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).
Satan LOVES secrets! Many times we keep something a secret in an effort to save ourselves in some way. But secrets do not save us; they enslave us! We 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–especially the secret combinations that we may produce in our own lives.
“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.
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.
Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
Try filling in the blanks in the following quote using the words: MEMBER and MISSIONARY (I listed the words in alphabetical order so that you won’t try and do that “Princess Bride” thing where the guy tries to figure out which cup has the poison… No cheaters!).
“Asking every member to be a ___________ is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a ___________.”
So, what do ya think?
I know what we typically hear, and that may be why you chose what you did. Or perhaps as you thought about it you realized what Elder Holland is really getting at. The easiest way to figure out the correct answer is to “do the math!”
What do I mean by, “do the math”? Well, what I mean is, with roughly 70,000 missionaries serving currently and a world population of 7 Billion +, each missionary would have responsibility for sharing the gospel with ~100,000 people. Not very good odds.
Now if we use the same world population and use the members of the church (7,000,000,000/15,000,000) we get a ratio of ~467 people for each member of the church to influence. Now those odds are pretty good! Especially when you take social media into account.
Sharing Your Beliefs
“Sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. . . . Perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to ‘open [your] mouths’ might today include ‘use your hands’ to blog and text message the gospel to all the world!” . . .
“With the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard . . . around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.” — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Ensign, May 2011, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus.” Emphasis added)
You may be thinking that you are right on your guess now, but we are not done yet (well, we are with the math…). Here is Elder Holland’s quote in context:
“A young returned missionary sister from Hong Kong told me recently that when she and her companion asked an investigator if she believed in God, the woman replied, ‘I didn’t until I met a member of your church and observed how she lived.’ What exemplary missionary work! Asking every member to be a MISSIONARY is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a MEMBER! Thank you for living the gospel.” (“‘Witnesses unto Me’,” Ensign, May 2001, emphasis added.)
Now, why on earth would Elder Holland say something like that when it seems to contradict what has been taught previously and is emphasized currently with the Hasten the Work initiative?
We know what it means to be a MEMBER MISSIONARY. “Member missionary” sounds great (and the challenge has been extended frequently and recently by prophets of God), but one of the primary problems is the psychology behind the phraseology. There is a lot of “baggage” and responsibility that comes with the word “missionary”. This can be very intimidating for members–especially those who may have never served a full-time mission. But if we ask every member to be a MEMBER, well, that doesn’t sound hard at all–no extra baggage, no added responsibility–we are just asking a member to do what they should already be doing.
So, what does it mean to be a MEMBER MEMBER. Well, Elder Holland said that one way we do it is by simply “living the gospel.” Perhaps one of the best places to look for information on how to be a MEMBER MEMBER that is “living the gospel” is to study Mosiah 18:7-11. Think about it, isn’t that exactly what Ammon did? He didn’t start out in typical “missionary mode”. What did he do? He did exactly what any member of the church could and should do. He wasn’t able to be a MISSIONARY until he fulfilled his responsibility as a MEMBER first.
All of this is why I refer to Alma 17-19 as the M.T.C. Not because it stands for Missionary Training Center in this case, but rather MEMBER TRAINING CHAPTERS. Ammon is the perfect model for how a good MEMBER MEMBER can make all the difference in the world by just “LIVING THE GOSPEL.” As you read Alma 19 you will be able to see the Ripple Effect of ONE MEMBER MEMBER easily affecting hundreds of other people.
You can do that, right? You can be a “lively member” of the church (see D&C 92:2) each and every day. You can influence the lives of many more than 467 people in a short matter of time by just living up to the covenants you made at baptism. You don’t need a badge on your shirt because you already wear His name on your heart! Think of what Ammon did in Alma 17-19, then liken it to your own station in life, and GO BE A MEMBER MEMBER!
The accounts in Alma 11–16 illustrate the sacrifice people are willing to make for their testimony of the truth. As Alma and Amulek began teaching the people of Ammonihah, they met with opposition. After they explained several eternal truths, many people “began to repent, and to search the scriptures” (Alma 14:1), including Zeezrom. However, most of the people were angry and sought to destroy Alma, Amulek, and those who believed in their words. Alma and Amulek warned the people of Ammonihah that if they failed to repent, the judgments of God would come upon them. Alma and Amulek were arrested, tried, and eventually imprisoned.
The wicked people in Ammonihah cast out the men who believed Alma and Amulek, and burned their wives, children, and scriptures while Alma and Amulek were forced to watch. After many days, the Lord delivered Alma and Amulek from prison and destroyed the wicked leaders of Ammonihah. Once the Lord delivered Alma and Amulek from prison, they went to preach to the people in the city of Sidom. There they found the believers who had been cast out of Ammonihah, including Zeezrom, who was suffering physically and spiritually because of his sins. When Zeezrom declared his faith in Jesus Christ, Alma healed him and baptized him.
Alma established the Church in Sidom, and then returned with Amulek to Zarahemla. Rejecting the call to repent, the people of Ammonihah were later destroyed by a Lamanite army, fulfilling Alma’s prophecy that the city of Ammonihah would be destroyed in a single day. In addition, the Lamanites captured some of the Nephites from the surrounding lands. Choosing to follow Alma’s prophetic guidance, the Nephite armies recovered the prisoners and drove the Lamanites from the land. During a period of peace, Alma, Amulek, and many others strengthened the Church throughout the land of the Nephites.
Mountains to Climb
Finding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will help us have the power to endure and overcome even the hardest trials in life.
“John asked if I would give him a priesthood blessing. I responded that I gladly would give such a blessing, but I first needed to ask some questions. I then posed questions I had not planned to ask and had never previously considered: “[John,] do you have the faith not to be healed? If it is the will of our Heavenly Father that you are transferred by death in your youth to the spirit world to continue your ministry, do you have the faith to submit to His will and not be healed?” (see video clip below…)
“To the sightless or hearing impaired, [God] sharpens the other senses. … With the loss of a dear one, He deepens the bonds of love, enriches memories, and kindles hope in a future reunion. You will discover compensatory blessings when you willingly accept the will of the Lord and exercise faith in Him”
Early in his childhood, Spencer W. Kimball suffered the pain that comes with the death of loved ones. When he was eight years old, his sister Mary died shortly after her birth. A month later, Spencer’s parents sensed that five-year-old Fannie, who had been suffering for several weeks, would soon pass away. Spencer later told of the day Fannie died: “On my ninth birthday Fannie died in Mother’s arms. All of us children were awakened in the early night to be present. I seem to remember the scene in our living room … , my beloved mother weeping with her little dying five-year-old child in her arms and all of us crowding around.”1
Spencer W. Kimball and his siblings, about two years before his sister Fannie died. Standing, left to right: Clare, Ruth, Gordon, and Delbert. Seated, left to right: Helen, Alice, Fannie, and Spencer.
