Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So many things, so little time...

I keep saying I have all these things in the works, and I do, but when am I going to make time for them? I just don't know. Each of them are relatively large projects, so when will I make time for them? When I have some.

I suppose this is just a heads-up to say my life for the next four days will be completely full, and so no posts should be expected of me.
I finally sent my YouTube friend a response (actually, I did that about a week and a half ago), which covered the prophecies of those prophets from the Bible which went unfulfilled. I don't think he expected what I sent, but I'm checking daily for a response, so we'll see.

The Vancouver Temple open-house has finished, and here are the stats:
39,500 people through
100,000 cookies eaten

I think we were hoping for around 50,000 people to go through, but 40,000 is quite a formidable host. Anyway, the Temple Youth Celebration is very ready to go forward. The youth are pumped, and so are the counselors! I'll post photos, news, etc., on Monday. The actual youth performance is on Saturday, and the prophet, for whom the youth will be performing (as well as thousands of locals), will be in attendance. The dedication of our Temple is on Sunday, which makes May 2, my new favourite day of the year.

As I walked into my room, I heard President Monson's voice through my computer. So it turns out I had left iTunes on, and it was playing a CES fireside from last year. I walked in on it where there was about 10 minutes left, and he was saying, "Beware the flashy start, and the fade-out finish." This was especially profound since I've made a commitment to listen closely to, and follow specific promptings. One which comes to mind occurred this past Saturday: I was watching TV with my friend, and when he left I searched through the listings and found that Dexter was on. Now, unfortunately this wasn't the Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory, this was Dexter the blood-spatter analyst by day, homicidal maniac by night. I love crime shows, and when I do actually watch TV, I tend to tune into shows like Cold Case Files, or American Justice. Anyway, so my first urge is to turn Dexter on, and so I change the channel and it goes through the warning, "coarse language," OK, "mature content," yeah, "violence," understandable, "nudity and sexuality," huh, not so cool. Well, the only thing I hear in my brain is, "change the channel." I try for about, 2 seconds, to rationalize my way out of it, but I give in and change the channel.

My thoughts are a little scattered, but I was doing some chores today and something I thought was, "if it was hard for me growing up, I can't imagine what it'll be like for my kids." And I can't. But if I'm doing what God wants me to do, then I'll be in a place to help them through the difficulties that their day will bring.

Anyway, there's a great need to listen to the prophet, because he is after all, God's mouthpiece to the world. By listening to him, we'll become more able to tune into what God wants for us, and what He wants us to do. The sooner we make the necessary changes in our life to allow ourselves to be influenced by the Holy Spirit, the sooner we can experience the joy that comes with those changes. I can vouch for that - and the fact that these are lifelong opportunities we're given to change.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Joseph Smith/Jesus Christ": Part II

All right, feeling gross and ill has kept me away, so I apologize for that, but let's get back into it. This is a... Review, I suppose, for the film, "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith," produced by "Search for the Truth." From what I can tell, this is meant to be an unbiased analysis of Mormonism and how it compares to Christianity. This I find funny. Are Christians not defined as people who believe in, and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ? Apparently not. Let's dive in, shall we?

In my post entitled, ""Joseph Smith/Jesus Christ": Poignant or Pointless?", I listed two flaws in the film. One was the use of a quote by Elder Orson Pratt, taken from the periodical known as The Seer, which in 1865, received this damning statement from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. With regard to Elder Pratt's teachings they said, "The Seer [and other writings by Pratt] contain doctrines which we cannot sanction, and which we have felt impressed to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works, or parts of works, are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be cut out and destroyed." Now, the quote is a pretty good one, where Elder Pratt wrote, "Convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information." Some context for this quote would have been nice, especially since someone searching for that quote would run across the fact that in that article, Elder Pratt was addressing his defenses of polygamy. Without knowing of the existence of the statement made by the leaders of the Church, that could perhaps cause some degree of damage someone's faith. Although, that's the job of the people at "Search for the Truth."

I haven't looked into any more of the video yet than I had watched as of Sunday, April 18th, so I can only presume that the way in which they quote scripture will continue throughout the rest of the video. What I'm referring to is the fact that they'll summarize the part of the scripture they aren't interested in, and then quote whatever part of the scripture they consider the focus. This is not only misleading but has a tendency to pervert the scriptures, and places on that scripture the restrictions of whatever interpretation they have made in their summary.

Let's continue. I'd say, "onward and upward," but something tells me that's not somewhere this DVD is heading, specifically in terms of how it's probably going to present the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So this is obviously where I think this DVD is headed, and after my analysis is done, I'll write a much shorter review of their DVD, just to sum things up.

