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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.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We're taking a brief hiatus from posting this week, due to moves, pregnancies, sick families, and many other things that have somehow occurred simultaneously.

Join with us again next Monday, when we'll resume our posts with Mosiah chapter 3.

In the mean time, go here to read the Church's latest General Conference addresses.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mosiah 2

I love reading King Benjamin's address to his people. There are several key things about this chapter that stuck out to me.

1. The people came to visit the temple at King Benjamin's command. It says that they did this for three reasons: to hear the words of their king and prophet, to offer sacrifices unto the Lord, and to give thanks unto the Lord. I think we could do well to remember these things when we go to the temple. We go to give thanks, to hear the word of the Lord, and it usually it is a sacrifice to go. My husband and I have been getting better at going now that our daughter is older, but is still is a 2.5 hr drive to get there and then we have to switch off who babysits. I think that this makes me appreciate these visits more than when I lived in Provo, but even then it usually felt like a sacrifice to give up the time needed. But if it weren't a sacrifice, we wouldn't receive as many blessings, right?

2. King Benjamin emphasizes that he is a mortal man, just like his subjects, and has his own weaknesses and frailties. But the important part was that the Lord had blessed him so that he could be a great ruler. He accomplished this by serving the people. I think that any of us in a leadership position can learn from Benjamin. He did not think of his position as king as just power over the people, but instead, he felt an incredible duty to love and serve them. I think that he was definitely very Christ-like in this attribute.

3. I love verse 17- "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." I think that in the area of service, we can always do better, whether it is through serving our own families or serving other people. It's not really an optional part of the gospel--it's one of the key parts of the gospel.

4. He tells us that even if we could "render all the thanks and praise which [our] whole soul has power to possess", that we would still be "unprofitable servants." The Lord does want us to show gratitude, but he doesn't want us to only do that. Instead, he asks some simple things of us. He asks us to keep his commandments and to serve other people.

5. He warns us to not obey the evil spirit, and that if we at any time stop following the Holy Spirit, then we are therefore following the evil spirit. He also tells us what happens to a person who dies in their sins, having a knowledge of good and evil. It's really chilling and it definitely helps motivate me to not slack off!

Speaking of slacking off, I must apologize for always being so late and missing last week. My excuse is mostly forgetfulness or procrastination, but also because I am 3 months pregnant and still feel pretty sick! But I will definitely try to do better. :]


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Welcome to the dying blog! hehe jk...I hope! What happened to everyone?

I never noticed before that Omni felt like a wicked man. "I have not kept the statutes and commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done." What I love about this is that he is aware and is able to acknowledge where he is at spiritually. I feel like we are in a time where we are less aware of where we should be spiritually, and, not to be depressing, but we don't know how wicked we are. I mean that figuratively. I feel like I have become so lazy, and I do not give enough time to feeding my spirit. We sort of talked about this in Stake Conference last week. The speaker raised the question: "How many hours can you sit in front of the television a day, and then forget to pray or read your scriptures?" "How many days do you plan out on your calendar, and then forget to go to the temple that month?" It took hearing that for me to realize...wow I am doing those things! So that is the point I was trying to make. I promise I wasn't trying to call anyone wicked! hehe.
Verse 6 teaches an awesome principle: "For the Lord would not suffer, after he had led them out of the land of Jerusalem and kept and preserved them from falling into to the hands of their enemies, yea, he would not suffer that the words should not be verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: In asmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall not prosper in the land." Like any parent, I believe that Heavenly Father does not want to punish us nor see us suffer, but He is bound by certain laws, and He is bound by what He says. We can't pick the consequences, and in a way, neither does He. He has laws set in place, and He cannot spare us from the consequences of our actions.

This chapter/book talks about the people of Zarahemla joining with the people of Mosiah. They escaped at the time of the Babylonian captivity and were brought to this land by the hand of the Lord. It is just amazing to me how perfectly the Lord has things planned out, and He will always provide a way whereby they may be accomplished. It is so easy to doubt that when you are standing at the end of a dark tunnel and cannot see the light on the other side. But I do believe that, if the Lord knows we need to do something, or are destined to do something, He will make it possible. We must have that faith in him.
This book also talks about Coriantumr and the tower of Babel?? where the languages were confounded.

