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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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Alma 26

Ammon glories in the Lord—The faithful are strengthened by the Lord and are given knowledge—By faith men may bring thousands of souls unto repentance—God has all power and comprehendeth all things. Between 90 and 77 B.C.

1 And now, these are the words of Ammon to his brethren, which say thus: My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we astarted from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?

I love this chapter. I love how joyful Ammon sounds. They have been missionaries and instruments in the hand of the Lord and now they are seeing the fruits of their labors.

I mean, they converted the Lamanites! No one thought that was possible.

8 aBlessed be the name of our God; let us bsing to his praise, yea, let us give cthanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever.
9 For if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla, these our dearly beloved brethren, who have so dearly beloved us, would still have been racked with ahatred against us, yea, and they would also have been bstrangers to God.

And as Ammon said these words, isn't it interesting that Aaron said something like, "Hey Ammon, I'm afraid that your joy is turning into boasting."

But Ammon explained to him that he is just so full of joy and has so much desire to glory in the Lord, and to rejoice in God.

12 Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in his dstrength I can do all ethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of ahell; and they are brought to bsing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?
14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the achains of hell.

I love how as he continues he points out, who can glory too much in the Lord? It is so true. Have you had one of those kinds of experiences in your life? Ones where you feel so blessed, have witnessed a miracle, experienced forgiveness, or just feel joy in the plan? It's those times when maybe we can get a glimpse of what Ammon felt. For in those moments, we cannot glory too much in the Lord.

And as I read verses 28 through 31, the thought came to me as to how we can apply this into our own lives. What these men went through was so hard, so inspiring, so long, painful at times, discouraging, etc. Yet, they worked and perservered because they knew that something could come out of it in the end. In a way, that is a lesson to us in our own lives. Sometimes we have to go through really hard things to get to the really good things. Sometimes we have to perservere for years and years with the faith and the hope that one day, we will reap a reward. Life can be just as difficult. We may "suffer all manner of afflictions." We may be "cast out" and "mocked." But behold the fruits of our labors will be many! I guess that's what it means about enduring to the end!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Alma 24

I need to apologize to everyone for missing the last two weeks. Our brand new computer crashed after a month! So we have been without a computer until now. I have missed so much! I am so sorry! Here is my chapter for the week.

Summary: The Lamanites come against the people of God—The Anti-Nephi-Lehies rejoice in Christ and are visited by angels—They choose to suffer death rather than to defend themselves—More Lamanites are converted. Between 90 and 77 B.C.

This chapter tells an amazing story of faith. Basically, The Anti-Nephi-Lehies refuse to take up arms in defense of themselves against their enemies. As I read this chapter, I kept thinking: when have I ever valued something so much that I was willing to sacrifice everything? These men showed tremendous faith in the Savior. After their many sins, they were forgiven, and they never doubted that they could be forgiven for the unthinkable things they did. They showed how important the Atonement was to them, and they showed their love for Christ by covenanting never to take up arms again, even if it meant laying down their lives. They had seen the dark side and refused to go back, no matter the cost. They had tasted of forgiveness and righteousness and valued those things above their own lives. They wanted to be able to meet Heavenly Father on the other side of the veil with clean, pure hearts. And they did just that. The other miracle in this story is the conversion of thousands of Lamanaites upon seeing their enemies in prayer to God as they were being slain. I love how it is stated:
27 And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many aways to the salvation of his people.
This just goes to show that these men understood the bigger picture. Their sacrificed lives saved more than 1000 souls, including their own. This is one of the strongest examples of putting the Lord first I have come across. Nothing was more important than showing their devotion to their God, not even their own lives. It just makes me realize how far I have to go before I reach that point. This chapter was such an incredible testiment to me. What a beautiful plan Heavenly Father has in store for us.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alma 23

Religious freedom is proclaimed—The Lamanites in seven lands and cities are converted—They call themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehies and are freed from the curse—The Amalekites and the Amulonites reject the truth.

After the king of the Lamanites is converted, not only does he proclaim religious freedom on the lands he rules, but he he also proclaims that no one should lay their hangs on Ammon, Aaron, Omner or Himni. It is decreed that no one should put them in prison, spit on them, smite them, cast stones at them or cast them out of their places of worship, but that they should have free access to the peoples homes, temples and sanctuaries. The king does all in his power to clear the way for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be taught. What a missionaries dream! (I would think!)

The Lamanites in 7 cities are converted. And in verse 6 we read, "... yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away." Which is absolutely incredible!

