Neither Do I Condemn Thee

To start this off I’ll give you the context of the title. The Pharisees show up to Christ with this woman and tell Him she has been caught in the act of adultery. She was messing up with a guy she shouldn’t have been. They state that in the law of Moses, she is suppose to be stoned. I looked what the other translations of “stone” meant. It also means gossip, so in other words to just say fowl things to her. This got me thinking this week about myself. I have this wonderful woman I know that always praises her husband, I never hear her say mean things about him. They have been married for over 30 years and she still misses him when he is gone at work. I then got thinking about how I talk about the people I love. Do I cast stones at then, even behind their back? Am I treating them the way she was treated, being dragged out and made ashamed. I then took it upon myself to not do that and to change the conversation when others were.

Back to the story, Christ stays peaceful and just leans down and starts writing in the sand. They ask him what he has to say. He then basically says, “Who ever here is absolutely perfect and never messes up can say whatever they want to her.” Which, by the way, HE could have. But instead, they run away and is gentle with her. He asks her who has anything mean to say about you? She replies with, no one Lord. He then, being perfect and justified to say whatever He wants to her, sees her. He saw HER! Not just the sin, He saw her brokenness. Instead, chooses to tell her, “I have nothing mean to say to you. Now, go, and become better. Try again.” And in a Bible Video that I will include the link to, He holds her. He picks her up off the ground, and helps her walk forward. This story changed my relationship with my Savior so much. He died for the sin already, go forward and let Him heal you. “Neither do I condemn thee.” What sweet words to use. He knows what she did was wrong, but He also knows she knows, and what she needs to feel love in order to move forward. John 8 holds so much of Christ’s true character in it. Just John the book across the board shows Christ’s light and hope better than anywhere else in my opinion.

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One more word I want to focus on before I finish is “condemn.” With the context the word is surrounded by it means “benevolent.” The beauty of this, is that He could have said anything to her but instead Christ was kind. I want to be this in all of my future relationships, I want to choose the harder thing and be king. I can know peoples flaws and not have to say them. I want to love not be right.

Even Before the Beginning.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Words that I needed reminding of this week. I think, honestly, they are words we need to be reminded every day of. That we are so important to our Father in Heaven that He sacrificed GREATLY for us to be able to make it back home.

This fact means our life problems matter to him. Evidence, I was taken a simple assessment for one of my classes. I was quick studying a little bit more before class started. As I studied I looked at one specific term and just really felt like I needed to know it. It was the only term used on the assessment. I know God cares about things in our lives that may seem minuscule, even assessments. We care, He cares more. Image result for lds jesus christ

In return He simply asks us to be like his son that he sent to us. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Christ is speaking to Nicodemus about how a man can be born when he is old? He then asks the silly question, do we have to go back into our mother womb? Christ then says that we need to be born of the flesh AND the spirit. That what is born of the flesh is flesh but “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (verse 6). So how are we born of the Spirit? We are born by accepting our Savior and letting His light shine through us. Something I love is the contrast of light and dark used all throughout John. He is an incredible writer of themes to focus on. Christ says: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the ligth, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:18-21). I probably should paraphrase that, but I would feel unworthy to try and turn Christ words into my own words. He then teaches that we are to be baptized by HIS power and authority. And that heaven will provide us with this power.

I want testify of my witness of the wonderful, wonderful power. I have seen it in His scriptures, translated by one worthy of His power, which shape me every day continually. I have seen it in my Dad, who has blessed me by living worthy to have it in our home every day. I saw it on my mission, being set apart from the world by that sacred and holy power. I love the Priesthood, and I know without a doubt I was baptized by it and every day am more converted to my Lord by that covenant. I am grateful for Temples, because they are my Lord’s home here on Earth. I want to end with a children’s song. 1. I love to see the temple.

  1. I’m going there someday
    To feel the Holy Spirit,
    To listen and to pray.
    For the temple is a house of God,
    A place of love and beauty.
    I’ll prepare myself while I am young;
    This is my sacred duty.
    2. I love to see the temple.
    I’ll go inside someday.
    I’ll cov’nant with my Father;
    I’ll promise to obey.
    For the temple is a holy place
    Where we are sealed together.
    As a child of God, I’ve learned this truth:
    A fam’ly is forever.

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He Sent His Son

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This children’s song has played such a great role in my life. It has been there for me in my darkest hours. The words to this song speak love from a Father in Heaven that pierce me to the core.

How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?
He sent his Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness.
How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?
He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know.
How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death?
He sent his Son to die for us and rise with living breath.
What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?
Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way.
What does he ask? Live like his Son.

