Thursday, July 31, 2008 4 comments

Escaping Materialism with Principles of Stewardship

Our world has a big problem with materialism. You don’t have to look far to find manifestations of it. Debt and waste and pollution and poverty and excess are common problems. We can preach against materialism all we want, but until we learn righteous principles ourselves and teach them to our children, we will continue to have troubles with it.

I went through the scriptures and I found that the Lord has given us these principles of stewardship to follow so that we can overcome materialism.

1) Everything on earth belongs to the Lord and we are all His stewards.
And again, a commandment I give unto you concerning your stewardship which I have appointed unto you.
Behold, all these properties are mine, or else your faith is vain, and ye are found hypocrites, and the covenants which ye have made unto me are broken;
And if the properties are mine, then ye are stewards; otherwise ye are no stewards. (D&C 104:54-56)
Yes, we worked for the money to pay for what we have, but who helped us get the job? Who helped us with our education? The Lord is behind it all.

2) We need to be diligent in preserving what we have to be accounted wise stewards.
Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward. (D&C 136:27)
One benefit of this diligence is that we will get to learn how things work and learn how to fix things, which is is a talent in itself.

3) Everyone will have to account to the Lord for the use of their stewardship.
That every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him.
For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. (D&C 104:12-13)
But let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands. (D&C 124:14)

Our tithing settlement interviews should prepare us for the final interview with the Lord when we will be asked to account for how we’ve used our money, property, time, talents, space, and so on.

4) We need to do our part to help the poor and needy in order be accounted just and merciful stewards. The unjust, unwise, unmerciful stewards will have their stewardships taken from them and they will be tormented in hell.
Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment. (D&C 104:18, see also Luke 19:20-24)
The Lord wants us to do our part for the poor, because it is what He would do if He were in our place. As stewards, we are His agents.

5) The just, wise, and merciful stewards will have all things given to them, as well as receiving the stewardships of the unwise.
And behold, he that is faithful shall be made ruler over many things. (D&C 52:13)
For ye are the church of the Firstborn, and he will take you up in a cloud, and appoint every man his portion.
And he that is a faithful and wise steward shall inherit call things. Amen. (D&C 78:21-22)
And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
(And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. (Luke 19:24-26)
And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life. (D&C 51:19)
And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom.
(D&C 101:61)
6) There is more than enough on earth for everybody, because the Lord prepared it that way, but he also gave us choice of what to do with it.
For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. (D&C 103:17)
This completely contradicts the first thing anyone learns in economics—that there is scarcity. When we have the Lord telling us that there is more than enough for everyone, that means that any scarcity we have on earth has been created by man. I believe that we create scarcity when we require too much.

7) Providing for the saints must be done in the Lord’s way, not the world’s way. The Lord’s way of providing for the saints is to exalt the poor by humbling the rich.
But it must needs be done in mine own away; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. (D&C 104:16)
The world is always trying to look for ways of exalting the poor without the rich having to sacrifice anything. The world espouses “trickle down economics”, thinking that giving benefits to the rich will eventually benefit the poor. The Lord plainly tells us that is the wrong way to go about it. Those of us who are blessed beyond our needs must sacrifice our surplus.

8) The Lord wants us to be equal in temporal things. If we are grudging about it, the Lord withholds the abundance of the Spirit’s manifestations.
Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. (D&C 70:14)
This is very interesting. The Lord doesn’t want us to hold back in any way. He wants us to be perfectly willing to do this and He will withhold an abundance of spiritual manifestations from us if we are grudging about equality. How many miracles and spiritual gifts are we missing out on?

9) We need to be careful to discern what is just and needful for our stewardships. No favoritism.
And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just— (D&C 82:17, emphasis added)
How do you know if your wants are just? You have to learn to analyze and debate just how much you need something for your stewardship. I’ve found that it is usually best to counsel about it with a close friend (who isn’t afraid to tell you that you don’t need something) or your spouse. Counseling helps you keep from being impulsive and helps you keep focused on meeting your needs.

I also think the “equal claim” term in the above scripture is neat. In the world today, businesses give top priority and attention to serving those who are willing to pay the most. The Lord’s way seems to be that everyone gets equal priority, because we are all His children.

10)Those who consecrate their labor are worthy of some sort of benefit. Consecrate in spiritual things, and you get extra spiritual manifestations.
He who is appointed to administer spiritual things, the same is worthy of his hire, even as those who are appointed to a stewardship to administer in temporal things;
Yea, even more abundantly, which abundance is multiplied unto them through the manifestations of the Spirit. (D&C 70:12-13)
11)Everyone has the responsibility to improve his stewardship to gain more talents, with the surplus to go to the church.
And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church— (D&C 82:18)
12) Everyone also needs to seek the interest of his neighbor and the glory of God, and not just looking out for number one.
Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God. (D&C 82:19)
13) The Lord gives us the privilege of organizing ourselves according to His laws.
And thus I grant unto this people a privilege of organizing themselves according to my laws. (D&C 51:15)
I think this is really neat, because it gives us the opportunity to be proactive. It’s so that we can figure out how to live by correct principles in our own particular circumstances.

Also, the Lord knows that living the Law of Consecration can’t be forced upon us, even if it is a commandment; we have to organize ourselves in such a way that we are prepared to do it and then start doing it on our own.

Some ways that doctrines of stewardship have helped us:

About six months ago, I needed a new Mac laptop to replace my six year old one. My husband and I analyzed together what I should get to replace it. For about two days I was convinced by Steve Job’s reality distortion field that I should get a MacBook Air, but when I tried to justify it to my husband, I eventually saw that it really didn’t fit my needs and a MacBook would do the job just as well at about 2/3 the cost. When I got my new computer, I gave my old one away to someone who needed a computer but couldn't afford to get one.

Another example. When gas prices started really zooming up at the beginning of the summer, we found that we could not afford to drive both our cars. Devon had floated the idea of getting a scooter before, but when gas was cheap it seemed like a scooter would just be a toy. Now something with better gas mileage was a necessity. So we got our motorcycle licenses, and then we put a lot of effort into researching what kind of scooter to get that would best fit our needs. We were able to find one that had the cargo accessories we needed and which didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

I've also written extensively about stewardship in my book here.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 0 comments

Talents and Divine Nature

I was thinking about how I managed to build all the talents I have. What drove me to do it? What caused me to feel that I could try and succeed?

One thing that encouraged me was when my Mom would say to me every so often, “You’ve inherited this talent from your grandmother.” Or “You’ve gotten this talent from your father.” Or “You’ve gotten this talent from your great great grandfather on your Dad’s side.”

I never questioned her statements, but I began to wonder recently, Can talents be passed along in our genes? This does not seem to me to be quite possible, yet I have to admit that what my mother said was in effect a self-fulfilling prophecy, because no sooner did she note that my abilities were inherited, than I began to try to develop them, partly because I subconsciously wished to strengthen my personal connection with the relatives whose abilities Mom said I inherited, and mostly because Mom said those abilities were in me.

My Mom was very clever, perhaps without knowing it. It is hard to try new things without knowing if you have a talent for them, but it is easy to try new things after you’ve been told you have inherited a special talent for it. It causes you to go into it with a confidence you will succeed eventually. That confidence is particularly helpful in the beginning stages when it is difficult. Mom made it easy for me to try new things.

But back to the question... Is talent really inherited from our parents and ancestors? I haven’t reached any conclusion on this, but in thinking about it, I DID realize that because I am a spirit daughter of God, I have the potential to become as He is. That means I have inherited all His talents and they are in embryo in me. This empowers me much more, because every good talent is one He possesses, which means I also possess them too, in embryo. I just have to develop them.

