculated for our individual exaltation.  God is profoundly aware of you and me, His children.  He loves us infinitely and will bless us tremendously as we are faithful to Him.  I testify and witness (have personal knowledge of, give a firsthand account of something experienced) that this is true.  Enjoy!

"The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy." 

- Neal A. Maxwell

“As [you] endure rejection, loneliness, self-doubt, homesickness, exhaustion, and temptation, the refiner’s fire will purify [your] soul. [You] will increase in wisdom and grow up in the Lord, and, as [you] stay faithful, [your] confidence will wax strong in the presence of God.”

- Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"We prepare in the way the Lord has directed. We hold ourselves in readiness to act on the Lord's timing. He will tell us when the time is right to take the next step. For now, we simply concentrate on our own assignments and on what we have been asked to do today. In this we are also mindful of the Lord's assurance: 'I will hasten my work in its time' (D&C 88:73)."

 - Dallin H. Oaks

"Some of us neglect to develop multiple forces of satisfaction. When one of the wells upon which we draw dries up through death, loss or status, disaffection, or physical ailment, we then find ourselves very thirsty because, instead of having multiple sources of satisfaction in our lives, we have become too dependent upon this or upon that."

- Neal A. Maxwell

The odyssey to happiness lies in the dimension of the heart. Such a journey is made on stepping-stones of selflessness, wisdom, contentment, and faith. The enemies of progress and fulfillment are such things as self-doubt, a poor self-image, self-pity, bitterness, and despair. By substituting simple faith and humility for these enemies, we can move rapidly in our search for happiness."

- James E. Faust

“First of all, it is incumbent upon us as students, as Latter-day Saints, and as children of God to see the divine potential in ourselves, to believe in ourselves, to know that with God’s help there is quite literally nothing in righteousness that we cannot become.... We of all people should not be guilty of living under our moral capacity, or, as Brigham Young regularly phrased it, ‘living beneath our privilege.’
If you lack confidence or always sound apologetic or feel you have an inferiority complex, get over it. We all start humbly, we all start with feelings of inadequacy, we all think the fellow seated on our right and the woman seated on our left are more talented, more gifted, had wealthier beginnings than we do, and are going to do better in life than we will. Well, they aren’t and they don’t and they won’t! They are just like you.
I say shame on you if you do not see the wonderful blessings you have had…. no one should ever apologize for lack of opportunity, lack of possibility, lack of divine love to guide us, or lack of dreams to make us better than we ever thought we could be – because all those gifts are ours for the taking if we want them.
Take your dreams, your education, the love of a whole Church full of people, and go make something of yourself.” 

 -Jeffrey R. Holland

"We are in perilous times, but I do not feel the pangs of that terror. It is not upon me. I propose to live so that it will not rest upon me. I propose to live so that I shall be immune from the perils of the world. [I shall] live by obedience to the commandments of God and to his laws revealed for my guidance. No matter what may come to me, if I am in fellowship with God, if I am worthy of the fellowship of my brethren, if I can stand spotless before the world, what does it matter to me what may happen to me? I am always ready, if I am in this frame of understanding, mind and conduct. It does not matter at all. Therefore, I feel no pangs of fear."

-Joseph F. Smith

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tribe of Levi

Of all the tribes of Israel, why is Levi singled out as those assigned as priests in the temple?  Did they receive a land inheritance with the other tribes?  What are we to make of the sons of Levi offering up an offering in righteousness?

Levi and Simeon - two of the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel) - were rather impertinent individuals.  They were "instruments of cruelty," quick to anger, and murderers (Gen. 49:5-6).  As a result, they would be cursed and scattered within Israel.  Simeon received a land inheritance, but it was surrounded by Judah and eventually assimilated, never to be recognized individually again (Deut. 33).  In the great census of Moses (reason for the name of his book of Numbers), Levi is specifically excluded from the rest of the tribes (Num. 1:47-49).  The tribe of Levi was not given a land inheritance like the rest of the tribes, but was scattered throughout the area (Josh. 13:33).

