Monday, July 14, 2014

The Redemption of the Dead: Part of God's Perfect Plan

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 138
Received by the prophet Joseph F. Smith, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on October 3, 1918

57 I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.
 58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
 59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.
 60 Thus was the vision of the redemption of the dead revealed to me, and I bear record, and I know that this record is true, through the blessing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even so. Amen.

Teachings from this vision and some things they imply:

1.  Prophets can see into the spirit world and tell us what goes on there; reveal things that are otherwise hidden to us.  How wonderful it is to have prophets in these latter days!

2.  The spirits of the dead have access to repentance.  The effects of sin are not permanent for those who choose to accept Christ and repent.

3.  Temple ordinances are a requirement for those who wish to repent.  Which is why we do temple work. If they have already performed those ordinances during their mortal life (and are not in a state of rebellion against God, I'm assuming), they have access to repentance.

4.  They have to pay a penalty of some kind; perhaps experience grief or sorrow for what they did, perhaps do some sort of service for others to right wrongs or to just act like Christ, be obedient to his commandments.

5.  People who die with unresolved sin, but repent, are washed clean!  The guilt is gone!

6.  After they have repented, they receive a reward!  Most likely: happiness, joy, the presence of God our loving Heavenly Father, joining the missionary ranks, becoming more like Christ!

7.  Salvation is fully available!  True and complete repentance makes it as though the person had never committed the sin.  There is no lasting stain.  There is no lasting memory of guilt.  They are on equal ground with everyone else who has repented and qualified for salvation, including Jesus Christ, himself.

Christ the Consoler, Carl Bloch

It is amazing, wonderful, incredible, fantastic, and joyous!  This is what Jesus died for.  This is what he submitted for in the Garden of Gethsemane, what he submitted for when he was spit on and whipped, what he submitted for when he was nailed to pieces of wood and lifted up for all to see.  This is what he allowed his spirit to leave his body for, and then commanded it to return for on the third day.

The plan of salvation is so complete that there are no loop-holes, no flaws, no misses, no mistakes, no one overlooked.  It can work perfectly for anyone who submits, just as the Savior did.  Submission to the plan of God is not weakness, but ultimate power because it infuses us with God's power, which is the only power that Satan cannot compare with or stand up to.  We can crush him through our obedience to God's perfect and beautiful plan.  We are mightiest when we are meekest before God.
I have no fear for the future; everything will be made right.  Christ succors his people in their time of need because he bought that role with his own suffering.  He earned it with his blood.  He knows pain. Intimately.  He knows healing.  Perfectly.  He is the author and finisher of our faith.

I know this because I have grieved and because I have been healed. I don't regret or begrudge the grief.  I absolutely love the healing!  And I love Jesus Christ for healing my soul.  Peace be to yours.

Love,
Michelle

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Please Stay

Gina Ashby
Colorado, USA
To those who are mourning over the excommunication of Kate Kelly, more specifically those who hoped the Church would grant priesthood ordination to women through her efforts, my heart has been deeply saddened and troubled. I feel strongly to say: PLEASE STAY! Please stay with us! My heart goes out to you. I love you dearly! We went to college together, served a mission together, you are my friends, my family. You will forever be my sisters in Christ.

Please stay! Although your hearts are troubled, I plead for you to look at the big picture, the eternal scope of things. You are so needed in building up the kingdom of God, preparing the world for the coming of our Savior. There is no other place that teaches the Plan of Salvation, that has restored priesthood keys, confers the Gift of the Holy Ghost, or that looks to Jesus Christ as the literal head of the Church. There is no other place that will keep your family members as safe, or that teaches more passionately to stay morally clean, to keep the Word of Wisdom, to live the Law of Chastity, to know and love God by knowing and keeping the commandments. There is no other place with power to seal families into the eternities, or prepare us more fully to stand before God after this life is over.

Leaving this Church would rob you and your loved ones of the safety and security only the fullness of the Gospel can bring. Please stay!

