Seminary – Basic Doctrines

I just came off a year of teaching the Old Testament.

It was lovely to be back in the lives of the students and in the scriptures in that way. Wow! That kind of studying is powerful, and to tell the truth, I miss it already!

However, I will turn to some other pursuits and projects for the time being. But, I did want to share some awesome print-outs for any Early Morning Seminary Teachers out there (or parents, leaders, etc.) –


I got them from my pre-service teacher and very easily (for about $7 at Alphagraphics [links to an external site]) had them blown up to a size for my classroom wall.


And Great Shall Be the Peace of Your Children

And Great Shall Be the Peace of Your Children

In the fall, I gave a talk in Stake Conference on teaching children, (especially young children) how to study the scriptures. 


Rose Park North Stake Conference, October 17, 2015

Laryssa Waldron

Good morning brothers and sisters. What a sacred privilege and honor it is for me to be with you for a few minutes today.

At the end of the Book of Mormon, father and son, Mormon and Moroni witness the decline and almost entire annihilation of their race. There are some gruesome scenes of terror, violence, and man’s inhumanity to man that they face and yet the two of them stay firm in the faith of Jesus Christ. Moroni tells us that “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ.” And then he boldly states, “And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ” (Moroni 1: 2-3).

How were they able to stay faithful at the worst of times? How did they stay true to their testimonies, even when their own lives were at stake?

May I submit that it was, at least in large measure, due to their callings as witnesses and historians. They spent many hours daily in the revelations of God – abridging, recording, and translating them, hoping that someday their records would benefit total strangers and even the posterity of those that were trying to take their lives. Every day, the word of God must have fortified their souls, even when the ferocity of brutal carnage was, as Mormon puts it, “a continual scene of wickedness and abominations [that had] been before [his] eyes ever since [he was old enough to understand] the ways of man” (Mormon 2:18).

This state of wickedness, unfortunately is not unusual to that time. Throughout the history of mankind there have been multiple periods when mankind has rejected and turned away from God.  Then God would set up a new dispensation in which a prophet would be called who had the holy priesthood, keys, and a divine commission to dispense the gospel to the inhabitants of the earth. Through all of these times, the prophets looked forward to two events – 1) the birth, atonement, death and resurrection of the Savior Jesus Christ, and 2) the dispensation of the fullness of times – the last restoration of priesthood, authority, keys, and missionary work. A time when the gospel would not be taken from the earth again and the people would prepare the earth and also be prepared to welcome the Savior to His millennial reign.  Which is a joyful thought, but it also comes at a very wicked time, a time called in scripture “the latter days” … our day.

Listen to these words that confirm this truth from President Russell M. Nelson from conference just two weeks ago  –

“Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women [and men] who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. President Russel M. Nelson, A Plea to My Sisters, General Conference, October 2015.

Like Mormon and Moroni, we need to have a group of people who remain strong in their testimonies, however this time instead of physical battles; it is during some of the worst spiritual battles the earth has ever known.  When many (even some of our own) will “call evil good, and good evil;” and will “put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).  How will our children know truth in the midst of such confusion? It is our sacred duty as parents, grandparents, and teachers to teach our children not only to LOVE the scriptures (as many of them do) but to understand and live them so that Satan will not have power over their hearts as is prophesied in 1 Nephi 22:15.

Our children cannot know right and wrong without us teaching them. They cannot know who the Savior is simply by our hoping that “somehow they’ll figure it all out.” They will not have spiritual experiences unless we teach them who they are, who God is, and how to approach Him and ask for those sacred blessings (Doc. & Cov. 93:19).

In Doctrine and Covenants section 93, the Lord chastises Joseph Smith, Jr., Frederick G. Williams, and Sidney Rigdon, (the first presidency at the time) because they had not been teaching their children “light and truth.” “Light and truth” they are told “forsake that evil one” and “that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience … and because of the tradition of their fathers.”

