Mosiah 3: 17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Whenever I read the scripture above, I am always curious about what exactly one might see if they looked for things they shouldn't--in these interpreters.
I've thought about what it might be and how this might relate to today. Today we have an assortment of things available for our viewing pleasures. Could these interpreters be like a television set, with infinite channels on any topic? If so I'd probably never want to turn it off--I'd probably be like those people who get so into playing their online games, that they forget to eat and perish. Or could it be like the internet full of the potential to see an assortment of facts but also every nasty notion that comes into the minds of men, like pornography or murders? That would certainly corrupt a man to destruction. Or could it be that one might be tempted to see the minds of people, so that no one would be safe with their thoughts--cuz the seer would know everything they were thinking and would not afford people their own privacy? That could get a seer in trouble. Or could it be that a seer might look into the future and predict things to come, enabling him to profit or perhaps robbing men of their ability to choose?
What are the things? I HAVE TO KNOW!!
Oh wait. I guess I now know the end result of Ray the Seer... I would probably be the first to perish.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
- Alma tells us to remember that God is Merciful to those who believe on his name.
- Alma tells us one of the desires of God: That we believe on his word.
God desires to be merciful.If you've ever wondered what God wants, this scripture verse reveals two aspects of God's desires. I think that's significant. I think I'll be looking for other things God wants, as I continue to study the Book of Mormon, perhaps I'll remember to note them here. If you find scripture references you'd like to share, regarding the nature of God's desires, please note them in the comment sections of this thread.
Thanks, and may we all be more believing--that we may obtain God's mercy.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Envy is a spiritual obstacle. It's so easy to fall into it and not even realize that that's what I'm doing. I grew up in a family that was huge on competition. My parents are both very capable and formidable people who've had success in the world and in their personal lives. From the outside, anyhow, they sure look like they have everything figured out. I grew up often feeling as though I never quite measured up to their expectations, in the shadow of other siblings, though I'm the oldest. Never quite fast enough, or sporty enough to make the cut. I see now that I coveted those attributes without seeing the good that I could contribute... without being satisfied with my own talents and abilities.
What's funny is that people who know me personally are always heaping on me all sorts of accolades about my many talents in music, art, writing, or intellectual pursuits, but the irony is that a part of me secretly dissatisfied with all of these things, because in my mind they were things I did because I couldn't measure up to the things I thought everyone wanted me to do.
Also, for me, if I see another getting away with things I know that I never could, I think a part of me wishes I was them, that I could do just as abominably as them and not experience the consequences as it appears they don't experience.
The ability to show empathy, I believe, can also be tripped up by envy. Empathy is an ability to put yourself into the mind and life of others, generally so that we can relate to them. This ability helps many learn to forgive another--because they can see things from their perspective. Envy can foul that up though. When we put ourselves into the lives of others and then like their lives better than our own, that's when Envy has won.
The process of envy works like such:
1. Compare (A thing, A situation, A characteristic, A behavior, A talent)
2. Place high esteem or Value on the Compared Item.
3. Assess Self as lacking the same Value.
4. Dissatisfaction with Self/Lust for the Compared Value. --> Self Hatred and Fixation
5. Then repeat steps 3 and 4 forever...
Steps 1 and 2 appear are actually healthy steps. Step 3 CAN be healthy, but it depends on whether we determine inwardly to improve ourselves while remaining satisfied with ourselves in the process. If we don't then we hit this sort of downward spiral that leads to a sort of damnation--an inability to be satisfied--our ability to progress is halted on the fixation of the one characteristic or item we cannot seem to obtain to our own strangely high preset level of satisfaction.
In some cases we can almost skip steps 1 and 2 and go right to 3 and 4, if we're told by another that we're lacking and we simply believe it. And how often are we told by the world that we simply don't measure up?
I also think there's nothing wrong in comparisons with others, if done with an eye of faith in one's own ability to improve and better oneself. But there must be an element of righteousness in it. This is the very essence of intelligence, and when we compare ourselves to virtuous things and then strive to achieve them, we're engaging in a healthy process (assuming of course that we don't envy those virtues). Learning is often done by seeing a behavior, idea, talent or characteristic in someone else modeled, and then we in our infantile way try to copy it. Without the ability to compare we would not be able to learn.
What's funny is that often we envy the very things that would destroy us... spiritually, physically, mentally... you name it, we are capable of doing it all.
And that brings us to my Book of Mormon scripture today. The first part of Alma Chapter 32 states that there were these people who were financially destitute. They worked with their community to build some great and spacious church (called Rameumpton), and when it was completed they were not allowed to use it. They then got so frustrated with their situation that they apparently stopped worshiping God altogether.
The irony is that had they been allowed to worship in the way the rest of the rich Zoramites worshiped, they would've been engaging in the sin of idolatry and worshiping a false god. Their poverty actually protected them from a terrible spiritual trap, but of course they didn't see it that way. Ultimately because of their poverty and belief in Alma and Amulek and other Nephite missionaries, they will be cast out of the land, which might be another reason to feel spiteful, except that they cast right into a land filled with generous and converted people who nourished them and gave them all that they wanted to live. Ultimately God's blessing to these poor people are inestimable. They received the precious light of faith in Christ, were reminded that they could pray always in every circumstance and didn't need what they envied, and were even healed and made rich temporally through the generosity of their afflictions.
