Life Lately

I haven’t been super consistent at posting lately. But I feel drawn to blogging again. I sat down to write today, wondering what should I write about? There are so many things to say. There are concerns I have. People are losing their faith in God and their love for one another. Our country is in turmoil.

In January, I decided to break away from Facebook. It started to take a bigger portion of my life than it should have. (read: I was addicted to it). I feel like after eliminating Facebook, I probably freed up about 60-90 minutes of my life!

I also have freed up feelings of anger, frustration, and general depression about this world around me. I turned off my phone, got up and started getting out more and tuning into my family more.

Here’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods…

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Oh Deer
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Quilty fun
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Tiger made a dress. And Sasquatch has glasses.
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T-Rex being a boy and finding things like dead snakes (and bringing them home!)
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There IS peace in this world. Just go outside. Look up.
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Handmade Pixie Shoes. (The show off the cutest little dirty toes).

I know that life isn’t perfect. And I don’t want to claim that mine is. Am I blessed? Yes! Absolutely!!! Despite my bounteous blessings, this is life, and I’m experiencing my share of trials. However, we can remember this:

“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2

Know the Greatness of God

I guess that this is what I mean by wake up, put down the phone, and get outside. I find that one of the quickest ways to feel God’s greatness is to go out for a walk.

Put down the phone, get off the internet (even before you finish reading this post!) and serve someone else. Into instant gratification? Get out and serve someone else. Nothing is more invigorating or electrifying as feeling the love that God has for all of us, and this comes to us as we serve each other.

And I know what you might be thinking! It’s easy for you to say, Choco, You aren’t dealing with _____[fill in the blank]_______ problems. However, I guarantee that anyone reading this can find someone who is happier than they are while having it worse than they do. When I’m feeling frustrated or down, and I don’t want to let God into my heart, I can’t help but remember Viktor Frankl. Who found purpose and stayed positive to his purpose WHILE IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP!

Know the greatness of God.

He Shall Consencrate Thine Afflictions for Thy Gain

As we come to know the greatness of God, trusting Him follows. We realize and remember that He isn’t just some arbitrary God up in heaven finding some kind of entertainment in our suffering.

He is our Father.

” Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew 7:9-11

If you are a parent, then you should be better able to imagine our Heavenly Father – and why He allows us to endure adversity. No he doesn’t want to see us suffer, but He knows what we will see when we get to the other side of suffering.

Yes, there are horrible things happening in this world around us. But maybe there are some pretty great things, too. Maybe we can take a few minutes to know God, trust Him, and then count the ways that He is consecrating all that we are enduring for our gain.

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Creativity is pretty. And joyful.
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🙂
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Take a breath and look around!
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If you blink, you’ll miss it. 🙂
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Always Remember Him

I haven’t written in a while, I’m not going to give some kind of recap of life or excuse. Let’s just continue on… 🙂

As I sat in church today, I kept thinking about the covenant we make each week in sacrament meeting: to always remember Him.

And I wondered why, why is it so important to always Remember the Savior?

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Getting outside helps me to remember Him

Now, this line of questioning is not out of doubt or disbelief. It is a way to seek more knowledge and understanding in my life. Why do we always remember Him?

One

We must always remember Christ because we have been commanded to.

Two

I happen to believe that God is not arbitrary and that each commandment serves some kind of real function.

As I pondered this thought – remember the Savior, I realized that we are commanded to always remember Him because it is the way. It is the secret to our success.

In 2 Nephi, we learn:

“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” – 2 Nephi 31:20

After we first covenant with God in the waters of baptism, we aren’t done. We still have a life to live. We still must navigate the test of mortality.

Nephi tells us this. After baptism, all is not done. We must still rely on Christ’s ability to save us.

And we must do a few things: 1) Press forward with a steadfastness of Christ; 2) Have a perfect brightness of hope; 3) Have a love of God and of all men; 4) Press forward; 5) Feast on the words of Christ; 6) Endure to the end.