Stratford pointing out parts of the Negev, portions of which were given to Simeon

During and after the Exodus, Aaron and his sons were chosen to minister in the priest's office (Num. 3:1-3).  However, Aaron's first two sons "died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children" (Num. 3:4).  Aaron had two other sons that ministered, but they required additional assistance.  The Lord told Moses to "bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.  And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. ... And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel" (Num. 3:6-9).

When the Lord delivered the children of Israel from Egypt, a sort of compensation was exacted: "For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself" (Num. 8:17).  As replacements, the Levites were given to Aaron as a gift "to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary" (Num. 8:19).

As a result of Aaron's presidency over the priesthood conferred here and of the Levite incorporation, this lesser priesthood is often referred to as the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood.  While the names are used pretty much interchangeably, differences did exist in the offices held (evident in later references to priests and Levites - John 1:19, 1 Kings 8:4).  Levites held the priesthood, but only sons of Aaron could hold the office of priest.  "The priests could offer sacrifices for the people, burn incense on the altar, and teach the law, whereas the other Levites were employed in more menial tasks, such as the housekeeping of the tabernacle, keepig oil in the lamps ... and related tasks in assisting the priests" (BD - Aaronic Priesthood).

Temple at Tel Arad, in the Negev

In the last days, the Levites must make an offering to the Lord in righteousness (Mal. 3:3, D&C 13).  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that sacrifice has always been connected to the duties of the priesthood, and that when the Temple of the Lord is built, the sons of Levi will be purified and help restore all things, including sacrifice.  This doesn't include restoring all the rites and ceremonies of the Law of Moses, but does include things existing before Moses' time, particularly sacrifice (Teachings, pp. 172-73).  President Joseph Fielding Smith further commented about our dispensation of the fullness of times where all things are to be gathered and restored: "It will be necessary, therefore, for the sons of Levi, who offered the blood sacrifices anciently in Israel, to offer such a sacrifice again to round out and complete this ordinance in this dispensation.  Sacrifice by the shedding of blood was instituted in the days of Adam and of necessity will have to be restored.  The sacrifice of animals will be done to complete the restoration when the temple spoken of is built; at the beginning of the millennium, or in the restoration, blood sacrifices will be performed long enough to complete the fullness of the restoration in this dispensation.  Afterwards sacrifice will be of some other character" (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:94).

So what does this have to do with me right now?  Good question...  I think we relate to the tribe of Levi in many ways.  They, like us, were compelled to leave the society of God, and as a result of their sins, they would be cursed and scattered forever.  However, the Lord had great mercy on them, and brought them back into His chosen people as they lived up to His requirements.  The Levites were not born into their callings initially, but were adopted in.  We are also adopted into the Lord's society, and as we make righteous offerings unto the Lord (specifically temple and missionary work), we will be given the Lord's power (including priesthood power and blessings) and fully accepted as heirs of God.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Relationships With Deity

One of the consummate truths restored by Joseph Smith is the individuality of the Godhead.  In his great theophany that spring morning of 1820, Joseph saw with his mortal - yet transfigured - eyes two separate Personages "whose brightness and glory defy all description" (JSH 1:17).  God, the Eternal Father - the Man of Holiness - and His Only Begotten in  the flesh, Jesus Christ, showed themselves to this young boy of 14.  In those few moments, Joseph learned more about God than had been known for centuries previous.

Jesus, Himself, taught that eternal life - the greatest of all the gifts of God (D&C 14:7) - is coming to know who God is: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent" (John 17:3).  Joseph Smith taught that "correct ideas of the character of God are necessary in order to the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation; and that without correct ideas of his character the minds of men could not have sufficient power with God to the exercise of faith necessary to the enjoyment of eternal life" (Lectures on Faith, p.45).

I'd like to suggest three relationships with deity that will help us come to know the Godhead and better connect with them in ways befitting their respective links.