Even more difficult for young Spencer was the news he received two years later, when he and his brothers and sisters were called home from school one morning. They ran home and were met by their bishop, who gathered them around him and told them that their mother had died the day before. President Kimball later recalled: “It came as a thunderbolt. I ran from the house out in the backyard to be alone in my deluge of tears. Out of sight and sound, away from everybody, I sobbed and sobbed. Each time I said the word ‘Ma’ fresh floods of tears gushed forth until I was drained dry. Ma—dead! But she couldn’t be! Life couldn’t go on for us. … My eleven-year-old heart seemed to burst.”2
Fifty years later, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, found himself far away from home, recovering from major surgery. Unable to sleep, he recalled the day his mother died: “I feel like sobbing again now … as my memory takes me over those sad paths.”3
Facing the deep sadness of such experiences, Spencer W. Kimball always found comfort in prayer and in the principles of the gospel. Even in his childhood, he knew where to turn to receive peace. A family friend wrote of young Spencer’s prayers—“how the loss of his mother weighed so heavily upon his little heart and yet how bravely he battled with his grief and sought comfort from the only source.”4
In his ministry, President Kimball frequently offered words of solace to those who mourned the loss of loved ones. He testified of eternal principles, assuring the Saints that death is not the end of existence. Speaking at a funeral, he once said:
“We are limited in our visions. With our eyes we can see but a few miles. With our ears we can hear but a few years. We are encased, enclosed, as it were, in a room, but when our light goes out of this life, then we see beyond mortal limitations. …
“The walls go down, time ends and distance fades and vanishes as we go into eternity … and we immediately emerge into a great world in which there are no earthly limitations.”5
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball
In His wisdom, God does not always prevent tragedy.
The daily newspaper screamed the headlines: “Plane Crash Kills 43. No Survivors of Mountain Tragedy,” and thousands of voices joined in a chorus: “Why did the Lord let this terrible thing happen?”
Two automobiles crashed when one went through a red light, and six people were killed. Why would God not prevent this?
Why should the young mother die of cancer and leave her eight children motherless? Why did not the Lord heal her?
A little child was drowned; another was run over. Why?
A man died one day suddenly of a coronary occlusion as he climbed a stairway. His body was found slumped on the floor. His wife cried out in agony, “Why? Why would the Lord do this to me? Could he not have considered my three little children who still need a father?”
A young man died in the mission field and people critically questioned: “Why did not the Lord protect this youth while he was doing proselyting work?”
I wish I could answer these questions with authority, but I cannot. I am sure that sometime we’ll understand and be reconciled. But for the present we must seek understanding as best we can in the gospel principles.
Was it the Lord who directed the plane into the mountain to snuff out the lives of its occupants, or were there mechanical faults or human errors?
Did our Father in heaven cause the collision of the cars that took six people into eternity, or was it the error of the driver who ignored safety rules?
Did God take the life of the young mother or prompt the child to toddle into the canal or guide the other child into the path of the oncoming car?
Did the Lord cause the man to suffer a heart attack? Was the death of the missionary untimely? Answer, if you can. I cannot, for though I know God has a major role in our lives, I do not know how much he causes to happen and how much he merely permits. Whatever the answer to this question, there is another I feel sure about.
Could the Lord have prevented these tragedies? The answer is, Yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, drive all planes and cars, feed us, protect us, save us from labor, effort, sickness, even from death, if he will. But he will not.
We should be able to understand this, because we can realize how unwise it would be for us to shield our children from all effort, from disappointments, temptations, sorrows, and suffering.
The basic gospel law is free agency and eternal development. To force us to be careful or righteous would be to nullify that fundamental law and make growth impossible.6
With an eternal perspective, we understand that adversity is essential to our eternal progression.
If we looked at mortality as the whole of existence, then pain, sorrow, failure, and short life would be calamity. But if we look upon life as an eternal thing stretching far into the premortal past and on into the eternal post-death future, then all happenings may be put in proper perspective.
Is there not wisdom in his giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified?
If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith.
If joy and peace and rewards were instantaneously given the doer of good, there could be no evil—all would do good but not because of the rightness of doing good. There would be no test of strength, no development of character, no growth of powers, no free agency, only satanic controls.
Should all prayers be immediately answered according to our selfish desires and our limited understanding, then there would be little or no suffering, sorrow, disappointment, or even death, and if these were not, there would also be no joy, success, resurrection, nor eternal life and godhood.
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things … righteousness … wickedness … holiness … misery … good … bad. …” (2 Nephi 2:11.)
Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. …
I love the verse of “How Firm a Foundation”—
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
[See Hymns, no. 5]
And Elder James E. Talmage wrote: “No pang that is suffered by man or woman upon the earth will be without its compensating effect … if it be met with patience.”
On the other hand, these things can crush us with their mighty impact if we yield to weakness, complaining, and criticism.
“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. …” (Orson F. Whitney)
There are people who are bitter as they watch loved ones suffer agonies and interminable pain and physical torture. Some would charge the Lord with unkindness, indifference, and injustice. We are so incompetent to judge! …
The power of the priesthood is limitless but God has wisely placed upon each of us certain limitations. I may develop priesthood power as I perfect my life, yet I am grateful that even through the priesthood I cannot heal all the sick. I might heal people who should die. I might relieve people of suffering who should suffer. I fear I would frustrate the purposes of God.
Had I limitless power, and yet limited vision and understanding, I might have saved Abinadi from the flames of fire when he was burned at the stake, and in doing so I might have irreparably damaged him. He died a martyr and went to a martyr’s reward—exaltation.
I would likely have protected Paul against his woes if my power were boundless. I would surely have healed his “thorn in the flesh.” [2 Corinthians 12:7.] And in doing so I might have foiled the Lord’s program. Thrice he offered prayers, asking the Lord to remove the “thorn” from him, but the Lord did not so answer his prayers [see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10]. Paul many times could have lost himself if he had been eloquent, well, handsome, and free from the things that made him humble. …
I fear that had I been in Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844, I might have deflected the bullets that pierced the body of the Prophet and the Patriarch. I might have saved them from the sufferings and agony, but lost to them the martyr’s death and reward. I am glad I did not have to make that decision.
With such uncontrolled power, I surely would have felt to protect Christ from the agony in Gethsemane, the insults, the thorny crown, the indignities in the court, the physical injuries. I would have administered to his wounds and healed them, giving him cooling water instead of vinegar. I might have saved him from suffering and death, and lost to the world his atoning sacrifice.
I would not dare to take the responsibility of bringing back to life my loved ones. Christ himself acknowledged the difference between his will and the Father’s when he prayed that the cup of suffering be taken from him; yet he added, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” [Luke 22:42.]7
Death can open the door to glorious opportunities.
For the one who dies, life goes on and his free agency continues, and death, which seems to us such a calamity, could be a blessing in disguise. …
If we say that early death is a calamity, disaster, or tragedy, would it not be saying that mortality is preferable to earlier entrance into the spirit world and to eventual salvation and exaltation? If mortality be the perfect state, then death would be a frustration, but the gospel teaches us there is no tragedy in death, but only in sin. “… blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. …” (See D&C 63:49.)
We know so little. Our judgment is so limited. We judge the Lord’s ways from our own narrow view.
I spoke at the funeral service of a young Brigham Young University student who died during World War II. There had been hundreds of thousands of young men rushed prematurely into eternity through the ravages of that war, and I made the statement that I believed this righteous youth had been called to the spirit world to preach the gospel to these deprived souls. This may not be true of all who die, but I felt it true of him.
In his vision of “The Redemption of the Dead” President Joseph F. Smith saw this very thing. … He writes:
“… I perceived that the Lord went not in person among the wicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth … but behold, from among the righteous He organized his forces … and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel. …
“… our Redeemer spent His time … in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits … who had testified of Him in the flesh, that they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead unto whom He could not go personally because of their rebellion and transgression. …
“I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption.” [See D&C 138:29–30, 36–37, 57.]
