Forgiving Ourselves

Forgiveness is a strange concept to many of us. It’s straightforward, yet can be very difficult at times. Forgiving others is hard enough, but often we find it impossible to forgive ourselves. Whether it’s out of insecurity or a need to receive the pity of others, we hold things over our own heads, sometimes for years and years. Forgiving ourselves, however, is a commandment.

In the Doctrine and Covenenants, the Lord commanded,

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10)

“All men” means exactly that, all men. This includes ourselves. The Lord has also said that if we are not willing to forgive, He will not forgive us. The same applies to forgiving ourselves. We are commanded to do it, and we must do it if we expect forgiveness from the Lord.

If you truly feel like you have not been forgiven, go to your Heavenly Father in prayer. Ask for forgiveness and for a confirmation of it from the Spirit. When we are forgiven, Satan does not want us to recognize it. He would rather have us feel miserable and incapable of doing good. A lot of the time, when we have done something wrong we convince ourselves that that means we cannot do any more good, that we cannot help someone. This is not true, but when Satan gets us to think that way, he hinders us from doing the good that we are capable of doing.

This is partially why refusing to forgive oneself is such a grievous thing to the Lord. We use it to excuse ourselves from the Lord’s work. We use it as an excuse to be idle, lazy, or apathetic. This is not the Lord’s way. The Lord’s way is to forgive ourselves, or others, and move on, doing good to others.

In the most recent General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles advised,

It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late.

Refusing to forgive ourselves is denying the healing power of Jesus Christ’s atonement. I echo Elder Holland’s counsel, to you and myself, to not procastinate the fellowship of the Lord’s labor. He has work for us to do, and if we are carrying unncecessary weight upon our shoulders, we need to remove it and give it to Him. Let Him take your burdens so you can work to your fullest.

The Poetic Corner: That Easter Morn

That Easter Morn

 

the bitter cup, a lonely road

this path He walked, His love to show

for us our pains upon Him laid

for us our sins He freely paid

for you and me…

Gethsemane was the place prepared to free

those who’ve won and those who’ve lost

in summer’s warmth, in winter’s frost

no matter where, no matter what

He bled so He could strengthen us

this is what i’ve seen in me

the love of Christ in Gethsemane

 

a single cross, a barren hill

His sacrifice, His hearbeat still

like Moses raised the serpent up

so Christ hung on the cross for us

raised up for you, raised up for me

He died for all on Calvary

and all who turn and look to Him

can cast away their pain and sin

and all with open eyes to see

are filled with Spirit wind to breathe

it’s what i’ve felt

it’s what i’ve seen

upon the cross on Calvary

 

a stone rolled back, an empty tomb

the risen Christ, the dead renewed

the grave, its maw a fleeting thought

for Christ the Lord has conquered death

he died for us, yet now He lives

His breath of life can breathe within

to lift our heads and take our sin

to raise us too and live again

 

i know that my Redeemer lives

the joy this brings i can’t begin

to ever think i could describe

just how this truth affects my life

my breath, my strength, the love i feel

is only here because He’s real

in Him my spirit is reborn

because He rose that Easter morn

To keep the emphasis on the poem, I’ll make this simple. I love my Savior and I know that He lives. Jesus Christ atoned for the sins and pains of all mankind. Male and female. Rich and poor. Everyone. He did so because He loves each and every one of us unconditionally. I can’t fully comprehend how that works, but I know it’s true. Jesus Christ lives, and because He rose from the dead, we will be redeemed from death as well. Because He suffered for our sins, we may repent and be forgiven. Our sins can be washed away.

The eggs and such are great. They are part of the fun, but this Easter season, reflect upon this important truth: Christ did die for us, but now He lives for us.

The Poetic Corner: Give the Burden to Me

I haven’t posted any of my poems recently. I think I’ll start trying to do that more. Here’s one I wrote recently.