Ah, I finally understand divine potential better! And it has freed me! I have a talent for everything good! And so do you! We just have to develop them! It’s a good thing I have eternity after this life to do this, because otherwise I’d feel like there was too little time, and that would be depressing.

Why does the Lord chasten us?

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you— (Doctrine & Covenants 95:1)
It looks like chastening happens as a result of His love for us.

The Lord chastises us so that we will be brought to contrition and repentance. When we repent, He can then forgive us and then provide a way to escape the sin in the future! And when we are forgiven, we achieve purity, and we can then make progress toward holiness!

Chastening leads to holiness! Awesome!

Isaiah on Consequences

18 And none to guide her
among all the sons she hath brought forth;
neither that taketh her by the hand,
of all the sons she hath brought up.
19 These two sons are come unto thee,
who shall be sorry for thee—
thy desolation and destruction,
and the famine and the sword—
and by whom shall I comfort thee?
20 Thy sons have fainted, save these two;
they lie at the head of all the streets; as a wild bull in a net,
they are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God.
(2 Nephi 8:18-20)
I know lots of people believe these verses prophesy of the two prophets that will testify in Jerusalem before the Second Coming of Christ, and I agree with it, but I also see something additional in these verses.

In verse 19, “who shall be sorry for thee” seems like it should be a separate question which is repeated later in the verse in the form of “by whom shall I comfort thee?”

The two sons seem to be “desolation/famine” and “destruction/the sword”. In the sense that our acts give birth to consequences, Israel’s acts have given birth to two sons—“desolation and destruction”, also known as “famine and the sword”. And no one is sorry about it (except for the Lord and the righteous).

“Thy sons have fainted, save these two” seems to mean that all other consequences have ended or been used up except for those two, and the Lord is just barely keeping the consequences in control, like a wild bull is barely kept from running amok by netting it.

“They are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God” seems to be saying that the purpose of the desolation and destruction is to rebuke Israel for its wickedness.

In verse 18, “none to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth” seems to mean that none of the consequences born of Israel’s actions are good, and so she can’t use those to guide her to what to do. (If the consequences were good, Israel would know she had done something right and that would guide her.)

The verses that follow the very depressing ones above are a call to repentance.
21 Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted,
and drunken, and not with wine:
22 Thus saith thy Lord,
the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people;
behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling,
the dregs of the cup of my fury;
thou shalt no more drink it again.
23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee;
who have said to thy soul: Bow down, that we may go over—
and thou hast laid thy body as the ground
and as the street to them that went over.
24 Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion;
put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised
and the unclean.
25 Shake thyself from the dust;
arise, sit down, O Jerusalem;
loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
(2 Nephi 8:21-25)
“drunken, and not with wine” – I think this is like saying someone is drunk on sin. Certainly sin makes us do really stupid stuff.

“the Lord and thy God pleadeth the cause of his people” This tells us how Christ is our advocate with the Father.

In my Book of Mormon class at BYU with Byron Merrill, he explained “the cup of trembling” as a cup full of sweat wiped off the face of a person who is so mad that they are trembling. Another idea I have is that it could be a cup full of blood that was sweat by Christ during his trembling and suffering for our sins. Until we repent of our sins, we can expect that kind of suffering.

“I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again” – Once we have repented of our sins, we don’t have to experience that suffering any more.

Then we are told to shake ourselves from the dust, which we can take to mean brushing the filth and sin out of our lives, and we are told to awake and put on our strength and beautiful garments, which we can take to mean we must put on the power of God, put on God’s grace to do good works, and put on the beautiful garments of charity so that we can sit down in the kingdom of God.

Balaam and the Talking Donkey

When I was little my Mom would read books to me with scripture stories of the Bible. There was one book with a black cover that had a selected stories from the Old Testament in them and my absolute favorite story in that book was that of Balaam and his talking donkey. This was better than Doctor Dolittle!

Recently I reread through it and while thinking about it I noticed and realized some things that I hadn’t before.
And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. (Numbers 22:2-4)
Background: Israel has left Egypt and after the 40 years in the wilderness they are now entering the promised land and the current inhabitants are getting swept off. King Balak knows what’s coming.
He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. (Numbers 22:5-6)
All King Balak knows is that whenever Balaam says something will happen to someone, it happens. (We know this as the gift of prophecy) Balak doesn’t have any idea that the Balaam’s God is also Israel’s God; he just hopes that he can pay Balaam to say something bad will happen to Israel.
And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.
And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? (Numbers 22:7-9)
I think it is cool that even though the Lord knew exactly who and what those men were doing visiting Balaam, He still wanted to hear Balaam tell Him about it. This indicates that the Lord liked to hear from Balaam and talk to him. If the Lord liked to hear from Balaam, the Lord must like to hear from us too. From His perspective, our thoughtful and sincere prayers must be very important and interesting to Him.
And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,
Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you. (Numbers 22:10-13)
Note that Balaam clearly says why he will not go. The LORD has not given him permission. Maybe if he had been more clear that the Lord had blessed Israel and would not curse them, then future requests would have been nipped in the bud.
And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us. (Numbers 22:14)
Note that the princes of Moab only gave King Balak part of that partial message Balaam gave them from the Lord. Perhaps they do not believe it was the Lord that instructed Balaam not to go. Maybe they think Balaam is just being stubborn and is blaming his God for it to save face.
And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. (Numbers 22:15)
Because King Balak hasn’t been told that 1)the Lord told Balaam not to go and 2) Israel is not cursed but blessed, he thinks Balaam is being stubborn and he figures he just needs to use a bigger carrot.
And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: (Numbers 22:16)
Balak wants to make sure that inconvenience hasn’t been a factor in Balaam’s refusal.
For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. (Numbers 22:17)
How many of us have been offered practically a blank check to do something we’ve already been told we shouldn’t do? I hope this never happens to me, but if it did, I really really hope I would be faithful.. (Sheesh! Why can’t people offer us a blank check to do what we know we SHOULD do?!)
And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.
Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more. (Numbers 22:18-19)
Balaam's words sound righteous, but he had already been told once by the Lord to not go with them and had already been told not to curse Israel. At this stage he should have said, “I’ve already told you that the Lord told me ‘No!’” I can only suppose that since the first messengers had left he had been thinking a lot about what he had lost by not going to Balak and that was a factor in not immediately refusing. Instead, he stalled to buy time.
And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. (Numbers 22:20-21)
The Lord knew Balaam was weakening, so the Lord was trying to work in a way that Balaam would be able to handle. The Lord gave Balaam a specific sign to look for that would tell him whether he should go with the messengers—“if the men come to call thee”. Unfortunately, Balaam seems to have lost it at this point. It seems Balaam was so excited that there might be a possibility that he could go with the men, that he ignored the condition completely, got up, got ready to go, and went with them.

But about this sign. I don’t know what it was customary for a host to do when sending travelers on their way in the morning, but it seems to me that the Lord carefully crafted this sign. It seems to me that the men would only have come to call Balaam in the morning if they had really honestly believed him to be a prophet and wanted to hear what the Lord would say. But wait, if they honestly believed him to be a prophet, then they would already have realized that the answer would still be the same “No Curses Allowed”, so they probably would feel like they didn’t even need to ask what the answer was. I bet that if Balaam had waited in bed, he would have waited in vain.
And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. (Numbers 22:22-27)
Balaam’s donkey feared and obeyed the angel more than Balaam. Its loyalty went to the higher authority. Balaam should have feared and obeyed God more than King Balak and his messengers.
And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. (Numbers 22:28-29)
A talking donkey! Amazing! But does Balaam bat an eye? No! You’d think animals talked to him every day! Actually, because Balaam was a man of God, he must have been thoroughly acquainted with miracles of all types and perfectly comfortable with wonders to the point that he expected them. But the thing he couldn’t stand here was that his donkey was messing with him. Of all things for the donkey to ask when it starts talking is, “What have I done? Why have you hit me these three times?”