I take from this story a need to examine my own life. What are the things I envy? Are they holding me back from greater blessings? It's time for me to sweep away those obstacles and move forward in faith that whatever tough times come, they are for my blessing and benefit. I have the perfect example in Christ Jesus, who never succumbed to envy, and descended the lowest most humiliating circumstances in order to accomplish the greatest work of love ever conceived.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 20, 2009
When Christ was upon the earth he gave many parables likening the Kingdom of God to a treasure, or a pearl of great price, or something of great worth. In those cases those who sought to possess it, had to sacrifice other things they possessed to keep it.
And of course who can forget this one from Matthew Chapter 6?
19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:Perhaps the most stirring example of this sacrifice is a passage that always brings me to tears in the Book of Mormon. It is found in Alma Chapter 24. I could probably discuss a dozen different things about this chapter, but what strikes me lately is the willingness to sacrifice for what they valued most--not their lives, and not even the lives of their brethren, but what they valued most was a knowledge that they were forgiven of their sins. They valued their testimony.
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
When I consider of what value is my testimony, I do find myself humbled by the unapproachable faith of the Lamanites who believed the teachings of Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni--and other Nephites.
I love King Anti-Nephi-Lehi's explanation in verse 14:
14 And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.
I love how it is clear here what they value more than any other thing. They value knowing. They were so long in the dark, and that understanding was worth more to them than their own lives. They had real testimonies--and it was real to them--so much so that they would praise God in the very moment they were being cut down in brutal succession. So the AntiNephiLehites chose death at the hands of a heartless army that mistrusted them and hated them and wished revenge against a people they were taught to hate--probably for the same darkness and hatred that the AntiNephiLehites had lived in before they were blessed to experience "the marvelous light of God."
To them the very risk of committing sin did fill their hearts with such loathing that they would sacrifice their lives.
So naturally I ask myself, How can I develop that kind of faith? How can I live my life now that I know?
In order to answer that question, I suppose I must ask what sort of things brought me into darkness. Contention? Immorality? Idleness? Pride? And in what ways do I bury the emblems of what brought me first to sin? How do I avoid them now that I know that they are not the way to happiness--now that I understand the steep price they have on others?
People may think I'm odd because I won't do what others do, but only my God and I know what my weaknesses are, and I want to have the faith that says that I value the things of God more than the things of men. I want to be a faithful lamanite. I want to bury my weapons deep in the earth, and never dig them up again. For my treasure is not buried, but burns bright in my heart, and I hope to never bury it again.
Therein is eternal Value.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I believe Alma 14 demonstrates what must be the most difficult job in the church... that of being a prophet of God. We humans are so prone to go contrary to God's will that God appointed prophets and consecrated priests (see Alma 13) to preach the Gospel and repentance through his Son Jesus Christ.
I've always kinda figured it would be great to be a prophet. I guess I just sorta glamorized the position. I mean you're on God's errand, right? I mean that makes you pretty much heaven-bound, right? And what about all those cool spiritual insights you'd know? Yeah, that's cool too... but then there's the ugly side of things...
Sadly, few folks actually listen to true prophets. Samuel the Lamanite (Helaman 13:26-27) pointed this out when he explained that when a prophet comes, you throw stones at them, but when a man comes in and tells you that everything is just peachy and you can do whatever it is you like, then you call that person a prophet and give him your money.
That's exactly what happened in the city of Ammonihah. These Ammonihahites were of the religion founded by Nehor. Essentially it was this: We give you money, you reassure us that we're going to heaven, no matter what we do. It's a pretty sweet deal, if you think about it. Really optimizes out all the bad parts of religion (the need to repent, lake of fire and brimstone, personal responsibility), focusing solely upon all the good parts (heaven, holidays, cool costumes, and feasting on ambrosia)... so where's the harm in that way of thinking?
Alma had the dubious responsibility of being the prophet and needing to call the whole city to repentance.
Sure he makes a lifelong friend, but consider what his preaching really sparks... because Alma preaches to the people, he incites a riot that ends up creating a pogrom, in which women and children are burned. Had Alma left the people alone, perhaps some of those lives would've been spared the destruction that the Lamanites eventually performed upon them.
Okay so it's a stretch, because we have the benefit of a whole bunch of chapter's perspective... we can see how the city is destroyed in the end, but imagine how you'd feel in the moment? You've just taught the people the need to repent, and as a reaction to YOUR WORDS, you get to watch your friend's wives and children burned in a great fire. Imagine yourself in that place? These followers of Nehor are PROVING they are right by doing whatever they darn well please, and no one can stop them. All spurred on in direct reaction to YOUR preaching. Wouldn't you at least be tempted to doubt your means of delivery? "Dang, perhaps I shouldn't've called them children of hell? Okay so sure, they're behaving like them, but perhaps my buddy Amulek's daughter wouldn't be dying if I'd just been a bit more... diplomatic about it?"
I bet that was just a lovely day for Alma and Amulek. You can almost feel the agony in Amulek's heart as he pleads with Alma to intervene, only to be told that God is allowing such attrocities to occur in order to preserve judgment against them. Their acts were their witness.