Give the Burden to Me

I know you are crying
though no one sees your tears
I know you are trying
though no one thinks you care
let My love set you free
give the burden to Me
give the burden to Me

I know you are hurting
though no one sees your pain
I know you are searching
though no one sees you pray
let My strength help you breathe
give the burden to Me

’cause I love you
I died to let you live
and I know you
I live to lift you up

so quit dragging your feet
have faith for tomorrow
there’s no need
to waste life in sorrow
you can see
i’ve lifted the weight from your back
so you could stand up straight

’cause I love you
I died to let you live
and I know you
I live to lift you up

because I know your shame
they spit in My face
and though your hands may ache
Mine are engraved
so don’t you think that I don’t know your pain
I bled every pore for your sake

’cause I descended below you and all things
so I could lift you and place your pains on Me
so give the burden to Me
give the burden to Me

 

Though the world does not see and usually doesn’t care about our problems, the Savior does. Though our family and friends may not notice our problems, our Savior does. Jesus Christ understands us. From the everyday struggles to the seemingly impossible trials, He knows them all. He suffered for it all, and He wants us to give Him those burdens so we can stand up and face the world.

He didn’t die so we could sit in a dark corner and feel sorry for ourselves. He did die for us, but then He rose from the dead with a perfected and glorified body. He lives so we can do the same. He lifts and gives us strength to conquer our trials.

Christ invites us to take His yoke upon us. We must do our part and pull what weight we can, but whatever we cannot pull, He will. He will carry the rest for us. So allow Christ to strengthen you. Give the burdens to Him.

 

Walk the Walk

So my compañero and I were knocking doors the other day. After about the sixth door, someone finally answered and he let us right in. I’m always a little bit suspicious when that happens, but  he was a very nice man and started the conversation by asking us some questions about the LDS church and how LDS missions work. We answered all of his inquires, but then he shifted the discussion a little by asking us how we viewed the whole “receiving Jesus into your heart” thing.

The conversation got a little more interesting, and we started telling him about some more specific doctrines pertaining to The Church of Jesus Christ. It eventually turned to the doctrine of salvation, and what constitutes being “saved.”

He made sure we understood that many “Mormon” doctrines don’t quite fall under the “umbrella of classic Christianity.” This is something that my companion and I are very well aware of. Many things that The Church of Jesus Christ teaches don’t agree completely with the traditions of what the world now likes to call “mainstream” Christianity.

Naturally, talking about salvation, we delved into faith and works. He was all for faith, which of course is a necessary thing. We must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he told us, “Don’t hang your hat on works.” Well, duh, I know I can’t earn my way to Heaven. I don’t know if people just think we’re stupid or something, but we know very well that only through the Atonement of Christ can anyone have any hope of salvation. Without Him, and without having faith in Him, our good works are in vain, and profit us nothing… because we’d all be damned to Hell. Simple.

I quoted James and told him that “faith without works is dead.” He tried to explain that good works come as a result of our faith and… as far as I understood it, ultimately don’t even matter anyway. They’re just… good things to do. We asked him about the Ten Commandments, if it was needful to obey them in order to gain salvation. His answer was no.

A bit puzzled, I said, “You don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments? So basically you can just be a bad person?” He said yes. Well, now that was interesting, ’cause last time I checked, they were still called the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions, or the Ten Creative Ideas.

I’m sorry (no, I’m really not), but “receiving Jesus into your heart” is more than just proclaiming a belief in Him and His atoning sacrifice. If you’re going to receive Him into your heart, then you better darn well get out there and do something about it.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21)

There are the words of Cephas himself. Christ suffered for us, not so we could sit on our butts and not obey His commandments, but that so we could see His example and follow it. “Work out your own salvation”, as Paul states to the Philippians, but still maintain an understanding that salvation comes “not of works, lest any man should boast,” as he counsels the Ephesians.

Find your faith in Christ and show it, otherwise your “faith without works is dead”, as James so boldly proclaimed. You may tell your neighbor, who is in need of food and clothing, to be fed and clothed, but what’s it going to do if you don’t do anything about it? If you proclaim your faith in Christ, that’s great, but if you seriously think that’s all there is to being worthy to receive the glory of God, you’ve got something to reconsider.

God didn’t go through the trouble of creating this entire world and placing us here for eighty something years just so we could say “Lord Jesus I receive you into my heart” and automatically become “saved.” You know what? Salvation isn’t cheap. It doesn’t come from saying a few lines that some random pastor guy made up off the top of his head. Christ didn’t suffer for that.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

You believe in Christ? That’s great, so do the evil spirits that flood this earth. Does their belief in the Son of God do anything for them? No, because it’s not just about believing, it’s also about living a life that’s in harmony with what Jesus Christ taught.

