Having grown up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have believed in agency my whole life. While our Heavenly Father has given us commandments to follow, He has also given us the ability to choose to follow those commandments or not. For some reason, it never occurred to me that choosing to repent has always been a part of our agency. In the October 2016 General Conference, Elder Dale G. Renlund said, “The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us.” He then shared some verses from the Book of Mormon that explain how we have the ability to choose repentance.
“And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.”
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ( 2 Nephi 2:5-6, 27)
My desire to live the gospel of Jesus Christ fluctuates drastically from overzealous, to moderately passive, to shutting down to nurture a bruised ego. How do I expect to live up to promises made, capture my divine nature, or simply comment in a class setting when often I find myself barely holding it together? The ultimate answer of truth is that Jesus Christ never leaves us alone to wallow for long. He knows. He understands. He has felt as we do. And He has promised to heal us completely. We can accept or reject this truth, but by the multiple testimonies I have heard, and the experiences I have had, I can share with you my testimony that I know we can continually walk down the path, perchance to fall, never to fall off, ultimately reaching the arms of our beloved Savior.
I’ve been taking college courses for eight years, trying to get my Bachelor of Arts degree. Because I didn’t take school seriously, back in my college-age days, I had to take some pretty tough courses. And because I’m just this side of old and feeble-minded, I take all my classes online, because I don’t feel comfortable sitting in a class full of young, bright students. And never being an A student, all I’ve been focusing on is passing my classes, check-marking them off my list, and getting through one class at a time, day-in-day-out, trudging along toward my goal of graduation. Continue reading →
Every year it seems, my mobile phone becomes antiquated and “old.” It might still work for me, but there is always a newer and better version that the phone carrier wants to talk me into. It might have a bigger screen, better camera, or maybe more memory. The old phone works, but the new phone is better, faster, easier to use. The mobile company never tries to deceive me into keeping my old phone, hiding the new and improved one away for only itself. It actually invites me to try the latest phone, telling me how much more I can do with it and what a wonderful tool it is.
When I think of the first smartphone I had, a BlackBerry that I loved, it was only 7 years ago. That phone, now 7 years later, is a relic. My smartphone is now a computer. I never use my laptop anymore because my phone can do everything. I design artwork on my phone. I do banking and email. I write for my blog. I do family history work. I buy books and clothes online. I make hotel and airline reservations. I check the weather and road conditions. I get Twitter feed from the International Space Station. Why would I want the old phone that only did email and text?
Boundaries are both natural phenomena and man-made, set by men and by nature. A river draws a boundary and so does a cliff. A steep canyon creates a boundary, and so does the sea. One might be careful to think about crossing both. We place fences around our properties to keep children and pets in and other children and pets out. We place cattle guards on busy road crossings to protect cows and people. Homes have thresholds and locks on doors. Elevator doors close to protect people from falling to their deaths during the trip up a high-rise. Even people have boundaries and carefully guard their personal space. Continue reading →
Not long ago, a friend of mine shared with me an experience her husband had on Facebook. He was casually scrolling through the news feed when he saw that one of his LDS friends had “liked” and posted a very supportive comment about same sex marriage on a photo of gay couple on a cruise. My friend’s husband was surprised. This man on Facebook was a faithful, strong and active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who somehow didn’t realize that giving supportive comments and liking the photo were actually encouraging a practice that is in direct opposition to the teachings of our Church. He then said the following:
If this good, faithful man doesn’t understand why this is troubling, how many other good members of the Church also do not understand? How many others do this, in spite of the fact that the Brethren have clarified this issue to the point that no one can misunderstand the Church’s position? Do Church members realize when they “like” and leave comments of approval on Facebook, they are condoning behaviors that the Lord has clearly defined as wrong and sinful? What kind of a message are they sending to others? To their children? To the youth they teach? Or to those they lead in the Church? By doing this, they are telling the world (through social media) that they don’t support or agree with the prophet or basic LDS doctrine. How are these good, faithful members missing this crucial point?
Many reading this may have had the same thoughts, being disappointed, concerned or surprised when they see LDS friends and family sharing and commenting positively on things in opposition to God’s commandments and doctrine. Others reading this will be angry and immediately cast this man as being judgmental and intolerant. Yet knowing what we know about LDS doctrine and standards, why would some still choose to support practices that have been so clearly defined as right and wrong? Where do we stand when we see things contrary to Church standards and doctrine being advocated on social media?