Anyhow it was something to think about... I just can't help but feel for Alma and Amulek in that moment. I admire Alma's courage to say and do the right things, despite the terrible consequences of their words. He left them no excuse, but in so doing, I believe I see his point, and cherish them... takes some seriously longterm spiritual perspective though, to consider that someone thousands of years later would even take notice.
Then again, that's what prophets do...
Monday, June 16, 2008
Ever been unhappy with a church leader? Ever known a fellow you thought would make a much better leader? Ever wondered why we can't just replace them and create the church any old way?
In mosiah chapter 29, King Mosiah establishes a new government among his people. Needless to say this great social change is extraordinary in the history of the people of the earth, and worthy of greater preponderance, but what I found interesting to consider is the consequences of that change on the people of Nephi.
Because the people were given say over their own government, rather than requiring a king to make all their decisions, Satan took advantage of them and their newfound freedom IMMEDIATELY. (Nehor appears in the FIRST YEAR of the reign of the judges, you'd think they'd get at least a year or two reprieve, but NOOOOOooooOOOOOooo...)
I don't know if you've ever read the arrival of Nehor and his new religion as anything related to Mosiah's righteous choice to give the people more responsibility in their own governance, but it is my opinion that this is exactly what made it possible for Nehor to take such advantage over the people.
The people had just been given the power to vote. In that process, judges had to run for positions, based upon popularity, because they were appointed "by the voice of the people". Their competence and their eloquence, their "righteousness" or character were all aspects of their appeal to the people. (see the process executed in verses Mosiah 29:38-39)
This event gave the people a great sense of power. It was exciting! They held Mosiah in great esteem because of it. A power that Satan wasted no time in using against the people. (see Mosiah 29:40)
So then along comes Nehor. He was a big man. Strong. Probably a man admired or envied by many a man. It is not clear he had ANYTHING to do with politics, but He was a religious man who did not like how things were running in the church. He was a man of great pride. (see Alma 1:2,6) He taught a very popular doctrine--one of universal salvation. Leaving aside the contradictory nature of why you would need any sort of religion if everyone was automatically saved, consider that his main thrust was that priests themselves ought to be popular. (see Alma 1: 3-4)
Nehor's pride fueled him to overstep his bounds. He killed a man who withstood Nehor's preaching. In fact, he killed, Gideon, a man who'd chased King Noah up a tower, and was a fierce patriot for the people. A man who no doubt understood the dangers of Nehor's type of thinking. (see Alma 1:7-10)
This desire to make priests paid and popular is precisely the process the judges had to go through in order to obtain their positions in the government. Since the government and religion were closely tied together (King Mosiah was a seer, and the fact that he gave up on kings is no doubt inspired by his translation of the Book of Ether (well, that and the bad example of King Noah).), it is not a big shock then that Nehor thought he could "make matters better" (aka. take advantage of...) by encouraging others to do the same thing in the church.
Why not? If the people had a say in the government, why not the church?
I've found that Satan is always ready to take the best of the Lord's blessings and push us all just a bit too far with them... make us think we deserve them, that such exceptions are the rules, and making rules exceptions.
I find it remarkable just how consistent the Book of Mormon is when you look for Cause and Effect. (I've discussed how Captain Moroni's actions against traitors directly led to the adoption of secret combinations by those who chose wickedness... a generation later...) Yet such lessons are not stated outright, one has to search for them, and these hidden stories, imo, are just as interesting as some of those that are stated outright.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Aaron is teaching the King about God. The record is summed up like so...
So... then my wife went to a women's conference and someone there related a piece of advice given to newly serving LDS missionaries, that was something to the effect, "No matter what you do on your mission, you cannot make God love you more than he already loves you now."
Alma 22: 14 - And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.
I thought of the first sentence of the above scripture in context of that quote. Since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself...
God does love us. Sometimes when we seek a blessing we think perhaps we need to earn God's favor. But it's not about favor, but blessings come of obedience and, I suppose, grace, not because we earned it out of some greater quantity of God's love. God already loves us more than we can understand. He gives us all that we can handle, and prepares us that we may be able to handle more.
Further God loves all his children. He wants all of them to be given a chance. Because we are fallen, we can merit nothing of ourselves, thus we must turn to God.
Anyhow I am still learning. Most of this requires a lot more patience than I currently have. I can feel God's love reaching to me, and so often I bat it away in bitterness, saying, "I need more time to merit it..." I hope I have the courage to put that foolish tendency to rest.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Anyone who's been to our home knows that we have more rhododendron bushes than you can shake a stick at, and well, a couple weeks ago I hired a couple of the 16 year olds from church, who were trying to earn funds for camp, to dig them up. They did a great job making a massive clearing of dirt in my backyard, but we had a huge pile of dead branches and debris from the excavation that they stuck between the hedges at the side of our house.
One good way to get bugs eating your house is to stack dead wood against it, and so I was somewhat eager to get rid of this pile. So when the prospect of filling the dumpster with these branches came up, I determined to get rid of the pile.
However, after taking a few walking trips to the dump with an assortment of junk, and after dragging the pile to the front driveway I started to brainstorm for an easy way to transport this huge mass of branches and rootballs to the dumpster that wouldn't involve so much manual labor. I consider myself something of a genius at taking the easy route when it comes to hard work, and so I soon had a plan. We had an old bedframe, the kind with the web of springs you find in a sleeper sofa that we were also throwing out. The kids were playing with a piano dolly, too. Soon a plot began to boil in my little brain about how I could get all the sticks and stumps down to the dumpster in one easy trip.
