Saturday, October 31, 2009

Alma 3

19 . . .even so doth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.

God is not vengeful. Some tragedy comes to the innocent as well as to the guilty. But God does not manipulate us by immediately punishing sin and rewarding righteousness.

Having said that, it's evident to even the casual observer that much misery comes into our lives by invitation. A man pursues a quick release from stress through a few beers, becomes dependent, and over time loses his job, wife, children, and self-respect.

A woman looks for comfort in talking about her personal life with a friend at work or school. The friendship looks more and more attractive and is an escape from the hard work of marriage. She slips into adultery and betrays the sacred covenants she made with her husband and the Lord and loses her marriage, her family, and her church membership.

There is enough challenge in life without inviting condemnation on ourselves through choice. Mormon shares this observation at the end of chapter 3:

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

Friday, October 30, 2009

Alma 2

Nehor started a movement that would continue to threaten the peace and stability of the Nephite nation for a long time to come (Alma 1). This was a religious movement - a movement of ideas.

In Alma 2, Amlici begins a secular, political movement that further threatens the nation's peace when he attempts to overthrow the system of liberty and self-government and replace it with a king (himself, of course). According to the account, he was a "cunning man" and a "wise man as to the wisdom of the world," and he was a member of the order of Nehor (Alma 2:1).

The Nephites rightly feared that if he succeeded in making himself king that he would put down faith in Jesus Christ and further establish his own philosophy. The idea of the Nehors was simple. Nehor taught "that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life." (Alma 1:4) That idea -- that men and women can do exactly as they please without eternal consequence -- is at the core of many movements then and now. People are not personally responsible for their actions and can live as they please without restraint. But eternity imposes consequences on all of our actions. We can't avoid it.

We are eternally accountable for our choices and behavior. What we do matters. If all men would humbly follow Jesus and keep his commandments, they could live in peace and happiness. Alma clearly described the consequences of following the teachings of the Nehors (Alma 1):

32 For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness

That course led to poverty of spirit and body. I have seen the same pursuit of worldliness destroy people.

Alma 1

God directs us to be liberal and share the blessings he bestows. The people of Nephi did that, and it was a key to their spiritual and temporal prosperity. We should think of their example as we see the needs of those around us. Charity is the pure love of Christ. When we learn to love as he does, we don't see someone's skin color, appearance, or religious affiliation. We love others and see their needs.

30 And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mosiah 29

Mosiah abdicated the throne to establish a new political order among the Nephites. This chapter teaches us a great deal about liberty and the burdens it places upon those who would live free. Our ability to live as free men and women depends upon our righteousness. Even good laws are only sustainable if people choose to live according to them. There is a tipping point in a free society. When enough people choose evil, there is no amount of enforcement that can protect society from the consequences of it. Mosiah put it this way:

26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

In a free society, men and women are not at liberty to do whatever they want. Liberty only works if people accept responsibility for their actions and conform themselves to the social contract and obey the laws. Mosiah's people had the vision as they understood his teachings.

38 Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

It's that willingness to answer for our own sins that makes a free society possible.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mosiah 28

The sons of Mosiah are some of the greatest missionaries in all of the scriptures. They had the kind of desire to share the gospel that compelled them to open their mouths and take great risks to share the truth.

3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
4 And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them

They had large ambitions as missionaries. They begged their father to let them go to their enemies the Lamanites to declare the truth. These were their arguments to support this mission proposal (v. 2):
  • bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God
  • convince them of the iniquity of their fathers
  • cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites
  • bring them to rejoice in the Lord their God
  • make them their friends
  • end contention in all the land
Sharing the gospel with others can do all of these things. We help others reconcile to God and they become our friends. Ultimately, as the gospel fills the earth, we can bring peace to the world. Why not have a little vision?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mosiah 27

14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.

There is great power in prayer. I haven't always exercised enough faith to continue in prayer on behalf of those I love to ask the Lord to bless them and help them. He will hear our prayers and bless those we pray for. I have felt the sustaining power of the prayers of others. President Monson asked us to pray for him and for those who serve with him. The epistle of James contains the following instruction (James 5):
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mosiah 26

13 And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.

14 And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him

When we are troubled about something, we can take it to the Lord, and when we pour out our whole soul to him, he will answer. Even though the Lord knows what we need, he waits on our faith to ask him. Elder Allan F. Packer said,

"Prayer is the most common and powerful way to invite inspiration. Merely asking a question, even in our minds, will start to open the window [of inspiration]." Allan F. Packer, “Finding Strength in Challenging Times!,” Ensign, May 2009, 17–19

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mosiah 25

21  Therefore they did assemble themselves together in different bodies, being called churches; every church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma.
22  And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God.