As you supported OW, you felt sisterhood, unity, and bonding over a common cause. The Lord knows your desires. His prophet knows your desires. You’ve opened your hearts, shared your wounds, you’ve nurtured one another, strengthened, uplifted, inspired, and rallied around each other. You’ve felt companionship, friendship, and loyalty. You have shared your voice, felt needed, valued, and understood. In gathering, you have enjoyed the rewards of leading, inspiring, edifying, discussing, and problem-solving. You have been aware of the needs of others. You have used talents, taken courage, and stretched yourselves. The reality is: All those things can be found when similarly united in the efforts of the Relief Society. Can we, as sisters, unite together in the cause of doing good and building up the kingdom of God in the way the Lord has established?

Dive into Relief Society with equal passion! Use your strengths, talents, gifts, and skills to bless the lives of people in your ward and community—men, women, & children. Put your passion into the organization that was created and patterned after the ancient institution “to help prepare daughters of God for the blessings of eternal life.” The Relief Society has been restored modernly for women to use their glorious qualities to grow and flourish in the way best suited for women.

Study the recently published and inspired book, Daughters in My Kingdom, and be reminded how valued the women of the Church are and have always been. “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus Christ.” The Relief Society is the same women’s organization that existed in the church anciently and is “divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and of men.” It truly is bigger and more wonderful than we may realize.

If you are hurting, doubting, or struggling, look to the many generations before you who faced things that were hard for them and caused them to question or wonder if it was worth it. Staying the course and choosing faith always brings the greatest blessings. It will for you, too. Feelings are tender now. Don’t be rash in the moment of lamentation. Let the gospel heal you and draw you closer to the Savior. Put your energy into building faith. Hearts can heal.

As your sister in the Gospel, I plead for you to stay. Choose faith. Choose patience. Choose to trust the Lord and His modern-day prophets. All will be well. We can get through, but let’s do it faithfully, together.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Our Identity as a Disciple of Jesus Christ

Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General President

from the General Women's Meeting
March 29, 2014

"... Our true identity is that of a disciple of Jesus Christ. ...  Think what a gift it is to give our gift of daily discipleship to the Lord, declaring in word and deed, 'Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.'

...  I love the women of the Church.  I have seen your strength. I have seen your faith.  You have something to give and are willing to give it.  You do this without fanfare or publicity, drawing attention to the God we worship, not to yourselves, and with no thought of what you will receive. That's what disciples do."

Watch her full address here and be inspired!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Safety Depends upon Following the Prophet

From Harold B. Lee, October Conference 1970




We have some tight places to go before the Lord is through with this church and the world in this dispensation, which is the last dispensation, which shall usher in the coming of the Lord. The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive him. The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. There will be inroads within the Church. … We will see those who profess membership but secretly are plotting and trying to lead people not to follow the leadership that the Lord has set up to preside in this church.

Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, “as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4–5). There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).

... Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church. He knows whom he wants to preside over this church, and he will make no mistake. The Lord doesn't do things by accident. He has never done anything accidentally. And I think the scientists and all the philosophers in the world have never discovered or learned anything that God didn't already know. His revelations are more powerful, more meaningful, and have more substance than all the secular learning in the world.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sept. 15, 1979: The Role of Righteous Women

Given at the women’s fireside held September 15 in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Latter-day Saint women twelve and older met in 1,500 locations worldwide to listen ...  Since President Kimball was hospitalized at the time of the conference, his message was read by his wife, Camilla E. Kimball. 

Click here to watch the full address on lds.org.


