Monthly Archives: June 2013

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531: “I Would Exhort You”

Book of Mormon Testimonies

Prophets and Apostles discuss the importance of gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. (3:46)

I won’t take much of your time, because I know many of you are trying to catch up on your reading to finish the Book of Mormon today. Moroni 10 contains the prophet Moroni’s final words before he sealed up the record to be brought forth by the gift and power of God. About 1,400 years before Joseph Smith received the gold plates, Moroni concluded his father’s record by writing some final exhortations to those who would receive the Book of Mormon in the last days (see Moroni 10:1–2). The word exhort means to urge, advise, caution earnestly, admonish urgently. Moroni used the word nine times in the final chapter of the Book of Mormon.

Moroni’s first exhortation can be found in Moroni 10:1–2, and “I would exhort you” to look for the remaining exhortations that Moroni felt inspired to include in this final chapter and consider which one applies to you and your current situation in life.

Perhaps the most well know exhortation extended by Moroni is that found in Moroni 10:3-5. These verses have always meant a lot to me. I have a burning witness of the veracity of the Book of Mormon. As a young man I experimented with Moroni’s exhortation in relation to the Book of Mormon and I found it to be true. As a father I have also exhorted my children to do the same. On one occasion my oldest son was finishing the Book of Mormon for the first time. He had made a goal for himself to read the entire Book of Mormon before he was baptized. He started on his 7th birthday and read 15 verses a day to finish by his 8th birthday. My wife or I would read each night with him, alternating verses. When we arrived at this second exhortation, relating to the Book of Mormon, I was reading with him. I asked him if he was going to accept Moroni’s challenge and pray to know for himself that the Book of Mormon is true. He casually responded that he was not going to do so. Surprised by his response, and a bit worried, I asked him why he wasn’t going to do it. With all of the innocence and sincerity of a seven-year-old, but with the wisdom of a sage, he responded with words along these lines:

I don’t need to pray to know that the Book of Mormon is true. I already feel the Holy Ghost tell me that it is true every time I am reading it.

Well, what can I say to that? That was one of the most exciting moments as a parent that I had experienced up to that point. He is now 11 and has read the Book of Mormon almost every day (on his own) since he first finished it. He has completed it several times since then and continues to affirm its truthfulness and helpfulness in his life. His sister has followed his example and also read the Book of Mormon in the year preceding her baptism and continues to read it personally on a daily basis. She is completing it for the second time on her own. I have three other young children that I pray will follow the example of their older siblings.

And that brings us to my personal exhortation for you with this final blog posting. When my son finished the Book of Mormon that first time I asked him, “What will you read tomorrow?” and his response was, “I will start at the beginning of the Book of Mormon again.” I will use the words of Moroni and President Henry B. Eyring to extend this extra exhortation to you:

And now my beloved blog-buddies, “I would exhort you” that when you have finished studying the Book of Mormon as part of the Book of Mormon Translation Challenge, that you would “go back to the Book of Mormon and drink deeply and often” because, “great faith has a short shelf life” (“Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady“, Ensign, Nov. 2005). And to those of you who may not have finished reading the Book of Mormon by June 30, “I would exhort you” to continue where you are currently reading and join the BOOK OF MORMON SUMMER study program to help you complete the Book of Mormon. (CLICK HERE to join)

PLEASE leave a comment at the bottom of this post (or our Facebook Page or Facebook Group) letting me know that you FINISHED studying the Book of Mormon. I would like to add your names to the list on this blog of those who completed the Book of Mormon Translation Challenge.

Finally, THANK YOU! Thank you for accepting the challenge to read the Book of Mormon in the time that it took Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to translate it. Thank you for making time in your busy schedules to study this holy book. Thank you for sharing your comments on this blog and on our Facebook Page/Group. Thank you for inviting me into your life to share my thoughts and excitement for the Book of Mormon with you.

A Book with a Promise

The Book of Mormon is a book with a promise. Although its history is compelling by itself, it is a book of scriptural significance that should be received and read under the influence of the Holy Ghost.


