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On this blog I write of the Savior’s love, forgiving others and applying Jesus’ atonement into our lives. Many of you have also commented and shared insights and stories of how Jesus’ love has affected your life as well.
The video clip is an example of the miracle of Jesus’ atonement at work in the lives of two men. One of them is the father whose 3 children including his pregnant wife, were killed by young drunk driver. It isn’t often that I am moved to tears, but I was when I watched this interview on Glenn Beck t.v.
Put what you are doing aside for 20 minutes and watch this because it will change your life.
If you are like me, there have been times in your life when you have prayed for an answer over and over and it appears that no one is listening. Sometimes you may wonder if there is even a God at all. Sometimes you may wonder if the Divine experiences and revelations you have received were something contrived by your own mind, or not. Some may feel they haven’t ever felt God’s love in their life due to terrible circumstances. If you feel that God isn’t answering your prayers, ther is a great talk by Neal A Maxwell, former Mormon apostle: “Thanks be to God“.
Here’s an excerpt taken from the talk:
Yes, even in our prayers, we can, unintentionally, ask “amiss.” (2 Ne. 4:35.) No wonder humility is such an everlasting virtue. For us to accept God’s “No” as an affirmative indication of his love—rather than a lack thereof—and as a signal that we have asked amiss, this is true humility!
How often have you and I in our provincialism prayed to see ahead and, mercifully, have been refused, lest our view of the present be blurred?
How many times have we been blessed by not having our prayers answered, at least according to the specifications set forth in our petitions?
How many times have frustrating, even gruelling, experiences from which we have sought relief turned out, later on, to have been part of a necessary preparation which led to much more happiness?
“And now when Alma heard this … he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word.” (Alma 32:6; italics added.)
How many times have we impatiently expressed our discontent with seemingly ordinary and routine circumstances which were divinely designed, shaping circumstances for which, later on, we were very grateful? Alas, have there perhaps not also been those times when we have been grumpy with God or, unlike Job, even “charged God foolishly”? (Job 1:22.) How many times, naively, have we vigorously protested while on our way to a blessing?
Therefore, our faith in and thanksgiving for Heavenly Father, so far as this mortal experience is concerned, consists—not simply of a faith and gladness that he exists—but also includes faith and thanksgiving for his tutoring of us to aid our acquisition of needed attributes and experiences while we are in mortality. We trust not only the Designer but also his design of life itself—including our portion thereof!
I really like this quote because many times in my life I’ve prayed for something I think I wanted and God was patiently waiting for me to be ready to receive it.
For example, I prayed for a number of years to meet a good lady to marry and start a family with. However, whenever I met a lady who I thought would be good, I felt God was telling me to wait. Sometimes I would try and force a relationship against the will of God and of course the relationship wouldn’t work. It wasn’t until I humbled myself and realized I had some personal issues with feelings of abandonment and anxiety that I needed to overcome that I realized God was being merciful to me (and the girls I had been trying to force things with) by not giving me the “green light” so to speak to get into a serious relationship. After I had dealt with overoming my feelings of anxiety, depression, and abandonment (which you can read more about in detail here), did God place a lady in my life.
What experiences have you had with feeling that God wasn’t answering your prayers, only to find that He really was listening?
Recently in Elder’s Quorom (Men’s Group) we had a very good discussion based on the current LDS prophet, Thomas Monson’s, recent talks he had given. The quote that stood out to our instructor today, as well as myself, was
Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.
The discussion then turned to raising our children and focusing more on “problems” rather than loving the child. As the discussion continued, I thought of an incident I had with my young daughter that morning where she wasn’t listening and she was ignoring me. My reaction was definitely not Christ-like and I lost my patience with her, unfortunately. Although I came to her later and apologized, I still felt bad and had been praying about how I can better approach the situation when it arose again.
Another elder in our class talked about a situation where his daughter had totalled his car when she was in high school and lied to him about the circumstances surrounding the accident. He found out at the scene from the police and fire-fighters that what she had told him was not true and he said he completely lost his temper with her and focused on the “problem” more than on loving the person.
