Preying on Writers’ Dreams: “This Letter is an Advertisement”

Self-publishing is a big industry right now.   Which means big money.  Not necessarily for authors but for companies who sell self-publishing services to authors wanting to self-publish.  One contender, Balboa Press has been calling my cell phone every month or so. Writers Beware!

A class action complaint has been filed against Balboa Press’s parent company, Author Solutions, for its sketchy dealings that are bringing in the big bucks.  The class action complaint breaks it down:

4. Author Solutions’ revenues are estimated at $100 million per year. Of the $100 million Author Solutions earns as revenue, approximately one third of that amount, or $33 million annually, comes from book sales. The rest of its revenue is derived from the services it offers, such as editorial services, formatting and design services, production services, and marketing services (“Services”).

5. Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.

6. Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors’ works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors — errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does.

7. Most of Author Solutions’ earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing Services. These Services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors.

8. Therefore, even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as “[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,” authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions is not an “indie publisher” at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.

The apple doesn’t land far from the tree.  I’ve had a pretty shady experience with Balboa Press so far.  I’ve checked them out and everything I’ve read indicates they are ripping off their own customers.  If you want a prime and horrific example look no further than this author’s experience:

The illustrative sketches and colorization were a disaster. It was apparent that there was a problem with adherence to the RAD/character description form. Pictures that were provided, or the coinciding text (page number and line number) from the manuscript provided to aid the illustrator were obviously ignored or subjectively reviewed. It was so evident, to the point where I was wondering if anyone bothered to read, or if they even couldread the RAD form. There was clearly no oversight of the illustrator’s work before remittance to me. I had continued to write, please call if you have any questions…

After months of inexcusable errors, it was apparent the Art Director, or whomever, did not adhere to “set up an artist that best suits your project.” The project was/is light, airy, and whimsical. I received “dark.” In most cases, the illustrations were sparse (not intricate detail) with no color consistency, no innovation, wrong genders, wrong race, missing or incorrect features, etc. An ancient woman was drawn as a bald-headed, old man numerous times, despite repeated pleas and request for adherence to the RAD and characterization forms. The little girl’s bed looked like a cot out of an army barracks or prison. Angel wings on a helicopter were inverted, objected to, and objections to the CIAC remained ignored – a lame excuse was offered.

My own experience with them so far has been subpar at best.  They called me up and tried to rope me in by getting me excited about my novel’s potential.  They told me how great my ideas were and how much I deserved to get my book out there.  They wanted to help me achieve my publishing goals.  All they needed was to relieve me of $999 to $7,999 of my money, and we could get started.  Even if I had that kind of money lying around I wasn’t totally sold that first call.  No deal.

A few months later someone else called again.  But this person had no clue about me or my novel.  What was my book about? No idea? Back to square one.  Apparently no one at Balboa ever cares enough about what potential clients say to make any file notes.  No points gained there. * Click.*

And on it went.  For a few years now.  (Yes really.)

Which brings me to another call today.  Same thing.  Starting from scratch with another clueless representative from Balboa.  I wasn’t buying.  *Click.*

Then I get the following email.  Then it hits me.  Not only did they pack this letter so full of stupid writing cliches that it reads hilariously, but they are preying on the dreams of writers’ with this letter and others like it.

Subject:  Believe in Yourself

Hi Lauren,

Be proud of who you are as a writer. An author’s voice is unique and no one will tell your story like you do. Don’t lose your voice. Stand out by having your own style. And your book doesn’t have to have an outrageous plot to be important. Simple can be good. Stick to who you are as a writer and your message will always hold significance.

Financial stability is a challenge nowadays. Money is something achievable but it will depend on you. It will depend on how committed you are in publishing and sharing your message to the world. Money comes and goes in life. If it is meant to be, it will happen. We can’t just wait for it to happen though. We need to do something about it. Dreaming for success is for everyone but putting it to reality is for those who are brave enough to take the next step even if there is fear of the unknown. Let us take this one step at a time.

