Monthly Archives: November 2015

The gospel is more than just being preached too…

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I have always felt that living the gospel is not easy and definitely requires a lot of action on our part. We can’t just go to church every week, listening to what is being said there and think that’s all we have to do. Heavenly Father expects a lot from us and He wants to see us put His words into action.

My favorite verses in James 1 are 5 and 6: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” God is there for us and all we have to do is ask Him in faith and be sincere. He will give us the directions we are asking for and will lead us where we need to go. The best example of receiving directions is through our patriarchal blessing. What a wonderful way to know what the Lord wants us to do and what has to be done so we can return to Him.

Faith is definitely a big part of Heavenly Father’s plan. I love how it is said in verse 6 that we have to ask in faith but shouldn’t waver. Our faith needs to be strong and we have to be willing to listen no matter what the Lord is going to tell us. He can only give us directions if we are willing to truly listen and trust in Him no matter what. Are we willing to put forth such a faith and doubt not? Are we willing to not only accept personal revelation as the word of God but also listen to His prophet and apostles who speak for Him?

We are asked to follow the Savior and we can only do that 100%. I have heard so many people say that the gospel is not a buffet in which we can choose the things we like best and ignore what we don’t like. Matthew 6:24 makes it very clear that we need to make a decision whom we want to follow. I think we can see it so well in today’s time, how people want to do both, but they just can’t. It’s either the world or God. It’s either Satan or God, there is no in between. Gray isn’t the color we can choose. It is either black or white.

To be fully committed to the Lord we need to realize that temptation is not coming from Heavenly Father. Things that lead us away from the truth are not from God. He will let us be tempted by Satan to test our faith, but He will not try to lead us towards sin. That is not coming from Him. The natural man is lazy and wants an easy way out. Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ means we have to put the natural man aside and work hard.

I think there are many people around us who are willing to put forth the effort and live the gospel even if it inconvenient and uncomfortable at times. They are willing to step up and stand for what they believe in even if that means losing friends. You can see more and more who are willing to stand with our leaders and follow their counsel and those who are more “Sunday” disciples and know the doctrine but don’t really live it and so they get offended when it is pointed out to them. It reminds me of the scripture in Nephi that talks about how his brethren found the truth he spoke harsh and that’s how it is, those who do something wrong, try to justify it by trying to pull everyone else down with them and people pointing that out, are threats because they make them feel bad and guilty. Our prophet Thomas S. Monson and all the brethren of the quorum of the twelve apostles as well as other general authorities are truly living what they preach. I also have seen many around me being willing to stand with the brethren and not go with the world.

β€œAnd it might well be added that every investigator of revealed truth stands, at some time in the course of his search, in the place where Joseph Smith stood. He must turn to the Almighty and gain wisdom from God by revelation if he is to gain a place on that strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.” (Bruce R. McConkie) There will come a time in life when we have to find out for ourselves. We need to gain a testimony ourselves and ask God directly if the gospel is true. Nobody can do that for us and nobody can tell us it is true and we automatically know for sure. Again the gospel is a word of action and we must put forth action to gain a testimony and take steps to get the answer we are looking for. Isn’t it amazing that Heavenly Father gave us the tools of prayer and the Holy Ghost so we can receive those answers from Him? God does His part and will bless us, but we need to do our part too so we are worthy of the blessings He will give us.

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Why is it so hard to understand that we can agree to disagree?

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to be one

I have been watching this for a long time. I even addressed this before. And yet it amazes me every time that some people really can’t discuss, even argue, in a civil and respectful manner. It’s either my way or nobody’s way. It’s really ridiculous because I have yet to meet someone who changed his mind or opinion because the other person was rude, disrespectful and insulting. What’s the point of doing it? You really only confirm the other person’s point of view by acting that way.

It almost makes me laugh when I witness it. Whether it be political opinions or discussions about questions of life, someone will try to force his opinion on someone else. We should discuss and even argue in a respectful manner, but to flat out be a jerk to someone else simply because the other person disagrees with you is not okay.

offense

Unless you are discussing church doctrine, in which there is only black and white because you can’t just pick and choose which commandments are fun and which to leave out, it is possible to agree to disagree. I have done that plenty of times and yet there are some who can only talk by insulting others. Calling someone an idiot or moron (or worse) during a discussion because you don’t like their point of view is definitely not the way to go if you want them on your side. It is usually the most aggressive one’s that expect the most respect and tolerance but are absolutely not willing to give it.