Social Media is being inundated with some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) declaring their objection to the recent policy updates in the Church. Some have even gone as far as saying that they intend to walk away from their faith. This makes me wonder if they realize that these policy updates have come directly from The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. These prophets, seers and revelators are doing exactly what they have been commissioned by the Savior to do: prophesy, see and reveal. Theirs is a unique calling; they are Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by Him. When something this collective is done on such serious issues, don’t believe for one second that they acted rashly, are misguided or decided this without careful consideration, prayer and fasting. Yet without much pause, some are already announcing their intentions to walk away from their faith, their beliefs, and their covenants — and with very public criticism of the Church via social media. In a twist, members are being asked to “mourn with those that mourn”, with perhaps the expectation or inference that we will also “murmur with those who murmur.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard, one of the greatest champions of the traditional family, will be giving the keynote address on the opening day of the World Congress of Families. Beginning on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, thousands of high profile pro-family religious leaders, lawmakers, dignitaries, parliamentarians, scholars, producers and every-day child and traditional family advocates will gather together in this significant congress. This conference comes at a pivotal time in history when the traditional family and religious freedoms are being threatened around the world. I attended a World Congress of Families in Sydney, Australia and learned from some of the best and brightest international pro-family scholars and religious leaders in the world. So many of these voices are drowned out, buried and even omitted in public discourse and the media. This is why this conference is so important. It provides the opportunity for critical research, presentations, experiences, and first hand accounts to see the light of day.
A highlight of this conference for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be the keynote address by one of our Apostles. This is significant because it shows, without question, the Church’s supportive and firm stance on protecting and defending the traditional family in the public square. It is also significant because it falls on the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Elder Ballard, one of the original apostles who signed his name on this prophetic document, is no stranger to defending God’s plan for the family. In fact, it seems as if at least 50% of his talks have been somehow related to God’s plan and pattern for the family. Continue reading →
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a 1,000 page, two-volume book containing the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon. In conjunction with the release of the printer’s manuscript project, the Church posted an article about seership, seer stones, and their roles in translation and revelation. The article is scheduled to be published in print in the Church’s October 2015 issue of the Ensign magazine.
“Images of the seer stone will be placed at the new priesthood restoration site that is being completed in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and will be dedicated Sept. 19 by President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Snow said. Images of the seer stone will also be available in the Church History Museum, which is being renovated and will be opened a week before general conference in October.”
Since that time, many people have either been excited to see the pictures of the stone or have been critical of the Church for keeping this part of the history hidden for nearly 200 years. I’ve heard one person express interest and love for the Church, because as he put it, “I am a very visual person.” Another person, said in disbelief, “I’ve never found a magic stone.” Many others have talked about how the Church has kept this as a secret part of its history. Continue reading →
Trying to fully explain the wondrous and miraculous gift that was given to all the world through Jesus Christ’s Atonement is like trying to explain the unexplainable—it can’t be done. However, each individual can honor that Atonement by keeping the Lord’s commandments and living His gospel to the very best of her/his ability.
In my own case, and in the words of the hymn, “I Stand All Amazed,” I literally marvel and can hardly believe “that He would descend from His throne divine, to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.” (Hymn #193). Yet Jesus, the God and creator of every living thing, the only perfect and sinless individual to walk the face of the earth, willingly took upon himself the sins of the entire world. He had the power to back out anytime if He wanted, but chose not to because He knew His full purpose, and fulfilled it. Continue reading →
Recently, The Huffington Post did a series of interviews on various religions, asking select members of each faith how their church views sexuality. This controversial subject is one that is often misrepresented amongst members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Where those interviewed did a fair job in answering the questions, it’s clear that the world really doesn’t understand what Mormons believe when it comes to sexually related topics. For instance, within the LDS faith masturbation and pornography are never okay — before or after marriage or within the marriage relationship.
Mormons are very much like other religious people. We follow what the scriptures say. We believe that keeping one’s self pure and free of sexual sin brings one closer to God and brings happiness into one’s life. We believe that good is still good, and evil is still evil. Our prophets have reminded us to be sensitive and respectful, to those who struggle with sexual or gender identity, but by the same token, we desire to be respected for our own beliefs. Continue reading →
As a child, reading 4th Nephi, I yearned to join the community they made. As an adult I have pondered how. How can we build Zion?
Often from the pulpit, we hear, “I love each and every one of you.” And in a way, I am sure those who say that really do. In a calling of service, I know that one cannot help love those whom they serve. And after all, we are commanded to love everyone and it is great that so many people are trying to do just that. But I just don’t feel particularly loved from the person who says, “I love you each and every one of you,” at the pulpit but doesn’t seem to know that I exist in any other circumstance. Continue reading →