Atonement - Love and the Law

The Talk Assignment

Starting off a new week to give a talk at Church on Sunday 29 April 2018. A phone call came from Brother Reed a week earlier, a counselor in the KL branch presidency, asking if I could prepare a talk on the topic of Atonement. Despite being busy,  I responded positively to accept the assignment.

I've been extra busy since the start of the year of the Dog and have been "..working like a "Dog" as the song goes. The main preoccupation was to finish my book but this dog is a multi-tasker. In reality, I focus only in doing one task at a time through batch processing of breaking up time in segments of a day to fulfill the needs of each of my physical, mental and spiritual needs

Despite being busy I still took on the assignment as I seldom refuse a Church assignment. Furthermore, the subject of Atonement is quite straightforward as it is a key feature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ or purpose for the Savior to be born in the Meridian of time. Little did I know that I would follow up with a whole blog post about this topic! Why? The simple answer is it stirred up My Consciousness which in simple terms means my awareness.

Recent events of my life that influence my Consciousness

Now I have discovered my awareness revolves around 3 domains of life I've grouped under Body Mind Spirit(BMS) where I later learned Plato, the famous philosopher of ancient Greece, identified the tripartite soul of Man as one with Appetites, Reason & Spirit. I was just a Chinaman from the East who named the domains BMS in relationship to my 3 journal blogs I had started : Familylane(Body), Fastlane(Mind) and Spiritlane(Spirit). I was inspired to draw 3 columns with brief word descriptions in each column on a napkin while I was in a New York City cafe with a friend in the year 2005 journalized here.

So what are my Body Mind Spirit activities that have kept me extra busy since the start of the year? Fortunately, I learned how to use a camera from my youth to produce photos which previously were on paper that have become digital today. They are fast visual reminders of the myriad of activities that I find myself involved in to be able to recall them later without having need of any written notes nor a proper camera too as our phone is also a camera today! A picture indeed paints a thousand words and my journals link events with themes adding a sharing of my feelings and thoughts from my Heart and Mind as well. It is my world of Perception, Action & Reflection, a way to achieve PAR Excellence whenever possible through what is called our Consciousness.

So here are some examples with snapshots of the activities of my life under the 3 domains during the recent past months prior to starting this blog post and hence it's potential influence on my Consciousness revealed in what I write in my journals.

Body can mean...

Sweating it out in physical work or that stretches my physical self. I have been doing minor renovations and clearing/organizing stuff in the apartment to get it ready when all my children will gather in KL for a family reunion this October month.

Going out to do some physical exercises like cycling at the same time meeting the needs of upkeeping good relationships with other physical beings close to me like my son, creating positive emotions, which is kind of a multitasking activity in itself besides the exercise for health.

It can also be just going out to meet people or friends for real physically instead of doing it online in cyberspace alone that is popular today. An old friend and mother came to visit all the way from Washington DC where my late wife and I had visited them previously.

Mind can mean...

Writing my thoughts in my journals and developing my creative mind to connect with others using latest social media technology

Keeping up my reading of the volumes of books in my personal library of all kinds of topics and book sizes and the unlimited library of online books and latest researched information.

Taking the challenge to write a book on Human Consciousness based on my own, created with deep and wide personal experiences and researched knowledge of history, religion, philosophy, the sciences and even technology from the time of the "Abacus to the Cloud" computing era of today. 

Spirit can mean...

Fulfilling church callings like missionary work for the Church or teaching a class to help share the Gospel with others, following the laws of the land, to non-Muslims only. (From our 12th Articles of Faith)

Accepting an invitation from a Muslim organization building inter-faith relationships in the country by attending a dinner and talk session on the Miracles of the Koran.

