Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grace Continued...

He rarely moves the mountains in front of us, but He always helps us climb them.

Sister Dew asked three questions

What is grace?

Grace is divine power that enables us to handle things we can’t figure out, can’t do, can’t overcome, or can’t manage on our own. We have access to this power because Jesus Christ, who was already a God, condescended to endure the bitterness of a fallen world and experience all physical and spiritual pain.

Elder David A. Bednar taught that “the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and the inequities that we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us. There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first.”

 What difference can grace make in our lives? 

We all know what “overwhelmed” feels like. Mortality gives us a visceral experience with the reality that without the Lord, we are nothing. If there are times when you think, “I can’t handle my children, or my checkbook, or my illness, or the urge to eat brownies at midnight, or the lack of a husband, or the lack of a good husband, or a family who doesn’t appreciate me, one more day,” you’re not alone. The Savior’s divine empathy is perfect, so He knows how to help us. He rarely moves the mountains in front of us, but He always helps us climb them. Because of Him, you don’t have to confront grief or insecurity or an addiction alone. With His help, you can resist temptation. With His help, you can change, forgive those who’ve hurt you, and start over. With His help, you can become your true self. With His help, your capacity and energy can increase. With His help, you can be happy again. The Savior promised, “My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”

HOW does the Savior make His power available to us? 

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said that “if it were not for the grace of God, there would be nothing—no creation, no fall, no mortal probation, no atonement, no redemption, no immortality, no eternal life. It is God’s grace that underlies all things, [and] . . . that makes all things possible. Without it there would be nothing; with it there is everything.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland added this clarity: “Much of the miraculous help we find in the gospel is just that—a miracle from heaven, the power of divine priesthood, the attendance of angels administering to us through a very thin veil. These are gifts from God, manifestations of His grace.”

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Heavenly Father and His Son did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If the Father and the Son did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Heavenly Father and His Son did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time. They would forever be surface and cosmetic rather than sinking inside us and becoming part of us—part of who we are. Put simply, if Jesus didn’t require practice, then we would never become Saints.

                                 portrait of Jesus Christ

Grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted. Rather, it is our constant energy source. It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel. Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now.

God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus’s grace is sufficient. It is enough. It is all we need. Don’t quit. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, and, as you do, you will feel the enabling power and divine help we call His amazing grace.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Gift of Grace

                                                                                                                                                                                     A portrait of Christ in white robes with a white head covering, looking over to the right side.

We often speak of the Savior’s Atonement—and rightly so!
In Jacob’s words, “Why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him?”4 But as “we talk of Christ, … rejoice in Christ, … preach of Christ, [and] prophesy of Christ”5 at every opportunity, we must never lose our sense of awe and profound gratitude for the eternal sacrifice of the Son of God.
I marvel to think that the Son of God would condescend to save us, as imperfect, impure, mistake-prone, and ungrateful as we often are. I have tried to understand the Savior’s Atonement with my finite mind, and the only explanation I can come up with is this: God loves us deeply, perfectly, and everlastingly. I cannot even begin to estimate “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height … [of] the love of Christ.”7
Because we have all “sinned, and come short of the glory of God”10 and because “there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God,”11 every one of us is unworthy to return to God’s presence.
Even if we were to serve God with our whole souls, it is not enough, for we would still be “unprofitable servants.”12 We cannot earn our way into heaven; the demands of justice stand as a barrier, which we are powerless to overcome on our own.  The grace of God is our great and everlasting hope.
With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.
Another element of God’s grace is the opening of the windows of heaven, through which God pours out blessings of power and strength, enabling us to achieve things that otherwise would be far beyond our reach. It is by God’s amazing grace that His children can overcome the undercurrents and quicksands of the deceiver, rise above sin, and “be perfect[ed] in Christ.”22
If grace is a gift of God, why then is obedience to God’s commandments so important? Why bother with God’s commandments—or repentance, for that matter? Why not just admit we’re sinful and let God save us?
Trying to understand God’s gift of grace with all our heart and mind gives us all the more reasons to love and obey our Heavenly Father with meekness and gratitude. As we walk the path of discipleship, it refines us, it improves us, it helps us to become more like Him, and it leads us back to His presence. “The Spirit of the Lord [our God]” brings about such “a mighty change in us, … that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”28
Dear brothers and sisters, living the gospel faithfully is not a burden. It is a joyful rehearsal—a preparation for inheriting the grand glory of the eternities. We seek to obey our Heavenly Father because our spirits will become more attuned to spiritual things. Vistas are opened that we never knew existed. Enlightenment and understanding come to us when we do the will of the Father.30

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Elderly in the Church

The Lord knows and loves the elderly and has bestowed many of His greatest responsibilities upon them.  President Benson said we can make the most of our senior years by...