Balaak is even madder that the donkey is asking what it did wrong. Hel-LO! You’ve gone off the road and you’ve smooshed my foot and you’ve lain down for no good reason and now you’re asking me what you’ve done wrong?! YOU KNOW what you’ve done wrong! “You’re making fun of me! I wish I had a sword right now so that I could kill you!”
And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. (Numbers 22:30-31)
The donkey says, “Have I ever done something like this to you before?” We can imagine Balaam thinking about this and saying, “Noooooo..” and right when he is starting to think about what could be causing the donkey to act so strangely, he SEES. The angel. With a sword. And Balaam drops like a sawed tree.

Why was Balaam so scared when he saw the angel with the sword in his hand?

He realized that at the same time that he was mad enough to kill his donkey for leaving the road and crushing his foot and refusing to move, the Lord was mad enough to kill him for disobeying by going with King Balak’s messengers when he wasn’t supposed to. Balaam remembered that he told the donkey he wanted to kill it with a sword, and here was an angel standing there with a sword, all ready to dispatch Balaam. (“with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged..”)
And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: (Numbers 22:32)
If Balaam thought the donkey’s way was perverse, his own way was worse. If Balaam hit his donkey for disobeying, what would the Lord do to Balaam?
And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. (Numbers 22:33)
Here the angel puts Balaam’s sins into perspective. If the donkey had disobeyed the warning of the angel and had gone on anyway, the angel would have had four choices:
1) Kill both disobedient Balaam and disobedient donkey.
2) Kill the disobedient Balaam and save disobedient donkey.
3) Kill disobedient donkey and save disobedient Balaam.
4) Kill neither the disobedient Balaam or disobedient donkey.
The angel says he would have killed Balaam and saved the donkey, because Balaam’s knowledge and responsibility was much, much greater than the donkey's, so his sin of disobedience was much much greater and deserved the penalty of death more than the donkey did.
And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again. (Numbers 22:34)
Perhaps Balaam hadn’t been able to see the angel, because he had stopped paying attention to the Lord’s guidance. He let himself only hear what he wanted to hear when the Lord told him the required condition for going with the messengers, so he had been deafening his own spiritual ears and blinding his own eyes. But now he's finally willing to go back home and stay.
And the angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak. (Numbers 22:2-35)
At this point, there is probably a part of us that is saying, “So…Balaam got his way, right? He finally got to go like he wanted!” Well, this wasn’t a joy ride. He would not be able to anticipate any honor and praise and riches and promotion coming out of this errand, because he knew that the Lord would not allow him to curse Israel.

Maybe Balaam wanted to go see what it was like in the big time with the big shots. (Who wouldn’t find it an honor to be asked to come and do something for the president of the United States or a king!) The problem with being excited to meet the big shots is that it is too easy to be awed and want to do what they ask you to do, even when it is wrong. It’s too easy to forget where your loyalty lies. Perhaps the Lord had wanted to save Balaam from this temptation at the beginning.

So why was Balaam now instructed to go?

Having disobeyed, as part of his repentance he needed to make restitution, which meant he needed opportunities to demonstrate absolute obedience to the Lord.

Also, King Balak needed to be taught that it was not possible to bribe a prophet to curse or bless whomever he wanted. Perhaps Balak would have figured this out sooner if Balaam had been firm and continued to refuse to as he should have, but now the lesson was coming for sure. (The blessing process is very interesting. Numbers 23 & 24.)

We know from Numbers 23 and 24 that Balaam was obedient to the Lord and blessed Israel three times. Naturally Balak was disappointed. He said to Balaam, “I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times. Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour.” (Numbers 24:10-11)

This was a thrust—"the Lord is keeping you back from honor". But with an eternal perspective we know that the Lord wanted to bestow much greater honor on Balaam in the resurrection than Balak could ever give in mortality. To his credit, Balaam withstood Balak’s jab by prophesying of the Messiah. (Numbers 24:17-19) This teaches us that our testimonies can help us withstand the fiery darts of the adversary.

If Balaam had just stuck to his guns after that, all would have been well. But evidently he couldn’t stand the long-term disapproval of Balak or the prospect of returning home empty-handed, because it was he who gave the Moabites the idea to go and tempt Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14, emphasis added)
And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor… (Numbers 31:14-16, emphasis added)
Leading people into temptation was a worse sin than disobeying. It made him into one of a generation of vipers.

And what was the end of Balaam? Remember the angel who stood in his way ready to smite him with a sword?
Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them. (Joshua 13:22)
Definitely a cautionary tale. Balaam wasn't immune to temptation, even as a prophet. Neither are any of us.

(Image credit -
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 0 comments

"Christ Will Come"

In trying to capture the anticipation of the Second Coming, I wrote this poem:

Though some say he’s belated
Our God can’t be frustrated
To prideful world inflated
Christ will come, Christ will come

The gospel outward flowing
The angel trumpet blowing
The lightning striking showing
Christ will come, Christ will come

In whirlwinds descending
Oppression and sin rending
All righteousness defending
Christ will come, Christ will come

The wicked burnt to cinder
No more our joy to hinder
Or stress our kith and kinder
Christ will come, Christ will come

Despair and doubt dispersal
A glad cry universal
Great mysteries rehearsal
Christ will come, Christ will come

Continue hope igniting,
And all to Christ inviting
Until He comes, reciting,
“Christ will come! Christ will come!”

What must we do to become like the stripling warriors?

I made a study of their characteristics and what I found was amazing.

“they became now at this period of time also a great support” (Alma 53:19) Anyone who is in favor of truth and makes that known, anyone who is willing to do what is right becomes a support, one who can be depended on, and the more we are willing to do to help the church, the more of a support we become.

“they were men of truth and soberness” (Alma 53:21) They were serious about the things that were sacred. We are the same way when we are serious about keeping our bodies sacred and treating with respect all the sacred things we have learned.

“they would that Helaman should be their leader” (Alma 53:19) Since they were men of truth and soberness, they wanted a leader who was also a man of truth and soberness, so they chose the best that they could find—a prophet of God. We are like the stripling warriors when we choose a prophet to be the one we will follow.

“they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives” (Alma 56: 47) They didn’t just want liberty for themselves, they wanted liberty for their fathers and families. We are like them when we want liberty for others more than we care for our own lives.

“they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage” (Alma 53:17) They actually made a promise to God that they would not just argue and fight to protect themselves, but also others from captivity.

“we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus” (Alma 56:46) They were even protective of other armies. They would not allow someone else to be ganged up on. We are like them when we defend others from verbal or moral or physical attack.

“they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity” (Alma 53:20) Not only were they brave and strong, but they were extremely active. They were up and doing, more than anyone else. These were hard workers.

“never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites” (Alma 56:45) My dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty” and it says that courage “implies strength in overcoming fear and in persisting against odds or difficulties”. If the stripling warriors felt fear, they overcame it with their faith in Christ and so they were willing to try anything good, they would persevere through difficulty and resist evil. Their faith in Christ gave them greater courage then any of the Nephites. We can be like them if we trust that Christ wants us to do and succeed at anything that is righteous and He will help us.

“they never had fought, yet they did not fear death” (Alma 56:47) They knew that if they died, they were saved in the kingdom of God and if they didn’t die, they were saved to live another day and continue to do good. We can be like them if we remember that the gospel of Christ saves us whether we die or live. If we are pure we are prepared for either event.

“they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” (Alma 56:47) Such an empowering doctrine!

