Belonging in Heaven

Q. What happens if I feel like I don’t belong in the Celestial Kingdom?

johnny depp

A. If my friend*, Johnny Depp, invited me to a red carpet event, I would feel out of place.  Even if everyone knew I was there with him, and that I could be there–I would still be completely uncomfortable.  Even if I tried to blend in with a designer dress and shellacked hair, I would feel like everyone knew that I was an imposter.  I’m a housewife, for goodness sake!  In a similar way, in order to feel like we belong in heaven, we have to be worthy and we have to have confidence in our presence there.

The first obstacle is that we aren’t worthy.  We are mortal, God is immortal.  We are flawed, He is perfect.  We are dull, His glory would blind us.  We are soiled with sin and hatred.  He is clean and full of love.  We truly don’t belong there.  And if it was just up to us, we would never get there.

For this very reason, God sent His Son to bridge the chasm separating us from our Creator.  Jesus Christ can take us to immortality, perfection and sinless glory.  He can make us heavenly.  It is up to us to accept His help.  That’s it.  To be humble in acknowledging our utter dependence on Him in taking us from our current state to feeling comfortable in His presence.

There is no sin so bad that He can’t atone for it.  He can take the blackest soul and wash it clean–if we will let Him.  He forgave Zeezrom after Zeezrom’s arguments resulted in a group of women and children being killed by fire. (Alma 14).  Surely, you have done less than that.  zeezrom

He forgave Paul after Paul assisted some others in stoning Stephen to death.  Stephen was Christ’s own apostle.  Surely, you have done less than that.   He wants to help us and forgive us.  That’s what He is all about.  stephen

And while Christ’s cleansing sacrifice does fit us for heaven, we can still feel a complete lack of confidence in our presence there.  Johnny might walk around so graciously, introducing me to everyone, but I would still be shrinking and sweating.   There is a scripture that talks exactly about this issue, D&C 121:45-46

45. Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

46. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

This tells us how to acquire the confidence necessary for us to stand in the presence of the Lord (without shrinking or sweating).

1) Be charitable towards everyone.  Be kind, watch for ways to help those around you.  Pretend you are an angel, always on an errand of the Lord.  Not only towards strangers, but members of your congregation at church (the household of faith).

2) Let virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly.  Think good, clean thoughts.  Be happy and optimistic.  Be grateful for things you have. Virtuous thoughts are in line with the commandments.  Follow the teachings of the prophets, and look for ways to be obedient to the counsel that God has given us.

If you live this kind of loving, happy life, it makes you a loving person–a person like Christ.  You start to feel more comfortable around the valiant.  In my church meeting on Sunday, the speaker talked about people who don’t want to be thought of as too “churchy”.  They like to stay up on the latest trends, and give their devotion half-heartedly on Sundays so that they aren’t seen as the archetypal Molly Mormon.  They are cooler than that.  But what usually happens when a person tries to keep one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom of God, is that they get pulled toward the world and away from the church.  He observed that even if “churchy” people seem overzealous, heaven is full of “churchy” people.  And the more you get to know them and become like them, the more familiar heaven will be.

Even if you don’t feel like you would fit in there now, you are made of heavenly stuff.  It is your eternal heritage and your eternal inheritance.  The whole plan is designed to ensure that we return to our Father in Heaven–better, stronger, and smarter than we were when we left.  Have confidence in that plan, too.


*I feel like Johnny Depp and I could be friends, given the chance.

Sabbath Day Observance

I had a conversation recently with a fellow student at Chico State who is a Seventh Day Adventist. He wanted to know why it is that the LDS church (and many others) observe Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath instead of Saturday, the seventh day.

My first thought was that the ‘when’ of the Sabbath is not nearly as important as the ‘why’. We celebrate Christ, both my Seventh Day Adventist classmate and I, we just do so on different days.

In our conversation we discovered many similarities in our beliefs, we both agreed that God created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. (Genesis 2:2-3) And we were both well aware of the 4th of the ten commandments which refers to Sabbath Day observance, saying, “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy . . . wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11)

It is in the New Testament, however, that the importance of the first day of the week becomes emphasized. Mary arrived at the Garden Tomb on the first day of the week to find that Christ had been resurrected (John 20:1). Later, in Acts, Paul had the disciples gather together to take the sacrament and be instructed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we rest from our regular, daily labors one day a week. We gather together to take the sacrament and learn the teachings of Christ from the scriptures and modern prophets. We follow the example of the early disciples and commemorate Christ’s victory over sin and death every Sunday.

Tithing is a Blessing!


