Temptation and Turkish Delight

InThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund manages to stumble into Narnia by himself after Lucy had previously done so. Upon entering the wintery world, the White Witch finds him. She knew very well who Edmund was. She knew he was a Son of Adam, as the human race is known by in Narnia. She also knew that he was part one of the four rulers prophecied to destroy her and restore Narnia back to its original state. Unfortunately, Edmund did not know who she was. She beguiled him and gained his trust through satisfying his physical appetite for food. For the sake of turkish delight, Edmund allied himself with her.

When all four children came to Narnia, Edmund was a hinderance to their cause and instead aided the White Witch, once again to satisfy his sweet tooth. The “friendship” he shared with the witch quickly turned sour as her true motives became more evident. Edmund soon found himself a prisoner, his agency taken away, and perhaps worst of all… no turkish delight.

As Isaiah wrote, “for your iniquities ye have sold yourselves.” How often do we sell ourselves for things that do not matter? How often do we indulge our physical appetities, whether hunger, lust, or otherwise, while spiritually we starve? I’m certainly not perfect, and I can easily admit that I’ve forfeited a lot of blessings from the Lord that I would’ve received had I cared more about what was most important eternally, instead of what I had wanted in the moment. Edmund made the same mistake and chose a temporary satisfaction, even though he knew that there was going to be consequences later.

By giving in to temptation, he slowly gave up his agency until he was literally bound as a prisoner, his freedom granted only when he was rescued and Aslan stepped in to sacrifice himself on his behalf. In the same way, the devil desires to enslave us. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi tells us of some ways in which Satan tries to trick us,

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:21-22)

Let’s not make the same mistake as Edmund. In the end, everything was made right and he was crowned as a ruler over Narnia, yet it came through hardship. He suffered sorrow, enslavement, and then remorse when he was finally freed from the witch’s control. Satan desires to enslave us as well, but if we say no to his temptations we won’t fall into his grasp. We each have individual weaknesses. Edmund’s was turkish delight. So what’s your turkish delight? And are you willing to lay aside the things you want right now for the things that will matter eternally?

The Poetic Corner: Forward Or Back

Forward or Back

another misadventure

another portion of your history gone wrong

you just wanna tear out the page

but the ink has stained too long

you think it’s sunk too deep

a second chance is long gone

so instead of forward

you turn back

no longer working on things you lack

your faith, your hope, your charity

you shun the things that set you free

and try to find the answers in

the lack of light and your favorite sins

the habits you have yet to break

the thoughts you hate and the words you say

they make a slave of you each day

but the key, you see, is not to look back

it’s to keep pressing on

finding faith in the Lord, not in the world

and before long you’ll find a change is in place

the things of your mind

and the pace of your heart

will begin to take part in the plan God has set

to make you like Him and erase your regrets

to put off the slave who causes you shame

to set yourself free

and take the name of Christ upon you

a new way to live

a beacon for truth

spreading the love of God to all

and it all begins on the point you now stand

move forward onto the rock of Christ

or back into the sand

Agency is something that we all possess. We are agents unto ourselves, meaning that we can choose how to set the course of our lives. God has given us this free will so we can be properly tested. He will not force us to choose good, but instead we must actively pursue Him and seek Him out.

We’re all guilty of the person described in the poem. At one point or another, or on multiple points, we have turned back to sin during hard times for a temporary “comfort.” Of course, there really is no comfort in sin. We convince ourselves that we need it and make exemptions through anger, sadness, loneliness, hunger, tiredness, etc. In consequence, we put a stop to our spiritual progression. We put spiritual chains upon ourselves and make ourselves into slaves. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is often referred to as the “natural” or “carnal” man.

King Benjamin, in the Book of Mormon, talked about the natural man and the agency of man. He said,

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

The natural man, or the inclination within us to disobey God, is an enemy to God. To solve this, we must “put off” the natural man. Shun him. Shed him from us as a snake sheds its old skin.Howis this done? Number one, through the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ, and two, by “yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.” Instead of following the instinct to do evil, we must listen to our conscience, the secular world’s term for the Light of Christ within us.

It’s a small, subtle influence, but a very powerful influence as well. We can feel it when we go to church, when we open up and read the word of God, when we do service for others, etc.Thatfeeling is what we must seek for and, as King Benjamin reminds us, we must rely on Christ. Only through Him and His power can we change ourselves. Not just our behavior, but our hearts and our minds. We must become, as he says, like a child. He even lists some attributes for us to help us understand when we are beginning to change.

I know that through Christ and by submitting ourselves to the influence of the Holy Spirit, we can change. We can root out the natural man and become a saint, a true example of a disciple of Christ. When hard times come, don’t turn back to bad habits. Don’t look for comfort in sin, or comfort from the world. Seek the comfort that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can give you the strength to overcome all things and move forward, not back.

