Tuesday, January 23, 2018 0 comments

Knowing Intentions

29 And now, as Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren, or to subject them and bring them into bondage that they might establish a kingdom unto themselves over all the land;
30 And he also knowing that it was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church… (Alma 43:29-30)

Knowing the enemy’s intentions is important. When we contend for the truth, it is important to know the stated and the underlying intentions of those we face.

When we find ourselves in a situation of temptation, it is also helpful to remember that Satan always intends to destroy us, weaken us, subvert our efforts and morals, and subject us to bondage in sin. That’s his intention every time, and he may use people with different intentions to try to do his work.

Compare that to Christ’s intentions—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man—and how He goes about that in ways that preserve our agency.

I think it is also important for us to examine our intentions and whether they are good or not. This scripture in particular struck me at a time when I wondered about someone else’s intentions toward me, and when I turned the question back on myself, I realized my intentions are not as good as they could be, so I had to do some repenting myself.

Thursday, January 18, 2018 2 comments

Sacred Support

In this verse, Captain Moroni commands Zerahemnah to surrender in the name of God and by a list of other things that are important to the Nephites.

And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us— (Alma 44:5)

One of these things mentioned is “by that sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children.”

I love that term “sacred support.” To me it doesn’t just mean the psychological support and commitment to wife and children, but all the hard work that is done to provide for one’s family. I love that Captain Moroni calls it sacred, and it really is. That support is a sacrifice that good, able-bodied men make every working day for their families.

As a wife who benefits from this sacred support, when I see it as sacred, I realize it would be terribly disrespectful and ungrateful of me to then turn around and waste that. It puts a responsibility on me to use it wisely for the benefit of our family. It also means that the tithing that is paid out of that sacred support is doubly sacred, since it is essentially a second sacrifice.

Knowing that support of my husband is sacred gives yet another good reason for budgeting, to make sure that none of that sacrifice is wasted or for naught. Because it would be awful if our choices make that sacrifice meaningless.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 0 comments

Remembering the Captivity and Deliverance of Our Fathers

In Alma’s advice to his son Helaman, he starts out with this bit:

2 I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.
3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 36:2-3)
I’ve always thought it a little peculiar that Alma wanted Helaman to remember the deliverance of his fathers from captivity. It made me wonder why that was so important. I noticed Alma also preached to the people in Zerahemla in Alma 5, asking if they had sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of their fathers and that God had delivered them.
Eventually I realized the reason for this. Sooner or later, we will get ourselves into some sort of predicament—spiritual or temporal—in which we will be stuck and we can’t fix it ourselves, and we will need the Lord to stretch out His mighty arm and save us. And when that salvation happens, we need to remember it FOREVER, remember His mercy and power and let that motivate us to love and serve God ever after.

Alma the Younger had his own experiences with deliverance, a spiritual one from hellish torment, and a physical one from the prison of Ammonihah and the cruel leaders who mocked and abused him. In both cases, he was stuck, and only God could deliver him. This meant so much to him, but he couldn’t exactly universalize these experiences when preaching to others—“remember my captivity and that the Lord delivered me”—because it wouldn’t resonate as strongly. But exhorting his son and others to remember the captivity of their fathers would be better because the Nephites would have various family stories they handed down, stories of leaving the land of Nephi with Mosiah I, or escaping from King Noah, or escaping with Gideon and King Limhi from the Lamanites. These stories would also be added to whatever personal experiences they’d had with the Lord delivering them from physical and spiritual captivity.

How does remembering that captivity and deliverance help us? Remembering our captivity reminds us of all the difficulties we labored under, all the afflictions and so on. It strengthens our resolve to never put ourselves in that position again, to fight any tendency to slide back into that state. It causes us to remember the great mercy of God in delivering us out of that captivity and strengthens our resolve to serve Him and testify of Him.

So, take some time to remember your deliverance today and how the Lord has blessed you.

Sunday, January 14, 2018 0 comments

When Nephi reproaches his brothers for forgetfulness

10 How is it that ye have forgotten that ye have seen an angel of the Lord?
11 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us, in delivering us out of the hands of Laban, and also that we should obtain the record?
12 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him. (1 Nephi 7:10-12)

As Nephi and his brothers bring Ishmael’s family out of Jerusalem and the ones who want to go back make their feelings known, Nephi asks his brothers how they could have forgotten the great things the Lord has already done for them—sending an angel to instruct them, saving them from Laban, helping them get the brass plates.

It struck me that the events Nephi tells about are things he best remembers because they were 1) in his favor, and 2) vindicated his faith, and 3) he was the main participant, whereas his brothers might be 1) anxious to forget the angel because they were chastised, 2) anxious to forget the incidents of getting the brass plates because their efforts were ineffectual and they weren’t personally involved in the final successful effort. 

So, from a certain point of view, Nephi is the one who is mostly likely to be convinced by his own arguments here.  Still, if Laman and Lemuel had had the faith to persevere, they could have been more involved and thereafter more convinced.

