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  1. The only summary I have for this one is: WE CAN RECOVER FROM OUR SINS.
  2. I have been contemplating the question of "what is a Christian" for awhile and have had some meaningful discussions with my now missionary daughter. She has had many such conversations with others as well. It has been interesting but I have found that there is no well articulated meaning. It changes to make one's point. I did a search on this subject in the forums here and found PrisonChaplain had just posted "What do Christians Believe?" and it was an interesting read and I was led further afield. I read on the web a statement by Matt Slick who said this, "Christianity isn't about rules and regulations to follow. It is about a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ." This statement has stayed in my mind because it has been an anchoring point in the last year for me. The thing is, the more I think about it the more I ask, what do you mean when you say "a personal relationship with Christ?" I have not found any past op that has touched this subject so I'm asking for your thoughts. Definitions, experiences or what have you... I chose general beliefs because I'm not directing it to LDS specifically.
  3. How does one find God? Whoever looks will find. One can look in the Torah, the New Testament, the Quran, and even the Book of Mormon, and find God promising He will reveal Himself to anyone who seeks Him. It is not so easy, though. We want, so very much, to make our own way—apart from any higher power. You hear this desire all the time. When one says, “God judges the heart,” s/he really means they want to be left to their own devices. Even in churches we hear, “The rules can’t save you—only the Rule Giver.” Well, sure. However, if the Rule Giver saves me will He not give me rules? We fail to trust in God because we want so much to trust in ourselves. What folly! Mao and his communist party tried to create a new socialist man and saw 50 million Chinese starve. He considered these deaths acceptable collateral damage. Godless nobility gives death. Another dangerous road away from God is the search for the good within. China, the Soviet Union and North Korea, in their quest for godless goodness incarcerated people of faith. Stalin’s Russia even used psychiatric hospitals to try to cure Christians of their apparent mental disorders. Inside the church, there are voices suggesting that doctrine—teaching—is not important. A growing church in Los Angeles became famous for helping the poor and for being interracial in the 1970s. Even city government sought out its church leaders, due to their positive works. Yet, behind the church doors the pastor was engaging in fake healings, teaching that humans could be gods, and he was allowing church beatings in the name of discipline. The church was the People’s Temple, and the pastor was Jim Jones. By 1979 the church relocated to Guyana, and over 900 members lie dead, from mass suicide. We must return to our faith in the one good God. In creation God sees his goodness repeatedly. After the great flood wipes out wickedness, God’s man, Noah, declares God’s goodness by building an altar to him. God’s nation, Israel, often declared en masse that he is good and loving. Jesus’ resurrection showed God’s goodness. Paul says that without resurrection we are pathetic, but with it we are most blessed! Finally, even the opponents of God will ultimately declare God’s goodness. The Bible says every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. God is good—but all the time? Every week I join female prisoners in worship. They flock to Christian chapel. Statistics suggest that 90% of them have been sexually molested. Nevertheless, they come, declaring that life may be hard, but God will get them through. So many who faced bad times, but continued to declare God’s goodness! Despite testimonies to God’s goodness, we gravitate towards our own efforts. Sadly, even when we find the right answers, we usually cannot carry them out. Consider that Unicor, also known as Federal Prison Industries, has a tremendous record for successfully rehabilitating prisoners, so they can return to society and get legal, productive jobs. Nevertheless, the program flounders because local factories want the jobs that Unicor does. So, we know a program that works well, but we do not have the political will to enact it on a large scale. We cannot solve our own problems. Good intentions are not enough. What can we do? We must have right belief: That God is good; that God is one; that Jesus is our only way to the Father; that any good we do must be grounded in God; and that God is love. Is it really that simple? Sure! However, to know Jesus is to love Him. To love Jesus is to serve Him. Will you give up your independent efforts at goodness? Will you trust God to lead you in His way of righteousness? To see a video presentation of this message visit:
  4. What a privilege to share about God's Discipline at Angle Lake Neighborhood Church on Thanksgiving Sunday! We learned that we really are His children and that He never condemns or leaves us. God is a good, just Father who rescues us from hell and secures us in heaven. Many will join with family this holiday season. Please know that our Creator Dad joins us to eternal family. Thank you, Lord! Pastor Tom Ellis | God's Discipline Play video Pastor Tom Ellis | God's Discipline
  5. Recently, I was having a conversation with an investigator and at one point, she made a very interesting observation. In the scriptures when describing humanity as a whole, the Lord uses “and the children of MEN”, or, “if MEN humble themselves...” . She felt that it demotes womenhood to be less than that of men and that God would never place such restrictions on women. I made the attempt to express that in any language, the general way to describe humanity as a whole, it was by using the word “MEN” and that in noway it’s used to demean women. She wasn’t sastified with that answer. So, two questions: 1.- How could you explain and provide a suitable answer to explain this to people such as this lady? 2.- Is feminism going to destroy humanity to the point of abolishing anything and everything related masculinity?