Death, then, may be the opening of the door to opportunities, including that of teaching the gospel of Christ.8
In times of trial, we must trust in God.
Despite the fact that death opens new doors, we do not seek it. We are admonished to pray for those who are ill and use our priesthood power to heal them.
“And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me.
“Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection.
“And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them;
“And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.
“And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.” (D&C 42:44–48.)
We are assured by the Lord that the sick will be healed if the ordinance is performed, if there is sufficient faith, and if the ill one is “not appointed unto death.” But there are three factors, all of which should be satisfied. Many do not comply with the ordinances, and great numbers are unwilling or incapable of exercising sufficient faith. But the other factor also looms important: If they are not appointed unto death.
Everyone must die. Death is an important part of life. Of course, we are never quite ready for the change. Not knowing when it should come, we properly fight to retain our life. Yet we ought not be afraid of death. We pray for the sick, we administer to the afflicted, we implore the Lord to heal and reduce pain and save life and postpone death, and properly so, but not because eternity is so frightful. …
Just as Ecclesiastes (3:2) says, I am confident that there is a time to die, but I believe also that many people die before “their time” because they are careless, abuse their bodies, take unnecessary chances, or expose themselves to hazards, accidents, and sickness. …
God controls our lives, guides and blesses us, but gives us our agency. We may live our lives in accordance with his plan for us or we may foolishly shorten or terminate them.
I am positive in my mind that the Lord has planned our destiny. Sometime we’ll understand fully, and when we see back from the vantage point of the future, we shall be satisfied with many of the happenings of this life that are so difficult for us to comprehend.
We sometimes think we would like to know what lies ahead, but sober thought brings us back to accepting life a day at a time and magnifying and glorifying that day. …
We knew before we were born that we were coming to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, ease and pain, comforts and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments, and we knew also that after a period of life we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a glad heart, eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward even though it might be for only a day or a year. Perhaps we were not so much concerned whether we should die of disease, of accident, or of senility. We were willing to take life as it came and as we might organize and control it, and this without murmur, complaint, or unreasonable demands.
In the face of apparent tragedy we must put our trust in God, knowing that despite our limited view his purposes will not fail. With all its troubles life offers us the tremendous privilege to grow in knowledge and wisdom, faith and works, preparing to return and share God’s glory.9
1. In Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball Jr., Spencer W. Kimball(1977), 43.
2. In Spencer W. Kimball, 46.
3. In Spencer W. Kimball, 46.
4. Joseph Robinson, in Spencer W. Kimball, 46.
5. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 40–41.
6. Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), 95–96.
7.Faith Precedes the Miracle, 97–100.
8.Faith Precedes the Miracle, 100, 101, 102.
9.Faith Precedes the Miracle, 102–3, 105–6.
Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
Amlici, a cunning man after the order of Nehor, wanted to become king over the Nephites. He gathered support among many people. The Nephites held a vote and chose to reject him and continue with their system of judges. The followers of Amlici gathered together and made him their king. Amlici commanded his followers—called Amlicites—to go to battle against the Nephites (see Alma 2:1-20). Soon thereafter the Lamanites joined the Amlicites in fighting the Nephites. Because the Nephites were faithful to the Lord, the Lord strengthened them in their battles with the Amlicites and the Lamanites (see Alma 2:18, 28–31, 36). The Nephites suffered many losses but overcame the attacks of these armies. Feeling humbled by the war with the Lamanites and Amlicites, many Nephites were “awakened to a remembrance of their duty,” and “began to establish the church more fully” (Alma 4:3–4). As a result, about 3,500 people joined the Church (see Alma 4:5). However, within a year, many members of the Church had become proud and were persecuting others. Alma decided to give up his duties as the chief judge and focus on bearing witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Alma 4:15-20).
The Amlicites voluntarily put marks on their foreheads. Their change in appearance was a manifestation of their rebellion. These marks served a purpose that was similar to the mark the Lord had put on the Lamanites. Mormon reminds us of the curse and the mark that had come upon the Lamanites hundreds of years earlier because of their rebellion against God (see Alma 3:6–10; see also 2 Nephi 5:20–24). Those who come out in open rebellion against God bring a curse upon themselves. It is important to understand that the curse was a state of being “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (2 Nephi 5:20). Through their actions, the Amlicites had separated themselves from God.
It is our choice to separate ourselves from God. Those who “come out in open rebellion against God” (Alma 3:18) cut themselves off from God, or in other words, bring a curse “upon themselves” (Alma 3:19).
HOW do we MARK OURSELVES today? WHAT are we trying to say by the way WE MARK OURSELVES? Think about the messages some people might try to send about themselves through their choices in clothing, hairstyles, earrings and other jewelry, tattoos, and body piercings. The following materials are meant to help us evaluate the message that our marks are leaving…
The Lost Purse
When a young woman’s purse is left behind after a dance, adult leaders search through it to find the owner’s identity, which is revealed to them in an unexpected way.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? … The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17)
Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.
Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act.
Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.
Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change.
Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings.
Show respect for the Lord and yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities. This is especially important when attending sacrament services. Young men should dress with dignity when officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament.
If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Your dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?” (see also Genesis 1:27; Alma 1:27)
These chapters always make me think of the first time I found out the REAL story of Aladdin. My mother had been talking about how Disney movies always create their own versions of the classic tales and it seemed to make everyone believe that the Disney versions were the correct versions (she is very well read, so this is somewhat disappointing to her). I was not aware of what she was referring to (since I am not as well read as my mother…), so I asked her to name a couple of examples. When she mentioned Aladdin I remembered that I had the original story as part of the Harvard Collection at my home. I was determined to discover the REAL story of Aladdin (FYI: It really is better than the Disney one!).
However, Mosiah 26-27 is even better than both versions of Aladdin! As recorded in Mosiah 26, some unbelieving Nephites of the rising generation influenced members of the Church with flattering words and led them to sin. Mosiah 27 recounts the conversion of Alma (the son of Alma) and the sons of King Mosiah. It tells of their rebellious attempts to destroy the Church of God, the visitation of an angel, Alma’s miraculous change, and the efforts of these young men to repair the harm they had done. As you read the accompanying quotes I hope you will start to see the parallels between the original story of Aladdin and these chapters in Mosiah.
Elder John A. Widtsoe, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1921 until his death in 1952, used the story of Aladdin to warn the youth about giving up the “old lamp” filled with the gospel when the world offers “new lamps” that are empty:
The youth of our day, in their approach to knowledge, are thinking for themselves. For that let us be grateful. And may they think straight, so that truth may not pass them by unrecognized!
