What are we?

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

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ether Ch. 11

Read it HERE.

Summary: Wars, dissensions, and wickedness dominate Jaredite life—Their prophets predict the utter destruction of the Jaredites unless they repent—The people reject the words of the prophets.

In this chapter we read about several leaders of the Jaredites. Many Generations passed in which the people lived in wickedness, and the prophets were discouraged because no one would hearken to their teaching.

Here is a run down of the leaders (father to son) that are named in this chapter:

Com: A good king; prophets who were rejected by the people found protection with him; he was blessed through the end of his life.

Shiblom: The people grew wicked during his reign; his brother caused that all the prophets should be put to death; wars and pestilence grow rampant--more than had previously been seen on the face of the earth; finally the people begin to repent, but Shiblom is killed.

Ahah: Wicked king; murdered many people; his days were numbered few.

Ethem: Wicked king; more prophets come to implore the people to repent, but are rejected by all and withdraw.

Moron: Wicked king; overthrown by a leader of the secret combination but retains half his kingdom; eventually reclaims his entire kingdom, but a new leader of the secret combination overthrows him for good and forces him into captivity for the rest of his life.

Coriantor: Dwelt in captivity all of his days because of the sins of his father, Moron; more prophets come and tell the people that unless they repent, God will cause them to be destroyed and will give their land to another people. The people reject the prophets. Ether is born and Coriantor dies.

The problem with the generations of people in this chapter is that they are so immersed in wickedness, wars, and secret combinations, they have lost all desire for righteousness. When the prophets testify that they must repent, the people harden their hearts. This chapter contains several verses like the one below:

22 And they did reject all the words of the prophets, because of their secret society and wicked abominations.

Henry B. Eyring reminds us of the importance of heeding the prophets:

“Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense to those with strong faith. When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice. Then if his counsel seems comfortable and reasonable, squaring with what they want to do, they take it. If it does not, they consider it either faulty advice or they see their circumstances as justifying their being an exception to the counsel. Those without faith may think that they hear only men seeking to exert influence for some selfish motive. . . .

“Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 32–33; or Ensign, May 1997, 25).


Monday, January 18, 2010

Ether Ch. 5

Read it HERE.

Summary: Three witnesses and the work itself shall stand as a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

This chapter is only a few verses long, but it is succinct and important. Moroni is addressing the future translator of the plates, who we know to be Joseph Smith. It is interesting that he would write directly and specifically to him when almost 14 centuries elapse from the time this is written from the time Joseph even reads the words.

The institute manual points out something interesting in verse 4:

And in the mouth of three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three, and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record—and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world at the last day.

We understand the three witnesses to be Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer. (read their testimony here). However, the Institute Manual adds that the Godhead are also witnesses of the Book of Mormon.

Dallin H. Oaks, a living apostle (also having vast experience in law), emphasizes the importance of witnesses. This quote is lengthy but good:

“Persons experienced in evaluating testimony commonly consider a witness’s opportunity to observe an event and the possibility of his bias on the subject. Where different witnesses give identical testimony about the same event, skeptics look for evidence of collusion among them or for other witnesses who could contradict them.

“Measured against all of these possible objections, the testimony of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon stands forth in great strength. Each of the three had ample reason and opportunity to renounce his testimony if it had been false or to equivocate on details if any had been inaccurate. As is well known, because of disagreements or jealousies involving other leaders of the Church, each one of these three witnesses was excommunicated from The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by about eight years after the publication of their testimony. All three went their separate ways, with no common interest to support a collusive effort. Yet to the end of their lives—periods ranging from 12 to 50 years after their excommunications—not one of these witnesses deviated from his published testimony or said anything that cast any shadow on its truthfulness.

“Furthermore, their testimony stands uncontradicted by any other witnesses. Reject it one may, but how does one explain three men of good character uniting and persisting in this published testimony to the end of their lives in the face of great ridicule and other personal disadvantage? Like the Book of Mormon itself, there is no better explanation than is given in the testimony itself, the solemn statement of good and honest men who told what they saw. . . .

“. . . Witnesses are important, and the testimony of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon is impressive and reliable” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 46, 49; or Ensign, May 1999, 35–37).

I also add my testimony--that I know this book is true. I know the prophets and the people written about in the Book of Mormon really lived. I have prayed about this book and had an immediate, powerful verification of the truthfulness and importance of this book. I cannot deny the feelings I have had and the ways this book has improved my life. The fruits of this book are good.

