What are we?

This blog is devoted to people like us who need a daily spiritual outlet and motivation to keep up with our personal scripture study.
Join us as we begin and discuss the Book of Mormon daily--an online Institute class of sorts!

We welcome your comments, your experiences, and your thoughts.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mormon 7

I apologize for my absenteeism lately. It is amazing how time just escapes you sometimes. I really am going to try harder to keep up!

Summary: Mormon invites the Lamanites of the latter days to believe in Christ, accept his gospel, and be saved—All who believe the Bible will also believe the Book of Mormon. About A.D. 385

This chapter is short but powerful. As I read it, I kept thinking: how incredible would it be to have such a sure testimony? You can feel Mormon's conviction as he invites the Lamanites to join him in his testimony. He has absolutely no doubt. He must have an incredible relationship with God and the Savior. He reminds me of the prophet and apostles today. You can feel, when they bear testimony, that they have special relationships with God and Christ, and they have absolutely no doubt that this Gospel is true. They have no doubt that God lives, that Christ lives, and that He died for us. We are all invited to partake of this miraculous gift.
Mormon finishes the chapter by exclaiming to the Lamanites that it is easy to believe in the Gospel. He also lays out exactly what they need to do, and what we need to do in this life to prepare to meet God on the other side of the veil. The Gospel is a beautiful gift, which we have all been blessed with. I cannot imagine my life without it. I am convinced that I would be miserable and a failure. I would be completely lost! I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing me to be a pert of this Gospel. It is something I have always needed and will always need. I would not be who I am without it. The Gospel, and all that that encompasses is what keeps me going every single day. This life is not something I can do on my own. I need my Father in Heaven, and I need my Savior, and I need the blessings of the Gospel. I am so grateful for all of it.
I also read something else interesting today. It is in this month's Ensign. It's called "Dad's Lessons in Love." It is an incredible story that made me want to put all of my selfish desires aside and be the best mother and wife I can possibly be. (I need a lot of those little boosts :)) I definitely recommend reading it. Forget romance novels...this is the real stuff. This is exactly what marriage is about. I know you will enjoy it as well.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mormon Ch. 2

Read it HERE.

Summary: Mormon leads the Nephite armies—Blood and carnage sweep the land—The Nephites lament and mourn with the sorrowing of the damned—Their day of grace is passed—Mormon obtains the plates of Nephi—Wars continue. Between A.D. 327 and 350

This is a sad chapter. The Nephites are wicked and the Lamanites are warring against them. Mormon is encouraged by the Nephites' distress, thinking that they will repent so God could bless them again (vs. 12). However, the only sorrow the Nephites have for their sins is the "sorrowing of the damned," meaning that they lamented the fact that God could no longer allow them to take happiness in their sins (vs. 13).

Mormon comments on the Nephites' future due to their sins:

14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.

15 And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away.

Mormon 2:15. “The Day of Grace Was Passed”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted the chilling line in Mormon’s account that time had run out for saving his people: “It is at this moment in Nephite history—just under 950 years since it had begun and just over 300 years since they had been visited by the Son of God himself—that Mormon realized the story was finished. In perhaps the most chilling line he ever wrote,Mormon asserted simply, ‘I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and

His people had learned that most fateful of all lessons—that the Spirit of God will not always strive with man; that it is possible, collectively as well as individually, to have time run out. The day of repentance can pass, and it had passed for the Nephites. Their numbers were being ‘hewn down in open rebellion against their God,’ and in a metaphor almost too vivid in its moral commentary, they were being ‘heaped up as dung upon the face of the land’”
(Christ and the New Covenant, 319).

(Found in the Institute Manual.)

Mormon writes that though the Lamanites came against the Nephites again, and the Nephites won, the Lord was not with them. "Yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren." (vs. 26)

These are chilling reminders, and a chilling prediction of what is to befall the Nephites when they don't turn their hearts toward God. We know there will be battles upon battles until the Nephites are destroyed. Thankfully, Heavenly Father preserved Mormon so he could record the history and we can learn from their mistakes.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Congratulations, Tori!

Yes, Tori had her baby boy early this morning.
Daniel Adam James
born 12/3/09 at 1:33 am, weighing 7lbs 1.2 oz, and 20 1/2 inches long.

. . .Need I say more?

What a darling, darling baby! And she did it all naturally, folks! Tori, we're proud of you. Here's to the fastest recovery, ever.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

3 Nephi 29

This chapter has two parts. The first explains what is the effect of the Book of Mormon coming forth:
1. It means the Lord has begun to gather Israel to its land of inheritance.
2. The words of the Lord as revealed to his prophets are being fulfilled.
3. We cannot spurn the doings of the Lord or we will feel the hand of his justice upon us.

The second part is cautionary:
1. Don't spurn the doings of the Lord or deny Christ.
2. Don't deny that revelations can and still come from the Lord.
3. Don't deny that Christ can still perform miracles.
4. Don't abuse the children of Israel!

It's an interesting chapter. We have just read all about Christ's visit among the Nephites, and we're about to get an abbreviated account of the next several hundred years of their history. I'm not sure why Mormon placed it here particularly but I think it serves us as a good reminder that the Book of Mormon is the word of the Lord, its emphasis is on Christ, and we need to both accept it and recognize what its coming forth means. This is the dispensation of the fullness of times and we are a part of it! That is always thrilling to think about. Whether or not we live to see Christ come again, we are a part of a very great work and we can either help it or attempt (and fail) to hinder it. The work will go forward regardless but hopefully we will too, as faithful saints of God.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

3 Nephi Chapter 28

Nine of the Twelve desire and are promised an inheritance in Christ’s kingdom when they die—The Three Nephites desire and are given power over death so as to remain on the earth until Jesus comes again—They are translated and see things not lawful to utter, and they are now ministering among men.

This is an incredible chapter! I really want to quote 80% of it, but I wont. I definitely recommend that you READ IT.

Christ asks his chosen 12, "What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father? (v.1)"

9 of the12 asked that, "after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom.(v.2)"

And Christ responds, "Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are aseventy and two years old ye shall come unto me in my bkingdom; and with me ye shall find crest."

How positively wonderful! Isn't that what we want? I know that is what I want more than anything! How amazing is our Savior and Father in Heaven!

The other 3 are hesitant to tell the Savior what they  desire, but he knows their thoughts. He knows that they desire the same thing as John the Beloved. Versus 7-10 tell us what Christ thinks about this:

"Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall anever taste of bdeath; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the cpowers of heaven. And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from amortality to bimmortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father. And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the asins of the world; and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bbring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand. And for this cause ye shall have afulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are bone; "

Then we learn of the events that took place, (13-17) "And behold, the heavens were opened, and they were acaught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things. And it was aforbidden them that they should utter; neither was it given unto them bpower that they could utter the things which they saw and heard;  And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a atransfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God. "

Here is something I found very interesting from the Book of Mormon Student Manual about the definitions of Transfiguration and Translated Beings...