Aladdin of Arabian Nights fame secured an old battered copper lamp of magical powers. By its aid he built himself a magnificent palace, acquired great wealth and became the son-in-law of the King. A wicked magician determined to secure possession of the wonderful lamp. With a supply of ordinary but new, highly polished lamps, he approached the palace, offering “new lamps for old.” Aladdin’s wife, who knew nothing of the uncommon properties of the old lamp, gladly exchanged it for a new one. Then Aladdin’s troubles began. Palace, wealth, and station vanished overnight. This ancient tale is being retold in our modern times. Almost every day someone, usually honest enough, offers a new belief or thought, burnished and bright with newness, to replace convictions that we have long held and which have well maintained us. … A careless exchange may result in loss or fearful consequences. (In Search of Truth: Comments on the Gospel and Modern Thought)
Most young people know the story of Aladdin, how his precious lamp was traded for a more glittery, shiny one which seemed at the moment very desirable and attractive but which turned out to be worthless and useless. The villain of the story was a scheming man who knew the value of the old lamp, and who with evil purpose acquired it by sounding the enticing cry: “New lamps for old.” The tragic figure of the account was Mrs. Aladdin, who had not learned the worth of the priceless light and who traded it for something which appeared desirable but was actually cheap and shoddy and unsatisfying.
If I were in my teens I would want to understand the relevance of the principle of the story of Aladdin to me and my life. I would want to understand the tremendous importance to my personal happiness of appreciating and honoring the precious light I have been blessed with. I would hope to be made aware of the great worth of the light of the gospel in my life and of the light of liberty which is my heritage in this great free land. I would observe, too, that immoral and deluded and dishonest people still walk the streets of my neighborhood and my town and the corridors of my school trying to get me to trade the lamps my fathers made possible for me for their shiny “new lamps” of corruption and unbelief and indolence and disloyalty.
I would seek and pray for teachers who could help me to understand which are lasting values and which are not, and for companions with whom I could freely and happily find and enjoy that which is of persisting worth. I would hope never to be unwise enough to trade a lifetime and an eternity of peace and self-respect for a few minutes of illicit and questionable “pleasure.” (Improvement Era 1954)
LIKENING his own teaching on another occasion, Elder Hanks taught:
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8.)
…We hear most clearly those voices that are nearest to us, and we are inclined to be responsive to those voices.
Do you remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians after his allusion to the uncertain trumpet? These words: “There are . . . so many kinds of voices in the world, . . .” (1 Cor. 14:10.)
What are the voices to which our young people are listening? What do they hear in their homes, in the streets of their towns and communities? What do they hear over television and radio? What is communicated to them in books and magazines and photographs? What do they hear when they mingle with groups of their associates?
Well, for some the answer will be very good because there are many wonderful parents whose hearts are truly moved toward a love for their young people. There are good teachers and fine, interested human beings all over the face of the earth who honestly try to be helpful to youth and to speak truly and honorably. But for many young people the answers won’t be so affirmative. What voices are they hearing?
• Very frequently, commercial voices. They may be honest voices from honest commerce seeking the trade of youth. They may be voices of conspiring and deceitful men who seek profit at the expense of the future well-being of youth.
• There are pagan voices, iconoclastic voices attacking old traditions and fundamentals, arrogantly assuring that the old ideals, the old standards, the old viewpoints of nobility and honest effort, all of these are outmoded, no longer applicable, and may be abandoned with old faith, old ways, old accepted patterns of moral behavior.
• Entertaining voices come from illuminated screens, often in company with actions which are designed to emphasize that part of our nature that needs no emphasis.
• False voices issue from parked cars or darkened rooms, sometimes tainted with alcohol or inflamed with drugs, treacherously asking, always asking, for self-gratification. “Don’t you love me?” they say. “You know I love you.” Love they call it, but love it is not, and love they do not. True love “seeketh not her own.” But these voices constantly sing their song of counterfeit love, always seeking satisfaction of their own lusts, never really giving or intending to give, or perhaps knowing how to give, not knowing how to truly love.
• Misguided voices urging rebellion for rebellion’s sake.
• Beguiling voices inviting young eyes to filth or foulness, young ears to that which young ears should not hear.
• Foolish voices which suggest that since most people seem to be doing it, it therefore becomes all right to do.
• Cynical voices that propound moral relativism, saying that there are no virtues or principles that you can really count on anymore, none that are always applicable everywhere. You make your own rules in this time and generation.
• Sophisticated voices that skirt the edge of truth, telling youth, “It’s your life, you live it. Never mind what parents, honest teachers, earnest adults, persons who care, have to say about it or how they feel about it. You decide; it’s your life.”
• Peer voices, voices that are inexperienced, something imitating what someone called the “imitation men” they have seen on the street corners.
• Aladdin voices singing the same old strain, “New lamps for old.”
In the midst of all this, where can young people turn to hear a voice that will move them in the direction of their dreams, their noblest and highest and most honorable dreams?
Do you remember the words of the Lord through Isaiah: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left”? (Isa. 30:21.)
Where can young people hear this voice?
The Church offers to its youth answers to some of their serious, sacred spiritual questions. It offers them a guide of conduct that will help them to live with meaningfulness and joy in this world, and it offers them this sacred personal commitment we call testimony that allows them to say “I know God lives.” (Conference Report, October 1965, Third Day, Morning Meeting, p.118-121)
Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, used the story of the Prodigal Son to illustrate the same principle:
“[The prodigal son] had exchanged the priceless inheritance of great lasting value for a temporary satisfaction of physical desire, the future for the present, eternity for time, spiritual blessings for physical meat” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 311; see Luke 15:11–32).
THE REAL STORY: The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 – 23
Thus ‘Ala-ed-Din daily increased in fair fame and renown, and the love of him grew stronger in the hearts of all the subjects, and he was magnified in the eyes of the people. At this time, moreover, certain of the Sultan’s enemies rode down against him, and the Sultan equipped the troops to resist them, and made ‘Ala-ed-Din leader of the army. So ‘Ala-ed-Din went with the troops, till he drew near to the enemy, whose armies were very strong.
And he drew his sword, and rushed upon the enemy, and the battle and slaughter began, and the conflict was sturdy.
But ‘Ala-ed-Din broke them and dispersed them, killing the greater part, and looting their goods and provisions and cattle beyond number. Then he returned triumphant after a glorious victory, and made his entry into his city, who had adorned herself for him in her rejoicing over him. And the Sultan went forth to meet him and congratulated him and embraced and kissed him, and there was a magnificent fete and great rejoicings. And the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din entered the palace, where there met him his bride, the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, who was rejoicing over him, and kissed him between the eyes. And they went into her palace, and presently the Sultan and all sat down, and the damsels brought sherbets. So they drank; and the Sultan ordered throughout the kingdom that they should illuminate for the victory of ‘Ala-ed-Din over the enemy. And the chiefs and the soldiers and the crowd turned [their prayers] only to God in Heaven and ‘Ala-ed-Din on earth, for they loved him exceedingly, because of the excess of his bounty and generosity and his fighting for his country, and his charge, and his rout of the foe. And thus was it with ‘Ala-ed-Din.
But as to the Moorish sorcerer, when he had returned to his country, he spent all this time in lamenting the labour and trouble he had taken in his quest of the Lamp, and the more because his labour was fruitless; and the morsel had fallen from his hand just as it was touching his lips. And he fell to thinking over all this, and lamented, and cursed ‘Ala-ed-Din in his exceeding rage, and at times he would mutter: “That this misbegotten boy is dead below ground I am satisfied, and I hope yet to get the Lamp, since it is still safe”.