Paying respect to those who have passed away and doing family history research

Influences from my Consciousness, that includes other experiences this year, in preparing my talk:

The need to give a talk at Church always causes me to pray and read scriptures to give me the Spirit to cover the topic of Atonement I was to speak on. I try to make it a unique presentation in sharing the same Gospel principles already taught often at Church. I would remind myself not to be stuck with routines but follow the Savior's teaching in the story of Martha being too busy with her routine in the kitchen of preparing meals instead of spending precious time with the Savior when he was in their home as her sister Mary was doing whom the Savior praised.

At the start of the year 2018, President Monson passed away When President Nelson was officially called as the new Prophet, I watched the live press conference held for the media to meet the new First Presidency of the Church and to allow them to ask questions. This was extraordinary as no Prophet of our Church had done this before when newly called to this sacred position of leadership for the world as a representative of the Savior Jesus Christ! It was astounding to hear the first question of a reporter from the Associated Press thrown to President Nelson that was related to the standing of the Church on LGBT issues meaning the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders collectively.

One can view the recorded live press conference here, especially on the part when this first question was asked as mentioned earlier. I have timed the video to start just before the question was asked. President Nelson gave a good response followed by his counselor President Oaks but when President Nelson put out his two hands to symbolize the need to balance the love and the law, it created an impression in me not to forget these two words of the "Love and Law" of God. For clarity, I even searched the Church website with those two words to find President Oaks article in Nov 2009 on the topic including this video published in Oct 2016. This is my habit of a person who

In clearing house in the apartment, I opened a drawer that had my wife's old documents to find the two larger envelopes containing the old letters we had exchanged frequently early in our courtship, seen as the stack of smaller envelopes above, that started when we first met in Singapore again after my mission in June 1982. My letters to her are on the left pile while hers to me are on the right distinguished by the different national stamps on the envelopes.

I was aware that she had kept all our letters as shared in the year 2005 when I started recording our courtship experience in this same blog found in the following relevant posts: My post with copies of the first page of our letters to each other with her response in her own blog at Retro 1 and Retro 2.

Here is my spiritual experience to share from the letter :

With the stack of our correspondence letters of ours that discovered, I also found her paper note journals dated 16 June 1982 which I was never aware of as they were not shown to me. It did help me realize why she had so quickly fallen in love with me! She was depressed for not being able to qualify to enter the school of architecture at the prestigious National University of Singapore (NUS) which was her dream career/work for herself. The letter explained that she had slacked in her studies due to a puppy love relationship with a non-member named Jeff who didn't go to Church nor liked her for doing so. Now she did mention to me the name of Jeff as a past boyfriend but I didn't realize it caused her so much stress and when she didn't qualify for her dream opportunity of the future, she felt she was a failure, having never failed to achieve all the things she would target and work hard to achieve.

She got depressed and wrote to her brother Roy already gone to the US to study, to her other brother Clayton in Australia and even to her Branch President named Mark Israelson to share her disappointment at herself, saying she had never failed before to achieve anything she had aimed and worked hard for in the past. I didn't read the actual letters she had sent off but she was diligent to write in English a draft of what she was going to write in each letter later. This was probably due to the fact that she was being more a Chinese educated student of the school of Hwa Chung with less proficiency or confidence in the English language I suppose. Maybe it was just her meticulousness like I am too in keeping documents for future references to write my Chronicles of Life!

The keyword that I marked in her writings was the word "repent" in the sentence saying "I didn't truly and sincerely repent of my sins, serious or minor alike."  To clarify, I know she didn't really commit serious sins and the context of the rest of the paragraph makes it clearer...."The Spirit of my heavenly father has slowly crept out of my heart. I didn't feel the love and peace in me while I'm performing my duties in my callings."

She was indeed depressed, not for a real failure in life that most of us would regard as a 'failure' as she did qualify to study in NUS for a social science course but not in architecture that was the desire of her heart and mind. She had also expressed in her writings to both her brothers overseas that she felt family and friends treated her negatively. In her own words, "When they asked me if I was making any plans for my studies, I felt that they were being insincere in asking and they were trying to insult me! That's why I thought of leaving Singapore for my studies in order to run away from all these problems, of course not forgetting the other reason was that I wasn't granted what I wanted in N.U.S.