It’s a difficult situation, because as a man, my tendancy is to act like a military officer and order the child to behave “because I said so”. However, that approach is pretty ineffective, I’ve learned. Yet, the child still needs to learn respect, etc.
What are some good strategies you as fathers use to discipline your children yet still show them that you love them?
Excommunication is defined by the LDS church as “A disciplinary process used only in extreme situations. This includes removal of an individual’s name from the records of the Church“.
From my experience (which isn’t that extensive) with excommunication, one is removed for serious, repeated sexual sins or by having a very rebellious attitude towards the Church of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the years, I’ve often heard LDS members of the church say that the worst thing you can do is be excommunicated because the gift of the Holy Spirit is removed from you and you’re left to your own devices.
I believe that that statment is a falsehood designed by Satan to put despair into the hearts of those who are excommunicated.
I’ll share a story with you as to why I believe it is false that the Lord removes his Spirit from those who are excommunicated.
We were alone in a room in a church building. The young man in front of me had just been excommunicated from the church and was sobbing in front of me. I was the Elders Quorum President (mens group leader) at the time and I didn’t have answers for him that seemed to help. He asked questions such as: Why did I choose to do the things I did? How can I gain membership back into the church? Did God abandon me? Will I have the Holy Spirit and strength to re-commit myself to the Savior and His gospel?
As he cried and shared his feelings with me, I prayed silently “God help me help him feel your love and give him answers”. Suddenly I remembered something I had done numerous times on my mission with investigators of the gospel.
I looked at him and told him I didn’t have the answers to his questions, or the ability to heal his heart and offer forgiveness and healing for his sins, but Jesus did.
We dropped to our knees and I offered the first prayer. I opened my heart to God thanking Him for the blessing of the gospel and for the Atonement of Jesus. I asked Him for guidance and direction for this young man and that He would pour His love into the young man’s heart.
Next, the young man prayed. I have seldom heart a more honest and sincere prayer as I did that day. As the young man prayed, the Holy Spirit came into both of our hearts and we both knew the young man was forgiven. We both knew the compassion and mercy God has for us when we are humble and come to Him offering our hearts to Him.
We both cried and were both strengthened in our relationship with the Lord.
One year later, I was able to witness and assist this young man as he was re-baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ.
If this young man had believed the lie that the Spirit couldn’t be with him after he was excommunicated, he would have lost complete faith in God and never experienced the love of Jesus in such an amazing way. He would have let go and never come back.
For those of you who know someone who has been excommunicated I encourage you to reach out to them as Jesus would and show an increase in love. Don’t judge them or look down on them or think they are not capable of feeling the Lord’s Spirit. If you do judge them, you’re commiting a sin and have need of repentance!
For those who may be excommunicated, I know that God loves you and that you can still feel the Lord’s love and He will increase his love and spiritual protection for you as you open your heart in prayer, read his Holy Word, and remain humble.
Recently, one of my church friends and I had a long discussion. I had noticed tension in his relationship over the past couple years, but he hadn’t openly discussed it with me until the other day. He told me he wasn’t sure if he knew what love for his wife was anymore and went on to discuss how they had entertained the idea of getting a divorce.
Divorce is something I do not take lightly. My parents fought throughout their 10 years of marriage and I constantly worried as a young child if they would get a divorce as I would listen to them fight when they thought we were asleep. My world was crushed when at the age of 9 my parents were divorced. Over the 25 years since their divorce, I have seen personal heartache and struggle, struggle and conflict with my siblings, and my parents have been affected emotionally and physically as a result of it throughout the years as well. I’m positive some within my family are not over it.
In addition to my own experiences with divorce, I have seen grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and cousins go through divorce. The heartache felt during a strained marriage and emptiness from the aftermath of a divorce are real.
With all of this in mind I said a silent prayer to myself as he confided in me. I wanted to make sure I relayed to him what was helpful for him and what God wanted him to hear. As I prayed and thought, I remembered reading a story in Spencer W Kimball’s book “The Miracle of Forgiveness“. It is about a lady who, against her church leader’s advice went ahead and got a divorce simply because she had “fallen out” of love and she thought it would be easier do go it alone. A few years later, she approached her leader and he asked her if life was better now that she was divorced. She said that she regretted getting the divorce and wished she would have worked harder at loving her former husband. I shared this story with my friend and urged him to try everything in his power to make the marriage work and love flicker again. Not only for his sake, but for his wife and daughters’ sakes as well.
