Monday, July 10, 2017

Accepting the Atonement

In this week's New Testament lesson, we had to read a chapter in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young. It was about accepting the atonement in our lives. I feel like the atonement is something we, myself included, take for granted. The attitude of the world among many Christians is "just be a good person, we will all be saved." And while yes, all of us will overcome death, our experiences on the other side of this earthly life can be vastly different from each other. We all sin. We all make mistakes that make us unclean in some way. The beauty of the atonement is that we can be clean again when we let its healing power into our hearts. The key word being "let." I remember learning a very powerful thing through personal study and personal revelation. I was reading in Alma 5 and when I came to verses 22 and 23. They read, "22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against you? 23 Behold will they not testify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness?" My immediate question upon reading this was "how do our garments become stained with blood, and why would we be called murderers if we never killed anyone?" And then it hit me. The blood on our garments is Christ's. We have his blood on us because he died FOR us. To dumb that down, basically it means we are responsible for his death. And we are, aren't we? If it wasn't for the sins we would commit and our natural human-ness, he wouldn't have had to suffer in order for us to have a way back. Here's the cool thing about his blood though. In Alma 5:21, it talks about how Christ's blood can CLEANSE our garments and make them white. So how can blood, which stains by the way, both stain and cleanse? Because it depends on the intention. Christ's blood NOW, because he is a resurrected being, is made of spirit. That spirit cleanses. For instance, if we accept the sacrifice made for us, and take part in the atonement, then his blood cleanses us and makes our garments white. But if we don't live our lives in a way that shows him we accept his sacrifice, his mortal blood, the kind that stains, is on our hands. And THAT is what makes us murderers in the day of judgement that it talks about in verse 23. If we don't accept the Atonement, we are counted as murderers of Christ. I understand that this is "Gospel according to Jill," but it just makes sense to me like that. I just wanted to share.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Being Prepared

Earlier this week, I was sitting in class waiting for it to begin. Some of the students were talking about the Second Coming and what to expect. One of the students, who was a returned missionary, said "Don't worry, the Lord will remove the righteous before anything bad happens." I was astonished. Surely the scriptures do say that the Lord will call up his righteous, but that is after the wars and rumors of wars, calamities, and other things that must happen before the Savior comes back. Furthermore, the students talked about how it would be a quick process. I gently said "you need to really study the scriptures and what the General Authorities have taught about what is to come. It will get bad for everyone. Some of the righteous will probably die. But we are taught that we need not have fear because no matter what we have to go through, if we are righteous, we belong to the Lord and will be saved, meaning we will have eternal life." I was further surprised to learn that some of the students thought nothing bad would happen in America because it is the promised land. The reality is, we don't know what exactly will happen or how long it will take. But I personally suspect, through my studies, that it could take longer than just some stuff that happens over the course of a year. It could take 20 for all we know. We have to be prepared so that when those hard times come, and they will and already are, we will know what to do. In the lesson in my New Testament class this week, I read an article in the November 2005 Ensign about being prepared. As I read that, this experience in my class came back to my mind. We cannot assume that we will be untouched by calamity and trial. In fact, going through those things is what will help refine us and make us ready to meet the Lord. Whenever I think about the last days, I think of the parable of the ten virgins. I think that one symbol that having enough oil represents is our ability to hear and follow the Lord. The day could come that all of our media and means of communication are cut off, and we might not be able to get word from the leaders of the Church. In those days, we had better already know how to hear the Lord and do what he directs. It will be too late to think we can just "learn on the job" in the moment. If we do not now what the voice of the Lord sounds like, it will be chaotic for us as it will be for everyone else. We need to know how to hear him. We need to already know how to act on the promptings and directions the Lord gives. He will need people that have already learned how to go forward with faith, despite fear or anxiety, and fully trust Him, even when things are scary or bleak. It will be too late in that day to think we can just figure it out then. We have to develop those skills now. Don't wait.