One day of the days he drew a table in sand and put the figures down and examined them carefully and verified them, that he might perceive and be certified of the death of ‘Ala-ed-Din and the preservation of the Lamp, beneath the ground; and he looked into the figures, both “mothers” and “daughters,” intently, but he saw not the Lamp. At this, anger overcame him, and he drew the figure again, to be certain of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s death; but he saw him not in the Treasury. So his rage increased and the more so when he ascertained that the boy was alive on the surface of the earth. And when he knew that he had come forth from underground and was possessed of the Lamp for which he himself had endured privations and labour such as man can hardly bear, then he said within himself: ” I have borne many pains and suffered torments which no one else would have endured for the sake of the Lamp, and this cursed boy has taken it without an effort; and if this accursed knoweth the virtues of the Lamp, no one in the world should be richer than he.” And he added: “There is nothing for it but that I compass his destruction.” So he drew a second table, and inspecting the figures, discovered that ‘Ala-ed-Din had acquired immense wealth and had married the daughter of the Sultan. So he was consumed with the flame of anger begotten of envy.
He arose that very hour, and equipped himself, and journeyed to the land of China, and when he arrived at the metropolis wherein dwelt ‘Ala-ed-Din, he entered and alighted at one of the Khans. And he heard the people talking of nothing but the splendour of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace. After he had rested from his journey, he dressed himself and went down to perambulate the streets of the city. And he never met any people but they were admiring this palace and its splendour, and talking together of the beauty of ‘Ala-ed-Din and his grace and dignity and generosity and the charm of his manners. And the Moor approached one of those who were depicting ‘Ala-ed-Din with these encomiums, and said to him: ” O gentle youth, who may this be whom ye praise and commend ? ” And the other replied: ” It is evident that thou, O man, art a stranger and comest from distant parts; but be thou from ever so distant a land, how hast thou not heard of the Emir ‘Ala-ed-Din whose fame, methinks, hath filled the world and whose palace one of the Wonders of the World hath been heard of far and near? And how hast thou not heard anything of this or of the name of ‘Ala-ed-Din, our Lord increase his glory and give him joy?” But the Moor answered: “Verily it is the height of my desire to see the palace, and if thou wilt do me the favour, direct me to it, since I am a stranger.” Then the man said, ” I hear and obey,” and proceeded before him and guided him to the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din. And the Moor began to examine it, and knew that it was all the doing of the Lamp, and cried: ” Ah! There is nothing for it but that I dig a pit for this cursed son of a tailor, who could not even earn a supper. And if the fates aid me I will undoubtedly send his mother back to her spinning, as she was before; and as for him, I will take his life”.
He returned to the Khan in this state of grief and regret and sadness for envy of ‘Ala-ed-Din. When he arrived at the Khan he took his instruments of divination and drew a table to discover where the Lamp was; and he found it was in the palace, and not on ‘Ala-ed-Din himself. Whereat he rejoiced mightily, and said: ” The task remaineth easy, to destroy the life of this accursed; and I have a way to obtain the Lamp.” Then he went to a coppersmith and said: ” Make me a number of lamps, and take their price, and more; only I wish thee to hasten to finish them.” And the coppersmith answered, “I hear and obey.” And he set to work at them and completed them; and when they were done the Moor paid him the price he asked for them, and took them and departed and went to the Khan, where he put them in a basket. Then he went about the streets and bazars of the city, crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” And when the people heard him crying thus, they laughed at him, saying: “No doubt this man is mad, since he goeth about to exchange old lamps for new.” And all the world followed him, and the street boys pursued him from place to place and mocked at him; but he gainsaid them not nor cared for that, but did not cease perambulating the city till he came under ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace, when he began to cry in a louder voice, while the boys shouted at him, ” Madman! Madman!” Now by the decrees of destiny the Lady Bedr-el-Budur was in the kiosk, and hearing some one crying and the boys shouting at him, and not understanding what it was all about, she ordered one of her handmaids, saying: “Go and find out who it is that crieth and what he is crying.” So the damsel went to look, and perceived a man crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” and the boys around him making sport of him. And she returned and told her mistress Bedr-el-Budur, saying: “O my lady, this man is crying: ‘O who will exchange old lamps for new?’ and the urchins are following him and laughing at him.” So the Lady Bedr-el-Budur laughed too at this oddity. Now *Ala-ed-Din had left the Lamp in his apartment, instead of replacing it in the Treasury and locking it up, and one of the maids had seen it. So she said: “O my mistress, methinks I have seen in my master’s room an old lamp; let us exchange it with this man for a new one, to find out if his cry be true or false.” And the Lady Bedr-el-Budur said to her: “Bring the Lamp which thou sayest thou didst see in thy master’s room.” For the Lady Bedr-el-Budur had no knowledge of the Lamp and its qualities, and that it was this which had brought ‘Ala-ed-Din her husband to his present high station; and her chief desire was to try and discover the object of this man who exchanged new lamps for old. So the damsel went and ascended to the apartment of ‘Ala-ed-Din and brought the Lamp to her mistress, and none of them suspected the guile of the Moorish wizard and his cunning. Then the Lady Bedr-el-Budur ordered an agha of the eunuchs to go down and exchange the Lamp for a new one. So he took the Lamp and gave it to the Moor and received from him a new lamp, and returned to the Princess and gave her the exchange; and she, after examining it, saw it was really new, and fell a-laughing at the folly of the Moor.
But he, when he got the Lamp and knew it was the Lamp of the Treasure, instantly put it in his bosom and abandoned the rest of the lamps to the people who were chaffering with him, and went running till he came to the outskirts of the city, when he walked on over the plains and waited patiently till night had fallen, and he saw that be was alone in the desert, and none there but he* Then he took forth the Lamp from his bosom and rubbed it, and immediately the Marid appeared to him, and said: “At thy service, I am thy slave in thy hands; ask of me what thou desirest.” So the Moor replied: “I require thee to remove the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din from its site, with its inmates and all that is in it, and myself also, and set it in my country, the land of Africa. Thou knowest my town, and I wish this palace to be in my town, among the gardens.” And the Marid slave replied, “I hear and obey. Shut thine eye and open it, and thou wilt find thyself in thy country along with the palace.” And in a moment this was done, and the Moor and the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din and all in it were removed to the land of Africa. Thus it was with the Moorish sorcerer.
To return to the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din. When the Sultan arose in the morning from his sleep, in his affection and love for his daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, he was wont every day when he was aroused from sleep to open the window and look out towards her. So he arose that day, as usual, and opened the window to look upon his daughter. But when he approached the window and looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, he beheld nothing-nay, the place was as bare as it was of yore, and he saw neither palace nor any other building. And he was wrapped in amazement and distraught in mind; and he rubbed his eyes, in case they were dimmed or darkened, and returned to his observation, till at last he was sure that no trace or vestige of the palace remained; and he knew not how or why it had disappeared. So his wonder increased, and he smote his hands together, and the tears trickled down over his beard, because he knew not what had become of his daughter.
