Saturday, May 31, 2008


Recently Nate asked the question about what would happen to someone who lived a goodly life, but then right before they died committed a sin. My thinking is that this is a probable occurrence for most of us. My understanding is that while in the spirit world, before the judgement day, we can still repent, but it is much harder. This week I thought of an example to explain why it is harder.

Okay, in explaining this, I have to divulge one of my own transgressions. One day I went to a local grocery store to buy food. After purchasing the items, I came back out to the car and put the food in the back of the car. At the time, I had a baby, so I put his car seat in the car. It was hot out, and the parking spot for grocery carts was some distance away. I didn't want to leave my baby in a hot car for the time it would take to walk the cart over and park it in the parking spot. Instead, I just pushed it in front of my car and left it there. I started backing out, and was almost ready to leave when I noticed it rolling forward. In horror I watched as it crashed in to another car, leaving a dent in the door.

I parked again, and got out of the car to inspect the damage. I was really in a quandry about what to do. I must admit that even to this day, I'm not really sure what would have been the right course. But I finally determined that the cart had caused the damage, and the store probably had insurance to cover the repair, so I left. But part of me always wondered if I should have offered to pay for the damage because I'm the one who left the cart sitting in the parking lot.

Later I decided that because I might be guilty of not taking responsibility for that situation, that I would never leave a grocery cart parked out in the open like that again. As time has gone on, it has occurred to me that I missed my chance to pay restitution for the incident. If I had taken the initiative to contact the manager when it happened, I could have paid some money to help with repairs. But because I didn't, I will never know who the owner of the car was, and I can never make restitution to them. What does this mean as it relates to repenting? It doesnt' mean I can't repent, but it makes the restitution part of it much harder.

The same goes for when we die in our sins. I do believe that we can still repent, but because we aren't in the situation any more, and aren't present to make restitution to those we have wronged, repentance is much harder.

In addition, if there were something that we were addicted to in life, we don't have it in the hereafter, so rejecting it and chooseing not to partake of it, isn't an option. Without having the thing present, how can we fully demonstrate that we won't choose it?

In the Book of Mormon, Alma says, "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." Alma 34:32 Now is the best time to repent of our sins. Some people might think that they can wait until their death bed to repent, but how can they truly show they have changed? Repentance is a learning process. Heaven is a place of beauty, and I do believe that "no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God". Alma 40:26. It is best that we repent now, while we have an easier capacity to do so.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Faith and Works

Recently I have been discussing with other bloggers the question of whether belief alone is enough, or whether something more is required. As I have thought about this, I decided to write a separate post on this issue. I believe that faith is the first fundamental prinicple of the Gospel, but I believe that other principles also follow.

Let me begin by telling you of a conversation I had with my friend JJJ. I hope he won't mind my sharing this with you. One day he was very upset and told me about a news story that he had read about a man and woman whose daughter died from something related to her diabetes. Being an athiest, JJJ was most upset because this man and woman had refused to take their daughter to the doctor on the grounds that they believed their faith in God was enough to heal her. While I cannot fault these parents for wanting to show their faith in God, the question must be asked, is belief alone enough?

I submit to you that faith is more than just a belief. True faith is found in our works. Ruth mentioned the scripture James 2:23, "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." The two verses before that read, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?" We can even back up one more scripture to verse 20 which reads, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?". I believe that true faith is exhibited in our works. Until we show in our actions, we don't really exhibit true faith.

To illustrate this point, I want to share a personal experience with you. I have to admit that this experience is very sacred to me, so sharing it here is difficult, but I trust that my readers will treat it with respect. Years ago, when my oldest three children were small, we were living in Beijing, China. We were there with my husband's business. In the spring, it occurred to me that we needed to file our taxes the the IRS in the States. I knew that to do this, we needed our children's social security numbers. To this day, I'm not sure why we did things this way, but we had copied their social security numbers down on to a small piece of paper, and left our main records in storage in the states. At the time I was still young and had never heard about filing for an extension, so I believed that in order to file our taxes, I must find that piece of paper in time. I knew what the paper looked like, and I began to search for it. I prayed for help, telling God of my feelings of urgency. Then I searched for quite some time, but to no avail. I had always been taught that faith without works is dead, so I felt it important to do everything within my power to find the paper. I decided that I would search out each room of our apartment and look at every piece of paper in every drawer and on every desk. I felt that if I demonstrated my faith by doing all I could, the God would help me.

I did search every room. I looked at every scrap of paper. I searched everywhere I could think of.. When I would finish with a room, I would move on to the next, confident that the paper wasn't in that room. Finally, I came to accept the fact that I had done all I could do. I went to God in prayer again, and told Him that I had done all I could do, and that I knew that I needed His help because I still couldn't find it. As I prayed, a picture came in to my mind and in it I saw myself pulling the drawer all the way out of the nightstand in my room. I got up, and pulled the drawer out, and there, stuck in the back , bottom crack of the drawer, poking out through the back, was the piece of paper I had been searching for. I would not have been able to see it without pulling the drawer all the way out, because it was sticking down through the crack.

