The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

We know that some look back on their divorces with regret at their own partial or predominant fault in the breakup. All who have been through divorce know the pain and need the healing power and hope that come from the Atonement. That healing power and that hope are there for them and also for their children.

. . . .

If you are already descending into the low state of marriage-in-name-only, please join hands, kneel together, and prayerfully plead for help and the healing power of the Atonement. Your humble and united pleadings will bring you closer to the Lord and to each other and will help you in the hard climb back to marital harmony.

. . . .

Consider these observations of a wise bishop with extensive experience in counseling members with marriage problems. Speaking of those who eventually divorced, he said:

“Universally, every couple or individual said they recognized that divorce was not a good thing, but they all insisted that their situation was different.

“Universally, they focused on the fault of the spouse and attributed little responsibility to their own behavior. Communication had withered.

“Universally, they were looking back, not willing to leave the baggage of past behavior on the roadside and move on.

“Part of the time, serious sin was involved, but more often they had just ‘fallen out of love,’ saying, ‘He doesn’t satisfy my needs anymore,’ or, ‘She has changed.’

“All were worried about the effect on the children, but always the conclusion was ‘it’s worse for them to have us together and fighting.’ ”

In contrast, the couples who followed this bishop’s counsel and stayed together emerged with their marriages even stronger. That prospect began with their mutual commitment to keep the commandments, stay active in their Church attendance, scripture reading, and prayer, and to work on their own shortcomings. They “recognized the importance and power of the Atonement for their spouse and for themselves,” and “they were patient and would try again and again.” When the couples he counseled did these things, repenting and working to save their marriages, this bishop reported that “healing was achieved 100 percent of the time.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Divorce,” Ensign, May 2007, 70–73

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The Lord promised us through the prophet Moroni: “If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

There are several interesting things about this scripture. First is that the Lord gives us weaknesses—not sin, but weaknesses—so that we may be humble. Think about that for a moment. If we were perfect in every respect, it would be hard to be humble. Even in specific things, humility comes harder to those who are very strong in one area or another. The woman or man who is remarkably beautiful or handsome can easily become proud of her or his appearance. A brilliant scholar may look down in condescension on those less intellectually blessed. Our weaknesses help us to be humble.

Then comes the promise. If we are willing to humble ourselves, then, as it says, “my grace is sufficient.” In the Bible Dictionary, grace is defined as an “enabling power” (697). Can you see the significance of that promise?

One of the signs of our day is how frequently we use the word addiction to describe destructive behavior. We talk about being addicted to alcohol, to drugs, to pornography. These are all insidious and powerful evils. Jesus warned His disciples that “whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). Alma used a similar metaphor when he warned us about the “chains of hell” (Alma 12:11).

One of the most devastating effects of sin is that it weakens you, binds you, brings you down to slavery. The grace of God and of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the answer to that predicament. If you will but humble yourselves and turn to Them, then Their grace, Their enabling power, can not only help you throw off the chains of sin but actually turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Brothers and sisters, how I long to have the reality of that promise sink into your hearts. Are you struggling with some sin or weakness? It can be something as simple as not having the willpower to rise in the morning early enough to have time for scripture study and prayer. It can be something so powerful, such as Internet pornography or lack of moral self-control, that you feel you have been pulled down into an abyss and there is no hope for you. Do you find yourself hating what you are doing but not able to find the willpower to turn away from it? Then reach out and humble yourself. The Lord’s enabling power is sufficient to change your heart, to turn your life, to purge your soul. But you must make the first move, which is to humble yourself and realize that only in God can you find deliverance.

Elder M. Russell Ballard

Be Strong in the Lord,” Ensign, Jul 2004, 8–15, adapted from a talk given at a Church Educational System fireside at Brigham Young University on 3 March 2002

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November 30, 2016

Discouragement, Enabling Power, Fundamental Principles, Hafen, Millett, Repentance

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After several posts about repentance, a repost of a fundamental truth:

The person most in need of understanding the Savior’s mercy is probably one who has worked himself to exhaustion in a sincere effort to repent, but who still believes his estrangement from God is permanent and hopeless. . . . I sense that an increasing number of deeply committed Church members are weighed down beyond the breaking point with discouragement about their personal lives. When we habitually understate the meaning of the Atonement, we take more serious risks than simply leaving one another without comforting reassurances-for some may simply drop out of the race, worn out and beaten down with the harsh and untrue belief that they are just not celestial material.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
The Broken Heart, pp. 5-6, quoted in Within Reach by Robert C. Millett (1995, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City)

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November 29, 2016

General Authorities, Gratitude, Joseph F. Smith

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We are almost daily put under obligations to one another, especially to friends and acquaintances, and the sense of obligation creates within us feelings of thankfulness and appreciation which we call gratitude.