Deep inside me, there was a voice which constantly whispered to me that God would never forsake me during my hours of adversity. And sure enough, I slowly got over with the whole thing and was able to regain my hope of living which was almost lost at one stage....... Perhaps all those trials and tribulations I've been through were meant to teach me humility and courage to accept failures and oppositions. If on the other hand, if things did not happen the way it had, I might not be able to meet this man whom I love so dearly.

I'm pretty positive this time this time that I'm loving the right man. His name is Chong Sun Fu and he's a returned missionary. Mom and Dad had met him before and they both liked him. We first met about two years back when he was about to go on a mission. Of course, I didn't fall for him then but I had a strange feeling in me when I first saw him outside the chapel door. I thought I met him somewhere before but I couldn't recall. And it wasn't quite possible that we had met before since he's a Malaysian and had then just returned from Australia after his tertiary education. In fact, this 'strange' familiarity he brought was kept a secret ever since then until now I reveal it to you. Could it be possible that I knew him before I came to earth? Anyway, I don't think it is necessary for me to find out the answer now, for time and the future will tell it. "     (Letter dated 13 July 1982)

The Spirit is taking me away from preparing a standard routine talk!

In preparing my talk and writing this journal post, I am grateful for the spirit of God that was promised to me when I was baptized and made the promise to keep his commandments : "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)

Indeed I am grateful for this spiritual being that helps me remember all the things that help me stay close to the Savior and be careful of the idolatry and temptations of various forms in our modern world, especially when they lead to addictive behavior involving a change in the chemistry of our internal physical bodies. I am humbled by the Savior's perfect love and sacrifice to feel that I must constantly be willing to repent of my mistakes and sins throughout my life as I know I am far from being perfect.

Finding the letters of my wife in Love with me and reading her expressions of the need to repent for little imperfections in her life humbled me. I had always known and had a personal testimony of the Savior's Love for us in his sacrificial act of Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane that would enable Man's sins to be forgiven if only we are humble enough to repent of our sins.

I was given 15 to 20 mins maximum for my talk. I actually brought with me the two large envelopes and showed it to the congregation to give a show and tell introduction. It was to highlight how much love we had for each other in our short long-distance courtship expressed in our snail mails of old.

Contents of the Talk

I stated the basics of why an Atonement is necessary which is that the Love of Our Heavenly Father provided us a Savior, his only begotten Son, to suffer for our sins to enable us to return to live with him.

I expressed my feelings about the Savior and his life by relating a Sunday school Gospel Principles class I was asked to teach at the very last minute that happened on a recent Sunday before the talk. It happened as the number of Chinese speaking attendees had filled the room so the Mandarin-speaking teacher asked me to teach the English lesson of the same chapter 11 on the Life of Christ found here.

Luckily there were only a few English speaking class members as about halfway through the class, as I was teaching more from my heart than reading the manual, I couldn't control my emotions as tears started flowing down my cheeks. I had to excuse myself to the Men's restroom and asked one of the Sister Missionaries present to take over for me momentarily to return after I cleared my nose etc!

As I write this journal, adding the link to the online lesson manual above, I read this instruction to the teachers to know that maybe my reaction in teaching the lesson was appropriate. See the screenshot extract of what I mean:

I guess teaching the lesson on the Life of Christ to the class from my heart with some quick references from the manual had brought back all my feelings of my past experiences about learning of the Savior's atonement!

I didn't have much time given to me to fully share about what I knew and experienced about the Atonement and was impressed to share a critical knowledge I had gained as early as in 1980 when I was a new convert to the Church. The full-time missionaries in my University town of Geelong Australia had shared with me a cassette tape by Cleon Skousen of his experience in his study of the scriptures when he was a young missionary in London in 1920s, inspired by his Mission President, John Widsoe, who later became an Apostle. He was a very good motivational speaker who taught me why Jesus had to suffer all the pain when an all-powerful loving God or Heavenly Father could have merely forgiven the sins of Man by himself in the last days of judgment!