Heavenly Father - A Paternal Relationship

Heavenly Father is just that - our Father.  Jesus told his close friend, Mary Magdalene, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17).  While on the cross, experiencing "all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane" again, Jesus called out to His Father (Bruce R. McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane).  "In that most burdensome moment of all human history with blood appearing at every pore and an anguished cry upon His lips, Christ sought Him whom He had always sought - His Father.  'Abba,' He cried, 'Papa,' or from the lips of a younger child, 'Daddy.'  This is such a personal moment it almost seems a sacrilege to cite it.  A Son in unrelieved pain, a Father His only true source of strength, both of them staying the course, making it through the night - together" (Jeffrey R. Holland, None Were With Him).

That same Father that the Savior - the most powerful One to walk the earth - turned to in His most difficult time is also the same Father we can turn to.  He literally is the Great Parent of the Universe, the Father of our spirits.  He knows His children perfectly, and His entire purpose is to help those children progress and grow up to become like Him.  His is the ultimate power to exalt and glorify.

Our relationship with Him is cultivated through direct communication; we speak with Him.  We worship Him through two-way communication: prayer (Alma 33:3).  "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instictive on our part (Matt. 7:7-11).  Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.  Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other" (BD, Prayer).

Jesus Christ - A Redemptive Relationship

We do not have the same relationship with Jesus Christ as we do with our Heavenly Father.  They are distinct Beings and have distinct roles in our lives.  Jesus Christ is our Redeemer.  He, our Elder Brother, has purchased us with His blood and our salvation comes through Him. 

Orson F. Whitney penned a majestic view of Christ's role in our lives:

"Go forth, thou Chosen of the Gods, 
Whose strength shall in thee dwell!
Go down betime and rescue earth,
Dethroning death and hell. 
On thee alone man's fate depends,
The fate of beings all.
Thou shalt not fail, though thou art free-
Free, but too great to fall.

"By arm divine, both mine and thine,
The lost thou shalt restore,
And man, redeemed, with God shall be,
As God forevermore.
Return, and to the parent fold
This wandering planet bring,
And earth shall hail thee Conqueror,
And heaven proclaim thee King."

Jesus reveals His identity to us over and over again in the scriptures: "I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.... In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name" (Ether 3:14).  We have so much information about the Savior, and ours is the responsibility to learn of Him and His example.  We come to know more about the characteristics and qualities of both Heavenly Father and His Son through studying the life of Jesus.

We do not worship Christ the same way we do the Father.  Bruce R. McConkie states that the scriptures referring to worship of Christ are speaking in "the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us" (Our Relationship with the Lord).  We do not pray to Christ, but rather approach our Father in His name.  Our relationship with Christ grows as we study about Him, obey His commandments, and recognize His importance in our lives.  He bought back our souls from destruction, and is our Lord, God, and King.

The Holy Ghost - A Revelatory Relationship

The Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead, is an unembodied God.  He is a Revelator, Sanctifier, and Comforter.  His crowning role is to testify and bear record of the Father and the Son.  Through Him are spiritual gifts dispensed to the faithful.  While He is only in one place at a time, His power and influence may be manifest everywhere.  Nephi taught that angels work through this medium to assist in our lives (2 Ne. 32:3).  "Every person who knows or has ever known that Jesus is the Christ has received that witness from the Holy Ghost" (Marion G. Romney, The Holy Ghost).  

The Holy Ghost reveals to us the divinity of the Father and Son and also of gospel truths.  "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).  "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Mor. 10:5).  We pray frequently and partake of the Sacrament weekly for His companionship.

The Spirit of God is a master Teacher.  He will teach us what we should do & say, give us revelation, and uncover the mysteries of all things (Luke 12:11-12, John 14:16,26).  He is omniscient like the Father and Son, and has a knowledge of things past, present, and future (D&C 93:24).  He has been doing His job for a very long time and is expert at what He does.  There is no problem He hasn't dealt with, no struggle He hasn't seen, no answer he does not have, and no heartache He cannot soothe.  

All three members of the Godhead are closely interconnected with one another and make up one God or Godhead.  We pray to our Heavenly Father (paternal relation) in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ (redemptive relation), by the power of the Holy Ghost (revelatory relation).  Understanding and fostering our relationship with each member of the Godhead will allow us to realize our deepest desire - eternal life.