Janet and I were at General Conference in Salt Lake City two weeks ago. Standing in the lobby of the conference center, I could hear various languages. We were near a fountain and there were 3 ladies in beautiful African native dresses. Reading about the people of King Mosiah, I notice that they were united in one faith and one church. They were descendants of Nephi, Mulek, and Laman. Despite the different backgrounds, they came together because of their common faith in Jesus Christ. 

I have attended church in various countries, including Japan, Peru, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, and Mexico. The ward I attended in Tokyo was a wonderful example of the ability of a common doctrine and faith in Jesus Christ and the restored gospel to bring together people from many nations. We were from the United States, Japan, Australia, Italy, Indonesia, India, Great Britain, and other nations. We shared no common culture, but we shared a common faith. Our ward in Houston has members from as many as 35 different nations. I hometeach a sister from Venezuela. An Iranian sister teaches in the Primary nursery. One of Janet's counselors is from Nigeria. A member of the elders quorum presidency is from Peru. The differences in culture and nationality don't matter at all. We are one in the faith. 

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus and plead for unity in this way (chapter 4):

1  I THEREFORE, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2  With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3  Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

One Lord, one faith, one baptism. We are all children of one Father in Heaven.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mosiah 24

I have family members who struggle with addiction. As I read this chapter, I am impressed by the Lord's mercy and the fulfillment of his promise to Alma and his people. Alma and his people "did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." And they "did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts." They had great burdens, but Jesus promised them "Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage."

15  And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease

God doesn't always take our burden away. Our plea is often that he would remove some temptation or problem so that we just didn't have to deal with it any more. But often he simply increases our strength in the face of temptation so that we bear it with ease. Some things we are just powerless to overcome on our own. Alma and his people recognized this.

21  Yea, and in the valley of Alma they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens, and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mosiah 23

Alma and his people escaped the Land of Nephi and established their own little colony on principles of righteousness and equality. They had no king, and Alma refused to be a king, saying

7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king.

However, after a period of peace and prosperity, they were discovered by the Lamanites and again brought into bondage. Mormon's comment was

21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.

22 Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.
Elder Allan Packer of the Seventy said, "When the winds blow and the rains pour, they blow and pour on all. Those who have built their foundations on bedrock rather than sand survive the storms. There is a way to build on bedrock by developing a deep personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing how to receive inspiration. We must know—and know that we know. We must stand spiritually and temporally independent of all worldly creatures. This begins by understanding that God the Father is the Father of our spirits and that He loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior, and that the Holy Ghost can communicate with our minds and our hearts. This is how we receive inspiration. We need to learn how to recognize and apply these promptings." (Allan F. Packer, “Finding Strength in Challenging Times!,” Ensign, May 2009, 17–19)
The gospel of Jesus Christ has not protected me from all trials in life, but as I have learned to trust in the Lord and seek him in prayer I have found the strength to handle those trials. I have discovered that those who have that trust have peace in the storm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mosiah 22

1 AND now it came to pass that Ammon and king Limhi began to consult with the people how they should deliver themselves out of bondage; and even they did cause that all the people should gather themselves together; and this they did that they might have the voice of the people concerning the matter.

There is an old saying that two heads are better than one. The value of counseling in our councils is something every parent and church leader should learn. When the people of Limhi counseled together, they were able to determine that their only option was to leave their homes and flee. And the precise way they could escape their oppressors was given by a humble man who sought no office or glory for himself, but repeatedly stepped forward with courage in the right.

My best counselor is Janet. We learn things from our bishop, our stake president, and our general church leaders. We sit in church councils and learn from the men and women that comprise those councils. And I accept the counsel of my boss and the people who work for me. In all things, we are wise if we learn from others and listen to their counsel. Most importantly, we should counsel with God in prayer, seeking his guidance and direction for our lives.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mosiah 21

5 And now the afflictions of the Nephites were great, and there was no way that they could deliver themselves out of their hands, for the Lamanites had surrounded them on every side.

There are those things from which we cannot deliver ourselves. Limhi's people tried to fight, but they went down in defeat three times.
14 And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.