How will our children to have enough light and truth so that they will forsake the evil one? We teach them.

In the topical guide, there are 31 scriptures listed under “Children, responsibilities toward” and the vast majority urges parents to teach children the word of God through the scriptures. May I share three ideas that will help in our quest to teach the gospel using the scriptures?

  1. Teach the doctrine simply and plainly whenever you can –

When children are taught gospel doctrines simply and plainly, they will change. Let me share  a story that illustrates this. A few years ago, I went to pick up my daughter from her second grade class. As I walked up to the door, I saw a little boy hit my daughter’s friend in the face. No teacher was there to help, and after making sure that the girl was okay, I sat the boy down and taught him a doctrine from the Proclamation to the World on the Family. I told him that his job as a man was to protect girls and women, that he was never to hit one again, and that if he took on his role to protect them that they would always love and respect him. After that moment, every time I saw him that year, he would run up to me and say, “I’m doing what you told me to, I’m protecting women” and then he would go on to tell me about a time when he stopped his friends from chasing the girls or something similar.

Now, I didn’t know all of the background of this little boy, but I did know something about who he is, he is a spirit son of Heavenly Father and he chose to follow the Savior in the pre-earth life. True doctrine, taught in love, by the Holy Ghost has the power to change lives. Hopefully (now four years later) that little boy has not had that piece of “light and truth” taken out of his heart by disobedience, or worse for children, by the traditions and examples of his fathers (meaning the male figures in his life).

  1. Teach the scriptures consistently in daily devotionals and with questions and discussions, not just reading –

Teaching children to read out of the scriptures can be a monumental task. It is easy to find excuses and reasons not to, but like everything worthwhile in life, consistency and training will pay great rewards. Please note that I give the following simply as ideas to help the Holy Ghost springboard personalized revelation of how you can implement scripture study into your own family and circumstances.

When my children were very young (before they could read) I read the scriptures to them


Scripture Stories for Children can be read online or purchased at low costs.

out of the scripture stories for children. These can be found online at or purchased at the distribution center in many languages for under $10 each. We read out of them every night beginning with the Old Testament, New Testament, then the Book of Mormon and finished with the Doctrine in Covenants. This did two things, it taught an overview of the scriptures and it gave a consistency to our scripture reading (they knew that every night before bed, we would read and pray).

As we got to the final scripture story book, I found that asking questions was essential in making sure that they understood what they were learning. For example, in teaching about the first vision I could ask questions like, “What did Joseph Smith go into the grove to do?” That would help me learn whether or not they understood the story line. At some point, they would discuss the fact that Joseph went to seek an answer to prayer (if not, I could point that out to them). Fact finding questions can be very helpful and necessary questions, but it’s even more important to connect scripture with their experience.

Asking connecting questions like, “Have you ever had a time that you wanted the Lord to answer a question for you? Tell me about it?” will give them these connecting opportunities and allow for beautiful moments of testimony.

Finally, to help them apply the teaching into their lives, I could ask something like, “Will you think of a question that you would like the Lord to answer?” and then testify that if they will search out the answer from Him, that they will find it. With experience and follow through at our daily devotionals, I can gauge how my children (or grandchildren, or students, as the case may be) are internalizing gospel truths. It adds to deeper learning and shared family experiences.

After we finished all of the scripture stories, (again, before my children had learned to read) I read the scriptures to them and they would repeat the words and phrases. That continued the consistency of daily study, but also introduced them to the beautiful (and challenging) language of the scriptures. As the children got older we begin reading together as a family, but always, we continue to discuss what we are reading and how it applies to our lives.

Even the very young children can relate their few precious life experiences to the gospel. Last week, in Primary we talked about times when they had scary experiences and needed to talk to Heavenly Father in prayer to help change the thoughts in their heads. After thinking about it for a while (and long after the conversation was over), a sunbeam [aged 3-4] wanted to share her experiences of being scared in the night. Sharing time was due to end and so I asked her to wait until after the closing song and prayer. Then she told me about waking from a scary dream and we discussed that the next time it happened she could pray and ask Heavenly Father to give her peace and comfort.