  • Working in the temple and attend often.
  •  Collect and write family histories.
  • Become involved in missionary service.
  • Provide leadership by building family togetherness.
  • Accept and fulfill Church callings.
  • Plan for your financial future.
  • Render Christlike service.
  • Stay physically fit, healthy, and active. 

   Serving others helps heal those who have lost loved ones or who dread being alone.
 To those who have lost your spouses, we should also like to express our love. Sometimes there is for some of you a feeling of uselessness and aloneness which can be almost overwhelming. In so many instances, this need not be so. In addition to the eight suggestions just mentioned, here is a sampling of activities that have proved helpful to others.

We encourage families to give their elderly parents and grandparents the love, care, and attention they deserve. Let us remember the scriptural command that we must care for those of our own house lest we be found “worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8). I am so grateful for my own dear family and for the loving care they have given their parents over so many years.


We … urge priesthood leaders of the elderly to be sensitive to the Spirit of our Father in Heaven in assessing and meeting the spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial needs of the elderly. We trust you will utilize your counselors, Melchizedek Priesthood quorum leaders, and Relief Society leaders, home teachers, and visiting teachers in this great responsibility, for we must fulfill these duties without reluctance or hesitation.  God bless the elderly in the Church. I love you with all my heart. I am one of you.

You have so much to live for. May these golden years be your very best years as you fully live and love and serve. And God bless those who minister to your needs—your family, your friends, and your fellow Church members and leaders.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Sacred Callings of Fathers and Mothers

      President Benson and his wife, Flora, worked closely together in fulfilling their sacred responsibilities as parents. They “approached the task of nurturing their family unit with energy and enthusiasm.”3 They frequently counseled together about their children and other matters. “I could see that I had a spiritually perceptive woman at my side,” President Benson said.4

A father’s calling is eternal.

    Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released. Callings in the Church, as important as they are, by their very nature are only for a period of time, and then an appropriate release takes place. But a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity.

A mother’s role is ordained by God.

     [Mothers] are, or should be, the very heart and soul of the family. No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother. There is no more noble work than that of a good and God-fearing mother.
Parents should work together in unity and love in raising their children.
     When parents, in companionship, love, and unity, fulfill their heaven-imposed responsibility and children respond with love and obedience, great joy is the result.27
     May we be faithful to this great obligation of parenthood, this sacred obligation, that we may build our homes solidly upon eternal principles, that we may have no regrets. May we never be recreant [unfaithful] to the great trust which has been imposed in us. May we always keep in mind that these spirits that have entered our homes are choice spirits.29

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Strengthening our Testimonies on a daily basis.

In President Monson talk "Finishers Wanted" he said, "From the very beginning to the present time, a fundamental question remains to be answered by each who runs  the race of  life. Shall I falter or shall I finish?"

He gave 6 marks of  a finisher. 
1- Vision, True finishers have the capacity to visualize their objective. It is worthwhile to look ahead, set a course and at least be partly ready when the moment of decision comes.
2- Effort, Vision without effort is daydreaming, effort without vision is drudgery; but vision, coupled with effort, will obtain the prize. How can we overcome the concept of the world that we are entitled to rewards without putting forth the effort to obtain those rewards?
3- Faith, Recognize that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. As President Uchtdorf said "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith". How has your faith carried you through times of doubt?
4- Virtue, President James E. Faust said "Virtue in its fuller sense encompasses all traits of righteousness that helps form our character." President Gordon B. Hinckley added; "Love of God is the root of all virtue, of all goodness, of all strength of character."
5- Courage, Courage becomes a living and attractive virtue when it is regarded not as a willingness to die manfully, but the determination to live decently. How have you shown courage in your life when it would have be easier to say or do nothing?
6- Prayer, When the burdens of life become heavy, when trials test one's faith, when pain, sorrow, and despair cause the light of hope to flicker and burn low, communication with our Heavenly Father provides peace. How has prayer brought you peace?
President Monson in this months Ensign said " We must develop the faith necessary to survive spiritually and to project a light for others. you read and pray and as you serve and obey, you will come to know better "the light which shine out in darkness" our Exemplar and our Strength--even the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Light we are to hold up to dispel the gathering darkness.