There is a powerful verse at the end (26): "And now my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."

What more can I add to that...
I love the Book of Mormon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jacob 5

Read it HERE.

Summary: Jacob quotes Zenos relative to the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees—They are a likeness of Israel and the gentiles—The scattering and gathering of Israel are prefigured—Allusions are made to the Nephites and Lamanites and all the house of Israel—Gentiles shall be grafted into Israel—Eventually the vineyard shall be burned. Between 544 and 421 B.C.

This is that LONG allegory of the olive tree chapter. At first read/impression it can seem long and dreary, boring and confusing; but if you read with real intent and with a better understanding of the bigger metaphor and meaning, it gets very interesting. There are a lot of familiar lines in it from the Pearl of Great Price and from some of our most important church doctrine. I realized some great missionary messages, family messages, warnings, blessings, insights into the Godhead, a greater understanding of the Abrahamic Covenant, and the preparations before the Second Coming of the Savior. This is a beautiful chapter and of Jacob's most important contributions in the Book of Mormon.

Ralph E. Swiss, director of physical facilities and real estate in the Church Educational System wrote a great explanatory and insightful article, The Tame and Wild Olive Trees--An Allegory of Our Savior's Love. In this article Swiss points out,

"Most of Christianity has yet to learn of Zenos’s allegory of the olive trees. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the combined efforts of four prophets, separated by thousands of years, the allegory might have been lost entirely. The prophet Zenos wrote it in Israel, Nephi’s younger brother Jacob retold it to the Nephites, Mormon preserved it for latter-day readers, and Joseph Smith translated it into English" (Swiss, 1988, p.50).

Swiss continues to explain the symbolism and the use of 7 scenes (historic periods of time), and 5 locations in the vineyard (places in the world):

Tame olive tree = House of Israel
Wild olive tree = Gentiles
Lord of the vineyard = Jesus Christ (or God the Father in some interpretations)
Lord of the vineyard's servants = Christ's disciples, the prophets
Good fruit = those people bringing forth good works
Bad fruit = those people bringing forth evil works
Grafting in = baptism

Scene 1 = Time of growing decay, or "...the period following the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon when the glory of Israel was greatly lessened by growing wickedness and evil" (Swiss, 1988, p. 50).

Scene 2 = The master grieves for the tree and has His servants pluck of the decayed branches to be burned in the fire, or "...the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests of Israel" (Swiss, 1988, p. 50). At this point I think the Savior's love for his people is manifest when he has some of the branches carried off to other parts of the vineyard to be grafted in and preserved (the beginning of the great explorations across the sea.)

Scene 3 = After a long time, the Master returns to inspect the vineyard only to find the tame olive tree has borne tame fruit despite the wild branches that were grafted in from its trunk. "
Perhaps this corresponds to the tremendous growth of the Church during and after the Savior’s mortal ministry. A great many among the Gentiles, including numerous Samaritans, were converted and lived the gospel as though they had been born of Israel" (Swiss, 1988, p. 50).

Scene 4 = Master returns, finds entire vineyard in decay, none of the fruit is good, or the time period of the Great Apostasy. I love how the Master asks, What could I have done more for my vineyard? Showing his great love and concern for all people.

Scene 5 = Master's decides to spare the vineyard a little longer, "...he and his servant begin to restore the natural branches to their parent trees, destroying the worst of the branches to make room" (Swiss, 1988, p. 50).

Scene 6 = Master finally reviews the vineyard he finds the fruit good and no more corrupt. "Such a period of peace and bounteous harvest could correspond to the Millennium" (Swiss, 1988, p. 50).

Scene 7 = Master refers to time when evil will come into the vineyard again.... and he will separate the good from the evil, "...like the final cleansing of the earth" (Swiss, 1988, p. 50).

Just as Swiss discovered as he researched the allegory, it is "...not so much a story about trees, branches, grafting, and fruit as a wonderful witness of the messiahship of Christ and his love for mankind" (Swiss, 1998, p. 50).

