Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Nature of Christ

2 Nephi 9:6-7   3 Nephi 12:48   3 Nephi 27:13-22   Doctrine and Covenants 38:1-3   Doctrine and Covenants 130:22   John 3:16-17   1 John 4:7-9

Atoned for us
Bowed his will to the Father
Lifted upon the cross
Draws all men unto him
The Great I Am
Alpha and Omega
The beginning and the end
All knowing
Body of flesh and bone
Only begotten son of God

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Mom and a Missionary

Mosiah 18:18-20   Doctrine and Covenants 43:15-16   Doctrine and Covenants 52:9   Alma 17:2-3; 10-12   Doctrine and Covenants 84:85

When I was a missionary, I was so impressed with the missionary lessons that I vowed to teach them to my future children.  After I had kids, I discovered that they responded better to simpler lessons.  Nonetheless, I taught my children all the principles contained in there.  In fact, I taught them over and over again, reinforcing the plain and precious truths of the gospel.  Oh, I was so confident that I had done enough for their nascent testimonies, that I had created little stalwarts who would never waver in the gospel.  I had done all I could, right?  Truly, I was like the mothers of Helaman's stripling warriors.  I felt safe, and perhaps a tad bit smug.

And then my children became teenagers.  And they were thrown into a nasty dervish of a world.  I hear about the things they face, and I cringe.  My children's testimonies haven't been the safe harbor I had hoped it would be.  They struggle.  They falter sometimes.  They push away, and sometimes they openly rebel.  They kick against the pricks and find out for themselves, by their own experience, that it hurts.

And so I'm a missionary again.  I'm back to teaching the plain and precious truths of the gospel: faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ; repentance; renewing our baptismal covenants through the sacrament; following the gift of the Holy Ghost.  It's a lot harder than when they were just little.  These are bright kids with deep thinking minds.  This time, it's not enough just to know the gospel.  I have to find a way to challenge them to live the gospel, to help them take one step, to take one bite of this precious fruit, to try the experiment, and then to take the next step.

I like the comparison to the sons of Mosiah.  My kids can be every bit as daunting as the Lamanites.  I take comfort in the Lord's words to them in Alma 17:10-12:
"And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted.  And they were comforted.
"And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Closer Look

2 Nephi 31:20  "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, with 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."

I've chosen this scripture for memorization this week, and for a deeper look.  The words I've highlighted are words that stick out to me, inviting me to look further and understand better.

Steadfastness -- The footnote references the topical guide topics commitment, dedication, perseverance, steadfastness, and walking with God.  It is interesting to me that waking with God was included.  That's a bit of imagery I want to think more about today.  Am I walking with God?  Or am I walking away from Him?  Again, the reminder to be guided by the Spirit plays an important part.

The dictionary defines steadfast as:
fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.
firmly established, as an institution or a state of affairs.
firmly fixed in place or position.
I like to think that I am a steadfast friend to the Lord.  That I am steadily directed.  I'm old enough to be firmly established; I've been a Mormon for 37 years now.  I ought to know what I'm doing by now, right?  I do not waver.
Perfect brightness of hope -- Again, it helps to turn to the dictionary.
conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.
excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement.
exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose.
entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings
accurate, exact, or correct in every detail.
thorough; complete; utter.
pure or unmixed
unqualified; absolute.
expert; accomplished; proficient.
So, my brightness of hope is exactly fitting to my needs and purposes.   It is accurate, thorough, complete.  It is pure, not mixed with any hint of despair.
I must have a love of God and ALL men, not just the ones I get along with.
Feasting --   "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matt 5:6
Endure --  
to continue to exist; last.
to support adverse force or influence of any kind; suffer without yielding; suffer patiently.
So, I must first of all continue to exist, and I must outlast my adversary.  I must suffer patiently without yielding.
Eternal life --  "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." John 17:3
Whew.  That's a lot for today.  Now back to more pondering.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Apply and Live

2 Nephi 31

Am I humble?
I have promised to be obedient to His commandments.  Am I?
I have received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Do I follow the promptings I receive?
Do I follow Christ with full purpose of heart?  Without hypocrisy?  With real intent?
Do I repent of my shortcomings?
Am I really willing to take His name upon me?  Do I honor His name by my thoughts and actions?
Am I effectively enduring to the end?
Am I pressing forward?  Or am I stagnant?
Am I steadfast?
Do I have a perfect brightness of hope?
Do I love God and my fellow man?  How do I show it?
Do I FEAST upon the word of Christ?