Respect has to be earned. My kid’s karate school motto is “Always earned, Never given”. It refers to the different belts they can get and other things, but this goes well with every day life too and definitely with respect. You have to earn respect and show respect before you can expect it in return. It’s a two way thing.

Tolerance does not mean what many people think it means. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with you. I’ve shared this knowledge many times before and will continue to preach it until people finally get it. “Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits WITHOUT necessarily sharing or accepting them.” There you go, I just taught you something new, you are welcome. πŸ˜€

There is never a reason to be rude. If you want me to listen to you, be kind and polite. However, if you are only nice to me as long as I agree with you or if you talk to me just to make me change my mind and you are not willing to listen yourself, you are wasting your time. I will only change my mind when I feel it is the right thing to do and when I want to change my mind (and I bet many other people feel the same way). God gave each of us agency. He wanted us to make decisions ourselves. If I want to get respect and kindness, I have to give it first, a rule that should apply to anyone. Going back to my original thought, it is okay and possible to agree to disagree. Both parties just have to want it.

throughout life

The Atonement is greater than all of the sacrifices of the Old Testament

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The lesson of this week can be found in the some of the chapter of Hebrews. I loved reading these chapters and I think I learned a great deal about many different things.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ was very important for all mankind and it also fulfilled the Law of Moses.

The law of Moses was given (in my opinion) to be a symbol and sign for things to come. Sacrificing an animal by the shedding of blood, pointed towards the sacrifice Jesus would do for us. The Law of Moses was not able to take away our sins, but it was pointing towards the sacrifice that could. The Law of Moses was there to teach us obedience and to have us show obedience to the Lord. The story of Abraham and Isaak comes to mind in which Abraham was asked to sacrifice His son. The Lord wanted to see if Abraham would be obedient and it wasn’t until he was ready to perform the sacrifice that God stopped Him through an angel. That too is a symbol of the Atonement of Jesus Christ because God did sacrifice His son so all of us would be able to return and live with them again one day.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the path for us to return to our Heavenly Father. Without the Savior we would not be able to live with them again because we are not perfect. Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself, suffered great pain and anguish, so we wouldn’t have to. He felt everything we feel when we go through physical pain or emotional suffering. He loves us so much that He was willing to do something nobody else could do. He did not want to have Satan force us back because He wanted us to have free agency and decide for ourselves. His ultimate sacrifice sealed the deal of us having free agency. We don’t have to accept the Atonement, but it is there and we should partake of it.

The title “high priest of good things to come” is a wonderful title for our Savior Jesus Christ. Everything that is done in the temple is done in symbolic meaning. Jesus wasn’t a high priest standing in a tabernacle and in front of an altar on this earth, but His death symbolizes it. Just like animals were sacrificed on altar’s in the temple, so did Jesus Christ sacrifice Himself. I love what Hebrews 9:22 says: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” To me that means before the coming of Jesus Christ sacrificing of animals was symbolic of what was yet to come and the Savior made it possible, through His shedding of blood, for us to repent and receive remission. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Paul truly cared…

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I am amazed about how much I learned about Paul this semester. It’s nice to really look into the New Testament and getting to know people you haven’t paid much attention to before. Paul truly was a disciple of Jesus Christ and stood up for the church and its teaching until his death.

I find it interesting how much Paul loved the saints and how much he loved the gospel. After reading verses in Moroni, I find the same kind of love written. Both, Paul and Mormon, talk about the importance of faith and that we need to cling to the gospel and Jesus Christ no matter how hard life will get. The Savior is the only one who can lift us up again, when we are discouraged, and He teaches us to trust Him at all times. I love what the verse in 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Paul speaks about Timothy’s mother and grandmother because they were great women in faith. He wants Timothy to be like them and build up the same faith these women had. Paul wants Timothy to have unfeigned faith. When I read that verse I immediately thought about Helaman and the stripling warriors and how they were so faithful because of their mothers. As a mom myself, I realize that we as mothers truly need to show our children that we have strong faith and that we are willing to hold on to the iron rod no matter what. We need to realize that we can have immensely influence our children and never give up the hope and faith even though they might leave the narrow path for a while. Faith can do great things!

