Sunday, April 26, 2009

Christ’s atonement and the need for the resurrection

I got to give another talk in church today. It was “invite a friend Sunday” so our talks were geared towards those who might not be familiar with our church. Ta daaa, here it is if you couldn’t get it live:

Have you ever tried to complete a crossword puzzle- or for those of you who prefer numbers to words- a sudoku grid with a pen? Have you ever typed an essay without once hitting the delete button? Remember “do overs” in elementary school when you didn’t get it right the first try? Or maybe for some of us it’s a little more recent than elementary school. Can you imagine going through life without any way to correct our mistakes? What a drag that would be! How long would it take until we just gave up in frustration?

Before this world was created, God had a plan for us. We would be sent to this world. We would obtain a body, like He had. We would experience life and all the joys and pains that come with these bodies. Our lives would be a time to prove our faithfulness and love for Him. When our mortal lives were complete, the plan was (and still is) for us to return back to live with Him again.

When we were created, God knew that we would be imperfect. He knew human nature was not a sinless one. He planned on that, however, in the Pearl of Great Price, from the book of Moses, we learn that “no unclean thing can dwell” in God’s presence. How would we be able to return to live with him, if we are imperfect, unclean beings? Without a way to repent and become clean there would be no point in going through this life. It would be like trying to complete a crossword puzzle with a pen, or typing an essay without a delete button, or having no “do overs”. We’d never win. What is it we’d like to win? Eternal life, exaltation in the life to come, living again in the presence of God. Lucky for us we have been given a way so that life is not frustratingly pointless. We can win.

God knew we would not be able to keep his commandments in perfectness. Christ was the only one to accomplish such a feat. The laws of justice demand a price for sin. There is no way we could ever pay that price ourselves. Christ, our Savior, the only one who had no price to pay, paid our debt for us, through which justice is met and we receive mercy and salvation.

Jesus Christ volunteered in the life before this one to take upon him the sins of the world. He was born and was the only person in the history of the world to live a perfect life. He was the only qualified person to do what he did for us. He gave his perfect life in ransom for our imperfect lives. In the Garden of Gethsamane he took upon himself the sins, pains, afflictions and burdens of the world. As a final sacrifice he gave his life on the cross. He would not stay dead forever. 3 days after his burial, he rose as a resurrected being. His spirit and body had been reunited and he lives again. He had overcome death and paved the way for us that we might overcome death as well. Without Him, our bodies would lie as dust once our spirits left us at the end of our mortal existence, and our spirits would be in such a state that would be unfit to return to our Father’s presence leaving us under Satan’s dominion. Christ paid the price we could not pay ourselves to save us from such a fate.

The atonement accomplishes two things. First it overcomes physical also known as temporal death. Christ was the first person to be resurrected. We too will be resurrected. Everyone will have the gift of immortality in the life to come. After our bodies die, our spirit and our body will become separated. When we are resurrected our spirit and body will be reunited in a perfected form.

The second thing the atonement does is saves us from spiritual death which is not the same as temporal, or physical death. Spiritual death is the separation of ourselves from God. Remember how no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God? While every one will be saved from the physical death and be resurrected, to be saved from spiritual death requires personal choice and repentance. The atonement allows us to repent for our sins and cleanse ourselves if we so choose. It’s like being allowed to use a pencil while working on a crossword, or the delete button when typing an essay or using “do overs” when playing a game and you mess up first thing. It allows us to win.

Can you imagine what would happen if Christ hadn’t overcome these two forms of death for us? If we’re not able to return to God, where would that leave us? In the Book of Mormon, the 2nd Book of Nephi, Chapter 9 verses 6-10 describes the importance of a resurrection and what would happen without it and the atonement:

“6. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.”

What this verse is saying is we need the resurrection to fulfil God’s plan that he has for us- the plan for us to return to Him. We need a resurrection because we have death. We have death because of the fall of Adam that occurred in the Garden of Eden. With the fall of Adam came not only physical death, but spiritual death which is being cut off from the presence of the Lord.

7. “Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement– save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth to rise no more.

8. O the wisdom of God, in his mercy and Grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God and became the devil, to rise no more.

9. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God...

