Sunday, October 31, 2010

Obtaining His Word

Being a fifth Sunday today, we had a combined meeting.  The topic was missionary work and in the end we were given some challenges to complete by the end of the year.  The focus of the challenges and the lesson was on our own preparation prior to sharing the gospel, or rather, to quote scripture, "to obtain [the] word" (D&C 11:21).  There was a brief discussion about pitfalls in our personal scripture study and how to overcome them.  There were two comments that I really liked and wanted to share.  Interestingly enough, the first came from the previous seminary teacher and the second came from her replacement.

The first sister talked about our desire to read and that really that's what we need to pray for instead of help finding time.  We read John 7:17 about "doing" and the teacher mentioned that our desire is increased by the actual act of reading.  This is so true for me.  A lot of the times I read only because I'm supposed to and really I don't want to because I only have a little bit of time before the kids wake up and I really need to do this or that.  But I often find that as I read, I really get into it and can get lost in my study, forgetting all the other stuff that I had wanted to do.  My desire to keep reading is increased while I'm in the act of doing it.

What hit me the most was the next comment.  He told us that with his new calling to teach the youth, he feels an obligation to study and prepare and somehow manages to find 3 or 4 hours a day to read the scriptures.  He expressed his sadness that it used to be difficult to find 15 or 20 minutes because he didn't feel that same obligation to the Lord.  It is so true.  The times I really get in a good study are when I have some sort of obligation such as to teach a lesson or give a talk.  I think the original intent of this blog was to help us have more motivation to get in a good study and have an obligation to regularly share our insights.  Clearly this objective has not been met.  I hope to have a renewed obligation to the Lord to "obtain [His] word." That doesn't mean I'll write daily on this blog, but hopefully it will lead to an increased desire to share the things I have learned, whether by way of this blog or in some other form.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The "Principles" (not steps) of Repentance

Today's lesson at church was on repentance.  Fortunately I remembered to read the lesson a few days in advance, and was very glad I did.  I'm not sure what all has changed in the new Gospel Principles manual we use, but I'm getting a lot more out of it now than I remember getting when I've been through the older version.

The section that caught my attention was the one entitled, Principles of Repentance.  It listed the normal five steps we are familiar with

  1. Recognize Sin
  2. Feel Remorse (not regret)
  3. Forsake Sin
  4. Confess Sin
  5. Restitution
Two more principles were added that aren't always discussed in lessons on repentance: forgive others and keep the commandments.  The manual states, "We are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the Sabbath Day holy or obey the Word of Wisdom.  We are not repentant if we do not sustain [church authorities, love God and fellowman, pray, or are unkind].  When we repent, our life changes."  I had never thought of repentance in this light.  I knew that it's something we always need to do, since we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, but never realized that paying tithes or obeying the Word of Wisdom actually helps me repent of completely "unrelated" sins.

The kicker came with the question that ended that section, "How do the teachings in this section differ from the false idea that repentance is the performance of a list of simple steps or routine actions?" (emphasis added).  So the "list" of steps to repent is an erroneous teaching.  We should think of these actions as principles by which we should live every day of our life, rather than a to-do list every time we realize we do something wrong.  The lesson mentions that it is possible to sin in ignorance, but by striving to keep all of God's commandments we can show the Lord that we are truly repentant.

Any other thoughts regarding this notion of a "false idea that repentance is the performance of a list of simple steps or routine actions?"