Then, we will have eternal life.

Now, think back on that promise made each week when partaking of the sacrament – to always remember Him.

In the covenant we make – to always remember God – we are given the help we need in order to do the 6 points needed in order to inherit life. Remembering Christ – ensures our steadfastness in Him; remembering Christ will help us to have a bright hope. Remembering Christ fills our hearts with love for Him and for others. Remembering Christ can help us to have the tenacity we need to push on and press forward in our lives. Remembering Christ will encourage us to feast on His words and stay close to Him. Remembering Christ helps us to endure to the end.

I love the elegance of God’s laws, commandments, and blessings. When we keep our covenants, we are empowered with exactly that which is needed for us to receive the gifts that God wants to give us.

What do you do to always remember Him?

Joy and Thanksgiving 2013 – Opposition, Misery, and Joy

Joy and Thanksgiving ButtonJoin me for the next two weeks as we study Joy and Thanksgiving. This is part One of my thoughts as I study the assignments.

I originally wrote this scripture study program two years ago as a part of class that I taught on studying the scriptures. I haven’t ever gone back and re-studied any of my scripture study series. (I like making new ones!) But I have been feeling a little down and out lately. Sometimes Joy feels elusive, and I don’t like that! I’ve always been a happy person, and I still feel that I’m essentially happy–that I’m just having a tough go of it right now.

So…I figured it would be the perfect time to re-visit the concepts of joy and thanksgiving. It’s the perfect time of year for it. Above all, I like life more when I’m happier and when I’m more grateful. And I also know enough to know that happiness is a choice. I’m excited to study these scriptures again and remember what I can do to continue on in this life joyful and grateful.

The Connections taught by Lehi: Sin, Misery, Righteousness, and Joy

In 2 Nephi 2:13 and 23 Lehi teaches his son Jacob a few connections between Sin, Misery, Righteousness, and Joy. There are multiple levels of connections here.

First Level Connections

The first level of connections are the concepts that are directly related through cause and effect.
Righteousness→Joy – When we choose righteousness, we will also choose joy. Joy is the result of righteousness. There is no other way around this. It is important to remember that joy is not the same as pleasure. Joy is deep. It is abiding. It is what will help to get us through dark times. It is meaningful and fulfilling.

Sin→Misery When we choose sin, we choose misery. There is no other way around it. The important thing to know is why. Misery is a result of sin; it is NOT an emotion we feel because Heavenly Father is a dictatorial God. We learn in Alma that the nature of God is the nature of happiness. (See Alma 41:11.) If we want to experience happiness, then we need to adopt God’s nature as well. That’s just how it is.

Each of these connections are the first level connections. They are obviously related. They are progressive in nature. It is easy to see their relationship and why they have this relationship.

Second Level Connections

The “second level” connections are opposing in nature. They are connected to one another because they oppose one another. (Think of heads and tails of a coin, or the north and south ends of a pole). Even though these forces oppose one another, they are still inseparable.

Sin and Righteousness – Both sin and righteousness are also related. They are opposing forces. Both sin and righteousness are choices we make. We can’t not make a choice. We all must choose. We choose either to follow Christ and be righteous, or we choose to sin. You can’t say, “I refuse to choose.” Even a refusal to choose is a choice (and often a sin because following Christ implies an active and conscientious decision).

Misery and Joy
This connection can be looked at in two different ways.
One–as a result of choice – Both Misery and Joy are results of our choices and are related because they are the results of either sin or righteousness. When we choose sin, we choose misery. When we choose righteousness, we choose joy.

When others choose sin, they choose misery, and sometimes the misery that they choose not only effects them, but spreads to others involved, too. Sometimes we must endure misery because of the bad choices made by others.

Two–as a part of mortal life – Not only are misery and joy results of our choices, but they are also simply a part of mortal life. Because Adam fell, we have gained knowledge. We have gained the ability to perceive all of our emotions. We are not freed from these experiences. It is a part of living here on earth.

