Archive for the ‘focusing on jesus christ’ Tag

Happiness Through Christ

Reading: “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Elder Richard G. Scott, Liahona, November 2006

In American society we seem to think that happiness comes through wealth.  Our society is focused on consumerism and the buying and selling of goods and services.  If I can make more money, we always seem to think, we will be more happy.  All this despite the fact that there is little evidence that wealthier people are actually happier (except for TV shows and movies, which are imaginary).

The gospel teaches that true happiness come through following Christ.  When we live according to the principles taught by Christ in the scriptures we are happier.

In this talk Elder Scott teaches us that when we let Christ lead our lives, we will find the greatest happiness. He says,

Your life can and should be wondrously rewarding. It is your understanding and application of the laws of God that will give your life glorious purpose as you ascend and conquer the difficulties of life.

In my life sometimes I get focused on stuff that doesn’t really matter.  Like, having a totally clean house, or accomplishing some project, or sometimes, increasing my amount of stuff.  When I do that I get stressed out, depressed, and unhappy.  When I am really focused in on what matters: my family, the Savior, and living the gospel, I am happier.

Today I am going to do all my goals that I made (which I’ve been doing fairly good at) and let them be the focus of my day.  I will do other things, too, of course, but they will be secondary to my most important goals.

Are there times in your life when you thought something would make you happy, but then it turned out you were looking in the wrong place?

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Jesus Christ is the Only Path to Happiness

Reading: “The Way,” Elder Lawrence E. Corbidge of the Seventy, October 2008 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

The Savior Jesus Christ is the center of our worship.  This is because everything we are and do is possible through him.  Through the Atonement, we are able to repent and to return to the presence of God.  Elder Corbidge’s talk is a beautiful reminder of these important truths.

One thing that I especially appreciated was his pointing out that everyone is able to obtain the blessings of the gospel.  He says,

While the Lord’s invitation to follow Him is the highest of all, it is also achievable by everyone, not because we are able, but because He is, and because He can make us able too. “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind [everyone, living and dead] may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (3rd Article of Faith)

We are dependent on the Savior for everything, even our own ability to repent.  And, we need not feel hopeless because the Savior will help us to overcome our weaknesses.

I have written several times now about perfectionism.  When we are perfectionists  we demand that we be perfect now, instead of allowing God to help us to become better over time.  The Savior wants us to be perfect eventually, and he is willing to help us if we but ask and are ready to receive his help.  Perfectionism is something I often struggle with, so every reminder that God wants to help me better over time is encouraging and uplifting.

When I was a teenager I came up with several goals for my life, including getting married in the temple and graduating from college, and then set out how to achieve those goals.  Since I’ve achieved most of those, I think today I will sit down and write down goals for the next 10-20 years of my life and think about how to achieve them.  They may be obvious, but by thinking about them actively I will be better able to achieve them.

There was a lot in Elder Corbidge’s talk, and I just focused on one thing that meant a lot to me.  What stood out to you?

Atonement: Basis of Church Doctrine

Reading: “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, jesuschrist.lds.org

If you haven’t yet, you should check out the church’s new site, jesuschrist.lds.org. This site was created to help show that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is indeed centered on Christ.

In an article on the Atonement found on that site, Elder Holland states:

Indeed the Atonement of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh is the crucial foundation upon which all Christian doctrine rests and the greatest expression of divine love this world has ever been given. Its importance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be overstated. Every other principle, commandment, and virtue of the restored gospel draws its significance from this pivotal event.

A study of the basic doctrine of our church is always taught around the Atonement. First, someone might learn about the Fall of Adam, which is the reason we need the Atonement. Or, someone might learn about the plan of salvation, which revolves around the Atonement. Or, someone might learn about repentance, which is possible because of the Atonement. Even the behavioral aspects would be pointless without the Atonement, because we would all be damned anyway for past sins and there would be now way we could improve ourselves.

When you realize how central the Atonement is to everything, it thus becomes apparent why we focus so much on Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus Christ we are saved. We go to Jesus Christ for everything, for teaching, for repentance, for help and understanding. We are the church of Jesus Christ in every way.