We can spend our time proving the logical or historical accuracy of this book, but we cannot ignore the most important part: it is written by prophets of God who bear testimony of Christ and instruct us on how to know and emulate Him better. It is a message of hope. Without these things, it would remain, simply, a history book. I know it is much more than that. If you find yourself doubting its truthfulness, I suggest that you read it and pray about it. Heavenly Father is mindful of your desires and will answer your prayer.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ether 4

I apologize (again) for being so MIA! My life is insanely busy!!
Summary: Moroni is commanded to seal up the writings of the brother of Jared—They shall not be revealed until men have faith even as the brother of Jared—Christ commands men to believe his words and those of his disciples—Men are commanded to repent and believe the gospel and be saved.
11 But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.
12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.

What an amazing opportunity we have to listen to counsel directly from the Savior in this chapter. He loves us so much, and all He asks is for us to believe in Him. I think, when we truly believe in Him, it can change our lives. Because we believe in Him, we will have a desire to do all things good, as He promised. Christ is the constant light in this world when all else seems lost and dark. He is that one hope we can always hold on to. He sacrificed everything because He loves us, and He wanted us to have someone to turn to in times of sorrow and need, and even times of joy. He is the reason we can experience joy in this life. Our testimonies of Christ are an amazing gift. We are so blessed to know Him. Not only do we have someone to turn to in times of need, but we also have someone who can help share our burdens, and help us become clean again when we make mistakes. Part of that all-encompassing goodness includes having a broken heart and contrite spirit. It includes acknowledging your weaknesses and being made whole again.
In this chapter, I believe that the Savior speaks of the wickedness of the people with great sadness. After all that happened when He came to this earth, the people still lost their way, and He had to let them go. But He offered them/us hope and a great reminder, that when we are ready, we know to whom we should turn. And He will be waiting there with open arms to embrace us.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ether 1

Ether is an interesting book of scripture. We get about a thousand or so years of history crammed into fifteen chapters, with a few chapters devoted to the brother of Jared, a few devoted to doctrine, and the rest describes the wickedness and fall of a civilization. Alma gives us insight into why this book is included in the Book of Mormon in his last message and testimony to his son Helaman:

21 And now, I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates, that ye keep them, that the mysteries and the works of darkness, and their secret works, or the secret works of those people who have been destroyed, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, all their murders, and robbings, and their plunderings, and all their wickedness and abominations, may be made manifest unto this people; yea, and that ye preserve these interpreters.

29 Therefore ye shall keep these secret plans of their oaths and their covenants from this people, and only their wickedness and their murders and their abominations shall ye make known unto them; and ye shall teach them to abhor such wickedness and abominations and murders; and ye shall also teach them that these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness and abominations and their murders. (Alma 37).

So apparently the main lesson of the Jaredites is supposed to be a cautionary tale of secret combinations. Those are something I've never really understood, but we are warned by leaders today that they are still very present. It's a little scary, because we see in this people and with the Nephites how secret combinations can undermine and ruin an entire society. They start out as a small, secret group and eventually grow until the point that they are no longer a secret because everyone is apart of it.

This chapter establishes the genealogy of Ether back to Jared and describes how the Jaredites were spared when the Lord confounded the languages at the tower of Babel. I think we can deduce a few things from how Jared and his brother are described. I used to be confused and wondered why Jared didn't pray himself. But I think that his brother, who we know was named Mahonri Moriancumer, must have been the prophet, while Jared was the head of the family. So Jared too was a very faithful man, but he knew that his brother could receive revelation for them all. So he prays and is told that they need to leave and the Lord will guide them to a choice land.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mormon Chapter 9

Assuming you read the chapter, did you love it? I’m sure I have read this chapter multiple times throughout my life, but this time through, I loved it! What an incredible blessing it is to know where we are going after we die, and that there is a plan for us! There is a process and we know about it! I know I take for granted the knowledge I have about the Plan of Salvation. And even still, after hearing this lesson many, many times, I still continue to learn more! We truly learn the mysteries of God line up line, precept upon precept! Our minds and knowledge continue to expand as we study the scriptures and learn of Him! It’s absolutely incredible! Everyone should hear what we know! :)

I already stated that  I loved this chapter, and I highly recommend reading this chapter if you haven’t already. Moroni is such an incredible man and this last chapter in Mormon is incredibly powerful!