It is so important to have frequent conversations with your children about the gospel. Listen to the command of the Lord –

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul … And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

“And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20, 22).

And then the scriptures go on to promise that if we teach and speak with our children about the gospel that we will have many mighty blessings, some of which are that we will not be deceived by falsehoods [teachings, people, ways, patterns of living], and that our days and the days of our children will be multiplied in the land.

President Benson (13th President of the Church) said that youth who participate in daily family devotionals [prayer and scripture study] will have hearts that are freed from evil intentions and will be the restraining influence in a group when temptations arise (President Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 2: Pray Always, (2014), 46–57).

Now, I know some of you may be saying, “It’s too late, my family is already grown.” But take the advice of Elder Foster from last conference who taught, “It’s never too early and it’s never too late” (Elder Bradly D. Foster, General Conference, October 2015). Text, Facebook message, or call your children and grandchildren. Share a scripture that you have been studying and your testimony, do it often. Teach, testify, and talk with them.

Some of you may be saying, “It’s hopeless, I don’t know, can’t learn, and don’t understand the scriptures. My kids will just have to learn it at Church or at Seminary.” To you, my dear brother or sister, may I testify that you know enough to start (see Elder Neil L. Anderson, You Know Enough, General Conference, October 2008).   You are here, aren’t you? You chose to follow the Savior before you came to earth, and you are a covenant child of God. You have access to the Holy Ghost who can “teach you all things” and “bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26). Have faith in the Lord’s faith in you. You are part of the chosen generation, just as the youth are. At this age and stage, your responsibilities are different than they were when you were a youth, but you are still chosen. You will learn, you are able to do it, you have been chosen, it is prophesied that you will do it, and you must do it! Who better to prepare your children for their future gospel responsibilities and experiences than you? Your children are counting on you. The Lord is counting on you and He will not fail to help you.

Go to Read the seminary and institute teacher manuals ahead of when you are going to share them with your family, even if you are a chapter ahead of them. Find out what the scriptures mean! Petition the Lord for help in this, your greatest calling, being a mother or father.

  1. Don’t just preach! We must allow our children to have their own experiences with the Holy Ghost who will lead them to the Savior.

A few months ago, my seven-year-old daughter was preparing a talk for primary and I decided to try some of the gospel teaching techniques that I had been learning with her. Her talk was on the Holy Ghost and so I sat her down at the kitchen table, we prayed, and then I asked her to read three verses about the Holy Ghost and write down what she thought they meant. Then, I asked her to write about how she could put those teachings into her life. When she excitedly called me back to her she started to tell me what she had learned. I went to stop her because clearly she hadn’t understood the main point of the verses – that the Holy Ghost would speak in her mind and heart – but I felt the Spirit hold me back. She’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn more about those verses, Laryssa, listen to what I taught her, was the impression that I got. She told me that from the verses she learned that even though she was only seven; she could have the Holy Ghost in her life, giving her promptings and encouragement. Yes! That was much more important than what I was going to teach her at that moment.

I know that teaching children, even young children the gospel out of the scriptures will work. I’ve been teaching the scriptures with your teenagers in Seminary and I’ve been teaching your children out of the scriptures in Primary. We are all capable of understanding and doing much, much more with the gospel. Let us have faith in our children, faith in ourselves, and faith in the Lord who was the one that gave the commandment to teach our children the gospel through daily scripture study. Let us, even in times of peril like Mormon and Moroni  raise a “sin-free generation”, “a peculiar treasure … a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5) that will be ready to greet the Savior at His second coming which, given the state of the world, looks to be closer every day.  May we capture the promise of the Lord given through Isaiah, “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13). This is my prayer. My testimony is that the gospel is true and that the Savior lives and loves us. I close in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen.