Why make excuses when you can start your dreams? Why do nothing when you can begin something? Look, you have a lot more power within you that you’re revealing to the world. We all do. But because of distractions and interruptions and responsibility and excuses we sell to ourselves, we coast along at the same level for the best of our lives.

Only few have the guts to make A LEAP – a leap to new habits, new routines and a whole new story about their new place in the world and their service to it.

The Gandhi’s and the Mandela’s and the Zuckerberg’s and the Mozart’s were just ordinary people who had an idea, protected it from the voice of dissent, advanced it via tiny wins and got up every time they got knocked down.

You have this power too, but power unused deteriorates and potential not expressed turns to PAIN.

Now is your time to fly and to shine and to rise up. This is the day to show the world who you truly are.

I would like to assist you with your dreams. Yes, publishing will ask you to shell out money from your own pocket, but what I can assure you is that Balboa Press can expose you and your book to the rest of the world. This way you truly get to say to yourself, “I’ve done my part, let the book speak for itself now!” It is not easy to invest in something that you’re not sure of its future, but nothing is ever certain. What you can do as a writer is to invest in your dreams and believe that you can be someone that you never expected to be. Your sacrifices can result to a life changing journey if you give your book a chance.

All the best,
[Name Redacted]
PUBLISHING CONSULTANT
Balboa Press
A DIVISION OF HAY HOUSE

[Contact Information Redacted]

This email is an advertisement.

So I’ll be staying away from Vanity Presses.  There are ways to legitimately Self-Publish but using Balboa Press isn’t one of them.  If they contact you, remember it is called a vanity press for a reason.  They play to your vanity and emotions.  I know they tried to get me that way.  It’s enticing to think that the only thing standing between you and your dream is your savings.  But it’s a gamble.  And Balboa Press is the house that  always wins.  The only way to beat them at their own game is to not play.





Eternal Goals: Making & Fulfilling on Life’s Purpose

Last Sunday I was asked to speak in church about making and fulfilling on goals.  I also introduced an exciting new project that my ward (or congregation) will be participating in.  I attend a ward for young single adults members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, told this thought provoking story in an October 1976 General Conference talk:

Several days ago, while driving to my home, I approached the entrance to Interstate 15. At the on-ramp I noticed three hitchhikers, each one of whom carried a homemade sign which announced his desired destination. One sign read “Los Angeles,” while a second carried the designation “Boise.” However, it was the third sign which not only caught my attention but caused me to reflect and ponder its message. The hitchhiker had lettered not Los Angeles, California, nor Boise, Idaho, on the cardboard sign which he held aloft. Rather, his sign consisted of but one word and read simply “ANYWHERE.” Here was one who was content to travel in any direction, according to the whim of the driver who stopped to give him a free ride. What an enormous price to pay for such a ride. No plan. No objective. No goal. The road to anywhere is the road to nowhere, and the road to nowhere leads to dreams sacrificed, opportunities squandered, and a life unfulfilled.
Thomas S. Monson, Which Road Will You Travel?

Rainbow Road by Bo Nielson

Imagine each of you are holding a sign up right now that says where you are going in life.  What does your sign say?  What would you like it to say?  And what would you like it to say if Christ were sitting next to you right now?

Your sign is another way of representing your life goals.  There are a lot of types of goals in life that lead down many different roads in this world.  We all want to go somewhere in life that will bring us happiness.  Though many things of the world try to convince us they offer happiness, how can we choose worthy goals that will bring us lasting happiness?  Even eternal happiness.

Eternal happiness is a life long goal.   Like many goals in life, we cannot get there in one stride.  There are steps we can take to help us set worthy goals for our lives as we ultimately seek eternal life.  Here are six steps we can take to make and fulfill on worthy goals:

Decide Ponder and pray Place milestones Set reminders Take action Be accountable Step One is to decide.