The spirit of gratitude is always pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness to others; it begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence. Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart.

President Joseph F. Smith
Gospel Doctrine, page 262
(Paragraph break inserted to enhance online readability)

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November 28, 2016

General Authorities, Humility, Meekness, Wells

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In the greatest sermon ever preached the Savior declared, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” to which a modern skeptic has quipped, “That would be the only way the meek would get anything!”

I use that little bit of humor to illustrate that in today’s fast-paced, success-oriented world, the quality of meekness is not universally admired. We don’t usually think of successful executives as being meek, nor can we mentally accept the idea of a successful quarterback on a winning football team being meek. In fact, success in anything seems to involve quite the opposite of meekness.

Webster’s dictionary gives two commonly accepted definitions of the word “meek”:

(1) deficient in spirit and courage, and

(2) not . . . strong.

No way do I want to be looked upon as, nor can I imagine myself as being “deficient in spirit and courage.” Those are negative attributes that I want no part of–likewise, “not . . . strong.” All my life I have tried to “be strong.” One of my favorite slogans for success is, “Plan, Simplify, and Be Strong.

In the minds of many, the term “meek” means to be submissive, passive, mild, retiring, bashful, soft, lowly, placid, etc. The mental image of a “meek” person is that of a compliant doormat, Casper Milquetoast, who is so timid and unassertive that he accomplishes nothing, does nothing, seeks nothing, and contributes nothing to the world he lives in. Is this weak interpretation of meekness really what the Savior had in mind? I do not think so. I believe there is another better interpretation of the word “meek” in Spanish. Please allow me to share it with you.

I was visiting a huge estancia (ranch) in Argentina with over 100,000 acres of lush pampa. They had 20,000 head of cattle on the ranch and over a thousand head of beautiful horses–some for the gauchos to ride, but most were thoroughbred polo ponies that they trained and sold all over the world.

In the course of the afternoon’s conversation I asked the distinguished estanciero (owner) if we would see a rodeo where the gauchos would be breaking wild horses like our western cowboys. The owner was aghast. “Not on this ranch you won’t,” was his emphatic answer. “We would never break a horse. We don’t want to break his spirit. We love them and work patiently with them and train them until they are meek or ‘manso.'” He said, “Our meek (or ‘manso’) horses are still full of fire and spirit, but they are obedient and well trained. They lose nothing of their speed or maneuverability. A polo pony has to be the finest horseflesh on the face of the earth. They are lightning fast and superbly maneuverable to follow the run-and-gun type of game that world-class polo is. The horse cannot be timid or afraid of anything, but must be obedient and superbly well trained.”

I can see a great spiritual application now to the meaning “manso” or “meek.” I don’t feel the Savior wanted us to be doormats to be walked on. I prefer to think he meant that we should be obedient and well trained. You can be strong, enthusiastic, talented, spirited, zealous, and still be “meek” by being obedient and well trained. I can seek to be that kind of a meek person and be proud to have that as my goal–obedient and well trained–and still coexist in the success-oriented world in which we live.

Elder Robert E. Wells
The Christ-Focused Beatitudes, a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on 20 May 1986.

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November 27, 2016

Forgiveness, General Authorities, General Conference, Packer, Repentance, Restitution

Comments Off on Fixing that which you broke and cannot fix is the very purpose of the Atonement of Christ

The gospel teaches us that relief from torment and guilt can be earned through repentance. Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known a fulness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.

. . . .

When an offense is minor, so simple a thing as an apology will satisfy the law. Most mistakes can be settled between us and the Lord, and that should be done speedily. (See D&C 109:21) It requires a confession to Him, and whatever obvious repairs need to be made.