We learn in 2 Nephi 2:25:

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” – 2 Nephi 2:25.

Because Adam fell, we exist. And we exist in the state that He has brought us into: the fallen, natural world. Yet, we aren’t here to be subjected only to misery. We are here to experience joy.

The thing is, both misery and joy are connected – like two sides of a coin. So, if we want to pick up the “joy” coin, then we also pick up the “misery” coin. You can’t choose to only pick up the “heads” side of a coin. It seems like it would be nice, but it’s not possible.

So, there are times in this life when we go through Misery–not because we have sinned, not even because others have sinned, but because enduring misery is a part of receiving a fulness of joy.

What do these connections mean for you and me?

I love understanding the connections between misery and joy because it helps me to be able to endure difficulty.

Recently I have been going through a kind of depression. I’m fairly certain that it has been caused by fluctuating hormones (I had a hysterectomy a little over a year ago) plus other little “issues” that I hadn’t really resolved in my life. No matter the cause, the fact is, I have been more prone to feeling “down in the dumps” lately.

This is not really who I am. I feel like I’ve always been a very happy person. Even though I’ve been a little depressed lately, I still feel like I’m a happy person, overall. But I, like everyone else, still struggle. I don’t like struggling, but there’s a way to endure: knowledge, perspective, and gratitude.

I have a very dear friend in my life–Spunky. We became friends when we were teenagers. She is the most vivacious, fun, and life-loving person I have ever known. She has always embraced life with everything she has. Her love of life can be exhausting at times, but it is also contagious, and you are always having a good time when you’re with her. These qualities attracted me to her as a youth. I still look up to her example now.

Spunky would have her fair share of hard days, don’t get me wrong. She was diagnosed bi-polar as a teenager. This was like 20 years ago–long before being bi-polar was popular and/or acceptable. My point is, Spunky wasn’t vivacious because she was ignorant or unaware of hard days. She had her fair share of really difficult times in life.

Yet, even during her trying, depressing times, she would admit, “Life sucks, but I love it.” She didn’t mean this in a sarcastic tone. She honestly meant that even though she wasn’t happy with life at the moment, she still loved it. She didn’t love life in spite of it sucking or despite it sucking. Instead, she had learned to embrace the sucky days, too. They were a reminder that she was alive, that she had a life. She was grateful for the core of her own life–even if it meant she had a bad day or two. She seemed to understand that the ups and downs are equally valuable; that they are inseparably connected; that they are all good because they amount to this gift called life.

I also love life. Sometimes I forget that I love life, and I let the doldrums or the trials of life get to me. Sometimes I get sad enough to forget the blessing it is to be sad and am tempted to think What is there to like about life when life is like this? Yet even misery is a blessing because it is connected to joy.

It can be hard to remember that our trials will bring us joy–especially as we are enduring them. Some of the trials that we endure don’t seem to have a silver lining. Sometimes it is hard to understand how we will grow from a trial. Sometimes it is hard to have faith and put mind over matter during these times of intense suffering.

To get through the most difficult times, I think that we have to come to understand the connections that Lehi teaches. We must learn from our past experiences–where we suffered then felt joy. We need to trust that the pattern we have experienced in life will repeat itself, and that we will feel happy as we faithfully follow Christ. Not only must we learn from our past experiences, but we need to remember what we have learned–read journals, post inspirational quotes around the house, frame pictures taken of accomplishments that you have completed after a time of trial and suffering (Graduation, marathon, brand new baby). Keeping these thoughts in the forefronts of our minds will help us to trust God and in His perspective–that though we experience exquisite misery we will at one point experience exquisite joy. (See Alma 36:20-21.)

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What impresses you about these connections? What do they teach you about joy and thanksgiving? What do you do to choose joy and thanksgiving in your life?

