In this session of conference, we get to catch up with probably one of the most well-known talks ever given: Spiritual Crocodiles. Likely, you or your children saw this video many times in Seminary. It is well-known, and always worth spending some time talking about why its message is so important.
Incidentally, in this talk, Boyd K. Packer wasn’t kidding when he said he knew about the many birds of our world. He was an exceptional artist and he specialized in bird carvings.
Detail from President Boyd K. Packer’s 1991 woodcarving “Broad-Tailed Hummingbird with Indian Paintbrush.” Photo by Jason Swensen.
And with this extra knowledge, he admitted to still being skeptical, at the time, of those who knew additional knowledge concerning life and death.
Likening this knowledge to the prophet, who is most concerned about our spiritual safety and salvation is easy, and easily ignored. Sometimes, the best teacher is Hindsight. Unfortunately, we are in a spiritual life and death battle and Hindsight can be a whirlpool we may never escape from.
One of the titles that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, carries is the Prince of Peace. It is through him that we find peace, and one of the ways that happens is when we forgive others. Instead of writing about forgiveness in general, I want to talk about a specific type of forgiveness; and that is forgiving those who have not and may never apologize.
One of the most basic teachings of forgiveness is that when someone hurts us, they apologize/repent, and we forgive them. And when we hurt someone, we hope that they will forgive us when we apologize and repent. But what about when someone hurts us, and they don’t apologize, do we still forgive them? The answer is yes.
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10)
There are several reasons why someone might not apologize to us: they might not know they hurt us, they might have moved on before we did, or they simply might not care. Whatever the situation, we forgive no matter what. In President James E. Faust’s iconic talk The Healing Power of Forgiveness, he said,
“Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurt does not bring happiness.”
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)
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 →
I’ve been pondering on the “smooth” doctrine of sin advocated by those who believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) needs to soften their position on how homosexual behavior is viewed i.e. accept it now that gay marriage is considered a legal type of marriage. The underlying argument is that withholding the blessings of the gospel to those in a legal same-sex relationship and their posterity (albeit temporarily) is hurtful and can’t possibly be in accordance with God’s will. After all, some suggest, God is love and to insist upon holding fast to a doctrine that causes people pain can’t be right, and in their minds, certainly not Christlike.
The idea behind this kind of thinking is the hope that someday (when they believe that leaders will “eventually progress and receive more light”), the Church will change the doctrine of what constitutes a marriage to include any two people, regardless of gender. The problem with this argument is that the doctrine of marriage is fixed and immovable. Continue reading →
The last nine months, I’ve been studying the scriptures with a study buddy. We use an online site that gives us a daily reading assignment with a question to answer. We do the reading separately and answer the question. Then we discuss our answers and talk about what we read.
Recently, we had an interesting discussion about Alma 7:15: “Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you. . . .” The study question was: “How does fear affect the repentance process?”
My answer: “It is terrifying to think that in attempting to lay aside every sin that you will fail. It is actually easier to keep the status quo and accept the fact that you are not going to heaven than to think about failing in the attempt. Fear also affects our repentance when we fear man more than God. We fear what our peers think of us, and how our family perceives us.”
The Lord is merciful. Everyone knows this and everyone, including the non-religious, shout it from the house tops. Those shouting about mercy declare that we are okay; we are enough; who we are today is good, and Jesus will take care of the rest later. This teaching contradicts scripture and keeps us from Christ’s true mercy.
I read a comment once that said something like this: the Church wants to change these people as if there was something wrong with them. God loves them and He made them that way, they do not need change. They need acceptance.
And I thought, yes, that is it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is about change. It’s about becoming—becoming like God. When we think and do things that are contrary to the character of God, we sin. Jesus Christ came to redeem us from those sins. He came to change our hearts, our actions, and ultimately our minds. Continue reading →
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we partake of the sacrament weekly. This is our opportunity to repent of any wrongdoing and renew our baptismal covenants. Occasionally, it is good to ask ourselves, “Has this become rote?” Are we really coming to the sacrament table with a humble heart ready to truly repent of our wrongdoing? In reality, we should be repenting every single day.
The power of repentance can change lives. We know that it does because all of us have had times in our lives when we have truly humbled ourselves and repented of egregious errors—but we often neglect the little everyday mistakes. Simply by being mortal, we make mistakes all the time. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t personally have cause to repent of something. The repentance process is a great blessing to us. Are we truly taking advantage of that blessing? Continue reading →
In my childhood, I remember times when children misbehaved in school and my teachers would talk about our consciences. They told us that when someone did something that made them feel bad, those feelings came from an inner voice, called a conscience. They would explain that consciences taught us right from wrong. If what we did was right, then we would feel good, but if what we did was wrong, then we would feel bad. The teachers told us to listen. Those childhood teachings represented something real. The scriptures call it “the light of Christ”, or “the Spirit of Christ”. This is a universal gift to all mankind. Continue reading →
One morning as my five-year-old son, Joseph, headed down the stairs, he began to sing out, “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool!” I interrupted to give him the news of the day. “Joseph, “ I said, “We are going to pick up the floors, pull out the couches, clean out from under them, sweep all of the floors and then wash all of them.” Joseph continued, “Everything is awe,” he paused, “not awesome.” With as serious of a face as a five-year-old boy can muster, Joseph looked me in the eyes and said, “Mom, did you know that everything is not awesome and cool?” “Yes, Joseph, I do know that.”
In 2 Nephi 28, Nephi warns us of certain philosophies abounding in the lasts days that will lead people away from the gospel and away from repentance. One such philosophy states:
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” (2 Ne 28:21)
It’s tempting to believe that “everything is awesome.” It doesn’t feel good to pull out the couches of our lives and see what has been lurking under there. But remember, we are mortal and we are living in a fallen world. Heavenly Father does not expect us to be perfect now, but He does expect us to enter the path and do the work that leads to perfection. Part of that work is the regular check up and clean up of our lives. We should take a closer look at what we allow in our homes through the media. Do the movies we watch, the books and websites we read, and the music we listen to match up with the commandments? What about the language we use, or the things that we allow ourselves to say or to think about other people? Elder Jörg Klebingat, of the Seventy, asked us to:
“Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly. Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out. Embrace the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance as things that are to be welcomed and applied daily according to the Great Physician’s orders. Establish an attitude of ongoing, happy, joyful repentance by making it your lifestyle of choice. In doing so, beware of the temptation to procrastinate, and don’t expect the world to cheer you on. Keeping your eyes on the Savior, care more about what He thinks of you, and let the consequences follow. Spiritual confidence increases when you voluntarily and joyfully repent of sins, both small and great, in real time by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” (Jörg Klebingat, Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence, Oct 2014)