Character Education, Behavior Repair, and Charles Dickens

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Character Education, Behavior Repair—“By Any Other Name. . .”

key“It is easier  to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Dickens_dream<—Charles Dickens and his characters

In Charles Dickens’ classic novel, Great Expectations, the young boy Pip started out in difficult circumstances, being raised by his older sister, who was very harsh. When he came of age, he was blessed with a considerable fortune from an unknown benefactor. His money caused him to be rather prideful and vain, but his conscience always bothered him. When at length he discovered the source of that fortune, he was humbled. In due time, Pip overcame his pride and vanity, because he ultimately heeded his conscience, felt compassion for many he had once disliked, and developed a sincere desire to do what was right.

Another story from great literature is in the Bible, where Jesus Christ met the woman taken in adultery. After He shamed her accusers, there was no one left to condemn her or throw stones at her. The Savior told her to “go and sin no more.” Although Jesus did not condemn her, neither did He forgive her at that time. There is something she needed to do first, in order to obtain that forgiveness. She needed time to repent. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.68)

The dictionary defines repent—“to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.”

Character education, behavior repair—what have you—implies the choosing of right over wrong, and making an effort to change for the better, or in other words, repentance. Repentance, by any other name, is still repentance.

People often have negative feelings about repentance. However, honest observations of our current culture compel us to acknowledge that good character leads to a more peaceful, orderly, and happy society. The truth of this principle cannot be ignored.

Parents need not be afraid of holding their children to high moral standards. The atonement of Christ is a safety net in the times of falling short, but it is fastened to repentance. Repentance is not easy, but it is easier in the long run. Still, “it is easier [yet] to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

After His suffering was over, Jesus said that if we would repent, or turn from sin, we would not have to suffer for those sins, because He already paid the price. So, at the end of the day, we see that “repentance” is really a message of love, because it is the key to mercy, and ultimately saves us from a lot of unhappiness.

Copyright © 2011 by C.A. Davidson

faith-and-freedomFortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

Charles John Huffam Dickens; 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters and is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.[1] During his life, his works enjoyed unprecedented fame, and by the twentieth century his literary genius was broadly acknowledged by critics and scholars. His novels and short stories continue to be widely popular.[2][3]

Born in Portsmouth, England, Dickens was forced to leave school to work in a factory when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison. Although he had little formal education, his early impoverishment drove him to succeed. Over his career he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.

Dickens sprang to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly installments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication.[4][5] The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback.[5] For example, when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens went on to improve the character with positive features.[6] Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence Ikey Solomon;[7] His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends, as they read episodes.[8] In the same novel, both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life—Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from ‘Looney’, a beadle at Salisbury Square.[9] His plots were carefully constructed, and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives.[10] Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.[11]

Dickens was regarded as the literary colossus of his age.[12] His 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written, and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. On the other hand Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism. The term Dickensian is used to describe something that is reminiscent of Dickens and his writings, such as poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters.[13]

More about Charles Dickens

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Gospel Teachings: Repentance, the Love of God, and Unconditional Love Definition

Gospel Teachings:

Repentance, the Love of God, and Unconditional Love Definition

Abide in My Love

D. Todd Christofferson

God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond to His love.

 

“Unconditional” not in Biblical Scripture

The Bible tells us that “God is love.”1 He is the perfect embodiment of love, and we rely heavily on the constancy and universal reach of that love. As Thomas S. Monson has expressed: “God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.”2

There are many ways to describe and speak of divine love. One of the terms we hear often today is that God’s love is “unconditional.” While in one sense that is true, the descriptor unconditional appears nowhere in scripture. Rather, His love is described in scripture as “great and wonderful love,”3 “perfect love,”4 “redeeming love,”5 and “everlasting love.”6

These are better terms because the word unconditional can convey mistaken impressions about divine love, such as, God tolerates and excuses anything we do because His love is unconditional, or God makes no demands upon us because His love is unconditional, or all are saved in the heavenly kingdom of God because His love is unconditional. God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever, but what it means for each of us depends on how we respond to His love.

Jesus said:

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”7

To “continue in” or “abide in” the Savior’s love means to receive His grace and be perfected by it.8 To receive His grace, we must have faith in Jesus Christ and keep His commandments, including repenting of our sins, being baptized for the remission of sins, receiving the Holy Ghost, and continuing in the path of obedience.9

God will always love us, but He can only save us FROM our sins, on conditions of REPENTANCE

God will always love us, but He cannot save us in our sins.10 Remember the words of Amulek to Zeezrom that the Savior would not save His people in their sins but FROM their sins,11 the reason being that with sin we are unclean and “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven”12 or dwell in God’s presence. “And [Christ] hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem [His people] from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.”13

From the Book of Mormon we learn that the intent of Christ’s suffering—the ultimate manifestation of His love—was “to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

“And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.”14

Repentance, then, is His gift to us, purchased at a very dear price.