Going back to 2 Timothy 1:7, it is clear that Heavenly Father wants us to realize that fear does not come from him and that we have power, love and a sound mind. He wants us to know that we don’t need to be fearful because He is on our side and He will guide and lead us through difficulties. We don’t need to be scared of the future because we already know the outcome. We already know who will win and we already know what we can earn as long as we are faithful and true disciples of Jesus Christ. It’s easier said than done because there are so many things happening now that are scary and worrisome, but at the same time I know that whatever happens, will happen for a reason. God is in control.

As I am reading more verses in 2 Timothy chapter 1, it becomes clear how much love Paul really had for those he cared about. He wanted the house of Onesiphorus blessed with mercy because he was not ashamed of him and looked for Paul right away when he was in Rome. He stood by Paul and was a true brother to him. He blessed the house of Onesiphorus that the Lord would grant mercy unto them because of their faith and works. Reading Matthew 25:35-40 shows how much we will be blessed when we are righteous and take care of those around us. We need to be faithful and serve those around us because that’s what will show the Savior how serious we are and whether or not we are deserving of his mercy. I mean if we are unkind and mean to those who are struggling, in one way or another, how can we expect the Lord to be kind to us? How can we expect Him to show mercy to us if we don’t show mercy to our fellow men?

It is important that we are willing to stand up for the Savior and the gospel and show the faith He wants us to have. I love how Matthew 11:29-30 and Jacob 1:8 talk about taking the yoke of Christ upon us. To me that sounds like we are asked to take His name upon us and need to be willing to testify for the truth as well as being an example to those around us and defend the gospel if necessary. Living the gospel is not easy and sometimes requires great faith and courage to stay strong, especially when those around us mock us for it or even persecute in some way. One must have a very strong testimony to be willing to give their life for the gospel, and yet Jesus Christ did that for all of us. If it is required of us, we should do that too.

How can we explain something we don’t even fully understand ourselves?

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there it goes again

These past few days I have tried to make sense of a lot of things. I tried to understand why I was doing pretty well and just a few hours later I can feel how things are changing. I can literally feel the crash overcoming my mind and body and it is not a pleasant feeling at all because you know that soon you will be feeling horrible again.

I absolutely hate feeling like that. I am trying to be open and honest about depression, and mental illness in general, so those who are not affected by it can start to understand too. But how can you help others understand what you are going through when you don’t even fully understand it yourself? Every time I think I have finally completely grasped the reality and severity of depression something happens and I feel like I start all over again. It’s seriously not easy to understand or explain it.

How can you explain to someone, who isn’t struggling with depression, that simple tasks become a huge obstacle, that our mind just doesn’t work and functions the same way a “normal healthy” person and mind does? How do you explain that you know you should be able to do those simple tasks, but you have no energy available for it because just doing basic things like getting up and such requires all the energy your body has at the moment? How do you explain to yourself that there is nothing you can do at the moment but just make it through?

the scars

I have been trying for years now to make sense of it. I go through so many emotions each day and that alone is very exhausting. I keep pushing myself because I have to function for my family and feel horrible and bad about myself because I don’t get the things done I think I need to get done. I keep comparing myself with a “normal healthy” person who manages to accomplish many different things and it just makes me feel like a big fat failure and I feel even worse about myself and my life.

As I am sitting here typing away I think about the conversation I had with my mom earlier. She knows me so well. She actually makes me cry because she points out that I am fighting back the tears and she knows that I need to release the pressure I put on myself by always fighting back my emotions. I know she is right and I know it does make me feel better for a moment, and yet I keep fighting it every single time.

I have to face reality and accept that right now I can not function as a “normal healthy” person. I have to learn to not compare myself with others and just focus on myself and do what I can do without pushing myself over the edge. I have to push myself every day so I can be there for my kids, but I realize I can’t do more than that right now. I have to make people understand that when I say I can’t do something at the moment. I mean it and I am not just making up a lame excuse to get out of something. I am breaking down more and more because I keep telling myself I have to do certain things and yet I don’t. My husband said something really interesting to me last night. He said: “The only things you really have to do is breathe, sleep, eat and go to the bathroom. Everything else is a choice.” We obviously have to breathe to live, we have to sleep so our body functions properly, we have to eat so we can live and well the bathroom thing is a have to as well. πŸ˜‰ I keep thinking about it and know he is right. He says that all the other things that are choices mean that there will be certain consequences when I don’t do them, but it is still a choice. He is such a wise man sometimes. πŸ˜‰

Right now I have to make the choices of what is necessary and what are things I have to drop or put on hold at the moment. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith anymore and that I don’t know that Heavenly Father is there for me and can make me feel better, but it means I am accepting my illness as an illness and the consequences of it is that I am limited in what I can do. Right now I don’t need advice, guilt-trips and lectures, but just the understanding that I reached my limit. Every time I think I am better, and I push myself more, I crash and that is definitely not healthy for me or my family. I need to get myself back on my feet so I can function like a “normal mentally ill” person at least.