This week my studies were focused on that sacrifice that our Heavenly Father made for us. The wonderful act of the Atonement was the great key to getting back home. It is also the great key to becoming someone who wants to go home. There is this wonderful talk by Brad Wilcox where he touches on this.

““Have you been changed by grace?” They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place. Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” As my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us.” As Moroni puts it, grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior (see Moroni 7:48).

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can live after we die but that we can live more abundantly (see John 10:10). The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be transformed (see Romans 8). Scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God (see Alma 40:26), but, brothers and sisters, no unchanged thing will even want to.” (His Grace is Sufficient).

A thought I have been having along with all of this as well is Heavenly Father’s role in all of this. How He felt watching His only begotten son hurt and have to leave him. How wonderful it is to know we are loved by Heavenly Father so much that He has given a chance. He believes in us. He trusts us because He loves us.

“There appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (Luke 22:43).

When we feel like we can’t go on anymore, remember even the provider of Grace needed the comfort of an angel.

“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).

Let Grace change you, and in turn share that change. He walked the the painful lonely road to raise you up. He hung on the cross, so that He can be our strength to bear up our own crosses. Joy is felt in him. Joy can be felt. Brad Wilcox concludes his beautiful talk with this:

“As God is my witness, I love the youth of this church. I believe in you. I’m pulling for you. And I’m not the only one. Parents are pulling for you, leaders are pulling for you, and prophets are pulling for you. And Jesus is pulling with you.”

And Elder Holland says to back him up:

““Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

I testify that God lives, that He is our Eternal Father, that He loves each of us with a love divine. I testify that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh and, having triumphed in this world, is an heir of eternity, a joint-heir with God, and now stands on the right hand of His Father. I testify that this is Their true Church and that They sustain us in our hour of need—and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Of that I personally attest. I thank my Father in Heaven for His goodness past, present, and future” (An High Priest of Good Things to Come).

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We See Him in Those We Serve.

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I am going to start with a couple of verse from Matthew 25:

 

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Verses 34-36).

King meaning Jesus Christ. This scripture has meant so much to me since the beginning of my mission. In the MTC I heard the song “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” My favorite lyrics to this song is:

In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”
Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
(Verses 6-7)
An elder with an incredible voice sang this acapella, and I felt this incredible feeling. What I was about to do was not about me, but that through this I was going to know my Savior in a way that I would never be able to put into words.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Verses 37-40).
As I studied these verses I contemplated on my life now. Am I doing things to see Jesus Christ? Am I where He is? OR am I where His children are that need me? So as I contemplated these questions, that also went so well with last weeks Good Samaritan pondering, I did something about it. I prayed to know who needed me this week. I then was blessed to help someone go to the temple and just sit in there for the first time in who knows how long. She can’t go all the way in, but we just sat in the waiting room and prayed. I saw Him there. As I prayed, He spoke to me. Why? Is what I asked Him. I said, I am not even doing the work for the dead, I am just sitting here. And in reply the Spirit said to me, “Because you are doing the work for the living.” I felt His presence more at that moment than I feel like I have in the temple in a long time. And it was because I really wasn’t there for me. I was there to serve one of Heavenly Father’s children and He could not be more pleased with me. Earlier in the chapter there is a verse that I will always love:
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Verse 21).
So I also looked for patterns and themes as I studied, and the on going theme was turning outward and not inward for your own healing. Be willing to give at all times, don’t just do it when it is convenient. Always show charity, to even people that you may feel are lower than you. In reality though, we are all at the same level trying to make it to the same place. See others, the way Christ sees them. Show that your heart isn’t yours, that it is the saviors.
In the mist of our trials, there is joy. The joy is in seeing Christ in those we serve. So to echo what I emphasized last week, find someone to serve. You will find answers to more of your prayers by doing that, than just by begging on your knees. Pressforward faithfully, brothers and sisters. Below I have attached a link to a video of Christ teaching and it is wonderful.

We are all Good Samaritans!

Image result for good samaritan ldsMy heart is always touched by the story of the Good Samaritan. The kindness this brother was made of can only be contributed to his true relationship with Christ.

The story begins before it Jesus even starts to tell it. A certain lawyer approaches Christ and asks him “Master, what shall I do to inherit Eternal life?” (Luke 10:25) Tempting Christ, the Savior in turn replies, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27) Lawyers were also known as scribes back then. They were well educated and were very letter-of-the-law. They wrote the law in greater detail and taught people the law. They were always caught trying to trip up Jesus, but Christ always returned peace. So here Christ was showing how He lived the story He was about to tell this man and all of us. He always taught kindly. The lawyer than came at him with the question that begins the story, “And who is my neighbour?” (verse 29). 