Some will argue that God blesses everyone without distinction—citing, for example, Jesus’s statement in the Sermon on the Mount: “[God] maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”15 Indeed, God does rain down upon all His children all the blessings He can—all the blessings that love and law and justice and mercy will permit. And He commands us to be likewise generous:

“I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”16

God’s Blessings conditioned on Obedience, Not Entitlements

Nevertheless, God’s greater blessings are conditioned on obedience. President Russell M. Nelson explained: “The resplendent bouquet of God’s love—including eternal life—includes blessings for which we must qualify, not entitlements to be expected unworthily. Sinners cannot bend His will to theirs and require Him to bless them in sin [see Alma 11:37]. If they desire to enjoy every bloom in His beautiful bouquet, they must repent.”17

Beyond rendering the penitent person guiltless and spotless with the promise of being “lifted up at the last day,”18 there is a second vital aspect of abiding in the love of God. Abiding in His love will enable us to realize our full potential, to become even as He is.19 As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated: “The grace of God does not merely restore us to our previous innocent state. … His aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him.”20

Accept Chastisement

To abide in God’s love in this sense means to submit fully to His will. It means to accept His correction when needed, “for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”21 It means to love and serve one another as Jesus has loved and served us.22 It means to learn “to abide the law of a celestial kingdom” so that we can “abide a celestial glory.”23

 For Him to be able to make of us what we can become, our Heavenly Father pleads with us to yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and [put] off the natural man and [become] a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and [become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”24

Final Judgment: Not Only What We’ve Done, But What We Have Become

Dallin H. Oaks observed: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become.”25

Helen Keller, a Parable of Divine Love

The story of Helen Keller is something of a parable suggesting how divine love can transform a willing soul. Helen was born in the state of Alabama in the United States in 1880. When just 19 months old, she suffered an undiagnosed illness that left her both deaf and blind. She was extremely intelligent and became frustrated as she tried to understand and make sense of her surroundings. When Helen felt the moving lips of family members and realized that they used their mouths to speak, “she flew into a rage [because] she was unable to join in the conversation.”26 By the time Helen was six, her need to communicate and her frustration grew so intense that her “outbursts occurred daily, sometimes hourly.”27

Helen’s parents hired a teacher for their daughter, a woman named Anne Sullivan. Just as we have in Jesus Christ one who understands our infirmities,28 Anne Sullivan had struggled with her own serious hardships and understood Helen’s infirmities. At age five, Anne had contracted a disease that caused painful scarring of the cornea and left her mostly blind.

When Anne was eight, her mother died; her father abandoned her and her younger brother, Jimmie; and they were sent to a “poor house,” where conditions were so deplorable that Jimmie died after only three months. Through her own dogged persistence, Anne gained entry to the Perkins School for the Blind and vision impaired, where she succeeded brilliantly. A surgical operation gave her improved vision so that she was able to read print. When Helen Keller’s father contacted the Perkins School seeking someone to become a teacher for his daughter, Anne Sullivan was selected.29

Trust rather than resist our divine Teacher

It was not a pleasant experience at the beginning. Helen “hit, pinched and kicked her teacher and knocked out one of her teeth. [Anne] finally gained control by moving with [Helen] into a small cottage on the Kellers’ property. Through patience and firm consistency, she finally won the child’s heart and trust.30 Similarly, as we come to trust rather than resist our divine Teacher, He can work with us to enlighten and lift us to a new reality.31

To help Helen learn words, Anne would spell the names of familiar objects with her finger on the palm of Helen’s hand. “[Helen] enjoyed this ‘finger play,’ but she didn’t understand until the famous moment when [Anne] spelled ‘w-a-t-e-r’ while pumping water over [Helen’s] hand. [Helen] later wrote:

“‘Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten … and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free! … Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. As we returned to the house[,] every object … I touched seemed to quiver with life.’”32

As Helen Keller grew to adulthood, she became known for her love of language, her skill as a writer, and her eloquence as a public speaker.

In a movie depicting the life of Helen Keller, her parents are portrayed as satisfied with Anne Sullivan’s work once she has domesticated their wild daughter to the extent that Helen will sit politely at dinner, eat normally, and fold her napkin at the end of the meal. But Anne knew Helen was capable of much, much more and that she had significant contributions to make.33

Jesus sees our great Potential

Even so, we may be quite content with what we have done in our lives and that we simply are what we are, while our Savior comprehends a glorious potential that we perceive only “through a glass, darkly.”34 Each of us can experience the ecstasy of divine potential unfolding within us, much like the joy Helen Keller felt when words came to life, giving light to her soul and setting it free. Each of us can love and serve God and be empowered to bless our fellowman. “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”35

The Cost of God’s Love

Let us consider the cost of God’s precious love. Jesus revealed that to atone for our sins and redeem us from death, both physical and spiritual, His suffering caused Himself, “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that [He] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.”36

His agony in Gethsemane and on the cross was greater than any mortal could bear.37 Nevertheless, because of His love for His Father and for us, He endured, and as a consequence, He can offer us both immortality and eternal life.

