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Monday, March 31, 2014

Prophet in your pocket

This post if from my Book of Mormon Class at BYU-I. I hope you enjoy it.

In Moroni 7:35-37 Moroni asks whether "the day of miracles has ceased."

This is an interesting question in our day. We have so many miracles around us every day that we don't see them as miracles, but as the workings of the hands of men. Cars for example, can take you from Nauvoo to Salt Lake in 18 hours. The same trek took the pioneers months to travel. The pilgrimage to America took our ancestors 2-3 months in poor living conditions. Now, you can take a take a cruise in luxury from New York to England, tour several ports, and be back home before your 2 week vacation is over. Let's not even get started on airplanes.

How about the every day miracle we get to experience next weekend? Twice a year you can have the prophet of the Lord, the 12 apostles, several of the seventy, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in your living room, and a tiny little square in the corner for the Portland Timbers. AND in your neighbor's living room, AND at the stake center, ALL AT THE SAME TIME!! and you can talk to your parents about it from 2,000 miles away WHILE it's happening! In less than a month you won't be reading their words in chiseled stone, but on mashed tree pulp, or in the form of light (on your computers and phones.) Speaking of phones, if you have a smartyphone you can read the scriptures, church magazines, conference talks, or almost any other church publication anywhere you go. Seriously, what other generation of Saints had a prophet in their pocket?

Sure, all these things were created by men, but the knowledge, and inspiration to create them was given by God.

This doesn't even speak for the spiritual miracles we experience. I've never seen an angel, but I've seen things happen that shouldn't have happened, and been inspired to do things that I would never have done on my own. I've had the Spirit speak to me, clearly and unmistakably, and I've seen visions that both enlighten, and frighten me. I've seen God's hand in my life around me, I see it every day, and it's hard to not be complacent, and forget life itself is a miracle.

And when do I wonder whether there are still miracles? Just as Moroni says, when I lose faith, and waver in my beliefs. I can forget rather quickly then just how much the Lord has done for me, and that is a sad state to be in.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Balm of Gilead for our Souls

The Atonement is the Balm of Gilead for our souls, and to apply the Balm of the Atonement to our souls we have to bare our wounds to our savior, and let him apply his atonement to us. When we do this, we not only open the doors to repentance, but we begin the process of repentance, or the process of changing our hearts. Read on:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, then will I make weak things strong unto them." Ether 12:27

What I've learned from years of pondering, prayer, study and experience:

As I've said before, it is my belief that the reason we sin is because we are trying to cover up feelings we don't want to feel. This isn't applicable only to addicts, this is applicable to all of us. When we act sinfully we are trying to hide our unwanted feelings with stronger, more pleasurable feelings. At first we don't realize what we are doing, but some introspection gives us clarity, and we see patterns emerge. It isn't apparent at first, but when you see it, you really see it.

So, here are the steps of repentance, as laid out in this verse:

1. Come unto Christ

When we find ourselves in temptation, and I really think that's what this verse is talking about, we have a choice to make: 1. white knuckle it and force yourself to be righteous. 2. Sin 3. come unto Christ in your weakness, that he may show unto you your weakness. Your weakness isn't just your propensity to sin; your weakness is those feelings you are trying so hard to not feel, those things that are SO hard on you that you would rather push them down to the depths of your soul than ever feel them again.

2: Humble yourself before Christ

Once you've turned to Christ, and he has shown you your weakness, you, once again have a choice. 1. Push the feelings down again and white knuckle it til you can't take it anymore 2. push the feelings down and give in to temptation 3. Accept the emotions you are feeling, open yourself up to them, and let Christ apply the balm of the Atonement to your soul.

Remember, his grace is sufficient, not just for the whole of the human race, but FOR YOU! This takes faith, gratitude, fortitude, patience, and a few stumbles as you learn to walk on your own. Don't get down when you stumble, get back up, and start the process over, you have a head start this time.

3. Become strong again

Now that you've come this far, it is time to strengthen yourself in Christ. To strengthen yourself in Christ, you must continue too lay your emotions bare, and allow yourself to heal. No more closing  up, and letting your wounds fester. Just as a flesh wound (it's just a flesh wound) has to heal over time, grow, and become strong again, so does your soul. This isn't Arnie strength, but healthy strength. Your tissue becomes healthy, closes up, and becomes smooth again. It is clean, and healthy underneath a layer of skin that protects it from it's previous infector. Your soul is the same. Once you let those wounds heal, and you have sufficiently rehabbed your spiritual tissue you find that it is much harder for Satan to infect you again. 

4. Perform Maintenance:

When we are wounded again (and we will be) are we going to cover our pain with booze, drugs, pornography, sex, food, and anger? Or are we going to tend the wound, apply the atonement, and let it heal before Satan has the chance to get in there and destroy us from the inside again? Please, no, perform the maintenance, and continue to let Christ in so you can be happy and free of sin.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Symbolism of the Sacrament

I want to talk about the symbolism of the Sacrament, and give my readers some things to consider when they next partake of the Sacrament. I hope that this discussion on the Sacrament will convey its sacredness. As you read this envision the ordinance of the Sacrament being performed, and the very real experiences you have each week as you partake of it.