“they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers” (Alma 56:48) Not only did they remember the words of their mothers, they rehearsed them to each other and their leaders so that all could be strengthened. They were unashamed of having been taught by their mothers and they were not ashamed of what they had been taught and they were willing to share it with others when times were difficult. We are the same way if we share the good things we have been taught by our parents with others who are going through the same difficulties.

“We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” (Alma 48) The stripling warriors also bore testimony to the testimonies of their mothers. They were willing to take the word of their mothers and even stake their lives on it. We are the same way when we can take the word of our parents and leaders about what they know is dangerous or what they know is safe.

“they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power” (Alma 56:56) Because of their covenant with God to protect liberty, their efforts to fight for it were attended by God’s special power. We can enjoy the same kind of miraculous strength and power from God when we fight hard against temptation to keep our baptismal covenants.

“as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted” (Alma 57:20) Having covenanted to fight for liberty in all cases, retreat would be unthinkable. We are the same way when we are firm and undaunted at upholding our standards, even when others feel like giving up.

“they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted” (Alma 53:20) They didn’t have to be nagged to do something; they were dependable and did whatever good thing they were asked to do. We are the same way if people can ask us to do things and know that that they don’t have to worry about it any more.

“they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them” (Alma 57:20) They made sure they understood what it was they had to do and then they did an excellent job at it and if they didn’t get it right the first time, they worked until they got it how it should be. We are the same way when we do our best job all the time so that it is what people want done.

“their minds are firm” (Alma 57:27) No feeble minds here. They were educated, careful thinkers who, once they got the right idea in their mind, they would hold onto it and never let it go.

“they do put their trust in God continually” (Alma 57:27) They knew that if they kept the commandments they would be prospered in the land, so they constantly trusted God would pour out blessings.

“they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually” (Alma 58:40) They did what they could to bring the blessings of God to their endeavors.

“and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come” (Alma 58:40) They believed in the coming of Christ.

“they have received many wounds; nevertheless they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day” (Alma 58:40) Even when their valiant efforts resulted in painful wounds, they still did what they could to keep the commandments. Our lives are the same way in that we will endure many hurtful wounds from enemies of truth and sometimes even from our friends when we are trying to do what is right, but we will be like the stripling warriors if we continue to remember and trust the Lord even when we are spiritually wounded.

“And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.”(Alma 57:25)

To me, this is the greatest example. The stripling warriors were so determined to fight for freedom, that even when they were wounded, they continued to fight on. Other soldiers might get a wound and decide they were done fighting, but not these warriors. They fought on and on until their bodies simply could not take it any more and they collapsed. By the end of the battle, all of them had many wounds, and yet they still fought determinedly.

We are like them when we refuse to give up the battle for truth and decency even when our feelings have been hurt. Some people, when they have been insulted, will immediately withdraw to lick their wounds, but when we continue to uphold good standards, even with multiple insults and putdowns, we are like the stripling warriors.
Friday, July 25, 2008 0 comments

Generation of Vipers

I always wondered just what that phrase meant and why it was so bad. John the Baptist used it to refer to the Pharisees and Saducees who came to his baptisms but wouldn’t be baptized themselves. (Matt. 3:7) and Christ used it when He was telling off the Pharisees for their hypocrisy:
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23:33)
Interestingly enough, I ran across a Youtube video of a comedian—Brad Stine—who threw just enough light on the matter that I was able to figure the rest of it out.

He pointed out that our culture for some reason seems to like to insult people by calling them the son of a dog--no, he did not say the real phrase--and Christ called certain people sons of a snake. Instantly I remembered that phrase Christ used—“generation of vipers”.

It flashed through my mind like lightning that when Christ calls people a “generation of vipers” (sons of a snake), He didn’t mean just any old snake. He meant THE snake. The snake from the Garden of Eden. Satan.

He was calling them children of the devil. A generation of devils. That’s the worst thing that Christ could call them, and that's exactly what they were. They were a generation that tempted people to do evil, just like Satan does.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)
This when they were supposed to be a good influence.

Do any of our words or deeds tempt others to do evil? How good is our example? Is there anything we try to rationalize and justify as being "not that bad" and then invite others to do it too?

A more excellent faith

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. (Matthew 8:5-13)
It strikes me that if Jesus marvels at someone’s great faith, it would behoove me to study very carefully to see just why that faith was greater than what He had previously seen in Israel among 'the chosen people'.

What was different about this healing?

In so many other healings, Jesus was sent for to come and touch the sick person. The sick peoples’ faith to be healed was such that they required his presence and touch, which they must have believed was the effective thing.

But in the centurion’s case, Jesus didn’t actually go to the sick person and touch them. Instead, because of the centurion’s faith in Jesus’s power to heal, Jesus could just speak the word from wherever He was, and regardless of the distance, the healing would occur. Long-distance faith.

The centurion told why he had this faith. He had long had the assurance that because of his authority, if he issued commands to his servants, whatever he commanded would be done. He didn’t have to be there to make sure it happened.

The centurion must have extrapolated from his own experience. He must have said to himself, If this Jesus really has the authority and power he says he has, then he should be able to command people to be healed and not have to be there for it to be done. If he is what he says he is, he should have even more assurance of being obeyed than I do. He would be obeyed at any distance!

Now THAT is great faith.

There is something else about the above story that seemed odd to me when I read it today. Why, after marveling at the centurion’s faith, did Jesus say the following before doing the healing? :
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
What does the long-distance faith have to do with people from the east and west being able to sit down in the kingdom of God? And what does it have to do with the children of the kingdom being cast out? For what fault are they being cast out?

The answer, I realized, lay in the fact that there is more than one kind of healing. There is physical healing of the body, and there is the healing of the soul that comes from having our sins forgiven. I suspect that this healing—forgiveness—was what Jesus was most anxious to give.

The Israelites were not only unable to be physically healed without Jesus being there and touching them, they had troubles believing that he had the power to forgive them of their sins. He was there with them doing miraculous things and teaching doctrines more holy than anything they had heard before and yet too many had troubles believing He could take away their sins. How would they ever manage to believe it when He was gone?

If the Israelites, the children of the kingdom, couldn’t have the faith that Christ could forgive them while He was there with them, or if the best they could do was believe their sins were forgiven only if He was there telling them so, once Christ was ascended to heaven, none would be saved from their sins.

The lesson from this is that the centurion’s long-distance faith is exactly what we need to have today. It takes long-distance faith to believe that a Being whom we have never seen in the flesh in this life has suffered for our sins. It takes long-distance faith to believe that this Being has the power to forgive us when we repent of our sins and pray for forgiveness.

This is why the resurrected Christ said to Thomas, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Thursday, July 24, 2008 2 comments

How do I study the scriptures and apply them in my life?

My goal is to be a scriptorian. I’ve wanted to be one ever since my early 20s when my Dad told me that my Mom was one. I’m not exactly sure how a person becomes a scriptorian, but the following is my idea of what must happen.

I must familiarize myself with the scripture stories. I must know the stories forward and backward. I must also know the names of the people in them, so that if someone mentions a name from the scriptures, I can immediately have a story come to mind. (I notice this seems to happen as the number of times we have read the scriptures increases over the years.)

You can give your children a headstart in this by reading them the simplified scriptures with all the pictures in them. That’s what my mom did with me. Because of this I was very familiar with the major stories by the time I got halfway through junior primary.

I must know where to find scriptures without using a reference. I must know who in the scriptures said something in particular.

What else do I do in my scripture study?

I look for cause and effect. It is a little bit of a hobby of mine to find out what blessings are attached to which commandments.

I ask “why” and “how” as often as possible.

I examine each verse to see if there is an insight I can get from it.

How do I apply the scriptures in my life?

I usually have some kind of personal problem going on, and whenever I read, I keep that problem in mind, looking for anything and everything that speaks to me about it.