So, what did you learn? What stood out to you? Don't all these insights make you want to go back and read it again to gleam some more. I'm so grateful for Zenos, Jacob, Mormon, and Joseph Smith for their efforts in writing and preserving and translating this allegory as beautiful way of teaching about our history, the need for our current righteousness, and for what's to come.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jacob 4

I hope it's ok that I post today. I have another busy day tomorrow and I don't want to forget!
Summary: All the prophets worshipped the Father in the name of Christ—Abraham’s offering of Isaac was in similitude of God and his Only Begotten—Men should reconcile themselves to God through the atonement—The Jews shall reject the foundation stone.

I love this chapter! The first section reminds me of the importance of keeping a journal:
3 Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.
They knew the importance of engraving upon the plates so their children could learn from them and know of their testimonies. Our children will want to read our journals. When I write in my journal, I think to myself, I want Brooklynn to read this and know how much I love her, and that I have a testimony.

Verses 6 and 7 teach some very powerful principles:
6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
7 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.

We can learn from the teachings of prophets, both in ancient times and in modern times. I love that he testifies that we can have such great faith that we can move mountains. I try to keep that in mind when I doubt the small things, or when my faith is lacking in general. I remind myself: If God has the power to move mountains, then surely He can help me with this. Sometimes it is so easy to doubt. But it is important to hold on to the miracles that occur in our lives everyday, to help remind us when we are having doubts. Heavenly Father will answer our prayers and fasts; we just have to have the faith to wait and that He will answer in His own way and time. Verse 7 brings an interesting perspective: Being aware of our own weaknesses helps us appreciate the miracles. How many times have you been lifted up beyond your own ability and strength? I know this has happened with me many times.

Verses 11 and 12 also teach some great principles:
11 Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.
12 And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?

In these verses, we are reminded that it is thru Christ that we are made perfect both physically and spiritually. We would be nothing without Christ, and we would have nothing to look forward to in the next life without Christ. He gave us the gifts of eternal life and forgiveness. I also love that we are encouraged to learn of Christ, to increase our testimony of Christ. That is something I constantly feel the need to work on because sometimes I forget His significance in my life. He has given us so much--more than we can fathom right now. But I hope to gain a greater understanding and testimony of His love for us and His mission. We owe all we have to Christ, and we must never forget that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Subtle Prompting

Do you ever have those experiences...those times that make you wonder how many promptings you really do receive during the day.....and also make you wonder how many you actually listen to? One happened to me yesterday.

We were in a rush to get to early morning church. My husband had to give a talk, and I had to participate in a musical number with the primary. We both wanted to be there a little early so we were getting ready as fast as we could. At the church, I stopped to practice my song, and my husband ran to sit on the stand.

Our practice was over just as church was about to begin. I hurried into the chapel and realized that I had not arranged for someone to take care of my baby while I went up for the musical number. But I spotted a young couple sitting on the side. An empty bench was open in front of them. They did not have any children, and we were only aquaintances, but I felt like I could ask her to hold my baby.

I whispered of my favor to her just as the meeting started. She responded with, "I'd love to." As the meeting progressed, I noticed that her husband's arm was around her and she was crying. I felt bad. It seemd to be a sad cry. I wondered about my request and if it was appropriate, but I felt like everything would be okay.

The time for the musical number came and she reached out for the baby. Her and her husband played and laughed with him through the song. She had a big smile on her face when she handed him back.

Then fast-forward. After all of our meetings were over, I ran into her and thanked her for holding him during Sacrament meeting. She told me that she was very grateful that I had asked her. She told me that she has been struggling with fertility issues, so has just started to get help from a doctor. All signs were pointing toward success and they were pretty sure that she had been able to be pregnant. Then, she found out just before she came to church, that she was not. She said she was very emotional because it was Mother's Day. She then told me that holding my baby was exactly what she needed and how grateful she was that I had asked her. She said that it was wonderful and really helped her. We both hugged and cried. I was grateful for the simple prompting to ask her for that favor...and didn't even realize that indeed it was a subtle prompting. I felt very grateful and very blessed.

Jacob Ch. 2

Read it HERE

Summary: Jacob denounces the love of riches, pride, and unchastity--Men should seek riches to help their fellow men--Jacob condemns the unauthorized practice of plural marriage--The Lord delights in the chastity of women.

