Tag: religion

Sadducees and Pharisees

saducees-and-phariseesDuring the time of Christ there was a group of leaders called the Sadducees and Pharisees. These were Jewish leaders that believed in following the letter of the law. Repeatedly these leaders would accuse Jesus of blaspheme for breaking laws such as healing on the Sabbath. In Mark 3:1-6 they even use it as motivation to plot the death of Jesus:

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.

And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.

And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.

I think it is sometimes easy to look at these people in the scriptures and think we are so much better but are we really? I recently had an experience where I was judged harshly for my interpretation of my faith. It’s a long story but just trust me it was extremely hurtful. I was told I was unworthy, sullied with filthy content,  and a bad example to youth. I felt upset, angry, devastated, frustrated and confused.

But I never for a second doubted my choices and how I live my faith. I know I am temple worthy and that God is happy with my life. If I didn’t feel that way I would change because nothing is more important to me than that. However, this person was making me feel ashamed for my choices and reducing my carefully nuanced positions into the harshest of extremes.

Then I thought about the Sadducees and Pharisees. They not only lived by the letter of the law but they created their own rules and then enforced them as if they are God’s law. Sometimes that happens in our modern church and it definitely happened in my situation. Jesus taught certain covenants needed following with exactness such as baptism, but he also taught the spirit of the law.

In Mathew 7:21 he said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

What is the will of the Father? That’s a tough question we each must answer for ourselves, but at the very least shouldn’t we be open to other people’s reasonable interpretations? Sure we have those core doctrines and principles but many life choices are up to the individual to lay out in the best way they know how. I learn from how other people interpret the faith and find truths I can often embrace. I think that’s what the spirit of the law is all about.

In 2 Cor 3:6 we are told to become ministers “not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but THE SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE”

What was Jesus’ response to the Sadducees and Pharisees? He kept on doing what He was doing and “they held their peace”. He did feel anger maybe a tiny bit like I did, but He also felt grieved, and continued doing His work of healing.

As is always my desire in life, I seek to follow Christ, and I know that my life choices while not perfect, are acceptable before the Lord. And I am going to shut out the Sadducees and Pharisees and continue to do the work of watching and reviewing movies, blogging, swimming and everything else I attempt in my life. This is what gives me life and it is my spot that the Lord needs me to work in.

And that may involve a carefully selected R rated movie on occasion, and you know what God is ok with that!

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Feeling Happy and Hopeful

Hey guys! After being sick for a few weeks and feeling a little discouraged, I am feeling great at the moment!

The biggest thing that has me feeling on top of the world is on Sunday we had our first meeting of the new Mid-singles ward.  This is something I have been dreaming of an praying for these past 4 years I’ve been in the family ward. The first fireside was better than I could have imagined. I felt the spirit more than I have in literally years and there were quite a few people I recognized from former YSA wards, activities and committees.  I think it is going to be an excellent fit for me and great thing for my life!!

The bishop and other leaders spoke and I felt a connection with them right away and that is something I have missed with my recent wards. Family ward bishops are so busy with marriage counseling and welfare concerns (and the youth) that it is tough to even meet with them, let alone get the kind of attention a YSA bishop can give. I just have a good feeling about this new bishopric.

And honestly I can’t wait! I can’t wait for the activities and FHE and just to have renewed spirituality and focus in my life. I know I will have to do  my part but I feel excited and enthusiastic- and I haven’t felt that way for a long time about church. The gospel and my faith of course are always huge in my life but the church has taken a back seat the last few years. I hope that will change with this new ward. I’m going to do my best to make sure it changes.

Anyway, I am feeling very optimistic and encouraged. I am also feeling good because this week has been a great week over on my youtube channel. Through various situations I ended up doing 3 podcasts this week. Yesterday I talked about Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan with my friend Tom and then tonight I talked with my friend Mark about the Best Indie Films of 2016.

These discussions were so much fun. And then on Saturday I am talking Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with my friends Abby, Jeremy and Richard, which I am greatly looking forward too.  I’m almost at 1000 subscribers so if you aren’t subscribed help me out! I think you will really enjoy the content. Thanks so much!