But we learn that the Amalekites and Amulonites (Nephites who fell away from the Church and joined up with the Lamanites) were not converted. "...but they hardened their hearts, and also the hearts of the Lamanites in that part of the land wheresoever they dwelt..."  So, not only were these rebellious Nephites a problem for the Nephites, but their hard hearts were a canker sore for the progression of the gospel among the Lamanites as well.  It's like they are poison. How is it that so many have accepted the Truth, yet they refuse to be humble and believe the truth!? Pride truly is the downfall of man.

in verse 16 we learn that "the king and those who were converted were desirous that they might have a name, that thereby they might be distinguished from their brethren..." and we learn that they decided on the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi "and they were no more called Lamanites."

"And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Alma Ch. 22

Read it HERE.

Aaron teaches Lamoni’s father about the creation, the fall of Adam, and the plan of redemption through Christ—The king and all his household are converted—How the land was divided between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Between 90 and 77 B.C.

This is one of my favorite stories from the Book of Mormon. I always wonder what it would have been like to be there when some of these great teachings happened.

King Lamoni's father had heard of the "generosity and greatness" of Aaron's brother Ammon, so when Aaron came, he immediately asked Aaron to teach him. This must have taken Aaron by surprise--he went there asking to be the King's servant, and was instead asked to begin teaching.

Here is some good background information, taken from the Institute manual:

Aaron needed some common understanding from which to start teaching the gospel to King Lamoni’s father. The Lamanites believed in a Great Spirit who had created all things (see Alma 22:11 ), so Aaron began with this basic principle in teaching the king.

Concerning the Lamanite’s belief in the Great Spirit, Elder BruceR. McConkie said: “According to Lamanite traditions, God is the Great Spirit . It is obvious that by this designation the Lamanites had in mind a personal being, for King Lamoni mistakenly supposed that Ammon was the Great Spirit. (
Alma 18:2–28 ; 19:25–27 .) Both Ammon and Aaron, using the same principle of salesmanship applied by Paul on Mars Hill ( Acts 17:22–31 ), taught that the Great Spirit was the God who created the heavens and the earth. ( Alma 18:8–29 ; 22:8–11 .)” ( Mormon Doctrine, p.340).

When Aaron begins talking with King Lamoni's Father about God, King Lamoni's Father almost immediately trusts what he says:

"And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe."

They go on to discuss who God is, what Christ's mission is, and the Plan of Redemption. Aaron must have been thrilled that King Lamoni's Father believed him so readily. What a person to convert! This is a King over an enormous kingdom.

But my favorite, favorite part of this whole chapter is the King's prayer. I cannot imagine a prayer that is more child-like and full of honest faith than this one.

He begins by asking Aaron "What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy. "

Then, when Aaron tells him to pray for forgiveness of his sins, the King throws himself on the ground and cries,

"O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day."

This makes me teary each time I read it because it is inspiring to read what this man is willing to do in order to gain Eternal Life. He is King of many lands and could probably have anything he wanted, but he realized that true happiness comes from following the Lord. Am I willing to give up all my sins? Am I willing to give up my "favorite" sins, the ones I have the hardest time getting the motivation to keep from committing? WHAT am I willing to do? Am I willing to do enough?

After this prayer, the King falls down under the power of the Lord. His wife discovers what looks like his lifeless body and asks that the servants slay Aaron. They shrink away because they fear his power. Aaron knows the nature of the people, and knows they would do him harm and become unteachable if they thought Aaron killed their king, so he extends his hand to the King and asks him to stand.

The King does, the people are amazed, his whole household is converted, and the King sends out a proclamation throughout the entire land.

What a blessing! We know, of course, that these people become some of the most righteous people in the Book of Mormon, and this happens all because Aaron teaches one man, and does it with the power of the Lord.

This chapter gives me a lot to think about. What did you find especially touching in this chapter?


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Alma 17

I love this story! I was able to tell it in my CTR 5 Primary class 2 weeks ago... and got the 2 boys in my class all fired up about it! It was so fun!

Then reading it yesterday, it just all made perfect sense to me how important service is, and how directly it is linked to the gospel of Jesus Christ! I'm getting ahead of myself...  that's in the next few chapters... :D

We don't hear about the Sons of Mosiah until Alma runs into them on his way to Manti, and they are on their way to Zarahemla.