Translated beings. “Persons who are changed so
that they do not experience pain or death until their
resurrection to immortality” (Guide to the Scriptures,
“Translated Beings”).
“Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation
was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately
into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness,
but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is
that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for
such characters He held in reserve to be ministering
angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not
entered into so great a fullness as those who are
resurrected from the dead” ( Joseph Smith, History of
the Church, 4:210).

Transfiguration. “The condition of persons who are
temporarily changed in appearance and nature—that
is, lifted to a higher spiritual level—so that they can
endure the presence and glory of heavenly beings”
(Guide to the Scriptures, “Transfiguration”).

The three were transfigured and then translated if I'm not mistaken. Fascinating!

They are now known as the "Three Nephites" and they were able to endure some pretty incredible situations like...

  • being cast into prison, and "the prisons could not hold them (19)",
  • they were buried and "they did smite the earth with the word of God, insomuch that by his power they were delivered out of the depths of the earth...(20)",
  • "they were cast into a furnace and received no harm(21)", and 
  • "they were cast into a den of wild beasts... and received no harm(22)"

I find it interesting in verse 25, Mormon tells us that he was about to "write the names of those who were never to taste of death, but the Lord forbade; therefore I write them not, for they are hid from the world." He also tells us that "great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them" both among the Jews and Gentiles and they shall know them not.

Mormon also explains that he inquired of the Lord, "and He hath made it manifest unto me that there must needs be a change wrought upon their bodies, or else it needs be that they must taste of death;  Therefore, that they might not taste of death there was a achange wrought upon their bodies, that they might not bsuffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world. Now this change was not equal to that which shall take place at the last day; but there was a change wrought upon them, insomuch that Satan could have no power over them, that he could not atempt them; and they were bsanctified in the flesh, that they were choly, and that the powers of the earth could not hold them. And in this state they were to remain until the judgment day of Christ; and at that day they were to receive a greater change, and to be received into the kingdom of the Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens. "

Incredible, absolutely incredible!

Monday, November 30, 2009

3 Nephi Ch. 27

Read it HERE.

Summary: Jesus commands them to call the Church in his name—His mission and atoning sacrifice constitute his gospel—Men are commanded to repent and be baptized that they may be sanctified by the Holy Ghost—They are to be even as Jesus is. Between A.D. 34 and 35

I loved this chapter. The disciples are busy ministering throughout the land, and are working hard to be of one purpose and one heart. There have arisen some disputations among the people concerning what to call the church. The disciples ask Christ, who appears to them and simply reminds them that they have taken upon them His name, and that since this is His church it should be named accordingly.

Then, as a reminder, Christ goes through a brief synopsis of the gospel and the plan of salvation--in order to re-emphasize what His church is about. It is a great summary, and it is also a little lengthy to just copy on this post, but it is worth a read:

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—

15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

This is what we believe! We follow Christ. We live as best as we possibly can, and when we make mistakes, we repent. Christ sacrificed for us--not just us as a whole, but each one of us--so we could have this ability. He wants us to use the power of repentence so we can experience eternal exaltation. That will be worth anything we need to go through in this life.

I was recently talking to an older friend of mine who has five children. Her youngest son left the church for a time during his teenage years, and maybe even into his twenties, but he finally returned. During the years he was wayward, she spent countless hours fasting and praying for his welfare. She often would have friends say to her that at least she had four children who were faithful in the church.

This comment would make her sad. No matter how exceptional her other children were, that joy did not take away from the profound sorrow she experienced for her youngest one.

I think this is the same way Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel about those who know what they must do to return to them, but choose to disregard that great sacrifice. They are mindful of us, of each of us. Our difficulties do not go unnoticed. All we need to do is put our faith in Christ and follow Him. As difficult as this can be sometimes, it is not as difficult as it will be if we choose to not follow Christ and lose all the blessings He wants to give us.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

3 Nephi 23

Jesus tells the people that "great are the words of Isaiah" and "all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake." When the Saviour emphasizes something like this we know that it is important. Reading Isaiah is tough sometimes, but I think if we open our hearts we'll find insights we previously missed. Also, sometimes you just need a good interpreter. There are a bunch of books out there that explain Isaiah in easier terms. Someday I think I would like to buy one of them and really attempt a serious study of Isaiah.

Then the Saviour asks to review their records. He reads them and asks where they recorded the prophecies of Samuel. They sheepishly admit that it hasn't been recorded and promise to recitify that. I like this little story because it shows 1. that very righteous men can overlook important things, and 2. that we need to be mindful that we are recording important things in our lives. I have a blog, a pregnancy journal, and an actual bound journal that unfortunately I don't write in very often. With all of those journals, I think I stil let things fall through the cracks sometimes, especially spiritual experiences because they are too personal to write about on my blog and don't make it to any other journals. I challenge us to all do better at recording those special moments in our lives, both temporal and spiritual.


Monday, November 16, 2009

3 Nephi Ch. 21

Read it HERE.

Summary: Israel shall be gathered when the Book of Mormon comes forth—The Gentiles shall be established as a free people in America—They shall be saved if they believe and obey; otherwise they shall be cut off and destroyed—Israel shall build the New Jerusalem, and the lost tribes shall return. [A.D. 34]

Jesus told the Nephites He would give them a sign (3 Nephi 21:1) so they would know when the gathering of Israel had begun. He then foretold the Restoration of the gospel, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the establishment of a free nation in America, and thetaking of the gospel to their seed (see vs. 1–7). He called the Restoration of the latter days “a great and a marvelous work” (see v. 9).

The way Jesus says something in verse 6 was very interesting to me:

"6 For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel;" (emphasis mine.)

Why is this an important blessing? Where is the benefit in actually being numbered among the people of God?

Verse 11 mentions God's people again as the "people who are of the covenant." What covenant is this, and why is it important? The covenant Jesus is talking about here is the Abrahamic Covenant.

Among the promises made to Abraham were the following:

~ His posterity would be numerous (see Genesis 17:5–6; Abraham 2:9; 3:14).

~ His seed, or descendants, would receive the gospel and bear the priesthood (see Abraham 2:9).
~ Through the ministry of his seed, "all the families of the earth [would] be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal" (Abraham 2:11).

A person can receive all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant—even if he or she is not a literal descendant of Abraham—by obeying the laws and ordinances of the gospel (see Galatians 3:26–29; 4:1–7; D&C 84:33–40).