Tomorrow I am going to see the Broadway touring company of Newsies which I can’t wait to see as I loved the musical movie growing up.  And then on Saturday I have book club where we are discussing 2 obscure Jane Austen novels- Love and Friendship and Lady Susan. I LOVED the new movie based on Lady Susan but called Love and Friendship. If you can find it see it!

So things are looking good for me. Oh and I am going swimming with Etsuko on Friday. We decided we needed to get in the water to assuage our guilt at not swimming the GSL this year. It will be so much fun!

News and Updates

Hey guys! I just wanted to give you a quick update as Memorial Day is coming to a close. I hope you had a great day! I am happy to inform you I am pretty much healed from my illness of the last 2 weeks. It was brutal but I’m so grateful for all the support I had. If there’s one thing a tough experience can teach you it is it shows you all the love you have in your life. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers.

I have some fun news to share with you! The first exciting news has to do with the church congregation I go to. I have done my fair share of complaining on this blog about my family wards and how out of place I feel. Unfortunately it was my only option because I was too old for the YSA singles ward and the midsingles ward was 30 minute drive and that wasn’t going to happen. Well, I am so excited to announce that we are getting a midsingles ward in Draper!!!!  They announced it last week and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  It is going to start up right away with a fireside to be held on Sunday and the first meeting on June 12th!

This does have its downside because the ward will be massive- containing singles 31-45 from 28 stakes in the Sandy and Draper area. I am sure I will feel somewhat lost but as I already feel that way in the family ward at least there is some potential to make friends/date. Currently my life has little opportunities to meet new people so I am most excited for activities/Family Home Evening and other gathering times in the new ward. It should help my social circle at least a little bit (hey even if I meet one additional person that is a plus!)

midsingles

The other drawback is I will lose my home teachers, The Porters, who I love very much. Hopefully we can still stay in touch because they are only 2 houses down from me but I will miss their visits. They are the coolest people I know and so warm and accepting of me with all my flaws. I could talk to them for hours and have on a more than a few occasions.

Other than that I am excited to at least try something new. Hooray!

The other exciting news is I had to get my passport because I am going to Spain for the beginning of July!  I will be visiting my sister Anna in Valencia, Spain. I was determined to go to the beach this summer and she was there so I figured why not take advantage of it? I don’t know much about the area but am doing research. It looks like a neat place with beautiful water, which is most important to me.

valenciaI have been to Europe since I was in high school and haven’t been anywhere aside from a Mexican cruise since 2005! I am very excited.

I also don’t think I will be swimming the GSL race this year. It was a very hard decision for me but this recent illness finally sealed the deal. I just don’t think I will be strong enough Saturday to take that on. It’s so hard on my body with the salty water that it just doesn’t make sense. (It pains me to write that and a side of me still wants to do it. Darn it all!).

Anyway, that’s my news. I hope you are all doing well.  Let me know what you think!

Screenwriting interview with Melissa Leilani

Hi guys! Many of you know I have dabbled in writing over the years and participate in Nanowrimo each year.  Of course, I also love movies and especially a well written script.  Well, today I had the cool experience today where I got to interview Melissa Leilani and find out what it is like to be a screenwriter.  She was the main writer for a film I loved in 2015 called Freetown.

Freetown is a faith-based film but one that is approachable to anyone.  It tells the story of a man who must smuggle 6 missionaries out of Liberia during their brutal civil war.  Things are tense and Brother Abubakar is a man of practical faith mixed with a healthy dose of skepticism.  It makes him a very compelling character.

What I really appreciated about Freetown is that it told a compelling story and let the messsaging take care of itself.  Unlike many faith based films (that I still find some value in) I didn’t feel it was preachy or forcing a message upon me.  In fact, my friend Yusuf who is Muslim liked the film as much as I did.

Here are both of our reviews:

I think you might find it interesting to watch the film and then listen to the interview about her experience.  However, I also think it will be interesting if you are just interested in screenwriting or writing in general.  It was really cool to hear about her process, the research that went into the film and how she approached characters and faith.

We do get off topic a few times (we have very similar movie and theater taste!) but it was a lot of fun for me.  She has a theater background so her transition from playwright to screenwriter was very interesting.

