Sunday, August 25, 2013

then sings my soul

duck on a log
big springs, island park, idaho
august 2013

today in sacrament meeting we sang how great thou art. i always think of my granny because we sang this song at her funeral. it was the second (or third) funeral i'd ever been to. i always thought it to be a strange song for a funeral. as we sang it today (it always helps when you have an impressive singer sitting next to you) and sang the lines,

when through the woods and forest glades i wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, when i look down from lofty mountains grandeur and there proclaim, my god how great thou art.

i realized that all weekend, i had been so overwhelmed by my heavenly father and the beauty of his creations but i hadn't been able to put it into words. and rightfully so, how could their be fitting words to describe the vastness, depth, simplicity and complexity of nature and all therein contained? that's why i love music. although a song is made of words, music brings a beauty that extends beyond the semantics of words. and i there in could proclaim, my god how great thou art.

Friday, August 16, 2013

What the message of Jesus Christ means to me?

Like i previously mentioned, I had a commenter ask about what exactly the message of Jesus Christ is. That question has been so overwhelming because its so broad and beautiful, but I can tell you what it means to me.

The message of Jesus Christ can be summed somewhat summarized by the first 4 articles of faith Articles of Faith:

  • 1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
  • 2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
  • 3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
  • 4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  • The message of Jesus Christ is that there is a plan that was decreed long before the worlds were created where our Heavenly Father, presented a plan for all his children. This plan is known as the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness. Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the Father and Only Begotten was chosen to be our Savior and our Redeemer.

    And now to quote from Preach My Gospel (Chapter 2, Lesson 2, The Plan of Salvation):

    We will all suffer physical death, but Jesus Christ overcame the obstacle of physical death for us. When He died on the cross, His spirit became separated from His body. On the third day, His spirit and His body were reunited eternally, never to be separated again. He appeared to many people, showing them that He had an immortal body of flesh and bone. The reuniting of body and spirit is called resurrection and is a gift promised to each of us. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will all be resurrected regardless of whether we have done good or evil in this life. We will have a perfect, immortal body of flesh and bones that will never again be subject to disease, pain, or death. The resurrection makes it possible to return to God’s presence to be judged but does not guarantee that we will be able to live in His presence. To receive that blessing, we must also be cleansed from sin.
    God sent His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to overcome the obstacle of sin in addition to the obstacle of physical death. We are not responsible for the Fall of Adam and Eve, but we are responsible for our own sins. God cannot look on sin with any degree of allowance, and sin prevents us from living in His presence. Only through the Savior’s grace and mercy can we become clean from sin so that we can live with God again. This is possible through exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
    To fulfill the plan of salvation, Christ paid the penalty for our sins. He alone was able to do that. He was called and prepared in pre-earth life. He was the literal Son of God in the flesh. He was sinless and completely obedient to His Father. Though tempted, He never gave in to temptation. When the Father asked His Beloved Son to pay the price of the world’s sins, Jesus was prepared and willing. The Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, and it ended with His Resurrection. Though He suffered beyond comprehension—so much so that He bled from every pore and asked whether it were possible that this burden be lifted from Him—He submitted to the Father’s will in a supreme expression of love for His Father and for us. This triumph of Jesus Christ over spiritual death by His suffering and over physical death by His Resurrection is called the Atonement.
    Christ promises to forgive our sins on the condition that we accept Him by exercising faith in Him, repenting, receiving baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and striving faithfully to keep His commandments to the end of our lives. Through continuing repentance, we may obtain forgiveness and be cleansed of our sins by the power of the Holy Ghost. We are relieved of the burden of guilt and shame, and through Jesus Christ we become worthy to return to the presence of God.
    As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
    In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus did not, however, eliminate our personal responsibility. We must show that we accept Him and that we will follow His commandments. Only through the gift of the Atonement can we return to live with God.
    I love that second to last paragraph when it states, "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." I think that is the central message. As children of a loving Heavenly Father, he wants us to know that there is a plan that not only helps us here in mortality but also in eternity. He wants us to know that he has provided a way for us to return back to him, back home. He wants us to know that this gift of the Atonement is here for each of us to utilize in our lives so that things can be made right. In the four gospel writings in the New Testament of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and in the writings of the prophets in the Book of Mormon who wrote of Christ appearing to the people in the Americas, I never cease to be amazed by just how many times Christ invites Come unto Me. (My favorite Come unto Christ scripture can be found here: 3 Nephi 9: 13-15)

    And not just Come unto Me in your good times or in the times when life is good, but Come unto Me with your burdens, with your weakness, with the things that are hard, with the things you don't understand, with your pain, your sickness and your infirmity.

    Christ invites us to Come to Him, to learn of Him, to be healed through His Atonement.

    I love the way that Elder Jeffery R. Holland puts it:

    It seems clear that the essence of our duty and the fundamental requirement of our mortal life is captured in these brief phrases from any number of scenes in the Savior’s mortal ministry. He is saying to us, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,” He promises. “I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.”
    My beloved friends, I know of no other way for us to succeed or to be safe amid life’s many pitfalls and problems. I know of no other way for us to carry our burdens or find what Jacob in the Book of Mormon called “that happiness which is prepared for the saints.”6
    So how does one “come unto Christ” in response to this constant invitation? The scriptures give scores of examples and avenues. You are well acquainted with the most basic ones. The easiest and the earliest comes simply with the desire of our heart, the most basic form of faith that we know. “If ye can no more than desire to believe,” Alma says, exercising just “a particle of faith,” giving even a small place for the promises of God to find a home—that is enough to begin.7 Just believing, just having a “molecule” of faith—simply hoping for things which are not yet seen in our lives, but which are nevertheless truly there to be bestowed8—that simple step, when focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, has ever been and always will be the first principle of His eternal gospel, the first step out of despair.

    And so, the message of Jesus Christ means to me to come, come and learn of him, come and be healed by him. Come and learn of his commandments so your life can be filled with peace, joy and happiness. Come and learn that his gospel has been restored to the earth today, that there are prophets on the earth leading and guiding the Lord's true church and that God still speaks to man today.

    I know that as we learn of Him in any small way and express our desire to learn more of Him that he will send the Spirit of the Holy Ghost to testify to our souls that He lives and that The Plan of Salvation is the Plan for all of our Heavenly Father's children. We can pray to know of these things for ourselves. That is how I have come to know what I know and for me, it has made all the difference.

    Please see: for further information
    Please contact me with any further questions by leaving a comment or emailing me under the email in my profile.

    broken things to mend, elder jeffery r. holland
    the atonement can secure your peace and happiness, elder richard g. scott
    where is the pavilion, president henry b. eyring
    missionary work and the atonement, elder jeffery r. holland
    the atonement can clean, reclaim and sanctify our lives, elder shayne m. bowen
    *mormon message