Christians are to be Christ-like. One of the best way to do so is by performing service. During His earthly ministry, not only did Christ teach and preach, but He served others: He healed the sick, ate with the poor and sinners, and forgave. He is our King, Lord, and Savior. But, He acted as a servant during His life: during the Last Supper, He washed the feet of His disciples! We should follow His example of having a servant’s heart.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, representing Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, treading on palm leaves, before He spent the last week of His mortal life. But, as we know, a week later, three days after He was crucified and died for our sins, He was resurrected. And because of Him, we, too, can taste everlasting life. #Hallelujah, He lives!
[ctt title=”#Hallelujah! He lives!” tweet=”Follow Him and find new life! Happy Easter 2016 season. #hallelujah #sharegoodness” coverup=”yQifl”]
I love the Easter season. Easter represents spring, new beginnings, new life. And how appropriate that Spring begins around Easter. Spring in it’s eternity represents Christ’s resurrection. Because of His death, we may live. Because of Him, I belong to a hopeful church. Because of Him, I know I can see my family again after death.
I have been very lucky in my life not to have known the loss of a dear one. I have known both sets of grandparents in my life. However, my maternal grandmother died when I was one. I grew up hearing about Grandma Rhea. I grew up hearing farm stories about her youth from my dad. I grew up hearing about how she cared for my mother when she was newly wed as a barely-20-year old. I grew up hearing how I look a lot like her. I grew up seeing a sketching of her in my living room, her kind eyes always beaming down on me. I grew up with my family wrapping ourselves in a quilt made of her old clothing. I grew up believing that she is my guardian angel. Because of Christ, I know that I will see her again, and this time, I will know her. #Hallelujah
My paternal grandpa passed away on Christmas Day 2014. We all knew it was inevitable. He was suffering from very poor health for years before, and it was finally time for him to leave us and return to our Father. Even though my grandfather made mistakes in how he treated people and himself throughout his life, his grandchildren were his pride and joy. He loved us to no ends. I remember having tickle fights with him. He taught me how to play chess and cribbage. He would always invite us to sit on his lap while he sped down the road and popped wheelies in his electric wheelchair (giving my mom and grandma heart attacks in doing so). He always wanted to see us. My grandpa was declining in health and in a nursing home when I was married in August 2012. He was even worse when I gave birth to Rhys in July 2014. When Rhys was about a month old, we visited my grandpa. He teared up when he saw Rhys, his 7th great-grandchild. One of the most precious pictures I have of my grandpa is of his big, old, withered hand, holding Rhys’s tiny, new, perfect hand. I cherish that photo. Because of Christ, I know that I will see him again, and he will be able to play with Rhys even more vigorously than he ever was able to play with me. #Hallelujah
This Easter season, I challenge you to think more of our Savior, Jesus Christ, than of Easter bunny and eggs and chocolate. Think of those you have lost and who can be with you again through the Resurrection of Christ. Follow Him and find new life. Repent of your sins, try to be more like Him, and feel His love and Grace and Life within you.
What makes you say Hallelujah this Easter?
He Is Risen
- 1. He is risen! He is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice.He has burst his three days’ prison;Let the whole wide earth rejoice.Death is conquered; man is free.
Christ has won the victory.
2. Come with high and holy hymning;Chant our Lord’s triumphant lay.Not one darksome cloud is dimmingYonder glorious morning ray,Breaking o’er the purple east,
Symbol of our Easter feast.
3. He is risen! He is risen!He hath opened heaven’s gate.We are free from sin’s dark prison,Risen to a holier state.And a brighter Easter beamOn our longing eyes shall stream.
**Click here to learn more about the Easter 2016 #Hallelujah campaign.
The more I become an adult, the more I begin to understand the doctrine of my church more and more. Being a teacher, and now being a mother, has opened up my eyes and allowed me to glimpse at what it must be like for our loving Heavenly Father. And, the more and more I feel for Him, but the more and more I am so grateful for such a hopeful church.
I have been Mormon all my life, as you know. Throughout my life, I have heard from friends, Internet, articles, history, school, literature, etc. of heaven vs. hell. I have read and heard of ministers preaching brimstone and fire. I have seen and learned of religious men and women who have the fear—terror (not the fear-respect) of God. I have felt for my friends and characters who mourn lost ones who failed to join their religion because they believe they won’t end in heaven.
What a relief for me in what I and my religion believes. We have a more hopeful outlook in the afterlife.
Christ died so that we may live. Through His Atonement, He gave the greatest gift to mankind–GRACE and the hope of eternal life. In the LDS Church, we believe that after the say all and end all, after the end of the world, the Millennium, the Judgement, and the ultimate success and triumph of Christ and Heavenly Father over Satan, there is a wonderful plan for us. (Click here to read more about the Mormon view of the afterlife and the 3 degrees of heaven.) We don’t believe in “heaven” and “hell” in a traditional sense. But, we do believe in 3 kingdoms of glory. The highest is where God and Christ have domain and where the most righteous of His followers will live forever after. Then, two lower degrees, both of which are still better than any life known here on Earth. Even the sinner, the murderers, the bad guys have a chance to repent and accept Christ as their Savior and the only Way in the after life.