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee” (Luke 10:30-35)

Christ could have easily said, “everyone, you turd.” Instead though he lets us learn. The Samaritans weren’t their favorite people back then, and being the one used in the example was very edgy. He then follows with this question to the Lawyer:

“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (verse 36).

Then Christ tells the Lawyer and all of us, “Go, and do thou likewise.”

So I took on the invitation. I am in the Relief Society presidency and am over a large group of sisters. But while I was thinking about how this applied to me, I thought of all the sisters I lived by that I wasn’t over and prayed to help one of them. I am always open to helping those I am obligated to overview, but am I open to helping those I don’t have to. Then on Valentines Day I ran into a couple of sisters in a different ward and asked them what they were doing. They all had dates but one. So I asked her out on a date and told her to wear her favorite dress. I then took her to SodaVine and paid for her so she really could enjoy her time. It was so nice and a lot of fun for me. I don’t tell this story to toot my own horn but to prove prayers are answered if we have a willing heart.

Our charity isn’t just needed by those the Lord puts us over. It is for those who need Jesus Christ, so that narrows it down to everyone.

A word that stuck out to me was “wounded.” I looked up in the topical guide and its comparison is “cruelty.” Which connected it to, “Oppression, persecution, and scourge.” That gave this whole thing a new feel to me. It no longer was just physical pain, but emotional torture.

“I have a cherished painting in my office that is titled Entrance to Enlightenment. It was created by a friend of mine, the Danish artist Johan Benthin, who was the first stake president in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The painting shows a dark room with an open door from which light is shining. It is interesting to me that the light coming through the door does not illuminate the entire room—only the space immediately in front of the door.

To me, the darkness and light in this painting are a metaphor for life. It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. We might have lost a loved one; a child might have strayed; we might have received a troubling medical diagnosis; we might have employment challenges and be burdened by doubts or fears; or we might feel alone or unloved.

But even though we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances, God promises the hope of His light—He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness” (The Hope of God’s Light, Elder Uchtdorf).

So remember, when faced with the cruelties of the world, look for the Samaritans in your life, they are there. You do not stand alone. There is someone praying to be needed by you.

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Thou Art the Christ.

Proudly declaring is one thing I loved so much about my mission, and now being an RM with the tools to know how to continue to declare.

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Matthew 16

13 ¶When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

What does it mean to me to proudly declare/be a true Disciple:

  • Not worrying about who is greatest. (Mark 9:35)
  • Have Faith and Doubt not (Matthew 21:21)
    • I read a talk on doubting this week by Elder Jeffrey Holland called “Lord, I Believe.” In it Elder Holland talks about the fact that we all do have doubts, that we eventually face questions and that is okay. But we are not to be proud of our doubts and put them before our faith. He states, “I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man [speaking of the father from Mark 9]! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.”  
    • And to quote my current favorite song by Katy Perry called Rise-
    • “Oh, ye of so little faith
      Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
      Victory is in my veins
      I know it, I know it
      And I will not negotiate
      I’ll fight it, I’ll fight it
      I will transform”
  • Trust in Christ enough to follow Him and believe in His promises. (Matthew 14)
    • I think too often we crave immediate and believe that we need to see the proof before we follow. We are the ones who need to reach out and touch Christ without proof but with faith in not only Him but also in what He promises. He promises that if we reach He will receive swiftly and heal.
    • Elder Bednar said in His 2016 October talk titled “If Ye Had Known Me.”-
    • “The exercise of faith in Jesus Christ is relying upon His merits, mercy, and grace.7 We begin to come to know the Savior as we arouse our spiritual faculties and experiment upon His teachings, even until we can give place in our souls for a portion of His words.8 As our faith in the Lord increases, we trust in Him and have confidence in His power to redeem, heal, and strengthen us.”
  • Lose your life in Christ (Luke 17:33)
    • I remember on my mission a time when I was really struggling and I felt like I was being held back by something. I went and got a blessing and in the blessing it said I had been more diligent at times on my mission than I was at other times. When I was driving home and that whole weekend I was so frustrated with God. I thought I had really given my all on my mission, I mean I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t understand. I thought He said He saw our hearts and not our numbers. So I was listening to a talk one day and it hit me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t as diligent at the work, but that me turning humbly in prayer to my Father in Heaven was something I was lacking. At some points on my mission I was so good at really praying with full intent, and at other points I was more going through the motions.
  • Be Forgiving (Luke 17:3-4)
    • Being unforgiving is only drinking your own poison, one of my favorite quotes ever.
  • Move forward and don’t return to your sins (Luke 17:31-32)
    • Elder Holland said in his talk “Remember Lot’s Wife.”
    • “It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind. We certainly know that Laman and Lemuel were resentful when Lehi and his family were commanded to leave Jerusalem. So it isn’t just that she looked back; she looked back longingly. In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.”
  • Take up your cross (Luke 9:25)
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  • Confessing Christ (Luke 12 JST)

So one thing I wanted to really point out is that it is okay to have doubts and question, but do not let them shake the ground you have already one. State what you believe first. You believe that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is true. Then breathe. Pray. And ask humbly for strength to understand and patient until further knowledge is reveled. There is always hope. Stay true to what you know, and you will not be swayed.