(information found here.)

But so what? We could live our lives, having no knowledge of the Church, have our work done for us after we have passed on, and accept the Gospel in the next life, right? Why is being numbered among God's people in this life such an important blessing?

I believe it is because making and keeping covenants with God serves as a compass in this life. We have the way back to our Father in Heaven laid out for us; all we need to do is follow Christ. He led the way. When we are active among God's people, He will bless us with His spirit. This spirit will guide us through the difficult or confusing parts of this life.

Our mortal lives will be better. We will find it easier to endure. We will experience more joy and greater perspective. These are some of the blessings that are waiting for us right now.

One final quote from President Hinkley on the blessings and responsibilities we have as members of Christ's church:

"Do we really comprehend, do we understand the tremendous significance of that which we have? . . .

“We of this generation are the end harvest of all that has gone before. It is not enough to simply be known as a member of this Church. A solemn obligation rests upon us. Let us face it and work at it. “We must live as true followers of the Christ, with charity toward all, returning good for evil, teaching by example the ways of the Lord, and accomplishing the vast service He has outlined for us" (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 84–85; or Ensign, May 2004, 83–84).


Sunday, November 15, 2009

3 Nephi 20

Summary: Jesus provides bread and wine miraculously and again administers the sacrament unto them—The remnant of Jacob shall come to the knowledge of the Lord their God and shall inherit the Americas—Jesus is the prophet like unto Moses, and the Nephites are children of the prophets—Others of the Lord’s people shall be gathered to Jerusalem. [A.D. 34]

This chapter starts with Jesus administering the sacrament--first to his disciples, then to the multitude. We see the miraculous power of Jesus:
6 Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude;
7 But he truly agave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.

Can you imagine being present for this incredible event? Jesus Christ himself institutes and administers the sacrament. The sacrament is truly a reminder that He is always with us, that He died for us, that He loves us, and that we can be forgiven of our sins. I seldom think about this when I am in churh, partaking of the sacrament. I get so focused on Brooklynn, or my mind wanders to other things. But just taking the time now to think about what an incredible blessing the partaking of the sacrament actually is has completely changed my perspective, and I hope I can have a very different, more meaningful experience in church today. And as I said before--can you imagine being present for this event? What an incredible experience that would be.

23 Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.
24 Verily I say unto you, yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have testified of me.
25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

How incredible would it be to witness the fulfilling of things prophesied for more than 600 years? I can just imagine the incredible, overwhelming feeling. The Spirit would testify to us that all of this is true, and we would stand in the Lord's presence, listening to Him, learning from Him. I imagine that the love He has for each of us would be felt individually and more powerfully than we could ever imagine.Jesus goes on to talk about the many prophecies that have been and will be fulfilled. But what I felt the strongest in this chapter was the magnitude of being a witness to all of this and being in our Savior's presence. What an incredible moment that will be when we all first experience it for ourselves. May we continue to strive to be worthy of such a great blessing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

3 Nephi Chapter 16

Jesus will visit others of the lost sheep of Israel—In the latter days the gospel will go to the Gentiles and then to the house of Israel—The Lord’s people shall see eye to eye when he brings again Zion. [A.D. 34]

Right off, in verse one, Jesus says, "And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have aother sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister".

I automatically think of the isles of the sea. In Hawaii, there are stories about the God "Lono", who is associated with the clouds, harvest and peace. The stories tell that Lono left with a promise to return.  It is not widely acknowledged that this could indeed be our Savior, but among the saints on the islands, it is a very real possibility.

It makes me wonder where He is talking about and if these "other sheep" kept a record of his visits...?

Christ goes on to explain the promises of the gathering of Israel by the Gentiles. He also explains how the Gentiles are blessed when they believe on His name but  if the gentiles  "shall asin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be blifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and cmurders, and dpriestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall ereject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them."

This makes me just a little bit nervous because of the way our country is going. God is slowly (or quickly depending on how you view it) trying to be taken out of the foundation of our country.

Again, I love this part of the scriptures. There is nothing that compares to the words of our Savior! 

3 Nephi Ch. 15

Read it HERE.

Summary: Jesus announces that the law of Moses is fulfilled in him—The Nephites are the other sheep of whom he spake in Jerusalem—Because of iniquity the Lord’s people in Jerusalem do not know of the scattered sheep of Israel. [A.D. 34]

Jesus Christ tells the Nephites some important things in this chapter: of note was that the Law of Moses has been fulfilled by Him.

Verse 2: "And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new."

Some of the people were a little confused. However, their hearts were ready to accept new doctrine, so Christ went on to explain that He fulfilled the law, but that the covenant was not entirely fulfilled (vs. 8). The institute manual does a good job of explaining what this means. It is a little lengthy but full of good information and clarification:

"Jesus said that "old things had passed away and that all things had become new” (3 Nephi 15:3). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained: “It is crucial to understand that the law of Moses was overlaid upon, and thereby included, many basic parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which had existed before it. It was never intended to be something apart or separated from, and certainly not something antagonistic to, the gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . Its purpose was never to have been different from the higher law. Both were to bring people to Christ” (Christ and the New Covenant, 147). Thus Jesus could say, “For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me” (3 Nephi 15:8).

"What did Jesus mean when He said, “The covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled”? (3 Nephi 15:8). Jehovah made a covenant with Abraham anciently. Abraham was promised (1) eternal posterity, (2) a land that would eventually be the celestial kingdom, and (3) God’s priesthood power. These promises were also made to Abraham’s descendants (see D&C 132:30–31) and will be fulfilled in the future.

Finally, another powerful part of this chapter was Christ's explanation of the people in Jerusalem. He said that they were too hard hearted, so He could only tell them that He had other people. He said that because of their iniquity, they did not know of the people in the Americas. He also says this:

20 And verily, I say unto you again that the other tribes hath the Father separated from them; and it is because of their iniquity that they know not of them.

There are people all over the world, and Heavenly Father is mindful of each one of them. My last thought from the institute manual is especially powerful. It discusses Christ's analogy of being a shepherd to His sheep--or his people.

"One day a missionary, meeting a shepherd on one of the wildest parts of the Lebanon, asked him various questions about his sheep, and among others if he counted them every night. On answering that he did not, he was asked how he knew if they were all there or not. His reply
was, ‘Master, if you were to put a cloth over my eyes, and bring me any sheep and only let me put my hands on its face, I could tell in a moment if it was mine or not’” (George M. Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs [n.d.], 33, 35).