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Check out more thoughts on the connections between Righteousness, Joy, Sin, and Misery here.

Strengthening our Relationships with Christ

How to receive a manifestation of the Savior.
How to receive a manifestation of the Savior.

I came across this scripture the other day…

“And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;

And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.” – 2 Nephi 26:12-13

It stood out to me because I want to know Christ.

It may seem strange because I have a testimony of the gospel and have even been blogging about it for years. I have even recorded my testimony of the Savior (note: more than once). And I will say right now, that I do have a testimony that we have a Savior. I know this because I have felt His power in my life. I have read the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and I have felt peace when studying and praying about the scriptures. I know this because I have learned about Him in Church and at the temple, and have also felt the peace and confirmation that comes from such practices. I have felt His forgiveness, and have witnessed miracles in my life. I know that my Savior lives and that He loves me.

But…

I feel like there is still so much more to know. I feel infantile in my testimony of the Savior, and not in a good-child-like-infantile way. But with a recognition that I can come to know Him more. That I can develop a better relationship with Him. That my prayers can be more heartfelt. That His presence could be felt stronger in my life. As I’ve had more witnesses of the Savior, of His love for me, of His role in my life as the Advocate and Redeemer, I’ve also seen how often I come up short. I get frustrated with myself that I give in to my weaknesses so much–instead of turning to Him for support. I feel like Nephi who said:

“O wretched [wo]man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.” – 2 Nephi 4:17-18

I can see that as my testimony in the Savior has matured, His expectations from me have also grown. As I’ve gained more knowledge, I have more power to do more good; and the Lord expects me to do it. I want to do it. And the thing is, I usually do. It’s not like I’m having struggles with the things that I’ve learned in the past.

The Lord is teaching me to be a better person – better than I was yesterday; last week; or last year. Now, I’m learning spiritual algebra, rather than spiritual arithmetic.

Sometimes, as I go through these periods of my life – where I feel distanced from the Savior, a flash of doubt runs through my mind. Do I even know Christ at all? Is this true? Am I crazy? What happened to my testimony? I think that this happens to all of us.

And, when I read the scripture in 2 Nephi: “He manifesteth Himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost;…, I realized my answer.

I do know Christ

I do know the Savior, and I don’t need to doubt my testimony – even for a second. Even if I don’t feel as close to Him as I would like, it isn’t because I don’t have a testimony. On the contrary, I realize it is because my testimony is growing, and that the Holy Ghost is helping me to see how it can continue to grow. We can’t stay in the same place. I can make improvements to my life–improvements that I wasn’t ready to make last week, a year ago, or five years ago. I can follow the same pattern that I’ve followed in the past:

  • I can believe in Christ – It is somewhat easy for me to do this now. I can base my belief on the witnesses I’ve had of him in the past. I don’t have to believe in someone completely foreign. I can keep believing in Christ: in His Atonement; in His love for me; in His desire that I come unto Him and know Him. I can keep expressing this belief in Christ through prayer, scripture study, temple attendance. I can also keep showing this belief in Christ by trusting Him when I go through times of personal refinement–that these times are to help me to get to know Him better.
  • I can seek the Holy Ghost – The manifestations of the Savior come to us through the Power of the Holy Ghost. When I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I received the gift of the Holy Ghost, which means I have access and companionship with the Holy Ghost and His power at all times (as long as I lived worthy of it). The Holy Ghost will help me to see what I need to do in order to change so I can have more of His spirit with me, which, in turn, will help me to feel closer to the Savior.

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I kind of think that we all go through these kinds of tests in life. We receive witness of the Savior, then the Lord tests our witness. As our testimonies and faith is tested, it continues to grow. When we feel our connection to the Savior diminishing, and it isn’t because we have sinned or grown relaxed in the gospel, perhaps it might be because we are being taught new ways that we can change and grow. The Lord wants us to be even closer to Him, and this is done through “pruning” and “refinement”–both concepts that connote growth through a difficult (sometimes painful) process.