I spoke about the essence of the reason which may help some new members or even old members who might not know the true reason as many are only touched by the love of the Savior who was willing to pay the sacrifice to save us from the punishment for our sins. As I have always been a logical thinker, analyzing all types of principles or reasoning, I could understand what Cleon Skousen was explaining which was something I knew no Pastor or Preacher of any other Church would know why it was necessary and that an all-powerful God could not have done it to let his only begotten son whom he loved greatly to suffer instead for the blessing of all his children.

A miracle that happened after giving the talk that qualifies to be added to my Story of Seven special journal post is my discovery of Cleon Skousen's audio recording online here.  In the audio, we also hear Cleon Skousen mentioning that it took him 7 years of studying the scriptures to figure out what is shared in his audio presentation which is supported by the scriptures he quotes found below. I used the audio recording to create the video below which uses all the photos Shuan, our returned-missionary 2nd son who served in London mission in 2016-18, had sent home weekly to all the family members:

Play the video to hear the motivational talk and view the photos sent home by Elder Shuan Chong in his 2 years of service.

The References shared by Cleon Skousen in his talk:

Mark 14:36

Matt 26:39

Luke 22:43

Luke 22:44

Matt 26:42

D&C 19:15-19

Act 4:12

2 Nephi 2:14

D&C 93:30

D&C 93:29-30

Abr 3:19-23

Documentary History of the Church DHC Vol 4 Pg 519

D&C 93:33

Journal of Discourses JD Vol 7 Pg 2

Abr 4:9,10,12,18

Helaman 12:3-18

Jacob 4:6

1 Nephi 20:13

D&C 88:38-42

D&C 29:36

Alma 42:13,22,25

Mormon 9:19

Alma 34:9

2 Nephi 9:7-9

Alma 34:11

Alma 34:15-16

D&C 19:15-16

D&C 45:3

Alma 34:14

Summary of this post started at 6.26am 29 July 2018

I have always been a busy bee in my life, from a slow starter in education to accelerate to a level where I was winning prizes or rewards but that isn't the most important thing to me.

It was getting to meet the Elders who knocked on my door to share with me the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in the final year of my tertiary education. Yesterday, Saturday was a full day to me and I could simply make a quick post in Facebook to share my fulfilling day embedded below:

I was requested by Elder Montague, representing the missionary couple in charge of Public Relations to cover this visit of Professor Dr. Brenda Hong. I got there just past 3pm to set up my camera equipment and microphone to record completely on video a couple of her sessions on Saturday afternoon which will be most likely shared on my blog posts where long videos or writings are always shared while links to it can found on Facebook for anyone interested to see longer videos and my commentary such as this one.

She had written a book with the title Failing Up! She shared her story which I may share later below when I have edited the video. I had already purchased her book pdf version for USD9 online earlier before she arrived. She shared her story of tough times to be who she is today and I was thrilled to know she had started writing journals of her tough life of an abusive father and poverty in Singapore to enable her to write a book. Of course, without my journals, my planned book entitled  "My Consciousness, from the Abacus to the Cloud" for a world audience, particularly the US and China, would not be possible.

So I was thrilled to hear her story shared personally in a fireside presentation at Church. Having read her book, I like to quote a little part of how she and her team won a debate where they were in the finals with a topic, "The Head should rule over the Heart."  Personally, I love debates that started in the school days but I didn't focus on debates as my main school activity as I wanted to be an all-rounder so I spent a lot of my free time to be active in all kinds of sports including Karate. Then I was also a social person going on at first bicycle and later motorcycle trips with friends, fishing and camping where I didn't stop these interests throughout my lifetime! I even joined the Toastmasters International club as a family man with 6 children to enjoy public speaking and sometimes debate competitions as a variety. 