Jesus Christ does know us. He cares for us, guides us, comforts us. We just need to trust Him and follow Him in return, and we will always be fed.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

3 Nephi 11

So this chapter is pretty much the culmination of all that the previous six hundred years of Nephites had been looking forward to. The Nephites are gathered around the temple (we're not told why, but I assume Christ picked this time to come because so many of them were gathered there). They hear a voice that is indiscernable but after it speaks twice more, they finally understand it: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.

This chapter always brings me to tears as I imagine what it must have felt like to have been there. These people had just gone through one of the most traumatic things that has happened on the earth. Their world was literally torn apart and many of the people they knew had been killed. But they had also all heard the voice of Christ during the darkness. I can't even imagine the joy they must have felt to actually see Him.

I think the order of events here is interesting. It gives insights into what Christ finds most important:

1. He testifies of himself.

2. He invites everyone to come and feel his wounds so that they can know for themselves that he is Jesus Christ.

3. He calls forth Nephi, the prophet and head of the people, and gives him authority and direction to baptize. Then he does the same with the 12 disciples.

4. He instructs them to all repent and be baptized because it is necessary for salvation.

5. He directs them to go forth and declare this to the rest of the people.

It seems almost so simple, doesn't it? He gives them authority, some direction, and then tells them to go share with others. That's what he does today too. These 19-year-old boys that we send on missions have had a lifetime to learn about the gospel (some of them), but they are still relatively new and untrained in the gospel. Then they are given the Melichizedek Priesthood, set apart as missionaries, and sent out into the world to teach others. I think the most important thing to remember that even if all we have is a simple testimony of Christ, we can and should share that with others. People through the ages have probably wondered so many times why Christians are so anxious to share their faith with everyone else. I think it's because when we know Christ, we just can't help but want to share, and that's the same for Mormons and other Christians everywhere.

Well, I diverged a little from my original goal, but I really enjoyed this chapter and love reading it over and over. I'm so glad we have this record of Christ visiting his disciples in America and I know if we study his words, we can only grown closer to him.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

3 Nephi Chapter 10

There is silence in the land for many hours - The voice of Christ promises to gather his people as a hen gathereth her chickens - The more righteous part of the people had been preserved.

Christ promises to gather his people as a hen gathereth her chickens.  "How oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.(v.4)"  "How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.(v.5)" "...how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.(v.6)"  I think this goes right along with what Elise said yesterday. Isn't this exactly how we feel about our own children? Aren't we quite the mother hens and would love nothing more than for our children to just come to us and let us nourish, protect, teach and love them?! I love this analogy.

What an awful time in the scriptures. Loved ones and friends and a government have been destroyed! Without knowing what blessings will come next (which we do, because we know this story) they must feel incredibly lost! I know I would! I'm not a big fan of darkness anyhow and this would send me into some sort of confusion and possibly even incomparable fear. Do you think they are scared that the quakes and destructions aren't really over? What about being a mother during this time, trying to care for her children in impenetrate darkness! Or what about being pregnant?!  I'm sure there were women in these circumstances.

It is explained that "it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared-(v12)". Doesn't sounds like it would have been that difficult to be the more righteous part of the people. I guess we may be surprised to know just how unrighteous  the people were!

Then, in verse 14 there is a message directed to the readers about these things were repeatedly prophesied of by the prophets, Zenos, Zenock, and their "father" Jacob. 

It  is also mentioned that those who had been spared, "did have great favors shown unto them, and great blessings poured out upon their heads, insomuch  that soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did truly manifest himself unto them-" My absolute favorite part of the Book of Mormon!  I imagine that this is what it will be like when Christ  returns! This is what it is all about!

Monday, November 2, 2009

3 Nephi Ch. 9

Read it HERE.

Summary: In the darkness the voice of Christ proclaims the destruction of many people and cities for their wickedness—He also proclaims his divinity, announces that the law of Moses is fulfilled, and invites men to come unto him and be saved. [A.D. 34]

This chapter is an interesting summary of what happenes to those who choose wickedness, and what the rest of us need to do to be saved. The first thing Christ says to these people is this:

2 Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall arepent; for the devil blaugheth, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and abominations that they are fallen!

Considering the destruction the people listening have witnessed, this would be a sobering reminder.

Christ goes on to explain how many of the cities were destroyed (fire, earthquakes, etc.), and then tells the people why they were saved and what they need to do now. We know that after Christ comes to visit the people, there is a period of great peace. This is the beginning

13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.

Christ also explains that the law of Moses has now been fulfilled (by his own sacrifice) and that instead of blood sacrifices, the people need to sacrifice in this manner:

20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Essentially we are asked to make the same sacrifices today. In order to draw closer to Christ and our Heavenly Father, we must "sacrifice" some temporal things, or things having to do with the desires of our natural man. Pornography, laziness, ingratitude, these are all sins having to do with our temporal desires. The more we sacrifice these things to know God, the more we want to sacrifice these things and the less of a sacrifice it feels.

The other thing that hit home for me in this chapter is that when Christ asks the people to come unto Him, He is not doing it to be important. He is pleading with the people. He says his arm of mercy is extended, that He will receive whoever will come, and whoever does come will be blessed. (vs. 14).

I am only in the beginning stages of parenthood, but I feel like I understand this a little more each day. This is the same thing I tell my children (and will tell them for the rest of their lives).

Come to me. I will help you! You do not have to do this on your own. Look at all your frustration! If you would listen to me, you would have an easier time. If you are hurt, come into my arms. I will help you heal. If you are angry, come to me and I will help you to calm down. Trust me. I love you. I will help you. All you need to do is come.

This is the message I give to my children all the time. This is the message our Heavenly Father gives to us. This is what Christ is asking the people to do. What a beautiful reminder.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

3 Nephi 8

Summary: Tempests, earthquakes, fires, whirlwinds, and physical upheavals attest the crucifixion of Christ—Many people are destroyed—Darkness covers the land for three days—Those who remain bemoan their fate. [A.D. 34]

This chapter is about all of the destruction upon the face of the earth, in the Americas, that follows the death of Christ. Even though they knew that this was coming, because they had seen the signs, many people were still not ready for it. I can imagine that, even though this is something we have learned about our entire lives, it will probably feel so surreal when it actually happens. I am sure that is how it was for them as well. One thing that is still hard for me to grasp is the idea of not being afraid. The thought of having to endure so many terrifying events scares me. But I think the comfort comes from knowing that the Lord would not leave us unprotected. He will provide a way for us to endure it if we are righteous. God has a plan. We just have to trust in that plan and know that everything will work for our good. I think the most important principle in this chapter is in the last verse:
O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared, and not have been buried up in that great city Moronihah.
How many times have the leaders of the church told us this very thing? Do not procrastinate the day of our repentence. One day, we will run out of tomorrows. We need to live righteously everyday. We need to treasure each moment we have with our families. We need to constantly strive to choose the right. We do not want to be like those people in this chapter. We want to be ready to meet Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when the time comes. That is the lesson I feel that this chapter is trying to teach.