It is poignantly symbolic that “blood [came] from every pore38 as Jesus suffered in Gethsemane, the place of the olive press. To produce olive oil in the Savior’s time, olives were first crushed by rolling a large stone over them. The resulting “mash” was placed in soft, loosely woven baskets, which were piled one upon another. Their weight expressed the first and finest oil. Then added stress was applied by placing a large beam or log on top of the stacked baskets, producing more oil. Finally, to draw out the very last drops, the beam was weighted with stones on one end to create the maximum, crushing pressure.39 And yes, the oil is bloodred as it first flows out.

I think of Matthew’s account of the Savior as He entered Gethsemane that fateful night—that He “began to be sorrowful and very heavy. …

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”40

Then, as I imagine the distress grew even more severe, He pleaded a second time for relief and, finally, perhaps at the peak of His suffering, a third time. He endured the agony until justice was satisfied to the very last drop.41 This He did to redeem you and me.

Will Ye Not Repent, that I May Heal You?

What a precious gift is divine love! Filled with that love, Jesus asks, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”42 Tenderly He reassures, “Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come … will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.”43

To be His Friend, Keep His Commandments

Will you not love Him who first loved you?44 Then keep His commandments.45 Will you not be a friend to Him who laid down His life for His friends?46 Then keep His commandments.47 Will you not abide in His love and receive all that He graciously offers you? Then keep His commandments.48 I pray that we will feel and fully abide in His love.

Show References 

Easter: Jesus Christ, the Soul, and Repentance

Easter is about Repentance and Peace for the Soul

This Easter, remember repentance is key to grace and peace for the soul through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

 

I Stand All Amazed

Charles H. Gabriel

 

jesusforgivemedI stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,

Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.

I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,

That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

 

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine

To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,

That he should extend his great love unto such as I,

Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

 

jesuswoundhandI think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!

Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?

No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,

Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

 

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me

Enough to die for me!

Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

 

 

Biblical Worldview: American Repentance and Revival key to Blessings from God

Biblical Worldview:

American Repentance and Revival key to Blessings from God

Jonathan Cahn calls out Obama, gives charge to Trump


Messianic rabbi stuns at Inaugural Prayer Breakfast

keyold‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.’ 2 Chronicles 7:14

His last speech at the annual gathering in the nation’s capital was called “the most important speech given in modern American history.”

biblical-worldview2-christianBut the tone could not have been more different when Jonathan Cahn returned to the Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, held just before Donald J. Trump succeeded Barack Obama as commander in chief. The messianic rabbi, whom some have called “America’s Prophet” and the author of sensational bestsellers, including the new devotional “The Book Of Mysteries,” hailed the rise of Trump as an example of God’s will.

Warning the audience his message would be “true” rather than “politically correct,” Cahn reminded them it is God who decides who rules nations and empires.

“We’ve come from every part of this land to stand before the Almighty, before whom kings and kingdoms rise and fall, and nations ascend and descend, Who alone remains the same yesterday, today and forever,” he intoned.

The Bible teacher presented a grim image of the Obama era and spoke of the remarkable victory of the new president as a sign of God’s hand in the affairs of men.

George Washington: no freedom without God and bible

George Washington: no freedom without God and bible

“America stood at the threshold,” he said. “In the face of an election that threatened to establish for ages the edicts of apostasy and the ways of godlessness, and an open war against the people and gospel of God. And then there was Donald Trump. There had never been a candidate like him. Whatever it was that one was never supposed to do while running for president, he did them all.”

Cahn’s remarks were met with applause and laughter. But after all, what else could explain Trump’s unprecedented victory except for God?

“Poll after poll foretold a sure Democratic victory if not a landslide,” Cahn said. “The Democrats prepared for victory. The Republicans prepared for defeat … but then something happened. And nobody was sure what exactly what. The election took a strange turn and whatever everybody was sure couldn’t happen, happened. The media was in shock. The Democrats were in shock. Obama was in shock. The Republicans were in shock. Obama was in shock. And it appears Donald Trump couldn’t believe it happened, either.

“But as it was written in ancient times, it is no less true to this day: ‘As high as the heavens are above the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways. And My thoughts than your thoughts.’ And as we can bear witness today in the city of Washington, on January 20, 2017, with God, nothing, shall be, impossible.”

Cahn framed Trump’s triumph as part of a continuing national drama that has defined America’s history, the same struggle between faith and apostasy that shaped the history of Israel. He spoke of Israel and the United States as the only nations in history founded “solely for the glory of God.”

Mayflower-compact-hero2-ACahn cited John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who prophesied if America followed the ways of God, the Lord would “command a blessing” upon a people who were to be “as a city upon a hill.”

Indeed, explained Cahn, that is precisely what happened.

“Those who came to these shores four centuries ago dedicated the new civilization to God and consecrated it to His will and purposes,” Cahn said. “America was to be a city on a hill, a holy commonwealth. Its first governments were established in the name of Jesus and for the glory of God. Its public school system was founded for the purpose of teaching the Word of God. And as Winthrop had prophesied, God had commanded a blessing. America would become the most blessed, the most powerful and the most prosperous nation the world had ever seen, a praise and glory in the earth.”

american-exceptionalism1Yet as with ancient Israel, America turned away from God, said Cahn, driving “Him out of our culture, out of our government, out of our lives and [banning] Him from our public squares.”

