Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Gift We Can All Use

Warning: There are many references to scriptures in this that are not mentioned. All of my quoting can be found somewhere within between the scriptures or general authority talks.
I know not all people could attend and some people have asked for a copy of my talk and so I am posting it to my blog so here it is. Thank you SO SO SO SO much for all of the support, love, and everything! I love you all!

Good morning. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak in front of family and friends. I have had a lot of time to think about things and one of the questions I keep asking myself is “How on earth did I get to this point in my life?” Many of my thoughts turn back to growing up in the Tustin 4th ward. I was very, extremely, adamantly not going on a mission but here I am today shocking everyone, including myself, leaving in 10 days to serve an eighteen month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What changed?

My heart did. My heart was softened. I thought all this time a hardened heart referred to people like Laman and Lemuel from The Book of Mormon or the Pharisees and Sadducees in the New Testament that eventually had the savior of all mankind crucified. However I was wrong, my own heart was hardened to the idea of going on a mission and I realized that one of the reasons I came to Earth was to help and serve others and what better way is there than to serve a full time mission. I tried rationalizing all of the good things that were happening in my life and how going to stay and finish my last year and a half of school would be the best but the Spirit kept prodding me. My idea of missionary work was skewed for some reason. A missionary's purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored of the gospel of Jesus Christ through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost an enduring to the end.  For some reason this was not the purpose of a missionary to me. I don’t really know what was but this wasn’t it. Finally one night in my apartment I was up by myself, which was unusual, writing in my journal and began writing “I think I should go on a mission, I’ll wait until general conference next week.....” There are about four pages of me going back and forth writing no, yes, since when do I want to serve a mission, am I crazy and at the end of that entry it says "I am going on a mission and that's that".  So I scheduled an interview with the bishop of my ward but I was moving to another apartment complex which meant a new ward, so I met with my new bishop too and then with that stake president and then my papers were in! I was still unsure about going on a mission but I was putting all of my trust in the Lord and prayed for the strength to go through. Despite all my secret hopes, two weeks later I was opening a big, white envelope I had never imagined that I, Katie Sundberg would be opening. I knew that as soon as I opened this letter there was no going back. I was not going to deny any calling. My hands would not stay still, they were shaking like crazy and I was soon reading Sister Sundberg. You are hereby called as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Mexico Hermosillo mission. I about died. Like I said it’s been about five months since I got that call and so I have had a lot of time to think all about the miracle it is that I am going on a mission and the only thing that got me here was trusting in the Lord and depending on the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The atonement consists of Jesus Christ's suffering in the garden of gethsemane and his crucifixion on Calvary yet it is so much more than those two sacred events. Each one of us needs the blessings that come from the atonement. Prophets of old foretold of this essential event since the days of Adam. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived in the presence of God and were told they could partake of the tree of life but were commanded not to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam was told that in the day he eats of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he should surely die. From the scriptures we know that Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and were cast out of the Garden of Eden and with that, cast out of the presence of the Father. This is called the fall.  The fall caused two kinds of death to occur. One, spiritual death meaning separation from God and two, temporal death meaning they would one day die. Adam knew there would be consequences for breaking a commandment of the Lord, there always is. He knew that no unclean thing could dwell in the presence of God yet he longed to be in His presence. Imagine the joy Adam and Eve felt when they found out that a Savior had been prepared for them to redeem them from both types of death.  And so as 1 Corinthians 15:22 says “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  Because of the fall, we are all prone to mortal death and we are all accountable for our own sins. In the second article of faith we are reminded that “we believe that men will be punished for their owns sins and not for Adam’s transgression.” Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer.  His death on Calvary ensures each of us immortality. We will be resurrected. He broke the bands of death. The grave has no victory. (see Mosiah 16:7) We will be able to see and live with loved ones who have passed on again and to be with our families eternally because of Christ’s selfless sacrifice on the cross. Immortality is unconditional. However eternal life, meaning returning to the presence of God is conditional. Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane, his bleeding from every pore, his descending below all things and rising above all things is the part where we must act to receive the blessings that come from His suffering. For if we do not use the atonement it is “as if there was no redemption made” (Mosiah 16:5). The gift of eternal life requires us to have faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement and then to repent of the commandments that we ourselves have broken. Our salvation depends upon us. We must have faith that Jesus Christ exists and that he truly makes it possible for us to live in the presence of our Father again. I know that I do not have all of the answers as to the mechanics of how the Atonement works but I know that it does. My faith sustains me. It is our choice whether or not “we come unto Christ and be perfected in Him” as is explained in Mosiah chapter 10 verse 32 in the Book of Mormon.

            Making the atonement a part of our daily lives is simple but just as Naaman in the Old Testament doubted that he could become clean of his leprosy by bathing in the river 7 times or how the children of Israel could be healed of their snake bites just by looking up unto the staff that Moses was raising, our pride creeps into our minds to stop the simple process of gaining the blessings from the Atonement. Our pride leads us to believe that our healing needs to come from some great journey or that something extraordinary need to happen but in reality it is simple, all we need to do is come unto Christ. The extraordinary has already taken place. We just need to have faith. All he asks of us is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. It is a humbling experience. We, who have sinned, only need a broken heart and a contrite spirit but the person forgiving us and leading us to perfection lived a sinless life and paid the ultimate price. What a remarkable gift.

            The process of each of us changing to be more Christlike is going to take a very long time. Just because we haven’t committed any serious sin does not mean that we do not need to ask for the blessings of the atonement in our life. This is my favorite part of the atonement. Not only does Christ’s atonement make it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins but there is the great enabling power or grace that comes with it. This is the power that has and is still moving me forward in going on a mission. I am learning to depend on the Lord. I can do all that I can and then through the atonement and my prayers of asking for added heavenly help, I can do all things. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Through Christ we are strengthened. When we no longer have any strength or power or no more control over a situation, if we turn to the Lord we will be blessed with the added strength and perspective that we need to get through. And if it doesn’t come right away just see it as the great gift of learning patience.  Patience truly is a virtue.