Friday, October 23, 2009

3 Nephi 7

The chief judge is murdered, the government is overthrown, and the people divide into tribes—Jacob, an antichrist, becomes king of a league of tribes—Nephi preaches repentance and faith in Christ—Angels minister to him daily, and he raises his brother from the dead—Many repent and are baptized. Between A.D. 30 and 33

1 Now behold, I will show unto you that they did not establish a king over the land; but in this same year, yea, the thirtieth year, they did destroy upon the judgment-seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land.

2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.

9 Now this secret combination, which had brought so great iniquity upon the people, did gather themselves together, and did place at their head a man whom they did call Jacob;

10 And they did call him their king; therefore he became a king over this wicked band; and he was one of the chiefest who had given his voice against the prophets who testified of Jesus.

11 And it came to pass that they were not so strong in number as the tribes of the people, who were united together save it were their leaders did establish their laws, every one according to his tribe; nevertheless they were enemies; notwithstanding they were not a righteous people, yet they were united in the hatred of those who had entered into a covenant to destroy the government.

I think it is very, very interesting to read the chapters about the people living in the world before the coming of Christ. Sometimes when I study these chapters, I wonder if there are parallel's in the way the people of the world are going to be or are becoming, before the 2nd coming of Christ. Just some thoughts.

Hopefully we will be on the same side as the Prophets called of God. That we will be truly converted so that we cannot be deceived. So that leaders such as Jacob cannot influence us by speaking with "flattering" language.

15 And it came to pass that Nephi—having been visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord, therefore having seen angels, and being eye-witness, and having had power given unto him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ, and also being eye-witness to their quick return from righteousness unto their wickedness and abominations;

3 Nephi 7:15–26. On bright spot in the otherwise sad account of the Nephites’ turn from their righteousness is thesteadfast faithfulness of Nephi and his people. Their example provides a pattern to help us maintain our righteousness during times of wickedness. We read of Nephi’s firm testimony, born of personal experience (see 3 Nephi 7:15), that he boldly taught “repentance and remission of sins through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 16). He ministered with power and authoritybecause “great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 18), and those who responded to his testimony were themselves visited “by the power and Spirit of God” (v. 21). Those who believed were healed (see v. 22), repented, were baptized, and “received a remission of their sins” (see vv. 24–25).

21 And it came to pass that the thirty and first year did pass away, and there were but few who were converted unto the Lord; but as many as were converted did truly signify unto the people that they had been visited by the power and bSpirit of God, which was in Jesus Christ, in whom they believed.

3 Nephi 7:21–26.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the difference between those who are fully converted and those who are still lacking. Apostles spoke of the difference between those who are fully converted and those who are still lacking. He further taught the continual need for a cycle of conversion, which builds steadiness in true followers of Christ:
“Each of us has observed how some individuals go through life consistently doing the right things. . . . When difficult choices are to be made, they seem to invariably make the right ones, even though there were enticing alternatives available to them. We know that they are subject to temptation, but they seem oblivious to it. Likewise, we have observed how others are not
so valiant in the decisions they make. In a powerfully spiritual environment, they resolve to do better. . . .Yet they are soon back doing the same things they resolved to abandon. . . .
“Sometimes the word converted is used to describe when a sincere individual decides to be baptized. However . . . conversion means far more than that. . . .President Marion G. Romney explained conversion:
“‘Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel. A faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with
a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments’ [in Conference Report, Guatemala Area Conference 1977, 8]. . . .
“Stated simply, true conversion is the fruit of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience. Faith comes by hearing the word of God [see Romans 10:17] and responding to it. You will receive from the Holy Ghost a confirming witness of things you accept on faith by willingly doing them [see Ether 12:6]. You will be led to repent of errors resulting from wrong things done or
right things not done. As a consequence, your capacity to consistently obey will be strengthened. This cycle of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience will lead you to greater conversion with its attendant blessings” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 26–28; or Ensign, May 2002, 24–25).

Congratulations, Holly!

I just wanted to tell let you all know that Holly had her beautful baby boy on the 21st! And I was blessed to be there with her as her doula. She is an absolutly incredible woman! I was amazed by her strength, determination, and her willpower.


She had her little baby naturally! No epidural!

She was on four hours of pitocen and her Dr. had broken her water right off. I have been there before, so I can attest to that situation being extremely intense. But she remained calm and focused. She's so inspiring! What a beautiful woman and what a gorgeous baby!

Congratulations, Holly!

Monday, October 19, 2009

3 Nephi Ch. 3

Read it HERE.

Summary: Giddianhi, the Gadianton leader, demands that Lachoneus and the Nephites surrender themselves and their lands—Lachoneus appoints Gidgiddoni as chief captain of the armies—The Nephites assemble in Zarahemla and Bountiful to defend themselves. Between A.D. 16 and 17

This is a pretty important chapter: in it we learn that the leader of the Gadianton Robbers intends to destroy the Nephites, whether by murdering them or forcing them to join his ranks. We also learn that Lachoneus, the Chief Judge, is a righteous man and does everything he can to help the Nephites fortify themselves against the attack.

I was struck by the similarities between the world these righteous Nephites were living in and the world we are living in now. The are a lot of parallels between what is happening in this chapter to what is and will be happening in the "last days" before Christ comes again. Here is some of what I've found (feel free to add thoughts of your own).

~ Giddianhi wants the people of the Nephites, their cities, their lands, and their posessions. The choice is to give all this up or die (vs. 6,7). Satan, I think, works in a similar manner. He cannot have posession of our souls until we give ourselves to him--and this can happen piece by piece by choosing him over God.

~ The only crime the Nephites committed against the Gadianto Robbers was that they "had wronged themselves by dissenting away unto those wicked and abominable robbers" (vs. 11). I pray that I always have the strenth to simliary "wrong" the adversary.

~ Lachoneus replies to the demands of Giddianhi by "send[ing] a proclamation among all the people, that they should gather together their women, and their children, their flocks and their herds, and all their substance, save it were their land, unto one place." We also have a proclamation from our prophets. Isn't the purpose the same? To gather our families together unto one "place" as a protection against adversity?

~ The Nephites fortified themselves (vs. 14). We have to make the choice every day to add to our spiritual fortifications or to take away from it. If we are not adding, we are weakening the structures we need to protect our families.

~ Then, they repented! They repented "in their might". (vs. 15,16)

~ Lachoneus appoints captains to be stationed among the people and among the fortifications to warn the people of an attack(vs. 17,18). We have modern day "captains"--our Church is set up in the same way. We have bishops, stake presidents, area leaders, and prophets to guide us and help us know how to overcome our enemy. They, like these Nephite captains, are only imperfect men, but they still have the ability to be inspired on our behalf.