  6. Interesting question. i know what i think. But would like to hear your thoughts as to which is most accurate. 1. God created us with a specific end product in mind. Our souls are just blueprints that we are contracted to construct for God and with God's help. Each of our blueprints, if we exercise our agency to build it, will lead to ultimate happiness. 2. God participates as a Parent in some sort of spiritual genetic lottery for each of His children - in which good results are always possible, but what exactly each child becomes is something that is a (hopefully pleasant) surprise - even to God. As long as we are fully good (good without evil), He appreciates and Loves what we choose to be. 3. Grrrrr! @lostinwater has missed the obvious answer, AGAIN! ..... (please enlighten us) My only request in this thread is that we all be nice to one another, especially in disagreeing. i don't want to have created a thread that creates or perpetuates feelings of ill will.
  7. It is said (I think by Joseph Smith although please let me know if I'm wrong) that were we to feel even just a small little fraction of the love God has for us, we would all willingly commit suicide just to see him again. If this is true, does that mean that whenever we are in the presence of our Heavenly Father or even within his love, none of us could ever resist obeying him? But then, why did Satan go so far as to completely go against God? Perhaps technically God's love doesn't take away our agency but it's so wonderful that most souls, not all but most, can't resist it and thus it's partly why our minds are veiled in this stage of our lives.
  8. PRACTICING CHRISTIANITY BY SERVING Much like the book Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, I would argue that the church teaches the practice of living the Christian life to its children. As a boy in church scouting, I repeated a pledge each week that began, “With God’s help I will do my best to serve God, my church, and my fellowman.” Service—is that not what it means to live for Jesus? I serve—with God’s help. I should serve God, but face outward temptation—most often from money. If I just garner enough finance, I can do so much—for God’s glory, of course. Alternatively, I might seek out education and skills. There was an immigrant who came to America. He started to attend church. The man needed a job, and found out that his congregation was looking for a janitor. However, when he said he wanted the job, they told him that he had to fill out forms in English—not just for the application, but also on a regular basis, since city and state inspectors came from time to time. He could not read and write English well enough, so he ended up working on the docks instead. The man worked hard, and saved up money. After a few years, he bought his own boat. A few years later he bought two more. Then four, then eight—and by the time he was in his 60s he had dozens of boats, and was quite rich. A local reporter quipped, “Wow—you did all this, while not knowing English very well. Imagine what you might have done if you could read and write English.” The man responded, “If I could read and write well, I’d probably be the janitor at my church.” Not only must I overcome the temptation to rely on my money, my talents, or just myself, I must submit my selfish desires to God’s will. By nature, we seek dark paths. I remember that at age 10 I wanted to be like Richie Rich. I 13, having believed my teachers’ esteem-promoting encouragements, I wanted to be a lawyer. After all, they told me I was smart, and I liked winning arguments. At 17, I actually wanted to be President of the United States, so I could wield power! Despite my wayward desires, I listened to God’s directing. At 25, I taught missionary children. At 30, I was doing evangelistic Bible studies with Korean university students. At 35, I was ministering to federal prison. I may drive an 11-year old compact, I may listen much more than I speak, and I may lack political influence—nevertheless I am rich in God’s service. I traffic in God’s power, and turn souls from eternal judgment to redemption and reward. I am so much wealthier, wiser, and more influential in the Lord’s service than I ever could be following my heart and dreams. Beyond serving the Lord directly, I serve his church. Some may find it interesting that the second admonition is to church, rather than family, or to souls who do not know God. However, I cannot provide leadership and example to my family—or to anyone—if I do not embrace my community of faith. When I love my brothers and sisters in God’s house, and when I learn wise counsel from pastors and teachers, then I can help others. Some say we Christians need to get outside the church walls. Such silly talk! Most spend one to two hours a week in church. Even the most devout would not normally spend more than five hours there. The other 163+ hours are already outside the church. Frankly, most Christians probably need to spend more time within those walls! Finally, yes, and of course, I will serve the people in my circle of influence. I will work hard and well. I will listen more than speak. Nevertheless, the greatest service I can offer is my testimony of God, and loving-but-truthful answers. A young couple that used to serve in my church had come after several years of searching. The man had grown up Mormon, but then left it for Wicca. The lady claimed Christianity from an early age, but then sought out the partying fun outside the church. They met each other