Spencer W Kimball gave another address back in 1979 entitled “Oneness in Marriage” that provides guidance on how to have a happy and successful marriage. The following four points are very valuable tools for both my friend and anyone considering marriage or currently in a marriage, which will be discussed. (The direct quote is in bold letters with additional commentary underneath the quote).
1. There must be the proper approach toward marriage, which contemplates the selection of a spouse who reaches as nearly as possible the pinnacle of perfection in all the matters which are of importance to the individuals. And then those two parties must come to the altar in the temple realizing that they must work hard toward this successful joint living.
This is a very serious step that I think many people take too lightly. The possible “pinnacle of perfection” is different from one person to the next. In my opinion, one would be wise to write down the non-negotiables of what one wants in a spouse and then some that would be nice to have but not essential. When dating evaluate this and especially when considering marriage, make sure the potential partner lines up with this. If it is very important to you, and the partner isn’t appearing that they will compromise, it is easier to break off an engagement or someone you’re dating than it is to get into a marriage.
For those who are already married and may have taken the marriage a bit too lightly before entering marriage, it still isn’t too late. Write down what is non-negotiable, etc. and share it with your spouse. Come up with a plan of how you see marriage working out together and work towards it. If you are having a hard time doing this, get some marriage counseling. There is no harm in this and if both parties want to make it work, it can be good to have an outside, unbiased, professional perspective.
2. There must be a great unselfishness, forgetting self and directing all of the family life and all pertaining thereunto to the good of the family, subjugating self.
Selfishness is a marriage killer. I’ve seen friends and family go through divorce because an individual (or both individuals) are not willing to compromise or admit their mistakes. It is very hard to make a marriage work if both parties are not willing to admit their mistakes and then forgive and forget the mistakes of their partner.
3. There must be continued courting and expressions of affection, kindness, and consideration to keep love alive and growing.
There are many quotes on love, but one of my favorite most-recent quotes comes from Elder Uchtdorf. He states “love is spelled T-I-M-E…time” and I agree completely.
When my father remarried, he set a very good example of regularly dating and spending time with my new mother. Often it was as simple as going to the grocery store together, but they made sure that once a week they had alone time.
I’m not sure that they realized how much my younger brother and I watched them as they spent time with each other and their love grew. It made a very strong impact on me and how I wanted my relationship with my wife to be someday. Kids can tell when love is alive and well between parents and it affects areas of their life such as school performance, relationships with friends, and self-confidence.
4. There must be a complete living of the commandments of the Lord as defined in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As my friend talked about how discouraged he was and how negative he felt towards God and life in general, I wondered about his relationship with God. I asked him a few questions and he did say he hadn’t been praying, studying God’s Word. I knew he hadn’t been going to church regularly either.
From personal experience, when we shut out God by not allowing him in through prayer or scripture study or other uplifting activities, it gets very hard to remain positive. I highly recommended that he start doing these things again, even if he didn’t feel like it.
My prayer is that some things we talked about help him pick himself up and start trying again with his marriage and relationship with God. I realize that in many circumstances damage is irreparable and divorce is inevitable. However, if both parties are willing to pick up the pieces, forgive and forget, compromise, and begin again by setting goals together, happiness and love can once again return into the marriage.
I realize that many of you have had experiences either personally or second-hand with divorce and would welcome your responses. If this were your friend, what advice would you give?
I’ve shared for nearly 3 years now, the purpose of this blog is to share my experiences in life as I grow “grace for grace” in the Lord. This past year, I have felt moved to become politically active. As I feel that my political views are a part of my development, I shared my views. However, after reading some of my readers’ comments and also an article in BYU magazine, I thought I would apologize not for my views, but for the attitude in which I wrote my article on being a Christian and Democrat.
Ross Spencer, Physics Chair at BYU, wrote an article included in last summer’s BYU magazine entitled “Learning in the Light of Faith.” Last night, after I had written a pretty controvosial post on being a Christian and Democrat, I was led to this article after saying my prayers. After reading the article, I was humbled by what the author said and thought I would share this with readers of this blog.
