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Tolerance and Love

Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children . . . .In fact: God is Love.

Peter taught that “God is no respecter of persons: “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:34-35)

In his conference talk on tolerance and love, Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that “real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.” (Russell M. Nelson, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” Ensign, May 1994, 71)

Below are the words of Russell M Nelson, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have taken the liberty of using part of his talk as I feel they are most applicable today. He too used that quote from Acts 10:34-35, then said:

“Yet His children can be so intolerant with one another. Neighboring factions, whether they be identified as groups or gangs, schools or states, counties or countries, often develop animosity. Such tendencies make me wonder: Cannot boundary lines exist without becoming battle lines? Could not people unite in waging war against the evils that beset mankind instead of waging war on each other? Sadly, answers to these questions are often no. Through the years, discrimination based on ethnic or religious identity has led to senseless slaughter, vicious pogroms, and countless acts of cruelty. The face of history is pocked by the ugly scars of intolerance.

“While we strive for the virtue of tolerance, other commendable qualities need not be lost. Tolerance does not require the surrender of noble purpose or of individual identity.

“We are grateful for the many examples of heroic service rendered in times of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or other disasters. Such cooperative efforts to help neighbors in distress transcend any barriers posed by religion, race, or culture. Those good deeds are latter-day love in action!

“Of course we are concerned with the need for ambulances in the valley below. But at the same time, we cannot ignore the greater need for protective guardrails on the cliffs above. Limited resources needed for the accomplishment of the higher work cannot be depleted in rescue efforts that provide only temporary relief.

“The biblical prophet Nehemiah must have felt that same commitment to his important calling. When he was asked to divert attention away from his primary purpose, he replied: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? (Nehemiah 6:3)

“Now may I offer an important note of caution. An erroneous assumption could be made that if a little of something is good, a lot must be better. Not so! Overdoses of needed medication can be toxic. Boundless mercy could oppose justice. So tolerance, without limit, could lead to spineless permissiveness.”

“The Lord drew boundary lines to define acceptable limits of tolerance. Danger rises when those divine limits are disobeyed. Just as parents teach little children not to run and play in the street, the Savior taught us that we need not tolerate evil. “Jesus went into the temple of God, and … and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.” (Matthew 21:12) Though He loved the sinner, the Lord said that He “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” (D&C 1:31) His Apostle Paul specified some of those sins in a letter to the Galatians. The list included “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, … wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” (Galatians 5: 19-21)

“To Paul’s list I might add the regrettable attitudes of bigotry, hypocrisy, and prejudice. These were also decried in 1834 by early Church leaders who foresaw the eventual rise of this church “amid the frowns of bigots and the calumny of hypocrites.” The Prophet Joseph Smith prayed that “prejudices may give way before the truth.” (D&C 109:56,70) Hatred stirs up strife ( Proverbs 10:12) and digs beneath the dignity of mature men and women in our enlightened era.”

My beloved brothers and sisters, at this time in America many are trying to distract us from what is so important. Jesus Christ taught us to love others as we love ourselves. Remember, those who practice an “eye for an eye” only leave an entire nation of blind people.

Another of my favorite teachers was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She once said,

“If we pray, we will believe; If we believe, we will love; If we love, we will serve.” (Mother Teresa)

It is my prayer that we will follow the Saviour and stop feeding into the world’s hatred. Rather, let us love and do good wherever we may be.

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Respect to an Unknown Woman

While I honor and respect good men, I also honor and respect good women. I know Jesus does as well.

I share with you the story that Jesus asked us to share about one particular woman:

“And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he (Jesus Christ) sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

“And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

“For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

“And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

“For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

“She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

“Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” (Mark 14:3-9)

We never learn her name, yet we do know who she was by what she did. She was a faithful disciple of the Lord who knew and understood why He had come and what was about to happen to Him. She showed Him respect in spite of what others, even members of her own church, said about her. It is my prayer that we also may be showing respect to the Lord when He returns and that He will know us by our having faithfully followed Him while we wait for His return.

“For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” (Psalms 39:9)

I love that God sent His only begotten Son for me and you. I also know that:

“We are eternal beings. We have no way of comprehending how long we dwelt in the presence of God as his spirit children. We are here in mortality for a moment of testing and trial. Then we will come forth in the resurrection, receive an inheritance in whatever kingdom we deserve, and go on living the commandments to all eternity.