and married. Both eventually became Christians, and the man’s friends challenged them. “So, now that you are all ‘born again’ how do you feel about gay marriage?” They responded that they still loved their friends—including a few who were gay and married. Nevertheless, they could not approve of gay marriage in church, since it was against their beliefs. These friends responded that since they were now hate-filled and bigoted their friendship was over. “Do not attempt to contact us ever,” they told the couple. Had they failed—been too harsh—lacked in love? Not at all. They communicated love, peace, and sincerity, but faced rejection in return. Still, their final gift to their friends was truth. I will serve God—by seeking his will and his way. I will serve my church—with my presence, my attention, and with any help, my brothers and sisters need. Finally, I will serve those about me, by sharing what love I can, by listening more than I talk, but by speaking truth with conviction, whenever opportunity comes. For a video presentation of this teaching see:
  9. I've reached a conclusion that I don't like based on the revelations. I've always liked the idea of being the literal offspring of God the Father, but now I'm not so sure. My question is if there's anything wrong with my conclusion. First, some statements of fact. Fact #1: God was once a man on an earth. Joseph Smith confirmed this in the King Follet sermon. Fact #2: Exalted couples continue to have offspring in eternity. (D&C 132:19, also in the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, trust me it's in there) Fact #3: Joseph Smith basically confirmed that God the Father is himself a Christ in the sermon in the Grove. I am merely saying it's a fact that Joseph Smith said it, not that God actually is a Christ (though I think he is.) Fact #4: God the Father, Jesus Christ, and man are all the same race of being. I.e. God is not different in kind from us. After all, he did say "Man of Holiness is my name." Now for some assumptions based on the revelations and logic which flows from them. Assumption #1: there's an infinite progression and regression of gods. (eg. Heavenly grandpa, Go as far back as you want) Assumption #2: God the Father's mortal life was that of a Christ. He lived without sin and was divine. Assumption #3: God cannot give the pains of atonement to Jesus unless he himself has experienced an atonement. I assume this for two reasons. Reason #1: omniscience wouldn't cut it, "now the spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the son of God suffer at the cording to the flash that he might take upon him the sins of his people" Alma 7:13, which could potentially mean that God the Father would have needed to know these things by experience in order to cause Christ's suffering in Gethsemane. Reason #2: All things being equal between God and Jesus as far as degree is concerned. Christ having experienced the atonement would logically make him greater than God, having more intelligence by virtue of his experience as Christ. And that doesn't sound right. Assumption #4: by reason of assumption #3, we can conclude one thing: that only a Christ can bring forth a Christ. Or in other words, a man who has not been a Christ does not have the intelligence required for such an endeavor. Now for the progression of logical steps which lead to the conclusion. Step #1: Exalted persons have spirit children, not children in the flesh. (being born in the flesh in the presence of God would be a state of damnation, like that of the garden of Eden) Step #2: Said spirit children cannot have a fullness of joy and cannot be gods themselves, unless they have bodies. Step #3: Said spirit children will therefore require a Plan of Salvation. Step #4: Said Plan of Salvation requires a Christ. Step #5: Problem; none of these perfected, exalted persons are capable of bringing forth a Christ, because an atonement for said Christ requires more intelligence than they possess. Step #6: Solution; Jesus Christ, Our lord, presents a Plan of Salvation, and brings forth his Christ. Which would make Jesus Christ the God of the children of the exalted of this Earth. CONCLUSION: Therefore, God the father is not the literal father of our spirits, but the redeemer of our parents in the spirit. Now, some contradictions. Jesus Christ is said to be the firstborn in the spirit, this first born status is relative. Meaning God had other children. Also, Joseph F Smith and his counselors declared that we are God's offspring. Another thing I'm not sure about is how a Christ atones for intelligences which are not yet born in the spirit but are later born in the spirit to parents who's earlier children have already been redeemed. This system of mine implies some kind of eternal progression of messiahs, and I have no idea how this really works. This entire conclusion rides on the idea that God needs to have experienced an atonement in order to give an atonement. (But then there's still the issue of Christ being "greater" than God) So if you would be so kind as to poke holes in my conclusion, I would be most grateful. Cheers
  10. Agnosticism is truly without knowledge. We are made in God's image. Our best parents are present, engaged and attentive. Our most ideal families stick together through hardships. We understand each other and put our loved ones before ourselves. So why argue that our Creator keeps his distance, or has left? Why say He is unknowable? Perhaps it is because if God is knowable then we are accountable?