~ The Nephites want to go to where the Gadianton Robbers are in order to destroy them, but Lachoneus tells them they must prepare together in their strongholds and wait (vs. 21). Similarly, we should not fight against the adversary on his terms, and we cannot do it alone.

And here are the final verses. We can see how the Nephites placed every effort in preparation and defense, but especially in repentance and faith.

25 And they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle.

26 And they were exceedingly sorrowful because of their enemies. And Gidgiddoni did cause that they should make weapons of war of every kind, and they should be strong with armor, and with shields, and with bucklers, after the manner of his instruction.

What do you think? My synopsis is a bit clumsy, but I am still learning. Did anything impress you about this chapter?


Sunday, October 18, 2009

3 Nephi 2

So there is no Helaman 17 or 18...hehe. So here is 3 Nephi 2:
Wickedness and abominations increase among the people—The Nephites and Lamanites unite to defend themselves against the Gadianton robbers—Converted Lamanites become white and are called Nephites. Between A.D. 5 and 15
1 And it came to pass that thus passed away the *ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen—
2 Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing.

These 2 verses stood out to me the most in this chapter. The signs and wonders that these people had witnessed were prophecied for years. Then they had the privilege of witnessing them and receieve the ultimate confimation of their testimonies to this point in time. Despite that, they lost faith in the coming of Christ. They returned to their wicked ways. I think we are all vulnerable to this in our lives. I know that I have been blessed with some incredible experiences and manifestations from the Spirit. I am not perfect in my faith, but those experiences serve as reminders to me that deep down, I do know this church is true. I do know that the Lord will answer prayers and fasting. I do know that the Lord loves me. I know these things becasue He has blessed me with so much. Sometimes my faith and testimony are not what they should be, but those past experiences are so important in helping get me back on the right course. In conjunction with those experiences are the daily manifestations and answers I receive when I need some sort of answer or help. Heavenly Father has never not answered a prayer. He has blessed me with a gift of being sensitive to the Spirit, and I have learned over the years to give heed to those feelings He blesses me with. It makes me sad that so many people lost their way after such an amazing manifestation from Heaven. And they knew because of those manifestations that Christ would appear to them soon. Nine years does not seem so long when these signs had been prophesied about for hundreds of years. But I know we are all vulnerable to this. I hope we can learn from this and not fall victim to the same 'wickedness' and 'blindness' they did. Heavenly Father blesses us iwth the answers that He does so we can learn and increase our faith and testimony.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Helaman 15

I'm sorry I missed the last two weeks. I have no excuse other than I always remember in the mornings and figure I have all day to do it, and then I forget!

Verse 2 gives me the chills. Samuel is telling them to repent and warns them that if they don't, their pregnant and nursing women will "have cause to mourn" because they will flee and have no place to go, so they will "be trodden down and left to perish." I always want to cry a little when I read this verse, having been pregnant and nursing so much of the last few years. But then I remind myself that these are warnings for those who have not repented!

Samuel tells them something important in the next verse. He tells them that the Lord has chastened them because he loves them. I think this is a concept we hear a lot but it's hard to actually live through. The Lord doesn't give us trials because he doesn't love us, he gives them to us because he does love us and wants us to grow from them. I know I need to remember that more.

Samuel also compares the Nephites to the Lamanites. I think it's interesting that he says that if the Lamanites had experienced the "mighty works" that the Nephites had experienced, they would not have fallen away. At this point, the Lamanites were actually much more righteous than the Nephites. I can see how the Nephites would have been angry to hear that said. The Lamanites had always been their enemies and they probably had a superiority complex. It's too bad that most of them couldn't humble themselves like the Lamanites did.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Helaman Chapter 14

Samuel predicts light during the night and a new star at Christ’s birth—Christ redeems men from temporal and spiritual death—The signs of his death include three days of darkness, the rending of the rocks, and great upheavals of nature. About 6 B.C.

Samuel predicts signs of Christ's Birth

  • "there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day."(v3)
  • "there shall a new astar arise, such an one as ye never have beheld" (v5)

And signs of Christ's death:

  • behold, in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his blight unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of cthree days, to the time that he shall rise again from the dead. (v20)
  • there shall be bthunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble (v21)\
  • there shall be great atempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called bvalleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great. (v23)
  • many agraves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many. (v25)

A great, all encompassing truth in verse 8, "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall abelieve on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life." Isn't this what it is all about?

I like verse 29 because it explains what the purpose of the signs is, "And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a arighteous judgment might come upon them; and also if they are condemned they bring upon themselves their own condemnation."

Verses 30-31 really sum up accountability and put the responsibilities where they belong!

"And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto ahimself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are bfree; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a cknowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might aknow good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might bchoose life or death; and ye can do good and be crestored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Helaman Ch. 13

Read it HERE.

Summary: (The prophecy of Samuel, the Lamanite, to the Nephites. Comprising chapters 13 to 15 inclusive.) Samuel the Lamanite prophesies the destruction of the Nephites unless they repent—They and their riches are cursed—They reject and stone the prophets, are encircled about by demons, and seek for happiness in doing iniquity. About 6 B.C.

We're starting to get into the Samuel the Lamanite chapters, which is fun. It is always nice to re-read what he has to say to the Nephites here in Zarahemla.

We learn that destruction is awaiting these people, but also that they would have already been destroyed if not for the few righteous among them (vs. 12,13). We also learn that when the wicked cast the righteous out, they will then be "ripe for destruction." (vs. 14)

But what happened to the Nephites to make them so far gone? What are they doing that makes them turn away from God so strongly? Samuel answers these questions with some of his counsel:

~They have set their heart upon riches more than the things of God. (vs. 21)
~They are not grateful for what God has given them. (vs. 22)
~They are filled with so much pride they will boast, persecute others, and even murder. (vs. 22)
~They not only throw out prophets who come, they murder them. (vs. 24)
~They have procrastinated repentance. (vs. 38)
~They have sought happiness in doing wickedness. (vs. 38)

I think the key to the seriousness of these sins is found in verse 29:

"Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?"

They chose darkness. You cannot make a true choice between darkness and light if you do not have knowledge of those things. They know what is right but they choose to disregard the eternal consequences for their actions.

What choices do I make on a daily basis that might draw myself farther from my Father in Heaven? What activities do I spend my time in? Do I have too much pride? Do I love my things? Do I get more pleasure from buying something new than from strengthening my testimony? Where do I put my efforts? Are my thoughts consumed by things they shouldn't be?

