Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Living away from the church community

After a recent visit from President Boyd and his family, who joined us for our simple church service, I have been reflecting on both the difficulties and blessings of living away from the church fellowship.

Pres. Boyd and his family of 7 left KL around 6am while we were still asleep. They drove the 3-4 hours to Kuantan with children ranging from 3-16 years old. They even found our house without having to call for directions! They brought food and together with our chicken curry, we had quite a feast after our meeting. Their son made the most delightful pumpkin pie I have ever tasted! We really need to get together again sometime soon!

But they also brought fellowship and the opportunity to be in the company of people who possess the same beliefs and standards as us. After living for months on end away from communion with church friends, times like this are priceless to us. 

Thanks to the good and thoughtful people including the Boyds who have visited us over the years, we have renewed motivation to continue in the faith and to hold Sunday meetings for just the four of us in our family which are normally so difficult and challenging to do.

Have a look at this recent video diary where I addressed these thoughts:

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Overcoming the World - (Part 3)

A couple of months ago, I felt quite isolated from the gospel of Jesus Christ through my own neglect of studying it. I recorded a video message in this blog post, detailing how I felt swamped down by the world.

Around a month later, I followed up with another video message where I spoke of my efforts to start anew and gain more balance in my life by including more heavily, spiritual things.

Today, seemingly out of nowhere, I had the desire to listen to some General Conference talks using my earphones while vacuuming the house. Sounds a bit weird, right? Well, it does to me. I have never done that before!

For Mormons, General Conference represents the mind of the Lord as revealed through the medium of the Spirit via apostles and other general authorities of the church. It is an event everyone is eager to be a part of.

And I have spent years and years listening to talks given in such meetings, all of them very good and uplifting, but none seeming to be personal to me, as we are told can happen in some instances.

After all, I am just an average Mormon.

I have no spectacular problems in the church or in my life.

I have no pressing and immediate concerns, no desperation to find an answer to something that is bothering the hell out of me.

And then while I was vacuuming the house, I listened to Elder Neil L. Andersen talk about "Overcoming the World." Considering my little journey of the last two months in trying to balance the things of the world with more spiritual things, this arrived in my ears and heart as a personal message to me. He may as well have began, "Dear Mr. Horne..." I forgot that he was speaking to an entire hall full of people, that it had been broadcast around the world on the internet to church meetinghouses everywhere.

For the 15 minutes I vacuumed and listened, Elder Andersen was talking to me. Finally, a speech that meant something to me, that called out to my struggle, that echoed my circumstance. And right on time!

This speech has become a little treasure to me, an added help in my continuing journey of striving to get a better balance into my life, in straining to want to hunger and thirst after the teachings of the Saviour Jesus Christ, of making that a more prominent part of my life again.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Starting Anew

This post is a response to a post last month titled Swamped down by the world where I revealed my struggles with getting away from worldly things as it interfered with my spirituality.

Below is my video message addressing those issues and how I have tried to overcome them for the last month:

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Swamped down by the world; lifted by the word

I have had a lot of worldly things on my mind for a long time. While it can be exciting, important and oftentimes necessary, being too absorbed in these things has rather swamped me down a little. I have had a recent desire for a return to balance and a larger space for spirituality.

The bulk of this post is contained in this video I prepared where I talk candidly about this topic. Have a look and see if there is anything you can relate to:

I'll be posting a follow-up post soon to let you know how my dip in the word of God went.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

What is opinion but influenced thought?

In a recent facebook exchange of verbal jousting, opinions were shared without concentration about spiritual matters. These opinions were about as opposite as black and white. At the end of the day, we may agree to disagree, knowing that each of us are different characters with varying modes of thought and capacity for understanding.

Opinion can be a beautiful thing, but at the same time, highly dangerous.

I feel we sometimes get a little too deeply entrenched in the easy way out of saying: "well, that's just my opinion," or "we all have different opinions and they are all equally important." These little phrases sound pleasant and friendly, but what are they really saying?

They are saying that we can come to different conclusions based on the exact same body of evidence. 

In a sporting example, I'm a die-hard fan of Roger Federer. His statistics and body of work compared to other players leave me with no doubt that he is the greatest player of all time. Novak Djokovic supporters will ardently disagree with me, however, based on the exact same statistics.

It is a similar situation with the Mormon church. Faithful Mormons testify that the church is true while others, referring to the same facts and history, proclaim it a fraud.

What is opinion but influenced thought?

Does opinion matter? Is it even relevant? What is opinion but influenced thought?

While thinking deeply about these things, in the bathroom, as I often do, I began the usual method of talking to myself in my head. I find that the greatest discussions, the most analytical thoughts I have ever had have occurred in the chambers of my own mind. 

And so I began thinking. What is opinion but influenced thought?

But what do I really think about God? About life? About the prospect of eternity? 

I soon realised that all of my thoughts on these topics were highly, no, completely influenced by religion. Everything I think about these things come from what I have learned from religion.

What if I could make religion disappear? What if I could put it to one side and see what I thought, independent of all other influencing factors. If I could just float in empty thoughts in a kind of meditative state where there was nothing but me. 

What would I believe? What would I think?

It is a potentially powerful, empowering, or yet destructive scenario to imagine. It deals with who we are. Where did we come from? What is the origin of the human soul?

It revolves around the idea of an absolute truth. One source of truth that is consistent through all space and time. Whether it is the natural order of the universe, an unimaginable intelligence, or a god-like figure of supreme knowledge, we are continually looking upwards for something. We are truth-seekers. Telling the truth is prized higher than gold. Some of us seek to hide and obscure truth; some seek to uncover and expose truth. We all have different opinions on what the truth entails.

The problem, I have come to consider, is when we forcefully wage our opinion as the ultimate truth, unwilling to examine an alternative trail of thought. I have unfortunately been guilty of this at times and I am straining with great effort to open up my own horizons to new perspectives. 

I am trying to figure out what I actually believe independent of all other influences, including the religious influence that has so strongly permeated my life.

It seems to be the quest of a lifetime.