I choose people who are great and when they are described, I highlight those places and make goals to copy them as best as I can. For one example, the stripling warriors were obedient in whatsoever thing they were entrusted with, and according to their faith it was done unto them. I think that is sooo cool! So I’m trying to copy them. As another example, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were distinguished for their zeal. That is something I’m trying to achieve too, because I admire that. Another example is Mormon, who was very observant. His “and thus we see” statements are marvelous for their insight. I want to be that discerning, so I’m trying to notice things like he did.

I notice people who were terrible and when they are described, I highlight whose places in red (red = bad) and study them and why what they did was so bad. I try to think about my life to see if there is anything in my life that is similar and if there is, I know exactly what to repent of and try to change. One example is King Hezekiah who got smacked down by the Lord for showing off all his stuff to the Babylonian ambassador (Isaiah 39, I think). I realized that I was quite a showoff too, so I had to repent of that and ask for the Lord to change my heart.

I’d say that the most useful tool I have that helps me improve my study is asking myself questions. Questions give direction to my study and pondering.

Studying by topic is a great way to enhance understanding of a particular subject. I’ve done this two different ways. 1) I look it up in the Topical Guide and read all those scripture fragments without looking them up in the scriptures. This is a very fast way. 2) I keep the topic in my mind and skim the scriptures extremely fast looking for everything that remotely applies to the subject. I also have the online scriptures open and when I find something, I cut and paste it directly into a word file. When I’m done I have a whole bunch of stuff and then I amuse myself trying to organize the verses by what they emphasize on the topic. Very fun. This technique was how I built up all the scriptures to write about in my book about Isaiah.

The newest study technique that I have added to my bag of tricks is to write about the verses that stick out to me. There is twice as much spiritual power in writing about the scriptures as there is in just reading them, because it requires us to organize our thoughts and when we present our own feelings on it, in some mysterious way that connects us to the spiritual gift of prophecy by which all prophets wrote about Christ and gospel principles. I have experienced this again and again and I know it is real. (Note: This doesn't mean we are prophets for the church. We can only be prophets for our particular stewardship.)

I first started studying the scriptures every day when I was seventeen years old, just before my senior year of high school. It caused my testimony of the gospel to sprout like Jack’s magic beanstalk.

A few years later, I discovered something terribly shocking and disturbing—I was starting to get bored of reading the scriptures! (gasp) I felt ashamed about this and finally I confided in my Mom about it.

She assured me that she experienced the same thing from time to time and she had figured out that feeling meant that she had to find some new way to study. She suggested that I study by topic and told me how it helped her. But studying by topic didn’t sound very appealing to me at the time and it was only after I had gone through several other stages that I got to the point that studying by topic was interesting. Something I’ve learned since then is that we can pray for inspiration on what kind of study method to use next that will best help us to progress. Heavenly Father wants us to study the scriptures and He will certainly help us kick it up a notch.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.
And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things. (1 Nephi 16:28-29)
It is the same thing with reading the scriptures as with the Liahona. No matter how many times we’ve read, as long as we are faithful and diligent, heeding what we’ve learned, we will read new things plainly out of what we’ve seen so many times before, things that will help us with our current problems, things that will give us knowledge about the Lord’s ways so that we can become like Him, and by these small means great changes will occur in us.

So, when you find yourself getting bored of the scriptures, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It means you may have exhausted the insights from your current method of study and you need to find a different method to use. It means you have progressed. Ask Heavenly Father to help you find a new method that will teach you. Ask other people how they like to study. You’ll find something.

How do you like to study the scriptures? What techniques work for you?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 1 comments

What does Isaiah say about nations in the Millennium?

So shall he sprinkle many nations;
the kings shall shut their mouths at him:
for that which had not been told them shall they see;
and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
(Isaiah 52:15)
This is a very interesting scripture. The Joseph Smith Translation of this scripture changes the word “sprinkle” to “gather”, so the line becomes “So shall he gather many nations”. Now, on the surface, this scripture seems to talk about the gathering of Israel, and we tend to think that the rest of the verse with it says that kings will be surprised to hear about it this gathering. However, something tells me there is something else. Kings have been given sets of scriptures and they’ve been visited by general authorities and they haven’t heard anything so shocking and inconceivable in these days that they have been rendered absolutely speechless.

In W. Cleon Skousen’s book, Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times, he pointed out that this prophecy was fulfilled in the past when the United States was set up as a free nation. Before then, kings had not considered the idea that they might not have a divine right of kingship or that the people had a right to change a tyrannical government. That was indeed an astounding and revolutionary idea back then. (W. Cleon Skousen, Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times, Salt Lake City: Ensign Publishing, 1984, 653-654.)

I suspect there is even more to come at the Millennium. I think that the news that kings and presidents are going to hear will be something they never thought about before, something that has even huger implications for them than the right of the people to change their government. It would be nothing less than the right of God to abolish nations. I think this scripture is talking about how in the millennium Christ will make a full end of all nations. He will gather all nations in one. There will be no United States, no Canada, no Mexico, no separate countries in North or South America or Europe or Asia or Africa. The whole earth will all be unified as one nation ruled by Christ. (He’s the king of the whole earth, so the whole earth becomes His nation.) No borders or walls, no passports, no visas, no immigration laws, no illegal aliens, no export or import taxes, no tariffs.

This is something that kings and rulers of countries have never thought about. They haven’t thought about what will happen when Christ comes to rule over the earth and what that will mean for their positions. When Christ says the country of England no longer exists as a political entity, that means that Parliament and the Royalty and the courts have been abolished too. When Christ says that the United States has been done away as a political entity, then that means the Supreme Court, Congress, the Presidency, and all the state government offices have all ceased to exist too. Every government will be abolished and Christ will take control himself, erasing borders, and divisions across the globe. “But, verily I say unto you that in time ye shall have no king nor ruler, for I will be your king and watch over you” (Doctrine & Covenants 38:21). The rulers will be told they are no longer in charge and they will become ordinary citizens. They will shut their mouths, because they will realize there is nothing they can say to change it.

The laws are going to be very different, but they will be perfectly familiar to those of us who have kept the commandments. “Wherefore, hear my voice and follow me, and you shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come, for I am your lawgiver, and what can stay my hand?” (Doctrine & Covenants 38:22, emphasis added)

What sacred gifts might we be refusing?

And it came to pass that in the same year that the people of Nephi had peace restored unto them, that Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman. (Alma 50:37-38)
Nephihah, because he was a perfectly upright man and an excellent chief judge, seemed like the perfect candidate to receive the most sacred things—the records and translators and the sword of Laban.

But he refused.

He refused!


Although he was perfectly upright and a just judge, somehow he still didn’t want to take upon himself the most sacred things with their privileges and responsibilities.

What sacred gifts from the Lord might we be refusing?

When do you get mad at the word of God?

There are a few subjects that I can't listen to without cringing and getting a little perturbed. I will refrain from saying what they are. I've noticed that there are other people who have at least one aspect of the gospel that gets their goat. I suppose this is natural, but it is also worrisome.

At various times in the scriptures it is recorded where people don’t like the message preached to them. There’s the Zoramites..
And it came to pass that after the more popular part of the Zoramites had consulted together concerning the words which had been preached unto them, they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not hearken unto the words (Alma 35:3, emphasis added).
These peoples’ jobs were on the line; the word of God threatened to put them out of work, possibly because they were paid to make the idols for people to bow down to. (Alma 31:1) They probably made a lot of money at it.