I placed the bedspring across the piano dolly. To my delight the springs were tight enough that it formed a large springy platform about the length and width of a small car. Then I proceeded to stack the heavy rootballs clumped with dirt, thick stumps and twigs on top of this platform. We stuck a long stick on the front and the back, and created something of a giant stick monster out of the pile. The girls had a blast creating this tangle of debris, and we laughed as it grew to the volume of a small car.
Now my house is atop a hill. On one side, to get to my house, there's a very steep road, that curves its way up to my house. The road that leads to my house from a very busy road at the bottom of the hill, climbs up the side of a steep cliff, of sorts, and then turns at a right angle straight up the steep, steep hill to come to my house. All along this steep road on either side of the hill are houses build on what might be terraces where they've cut into this steep hill.
The dumpster was in the driveway of a house about 3/4ths of the way up this very steep hill. Of course if you've been to my house, you know about this hill, because as you come off the busy road you have to take what is more or less a blind turn to make that right angle turn and people drive up and down it all day and night like idiots. People have been killed on this hill, and it's something of an annoyance to most of us, because of how narrow the road is. Sometimes as you come up the hill and make that right turn to go straight up the hill to my house, cars will come down, and it is BARELY two lanes.
In the winter this road is regularly closed because it is too steep to safely navigate, and because of the right turn, if you slipped on the ice, you'd plow through the trees and plummet off of the cliff onto the busy roadway below. This would probably result in damage to your car... if not death.
But no worries. My house is atop the hill. It's flat atop the hill. It forms a sort of plateau. It's easy to push a piano dolly laden with sticks the size of a car upon this flat surface without any troubles.
Then I started down the hill. I was playing that the whole thing was getting away from me. "Look Becca! Oh no! It's getting away!" I'd say, and then I'd grab it, or jump in front of it the way Superman might jump in front of a train to save a puppy. The twigs plowed into me, but I could manage the cartload without too much trouble.
And of course, as you're all guessing by now... I managed to safely get the whole mess to the driveway of the dumpster without a problem. It did not go careening down the hill. No. After some effort I managed to push the whole rhodo-vehicle to the gravelly driveway and began to unload the mass of sticks.
After unloading a few twigs, I grabbed one of the larger sticks and suddenly the whole mass of twigs shifted. The place where it was firmly planted had shifted too. I watched in horror as the pile of heavy rootballs and sticks left the driveway without my permission. I tried to grab a branch, but the mass continued to head down the hill, and I was left holding a rather long branch that did nothing to stop the whole mess from picking up more and more and more deadly speed. I ran after it, but by now it was too late.
What had seemed like a really good idea at the time, had become my worst nightmare. I watched as this mass of metal and dirt and stumps hurled down the roadway, barely missing a parked red sports car. I cried out to God in a voice as loud and clear, "Please God, Don't let anyone get hurt. Please let it stop!" I imagined a car coming around the blind right angle curve. There would be NO WAY to avoid this thing that was not going what I would estimate would be about fifty miles an hour. It struck an embankment covered in ivy, spun and then smacked securely against the house as the base of the right angled curve against a wall of railroad ties, with a deafening crash! A cloud of dirt and dead leaves from the plants flew out like fire and smoke in what looked like a hollywood explosion.
The house owner was there weedwhacking. He had his walkman on over his ears. He'd just whacked the ivy that had been where my cart of death landed, and now was busy working on the interior of his home. The sudden appearance of a giant car-sized tangle of branches and stumps and twisted metal gave his heart a start. I trundled down the hill panting and out of breath and the man told me as much. I said, "I am so sorry. I am so sorry. I just thank the God of Heaven and Earth that no one got hurt. We are so lucky."
They just stared as I grabbed the whole mess, which was now not nearly as steady as it had been when I'd crafted my brilliant plan. The dolly was off to one side, and the metal frame dragged on the roadway. I looked up the steep hill. I had a long ways to go and all that weight I was hoping to avoid carrying to the dumpster was now easily as far away from me as my house had been from the dumpster in the first place... only now it was at the bottom of the hill of death.
I started to push the weed contraption up the hill. I'd made this mess, I was going to clean it up. Only it was not nearly as easy to push up the hill. You see the mass of twigs really has no surface against which to push. You just have to kinda tug at it, and guide it as it goes easily down hill. Now that I was at the bottom of the hill, I would attempt to push it up the hill, only to have the whole mass move in an arc sideways across the road, attempting to finish its journey to the bottom of the hill. I struggled with my mess. Meanwhile cars were also attempting to use the road. As I pulled my unwieldy mass of junk to one side of the road so that a car could pass me. I looked up at the the work I had above me, and realized there was no human way I could possibly get this mass up the hill.
Some of you are in good physical shape. Perhaps this would be easy for you. I applaud your efforts to keep yourself in good physical shape. At the time I could not stand without feeling dizzy. I think I had heat exhaustion, to tell you the truth, because it was a very clear and very hot day, and I'd spent most of my strength carrying other objects to the dumpster and running down a very steep hill.
I had made this mess. It was mine. I had tried to do something good, but it had turned into something I could no longer control. I prayed for help.