I found it interesting that "they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites" v.4. Fourteen Years! It makes me wonder if they left behind sweethearts in Zarahemla before they left or possibly among the Lamanites...? Do you think any of them started families? I bet they did.  Fourteen years is a long time.

My favorite quote in this chapter is in verse 11, the last part. "... I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." I want to be an instrument!!!

When the Sons of Mosiah reach the borders of the land of the Lamanites, they go their separate ways "...trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of the harvest..." (v13).

I could go on and on about the faith they must have had! I'd like to think that their mom had something to do with that faith... ;)

Let's move onto Ammon's story...

Read it HERE. Verses 18-39. To summarize,

Ammon goes to the land of Ishmael. He is bound and taken to the king of the land - King Lamoni. King Lamoni asks Ammon if he wants to stay in Ishmael or return to the Nephites, and Ammon tells him that his desire is to dwell among the Lamanites perhaps until the day he dies. This (for some reason) makes King Lamoni so happy that he offers Ammon one of his daughters as a wife.  Ammon responds, "Nay, but I will be thy servant." 

This says a lot about Ammon, instead of taking a princess for a wife he would rather be a servant. Like is earlier decision to not become the Nephite king, he would rather be a missionary. He knew what was most important on an eternal scale.

Ammon works with other servants, watching the kings sheep. While they are "watering" their sheep, other Lamanites scatter the kings sheep. The servants Ammon is working with murmur and even cry because they feared being slain by the king like previous servants had been when the flocks were scattered. Ammon takes this opportunity to show what he is capable of. He tells them not to worry and they gather the sheep together and preserve the flocks so the king wont slay them. The "bad" Lamanites try to scatter the flock again, but the servants encircle them while Ammon goes to contend with these men...

It is written that "they were in number not a few. "

35 "Therefore, they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that He would deliver his sons out of their hands..."

36 But aAmmon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a bcertain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they ccould not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him.

  37 But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm.

  38 Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he aslew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few.

  39 And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done.

Come back for the rest of the story!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Alma Ch. 16

Read it HERE.

Summary: The Lamanites destroy the people of Ammonihah—Zoram leads the Nephites to victory over the Lamanites—Alma and Amulek and many others preach the word—They teach that after his resurrection Christ will appear to the Nephites. About 81—78 B.C.

This week I checked the Book of Mormon Institute manual to see what it said about this chapter. I found an interesting paragraph discussing the destructino of Ammonihah, which takes up the first half of this chapter:

"We are told that “Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people of the city of Ammonihah” ( Alma 8:9 ). In spite of the powerful preaching of Alma and Amulek and the conversion of Zeezrom and others, the majority of the people rejected their last chance for averting destruction, putting to death those who had been converted. In their wickedness, the people haughtily told Alma, “We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in one day” ( Alma 9:4 ). Alma 16:1–11 tells how this mocking taunt was literally fulfilled and the people were utterly destroyed in one day.

You know what I was thinking when I read about the Amonihahites? That when we have the wrong attitude, it is easy to forget the Lord. It is easy to forget how much He helps us in our lives, and how much of what we have is because of Him. However, I have found that when I have the correct attitude, it is much easier to remember the Lord in my day-to-day life. Usually this attitude comes around when I have been doing things to invite His presence, such as reading the scriptures or trying to be mindful of him.

One (very) small thing I've started doing that helps me remember how grateful I am to Him is when I say the blessing on the food, I specifically thank Him for providing us with the food, rather than just saying "we thank thee". It is only a difference in semantics, but it helps me personally to really remember who the food came from, and it always gets me thinking about the other little things I usually forget to acknowledge.

What do you do to acknowledge the Lord in your lives? What do you do to help your children remember the Lord? What ideas would you like to implement?


I had one other major thought with this chapter. The second half talks about how Alma, Amulek, and many others continue to preach to the people, reminding them of Christ and their continual need for repentance.

These verses really stood out to me:

13 And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews.

14 And as many as would hear their words, unto them they did impart the word of God, without any
respect of persons, continually.

These verses shout to me about missionary work. I think about the opportunities I have to do missionary work here in Indiana, and it is a little overwhelming. We are attending a deeply religious school, and I am surrounded by very pious people. They love their religion. They feel the Spirit on a regular basis. "What do I have to offer them?" I wonder.

But I have realized that my goal should be to keep an open conversation about spiritual matters, our churches, and the gospel, rather than looking for ways to sneak the first discussion in over lunch. I have made friends with a very religious Catholic woman, and she and I have a great time discussing religion. I try to talk to her the way I would talk to a Mormon friend (taking care to use terms she is used to) even mentioning things like how I'm trying a new scripture study program.