So if believing that our salvation is also dependent on being a good person somehow makes me a non-Christian, then I suppose by today’s standards I’m not a Christian. But I do know that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that He lives again. And I know that only through His grace can we hope to be saved. Christ’s atonement is the bridge that has been built over the gulf of misery. Without it, our destination, no matter how good of person we were in this life, would be Hell. But with it, we can escape the captivity of the devil and enter into salvation. We must walk across that bridge, however. Standing there and saying, “That bridge has saved me!” is not going to get you over that bridge.

I know that through obedience to God’s laws and ordinances, all mankind may be saved, and that the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ is the only thing that has made that possible for us. His sacrifice has opened the door into eternal life, but He has left it up to us… to walk through it.

Let Us Keep Christmas

Let me just start off by saying MERRY CHRISTMAS! Tis the season for… well, lots of awesome stuff. Unfortunately, however, this awesome stuff can get in the way of the true reason for the season. Lights, trees, gifts, colors, red suits, stockings, egg nog, cookies, carols, more lights, more cookies. It really is a ton of fun, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying all these things that go along with our Christmas celebrations. It’s part of why I absolutely love this time of year.

However, many times we allow these wonderful things to take presidence over the Savior Himself. It is, afterall, called Christmas, a term that evolved from the phrase Christemasse (Christ’s Mass). Every church service is already dedicated to Him, but this time we put special emphasis on the meaning of His birth. Gifts and such are great, but they are nothing in comparison to the greatest gift we have ever received. It is a gift from our Father in Heaven, His Son Jesus Christ.

But let’s not go the opposite way here. Some may shun these traditions because… well… their origins are kind of… sketchy. Take the actual time of the Christmas holiday, December 25th. Christ was obviously not born on this day. With some simple deductive reasoning, we can assume the Savior was born in the springtime. The time of the traditional Christmas season has a pagan source, as does some other things surrounding it, i.e., chimneys and fire gods. But none of that really matters. What matters is what we get out of Christmas.

What matters is the spirit of Christmas, which has no preference to how close we celebrate to Jesus’ actual birthday, or how thick the Christmas tree is, or how many gifts are resting under it, or whether or not we decided to put lights on the house this year.

A famous preacher named Peter Marshall once said, “Let us not spend Christmas … but let us keep Christmas in our hearts and in our lives.”

This Christmas season, I invite you, the reader, as well as myself, to follow the counsel of the Savior Jesus Christ and lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where, unlike the gifts under the tree, moth and rust do not corrupt, and thieves cannot steal.

Let us worship our Savior. Let us remember Him always, but especially now. Like I said before, the gifts we receive from our friends and family are nice, but the greatest gift we have and will ever receive came from our Father in Heaven, the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. The Savior’s atonement will always be the best present. This is a gift that we can enjoy each and every day. It will never grow old or fade away. This Christmas, let’s celebrate Christ. After all, ’tis the season.

Take You Back

The reason why I stand
The answer lies in You
You hung to make me strong
Though my praise was few
When I fall I bring Your name down
But I have found in You
A heart that bleeds forgiveness
replacing all these thoughts of painful memories
But I know that Your response will always be

I’ll take you back always
Even when your fight is over now
I’ll take you back always
Even when the pain is coming through
I’ll take you back

Take You Back ~ Jeremy Camp

We are imperfect beings sent to live on an imperfect world. We live, make mistakes, and grow from those experiences. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. In fact, He expects us to make mistakes. Of course that’s not saying He condones our failures, but He knows we will always fall short. It’s inevitable.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

But this doesn’t excuse us from not trying our hardest.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

We are told to be perfect, as God is perfect. An impossibility, yes. But God is no dummy. We must strive for perfection. Ahhh, now that sounds a little bit easier, right? Well, maybe not, but at least it makes more sense.

To be completely honest, however, I’m absolutely terrible at this whole ‘striving for perfection’ thing. Even more candidly, I often feel like a failure. But such thoughts do not come from the Big Man Upstairs. More specifically, the source of that negativity is the small man in the basement, Satan himself. He wants us to feel as though we cannot return to the straight and narrow path. It’s too late to turn back around. It’s too far to walk back. Its no use, you’ll just miss it and stray from the path again. Perhaps Satan’s most deceitful lie is the idea that Jesus doesn’t want us back. But who did Jesus spend the majority of His ministry chillin’ out with? The publicans and sinners!

