Having grown up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the basic truths of the Godhead have been common knowledge to me. The Godhead consists of three personages: Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They are three separate beings. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have a body, the Holy Ghost is a spirit. I have always accepted those truths without question, and because of that I have never personally dived deeper into understanding the role that the Godhead has in Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation. Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ April 2017 conference address “The Godhead and the Plan of Salvation” taught me how important a deeper understanding of the Godhead is for our mortal journey and our eternal salvation.
Elder Oaks’ talk was a deep doctrine talk for me. He taught a lot of things that I did not know, or hadn’t really thought about. It wasn’t like, “How could I have never been taught this before?” It was very spiritual and powerful, and one of my favorite talks from that conference.
In introducing the Godhead, Elder Oaks quoted Joseph Smith:
“Any person that had seen the heavens opened knows that there are three personages in the heavens who hold the keys of power, and one presides over all …
…These personages … are called God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Witness or Testator.
[It is] the province of the Father to preside as the Chief or President, Jesus as the Mediator, and the Holy Ghost as the Testator or Witness.”
In this teaching by Joseph Smith, I really like that the labels or positions for the individual members of the Godhead are action nouns. God created us, he is the Creator. Jesus’ mission was to redeem mankind, so he is the Redeemer. Jesus Christ’s suffering, Atonement, and resurrection makes him a mediator between us and God. The Holy Ghost witnesses to us the reality of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of His gospel, he testifies of the truth of all things, so he is the Witness or Testator.Continue reading →
In our day, many people proclaim that we must always be happy and positive and if we are not, then we are need help. Emotions have been categorized into negative and positive or good and bad emotions.
The world teaches that happiness, rejoicing, and peace are good and positive emotions and we must seek for them, and that sorrow, anger, and mourning are bad and need to be cured. However, with a careful reading of the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one can learn that God takes a different view on the matter.
If we can learn the truth about emotions, we will be better equipped to deal with and understand our own.
Let’s look at some scriptures to learn truth about emotions.
This is Part 2 of a 2-part post. Part 1 talked about the path to true happiness and can be read here.
“Endure to the end” is a common phrase found in LDS terminology. The dictionary definition of endure means to suffer patiently or to remain in existence. So it’s common to view the term in a negative way. However, when applied to the gospel of Jesus Christ, to endure is a very positive thing. As briefly introduced in Part 1, endurance and happiness can be misconceived as opposites. I would like to use Part 2 to show how we can find happiness in the face of enduring to the end.
When I was younger I took swimming lessons at my local recreation center. During the final level of lessons, Level 7 (which took a few years to get to), I dreamed of getting on the swim team. I didn’t pass Level 7 the first time around, and my coach told my mom it was because I didn’t have enough endurance that passing required. I took Level 7 again, and passed the second time, but barely. The coach took pity on me and moved the brick from 12 feet to 6 feet so that I could succeed in diving to the bottom of the pool and bringing the brick to the surface – so I guess I didn’t really pass, the coach accommodated for me. The word endurance was brought up frequently that it was something that I didn’t have, so I didn’t attempt the swim team, and I hated the word endurance.
Luckily for people like me, it is spiritual endurance, not physical endurance, that God asks us to have. But why do we have to endure, or suffer patiently, if the gospel is supposed to bring us happiness? Because outside forces, such as temptations, trials, and the actions of others can affect our happiness. This is where enduring to the end comes in. All of the scriptures that talk about enduring to the end promise that those who endure to the end will be saved and receive eternal life. However, each scripture also couples enduring to the end with other aspects of living the gospel. This leads me to believe that in order to successfully endure the tribulations of the world, we must be living the gospel as fully as we can.
The battle rages on as we fight against worldly evil. Yes, the world fights dirty, and we must always be on our guard, but even more important than defending truth is knowing Jesus Christ, for He is the cure.
The Savior asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” They answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:13-16).
As we fight the adversary and the evil doings of this world, we cannot forget the reason why we fight. It is to proclaim the Son of God, even Jesus Christ.
Back in the 70’s, clearly our prophet, Spencer W. Kimball, knew what we would face forty years later. As I read these conference talks, I am amazed at how applicable they are for our day.
“We, the members of the Church, proclaim our liberty and our renewal of our faith and our assurance that we do have control in our own families and can rear our children to love truth and to be happy in the deathless dignity of man, governed by the eternal and moral laws of God.”
What a rallying cry!
He goes on to warn us that “the enemies of faith know no God but force.” Indeed, at every turn, those who choose morality are bombarded with others who steal liberty, demand compromise and cry false judgment.
But don’t despair! Continue holding onto your families with your Family Home Evenings, scripture reading, and prayers. Teach the true doctrine our Heavenly Father has given us. And stay true to that truth.
In his talk, Pres. Kimball reminds us what the full cycle of human life is. The natural order is
“… childhood, adolescence, youth, parenthood, middle age and the age of grandchildren. … Only by birth can any of these come into being. Only by the natural cycle of life can the great progressive joys of mankind be reached. … Any social system which prevents the individual from pursuing the normal cycle of life … defeats the divine order of the universe and lays the basis of all sorts of social problems.”
It is my understanding that all of us chose to come down to earth to prove our worthiness and desire to Come Unto Jesus Christ. We must have known there would be some sacrifice involved because we knew we would be given weakness to overcome. “If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble” (Ether 12:27).
Our weakness is a catalyst for humility and sacrifice. And these two qualities ironically are our greatest tools. This is how we call upon the Lord to fight our battles who will ultimately come off victor. And make no mistake, every one of us has been blessed with weakness so that we can use these tools.
Being humble and sacrificing our will to Jesus Christ are not only the antidote to every weakness we hold dear, they are also the antidote for wickedness. For those who stubbornly hold onto their weakness and wickedness, He waits lovingly and patiently. For those who struggle to let go of both, He lovingly encourages. All of us can be sensitive, loving, patient, and encouraging because we are all stubborn and we all struggle. But ultimately, through Jesus Christ, we can release our weakness and become free.
Unfortunately, humility and sacrifice are seen by the world as weakness. The world would tell you to hide your weakness or flaunt your weakness into acceptable behavior. It will never tell you to sacrifice your weakness to the Lord so He can make you a better person.
It is our weakness (or dependency) when given to the Lord that allows the Lord to win our battles for us. So we have no cause to fear when we give ourselves to Him in our weakness.
“…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).
Pres. Kimball stood at the pulpit and declared:
“There are a half a hundred special witnesses in this room this day. There are tens of thousands of [men and women] under the sound of my voice, all of whom would, in one great chorus, answer that question–’Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”
I add my own voice to that chorus.
Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Jesus Christ is the cure for the ills of the world. And because of Him, I will be made whole.
Two years ago this Easter, I lost a very special friend to an unkind and excruciating death because of cancer. In the few short months between her diagnosis and her death, our friendship grew even deeper in its spiritual and eternal scope. We shared deeply our testimonies and our feelings about our Savior, Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father and the glorious Plan of Happiness. We laughed and we cried. When the final weeks turned into days, our visits took more time, but our conversations were no longer. With my friend too fragile to speak, we would just hold hands and sit together. Continue reading →
I have playlists on my smartphone through a streaming service that I enjoy. I have playlists for exercise, driving in the car, the Sabbath Day, cleaning, and others that represent various genres such as classical, R&B, and yes, even disco (I was a young teenager in the 70s). I do have one that’s a little unusual. It’s called “Get to Heaven.” The songs there are very eclectic. It includes church hymns, classical instrumentals, some songs from Broadway scores, and even modern music. I had a seminary teacher that very nearly saved my life by teaching me to see gospel messages even in modern music. Now 34 years later, I can hear gospel messages in much of the music that is positive and clean. Sometimes it surprises my friends and family when I share these insights with them, and maybe they don’t see it the same way, but to my mind, it makes sense that the Spirit could teach me, even if the radio is on. Continue reading →
The world has been talking about love for a long time. Who do we love? How do we express love? What does love look like? What does it not look like? We have been spending so much time telling others to love as we do, that we have forgotten to love those very people we are talking to. We have been spending so much time trying to convince everyone else that our way of love is the right way, that we have forgotten to follow the true example of love: Jesus Christ. We talk about love, but do we actually love? Do we follow Jesus Christ’s example?
Loving each other is a commandment:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
Growing up, one of my favorite Christmas stories was commonly titled, “Teach the Children.” * In the story, the narrator comes across Santa Claus in their house. Santa requests that the narrator teaches their children the true meaning of Christmas. In this story Santa teaches that the popular symbols of Christmas like candy canes, Christmas trees, and stars all center around Jesus Christ, his love, and his sacrifice. I believe that these spiritual meanings for our Christmas symbols are vital for our children to know and pass along. We must teach our children about Jesus Christ and how he is not only the center of Christmas, but the center of our lives.
The Star – Stars are commonly placed on top of Christmas trees. Heavenly Father placed a bright star in the sky when Jesus was born. It was so bright that when the sun set, there was no darkness. In the New Testament (Matthew 2), the star led the wise men to Jesus; and in the Book of Mormon it was a sign to the world that Jesus Christ, our Savior, had been born (Helaman 14:1-2,5 and 3 Nephi 1:21). In the story, the star represents God’s promise being fulfilled that he would send us a Savior. We can also teach our children that because the star was recorded in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, we know that Jesus Christ truly was born. Continue reading →
When the topics of sin, repentance, and judgment are discussed, the story of Christ’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:1-11) is a common example. Many times, however, this example is misused to advocate for sin. Those who preach the truth and defend Christ’s doctrine are often accused of being judgmental and are told, “Jesus said, ‘those who are without sin cast the first stone,’ and “Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery.”
While these statements are true to an extent, they have been taken out of context. When talking about casting stones, Jesus wasn’t telling people to stop preaching about sin and repentance. He was telling people to stop judging that woman. The second statement, however, has been misunderstood. Jesus did not forgive her right away because she hadn’t repented yet. Rather, He was stating that He didn’t condemn her, and He was offering her an invitation to repent. These two statements are often used to spread the message that if we want to be like Christ, we will keep our mouths shut and tell everyone they are doing good no matter what they do, but if we preach about sin and repentance we are being like the Pharisees. The story of the woman caught in adultery goes so much deeper than that. It is a beautiful story that teaches many wonderful lessons. Here are six lessons we can learn from this story:Continue reading →
“May we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not in the flush of comfortable times, but in deed and in courage and in faith. May we stand by Jesus Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places that we may be in, even until death, for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.” —Elder Jeffrey R. Holland