And you know what? It's been really easy. I think it helps all of us to see that we're not so different from each other.

But what about if we are already surrounded by practicing saints? What then? What kind of missionary work can we even do? Many of the non-members in areas with a high concentration of Mormons are already familiar with the Church's teachings, as well as the church members' missionary "tactics" :).

Elder Eyring talks about his father's many scientific lectures in which he discussed a "Creator" and other things many of his associates would scoff at. Elder Eyring commented,

"He had not even known that he was being brave. He simply said what he knew was true. When he bore testimony, even those who rejected it knew it came not by design but because it was part of him. He was what he was, wherever he was."

So, what I learn from this is to be who I am, wherever I am. This takes practice, and sometimes this takes courage, but it is important, not only for non-members, but to encourage each other in the Church.

Consider also these thoughts from the Giles H. Florence's article in the 1987 Ensign:

"Missionary work is merely an assignment to share love—the Savior’s love. Activation work is merely missionary work among the Saints. Both bring eternal blessings to those who give as well as to those who receive. It takes great love to be a giver. Then the receivers become givers, and the love continues on."
"Passing on the blessings. That’s what the Church is about,” says Vicki. “We receive from one person and pass the blessings on to another. Sometimes we can even give back the good that a person has done for us." --Giles H. Florence Jr., “Links in the Chain of Good,” Ensign, Feb 1987, 15

We, as church members, still need to be edified. We still need to teach each other. We still need to "bear one another's burdens." We still need to feel love from our fellow saints, so we can remember why we believe what we do, and that it makes us happy.

If uplifting each other isn't missionary work--a very important kind of missionary work--then I don't know what is.

The opportunities are always here. Our responsibility for serving others and doing missionary work never wanes. What missionary suggestions or experiences do you have?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bucket Filling Success Passed On!

I hope you all don't mind that I'm posting this here, but I had to share! (I'll post it on my family blog too). I recently returned from a week-long Cousins Camp (an annual family tradition) where usually only the cousins get to camp with the grandparents for a whole week in the summer at our family cabin in AZ. Well this year it was a reunion of sorts and all the families came to California over the 4th! As part of the camp my mom always has a treasure hunt and "trophies". This year the theme was "Like a Lighthouse", referring to Christ as our eternal beacon of light when we are on stormy, or calm, seas. The kids all got their own pocket-sized copy of the Book of Mormon as their trophy.

My 2-year old was ecstatic. Our nap and bedtime routine had been to read 2 library or other books and then Jeff or I would tell him a made-up story about a boy named Makai (who was actually him). He loved it and looked forward to sleepy times twice daily. Well, when he got his Book of "Norman" he told me, "Mommy we need to read Book of Normon stories before bed." Well, I'd been wanting to do that with him, but wasn't sure if he was ready. His request was gladly granted and every night since we've been home (and in our new house) we now read a chapter out of the illustrated (and highly condensed version) of the Book of Mormon as Corbin holds his own little Book of Mormon trophy treasure! It not only fills his bucket each night but mine too!
If you're not reading this with your kids yet because you think they're too young.... try it! You might be surprised how ready they are. And it's great to refer to it during the day when situations arise.... such as, "Are you acting like Nephi or Laman and Lemuel when you don't share with your brother?", etc. He gets it! Let's just hope it sticks! So, I'm curious, what do you do to fill your kids/families' buckets?

Alma 13

Read it HERE.

Summary: Men are called as high priests because of their exceeding faith and good works—They are to teach the commandments—Through righteousness they are sanctified and enter into the rest of the Lord—Melchizedek was one of these—Angels are declaring glad tidings throughout the land—They will reveal the actual coming of Christ. About 82 B.C.

First of all I have to apologize for going MIA for the past 2 weeks. I was on vacation... and unfortunately I VACATED this important responsibility in my life. I missed it. I'm sorry. I'm back!

Now... That being said, I love how every time I read the Book of Mormon I feel God's love for ME! Even when I read about other people in another time, I feel that God loves me and is speaking to me through this account of His people in the Americas who witnessed His Son. I have recently opened a new chapter of my life... moved to Utah and am settled in our new house and ward (as of the last week) and this chapter is so fitting in our transition process.