Instead of honoring the God of Israel, Cahn charged, America honored the idols of “carnality and gain, and gods of materialism and licentiousness.”

Take the first step on a journey which will transform your life in 2017. The keys to spiritual knowledge are presented as you embark on an incredible yearlong quest in “The Book of Mysteries,” the latest can’t miss book by messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn. Available now at the WND Superstore.

The administration of Barack Obama, said Cahn, was the culmination of this process.

Obama legacy

“In the past years eight years, America’s spiritual fall and moral descent has both deepened and accelerated,” he said. “The present [Obama] administration has led this nation to champion the killing of the unborn, and not only within its own borders, but in that of other nations across the world. The present administration has labored to strike down the standards and order ordained by God concerning man and woman and marriage, not only within these borders, but around the world.”

Cahn to Obama:

Speaking directly to Obama, in the last hour of his presidency, Cahn asked the outgoing president: “If you overturn the edicts of God, should you be surprised that your own edicts will now be overturned? And if you strike down the precepts of God, will not your own precepts be struck down?”

“Under the [Obama] administration,” Cahn said, “relations between the United States and Israel have been brought to their lowest point in the history of the two nations. And the administration’s parting gift to the Jewish nation was to abandon it at the United Nations, to allow and even foster a resolution declaring that Israel’s ancient holy city Jerusalem, belonged not to Israel, but was, quote, ‘Palestinian territory.’ In this way too, the present administration was waging war against the Word of God.”

windowGiven all this, Cahn suggested it is not surprising God “intervened” to essentially nullify Obama’s entire legacy. Yet this does not mean America is saved. The election is not the answer, Cahn said, but a window in which the answer can come. America is being given a chance.

“In the days of Israel’s apostasy, when the people were warring against His ways, God extended His mercy,” the rabbi explained. “He gave the people time to repent. So too, in the days of our apostasy, God is giving us a time to repent.”

Thus, the Trump administration should not be regarded as an unmitigated triumph. Instead, Cahn showed, it is a charge and a challenge laid before both the nation and the new chief executive. It is for American believers to fulfill what is commanded in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – to seek God’s face and turn from their wicked ways. And it is for Donald Trump, a man who has not lived the life of a believer, to now become a vessel for God.

Cahn gave a charge to the new president.

repentance2-gods-way“As you are lifted up to become the most powerful man on earth, remember always that it is the Almighty who lifts up kings to the throne, and the Almighty who removes them,” Cahn said to Trump. “Your authority comes not from man but from God, the King above all kings. Therefore, submit your life to His authority, and by His authority you shall lead. Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

“Your life has been a vessel of your will. Now it must become the vessel of His will and His purposes. Walk in His footsteps, seek His righteousness, and follow the leading of His voice.

“Uphold His ways, and you shall be upheld. Keep His Word and you shall be kept. Give honor to His name, above all names, and your name shall be honored. Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. If you do this, and you will arise, and you will shine, and the glory of the Lord will rise upon you.”

Such words may seem strange to those who seek secular explanations for political events. Yet after a year when nearly every political expert, every experienced strategist and every established institution was confounded and discredited, Americans are more open than ever to the simple truth at the heart of America’s destiny.

 If Americans repent and seek revival, God will answer their prayers, he said.

After all, the rabbi suggested, he already has. Just look at who is in the White House today.

quote-chronicles7“What was it that all the experts and pollsters missed?” Cahn asked. “The answer was 3,000 years old: ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.’

“For the power of prayer is stronger than kingdoms. And God is faithful. And His promises are true.”

Gospel Teachings: Choose Repentance, Choose Joy

Gospel  Teachings:

Choose Repentance, Choose Joy

Repentance: A Joyful Choice

By Dale G. Renlund

keyRepentance is not only possible but also joyful because of our Savior.

 

When I was 12 years old, my family lived in Göteborg, a coastal city in southern Sweden.

firecrackerFifty years ago, we attended church in a large remodeled home. One Sunday, my friend Steffan,2 the only other deacon in the branch, greeted me at church with some excitement. We went to the chapel’s adjacent overflow area, and he pulled from his pocket a large firecracker and some matches. In an act of youthful bravado, I took the firecracker and lit the long gray fuse. I intended to snuff out the fuse before it blew up. But when I burned my fingers trying to do so, I dropped the firecracker. Steffan and I watched in horror as the fuse continued to burn.

The firecracker exploded, and sulfurous fumes filled the overflow area and the chapel. We hurriedly gathered up the scattered remnants of the firecracker and opened the windows to try to get the smell out, naively hoping that no one would notice. Fortunately, no one was hurt and no damage was done.

