Thursday, January 10, 2013

READING THE SMALL PRINT


Brian Kershisnik

Have you noticed that when you download a new app or a new program for your device of choice there is an end user agreement that must be read before you can move on?  It is a little drop down box, and it is forgettable, but if you ignore it, then you won’t get your new app or whatever thingy. I have been subject to quite a few lately. The little drop down box requires; like Alice in Wonderland, for you to read the “small print” of this seriously binding “contract”.
Have you read what is on those “agreements?” I wonder why they call them agreements because it implies that both parties are really encouraging each other to keep their end of the bargain.

I have been trying to make sense of these “contracts”, but the writing is so small, and I am terribly near sighted. I have a short attention span, so I usually give up and click yes without reading too much. Who knows what I have gotten myself into and when will I be called to task on it, maybe when I try to delete the program. 

I recently upgraded my phone (actually replaced an old one for a newer version, same stuff). But in addition to the phone contract there was an end-user agreement concerning discounts. It seems that any discounts I had with the previous phone, did not resume along with the standard stuff. But they would resume as soon as I could show proof that I now qualify for those “special” discounts. This is a long and drawn out process. I have been wading through the tedium of producing the proof that I do qualify for a new “end user agreement”. I digress. Why do I have to re-prove what was evident before?

This has led me to a moment of clarity; as with everything there is a spiritual parallel, the laws of the Universe apply to every aspect of our lives. We have agreed to a series of "end user agreements, “but we know them as covenants.
In Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21, God explains it for us:
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this world; upon which all blessings are predicated:
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
So where am I going with this? It has been five years since I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Whenever I come to these yearly milestones, I wonder where the time went. I feel like I have been in this church my entire life, and there is weightiness to the responsibility that carries.  But I am still a new member, and there is so much to learn. I have always been a fast learner, I could spell a word before I could write it, and I could play a piece on the piano, before I could read it. Do you see the pattern here? When I am participating in the Temple, I am caught up in the moment, but then I realize that my comprehension of what it is I am actually doing at times eludes me. I realize that I have not given serious consideration to the “law” of the particular covenant I am endeavoring to participate in and be obedient to. I have benefited from amazing blessing and I want to know if those blessings were a result of my understanding of the covenant those blessings are predicated on. Was I fully informed; because I know that the Holy Spirit teaches us, and we alone are responsible for “reading the small print”. 

So the “Universe” answered and I ran across a really interesting talk. It is called “The Law of Tithing”, by Elder Daniel L. Johnson.
I found this talk on You Tube and it only had 3 stars. It seems that a talk on tithing is equivalent to listening to a lecture on the finer points of Tax Laws. 
But, the opening statement will get your attention:
My remarks this afternoon are intended as an invitation to those who have not yet gained a personal testimony of the full payment of tithing. There are many reasons that we are used to not to pay tithing, such as medical emergencies, debts or home repairs, educational expenses, and insurances. These reasons and others like them are very real and are lived and dealt with every day by many, if not most of us. These tax our limited financial resources and if we are not wise stewards of those resources, may result in the inability to meet our tithing obligation to the Lord.  A lack of compliance with this eternal law is not to be taken lightly and can not only seriously impair our spiritual growth and development, but it can also limit the physical and temporal blessings that we could otherwise enjoy. Courtesy of LDS.org General Conference 2006 Elder Daniel L Johnson
So tithing is a buzz word, which is detailed in the Law of Consecration.
What is the law of consecration? The definition in the topical guidelines is simple:
It is to dedicate, to make holy, or to become righteous. The law of consecration is a divine principle whereby men and women voluntarily dedicate their time, talents, and material wealth to the establishment and building up of God’s kingdom.
 It is also this:
The basic principle and the justification for the law of consecration “is that everything we have belongs to the Lord; therefore, the Lord may call upon us for any and all of the property which we have, because it belongs to Him. … (D&C 104: 14–17, 54–57)” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 55)The intent of the law of consecration was that every man is to be “equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs.” (D&C 51:3) Under it, every man, including the poor, was to receive a “‘portion’ … such as would make him equal to others according to his circumstances, his family, his wants and needs. LIVING THE PRINCIPLES OF THE LAW OF CONSECRATION MARION G. ROMNEY 1979
 Tithing is taught as an answer as to how the Lord wants us to honor our covenants. We are not “under the Law of Consecration per-say, but we do take on this covenant, and adhere to a lesser law of tithing, with full knowledge that at any time, the Lord will require of us to participate and obey the Law of Consecration.”
Malachi 3:6  For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
There are no “limits of liability” in this law, or at least as it applies to God. The Lord is God and he “excuses not Himself”. On our part of the agreement, the covenant is to be obeyed, and if we can’t bear the full weight, the Lord will make terms by which we can bear it, as in tithing which applies to a designated “portion”, which in this case is a “tenth” of our increase. Which increase comes from God, and we give it back as a “token” of our faith, and trust in Him and all that He is.
Think of all of the covenants we have "agreed" to partake in and have subsequently performed those "duties" to maintain those covenants. Most of our covenants have "prompts". For instance, when we are baptized and confirmed with the Holy Spirit, we are charged to "always remember Him and his blood that was shed for us; the Savior". How are we prompted to do this; by taking the sacramental bread and water every Sunday.
 We covenant to obey the laws of Chastity, which involves prayer, obedience, and keeping our hearts and bodies pure. We also covenant to obey the word of wisdom, which is a food and drink thing for most, but the underlying "end user agreement" in this is "obedience" and self discipline.

In tithing, we covenant to “trust in the Lord and give the Lord ten percent of our increase.” How hard is that? In Malachi 3:6-11 the Lord is speaking to the Sons of Jacob.

Who are the sons of Jacob: they are us, we are them.  
Specifically his twelve sons and also Ephraim and Manasseh who are his grandsons, but technically they are Jacobs "sons". 
Even from the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, how shall we return?
Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud me. But you say, in what way do we rob or defraud you? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now by it, say the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer; for your sake and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine drop its fruit before the time in the field, says the Lord of hosts.
12 And all nations shall call you happy and blessed, for you shall be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
Wow, this puts a whole new perspective on reading those pesky “end user agreements” doesn’t it? It seems that the small or fine print is not so small after all. It reminds me of the still, small voice of the Lord, that pierces through our hearts and ear drums too.   Do we enter into covenants without being fully informed? Talk among your selves....
Now this post is not about tithing, or even covenants, but it is about becoming informed, or rather enlightened to the purpose to which we are here for. Not a sermon.....  
Mosiah 2:41 And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual and if they hold out faithful to the end, they are received into heaven , that they thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
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