Alma speaks many bold things in this chapter as he teaches Zeezrom and others in Ammonihah about the plan of redemption, the priesthood, and foreordination. Some great doctrinal topics. As Alma calls men as high priests he teaches them that this calling they were "ordained--being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowlede of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works..."(v.3). A great quote from the Book of Mormon Sunday School Study Guide explains further: "The Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was'" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 365). How profound is that? What does that tell us about our husbands who choose good over evil and accept callings to serve and teach to the inhabitants of the earth?

And women? Well, here's another great quote from the same source: "President Spencer W. Kimball taught: 'Before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to. You are accountable for those tings which long ago were expected of you just as are those we sustain as prophets and apostles!'" ("The Role of Righteous Women," Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102).

So... give us strength according to our faith in Christ to the things we came to earth to do. I think we are all working hard at fulfilling two major assignments called ETERNAL COMPANIONSHIP and MOTHERHOOD... among our other Church and personal callings and assignments.

Alma makes a great explanation about the holy order of the High Priesthood and how those who come into this Melchizedek Priesthood do so on account of their "exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish" (v.10). I find this an interesting perspective of how the Priesthood brethren, and those who support them, make their personal decisions to serve others.... it's out of a desire to work righteousness rather than perish.

Another highlight for me was verse
20: Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said may suffice. Behold, the ascriptures are before you; if ye will bwrest them it shall be to your own destruction.

Plain and simple. We have the scriptures right in front of us. If we do not read and understand them it will be to our destruction.... almost like the people of Moses' time with the golden staff who would just look and live. Makes me glad I'm part of this BUCKET FILLER blog, it helps me not to "wrest" my scriptures.

Finally, Alma speaks of the Coming of Christ and I love his emotional expression in verse 25:
And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we aknow not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.

AND verse 27:
And now, my brethren, I awish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great banxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not cprocrastinate the day of your repentance;

What a kind and loving teacher and leader Alma was. Amen, Alma and may I have only a part of his courage and conviction in teaching and living.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alma 11

Alrighty, I'm back. I was a few chapters behind and I never reported last Tuesday, I apologize. I got caught up this morning, reading 4 chapters, amazingly my children slept in and I was able to even do that! And I loved it! What a great feeling it is to be filled with such words of truth! My husband bought me some highlighting crayons which has helped me study more efficiently. I have divided the colors into "topics", of popular scriptures (Scripture Mastery, ones I have somewhat memorized or heard repeatedly), commandments, promises, phrases or passages I like, pondering questions and counsel/doctrine.

You can read chapter 11 HERE.

Nephite coinage set forth—Amulek contends with Zeezrom—Christ will not save people in their sins—Only those who inherit the kingdom of heaven are saved—All men shall rise in immortality—There is no death after the resurrection.

Oh, the coinage! Versus 4-19 breaks down the Nephite coinage, or currency. Honestly, I find this part boring, but definitely see the benefit of having the records. I'm sure there are many people who find this information fascinating; I am not one of those people. But! It's there.

I found it interesting in verse 20 that it's pointed out about the lawyears that, "Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their bemploy, therefore, they did cstir up the people to driotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might eget fmoney according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek." Which sets the stage for the infamous encounter with Zeezrom.

Verses 21-45 covers the conversation held between Zeezrom, the corrupt lawyer, and Amulek, a servant of God. I have, thankfully, never been in a situation like this where the words I say could mean life or death. I know that is not what was most important to Amulek, but I find it incredible how strong the spirit was with him; that he was able to "contend" with this cunning, skilled, manipulator of words! 

The first of my 2 favorite phrases are in verse 22, after Zeezrom asks them if he can ask them a few questions, and Alma responds, "Yea, if it be according to the Spirit of the Lord, which is in me; for I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord." Isn't that the way it should always be? We should live our lives and speak our words by the Spirit of the Lord. Alma and Amulek are just amazing. What great examples of the believers!

And the second is in verse 23 when Amulek chastises Zeezrom after he offered him money to deny the existence of a Supreme Being, he says, "O thou child of hell, why tempt ye me? Knowest thou that the righteous yeildeth to no such temptation?"  So many probably would deny His existence for monetary gains, but not the righteous! I just love that. And the fact that he called him a child of hell, just tickles me. It would probably be inappropriate to repeat that now days though...

Amulek goes on to testify of the resurrection and how the final judgement will go. By the end of Amulek's words, "the people began to be astonished, and also Zeezrom began to tremble." Sheesh. It would have been incredible to be there, and hear that.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Alma Ch. 10

Read it HERE.