#BOMTC Day 82, June 27~Ether 13-15 or Pages 513-518: New Jerusalem–Zion and a Pattern for Life

First of all, I want to apologize to those who have been faithfully reading the Book of Mormon and following my blog posts for leaving you without any new content the past three weeks. I have always felt that I had a commitment to fulfill with you by inviting you to participate in this challenge. I want you to know that I have not been lazy or forgotten about you. My grandmother died at the beginning of the month and my family and I went to help my grandfather through this difficult time. My grandparents have been married for 61 years, so you can imagine the magnitude of the loss for my grandfather. She was an AMAZING grandmother, and we will all miss her very much. Many of you know what this kind of thing is like, but it was my first experience losing someone close to me. I think my time with my grandfather helped me just as much, if not more, than it did for him. I will now have to play “catch up” on my posts. I plan to finish reading the Book of Mormon tomorrow or the day after. I will try and begin posting again by starting where the pacing guide shows we should be today. Once we have finished on June 30, I will return to Helaman and fill in the posts that I have missed (Helaman-Ether). Most people probably think that I whip these posts out pretty quickly and easily, but such is not the case. I am not a quick blogger. I usually spend 2-3 hours on a post (not including reading time, AND I am doing a different Summer Reading Challenge for those who did not get to do this challenge: http://bookofmormonsummer.wordpress.com/). My wife has been very patient through the process, and I thank her for her support and sacrifice. Now… on with the blogging!

Click graphic to read Ether 13-15

Click graphic to read Ether 13-15

There is a LOT of bad stuff that happens in Ether 13-15, and most of it is not very fun to read about. What I would like to focus on in these chapters though IS fun to read about–NEW JERUSALEM (Ether 13:1-12). I love to learn and teach about New Jerusalem! The Guide to the Scriptures, one of the study helps of the LDS scriptures, teaches the following about New Jerusalem:

The place where the Saints will gather and Christ will personally reign with them during the Millennium. Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent, and the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory (A of F 1:10). It also refers to a holy city that will come down out of heaven at the beginning of the Millennium.

New Jerusalem is mentioned in each of the books of scripture used by the Latter-day Saints–Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In order to get a good understanding of New Jerusalem it is important to see what each book teaches about this holy city.

Where I find real relevance and immediate personal application for New Jerusalem–the City of Zion–is in the plat that was created by Joseph Smith for the organization of the holy city (History of the Church, Vol. 1 Chapter 26 [June 1833- July 1833]). This plat became the model for the early Saints as they built their settlements. At the center of New Jerusalem there are several temples. Everything in the city is built around and focused on the temple.The temple is a symbol of the Savior.

Plat of Zion with 24 temples at the center of New Jerusalem

I live in Salt Lake County. Salt Lake was surveyed and laid out according to this patter. The base and meridian points are found at Temple Square. When I give people my home address I am actually telling them how far my home is from the Salt Lake City Temple. For those who are not familiar with Salt Lake City, I will use the words of a visiting tourist who posted the following on his website:

When the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley after their epic journey across the continent, and Brigham Young proclaimed that “Here we will build a temple to our God” in 1847, it was at this exact spot [Base & Meridian stone]. A stake was placed into the ground immediately and it became the anchor for the LDS headquarters and all of their activities thereafter.

Utah Salt Lake Meridian

Base and Meridian in Salt Lake City, Utah

The LDS Church and the State of Utah are inextricably intertwined so it is no surprise that it also took on a secular purpose. Streets within Salt Lake City and many of the surrounding towns take their numbering from this point. It uses an interesting X-Y coordinate naming convention. As an example, Rice-Eccles Stadium is on the campus of the University of Utah and is where the Utah Utes play football. The address is 451 South 1400 East, which looks odd to an outsider until one realizes is should be read in two distinct parts, 451 South AND 1400 East. This means, starting from the marker on Temple Square, one should travel four-and-a-half blocks south and then 14 blocks east. The system makes any location very easy to find once you understand it. (http://www.howderfamily.com/travel/utah/great-salt-lake-base-and-meridian.html)

Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian Marker Photo, Click for full size

This same method also allows me to find my way to the temple by simply reversing the cardinal directions of any address. If I am at Rice-Eccles Stadium, then I just need to travel four-and-a-half blocks North and then 14 blocks East.

temple square mormon

Have you ever noticed what is on the cover of each of the booklets prepared for latter-day youth? The temple is on the cover of the For the Strength of Youth, Personal Progress, and Duty to God booklets. Once again, the temple is a symbol of the Savior.

