Wednesday, January 28, 2009 1 comments

Guilt has to be dealt with

I ran across this verse recently:
Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. (Mosiah 2:38)
I thought it was very significant that the demands of justice awakes a lively sense of guilt in unrepentant spirits; even though they have done their best to put their conscience to sleep and quell feelings of guilt during their mortal life and bury the memories in oblivion, they will get hit with a divine justice in the end, with a clear, awakened memory of everything they did and then guilt will attack. (Yikes!)

Which is why we need to repent in this life.

Don't buy society's "just move on with your life and forget about it" mantra. Guilt has to be dealt with and healed through the Atonement of Christ. Whether it is our conscience legitimately reproaching us or whether it is Satan trying to buffet us by imputing guilt where none exists, it needs to be dealt with and healed through the Atonement of Christ.
Sunday, January 25, 2009 0 comments

Watch your words

I recently ran across these things spoken by Jesus:
33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:34-37)
I’ve always been a little confused by these verses because I’d read that bit “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” and I'd think, But even the best people can say bad things and even the worst people can say good things! I was confused, because it didn’t seem to reflect reality.

But recently I had some experiences that prepared me to understand this better.

I took a poetry class this semester and one of the assignments was very strange—we were supposed to write a love poem with rough ugly language or write a poem about something we hated using smooth beautiful love language. As I started thinking about how I was going to do this assignment, I wondered what I loved that could write about. My husband? I thought about what I could say about him that could convey love in ugly language, and I realized that it just wasn’t in me to use that kind of tone for someone or something I loved. And I thought about what I disliked, and I realized it also wasn’t in me to use happy and beautiful words for what I considered ugly.

“[H]ow can ye, being evil, speak good things?” Or how can we being good, speak evil things?

Now, something else that I realized was from looking back on a moment when I was very angry. At that particular angry moment, I really couldn’t think about anything else but how angry I was at what had happened and at the person who had done it. And in the little that I said, my anger was still obvious, even though I tried to hide it.

This showed me that whatever came out of my mouth was going to be reflecting whatever was in my mind, and since I can only think about one thing at a time at any particular moment, what I say is truly an exact reflection of who I am at that moment.

So of course, in the final judgment, if the Lord looks at a record of the words I have said, it will indicate a range of my states of being—good or evil—during my life, and it is imperative that I repent of any evil speaking immediately. I want the record of my words to be indicative of greater and greater goodness as time goes on.

Bearing with the weak

1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (Romans 15:1-3)
As I was reading my scriptures yesterday I ran across this series of verses and I had to stop and think about it, because I wasn’t sure how the exhortation to bear the infirmities of the weak was related to the prophecy of how Christ would bear the reproaches of others.

I started to make a little headway when I remembered that Christ said that inasmuch as we do it unto one of the least of these we have done it unto Him. He takes an insult to others as if it is an insult to Himself and He takes charity to others as if it is charity done to Himself.

(It is interesting that this principle is something that is codified in international politics that aggression against one must be considered aggression against all. But it doesn’t always happen that something is done about it, because of the limited resources and apathy and so on..)

It’s not a pleasant thing to take what happens to others personally, especially when someone else is getting persecuted. We have a natural instinct of self-preservation and a desire to avoid pain and suffering, so it seems counterintuitive to deliberately involve ourselves in bearing the suffering and reproaches of others.

This is where I realized that not only does bearing the infirmities of others mean recognizing and trying to help them cope with their handicaps (physical or spiritual), it also means we step forward when others are coming in for abuse and say, “Hey, you pick on them and you’re picking on me too.”

Why was Paul exhorting the saints to do this? Because Christ did it, and Christians are committed to following Christ’s example.