Summary: Lehi descended from Manasseh—Amulek recounts the angelic command that he care for Alma—The prayers of the righteous cause the people to be spared—Unrighteous lawyers and judges lay the foundation of the destruction of the people. About 82 B.C.

This is a good chapter. Alma and Amulek are just starting to preach together, and we learn a little about Amulek's personal history. This is what we know:

~He is of noble lineage, even descended all the way down from Joseph of Egypt (vs. 3).
~He is wealthy, well-respected, and has many friends and associates (vs. 4).
~He has a large household (vs. 11)
~He admits that he has seen many instances of the Lord's power but has not given them the thought and attention he should have in order to really come to know of the Lord's power (vs. 5).
~He says he was "in rebellion" against God, had become wicked, and had hardened his heart (vs. 6).

Why is this so important to know? Why does Amulek tell the people this about himself? We know that he was preaching to people who were just like he was--their hearts were hardened. He tells the people of how the Lord blessed him when he became faithful again.

We know Amulek is talking to many of his friends in this group. I think he is desperately trying to help them understand that no matter how prosperous they may feel, their lives are incomplete without following the Lord. He is frank about their need for repentance:

"20 And now I say unto you that well doth the Lord judge of your iniquities; well doth he cry unto this people, by the voice of his angels: Repent ye, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

21 Yea, well doth he cry, by the voice of his angels that: I will come down among my people, with equity and justice in my hands.

22 Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword."

Of course, the people did not take this message well. Many of these people were his friends! Yet they still called him a "child of the devil" and reviled against him (vs. 28).

I have one final thought. We learn about Amulek's noble heritage but we also learn of his many, many imperfections.

6 Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was acalled many times and I would not bhear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling cagainst God, in the wickedness of my heart, even until the fourth day of this seventh month, which is in the tenth year of the reign of the judges.

Notice that he calls himself wicked, hard-hearted, and rebellious. Yet Heavenly Father still calls him to do a great work. Heavenly Father provides him with an opportunity to have a change of heart, and Amulek takes it. We are also called to do a great work--we are members of God's church and have a responsibility to live up to our covenants and help others come to the knowledge of the gospel.

But we are also mothers, and this can be taxing and discouraging at times. I think many of us have days or years in our lives when we feel we are not living up to our potential. I think it is easy to get caught up in all of the things we are doing wrong, and none of the things we can do right. We need to remember that on the days we don't feel as close to the Lord, and on the days we've been neglectful or irritable toward our children and spouses, that Heavenly Father knows our full potential and still needs us in His kingdom. But more importantly, we need to be a part of this great work. We don't need to be perfect. We just need to be willing to try.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Alma 9

This is the first of several chapters where Alma and Amulek are preaching to the wicked people of Ammonihah. Remember, this is the second time that Alma has preached to them. He is only returning because the angel of the Lord commanded him to return.

The people are scornful because Alma expects them to listen to the witness of just one man. This is why the Lord sends missionaries in pairs, because people are more likely to listen to the testimonies of two people than just one.

Alma spends most of the chapter trying to impress upon these people the importance of repenting. He uses the Lamanites of an example of those who have turned against the Lord and have been cut off from his presence. However, he tells the Ammonihahites that the Lord will be more merciful to the Lamanites at judgment day than to them, because the Lamanites are wicked because of the sins of their fathers, but the people of Ammonihah should know better, having had so much light and knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God. We too have had so much light and knowledge poured down upon us. That is why the Lord will be much harder on us than on people who never have heard the Gospel and who have never lived its precepts, like we have. There is a lot of responsibility in being members of the Church. The Lord doesn't want half-hearted service, he expects us to serve him with all of our heart.

Alma tells the people that the Lord is basically giving them one more chance before they are destroyed off of the earth. The Lord likes to give his people as many warnings as possible before exacting justice. If we listen to the words of the prophets and follow them, we will be safe.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Alma Chapter 8

Summary: Alma preaches and baptizes in Melek—He is rejected in Ammonihah and leaves—An angel commands him to return and cry repentance unto the people—He is received by Amulek, and the two of them preach in Ammonihah. About 82 B.C.

When I read this chapter, there were quite a few things I found to be impressive, and a few thoughts that I had. So for this post, I want to share those with you.