Notes: *Photo 1: courtesy of, Congo Priesthood Father; *Photo 2: picture of Children Scripture Stories, the author of this article does not receive any monetary remuneration for this, it is simply presented as an option.



Talk: Reaping the Rewards of Righteousness

“Many of our challenges are in the spiritual realm. They are societal issues we as individuals cannot necessarily resolve. Nevertheless, there are practical rewards we can achieve as individuals, even at a time when righteousness across the world is in decline.”

I am reading and loving this talk today given by Elder Quentin L. Cook, called “Reaping the Rewards of Righteousness” (this excerpt was written July 2015 from an original address on May 2, 2014). While I don’t have time today to give a lot of commentary on it, I will add some quotes that I find fascinating.

In talking about skeptics of living righteously, he stated,

“They evidence their diminished faith when, on many issues, they are more concerned with being on the wrong side of history than on the wrong side of God. There was a time when the vast majority of people understood that they would be judged by God’s commandments, not by the prevailing views or dominant philosophies of the day. Some are more concerned about being mocked by others than they are about being judged by God.”

Elder Cook talks about the reward of spirituality and posed the question, “How do I put material concerns in proper perspective as I attempt to achieve spiritual progress?”

“Could anything be more relevant to the issues of our own day than this message about humility, pride, envy, and persecution? The great debate across much of the world is about temporal day-to-day economic issues. Yet there is little discussion about returning to Christlike principles focused on preparation to meet God and on the condition of our spirits. We need to focus our lives and increase our emphasis on spiritual matters.”

He talks about successful families and raising successful children, and then talks about something that I think we, as parents, may worry about a lot –

“The scriptures are clear that living the commandments allows us to prosper in the land. But let me assure you that prospering in the land is not defined by the size of your bank account. It has a much fuller meaning than that.”

Then he went on to talk about having an abundance of the Spirit of the Lord in our lives and the peace that living the gospel gives us. That living the commandments provides for more than just physical wealth, there are also physical blessings, mental, social and of course spiritual blessings that come from keeping and living a righteous life (a life in harmony with God and His teachings as outlined in His scriptures and in the words of the living prophets). I can testify that this is true. As one who has been living on very little over the past few years, I have seen an abundance of God’s blessings in my life. The greatest blessing for me has been the peace of knowing that I have been living in the way that is acceptable to God.

King Benjamin states, “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:41).

I hope that you are able to read the whole talk and that you will feel free to share your thoughts about it in the comments. Have a wonderful day!

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Christ Calming the Sea, and Me

A while ago, I spent some time studying Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, which basically states that each individual goes through psychological stages of growth.

Here is the basic run-down:

Maslow_s Hierachy of Needs

The bottom two levels (red and orange) are considered deficiency needs and Maslow has suggested that until those needs are met, the individual cannot strongly desire, or have motivation to truly move up to the higher levels (yellow, green, and purple) known as the growth needs (or in other words, constant betterment). For a more detailed overview you can go to this article .

Why do I care? Because as I was researching it, it occurred to me that over the last decade of my marriage, my husband and I had been literally fighting to survive in the bottom two areas (see ** note below) but the Lord asks, expects, and requires us to be working on the higher levels. It’s a strange dichotomy, and yet I shouldn’t be surprised because growth at all stages of life is vital to our becoming people greater than we are or to put it another way, to be Beings like our Savior (see 1 John 3:2 and The Challenge to Become, Elder Oaks).

An example of this is found when missionaries teach the principle of tithing to impoverished people. Why do they teach it? Because new members are expected to live it, even in their poverty. Why?

  • To become like the Lord
  • To develop trust and faith
  • To see miracles
  • To gain spiritual power

All of those things I have witnessed in my own life and I have seen others witness the same as a direct result of living the law of tithing. I suppose it’s all part of spiritual resistance training! We are to rise above even when it is difficult because we have issues in the bottom two pyramid steps.