I can give an answer to each question, glibly perhaps, off the top of my head.  But I think I'll make this an exercise in pondering and prayer today.  Where am I weak?  How can I improve?

Monday, September 20, 2010


1 Nephi 10:17-19   Doctrine and Covenants 11:21-22   Doctrine and Covenants 50:19-24   Doctrine and Covenants 88:118

In many churches, the mysteries of God are considered unknowable by man.  In our church, this is not the case.  A mystery is any doctrine or principal that you do not yet understand.  Heavenly Father doesn't want to withhold information from us.  He wants us to learn always.  That is why we have the scriptures; that is why He has commanded us to study them, no not just to study them, but to FEAST upon the scriptures.  He wants us to be hungry for the knowledge, the mysteries contained in them, and He promises to fill us according to our desires.

There is a caveat, however.  Gospel knowledge is given "line upon line, precept upon precept."  (Isaiah 28:10, 13; 2 Nephi 28:30)  You cannot expect to receive revelation about all the worlds created if you haven't yet developed the faith to pray.  You cannot expect to understand the atonement if you don't have the faith to repent.  Heavenly Father has promised to give us milk before meat.  (1 Corinthians 3:2)  Don't ask for something you're going to choke on.

And that is the beauty of reading the scriptures over and over again.  I approach the scriptures each time with different needs and a different level of understanding.  It becomes a personal conversation, as the Lord reveals to me exactly what I need exactly when I need it, to lead me towards personal growth, comfort, and knowledge.  And always, the scriptures lead me to Christ, they lead me to act, and they lead me to become a better person.

Friday, September 17, 2010


2 Nephi 32:5   John 14:26-27   1 Corinthians 2:9

I have some Big Decisions looming on the horizon, and I have to admit that I have been fearful and emotional lately.  The Lord knows the secret feelings of my heart, and so He whispered words of comfort to my soul:

The Holy Ghost..."will show unto you all things what you should do."

How wonderful that Heavenly Father wants me to know that I don't have to make these decisions on my own.  I don't have to rely on my own understanding.  I don't have to worry that my fears and insecurities will cloud my judgment.  I don't have to worry that my decision will have tragic consequences, because the Lord would never allow that.

Then, my study led me to John 14:26, but my eyes strayed further to the following verse, just as it did a few days ago.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Hush, child, everything will be all right.  There, there, I'm here, and I always will be.  I'll take you by the hand, and we'll face this storm together.  You are not alone.  Peace.

And finally, this promise:

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

I do love Him, and He knows how deeply I love Him.  Now it is time to turn my fears over to Him, having faith that my life is in His hands.  Come what may, there will be great blessings in store.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feasting on the Words of Christ

2 Nephi 4:15-16   2 Nephi 32:3   Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28   Doctrine and Covenants 88:118

I've had this particular set of scriptures since the Christmas before I served my mission back in 1986.  My maiden name is engraved on the front.  There's a loving inscription from my father on the inside cover.  One page is torn -- Ephesians 6 on one side, Phillipians 1 on the other.  The page is poorly mended, so it sticks out at the edges.  The outer leather cover is starting to pull away from the binding; it's barely holding on at the back of the book.

When I thumb through the pages, they are brightly colored.  Lime green for promised blessings, purple for warnings and curses, blue for passages that sing to my heart, orange for linking topics together, dark green for definitions, red for testimony of Christ, peach for reference to other scriptures, brown for significant deaths, and yellow for my missionary scriptures.