I do not fault the parents of the little girl who died. for wanting to show their faith, but I echo the sentiment of James who said, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." James 2:17,18 How might their story have been different had they done all within their own power and faith to get help for the little girl? I firmly believe that if I had not put forth the effort of faith to search for the numbers, that I would not have been shown where to find them. I know this because I began my search with prayer, and it wasn't until I exerted my faith through my works that I was given the answer.

James also makes another point on this matter. He said, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." James 2:19 The devil and his angels believe there is a God. We have an example of this in Mark 1:23-26. "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him." The devil and his angels also believe, but they chose not to obey.

We have another example in the scriptures. In John chapter 9 we read that Jesus came upon a man who was blind from birth. Jesus took some clay and annointed the man's eyes, then told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Why did He require something of the man beyond just belief? By going and washing, the man was demonstrating through his works that he had faith.

Some people get very upset when talking about faith and works because they feel that saying we must have works with our faith somehow negates the grace of Jesus Christ. I would like to make clear that I firmly believe that without the atonement of Jesus Christ, we cannot be saved, no matter how many good works we do in this life. It is only through his atoning sacrifice that we have any hope of being saved. This gift of grace is offered to everyone. But I do believe that our faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ isn't made perfect until we show by our works that we believe. How do we show faith by our works? By obeying the commandments and by repenting, and by living what Jesus taught. It is not enough to say that we believe, we must demonstrate it in who we are becoming.

What commandments do we obey? In the sermon on the mount, Jesus taught the ten commandments, but also took them to a deeper level. He also said, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:19 He also commanded, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matt 5:48 Will we be able to be perfect in this life? No, only One was perfect. But we must keep trying, and move forward with faith and obedience, relying upon Him who is mighty to save.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Justice and Mercy

Lately as I have talked to other bloggers, a common theme among them has been the belief that the commandments are no longer in force. Some have cited Jesus' statement on the cross as evidence of this fact. "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." John 19:30. Others have quoted this scripture: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. " Matt. 5:17,18. While the thought of a God who requires nothing more of us than to believe seems wonderful on the face of it, what most people fail to understand is that this belief does not mesh with the idea of a God of justice.

Before I address the topics of justice and mercy, let me address the two scriptures above. First, in looking at John 19:30, it might be well for us to consider other similar scriptures in the Bible. If we go to John 17:4 we get a clearer understanding of what it is that the Savior was speaking of when He said, "It is finished". "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." What was the work that the Father gave Jesus to do? That "work" was to come and be the Savior of the World, to pay the price for us so that we could overcome sin and death. What was "finished" was this mission.

The second scripture, that speaks about the law being fulfilled is referring not to the end of the commandments, but to the fulfilling of the law of Moses. The law of Moses was a strict law of performances and ordinances that included animal sacrifice. It was symbolic of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and helped prepare the people for the sacrifice that He would make. Everything about the law of Moses was symbolic of the Savior. In explaining the symbolism of the law of Moses, Elder M. Russell Ballard said, "First, like Christ, the animal was chosen and anointed by the laying on of hands. (The Hebrew title Messiah and the Greek title Christ both mean "the Anointed One.") Second, the animal was to have its life's blood spilt. Third, it had to be without blemish—totally free from physical flaws, complete, whole, and perfect. Fourth, the sacrifice had to be clean and worthy. Fifth, the sacrifice had to be domesticated; that is, not wild but tame and of help to man (see Lev. 1:23, 10; Lev. 22:21). Sixth and seventh, for the original sacrifice practiced by Adam and the most common sacrifice in the law of Moses, the animal had to be a firstborn and a male (see Ex. 12:5; Lev. 1:3; Lev. 22:1825). Eighth, the sacrifice of grain had to be ground into flour and made into breadstuffs, which reminds us of our Lord's title the Bread of Life (see John 6:48). Ninth, the firstfruits that were offered remind us that Christ was the firstfruits of the Resurrection (see 1 Cor. 15:20). (See also Bible Dictionary, "Sacrifices"; Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 3:1248–49.) The Law of Sacrifice By Elder M. Russell Ballard Ensign » 1998 » October

Christ's atoning sacrifice fulfilled the law of Moses. Today, instead of offering animal sacrifice, we rely upon the atonement of Jesus Christ, and offer up a sacrifice of a "broken heart and a contrite spirit". Repentance on our part becomes our sacrifice to access the atonement of Jesus Christ, just as animal sacrifice was required of the people who practiced the law of Moses. Some feel it is an offense to God to say that we need to repent, but sacrifice was required by God of the people of the Old Testament, just as it is required of us today. Repentance is the sacrifice that we make today.