  11. At some point or another, I presume most if not all of us have heard the purposefully thought provoking question, "Can God create an immovable rock?" Humor me here, the idea the question is intended to purport is that if God can create a rock that he himself cannot move then he is lacking in power because he then can't move it. On the other hand, if he is unable to create such a rock then he is lacking in power because of his inability to create it. There is an inherent flaw in this logic. The common logic adhered to in this exercise assumes that God's power must include anything that can be conceived in the mind, any possible thought that could come from the vast expanse of human imagination. But is that really what it means to be Omnipotent? The short answer is: NO. In order to keep this post somewhat short, suffice it to say that omnipotent in its most true form from the original Greek means "all powerful". The key word here being all. The "all" in all powerful in reality represents "every real thing". If something is not real it is not included with all. If there is something for which the power to accomplish does not exist then that thing is not a "real thing" and therefore it cannot be factored in to a definition of omnipotence. To further illustrate this point the Guide to the Scriptures identifies Omnipotent as: The divine trait of having all power . Notice all power rather than every conceivable power, or unlimited power as many people consider the word to mean. I think this is very important to understand because even our fellow Christian brethren often have a complete misconception of Omnipotence which is why they accept the concept of creation ex-nihilo, which from an LDS perspective we understand to be false due to the fact that it is impossible. If we can correctly convey the true meaning of omnipotence to others we can better communicate doctrinal differences in a meaningful way. I could go on and on but in conclusion: 1) God is omnipotent because he has the power to do every thing that can possibly be done (all power). 2) God can not create an immovable rock, because the ability to do such does not exist, and since such a task can not be accomplished ever, it has no bearing on God's omnipotence.
  12. Hello all! I have three questions about Mormon beliefs: -Do you believe that God controls everything that happens to us in life? or do you believe He only controls some of what happens to us? -Do you believe that God created our spirits? and if so, why did He create our spirits? -When God told us that He wanted us to come to earth and be tested, did we have the option of just saying no and staying in Heaven with Him, or did we have to? Thank you!
  13. Could it be that the main reason atheists doubt God is not that they are disappointed with Him, but rather they find so little evidence of the LORD within the character, demeanor, and personalities of his followers. For the complete essay on this topic see:
  14. How dare I approach God? How dare I ask for help, for mercy, for forgiveness? What makes me think the God of the universe would condescend to care about me? The Psalmist David answers: DON'T ABANDON ME FOR YOU MADE ME. This is why God-as-creator is so important, and why skeptics are so opposed to the discussion.
  15. I'm reading a book by Gary C. Lawrence, a long-time LDS Church member, who offers a summary of LDS teachings. While his book is not an official publication of the church, his writings track well with what I've encountered here. Concerning Jesus he says: "We believe Jesus Christ is the literal son of God ..." Concerning the Father and us he says: "We believe God is the Father of our spirits and that we lived with Him in heaven before being born in our earthly bodies." So, is there a sense that Jesus is our brother, and yet different. He is "literal" and we are spiritual. My question: How do LDS distinguish our relationship to the Father with that of Jesus, the only begotten?
  16. (Sorry in advance - I realise that this is a sensitive topic) LDS teaching states that Jesus was born the natural way (ie God became man and He and Mary did the usual practice involved in child-bearing). How is this possible? Is God the same person as Joseph because, if not, then either Mary committed adultery or God impregnated her against her will - which, let's face it, is a pretty shocking thought. I asked the missionaries via txt a while ago and they said that they do believe in the virgin birth, but statements released by prophets say otherwise.
  17. So often, we hear teachings about how to love, and come away feeling burdened. How can I ever do all of that? Since God is love, we should learn how to love from him. God loves us through speech, through knowledge, and through sacrifice. First, God loved us by speaking the world into existence. Then, after the devil convinced Adam and Eve to rebel, God told them that the devil’s plan to separate humanity from God would be crushed. Finally, at the end of time the Revelation tells us God says he will make all things new. So, how can we speak love like God? We tell of his story in our lives. God rescued me as a 10-year old. I grew up near drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, and suicide. Yet, though the shoulders of life’s highway seem narrow, I remained on the straight and narrow way. Now I minister to prisoners. You may wonder what a guy who never strayed can tell prisoners. I say, “If God can protect a 10-year old kid in that environment, you’ve got no excuses. Go out and serve God!” The Bible also tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. We Christians should be the best listeners. After all, God heard us when we cried out to him. If we will listen intentionally some will realize that God hears them too. From those, a few may return the favor, and attend to our good news of Jesus. Besides speaking love, God loves through his knowledge. The Bible says he numbers every hair on our heads. It says he knows what we will say before we say it. He knows how all will end before it begins. Amazingly, according to Jeremiah the prophet, God knew all our hearts would be deceitful. Yet, he still made us in his image. Further, despite all he knows, he waits for us to respond to his wooing—ready to commune with us. We know people will betray us. We know we may be hurt, if we are vulnerable. Yet, we love them—even the unlovely ones. We extend patience and forgiveness, just like God did for us. Finally, God sacrificed for us. His son, Jesus, came and died for us—willingly. Perhaps more amazing is that the Father sent him to do so. We were sinners, with nothing to give God. Yet he gave us his best—his all. So, we sacrifice. We give ourselves over to helping people reconcile with God. We invest our time, money, families—our very lives. We build churches, rehabs, soup kitchens, and shelters. We visit the sick and the imprisoned. We love God and our neighbor. God is love. His love resides as an infinite source in each of his followers. So, how do we love? We rely on his power, so we can speak, listen, and serve—in spite of knowing how people really are. Humanity’s highest meaning is to love God and one another. To know God is to know love. To hear the audio podcast of this message:
  18. Many LDS are familiar with Christian Praise and Worship music. At concerts, and in many churches, it is common to see people singing to God, with eyes closed and hands upraised. There is a sense of communion with God, and the participant engages in adoration, praise--worship. We expect to continue this type of expression throughout eternity. My question: Does the LDS teaching of exaltation suggest that at some point, rather than extended worship to God, the exalted one will be receiving worship from his creation? If so, will his relationship with God become more that of colleagues, rather than that of Father God and created soul?
  19. So... A long time ago... I made some dear friends... There's a long story to it but I won't bother getting into that. It's not relevant right now. The problem is, these friends, although great people, have led me to do some sexual things with them outside of marriage. Luckily nothing TOO bad. But it's wrong. And it's definitely keeping me from getting close to my Heavenly Father and going on my Mission. But in order to repent fully from all this... I greatly fear that... I will have to say goodbye permanently to my friends I'm doing these things with. And deep emotional attachments have developed with us. And even further, these friends are, of course, not LDS, so they probably won't understand if I try to explain why I have to do this. So now, because of my sheer idiocy in giving in to these sexual things, I need to decide now between God or them... I want to choose God but it's so very hard to bring myself to say goodbye to them after all we've experienced together. In fact, I haven't been able to do it yet at all. I don't want to hurt them... They're nice people who don't deserve it. And if I say goodbye permanently, I know it will hurt them so much... I don't want to leave them. But I KNOW this church is true. There is no doubt. Well, I guess there is SOME doubt as anyone will have obviously or else having faith would be impossible as you would have a sure knowledge then. But you know what I mean I'm sure. Please, any help, advice, or encouragement at all would be greatly appreciated. Even criticism. I don't care. It's perfectly fine. I just badly need to talk about this at least with people who are LDS too. Who understand the gravity of all this.
  20. The most cliched posts come alive when they happen to us! Thanksgiving Day, on the interstate, headed to my mother's with an SUV full of family, and one of our tires blows out. I calmly pull over, as we are about 100 ft from an exit, so there's a nice shoulder. Tow truck arrives to take the SUV, friends arrive to take us home, and we still make it to Mommy's. Angels protected us from accident and death, and even got us "home for the holidays." God. is. good!
  21. Prayer to Honor Veterans Preparatory comments: In the Old Testament book of Joshua (1:9) we read God’s charge to the people of Israel, who were about to face many battles, as they entered the Promised Land: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." And then, in the New Testament book of John (15:13), Jesus offers a bit of wisdom that ought to shine honor on every veteran. He said: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. Let us pray: LORD, the military personnel serving today, and those veterans we honor on this day, they have been—and are—strong and courageous. They have loved, not only their friends, but their country—and even those our nation seeks to protect in far-away lands. Because our veterans and military pledge and risk their lives—because they love so sacrificially—we honor them today. They may not seek public accolades. They may not even fully recognize just how much they gave and risked. You do. You see all. So, honor our veterans today: First, by protecting our men and woman who continue to serve in dangerous places today. Then, by providing blessing to our veterans. Bring peace to their hearts and minds. Drive away all anxiety and distress. Provide for their families. Heal their bodies. And, would you plant within them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction? Military service is never clean, neat and easy. Pain, frustration, and uncertainty are abundant. Heal all of that—and bestow upon our veterans honor—honor for all they risked, and for signing up to defend us when they did not have to. GOD, honor our veterans today … In Your most holy name, amen.
  22. I've been working on an article generally intended for non-LDS but subtly intended for LDS. The title is currently, How God Speaks to Mormons. I would like your take on experiences, stories and the like that describe the revelatory experience. Please let me know. If you would like to see a draft copy of what I have so far, I will post it.
  23. There's a part of me that is deeply saddened. Ministers, deacons, and other clergy--and most likely bishops, home teachers, etc., as well, will have to resign their callings because they gave into the lure of sinful sexual encounters via a supposedly secure website. Similarly, there is an organization called The Clergy Project that aims to help religious leaders who no longer believe in God to transition out of spiritual service. On the LDS side, most here are well aware that there are organizations that aim to help LDS do the same (some Evangelical, others secular). What to make of these incidents? Besides sadness, part of me feels anger. How dare Satan and his minions target God's choice servants?! Then again, of course they do. And, here's the rub: If you engage in sexual immorality, or if you do not believe in God (or the church's doctrine), it is time to leave. Christian churches have ways and means of offering restoration/reconciliation, should that be sought out. However, step one is honesty. Such folk must leave. As believers what are we to do with this news? Pessimism? Cynicism? The better path would be to fall to our knees and intercede on behalf of those who lead us.
  24. Today I heard a program in which Michael Medved said that 70% of all FIRST TIME marriages stay intact until the death of one of the couple. We've been told for at least 30 years that the figure was only 50%...a lie that conflates 2nd+ marriages with first ones, to create the false illusion that divorce is uber-normal, and probably inevitable. As we see marriage redefined, family increasingly treated as an unimportant, if not oppressive social construct, perhaps the best we can do is continue to enjoy our children, our spouses, and the special fulfillment we share as we grow together, bound by the love of our God. There is no arrogance here. Every day I am humbled by my wife and children. Their love and acceptance of me is amazing. Their reaction to my feeble efforts at husbanding and fathering are gracious (and merciful). I love them, and thank God for the honor He's given me to play my role. May the deposits we make, as an intact family, into our areas of influence lead many to look to and glorify God.
  25. It’s quiet now Here Where waters lap among the reeds I can hear myself think And a hundred impossible flights of fancy are possible Here at the laver Before the temple of God - the fire pops – And smoke stirred by a vagrant breeze Ascends like incense Bearing my thoughts like pristine prayers Heavenward to Nature’s God Alone at twilight Til nearby song birds sing And I look across nature into the eternity Nature's changing face reveals And I wait ‘tween the promise and the dream