Then he sent at once and had the Wezir fetched. And he stood before him, and as soon as he came in he noticed the sorrowful state of his sovereign, and said to him: “Pardon, O King of the Age. God defend thee from calamity. Wherefore dost thou grieve?” The Sultan replied: “Perhaps thou dost not know my trouble?” And the Wezir said: “Not a whit, O my lord. By Allah, I have no knowledge of it whatever.” Then said the Sultan: “It is evident thou hast not looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din.” “True, O my master,” replied the Wezir, “it must now be still closed.” Then said the King: “Since thou hast no knowledge of anything, arise and look out of the window and see where ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace is which thou sayest is shut up.” So the Wezir arose and looked out of the window towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, and could espy nothing, neither palace nor anything else. So his reason was amazed and he was astounded, and returned to the Sultan, who said: “Dost thou know now the reason of my grief, and hast thou observed the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din which thou saidst was shut?” The Wezir answered: “O King of the Age, I informed thy Felicity before that this palace and all these doings were magic” Then the Sultan was inflamed with wrath, and cried out: “Where is ‘Ala-ed-Din?” He answered: “Gone to the chase.” Thereupon the Sultan instantly ordered some of his aghas and soldiers to go and fetch ‘Ala-ed-Din, pinioned and shackled. So the aghas and soldiers proceeded till they came upon ‘Ala-ed-Din, whom they thus addressed: “Chastise us not, O our master ‘Ala-ed-Din, for the Sultan hath commanded us to take thee chained and pinioned. So we beg thy pardon, for we are acting under the royal mandate, which we cannot oppose.” When ‘Ala-ed-Din heard the words of the aghas and soldiers, wonder took hold of him, and his tongue became tied, for he understood not the cause of this. Then turning to them, he said: “O company, have ye no knowledge of the cause of this order of the Sultan ? I know myself to be innocent, and to have committed no sin against the Sultan or against the kingdom.” They answered: “O our master, we know no cause at all.” Then ‘Ala-ed-Din dismounted and said to them: “Do with me what the Sultan ordered, for the command of the Sultan must be on the head and the eye.” Then the aghas chained ‘Ala-ed-Din and manacled him and bound him with irons and led him to the city. And when the citizens saw him bound and chained with iron, they knew that the Sultan would cut off his head; and since he was exceedingly beloved of them all, the lieges assembled together and brought their weapons and went forth from their houses and followed the soldiers to see what would be the event.
When the troops with ‘Ala-ed-Din reached the palace, they entered and told the Sultan; whereupon he straightway commanded the executioner to come and cut off his head.
But when the citizens knew this, they barred the gates and shut the doors of the palace, and sent a message to the Sultan, saying: “We will instantly pull down thy house over thy head and all others in it, if any mischief or harm come to ‘Ala-ed-Din.” So the Wezir went in and informed the Sultan, saying: “O King of the Age, thy command is about to seal the book of our lives. It were better to pardon ‘Ala-ed-Din lest there come upon us the calamity of calamities; for the lieges love him more than us.” Now the executioner had already spread the carpet of death, and seated ‘Ala-ed-Din thereon, and bandaged his eyes, and had walked round him thrice, waiting for the King’s command, when the Sultan looking out of the window, beheld his subjects attacking him and scaling the walls with intent to pull them down. So he immediately ordered the executioner to stay his hand, and bade the herald go out to the crowd and proclaim that he had pardoned ‘Ala-ed-Din and granted him grace. When ‘Ala-ed-Din saw he was free, and espied the Sultan seated on his throne, he drew near and said to him: “O my lord, since thy Felicity hath been gracious to me all my life, vouchsafe to tell me what is my offence.” Then the Sultan said: “O traitor, hitherto I knew of no offence in thee.” And turning to the Wezir, he said: “Take him and shew him from the windows where his palace is.” And when the Wezir had led him and he had looked out of the window in the direction of his palace, he found the site bare as it was before he built his palace thereon; and he saw never a vestige of the palace at all. (The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 & 23)
Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
Limhi’s people came into Lamanite bondage as a result of their wickedness (see Mosiah 20:21) and were humbled and turned to God as a result of their bondage. Alma’s people were brought into bondage as a trial of their faith (see Mosiah 23:21). Both groups prayed mightily to be released from bondage. While both groups of people were eventually delivered and arrived in Zarahemla, the Lord helped each group in different ways.
To be delivered usually means to be set free, helped, or brought through something. Studying these two accounts of divine deliverance can help us increase our faith to call upon the Lord for daily divine deliverance from whatever afflictions you are experiencing.
“No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995).
By comparing Limhi’s experience in Mosiah 21:16 with Alma’s experience in Mosiah 24:15 we can identify common ways that the Lord prepares His children for divine deliverance.
They were placed in bondage after much bloodshed (see Mosiah 21:5–13).
It is so hard when sincere prayer about something we desire very much is not answered the way we want. It is especially difficult when the Lord answers no to that which is worthy and would give us great joy and happiness. Whether it be overcoming illness or loneliness, recovery of a wayward child, coping with a handicap, or seeking continuing life for a dear one who is slipping away, it seems so reasonable and so consistent with our happiness to have a favorable answer. It is hard to understand why our exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not bring the desired result.
No one wants adversity. Trials, disappointments, sadness, and heartache come to us from two basically different sources. Those who transgress the laws of God will always have those challenges. The other reason for adversity is to accomplish the Lord’s own purposes in our life that we may receive the refinement that comes from testing. It is vitally important for each of us to identify from which of these two sources come our trials and challenges, for the corrective action is very different.
If you are suffering the disheartening effects of transgression, please recognize that the only path to permanent relief from sadness is sincere repentance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Realize your full dependence upon the Lord and your need to align your life with His teachings. There is really no other way to get lasting healing and peace. Postponing humble repentance will delay or prevent your receiving relief. Admit to yourself your mistakes and seek help now. Your bishop is a friend with keys of authority to help you find peace of mind and contentment. The way will be opened for you to have strength to repent and be forgiven.
Now may I share some suggestions with you who face the second source of adversity, the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.
Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.
When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.
This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience.
To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that comes from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.
As in all things, the Master is our perfect example. Who could have asked with more perfect faith, greater obedience, or more complete understanding than did He when He asked His Father in Gethsemane: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). Later He pled twice again: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42; see also Matt. 26:44).
How grateful I am personally that our Savior taught we should conclude our most urgent, deeply felt prayers, when we ask for that which is of utmost importance to us, with “Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42). Your willingness to accept the will of the Father will not change what in His wisdom He has chosen to do. However, it will certainly change the effect of those decisions on you personally. That evidence of the proper exercise of agency allows His decisions to produce far greater blessings in your life. I have found that because of our Father’s desire for us to grow, He may give us gentle, almost imperceptible promptings that, if we are willing to accept without complaint, He will enlarge to become a very clear indication of His will. This enlightenment comes because of our faith and our willingness to do what He asks even though we would desire something else.
Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you.
I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.
It is a singularly marvelous blessing to have faith in the Savior and a testimony of His teachings. So few in the world have that brilliant light to guide them. The fulness of the restored gospel gives perspective, purpose, and understanding. It allows us to face what otherwise appear to be unjust, unfair, unreasonable challenges in life. Learn those helpful truths by pondering the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Try to understand those teachings not only with your mind but also with your heart.
True enduring happiness with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the most challenging difficulties comes from a life centered in Jesus Christ. Obedience to His teachings provides a sure foundation upon which to build. That takes effort. There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled.
Recently a great leader, suffering from physical handicaps that come with advancing age, said, “I am glad I have what I have.” It is wisdom to open the windows of happiness by recognizing your abundant blessings.
Don’t let the workings of adversity totally absorb your life. Try to understand what you can. Act where you are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord for a period while you give to others in worthy ways before you take on appropriate concern again.