            Just as prophets of old spoke of the atonement of Christ, we have modern day apostles and prophets that testify of Christ. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have Jesus Christ as the head of the church with a President, President Thomas S Monson, a First Presidency which consists of the President of the Church and two apostles as counselors and then the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who are all called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ just as they were when Christ established his church while on the Earth. I sustain these men and know they are called of God. Here are some of the things that these special witnesses have said concerning the atonement of Jesus Christ.

President Boyd K Packer, President of the Quorum of the 12 says “Just as chalk can be removed from a blackboard, with sincere repentance the effects of our transgression can be erased through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That promise applies in every case.”  (


Elder Richard G Scott of the 12 says “Through the Atonement‍ of Jesus Christ, each of us can become clean and the burden of our rebellion will be lifted. Remember, repentance is not punishment. It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future.” (

Elder L Tom Perry of the 12 says “Prophecies foretelling the life and mission of Jesus Christ promise us the deliverance that He will provide. His Atonement‍ and Resurrection‍ provide all of us an escape from physical death and, if we repent, an escape from spiritual death, bringing with it the blessings of eternal life. The promises of the Atonement‍ and Resurrection, the promises of deliverance from physical and spiritual death, were declared by God to Moses‍ when He said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality‍ and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).” (

Elder D Todd Christofferson of the 12 says “Repentance exists as an option only because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” (

President Dieter F Utchdorf of the First Presidency says “With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If these are your desires, then regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us!” (

Elder Jeffrey R Holland of the 12 says “Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says,10‍ we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.” (

President Henry B Eyring of the First Presidency says “Heavenly Father has perfect foresight, knows each of us, and knows our future. He knows what difficulties we will pass through. He sent His Son to suffer so that He would know how to succor us in all our trials. We know that Heavenly Father has spirit children in this world who sometimes choose sin and great unhappiness. That is why He sent His Firstborn to be our Redeemer, the greatest act of love in all creation. That is why we must expect that it will take the help of God and time to polish us for eternal life, to live with our Father.” (

Elder Russell M Nelson of the 12 says “We can change our behavior. Our very desires can change. How? There is only one way. True change—permanent change—can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.26‍ He loves you—each of you!27‍ He allows you to access His power as you keep His commandments, eagerly, earnestly, and exactly. It is that simple and certain. The gospel of Jesus Christ is‍ a gospel of change!” (

Elder Dallin H Oaks of the 12 says “For Latter-day Saints, God’s commandments are based on and inseparable from God’s plan for His children—the great plan of salvation. This plan, sometimes called the “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), explains our origin and destiny as children of God—where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. The plan of salvation explains the purpose of creation and the conditions of mortality, including God’s commandments, the need for a Savior, and the vital role of mortal and eternal families.” (

Elder David A Bednar of the 12 says “Thus, the enabling power of the Atonement strengthens us to do and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity.” (

Elder Neil L Anderson of the 12 says “we proclaim our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. All that we are—all that we will ever be—we owe to Him. While we gaze in awe at His majesty, He does not ask us to stay our distance but bids us to come unto Him. “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (

Elder Robert D Hales of the 12 says “Throughout His life the Savior gave of His time, His energy, and ultimately, through the Atonement, gave Himself so that all of God’s children could be resurrected and have the opportunity to inherit eternal life.” (

President Thomas S Monson, President of the Church says “There is one Teacher whose life overshadows all others. He taught of life and death, of duty and destiny. He lived not to be served but to serve, not to receive but to give, not to save His life but to sacrifice it for others. He described a love more beautiful than lust, a poverty richer than treasure. It was said of this Teacher that He taught with authority and not as did the scribes.11‍ His laws were not inscribed upon stone but upon human hearts. I speak of the Master Teacher, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.” (

I believe the words of these men. They truly testify of Christ. Now some of you here today may not believe in God or Jesus Christ or you question your faith or you may not believe and you may question that Christ's suffering in the garden of gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary was of any significance but I know of their reality because I have felt the Holy Ghost testify it to me because I have asked if these things are true.  I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to return to him. And knowing that we, as humans, would make mistakes and give in to our carnal desires, he provided a Savior, even his only begotten, Jesus Christ at a time when his own people would not accept him as the man that had been prophesied to be the savior of all mankind. I know that Jesus Christ was not just an extraordinary historical figure but that it is through his completely perfect life and completely selfless sacrifice that we are made clean. I know that when we sincerely ask to be forgiven of our sins and mistakes through earnest prayer to our father in heaven, we can be forgiven and our "sins are remembered no more" and we are then blessed with one of the greatest blessings- a clean conscience and peace in our souls. I know that in life, I cannot do what I have been called to do with just my own strength and I will need to be dependent upon the great gift of the atonement to enable me to do what it is that my father in heaven wants me to do. I can give all that I have and the rest will be filled. Immortality and eternal life are possible because of the great sacrifice that was made by our Savior, our Redeemer, our friend Jesus Christ and I know the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored today. All of the keys, ordinances, covenants and blessings are available to us if we come unto Christ through the restored gospel, have faith in Him and His atonement, be baptized by someone who holds proper authority, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. I know we have modern day prophets who warn us of the dangers in this turbulent world where the area between right and wrong is getting larger and larger. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know the atonement was real and that it was and remains to be the most significant event in all of history. I know these things to be true and if you do not, search, ponder and pray and the truth can be shown to you too. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior amen.


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