"Among the real heroines in the world who will come into the Church are women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility. Remember, it is as wrong to do things just to be seen of women as it is to do things to be seen of men. Great women and men are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to "Ordain Women" Organization

Salt Lake City -- News media are reporting today on a letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent to a women’s group called “Ordain Women” regarding plans the group has to demonstrate for female ordination at the Church’s worldwide general conference. In response to multiple requests from news media, the Church has provided a link to the entire letter. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Story of Healing After Tragedy: My Shattered Heart Made Whole



Please listen to this beautiful talk by my sister, Gina Ashby, of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.  This talk details the main components of her journey to heal after the suicide death of our older brother, Brian, in 1999.  Her message is one of hope, faith, learning, and growth.  Her courage will inspire you!



 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Walking on Water

My husband was out of town one night several years ago, and as I was putting my oldest son to bed, who was just 3 years old at the time, I thought I would tell him a story from the scriptures to help him settle down and relax.  The story that came to mind was when Peter tried to walk on water to meet Jesus, who was coming towards them in the middle of the sea.

I had thought "tried" was the right word until that night.  Then it occurred to me that Peter had walked on water.  Peter had walked on water.

That was an amazing moment.  We might not be too impressed by Jesus walking on water, because we already know he had been healing people of all manner of illnesses and infirmities, and, plus, he was half-God.  Being a literal son of God the Father in the flesh, he was naturally endowed with special, sacred powers and abilities.  So, of course he could walk on water if he needed to or wanted to.

What struck me was the realization that someone as completely mortal as myself was recorded as walking on water.  Suddenly that seemed to imply something about myself.

Matthew describes that he, Peter, and other disciples were sent by Jesus out onto the Sea of Galilea in a ship to sail to the other side.  In the meantime, he would disburse the crowd that had gathered and then go up into the hills to pray by himself (Matthew 14).

Unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, the disciples on watch -- and perhaps everyone was awake anyway with how "contrary" the winds were -- noticed a figure coming towards them, a figure that was walking across the billowy waves unphased.  Fear filled their hearts as they believed it was a spirit approaching, but when Jesus called out to them and revealed his identity, Peter replied, "Lord, it if be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water" (v. 28).

Peter had witnessed numerous miracles of healing at Jesus' hands.  He knew that Jesus had some very special powers and abilities.  And having spent so much time with him, listening to him and learning from him, Peter knew that Jesus was a man without guile, full of compassion and kindness, someone who was completely trustworthy.  Even -- could it really be so? -- the promised Messiah!

Verse 29 continues, "And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus."

We know the rest of the story; that Peter broke his concentration on the Savior and began to notice the wind and the waves, and his faith wavered, allowing fear to impede him and almost drown him.  Peter then called out to the Lord to save him as he began to sink.

    "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
    And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased" (vs. 31 and 32).

Experiencing and witnessing this, everyone that was on the ship came and worshipped Jesus saying, "Of a truth thou art the Son of God" (v. 33).  Who can walk on water?, they must have reasoned.  Only a divine being could do that!

But, Peter did.  We don't know how many steps he took or how far from the ship he got, but his faith was powerful and incredible and resided in a mortal man's heart and mind!  So, what about me?  This sacred experience tells me that, like Peter, though mortal from both parents, I'm not doomed to fail.  My spirit was created first by Exalted Beings, therefore, it is within me to succeed.  My flesh might be weak, but it can learn.  I can gain experience in the times I fear and fall, and have the Savior's hand stretched out to me to lift me up.  I can look back and realize that I did make progress during my up times, and I can have confidence that I can keep going forward.

Not only that, but that I can overcome major obstacles.  I can.  I can.  The atonement, that beloved enabling power, is the "can" in "I can" and makes all things possible for me.  I might not ever need to walk on water during my life, but I have many challenges and weaknesses that I desperately want to rise above and walk confidently over.  I realize how often I limit myself because I think something is too hard or I am too weak or it's just not possible.

I limit my access to the atonement (Christ's power) and also discount the power endowed upon me (in small measure at birth when I came with the light of Christ, and then in great measure through temple covenant making).

In remembering that Peter walked on water, I am taught that I can overcome any obstacle -- if I just refuse to doubt the power given to me from God through Jesus Christ, my Savior.