Sometimes we are driven to our knees. The first step in every 12-step program is something like this: Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable. The second step is: Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
When we rely on the Savior and turn our lives over to him, miracles can happen. At the same time, we have to do all in our power to overcome. We have to avoid temptation and strengthen ourselves spiritually through prayer, scripture study, church attendance, and service. Limhi and his people gave themselves over to the Lord and exercised great humility and trust in him, but they also did everything in their power as well.
36 And now all the study of Ammon and his people, and king Limhi and his people, was to deliver themselves out of the hands of the Lamanites and from bondage.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mosiah 20

Just a thought about how we can sometimes deal with those who would be our enemies --

26 And when the Lamanites saw the people of Limhi, that they were without arms, they had compassion on them and were pacified towards them, and returned with their king in peace to their own land.

I have been in situations where I think I am in the right and have an enemy who is clearly in the wrong. There were practical considerations for Limhi and his people who were faced with overwhelming forces. But the principle here is that if we approach our enemy in humility and seek to promote understanding, there will be times when our humility overcomes their anger. Going into a discussion "without arms" with a relative or friend who has been alienated for some reason could soften hearts and lead to understanding. Instead of approaching people with a quiver full of justification and right, it is sometimes better lay down our arms,  listen to understand, and humbly ask for peace.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Roar of the Cheetah

See Facebook page for video of the roar. She's been practicing.

Katherine's 8th Birthday Party

Katherine's cousin Emily is an artist. Face paint, friends, a beatiful day in the park, her mom's great cupcakes, presents, grandparents from both sides of the family . . .
What more could an 8-year-old ask?

Mosiah 19

There is a pattern in the lives of the people of Nephi that teaches us. As they are humble and obedient to the will of the Lord, He preserves and defends them and they succeed in living in peace. They are blessed with the ability and strength to overcome all obstacles.
Another thought - Noah was a vain, wicked, and cowardly man. He nearly released Abinadi because he feared the judgment that Abinadi declared. His priests persuaded him to proceed with the martyrdom of Abinadi by appealing to his vanity. When Noah was about to be overcome in his fight with Gideon, he appealed to Gideon to spare him so that he could defend his people.

8 And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life; nevertheless, Gideon did spare his life.

Then when his life was spared, his leadership consisted of shouting "Run for the hills." When the Lamanites caught them and a fight began in earnest, he again exercised great cowardice and told the men to leave their wives and children and run for it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mosiah 18

21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.

"The Holy Ghost is a sanctifier. We can have Him as our companion because the Lord restored the Melchizedek Priesthood through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The keys of that priesthood are on the earth today. By its power we can make covenants which allow us to have the Holy Ghost with us constantly.

"Where people have this Spirit with them, we may expect harmony. The Spirit puts the testimony of truth in our hearts, which unifies those who share that testimony. The Spirit of God never generates contention (see 3 Nephi 11:29). This Spirit never generates the feelings of distinction between people which lead to strife. Heeding the Holy Ghost leads to personal peace and a feeling of union with others. It unifies souls. A unified family, a unified Church, and a world at peace depend on unified souls." (Henry B. Eyring, “Be One,” Ensign, Sep 2008, 4–9)

One other blessing that comes to us when we have the Spirit of the Holy Ghost with us, is that we cannot be offended. We forgive others and can let go of anger and the spirit of vengeance. I have met more than one person who has let anger and bitterness overcome them and keep them from the blessings of church activity and has even led them to commit sin, justifying their actions by the actions of others.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mosiah 17

There is a modern corollary to what happened when Abinadi accused the king. A free people have the right to question their leaders. The leaders here were threatened by the things Abinadi said, and what they feared was loss of power. They said that Abinadi was worthy of death because he taught that "God himself should come down among the children of men." (v. 8) Nevertheless, King Noah offered to release him if he would "recall all the words which thou hast spoken evil concerning me and my people."

They feared that the truth about their iniquity would undermine their authority over the people, which of course it did. Alma, one of Noah's priests, believed the things that Abinadi said and started a popular movement that the regime felt compelled to repress. Evil always fears the truth. One way people who are threatened by the truth seem to react is to attack the source. The one telling the truth is accused of being subversive in some way ("He has reviled the king.").

Those who are on the side of truth have an obligation to stand up and be counted. Abinadi refused to bow to threat and was murdered for what he believed, not for something he did. I pray for liberty in this world to speak the truth and proclaim liberty to the captive. As I look around, it's clear that evil is often called good, and good evil. It's up to us to stand up for what is right in spite of opposition and calumny.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mosiah 16

9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world. I was flying back from Chicago last Friday night. The weather was bad, so the pilot took us to a higher altitude than usual and flew west to take us behind the cold front that was producing storms. I was on the right side of the plane and was reading. I glanced out the window at one point, and saw that there was a gray woolen cloud deck far below that stretched all the way to the western horizon. There at the edge of the visible world the sun was dipping below the horizon. The backdrop of darkening sky was red and orange from the setting sun. I sat back and just stared at the sky and had one of those moments of wonder that come from time to time as we take time to observe the physical beauty of God's creations.