“This life consists of a brief yesterday, a few short hours of today, and a few moments tomorrow. The oldest men among us scarcely live longer than a hundred years. But the life that is to be is forever. It will have no end. Men (and women) will rise from the grave and not die after. Life is eternal, unending; never after the resurrection will the children of our Father taste death.”

“Then shall all men (and women) stand before the bar of the great Jehovah to be judged according to the deeds done in the flesh.”  Spencer W Kimball – (1895-1985)

I love that the Lord loves women as well as men. I love that Jesus Christ invites us all to follow Him and be like Him, so that His Father, the Most High God will see that We Love Them and are listening to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.

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The Appearance of Evil

Most people have no clue what this even means any longer. Thus, I am going to spell it out in plain words, first by quoting from the Holy Bible.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

“Quench not the Spirit.

“Despise not prophesyings.

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

” And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18-24)

In 1973, when I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints, I had no idea what that scripture in Thessalonians meant. When my bishop called me into his office to let me know he had to have those who had introduced me to the Lord transferred, because others had gossiped, I was livid. He said it was the “appearance of evil.” Those Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints could no longer teach others in that particular area due to the gossip.

That made no sense to me back then. God knew we had done nothing wrong. The missionaries knew we had done nothing wrong. I knew that we were only studying the Lord’s truths and having meals together. We never went into the back areas of my home. I mean, I had come from a world full of evil, so I knew what evil really looks like. It took me many years to discover what the “appearance of evil” really means.

Examples make a large difference in how the world behaves, and thus I share two with you.

Cherilyn Sarkisian born 20 May 1946 in El Centro, California is best known as: “Cher”, part of the Sonny and Cher who recorded “I Got You Babe” back in 1965. She was not then, nor is she now a religious person. I remember when she was about 14 or 15 years old, before she first got into show business. She always kept her body covered. She was very shy, in fact. Then, she met an older man and they got together. When she was first asked to wear revealing clothes for a publicity photo, she wore body tights underneath to cover her nakedness, even though she appeared almost naked. Young girls wanted to dress like her and act just like her.

However over the months that followed, her then boyfriend, Sonny Bono encouraged her to be more relaxed and just “go with the flow”. The money was incredible and that allowed her to accept what she previously had not felt comfortable doing. She and her husband (they married in 1969) became very famous, mostly because of those photographs as well as their music. During the 1960s, times were changing for those us in California.

The reason I share this with you, is so you can know how things started and how they ended up for someone who does not know God. When a person does not have knowledge of God in their life, they have no anchor to hold onto. In the world, then, as well as now, others take charge and try to determine what we wear and do. They assume you will do anything for money.

Now, allow me to give you another example.

Lindsey Stirling born September 21, 1986 in Santa Anna, California is an American violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She presents choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos found on her YouTube channel. She is also a person of faith in Jesus Christ and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-saints.

When she was sixteen, she joined a rock band in Mesquite High School in Gilbert, Arizona, with four friends, called “Stomp on Melvin”. She was also a member of Charley Jenkins Band for about a year. Miss Stirling attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah to study film making. She went on to perform missionary work in New York City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A story that she wrote about her mission was later published in the compilation “Do Not Attempt in Heels: Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who’ve Been There.”

Recently (2015) she made headlines for a piece of clothing she was wearing at one of her performances. Thus, I am using her as a modern example of why the “appearance of evil” is so important.

When those who wanted her to wear that dress were told she would not dress that revealing, I have been told she prayed about what to do. She covered her nakedness so she knew she was decent, thus she has no guilt and was able to do her job and earn a living.

The only problem being that those who saw her felt that she had given into the “modern” way of dressing. Because she is a good girl, she had no clue the “appearance” she gave was just like Cher did so many years ago. The good news is, she is still young, and loves the Lord. She has those who love her in a clean way, and will not strive to influence her the way Cher’s people did.

The bad news is, the designers of today do not make clothing that is modest and decent. They highlight parts of a woman’s body to make money. While those dresses might be “stylish”, the fact that they cause others to look at areas they have no business looking at is the “appearance” that lust likes. Most of those who might be willing to create modest clothing charge more than most people can afford. God has asked us to “abstain from the appearance of evil”.  So what does this mean to you?

Personally, I feel we need to go back to sewing our own clothing, or hiring a seamstress or tailor to make our clothing to meet our own standards, not the world’s standards. That way we can make a difference by abstaining from the “appearance of evil” rather than just covering up. We need to not only respect ourselves, but other people as well. What we wear and what we do sets the tone for those around us.