This is something I have not always understood. Sometimes, I think, the centrality of Jesus Christ can get lost in all of our teachings. We talk about faith and hope and tithing and missionary work love and humility, and those things are easier to understand than the Atonement and the role of Jesus Christ. This must be why the Church does so much to keep us centered on Jesus Christ.

Yesterday when I was thinking about ways I can increase my disposition to do good, one of the things I came up with is putting up pictures of the Savior in my house. So, today, I am going to stop by the Distribution Center here in Provo and pick up a picture of the Savior and put it on the wall someplace it will be seen all the time. Then when I see it I can think about how central the Savior is to everything.

I am wondering, do you ever have trouble grasping the importance of the Savior in our teachings? What experiences or lessons have been effective in helping you to understand how central the Savior and Atonement are to the gospel?

Disposition and Doing Good

Reading: “A Disposition to Do Good Continually,” Spencer J. Condie, Ensign, Aug 2001

It is my belief that repentance extends farther than just the big sins. Sometimes when we talk about repentance we think about big sins like fornication or breaking the word of wisdom. However, we are required to repent of all of our sins, and for most of us those sins are small–things like losing patience with a stranger who has done something that bothers you, or forgetting to say your prayers in the morning, or things like that. The Atonement allows us to change even these small things so that we can become more like the Savior.

So, seeking an article about applying repentance to your every day life, I found Elder Condie’s article. He talks about how cultivating a disposition to do good will make it much easier to take care of those small things. When we change enough we will no longer even want to do those little sins that plague us from day to day.

While reading this article I must confess I began to feel overwhelmed. Elder Condie listed so many things, like going to the temple regularly and always remembering to read your scriptures and using your free time to do only really good things, that I have trouble remembering sometimes. I thought, clearly I do not have what he is talking about because if I did then I would not have problems with these little things.

Then I thought back to Elder Samuelson’s article on perfectionism I read last week. If we truly have no diposition to do evil then we will be perfect. It is a great, wonderful thing we should work on every day. But, we cannot expect ourselves to be that way right now. The important thing is that I am progressing in relation to myself, not how I compare to others.

I do know that when I cultivate in myself a disposition to do good my whole life becomes much much better. When I think back to times in my life when I was really seeking to do good, I can see how that effort cultivated in me a disposition to do good continually. And, when I had that disposition to do good all of these little sins didn’t go away, but they did become easier. I was able to repent of some and move on to others and feel good about all of it.

Today I am going to ponder how I can continue to cultivate in myself a disposition to do good. I know that this program of scripture study is really helping my disposition to do good. Also, I remember ways that have helped me in the past. For example, I remember when I was attending devotional every week while I was attending BYU-Idaho it was a huge boost in my disposition to do good. Maybe I can find something similar for me to do now.

What in your life helps you to cultivate a disposition to do good continually? Can you think of times in your life when doing good was easier for you, and see perhaps why that was so?

Salvation Through the Atonement

Reading: “The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope,” James E. Faust, Liahona, Jan 2002

If we focus on the Savior by focusing on his teachings, then perhaps the most important teaching for us to understand is the Atonement.

The subtitle of this article reads:

Our salvation depends on believing in and accepting the Atonement. Such acceptance requires a continual effort to understand it more fully.

Often, I don’t feel like I really understand or appreciate the Atonement. However, I’m not sure how to go about understanding it better. After all, I’ve been going to church my whole life and in that time learned many things about the Atonement. What more can I do than what I have done to understand and appreciate the Atonement? So, today I sought out information about the Atonement in an effort to deepen my understanding.

In the article President Faust outlines several facts about the atonement. He talks about:

  • It is only through the Atonement that we are saved
  • Learning about the Atonement brings us closer to the Savior
  • Through the Atonement Christ pays the price we cannot pay for our sins
  • Christ suffered greatly as part of the Atonement, both in spirit and body
  • Only Christ could perform the atonement because of his divine attributes
  • The Atonement requires us to do all that we can to repent and then makes up for what we lack
  • No one can understand how much pain the Savior suffered through the Atonement because it is infinitely more than we can experience
  • The Atonement also helps victims by helping them to forgive
  • The ultimate blessing of the Atonement is to return to live with God

When I think about the Atonement it motivates me to repent. Appreciation for what the Savior has done motivates me to repent. And, the knowledge that it is the only way I can return to God motivates me to repent. When I repent I am then accepting the Atonement. So, having gone through that thought process I now realize how learning about the Atonement helps me to believe and accept and act on it.