In one of the most beautiful revelations given to the prophet Joseph Smith -- one that he designated as the "olive leaf . . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord's message of peace to us" -- the Savior is described this way (D&C 88)

6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;
9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;
10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mosiah 15

25 And little children also have eternal life.

What theology could teach that little children are damned? When I read this in the Book of Mormon, my soul sings. This is the kind of God that I believe in. He honors the demands of justice. Abinadi said,

"26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.

27 Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim."
Nevertheless, while honoring the demands of justice, he imposes no judgment on innocent children or on those that lived and died in ignorance. Even today there are millions who live and die without ever having known the gospel of Jesus Christ. What fair God would condemn them?
I'm grateful that Jesus has been given power over death and that he has power to intercede on our behalf, standing between us and justice. The scriptures are water for a parched earth. They are healing waters to open our hearts and minds to peace and comfort. One of my favorite poets is Gerard Manley Hopkins who ended a poem called "Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord" with this plea:
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mosiah 14

4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows

Abinadi quoted Isaiah as he attempted to show the priests of Noah that all of the prophets had testified of Christ, the promised Messiah. This prophecy of Isaiah is a powerful foretelling of Jesus' life and sacrifice. Isaiah knew that Jesus would be despised and rejected by his own people. He would be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. He would be crucified with sinners and would be buried in the tomb of a wealthy man.

But I love this short phrase -- he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. When Mom died, I was burdened with grief and overcome with shock. I still can hardly believe that I can't just pick up the phone and talk to her like I did every few days. But in my grief, I felt the presence and comfort of the Savior. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. I love him. He is my friend.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cheiko Okazaki

Janet and I attended a wonderful presentation tonight. Sister Cheiko Okazaki, a former member of the Relief Society General Presidency, spoke to our stake. She held up a pencil and said of the sharp end, "Make your mark on the world." She shared the following quote from Mother Teresa:

"I don't claim anything of the work. It is his work. I am like a little pencil in his hand. That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it."

I could imagine being a small pencil in God's hand doing something for Him.

She held up the eraser and talked about the great gift of repentance and forgiveness.

And last, she held up two pencils crossed and talked about the great gift of the Savior's atonement.

It was a wonderful evening.

Mosiah 13

28 And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses.

Abinadi said that it is expedient that the people keep the law. Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) But salvation cannot be earned by obedience to law. Our own works are essential, but never sufficient, for salvation in the kingdom of God. We need the redemption possible through Christ's intercession for us. We become eligible for the blessings of the atonement as we love Him and keep His commandments, but it is His supreme gift and sacrifice alone that makes our salvation and eventual exaltation possible.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mosiah 12

When the wicked priests of King Noah questioned the prophet Abindadi, he scolded them in this way:

25 And now Abinadi said unto them: Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things mean?
26 I say unto you, wo be unto you for perverting the ways of the Lord! For if ye understand these things ye have not taught them; therefore, ye have perverted the ways of the Lord.
27 Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise.

One definition of wisdom is "knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action." When I try to understand with my heart, I can know from the word of God what is true or right and then act accordingly. It's the application of knowledge in doing what is right that is the true mark of wisdom.

Wisdom comes from perspective that is possible with the help of God. The historian Will Durant wrote, "Ideally, wisdom is total perspective -- seeing an object, event, or idea in all its pertinent relationships. Spinoza defined wisdom as seeing things sub specie eternitatis, in view of eternity." In view of eternity -- the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses us with a view of eternity and helps put all things in life in perspective. It can be the seat of all wisdom and be our guide in discerning what is true or right.

Mosiah 11

Here is the great paradox -- at the moment we declare ourselves "free" and when we "boast in [our] own strength" (v. 19), we are headed for bondage. When anyone walks "in his own way, and after the image of his own god," he is left to fend for himself and gradually gives himself over to bondage. We become slaves to one thing or another. The prophet Abinadi declared:

23 And it shall come to pass that except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage; and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord the Almighty God.

We should trust in Him. Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
(John 8:31-32)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mosiah 10

Zeniff, the king of the Nephite people in the Land of Nephi, left little in the record, but here he devotes what he does write to two key concepts.