1: Verse 10: 10 Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance.
-And yet, the people still hardened their hearts and did not hearken to his words. They knew who he was, that he was the high priest. But they said that since he gave up the judgement seat and they are not of his church, he has no power over them. That is sad. I think that all prophets probably have this experience. They pray and pray and pray for people, but agency still plays in part. They can not be forced to repent, they still have to choose. But what sadness it must cause the prophets.

2: As Alma left the city of Ammonihi, an angel appeared unto him to tell him that he has been faithful, and he needs to return to the city to preach to the people, otherwise they will be destroyed. He also lets him know that he was the angel that delivered the first message to him, from the Lord. I assume he is the same angel that came and asked why he was persecuting the church with the sons of Mosiah. I thought that was kinda neat that the Lord sent the same angel.

3: I was very impressed that after Alma had received this message, he SPEEDILY returned to the city. Impressive. What faith, after what had just happened to him in that city.

4: When Alma asked Amulek for something to eat, he tells him that an angel appeared to him and told him to receive Alma unto his house. I wonder if that was the same angel too?

5: Verse 27 says that Alma tarried many days with Amulek before he started preaching again. I wonder if he was teaching Amulek....since soon, Amulek basically becomes a partner in preaching with Alma.

Verse 32: And it came to pass that they went forth and began to preach and to prophesy unto the people, according to the spirit and power which the Lord had given them.

And if you have read about Alma and Amulek before, you know that they were very powerful and very faithful. There are quite some stories coming up about them. What trust they must have had in the Lord. It's a good example for us - that no matter what, we just need to trust in the Lord. If we do then we will be filled with the spirit, his power, and be protected.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Alma Ch. 4

(Read it HERE.)

Summary: Alma baptizes thousands of converts—Iniquity enters the Church, and the Church’s progress is hindered—Nephihah is appointed chief judge—Alma, as high priest, devotes himself to the ministry. Between 86 and 83 B.C.

This chapter, I think, does a really good job of showing how righteous people get caught in the "pride cycle," especially verses 6 and 8:

"[They] began to wax proud because of their exceeding riches [. . .] and all manner of precious things which they had obtained by their industry; and in all these things were they lifted up in the pride of their eyes.

"[They] set their hearts upon riches and upon vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another."

I think the basic and grievous problem these people have is that they are forgetting the reason they are blessed with all they have. They are forgetting that they are blessed with those things. They have forgotten that it is Heavenly Father who has given them abilities and opportunities to obtain those things. And because of this, they grow to love those objects, and they grow to love their abilities and talents more than the Lord and their fellow men. The things they have really are not theirs--they belong to the Lord, for He is the one who gave them to the people.

They have set their hearts upon riches and upon "vain things of the world." You know, I am married to an MBA student. I don't feel that we have a lot of "riches" at this time in our lives. With the current state of our economy, there are many, many people who feel the same way I do. But you know, I do have lots of time. I have all day to spend with my children. Do I use this time, this thing that I have been blessed with, in as righteous a way as I would want to use my money? I am accountable for the time I spend with my kids. Heavenly Father is the one who has blessed me with time; I need to remember to be a good steward of that the same way I would be with money. "My" time should be the Lord's time.

What are some of your assets? Time? Talent? Money? How do you feel you succeed in remembering the Lord in your blessings and using them for a righteous purpose? It took two years for these people to forget the Lord and be crippled by their pride. Two years. That is not very long.

But what I really found touching about this chapter is the deep desire Alma feels to bring the people back to the Lord, and that he wants to do it himself.

This is understandable, right? Alma taught many of these people from their "infancy" in the gospel. He baptized them. He helped them establish a church (vs. 4). He called righteous leaders. Alma knew, from personal experience, that wickedness is not the Lord's way, and therefore does not bring lasting satisfaction.

As a mother, this really touched me. I am raising my children ("from infancy") now, and I hope more than anything that they will grow to love and live the gospel. But what am I doing to encourage this? When do my children see me lead by example, the way Alma is doing by going to bring his people back to the Lord? When was the last time they saw me read the scriptures or pray by myself? This is something I can really improve on.

"19 And this he did that he ahimself might go forth among his people, or among the people ofbpreach the cword of God unto them, to dstir them up in eremembrance ofof God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure ftestimony against them."

If my children go astray, you can bet that I am not leaving them to just anyone. Or anyone else, for that matter. I am going to do everything I personally, possibly can to bring them back to "remembrance of their duty." Sometimes this means waiting. Sometimes, however, it means taking action.