Part of balancing scholarship and faith is learning when to use critical thinking and when to be still and listen. I’ve been involved in logic and criticism for a long time now, and it is often an ugly and unfriendly business. Unlike the title of the popular book “I’m OK- You’re OK”, critical analysis often feels more like “I’m OK-you’re an idiot!”
He then goes on to quote Jesus in the Bible (Matt 7:3-5) where Jesus asks “why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”
Finally, he quotes the beautiful LDS hymn “In Humility our Savior” and highlights the words “teach us tolerance and love”.
Combining religion and politics is a risky thing and I chose to do that last night along with my political views. I think it is fine that I shared the views and I do not regret how I feel or sharing them, but I do regret if it came off as me saying “I’m OK-you’re an Idiot”, or being intolerant and unloving. I was pretty fired up after my candidate lost, so it probably came out in an arrogant way, for which I apologize.
Some readers who commented reacted similarly to the way I felt, but on the other end of the spectrum by calling me names and cursing us “ignorant” conservatives. Those of you who reacted like that, I encourage you to read this article and see if it helps in future dialogues with people that disagree with your views. I fall in the same category with you, and after reading this article will try my best from here on out to be more objective and try to see others’ perspective.
Other readers, who clearly did not agree with my views chose to react in a more humble manor by being objective and sharing their views in a respectful way. For that I thank you for your good example.
This experience has been a good learning experience for me and I thank those of you who stopped by and shared your views with me after writing the post. I thank those of you who stood up for me and “had my back” so to speak. I thank those of you who opposed me and responded in a curtious, objective way. I also thank those of you who opposed me and called me names and responded rudely. I ask for forgiveness if you felt I was calling you an idiot. I hope this article can help us all grow a little in the way we respond to others in person, or online.
For those not familiar with the Willie and Martin handcart company of the early Mormon pioneers, it is a tragic story in which many members of the party died or were severely injured. I will give a very brief description of the events surrounding the trek.
Due to unforseen events and financial restraints, Brigham Young designed a way for the poor LDS Saints in Europe to make the trek across the Atlantic and most of the United States to gather to Zion, in Utah. Handcarts were seen as the solution and the first 3 handcart companies made it to Utah without any problem.
Franklin D Richards was the Apostle appointed by Brigham Young to oversee the emigration of LDS Saints to Europe. According to the blog entitled “Intelligent Obedience” John Taylor (a senior apostle) had advised Franklin Richards not to encourage Saints to leave so late in the year of 1856 and to wait until the next year. However, Richards boldly told the Saints in Europe that it was God’s will that they go and that God would part the storms as He did for Moses if they but had faith. Over 1,000 Saints took up the journey.
Upon arrival at Iowa City, the Saints encountered set-backs that delayed their departure until mid-late July. Most of the Saints were naiive to the harsh terrain and climate that lay ahead. There was one amoungst them, however, who was familiar with the terrain whose name was Levi Savage. Savage had circled the globe serving as a missionary to Burma and had literally sacrificed his time in a way that many can not imagine. He had also made the trek to Salt Lake City and knew of the dangers in leaving so late in the year.
Levi Savage (in the words from his own personal journal) said on August 12th:
Today we commenced preparing for our journey and ascertaining who wishes to go on this fall and who wishes to remain here. Many are going to stop. Others are faltering and I myself am not in favor of, but much opposed to, taking women and children through when they are destitute of clothing, when we all know that we are bound to be caught in the snow and severe cold weather long before we reach the valley.