As I stop to see what has captured my attention over the years, I see my spiritual journey.  I see that I longed for peace, that I wanted to repent and improve, that I wanted an orderly home for my family, that I desired spiritual healing long before I desired physical healing.  I see how a particular scripture has grown in depth of meaning, marked by additional colors, changing according to my changing needs.

I can see now, that when I wanted to develop a certain Christ-like quality, that the scriptures were my encouragement and cheerleader, that they helped me chart my progress, that they whispered peace to my soul as I came closer and closer to my goal.

Perhaps the greatest blessing I find in these pages is the developing relationship I have with my savior, Jesus Christ.  I came here to learn of Him, to love Him, to become His friend.

Ah, yes, my soul delighteth in the the scriptures.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Holy Ghost: The Greatest Gift

3 Nephi 19:1-13   Doctrine and Covenants 45:56-57   John 3:5   John 14:26-27  Galatians 5:22-25

Why is the Holy Ghost the greatest gift?

The Holy Ghost teaches you the truth of all things.  It allows you to discern between truth and error, good and bad, that you will not be deceived.  It is your personal guide to a life of happiness.  By following the Spirit, you are led to develop Christ-like attributes, and you are then blessed with the fruits of the Spirit, which are numerous.

I like how the 14th chapter of John begins, "Let not your heart be troubled."  These are troubling times, and I am besought with troubling challenges.  How do I face them, in a world like this?  Verse 26th gives me the answer:  "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  I turn myself and all my troubles and cares to the Lord, and through the gift of the Holy Ghost, He sends me peace.

The fruits of the Spirit are:

And this reminds me of another of my favorite scriptures, James 3:17-18:
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
"And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

I use this scripture as a yardstick to see how well I'm following the Spirit.  It shows up first in the home.  If I am gentle, easy to be intreated, and merciful in the home, then our home is peaceful, and I know I'm on the right track.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Alma 29:1-4   Alma 42:31   Alma 62:45   Doctrine and Covenants 14:8   Doctrine and Covenants 15:6   Doctrine and Covenants 16:6

"Oh, that I were an angel," cried Alma, "and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!"

And why did he wish to be an angel?  For glory, for power?  No, it was "that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth."

As a mom, I sometimes wish that I could speak with a voice that would shake my children.  "Look.  You're not happy.  This is the way."

When I was growing up, whenever repentance was taught in church, the lesson was accompanied by a picture of a man in agony on his knees.  Perhaps you remember this picture.  It was heart wrenching, and you could see the man was in great pain.  It taught me that repentance was hard, and it was painful.

Once I had learned to repent, however, I realized that this picture was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Sure, there's a measure of difficulty and pain involved, but it comes from the sins you are forsaking, not from the repentance process itself.

The picture that comes to my mind when I think about repentance is my old home teacher, a relatively young man with tattoos up and down his arms that peeked out from the sleeves of his white shirt, who taught with humility and love, and when he looked at you, he looked you in the eyes with a clear, blameless gaze.  He talked about the life that Christ saved him from.  I felt the gratitude in his voice.  He was happy.  He was free.

You can see a person's burdens in their eyes, in the corners of their mouths, in lines burrowed in their foreheads, in shoulders bent and arms hanging down.  You can see repentance in the twinkling of their eyes, the smile of their mouths, their shoulders back and strong, their arms reaching out to others.

Oh, that I were an angel, and could give this gift to others, that there would be no more sorrow in the world.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

1 Nephi 13:39   2 Nephi 29:8-10   Moroni 10:3-5   Doctrine and Covenants 20:5-16   Doctrine and Covenants 42:12-14  

In my previous post, I mentioned how much I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and what it means to me.  Those feelings go hand in hand with my feelings of gratitude to the prophet Joseph Smith for restoring the gospel.  He was severely persecuted, and yet he never wavered.  He stayed true to the revelations he received until the fullness of the gospel had been completely restored.  And then he sealed his testimony with his own blood.  So much pain, so much sorrow, so much sacrifice, all so that I and the rest of the world may have the opportunity to know God, to know Christ, to know the commandments, to live in such a way as to bring joy beyond measure.