I think that we can see that example in the account of the Savior sleeping in the ship as the storm and waves were tossing it about. I’ve always wondered about that account. The disciples are fearing for their lives (not safe – on the bottom of the pyramid) and they wake the Lord saying “Carest thou not that we perish?” or in other words. “Seriously, Lord? You’re going to allow this to happen? I thought that you made promises to me, and this will NOT help fulfill those promises!”

The Savior wakes, calms the storm, and then asks them where their faith is. That account always bothered me before because they were afraid. They were in a perilous condition. But wait – let’s try to look at it from God’s point of view for a moment.

They are on the ship with the Savior. He, and they have been called to do some very specific work. He had been providing for their needs in the very moment. They had been witnessing miracles of healing, physical wonders, doctrine, and spirit that testified to them of His calling and power which (not coincidentally) carried over to their specific callings. Would Father allow that ship to sink? Would the Son of Man have been sent merely to drown in a moment without fulfilling the future work of salvation desperately needed for all of Father’s children?

Perhaps the storm was needed – the rain fall providing much needed water to the desert. Or, perhaps providing a moment in which the men could have sought a blessing from Father in Heaven through prayer, thus deepening their faith.

Whatever the reasons, they were expected to continue in faith, in their present situation, cheerfully doing all in their power to bring about much righteousness.

It almost seems harsh. In practicality it seems impossible. And yet, we have been told that “Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever (Doc. & Cov. 122:9).”  We’ve also been told to “consider the lilies of the field,” that if the Lord clothes the lilies and the grass, how much more will He clothe us if we are not of little faith (Matt. 6:28,30). And he’s asked us to trust, that if the Lord has asked you (or me) to perform a work for Him, that He will provide means, and power, and supply to accomplish it.

We’re also allowed to ask for help and miracles to be able to do the work that we’re called to do. “My Shepherd will supply my needs,” so I can work in the higher parts of the pyramid and bless mankind, even in my lowly, and desperate, and impoverished state. After all, the Savior did that and He asks no less than that we follow Him.

**To understand in detail what I mean, I recommend the article I wrote in the book “I Can Do Hard Things with God, chapter 17 – Spouse’s Mental Illness: You’re Bi-Polar, so Why Am I the One Going Crazy?”

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

I’ve been reflecting deeply on my role as a teacher lately, not only as a teacher in a professional or church setting, but as a mother. I watched this “Happy Families” message the other day and it struck me how simply this mother taught her children from a very young age and the fruits that it bore.

After watching it, I began to invite my older daughters again to help me in the kitchen (something I had done before, but not continued) and they were thrilled to help me make smoothies and grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti and salads – simple things, but they were so happy to help. Actually, I ask one at a time to help (taking turns helping cook and play with the baby) and that seems to make things go a little more smoothly in my house.

I also have been trying to teach the baby (she’s 16 months old) to help as well. Every time we clean up toys, I show her where the toys go and give SO much praise if she can catch on to the simple task of putting the items in the bin. I’ve also started to have her help with the laundry. I place the wet clothes from the wash into a basket and she puts them in the dryer for me (and of course I praise her for her good work and efforts).

But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve been reviewing my role to be a teacher of the gospel in the home. I was a full-time seminary teacher for seven years and so I’ve always known that I could teach them, but for some reason, I thought that it was my hubby’s role to be the teacher (you know as the “presider”, see the Family Proclamation). I always assumed that we’d share the teaching responsibilities, (and in some ways we do) but I guess I’ve been waiting for him to get up and take charge with family scripture study, etc. Please understand, my husband is a good man, but I’ve been the one to remind the family to pray, read, and have FHE on a consistent basis.

So I’ve been pondering a lot lately if I am usurping a role that will help him to grow as I continue to insist on religious family activities. I’m not sure. But the more I insist on the activities, the more he becomes involved – yay!

Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my role as a mother as the primary nurturer of our family is that of teacher and that it shouldn’t be one that I can neglect or delegate away or my children won’t learn basic things like laundry or dishes or meal prep or spiritual things like having a personal relationship with the Lord. And, I’ve been wondering if other women in the church are having the same struggle.

Years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis on the Spirituality of women and conducted some primary research to see how confident LDS women felt in giving talks, teaching lessons, and speaking about gospel doctrine (making comments in class, etc). The results were that women who had experience with testifying (i.e. serving a mission) or daily experiences with personal study of the scriptures were much more likely to feel confident discussing the gospel, and I assume feel much more confident teaching the gospel at home. Well, maybe we can’t be a missionary now, but we can have daily experiences in the scriptures!

Right before I had my baby, a dear friend asked me for ideas on how to study the scriptures. I began to compile some ideas, which I will now post as these ideas about teaching and studying are becoming more fresh and clear. To begin the next several posts, I want to quote from a talk by Elder Bednar which discusses the VITAL need for teaching in the home.

Brothers and sisters, think of the total amount of time in a week devoted to doctrinally based, spirit-filled instruction for our young people through the programs of the Church. Let’s assume they go to seminary. That might yield three or four hours of quality instruction during the course of the week. What would they receive in church on Sunday? Thirty minutes in sacrament meeting; thirty minutes in Sunday School; and thirty minutes in Young Men’s, Young Women’s, or Gospel Doctrine. A total of maybe five, six, or seven hours for the entire week, if we are optimistic. Think of the evil influences in the world. Will the Church and its programs alone safeguard you and me and our children in an increasingly wicked world? The answer is no. Please do not misunderstand this statement–I would not trust my children exclusively to the programs of the Church. I love the Church, but the Church operates as a support to you and to me as we create a home that is a house of learning. First and foremost, the responsibility is ours as parents to create a Christ-centered, spirit-filled home environment where the Holy Ghost can teach and testify to our children. If they know the why, they will quickly learn the how.

Take a look a the full talk – Teach them to Understand from a  1998 (then) Rick’s College Education Week address. I have sent it to my husband and we are going to study it together and try to find ways to make our home a better place of gospel learning.mormonad-unlimited-text-messages-1118424-gallery

Finally, I’ll leave with a couple of ideas for daily personal scripture study and a challenge. My sister is an amazing spiritual woman. When she had a lot of young’ins running around the home, she went to the distribution center and picked up a bunch of the cheapy copies of the Book of Mormon and placed one in every room in her house (bathroom included). Then, if she found herself with a moment or two in the bustle of mommy life, she would read a verse or two. She said that just by giving those few minutes of time, she had given a sacrifice to God and was taught from the scriptures.

Another idea is to listen to the scriptures (digital formats can be found here) while you are folding clothes, doing dishes, or being a taxi cab.

The challenge is to study this week. Everyday, study something in the scriptures (not someone’s thoughts of the scriptures) and ask the Lord to teach you. I know He will bless us in this endeavor in our own lives and we will find ways to teach our children as well.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, ideas, experiences or scripture reading tips!

What’s the Difference Between a Saint and a Sinner?

What’s the difference between a saint and a sinner?

It’s really simple. Are you ready?

A saint repents. And then sins, and repents again. And then makes another mistake, and (you guessed it) repents again. I’m not talking about a person who laughs at sin and continues to do it, knowing that they can “just repent later”, but real people, with real addictive behaviors, working each day, hand-in-hand with God, to repent and try to be better.

You may think that I’m being trite, but I’m not.

A sinner either thinks that there is no need for repentance (is in denial that there is such a thing as sin) or thinks that he/she is so bad that they are incapable of God’s love, or is mad at God and doesn’t want anything to do with Him … right now.

All of it is a matter of the heart. Let’s go to the scriptures to see what the Lord has to say  –

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).