This is because if we mess up, if we sin, and of course we will-we are mortal men, we have the opportunity to repent and to receive His grace and forgiveness. There is no limit to the amount of times we can repent and use His Grace. How hopeful is that!?!
God is our loving Father. We truly believe that He is our literal father and we are His literal children. Because of this, He cares so deeply for us. He is not truly a vengeful God. Yes, the Old Testament describes Him as such, but do you really think that God would change between the Old Testament and the New Testament? God does not change. But, our understanding of Him does. He knew that we would fail constantly to our carnal and mortal weaknesses, and because He loved us so much, He sent His only Begotten Son, Christ, to atone for us. God loves us as children because we ARE His children. Therefore, although He may be very, very exasperated at us, He still loves us and desperately wants us to succeed and return to Him.
I am coming to understand this more and more with each passing year. Being a teacher to junior high students really opened my eyes to this characteristic of a long-suffering, disappointed, but still ever-loving God. Teaching is all I ever wanted to do when I grew up. It was (and still is) my passion in life. I immediately formed a loving, caring bond for each and every one of my students. My goal was to help them succeed. And, as a teacher, after getting to know them and see their work, I could tell what their potential was. I knew what their abilities were. I knew what they were capable of achieving. Of course, God knows that about all of us–He created us!
But, alas. I taught 12-14 year old kids. Of course many of them didn’t care about school work. Of course many of them weren’t living up to their potential or ability. It exasperated me. I wanted so badly for them to succeed because 1) I knew they could, 2) I knew it would relieve them and make them happier. I would tell my students that I knew they could do better. I told them how much I wanted them to succeed. I explained to them that I didn’t like their current grades, it twisted my stomach. But, that their current grades going home on report cards should be a lesson. Tomorrow was a fresh start. Tomorrow they could try again. Tomorrow we could forget about yesterday’s failed test or forgotten homework, or misbehavior. Tomorrow we could and would do better. Many times, I’d give them a second chance–I’d extend deadlines, I’d allow them to correct tests for points back. I would always plead with them to take the opportunities I was giving them. However, I never forced them. It was their decision. They already knew what was expected, and they had their agency. Many never did, even though in class they would promise to do better, they would promise to submit a paper, promise to do corrections, promise to get a parent signature. A few did, a few would apologize even though they did everything I ever asked and more. I knew there were some who really did struggle but always went above and beyond in their effort. Those were the few that I really cherished. I used them as examples. I wanted them to help lift up and encourage their peers. There were times I’d be very passionate in my lectures about wanting them to do better, about their potential, about giving them second chances. Many times I would warn it was the last time I was going to give them this opportunity. But, I’d still offer it on other assignments. It hurt when they didn’t try, but I never gave up being hopeful.
Can you see how I believe I am beginning to understand my Father in Heaven better? He has given us all agency. He has given us all commandments and expectations. Sometimes we fall short. He asks us to repent and to change. We promise to do better. But, then fall short again. He admonishes us to do better and forgives us again. We promise to do better and then fail again. He warns us to repent and change. We do…for a short amount of time. But, I cannot emphasize enough the amount that He loves us. He loves us so much that He has already given us the knowledge that He will triumph. That we have a hopeful future. That we can always ask forgiveness, receive Grace, and try again and become better. That we will be with Him afterwards.
What a hopeful church I belong to!
I feel as if I have rediscovered grace this past year. Working through my trial of faith and coming to grips with what I believe, as well as my own interpretation has caused this. Two sources have really helped my understanding of grace (President Uchtdorf’s talks and the Continuous Conversion), and I really feel like I am just beginning to truly understand grace within the Mormon perspective.
What I have come to realize is that I didn’t really understand the concept of grace before last year. I mean, I knew what it was and how it worked with the atonement, but I didn’t understand the depth and the purity of grace. And, sadly, I’ve come to notice that many of us in the LDS Church misinterpret what grace really is (that’s why I loved the Continuous Conversion and Uchtdorf’s talks because they are trying to reestablish what it is).
Yes, we as LDS members believe in works. No, we don’t believe that they come before grace or above grace or instead of grace. Grace is everything. Grace is the all. Grace is how we are saved. But, we still have commandments to follow, standards to uphold, and charitable works to accomplish. That is one thing that has always bugged me about some followers of other religions. They tend to use grace as an excuse.[ctt title=”Don’t use Grace as an excuse!” tweet=”Don’t use Grace as an excuse! @themorrelltale” coverup=”VF8Ws”]
Grace as an Excuse
Ever since focusing more on the grace of our Lord and Savior, I’ve noticed that phrase a lot more in social media. It could be something hopeful as “I had a really tough day, I’ve been super busy and my mood has been low, but I have to give myself grace and I’ll get though it.” That’s a good way of using grace–we forgive ourselves and lift ourselves up out of our rut with hope.