It seems to me we are most likely to want to remember the times the Lord has helped us be successful versus the times we were chastised or not personally involved. It seems that as faith decreases, we are less likely to be convinced by arguments of how faith has been vindicated in the past, but as our faith increases, we are more convinced and moved by arguments about remembering when faith was vindicated.

So the overall lesson to draw from this seems to be that we must act in faith now if faith is to continue to have weight with us in the future.

Thursday, January 4, 2018 3 comments

Feeeelings… nothing more than feeeeelings. Or something else?

Do you ever find yourself in a mental-emotional place where your feelings contradict the thing you know to be true?  Or when you don’t feel good about the thing you know to be right, or feel bad about the thing you know to be good?

It’s annoying, but it happens on occasion, and it is important to at least be able to recognize what is going on so that the feelings don’t get the upper hand.

I’m going to tell about a weird conversation I had with the Lord to illustrate how I discovered Satan had been working on me to try to stop me from making progress.

Heavenly Father, I don’t understand what’s going on. I have to finish these minutes for the meeting, but I don’t want to do it. But I also want to do it, and here I am folding clothes when I should be working on finishing the minutes. I’ve already done the biggest part of the minutes job, and it shouldn’t be a problem to finish it, but it feels like it is a huge job hanging over my head and I don’t want to do it.  I know I’m mostly finished, but I don’t feel how close I am. I know it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it feels like a big burden. Why am I feeling like this?  I know I have troubles finishing tasks as a symptom of ADD, but this seems different.

I also know that as I make the action list from the minutes, I will be creating a task list for myself as well as the other people in the organization. And when I’m done, I’m going to feel like I have to do all those tasks immediately instead of getting on to the tasks that are most important to me that I want to do today. I know I’m going to feel like this because this has happened in the past. It is possible I’m folding clothes because I’m trying to show myself I can do some tasks anyway that are important to me before I finish the minutes. That seems to make it a control issue; I’m trying to show I have control over what I choose to do.

This seems like a situation in which my feelings are lying to me. I don’t like that. Please help me to do what I know I need to do.

Feelings? Really?  Is it “nothing more than feelings”? 

Sometimes it is Satan.

It is Satan who attempts to hijack feelings like that. Feelings are very powerful, and they are useful for motivation, but they are changeable and can be manipulated. This is why it is a great safeguard that we are promised in the D&C the Lord will tell us things in both our mind and our heart.

When I finished my prayer, it was clear to me that Satan had been trying to attack me through my feelings. And if he’s doing that to me, he probably does that to you too. My prayers to Heavenly Father talking about the situation helped me realize it and know what I needed to do. (I trust that when I get done, I will feel happy about it, and the obstructing feelings will dissipate.)

Don’t let Satan win.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 0 comments

More treasures than one in Salem, Massachusetts

9 This place you may obtain by hire. And inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this city;
10 For there are more treasures than one for you in this city. (D&C 111:9-10)

These verses were part of the instructions given to Joseph Smith and three other leaders as they visited Salem, Massachusetts. They had come looking for sources of money to help pay their debts, so they investigated that claim. But apparently the Lord wanted to broaden their vision of value, by telling them to look into the history of the place and its inhabitants.

It struck me that it might be instructive to also look into that stuff too. After all, it is so much easier to do today, what with the internet and Wikipedia, and various fabulous resources there.

It was interesting to find this Salem was a beginning colony of the Puritans and to find out the struggles and controversies they were involved in. Although the Puritans sought religious freedom for themselves, they did not want to extend the same privilege to others. They penalized other “unorthodox” denominations with strong, cruel penalties of banishment, physical maiming, and damaging punishments, and even execution. In the end, this was part of what got their colony charter revoked.

And of course it was also the site of the infamous Salem witch trials, with all the associated superstition, false accusations, injustice, oppression, and paranoia that all involved.

How would it help the prophet Joseph Smith in 1836 to know this history? It would give a lot of information about the kinds of practices that would make a religious community odious to the surrounding inhabitants or to those who wanted to live there but who weren’t part of their faith. It would give a measuring stick against which to gauge the accusations brought against the Saints in Missouri and elsewhere.  It would definitely help form his ideas about the importance of religious freedom.  It had examples of both statesmanship and ignominious tyranny.

Some links:

Monday, December 18, 2017 1 comments

Believe and Act

I like these words from King Benjamin’s speech:

9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
10 And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them. (Mosiah 4:9-10)

I love that last part—“if you believe all these things see that ye do them.” 

We may have the tendency to mentally assent to the teachings and principles of the gospel without actually applying them as often as we should, and I think King Benjamin was aware of that tendency.