The Nephites also sometimes got angry when preached to…
…the hearts of the people began to wax hard, and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word... (Alma 35:16, emphasis added)
And of course there is Laman and Lemuel…
And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.
And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center. (1 Nephi 16:1-2, emphasis added)
It is helpful to know what disturbed Laman and Lemuel so much. I surmise that it was probably that Nephi had just got done saying that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of God. (1 Nephi 15:34)

This is certainly a strict doctrine. If no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God, it means we have to repent of every single one of our sins. It also means we have to be way more alert and watchful of ourselves to resist sin and temptation. This is a tricky thing, because King Benjamin noted that there are numberless ways of sinning. (Mosiah 4:29) (He may have been thinking of Leviticus in which the Lord lists and forbids a lot of the worst ones, and the list is quite long.)
But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
(Mosiah 4:30)
That caution and watchfulness and strictness takes a lot of spiritual energy and that is one thing we shy away from—all that effort.

We’re don’t tend to want to look for something that is more strict; we want something with fewer and looser requirements. It is a good thing that we have Christ telling us that we need to look for a stricter way.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13-14)
How did we get into those lax, broad roads in the first place?
And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost. (1 Nephi 12:17, emphasis added)
It seems that we are tempted into those lax ways. Satan tempts us when he whispers that we don’t need to be so cautious or concerned about whatever we do. “Just once won’t hurt”…”It’s no big deal”…..”It’s just a movie”…..”Stop being so uptight”…..”There’s nothing wrong with it”…..”It’s only a little bad part”…..”You’re different; that commandment doesn’t apply to you”... It’s hard to resist that kind of thing unless we have something to hold to.

That’s why Heavenly Father gives us scriptures and prophets, the vehicles of His word, so that we have guidance. They lead a straight, undeviating course to eternal life. No wonder the word of God is likened to an iron rod.
And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. (1 Nephi 15:24)
So why do we complain when the word of God doesn’t deviate when and where we want it to? If it deviated like that, it would become an iron slinky instead of an iron rod! That wouldn’t keep us very safe, would it?

Now, what is this narrow way that is so strict?
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me…and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. (3 Nephi 11:31-33, emphasis added)
And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. (3 Nephi 11:38-39)
So we need to:
  • Believe in Christ (that He atoned for our sins)
  • Repent of all our sins
  • Be baptized
  • Become as a little child
Then after Christ says this, He starts giving the Beatitudes—the higher law—and in the middle he says something which throws greater light on the narrowness of the way we have entered.
Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (3 Nephi 12:20, emphasis added).
I remember when the meaning of this first became clear to me. I was astounded. Suddenly the Beatitudes weren’t optional, they had become required! But you can see why, because they are certainly a recipe for a celestial character.

This seems to say that not only must we avoid sin of all kinds, we must become celestial. That seems to double the strictness, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, we have help. When we have truly repented of our sins and had a change of heart, our very nature is changed so that we have no more desire to sin. It certainly would keep us from sinning if sin seems icky. The same change of heart causes doing good things to become attractive. That would certainly make it more palatable and enjoyable to be good, wouldn’t it? It would also mean we would like to hear the word of God, instead of dreading it.
And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us. (1 Nephi 16:3)
Now, just because we have become converted to the truth and are in the way does not mean that we can become completely obedient on the instant. Neither does it mean we will suddenly have the desire to do EVERY good thing. It also doesn’t mean that our character flaws are suddenly eliminated. As our faults meet temptations they bring out sin, and so we must continue to repent and seek the Lord’s help in recognizing and exorcising our faults and adding to our strengths. It is a continuous process of cleansing and improvement. Multiple conversions.

I have recently realized that one of my flaws is being controlling of other people. I am tempted at various times to reduce people’s agency, and each sin of coercion that I commit I have to repent of. I have finally come to the realization that this is a pattern of behavior that demonstrates a flaw in my character and unless I address the flaw itself, I will continue to commit sins of coercion. I need to be changed so that I have no more desire to coerce. I make the first step by praying for the change. Then I ask for help in learning to protect agency. Then I go to work on it. I know this pattern works for eradicating weaknesses because I have used it before.

What about adding good that I previously haven't done before?

I used to tune out talks about family history, because I was intimidated by the idea and it never sounded very fun to me. But when I learned that I had to learn to control my desires and figured out that Heavenly Father could help me want to do good things that previously I had no desire to do, a little seed of faith was planted in my heart, and I said to myself, “I am not yet good enough to want to do family history, but someday I will be, and when I get to the point that I want that desire, I will pray for it and Heavenly Father will help me.” Eventually I did get to the point of wanting to do family history, so I took a class on it and learned a lot. Now it is really fun! The commandment doesn’t seem strict anymore.

Now there’s one more thing that I want to mention in this post. There will be times that we may be called “narrow-minded”. If we earn this epithet for sticking to the strait and narrow way, we can say, “Actually I prefer the word ‘focused’”, because we have to concentrate completely on living those gospel principles to the extent that there is no room for anything else. If we earn this epithet for not opening our eyes to more truth, well, then we have a problem…
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 0 comments

What are the prophets warning us about?

Behold, the former things are come to pass,
and new things do I declare:
before they spring forth I tell you of them.
(Isaiah 42:9)
Do you remember all the conference talks earlier in this decade that mentioned that we should get out of debt and get a year’s supply? We are beginning to see why. Who would have anticipated that so many people would default on their mortgage loans? (It’s not just the subprime anymore) Who would have suspected that prices of food and gas would go up as high as they have? “The former things are come to pass” indeed.

But Heavenly Father does not stand still; He moves on to tell us about the next threat we should prepare for. “new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them”. If we examine the recent messages of the prophet and apostles we can see the next thing that is coming. Lately they have been harping on strengthening the family. Therefore we can soon expect a massive assault upon the foundation of the family, which is marriage between a man and a woman. It’s already beginning.

How do we strengthen the family? We must teach the doctrine of the family often enough that it becomes stuck in our minds and the minds of our children. The true doctrine of the family will fortify our minds against the false ideas the world spreads. It will keep us strong even if we find ourselves surrounded by people who reject it and practice something else.

Are you preparing your son to tell his peers that he knows marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God when they accuse him of homosexuality?
Are you preparing your daughter to stand up for what is right if another girl expresses same-sex attraction for her?

Are you helping your daughter look forward to and prepare to marry a good man? Are you helping your son anticipate and prepare himself for the woman he will marry?

Is your marriage the kind of marriage that you want your children to want and look forward to? Is it the kind of marriage that shows your children that marriage between a man and a woman really is ordained of God?

Back to the debt issue - I used to wonder why the prophet and apostles didn’t come right out and say that there was going to be lots of foreclosures and high prices and so on, but I started thinking about it and I realized some things. If they had told us about that in the midst of the boom period, we would have thought they had gone off their rocker. And those of us who believed it would have been terribly alarmed for a while, and then decided it wasn’t really going to happen. If we are alarmed, that really doesn’t do any good, because then we end up doing silly, crazy, and stupid things. (Yes, scared people tend to do foolish things.)

The Lord’s way to warn us is to teach us the correct principles and to tell us to do things that will prepare us and fortify us ahead of time, so that we can put all our energy into doing what will actually help us. Then, if we are prepared, we will not fear what comes. The world is alarming enough as it is, but God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Saturday, July 19, 2008 0 comments

How does the Holy Ghost feel to me?

I ran across a fabulous word in the dictionary quite by accident that perfectly describes it.
thrill—to experience or cause to experience a sudden intense feeling of excitement, to have or cause to have a shivering or tingling sensation, vibrate, tremble
This is exactly how I react to the Spirit of God. It is a wonderful feeling, absolutely energizing and invigorating and I feel as if I could shoot off like a rocket, or lift a car, or run a marathon in 10 seconds. It is electric power pulsing through my veins and if you cut me open I think I would bleed lightning.

This isn’t the only kind of physical sensation I get; it depends on the situation. How about you? What physical sensations do you have when you feel the Spirit of God working upon you?