Here are excerpts of what Babara wrote in her book starting at the bottom of page 163 :

"Mrs. Tan announces the final topic: “The head should rule over the heart. We’re the opposition team.”
You wouldn’t think such a simple sentence could arouse such endless discussion, but it does. We gather immediately after school at the usual spot in the community

center and hash the subject inside out. Alvin, who prides himself on being a rationalist, presents a compelling argument on how and why this is true.
“Men use their heads more, and women use their hearts more,” he contends, “it’s obvious that it’s safer to rule by the head than by the heart. We’re sure to lose now.”
Nora doesn’t look convinced, and neither do I. “Alvin, in every argument, there’s always a
loophole,” I assert. “We must find the flaw and use it.”
Alvin shoves his books in his bag. “Everyone knows the head is more important. We’re doomed. This is an unfair question.”
No way. I refuse to believe we’re going to lose. The head should not rule over the heart! We have come so far, beating five classes in the last month. Surely that says something about defying the logic of the head.
We believe we can win. We must win. I won’t accept failure since the start of the debate and it sure is not going to happen in this final round. We put in hours every afternoon to prepare. I pray and hope that we won’t make fools of ourselves. No matter how we’re going to stumble, we must at least land on both feet and do our class proud. What does that tell us? Our passion is stronger than our brains combined. We’re not about to give up on this last question no matter how uncertain things appear.
“We stand a good chance for a fair battle,” I reaffirm. “Now think, think, think. How can we turn the argument around in our favor?”
I do what I can and write out the research for each team member. I go through all of their pointers to make sure we’re all on the same page. Every day, we read, write, dispute, compare, argue, and role-play. We eat each other’s lunches and drink each other’s soda. We laugh, we yell, and we get on each other’s nerves. These are unforgettable afternoons and evenings, and we feel ready to take on the opposition.

On the big day, as each team walks onstage in the assembly hall, the roar of applause soars through the crowd. We sit tall in our seats and brace ourselves for the battle of our lives as the voices of the underdogs. We want to prove everyone wrong.
As the moderator calls my name, I’m nervous, anxious, and excited all at once. I try to hold myself together and deliver a well-rehearsed argument full of audacity and eloquence.
“Our heart … is the center of our soul … Our heart sees more than our head or … even our eyes. Our heart listens, whereas our head only hears … often what we want to hear. When we listen to our head more than our heart, we’re more likely to make mistakes and hurt someone or get hurt. If we let the wisdom of our heart guide us, we are a better people overall.”
The crowd cheers.
“It’s a far more superior ethic to let our heart tell our head how to live. Anything short of that, and we’re not true to ourselves. Our head gets clouded with too much logic, too many predictions, decisions, motives, worries, rationalizations, and judgments. Just look at the blunders men make when they don’t ask for directions.” The crowd roars again in support.
The audience laughs. The opposition team can’t hold themselves back, and they laugh, too.
“Mankind has, in the past, allowed logical inclination to rule over moral intuition. That’s why people suffer, children get hurt, and tyrants abuse. Life is dangerously uncertain when left to the head. If we have to choose one organ over another to sustain our lives, I believe we’re better off choosing our heart over our head.”
With full gusto, I argue every opponents’ points. I can hear cheers from my team on the side of the stage.

 And then it happens. Our awkwardly shy and unglamorous commerce major team defeats the all-time literature class.
We did it!
“Oh my, Barbara, once the four of you got started, there was no contest. You all spoke with so much passion, definitely from the heart. Congratulations!” Mrs. Tan declares the winner.
Each team member receives a trophy engraved with our names. This is the first time I have ever won anything, the first time I have ever held a trophy, and the first time I’m publicly recognized. I can hardly contain myself.
Weeks following the debate, the four of us are still treated like celebrities on campus. Our schoolmates on the third floor cheer us on for having beaten the snobs. Even the teachers begin to regard us in a new light. Of course, the second-floor losers refuse to concede even months after the debate. I don’t think they ever will.
I have never experienced such triumph. I understand now what it means to be a positive leader, to listen to each other, and to enjoy the fruit of team work. There is a sense of solidarity, purpose, and resoluteness."