As a missionary, we often showed a short filmstrip about the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  During the scene where Joseph went to the woods to pray, the music from the song "Oh How Lovely Was the Morning" was played.  To this day, I cannot hear that melody without my eyes filling up with tears.  The spirit testified to me then, as it does now, that the story of Joseph Smith and his first vision is true.

I know that God loves me.  I know that He is mindful of me, my happiness, my challenges, my sorrows, my trials.  I know that He loves his children today as much as He loved His children in ancient times.  I know this because He gave us a prophet, Joseph Smith, to restore the gospel, and we continue to have a prophet of God to guide us now. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

2 Nephi 31:10-21  3 Nephi 11:31-41  3 Nephi 27:13-22

Just reading the title of this section in my study this morning had a very strong effect on me.  My heart was full, and tears came to my eyes, just like right now as I'm typing this.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love my Savior.  I love my relationship with Him as I have come unto Him, as I have learned of Him, as I have followed Him, as I have tried more and more to be like Him.  I have been blessed beyond measure as He has taken so much pain from my life -- and I have had so much pain in my life.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is very simple.  Come unto Christ.  Have faith in Him and His atonement.  Let that faith move you to want to be better, to be rid of the burdens you carry.  Repent.  Show your repentance by following Him into the waters of baptism.  Then He will purify you by the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost will be your companion, to show you how to continue the path to Christ, always following Him.

"These are not steps that [you] experience once in [your life]; rather, when repeated throughout life these principles become an increasingly rewarding pattern of living.

"Obedience to Jesus Christ is a lifelong commitment.  Through exercising faith, repenting, being baptized and committing to serve Christ, and then receiving the Holy Ghost, we can experience healing, forgiveness of sins, and complete conversion to the Savior and His gospel."  (Preach My Gospel, p. 6)

My experience is that this is true.  He always stands with open arms, ready to receive you.  It is a warm and wonderful place to be.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blessings for the Faithful

Doctrine and Covenants 109
The dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple.

What blessings did Joseph Smith request for the faithful?
* God's assistance
* That they might feel His power
* That they may be taught from the best books
* That they may grow up in Him
* That they may receive a fullness of the Holy Ghost
* That they may be organized
* That they may be prepared to obtain every needful thing
* That they might speedily repent
* And be restored to the blessings ordained to be poured out upon them
* That they might be armed with power
* That they may be the bearers of exceedingly great and glorious tidings
* That no weapon formed against them shall prosper
* That no combination of wickedness shall prevail over them
* That there may be an end to lying reports
* Deliverance from under the yoke of persecution
* Forgiveness of transgressions
* The gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues
* Testimony
* Deliverance from the calamity of the wicked
* That they may be prepared for the last day
* That their garments may be pure
* That they may be clothed with robes of righteousness
* That He may hear and answer their prayers
* That they may be lifted up at the last day
* That they may ever be with the Lord

Monday, September 6, 2010

The True Vine

John 15:1-16

When we are baptized, we take upon us the name of Christ.  I've thought about what it means to be a true Christian.  I like this scripture, because it makes it very clear.  He is the vine; we are the branches.  If I'm a Christian, then my actions will testify of Him.  If I'm not, then my actions will lead people away from Him.

Am I honoring His name?  Do I love the way He did?  Am I kind, am I honest, am I forgiving?  Do I serve my fellow man with love in my heart?  Starting with those here in my home?  Extending it to friends and neighbors, and then beyond to strangers, like that guy who didn't have his blinker on and almost caused an accident?

I like the scripture where He calls me His friend.  I want to be worthy to be called His friend, because He is certainly my dearest friend.  And I love this:  "13 Greater  love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  He has already proven His friendship to me.  How can I prove my friendship to others?  By laying down my life, or rather, laying aside my life, one small act of kindness, one small act of service at a time.