When set a goal you first need to decide where you want to be in the future.   As President Monson’s earlier story illustrated, you can’t get where you want to go, if you don’t know where you are going.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“[…] set explicit goals. You should look ahead now and decide what you want to do with your lives. Fix clearly in your mind what you want to be one year from now, five years, ten years, and beyond.” (“Running Your Marathon,” October 1989 General Conference)

Goal Setting

Once you know where you want to get to in the future, you need to decide on a goal.  Goals can be big and small,  long and short term, and fall under any category of your life.

President Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth President of the Church said:

 “Every accountable child of God needs to set goals, short- and long-range goals.  […] Some will be continuing goals.[…]” (“Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Oct. 1986).

President Benson also mentions that there are four main areas of goals in our lives: mental, physical, and social, spiritual, as well as the lifetime goal of becoming perfect unto Christ.

A.  Mental Goals may include completing higher education, learning new trades or occupations, improving skills in a craft or creative area.

D&C 88:118 reads:
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

D&C 130:19 promises:

And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Target and Arrow

B.  Physical Goals may include increasing your body’s strength, endurance, dexterity, excelling at sport, or improving overall health.   These would also include goals to improve your obedience to gospel principals like dressing modestly and obeying the Word of Wisdom.

“Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (D&C 88:124).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads:

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

C.  Social Goals may include improving skills in listening, parenting, public speaking, and leadership.

Proverbs 18:24 tells us:

 24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

The Master’s Touch

D.  Spiritual Goals may include building your testimony, increasing your faith in a gospel principal, magnifying your calling, doing a service project, and increasing temple attendance.

D&C 42:61 states:

 61 If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.

E.  Lifetime Goals are goals of an eternal nature that help you to become perfect unto Christ.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

Each week when we partake of the sacrament we commit ourselves to the goals of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ, of always remembering him and keeping his commandments. Of Jesus’ preparations for his mission, the scripture states that he ‘increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.’ (Luke 2:52.) This encompasses four main areas for goals: spiritual, mental, physical, and social. ‘Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?’ asked the Master, and he answered, ‘Verily I say unto you, even as I am.’ (3 Ne. 27:27.) Now, there is a lifetime goal–to walk in his steps, to perfect ourselves in every virtue as he has done, to seek his face, and to work to make our calling and election sure (“Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Oct. 1986).

Step Two is to Ponder and Pray.

Woman Praying

Once we’ve decided on what we want for ourselves and your futures, we can prayerfully ponder steps we should take and make a plan of action.  We can seek revelation in our Patriarchal blessings as to what goals to make and how to execute those goals in our lives.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said: 

Receive your patriarchal blessing and strive to live worthy of its promises. A patriarchal blessing is one of the most important guides in life that members of the Church enjoy. Write your goals and review them regularly. Keep them before you constantly, record your progress, and revise them as circumstances dictate. (“Running Your Marathon,” October 1989 General Conference)

Step Three is to Place Milestones.

Milestones are defined as “an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.”  Milestones help us to see we are growing and changing.  They help us to strive towards something and achieve more than we otherwise would have.  Goals are not meant to be achieved in one large chunk, but just as learning is done “line upon line, precept upon precept“ (D&C 98:12) so should goals be broken down into smaller goals.  Place milestones on the path to your goal ahead of time and work towards them.

Reminder by Rob

Step Four is to Set Reminders.

When you have a constant physical reminder of your goal it becomes more real.   One of my goals is to always become more Christ-like, so I have a painting and a stature of Christ in my bedroom that I can see from where I sit while I work.  Whenever I need a extra sense of peace or need to be reminded of my goal I glance up at Christ and my purpose is restored.  Wearing a CTR ring or setting a daily reminder in your phone to exercise or read your scriptures are other examples.

Step Five is to Take Action.

It’s great to decide where you wan to go, ponder and pray, place milestones, and set reminders, but all of that will be ineffective if we don’t take action.

D&C 60:13 reads:

“Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known” (D&C 60:13).

Step Six is to Be Accountable.

When you have a system of accountability your results in your goals will increase.