OK, instantly, by their dividing of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ to "determine which one holds the truth," we're presented with a dichotomy, as though Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ cannot be accepted together. I feel somewhat deceived, because the form of Christianity we're being presented with is the version of it that is riddled with Catholic believes, such as the Trinity. We're asked, "did he become a god through the faithful keeping of his ordinances, or has he always been the only true God?" This we're told, despite references in the Bible to Jesus Christ and his Father, such as the statement made by Christ at Golgotha, recorded in Matthew and Mark (with slight differences), "...Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Why would Christ ask this? If he is God and Christ, could he really forsake himself? How do they explain this scripture? Food for thought, and no doubt something to keep in mind while we venture through this DVD.

Another dichotomy is the presentation of scriptures: the Bible, or the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is claimed by the Latter-day Saints to be the most correct book on earth. Indeed, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:461) This does not mean that the Book of Mormon is without errors, nor does it mean that we disbelieve the Bible. Our 8th Article of Faith states, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God" (italics added). We believe in, and revere the Bible, but believe it was a book for the people of old. The Book of Mormon is likewise believed in and revered, the difference being that we believe it has come forth by the gift and power of God for the generations of people on the earth right now.

OK, now around 2:30 minutes into it, we're presented with the claims, or dichotomies, of Mormonism and Christianity: "both claim Jesus is the Christ, both refer to the teachings of the Old Testament, both claim to be the truth." Am I the only one seeing a problem here? Then, "lets now examine these two men and their teachings." A 10 second backtrack will reveal something interesting. She says, "both claim Jesus is the Christ." A look through Merriam Webster's dictionary tells us that a Christian is " one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ." So what's with this splitting of "Christianity," and "Mormonism," when Mormons are, in fact, and by definition, Christians?

Can you tell I'm having fun? Now, at just under 3 minutes into this, we're examining the person of Jesus according to "Search for the Truth." This is where I'm going to stop this post. And in explaining why, it's due to the fact that, although it may sound silly, or funny or ridiculous, I'm feeling too contentious. At this point I'd rather have a post that's as unbiased as it can possibly be, and when people become emotionally involved in their subject, bias is more prone.

Since the introduction has been covered though, I think it'll be relatively easy to go through the rest, especially since the groundwork has been set about which kind of Christianity is being compared here, and we've established that it's somewhat backwards in it's analysis of there being a dichotomy of either Christianity or Mormonism.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Anti-Mormon Drivel

While puttering around my documents I located one entitled, "Anti-Mormon Drivel." I've mentioned it before, but one of my siblings had made a post on their LiveJournal, which has since been taken down, about various fallacies regarding the Church. I think he was simply upset and trying to "educate" those in our family who had joined the Church, or was just venting, but the post wasn't kind at all. After reading it, many years ago, I resolved to look up each reference in the paper and refute it with the truth. Believing it to be lost, I worked hard to try and find the batch of lies again so I could address them, but to no avail. Having found it gives me great satisfaction. It's about three pages or so and I've refuted a couple points it brings up, but will be working hard at finishing my rebuttal. It was with great disappointment that in looking for it in a search engine, I was drawn to the supposed "original." I was just upset that my sibling hadn't actually looked up anything about the Church, but instead copied and pasted what someone else had put out there. So! The point of this post is to express my happiness in having found it, and to assure everyone that it'll be a good read once I have it posted - so check back!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Joseph Smith/Jesus Christ": Poignant or Pointless?

So, I had the opportunity to go to the temple on Saturday with some out-of-country friends: a former Sister missionary and her husband, their daughter and mother-in-law. As soon as we got over the crest of the hill, I saw a lone protester and was instantly giddy. I don't know what it is, but ever since I went to Salt Lake for the October 2008 General Conference, I find protesters to be.. well, a form of entertainment I guess.

Here's a photo I took from atop the Conference Centre of the protesters along the Square. My favourite is the guy left of centre, yeah, the one in the Satan outfit.

When I first joined the Church I had never heard of the "Mormons," and a few months into the year 2004 I went online and began looking at anti-Mormon material. I got wound up in this particular LiveJournal that claimed to be a place for "recovering Mormons," meaning LDS members who had left the faith. I forget the subject matter, but something caught my attention and I experienced a trial of faith. I posted a few times on the LJ and although a few of the people there claimed I was a "troll," someone else seemed keen on helping me through my difficulty, no matter which direction I chose: to continue with the Church, or to leave it. They believed I was actually experiencing a trial of faith, and I'll always be grateful to that mystery person for not pushing their own agenda but for helping me figure out what I wanted and believed.