Hypocrites!? Yes, we are.

I’ve heard a lot of different excuses for not coming to church. Some are better than others. Some are lengthy, others to the point. Some are humorous and creative, others are cliche and unimaginative. There’s one thing, however, that they all have in common. They’re excuses, not reasons. One that I’ve heard quite a few times is “everyone there is just a hypocrite!”

To a degree that is true. Hypocrites attend church. But church is not for perfect people. To those people, I usually wantto respond with something like, “Yeah, I know. So what? At least they go to church. You really think you’re any better than them? You’re not. You’re just as much of a hypocrite as them by bringing that up. Get the beam out of your own eye before you start pointing out the motes in the theirs!”

That’s not the best way to respond of course, so I keep those thoughts to myself. But it’s true. As King Benjamin says in the Book of Mormon, “are we not all beggars?” We all depend upon the same God to provide for us, whether it be food, clothing, shelter, etc. We are all on equal ground. Yes, there are hypocrites in the chapel Sunday morning, but if we’re using them as an excuse to not attend Sunday services, are we really any better than they are?

Eternal life is too precious a gift to let it depend, unncecessarily, upon the actions of others. Our Father in Heaven will not excuse our sins of ommission (things we should do that we don’t do) because the guy sitting two pews behind was a jerk.

James, in the New Testament warned us,

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned. (James 5:9)

The Savior also warned,

 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Before we point the finger at others, we must first examine ourselves. I speak also to myself, ’cause I’m certainly not perfect at this. But I do know that this is true. We are all sinners. We may sin differently, but we’re all sinners nonetheless. So don’t bother yourself with what so-and-so did or what what’s-her-face said to you. You can hold it against them all you want, but tearing down others doesn’t elevate yourself to any degree. You’re only jumping aboard their sinking ship.

So if you aren’t going to church because you think they’re all hypocrites, take a step back and see that we are all hypocrities. We must look at ourselves and do what we know to be right.

The Poetic Corner: The Altar

The Altar

 

let me down without a sound
i’ve been wreckless but i finally figured out
Your love can save me
can i still make up for how
i let my faith in You go south?
tell me what You see buried inside me
and i’ll give my heart to You

You brought me to the altar
my life in Your hands
it is tried and broken
erase the memories of
the light i’ve stolen
i am tried and broken

this is how i will shout
i’ve been hopeless but i finally see it now
Your light can wake me
is this why the world around
is fighting back to keep me bound?
help me to be free
from what has tied me
so i can be like You

You brought me to the altar
my life in Your hands
it is tried and broken
erase the memories of
the light i’ve stolen
i am tried and broken

take my life and make me something great
here at the altar i awake
forgive my past with its mistakes
here at the altar i awake

 

In the Mosaic law, the Jews offered animal sacrifices for sin and other things. Such was their commandment from the Lord. But Christ came to fulfill the Mosaic law, giving us a higher law to obey. Animal sacrifices were done away with. Instead, we must offer up something that goes much deeper than rams or turtle doves.

When the Savior Jesus Christ visited the inhabitants of the Americas after His resurrection, He said to them,

And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost… (3 Nephi 9:19-20)

Christ has told us to offer Him a broken heart and a contrite (sorrowful) spirit. Our “altar” of sacrifice is no longer a literal, physical structure but a spiritual manifestation of our willingness to give our lives to Christ. We all are stained with sin, and it can only be removed by approaching our individual “altars” and offering up our broken hearts and contrite spirits. This is not all, though. If our hearts truly are broken, and our spirits truly contrite, we will repent and forsake our sins. We will desire to be like Jesus Christ and change our wills to be in line with His.

This change involves the simple steps of having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of our sins, being baptized by someone holding His authority, and then, by that same authority, we must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, as did the disciples in the New Testament and Book of Mormon. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Behold, ye have the commandments before you, and the law is fulfilled. (3 Nephi 12:19)

 

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.

Articles of Faith II: Agency

The second statement of belief Joseph Smith wrote to John Wentworth is as follows,

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

This deals with the idea of original sin, something that Latter-day Saints do not believe in. Mankind is born innocent, and later learns how to sin and develop corrupt behavior. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, children who die before they are of age are saved. They have no sin, and therefore they are alive in Christ.

The Savior taught,

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:24)

Every man and woman will be held accountable for their own actions. The choice that Adam and Eve made is not upon our heads. (For more info on the Fall of Adam and Eve, check out my blog post here.)

We are agents unto ourselves. Our free agency is the greatest gift from God that we have right now. The Book of Mormon teaches,

Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. (2 Nephi 10:23)

Whether we choose good or evil, it is our choice and only our choice. No one can or will make it for us.