Scriptural witnesses to the principle of repentance

I've written a number of posts about repentance in the past and it seems to me that I should let the scriptures bear witness of it. There are many people that know very well the necessity of faith in Christ, but don't know about repentance.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts17:30)

And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent; (Doctrine & Covenants 1:27)

And, again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent? (Doctrine & Covenants 29:49)

Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. (2 Nephi 26:27)

Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed. (Doctrine & Covenants 6:9)

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:4)
Why we must repent
11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. (Doctrine & Covenants 18:13)

Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)

For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; (Doctrine & Covenants 1:31)

And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins. (Alma 11: 37, emphasis added)

And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless. (Doctrine & Covenants 19:4)

But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; (Jacob 3:3)

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
(Luke 13:3)

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:8)

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; (Isaiah 1:16)

Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven; (Doctrine & Covenants 1:32)
We are given probationary time to repent
And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents. (2 Nephi 2:21)
How the Lord receives our repentance
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. (Doctrine & Covenants 58: 42)

And how great is his [the Lord’s] joy in the soul that repenteth! (Doctrine & Covenants 18:13, bracketed text added)

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
How we are brought to repentance
...thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed (Ezekiel 16:61)

And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance. (Alma 42:29)

For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. (Psalms 38:18)

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
The Principle of Confession
Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: (Ezra 10:11)

And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins (Nehemiah 9:2)

By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them. (Doctrine & Covenants 58:43)

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
The Principle of Restitution
Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found (Leviticus 6:4)

…he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed. (Numbers 5:7)
An example of repentance
2 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them. (Mosiah 4: 2-3)
The result in our lives when we repent
12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. (Mosiah 4:12-13)
In conclusion:
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. (Alma 34:33-35)

And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them. (Mosiah 4:10)
Image credit:
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 2 comments

Messing around with the Declaration of Independence

Back in December I watched the movie National Treasure (involving treasure and the Declaration of Independence). After watching, just for grins, I thought I would read over the text of the Declaration.

As I was reading it, I got to the part where the grievances of the American colonies against the British government were specified, and I noticed that quite a few of them seemed to return to the same issues. So I decided to do an experiment. (It’s the kind of experiment that I, a passionately enthusiastic writing tutor, get a kick out of, so be warned.) I cut and pasted the text of that list into a document. I numbered each list item—1,2,3,4,5, etc.—from top to bottom. Then I started grouping similar topics together, moving list items around. Then I arranged the categories in an order that seemed most logical and effective for an argument.

The following the result. The numbers next to each item represents its order in the original Declaration of Independence. The subtitles are mine:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.


21 For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

1 He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

2 He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

3 He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.


4 He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

5 He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

22 For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

6 He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.


23 He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

20 For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

13 He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:


8 He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

9 He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

18 For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

19 For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:


7 He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.


16 For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

17 For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:


10 He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.


27 He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

11 He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

14 For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

25 He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

24 He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

12 He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

15 For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

26 He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.


28 In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Me again. Look how the order that I put them in is so different from the numbers on the side that indicate the order they are actually in the original!

When I look at this list and see how changing the order seemed to bring it much better into focus, I can’t help but realize how much stronger the Declaration of Independence would have been if Thomas Jefferson had been able to use a word processor. But even without it, the Declaration of Independence is still strong. It really gives you a sense of what difficulties and oppressions the American colonies labored under, doesn’t it?

Image: retrieved from

An amazing promise

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
I find this verse to be marvelous and astounding. It seems almost inconceivable that Christ would allow me to sit with Him on His throne even if I overcame the world. Considering my measly state right now, I might be inclined to think that this is just an honorary reward, kind of like an honorary doctorate degree (you know, where some university thinks you’re a pretty neat person so they give you a paper saying you have an honorary doctorate degree in… whatever). So there’s a tendency to think that Christ would let me sit on His throne with Him, give me a crown and a scepter to wave around for a little while so I can pretend I’m special and then that’s it, I have to give it all back at the end of the day and no real authority or power was shared.

Or there might be a tendency to think that it is a extended throne-sitting session with Christ where I sit back in awe and watch Christ do His Thing but still I can have no part in it.

But no, to make sure that we don’t misunderstand, Christ adds that our sharing the throne with Him will be just like how He shares the throne with the Father. We don’t think of Christ as being just a figurehead ruler. We think of Him as being very involved, with great power and authority. He’s part of the Godhead, after all! If we read this scripture plainly it says to those of us “that overcometh” that Christ will make us equal with Him. This idea is so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men that those who are honest in heart must say that it came from God.

Joseph Smith wrote:
These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever. … These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all. These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood. These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.

Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, … by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. …

… [The righteous who have died] shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more, but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. (Chapter 18: Beyond the Veil: Life in the Eternities,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007), 221-222.)
That's what we're aiming for.

Image from the book “Spain – John L. Stoddard’s Lectures” by John L. Stoddard, as retrieved January 13, 2009 from