Personal Online Journal

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"through Christ which strengtheneth me"

Here is a good lesson from "Believing Christ: A Practical Approach to the Atonement" by Stephen E. Robinson May 29, 1990. (mp3)
Sometimes the weight of the demand for perfection drives us to despair. Sometimes we fail to believe that most choice portion of the gospel that says he can change us and bring us into his kingdom. Let me share an experience that happened about ten years ago. My wife and I were living in Pennsylvania. Things were going pretty well; I'd been promoted. It was a good year for us, though a trying year for Janet. That year she had our fourth child, graduated from college, passed the CPA exam, and was made Relief Society president. We had temple recommends, we had family home evening. I was in the bishopric. I thought we were headed for "LDS yuppiehood." Then one night the lights went out. Something happened in my wife that I can only describe as "dying spiritually." She wouldn't talk about it; she wouldn't tell me what was wrong. That was the worst part. For a couple of weeks she did not wish to participate in spiritual things. She asked to be released from her callings, and she would not open up and tell me what was wrong. 
Finally, after about two weeks, one night I made her mad and it came out. She said, "All right. You want to know what's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong. I can't do it anymore. I can't lift it. I can't get up at 5:30 in the morning and bake bread and sew clothes and help my kids with their homework and do my own homework and do my Relief Society stuff and get my genealogy done and write the congressman and go to the PTA meetings and write the missionaries . . ." And she just started naming one brick after another that had been laid on her, explaining all the things she could not do. She said, "I don't have the talent that Sister Morrell has. I can't do what Sister Childs does. I try not to yell at the kids, but I lose control, and I do. I'm just not perfect, and I'm not ever going to be perfect. I'm not going to make it to the celestial kingdom, and I've finally admitted that to myself. You and the kids can go, but I can't lift it. I'm not 'Molly Mormon,' and I'm not ever going to be perfect, so I've given up. Why break my back?"
This is one of my favorite talks ever.  It brings me hope.  I came to recognize that the Savior is called this because he saves.  Robinson uses a funny illustration, "What good is it to have a savior if no one is saved? It's like having a lifeguard that won't get out of the chair. 'There goes another one down. Try the backstroke! Oh, too bad, he didn't make it.' "

I particularly like the analogy of a merger.  Me as a bankrupt small business and the Savior as a large corporation with much assets.  We merge and my liabilities merge with His assets and together we are solvent.  The merging is the covenant he uses another analogy that fits even better, Marriage.
He proposes to us a covenant relationship. I use the word "propose" on purpose because it is a marriage of a spiritual sort that is being proposed. That is why he is called the Bridegroom. This covenant relationship is so intimate that it can be described as a marriage. I become one with Christ, and as partners we work together for my salvation and my exaltation. My liabilities and his assets flow into each other. I do all that I can do, and he does what I cannot yet do. The two of us together are perfect.
I love the Savior.  I know that I am ever in need of His help.  As I work the plan of His proposal I overcome the effects of sin.  If I fall and stumble, He is there for me, if I will allow the covenant relationship to work.  If I allow Him to help me to save me from the less than good in me.

Update:  I changed the title of this post from "I can't do it" to "through Christ which strengtheneth me" from Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me".  I like focusing on the positive the reality of what my covenant relationship with Christ enables.  Not the inaccurate negative of the original title.  I used the original title because surrender to God is so important.

See also parable of the piano

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"three things are necessary"

From the Lectures on Faith 3:2-5:
Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God, unto life and salvation:
First, the idea that he actually exists.
Second, a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
Third, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.
I have quoted this passage many times on my blog.  It is center to my faith and walk with God.

"Today I will be a follower of Jesus Christ"

"Today I will be a follower of Jesus Christ"

It is this quote from Richard Bushman that caused me to write about him today.  He has been called the "Mormon Explainer".  And I really liked the way he responded to a question about The Book of Mormon musical on broadway, "'The Book of Mormon' is like looking into a fun-house mirror; the reflection is hilarious but not really you"

Deseret News recently wrote and article about Bushman.  I recommend it to you. "Being a Mormon in a Mormon Moment"

Friday, September 09, 2011

"the great question which is in your minds"

What is the great question? 
"whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ" Alma 34:5

Amulek goes on to say that Alma, his teaching companion along with Zenos, Zenoch and Moses had "proved unto you, in many instances, that the word is in Christ unto salvation."

He then goes on to teach and testify from his own witness.  Before going on to teach of the proper use of prayer he ends with this.
14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.

 15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

 16 And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.

 17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

This is such a powerful testimony to me of Christ.  Such clarity that I have found about the doctrine of the fall, of justice and mercy and grace and exercising faith unto repentance.  What a gift!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Come Unto Christ

Over the last 24 hours it seems like a message has been coming through.

Last night as we read as a family, "And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God." Ether 12:18

This morning as I read I came across this, "my brother has proved unto you, in many instances, that the word is in Christ unto salvation" Alma 34:6

As I drove to work this morning I saw this on a window of a car next to me.  The reverence and submission to God touched me.  It made me think of the "I am a Mormon" campaign that will be starting in my home town soon.  It made me think of what I would put on my car.  The bumper sticker I came up with was one with the words "Come unto Christ".  To me is it filled with hope, challenge and healing.

The phrase "Come unto Christ" appears 4 times in the Book of Mormon and once in the Doctrine and Covenants.  It is in this message that my hope has grown.  I am invited as Nathanael, come and see.  He pleads with me to look and live.  As I offer up my whole soul unto Him, I am changed.  I become, inch by inch, what I most want to become, a son of God.  A son by adoption, through His blood.
And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved. (Omni 1:26)
What greater message is there?