I will never give up fighting this fight, but I do get it when my body and mind say enough is enough. I have to take care of myself because I want to be a good mom and wife (at least to my ability) and I can’t be that if I constantly break down because I am overdoing it.

depression is struggling

Maybe one day I will completely understand why this illness is the way it is. In the meantime I can only ask those around me, and everyone who is reading this, to be patient, to be kind and to be understanding to those who are going through it. We are not making this up, we are not trying to make things difficult for anyone, but we are trying to survive and make it through every single day. Acceptance, love and understanding go much longer ways than any guilt-trips, lectures and advices combined. I know for me I already put so much guilt and pressure on myself I certainly don’t need anyone else’s on top of that. And I have to learn to stop doing that too and accept myself as someone who is limited in what she can do.

I know this illness was given to me for a reason. Maybe it is to bring me closer to my Heavenly Father and rely on the Savior. They know exactly what I am going through. Maybe they want to see me having faith no matter how horrible and bad I feel and I do have that faith. That’s what gets me through it again, what makes me keep going, what lifts me up again. I know they understand and love me. If everything else fails, my faith is the only thing that I can hold on to when I feel like drowning. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland expressed it so well: “Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are β€œlike a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed.”

do not confuse

The Lord is in charge…

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I have been feeling really sad these past few days. It actually has nothing to do with depression but with the things going on in the LDS community at the moment. I am not even going to get into it because this is not just a one time problem, it is happening more and more about simple things that require basic faith. I am sad because so many seem to forget that Jesus Christ is the head of this church and He leads HIS church through a prophet and apostles. He is the one who makes the calls.

Over the past few days I thought a lot about everything that was happening on social media and how certain subjects were addressed. I was able to tell pretty quickly who had a strong testimony of the gospel and who did not. Who was truly trying to understand and was actually listening and who was not. It really is clear and yet very frightening at the same time.

As I was sitting here thinking, I realized that it really just comes down to the basics. You either have a testimony of the gospel or you don’t. You either have a testimony that our prophet Thomas S. Monson and the twelve apostles are called of God or you don’t. You either believe that our prophet receives revelation to guide and lead our church or you don’t. There is no gray anymore. It is truly just black or white.

you cant walk with god

It is all addressed and foreseen in the scriptures. On one of the Facebook pages someone posted the words of Nephi:

1 And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.

2 And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

3 And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us. (1 Nephi 16:1-3)

It gave me comfort despite the fact that it is actually really sad, but it reminded me that all this is happening because people are not willing to hold on to the basics, they want to change something into something they want, not what the Lord wants. They want Heavenly Father to bow down to their desires. I know those, who are spoken of in the above, will deny it, they will fight and argue about it, but it doesn’t change that it is the truth.

As I was doing some reading for my religion class I came across a few verses that also spoke directly about the things happening in our world right now. In 1 Timothy 6:

1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

a life is either

I love when I read in the scriptures, especially at times when I feel sad and need comfort, and come across something that speaks exactly about the things I am wondering about. I love that God knew all this years ago. He knew that we would need these exact words in our day to be guided and comforted, knowing that all this is happening for a reason and it is up to us to stay faithful despite all the trouble and sadness around us.

As I said before, it truly comes down to the basics. We need to make a decision now what side we are on. As I said earlier, there is no grey area anymore. We either stand with our church leaders and the Lord or we don’t. That’s it. I don’t even need to add anything to it. I know that I want to stay with the Lord. I will also stand with our church leaders because I know they are called of God (not by man) and directed and guided by God. He will not let them lead us astray and so we have to trust and believe that this is what Heavenly Father wants. We even have simple solutions if we have our doubts because we can go to Heavenly Father directly and ask Him in prayer and study the scriptures to get answers. It’s all in those books, we just need to look for it. Satan is more aggressive than ever. He will try to lead as away by making these doubts bigger by questioning everything, and by telling us our leaders are not inspired by God but make their own decisions. He is sneaky and will not let go, especially when he sees how people are listening to him.