Anyway, this is only the 3rd interview I have done, so if you have any feedback that would be great.  I hope you enjoy it.

Paris and the Ability to do Nothing

I am sure most of you have heard about the horrible terror attacks in Paris today.  I heard about the events later than most because I was innocently watching My Little Pony of all things on a binge watch (it was an animated show I still had yet to check out and I really liked it).  Then I noticed on my twitter feed a bunch of comments about Paris and I turned on the news.  It was awful.  People at a concert, out to eat, at a soccer game attacked and at least 153 brutally killed.  It’s hard to even wrap my brain around.  I remember feeling that way after 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing.  Why would anyone do such a thing?

My immediate concern was also to my sister who is currently living in Spain and traveling all around Europe on a fairly regular basis.  She just finished up a trip in Amsterdam and I wanted to make sure she was ok.  I didn’t know if I would wake her up but I sent her a text saying I was worried and I guess she had a nightmare and then read my text right after waking up.  That must have been a very surreal experience for her.  She is fortunately safe and not in a major city likely to be targeted but I still worry with her being over there.  I hope and pray she is able to stay safe.

It’s just so awful.  There’s no other way to say it, and what makes it worse is there is so little that can be done about it. Yes we can do more to fight terrorism and I have my own views on the current administrations job in that department but in the end if some wacko wants to go into a public place and do something like this there is little we can do to stop it.  We can’t be under guard and security all the time for every meal we eat, every movie we see, every concert we attend.  That’s not to say we can’t do a heck of a lot and it is a miracle more incidents like this don’t happen but at a certain point we can’t stop it. It’s not like the conflict of old  where a peace treaty is signed and a cavalry withdrawn.  These are soldiers who do not differentiate between civilian and soldier and don’t need a cavalry to do their damage.

It’s very scary time and was foretold to us by Timothy

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come”.

And I guess for me it is a weird experience watching the carnage and hearing the reporters talk about it.  I find I can only listen to about 15 minutes because it becomes circular and I end up weeping at the stories. And yet I feel guilty watching or doing anything else.  But on the other hand, what good is it for me to be upset here in Utah?  Aside from making a donation to the Red Cross or other worthy organization there isn’t much I can do about it.  It’s a very strange feeling to be presented with so much suffering and just have to sit and watch. It’s kind of a no-win situation.

So I went back to watching other programs and considered going to a movie but again for some reason that felt wrong and disrespectful, which I own is kind of ridiculous but that’s how I felt. You kind of feel like in the story of the Good Samaritan the Levite and the priest who leave the suffering man to die, but in this case there isn’t anything you can do despite seeing the images of suffering. Have any of you felt that way?

I guess if it can be any comfort we also know that during these difficult times God will be in the midst of the faithful to give us strength.

Zephaniah “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy”

We must never forget that He is mighty to save and He will help us and our leaders get through this perilous time.

“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

Jesus-Christ-Lamb-MormonI know it’s been said a million times but pray for Paris and all those in need of comfort on this horrible day.

Temple in Indiana Dedicated

This is a post mainly for my Mormon readers.

templeI have very exciting news!  Today in Carmel, Indiana (just outside of Indianapolis) they dedicated a temple for my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or the LDS part of Smilingldsgirl).

This is important to me because I served my mission in Indiana from 2003-2005.  Back then I could never have imagined a temple in Indianapolis because there were so many nearby (2 in Illinois, 1 in Kentucky 1 in Iowa, 1 in Michigan etc).  My mission was a great experience but it was incredibly challenging.  I can honestly say I left it all out there and gave m all spiritually, physically and mentally.  I’m not saying I was perfect but just that I did the best I could and I had a confirmation from Heavenly Father when I was done that he accepted my effort.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard the news of the temple way back in 2010.  But then it seemed to be taking forever to even get construction started so I started to wonder if it would ever happen.  I’m not sure what kind of difficulties they had because typically temples go from announced to built much more quickly.