Elder M. Russel Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

Write down the tasks you would like to accomplish each day. Keep foremost in mind the sacred covenants you have made with the Lord as you write down your daily schedules. (“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” April 1987 General Conference)

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin suggests:

Write your goals and review them regularly. Keep them before you constantly, record your progress, and revise them as circumstances dictate. (“Running Your Marathon,” October 1989 General Conference)

There is no where on Earth more important to achieving Eternal Life than The House of the Lord, the Temple. 

We should all make the Temple our biggest goal whether it’s to get there for the first time, to get there more often, or to increase or testimony of the Temple.

The Los Angeles Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

The first time I wanted to enter the Temple I was four years old.  I remember the moment so vividly.  I was riding in the car with my parents and we drove by the Los Angeles Temple.  I was immediately drawn to it.  It felt very special and I knew I had to go in.  I had never been so curious about what occurred inside a building before, but I ached to be a part of it.  I asked my mom what it was, and she answered, that it was “someone else’s Temple and I couldn’t ever go in.”  As a young Jewish girl, I was curious who else built Temples, and was disappointed that I couldn’t be involved, but I accepted her answer.  However I hung onto that early memory though it was buried.

I wasn’t until years later that I was investigating the church more than twenty years later that the memory surfaced.  The desire to go into the Temple was stronger than ever.   So I decided consciously this time that my goal was the Temple. And I placed milestones to get there.  I set Baptismal date.  Took the missionary discussions.  Got Baptized four and half years ago.  Once that was completed, I went to the Temple to do baptisms for the first time.  It was amazing and powerful.  It Spirit was so strong.  But my Temple journey didn’t end there.  I wanted to get endowed.  So set new milestones.  I accepted callings.  Took the Temple Prep class.  And then I received my endowment.  It was the best decision I could have made.  My decision to set the Temple as my goal has blessed my life more than I can even comprehend.  More than I had ever imagined as a little four year old that had a secret goal of going to the Temple.

Elaine S. Dalton said the following in April 2012 General Conference:

[…] I [was] thrilled as I listened to Elder David A. Bednar invite each of you to become anxiously engaged in doing your own family history and temple work for those who have passed on without the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  As he issued this invitation to you, my heart leapt inside. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read of “other choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work, including the building of … temples and the performance of ordinances therein for the redemption of the dead.”  This is your day, and your work has begun! Now is the time to be worthy of and obtain a temple recommend. As you do this work, you will become saviors on Mount Zion.  (“Now Is The Time To Arise And Shine!,” April 2012 General Conference)

The Family File Milestones Poster I designed for the Family History project occurring in my ward

What an amazing promise: to be a savior on Mount Zion.  And we can all achieve that.  Especially in light of a new program relating to ward Temple and Family History work that’s being presented today.  You may have seen the posters in either foyer and you  should have  a copy of your own to take home in each of your programs (pictured left).  As a ward we will be collectively be researching our own family histories to find Family File names.  Familly file names are from your own family lineage.  You research them and then take them to the temple to do ordinances for those ancestors.

As a ward, our goal will be to do a thousand family file names.  Each family file name will count once (regardless of how many ordinances you do for each name).  Since goals don’t happen in one stride, we will have milestones along the way of 100 family file names completed, then 200 names, then 300, and so on up to 1000.

Elaine S. Dalton said the following in April 2012 General Conference:

The promised blessings of the temple extend not only to you but to all generations. As you make the temple your goal, your influence for good will transcend time and place, and the work you perform for those who have gone before will be the fulfillment of prophecy!  (“Now Is The Time To Arise And Shine!,” April 2012 General Conference)

I know that as we do this work for our ancestors we will bless them and we also will be blessed.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said:

 “May we launch straightway toward setting goals that are gospel oriented, knowing that if we use the talents that are ours–that if we help others, strive for peace, avoid being overly sensitive or overly critical–strength upon strength will be added unto our own abilities and we will move straightway toward greater growth, happiness, and eternal joys”. (“Straightway,” April 1983 General Conference)

I like to leave you with my testimony that I know that setting and fulfilling on goals is a way we can achieve eternal happiness.  I know that as we set our goals on the Temple and other eternal things we will be blessed with peace, happiness, knowledge and revelation, and other things we need in our lives.  I know that through Temples families can be together forever.  I love the Temple.  I love Heavenly Father and I love the Savior, Jesus Christ.  And I say this in His name, Amen.