10. O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.”

So as we can see from these verses here, without the atonement, and without a resurrection, we would become subject to Satan, but God made sure that we would have a way to make it back to Him. He wouldn’t send us here with no hope or chance to return. Who wants to play a game you know you have no chance of winning? He wants us to win this one. He loves us so much he gave his only begotten son, the only person in the world who had no price to pay for his sins, as a sacrifice to pay the price for ours. He lives again, and because of him, we will live again and have a way to repent of our sins so that we might regain our Heavenly Father’s presence.

I know that these things I have shared with you are true. I am grateful for the atonement and what it means for us. Without it life would be frustratingly pointless and God’s plan could not be possible. I love my savior, Jesus Christ and I love my Heavenly Father. Life is not frustratingly pointless. Because of the atonement, if we play the game as best as we can and endure to the end, we can win.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And he’s like, and I’m all, and um, you know, like uh…

Have you ever like, actually listened to yourself speak? A few weeks ago I was out to lunch talking with a friend and, like, when I had finished what I was saying to her, I realized I had like, used the word “like”, like, like, a million times. See what I mean? By the time I was done talking I was annoying myself and hoped I wasn’t irritating her with my overuse of it. As lunch went on I noticed she used that word just as often as I did. Huh, I hadn’t been aware of this before. It’s a word so programmed into my head that until then I didn’t hear it or notice when it was used or even think anything was wrong with it. For some reason that day I finally started to hear it. And since then, I’ve been hearing it a lot. What used to blend into the conversational background hardly noticeable now pops out at me like a bomb whenever anybody else is speaking. I have learned that I am no where near as bad as some people when it comes to the like, you know, uh, “like factor”. As you can see, or should I say, hear, “like” is not the only repeat offender. “Um” and y’know in combination with a whole lot of likes bless our conversations with their presence on a regular basis. It’s been interesting listening to those around me the last few weeks. At least I am not alone in my like, habitual use of, you know, certain words and like, uhh, phrases. So with this new found awareness, I’m trying to be very careful in my speech and purposefully edit my words before they come out so I don’t rely on habitual speech patterns that might make me like sound like, like a valley girl. Duh.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


As you know from the previous post, Courtney and I drove to Utah Thursday night/Friday morning. We got on I-80 in West Sacramento around 10pm and drove all night long. We were fine. Wide awake. Full of energy and pizzazz! That is, until around 3am. That’s when it started getting hard to not feel drowsy, and as a passenger not doze off…for me anyway. We agreed that we would both stay awake and the passenger would help keep the driver alert. I drove from about 1am to 5am until I needed a break and switched spots again with Courtney. It was very quiet in her car besides the upbeat music we kept playing. The road was passing by and the engine was humming a very soothing lullaby beneath the sounds of the CD player. It was still dark outside. I remembered how hard it was to feel alert and awake while I was driving and wondered how Courtney was doing. As a passenger I was fighting to keep my eyes open. I had nothing I could think to bring up to talk about, the only thing going through my head I kept thinking to myself was “I’m awake, I’m awake, I’m awake.” Even though my thoughts weren’t very interesting, I knew it was my duty as a passenger to share them with Courtney anyway to break the silence and help us keep our minds alert.

“I’M AWAKE!!!!”

I shared my thoughts all right. In an instant I had decided to share them at the top of my lungs.

At the time I thought it was a genius idea. Now I realize I’m lucky we didn’t end up flying off the road in case Courtney jumped. Actually, the flinch was well maintained and we didn’t even leave our lane. I was very impressed.

I was laughing hysterically once I yelled it and through more idiotic laughing told her, “And now you are too!!” Once she recovered from the scream out of nowhere Courtney laughed with me. “You scared the crap out of me!” Hahaha! It was probably only funny because we hadn’t had any sleep and everything was hilarious at that time, but it was a fairly effective tactic. We were wide awake for at least the next 7 minutes.

The First and the Last

Thursday last week I was getting ready for a weekend trip to Utah with my cousin Courtney. The plan was to leave Thursday night and drive all night and arrive at my brother’s house around breakfast time the next morning. Courtney dropped me off there for the weekend and she continued to drive on another half hour to spend the weekend with her best friend.

Thursday afternoon before leaving to my grandma’s house where Courtney was going to pick me up I stopped somewhere to complete an errand before I was on my way. I was heading back to my car in the parking lot when a man calls to me and says, “Excuse me, Ma’am?”