As I let a car pass me, the driver stopped and said, "Do you need help?" I said, "Oh yes!"
He was a young man in his mid twenties, named Andrew. He was in very good physical shape. He had a tattoo of oriental characters on his arm, but was otherwise clean-cut and looked like he could be a soldier. I didn't have a lot of breath for conversation, but he mentioned to me that he did volunteer work with a group, I think it was World Conservation. I relayed to him what had happened and how his help was greatly appreciated.
I'd never seen him in the neighborhood, and I've not seen him since, but he took one end of the cart, while I took the other and together we towed and pushed that whole mass all the way up that hill. And with my help we threw the metal frame and the heavier rootballs into the dumpster, then I thanked him and he drove away.
By the time I got to the dumpster, I was completely out of energy. I still had a pile of sticks to put in the dumpster, but I just couldn't do it. I put the dolly aside and told the girls to help me get the twigs in the dumpster. They did what all children do when there's a chance to move dirty sticks. They disappeared. I think I told Becca to just get rid of the piano dolly, and she took it up the hill with her sister, but by this time I was so out of breath I could not think straight.
As soon as I was all alone, I found a shady spot on the side of the house and laid down on the cool cement walkway. My heart was exploding. My lungs felt stretched, gasping for air that seemed not to bring any relief. My whole body ached. Some of you have witnessed this part of me, from a certain ill-fated hike I took up Mount St. Helens. It was the very same level of exhaustion. I remember laying in the shade on the cold pavement thinking about how nice it would be if I died, cursing all those pizzas I ate in college, and pleading with God to forgive me for the mess I'd made of myself.
As I was thus pleading, a scripture came to my mind. It was from the book of Mosiah, the story of Alma the Elder, who had led a group of believers into the wilderness to flee the persecution of King Noah, because he believed the words of Abinadi. A few years later, who should come knocking in their land, but a lost army of Lamanites who took Alma and his followers captive and set one of the Priests of Noah (Amulon) in charge of making Alma and his people work. Alma and his people suffered great affliction and had burdens put upon their backs, and they prayed to God, but were put to death if they were caught praying. God blessed Alma's people, though. He lifted their burdens, and made them light, as though they could not feel them.
Mosiah 24: 11-15
11. And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
12. And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
13. And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: 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.
14. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
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, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
As I thought of this story, I felt some strength return to me. I could do it. I could clean up the remaining branches in the driveway, so that it wasn't a mess and our neighbor could sell his house. I walked out from the shade into the piercing hot sun. I walked to the base of the driveway where the pile of sticks waited.
I looked up the hill, and who should be coming but Becca with the piano dolly, loaded up with some Little Tykes Playground equipment. There was a car behind her, impatiently waiting for her to move out of the way, and she was behind the dolly, pushing it down the hill. As I noticed her, her whole load shifted, and she jumped on the dolly trying to save her load, but it slipped and again the dolly with some rather large pieces of plastic started down the hill.
I arrived just in time to stop the load from going down the hill. I don't know that we would've been so lucky the second time. Perhaps it would've taken a different path, and clobbered the red sportscar, or hit an oncoming car, or missed the railroad ties altogether and launched itself off the cliffside onto the busy road below.
Thankfully I don't have to tell you what would've happened. I credit the Book of Mormon story with saving me from that.
I've also exiled the piano dolly from coming anywhere near the hill.
I've been thinking about this experience for a week now. I've been thinking about how lucky I was. About how what seems like good ideas, can turn really bad. About how little control we have over the basic laws of physics--though we all think we're so smart, or that bad things will happen to others but not to us. I have thought about how God does love us, and how he blesses us even when we don't deserve it. If we turn and trust in Him, He provides a way to help us out of our troubles and affliction. People we least expect might be helpful, can turn up just when we need them. I think about how my daughter thought she could do what I did, and get away with not making the same mistake, yet ironically she made exactly the same errors I did. And I thank God I was able to be there for her, to help her up, and catch her mistake before it spiraled out of control.
Hopefully the above experience doesn't seem boastful, but I feel like I should, as the scripture above indicated was the purpose of Alma's afflictions, "stand as a witness" that God loves us and helps us in real life.
I am grateful to God for providing a Savior for all of us. He loves us very much. He has seen to our needs, will be there for you if you remember to call upon His name. I am trying to be more loving and more forgiving. I don't want doubt or the darkness of my own challenges root out the hope I have in Christ, because His love is real, and a gift extended to all of us, no matter where we are in life. We may have made spiritual messes with the best intentions, or perhaps like me, I was just lazy and trying to find a way to avoid doing real work. We may have to do some heavy lifting to undo them, but if you keep your faith in God, He will provide a way to get through the pain and make the burdens of your duties easy to bear.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
We live in a world that thinks passion is love, an idicator of true love, and the source of it. I find it interesting that Alma counsels his son to bridle (control and harness) his passions that he may be filled with love. I think his distinction is profound. He's essentially saying that passion unrestrained (as dizzying and sensational as it may seem in the moment) actually may keep us from experiencing TRUE love.
I don't know to what degree this is true, but it is my opinion that one cannot be filled with true love, if one harbors the heated feelings of lusts, because one cannot see past the object of one's desires and break past the selfish desires of self to where true love allows us to serve, sacrifice and perceive true beauty.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Anyhow this was a fun exercise, and I've thought about doing this type of summary for the whole book of Alma and Helaman, which likewise are a bit confuddling in places where they branch off to attend different parties.