If we are going through these stages of refinement, we don’t need to doubt our past testimony. Instead, we need to be like Nephi, who was able to overcome his feeings of self-doubt by remembering his past experiences with the Savior. (See 2 Nephi 4:19-25.) We can draw strength from our past expressions of faith and testimony, and trust that as we seek the Spirit, then Christ will manifest Himself unto us.

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Have you experienced times like these? What do you do to strengthen your relationship with the Savior? What have you done to receive a witness of Christ?

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If you are still coming to know Christ, you can learn more about The Savior here.

The Doctrine of Christ

Click here for today’s assignment.

First of all, I have to say – I love the doctrine of Christ. I find it super exciting. This is where things really start to come together. We have studied our pre-mortal existence, the fall, and mortality. We have studied the need for the atonement, and the atonement. With the Doctrine of Christ, we learn how to apply the power of atonement to our lives. This is where everything comes together.

The Example

At the meridian of time, Christ came to the earth, and gave us an example. When he began his mortal ministry, he went to John the Baptist, and was baptized.

Nephi points out that Christ was holy, yet was baptized. He then asks:

“And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!” – 2 Nephi 31:5

Christ was holy, yet was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. Of course we need to do the same.

Christ, himself, taught Nicodemus:

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:5

Jesus taught us, through His example, that baptism is necessary in order to enter into the kingdom of God.

Baptism – an essential part of the Doctrine of Christ. (click picture for source)

The Doctrine

Foundation

  • We have to understand that we are fallen people. Christ wasn’t fallen, so He could covenant with God directly. We covenant with God in Christ’s name, and he enables us to overcome with fall.
  • If we want to be able to dwell with God again, then we need to be purified and Holy. Following the steps in the doctrine of Christ will help us, through Christ’s atonement, to be made pure and Holy.

The Steps

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” – 2 Nephi 31:13

  1. Have Faith in Christ – follow Him, genuinely. In following Christ, we recognize that he knows where he’s going, and we want to go there, too. When we follow Christ, we believe Him. Another aspect of following Christ is doing what He has taught us to do – keep the commandments and covenant with God.
  2. Repent – Repentance seems to be a natural result of genuine faith in Christ. When we exercise our faith in Christ, when we keep His commandments, and experience His love, we are also made aware of our imperfections. It isn’t because God is some kind of guilt-tripper. It is because as we increase in our faith in Christ, we realize that we can be even closer to Him and feel more of His love when we repent and change our lives.
  3. Take upon the name of Christ – through baptism – I love this! We are able to become united with Christ when we are baptized. Can you really understand the scope of this blessing?

    I was talking with my sister today – about worthiness, the temple, prayer, etc. And I realized, none of us are worthy. None of us are worthy to go to the temple, take the sacrament, or even pray – ON OUR OWN. We pray – in the name of Christ. We bless and partake of the sacrament in the name of Christ. When we take on His name, then everything we do – as we approach the Lord – can be with the intercessory power that the Savior offers. So – am I worthy to go to the temple? When it comes to Catania, I’d have to say no. But, I’m faithful, I’m repentant, I have taken on Christ’s name, and I know that His grace makes up for my lack of worthiness. We aren’t in this alone. We can have Christ as a partner when we take on His name and live worthy of His atoning power in our lives.

  4. Receive the Holy Ghost – When we are baptized, we are purified. Then, when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are sanctified. This is how the doctrine of Christ makes us Holy.

    I’m totally flabbergasted by the gift of the Holy Ghost. That hasn’t always been the case. When I was a little kid, I remember that we would learn about the Gift of the Holy Ghost in primary. Often, the teacher would bring in a little present – wrapped up and empty. How I longed to open that present – and find a toy or candy. Yet it was always empty: symbolizing the gift of the Holy Ghost. I understand the object lesson, but I always kind of wished it had a toy in there instead. I didn’t understand the Gift that was being offered.