*Remember, as you read, that everything I am saying is symbolic, or in representation of the Atonement. If I do not say that in the narrative, it is only for effect.*


The Sacrament is an unusual ordinance in the church. The Sacrament is not a saving ordinance, but is instead a growing ordinance. If we, or our ancestors, never partake of the Sacrament we/they will not be docked Celestial brownie points for it. It is not like baptism, sealing, or other Temple Ordinances that must be performed in order to receive the highest glory. The Sacrament is entirely voluntary.

The atonement is also voluntary. We are not, and will not be forced to take advantage of the atonement. If we would rather spend eternity in outer darkness, our Savior will let us go to outer darkness, rather than saving us when we don’t want to be saved. Consider this when the Sacrament trays come to you. Are you going to partake of this symbol of Salvation, or let it pass you by? What will you do when Christ stands for you at the last day? Will you accept his sacrifice, or will you hide your eyes from him in shame, refusing to partake?


As symbols of Christ’s body, and blood, the Sacrament is a symbol of Salvation. When we partake of the Sacrament we are symbolically accepting salvation.  We are choosing to remember Christ, repent, come unto him in humility, and follow his precepts to the best of our ability. What more sacred symbol can we have than partaking of salvation itself?

Maybe this is also why we are instructed to not partake of the Sacrament unworthily, for if we are unrepentant, then are we choosing to not partake of salvation? This would be worth reader’s comments. Hint Hint.

Also, consider the size of the bread and water that comes to you. As silly as it sounds I sometimes look for the biggest piece of bread so I can get a bigger piece of salvation. After preparing this lesson though, I am looking at the size of the Sacrament differently. The amount of bread and water we receive is the tiniest portion of a meal. It isn’t even enough to take the edge off our hunger when we’re fasting. This is also in similitude of the Atonement. The proverbial portion of the atonement we receive from Christ is but a small portion of the total atonement. It is but a small thing to save us, to forgive us, and to bring us home.


We receive the atonement almost weekly. This isn’t only a reminder that we are continually striving to improve ourselves, but it is also a reminder that we are offered to partake of the Atonement in the here and now, not just at the Judgment Seat. Consider this when you take the Sacrament, when you consider repentance, and when you consider your relationship with God. Christ’s hand isn’t stretched out only at the last day, but is stretched out still, meaning it is stretched out now, and he is offering to let us partake of the atonement right now, if we will accept it.


The Sacrament allows us to serve, and others to serve us. If we are passing the Sacrament, or blessing the Sacrament we are directly acting as the Savior’s representatives in offering our brothers and sisters symbols of the salvation of Christ. Consider the Sacredness of that calling, and when you do, I would encourage each of the brethren to volunteer to bless, or pass the Sacrament, and when you do, think about the service you are providing. I can almost guarantee your eyes will not be dry when you sit down again.

In our families, on our pews, in our chairs we pass the sacrament to each other. This not only represents us sharing the Atonement with others, but represents us doing missionary work. We are commanded to teach our loved ones sitting next to us, our friends a few spots down, and the stranger at the other end of the pew. When we pass the Sacrament to the next person on our bench we are offering them to partake with you, and be filled with joy with you. When we do missionary work we are offering the same thing to our friends, families, and complete strangers, hoping they will accept.

Lastly, don’t forget that the Sacrament is being served to you by the Lord’s representatives, which is in similitude of Christ serving the Atonement to you. Will you deny the gift of the Atonement? Will you casually take your piece of bread and water, and casually pass it on? Or will you partake of it, considering your covenants, and the opportunity you are being given to repent, and come unto him? Will you choose to take it casually this time, promising in your heart to be more sincere next week? Or will you stop putting off the love of God, and partake in the now, when it is right in front of you, with full purpose of heart?


These are just a few things that the Sacrament represents. There are so many more and I implore you to search them out. A quick Google search will give you a ton of ideas, but nothing will compare to what the Lord teaches you personally through the Holy Ghost.

So, when you notice symbolism, write it down, and consider what it means to you. Why did the Spirit point out this particular piece of symbolism to you today? Before long you’ll have a lengthy list of things to focus on during the Sacrament, and a personal growth chart of sorts. Teach these things to your family. If you have children, make a game of it (a reverent game). Have them write down the symbolism they noticed in the Sacrament, and have everyone share their experiences during FHE. Bare your testimony about the Sacrament during fast and testimony meeting. Do whatever it is you feel inspired to do that makes the Sacrament more meaningful to you, and your family. I can guarantee that you will grow from the experience quickly, and in ways you never thought possible. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen