Tag Archives: conversion

#BOMTC Helaman 1-3: The Beginning of the End

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! 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.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned of the dangers of secret combinations in our day:

“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 [1] setting an example, [2] keeping Church standards, and [3] 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.

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#BOMTC Alma 34-36: YOMO Not YOLO

Have you ever heard someone use the term YOLO to justify doing what they want to do? YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once. Similar to carpe diem or memento mori, it implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks.

The gospel however teaches a different motto. The gospel motto is more like YOMOYou’re Only Mortal Once! Alma 34 explains the concept of YOMO this way:

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses  therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis  that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

In Alma 36, Alma shares with his son, Helaman, an important life-lesson: YOLO will make you say, “OH NO!!!” and YOMO is the “WAY TO GO!”

YOMO--You're Only Mortal Once

YOMO–You’re Only Mortal Once

Here are a few video clips to help you YOMO a little “mo” ;o)

What Matters Most

President Thomas S. Monson counsels us to spend time with, cherish, and express love to the people we hold dear.

Moments That Matter Most

We would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Read President Uchtdorf’s entire address “Of Things That Matter Most” at http://bit.ly/momentsmatter

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#BOMTC Alma 23-25: “Converted Unto The Lord”

Conversion includes a conscious decision to give up one’s former ways and change to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It requires a change in behavior, but it goes beyond behavior; it is a change in our very nature. It is such a significant change that the Lord and His prophets refer to it as a rebirth, a change of heart, and a baptism of fire (see Mosiah 27:25–26).

Conversion seems to be a process, rather than an event, and comes as a result of righteous efforts to follow the Savior. These efforts include exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of sin, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in faith.

Although conversion is miraculous and life changing, it is a rather quiet and personal miracle. The Book of Mormon provides the following descriptions of people who are converted to the Lord:

  • They desire to do good. (see Mosiah 5:2; Alma 13:12).
  • They do not rebel against the Lord. (see Alma 23:6-7).
  • They share the gospel. (see Enos 1:26; Mosiah 18:1; 27:32-37; Alma 10:1-12; 15:12).
  • They are filled with love. (see 4 Nephi 1:2, 15-17). (for more on this topic see “Conversion” at lds.org)

Deep conversion comes after many trials and much testing (see Luke 22:32D&C 112:12–13). There is perhaps no greater example of the principle of true conversion than that of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, or “People of Ammon”. (FYI: Dr. Hugh Nibley has found ‘a Semitic and common Indo-European root corresponding to anti that means “in the face of” or “facing,” as of one facing a mirror, and by extension either “one who opposes” or “one who imitates.”’ (Quoted in Eldin Ricks, Book of Mormon Study Guide, p. 63.) Thus the term ‘Anti-Nephi-Lehies’ might refer to those who imitate the teachings of the descendants of Nephi and Lehi” (Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon [1976], 209–10).)

The People of Ammon

Elder Richard G. Scott taught:

True conversion will strengthen your capacity to do what you know you should do, when you should do it, regardless of the circumstances” (“Full Conversion Brings Happiness,” Ensign, May 2002).

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies Burying Their Swords

The thousands of Lamanites who accepted the gospel demonstrate that conversion is a spiritual change—becoming a new being through the power of God. The scriptures describe the Anti-Nephi-Lehies as being so “converted unto the Lord” (see Alma 23:3,6,8,13; 24:6), that they “never did fall away” (Alma 23:6).

The Anti-Nephi-Lehies who were “converted to the Lord” made a covenant to lay down their weapons of war. They buried them deep in the earth as a testimony of their desire to change (Alma 24:17-18). The Amalekites and Amulonites, who were former Nephites, stirred up many unconverted Lamanites to anger against their king and the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Many of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies sacrificed their lives rather than break their covenant with God (see Alma 24:6–19).

“Converted unto the Lord” (Highlights)

We can “bury” our “weapons of rebellion” by applying what President Spencer W. Kimball taught about abandoning sin:

In abandoning sin one cannot merely wish for better conditions. He must make them. … He must be certain not only that he has abandoned the sin but that he has changed the situations surrounding the sin. He should avoid the places and conditions and circumstances where the sin occurred, for these could most readily breed it again. He must abandon the people with whom the sin was committed. He may not hate the persons involved but he must avoid them and everything associated with the sin. He must … build a new life. He must eliminate anything which would stir the old memories” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 171–72).

We have the primary responsibility for our own conversion. No one can be converted for us, and no one can force us to be converted. However, others can help us in the process of conversion. Our capacity to experience a mighty change of heart will increase as we strive to follow the Savior’s perfect example, study the scriptures, pray in faith, keep the commandments, and seek the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. (see True to the Faith, “Conversion”)

Rekindling the Flame of Faith

“Converted unto the Lord” (Full)

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#BOMTC Alma 20-22: Conversion–Changing Common Creatures into Celestial Citizens

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change” (“Repentance and Change,” Ensign, Nov. 2003).

As recorded in Alma 19–20, King Lamoni experienced a change of heart, leading to the conversion of his wife and many of his people. Ammon and King Lamoni then traveled to the land of Middoni to deliver Ammon’s imprisoned brethren. On the way, they encountered Lamoni’s father, who was king over all the Lamanites. The king was astonished by the words of Lamoni and Ammon, by Ammon’s strength, and by Ammon’s love for Lamoni. His heart was softened, and he assured them that Ammon’s brethren would be released from prison. He expressed a desire to learn about the words he had heard from his son and Ammon. Because of Ammon’s testimony and example, many people felt the influence of the Holy Ghost and were taught the gospel and converted.

