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.