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mark 2:17)

Satan would have us believe that Jesus will not take us back, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Jesus will always take us back, so long as we repent and have faith in Him. Jesus said to take His yoke upon us and we will find rest. Allow Him to carry your burdens. He suffered and died for us. He took our sins upon Himself. He wants us to turn to Him and place our troubles upon His shoulders. So let’s allow Him to do us. Let’s use the atonement of Christ. Let’s repent and follow Him. He will always take us back.

Applying the Blood

Faith and works is a big topic of debate among many Christians. I’ve discussed it with many people in and out of the LDS church and I’ve thought about it a lot within my own mind. As missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people will sometimes seek us out and single out a particular point of Mormon doctrine to hammer on. Faith and works is a favorite among some.

“You guys think you can earn your way to Heaven,” many have told me. I emphatically respond with, “No, that’s not true.” But the point never comes off very clearly as they explain to me and my companion that grace is a gift from Christ, and therefore faith is the only thing required to enter into God’s kingdom. This Biblical analogy of the Atonement as a gift has made me think a lot about how to properly explain the Latter-day Saint viewpoint of faith, works, and the grace of Jesus Christ. Here’s where I’ll start…

A gift must be received. No one gives a gift forcefully, otherwise it is no longer a gift. Likewise, Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, giving us the gift of the Atonement. With outstretched hands, His grace is within our grasp. He will not force it upon us, but we must reach out to Him and take the gift. It is not enough to see the gift in His hands and say, “Hey thanks, Jesus! I can see that that gift can bring me salvation.” Such is faith, dead without works, recognizing that only through Christ can we be saved but doing nothing about it. Here is the reaching out…

We read in Exodus 12:23-24, And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

This is known as the Passover. The Lord sent the destroying angel to kill all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. The children of Israel, however, were instructed to take the blood of a lamb and strike it on the posts of their doors. This would cause the destroying angel to pass by them and spare the firstborn.

In the most recent General Conference, W. Christopher Waddell, of the Seventy, said,

“The blood used by the Israelites, symbolic of the Savior’s future Atonement, was a product of the sacrifice they had offered. Nevertheless, the sacrifice and the blood alone would not have been sufficient to obtain the promised blessing. Without the application of the blood to the door posts, the sacrifice would have been in vain.

As he states, it was the application of the blood that saved them. The blood itself, without applying it in the way instructed by the Lord, would have left the firstborn dead. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, by itself, cannot save us. We must apply His atonement in our lives, which requires both faith and works.

So… no, we can’t work our way to Heaven, and a belief in Christ without applying His atoning sacrifice in our lives will not save us either. We must believe and do.

Articles of Faith III: Atonement and the Gospel

Now that we got a couple of basic things out of the way, let’s get into something deeper. The third statement of belief is as follows,

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

This reaffirms the fact that we are indeed a Christian religion. We firmly believe that it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that salvation is made possible. The word may is important. We do not believe everyone is automatically saved. Rather, we believe the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 2:12 when he says to “work out your own salvation.”

Faith and works are both necessary. As James said, faith without works is dead. And of course, works without faith is empty, shallow, and unfulfillable. Hence the last part of the statement, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Salvation is not cheap. It requires effort and diligence. Christ said Himself that “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Obviously, there are some requirements in this life that need to be accomplished. Baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost (“and of the Spirit”) are just a couple.

So what if someone lives and dies without receiving the necessary ordinances such as baptism? Are they damned to Hell? Definitely not. How fair would that be? It wouldn’t be fair at all! These ordinances are still required though, and everyone, whether in this life or the next, will have the opportunity to receive them by their own free will.

Now don’t misunderstand. In no way do Mormons believe they can work their way into Heaven. I can knock doors all day long, but it won’t do anything if I’m not doing it for the right reasons. Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation for our works. If we work without faith, we work in vain, but our faith is only shown through our works. We do as much as we can, and Jesus makes up the difference. This is what grace is.

 

Burdens… Braces… Bacon.

Getting braces is not fun. Of course, they’re good for you in the long run, but having them can be a nightmare for a lot of kids… and adults. From the first day you get them on, they’re a nuisance. My teeth hurt so bad that first day I couldn’t eat my bacon at dinner (my dad took the liberty of eating it for me).