This chapter talks a lot about the people's desire for riches due to--what else--pride! I think pride is one of those things, that, by its very nature, gives us reason to automatically think, "oh, that is a problem other people have". Do you ever feel yourself begin to think this? I do! But remembering to keep our pride in check is so, so important. N. Eldon Tanner pointed out that Satan's great sin was pride. He also says:

"... If individuals are more concerned with pleasing men than pleasing God, then they suffer from the same virus Satan had, for there are many situations where seeking the praise of men will clearly result in their hurting, not helping, mankind for they will do expedient and temporary things instead of those which are lasting and beneficial.

"How much more satisfying it is when we receive the praise of God, knowing that it is fully justified and that his love and respect for us will persist, when usually the praise of men is fleeting and most disappointing” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1975, p.115; or Ensign Nov. 1975, 76)."

Now, I don't think we need to go comparing ourselves to Satan, but we can take notice of how far his pride made him fall. It is very sobering to me to think of it this way.

The Institute manual points out something interesting with regard to pride and riches. It says:

Two basic relationships help determine our attitude toward spiritual and material things—

a. Our relationship with God. If we turn our hearts away from God, the things of the world become our top priority. This is why Paul called covetousness “idolatry” (see Ephesians 5:5 , Colossians 3:5 ).

b. Our relationship with our fellowmen. If we lose sight of the brotherhood of men, our desire for material wealth can lead us to such sins as dishonesty, covetousness, and neglect of the poor.

I heard a talk a while ago in Sacrament meeting where the speaker addressed the problem of pride. He pointed out that pride is not taking pleasure in having something--it is taking pleasure in having more of something than others, whether money, beauty, intelligence, or talent. That really rang true with me. Isn't that the root cause of so many problems we have in this world?

Verse 13 says, ". . .because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they."

So how does this apply to me? Well, it is easy to feel a different kind of pride--the pride from the bottom--when I see someone who might be doing something I know is not in accordance with her beliefs. For instance, Joel and I were at the Temple on Saturday, and we saw someone walk out in a dress that was a few inches above her knee. He commented on it, and I wanted to. Suddenly I was struck with how wrong that was. We were showing (perhaps) the most common form of pride!

Natalie, I remember you writing about texting during the end of Stake Conference and leaving during the closing song because of your sick children. If you have the time, could you post that here? That was such a great post, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

Jacob 1

I feel bad for the delay. Sorry! I need to make this one short.

This chapter really feels like a lot of my journal entries after long delays, "So I had a great semester in school, oh and I met this great guy and we dated, and oh, now we're married!" Okay, maybe not quite, but you can tell that Jacob is running out of room on the plates and is trying to summarize the history of the last 55 or so years into this one chapter so he can use the rest of his space to record spiritual matters. He really emphasizes the responsibility he feels to preach the gospel to his people. That is a theme that I've noted before in the book of Jacob. He really feels that if he doesn't do his absolute best to preach to his people and magnify his calling, then their sins will be on him.

In v. 15-16 he mentions the main struggles of the people--they are taking many wives and concubines, they are obsessed with riches, and they are growing very prideful. These are issues that he goes into much greater detail in the next chapter.

I took away two things from this chapter:

1. I am not limited in space. I can take up as much room as I need in my journal or on my comptuter in order to record my life and history. I also can use the space to talk about spiritual and temporal matters. I am not as restricted as Jacob was. So I really need to keep a regular journal, and make sure to record my spiritual insights and experiences as well as day-to-day life. I think that things of a spiritual nature may be of more worth to my descendants than temporal things.

2. Jacob feels incredible responsibility towards his people to preach the gospel. I need to cultivate my testimony and desire to spread the gospel so that I can be as diligent as he was. We are reluctant to think about it sometimes, but we do bear a responsibility to the people that we know and love to share the gospel with them.

It's nice to enter a new phase of the Book of Mormon. Have a nice week!


Friday, May 8, 2009

2 Nephi 33

Read it HERE

Summary: Nephi’s words are true—They testify of Christ—Those who believe in Christ will believe Nephi’s words—They shall stand as a witness before the judgment bar. Between 559 and 545 B.C.

Verse 1 always gets me. Nephi tells that he's not mighty in writing. But I find his writings rather "mighty" and inspiring. What an incredible prophet and what an incredible book of scriptures he wrote! Although, as he explains, it is different just writing your words down rather than actually being able to speak them. Nephi tells of how when a person speaks, then the Holy Ghost is able to carry the words into the hearts of the listeners. Well, I think that Nephi's writings are pretty inspiring. I wonder what it would have been like to LISTEN to him. Maybe one day...