Today I’m going to ponder what I understand about the Atonement. If I come up with anything that I would like to understand better, I will use it as future scripture study topics.

How does the Atonement affect your life? Not just on the big things, but in your day to day life? What would you like to understand better about the Atonement?

What Would Jesus Do? Follow Up: The Dishwasher

Yesterday I said I would ask myself throughout the day “What Would Jesus Do?” and report to you if anything happened. Well, something did happen.

We live in a little apartment that is a good size and a good price, but is also old and kind of falling apart in places. Our landlord has always taken the approach of doing the minimum necessary to fix any problems that come up. He’s not a bad landlord, or a mean landlord, but he’s not a great landlord either.

So, the other day when our dishwasher stopped working I was a little surprised (and annoyed) when the message I got back from the landlord was that according to our contract we are in charge of any dishwasher repair. Once I thought about it I remembered reading something about appliances in the contract way back when we signed it, but it did strike me as the landlord being cheap yet again.

I also should share the fact that the landlord has our apartment up for sale. Someone could buy the apartment tomorrow and we could be moving any time. Or, nobody could buy it for years. Or, someone could buy it as an investment property and want us to keep living in it. We really have no idea.

So, my first response was to do the absolute minimum to the dishwasher to fulfill our contract. After all, it’s wasn’t as if the dishwasher worked very well to begin with. At first, I wanted to just not fix the dishwasher and leave it until we moved, but we really couldn’t get away with that under the terms of the contract. My next preference was to spend the absolute minimum to get the dishwasher to what could be called “working” again.

Then, while pondering this, I asked myself “What would Jesus do?” I realized I had the totally wrong attitude. Just because our landlord does the least he can, didn’t mean I should act the same way. What I should do is live up to what I promised to do and really fix the dishwasher. And, if we did end up moving in a week then I would be doing a service to the people who moved in, rather than a disservice. Service is good, right?

I don’t know that my attitude change had a huge effect on the outcome of the situation. We had already decided it would be cheaper to buy a used dishwasher on craigslist than it would be try to get someone to repair it. Perhaps I would have tried harder to convince my husband to buy the cheaper, more questionable dishwasher rather than the more expensive, but definitely fully working dishwasher.

The real effect came inside me. I felt so much more at peace about the whole situation once I decided to do the right thing. I no longer felt angry at the landlord. I felt better about the prospect of moving. I knew I was doing the right thing and it made me happy.

What Would Jesus Do?

Reading: “Think on Christ“, Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, April 1984, and Mosiah 4:29-30 & D&C 6:36

Continuing today the theme of how to focus on Christ, I read an article today by Ezra Taft Benson on how to keep Christ in our thoughts all the time. He stated that since our thoughts determine what we become, it is important that we keep our thoughts Christlike.

If thoughts make us what we are, and we are to be like Christ, then we must think Christlike thoughts.

There are many scriptures that talk about thoughts, as well. I was especially affected by Mosiah 4:29-30 and D&C 6:36. Clearly, what we think is important. While it is very hard or impossible to control what thoughts pop into our head, we can control what thoughts we dwell on. The less credence we give to bad thoughts, and the more we surround ourselves with good things, the less bad thoughts will pop up.

President Benson then shared a story of people who chose to ask “What would Jesus do?” each time they had to make a decision. In each person’s life asking this question had bigger consequences than they expected, resulting in the person becoming much more Christlike. It helped me realize that while “WWJD” has become somewhat cliche, the spirit behind the sentiment is one that should still be important to all of us.

