Archive for the ‘Atonement’ Category

25
Sep

“Are Willing To” (September 2007)

   Posted by: John

Sunday’s sacrament meeting was a missionary theme.  There were a lot of speakers that included the fulltime missionaries, the ward missionaries, and the ward mission leader.  It was a very full meeting.  Brother Moss said something that I thought was very interesting.  He takes a little time getting around to his points, but when he gets there, they are usually worth it

He read from the Doctrine and Covenants, section 20, verse 77.  It reads as follows:

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

This prayer, of course, is the one that we hear every week, as the sacrament is blessed.  Brother Moss paid special attention to three words: “are willing to”.  He talked about the promises and conditions that are in the sacrament prayers along with other commandments that the Lord gave us.  We are all imperfect and will break commandments, either by commission or omission.  There is simply no way we can be perfect.  However, we can strive to be perfect and do our very best, and prove that we “are willing to” follow all of the commandments of God, he will give us all that he promises us.  In the case of the sacrament prayer, it is to have the Spirit with us.  God has promised us many other things, many of which are cataloged in Section 121: 41-46.  There are some requirements, then many wonderful blessings and promises, if we “are willing to” follow the commandments.

I’m grateful to Brother Moss for bringing out these three words that make it so we can keep these promises.

18
Sep

How Is It Done? (September 2007)

   Posted by: John

I don’t remember who gave this talk in church, but I wrote down something from it that I thought was interesting.

The talk was from one of Elder Scott’s conference addresses, having to do with prayer and forgiveness.  The item that caught my attention was this:  How is it done?  That sounds a little strange, but consider it for a moment.  After receiving an answer to prayer, we should thank the Lord.  But Elder Scott also said he also wanted to know “How is it done”, especially on items such as repentance.

It’s a good question.  We know about the plan of salvation and the atonement.  These are subjects of constant lessons, talks and discussion.  It’s one thing to talk about them, but it’s another entirely to fully understand the significance of the atonement and yet another to know the means of how it works.

I am reminded of Enos, the account of which is in the Book of Mormon.  He is hunting, and remembered the words of the prophets and his father.  The words sank deep into his soul and he wanted to know if they were true.  He prayed, not just a short prayer, but continuously, with earnest desire to know, for an unknown period of time.  Eventually the answer came, and he heard the sure voice that his sins had been forgiven.  He knew God could not lie and his guilt was swept away.  Then he asks this: “Lord, how is it done?”

Knowing that he had been forgiven was not enough for Enos.  He wanted to understand the means by which that forgiveness was obtained.  The Lord said “Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou has never before heard nor seen.”

Like so many of the scriptures, I am sure there was more dialogue and events than was written.  Enos was very likely given information, like Nephi received when he saw the vision of his father.  Receiving a simple answer would not have been enough.  Enos would have wanted to see the events in the garden of Gethsemane, on Golgotha, and the tomb.

If we read further in the chapter, we find that the Lord makes several covenants with Enos regarding the records and the Lamanites.  I find that interesting considering that the Lord usually requires us to make covenants with him, not the other way around.  Only a man of incredible righteousness and standing with the Lord would be able to extract such promises from God Himself.  I think it safe to say that Enos would have been the recipient of visions and promises from God equal to any other great and righteous person.  His understanding of “How it is done” would have been extensive and very complete.

From that question and answer, and the following few verses, we see a person of great spiritual quality, one who is favored of God.  It would behoove us to look at this example and ask God ourselves how it is done, personally from Him.

29
Apr

The Gospel According to Pinocchio

   Posted by: John

My daughter was watching the old Disney movie Pinocchio this morning.  I happened to walk by about the time that Pinocchio was being talked into going to Pleasure Island, a place where boys could go and do whatever they wanted.  There were no rules, no authority, no responsibility.  They could do things like smoke, drink, destroy a nice house, play cards and pool, go on insane rides, and so on.  Pinocchio allowed himself to be convinced it was the place to by a couple of smooth talking shysters.  The carriage took him and a load of other boys to the ship, they sailed to the island and headed in.  However, once inside this place, the doors were closed so they could not escape.

It was true, there was so much to do on this island.  A boy could cause as much trouble as he wanted and nobody would catch him.  Cigars and beer were free and encouraged.  It was a life of debauchery and depravity.  The only problem was,  after some time, a curious thing happened.  The boys started to turn into donkeys.  First the ears would come out, then the tails.  Then, quickly, their heads would change into donkey heads.  Hands and feet turned into hooves.  Soon their entire body was changed, their voices gone, except for the “hee haw” that comprises a donkey’s speech.  Then they were captured, crated up and sold to the circus or the salt mines.  They were not able to go back and change what they had done to themselves.

As I watched, I considered how this is a great example of life.  As we grow, there are a variety of things that vie for our attention, some good and some bad.  The world would tell us that “Pleasure Island” is the way to go.  Sadly, most of the things that Pleasure Island offers are addictive and offensive.  We try them, enjoy them, but pretty soon we can’t let go of them.  As an example, smoking is portrayed as “cool”.  Even if it can’t be advertised as such, friends and acquaintances can pressure us to be cool like them by smoking.  I know people who smoke that like it, and some that hate it.  The common thing between them is that it is very difficult to stop it.  They become slaves to that habit, and it makes it easier to become slaves to other things as well.  The spirit distances itself from you and your mind starts to rationalize that, well, I’m doing this, I might as well do that.

As we become immersed, we become spiritual donkeys.  Our senses are dulled, our spirit loses contact with our Father in Heaven, and we drift away, slaves to the addictions and so-called pleasures of the world.  We might as well be slaves in the salt mines, driven by masters that control us.

In the movie, Jiminy Cricket manages to rescue Pinocchio before he fully changes into the donkey.  It takes some doing, but Pinocchio manages to escape the things that attracted him to Pleasure Island and, after some difficulty, returns to his Father.

We have the opportunity to take advantage of the Atonement, in which we can take strength from Christ and escape from the things that drag us down and set us on a path back to our Father in Heaven.  We can escape from “Pleasure Island”.  The difference between Pinocchio and the Atonement, however, is that those who are fully slaves to the desires and pleasures of the world, can still escape them, unlike in the movie where done was done.  The closer to being a full donkey you are, the harder it is to get away, but it can be done.

I find it amusing that a Disney film from 50 years ago can carry such an analogy, but the impression was made rather strongly this morning, and I am glad I stopped to watch that 10 minutes of movie.