Anyway, since then I've always been drawn to anti-Mormons, and though I stayed away from it for a couple years after that, I've gone through two stages with regard to my reactions to them: first I felt anger towards them, and now I react with a bit of humour. Yes, I find anti-Mormons funny. Well, for the most part, that is until I actually meet one who knows what they're talking about and have done their own research - then my response is a kind of searching interest.

So when we were leaving the temple, we pulled out into the street and saw a man handing out newspapers and little DVDs. I was intrigued because there was a picture of the Saviour and a picture of Joseph Smith on the cover. It's called "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith," and is produced (as far as I can tell) by an organization called "Search for the Truth." In other words, this wolf in sheep's clothing was handing out DVD's to let people visiting the temple know the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. I'll edit that I think: the differences between Mormonism and Mainstream Christianity. As far as I'm concerned, there is a difference between the Christianity of today and the Christianity from Biblical times. A big difference.

So this is just an introduction to that video, which I'll watch within the week, and then post on. It's not looking good though; I'm only three and a half minutes in and I've found two errors. The first is within a quote by Orson Pratt, which is shown onscreen and states, "Convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God, and we will be ever gratefull for the information." As I'm an English major, I can't ignore the spelling mistake in the word "grateful." As for this quote, it's from a periodical Elder Pratt published in called The Seer (careful, that's a large PDF file), and that particular quote comes from an article he wrote defending polygamy. In 1865, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve released this statement with regard to Elder Pratt's teachings, "The Seer [and other writings by Pratt] contain doctrines which we cannot sanction, and which we have felt impressed to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works, or parts of works, are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be cut out and destroyed."

The next error seems to just be a part of what mainstream Christianity likes to do, that is, "simplify" the scriptures. On screen we're shown a supposed quote from the Book of Abraham, found within the LDS' Pearl of Great Price. Now, if you just read what it says, it seems like they're actually quoting the scripture, but instead they quote part of it and "simplify" the rest. Here's what they show: "Our Father said, 'Whom shall I send?' Two of our brothers offered to help. Our oldest brother, Jesus Christ, who was then called Jehovah, said, 'Here am I, send me." The way I first read it made me think the way most people would, that they were quoting, word for word, from the scriptures. I picked up my scriptures and thumbed through it until I found Abraham 3:27, curious about what they "simplified." The scripture reads: "And the Lord said" Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first." Now, I understand that mainstream Christianity uses different terms for the Saviour and for God, but is it really so difficult to understand? My real upset comes from the way they format this, making it appear as a quote when it isn't. Format, people, format.

All right, so this has been, like I said, the introduction. Yes, three and a half minutes has been stretched into two large paragraphs. Using simple math, this hour and twenty minute long video will probably be turned into about 23 paragraphs. Not only am I working on this video now, but I've got a commentary/review on current Quorum of the Twelve President, Boyd K. Packer's "The Holy Temple," (synopsis found here) in the works, as well as the previously mentioned posts on excommunication, the documentary known as "The Mormons," prayer regarding the Book of Mormon, and one on the purpose of temples. In other words, make sure you check back weekly for new posts!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just some milk before meat

So this last week has been absurdly busy, and I guarantee this next week will be even more so. Ahh, such is the last week of class and the following exam week. Today's question: What should this post be about?

I've considered a few topics, like my thoughts and feelings on the new Vancouver temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith's martyrdom, and.. well, mostly temple-related topics. I have several posts in the works, they just require some citations and clean-up before I'm ready to post them. The topics? The purposes of temples, excommunication, the PBS documentary "The Mormons," and receiving answers to our prayers!

So with my assurances that there are some intense posts coming up, I'll go ahead and write up a bit on my thoughts about the temple.

Last week I had the opportunity to go through the temple on a tour with my mother, younger brother and friend. Since then I've been working hard at getting some of my friends from high school to come along. Turns out it's harder than I thought! I've discovered that if you invite five friends to do something, odds are you'll get just two to come along. Such was the case tonight, as I actually got back from the temple a couple of hours ago.

So, last week was my first time going through any of the Lord's temples, although it was just a tour. It's interesting when I consider how it felt.. I heard someone saying on Sunday how intensely they felt the Spirit. After hearing that I felt, ashamed? Something along those lines, because when I went through the temple I recognized the Spirit was there, but to me it felt, compared to how a dedicated temple feels when I'm in one, like it was just another building - maybe along the lines of another chapel or even the Conference Center in Salt Lake. So I kept thinking through the tour, "This is just like any other building.. for now." In hindsight, I'll say I'm both right and wrong on this. I'm right in that it's really just a shell of what it will be as soon as the May dedication rolls around. I'm wrong in that it is the House of the Lord, dedicated or not, and therefore is unlike any other building on the Earth.