I shared her writings above as it is about the Heart versus the Head or Feelings versus Thinking which is relevant to this journal post that highlights about Love and the Law. Love comes from the Heart and the Law is from the Thinking mind or our head!

A long post with and ending to justify my 'Long-Windedness"

My capability or intelligence and longwindedness in writing have a close relationship. I woke up at 4am thinking about why I have become a longwinded person and was it a good thing for me or not. With the capability of the Cloud computing, I can now summarize it below without my longwindedness to share it with a brother of mine who remarked I am longwinded, as many have expressed since I was the youngest kid in my family. However, he did say he read a link I've shared with him on WhatsApp about my walk through a park in Geelong Australia, being one of the cited miracles of my life that have become countless today, even in writing this post in my spiritual blog today. As I'm writing this, I am reminded that he was the only brother of my family who asked me in the car at the time when I first came back from Australia, why I chose to serve a voluntary 2-year mission which was shared with maybe some longwinded way to him. That answer was first written in my personal book journal and paper notes I have kept to this day but digitized it today to be found here. 

So here I go to use technology to explain in some short paragraphs why the Cloud of information out there reflects the positive side of longwindedness. Just click the links and the answers are there so I will save time to explain in my own words but the reader can appreciate the wise intelligent people out there, better than me, why the long answer is preferred! I will just share it with 3 points below:

1. In Quora, the latest teacher as an alternative to Wiki has this response as to why users of Quora prefer the long answers

2. Read the writings of Oliver Emberton who is a Quora volunteer and observe the way he is developing his new business in social media as I am also

3. I found his name while researching about long answers or longwindedness in the link provided here. Click his name given as a hyperlink after you have clicked my link given, if you have the patience to read down the Quora passages to appreciate how he answers the question  "How do I get over my bad habit of procrastination?"

With the three points shared above, I will always share this to anyone who may want to know why I was longwinded even when young to enable me to enjoy my life's myriad of experiences in family business or church read by clicking here.

Okay finished at 7.06am as per screenshot below if you trust me enough when I said I started the summary at 6.26am. Remember I am the Chartered Accountant who gave up false auditing to switch to a rising star industry of Information Technology! You can read my unique resume here.

Well when I made the screenshot after I typed 7.06am, the clock turned to 7.07am, a miracle to be recorded in my Stories of 7 you think?

Off to the JW Marriott to have a nice Sunday morning breakfast with my good friend visiting from Utah before we go to Church!

Note:  The above video of Dr Barbara Hong's talk was only inserted on 7 Aug 2018, coincidentally after I said goodbye to the same good friend from Utah mentioned above! We were walking around after dinner at the Pavilion and ran into a couple of our KL branch missionaries looking at the cookies. I took a quick snapshot of them with my friend! He leaves KL early the next morning!

I really live a full life every day with something useful to do always. (Click here to see what happened the next day.)Therefore with my small Sony camera that I carry around the world in my sling bag, I can easily capture visuals for my Chronicles that covers small and simple things which I do that becomes amazingly big and happy sometimes which may even lead to huge accomplishments of my life that I had never expected. I just know I must continue to Love others and do my best to obey the Laws given to me from a kind and loving Heavenly Father. I have an utmost appreciation for his only begotten Son who has touched my life for good, after learning of him from missionaries who knocked on my door in Australia that began this whole Spiritlane blog starting from here. I am no perfect person for sure and appreciate all the Son of God did to allow imperfect men like me to be forgiven for our sins or mistakes in life. This long post on the atonement that I could do because of listening to the talk on a cassette tape that was shared with me in 1979 and finding it again in 2018 online is a long wait and surely a blessing from on high like the stars in heaven to guide me while I am here on earth!

CLICK HERE to scroll to the top to see how my Consciousness enabled me to understand the role of the Love and the Law of God in my life.

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