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)

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.

Coming Off the Mountain

The Book of Mormon is overflowing with stories we can relate to and learn from. One I’d like to share is the story of Amalickiah (Uh-mal-i-kye-uh) and Lehonti (Leh-hone-tie). Amalickiah was an evil, blood-thirsty, power-hungry man. All he wanted to do was become king of first the Lamanites and then the Nephites, so that he could bring everyone into bondage and under his control. He accomplished half of his designs; he did take the throne of the Lamanite king. He had to do a few things though, before he could accomplish that goal.

The first thing he had to do was take control of Lehonti’s army. Lehonti and his men were Lamanites, and they didn’t want to go up to battle against the Nephites. So they went up to a mountain and refused to fight. Well, the Lamanite king gave Amalickiah an army and commanded him to battle Lehonti. But Amalickiah had other plans. In Alma chapter 47 verse 10 it reads,

And it came to pass that when it was night he sent a secret embassy into the mount Antipas, desiring that the leader of those who were upon the mount, whose name was Lehonti, that he should come down to the foot of the mount, for he desired to speak with him.

The embassy went up three times, and each time Lehonti refused to come down to the foot of the mountain. They were fixed with a determineded resolution that they would not be made to fight against the Nephites. Amalickiah wouldn’t give up though. Since being straightforward didn’t work, he decided to try something a bit sneakier. In verse 12 it reads,

And it came to pass that when Amalickiah found that he could not get Lehonti to come down off from the mount, he went up into the mount, nearly to Lehonti’s camp; and he sent again the fourth time his message unto Lehonti, desiring that he would come down, and that he would bring his guards with him.

Lehonti decides to go along with it and comes just a little ways down the mountain. Amalickiah tells Lehonti to surround his men during the night, and that when they wake up in the morning, he (Amalickiah) would surrender his army to Lehonti, on the condition that Amalickiah would be made second-in-command.

Lehonti agrees and surrounds Amalickiah’s army at night. When they wake up they become afraid and decide to join with Lehonti’s band. So… how does one become leader if he’s second-in-command? Easy. He kills the leader. Verses 17 to 19 read,

Now it was the custom among the Lamanites, if their chief leader was killed, to appoint the second leader to be their chief leader.

And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died.

Now, when Lehonti was dead, the Lamanites appointed Amalickiah to be their leader and their chief commander.

Amalickiah had cleverly played out his entire scheme, and it worked. So what are we to learn from this story? For us, Amalickiah is Satan. We are Lehonti. Satan wants us to come off our mountain. He doesn’t want us to stand in high places, places of spiritual security. He tempts us, sometimes in obvious ways. Sometimes he tells us to come directly off of the mountain. This usually doesn’t work. When something is obviously wrong, it’s easy to just say no.

That’s when Satan gets tricky. He tells us to only come down part way, and bring our guards. When Satan can’t get us with obvious things, he tries to bring us down in small, subtle ways.

Just a litte bit, it won’t hurt. Just this once, it’s no big deal. You can stop anytime. No one will know.

These are all things that Satan tries to put into our heads. He’s clever, and sometimes we’re tricked, as Lehonti was. Lehonti fell for the trap because he let his greed get the best of him. We often do the same thing, allowing our physical appetitites to distract us from the gentle cautions of the Holy Spirit. Lehonti’s decision cost him his life, and it was in degrees. Our own decisions to give in to Satan’s traps can lead us to spiritual death, and it is often in degrees as well.

May we learn from this lesson. Be watchful and aware. Satan is always tempting us, trying to get us to come off the mountain. We must ignore him and instead listen to the voice of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ. When we build our foundation on Jesus Christ, listen to the Holy Ghost, and pray continually to our Father in Heaven for strength, we cannot fail.

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.

Tennis ball ice-cream.

One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy. The plot line of… pretty much every episode… consisted of the trio coming up with some sort of scam or gimmick to trick the neighborhood kids out of their quarters, which would buy them jawbreakers down at the candy store in town. Eddy was always the mastermind behind each scam, and Ed and Double-D (Edd) were simply present to help carry out the scam.

Unfortunately, the scams always failed. On the very rare occasions when they didn’t, something would eventually happen and the Eds would lose their quarters, often in a publicly embarrassing way.

One of my favorites of Eddy’s scams was a simple one, shown in the beginning of an episode. The trio placed a cardboard ice cream truck in the middle of the cul de sac. While Eddy rang a bell and yelled “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!”, Double-D made cones from paper and tape and Ed made the “ice cream” by dipping tennis balls into paint and then glueing them onto the cones. In this particular episode, they discover the neighborhood kids are gone and therefore the scam fails by default.

I’ll make two analogies with this scenario.