When asked by President Willie to share his thoughts with the company on leaving so late in the year Savage (again in his own words from his personal journal) said on August 13th:
Brother Willey exhorted the Saints to go forward regardless of suffering even to death. After he had spoken, he gave me the opportunity of speaking. I said to him that if I spoke I must speak my mind, let it cut where it would. He said certainly to do so. I then related to the Saints the hardships that we should have to endure. I said that we were liable to have to wade in snow up to our knees and shovel at night, lay ourselves in a thin blanket and lie on the frozen ground without a bed. I said that it was not like having a wagon that we could go into and wrap ourselves in as much as we like and lay down. “No,” said I, “we are without wagons, destitute of clothing and could not carry it f we had it. We must go as we are. The handcart system I do not condemn. I think t preferable to unbroken oxen and experienced teamsters. The lateness of the season was my only objection to leaving this point for the mountains at this time. I spoke warmly upon the subject, but spoke truth, and the people, judging from appearance and expressions, felt the force of it. (However, the most of them determined to go forward, if the authorities say so.) Elder Willey then spoke again in reply to what I had said, evidently dissatisfied. He said that the God that he served was a God that was able to save to the utermost. He said that was the God that he served, and he wanted no Job’s comforters with him. I then said that what I had said was the truth, and if Elder Willey did not want me to act in the place where I am, he is at full liberty to place another man in my stead. I would not think hard of him for it, But, I did not care what he said about Job’s comforters, I had spoken nothing but the truth and he knew it. Elder Atwood then spoke mildly and to the purpose. He said that he had been listening to what had been said. He exhorted the Saints to pray to God and get a revelation and know for themselves whether they should go or stay, for it was their privilege to know for themselves.
Clearly, Levi Savage thought it an absurd idea to leave so late in the year, but upon praying and wanting to follow their leaders, the majority of the Saints decided to make the journey.
At this point, Savage had the decision to either stay or to go with the Saints. He clearly disagreed with the authorities (Franklin Richards and President Willie) on making the trek. However, Savage showed the courage of a true disciple of Jesus, being willing to die for his fellow friends to help them. He realized they were naiive to the territory. Upon the conclusion of the meeting, Savage stated:
Brethren and sisters, what I have said I know to be true, but seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help you all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, will suffer with you, and if necessary I will die with you. May God have mercy bless and preserve us.
What great courage, faith and dedication he had! As I read this, I thought about the commitment the people of Alma made at the waters of baptism to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who are in need of comfort. I also thought about the apostle James’ description of what pure religion is.
Later on in the journey as the Saints were struggling in mid-September, Franklin Richards, the apostle, arrived with a few elders. When hearing of Savage’s opposition in Iowa City, Richards called a meeting and openly rebuked Savage for his lack of faith and for not following his leaders. Savage’s response was amazing as he records in his journal on September 12th that he had no idea there were hard feelings and he was sorry for offending anyone.
As I read his personal account I was amazed at his great humility. Clearly he was in the right and he could have become very bitter, but he chose to remain humble. The story continues with the unfortunate actions of Franklin Richards.
According to one of the Saints, John Chislett, Franklin Richards gave a stirring sermon but then proceeded to ask for a meal. The Saints out of respect took their finest calf and killed it, when they were in dire need of nourishment. Richards then proceeded to eat the meat and not even offer it to the Saints. In Chislett’s own words he describes the event:
“These brethren told Captain Willie they wanted some fresh meat, and he had our fattest calf killed for them. I am ashamed for humanity’s sake to say they took it. While we, four hundred in number, travelling so slowly and so far from home, with our mixed company of men, women, children, aged, sick, and infirm people, had no provisions to spare, had not enough for ourselves, in fact, these ‘elders in Israel,’ these ‘servants of God,’ took from us what we ourselves so greatly needed and went on in style with their splendid outfit, after preaching to us faith, patience, prayerfulness, and obedience to the priesthood. As they rolled out of our camp I could not, as I contrasted our positions and circumstances, help exclaiming to myself: ‘Look on this picture, and on that!’
“We broke camp at once and turned towards the river, the apostle having advised us to go on to the south side. He and his company preceded us and waited in the opposite bank to indicate to us the best fording place. They stood and watched us wade the river—here almost a mile in width, and in places from two to three feet deep. Our women and girls waded, pulling their carts after them.
“The apostle promised to leave us provisions, bedding, etc., at Laramie if he could, and to secure us help from the valley as soon as possible.”
As I read this account I was very apalled at the actions of the apostle. As I read further accounts Richards didn’t even leave any provisions or bedding at Fort Laramie (which may have been due to other circumstances), which led to the demise of many people as the winter storms hit.