These are all questions I had to ask myself. The Nephites in this chapter knew the choice they were making. So do I; I just need to make sure I don't choose wrongly.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Helaman 12

Summary: Men are unstable and foolish and quick to do evil—The Lord chastens his people—The nothingness of men compared with the power of God—In the day of judgment men shall gain everlasting life or everlasting damnation. About 7 B.C.

Verse 1: We can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
I have a testimony of this principle. I have seen it working countless times in my life, especially recently. I often reflect on the verses that come later in the chapter, expounding upon this principle.
8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.
9 Yea, behold at his avoice do the hills and the mountains tremble and bquake.
10 And by the apower of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley.
11 Yea, by the power of his voice doth the awhole earth shake;
12 Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center.
13 Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved.

Reading these verses gives me faith to exercise this principle. In essence, I think to myself: "If God can move mountains, literally, then I know He can help me do this if I have faith." This principle gives me the strength I need to get through daily challenges. Sometimes He moves mountains by sending people into our lives to help carry the burden. The week following Jeff's surgery was very trying for both of us because he couldn't do anything, and I had to do everything, on top of school. We got many calls from people in the ward offering to bring meals and pick up Brookie for us. Of course I took advantage of that! And with each call, my heart filled with gratitude, knwoing that God was aware of us and our needs. He sent His servants to help us in our time of need. This experience increased my testimony of the importance of service--if I know how much it helped me out, then I need to reciprocate that.

The other principle that stood out to me was repentance.
22 And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore, for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared.
The Lord did not send us here to fail. He established these principles, like repentance to help pick us up when we fall and bring us to the "finish line." We would be foolish not to take advantage of and exercise faith and repentance in our lives. God gave us these gifts to help us learn and grow and find our way back to Him.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Helaman 11

Nephi persuades the Lord to replace their war with a famine—Many people perish—They repent, and Nephi importunes the Lord for rain—Nephi and Lehi receive many revelations—The Gadianton robbers entrench themselves in the land. Between 20 and 7 B.C.

This chapter is yet another example of the Pride Cycle cycling over and over and over again. When I was younger, I used to wonder why there were so many chapters like this in the Book of Mormon. These chapters didn't seem to have "quotable" scriptures and neat stories to repeat. It wasn't until later that I realized that even though these people lived much before our time, we can learn from them. With scriptures like this we can start to recognize the world that we live in and the pride cycles we are going through. As I grow up, this cycle becomes more and more apparent to me.

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles lamented mankind’s failure to break outof negative cycles: (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 19;or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 16). Surely the Lord has placed these obvious patterns of behavior in scripture for ourbenefit, to help us avoid the same problems in our own lives (see D&C 52:14–19).

3 And it came to pass that in this year Nephi did cry unto the Lord, saying:

4 O Lord, do not suffer that this people shall be destroyed by the sword; but O Lord, rather let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee.

And so it was done. A famine came upon the land, and the work of destruction did cease by the sword, but became sore by famine.

7 And it came to pass that the people saw that they were about to perish by famine, and they began to remember the Lord their God; and they began to remember the words of Nephi.

9 ......when Nephi saw that the people had repented and did humble themselves in sackcloth, he cried again unto the Lord, saying:

10 O Lord, behold this people repenteth; and they have swept away the band of Gadianton from amongst them insomuch that they have become extinct, and they have concealed their secret plans in the earth.

11 Now, O Lord, because of this their humility wilt thou turn away thine anger, and let thine anger be appeased in the destruction of those wicked men whom thou hast already destroyed.

12 O Lord, wilt thou turn away thine anger, yea, thy fierce anger, and cause that this famine may cease in this land.

13 O Lord, wilt thou hearken unto me, and cause that it may be done according to my words, and send forth rain upon the face of the earth, that she may bring forth her fruit, and her grain in the season of grain.

14 O Lord, thou didst hearken unto amy words when I said, Let there be a famine, that the pestilence of the sword might cease; and I know that thou wilt, even at this time, hearken unto my words, for thou saidst that: If this people repent I will spare them.

15 Yea, O Lord, and thou seest that they have repented, because of the famine and the pestilence and destruction which has come unto them.

16 And now, O Lord, wilt thou turn away thine anger, and try again if they will serve thee? And if so, O Lord, thou canst bless them according to thy words which thou hast said.

You know what this reminded me of? It actually reminded me of September 11th. When our whole nation stopped and turned to God. It was a tragic time, and a spiritual time. At this time of our suffering, our Prophet also prayed to Heaven Father. His prayer is recorded:

“O God, our Eternal Father, . . . whose children we are, we look to Thee in faith in this dark and solemn time. Please, dear Father, bless us with faith. Bless us with love. Bless us with charity in our hearts. Bless us with a spirit of perseverance to root out the terrible evils that are in this world. Give protection and guidance tothose who are engaged actively in carrying forth thet hings of battle. Bless them; preserve their lives; save them from harm and evil. Hear the prayers of their loved ones for their safety. . . .“O Father, look with mercy upon this, our own nation, and its friends in this time of need. Spare us and helpus to walk with faith ever in Thee and ever in Thy Beloved Son, on whose mercy we count and to whom we look as our Savior and our Lord. Bless the causeof peace and bring it quickly to us again, we humbly plead with Thee, asking that Thou wilt forgive our arrogance, pass by our sins, be kind and gracious to us, and cause our hearts to turn with love toward Thee. We humbly pray in the name of Him who loves us all, even the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and our Savior, amen” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2001, 112; orEnsign, Nov. 2001, 90).

Back to the seventy and sixth year....The Lord heard the prayer of Nephi and turned away his anger from the people.

I have always felt awe, peace, appreciation, and gratitude that God is such a loving and Forgiving God. We just need to turn to Him, ask for his forgiveness, and we are sincere, it's done. Even when He should probably hold a grudge! I stand all amazed at the love....

So.. the people began to prosper again! Yet... it only lasted about three years! In time, the Gadianton robbers were built up again. I don't think history will ever get rid of them.

33 Yea, for they did visit many parts of the land, and did do great destruction unto them; yea, did kill many, and did carry away others captive into the wilderness, yea, and more especially their women and their children.

34 Now this great evil, which came unto the people because of their iniquity, did stir them up again in remembrance of the Lord their God.

36 And in the eighty and second year they began again to forget the Lord their God. And in the eighty and third year they began to wax strong in iniquity. And in the eighty and fourth year they did not mend their ways.

37 And it came to pass in the *eighty and fifth year they did wax stronger and stronger in their pride, and in their wickedness; and thus they were ripening again for destruction.

38 And thus ended the eighty and fifth year.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Helaman 10

Read it HERE.