So, if we believe we can repent, see that we do it. If we believe in keeping the Sabbath, see that we do it. If prayer is efficacious, do it. If temple worship and family history does serve the dead and protect us, do it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017 0 comments

Various scriptures about “inasmuch”

I ran across a verse that had “inasmuch” in it, and it seemed to me that it expressed proportionality—the bigger one thing is, the bigger another thing is.  So I decided to search for scriptures to see how often I could find this and what I could learn from it.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matt. 25:40)

To the extent we are charitable to the least of humanity, we are charitable to Christ.

…inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. (Phillippians 1:7)

This one is a little tricky to follow, but I think it is staying Paul seems to have noticed that to the extent he was confined but continued to defend and confirm the gospel, he was given grace from God to strengthen others.  That gives some encouragement about our effectiveness for when we feel like we’re hampered by persecution, doesn’t it?

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:13)

So to the extent that we suffer as Christ did, we will be joyful when His glory is revealed. That gives a good reason to be valiant, doesn’t it?

And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands. (1 Nephi 2:20)

So to the extent we keep the commandments, we will prosper. This theme is repeated throughout the Book of Mormon. (1 Nephi 4:14; 2 Ne. 1:9; 2 Ne. 1:20; 2 Ne. 4:4; Jarom 1:9; Alma 9:13; Alma 36:1; Alma 38: 1; Alma 50:20)

And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren. (1 Nephi 2:22)

This was definitely true of Nephi, and it may very well be true in general—to the extent one keeps the commandments, one is made a ruler and a teacher.

And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led. (1 Ne. 17:13)

Maybe we are not seeking out a promised land like Nephi, but it is still true that to the extent that we keep the Lord’s commandments we will be led and we will know we are led by God.

And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. (1 Nephi 2: 21)

To the extent that we rebel, we are cut off from the Lord’s presence.  Pretty simple.

And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction. (2 Ne 5:25)

So to the extent that we don’t remember God, we will be scourged to destruction. The use of “scourge” here is interesting. A scourge is a whip. It’s not meant to be an execution device, but if it keeps hitting and doesn’t stop, then it becomes one. This scourge is stopped by remembering God and listening to His words. (Oh, look!  Remembering God is part of what we promise to do in the sacrament!)

And it came to pass that they did repent, and inasmuch as they did repent they did begin to prosper. (Helaman 4:15, see also Ether 11:8)

So to the extent that we repent, we prosper.

I’m going to end this post with a triple-packed scripture of inasmuches. 

25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;
27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent; (D&C 1:25-28)

This tells me I should expect exposure and chastening to the same extent that I err and sin.  There’s fairness in that.  The Lord doesn’t work like the world and overdo it on the chastening. And I love that the Lord tells us that we can be instructed to the extent we seek wisdom.  Doesn’t that just make you want to learn all you can and pray hard for wisdom?

Thursday, December 14, 2017 2 comments

When the Lord commands Lehi to move on

9 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord spake unto my father by night, and commanded him that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness.
10 And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness.
11 And it came to pass that we did gather together whatsoever things we should carry into the wilderness, and all the remainder of our provisions which the Lord had given unto us; and we did take seed of every kind that we might carry into the wilderness. (1 Nephi 16:9-11)

Up to this point, Lehi had done everything the Lord had commanded him. He’d left Jerusalem with his family, he’d sent his sons to get the plates, and he’d sent his sons to get Ishmael’s family. Now comes a new commandment to journey in the wilderness and start on the morrow.

I’d always thought it was a nice thing that the Lord also provided Lehi with the Liahona that same night to give him encouragement and direction to move on as he was told. This time I also noticed a factor that might have kept Lehi from moving. Verse 11 mentions they packed up “all the remainder” of their provisions, and when they travel four days, they start hunting animals for food by the way.  So it seems that their provisions were starting to run low at the time they were told to move.

I wonder if not having much food would make moving difficult. If I were them, I might have wondered if I was going to be journeying toward food or away from it. Depending on their perspective, the food situation might have tested their faith to journey, or it might have motivated them further.

Thinking about this seems to point to a lesson—the Lord may not wait until we are completely set with perfect conditions (like plenty of food) before He asks us to do things. He might ask at a time that seems inconvenient, or when we’re struggling with other issues. Obviously it’s going to take faith to obey in those kinds of situations.  It makes me think of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, who were called on a mission and left even though both they and their families were sick and poor. (Remember how they mustered the strength to shout "Hurrah for Israel" to put up a brave front for their wives as they left?) What examples!
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 0 comments

Waters from the temple

1 Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar….
8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
9 And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh….
11 But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.
12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.

I love the imagery of how these living waters heal make everything live and how they come from the temple. I also think it is profound how this river (moving water) has all the trees growing and fruiting on both sides of it.

Contrast this with what it says of the marshes and miry places where the water is stagnant. Those places will not be healed and are salty and dead.

To me that teaches how our conversion needs to move us to do things, to bear fruit. If we stop moving forward, we stagnate and start to die.

Keep moving forward!