Aaron, one of Ammon’s brothers, attempted to teach the Amalekites and Amulonites about Jesus Christ and the Atonement, but the people rejected him. Then he preached in Middoni, where he and some of his companions were eventually imprisoned. They remained faithful during their time of adversity, and they continued their mission to share the gospel after Ammon and King Lamoni secured their release. After Lamoni’s father was prepared through the example of Ammon, he learned from Aaron about how to be “born of God” (Alma 22:15). The king learned that by repenting of his sins, he could come to know God and eventually receive eternal life. The faithfulness of Aaron and his brethren helped many Lamanites come to know God and His way of redemption.

It has been my experience that the more I EXPERIENCE the gospel, the greater VALUE I place upon it. Use the “Degrees of Discipleship” scripture-chain listed below as an illustration of this principle of change and conversion.

Degrees of Discipleship

Repentance requires CHANGE!

Repentance requires CHANGE!

4th Degree: Alma 20:9-10, 13, 16, 19, What words show the value that Lamoni’s father placed on Ammon and the gospel?

 CHANGE: Alma 20:20, Because the Lord loves us, He gives us “humbling experiences” to help us change. We must learn to rely on the Arm of the Lord and not on the arm of the flesh.

3rd Degree Disciple: Alma 20:23, Oddly enough he values his kingdom even more than his life at this point. What does a dead king do with half a kingdom anyway?

CHANGE: Alma 20:24-27, Feeling sincere love can help us become “desirous to learn” the gospel. “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

2nd Degree Disciple: Alma 22:15, As a result of Aaron’s teaching Lamoni’s father was willing to give up his kingdom for God’s Kingdom.

CHANGE: Alma 22:16-17, “Hope is a memory of the future.” Feelings of faith and hope compel us to approach the throne of grace in our utmost humility.

1st Degree Disciple: Alma 22:18, Eventually, our great desire for the “future” that God has promised the faithful becomes so great that we not only are willing to give up “the world”, but we are willing to give up “ourselves”.

So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving “away all [our] sins” in order to “know God” (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him.” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,” Ensign, May 1995. Emphasis added.)

Like Lamoni’s father, we must be willing to sacrifice ALL things to be born of God. In the Lectures on Faith, we learn the importance of sacrifice in our eternal progression:

Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 69. Emphasis added.).

Reclaimed

Elder Shayne M. Bowen teaches: “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you.”

Just as a garbage dump can be turned into a beautiful park, a life of sin can be cleansed and changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

It Is Never Too Late

Message given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the Saturday Afternoon Session of General Conference on March 31, 2012

Lifting Burdens: The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Apostles of Jesus Christ testify of the Savior’s power to heal, change, and purify us through His Atonement.

 Member Message: Repentance

This is a member-made non-official Mormon Message.

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#BOMTC Mosiah 18-21: Count the Ripples!

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 [1997], 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?’

“‘Yes.’

“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.)

Abinadi before King Noah

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).

#BOMTC Day 30, May 6~Mosiah 14-17 or Pages 175-181 (5)

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.

#BOMTC Day 31, May 7~Mosiah 18-21 or Pages 182-188 (10)

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 45:22Alma 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.

#BOMTC Day 31, May 7~Mosiah 18-21 or Pages 182-188 (9)

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)

young woman in a crowd

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)

Make Waves

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.

When we see the effect one person can have on the lives of so many, it perhaps is no wonder that the Lord reminded us, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10). (The Worth of Souls“, Ensign, May 2005)

#BOMTC Day 30, May 6~Mosiah 14-17 or Pages 175-181 (10)

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.

Because of the seed my grandfather planted, Brother Tsuya was baptized, married in the temple, and served as a mission president. He blessed many lives. (Not a Single Baptism, New Era, Feb. 2011)

You can print this up as an easy glue-in for future reference

You can print this up as an easy glue-in for future reference. Click here for original.

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#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! Many times we keep something a secret in an effort to save ourselves, somehow.  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.

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 [1] setting an example, [2] keeping Church standards, and [3] 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.

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#BOMTC Day 47, May 23~Alma 34-36 or Pages 294-300: YOMO Not YOLO

#BOMTC Day 47, May 23~Alma 34-36 or Pages 294-300 (2)

Click on graphic to read Alma 34-36

Have you ever heard someone use the term YOLO to justify doing what they want? YOLO is an acronym for You Only Live Once. Similar to carpe diem or memento mori, it implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks.

The gospel however teaches a different motto. The gospel motto is more like YOMOYou’re Only Mortal Once! Alma 34 explains the concept of YOMO this way:

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses  therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis  that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

In Alma 36, Alma shares with his son, Helaman, an important life-lesson: YOLO will make you say, “OH NO!!!” and YOMO is the “WAY TO GO!”

You’re Only Mortal Once, BUT… You Will Live Forever! (YWLF), so don’t let YOLO blow “yo” eternity!

Here are a few video clips to help you YOMO a little “mo” ;o)

What Matters Most

President Thomas S. Monson counsels us to spend time with, cherish, and express love to the people we hold dear.

Moments That Matter Most

We would do well to slow down a little, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Read President Uchtdorf’s entire address “Of Things That Matter Most” at http://bit.ly/momentsmatter

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