I'm also touched by verse 3. He says that he continually prays for his people and his eyes water his pillow at night. Can you imagine how other people in leadership positions feel? What about President Monson? I know that I have had my own teensy weensy experience in a calling that truly helped me to care for a few people. I WAS constantly praying for them, and I did cry for them. I cannot imagine how that would be on such a larger scale. Yet, isn't that neat to know? Isn't it neat to stop and think that you are probably being prayed for each night? Whether it is your parents, your auxillary leaders, your bishop, your stake president, the prophet?

Verse 10
And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

I thought about how an investigator would read this verse as they are reading the Book of Mormon for the first time. Right now they might not know if they believe the Book of Mormon to be true. They might not know if they believe Nephi. But here Nephi explains that if they believe in Christ, then that means they aslo believe these words in the scriptures, for they truly are the words of Christ.

And it's the same with us. If we believe in Christ, then we believe that the gospel is true. If we believe that the gospel is true, then we believe it was restored in these latter days through Joseph Smith. And if we believe that, then we believe that the Book of Mormon is true too!

And Nephi ends his words "as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2 Nephi 32

Read it

Summary: Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost—Men must pray and gain knowledge for themselves from the Holy Ghost. Between 559 and 545 B.C.

Wow, it seems that my "assigned" chapter for the week is always perfect for me, for that time. I LOVED this chapter because of its sweet simplicity. It's a short one, but its poignant. The main topic/doctrine is: PRAYER. In my patriarchal blessing it states: "Prayer is one of the most repeated commandments our Father has given us to keep us safe and to ward off the fiery darts of the adversary. Forget not to pray." Nephi is reminding us in this chapter, the power and purpose of prayer and the pattern of the Holy Ghost's enlightenment.

I love how the chapter begins speaking of pondering. I think this is how all prayer and revelation and communications with the Lord should and do begin. We think and review ideas and thoughts in our mind before we verbally express them to others or before we begin searching for answers/clarification. The pattern continues with speaking (as with the tongue of an angel), feasting upon the words of Christ (which tell you all things what ye should do), then asking (knocking).... then the Holy Ghost will show (or confirm) unto you all things what ye should do. The simple pattern of personal revelation is thus:
1- ponder
2- pray (speak)
3- feast (read/study)
4- act
5- pray again (ask)
6- listen (for confirmation from Holy Ghost)

The doctrine of personal revelation, as explained in verse 6:
6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall
amanifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.

What a simply beautiful passage and reminder of how to pray and seek answers. In verse 7 Nephi expresses remorse over the actions of men (their unbelief, wickedness, ignorance, stiffneckedness, etc.). Sound familiar? Yet, he concludes with a powerful summation of the doctrine of prayer:

...For if ye would hearken unto the aSpirit which teacheth a man to bpray ye would know that ye must cpray; for the devil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.
9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must apray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall bpray unto the Father in the cname of Christ, that he will dconsecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the ewelfare of thy soul.

Pray Always Sisters

2 Nephi 31

Sorry for the delay! I have been super busy with school!

Nephi tells why Christ was baptized—Men must follow Christ, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end to be saved—Repentance and baptism are the gate to the strait and narrow path—Eternal life comes to those who keep the commandments after baptism. Between 559 and 545 B.C.

I love this chapter! This chapter is about Christ being baptized by John the Baptist. Nephi teaches a very important principle in this chapter:
5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

I can't help but feel an immense appreciation for Christ and His perfect example to us and love for us. I also can't help but feel so unworthy when I read of this. He was perfect in every way. Still, He had to be baptized. I can't help but realize how much I need to improve, how much I need to grow. I am so far from the bar that Heavenly Father has set for me because I have grown lazy. Yet, He has not given up on me. He is still encouraging me in all that I do. I have so much to learn before I reach my potential.
Two of my favorite verses are at the end of this chapter:
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

Nephi has given us the way whereby we might be saved at the last day. We must endure to the end. This life was not given to us so that we could give up. It was given to us so we could learn and grow, and become perfect, even as Christ is perfect. We must "feast upon the words of Christ." Do not take the scriptures for granted. They are there to help us. We should read them everyday. You never know when you will come across something that will help you. What if you miss it because you did not take the time to study your scriptures? The scriptures are full of Christ's teachings and manifestations of His love for us. They can improve our attitude, as I have seen first hand. They can make our whole day better. They can answer questions. "Feast upon the words of Christ." "Endure to the end."