There are two aspects of God that are part of what make Him God. One is that He is a God of justice. Another is that He is a God of mercy. Inherent in the meaning of the word justice is the principle of lawfulness. There is no justice without a law. For God to be just, there must be a law. That law was given by God Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai. God's commandments are the "law" that we must keep. Justice requires that if we do not keep the law, that we suffer the consequences. At the same time, if we keep the law, we receive the blessings. This is justice.

However, God is also a God of mercy. The atonement of Jesus Christ allows us the opportunity to repent of wrongs that we do. When we repent, His atoning sacrifice fulfills the demands of the law of justice. It pays for what we did that is wrong. But mercy cannot replace justice. "Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God." Alma 42:13, 22, 25

But God is a God of mercy, so does provide mercy to us. "And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also." Alma 42:15 "But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice. For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. " Alma 42:23, 24

It is not justice that people harm each other, abuse each other, even murder each other, and pay no price. It is not justice that an abuser, who has changed a child's life negatively forever, should not have to suffer consequences for his behavior, but be allowed to go to heaven simply because he believes. This is not justice. But if that same abuser truly repents, and offers up a sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit for what he has done, and changes his behavior, and then relies upon the mercy and grace of the atonement of Jesus Christ, then he can repent of the wrongs that he has done. In this way, the law of justice and the law of mercy both are put in to effect. The law is still in effect, it has not been nullified. If it were nullified, justice would be dead.

I thank God that the law of mercy has not been nullified either. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we all have the opportunity to repent of the things that we do that are wrong. God is truly a God of justice and mercy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is.
It all works out. Don’t worry.
I say that to myself every morning.
It will all work out.
Put your trust in God,
and move forward with faith
and confidence in the future.
The Lord will not forsake us.
He will not forsake us.
If we will put our trust in Him,
if we will pray to Him,
if we will live worthy of His blessings,
He will hear our prayers.

From the funeral program for Marjorie Pay Hinckley, April 10, 2004; see also “Latter-day Counsel,” Ensign, Oct. 2000, 73.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Put Your Trust in God,” Ensign, Feb 2006, 63

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Oh Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown

This is one of my favorite hymns. Click here to listen to the tune.

Oh Savior, thou who wearest A crown of piercing thorn,
The pain thou meekly bearest Weigh'd down by grief and scorn.
The soldiers mock and flail thee; For drink they give thee gall;
Upon the cross they nail thee To die, O King of all.

No creature is so lowly, No sinner so depraved,
But feels thy presence holy And thru thy love is saved.
Tho craven friends betray thee, They feel thy love's embrace;
The very foes who slay thee Have access to thy grace.

Thy sacrifice transcended The mortal law's demand.
Thy mercy is extended To every time and land.
No more can Satan harm us, Tho long the fight may be,
Nor fear of death alarm us; We live, O Lord, thru thee.

What praises can we offer To thank thee Lord most high?
In our place thou didst suffer; In our place thou didst die,
By heaven's plan appointed, To ransom us, our King.
Oh Jesus, the anointed, To thee our love we bring!

Text: Karen Lynn Davidson
Music: Hans Leo Hassler, adapted by J.S. Bach
Tune name: Passionate Choral

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I thought about doing another poll, but I really wanted to get more input on this next question. As you answer these questions, it might be helpful for you to keep in mind this scripture, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7

Here are four things I would like you to answer:

--What is a prophet?

--Can you name a prophet?

--What is the function of a prophet?

--Are there prophets today?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A favorite hymn of mine

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Satan's Feeble Attempts to Thwart God's Plans

I have been thinking about the many times it is recorded in the scriptures that Satan has tried to thwart the plans of God.
--In the garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the tree.
--When Moses was born, Satan put it in to the heart of Pharoah to kill all baby boys. Moses' mother hid him in the bulrushes, and God preserved Moses' life.
--While Moses was up on the Mount receiving the ten commandments, Satan put it in to the hearts of the children of Israel to worship a golden calf.
--When Jesus was born, once again, Satan put it in to the heart of the King to have all baby boys killed. Joseph was warned in a dream to flee so that Jesus' life would be preserved.
--When Jesus had fasted for 40 days, Satan thought he could tempt him at his weakest point. He came and tried to tempt Jesus to worship him. He also tempted Jesus to use His power to make bread of stones, or cast himself down from the mountain so that angels would come save Him. Satan tried all kinds of ways to tempt Jesus.. What he didn't know, is that fasting actually strengthens us spiritually, so although Jesus was physically weak from not eating, he was spiritually strong from fasting.

Can you think of other times in the scriptures when Satan tried to thwart God's plan?