Angel Moroni



Paradox of Man

Sometimes being human can be painfully lonely.  It’s amazing to me how alone I can feel sometimes even knowing I have a loving family and a caring circle of friends who mean the world to me.  At times I think this very essential sense of loneliness originates from the feeling of being dwarfed by the universe.  Thoughts might come like, “If I’m just a speck in this great vastness, what do I mean to the bigger picture?  How do I fit in?  How do I even matter?  What difference can I even really make when there’s so many others out here.”

I came across this quote on my best friend’s mission blog.  Sister Eskander is currently on a mission for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This quote was by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, an Apostle in the LDS Church.  It read:

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.
– DIETER F. UCHTDORF, You Matter To Him

This does more than answer my questions.  It brings peace and comfort to my soul.  Through the knowledge in this Gospel, I know who I really am. – a Spirit child of God.  I know the the bigger picture and my role in it.  I know how much I matter to my Heavenly Father.  And I know the difference I can make.

I loved this quote so much I decided to design an illustration to go with it.  I sent one to Sister Eskander, and now I’ll share it with you.  To help us all remember who we really our.  Our eternal heritage and exalted potential.

Paradox of Man Illustration1

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.
– DIETER F. UCHTDORF, You Matter To Him

You Matter To Him – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The Lord uses a scale very different from the world’s to weigh the worth of a soul.

 

1If you repost this illustration please give me credit and link back to this post! Thanks!




Burning Bright: A Poem of Faith

Since I was five years old, barely sophisticated enough to write a few words into sentences, I have been captivated by poetry.  Poems just seemed to come to me as if I had plucked them right out of thin air and was merely the recorder of the words that would pour through me.  It hasn’t been that way lately though.  As my focus has moved on to my two novels, I haven’t tried to write a poem with any semblance of a rhyme scheme in quite some time.  I’ve been feeling rather out of practice.

However, today was my church’s Ward Conference, a day of spiritual nourishment. It was just wonderful listening to my local leaders speak to us young adults on the topics that were of the greatest importance to us.  Feeling more spiritually fed, and pondering some of the themes discussed today, I decided to try my hand at a poem.  The following is the result:

Burning Bright

The void left by burning desire;
At times nearly extinguished inside;
All but lost the inertia required;
To move and be moved to His side;

But then I close my eyes tight,
And pray with all my might;

I remember each moment of pain;
He healed all my wounds in His name;
I treasure trials that shook my core;
The refiners fire has polished me more;

All I am, was, and will be,
I am through Him, now I see;

And my covenant burns bright;
The unquenchable light inside;
My hope, my comfort, my insight;
To move and be moved to His side.

 












The Crucifixion: 5 Things To Apply To Our Own Lives

As I was sitting in during Sacrament, I prayed for the best way to deliver this talk.  I received the strangest prompting – to give my talk in a completely different order than I have written it.  I had spent at least 15 hours researching and preparing for the talk, so I was rather surprised and extremely nervous about going out of order.  But I’m not in the habit of ignoring promptings from the Lord, so I did what I felt urged to do.  The following is my memory of the order in which I gave this talk.

 

I’d like to begin with a story in President James E. Faust’s talk, The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope, that retells a story by President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Some years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley told “something of a parable” about “a one room school house in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough no teacher had been able to handle them.

“Then one day an inexperienced young teacher applied. He was told that every teacher had received an awful beating, but the teacher accepted the risk. The first day of school the teacher asked the boys to establish their own rules and the penalty for breaking the rules. The class came up with rules, which were written on the blackboard. Then the teacher asked, ‘What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?’

“‘Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on,’ came the response.

“A day or so later, … the lunch of a big student, named Tom, was stolen. ‘The thief was located—a little hungry fellow, about ten years old.’
“As Little Jim came up to take his licking, he pleaded to keep his coat on. ‘Take your coat off,’ the teacher said. ‘You helped make the rules!’