But, then there are times like this, “I didn’t go to the gym today, but I’m giving myself grace.” “I know I said no more coke this month, but I really needed it because today has been crazy, so I’ll give myself grace.” Honestly, to me, those uses of “grace” just seem like an excuse. I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before, which talks about habits, keeping habits, and staying away from things that break habits. There was a chapter about rewards and a chapter about loopholes. This is true to point on that–we sometimes turn “grace” in our lives into excuses or loopholes to get out of responsibilities or habits or resolutions. We need to stop that.
There are also those who profess to be Christians but don’t necessarily live a Christian lifestyle. They proclaim they believe in Christ as their Savior, therefore they are saved by grace, then go about their daily lives. If they sin, it doesn’t matter, they are saved by grace. They can live how they want because it doesn’t matter–they are saved by grace. That isn’t how grace works. That is being a hypocrite: “Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men” (2 Nephi 27:25). God doesn’t want us to live our sinful lives. That’s not what grace is supposed to be used for.
Grace Improves Us
Yes, grace forgives sin. But, we have to repent of that sin. We have to actively try better, actively be better. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf is my absolute favorite general authority and has such an eloquent understanding of the Gospel. Talking about grace, he said,
But the grace of God does not merely restore us to our previous innocent state. If salvation means only erasing our mistakes and sins, then salvation—as wonderful as it is—does not fulfill the Father’s aspirations for us. His aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him.
With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.[ctt title=”With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.” tweet=”‘With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.’ #grace @themorrelltale” coverup=”69mRV”]
It leads to heights we can scarcely comprehend! It leads to exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father, where we, surrounded by our loved ones, receive “of his fulness, and of his glory.” All things are ours, and we are Christ’s. Indeed, all that the Father hath shall be given unto us.
To inherit this glory, we need more than an unlocked gate; we must enter through this gate with a heart’s desire to be changed—a change so dramatic that the scriptures describe it as being “born again; yea, born of God, changed from [our worldly] and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God,becoming his sons and daughters.”
I have recently realized that the Gospel is one of continuous progression, not perfection as the goal. The only ones who can ever be perfect are Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. But, we can continue to progress. That is the wonderful thing about His grace–it allows us to transcend our sinful mortal state and return to him! But, we have to show that we are worthy by showing that we want it desperately.
The prophet Moroni begged us to “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” (Moroni 10:32)
Grace Leads us to Obey
We need to lead the lives that God wants us to live. That is why He has given us commandments. That is why He has told us how to live throughout His earthly ministry. He doesn’t want us to say, “I am saved by His Grace” and be done with it. No. Our job isn’t done yet.
President Uchtdorf (can’t you tell I absolutely love him!) said,
The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared,“We labor diligently … to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)
However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that“after” does not equal “because.”
We are not saved “because” of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace?
I feel that this is the biggest misunderstood concept of LDS theology by both Mormons and other Christians.[ctt title=”Is the concept of grace and works misunderstood by the majority of Christians?” tweet=”Is the concept of grace and works misunderstood by the majority of Christians? #grace @themorrelltale” coverup=”pe5m_”] Christ doesn’t meet us half way. He reaches down to the very depths to lift us up. We don’t have to rise at all to meet him. However, does He want us to have our backs turned and just wait for Him? No! We should continually keep our eyes on Him and still reach for Him, knowing that He will help us. We should be anxiously engaged in trying to reach Him, with full understanding that we can’t do it without Him. We should show our love for Him and His wonderful gift of Grace. We aren’t repaying Him…there is no way we could ever do that. We are just showing Him that we love Him. After all, actions speak louder than words:
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?
Or, to put the question in Paul’s words, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Paul’s answer is simple and clear: “God forbid.”27
Brothers and sisters, we obey the commandments ofGod—out of love for Him!
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.” (President Uchtdorf)
In conclusion, I urge you Christians, please don’t use grace as an excuse. Have your face directed towards Gods at all times. Continually be trying to find Him and reach Him. Allow His grace to change and improve you. Be an example. Shine His light through your words and actions for other to see so that they may find Him and be blessed by His grace as well.
Click here to learn more about the LDS interpretation of Grace.
How do you use Grace in your life?
I didn’t really do a lot of reading a lot this month…it really just flew by! But, I did get two down. I am ….still….working on Better Than Before and I am rushing to try and finish A Man Called Ore by tonight for Bon’s (in real life) book club. I just downloaded the e-book Sunday night and have been trying to get as much done as I could to be able to be a part of the conversation tomorrow night.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (Bendon Junior Classics version)
I have never read The Time Machine before, but remember a tiny bit about the old Wishbone episode of it. It was so exciting. I loved reading it and ate it up. The main character, the time traveler, travels far into the distant future where humans have devolved into two different species: a peaceful, naive, child-like species and an ape-like demonic underground species. The time traveler gets stuck in the future and has to figure out why the two species are different and what secrets they hold. After reading this young version, I’d love to read the real novel and even see a video adaptation of it.
Hope Unfolding: Grace Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart by Becky Thompson
** I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I even had a friend who is now nearing the end of her pregnancy with her third son. She will have three under 4. She has experienced a lot of these feelings, including diagnosed depression and PPD. So, I decided to mail her this book, in hopes that she can find light and hope as much as I did through this book. I think every Christian SAHM should read this book!