When people go against my church or my leaders, I feel personally attacked because this church is my life and I love it. I love these leaders too and will continue to do so because I know in my heart that they are truly disciples of God. So yes I tend to take that a bit personal because just like I would defend my family against anyone who tries to attack and harm them, I feel very protective of these leaders and the gospel. I stand firm in my faith, and will continue to do so because I know it would be wrong to support anyone or anything else. Of course we all have times of doubts, but that’s when we need to look for the answers by quietly searching within ourselves, by praying to our Heavenly Father and by searching the scriptures. Nothing in the Internet, no media, nobody around us can give us the testimony and the confirmation and the answers we are seeking. No one but God can tell us that what we are receiving, hearing or reading is true. That is something we have to do for ourselves. Nobody can do that for us. We either want to believe or we don’t. We either want to find out the truth or we don’t. We either are willing to listen or we are not. God is in charge and everything happens because He wants it to happen. The world is not going to change that. Satan can try to influence, lead people away and get more powerful, but he will never be able to change that. And he will never be more powerful than our Heavenly Father. I believe that with all my heart. It is like President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “Doubt your doubts before your doubt your faith!”

Solutions for life challenges can be found in the scriptures…

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As I said last week, using my blog for homework for my religion class is a great way to think about the things I read and learn. It always helps me when I write down my thoughts and also answer questions to really understand the material.

In Philippians 2:1-8 and 14-15 it talks about how we as members should be and what will help us to become better members and disciples of the Savior. It’s true we do complain about petty matters with regards to the gospel. We sometimes even argue about gospel doctrine or try to change something we think should be doctrine and yet it isn’t. I also think that we as members tend to be too pushy sometimes and try to pressure others to do things in a certain way. (And I am not talking about our prophets and apostles because they receive directions from the Lord and need to address it over and over again if we still don’t get it.) πŸ˜‰ I am talking about pushing someone in a way that is too much for that person and too fast. We have to remember that we all progress at a different speed and so putting too much pressure on someone who might take his or her time to move forward is definitely not the right approach. We need to do it the right way, be understanding, like-minded, loving, don’t envy each other, let each other progress their own way, and try to be like Christ. He was all these things and did not try to force anyone to do what is right. He preached about it in a kind and loving way, but He wanted us to have agency and choose for ourselves.

Philippians 2:12-15 talks about how we need to work out our own salvation and how important it is that we gain our own testimonies. We just can’t rely on someone else’s testimony forever because we will get to a point when we just have to know or believe for ourselves. Borrowing the light from someone else won’t be enough. I love what David O. McKay says in the commentary for the above scripture: β€œTo work out one’s salvation is not to sit idly by dreaming and yearning for God miraculously to thrust bounteous blessings into our laps. It is to perform daily, hourly, momentarily, if necessary, the immediate task or duty at hand, and to continue happily in such performance as the years come and go, leaving the fruits of such labors either for self or for others to be bestowed as a just and beneficent Father may determine.” Gaining a testimony and working on our salvation is action. We have to do something. Even when we do have a strong testimony we need to work on it every single day so it will not get weakened. If our own testimony is strong we can fight back Satan, however, if we rely on someone else’s testimony it is very easy for Satan to tempt us and lead us astray.

Philippians 3:7-16 and 4:13 brings up an important point and that is that we fully have to trust our Savior and that no matter what He will be by our side and He will strengthen us. Joining the church, especially against family wishes, is hard and requires a lot of faith when those we love and care about turn away from us. I have seen that happen to people. I have seen young people trying it for a while but in the end they gave up due to all the pressure they received from their loved ones. I think turning against your family is the hardest thing you can do, but I also know it is right to do when the Savior is on your side. He will protect us and loves us unconditionally. It is not easy, but possible as long as we have trust and faith.

What a great way to learn more about Paul and his teachings. This assignment is a wonderful example of the principle taught in 2. Nephi 32:3. We need to hold on to the gospel and learn all the things we can. If we listen to the words of Christ (which include the words of ancient prophets and apostles as well as those who live today) and obey the word of the Lord, we will be blessed and we will be guided through this life and always know what we have to do. Heavenly Father gave us the tool of the Holy Ghost and through that we can receive confirmation of the truth as well as receiving personal revelation and guidance. Christ is the only way and I am grateful that I can learn of Him every time I listen to our prophet and apostles as well as reading the scriptures. If I want to have a strong testimony, I need to rely on Him and only Him because He will lead me through life to salvation.