Friday, 27 November 2015

Week 21 in the Utah Ogden Mission

Week 21 in the Utah Ogden Mission 
The Atonement of Jesus Christ 
When I as a young missionary serving in my first area in Ashtabula Ohio, my companion and I taught many people the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of those that we taught experienced great hardship and trials in their lives. Many were physically and sexually abused. Many struggled with drug, alcohol and pornography addictions. Many were financially destitute and devoid of hope. I observed and felt a small portion of their pain. 

Nine years later, living in Henderson Nevada with my wife and two daughters (Mackenzie 4, Emma 2) we rushed to the hospital as our third child Stewart wanted to come to this earth...too soon. We prayed and prayed for a miracle...I pled with God to spare my wife and son, finding out that her body was in a state of significant infection. I felt acute and exquisite mental and spiritual pain thinking about the potential loss of life or debilitating effects of infection. That evening as I cried and prayed for hours, I told the Lord I would accept His will, whatever that was. I was immediately overcome...rescued...revived by a warmth and peace that engulfed my body. I knew things would be ok. I returned to the hospital where my wife delivered a bruised and beautiful baby boy. He took a few breaths and went "home to that God who gave him life." 

The atonement of Jesus Christ helped me then and continues to help me during life's struggles. It helped my family understand that this life is brief but important. What we do here makes a difference in where we will go when this life is over. Without Jesus Christ atonement and resurrection there would be no opportunity for my son to "come forth in the morning of the first Resurrection...that both spirit and body shall be reunited in a perfect frame." 

The great convert Amulek before Jesus came said this about the Atonement of Christ in about 74 BC 
Alma 34
8 And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
9 For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.

The gospel writers in the New Testament each gave a bit of a different summary of the atonement of Jesus Christ. 
Matthew said this in Matthew 26
39 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.

Luke the physician described it in Luke 22
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And Mark described most tenderly the suffering of Jesus. His suffering was so intense he called out to his "daddy" (Abba) Mark 14 
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

I've thought about "bitter cup." Isaiah called it the Cup of Fury. Everything that is not joyful, sublime, peaceful and perfect was in the cup...and that's what Jesus symbolically drank. He did it for all of us...every person who has lived, does now live and will ever live...he did it for us. If we accept him he can take away the pain my family and I feel for my 
Special needs sister, Mental illness in our family, an alcoholic uncle, the pain my gay cousin has felt since our youth, the loss of my son 14 years ago, loss of Amy's father 5 years ago, all my sins 

Pmg plan of salvation
As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

D&C 19
how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, 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 I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink--
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

Last week Elder Ringwood of the first quorum of the seventy toured our mission. He instructed our leadership, conducted interviews, took our family to dinner and gave an amazing sermon on faith. I learned that desire, belief and hope are "particles of faith." I learned that the best definition of faith is simply "action." If we can have particles of faith, we can have an "eye of faith" which leads us to "act in faith." I love these concepts taught by a servant of the Lord. 

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