I want to know what Joseph Smith knew

I read a book I borrowed from Ruby Hood and it said a few things about how Joseph Smith felt constrained in a nut-sized space because he couldn’t share with the people all the principles that he knew, since they could not stand it.

I had heard things like this before, and I think that they were what has motivated me to seek for deep treasures of the gospel, and to know the mysteries of God. I’ve often thought to myself, “If Joseph Smith knew so much more than he told people, what is there that I still need to learn?” I felt that if Joseph Smith could be taught from on high such marvelous things, then I could do my best to search and think and ponder and be taught by the Holy Ghost.

I was musing upon how Joseph Smith had so many visions and angelic visitations to teach him things, while I have had none, but have only learned through the Holy Ghost. I felt as though I could never attain to such knowledge as his without some kind of dramatic visitation. And he has the priesthood, while I have not. How could I ever aspire to the same knowledge?

Yet one thing I was reminded of—that Joseph Smith was very meditative and thoughtful, and very much disposed to pondering things. I feel I have become that way somewhat myself. It came to me, almost as I grasped at a straw of faith, that Heavenly Father could and would reveal the same things to me as He had to Joseph Smith to the degree I was ready for it and it didn’t matter how it was revealed, it only mattered that it was revealed. (And He is willing to reveal the same things to anyone else as well!) The method of revelation isn’t as important as the revelation itself, just as it doesn’t matter whether you get information by phone or by letter or by TV, just so you get the information at all. So now I am comforted, because I see that it doesn’t matter whether I learn something by angel or by the whispering of the Holy Ghost or dreams or visions, as long as I learn it. Heavenly Father will choose the method that is best for getting the message across.

I recall being told that the Lord could and would reveal marvelous things if only I was ready. When I was much younger, I was inclined to think, “I’m ready for it NOW! Why doesn’t Heavenly Father reveal things to me?” And of course that was a very proud attitude, so Heavenly Father would not reveal anything, and then I would think, See? Heavenly Father hasn’t showed me anything, so I guess He doesn’t keep His promise. See how silly I was? I was too proud and I wasn’t searching in questioning and pondering and studying and wondering about anything in particular. If I had been, then Heavenly Father would be quick to answer and reveal.

From my Journal on the Virginia Tech Shootings

Two days ago some guy going to Virginia Tech opened fire on students in several classes and killed 30 some people and wounded 20 some more. Very sad. The last major shooting rampage at a college was 1966 when whats-his-bucket at UT shot people from the top of the Kniker carillon. The nation is in shock, candlelight vigils are proliferating, and the media is abuzz with editorial. There are starting to be discussions about how to keep it from happening again, and what security measures to inflict.

Today I had a scripture come to mind about it.
Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;
But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
(3 Nephi 12:21-22)
Christ hit the nail on the head. The violence is not the problem, but the symptom of the problem. The real problem is anger. They need to start targeting anger and put effort into anger management, more than security measures.

In my experience, the best way to deal with anger is to pray about it. I take it to Heavenly Father and tell Him everything I feel and why and then I ask Him to help me not be angry any more because I don’t like it. I can’t quite describe what happens afterward, because I never quite remember how it happens, but I end up much more calm.

If people learned to control anger, not only would there be no shooting rampages, but there would be no road rage incidents, no spousal or child abuse, no murders, and so on.

In one of my classes the teacher brought the subject of Virginia Tech up. She talked about security measures and wondered if carrying concealed weapons might have made the difference. I spoke up and told about the above scripture and made my view known. That was the end of the discussion.

Simple Faith vs. Complex Faith

I have often heard people praise a person who has “simple faith” when that person acts courageously and experiences a miracle. I have often wondered about that, wondered why they call it “simple”, especially when it is demonstrated in great ways and brings about great things.

I finally think I know the answer. The answer lies in the term “simple” as opposed to “complex”.

What would “complex faith” be like? It is perhaps embodied in a statement similar to this:

“If I ask in faith, believing I will receive, and if what I ask is right, and if Heavenly Father is in the mood to answer, and if it is to help someone else, and if it is an emergency, and if I am completely helpless, and if it isn’t something that the Lord wants me to figure out for myself…. then I shall receive.”

You see? Too many conditions have to be met in our minds for us to feel like we can ask and receive. Simple faith, on the other hand, is embodied in a statement like this:

“If I ask in faith, I shall receive.”

Where are all the other conditions? The nit-picky conditions that fetter “complex faith” aren’t even a worry. One of simple faith is close to God already; they are so good, they take it for granted that they are asking for the right thing. They have educated their desires to only want what is good. They have made the Lord’s perspective their own and they see the goal from afar.

Where is the safest place for your money?

Recently I was reading about the Nephites getting destroyed. (They get destroyed about every two months or so and it never gets any more fun to read about it. :-( ) I read about how their riches became slippery.
And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.
(Mormon 1:18)
I realized the slipperiness could certainly apply to the stock market right now. People lay up their earnings by investing in the stock market and frequently stocks fluctuate so that the prices go down or up and when the stocks go down, people lose their money; it slips away from them.

Samuel the Lamanite prophesied that only people who laid up their treasures unto the Lord would retain them again. I’ve wondered for a while just what it means to “lay up your treasures unto the Lord”. I’ve wondered whether it means to bury them and then pray over them, or to bury your journals and pray that they come out when they are most needed… But in connection with the slippery stock market, I see now that the only way you can lay up your treasures to the Lord is to give them to the church.

The church is the best treasury ever, because the Lord is the manager. In normal savings banks, you get your money back whenever you call for it. But in the church, your money comes back in whatever form you need it, when you need it, and not until. And it doesn’t necessarily come back from the same entity to whom you gave it. Since the Lord is so powerful, He can disburse it back through any person who has money or means.

I know this is a very unusual idea, but I know it is true, because I’ve tested it.

The Holy Spirit is like the wind?

I’ve always been puzzled by the following scripture:
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
(John 3:8)
I would think to myself, “I’m don’t feel like the wind.” I get the feeling that this scripture means something about being impulsive somehow, but I wasn’t sure until I went to a fireside at which Sister Okasaki was speaking. (Such a sweet lady!)

She explained this scripture to mean that when we get a prompting we often don’t quite know where it comes from and we don’t know what will come of it, so we just have to follow it and trust God.

Battle Strategy – Distraction & Fatigue

Recently when I read Alma 52, I was struck by something interesting. I noticed that when Teancum was leading the Lamanite armies away from the city Mulek, his army was a small one, and yet he led them a merry chase, and when Teancum got to Bountiful, he tag-teamed with Lehi’s army, which was bigger and stronger. The Lamanites, by the time they chased up to Bountiful, were very tired and they couldn’t face Lehi’s fresh army, and this contributed to their defeat.

I learned three things from this.

First, the small things distract us, because we think that we can conquer them. We think they are easier than the big issues.

Second, pursuing the small distractions wastes our limited energy so that we become too tired to deal with the big concerns.

Third, it is wise to have a tag-team partnership, so that when we are tired, we can hand off our struggles to someone else long enough for us to be refreshed and strengthened enough to go at ‘em again.

Another thing that strikes me, now that I’m looking at this whole battle strategy, was how well Captain Moroni parceled out the responsibilities. I imagine something like this:

“Teancum, you will lead the Lamanite armies away from Mulek. Tease them as much as you want, but be elusive.”
“Awesome! Thanks!”
“Lehi, you will station yourself at Bountiful and take over the battle when Teancum comes up with the Lamanites hot on his heels. Look as scary and vigorous and strong as you can to intimidate them with your freshness.”
“Part of my army will retake Mulek when the Lamanite armies run off after Teancum… we’re hoping they’ll be thoughtless enough to chase with their whole army.”
(snickers all around)
“The other part of my army will follow the Lamanite army, slowly to conserve strength, remaining out of sight until they get begin to retreat from Lehi’s fearsome crack troops. And we’ll all meet in the middle at this time. Lehi from the rear, my army from the front”

The duties were all equally shared so that everyone could have a part, but nothing that would over-extend their strength (which would make them vulnerable to defeat).