Monday, May 4, 2009

2 Nephi Ch. 29

Read it HERE.

Summary: Many gentiles shall reject the Book of Mormon--They shall say: We need no more Bible--The Lord speaks to many nations--He will judge the world out of the books thus written.

This chapter is interesting, because it is sort of a little blip about how this book we're reading is 1) God-ordained, 2) For our benefit, 3) About His children, and 4) Our responsibility to study. I certainly came away from this chapter with a renewed dedication to my scripture study. Did you? I am so grateful for all of you and for your help with this goal.

Verse 8 was interesting to me: "Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God?"

When I read this, my first instinct was to think something like, "Well, I don't murmur about having this book. I know it's from God. It's a good thing this verse is in here for all those other people who need to hear this." Do any of you have thoughts like this? But then I realized. . .all those excuses I make--I'm tired, I'm busy, I haven't paid attention to Joel all day, I won't be able to concentrate if I read now--well, isn't this a form of murmuring? Isn't that another way to say that I am not grateful to have this book?

I think too often I wait until I really feel I have a fire going under me to motivate me to read. I think sometimes I really want to feel that burning desire to read all night long and into the day, as we hear some people talk about. But I think the fact is, those stories are so noteworthy because they are so rare! I think our true devotion and gratitude is shown by our being willing to make time for scripture study when it is not convenient, when it is difficult, or when we just plain don't feel like it (my most frequent reason).

Another verse I found interesting was verse 11. It talks about the Book of Life. Remember the Book of Life vaguely from seminary? It isn't something that comes up very regularly in church. I looked it up to see what the Bible Dictionary has to say (I love this resource), and this is what I found:

In one sense the book of life is the sum total of one’s thoughts and actions - the record of his life. However, the scriptures indicate that a heavenly record is kept of the faithful, whose names are recorded, as well as an account of their righteous deeds (D&C 88: 2; D&C 128: 7).

This makes it a little less abstract for me. My first thought when I read this was: Is my name in this book? If it isn't, what should I be doing to ensure that it is? What should I be teaching my children so they can live their lives worthily? Heavenly Father commands His children to record His words. Why? I think this is because this way we can remember to live by them.

In verse 13, it is shown that the Nephites and the Jews will have each other's words. (Check--this is happening now) But it also says that the words of the lost tribes of Israel shall be given to us, and that they will have our words as well. What do you think about this? Robert J. Matthews says this:

"There will also be “other” books in the last days that will prove that “the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true.” These last records, the product of latter-day revelation, “shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away” from the Bible through the centuries, “and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world. …” (1 Ne. 13:39–40.) (1973 May Ensign)

So, perhaps this is happening now? These are amazing times. These are wicked times, but so much good is happening as well.

To wrap-up: We have two nations witnessing of Christ. We have records being made of our righteousness. We have prophets continuing to give us the word of God.

We have the Book of Mormon as a companion to the Bible. While some may claim this isn't necessary; the Bible contains all the truth, we know that it is an invaluable resource. But we also know that it is good. It isn't always quantifiable, but it is there. We know that it is good. I know that it is good.

How do you know that it is good? I will answer in the comments, but I'd be interested in hearing what about the Book of Mormon is a testament to you of its divinity.

Just What I Need!

Hey everyone, did you know that the institute student manuals are online? I didn't know that. I mean, it makes complete sense, but I had no idea (until now) that they were out there. I'm so excited to have something help me disect the chapters in the Book of Mormon. I feel like my own knowledge is not enough. So here you go!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

2 Nephi 28

Before I begin this post I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Adam, and I am Tori's husband. She is away this weekend to attend a wedding reception, and has asked that I guest write her post this week.

Now without further ado - 2 Nephi 28!