I love that one. I love that the Lord wants to sit down and “talk shop” with us, “let us reason together“.

Here’s another one I love. This is for when the devil tells me that there is a quota on repentance –

But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven (Moroni 6:8).

Here’s one for when the devil tries to tell me that I’ve gone beyond the point of repentance, that the Lord is so disgusted with me that He doesn’t want to be around me –

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). 

And if that doesn’t work, I like this one –

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

But perhaps, one of my favorite scriptures of all, and the reason that saints go on repenting, and trying to be better –

Behold … I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20).

A saint has felt the love of God in the most quiet reaches of the heart, in a place where no one else has access, and then desires always to have that love with them. Being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work.  But the rewards are peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).

And here is the best part of this whole discussion. You and I and everyone around us can change from a sinner to a saint at any moment. Right now in fact. It is a matter of the heart. Going to God and confessing (telling Him what we did wrong) and forsaking (promising to not do it again), and if we mess up, confessing and forsaking again until we get better and better at making the distance between the sin and the repentance smaller and smaller. Until, eventually, we decide that we love God more than the sin and so we choose to pray through the temptation instead of committing the sin and praying after. Then, we begin to change our lives … to not be where the temptation is so readily available, to replace the bad in our lives with good.

We can do it. The Lord believes in us. I know that is true.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand (How Firm a Foundation, Hymn # 85).

Grace and Works – Becoming the Man or Woman of Christ

We just watched the Christian movie, “God is Not Dead” which was really fascinating. (Just as a heads up, there will be some SPOILERS AHEAD so if you want to watch it, don’t read the next few paragraphs). I liked the debates, I LOVED the conclusion that we all need to learn for ourselves, that God wants us to choose, but (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) the end just left me without any joy or hope. To have the professor hit by a car and then just before he dies, he breathes out a final, “okay, yes, I guess I do believe in Jesus” didn’t really ring true or fair to me.

Perhaps it’s the age old Christian debate about faith and works. I absolutely know that we can be saved through the Grace (or as I call it the atonement) of Jesus Christ. But if we are saved to do nothing more than just keep living a sin-filled life, has the miraculous sacrifice been truly appreciated or used in the way that it was intended?

The Apostle Paul talked frequently about us becoming new creatures in Christ. The heavens watched with “anxious anticipation” to see what these new Heavenly Creatures would be like. Paul constantly tells us to be better. Look at some of his thoughts from Romans 6 –

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members instruments of righteousness unto God.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (verses 12-16)

I had a Christian friend who kept telling me that he was saved, so really there was nothing else for him to do. No need to change bad and destructive habits, no need to try to be better or to help others, or to read scriptures, or to pray, or to have a close relationship with God. He was saved, so any sinning that he did didn’t matter, because he was saved.

How sad. How much more in life he could have been, could have done, if he had allowed the Grace – the ennobling power, the Divine means of help and assistance (see BD: Grace) work as a power within himself to become a greater being – the Man (or in my case Woman) of Christ.

That is why the movie frustrated me. (SPOILER, again) for years, the character of the professor worked at ripping down faith, and then to die and say, “sure I’m saved”, well it sure doesn’t seem fair to allow him the same heaven as those Christians who were sacrificed to lions for their testimonies.  A more ennobling ending to that film would have been to see the professor begin to unlock the power within as he came to accept his anger toward God and then try to work it out with God. To help him find the love of God would be so powerful. Yes, there would be a difficult path ahead, but he could use Paul’s life as an example. The Apostle Paul – talk about a man of Christ!

At the beginning, he tore down faith, but then, had an amazing conversion on the Road to Damascus. The Lord testified of Paul to Ananias, “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9: 15). The Lord knew that Paul could be so much more than he was.

He knows that about you and me as well.

More reading on the subject –

Romans 6, Romans 8

Blog-post that I wrote, Grace the Price has been paid, the opportunity has been opened.

Elder Oaks talk, The Challenge to Become