As members came to the meeting, they did notice the overpowering smell. It was hard to miss. The smell distracted from the sacred nature of the meeting. Because there were so few Aaronic Priesthood holders—and in what can only be described as dissociative thinking—I passed the sacrament, yet I did not feel worthy to partake of it. When the sacrament tray was offered to me, I took neither the bread nor the water. I felt horrible. I was embarrassed, and I knew that what I had done had displeased God.

After church, the branch president, Frank Lindberg, a distinguished older man with silver-gray hair, asked me to come to his office. After I sat down, he looked at me kindly and said he had noticed that I had not partaken of the sacrament. He asked why. I suspect he knew why. I was sure everyone knew what I had done. After I told him, he asked how I felt. Through tears, I haltingly told him I was sorry and that I knew I had let God down.

President Lindberg opened a well-worn copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and asked me to read some underlined verses. I read the following out loud:

“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

“By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”3

I will never forget President Lindberg’s compassionate smile when I looked up after I had finished reading. With some emotion, he told me that he felt it would be fine for me to resume partaking of the sacrament. As I left his office, I felt indescribable joy.

Meaning of Repentance

repentance1-u-turnSuch joy is one of the inherent results of repentance. The word repent connotes “to perceive afterwards” and implies “change.”4 In Swedish, the word is omvänd, which simply means “to turn around.”5 The Christian writer C. S. Lewis wrote about the need and the method for change. He noted that repentance involves “being put back on the right road. A wrong sum can be put right,” he said, “but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.6 Changing our behavior and returning to the “right road” are part of repentance, but only part. Real repentance also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin.7 As explained in Ezekiel, to repent is to “turn from … sin, … do that which is lawful and right; … restore the pledge, … [and] walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity.”8

Faith in Christ and His Atonement

Jesus-gethsemane-Greatest-of-All-Del-Parson-211887Yet even this is an incomplete description. It does not properly identify the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His Atonement effective in our lives. When we “perceive afterwards” and “turn around” with the Savior’s help, we can feel hope in His promises and the joy of forgiveness. Without the Redeemer, the inherent hope and joy evaporate, and repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification. But by exercising faith in Him, we become converted to His ability and willingness to forgive sin.

President Boyd K. Packer affirmed the hopeful promises of repentance in April 2015 at his last general conference. He described the power of the Savior’s Atonement to heal in what I consider the distillation of the wisdom gained in half a century of apostolic service. President Packer said: “The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … It just heals, and what it heals stays healed.”9

He continued:

“The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. …

“… The Atonement … can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated.”10

Repentance is a Choice

repentance3-ldsThe reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us. As the prophet Lehi explained, after we “are instructed sufficiently” to “know good from evil,”11 we “are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.”12 In other words, repentance is a choice.

Blaming Others Turns Us into Hapless Victims

We can—and sometimes do—make different choices. Such choices may not seem intrinsically wrong, but they prevent us from becoming truly penitent and thus preclude our pursuit of real repentance. For instance, we may choose to blame others. As a 12-year-old in Göteborg, I could have blamed Steffan. He was the one who brought the big firecracker and the matches to the church in the first place. But blaming others, even if justified, allows us to excuse our behavior. By so doing, we shift responsibility for our actions to others. When the responsibility is shifted, we diminish both the need and our ability to act. We turn ourselves into hapless victims rather than agents capable of independent action.13

Minimizing Mistakes Removes Motivation

Another choice that impedes repentance is minimizing our mistakes. In the Göteborg firecracker incident, no one was hurt, no permanent damage occurred, and the meeting was held anyway. It would have been easy to say that there was no reason to repent. But minimizing our mistakes, even if no immediate consequences are apparent, removes the motivation to change. This thinking prevents us from seeing that our mistakes and sins have eternal consequences.

What We Do Matters

repentance2-gods-wayYet another way is to think that our sins do not matter because God loves us no matter what we do. It is tempting to believe what the deceitful Nehor taught the people of Zarahemla: “That all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, … and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.”14 But this seductive idea is false. God does love us. However, what we do matters to Him and to us. He has given clear directives about how we should behave. We call these commandments. His approbation and our eternal life depend on our behavior, including our willingness to humbly seek real repentance.15

Additionally, we forgo real repentance when we choose to separate God from His commandments. After all, if the sacrament were not sacred, it would not matter that the smell of the firecracker was disruptive to that Göteborg sacrament meeting. We should be wary of discounting sinful behavior by undermining or dismissing God’s authorship of His commandments. Real repentance requires recognizing the Savior’s divinity and the truthfulness of His latter-day work.

jesus-repentanceInstead of making excuses, let us choose repentance. Through repentance, we can come to ourselves, like the prodigal in the parable,16 and reflect on the eternal import of our actions. When we understand how our sins can affect our eternal happiness, we not only become truly penitent but we also strive to become better. When faced with temptation, we are more likely to ask ourselves, in the words of William Shakespeare:

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?

A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.

Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week,

Or sells eternity to get a toy?17

If we have lost sight of eternity for the sake of a toy, we can choose to repent. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have another chance. Metaphorically, we can exchange the toy we so ill-advisedly purchased in the first place and receive again the hope of eternity. As the Savior explained, “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”18

Jesus Christ can forgive because He paid the price for our sins.19

Our Redeemer chooses to forgive because of His incomparable compassion, mercy, and love.

Our Savior wants to forgive because this is one of His divine attributes.

jesuslambmedAnd, like the Good Shepherd He is, He is joyful when we choose to repent.20

Even as we feel godly sorrow for our actions,21 when we choose to repent, we immediately invite the Savior into our lives. As Amulek taught, “Come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.”22 We can feel godly sorrow for our actions and, at the same time, feel the joy of having the Savior’s help.

The fact that we can repent is the good news of the gospel!23

Guilt can be “swept away.”24 We can be filled with joy, receive a remission of our sins, and have “peace of conscience.”25 We can be freed from feelings of despair and the bondage of sin. We can be filled with the marvelous light of God and be “pained no more.”26 Repentance is not only possible but also joyful because of our Savior. I still remember the feelings that washed over me in the branch president’s office after the firecracker episode. I knew I had been forgiven. My feelings of guilt vanished, my gloomy mood lifted, and my heart felt light.

christs-outstreched-hand-lindsleyI invite you to feel more joy in your life: joy in the knowledge that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real; joy in the Savior’s ability, willingness, and desire to forgive; and joy in choosing to repent. Let us follow the instruction to “with joy … draw water out of the wells of salvation.”27 May we choose to repent, forsake our sins, and turn our hearts and wills around to follow our Savior. I testify of His living reality. I am a witness and repeated recipient of His incomparable compassion, mercy, and love. I pray that the redeeming blessings of His Atonement may be yours now—and again and again and again throughout your lives,28 as they have been in mine.

Selected End Notes

  • C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (1946), 6. In the preface to the book, Lewis wrote that some try to unify heaven and hell instead of choosing one or the other. He says that some of us think that “development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good. … This belief I take to be a disastrous error. … We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre. …

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. … Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it. The spell must be unwound, bit by bit, … or else not” (5–6).

True repentance includes “godly sorrow” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Elder M. Russell Ballard has taught: “For those who have strayed, the Savior has provided a way back. But it is not without pain. Repentance is not easy; it takes time—painful time!” (“Keeping Covenants,” Ensign, May 1993, 7). Elder Richard G. Scott also taught, “Sometimes the steps of repentance are initially difficult and painful” (“Finding Forgiveness,” Ensign, May 1995, 77). While godly sorrow and pain are involved in the process of repentance, the eventual outcome is joyful when forgiveness of sin is felt.

See Mosiah 26:29–30. While God promises to freely forgive, willfully sinning and counting on the Savior’s mercy to allow easy repentance is abhorrent to God (see Hebrews 6:4–6; 10:26–27). Elder Richard G. Scott said: “The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy” (“Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 83).

History Facts: Biblical Timeline, Current Events, and Moral Solutions

History Facts:

Biblical Timeline, Current Events, and Moral Solutions

keyoldAsk for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. ~Jeremiah 6:16

 

Nehemiah is sent to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Isaiah and Jeremiah warn against evil and call the people to repentance. Look for parallels in today’s society. Find good advice that will ensure safety and blessings.

 

Nehemiah

Many Jews were in bondage to their brethren. At Nehemiah’s direction they are freed, their lands are restored. Nehemiah is sent to rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem. Their enemies seek to prevent Jews from rebuilding walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah arms the laborers and keeps the work going forward. Sanballat engages in intrigue against Nehemiah and the building of the wall. Jews finish construction of the wall.

isaiah3Isaiah

Isaiah warns people who reject God as their maker and do works of darkness.

Isaiah 29:15,16, 21

15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

isaiah-good-called-evil 16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?

21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.

 

Prophet Jeremiah as depicted by Michelangelo on Sistine chapel ceiling

Prophet Jeremiah as depicted by Michelangelo
on Sistine chapel ceiling

Jeremiah

The following chapter headings give an outline of Judah and Israel history. What parallels do you see today?

The sins of Israel and Judah

2

The people of Judah forsook the Lord, the fountain of living waters—They worshipped idols and rejected the prophets.

3

Israel and Judah defiled and polluted the land through wickedness—In the last days, the Lord will gather the people of Israel, one from a city and two from a family, and bring them to Zion.

5

Judgments will be poured out upon the people of Judah because of their sins—Their iniquities cause blessings to be withheld from them.

6

Jerusalem will be destroyed because of her iniquity—She will be overrun by a great and cruel nation.

15

The people of Judah will suffer death, the sword, famine, and captivity—They will be scattered into all the kingdoms of the earth—Jerusalem will be destroyed.

17

The captivity of Judah comes because of sin and forsaking the Lord—Hallow the Sabbath day; doing so will save the people; otherwise they will be destroyed.

Moral Solutions: A Call to Repentance

7

If the people of Judah repent, they will be preserved—

The temple has become a den of robbers—The Lord rejects that generation of the people of Judah for their idolatries—They offer their children as sacrifices.

