Tag Archives: christian

Don’t Use Grace an an Excuse

"Oh, I didn't go to church this week. I'll give myself grace." "Oh, I missed the gym all week long. I'll just give myself grace." "I sinned. But, that's ok. God gives me grace." Don't fall into this pattern of thought. There is more to grace than that. Remember the scripture: Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

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”]

"Oh, I didn't go to church this week. I'll give myself grace." "Oh, I missed the gym all week long. I'll just give myself grace." "I sinned. But, that's ok. God gives me grace." Don't fall into this pattern of thought. There is more to grace than that. Remember the scripture: Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

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 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)

"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." Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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?

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Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Reading Roundup | February

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.

Reading Roundup, February Books: A Man Called Ove, Better than Before, The Time Machine, Hope Unfolding

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (Bendon Junior Classics version)

Target is amazing! Every so often, they will have 4-5 of these Bendon Junior Classics in their dollar section. Yah. You heard me. 4th-6th grade reading level classical novels for $1 EACH! This was a perfect way for me to build up my “classroom library” for junior high students! These novels are condensed and adapted and have pictures on every page. It made for a very easy read and easy to understand.

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.

This was an amazing book and I desperately needed it. Thompson goes through many of her life experiences of life plans not going how she wanted, feelings of loneliness of being a SAHM, and exasperation of being a mom. But, she does so through the eyes of grace, showing that we are never alone and that God has a plan for us and is with us during every moment of our lives. It was very uplifting.

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!

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Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Unity in the LDS Church

I have heard many times about friends or other people who have to go “church shopping” or “church hopping” when they move to a new place. How they try to find the best pastor, the most exciting worship music, the kindest and best community, or an interpretation of the Gospel that appeals to them the best.

Growing up in the LDS Church, I have never experienced that. And, I am so grateful that I will never have to.

Unity in any church is necessary to become the church of Christ, to embody him, to become Zion.

The LDS Church is world-wide. There are member all over the 6 liveable continents. But, what is even more exciting, is how unified the church is.

The LDS Church is the SAME throughout the world.

The LDS Church is all about organization, unity, and being on the same page. We are all organized the same way–areas, stakes, wards. Each ward is run by a Bishop and his counselors. All the groups are set up the same way. Even the lessons are the same in each congregation–we have a manual. (For more about how the LDS Church is organized and united, click here.) So, if I go on vacation, the congregation I attend will be teaching the exact same thing that my home congregation would. It is so nice to have that knowledge and reassurance. It allows us not only to have a small community, but a world-wide community.  I am so thankful for this.

But, the reason we do this is because God and Christ mandated it. In John 17: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Christ and Heavenly Father want us to be one and work together for the same eternally glorified goal, just as they are one in purpose and mind.

I have heard many times about friends or other people who have to go "church shopping" or "church hopping" when they move to a new place.

They want us to be the same, and this unity and organization helps us as mortal men to bring to pass and build up Zion. In Moses 7:18 it says, “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness.”

However, that is harder to achieve than we think because we are mortal men, prone to our carnal and natural thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, we interpret the Gospel lesson differently than the teacher. Sometimes we get discouraged in our ward. Sometimes we are offended. Sometimes we don’t agree with General Authority policy. We are not yet truly “of one heart and one mind.” A friend of mine, who recently left the church, did so because she felt her ward was a “good ol’ men’s club” who did things weirdly, and didn’t respect the women. Many of the young women in my family’s ward when they lived in Barstow, California, typically wore tank tops and short shorts (which are not up to LDS standards) because of the extreme summer heat.  These differences, these personalities, these actions and reactions hinder us. 

But, although the people of the Church may different throughout the world, the Gospel, the Church is the same. That is because it the Church of Jesus Christ once again restored to the Earth. So, though I may move and may or may not like a congregation for any reason, I still have the reassurance that I am being taught the same as any other congregation. That my activities will be the same. That my leaders are set up the same way. That the church is run the same. And, I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I will never have to “church hop” ever. I have a testimony that this is because the LDS Church truly is the Church of God.

How does your church/sect/denomination show unity and organization? How has that helped you?
 

 

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why Serve A Mission

I have mentioned before that my brother is on a two year proselytizing mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is only 18 and just barely graduated high school back in May. He was even offered a 4 year full-ride to an instate university. Why would such a young boy with such a bright academic future leave that to try to preach the Gospel in south, south, south, south Argentina (oh, and he didn’t get to chose where he was going)?

Because he is helping to spread the Word of God. He has decided to follow Christ’s admonition to be “fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). As Mormons, we love the Gospel and Word of God so much that we want everyone to have the Light of Christ in their life. Christ talked of the parable of the 99 sheep and lost one. He said we should be like the shepherd and find that lost sheep–we should bring the Gospel to all so that all can return home to our Heavenly Father’s arms (Ezekiel 4:11).

“Gospel” itself in Old English means “good news”. So, why wouldn’t we want to share the ultimate good news to others: that Jesus Christ died so that men can live! In Latin, “good news” is evangelium which derived from the Greek euangelion. So, I guess you could say that Mormon missionaries are also Evangelicals.

Gah! There are so many good scriptures in both the New Testament, as well as the Book of Mormon as to why Mormons, especially Mormon boys, should go on missions (or any Christian, really), but I’ve only chosen a few that stood out:

Mormon 9:22 For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

D&C 42:6 And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.

D&C 71:1 Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the mysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will.
D&C 128:22 Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go

Why should you go on a mission? To declare good tidings and share the light of Christ with others!

