Becoming New Through Christ

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

It’s January.  You know what that means?  It means it’s the perfect time to start over–the perfect time to resolve to become the people we want to become this year.

How do we do that?  Well, first of all, we need to start off being honest with ourselves.  So can we all just get something out of the way?

ALL of us have issues.  Let’s just admit it!  All of us have scars.  All of us are broken in some way.  All of us “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)  All of us need to improve.  And none of us can do it on our own.  (Phew!  Glad we got that out of the way.)

Next: how can we expect to move forward if we are still carrying the past with us and dragging our burdens behind us?  Answer: we can’t.  It’s just like C.S. Lewis said: “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”

Expectation: Easy, right?  Just leave it behind and move on!
Reality: NOT EASY.

We cannot truly move forward when our heart is heavy with scars, bitterness, regret, pain, sin, fear, disappointment, or any other kind of burden we carry.

But how do we overcome all these things and become free of them?  How do we slowly erase these scars until our broken heart starts to heal?

Here’s a glorious thought: what if you could be given a new heart?  What if there was a way that you could keep all the wisdom and experience and lessons you learned from your trials, but have the burden of them completely taken away?  What if you could take your broken, tired, and weakened heart and exchange it for one that is strong, pure, free, and whole?

News flash: YOU CAN.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not just to pay the price for our sins, but it is help us truly become something.  It gives us the chance to become new and clean over and over again each day, so that we may have the strength and the capacity to continue moving forward–today and always.

What a beautiful promise!  Because of Jesus Christ, we do not have to be a slave to the past.  We do not have to be a slave to sin, to death, to heartache.  Because of Him, every day we have the chance to leave yesterday behind and begin again with a fresh start.

So what do we have to do in order to receive that gift? Give our heart over to Him!  Not just some of it, not just what we want to give, but all of it.  If we truly want to move forward, we have to trust God enough to put our lives entirely in His hands and live the life that He has commanded us to live. (See also Mark 8:35).

I can promise you as someone who is trying to become new through Christ everyday that His promise in Ezekiel is real.  I have felt His redeeming power take my broken heart away and give me one that is new and whole.  HE IS THERE, and He will help you!

So let go of the past.  Give your heart over to Him.  This year, resolve to become new through His grace.  And I promise you, there will be far greater things ahead than any you will ever leave behind ♥

BRING ON 2014!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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His Grace Is Sufficient

“Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.” (Jacob 4:7)

If there is one thing I have learned over and over again on my mission it is that I am so weak.  Despite my attempts to be perfectly Christlike, I still struggle.  I get frustrated.  I make mistakes.  I doubt.  I come up short.  No matter how hard I try on my own, my weaknesses still seem to find their way right to the spotlight.

Discouraging?  It could be.  But it’s not.  Here’s why.

One Sunday years ago when I was in church, I remember someone teaching me this principle from Elder Hafen: “As we draw close to God, He will show us our weaknesses and through them make us wiser, stronger.  If you’re seeing more of your weaknesses, that just might mean you’re moving nearer to God, not farther away.”

Seeing weaknesses is not a bad thing.  In fact, as we turn to Christ, seeing weaknesses is a good thing because it helps us recognize that it is only through His infinite grace that we can become strong.  It means we recognize that we need to change and it is in that moment that we can turn to Him to help us do so.

I know that I am not perfect.  But because He is perfect, I don’t have to be.  Because He is perfect, I can give my very best effort and He will transform it into enough.  His mercy and Atonement is sufficient for all of my weaknesses.  Put simply, “The grace of Christ is sufficient—sufficient to cover our debt, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us for as long as that transformation process takes.” (Brad Wilcox, His Grace is Sufficient)

Does that mean we don’t try? No.  Does that mean we focus on our weaknesses and let them overwhelm us?  No.

To me, it means I believe in Christ, I trust in Him, and I follow Him.  It means that I am humble and have faith that through Him my weaknesses will be made strong. (Ether 12:27)

So if you ever start to feel down or like you will never be good enough, don’t give up my darling.  You are not doing it on your own ♥

“More than anything, do not think you cannot do this. Do not let giving up be an option. Focus on Him, knowing that you will be blessed with the best ever created. What you know and what you have is enough for His help and guidance. You are always worthy of your God’s love. Prioritize. Turn to Him. Experiment. Act. Focus. Commit. Try. Hold on.” ~Al Fox, You Are Enough

The Joy of Starting Over

Sometimes you have those moments in your life where you realize that you are not the person that you want to be.  In those moments, you have two options.  You either remain on the path to nowhere, focusing on your mistakes and everything you’ve done wrong, or you make a decision.  You find the courage in your heart to start a new path.  You make a decision to change.  And once you make that decision, you can’t go back.  You can’t revert to the old.  You have become totally new.  Your old self disappears and you start over.  Not only do you decide to move forward, but in that moment the Atonement of Jesus Christ takes full force and literally cleanses your past.  He takes away all of your baggage and makes you clean.  He heals you.  He carries you.  He lifts you.  And He helps you become who you need to become.

And so now you have the moment come in your life where you realize that you are not your past.  You are not your weaknesses.  You are not your mistakes.  Through the infinite mercy and love of Jesus Christ, you are whole and filled–filled with light, hope, love, charity, and joy.  And armed with each of those things, you move forward to become the person that Heavenly Father has created you to become.