However, I’m just so excited that it is done and the great work can go on there for the Hoosiers I love so much.  They are a giving, loving people who are deeply involved in community, churches and civic organizations.  I’ve never lived anywhere where high school and college sports was that important.  Anything that could be cheered on and celebrated was whether it was Indy Car racing or Notre Dame football.  It was deeply felt and passionate like nowhere I had ever seen before.  I can only imagine when that fervor gets turned to temple work what great things will be done.

temple4 temple3 temple2Seeing the Indianapolis Temple makes me want to renew my goal to go to the temple more as I am far to quick to let that slip.  And the sad part is I really need it.  It’s such a peaceful, quiet, lovely place and really is my sanctuary from the world.  I’m so happy that my Hoosier friends will have such a place for them to commune with the Lord.

I do have a witness of this work and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God through a spiritual witness and it is my greatest desire to serve Him each day.  I know Jesus died for me and has suffered for my sins and shortcomings.

Congrats to my Indiana Mormon friends!  I love you!

temple5

General Conference, Easter and Complacency

This is more a post for my Mormon readers.  Thanks.

What a marvelous weekend I just experienced.  It’s not that often when LDS General Conference and Easter line up but it happened this year.  This adds a special spirit to the  meeting beyond what is normally felt.  A special focus on Christ and his teachings that I was very moved by.

It was a low key Easter/Conference weekend for me. I had to get some work done for projects this week.  (Very stressful week at work because my supervisor is quitting on Thursday!).

But I started out the day making waffles and having a yummy brunch all to myself.

brunchMy cousin  Danielle and her husband Cory then came over for dinner Sunday night which was a lot of fun.  They are two of my favorite people and I love spending time with them.  I made split pea soup out of ham I had served last time they had come to visit.   This is the soup before it was cooked.  I added real peas this time for the first time and it was very yummy and healthy for an Easter dinner.

split pea soup

I had hardly any candy this Easter which I guess was a good thing but felt a little strange.  We did have brownies with dinner but no Easter baskets or treats this year (I’m 34 so I suppose that should be expected).  In a way it kind of reminds me of my recent Christmas where I was alone and had a low key, kind of ordinary day.  I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit sad because I’d love to have a partner to share things with but it’s just not what God has seen for me at this time.

Anyway, at least I got to see my cousins which was great and hear from my church’s prophet President Monson and apostles for 2 days.

conference tweetingI also tweeted during conference as I have done for several years.  I tried to keep it a little smaller than in previous years but I enjoyed reading others insights into talks and formulating my own.  Tweeting helps me because it involves multiple senses than if I was simply listening to the talks.

It was an immensely gratifying conference and I feel inspired to improve. One of the big themes of conference which struck me is to avoid complacency in gospel living.  To be anxiously engaged in good causes and increasing your testimony of light and truth.

This talk by my Mother’s cousin Kevin W Pearson was very moving.  Stay close to the tree:

I also loved Elder Nielson where he shared the story of his sister who left the church and for many years was disaffected but came back.  It was moving on many levels.

President Eyring spoke on fasting and reminded me to try harder to live that principle. It’s a principle that I have never had a great testimony of so I know I need to work on it.

Elder Holland told a moving story about 2 brothers rock climbing and how they were able to rescue each other.  He brought home powerfully our need to reach out to those around us and offer love, support and rescue.

Finally we got to hear from the prophet.

There were some dissenters at the sustaining on Sunday which I found extremely distasteful.  These people don’t seem to understand the church they are a part of.  This is not a democracy but a church led by revelation from God. They had their moment in the sun and got their interviews with media I am sure so good for them but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely rude and disrespectful.

Anyway, I do believe President Monson is a prophet just like Moses and Abraham were prophets who spoke for God.  I believe in Jesus Christ and His great Easter gift for all of us.  That He alone as the Son of God could suffer and die and free us from sin and death.  I know because I have felt the holy witness reaffirm it to me again and again.  It has given me everything in my life and even on those lonely afternoons when I wish I could be surrounded by a family of my own I know that Jesus loves me and has given me His truths. For that I am so grateful.

On a totally random note I went to see Furious 7 on Saturday and the review came out pretty good.  Check it out.

Did any of you get to listen to Conference?  I hope you all had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend.