Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Know That My Redeemer Lives!

"I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ." ~ Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Book of Mormon prophets teach us that the Atonement was part of the plan of salvation that God had for each of us his children. In Alma 34:9 Amulek teaches:  "For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made."

Alma continues, "And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also." (Alma 42:15)

I was a young teenager when I heard Elder Bruce R. McConkie bear testimony of the Savior that April General Conference in 1985. I was impressed by the relationship Elder McConkie had with his Savior, Jesus Christ. I knew even at that young age, that I wanted my relationship with my Savior to be that personal and intimate.

And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
Here is another testimony given of the Savior and his Atonement by Elder Jeffery R. Holland:

The Prophet Joseph Smith declares his testimony of the Risen Christ in Doctrine and Covenants 76:

22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

To these I add my own humble testimony. I know that my Redeemer lives! Jesus Christ suffered for my sins in Gethsemane, was hung on the cross and died for me. He was  buried, placed in the tomb, and on the third day he rose again, overcoming death and sin so that I might return home to Heavenly Father, if I will repent and come unto Him.  I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Savior of the World. He came to Earth to do the will of the Father. Through his atoning sacrifice he made it possible for all mankind to overcome sin and death. I long for the day when I will return back into his presence, and thank him for what he has done for me. Not only is he my Savior, but he is my best friend. Of these things I humbly testify in his holy name, Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Does the Journey Seem Long?

My two year old decided to give himself a haircut, and then drew his art lesson all over his bedroom wall. My four year old has been up all night the last 2 nights because he has not been feeling well. My oldest two children are in trouble for not being attentive during our scripture study. I have had to send each one of  the boys to separate rooms for fighting. My house is a mess, the laundry is piling up again, and so are the dirty dishes. As I take a break from yelling at my kids, I think to myself, "I need some peace and quiet!" 

Whatever happened to that idyllic dream I had in my head as a child, that growing up would be so grand? My husband would be perfect. My home would be perfect. I would be the perfect mother to my perfectly behaved children. I miss that dream as I realize that I am not perfect; my husband is not perfect either. My boys are not the perfectly behaved children I wish them to be, nor am I the perfect mother keeping my house in perfect order. I admit that there are times when it is hard for me to get out of bed sometimes. I get overwhelmed by everything that I think I need to be accomplishing. And I am reminded of the words penned by President Joseph Fielding Smith:

Does the journey seem long,
The path rugged and steep?
Are there briars and thorns on the way?
Do sharp stones cut your feet
As you struggle to rise
To the heights thru the heat of the day?

Is your heart faint and sad,
Your soul weary within,
As you toil ’neath your burden of care?
Does the load heavy seem
You are forced now to lift?
Is there no one your burden to share?
 Sometimes I get so discouraged. I want to accomplish so many things. The Lord has commanded us to become perfect like unto himself, and I don't feel like I am doing all I can to reach that type of perfection. Elder Cecil O. Samuelson taught  that perfection doesn't happen overnight, and that sometimes we feel that we are not worthy of God's blessings because we are not perfect. He says:

"Occasionally, for well-motivated and highly devoted Latter-day Saints, confusion occurs about the differences between worthiness and perfection. Worthiness and perfection don’t mean the same thing! All of us are “works in process.” We can be worthy while still needing improvement.

Be sure that you do not have higher standards for yourself or others than the Lord has established. Find satisfaction in your progress while acknowledging that perfection may still be distant.

Our perceptions of ourselves may or may not be accurate, but more frequently than we may expect, they may differ from how others view us. Those suffering from perfectionism tend to be wonderful, contributing, and effective people, and yet may feel that no matter what they do, it is never enough. These good people suffer from exaggerating their minor mistakes, weaknesses, or shortcomings to the point that they may become dysfunctional.

When we become obsessed with our deficiencies or weaknesses and so focused upon them that we—of necessity—neglect everything else, then we are out of balance. The Lord shares an important insight: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27)."

When I feel discouraged and weary, I need to remember that there is someone who knows what I am going through. I am not alone. My Savior is there to help turn my weaknesses into strengths if I just come unto Him.  President Joseph Fielding Smith continues with:
Let your heart be not faint
Now the journey’s begun;
There is One who still beckons to you.
So look upward in joy
And take hold of his hand;
He will lead you to heights that are new—

A land holy and pure,
Where all trouble doth end,
And your life shall be free from all sin,
Where no tears shall be shed,
For no sorrows remain.
Take his hand and with him enter in.

Does the Journey Seem Long?,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no. 127
 Listen to the invitation that Jesus extends to all of God's children in Matthew 11:

 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf commented in the October 2012 General Conference:

"We do matter. We determine our happiness. You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness." 

I hope we can all remember that it is through our Savior Jesus Christ where we will find true joy and happiness. He will turn our discouragements, our weaknesses into strengths. He will show us that we truly matter. He gave his life for each one of us because we are important. We may not yet be perfect, but we will be able to attain perfection through His atoning sacrifice as we endure to the end of this our mortal journey.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I have been contemplating a lot on the chapters found in Mormon. This is a different blog for me this week, and one that I have struggled to write, because I haven't really grasped yet, what Mormon is trying to teach us. I feel that there is a lot more meaning to these chapters, but that it will take some more reflection, and pondering to understand them fully.  There are many questions that I am thinking on as I have read through these chapters this week. 
Mormon 2: 13  their asorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the bsorrowing of the cdamned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take dhappiness in sin. 
 14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken ahearts and contrite spirits, but they did bcurse God, and wish to die.  
Mormon 3:12  my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts. 
Mormon 5:2 But behold, I was awithout hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them. 
I am especially wrestling with this idea that the day of repentance had passed for these Nephite people. In less than 400 years, they had become the most wicked people on the earth. In Mormon 2: 15 he says, "I saw that the aday of bgrace cwas passed with them, both temporally and spiritually".  
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Just over 300 years since they had been visited by the Son of God himself— Mormon realized the story was finished. In perhaps the most chilling line he ever wrote, Mormon asserted simply, ‘I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually.’ His people had learned that most fateful of all lessons—that the Spirit of God will not always strive with man; that it is possible, collectively as well as individually, to have time run out. The day of repentance can pass, and it had passed for the Nephites. (Christ and the New Covenant, 319).
Mormon 5:  
16 For behold, the Spirit of the Lord hath already ceased to astrive with their fathers; and they are without Christ and God in the world; and they are driven about as bchaff before the wind. 
 17 They were once a delightsome people, and they had Christ for their ashepherd; yea, they were led even by God the Father. 
 18 But now, behold, they are aled about by Satan 
President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) explained that the wicked people of Mormon’s time had lost not only the Holy Ghost, but the Spirit of Christ from their lives: “Mormon described some people, his people, from whom the spirit of the Lord had departed, and when I read that … it seems clear to me that what he was talking about was not merely the inability to have the companionship of or the gift of the Holy Ghost, but he was talking of that light of truth to which every one born into the world is entitled and will never cease to strive with the individual unless he loses it through his own sinning” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1956, 108). 
I have never really thought about these things before: The Spirit of God will not always strive with man; The day of repentance can pass; And, the light of truth that each individual is born into the world with, can be taken away due to and individual's sinning. That's a lot of information to absorb and take in. No wonder Mormon was sorrowing so much for his people. 

The last thing that I have been trying to understand is again found in Mormon 5: 
 8 And now behold, I, Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of blood and carnage as was laid before mine eyes; but I, knowing that these things must surely be made known, and that all things which are hid must be arevealed upon the house-tops—  
 9 And also that a knowledge of these things must acome unto the remnant of these people, and also unto the Gentiles, who the Lord hath said should bscatter this people, and this people should be counted as naught among them—therefore cI write a dsmall abridgment, daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen, because of the commandment which I have received, and also that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.  
 10 And now behold, this I speak unto their seed, and also to the Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel, that realize and know from whence their blessings come.  
 11 For I know that such will sorrow for the calamity of the house of Israel; yea, they will sorrow for the destruction of this people; they will sorrow that this people had not repented that they might have been clasped in the arms of Jesus.  
It is interesting that Mormon says he makes an abridgement of the wickedness of his people because:  
It was a commandment not to give us a full record of the wickedness of his people. Why?        
He did not want us to sorrow greatly because of the wickedness of his people.  This Mormon continues on to explain that we will sorrow that these people did not repent, and been wrapped in the arms of Jesus. That imagery there, makes me want to repent of all my sins, so that I can feel my Savior's love.

2 Nephi 1:15 But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.

Doctrine and Covenants 6:20 I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Knowing is Not Enough

For some days now, I have been contemplating the Savior's words that he spoke in 3 Nephi 27:

 21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do; 
27 And know ye that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am. 

Elder John M. Madsen of the Seventy focused particularly on the word ought in the Lord’s teachings to become as He is. Elder Madsen described the Lord’s words as more than an invitation, but a requirement of our covenants: 
“To receive Him and know Him, we and all mankind must... come unto Christ and strive to ‘become’ like Him (see Dallin H. Oaks, in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 40–44; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32–34). 
“Said the risen Lord: ‘What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am’ (3 Nephi 27:27). The meaning of the word ought, as used in His question ‘What manner of men ought ye to be?’ is crucial to understanding His answer, ‘Even as I am.’ The word ought means ‘to be necessary’ or ‘to be held or bound in duty or moral obligation’, suggesting—and the holy scriptures, ancient and modern, confirm—that it is ‘necessary,’ and that we are ‘bound,’ as by covenant, ‘to be,’ as He declared, ‘even as I am’  (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 93; or Ensign, May 2002, 79). 
We are duty bound, even under covenant to become like Christ. It is not by hearing the word of God that we will be saved; or knowing the things that Jesus has taught. It is by doing that we become as Christ is.

 We KNOW the things we must DO, but we often have difficulties doing it. Here is a little reninder that knowing is not enough. We must do. Taken from Teachings of Presidents of the Church, President Spencer W. Kimball manual:
"Church members all over the world love the Primary song “I Am a Child of God,” with its simple but profound message of who we are, why we are on the earth, and what the Lord promises us if we are faithful. Sister Naomi W. Randall wrote the text to the song in 1957, when Elder Spencer W. Kimball was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At that time, the song’s chorus concluded with the words “Teach me all that I must know to live with him someday.”
While visiting a stake conference, Elder Kimball listened to a group of Primary children sing “I Am a Child of God.” Soon after that, he commented on the song in a conversation with a member of the Primary General Board. “I love the children’s song,” he said, “but there is one word that bothers me. Would Sister Randall mind if the word know were changed to the word do?”

Sister Randall agreed to change the song. Now the chorus ends with the words “Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.” These words reflect a principle that President Kimball emphasized throughout his ministry: “Celestial life may be had by every soul who will fulfil the requirements. To know is not enough. One must do. Righteousness is vital and ordinances are necessary.” He taught that the gospel is “a way of life, the plan of personal salvation, and is based upon personal responsibility. It is developed for man, the offspring of God. Man is a god in embryo and has in him the seeds of godhood, and he can, if he will, rise to great heights.”