Chapter Introduction and Summary

Many false churches shall be built up in the last days—They shall teach false and vain and foolish doctrines—Apostasy shall abound because of false teachers—The devil shall rage in the hearts of men—He shall teach all manner of false doctrines. Between 559 and 545 B.C.

This chapter is a continuation of a prophesy of Nephi. Note that he is only writing "according as the Spirit hath constrained [him]." Along with the chapters surrounding it, it is obvious that this chapter has direct reference to our day. It is easy to say that the entire Book of Mormon deals with our day, but these chapters make specific reference to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ (with such specific references as the coming forth of the Book of Mormon). Every time I read through this chapter, it is always striking how Nephi  with the spirit of prophesy — describes the religious condition of the world so accurately.

This was always a favorite chapter of mine during my mission. Nephi, who glories "in plainness," gives us extremely direct warnings and counsel.

False and Misleading Doctrine

Think about what some of the most misleading doctrines in the world are. How often are they taught, or how many times have you heard them from those excusing themselves from sin? Nephi tells us several, that I have found to be the most pervasive  and destructive  doctrines to the soul.

1. God has changed. Verse 5-6 refer to how God has changed the way he works with His children. He no longer (a) needs to direct the affairs of His church or the world and (b) is a god of miracles.

A theory that has been bounced around through the centuries is that God is the great clockmaker. He made the world, and all things that in it are, gave us precepts, and then let it us go (much as a clockmaker makes and sets a clock, and then just lets is run). While I believe this theory may make sense in the case with regards to the laws of nature (e.g. the Earth orbiting the Sun), the Lord, who has numbered "even the hairs of your head" cares far too much for His children than to let us solely to our own, imperfect, devices. Claiming that God, "hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men," is to deny revelation, priesthood, and all the works of God. This may be a comfort for those who see no need for additional light and truth, or for the need of ordinances, but the scriptures and the prophets have made it abundantly clear that the Lord does care for us, and that he does wish to be an active part of our lives.

The claim that God is not a god of miracles is best addressed by Mormon who taught,  
" And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

" And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust."

2. Eat drink and be merry... This, I believe, is the most popular (and possible most dangerous) on the list.  How often do we hear, "you only live once!" While this declaration may have a wonderful impact on your live (e.g. not procrastinating) it can also have dire consequences. If the saying is true, "... for tomorrow we die," my question is: why do you want to meet your Heavenly Father in the rags of sin? If you were called into his presence now, would you not want to be as pure as you can and receive your eternal reward, and by be tainted by the pleasure of your short-lived sin?

The more dangerous variation on this theme is, "eat, drink, and be merry, nevertheless fear God." I once had the opportunity of speaking with a friend about the law of chastity. I asked her if she were willing to have premarital sex. She acknowledged that it was a sin, but said that she'd be willing for the "right" guy.  When I asked her about the contradictory nature of her statements, she responded that God will forgive sins. This absolutely astonished me! Here was a devout christian who told me that she could, fully understanding, enter sin and expect immediate forgiveness. More than shock, however, was my sadness that she did not understand the nature of the atonement, nor the repentance process. Yes, God can (and does!) forgive sin, but it requires repentance, which is much harder for those who sin with the idea, "why not? I can always repent tomorrow."

Just a thought, how often have you heard the scripture, "men are that they might have joy," be used improperly?

3. Contentment. What's wrong with this statement, "All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth?" It seems like a declaration that Zion is being properly established? Why should all not be well in Zion? I believe the reason behind this statement is the underlying sentiment it gives: because all is well in Zion, we may sit back and enjoy our laurels (no, not our 17 year old sisters). With a sense of contentment, there is no drive to improve. Since we are all imperfect beings working toward becoming more like our Father in Heaven, why should be ever stand still? Why should we ever be content in our present circumstances? We need to always have a proactive attitude toward building Zion. Is all well in Zion if there is a single less-active member in our ward? Is all well in Zion if were are not all attending the temple as frequently as we can? Think about how Zion can be improved in your families, wards, and stakes and never be content with the status quo.


The last major warning that Nephi gives us is the underlying theme of the entire chapter, that men are puffing themselves up. They are teaching their own ideas and theories as doctrine, and are setting aside the teachings and wisdom of God. This is not a new concept. Pride is the root of all sin. In stead of my views on this, however, I will direct you to one of the greatest sermons of our time by President Ezra Taft Benson entitled, "Beware of Pride." I encourage you to prayerfully read this general conference address and see how you can remove more pride from your life.