I did think it was interesting that Mormon threw a lot of records together to create his narrative. He would insert whole sermons from this or that prophet. I also think it is interesting that you don't see as much of that tendency in the books that were not transcribed by Mormon, namely the (small) Plates of Nephi, which contain the books of Nephi I and II, Jacob, Enos, Jarom and Omni. Of course, that's because they were taken verbatem from the collection of Records that Mormon used to compile his record. While Mormon's record was lost thanks to Martin Harris's wife...
S0 without further ado... (or should I say adieu and tick off the antis?)
Here's my summary and reply...
That's because it does jump around. Let's see if I can sum up...
1.(Omni 1:12-19) In the end of the book of OMNI, Amaleki (the son of Abinadom, son of Chemish, and a bunch of other slackers) records the details of the Nephites flight from their traditional lands. Apparently they are overwhelmed by the lamanites, and so King Mosiah (the first) takes the more righteous part of the Nephites and flees. They find people of Mulek in the city of Zarahemla.
2. (Omni 1:19-22) To make matters more confusing, Amaleki tells about how the people of Zarahemla had been visited by a man named Coriantumr, and about how the man wrote on a stone. King Mosiah the first (also a seer) interprets the engravings and it tells of the people described in the book of Ether who destroyed themselves with war... (Ray speculating: I think the reason why Amaleki mentions this confusing sideline is because it is by this gift that King Mosiah and his Nephites is appointed King over the people of Mulek as well... Seeing as how the Mulekites were more numerous than the Nephites.)
3. (Omni 1:27-30) Zeniff (though it doesn't state his name in the end of the words of Omni) leads a group of Nephites back to the "land of their first inheritance". (He actually goes twice, the first time ends in a civil war in which the nephite party mostly kills itself...) This land is commonly called "The land of Nephi", which ironically is owned by the Lamanites. This is the point in history where they disappear from our sights for a while.
4. The Words of Mormon: Mormon pops in and explains that he found the Plates of Nephi (which contains the account of Nephi) while he was compiling a history of his people the Nephites, many hundred years after the coming of Christ. This adds further confusion because he's another character that prior to this point is completely unknown... and one wonders WHERE THE HECK DID THIS GUY COME FROM...
5. His words form an abridgement between the words written in the books of 1 and 2 Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom and Omni, to the Book of Mosiah, and his own summary of the history of the Nephites which he has been compiling. At this point it's okay to be confused, because one should naturally wonder, Where is the part of the Summary of Mormon describing the Nephite History prior to the Words of Mormon?
The answer is that those were the 115 + pages that were lost by Martin Harris. These pages are commonly called "The Book of Lehi" though it's a misnomer, as it could have contained pages describing the detailed history of the posterity of Nephi all the way down to the first King Mosiah. The words of Mormon more or less skip the life of King Mosiah the 1st and most of the life of King Benjamin, his son...
6. (Mosiah ch. 1-5) King Benjamin is the son of the first king Mosiah. We don't learn much about his life, but we do know that in the end of his life he was visited by an angel. He gives his sermon to the people he is ruling in Zarahemla who humble themselves and repent, and announces that his son also named Mosiah will be king.
7. (Mosiah ch. 6) King Benjamin dies. King Mosiah (the Second) son of Benjamin, is king, and his people in the land of Zarahemla start to wonder whatever happened to their brethren who left the land of Zarahemla (led by Zeniff (see #3.)) to settle in the land of their forefathers (also called the Land of Lehi-Nephi). King Mosiah sends a group of Nephites to find out what happens to them. This group is led by a man named "Ammon" (But it's not the Ammon you know, who had a propensity to cut off arms...)
8. (Mosiah ch. 7) Ammon finds the land of Lehi-Nephi. He is taken captive by a man named King Limhi, who is the CURRENT king over the people who were led by Zeniff to the land of their forefather's inheritance. These Nephites are in a world of hurt. They are slaves to the Lamanites. King Limhi supposed that Ammon and his bretheren were enemies (I'll explain later, it's confusing... to do so here. :) King Limhi tries to recount their history... and explains the Nephites living in the land of Lehi-Nephi led by Zeniff had been warned of a prophet and they had slain him (this is Abinadi, but we get to learn more about him too)
9. Mosiah ch. 8 - Ammon teaches the people (Nephites led by Zeniff into the land of Lehi-Nephi) about the words of King Benjamin. They desire to be baptized but this Ammon doesn't think he's worthy. King Limhi brings 24 gold plates, and desires them be interpretted. Ammon explains that King Mosiah II could intepret these plates for he is a seer. King Limhi's (Nephites led originally by Zeniff into the land of Lehi-Nephi) people had been trying to find the land of Zarahemla to see if they couldn't get some help, but found a land covered in bones and found the 24 gold plates (the book of Ether), and they thought perhaps this was the land of Zarahemla, and that the Lamanites had destroyed ALL the nephites... therefore they had long stopped hoping for deliverance from slavery to the Lamanites.