Now, mostly I was concerned about how the experience was for my mother and brother, especially since the purpose of temples is to bind families together, and both of those members of my family are in a position where they may not want to, or cannot be bound to someone for eternity in a temple. My mother is also of the opinion (last I talked to her about it) that if she were to receive her endowments in the temple, she'd have to be a "Molly Mormon."

It seems reasonable and silly to me that I'd be going through the temple my first time and worrying about how someone else' experience is going, rather than concerning myself with my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Silly in that it was my first time, after all, so shouldn't I trouble myself with my own relationship with the eternal? Reasonable in that they're my family and I love them and I want us all to be in a place where we can be tied together for eternity, and also that I'm not too worried about my own spirituality (not meaning I'm allowing myself to be lulled into a false sense of security) and more concerned about theirs. To illustrate this point, I've often wondered over the question, "Would you die for so-and-so?" My answer, at least in theory, has always been "Yes," no matter who "so-and-so" happens to be. This is because I feel it's important to be as prepared as possible for that time when we meet our Maker. If the option was to allow someone who hasn't received the Gospel to die, or allow myself to take their place, that gives them all the more time to prepare, so I'm OK with that.

OK, so aside from worrying about whether the tour-guide was explaining things well, or clearly enough, so that my mother didn't think I was nutty for wanting to receive my endowments/get sealed in the temple, I had a pretty good experience. The temple is, of course, gorgeous and breathtaking - that sort of goes without saying. I loved looking for symbolism while I was wandering through, and I took particular interest in the artwork, it being in the area I specialize in (realism). I enjoyed taking in the serenity in the waiting room, walking through the baptistery, and then going through the rooms upstairs; it has actually made me more excited for when I go through the temple for myself. Of course walking through the bride's room and then later into the sealing room cracked open a part of my mind reserved for "The Future," but I most enjoyed the Celestial Room.

So, why did I think this room was my all-time favorite? Well, Celestial rooms in LDS temples are meant to reflect heaven. As they do on these tours, before leading their group into the Celestial room, tour guides will explain the room and then invite the group to remain in silence to contemplate their relationship with God, and things eternal in nature. Going through the first time, the day was quite slow and as such we weren't being herded through the temple with other groups at our heels. For this reason we stayed in the Celestial room for quite a chunk of time - or maybe it just seemed that way. After I took in as much of the room as I could, I found myself staring out at the patterns in one of the windows. During this time it occurred to me that since I had been introduced to sealings I've been excited about the prospect of seeing my family after I'm dead. But I had always really just pictured some form of future family. This might have something to do with the fact that I think my family is demented and like most people, there are times when I'd rather not be related to some of them. But these things aside, I found myself really wanting to be with them forever. It felt revelatory.

So, if you've ever got the chance, go to a temple open-house. I dare you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How I love thee, let me count the ways...

Just a few thoughts this beautiful afternoon, before heading out to a beautiful new temple!

I went back through my journal and read an entry I made after our December 2009 stake conference. It reads, "Nearly every talk had something to do with marriage, family, or spouses. It was... one of those conferences." Is it just me, or is there some kind of conspiracy out there? It seems like whenever I hit a point in my life that's supposed to be a marker of some kind, out come the big guns, metaphorically speaking of course. General Conference, which I truly enjoyed while I was out in Alberta, seemed to be rife with advice, comments and full-blown talks about marriage, love, spouses, or children. Not only that, but Spring seems to be the season of love, and the way I figured that one out was to count the number of people I know getting engaged these days.

There must be something in the sacrament water.

Needless to say, I've had a lot of time to think about love.

Elder Bednar gave a fantastic talk the conference before last where he said that public outpourings of love over the pulpit (during fast and testimony Sunday) make him squirm. My mother is of a like attitude, but for a different reason than Elder Bednar's (which I'll not get into). Elder Bednar went to say "that the spouse and children should not be hearing this apparently rare and private communication in public at church."

What I drew from that particular part of his talk was that although it's nice to be appreciated in public, it's even nicer to hear that at home, and on a consistent basis.

Elder Bednar squirms, but I cringe, especially when I sign into an infamous social networking site and see that someone has changed there status to something like, "John Smith loves his schnoopsy-poo," or "Jane Johnson wants everyone to know how much she loves and adores Jim, and always will." Just today I signed in and saw two such statuses, the latter causing me to cringe more than the first.

I have no problem with people expressing their love for each other, by all means - do! But I start to squirm when it's so publicly announced. It's not scriptural by any means, but I think it starts to mean less, the more often love is told in public.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gifts! Gifts for Everyone!!