18

Israel is as potter’s clay in the hands of the Lord—If nations repent, the Lord withholds the evil decreed against them.

1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,

potter-clay-wheel-stand-center_2 2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.

3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.

4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;

8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

change-of-heart1 9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;

10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

11 ¶Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.

 

Culture Wars: Movie Warning to Western Civilization—Repent or Regret

Culture Wars:

Movie Warning to Western Civilization—Repent or Regret

Robertson: ’Torchbearer’ Offers Warning to America — ‘Empires Rise and Fall’ When They ‘Remove God as Their Anchor’…

by Ezra Dulis

keySin has become mainstream in Western culture, which will soon lead to societal destruction.

Phil Robertson — entrepeneur and patriarch of the Robinson family featured in the reality TV show Duck Dynasty and now the star of a Citizens United documentary, Torchbearer — discussed the film’s prophetic call for cultural repentance before its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

Phil Robertson-Torchbearer movie

Phil Robertson-Torchbearer movie

Robertson and his nephew Zach Dasher, a writer on the film, sat down with Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon and Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow for the first hour of Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot 125. Quoting extensively from Scripture, Robertson laid out the film’s thesis: that sin has become mainstream in Western culture, which will soon lead to societal destruction.

 

“It’s a brutal film because it is brutal when you get God out of the way,” Robertson said. He declared that America is not just facing a collapse but is already several decades into one, not because of people in power taking advantage of innocent citizens but because of sin ruling the lives of regular Americans.

“Basically, I’m calling America to repent. They just need to repent and turn from their sins,” he said. “How many people talk about — all these politicians — how many people talk about, while they’re discussing how to fix everything, how many of them mention sin and repentance? Not a lot.”

Robertson said that for all of the modern world’s technological advances, “The sins are the same” as in past civilizations — whose former glory has turned ruins. “The hearts of the people are the same… So the empires rise, they fall, they forget God and they say, like now in America, ‘We’re too sophisticated.’ The sins are the same.”

Robertson called the film “overwhelming” and “powerful,” saying its footage of mass murder and “carnage” from the last century is a warning for the current generation.

When human beings remove God as their anchor and they allow men to determine what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s good, what’s evil, and how much your life is worth, once you go down that road, you see these empires rise and fall. Unfortunately, America’s on the same path. And unless something is done rather quickly, I’m calling on America just to repent — turn back to their Creator. Why don’t we try loving God and loving each other?

He cited the book of Romans, Paul’s sermon at Mars Hill from the book of Acts, and the prophet Ezekiel to explain his hopes for the documentary’s outcome.

In Ezekiel 6, God told Ezekiel, “Listen, when I tell a wicked man he will die in his sins, Ezekiel, if you don’t tell him he’ll die in his sins,” he said, “I’ll hold you accountable for his blood. If I tell a wicked man he’ll die in his sins and you do tell him,” he says, “if he doesn’t change, he’ll still lose his life because of his sins,” he said, “but you will have saved yourself because you told him.” So in my case, I have to tell America — since I live in America — or Europe, I have to tell them about their sins because I love them and I want them to be forgiven and I want them to be raised from the dead one day and live on.

Bannon and Marlow recalled how Robertson has faced down media hatred in the past for his blunt warnings against sin, particularly sexual immorality. In true “Duck Commander” fashion, Robertson stuck to his guns and argued that his critics are actively hurting people by encouraging harmful life choices.

quote-look-God-liveGodly people — in fact, strong conservatives — they’re actually really the champion of the human rights movement. There’s no doubt in my mind about it. We’re for human rights. We give people the downside of immoral conduct, and a lot of people said, “Well, let’s see, the old graybeard said there’s 110 million cases at any given time of sexually transmitted diseases. That’s one out of three in America.” For someone to make an argument, “That’s the route we ought to go”…

You would think that the last thing you would do is encourage people to participate in that particular behavior. Physiologically, it is very dangerous to your health. Spiritually, it’s deadly. The CDC says there’s a hidden epidemic — these sexually transmitted diseases. They are killing multi-millions and millions on Planet Earth, they said, and we get all upset about Zika and Ebola. The real epidemic is sexually transmitted diseases. It is horrific what is happening.

Dasher, who came on the show after Robertson, said that his uncle is nothing like the caricature drawn by secular media.

Culture Wars: Christians, Time for Repentance, Push Back

Culture Wars: Christians, Time for Repentance, Push Back

Christians, It’s Time to Face Your Illusions

A Few Words on the Absolute Necessity to Find Courage to Stand Up to Evil

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

keyOne man with courage makes a majority.~ Andrew Jackson

Christ has not called us to be nice but to be good. Nice people never confront evil, but good people do. ~Bryan Fischer

 

ObamaPrayerHighHorseOne evil man had the audacity to attack Christianity and defend Islam in the midst of 3,500 Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year.

Many criticized and complained about Barack Obama’s speech afterward, but not a single Christian in that room had the courage to speak “truth to power.” Why is that?