Uh oh. I hate it when strange people talk to me. I usually try to avoid this by walking with a purpose and not making eye contact with people who look to be wanting signatures for something or money or time I don’t have to give. I got quite good at it going to school at Sac State. They always have people trying to corner you in the busy walkways by the library. As good as I got at the “walk with a purpose don’t make eye contact” strategy, obviously it doesn’t always work every time and despite my not looking at them they’ll ask me their opening line- one of: Do you have a few minutes…do you have money…do you want to save the earth…do you like animals…etc. Those are the times I go to plan B and flash a smile at them as I continue my purposeful walk forward without slowing. No need to say anything unless I feel like it that day (or if they start walking with me) and as long as I don’t slow down or stop. Never show any signs of hesitation or slowing or else they’ve got you. Sometimes I’ll throw in a “Sorry, no” while grinning at them and continuing my quick determined walk forward.

I approached my car. The man walked towards me. “Excuse me Ma’am” he said again when he saw I was stopping at my car. He made sure to leave enough distance between us that I wouldn’t feel threatened. “Do you happen to have…” I immediately tried to think of ways out of whatever it was he was going to ask me and was dreading the end of his question. I don’t have any money to spare, I don’t want to sign your petition, and I don’t know how to get to where ever it is you’re trying to get to. It wasn’t like I could resort to my usual Plan B; I was already at my destination I so purposefully walked to. He finished his query, “…any food?”


It was a pleasant surprise and any dread or irritation I had went away. I wasn’t expecting that. It just so happened I had a whole bunch of individual bags of sun-chips in a brown bag in my back seat to snack on during my upcoming drive to and from Utah. I looked at him, opened my car door with out saying anything, pulled out a bag of chips, smiled at him and said, “Here, I have a bag of chips for you!”

“ALRIGHT, haHA! Yes!” He did a little jump up and down dance. “Thank you! God bless you! haHA!”

“You’re welcome!” It made me feel good yet sad at the same time to see how grateful and excited he was over just a bag of chips. He took them, and blessed me again. He put the chips under his jacket/sweater and walked back to his post in front of the building. I saw him talking to another woman walking out of it before I drove off. I wondered how successful the rest of his day would be.

On the drive back to California on Sunday, Courtney and I had 2 more passengers. My brother Danny and his wife Brittany came back with us so he could pick up a truck in the bay area he was getting for his car dealership business. When we got to be 20 minutes away from our g-ma’s we stopped to pick up my other brother David so he could come home with us to visit while Danny was in town. His wife Nancy and kids would come the next day. I had one bag of sun chips left when we pulled up to David’s house. I felt like I needed to get rid of it, so I offered it to him. He declined. Nobody else wanted it either so it sat in my bag by itself missing the other bags of sun-chips that had already been eaten. We took the exit off the freeway towards my g-ma’s house where my car was parked waiting to take my brothers, Brittany and I the last hour or so of our journey home. The light had just turned red. Instead of staying in the middle lane that could also turn left, my brother pulled into the next lane over so we wouldn’t be stuck behind slower cars once the light turned green.

There was a very somber looking man sitting on the side of the off ramp right next to where we stopped. He was holding a card board sign that had “$” drawn on it. Hmmm. I remembered my bag of chips I was trying to get rid of. I asked those in the car if they thought I should give them to him- it wasn’t money like he wanted. I was sitting between Brittany and Courtney in the middle back seat. Feeling safe with Brittany as my buffer I reached over her, rolled the window down, held out the bag of chips to the man and asked him if he wanted them. “Sure,” he got up walked over to the opened window and took them, “Thanks”. “You’re welcome!” and up went the window again. He sat back down on the ground, put the chips in the front pocket of his hoodie and continued to hold his sign looking just as morose as before. The light turned green and we rolled away. I wondered how successful the rest of his day would be. At least he had a snack to munch on while waiting to make it big on the Jefferson off ramp in West Sac.

I realized how appropriate it was to give him my last bag of sun-chips when I remembered where my first bag had gone. Yesterday there was a bowl of sun chips at my Aunt’s house. Brittany saw them and said, “Katie, there’s sun chips.”

“I know. I saw them. I was thinking, where’s a bum I can give them to?”