The Advocations of the Advocate

The scriptures ofttimes refer to the Savior’s role as our advocate with the Father. What exactly does this mean? Understanding the definition of advocate makes it pretty clear:  Merriam-Webster suggests:

Definition of advocate

  1. 1:  one that pleads the cause of another; specifically :  one that pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court

  2. 2:  one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal

  3. 3:  one that supports or promotes the interests of another

In light of definition #1 we can envision the Savior pleading our cause before our Heavenly Parents at the Great Eternal Judgement Bar.  But upon what will he base his case?

I used to picture the Lord as my advocate standing before our Heavenly Parents, making a case for me based upon all my good works. He’d remind them of the times I sacrificed my interest in the interest of others, of my tithes and offerings, of my loving kindness, my service, and my obedience to his commands. But that is not what he pleads. My advocate does not base his advocations upon my merits. No, the Savior tell us what he will plead:

Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

But this is not sufficient to understand it all. Go read all the verses really quick in context here D&C 45:3-5.

You see, yes, he is our advocate. Yes, he pleads our cause. But it is based on his merits, not ours. He reminds the Father of the great price he personally paid to make our redemption possible. He reminds our Heavenly Parents of the great eternal plan whereby our salvation was secured based on his sufferings for all those who would believe on his name.

And I know what you are thinking . . . “Faith without works is dead!” I agree, and that is why he mentions the importance of our belief on his name. Because it is our belief that leads to repentance, and it is our repentance that leads to a remission of sins, and this continual cycle is the process whereby we become pure, clean, holy, and without spot–fully worthy and able to enter into the eternal rest of the Lord.

So while we must do all that we can, let us always remember that it is by His Grace, and His Advocations that we are saved and ultimately exalted.

His Plan, Promises and Purposes

Professor of ancient scripture at BYU, Camille Fronk, gave a great talk at BYU wherein she reminded listeners that Jesus never said he’d prevent broken hearts, he only said he’d heal the broken-hearted. He never promised there wouldn’t be any tears, only that he’d wipe them away.

Her thoughts reminded me that mortality is a laboratory of learning. A crucible for becoming.

When hard times hit, we need to refuse feeling forsaken. We should instead remember the grand over-arching plan, and trust in His glorious promises and eternal purposes.

The Parable of the Microphone Cord

I like parables. Or maybe I should say I enjoy finding life lessons out of everyday experiences.

Today in Gospel Doctrine we were trying to create a suitable arrangement for teaching in the chapel. Having to hold a microphone while I teach really cramps my style as I am not allowed to talk with my hands nor handle my scriptures in a comfortable manner. The Sunday School president found me a podium with a built in microphone and so we quickly tried swapping it out in front of the entire class.

Unfortunately, my microphone cord was all tangled up, so I did what most of us do when cords get tangled. I gave a tug on each side of the knot hoping these opposing forces would quickly and easily unravel the jumble.

The knot, however, was stubborn. So what did I do next? I did what most of us would’ve done. I pulled harder, and then again harder. And that’s when it hit me.

How problems in life can be a lot like this microphone cord. We get ourselves into a tangle and when tugging just a bit doesn’t do the trick, we think pulling harder is the solution. And sometimes it’s rather humorous how long we will sit and just try pulling harder when it’s apparent to everyone that the only way the knot is going to get undone is if one stops pulling harder and does the hard work that needs doing.

The only way I was going to get that microphone knot untangled was to unplug it and unravel it manually.

It was fun for me to think out loud in front of the class as I wove the chord in and out, over and under, slowly untangling the entanglement. Getting to the root of the problem is always more effective than hacking at the branches. The microphone chord powerfully reminded us all of this truth today.

The Parable of the Pup

We got a new puppy.  Several people told us that the best way to housebreak the dog was to use the crate training method. This means that the puppy must be placed in the crate during the night and any time during the day that no one is able to watch it. The goal is to teach the puppy to hold it’s pooping and peeing till you take it outside. This method teaches the puppy self-control so that shortly it can roam freely in the house without incident and accidents.