Sure, you may get used to having them after a while, but you never forget about them. They’re always there, feeling uncomfortable, cutting up your lip… whatever else. I was a bit self-conscious when I had mine; I definitely don’t recall smiling too often.

So all in all, braces aren’t a pleasant experience. They’re restrictive, uncomfortable, and definitely not the prettiest thing to look at. If  you had them, and you’re anything like me, your confidence level probably took a bit of a hit. But when that day comes that they finally come off… holy cow. It was an awesome feeling! I felt like I was on top of the world… at least for the next couple days.

Sin is a lot like this; it restricts us and makes us uncomfortable. The guilt can make us self-conscious and our confidence can be shot. The initial sin can often feel painful. Over time we may become accustomed to carrying this burden, but the burden is never eased, and we long for the day when the burden can be eased.

Getting the braces off is repentance. Confessing our sins before God, coming unto Christ to be healed by His atonement, and forsaking our sins removes this burden. And the feeling is awesome! We feel like a new person when that load is removed from us. This is the joy that comes from repentance. This is the joy that comes when we turn to Jesus Christ and let His atonement work within us.

And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

(Alma 36:17-20)

The Brass Serpent

The children of Israel were a pretty moody bunch. Most of the time they just complained against Moses and against the Lord. Despite the fact that they were freed from the Egyptians, no longer forced to be slaves, they still found things to be unhappy about. Food was a big one. The Lord provided plenty of manna, but apparently bread falling the sky didn’t cut it for ’em.

The Lord didn’t exactly appreciate all the complaints. He had made them a free people and was giving them free bread to sustain them. How could they possibly sit around and whine? So, the Lord sent fiery serpents to bite them. As a kid, I always hoped that was a reference to dragons, but it was probably just a bunch of snakes. So a lot of the Israelites died from poison. The ones that lived thought it might be a good idea to go to Moses and see if he could work something out between them and the Lord.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Numbers 21:8-9)

So the Lord tells Moses to make a brass snake and set it on a pole. The Israelites that were suffering from the poison would be healed if they would only look upon the snake. Such a simple thing! Just as the snake was lifted up for all to see, so was Jesus Christ lifted up. All that look upon Him can be healed.

Some of the Israelites, because of stubborn pride, and perhaps because the task seemed too simple, didn’t look and were not healed. In this way, we can sometimes shirk the mercies of Christ and His healing power. Our pride might take hold of us and we refuse to look to Him. This is a mistake, and can only lead to us perishing.

When it comes down to it though, it really is this simple. If we want to be healed of our afflictions, we just need to look to the Savior Jesus Christ. Follow His example and be obedient to His gospel and God’s commandments. If we do so, we can be recipients of His love and healing power.

Hollow vs. Hallow

Life isn’t always clear. Walking uncertain paths is a common metaphor to describe the hardships of life, and many times we find ourselves on these uncertain paths, unhappy and unsure. If we allow them to, the feelings of emptiness can tear us from the inside out and leave us hollow inside.

A Hollow is a creature in a Japanese cartoon show called BLEACH. In this show, a group of spirits called shinigami, or Soul Reapers, assist in the flow of spirits departing this life and entering the next. Sometimes a spirit is lost and unhappy. They refuse to cooperate and instead remain in their misery until it consumes them. When this happens, they turn into a monster called a Hollow. When a Hollow appears, the Soul Reapers are called in to destroy it and free the spirit so it can continue on.

There are monsters in our own lives. Sin and Hell are monsters. When we sin and refuse to repent, we can be a monster to ourselves, harrowed up in misery and guilt. In our anger we may forget or not know where to turn or who to turn to.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi’s brother, Jacob, talks about a monster that awaits us and the One who can save us from it,

O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. (2 Nephi 9:19, 21)

Just as the Soul Reapers save the Hollows from their misery, our Savior Jesus Christ can deliver us from the chains of Hell. Through His atonement, He suffered the pains of us all. He took the pain of our sins so that we may repent and not take the pain ourselves. Jesus Christ is One who can save us from the awful monster of death and Hell. If you feel yourself becoming a Hollow, angry, confused, or depressed, turn to Jesus Christ. We all must repent and turn to Him and use His atoning sacrifice. Only through Him can we be saved from sin and Hell.