Julie Beck gave a great talk relating to Motherhood two conferences ago. Here is part I thought related to this chapter (it is a little lengthy, but still good):

Mothers Who Know Are Teachers

"Mothers who know are always teachers. Since they are not babysitters, they are never off duty. A well-taught friend told me that he did not learn anything at church that he had not already learned at home. His parents used family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach. Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center. Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power.

Mothers Who Know Do Less

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power. "

And you know? Sometimes we do everything we can and our children still fall away, and this does not mean we caused them to reject the gospel. But the possibility of this happening does not mean we don't try as hard as we can to raise them to be "builders of the Lord's kingdom." I need to improve in this area. How about you? What do you do to teach your children to love the gospel?


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Alma 3

I was in New Jersey last week, so I forgot to write when I got home Saturday night! So here we go.

In this chapter the Nephites recover from a crippling war with the Amlicites. It's really sad that many women and children were also killed, and their homes were destroyed. The book of Alma really is a book full of war. But it also has some of my favorite doctrinal chapters of the Book of Mormon. I wonder why that is?

Apparently the Amlicites had voluntarily marked themselves like the Lamanites. Alma briefly recounts how the Lamanites were marked by the Lord for their disobedience by having darker skin to set them apart from the Nephites, and so the Nephites would know not to mingle with them. Alma points out how the Amlicites chose to mark themselves, saying:

18 Now the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves in their foreheads; nevertheless they had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them.

He then says that just as they brought upon themselves their own curse, we bring upon ourselves our own curse and condemnation by rebelling against God. That makes sense, but it is still sobering. I think we often spend a lot of time reacting to things. But when we do that, we think of ourselves as victims of circumstance and we tend to blame other people for what is going on to us, kind of like how the Lamanites blames the Nephites for everything wrong that happened to them. Pretty soon we are choosing the wrong path because we assume that that will bring more happiness. So instead of just reacting to things, we should try to act. I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that, but it's something I want to ponder on more.

He ends the chapter describing how in one year alone, tens of thousands of people died. I like the final verses:

26 And in one year were thousands and tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.

27 For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey, and this according to the words of the spirit of prophecy; therefore let it be according to the truth.

I really want to make sure that I am choosing to obey the Lord, and not choosing to follow Satan either voluntarily or by not actively following the Lord. I think we can all find things in our lives that we aren't doing that we know we should. I am going to make a commitment to you all that I will try actively to do better at this. My goal is to hold Family Home Evening every Monday.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mosiah 29

Summary: Mosiah proposes that judges be chosen in place of a king—Unrighteous kings lead their people into sin—Alma the younger is chosen chief judge by the voice of the people—He is also the high priest over the Church—Alma the elder and Mosiah die. About 92—91 B.C.

The majority of this chapter is concerning why it is unwise to have a king be ruler over the people. Mosiah's reasons include the following:
*7 And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise acontentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and bdraw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people.

*all men are not just

*much ainiquity doth one bwicked king cause to be committed

*ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous aking save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood

*22 For behold, he has his afriends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;
23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he acauseth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous bking doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.

Because of all of these reasons, Mosiah proposes that judges be appointed "that will judge this people according to the commandments of God." (vs. 11)

There are 2 important principles taught in this chapeter. 1)We are reminded that Alma and his people were saved from bondage because they humbled themselves and cried continually to the Lord. 2)And we learn that we must be God-fearing.

1)There comes a time in everyone's life when we need to be reminded of the Lord. We get so caught up in the day to day that it gets easy to forget the Lord. We forget the Lord by neglecting our scripture study, forgetting to pray, neglecting our callings or temple worship or service. There is a reason the Lord has put these commandments in place: to help us remember Him and remember from where all our blessings come. And further, to allow us to be instruments in His hands. I personally know that the Lord has "saved me from bondage" many times. I did have to be humbled, so that I could more sincerely and fully rely on the Lord and see His hand in my life. I know that it will happen again because I am not perfect and still have much to learn. But through it all, the Lord has blessed my family so much. Especially in these hard times, I have seen His hand. He has worked miracles in our home. I know that we would have NOTHING without Him. I hope I can always remember that.

2) I admire so much how the people in this chapter come to realize the importance of being God-fearing. Especially Mosiah. By that I mean, everything he does, he considers what it is the Lord would want him to do. He mentions that several time throughout the chapter. He was a righteous man who remembered the Lord in all that he did and constantly sought to do His will. 25 "Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord." 30 "And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord."
This just made me think, how often do I strive to truly follow the will of the Lord?