When I graduated high school I applied to a local university and was very blessed to receive a full-ride academic scholarship. I saw it as a mix between a gigantic miracle and a welcome pay-back for a lot of hard work and time spent doing extra curricular activities. It made going to college easy on me and my parents. As an expression of gratitude and obedience, I committed to pay a full, 10% tithe on all of that money. Some semesters it was hard! I thought of places I could travel, things I could buy, what I could do for my family and friends with some extra change in my pocket. . .

Even in those moments of hesitation I recognized that 100% of the scholarship came from the Lord and that he asks us to give up 10% of our increase for the building up of His kingdom. I have put the Lord to the test in paying tithing and I know that He blesses us with more than He requires of us. Not only did the Lord open the door of a college education for me, but as it closed last semester I walked away debt-free, at the top of my class, and with a conviction that the Lord will always provide for those who are willing to obey His commandments.

Tithing SlipThis is an image of the tithing slip we use in the LDS Church. There are several funds to which we can donate, but only Tithing and Fast Offerings are commandments. We use an envelope to give our tithing instead of passing around a donation plate or basket. The tithes are recorded by the financial clerk and a member of the bishopric of each congregation and then deposited in the church’s account. Tithing money is used in the building and maintenance of chapels, temples, and other church assets and in missionary work. At the end of each year, individual tithe payers are given a receipt that shows the total amount of their donations to help in filing taxes.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as an organization, understands that tithing is the Lord’s money. Every year at General Conference, the Church Auditing Department makes a statement regarding the use of the money. For me, knowing that there is no misuse of funds, no skimming off the top, gives me confidence that this really is the Church of Jesus Christ and not a Church of men hoping to get rich off their congregation.

Although it may sound difficult or even impossible to live the law of tithing, the Lord promises that he will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). Such abundant blessings are well worth the sacrifice. Take some time right now to consider God’s hand in your life and this Sunday offer him a tithe.

See also:

The Divine Law of Tithing

Tithing: A Test of Faith with Eternal Blessings

Can Mormons View Pornography?

I was asked to write a response to the question: “Can Mormons view pornography?” Sadly the answer to this is yes they can. (That brings up the agency issue, which is a subject for another time.) But to the question, “Should Mormons view pornography?” I would answer NO! It is seen as sinful behavior that is demeaning to both the viewer and the objectified person in the picture.

An excerpt from the LDS Pamphlet For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God, pretty much sums up what Mormon’s believe regarding viewing pornography.

“Pornography in all its forms is especially dangerous and addictive. What may begin as a curious indulgence can become a destructive habit that takes control of your life. It can lead you to sexual transgression and even criminal behavior. Pornography is a poison that weakens your self-control, changes the way you see others, causes you to lose the guidance of the Spirit, and can even affect your ability to have a normal relationship with your future spouse. If you encounter pornography, turn away from it immediately.”

That sums up the church’s attitude toward pornography. There are some policy issues regarding those who indulge. Generally if a person tells their bishop that they are viewing pornography they will be denied access to holy temples and given all the help they are willing to accept to overcome the habit.

They can learn from their bishops how to repent and regain access to the atonement of Jesus Christ, which enables them to fully recover.

That’s what I love about Sunday

This past Sunday during our worship meeting (called sacrament meeting), the speakers taught us about keeping the Sabbath day holy.  Their talks were a reminder to me of the sacredness of Sunday and what a blessing it is to keep this commandment.  I was reminded of this beautiful scripture from Isaiah 58:13-14

13 If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Verse 13 has been a guide for me in striving to keep the Sabbath day holy.  As I have consistently sought to keep this commandment and follow Isaiah’s prescription on how to do it, I have found renewed strength, blessings too innumerable to count, even so many, that I don’t have room to receive them all, and above all, I have found peace.  I feel strongly that because I strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, I have been able to enjoy academic success in medical school while being a husband and father of three children.  I am not the smartest person in my class by a long shot, but my abilities to understand and retain information has been undoubtedly increased.  This is just one example, but there are many more–my marriage is stronger to name one specifically.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that I cannot afford to not keep the Sabbath day holy.  But, it is not just the increased understanding or my marriage that drives me, it is the assurance, peace, and joy that I feel in my life that God is truly guiding my life.  I know that I have found the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life.

The commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy is still in effect today, just as it was in Isaiah’s day.  I urge you to think about your doings on Sunday, change if necessary, and follow Isaiah’s counsel.  Take God at his word.  Put this commandment to the test.  There will come into your life blessings that you never imagined.  The promises of the Lord and his servants are true, but it is up to you to claim them.