After reading these accounts clearly there were many factors involved in the hundreds of deaths involved in the Willie Handcart Company. Many stories have been told about the heroic efforts of Saints in Utah that went to help them after they found out there were still some companies coming.
Throughout history, Levi Savage is sometimes known as one who opposed church authorities, and his name is sometimes mentioned as one of those who wasn’t a true Saint. However, I believe he stood as one of the true disciples of Jesus by not becoming bitter when his leaders were clearly in the wrong and also for putting his life on the line to help his fellow man. He is a good example for us to follow.
In 1966, Batsell Barrett Baxter delivered an excellent sermon entitled “As a Man Thinketh.” I HIGHLY reccomend reading it. While the whole sermon is excellent, I choose to pull the following quote from his sermon at the Hillsboro Church of Christ:
“Chronic resentments, grudges that we carry around with us, become deep-seated abscesses. They ruin our personalities. They poison our minds, and they produce diseases in our bodies. When we continue to carry them, we are slowly but surely committing suicide! The cure for a surgical abscess is incision and drainage. This makes healing possible from the inside out so that the patient is rid of the abscess once and for all. The cure of a spiritual abscess is forgiveness–real forgiveness. This heals our minds, our bodies, and our souls.”
Have you ever suffered from someone who hurt you whether intentionally or un-intentionally? Do you or have you ever suffered so much that all you can do is supress the pain and try to forget? Do you hold a grudge against someone that harmed you or a loved one? If so, then I hope that what I share in this post will bless you.
By the time I was in my late 20′s I was slowly dying both physically and spiritually. This may sound extreme, but I had been poisoned by my inability to forgive one of my parents who I felt had abandoned me after a divorce in my younger years. On the surface, I knew I needed to forgive and I tried to force myself, but nothing I did seemed to help. It became so bad that my resentment started taking over my life in my relationships with others as well as the way I viewed myself. I was sick–both physically and spiritually.
When I came to the realization that I was the one with the problem and took responsibility, that was a huge step for me. I didn’t know where to start though and how to overcome the resentment that I had harbored subconciously for so many years. I turned to the Lord in prayer asking for Him to provide a way–and he did.
A couple weeks after I had started seriously praying for an answer and way to overcome my issues with forgiveness someone I hardly knew in church came up to me and said “I have a feeling that you could use my help.” I was immediately intrigued.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“I work for a lady that practices Reiki and other natural forms of healing.” she said, “You should come by.”
I’d never heard of Reiki before, but thought it was at least worth giving a try.
A week or so later I arrived at the clinic and started getting to know the “Reiki Lady”. A name that I soon started calling her that stuck. In our initial appointment I shared with her my experiences as a child. It was very painful and I was full of resentment, hurt, and anger. After our intial visit, she determined that multiple sessions were needed and I scheduled a few appointments.
For those who aren’t familiar with Reiki, it is an Asian form of natural healing in that the practioner focuses on your energy levels that your body puts out through pressure points called “chakras.” The sessions I found to be very relaxing and helpful, but my anger and resentment would still rear its ugly head along with the spiritual and physical symptoms. The spiritual symptoms would include: anger, bad habits of manipulating others especially in relationships, pessimism, a cynical outlook and behavior, and lack of trust. Physically I had depression, anxiety, and also pain in my stomach from holding the bitterness in for so many years.
During one session with the “Reiki Lady” we did something different than we had ever done before. We started normally with the sessions by getting me into a relaxed and calm state of mind. However, this time she told me she was going to do a guided imagery session to help me heal my subconsious mind. It was amazing and would take a long time to explain, but to keep this story short I was able to pull up images of myself as a child and see myself forgiving my parent for everything that had happened. It was truly a miracle. From that point forward, things started to fall into place and I was able to forgive completely and I can now say that I love and respect both of my parents completely.
My experience was different than others experiences in that it wasn’t the traditional approach. However, I know that God worked through a number of people to help answer my prayers and heal me from the poison of holding resentment.
In a way, I guess this is similar to what Glenn Beck has been sharing over on his site called Face your Storm. For those who would like to hear other stories of overcoming adversity, this is another great site.
I would love to hear others stories or thoughts on learning to forgive. Please share so we can all be uplifted.