In the first one, we are Eddy. We have a goal in mind and we want to achieve it. In Eddy’s case, he wants quarters so he can go buy jawbreakers bigger than his head. In our case, it can be anything. Work, school, sports achievements, spiritual goals, relationship goals, etc.

We may not always want to put in the real effort. Instead, sometimes we choose to fake the effort. Eddy didn’t want to go buy real ice cream and real cones. Instead, he supposed he could jip the kids out their money with something fake, dishonest, and cheap. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked. Had one of the kids bought some ice cream, they would quickly have discovered what was really going on and demanded their money back. If we want to achieve our goals, we must put forth the honest, hard-working effort.

In the second analogy, Eddy is Satan (and Ed and Double-D are Satan’s angels). He puts forth something that looks appealing but isn’t at all what it seems. We’ll stick with the scam for simplicity sake. Satan gets our attention yelling, “Ice cream! Only 25 cents!” He shows us something that appeals to us, that gives us some kind of gratification, and it’s cheap, only a quarter. Seems like a good deal, right? Often we fall for the trap. We take the ice cream and bite into it, but it’s nothing more than a tennis ball covered in paint. Certainly not as tasty as it looked, and certainly not good for us in any way, and we lost a quarter in the process.

This is how Satan works. With him, everything is a scam. He does all he can to make it look appealing so that he can trick us into giving up our money, our integrity, our virtue, our chastity, our friends’ and family’s trust, etc.

In either case, whether we are Eddy or Eddy is the one trying to sell us something, we must endure, be obedient to God’s commandments, and put our faith in Jesus Christ. I know that if we do these things we can find success in any situation.

Our Father’s Deepest Love

Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ took upon Himself every affliction the world has to offer. Whether it be the spiritual pain of sin, the physical pain of an injury, or the emotional pain of an aching heart, He has felt it all. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma explains the purpose of this in Alma 7:12,

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.

Succor simply means to support or to help. In this verse, Alma explains that Christ took (living before Christ’s mortal ministry, Alma speaks in future tense) upon Himself every pain and sickness so that He knows exactly how it feels, so that He knows exactly how to comfort us when we come upon those obstacles in our own lives.

Once Christ was lifted upon the Christ, He had endured everything, except one thing: complete loneliness. In order for the Atonement to be complete, Jesus Christ had to suffer the entire realm of afflictions. And so we read in Mark 15:34,

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Through all the hate and scourges, God had still been with Jesus. But now, hanging there on the cross, Christ felt His Father’s presence leave Him. Perhaps Jesus did not know that such a thing would happen, or perhaps He understood completely and still could not help but ask His Father, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”

There is no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father was pained and grieved beyond comprehension at even the thought of having to leave His Only Begotten Son. It would not surprise me if our Father in Heaven hid himself in the deepest corner of the universe, so great was His anguish. But He knew that it had to be done. In order for the Atonement to be complete, Jesus had to experience the entire spectrum of sin and pain, which included knowing what it felt like to be completely alone, without even God at His side.

I know that this was done out of love. It was perhaps the hardest thing God has ever had to do, but He did it because He knew that it was the only way for His plan to succeed. I am grateful that my Heavenly Father let Jesus be, allowing Him to be able to succor you and me in our own afflictions no matter what they are.

 

Erasers and Jesus Christ

If you’re an artist that’s into drawing, you know what a kneaded eraser is. They’re a lot of fun and can help make some really cool art if you know how to use them. Personally, I’m more into inking, so I honestly can’t say that I’ve mastered the use of these erasers, but they’re still fun. Kneaded erasers are unique in that they are self-cleaning. When it gets dirtied up with graphite, all you have to do to clean it is stretch it and pull it apart, then knead it back together. In my art classes I probably used them more for making fun little sculptures than actual erasers.

Now, what does this have to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Good question, and the answer is easy. The fact is, we’re all a bunch of kneaded erasers. We come into this life brand new. As a baby, we’re pure, innocent, undefiled, just waiting to be molded into something. As we take our journey through life, we get dirtied up. Sins and other mistakes start to darken our once bright countenance.

We can never once again be perfect, at least in this life, but we can certainly clean ourselves up. Just like the eraser can clean itself, we have been given the power and agency to choose to repent of our sins. Jesus Christ and His Atonement are the hands that can knead us, cleansing us from our sin. It’s often not an easy process, and it’s not in an instant. We’ll need to stretch ourselves. Sometimes we may even become torn. Torn between choices, torn away from desires, friends, or family. Torn within ourselves. But Jesus Christ always puts us back together, and we come out clean once again.

Just like the eraser, we will inevitably become soiled and darkened again. But repentance through Christ’s Atonement is always available for us to become clean again as well. I know this to be true. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ can clean us of all sin and heal us of all damage from them.