Overcoming Adversity through Trust in the Lord
Zeniff ascribes their victories and their preservation to their reliance on God. They did all that they could for themselves -- making weapons, setting guards, clothing themselves, and sending out spies. We can hone weapons against despair and other enemies by studying the scriptures and by following the guidance of our prophetic leaders. We need to guard ourselves and our homes from incursions by Satan and his ideas. That is especially important in our day as we defend our homes against the onslaught of media that seeks to portray every act as acceptable. We clothe ourselves with the righteousness by keeping the commandments. And we have "spies" watching the enemy ready to warn us to prepare. In General Conference there were numerous warnings that we should all heed. If we do these things, then we can do as the people of Zeniff did:

19 And now I, Zeniff, after having told all these things unto my people ..., I did stimulate them to go to battle with their might, putting their trust in the Lord

Weakness in Our Own Strength
The other point that Zeniff illustrated with the history of the Lamanites and how they came to reject the Lord and hate the Nephites. He describes them as follows:

11 Now, the Lamanites knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore they depended upon their own strength. Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men.

Men can have great strength "as to the strength of men," but having God on your side is always better. In His strength, we can do all things and face all challenges. I would paraphrase the Psalmist (Psalm 20:7): Some trust in men's creations, and some in the abundance of the moment: but I will remember the name of the LORD our God. If we trust in Him, then we can do as the Nephites did and go to battle with the Him on our side.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mosiah 9

17 Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against the Lamanites; for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers.

As we face our enemies (sloth, worldliness, anger, procrastination, etc.), we should pray for the Lord's help and remember that the scriptures are full of examples of people being delivered from all kinds of opposition as they relied on the Lord and called on Him for aid. Maybe your enemy is chemistry, right Jessi? Prepare for war -- do all that is in your power to do, but then rely on Him who is mighty to save. I don't think it's too little to ask for the Lord's help with all things in our lives. He is ready to assist in all things (righteous things, of course) if we do our part and humbly ask for His help.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Conference Sunday with David and Rachel

We had a wonderful day with David and Rachel, and later with Jessi, and Wymount in David and Rachel's apartment. Conference was inspiring. One moment I will long remember was when Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stood to speak after the Tabernacle Choir had sung "O, Divine Redeemer." Elder Holland captured exactly how I felt after hearing that exquisite choral prayer for forgiveness and the application of the Savior's atonement.

Two Beautiful Souls

We had the sweet opportunity to visit Aunt Marguerite. We're going to try to see her again today. What a sweet lady.

Hiking Y Mount

A few pictures from our family hike of Y Mountain. What a beautiful day and place!
David, Cole, and Todd take a break.
Jessi in the maples.
Jessi and boyfriend Cole.
David and Rachel in the meadow.
Path through the maples.
Utah Valley below.
Rachel, David, Cole, Todd, Janet, and Jeff.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mosiah 8

Mosiah 8: "20 O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!
21 Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest."

Wisdom is available to all who seek it. But not only do we not look for the truth, we don't want the truth. The truth gets in the way of our own wishes and desires. If we know God and if we know His will concerning us, then we are faced with a choice that many don't want to make -- to follow Him and keep His commandments or turn from Him and leave the safety of His arms for the danger of the world. I love the Savior. His invitation (one of my favorite passages) is so comforting --

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my
yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is
easy, and my burden is light.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mosiah 7

King Limhi laid out some of the grievances of his people, most of which he ascribed to their own wickedness and especially to their rejection of the prophets of God. He also complained about the oppression they suffered at the hands of the Lamanites, including a 50% tax levied on all that they produced. Let's see, our current estimated overall tax rate in the US is about 40% (higher depending on the state and locality where you live). Perhaps we should say, as Limhi did,

23 And now, is not this grievous to be borne? And is not this, our affliction, great?

I have to inject a little humor here and there.

This chapter closes with this testimony from Limhi:

33 But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.

I can testify that the power of the Savior's atonement can deliver us from bondage -- the bondage of rage, addiction, and sin. If we turn to the Savior with full purpose of heart, trust in him, and serve him, he will bring peace to our souls.

A mind that is not diligent, is misdirected and can never rest. The scripture that inspired Joseph Smith to ask God which church is true, can inform our search for answers to our own questions. Joseph pondered James 1:5 over and over. I think the following three verses speak to the idea of a diligent mind:

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

The key phrase is "nothing wavering." It takes full purpose and complete faith.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mosiah 6

I'm in Utah to attend General Conference. Tomorrow morning I will see and hear a living prophet of God. King Benjamin's address was like a general conference. He gathered all of the people together to teach them the truth. And he appointed others to teach the people "that thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God." (v. 3)

I look forward to our semi-annual general conference - to hear and know the commandments of God from the mouths of apostles and prophets. And on this occasion, I get to hear those words in person. I can't wait.