The City of New Jerusalem “sets forth an orderly pattern intended as an earthly reflection of the ideal religious community” (Far West Plat Reflects Inspired City Plan) as well as a pattern for a Christ-centered life.

THE SAVIOR IS AT THE CENTER! Those who will build their lives around the temple will find that they have centered their lives on the Savior. They will be citizens of New Jerusalem before it is built and they will receive the wages of the “laborer in Zion“.

If what I have written has either confused your or left you wanting to learn more, then I would encourage you to review the following sites. They are some of my favorites (just a few of my favorites on this that have not been mentioned yet). Please feel free to leave a link to one of your favorites, or one that you feel is informative on this topic, in the comments section.

 

 

 


#BOMTC Day 61, June 6~Helaman 8-10 or Pages 387-392: The Power of Prophets

Today’s post is a video post. The following three segments are a visual overview of what we study in Helaman 8-10.

Nephi Prays for His People

The prophet Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. Nephi reminded the people of prophet after prophet who had testified of Jesus Christ. He taught the Nephites that as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and are obedient, we will receive eternal life. Despite the multitude of prophets whose teachings confirmed Nephi’s words, corrupt judges stirred many of the people up to anger against Nephi, while some people boldly defended the prophet. (5:44)

Nephi Prophesies of the Death of Chief Judge

Nephi taught that the people who rejected his witness also rejected the testimonies of all the prophets who had come before him, all of whom had testified of Jesus Christ. As a testament that the people were in a sinful state and that what he told them about their destruction would be fulfilled, Nephi revealed that the Nephites’ chief judge had been murdered by his brother. Nephi also declared that both the murdered man and his brother were members of the Gadianton robbers. (2:18)

Nephi Proves His Innocence

After the trial concluded for the murder of the chief judge and Nephi’s words were verified, some of the people accepted him as a prophet. (6:53)

The trial to determine who murdered the chief judge ended when Nephi’s revelation about the murderer was confirmed. After being cleared of the murder of the chief judge, Nephi found that the people did not respond in faith and repent. Having escaped punishment from the false accusations that had been directed at him, Nephi began to walk home feeling discouraged. As he began to return to home, Nephi pondered what the Lord had shown him and also worried about the wickedness of the people. In his moment of discouragement, the Lord spoke to him and blessed him forever with the sealing power. This blessing is a central doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sealing power binds and looses on earth and in heaven. Finally, the Lord commanded Nephi to continue preaching repentance to the Nephites–a command that Nephi immediately obeyed.


#BOMTC Day 60, June 5~Helaman 6-7 or Pages 381-386: Cup Up? Fill Up!

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

Click graphic to read Helaman 6-7

As you have studied the book of Helaman, you have seen that the Nephites made choices that led the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from their lives, while the Lamanites made choices that invited the Spirit to increase in their lives. Because of the missionary efforts of Nephi and Lehi, thousands of Lamanites in Zarahemla had been baptized, and the majority of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi had been converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:19–20, 50–51). Following their missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. Unfortunately, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them. The prophet Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. He also prophesied that because of the Lamanites’ righteousness, the Lord would be merciful unto them and preserve them. Mormon recorded that the Lord withdrew His Spirit from the Nephites and began to pour out His Spirit on the Lamanites (see Helaman 6:35–36). When Nephi saw the state of his people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He went up on a tower in his garden to pray and to mourn the wickedness of the people. When the people heard him praying and mourning, a multitude gathered to learn why he was so upset. After the people gathered to hear Nephi praying upon the tower in his garden, He used the opportunity to teach them (see Helaman 7:12–29). He warned them of the consequences of their decisions and emphasized that if they refused to repent of their sins, they would lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.

influence of the Spirit

In Joel 2:28-29, the Lord promises that in the last days He would “will pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh”.