A few parts stood out to me…

Moroni is addressing those who do not believe in Christ, and goes on to tell them…

v.4, “Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your afilthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the bdamned souls in chell.”

We truly have a loving God. I do not think of “hell” as a punishment really, but as an act of mercy.   How sad God will be that some of his children will not dwell in his presence, and if he “forced” it, this is exactly what it would be like. The final judgment will be a just judgment, and we will be in the best place for us.

I also find this principle fascinating and it rings true. Verse 14, “And then cometh the ajudgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is bfilthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.” I find this interesting because we often live our lives in some degree of denial of who we, and others, really are! This life is a probationary state where we have the opportunity to become the best people we can! If we do not work on perfecting ourselves here, it will not be any easier (probably even more difficult) in the next life!  We will be the same after we die!

I really like the last parts of chapter 9, verses 21-29ish because there are many specific instructions given…

  • Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;(v.21)
  • And he that abelieveth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be bdamned; (v.23)
  • strip yourselves of all uncleanness, (v.28)
  • See that ye are not baptized aunworthily; (v.29)
  • see that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ bunworthily (v.29)

I also find it interesting how Moroni explains their language…

(v.32 –34) ”And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the areformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.   And if our plates had been asufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no bimperfection in our record.    But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore  hath prepared ameans for the interpretation thereof.

Have a wonderful 2010!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Mormon Ch. 8

Read it HERE.

Summary: The Lamanites seek out and destroy the Nephites—The Book of Mormon shall come forth by the power of God—Woes pronounced upon those who breathe out wrath and strife against the work of the Lord—The Nephite record shall come forth in a day of wickedness, degeneracy, and apostasy. Between A.D. 400 and 421

At the beginning of this chapter, we find that Moroni has continued this record on his father's behalf. We learn that Hh witnessed the death of his father and the destruction of the Nephite nation. He has no friends and no relatives. He is not sure how long he will live, and has to finish the record alone and in hiding.

Elder L. Tom Perry gives us a little insight into Moroni's reasons for writing this chapter:

“He must have felt compelled to describe how his people had been hunted by the Lamanites until they were all destroyed. In his feeling of loneliness, he reports that his father was among those who were killed. We sense that the only thing Moroni is living for is to complete the record, as he writes, ‘Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not’ (Mormon 8:4).

“All he has is the faith that the Lord will preserve him long enough to complete the record and that someday it will be found by one chosen of the Lord. He realizes that the record will be a voice of warning to future generations of what occurs when nations like his own turn away from the teachings of the Lord. It is from the depths of his heart that Moroni cries out to those who will eventually receive the record. He wants to spare those who read his account the heartache and misery which comes from disobedience.

“He writes first to the members of the Church and then to those who have not embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moroni’s last words to the members of the Church are written as a voice of warning. He writes as one who sees the history of his people repeating itself in the future” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 18–19;
or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 15–16).

It is sobering to think of the Lord preserving Moroni's life so he can finish this record. We are blessed to have it published and circulated throughout our church. We owe this in some part to the prophet Joseph Smith, who is the one Moroni speaks of in these verses:

16 And blessed be ahe that shall bring this thing to light; for it shall be bbrought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God.
17 And if there be afaults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that bcondemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire.

President Boyd K. Packer bears a solid testimony of Joseph Smith's mission:

“The truth is, simply, that he was a prophet of God—nothing more and not one whit less!

“The scriptures did not come so much from Joseph Smith as they did through him. He was a conduit through which the revelations were given. . . .“The Prophet Joseph Smith was an unschooled farm boy. To read some of his early letters in the original shows him to be somewhat unpolished in spelling and grammar and in expression.

“That the revelations came through him in any form of literary refinement is nothing short of a miracle”
(in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 137; or Ensign, May 1974, 94).

We have a book, the Book of Mormon, that is filled with the word of God. It testifies of the truthfulness of the Bible. It testifies of Jesus Christ and His role as our Savior. It testifies of a loving God. It gives us the information we need to live righteously so we can return to live with our Father in Heaven.

I love this book, and I am grateful to Moroni, Joseph Smith, and all the other prophets who sacrificed everything so I may read its words.