It's hard to see beyond the demands of my own life: my health, my husband, my kids, finances, activities, cleaning up.  But I'm always blessed when I step back and notice others and do what I can to reach out to them.  That's something I can work on. 

The Tree of Life

1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11

I've always loved Lehi's vision of the tree of life.  As a parent, I've felt his feelings of wanting my children to experience the joy I know through the gospel.  I've always thought of the fruit of the tree in big picture terms, as The Gospel, or The Love of God, or Eternal Life.  This time, while reading, the smaller, individual things that I love about the gospel came to mind.

I've often thought of the fruit of the tree of life as a pear.  I don't know why, but I guess because pears are white inside, and I think they're delicious.  Now, I'm thinking of it more like a cluster of grapes, and each tiny morsel contributes cumulatively to the joy of the whole.

There's a reason I wanted my daughter to go to BYU.  It's because I had so much fun there.  I enjoyed wholesome, fun relationships, and wholesome, fun activities.  I learned critical thinking.  I developed a thirst for knowledge.  I learned to think for myself.  I strengthened my testimony there.  I want my own kids to experience these things for themselves.

I really want my children, all of my children, to serve a mission like I did.  My capacity to love expanded beyond measure.  My understanding of the gospel grew.  I learned to love unconditionally.  I learned to love different personalities.  I learned problem solving skills.  I learned time management and organizational skills.  I learned how much my Heavenly Father loves me.  I learned how much I love Him.  I learned how to serve and how to work.  It made me so happy, and the preparation it gave me has made me so much happier in my marriage and as a mother.  I want my own kids to experience these things.

I think about individual principles of the gospel.  Like when I was a lonely, confused, hurt 15-year old, feeling like nobody loved me.  I knelt to pray and asked, "Heavenly Father, do you love me?"  And an immediate, overwhelming feeling of warmth, physical like a hug, rushed through my body.  I never doubted again.  I want my own kids to experience that feeling.

Or when I was an older teen, and I went through the repentance process, and it hurt like hell, but when I came out of it, I realized that not only had my burdens been lifted, but through the atonement of Jesus Christ, I was healed.  Not just healed from the pain of my sins, but healed from the pain and loneliness and self-loathing that drove me to sin in the first place.  And I found a friend who would always be with me to heal me from pain and loneliness and self-doubt.  I want my own kids to experience that healing.

I want them to feel good about their bodies when they obey the word of wisdom, and exercise, and eat properly, and feel physical and spiritual strength.  I want them to have their minds set at ease because they've learned to pay tithing and have learned that no matter how it adds up on paper, the Lord will provide.  I want them to feel good when they serve.  I want my own kids to experience these things.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Scripture Journal

Funny how the Lord works.  How He puts an idea into your head a little piece at a time until it all comes together in a wonderful way.  I've felt that recently.  This new blog is one of the pieces in the puzzle.  Or maybe it's where I was being led all along.

It began with the newest edition of the Ensign magazine, September 2010.  I read an article on using the manual Preach My Gospel as a personal scripture study tool.  I had just finished the Book of Mormon again, and I was wondering where to take my scripture study next.  I thought that would be a great idea.  So, I brought it up to my room and started.

One of the suggestions in the manual is to keep a study journal.  I liked that idea.  I already have a notebook I use for recording spiritual impressions as they come to me, and I thought I could expand its function and use it.  Then, a couple of things happened: My husband was preparing a Sunday School lesson on missionary work, and I read another article in the Ensign about sharing the gospel through the internet.  The impact of all of these things -- the articles, my discussions with my husband, my reading in Preach My Gospel -- led me to the idea of using a blog as my scripture journal.

These are private thoughts that are important and precious to me, but I am willing to share them publicly.  I do so hoping that some of my insights touch your own heart, make you think, help you feel the love of the Lord as I have, and strengthen your faith, whatever it may be.