For illustrative purposes, let’s liken ourselves to a cup. A cup can be placed in a few different positions. You can place it facing up, sideways, or upside down. My position is determined by my attitude and actions. Now if the Lord is going to “pour out” His Spirit upon me then I want to be “cup up” (like the Lamanites in these chapters) with a good attitude and righteous actions. Sometimes my attitude and actions may be bad (like the Nephites in these chapters), in which case I am “cup down”–not a very good position if the Lord is pouring out His Spirit. Sometimes I may not be doing anything bad, but I am not necessarily doing anything good either (see D&C 58:26-28), in which case I could liken myself to “cup sideways”–also not very conducive to receiving an out-“pouring” of the Spirit of God.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that our attitude and actions can cause us to withdraw from the Holy Spirit:

“The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

“Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit….

“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord [cup down], that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006).

I invite you to read/listen to/watch Elder Bednar’s entire conference talk so that you can assure yourself that you are living like the righteous Lamanites [“cup up”] in these chapters. His message, along with these chapters, can help you identify what you need to do to be “CUP UP” so that you can “FILL UP!” on the Spirit of the Lord.

That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us


#BOMTC Day 59, June 4~Helaman 4-5 or Pages 375-380: “They Cannot Fall”

Click graphic to read Helaman 4-5

Click graphic to read Helaman 4-5

The Youth Theme for 2013, “Stand Ye In Holy Places, and Be Not Moved” (D&C 87:8), seems to be illustrated very well in these chapters of the Book of Mormon.

After Helaman died, the pride and contention among the Nephites caused many Nephites to join the Lamanites.
The majority of the Nephites became wicked. Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, devoted themselves to preaching the word of God. Their father, Helaman, the son of Helaman, had taught them to remember their Redeemer and to make Him the foundation of their lives (Helaman 5:12). After teaching the Nephites, Nephi and Lehi went to preach among the Lamanites. The Lamanites cast them into prison. The Lord miraculously delivered Nephi and Lehi, and as a result the majority of the Lamanites repented of their sins and converted to the gospel.

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be remember. Because all of you have made covenants—you know what to do and you know how to do it—our greatest need is to remember” (“Circles of Exaltation” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, June 28, 1968], 5).

In Helaman 5, we see some very important things that we are to “remember”. Verse 12 is the final and perhaps the best recognized “remember” statement of the chapter.

President Spencer W. Kimball also taught, “We, too, are faced with powerful, destructive forces unleashed by the adversary. Waves of sin, wickedness, immorality, degradation, tyranny, deceitfulness, conspiracy, and dishonesty threaten all of us. They come with great power and speed and will destroy us if we are not watchful. But a warning is sounded for us. It behooves us to be alert and to listen and flee from the evil for our eternal lives. Without help we cannot stand against it. We must flee to high ground or cling fast to that which can keep us from being swept away. That to which we must cling for safety is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our protection from whatever force the evil one can muster. (“Hold Fast to the Iron Rod,” Ensign, Nov. 1978).

And the Lord’s promise in Helaman 5:12 is sure, “it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

“CANNOT FALL”–what a great promise! Why can’t someone fall off of the “rock of the redeemer”? Well, Moses 7:53 says, “I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall”. It is pretty much impossible to fall off of a rock that is “broad as eternity”. I guess that is another good reason as to why the “wise man” did not get washed away! (see Matthew 7:24-27). Standing in holy places and being not moved is part of building on the “rock of our Redeemer”.

Interestingly, the account of Nephi and Lehi being freed from the Lamanite prison follows these memorable “remembers” at the beginning of Helaman 5. As you think of their experience, consider how they were able to stand in holy places and build on the rock of our Redeemer even as they stood in the Lamanite prison. Their experience brings a whole new dimension to the thoughts that I have previously shared. I hope  you will take some time to ponder their deliverance and consider how these principles are illustrated. You and I may will face similar challenges, but we will also be delivered as we build upon the rock of our Redeemer by standing in holy places, and being not moved!


