So Why a Living Room?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Change

Tomorrow I get to teach our Old Testament class--about Joel, Amos, and Jonah. I have done a lot of thinking about repentance over the last few weeks, and what it really is and what it really means.

There are lots of words you can use to describe things.  Striking colors in a living room can be "dramatic" or "flamboyant."  A quiet person can be "shy" or "stand-offish."  Someone who speaks their mind can be characterized as "strong-minded" or "opinionated."  In the same way, different words can be used to describe repentance, which produce either a positive or negative emotional response.  Too often, I think we hear the word "repentance" and think of it this way:

Here are some interesting insights into the derivation of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin words used for the word repentance.  (From a talk called "The Meaning of Repentance," by Elder Theodore M. Burton.)

He says, "The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the word used in it to refer to the concept of repentance is shube. Shube means 'to turn from.'  The message of the Old Testament is to shube, or to turn from transgression and back to our loving Father in Heaven—to leave unhappiness, sorrow, regret, and despair behind and turn back to our Father’s family. There we can find happiness, joy, and acceptance among his other children."

"Prophet after prophet writes of shube to let us know that if we are truly repentant and forsake sin, we can be received with joy and rejoicing. The Old Testament teaches repeatedly we must turn from evil and do instead that which is noble and good. This means that we must not only change our ways, we must change our very thoughts, which control our actions."

"The concept of shube is also found in the New Testament, which was written in Greek. The Greek writers used the Greek word metanoeo to refer to repentance. Metanoeo means a change of mind, thought, or thinking so powerful that it changes one’s very way of life. I think the Greek word metanoeo is an excellent synonym for the Hebrew word shube. Both words mean thoroughly changing or turning from evil to God and righteousness."

"Confusion came, however, when the New Testament was translated from Greek into Latin. Here an unfortunate choice was made in translation; the Greek word metanoeo was translated into the Latin word poenitere. This word is related to the words punish, penance, penitent, and repentance. The beautiful meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words was thus changed in Latin to a meaning that involved hurting, punishing, whipping, cutting, mutilating, disfiguring, starving, or even torturing! It is no small wonder, then, that people have come to fear and dread the word repentance, which they understand to mean repeated or unending punishment.

The meaning of repentance is not that people be punished, but rather that they change their lives so that God can help them escape eternal punishment and enter into his rest with joy and rejoicing. If we have this understanding, repentance will become a welcome and treasured word in our religious vocabulary instead of a word that creates anxiety and fear." 

So really, when we think of repentance, it should feel more like THIS!

I think we forfeit a lot of joy by avoiding "repentance" because we think it will be hard or unpleasant--when really, it is the chance to be freed from sin, and to feel God's love and mercy and forgiveness.  We just need to turn to him.  :)

Okay, so all this thinking about repentance (and Joel, Amos, and Jonah who were all called to preach it) reminded me of a song I wrote back in 2001. 

Read this post for more background on the writing of this song and some of the scriptures it is based on. 

Here it is!

The Change |

The Change

How with all I’ve seen can I keep making these mistakes?
And why with all I know do things keep turning out the same?
Every time I fall I come so close to giving up
So I just keep on trying harder--but will it ever be enough?
I keep tryin’ to believe that I’ll get there someday but sometimes I just don’t know
I want to sing the song of redeeming love but I’ve forgotten how it goes…

I wanna feel the change
I don’t want to want to want sin anymore
And at that day I wanna look to Him
With clean hands and a heart that is pure
I wanna feel the change
I wanna sing with a new voice
He’ll you open my eyes and give me new sight
Make the dark disappear as I awake to the light
His grace will replace all my wrongs with what’s right
And I’ll start to walk in the newness of life…
                        And feel the change.

So I finally see what all my weaknesses have shown,
That I’ll never ever make it if I try to do this on my own,
Now on my knees I come to you with all I am,
And I’m begging you to mold me with those firm but loving hands.
I let go of my pride, surrender my will and put all my trust in you
I place my heart at your feet and my life in your hands…will you make me someone new?

I wanna feel the change
I don’t want to want to want sin anymore
And at that day I wanna look to You
With clean hands and a heart that is pure
I wanna feel the change
I wanna sing with a new voice
Will you open my eyes and give me new sight
Make the dark disappear as I awake to the light
Will you replace all my wrongs with what’s right
So I can start to walk in the newness of life…?
                        And feel the change.

My fantasy is that you will now say, "Alriiiiight!!  I can't wait to go repent!!!"    :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Psalm for the Soul

Ahhhh. Well we are settling into our fall routine, and as part of that I get to teach an Old Testament Bible study class once a month.  It has been such a huge blessing to have an added reason to really delve into the scriptures and FEAST.  :)   I have seen little miracles happen in terms of extra energy that I get or extra time that magically appears in my life to help me prepare my lessons.

A few weeks ago I taught a lesson on the Psalms.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the lesson:

From the introduction to our LDS hymn book:
"Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns.  Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end."  (and the Psalms were the "hymns" of the Hebrews so the same things apply!)

From Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of the 12 apostles on the earth today:
"The singing of hymns is one of the best ways to put ourselves in tune with the spirit of the Lord...We should use hymns when we need spiritual strength and inspiration...We who have felt to sing the song of redeeming love need to keep singing that we may draw ever closer to him who has inspired sacred music and commanded that it be sued to worship him."

And I love this one, from our lesson manual:
"Music is both in the voice and in the heart.  Every true saint finds his heart full of songs of praise to his Maker.  Those whose voices can sing forth the praises found in their hearts are twice blest." 

Isn't that the greatest?  I do feel twice blest that I am able to sing the praises that are in my heart.  But I know people who can barely carry a tune and yet  feel the same love for the Lord in their hearts that I do!   :)

Colossians 3:16:  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

And, this is what I ended the lesson with.  One of my favorite settings of Psalm 23.  Enjoy!

The Lord Is My Shepherd

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul:  he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life:  and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."