The Lamanites, on the other hand, were forced to do all the pursuing and fighting and so on all with the same army that got more and more tired as time went on.

What are you allowing yourself to get distracted by?

The Test of Blessings

I ran across a scripture in Exodus that really made me think.
Then said the LORD unto Moses,
Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you;
and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day,
that I may prove them,
whether they will walk in my law, or no.
(Exodus 16:4)
At the same time that the Lord provided Israel with a blessing (food), He also gave some rules concerning it, and the whole reason this was done was so that He could test Israel to see if they would obey or not.

I was struck by this, that the Lord was going to test the Israelites with the blessings that He gave them. It had never occurred to me that the Lord could test with blessings as well as with tribulations.

I could immediately apply this to myself, because I had just gotten a new computer, a Macbook, which was turning out to be an amazing blessing. It made it a lot faster and easier to do homework. But it also made it a lot faster and easier to waste time too, like with too much Facebooking, and too much reading the news and too much watching videos on Youtube.

I have to make sure use all these blessings the way the Lord would want me to, in moderation.

Facebook is a blessing, because I have found some of my siblings and a lot of my cousins are on it, so I can use it to keep in closer contact with my family. It is a curse if I get involved in the frivolous applications, or if I check it too often.

Reading the news on the internet is a blessing, because I can do it as quickly as I like, but it is a curse if I just do it to avoid doing other things I know need to be done more and if I read it endlessly.

Youtube is a blessing, because it allows me to find videos that can educate me and show me good and virtuous things that would not ordinarily find enough of an audience on TV. When I was sick of my chemistry homework and needed motivation, I looked up videos on chemical explosions and after about an hour of that, I was stoked to study chemistry again. When I wanted to learn about folk dance, I found a list of dances on wikipedia and then looked for them on Youtube and was enthralled. When I wanted something to show my cub scouts that could explain how helicopters work, I found it on Youtube. But Youtube can also be a curse, if watching it is all I want to do all the time.

Now I see that when the Lord commanded the children of Israel to only gather a certain rate every day, He was trying to show how rationing promotes moderation, which can help us find balance.

What blessing do you need to ration in your life?

The Promise of Stamina

At our stake conference in February there was a musical number with the text from Isaiah’s words:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31)
I thought it was really interesting how those promises are extended to those who keep the Word of Wisdom too, and I realized that they are just two sides of the same thing—where stamina comes from. Physical stamina comes from eating wholesome things that give us strength. Spiritual stamina comes from absorbing and living true doctrine and trusting in the Lord. Both aspects of stamina are necessary for us.

What mother doesn’t need stamina to deal with her children throughout the day? What man doesn’t need stamina to earn a living and then come home and be a good father? What missionary doesn’t need stamina out tracting? What church leader doesn’t need stamina to make it through the meetings and interviews? What child doesn’t need stamina to do their chores? What teen doesn’t need stamina to do well at school and then be kind to their family? And with all this, there is that promise of mounting up with wings as eagles, and actually going higher, becoming better, even as the winds of opposition grow stronger!

The impact of the gospel of Christ.

In this month’s issue of the Ensign magazine, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the quorum of the 12 apostles challenged us to share how the gospel has had an impact on our lives. It got me thinking. So here’s my take:

The first thing I think of that the gospel has done is it has told me who I am – a precious daughter of God – and what I can become – a goddess.

This is more than any identity the world can give, better than being a celebrity, better than being royalty, better than being rich, better than being a genius.

It means that if I am faithful I can anticipate beauty, power, blazing glory, majesty, all things the Father hath, all knowledge and intelligence, an endless posterity, and an infinite variety of opportunities to do good. Isn’t that a payoff worth working toward? (Michaela bounces excitedly)

That’s the promise Heavenly Father makes to everyone who obeys Him.

But what has the gospel done for me now in this life?

It has given me someone to believe in who will never fail me – Jesus Christ.

The gospel has given me the explanation of where I came from, why I’m here, and where I am going after this life.

The gospel has given me the opportunity to repent and this makes it possible for me to become pure, through the Atonement of Christ. It’s given me a way to achieve a clean conscience and peace, even in a turbulent and wicked world. The gospel has given me the challenge of rising to a higher plane of conduct and reasons for doing so.

It’s given me clear guidance through prophets and apostles, guidance that has kept me safe, and through it I have learned true principles that help me govern myself. It is extremely practical. It assures me that Heavenly Father still speaks to us today and that His power is manifest through the priesthood.

The gospel has shown me the pattern of righteous leadership and holy authority and helped me develop some of that in myself.

The gospel has given me the assurance of having a family that remains together even after death. My mother taught me gospel principles that helped me be kinder to my siblings growing up. By following gospel principles I was able to make wise decisions when looking for a husband, and it helped me be patient when I felt like I would never find a good man who loved me. It has helped me have a better marriage.

The gospel has given me a way repay a portion of my debt of existence to my ancestors, by doing family history and vicarious ordinance work for them in temples.

The gospel has given me hope that physical weakness, disease, and disability are only temporary.

The gospel has given me sacred ordinances and participating in them worthily brings me the absolute assurance that I am coming closer to God.

The gospel has helped me develop my spiritual sensitivity and discernment. It has opened the way for me to acquire spiritual gifts to benefit me, my family, and those around me. It has encouraged me to seek for personal revelations, inspiration, and enlightenment from God, showing me that it is my right to receive it.

The gospel has given me knowledge and wisdom greater than I could have had otherwise, and it has given me the promise of more if I keep seeking. It teaches me to learn both by study and by faith.

The gospel has given me opportunities to help and serve people of all ages in many different ways. It has pushed me to develop talents that I never knew I had.

The gospel has helped me deal better with trials and afflictions than I would otherwise. It has helped me look for the lessons and trust that there is a reason for what I suffer.

As I’ve learned about science, the gospel has helped me see how all things testify of the reality of the creation and God’s wisdom.

The gospel has influenced me to respect my body and keep it clean, strong, and healthy.

It would take a long time to tell every single way the gospel has influenced me and benefited me, but I can easily see that I am 50 times better of a person right now than I would ever have been without the gospel as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am absolutely sure that I am 100 times happier than I would ever have been without it. I wish everyone could join so that they could have these great things and more.

Impact? The gospel has made more than an impact. It’s made a crater!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008 0 comments

Chemistry and Consecration

During the early spring semester in 2008 I took a chemistry class and here are some things I wrote back then:

As I consider the idea of covalent and ionic bonding, it seems to me that it is a fabulous example of how earth does everything the Lord commands. These types of chemical bonds are great testifiers of the Law of Consecration.

Consider – when an atom has too many electrons, it is not happy unless it gives them away to some other atom or molecule that doesn’t have enough. They are bound together by this generosity.

Also, when an atom almost has enough electrons, but not quite, it will share what it has with another atom that similarly doesn’t have quite enough electrons, and so both atoms have enough electrons and achieve stability by sticking together. This binds them together.

How foolish and opposite is man in comparison! For man, when he has plenty of income, is not contented, but will continue to accumulate, and will withhold from those who actually need it! Man is so independent that he looks with distaste upon sharing anything valuable and useful with anyone else, even if it is necessary. It reminds me a lot of the verses from Helaman that say thus:
7 O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.
8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.
9 Yea, behold at his voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake.
10 And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley.
11 Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake;
12 Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center.
13 Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved.
14 Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done;
4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!
5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.
(Helaman 12: 4-6)
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