“The boy took off the coat. He had no shirt and revealed a bony little crippled body. As the teacher hesitated with the rod, Big Tom jumped to his feet and volunteered to take the boy’s licking.

“‘Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?’ the teacher asked.

“After five strokes across Tom’s back, the rod broke. The class was sobbing. ‘Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. “Tom, I’m sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever!”’”

President Hinckley then quoted Isaiah:

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. …

“… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

No man knows the full weight of what our Savior bore, but by the power of the Holy Ghost we can know something of the supernal gift He gave us.10 In the words of our sacrament hymn:

We may not know, we cannot tell,

What pains he had to bear,

But we believe it was for us

He hung and suffered there.

The Crucifixion

So as you may have guessed the subject of my talk today is the crucifixion of our Savior Jesus Christ, in which He died for our sins so that we might live again with our Father in Heaven.

The events leading up to the Crucifixion give us vivid examples of both absolute faith and the absence of it.  The absence of faith can often be characterized as fear.  As I describe the following events, I invite you to think about which events are representative of faith and which represent fear.

Christ perfectly endured the Atonement in all its agony, according to the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Christ was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve Apostles.  Jesus was arrested, and the rest of his Apostles fled.  Jesus was then subjected to multiple counsels and trials having false witnesses brought against Him.

Even the faithful disciple Peter ultimately denied Jesus and Jesus Himself prophesied he would earlier in Christ’s ministry.  In John 13:38, it reads:

Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (John 13: 38)

Then at one of Jesus’s trials, the prophesy came to pass.  In Matthew 26:69-75 it reads:

Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.

Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.n (Matthew 26:69–75)

Christ was mocked and ridiculed.  In Matthew 27:28-30, it reads:

And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.

And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!

And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.  (Matthew 28–30)

Christ was made to carry His own cross most likely weighting 75 to 125 pounds until a passerby named Simon was compelled to do it for him by the Roman guards.

The Crucifxion

When they reached the site of the crucifixion, Christ was nailed to the cross.  At the head of the cross was affixed a title, “Jesus of Nazareth The King of the Jews.”  Elder Bruce R. McConkie describes the brutality of what the Savior must have physically experienced:

A death by crucifixion seems to include all that pain and death can have of the horrible and ghastly—dizziness, cramp, thirst, starvation, sleeplessness, traumatic fever, tetanus, publicity of shame, long continuance of torment, horror of anticipation, mortification of untended wounds, all intensified just up to the point at which they can be endured at all, but all stopping just short of the point which would give to the sufferer the relief of unconsciousness. The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries, especially of the head and stomach, became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and, while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst. Such was the death to which Christ was doomed. ( Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:816)

Even is this moment of extreme physical torment, the Savior was merciful, asking Heavenly Father to forgive those who crucified him.  In Luke 23: 34, it reads:

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. (Luke 23:33-34)

Despite his tortured state, He thought of others before himself.  In John 19:26-27, it says:

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (John 19:26–27)

Then darkness came over the land as Heavenly Father withdrew his presence from the Savior.  In Matthew 27:46 it reads:

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

It’s hard to imagine the utter terror at being cut off from Heavenly Father for the first time in such a moment of tremendous suffering.  But Christ needed to feel what it is like to be utterly alone, to descend all things.  To completely fulfill upon what He came here to do.

Andrew C. Skinner said in his book, Golgotha,

The scriptures teach us that God has not forsaken us nor will he ever forsake us. He is waiting and able to help us in our extremity. No less powerful to help is his divine Son, who has perfect empathy for us and can carry us through those times when we cannot go on, precisely because of his own experience. In fact, one reason Jesus was abandoned by his Father in Gethsemane and on the cross of Golgotha [or Calvary] was so he could descend below all things to know every human circumstance and thus emerge victor over all things, with the knowledge and power to help us. By his confirming witness, I know that Jesus suffered on the cross the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God, and because Jesus suffered that wrath on the cross, I do not have to. Even more important, I know that because Jesus was lifted up on the cross, I can be lifted up also—to eternal life. Furthermore, I know that because God forsook his Son on the cross, he will never have to forsake me.