Well, the very first night our puppy cried almost the entire night. My 12 year old daughter kept running to its rescue. I was okay with this the first night considering the fact that the puppy had just been removed from everything familiar. So providing a little some extra comfort felt like the kind and loving thing to do. However, the next night I explained that we would have to exercise some tough love so that the puppy could progress. I explained to my sweet daughter that if every time the puppy cried we came running, it would never learn some very essential lessons. Lessons that would allow the pup to become fit to freely associate and live with our eternal family.

Wild dogs have never been man’s best friend.

By explaining this great truth to my daughter and unfolding the grand master plan, she finally began to fully understand:

Trust my pup in the master’s plan.~

Submit wild one to the master’s hand.

Perhaps this post should be re-titled Divine Domestication.

Parenting the Lost: Parables for Parents

I just read a great article in the January 2017 Ensign by Roy Bean. He’s an Associate Professor of  Marriage and Family Therapy at BYU.  He discussed how the parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son all provide valuable advice to parents on how to deal with wayward children.

First, in the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd leaves the 99 and diligently searches for the wayward one. As parents, we can fast and pray and make every effort to reach out in love toward our children who wander in order to help them feel included and know of our love and concern. We don’t neglect the other valiant children in the pursuit of the lost one as that could lead to damaging consequences, but we are single-minded in our focus to find our lost one.

Second, in the parable of the lost coin, the woman swept her entire house. Parents should look inward when dealing with a lost child. Is there anything amiss in their home that needs attention? What cleaning should commence to put their family and home in order? Such cleaning could result in the recovery of that which was lost and prevent future losses from occurring.

Finally, in the parable of the prodigal son, the father trusted in Heavenly Father’s plan for his child and allowed his child to leave the security of the family home and spend his strength in riotous living. This was no easy decision, but trusting that some children must learn through experience, the parents of the prodigal undoubtedly prayed, hoped and trusted that their child would one day return. And they, of course, kept close watch at the window so that could run to and meet the returning prodigal when that long awaited day finally did come.

For parents dealing with wandering or wayward children, I felt Roy’s application of the parables inspired. The article is called “Rescuing the Lost: Counsel for Parents and Leaders.

Running to Our Rescue

What does it mean to succor? In Alma 7:12 we learn one of the reasons the Lord suffered for us is so that he would know how to best succor us in our time of need.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, we learn that succor means to provide aid, help, or relief. Truly, we can never say, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen . . ” because Jesus knows.

He knows and can therefore provide comfort, aid, help–and if it is his will, ultimately relief (for more about strength verses relief, see this post here). He hath descended below all things, so that he could ascend above all things, and help us transcend all things. He will surely show us the way if we seek his succor.

While the definition discussed above is beautiful indeed, there is more.  Consider the word succor in light of this scripture discussing temptation. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read: 

Behold, and hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.

I have thought a lot about the Lord’s role in providing help and relief from temptation. I had a friend explain addiction to me in terms of ocean waves beating upon them. They just keep coming and coming and never let up. That must be a very discouraging experience–to feel the unrelenting cravings of addiction or temptation with no sign of release.

And then I discovered that the Latin root of the word “succor” is succurrere, which means to run to the rescue. I thought of my friend’s description of temptation and addiction–crashing upon you like great mountain waves–over, and over, and over- no end in sight.

That is, until you picture the Lord running to your aid, whisking you safely away from the buffetings of Satan and leading you lovingly to shore.

That is the beauty of our Savior. He runs to our rescue. Yea, he is ever ready to succor and mighty to save!*

*I do not think we fully understand how to access the atonement. I plan to further flesh out my thoughts on this topic in this post: “What Infusion Soft Has Taught Me About the Atonement.”

Does God Really Answer Prayers?

Will God really answer my prayers? That’s a question I’m not fully delving into today. But whenever I feel like God isn’t there, and that he doesn’t care, I go back to the basics. God didn’t put me here to give me everything I need whenever I ask.

What is the purpose of mortality anyway? Is it not a laboratory of learning? A place where we get to practice becoming like God? When we remember the reason we are here, and when we allow this purpose to inform our prayers, we ask not amiss. In fact, we ask for that which the Lord is already willing to give.

The Lord wants us to become like him and he readily answers when we ask not amiss.