    Yet, as I have gotten older, and have felt the power and blessing it is to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost in my life, I am so grateful that God chose this way to bless us (rather than toys or candy bars!).

    Think of the love God has for us. 1) We are His children, and are blessed with a divine nature. (See Romans 8:16). 2. We can take on the name of Christ – and be connected to the Godhead in this way. 3. We are literally blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost – who is a constant companion to those who live worthy of the blessing. Heavenly Father doesn’t intend for us to be alone on our mortal journey. Even though we are cut off from Heavenly father, the atonement and doctrine of Christ enables us to endure our mortal probation with divine help.

  5. Endure to the End – Nephi teaches:

    “And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

    Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” – 2 Nephi 31:19-20

    After we have completed the previous four steps, we don’t have it made. We still have to endure the tests of this life. The key is given here in 2 Nephi 31:20 –

    • Faith – steadfastness in Christ
    • Hope – perfect brightness of hope
    • Charity – love of God and of all men

    Through these efforts, we will be able to make it back to our Heavenly Father. His purposes (See Moses 1:39.) will be fulfilled, and we will rejoice forever with God.

The plan of salvation is pretty awesome.

What did you learn as you studied the Doctrine of Christ? What do you find particularly comforting about this doctrine?

Click here for tomorrow’s assignment.

The Need for an Atonement – Scripture Chain

Click here for today’s assignment.

Yesterday, we learned about what happened at the Fall of Adam and Eve. Today we will look at a scripture chain that is an extension of the theme of the Fall – especially how it resulted in our need for an atonement.

Romans 5:12

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” – Romans 5:12

  • By Adam, sin entered into the world. It is important to note that this doesn’t mean that he committed a sin we must all pay for. “We believe that men will be punished for his own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression,” (See Articles of Faith 1:2). Instead, Paul teaches us that because of Adam, we are born into mortality – and are people who are capable of sinning. When Adam was in the garden, he was innocent. Now, we aren’t. This is how, by one man sin entered into the world.
  • Sin results in spiritual death.

Alma 42:9-10

“Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.

Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature,…” – Alma 42:9-10

  • The soul is eternal. (See Doctrine and Covenants 93:29, 33.)
  • Even though the soul can never die, we keep hearing about how the fall brought on death. Alma clarifies that spiritual death means that we are cut off from the presence of the Lord.
  • Temporal death, physical death, is also a result of the fall.
  • Our natures became carnal, sensual, and devilish. In the scriptures, fallen man is often referred to as “natural man.”

Alma 41:11

“And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. – Alma 41:11

  • I love this scripture!
  • When we are in our “natural” (fallen) state, we cannot be truly happy. This may not seem/sound true. In some ways, I think that our notion of happiness (or at least the world’s notion of happiness) may often be too connected with pleasure or chasing the appetite of the natural man. Of course, seeking to satiate our sensual appetites seems to be impossible. Often, this kind of unchecked passion leads us to bitterness and captivity (ie: addiction, disease, etc.)
  • The nature of God = the nature of Happiness.
  • As we learned earlier, the natural man is cut off from God. If we persist in our natural/fallen tendencies, then we cannot be happy because we are cut off from the nature of happiness.

2 Nephi 9:8-10

“O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.

And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.

O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.” – 2 Nephi 9:8-10

  • We can praise God: His mercy and grace. He prepared a way for us to overcome the effects of the fall. Remember: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,” (Moses 1:39). God’s purpose – His work – His glory is our immortality and eternal life. A way needed to be prepared for us to escape from the effects of the Fall.
  • If our bodies couldn’t rise again, then our Spirits would have been subject to Satan. – This would frustrate God’s purposes.
  • If our Spirits became subject to Satan, we would have become like Satan – remaining forever in misery. – Again, this foils God’s plan.
  • Heavenly Father, understanding the calamitous effects of the fall, yet the necessity for us to experience mortality and a spiritual separation from him (in order for our progression), made a way possible for us to overcome spiritual and physical death: the atonement.
  • When we consider the terror and bitterness of death, the concept of the atonement becomes a source of hope.