The current Mormon president/prophet of the LDS Church, Thomas S. Monson has said, “Every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary” (“As We Meet Together Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 5–6). However, going on a mission is not a requirement for LDS men or women. It is highly encouraged, but it does not affect a member’s standing or worthiness if they decline going on a mission. For example, one of my uncles didn’t go on a mission, but he has a very strong relationship with his family, teaches Sunday School, still has full priesthood authority, and has been one of my examples on how to live a good, Christian, caring life.My husband, Justin, went on a 2 year proselytizing mission for the LDS Church when he was 19. He was chosen to serve in the Salt Lake, Utah area. About why he decided to go on a mission, Justin says:

The moment I knew I was going to serve a mission was when I was 6 years old.  My brother is 13 years older than me, so when I was 6 he was 19, and he was leaving to serve his mission.  He was selected to go to northern Spain.  I remember my mother reading letter he had written to us, I remember pictures he had sent, and I remember praying for his safety while he was gone.  I saw how happy his service made my family and that is when I decided that I was going to serve one as well. 

My brother was my idol as a kid, and I wanted to do everything he did.  I grew up to have my own reasons for doing the same things he did, like serving a mission, going to BYU for college, etc, but his example paved the way for me.  

Just like every kid, I wanted to tell my parents everything about whatever TV show I was watching or video game I was playing.  It excited me, made me happy, and I was insistent upon sharing it in hopes that my excitement would be transferred to those I shared it with.  Likewise, as I got older and started learning more and more about Christ and His Gospel, I developed a love for not only Him, but His teachings.  I had a few attempts at sharing my views about God with my friends in my youth.  It was scary, but it was important.  For these reasons did I decide to serve.  I wanted to emulate the example shown to me by elder brother, but also my love for the Gospel drove me to find a chance to share it and all of its importance, despite how difficult and daunting it would turn to be.

In a later post, sometime in January, I will talk about the specifics of being on an LDS Mission.

But, just like Justin said, “I saw how happy his service made my family”, families of LDS missionaries who support them are blessed as well. My friend, Madison, from A Homemade Happily Ever After, has had a few brothers serve 2 year missions for the LDS Church. Today, she is talking about how those missions blessed her entire family. Click here to check it out.

Do you know anyone of any religion who has gone on a mission of sorts? Why did they decide to do so?

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

Book Review | One Thousand Gifts

This summer, after struggling with both anxiety/depression, and a trial of faith, my mom suggested reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book is kind of a spiritual awakening memoir of Voskamp, who grew up in the Mennonite farming community of southwestern Ontario. She isn’t Mennonite, but deeply Christian and had a personal conversion once she realized the true meaning of eucharisteo .

It's all about eucharisteo
Via

Rather than do a normal book review, I want to just share some of my favorite quotes:

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts book review--it's all about eucharisteo

“Now in the Bible, a name…reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God’s gift…To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.”

“I yearn for the stuff of saints, the hard language…I want the every fullest life…it is hard to think that the insulting ordinariness of this truly teaches the full mystery of all most important, eucharisteo.”

“In Christ, don’t we have everlasting existence? Don’t Christians have all the time in eternity, life everlasting? If Christian run out of time–wouldn’t we lose our very own existence? If anyone should have time, isn’t it the Christ-followers?”

“Time to breath deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven, or wild to get it all done–yesterday.”

“All God makes is good. Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God.”

Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts book review: it's all about eucharisteo

“The parent must always self-parent first, self-preach before child-teach, because who can bring peace unless they’ve held their own peace? Christ incarnated in the parents is the only hope of incarnating Christ in the child.”

“Feel thanks and it’s absolutely impossible to feel angry. We can only experience one emotion at a time. And we get to choose–which emotion do we want to feel.”

“Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stillness. The way I curl my toes up, tight retreat. How I angle my jaw, braced, chisel the brown with the lines of distrust. How I don’t fold my hands in prayer…weld them into tight fists of control. Always control–pseudo power from the pit. How I refuse to relinquish worry, babe a mother won’t won’t forsake, an identity. Do I hold worry close as this ruse of control, this pretense that I’m the one who will determine the course of events as I stir and church and ruminate? Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is. And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, its it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am? Or is it more? Maybe disguising my deep fears as stress seems braver somehow.”

“I want that kind of crazy, happy joy, God…How have I lost it in the growing older, duller? How to see the world again thorugh those eyes? To live in the wide-eyed wonder of a world that unwraps itself grandiose and larger-than-life, so other wordly?”

“Only self can kill joy. I’m the one doing this to me.”

Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts book review: it's all about eucharisteo

“Grace is alive , living waters. If I dam up the grace, hold the blessing tight, joy, within dies…waters that have no life.”
[ctt title=” ‘Eucharisteo is, yes, more: it is giving grace away.'” tweet=” ‘Eucharisteo is, yes, more: it is giving grace away.’ @themorrelltale” coverup=”4dboG”]

“The communion service is only complete in service. Communion, by necessity, always leads us into community.”

“The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action, writes Mother Teresa. If we pray the work…if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus…that’s what makes us content…the contented, deep joy is always in the touching of Christ–in whatever skin He comes to us in.”

Even though Voskamp’s style of writing is very abstract, it was still a great read and allowed me to slow down my life and be thankful for the small things. I would recommend it to any Christian in any denomination. Honestly, I would recommend it to anyone!

Which quote did you enjoy the most?
 

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.