Monday, June 12, 2017

My view on Marriage

It's interesting that this week both my Anthropology class and my religion class talked about marriage. The difference was that in Anthropology we talked about marriage in different cultures and the different types of arrangements that there can be. There was no spiritual tie-in. Obviously for Religion class we talk about it from a spiritual perspective. Marriage is an interesting subject to me because I am still single. I am in my mid-30s, which in the Mormon culture is fairly unusual and definitely not ideal (depending on who you ask). I have maybe a different view on marriage. I have friends my age or older (and even younger) who are bitter that they are not married. I have never felt that way. I'm not looking for a pat on the back, but I'm just trying to explain where I'm coming from. I trust in the Lord's timing in my life. He leads me down paths and I follow, and I know that when the time is right it will happen. Or maybe it won't. Maybe my trial will be to not have a companion in this life. Either way, I trust it. I've had an interesting view on marriage. In our Hollywood shows and movies we are lead to believe that it is all sun and roses because you are in love. I know enough to know that it isn't exactly like that. My sister once told me that marriage is kind of like an ebb and flow. You have periods of time when you fall in love all over again with your spouse and then other times that you feel like you just have a roommate. It takes work. I've lived with two different families for a period of time. Because I was in their home, I got to see some of that ebb and flow. I feel like I understand some things about marriage because of that, things that otherwise I might not have known. I know that marriage is ordained of God, and that no one who is righteous will be kept from it's blessings. That's the most important thing to know, in my opinion, and in my phase of life.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Mount of Transfiguration

This week I read the different accounts of what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. In the account in Matthew, it mentions that Elias and Moses were there, and then in the footnotes it says that Elias was Elijah. However, in the account in Mark it mentions Elias and Moses and then the Joseph Smith Translation adds "or in other words, John the Baptist and Moses." In the account in Luke, it simply mentions Elias and Moses and refers to them several times as "the two men." I had always heard that it was Elijah there, but finding the differences perplexed me. I reached out to a good friend of mine that I trust spiritually and asked him his opinion. Instead of giving it to me he asked a series of questions, in order to help me come to my own conclusion. His first question was: "If we use the restoration as our manifesting template and those critical to restoring keys to latter-day man, who would YOU say must/should have been there?" I answered that if I had to choose one, based on the restoration of keys that happened in the Kirtland temple, I would have to choose Elijah, but that I believed that both could have been there. His next response (this was all happening via text) was: "As far as it is translated correctly." So then I was thinking, well the JST says John the Baptist. He told me to turn to D&C 110. Then he asked, "How many came to Joseph in restoring keys?" I was thinking simply of those mentioned in 110 so I said, "Moses, Elias, and Elijah." In response, he told me that actually we have to consider all who came, so there was John the Baptist to restore the Aaronic Priesthood, Elias, Moses, Elijah, and Peter, James, and John. Then he said that if they were all the major players then, that they would have all been at the Mount too. I could see it then. I remember General Authorities talking about more people being at the Mount that aren't in the scriptural accounts. Then my friend said this, which has given me cause for thought: "The clearest view of such things (particularly when scriptural accounts seem to conflict) is the documented pattern of the Restoration. That is really the grand key to overlay to clarify past dealings." And he's right. If something is being RESTORED, then that means it was in the past as well. Interesting, no?

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Lately I've been feeling a little bit of a spiritual crisis coming on. Not a crisis of faith is intact. Let me explain. I have felt for a little while now like I am numb to the spirit a little bit, which has caused some alarm within my soul. I've wondered if it's because of my medication. Because I have bipolar disorder, I have to be medicated through school or I'll never keep with it. Right now, my meds are in a really good place. Mentally I feel really good, which is a sigh of relief because sometimes it's hard to find the right combination. My doctor and I have worked for a year and a half to get here. The medication keeps me from feeling highs and lows, which is great for a bipolar person. But there is a side effect that I don't like...I can't feel the intensity of the spirit. I can feel peace, but not that fire that I'm used to feeling. I've talked to other LDS people with bipolar and apparently this is common, but I don't like it. It's freaking me out, making me wonder what I've done wrong. This week, in my New Testament class, we read an article from an address to BYU by President Henry B. Eyring. It was called "Always." ( In the address, he talked about the Lord's command to pray always. He also talked about how, in the sacrament prayers, we are to always remember the Lord. The question then becomes, how do we do that? President Eyring talked about how our past efforts are not enough. We cannot stand still. We have to determine to study daily and pray often throughout the day and give everything we have to be close to the Lord. I realized in reading this that I haven't been doing that. I think, because I'm so busy working full time and doing school full time, that I have been counting on my past efforts and closeness to the Lord to carry me through, and haven't been doing what it takes to be there. So maybe some of it is my medication, but maybe I can break through the "even-ness" and feel that fire again. It gives me so much hope that I can feel closer to the Lord and hear his voice daily again. In the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13, Christ talks about the seed being cast on different types of ground. I want desperately to be the seed that lands on good ground and brings forth fruit. So take heart from my own experience. We can all come unto the Lord and do more to be close to him. I know that's what I'll be doing.