***
I am a woman who has been affected by the Fall. First of all, my body is imperfect, and I don’t just say that because I don’t have flat abs. I’m sitting here, on my couch, and I have been for 3 1/2 weeks straight – healing from a hysterectomy. I needed to have the hysterectomy because of problems caused by endometriosis. My body gets sick. I’m getting older, and I feel it in my bones. It isn’t something I like to think about: but I know that one day, my body will be laid to rest…I will die.

Additionally, I sin. I’m not as charitable as I should be. I make rash judgments. I get short-tempered with my kids. I think bad thoughts, say things I shouldn’t say, and then even do things that I regret. Obviously, I sin, and these sins, one by one, push me further away from God. I don’t really like thinking about this, either.

The thing is: we have hope in the atonement of Christ. God knew we would need it, and, to perform His purpose, he has provided a Savior that we so desperately need.

***
As you studied these scriptures, what were some of the things you noticed in a need for an atonement?

Click here for tomorrow’s assignment.

For All the Saints

So – today is “All Saint’s Day.” Traditionally, it is a Catholic holiday – not celebrated by Mormons, but I like thinking about it – and what it represents. – All Saint’s day commemorates those who have seen God

St Stephen
Image Source – Olga’s Gallery

We, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a different definition of what a saint is.

King Benjamin teaches that a saint is what we become when we put off the natural man.

” 19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” – Mosiah 3:19

We learn that we can become a Saint through Christ’s atonement.

Nephi explains how to follow Christ

” 13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” – 2 Nephi 31:13

– So, we follow the Savior by following Him into the waters of baptism…There, we are cleansed and take upon His name.

Through the baptismal covenant, we, as King Benjamin taught:

  • Become like a child
  • show submission to God’s will and Christ’s power
  • Show meekness by readily admitting we are natural men and need Christ to cleanse us.
  • Show humility by doing as the Lord has instructed and putting off natural instincts.

The baptismal covenant also blesses us with the Holy Ghost, and it is the Holy Ghost that purifies us. We are then able to continue our refinement and ability to become saints and finish obtaining the qualities outlined by King Benjamin:

  • Patience – I know that it is the Gift of the Holy Ghost that has comforted me in times of trial and has helped me to be patient. Whether I need to be patient with afflictions, circumstances, my kids, or even myself – I know that I cannot be patient without the help of the Spirit.
  • Full of Love (or Charity) – It is my opinion that we cannot be charitable without first feeling God’s love for ourselves. We feel God’s love when we covenant with Him and keep His commandments. I don’t know how to describe it, but I have felt God’s love in my life. His love builds my confidence and gives me support. As I feel His love, I’m prompted to share that love with others. I know that Heavenly Father Loves me, and I know that He loves all of His Children.
  • Willing to Submit to all things – It is interesting that submission is listed twice. I think that submission happens over and over again – true discipleship, or becoming a saint, is all about putting our wills on the altar of the Lord – daily. That is hard to do.

I love that we can all be saints. It is a lot to live up to. When I think of the examples of the righteous people I have known; when I think of the prophets of old, I wonder if I am up to the task – to be a saint. Yet, I’m also filled with confidence – If the Lord thinks that I can be a saint, then I know I can. Above all, I know that cannot do anything alone. I know that I can only become a saint through Christ. But I feel pretty excited – knowing that Heavenly Father sees my potential, believes in me, and blesses me so that I can one day be what He sees in me. I just have to follow the pattern taught in the scriptures.

Anyone Can Do It...Even Me!

So…All Saint’s day – a really cool time to remember the saints who have gone before us and how we can become saints through the atonement of Christ.