#BOMTC Day 58, June 3~Helaman 1-3 or Pages 369-374: The Beginning of the End

Click on graphic to read Helaman 1-3

Click on graphic to read Helaman 1-3

The events in the book of Helaman begin at about 52 B.C. At this point in our reading we have about 30% still left in the Book of Mormon, but as Mormon points out, the secret combinations that were being organized at that time would lead to the eventual overthrow of Nephite nation (Hel. 2:13-14). President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming” (“The Savior’s Visit to America“, Ensign, May 1987). One of the major points emphasized in this book is the evil caused by secret combinations. Satan loves secrets. We can become a slave to a secret. We would do well to understand what Mormon teaches us about secret combinations so that we can recognize modern-day secret combinations and do everything in our power to combat them.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned of the dangers of secret combinations today:

Elder M. Russell Ballard

“The Book of Mormon teaches that secret combinations engaged in crime present a serious challenge, not just to individuals and families but to entire civilizations. Among today’s secret combinations are gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime families. The secret combinations of our day function much like the Gadianton robbers of the Book of Mormon times. … Among their purposes are to ‘murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God’ (Helaman 6:23).

“If we are not careful, today’s secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times. …

“The Book of Mormon teaches that the devil is the ‘author of all sin’ and the founder of these secret combinations (Helaman 6:30). … His purpose is to destroy individuals, families, communities, and nations (see 2 Nephi 9:9). To a degree, he was successful during Book of Mormon times. And he is having far too much success today. That’s why it is so important for us … to take a firm stand for truth and right by doing what we can to help keep our communities safe.

“… [We can] ‘stand as witnesses of God’ by setting an example, keeping Church standards, and sharing our testimony with those around us (see Mosiah 18:9)” (“Standing for Truth and Right,” Ensign, Nov. 1997).

Bro Simon Bonus:

My “current favorite” verses from the Book of Mormon come from Helaman 3:27–30. Mormon often used the phrases “thus we may see,” “thus we see,” and “we see” to point out truths he wanted us to learn. In Helaman 3:27–30 these phrases are used a number of times. What message do you think Mormon wants you to take away from these verses?

27 Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.

28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.

29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—

30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.


#BOMTC Day 57, June 2~Alma 62-63 or Pages 363-368: “All These Things Were Done”

Click here to read Alma 62-63

Click here to read Alma 62-63

Captain Moroni brought a portion of his army to  Zarahemla to help Pahoran overthrow the king-men—Nephite dissenters who wanted to establish a king and enter into an alliance with the Lamanites. Moroni and Pahoran united their forces and received help from other Nephite armies to drive the Lamanites out of the land. During this time many Lamanites repented and joined the people of Ammon. After 14 years of war, the Nephites again had peace in the land, allowing Helaman and his brethren to focus on building up the Church.

After Helaman died (see Alma 62:52), his brother Shiblon took possession of the sacred records. Before he died, Shiblon gave Helaman, who was the son of Helaman, charge of the sacred records. Helaman preserved the records that were already written and began keeping the record that would become the book of Helaman. Captain Moroni died, and his son Moronihah led an army that drove back another Lamanite attack. Many Nephites, led by a man named Hagoth, traveled by ship to lands northward and were never heard from again.

F.Y.I., Alma 63:4–10. Hagoth and his descendants

Latter-day prophets have said that Hagoth’s people settled on the islands that are now known as New Zealand.

To Saints in New Zealand, President Joseph F. Smith said, “You brothers and sisters from New Zealand, I want you to know that you are from the people of Hagoth” (quoted by Spencer W. Kimball in Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3 [1991], 329).

In the dedicatory prayer for the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, President David O. McKay said, “We express gratitude that to these fertile Islands Thou didst guide descendants of Father Lehi, and hast enabled them to prosper” (“Dedicatory Prayer Delivered by Pres. McKay at New Zealand Temple,” Church News, May 10, 1958, 2).

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “It is reasonable to conclude that Hagoth and his associates were about nineteen centuries on the islands, from about 55 B.C. to 1854 before the gospel began to reach them. They had lost all the plain and precious things which the Savior brought to the earth, for they were likely on the islands when the Christ was born in Jerusalem” (Temple View Area Conference Report, February 1976, 3; quoted in Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, 329).

Another interesting article on this can be found at: Robert E. Parsons, “Hagoth and the Polynesians,” in The Book of Mormon: Alma, The Testimony of the Word, eds. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992), 249–262.


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