James E. Talmage, in his book, Jesus the Christ, wrote about Christ last moments:

Lost Lamb

Fully realizing that He was no longer forsaken, but that His atoning sacrifice had been accepted by the Father, and that His mission in the flesh had been carried to glorious consummation, He exclaimed in a loud voice of holy triumph: “It is finished.” In reverence, resignation, and relief, He addressed the Father saying: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He bowed His head, and voluntarily gave up His life.
[…]Jesus the Christ was dead. His life had not been taken from Him except as He had willed to permit. Sweet and welcome as would have been the relief of death in any of the earlier stages of His suffering from Gethsemane to the cross, He lived until all things were accomplished as had been appointed. In the latter days the voice of the Lord Jesus has been heard affirming the actuality of His suffering and death, and the eternal purpose thereby accomplished. Hear and heed His words: “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”

The Crucifixion can teach us much about living our lives after the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  These are the five main things we can learn from the crucifixion:

Be forgiving. Be filled with mercy. Be in service of others. Following Christ. Endure all things.

Forgiven

The first thing we can learn is to forgive others.  Even when Christ was on the Cross he said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.  This very Spirit of forgiveness teaches us that we need to forgive all.  Even and especially those who hate and persecute us.  In Doctrine & Covenants 64:10 it reads:

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:10)

Second we learn to be filled with mercy.  To have mercy we must have compassion for people in our lives including ourselves.  Having compassion for and extending mercy towards others as well as ourselves is one of the greatest gifts we can give.

Matthew 5:7 reads:

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Third, we learn to serve others.  Christ’s ministry was one of continually service.  Healing the sick, feeding the poor and hungry, raising the dead, teaching the masses.  Mosiah 2:17 reads:

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)

Fourth, we learn to carry our cross and follow Christ.  This mean forsaking anything in our lives that are not in the manner of Christ.  Giving up unrighteous thoughts, music, clothing, and activities, and exchanging them for righteous ones.  Then follow the Saviors example in all things.

Fifth, we learn to patiently endure all things.  Christ never complained, never object, never asked “why me?”  He bore his burdens with tolerance, long-suffering, and dignity, always submitting to the will of the Father.

This perfect example of how to endure all things can especially help us in times of trial.  Over the last ten years I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the hospital, often the ICU, often for several months at a time due to an autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis.  Myasthenia Gravis, which means grave weakness in Latin, causes its patients to become so weak during an acute flare or it that they cannot move any of their limbs and sometimes cannot breathe on their own, requiring the assistance of a ventilator.  I have experienced this many times.  It’s hard when lying there in the ICU unable to move or breathe on my own to feel like things are going to be okay, but the thing that gives me the most strength is the sweet knowledge that our Savior descended below all things so that I don’t have to suffer that alone.  He knows exactly what extreme physical pain is like, beyond what I can even imagine, so He certainly can feel what I feel in those times.  And it gives me the ability to endure to know that He endured all things.  If he endured all things, then certainly I can endure this one trial I have been given as difficult as it seems.  And this gives me eternal hope.

We also accept that Heavenly Father is giving us trials for our own benefit.  Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-8 said:

Christ Knocking

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? (D&C 7-8)

Since we are not greater than our Savior Jesus Christ we can take so much comfort in all He has done for us.  All the pain He has suffered so that he could descend below all things  was for our benefit because He has so much love for each and every one of us.

I want to share my testimony that Christ not only atoned and died for our sins but that He rose again three days later.  He lives today.  He knows and loves me personally.  The Holy Ghost testifies of this to me on a daily basis.  I am so grateful for my Savior and for his atoning sacrifice that through it I can return to live with my Heavenly Father for all eternity.  I know that my Heavenly Father lives and loves me as well.  I am grateful for all of you and the Spirit that is felt here today.  And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Christ Lives