10. (Mosiah 9-10) Now we switch to the ACTUAL account of Zeniff (who led the people of Nephi out of Zarahemla to the land of Lehi-Nephi). Here we learn about a deal that Zeniff made with a King Laman in which they settled and created a city in the land of Lehi-Nephi and Zenif became a king over his people (after their first curfuffle). When King Laman dies, the Lamanites begin to attack the Nephites hoping to enslave them, so that they can have their riches. The Nephites under King Zeniff (living in the land of Lehi-Nephi) triumph against the Lamanites.
11. (Mosiah 11-12) - King Zeniff dies and King Noah takes his place. King Noah is a greedy jerk, who taxes the people and builds a great throne and lives a riotous life with harlots and lots of immorality. He kicks out all the old priests and gets new priests who will party with him. Among these priests is a man named Amulon, and another man named Alma. They like to party with harlots all night long. Then this guy named Abinadi shows up and condemns them and their lifestyle choices. This torks them off... Abinadi goes into hiding.
12. (Mosiah 12-16) Abinadi is caught. He delivers a great sermon to King Noah's evil priests. King Noah's priests try to confound Abinadi, but King Noah's priests are only made to look a fool.
13. (Mosiah 17) Alma believes the words of Abinadi. He flees King Noah and writes all the words of Abinadi, while Abinadi is put to death by fire. King Noah actually almost lets Abinadi go, but Amulon and his priest buddies use peer-pressure to keep the King from doing the right thing. Abinadi prophecies that because he is put to death that the people of Nephi will be scourged and that the descendants of King Noah's priests shall likewise do and be smitten in like manner by death by fire. Amulon and the other priests say, "Nyah-nyah-nyah!"
14. (Mosiah 18) Alma repents. He preaches the words of Abinadi to the people, who for some reason are willing to listen to him. They meet and baptize one another in the waters of Mormon (which is what Mormon, that guy that just popped into the story way back, is named after), But King Noah detecting a movement among his people, discovers Alma and sends troops to kill them, so Alma and his people flee into the wilderness.
15. At this point we now have three groups of Nephites living in the land.
- - Alma and his Nephites are living in a land they call Helam (though you don't know the name of the land til later)
- - King Noah's people living in the land of Lehi-Nephi
- - King Benjamin/Mosiah II's people living in the land of Zarahemla.
...hence your confusion is warranted... ...but let's get back to the book of Mosiah...
16. (Mosiah 19: 1-8) With less people in the land, and with the death of Abinadi, the people rise up against King Noah, led by a man named Gideon, who is something of a warrior. He chases King Noah onto a tower. From the tower they see an army of Lamanites is invading the land, so Gideon spares King Noah to defend the people.
17, (Mosiah 19: 9-12) King Noah commands his people to flee. Of course the women and children are slower, so King Noah (always the civil servant, dedicated to his people) commands his faster runners to run faster and help him go faster and to forget the kids and wives and fair daughters who can't run as well... they run off leaving the children.
18. (Mosiah 19: 13-18) Those left behind send out their fair daughters and they charm the Lamanites. The Lamanites take these Nephites captive. We know that Gideon and Limhi (son of Noah) stayed behind with the women and children, for the first thing Gideon does is send out a party of men to find King Noah, Amulon and the fellow priests, and the men who ran off like cowards.
19. (Mosiah 19:18-21) The men who were cowards realize what they've done, and realize what they did to their wives and children. They wish to go back, but King Noah and his priests want to keep running. There's a power struggle. The cowardly-suddenly-regretful men are apparently more numerous for than King Noah for they take Noah and have a barbeque with him, and were about to do the same with Amulon and the priests of King Noah, but they run away. The men return to find the men of Gideon and Limhi.
20.(Mosiah 19:22-29) The fragment of the people originally founded by Zeniff, now led by King Limhi (son of Noah) now take an oath to the King of the Lamanites that they will pay tribute half of their flocks and abundance yearly. In return, the Lamanites vow not to kill them.
21. (Mosiah 20) - The wicked priests of King Noah (including one Amulon) discover a number of young nubile lamanite women who bathe (probably naked even...) and being men of high class and once teachers of the Law of Moses, they kidnap these young girls... This causes the Lamanites to go ballistic. These lamanites attack the Nephites ruled by King Limhi living in the land of Lehi-Nephi. They capture the king of the Lamanites, and Gideon reminds King Limhi that the Priests of King Noah are horndogs... and are most likely the ones who did this thing.
22. (Mosiah 21) After working out the conflict, these Nephites try to free themselves, but are continually beaten back by the lamanites, until they finally give up and submit themselves to bondage, accepting the curse that Abinadi prophesied would be their fate. King Limhi explains to Ammon just why he thought Ammon was a priest of king noah, and brings out the 24 gold plates asking for a translation, again.
23. At this point it's worth noting that there are actually FOUR groups of Nephites living in the land.
- - The wicked priests of King Noah with their nubile young brides of the Lamanites living in a land called "Amulon" (though you don't discover this til later).
- - Alma and his Nephites are living in a land they call Helam (though you still don't know the name of this land nor where they went...)
- - King Noah's people living in the land of Lehi-Nephi
- - King Benjamin/Mosiah II's people living in the land of Zarahemla.
24. (Mosiah 22) Gideon comes up with a plan for the Nephites to escape, and they do. Ammon leads the Nephites following King Limhi into the wilderness back to the Land of Zarahemla, where they all swear fealty to King Mosiah II. An army of lamanites chases them into the wilderness... but gets lost...