 

Christ’s Healing Power.

The greatest principle (relation to my life) that I learned this week was giving my all with faith that Jesus Christ will heal me. In Mark 2:1-12, it is about the man with palsy and how the room was too packed for them to be able to bring him into the room for Christ to heal him. So they took some of the roof off and lowered him down. Then Christ tells the man he his sins were forgiven. The scribes then mocked Christ and said, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” (verse 7) Christ then perceived what they were speaking in their hearts. Christ them asks them if it is easier to say “They sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed and walk?” Christ then heals the main with palsy and he does immediately arise and take up his bed, which means his sins immediately departed from him as well. The thing that I got most out of this is the effort put into it. Something that I have always thought is that to be strong is to do it on your own. The man with palsy literally couldn’t do it on his own and he had to somehow get to Christ. But he had such wonderful people who loved him greatly that were willing to go to such extents for him to be healed. It took all of their faith and effort to get him to Christ. Christ could have easily just gone to the man and healed him and left, but how much growing would that have allowed all of the people not just the man with palsy. God gives us people because we aren’t meant to struggle alone. My first couple of weeks at school have were rough. I just go off my mission and I have never done college before and I haven’t been to school in almost three years. I was trying to learn how to balance everything with really bad anxiety. So I prayed one morning begging my Father in Heaven for something, anything. I couldn’t do it anymore and I was quickly losing strength. It was a battle to just breathe some days. Then during Brother Eaton’s class he got up and offered if anyone needed any extra help in anyway to come to him. So I did. I was also going to see a counselor that day. When I met with Brother Eaton he helped me so much just feel seen and encouraged me that I can do this. Then on my way to see my counselor I ran into a friend that told me to stop worrying about my grades and just give my best effort. Then when I met with the counselor he set me up with a group therapy session every week. As I was studying this chapter I realized how many people God has given me to lower me down to the Savior. Even as I type this I can’t help but feel my heart swell with gratitude. We aren’t meant to carry our burdens on our own. It even says in Matthew 11:28-29 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” We have to have the burden so we can grow, but so that those God has put in our lives can grow as well. This life is too hard to think we need to do it all alone. Even Christ had is friends by his side who loved Him greatly. They weren’t perfect, just like the people that surround us, but they tried. And those people who loved the man with palsy were trying with all of their heart. People do care about us, it is the adversary who wants us to believe we need to do this alone. One of my favorite quotes is from Harry Potter. Harry goes to talk to Luna Lovegood and he tells her that he feels like he needs to do this alone so no one else gets hurt. She then tells him, that’s exactly what I would want you to think if I was Voldemort. Because if he only has to face you it will be easy to be you Harry, but if you have an army you will be so much harder to beat. Now those are my own words not exactly what she says, but what it means is powerful and goes with this chapter perfectly. The many with palsy had no chance on his own, but with many around him he was able to be healed and walk again. And his sins were no longer his to bear. If we feel like we have gone to far or sinned too much, or that we are just too broken to be healed. All we need to do is look around and see that there is an army there by our side, on this side of the veil and on the other. We cannot lower ourselves to Christ and that is okay. Heavenly Father wants us to learn how to reach out to those around us, because it is helping us practice reaching out to our Savior. And it allows others to practice charity and know that now they have someone who they can turn to when they need to be lowered to the all-loving Redeemer.

There is no need to feel hopeless, just don’t hide your sorrows. Don’t be ashamed of your brokenness, we all are broken, but the Atonement promises healing. Trust and He will catch you when lowered to Him. He just asks that we try. I say these words humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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Status

They Have Arrived!

Quote

First email!

“We got our first email from our new missionary. She is loving the MTC and is so grateful to be there. I could not be more proud than knowing that my daughter is doing what she and Lord know is right for her right now in her life. Hattie is strong and capable, and once she sets her mind to something there is no stopping her. The Lord helped her set her mind and now she will do His work with a fervency no one can comprehend. I love my girl and look forward to all the wonderful stories she will share.”

Hattie’s Mom