One thing I have learned in trying to “control” one’s own thoughts, is that the harder you try NOT to think about something, the more you think about it. So, if one has a bad thought come into their mind and the person reacts by shouting in their head, “STOP THINKING ABOUT _____ RIGHT NOW!” they will never get rid of that thought. They will only make themselves feel much, much worse and perhaps they will wonder what is wrong with them that they cannot stop thinking such awful thoughts. However, if we try to remove a bad thought by simply replacing it with a good thought, such as a hymn or the question, “What would Jesus do?” then we will be much more successful. The less time and effort you spend on the bad thought, the better.

So, today, I am going to try applying what President Benson suggested and ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” each time I make a choice. I am really not sure what to expect, and the more cynical part of me thinks not much, but if anything of interest does happen I’ll share it with you tomorrow.

Do you have any ideas on how to keep your thoughts Christlike? Or, do you have an experience where pondering on “What would Jesus do” made a difference in your life?

Remembering What God Has Done For Us

Reading: “O Remember, Remember“, President Henry B. Eyring, Liahona, Nov 2007

So, continuing today on the theme of focusing on Christ I chose to read Elder’ Eyring’s article about remembering what God has done for us. In the article Elder Eyring shares how as a parent he kept a journal recording the things that God had done for his family each day. Then he gave copies of that journal to his children when they were grown. That journal is an inspiration to his whole family today.

He then talks about how easy it is for us to forget how blessed we are by God. We forget when we are prosperous because everything seems so common place. We forget when we are suffering because we are so consumed by how bad things are we forget to see what is good. Throughout all of the history of the Earth mankind has struggled to remember God’s goodness.

The key to remembering the Savior in our daily lives, he says, is in having the Holy Ghost to be with us. The Holy Ghost will help us to remember times throughout our lives that God helped us. We must then strive to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s presence.

Elder Eyring then challenges us to pray for help in seeing God’s hand in our daily lives and then “preserve that memory” for us and for future generations.

I know that this is definitely a good thing to do. Just yesterday, as I was writing in my journal about my scripture study, I realized that focusing on Christ means focusing on his teachings. For some reason I got the idea that focusing on Christ meant thinking about his person, his appearance, his personality, and his opinions. After all, if I were going to “focus” on someone I know, that is what I would focus on.

However, we don’t really know those things about Christ. What we do know is what he taught, and that is what is most important. When we learn Christ’s teachings, then we learn about who he is and we learn to love him. When we focus on Christ, it means we seek to learn and exemplify all that he taught. What a great insight, and I would not have gained it had I not taken the time to write down my scripture study experience.

What has God done for you lately that you maybe haven’t noticed up until now? And/or, do you have any good ideas on ways to preserve that experience for future remembering?

Questions and Answers, Liahona, December 2001, 25

Last Sunday in Relief Society we had a lesson on “loving life and learning.” During the lesson we discussed at length how to love life and learning. During this discussion someone shared an insight that I have been thinking about since.

She shared a story of a friend who was not enjoying her mission. Her friend was disturbed by how unhappy she was and talked to her mission president about how to become happier. Her mission president told her to stop worrying so much about being happy and to focus on the Savior. Once the missionary did this, she did not have any more problems with happiness for the rest of her mission.

This story resonated with me because I often find the harder I try to make myself be happy, the worse I feel. It makes sense that focusing outward on the Savior would make one happier than just trying to be happy.

So, then, how do I focus on the Savior? I searched lds.org and found in Questions and Answers many answers to the question “How can I keep my thoughts centered on Jesus Christ during my daily activities?

Answers they gave included:

  • Strive to be obedient
  • Pray
  • Study the scriptures
  • Serve
  • Attend the temple and other Church meetings

I also enjoyed reading church member’s stories about how they focus on Jesus Christ throughout the day. It helped me to realize that I definitely could do much better about focusing on the Savior as I go through my daily activities.

So, I am going to resolve to think more about the Savior as I go through my day. I’m going to especially try to find ways to be more Christlike as I attend to my daily things. Perhaps I could be a little more patient with my husband? Perhaps I could think about the deeper meaning of a problem rather than just complain?

What do you do to keep your thoughts focused on the Savior throughout the day? Or, what do you plan to do to get better at this important key to happiness?