All right, so I clearly failed my vision of a post a day. But there's a very good reason! Which is that I received a last-second invitation to go on a 1200 mile road trip with a couple of friends. See? It's a good reason. Aside from that, I believe if you're going to fail, fail big. Well, not really, but for this post-a-day nonsense I do. More realistically, I think I'll be able to manage a post once a week.

So, what's the topic of this post going to be? I got into some friendly banter with a sibling, which was started by my asking, "What's the point of Easter, why do we celebrate it?" The response was "why don't you tell us?" Naturally, my response was, "It's a celebration of Christ's resurrection, of his power over death, and through him, our ability to be resurrected." It makes me giggle, but the conversation took a negative turn: "What's the definition of ignorance?", I was asked. Well, that's easy: "Lacking knowledge or training, being unaware or uninformed." And I posed a question to them, which was "What's the definition of undiscerning?" This ties into the topic of this post because the gift of discernment is, to me, a highly treasured gift. It gives one the ability to know right from wrong. There are degrees of all gifts, of course, but according to the scripture I've hyperlinked, we have all received the gift of discernment.

I like the idea of gifts from God. How amazing is the fact that God has given us all gifts? Some modern-day scripture tells us the following about gifts:

8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
• • •
17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.
19 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.
• • •
24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
25 And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.
• • •
30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

So, in short: All gifts are from God, although we may receive them in different ways. We have these gifts to "profit" us, although we can lose them through unbelief. Lastly, to truly embrace our gifts, those that we have and those which God is wanting to give to us, we need to turn to Christ.

Simple enough, right? All right, so now that we've got that out there, let's get deeper into it.

There are a vast number of gifts out there! Although as humans we tend to like to classify things, this isn't something I like to do that with. But I'll try, anyway. I think it would work best to do this by the outward manifestations of our gifts. The above scripture tells us that "there are different ways that these gifts are administered." This can apply in two different ways. The first is that God gives us these gifts in different ways ("to give," or "to mete out"), and the second is that we can use them in different ways ("to use"). My focus is on the first.

So the greatest of all the spiritual gifts we can receive (I dare you to dispute) is the gift of learning. If you're reading my words right now, you've received that gift - amazing! There are some people out there who are just really good at something, "naturally." These are the gifts that are given to us right off the bat. For example, when I was 9 I realized I had a knack for drawing (my focus was on Angora rabbits back then), but after awhile I noticed I could really only draw the things in front of me - if I can see it, I can draw it, and usually exceptionally well. This isn't meant to be a pat on the back, I'm just using myself to illustrate the point. Naturally, I was good at drawing. 11 years later, I don't think as highly of my drawings. This is because I haven't kept up with it as much as I should have. As such, I've begun drawing portraits whenever I have the opportunity. This is the second way in which we receive gifts - through learning.

If I want to learn a language, I can't just pray and hope I know it when the day is out. I actually have to go out, take classes, learn the basics of the language and if I can, go where it is they speak the language I'm learning. And if I've learned a language I need to keep using it or else I'll lose it.

As for classifying gifts into categories of their types, we can sort of do it: two categories being the temporal and the spiritual. Both of these types interact with each other, as well as a third type: intellectual. I think what I'm getting at is classification by the type of manifestation shown by each type of gift. For example, a close friend of mine is amazing with his guitar; this is an extrinsic manifestation, although of course it can interact with the spiritual (if he were to pray for increased talent) and the intellectual (learning theory, notes, chords,etc.). It isn't hard to think of extrinsic, or temporal gifts, although it may be more difficult to recognize spiritual gifts.

Some spiritual examples are listed in the scriptures: (these are found here) great faith, healing, being healed, performing miracles, prophesying, and seeing (either with their physical eyes or spiritually being able to "feel" their presence) angels and other spirits.

Now, if you actually clicked on that hyperlink up there and read the scriptures I sent you to, you'll notice I only used certain of the gifts it lists. This is because although all gifts can fall into all three categories (spiritual, physical, and intellectual), some do so more than others. In my opinion, speaking in tongues (or other languages; something I'll post on soon), being able to understand languages, being ridiculously intelligent, those things tend to more intellectual (understanding the complexities of a language, conjugation, word placement) and physical (taking classes, listening to CDs).

Through this reasoning then, when I say I'm the only thing standing in the way of me being as good a guitarist as my friend, I'm right. If I put in the hours, I can be as good as those people that I admire, and if I embrace Christ and accept the help from him and God, then my previous statement is even more true. To sum it up with a quote by Eleanor Powell, "What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God."