Evil operates through people, and it does what it’s supposed to do: Evil lies, seduces, divides and gives illusions in order to conquer. God is greater than Satan. If we were truly God’s children, we would have the wisdom to overcome evil with good. But most “good” people lack the understanding and courage to stand up to evil when it counts. Instead, they allow evil to have its way and then whimper about it afterward. What good does that serve?

Christians are not conquering evil because most are resentful and unrepentant. Many Christians have the illusion that they are saved from sin, but if that were true, good would be crushing evil across the land. We all know that’s not the case.

If the children of God were doing what we’re supposed to do, evil would be complaining about us—that we’re too committed to guiding our families and that it’s too hard to seduce us away from truth.

buildingrocksandI’ve come to realize that many well-meaning Christians have stored up knowledge about the Bible, but the truth is not alive in them. And when they’re challenged to think a little deeper about what they believe, their foundation begins to crumble.

“Every one that heareth these sayings of Mine and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand.” Matthew 7:26

Our pride and refusal to face our illusions causes us to spend a lifetime building a life on a weak foundation. Christians have allowed evil to take God out of the public schools; they’ve allowed their tax dollars to be used to fund abortions; and now evil is attacking the holy institution of marriage.

A telltale sign that a person does not know God is that they lack the courage to speak up when evil is acting out. (The silence heard during Obama’s derisive National Prayer Breakfast speech was deafening.)

A Few Voices of Courage

robbins-overcome-fear-menDr. Ben Carson displayed courage when he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. Carson fearlessly pointed out Obama’s lawlessness and contempt for the U.S. Constitution while Obama squirmed in his seat.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., displayed courage when he shouted the words “You lie!” during an Obama State of the Union address. Wilson had the courage to say what most Republicans were thinking but were afraid to say.

Why is Obama getting away with his blatant lies?

Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? ~2Chronicles 19:2

Barack Obama and others like him have a direct connection to evil; whereas too often people serving God are not directly connected to truth. This is why Obama can lie and push his destructive agenda an mercilessly attack our freedoms and sacred institutions.

 

Time for Repentance: Stand Up to Evil; PUSH BACK

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humbled themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.~2 Chronicles 7:14

push-backChristians should not be content blaming politicians or any other physical entity for their problems. The problems we need to face are not physical; they’re spiritual. Unless we repent of our illusions and what we think we know, and instead re-establish a real connection with our Heavenly Father, it’s all for naught. Until we do this, we can’t help our children, our nation or ourselves.

We need to turn back to the Father an d repent in order for things to get better. Then He will guide our steps. We will no longer be controlled by our illusions, and we will have the courage to stand against evil anywhere it rears its ugly head.

Bible Story: Birthright

Bible Story—

Birthright

The First Book of Moses Called Genesis

Chapter 25

Rebekah conceives, and Jacob and Esau struggle in her womb—The Lord reveals their destiny to Rebekah—Esau sells his birthright for a mess of pottage.

Jacob-and-Esau29 ¶And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Chapter 26

34 ¶And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite:

 35 Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

Chapter 27

Rebekah guides Jacob in seeking blessings—Jacob is blessed to have dominion and rule over peoples and nations

birthright-rebekahBIBLICAL PARENT REBEKAH RESCUES THE SACRED BIRTHRIGHT FROM DESTRUCTION. Surely Esau’s parents Isaac and Rebekah sorrowed together over the years as Esau violated holy covenants and despised the cherished birthright by selling it to Jacob for a hot meal of pottage. As parents do, Rebekah must have spent sleepless nights worrying about her son’s behavior. At length Isaac—blind, aged, and dying—prepared to extend the birthright blessing to the eldest son, as was the tradition.

To Rebekah, a moment of decision had come, for the Lord had told her that the younger son Jacob was to be the birthright son. Rebekah was willing to take full responsibility for ensuring that her revelation from God was fulfilled. Her actions have rendered centuries of debate. Nevertheless, even after Isaac discovered that he had blessed the younger son, he still ratified the blessing. And lest we judge Rebekah too harshly, she did rescue the sacred birthright from destruction, and generations of her posterity were blessed because of it.

Now compare our heritage of liberty to the “birthright” of American families. As parents and grandparents, we also have agonized over the spiritual welfare of our sons and daughters. Are they losing their heritage? If so, who is taking it, and what can be done about the pottage replacing it? You and I today, like Rebekah of old, are also faced with a soul-threatening crisis of the rising generation.

Freedom of Religion taken from America

In 1963, a handful of men in black issued a decree from their elite court, banishing God and the Bible from the schools. With Him went the Ten Commandments and their corresponding moral absolutes. And Truth.

jesus-rock1How can we restore what has been lost, especially for our children? Quite simply, we need to put God back in the center of our lives. It is God who holds the key to our happiness. That key is found in His infinite love.

Children and youth can sink their roots deep at home, where the dinner talk parable is a way of life. As they are trained by daily example to repent, and hold fast every day to the word of God, they are building on the rock, finding an anchor to their soul.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Christine Davidson