25. (Mosiah 23: 1-30) - We return to the account of Alma (the first Alma, expriest of King Noah, not the one for which the book of Alma is named, btw) living with his followers in the land of Helam. Things are pretty nice, and they have no king, until an army of Lamanites shows upon their borders. They're lost. They promise to let Alma and his people alone if they just show them how to get home. Of course they don't keep this promise, but what choice did Alma have?
26. (Mosiah 23: 31-39) - Turns out that while the army of the lamanites was lost they ran into a land called Amulon and took capture the priests of King Noah. Apparently, the lamanitish women had Stockholm syndrome and fell in love with their "husbands" the priests of King Noah, and so they plead that the priests aren't slain. The King of the Lamanites and Amulon hit it off, and so when they find Alma and the people living in the land of Helam, the King of the Lamanites puts Amulon in charge of them... This is bad.
27. (Mosiah 24) Alma and his people are subjected to Amulon and the Lamanite's cruelty... They plead unto the Lord, are commanded not to... pray in their hearts, and are delivered of the Lord by the Lamanites having a slumber party... The people of Alma escape to the Land of Zarahemla. The Lamanites and Amulonites all get lost in the wilderness trying to pursue the people of Alma... And return to their homes.
28. (Mosiah 25) At this point all the Nephites are back together, save those wicked priests of King Noah, who become known as Amulonites, and mix and mingle with the Lamanites, and mostly are lumped in with them, from hereon out. They do cause troubles later, and are hunted... but that doesn't happen til after the SECOND Ammon comes along in the book of Alma...
And so... I guess my whole point is that you shouldn't feel bad if you're a bit confused by the details. THERE IS a lot going on... and heck we don't find out what was on those 24 gold plates from the Jaredites (though you don't know they're named Jaredites til later) that form the book of Ether, until near the END of the book of Mormon, and this because Moroni appended it into the record...
Sunday, November 05, 2006
I know this may sound strange, as I work, and my wife stays at home caring for our children, but I have always struggled with my role as a provider. And I've found that whenever I have struggled with any gospel concept, I seek to understand it better. I don't know if this is so that I can "find an out" or some way around my duties, or if I just need a stronger witness or faith in the matter, but whatever the case when I ran across the following scripture from brave Captain Moroni... it struck me as profound, for I'd never noticed the wording...
Alma 44 verse 5...
5 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—
I thought it was fascinating that even in Moroni's time, they regarded the protection of their children as their responsibility. I have to wonder what it was like to be under the constant threat of bloodshed and harsh brutality, for our own country is so safe and peaceful by comparison. Our great challenge is different, and yet the same.
I thought the word "sacred" was particularly poignant. It stuck out to me that it was a sacred thing that a man lay down his life in the defense of his wife and children. It is a sacred thing that a man work and toil and even be bored in a life-sucking, unfulfilling, dead-end job, if it will provide for the "support" of his wife and children.
That's what it means to be a true hero in our day, and what a deceptive day it is. In a day when we are fed story after story of adventure, bold knights, magic, lords and enchantments, of men sacrificing their lives in noble acts of pure violence, we live in the most sedate (at least in terms of violence) culture ever to have been fixed upon the earth. We feed upon stories involving martial arts, epic battles, blurring lasers and faster than light speed chases, and yet the common man then gets into his car, sits in traffic for an hour both ways to and from a job in which he sits in his seat and stares at a computer screen every day...
...and we wonder why so many men, who thrive upon action, adrenaline, adventure, and a desire to be a hero, fall short of their families. Is it any wonder that things like pornography, or chemical dependence are so prevalent in our society, when they provide a little hormonal variety for what may otherwise be a rather sedentary existence?
Yet has the duty men owe to their children changed?
In recent ponderings, I've come to realize that what God wants of me, is not to be some amazing hero saving the day, pulling people from burning buildings, or swinging across the city skyline by my mutant web slinging skills... (which I try to keep a secret). He wants me to be steadfast.
Sure Christ is known as a Savior, but he is also known as a "Rock".
Helaman 5:12 beautifully states that it is upon the Rock of Christ we should build our lives, and in the same way our children may build a strong foundation if they are free first to build their little dwellings on our backs, by our support, if I am steady like a rock. What would the world be like if more men were strong and steady like a rock, rather than "on the prowl" for a perceived adventure that leads to misery and misfortune in the end?
So while I continue to dream of great adventures, that someday I may do the work of my Savior, it occurs to me that I must be planted firmly on a foundation that doesn't waver in all aspects of my life. And that steadiness may very well be sufficient for all the rest of the miracles that are to follow.
And did you ever think that such things? Such a thing as being a provider, being there day in and day out--though it's not a thrilling sword fight, was "sacred"?
I see it now more than I used to... just how rare and sacred it is, the man who stays the course, and is unshaken in his devotion to his wife and children, and everyday is a sacred steady support.
Anyhow... those are my thoughts... new babies make you think of these things.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Had Corianton been as good as Shiblon, we might have gotten just half a chapter (judging from the relatively short chapter we got for his son Shiblon). So thank goodness for youthful indiscretion, if only that it can lead to good for all... well... if your Dad's a prophet... :)