Summary: The Lord gives Nephi the sealing power—He is empowered to bind and loose on earth and in heaven—He commands the people to repent or perish—The Spirit carries him from congregation to congregation. Between 23 and 20 B.C.

I can just picture how forlorn and alone Nephi feels as the Nephites divided and he was left completely alone in the midst of them. Yet, as he walked home he did so in deep, heartfelt thought (pondering) the things the Lord had shown him. Then, the voice came. Does this happen to you? When you're in the shower, the car, laying in bed, sitting in church, on your way to/from Visiting Teaching?

I love that the Lord comforts Nephi so completely with His words:
4 aBlessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with bunwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine cown life, but hast sought my dwill, and to keep my commandments.
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that aall things shall be bdone unto thee according to thy cword, for thou shalt dnot ask that which is contrary to my will.
6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with afamine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
7 Behold, I give unto you apower, that whatsoever ye shall bseal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

As a humble and obedient servant, Nephi, after hearing these words, IMMEDIATELY returns to the multitude of people and tells them what the Lord shared with him about their destruction if they would not repent. (I feel this way as a mother with my children so often.... to a much less extreme.)

Unfortunately the Nephites still would not listen and began to threaten slaying him and tried to cast him into prison. Interestingly, the Lord was with him and they could not take him and he was "...taken by the Spirit and conveyed away out of the midst of them" (v 16).

Yet his continued ministering caused more contention and divisions among the Nephites and they began slaying each other. Poor Nephi. He was doing his job as a righteous servant and elicited so much hate and pride out of those he loved and was trying to save. Makes me wonder if our missionaries and General leaders of the Church don't feel this way in their ministering.

That darn pride cycle:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Helaman Chapter 7

I've been behind on my reading and have been trying to catch up, and missed 2 weeks (SORRY!) so I decided to skip ahead to catch up and do my chapter today! I briefly read over the headings - and without reading the details of the chapters, I have started up again in Helaman 7. SO MUCH HAS CHANGED in so little time! And that's what it says in verse 6 ("Now this great iniquity had come up on the Nephites, in the space of not many years...") .

In verse 5 it explains specifically how and why the Nephites had fallen into transgression, "Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their bmoney; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the cworld, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—"

I found it interesting that in verses 7-8, Nephi tells us  how he wishes he could have lived in the days that Lehi had first reached the promise land... "That I could have ajoyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, bfirm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord— Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren."

The reason I find it interesting is because we know from studying the Book of Mormon, that there were still very very wicked people... I guess there just weren't as many - and they certainly hadn't overthrown the government... yet.

And I think verse 9 is applicable to most generations ( and definitely now), "But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with asorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren." Have you ever felt that your life would have been easier or happier in some other time of the world?

After a multitude had gathered to wonder why Nephi was lamenting so,  he begins his lecture. One of my favorite parts is verse 16, "Yea, how could you have given way to the enticing of him who is seeking to hurl away your souls down to aeverlasting misery and endless wo?" What great imagery! If we thought of sin like this, and really believed it, I think we would be less likely to commit any sins!

Verse 26 is also profound, and very applicable to our days, "Yea, awo shall come unto you because of that pride which ye have suffered to enter your hearts, which has lifted you up beyond that which is good because of your exceedingly great riches!"

Hm... there are many similarities between this time in the Book of Mormon, and our current time. Anyone agree?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Helaman Ch. 6

Read it HERE.

Summary: The righteous Lamanites preach to the wicked Nephites—Both peoples prosper during an era of peace and plenty—Lucifer, the author of sin, guides the Gadianton robbers in their murders and wickedness—They take over the Nephite government. Between 29 and 24 B.C.

This is an interesting chapter. I'm going to be lazy this week and copy the following list from the Institute Manual. It really lays out the characteristics of the secret combinations and I found it helpful to go through it. Feel free to skip (as it is lengthy), but if you want to read more you can find it here.

From this chapter and other places in the Book of Mormon we learn the following important characteristics of secret combinations:

1. The devil is the inspiration and source of all such organizations (see Helaman 6:26–30 ). Mormon clearly pointed to Satan as the grand conspirator, the real organizer of all such organizations.

2. Such organizations are viewed by the Lord as constituting a wickedness “above all the wickedness of the whole earth” ( 3Nephi 9:9 ; see also Ether 8:18 ). While individuals may rob, steal, plunder, and murder, how much more wickedness occurs when men plunder and kill on a national or an international scale involving millions of lives?

3. Such organizations flourish and thrive when the “more part” ( Helaman 6:21 ) of the people are wicked and seek to benefit from the spoils of such wickedness (see v.38 ).

4. Secrecy is one of the basic operating tenets of such organizations (see vv.22, 25–26 ).

5. Joined with the idea of secrecy is the idea of making covenants (see vv.22, 25–26 ). An oath of loyalty to the organization is made which involves a vow to maintain the secret of the conspiracy. After the murder of the chief judge, Kishkumen “went unto those that sent him, and they all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man” ( Helaman 1:11 ). Helaman 6:21 refers to “their covenants and their oaths.” Moroni described this same covenant making among the Jaredites (see Ether 8:13–14 ). Ironically, the oaths were sometimes made in the name of God (see Helaman 1:11 , Ether 8:14 ).

6. The objectives of such secret combinations are power or gain, or both (see Helaman 6:38 , Ether 8:22 , Moses 5:31–33 ). Since the government is a source of great power, it is not surprising that often the target of action is to take over the reins of government (see Helaman 1:1–4 , 2:4–5 , 3Nephi 3:6 , 6:30 , 7:12 , Ether 9:1–6 , 13:18 ).

7. These organizations use immorality, money, and violence to achieve their ends (see Helaman 6:15, 17 , Ether 8:10 ). Assassinating government leaders to bring their own people to power is a common tale found in the Book of Mormon.

8. The only way to lastingly curtail these organizations once they are established and begin to flourish is through conversion of the people to righteousness (see Helaman 6:37 , 3Nephi 5:4–6 ).

Now, how is it that what started as a small group of wicked, plotting people became a large group known as the Gadianton Robbers? Verse seventeen states that the Nephites began to set their hearts upon riches. Once a people starts down this path of "idol" worship, they begin to commit sins in order to procure more riches. Then the sins don't seem to be a big deal anymore, because the riches are more important to them than God. It was a quick road to wickedness for the Nephites.

The Lamanites, however, grew stronger in righteousness and faith. When the Gadianton robbers began to be a real problem, what did they do? They did not go to war in the usual sense, but they fought the wickedness at its root:

37 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.

And the Nephites? Well, the Nephites "built them up and support[ed] them [. . .] until they had overspread all the land." (vs. 38)

"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21)