Please learn that as you wrestle with a challenge and feel sadness because of it, you can simultaneously have peace and rejoicing. Yes, pain, disappointment, frustration, and anguish can be temporary scenes played out on the stage of life. Behind them there can be a background of peace and the positive assurance that a loving Father will keep His promises. You can qualify for those promises by a determination to accept His will, by understanding the plan of happiness, by receiving all of the ordinances, and by keeping the covenants made to assure their fulfillment.
The Lord’s plan is to exalt you to live with Him and be greatly blessed. The rate at which you qualify is generally set by your capacity to mature, to grow, to love, and to give of yourself. He is preparing you to be a god. You cannot understand fully what that means, yet, He knows. As you trust Him, seek and follow His will, you will receive blessings that your finite mind cannot understand here on earth. Your Father in Heaven and His Holy Son know better than you what brings happiness. They have given you the plan of happiness. As you understand and follow it, happiness will be your blessing. As you willingly obey, receive, and honor the ordinances and covenants of that holy plan, you can have the greatest measure of satisfaction in this life. Yes, even times of overpowering happiness. You will prepare yourself for an eternity of glorious life with your loved ones who qualify for that kingdom.
I know the principles that we have discussed are true. They have been tested in the crucible of personal experience. To recognize the hand of the Lord in your life and to accept His will without complaint is a beginning. That decision does not immediately eliminate the struggles that will come for your growth. But I witness that it is the best way there is for you to find strength and understanding. It will free you from the dead ends of your own reasoning. It will allow your life to become a productive, meaningful experience, when otherwise you may not know how to go on (see D&C 24:8).
I testify that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you. I witness that the Savior gave His life for your happiness. I know Him. He understands your every need. I positively know that as you accept Their will without complaint, They will bless and sustain you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:
It is difficult to determine the effect that one person can have, but with time the results can be seen. You may never know how the decisions you make will affect others. Abinadi may have died without knowing if anyone believed his teachings, but Alma was converted because of Abinadi’s efforts, and he and his descendants had a great influence on the Nephites for many generations.
President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the following example:
“You don’t know how much good you can do; you can’t foresee the results of the effort you put in. Years ago, President Charles A. Callis, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, but who previously was president of the Southern States Mission for twenty-five years, told me this story. He said that he had a missionary in the southern [United States] who came in to get his release at the conclusion of his mission. His mission president said to him, ‘Have you had a good mission?’
“He said, ‘No.’
“‘How is that?’
“‘Well, I haven’t had any results from my work. I have wasted my time and my father’s money. It’s been a waste of time.’
“Brother Callis said, ‘Haven’t you baptized anyone?’
“He said, ‘I baptized only one person during the two years that I have been here. That was a twelve-year-old boy up in the back hollows of Tennessee.’
“He went home with a sense of failure. Brother Callis said, ‘I decided to follow that boy who had been baptized. I wanted to know what became of him. …
“… ‘I followed him through the years. He became the Sunday School Superintendent, and he eventually became the branch president. He married. He moved off the little tenant farm on which he and his parents before him had lived and got a piece of ground of his own and made it fruitful. He became the district president. He sold that piece of ground in Tennessee and moved to Idaho and bought a farm along the Snake River and prospered there. His children grew. They went on missions. They came home. They had children of their own who went on missions.’
“Brother Callis continued, ‘I’ve just spent a week up in Idaho looking up every member of that family that I could find and talking to them about their missionary service. I discovered that, as the result of the baptism of that one little boy in the back hollows of Tennessee by a missionary who thought he had failed, more than 1,100 people have come into the Church.’
“You never can foretell the consequences of your work, my beloved brethren and sisters, when you serve as missionaries” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 360–61). (Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Manual, Lesson 18: God Himself Shall Redeem His People)
Now, why would Elder Callis be so concerned about ONE boy from Tennessee? Well, if you don’t know about Elder Callis, the following story may help you understand his concern:
“Many years ago an elder who served a mission in the British Isles said at the end of his labors, ‘I think my mission has been a failure. I have labored all my days as a missionary here and I have only baptized one dirty little Irish kid. That is all I baptized.’
“Years later, after his return to his home in Montana, he had a visitor come to his home who asked, ‘Are you the elder who served a mission in the British Isles in 1873?’
“Then the man went on, ‘And do you remember having said that you thought your mission was a failure because you had only baptized one dirty little Irish kid?’
“He said, ‘Yes.’
“The visitor put out his hand and said, ‘I would like to shake hands with you. My name is Charles A. Callis, of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am that dirty little Irish kid that you baptized on your mission.’” (President James E. Faust, “Them that Honour Me I will Hounour”, Ensign, May 2001; See also, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 602–3.)
The story of Abinadi (see Mosiah 11–18) is an example of how doing what’s right, even when it’s hard, can affect many lives for good. When Abinadi chose to be the one, his choice led Alma to be the one as well—the only one of King Noah’s priests to accept the gospel, which influenced an entire nation.
Track the RIPPLE EFFECT that Abinadi had:
Abinadi: Abinadi’s testimony to wicked King Noah cost him his life (see Mosiah 17:20), but changed the life of one of the king’s priests, Alma the Elder (see Mosiah 18:1), who at the time was “a young man” (Mosiah 17:2).
Alma the Elder: Alma helped bring into the Church about 450 of King Noah’s people (see Mosiah 18:35). They joined the Nephites at Zarahemla, where Alma became the high priest of the Church and baptized many more (see Mosiah 25:18). His son was Alma the Younger (see Mosiah 27:14).
Alma the Younger: Alma was the Nephites’ first chief judge and high priest of the Church (see Mosiah 29:42). He helped convert more than 3,500 people and converted many more during later missions to Nephite cities. Alma’s sons served missions as well. His oldest son was Helaman.
Helaman, Son of Alma: Helaman kept the records and was one of the high priests of the Church (see Alma 46:6). At about 73 B.C. and again about 54 B.C., he reestablished the Church after years of war (see Alma 45:22; Alma 62:46). He led the 2,000 stripling warriors. His son was also named Helaman.
Helaman, Son of Helaman: Helaman kept the records of the people as well. He became chief judge of the Nephites. During his righteous rule, “tens of thousands” joined the Church (Hel. 3:26). He had two righteous sons, Nephi and Lehi.
Nephi and Lehi, Sons of Helaman: Nephi was chief judge before leaving to preach the gospel with Lehi. These brothers were such powerful missionaries that most of the Lamanites were converted to the gospel (see Hel. 5:50). Nephi turned the records over to his son, Nephi.
Nephi, Son of Nephi: Nephi became a great prophet. He taught and baptized many in the wicked days before Christ’s coming, even raising his brother from the dead (see 3 Ne. 7:15–26). He was chosen as one of Christ’s 12 disciples when the Savior appeared (see 3 Ne. 12:1). The disciples helped convert all the Nephites and Lamanites after Christ’s coming (see 4 Ne. 1:2).
Abinadi’s teachings and example affected countless lives over the years, from Alma the Elder to Nephi, the disciple of Christ. These men didn’t just affect the lives of their converts. Those people likely affected others, including their own children and their children’s children, who also affected others. You never know how many people will be affected by what you choose to do. So make sure you choose the right. (see Count the Ripples, New Era, Feb. 2005)
Will you be the one? Are you the one? The one who refuses to participate in gossip? The one who stands up for the Church? The one who chooses the right—whatever the circumstances—even when nobody else does? (Be the One, New Era, May 2013)
What kind of waves will you make?