Repentance and Judgment

With all of these warnings to us, it is easy to loose track of another lesson Nephi devotes 2 verses two: that the Lord is loves His children and is merciful unto all men. While we are under commandment to abstain from all unrighteousness (more than abstain but to, "be ye perfect") He understands that we will not be perfect. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Golgotha, we may repent and become, "white as snow." It is our duty, however, to initiate this process. While repentance may be difficult, remember that the Lord's, "arm is lengthened out all the day long."


Nephi has seen our day, and he has given us this warning, to avoid all false doctrines. It is up to us to receive it, not only in our minds, but also in our hearts. The best way to avoid these doctrines is to fill you mind with truth, and engrave it upon, "the fleshy tablets of [our] hearts." As we read from the scriptures, and embrace the words of the prophets, we will be directed by the Holy Spirit in the right direction. The Lord has not left us to ourselves, but is willing to reveal His will to any who is prepared and seeks to know it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

2 Nephi 27

Read it HERE.

Summary: Darkness and apostasy shall cover the earth in the last days—The Book of Mormon shall come forth—Three witnesses shall testify of the book—The learned man cannot read the sealed book—The Lord shall do a marvelous work and a wonder—Compare Isaiah 29. Between 559 and 545 B.C.

Verses 1-5: Darkness and apostacy shall cover the earth in the last days.

Verses 5-14: The Book of Mormon shall come forth -Three witnesses testify - Words of the book are sealed.

Wow, there is A LOT to this chapter, and some amazing prophecies. If you don't mind, I'm just going to talk about one that I think is incredibly neat. Let's read these verses first.

15 But behold, it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall say unto him to whom he shall deliver the book: Take these words which are not sealed and deliver them to another, that he may show them unto the learned, saying: Read this, I pray thee. And the learned shall say: Bring hither the book, and I will read them.

16 And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God.

17 And the man shall say: I cannot bring the book, for it is sealed.

18 Then shall the learned say: I cannot read it.

19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will adeliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.

Now, to explain these verses, I would like to quote LeGrand Richards:

Can you find a fulfillment of that anywhere in this world like when Martin Harris took copies of the hieroglyphics from the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated to Professor Anthon in New York? When Professor Anthon had given a certificate to say that the translation was correct, he wanted Martin Harris to bring the plates and let him translate them. Martin Harris said, “They are sealed.” The professor repeated the very words that Isaiah spoke thousands of years ago: “I cannot read a sealed book.” That is what I mean when I say that if the prophecies, as Peter indicated, are not of private interpretation, then no one else in the world can interpret these prophecies of Isaiah in his twenty-ninth chapter.

Then he goes on in this same chapter, after saying that the vision of all—that is the vision of all that he saw about this people and its destruction and the coming forth of their record, speaking out of the dust—would have a familiar spirit. I gave a copy of the Book of Mormon to the treasurer in the Presbyterian Church back in New Bedford, Massachusetts, when I was doing missionary work there. When he had about finished reading it, I said, “As you read that book, did it occur to you that anyone could have written the contents of that book to deceive people?”
“Oh,” he said, “Mr. Richards, when I read that book, I get the same spiritual uplift that I get when I read the New Testament.”

Isn’t that what Isaiah meant when he said that it should have a familiar spirit?
Then he goes on in that same chapter to say, “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book [What book? The Book of Mormon], and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” (Isa. 29:18.)

Isaiah didn’t understand way back in his day of his own wisdom the theory of braille that makes it possible for the blind to read the words of the book.

Then Isaiah says in that same chapter, “Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isa. 29:13–14.)

I bear you my solemn witness as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ that we have that marvelous work and a wonder. These prophecies to which I have referred, no one else in all this world could interpret them if we will take them in the spirit in which they were written.
May God help us to share the marvelous truths that have come to us in this dispensation through the restoration of the gospel and our knowledge of the holy scriptures, I pray, and leave you my love and blessing, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Incredible, isn't it? Isaiah prophecied, over 2300 years before it happened, that the learned man would say, "I cannot read a sealed book." I find that quite amazing.