How long does it take for ideas and answers to come to questions such as, “Dear God, what do you want me to learn from this experience?” Pleas, demands for deliverance, or suggestions aren’t really questions that bring greater insight and understanding.

If you think that God doesn’t care simply because you aren’t getting answers, go back to examining your questions and look to see how you can improve your asking.


Hearing the Voice of the Lord

Huge shout out to Stephen R. Covey for helping me recognize one of the most powerful, yet subtle ways God speaks to me.

Ask yourself, “What could I do right now to draw closer to my Heavenly Parents?”

What came to your mind? Write it down.

Now ask, “What could I do starting today to be a better _____________ [insert: mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son]?”

What did your conscience say? Write it down.

“What could I do at work to be a better _____________ [insert: boss, employee, manager, etc.]?”

See how thoughts and ideas come to your mind as you sincerely ask? This is your conscience, which we learn in scripture is the Light of Christ. The Light of Christ is given to every man and woman that cometh to the world that they may know good from evil. The Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead, further educates our conscience as we give heed to the light and knowledge already received. It is not enough to just write down what our conscience instructs. We must go and do.

For unto him that receiveth, I will give more. This is how we grow in light and truth line upon line until that perfect day when we are able to stand before the Holy Judgement Seat, holy, pure and without spot.

God speaks to me. He speaks to you. Now go and hear.

The Worth of Souls

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God (D & C 18:10).

What determines value? Is it not the price one is willing to pay? What is the price that was paid for the redemption of each of our souls? The “Lord God suffered death in the flesh” that we all might live. Indeed, our value is great.

Worth is also determined by future value. I buy a stock today at X because I believe in the potential of the company. Real estate, jewelry, art, guns, any investment is based on “potential.” The worth of souls is great because of our divine potential. We are sons and daughters of God who are bound for glory.

Let us never forget the price that was paid for our souls and our divine potential.

The Perfect Plan and Satisfying Demands

I’ve often wondered why Jesus had to suffer, bleed and die. Couldn’t God have thought of a better way to “satisfy the demands of justice” (Alma 34:15,-16) and bring about the great merciful plan of redemption?

I believe it was Cleon Skousen who first opened my eyes to the brilliance of God’s plan in offering up his perfect son.

Imagine an older brother whom you love and admire very much. You’ve spent eons with him and you are constantly amazed at his goodness, purity and perfection. He outstrips every child in your pre-mortal family.

Imagine him coming to Earth to set a perfect example for you. Imagine him willingly suffer excruciating pain so that you and your siblings might not suffer as he did. Then imagine him submitting to torture, mocking, and a brutal death so that you all might live.

What love does this inspire for Him whom you already so much admire? Would it be love sufficient that you would be willing to do whatsoever he commands?

If so, sounds to me like a pretty perfect plan.

A plan that could satisfy all demands.

Even the demands of justice.

The scriptures teach that Christ suffered to appease the demands of justice, to bring about the great plan of mercy, and to fill his bowels with compassion for us. I believe his suffering also causes our bowels to be filled with compassion and love for him and our fellow man.

Christ’s suffering gives me the desire and ability to forgive those who cause injury. Is this not our bowels being filled with compassion, mercy and love? Is this what is meant by he shall make “intercession for all (2 Nephi 2:27)?”

I believe our Savior pleads the cause of the human race not only before the Father of us all, His suffering and death also plead our case before our fellow men. Stephen R. Covey taught that Jesus is not only our advocate with the Father, He is also our advocate with our fellowman.

So when I read in the scriptures of the atonement of Jesus Christ “appeasing the demands of justice,” I think of my own appeasement. I think of imperfect children who, when offended, cry out to perfect Heavenly Parents for justice.   And then, remembering the intense sufferings of our Savior, we are moved to compassion, filled with mercy, and quiet our cries.

Our great love for him who first loved us (1 John 4:19), enables us to deny the atonement of Jesus Christ to no man. We are appeased. We seek to do the things which he commands. Thereby, God, our Eternal Father, prepareth a way for all mankind to be saved through the merits, mercy and love of His Only Begotten Son. Could there have been a better way? A more perfect plan?  I’ve yet to conceive of one.