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)
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)
We had always told our children that when they were in college we would pay for the expenses of their tuition and books if their grades reflected what we all knew was their best efforts. For each child, there was a differing expectation, but the formula was the same across the board – your grades at ‘this’ level = our continued financial support.
One of our children thoroughly enjoyed their first semester at BYU-I to the point of being invited not to return after the holidays for the next semester. (Apparently, the school had their own formula too!) This child came to us fretting over their situation. After they had a few serious phone conversations with the powers-that-be in Rexburg they were told they could return, but on an academic probation. The child came to us so happy and relieved for the opportunity extended for a second chance at the school.
Love = No Tuition
After congratulating them and encouraging their serious commitment to further studies we asked the question, “So, how are you going to be paying for this next semester’s expenses?” We reminded them of our financial arrangement and their celebratory mood quickly ended. If they were going to return to BYU-I, they were going to be paying for it. It would have to come out of their savings and we left the decision of returning to school prior to their mission, or not, to them. 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 →
It has been my experience that those I personally know who struggle with the SSM attitudes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are those whose testimonies are not firm in the doctrine of the family. As bold a statement as this may be, I have seen it proven time and time again by what I have seen and what the Brethren have taught in General Conference for years. If we don’t hold firm to the family doctrine of the Church, we may be swayed.
We’ve been warned that we are in danger of falling away from the Church if we don’t put our faith in Jesus Christ; that we must read the Book of Mormon regularly and how vital it is to have regular, sincere prayer in order to be guided by the Holy Ghost. I have also come to learn that the people I know personally who have struggled with this debate are not following the prophets who have raised these warnings.
I’ve been known to tell the Lord a thing or two when I’ve been outraged, hurt, or completely frustrated. Maybe this is the second or third time I’ve gone down the same road, and I still think I can navigate it just fine. Why do I need the Lord now?
There have been other times I’ve collapsed, in sheer exhaustion, giving up my own desires, admitting that I actually do need help. Maybe what I thought was going to be a rough road—because I was still internally fighting—ended up being an easy road because I stopped pitting my will against the Lord’s. And that’s when I finally realized I needed the Lord now, more than ever! There’s a lesson buried somewhere in there.
The first great commandment to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30) seems on the surface to be so simple. Truly, how hard can it be to love God? We say we love Him, but do we show it? The Savior taught the way to show our love for God, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and “If ye love me, feed my sheep.” (John 21:16) Yet all around us we see people, even ourselves, professing to love God but being unwilling to obey and follow all His commandments.
“The great test of life is obedience to God. “We will prove them herewith,” said the Lord, “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abr. 3:25).
The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then do it.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the following is a compilation of beloved general conference talks on love. There are fourteen listed here, but feel free to add your own favorites that teach about God’s love for us, our love for Him, and His children’s love for one another.
“Bernice left her own work and went to Arlene’s side, kindly giving her instruction and help. She stayed until Arlene gained confidence and was able to successfully complete the piece. Bernice then went back to her own machine, having missed the opportunity to complete as many pieces as she could have, had she not helped … Every day of our lives we are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us.”
Equality can only exist when all people make righteous choices all of the time, or when there is no law and no consequences. One way (equality) is God’s way, and one way (inequality) is Satan’s. When people all choose to obey God’s commandments, then they will be equal. They will be equally happy, they will be equally wealthy, and they will be equally good. They will love equally, and they will be equal by their own choice. We call this Zion.
“And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:18)
“We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.” Thus begins the LDS Relief Society Declaration. What does it mean to be a beloved spirit daughter of God? What are the meaning, purpose, and direction of our lives? Continue reading →