With sincere repentance as a pattern in our lives, measured by our willingness to “confess them and forsake them,” (D&C 58:43; see also Ezek. 18:21–24, 31–32) the Lord has promised that we may “always retain a remission of [our] sins.” (Mosiah 4:12)

. . . .

To earn forgiveness, one must make restitution. That means you give back what you have taken or ease the pain of those you have injured.

But sometimes you cannot give back what you have taken because you don’t have it to give. If you have caused others to suffer unbearably—defiled someone’s virtue, for example—it is not within your power to give it back.

There are times you cannot mend that which you have broken. Perhaps the offense was long ago, or the injured refused your penance. Perhaps the damage was so severe that you cannot fix it no matter how desperately you want to.

Your repentance cannot be accepted unless there is a restitution. If you cannot undo what you have done, you are trapped. It is easy to understand how helpless and hopeless you then feel and why you might want to give up, just as Alma did.

The thought that rescued Alma, when he acted upon it, is this: Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ.

When your desire is firm and you are willing to pay the “uttermost farthing,” (See Matt. 5:25–26) the law of restitution is suspended. Your obligation is transferred to the Lord. He will settle your accounts.

President Boyd K. Packer
The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness“, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 18

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November 26, 2016

General Authorities, Holland, Women

Comments Off on Be a Woman of Christ

Be a woman of Christ. Cherish your esteemed place in the sight of God. He needs you. This Church needs you. The world needs you. A woman’s abiding trust in God and unfailing devotion to things of the Spirit have always been an anchor when the wind and the waves of life were fiercest

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

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November 25, 2016

Adversity, General Authorities, General Conference, Healing, Scott, Video

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. . . relief can begin with the counsel of parents, priesthood leaders, and, when needed, the help of competent professionals. Yet you need not experience a lifetime of counseling. Complete healing will come through your faith in Jesus Christ and His power and capacity, through His Atonement, to heal the scars of that which is unjust and undeserved.

Elder Richard G. Scott

To Be Free of Heavy Burdens,” Ensign, Nov 2002, 86

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November 24, 2016

Justification, New Testament, Paul

Comments Off on He Had by Himself Purged Our Sins

1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 1:1-3

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November 23, 2016

Charity, Forgiveness, General Authorities, General Conference, Holland

Comments Off on He is not a rival, he is your brother

Speaking of the brother of the Prodigal Son, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us that we must allow the Atonement to work in the lives of others as much as our own:

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This son is not so much angry that the other has come home as he is angry that his parents are so happy about it. Feeling unappreciated and perhaps more than a little self-pity, this dutiful son—and he is wonderfully dutiful—forgets for a moment that he has never had to know filth or despair, fear or self-loathing. He forgets for a moment that every calf on the ranch is already his and so are all the robes in the closet and every ring in the drawer. He forgets for a moment that his faithfulness has been and always will be rewarded.

No, he who has virtually everything, and who has in his hardworking, wonderful way earned it, lacks the one thing that might make him the complete man of the Lord he nearly is. He has yet to come to the compassion and mercy, the charitable breadth of vision to see that this is not a rival returning. It is his brother. As his father pled with him to see, it is one who was dead and now is alive. It is one who was lost and now is found.

Certainly this younger brother had been a prisoner—a prisoner of sin, stupidity, and a pigsty. But the older brother lives in some confinement, too. He has, as yet, been unable to break out of the prison of himself. He is haunted by the green-eyed monster of jealousy. He feels taken for granted by his father and disenfranchised by his brother, when neither is the case. He has fallen victim to a fictional affront. As such he is like Tantalus of Greek mythology—he is up to his chin in water, but he remains thirsty nevertheless. One who has heretofore presumably been very happy with his life and content with his good fortune suddenly feels very unhappy simply because another has had some good fortune as well.

Who is it that whispers so subtly in our ear that a gift given to another somehow diminishes the blessings we have received? Who makes us feel that if God is smiling on another, then He surely must somehow be frowning on us? You and I both know who does this—it is the father of all lies. It is Lucifer, our common enemy, whose cry down through the corridors of time is always and to everyone, “Give me thine honor.”

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
The Other Prodigal, General Conference, April, 2002

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