In a general conference address, Elder Harold G. Hillam shared the following two RIPPLE EFFECT stories:
When we see the effect one person can have . . . , it perhaps is no wonder that the Lord reminded us, “Remember the worth of souls.”
One of the talks that has had an everlasting impression on me is one given in a Saturday evening session of a stake conference years ago. The talk was given by a young mother. Here’s what she said: “I have been doing the genealogy of my great-grandfather. He and his large family of sons and daughters were members of the Church.
“My great-grandfather,” she said, “left church one Sunday with his family, and they never returned—no indication why.”
She then said, “In my research, I have found that my great-grandfather has over 1,000 descendants.”
And then she said, and this is the part I have not been able to forget, “Of those 1,000 descendants, I am the only one active in the Church today.”
As she said these words, I found myself thinking, “Is it only 1,000, or could it be more?”
The answer is apparent. The spiritual influence that family might have had on their neighbors and friends did not happen. None of his sons nor any of his daughters served as missionaries, and those they would have touched with their testimonies were not baptized, and those who were not baptized did not go on missions. Yes, there are probably many thousands who are not in the Church today, and not in this very meeting, because of that great-grandfather’s decision.
As I heard her talk I found myself thinking, “What a tragedy! Perhaps if I had been there at that time, I could have said something to the father, to the family, to the priesthood leaders that might have helped to prevent such a calamity to their family and to so many in the future generations that would follow.”
Well, that opportunity of the past is lost. But we can now look to the present and to the future. I would say to those who find themselves in the same position as that great-grandfather: Would you consider what you might be doing to your family and to all those who come after you? Would you ponder the effects of your thoughts and your actions?
… I would like to tell you of a stake conference I was assigned to attend. It was a reorganization; the stake president and his counselors would be released, and a new presidency would be called. The stake president was young and had served wonderfully for almost 10 years. He was a spiritual giant, but he was also an administrative giant. In my personal interview with him, he told me how he had delegated much of the responsibility for the stake functions to his counselors and to the high council and had thus freed himself to interview those who needed encouragement. Individuals and couples were invited to come to his office. There he got to know them, counseled with them, and invited them to do better, to put their lives in order, and to receive the blessings available to those who follow the Lord. He helped them by putting them in the care of a capable leader, a teacher who helped them to understand the beauties of the doctrine. Then he told me that in these interviews he would often ask if they would like a blessing. “I have placed my hands on the heads of many members of the stake,” he said.
The next day in the general session of the stake conference, I doubt I have ever seen so many tears—not because they felt the president should not be released, but for the deep love of a young stake president who had blessed their lives. I felt prompted to ask, “How many of you have had the hands of the president on your heads?” I was amazed at the number of people who raised their hands. I thought to myself at the time, “How many of these people will bless the name of this great man, not only now but throughout the eternities?” Yes, these will be the great-grandfathers who will, because of this loving leader, leave a legacy of generations of thousands who will call him blessed.
This chart shows the lineage of Alma and approximate life spans of him and his descendants mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Alma’s conversion while listening to Abinadi (see Mosiah 18:1) and Alma’s baptism at the Waters of Mormon (see Mosiah 18:14) were important events for himself and for the Nephite civilization. Not only were Alma’s descendants able to receive the blessings of the gospel, but for over four hundred years many of them were key prophets and principal keepers of the plates of Nephi who in turn spread the gospel to the general population. (View PDF)
A final story, shared by Ryan Squire, will probably suffice for illustrating our point today. His grandfather believe that on his mission he had never brought anyone into the Church. Here is the rest of the story:
I served in the São Paulo Brazil Mission. While I was there, I met an elderly Japanese couple who served in various capacities in the mission. Brother and Sister Tsuya were well known for two things. First was the haircuts Brother Tsuya would give the missionaries.
The other thing the Tsuyas were known for was their incredible love and mission spirit. They spoke no Portuguese and spoke English with a thick accent. But they would take a box of copies of the Book of Mormon they bought with their own money to the fruit fair on the street each week and would always come back empty-handed. Their spirit was incredibly powerful.
One transfer day I had the chance to talk to Brother Tsuya. I found out that he had joined the Church in Hawaii. I told him that my grandfather had served a mission in Hawaii and was there during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Brother Tsuya was very surprised and said he had joined the Church then but didn’t remember an Elder Squire. I told him that it was my mom’s father, Elder Thurgood, who had served in Hawaii.
Brother Tsuya almost fell out of his chair and yelled out “Elder Thurgood is your grandpa?” He related the story of their meeting. He said while he was eating a meal in the Hawaiian community style, he was being inappropriate and was taking the Lord’s name in vain among other things. A missionary, my grandfather, had spoken up and asked him to stop. Brother Tsuya said he took the name of the Lord in vain again. He said that my grandpa had come over to him, hit him on the shoulder, and lectured him about how little he knew about life, how he wasn’t as smart as he thought, how he needed to quit smoking and do a bunch of things differently or he wouldn’t ever amount to anything.
Brother Tsuya told me that when he went home that night, he knew my grandpa was right. He thought about it and decided he wanted to make some changes. He ran into two similarly dressed missionaries a couple of weeks later and listened to the discussions with a sincere desire to change. Brother Tsuya gave much of the credit for his decision to listen to the missionaries to my grandpa.
I quickly wrote home telling my family I had huge news and that Grandpa Thurgood needed to be there when I made my telephone call at Christmas. When I called home, I finally told him that I had met somebody he brought into the Church. I will always remember how quiet he became as he said, “Ryan, you are mistaken. I never brought anybody into the Church on my mission.”
I asked him if he remembered hitting a smart-aleck Japanese kid at dinner in Hawaii and then lecturing him on how much he needed to change his life. He became instantly curious and said that he did remember the incident well. He was transferred away shortly after that and hadn’t heard more.
I told him that two weeks later that boy had decided to listen to the discussions because of what you said to him that night. He had later married in the temple in Hawaii. He had served in various callings in the Church and blessed many, many lives. He served as a mission president in Japan for three years. He also served as president of the MTC in Japan. He had served multiple missions with his wife.
My Grandpa Thurgood was in tears and couldn’t talk to me after that. He had spent over 50 years thinking his mission hadn’t made a difference to anybody. When the Tsuyas completed their mission in Brazil, my grandpa and his wife went to the temple with them and had a tearful reunion.
My grandfather’s experience reminded me of Abinadi, my favorite Book of Mormon prophet. Abinadi had come before the wicked priests of King Noah and shared the gospel with great power and authority. He testified boldly and was burned to death because of what he taught. The only fruit he had the chance to see was one of the priests, whose name he may not have even known, who asked the king to let Abinadi go and then was chased out of the court. That priest (Alma the Elder) then became a great prophet himself.
We never know the effect our testimony will have on those around us. How could my grandpa have known the difference his testimony at dinner would have on a young man?
We learn that it is not ours to judge those around us when sharing the gospel. It is so easy to look at others and assume they are not interested in the gospel. We think the soil is rocky and that nothing would grow if we tried. Our responsibility is to cast seeds. We are called to share. We are called to invite. We are called to include. The gospel is a gospel of repentance, a gospel of change. In Christ is the power to change. Christ has the power to heal. There is nothing so exquisitely sweet as seeing a soul come unto Christ.