He is Risen

As Easter soon approaches, we remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While Christmas is a time more focused upon His birth, Easter brings attention to His Atonement and Resurrection. In the Book of Mormon we read,

And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceiveby the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:10-12)

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed to the Father and, in a manner incomprehensible to man, took upon Himself the sins of the world. Every pain and sorrow, every sin, and every affliction of every kind was heaped upon His shoulders. The pain was so great that He bled from every pore.

He was soon betrayed and brought before Pilate and others. Though Pilate found no fault in Him, the people cried out, “Crucify him!” He was stripped of His clothing, whipped, humuliated with a crown of thorns and mockery, and made to carry His own cross until His mortal body would no longer allow it. After the scourging, He was crucified on Golgotha. The One sent to redeem the world was betrayed and killed by His own people.

But then, Sunday morning came…

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. (Matthew 28:1-8)

The Lord Jesus Christ had risen and broken the bands of death. I bear testimony that Jesus Christ lives, and that He will forever live as our King. Yes, He died for us. But more importantly, death could not contain Him. He lives for us. Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, lives.

The Poetic Corner: Descend and Comprehend

I was searching through some of my old poems this morning and came across this one. I wrote it last March. It’s not terribly clever, but I like a couple of the rhymes. 🙂

Of My Own Design

tension strains, wings beat

but my feet won’t pull free

of the weeds.

 

when i break

You take me in

hold me tight, tell me it’s alright

despite my sin.

 

when i lose my way

You call my name

too many times i ignore Your voice

a selfish choice, pride i should swallow

but the echoes remain for me to follow.

 

i’ve tended only so much

and spent too much time at rest

does this labor speak

for the burning in my chest?

 

when I fall on my face

You hold out Your hand

bring me up to my knees

so i can prepare to stand again

 

The message I wanted to get across is obvious. Jesus Christ is and will always be there for us. In revelation given by the Lord through the prophet Joseph Smith, we read in Doctrine and Covenants Section 88 verse 6,

He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth

Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ descended below all things. He felt all pain, all sin, and all sorrow that accompanies them. He comprehends all things. For myself, this has made all the difference in my life, knowing my Savior has understood my heartaches every step of the way. He understands yours as well, and His hand is always outstretched to pull us back up when we fall.

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Growing up, I never sang the hymns during church services. One reason was because I just didn’t like to sing. The other was simply to be rebellious. After I graduated high school, I decided to attend an LDS congregation for young, single adults. Sitting with my friends or by myself, I decided I should probably start participating in the hymns. And as a missionary, I’m always singing them.

Through these steps I’ve been able to gain a great appreciation for hymns, both the words and music, and I’d like to share my favorite hymn with you…

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

by Samuel Medley

I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living Head.
He lives to bless me with His love.
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed.
He lives to bless in time of need.
 
He lives to grant me rich supply.
He lives to guide me with his eye.
He lives to comfort me when faint.
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm my troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.
 
He lives, my kind, wise heavenly Friend.
He lives and loves me to the end.
He lives, and while He lives I’ll sing.
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath.
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare.
He lives to bring me safely there.
He lives! All glory to His name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives.”
He lives! All glory to His name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same.
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”
 
It pretty much sums up everything I can possibly say about the Savior. He is the center of my life. He is and does everything for me. As we begin this Easter season, let us reflect on the role Christ plays in our everyday lives. He did indeed die for us, but perhaps more importantly, He was resurrected on the third day. Jesus Christ is my Redeemer, and I too know that my Redeemer lives.

We Had A Hard Time

I’m going to be a little lazy today and just post a video. 🙂 It’s a good one though. If you’re unfamiliar with these videos, I strongly encourage you to visit the MormonMessages channel on youtube and watch some of the videos. This is one of my favorites.

Just as Elder Cook says, this life isn’t always easy. More often than not, it’s pretty difficult. But it’s supposed to be. It’s a test after all, so why should it be a free ride? This is why we have the Savior Jesus Christ. In every situation, He suffered the greater burden. Our sins, sorrows, and pains have been placed on His shoulders. All He asks is that we do our best to carry what we can, and He’ll carry the rest.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. I’m grateful to know that through Him my burdens can be made light. I’m grateful to know that through every trial I face, there is One who understands the feeling completely.

I know that I can do a better job of putting the Savior first in my life. I invite you to do the same. Take His yoke upon you, learn of Him, and share His love with others. We will find peace. We will find comfort. We will find rest.