Tag Archives: faith

#BOMTC Alma 17-19: M.T.C. = MEMBER TRAINING CHAPTERS

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!).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

“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)

Inviting All to Come unto Christ: Sharing the Gospel

When Junior, a young man in a small Florida branch, decided he didn’t want to be alone in his belief in Christ, he invited a friend. One friend joined, then another, and another….

Click here to read more about the young men in Immokalee, Florida

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.)

youths reading Joseph Smith pamphlet

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.

RMN, Catch the Wave (9)

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.

Ammon Defends the Flocks of King Lamoni

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.

ripples diagram

rock in water

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!

Sharing Gospel Happiness

A priest finds out his friend has been hospitalized with cancer. His testimony and Christlike example lead her to a knowledge of the truth.

QLC, Pin One On Your Heart

 What the Apostles Say About Sharing the Gospel Online

Why You Should be Part of the Mormon Conversation Online

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#BOMTC Alma 12-13: A Tale of Two Cities–Which One Are You?

Image result for a tale of two cities

After Amulek’s words brought Zeezrom “to tremble under a consciousness of his guilt” (Alma 12:1), Alma stood to expound upon what Amulek had taught. Because the people in Ammonihah had become so wicked, Alma focused on truths that would help them to repent of the hardness of their hearts and other sins. He emphasized the subtle snares of Satan, the judgments that befall the wicked, and the plan of redemption, which makes it possible for those who repent to be forgiven of their sins.

When Alma first taught the rebellious people of Ammonihah, they contended with him, asking, “Who art thou?” and questioned his authority (see Alma 9:1–6). They were in a state of full-blown apostasy, having embraced the order of Nehor—priestcraft, with its goal of personal gain (see Alma 1:2–1515:1516:11). In contrast to Nehor’s teachings, Alma taught the people about “the high priesthood of the holy order of God,” with its goal to help others repent and enter into the rest of the Lord (see Alma 13:6). Alma also taught about premortal existence and foreordination. He cited the example of the great High Priest, Melchizedek, who had preached faith and repentance and helped his people live in peace. Alma tried to teach the people of Ammonihah to have faith and hope and encouraged them to change so they could prepare to enter into the rest of the Lord.

In Alma 13:17 we see how Alma described the people in Salem (who’s meaning comes from the Hebrew word for “Peace”) when Melchizedek became their king. These words also describe the people of Ammonihah (see Alma 8:99:28). It appears that Alma’s hope was that the people of Ammonihah will hearken to Amulek the same way that the people in Salem responded to Melchizedek’s preaching and efforts (See Alma 13:18).

It’s “A Tale of Two Cities”. So, which city will you be: Salem (the city that found “Peace” through following the Lord’s prophet and repenting) or Ammonihah (the city destroyed in just one day for rejecting the Lord’s servants and resisting repentance)?

Related image

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#BOMTC Mosiah 8-10: Fact or Fiction

After the servant leadership and stirring words of King Benjamin, his son, Mosiah, begins his reign. One of the first things that King Mosiah does is to  send a search party after a group of Nephites who had left many years earlier and were never heard from again. They had desired to inherit the land of Nephi, the land of their father’s inheritance. When they are located, we learn that they have their own records that they kept since their departure and that they have also found 24 ancient plates with writing in a language that they don’t understand.

What stood out to me in these chapters, is that this whole experience occurred because two individuals choose to believe stories that are not correct.  This led to many lives being lost over the course of three generations.

A simple model illustrates how we make this same mistake on a regular basis, and it helps us to discover what to do to avoid such mistakes.  It is best to write this model down before I explain it. Here it is:

Observe –> Story –> Emotions –> Actions.

Now I will try to briefly explain the model so that you can recognize how it works in your life. As we observe something through our senses, we take in filtered information and begin to process it. As we organize and process what we observe we begin to tell ourselves a story to make sense of what we observed. If we are not careful in our observations, we cause ourselves to create a story based on limited or false information.  The stories we tell ourselves create emotions. Our emotions can cause us to take certain actions. This is one reason why when one watches a movie it can cause terror or tears even though they know it is “just a movie” and the people are “just acting”. One can tell themselves over and over that its “just a movie” and still act/respond in a way that they don’t want/expect.
This process is a constant in our lives, and can both help us and hurt us.  We must have the facts/truth for this model to help us. Without the truth we tell ourselves the wrong story, which creates the wrong emotions, which lead to the wrong actions, and eventually the wrong ending. So we have to be VERY careful about the stories we tell ourselves. And since this all originates with the observations we make, we must be EVEN MORE CAREFUL to evaluate the validity of our observations to determine the truth (D&C 93:24). We must be “quick to observe” (Mormon 1:2), and careful to make “righteous judgment” (John 7:24). This is just one of many reasons that we need the Gift of the Holy Ghost to help us discern between truth and error each day (Jacob 4:13Moroni 10:5; see also Judgment). We need to slow down our “story” making process and evaluate our “observations” to make sure that they are correct and based in truth, otherwise we may become “overzealous” (Mosiah 7:21; 9:3) and make decisions that lead to tragedy.
Reflect on your life and how this process works. Can you remember a time when you were hurt because of limited or false observations?  Can you remember a time when you averted the wrong actions because  you took time to get all the information and make the correct observation of the situation or person?
When you understand this process you may understand these pages in the book of Mosiah with more clarity and discover a very important principle to help you avoid similar mistakes–even mistakes that could affect several generations. I will give you some verses that describe how Zeniff and King Laman were both hurt by this process. I will also share some verses that show how Zeniff averted making another bad mistake simply by taking enough time to make the proper observation.
Here are the verses that illustrate what limited/false observations can do: Mosiah 9:1-10; 10:12-18. It is well worth the time to study these verses with this model in mind. We constantly make bad choices for the same reasons.
Mosiah 7:6-14 is a great illustration of the importance of taking enough time and caution to make sure that your observations are based on TRUTH.  The Truth will cause you to create the correct story, which can lead to the appropriate emotions, which can then help you to choose the right  (CTR) actions/response. Right observations lead to creating right stories. Wrong observations lead to creating wrong stories. Choosing the right story leads to choosing the right actions, and choosing the right actions leads to the right ending!
To help you create the correct “story” of the next few readings (Mosiah 7-24), I will include some illustrations provided by the Church Educational System for you to “observe”.
#BOMTC Day 28, May 4~Mosiah 8-10 or Pages 162-167 (3)
Sometime after King Mosiah I (the father of King Benjamin) arrived in Zarahemla, a group of people wanted to go back to the land of Nephi. The first group that went failed because of contention (see Omni 1:27–28). A second group, led by Zeniff, succeeded in establishing a settlement in the land of Lehi-Nephi (see Omni 1:29–30Mosiah 7:9, 21). About 50 years later, King Mosiah II sent a group under the leadership of Ammon to find out what happened to Zeniff’s people (see Mosiah 7:1–6).
#BOMTC Day 28, May 4~Mosiah 8-10 or Pages 162-167 (4)
It is helpful to remember that Mosiah 1–8 is Mormon’s abridgment of the record of Mosiah and contains the story of the Nephites in Zarahemla until the reign of Mosiah IIMosiah 9–22 is taken from the record of Zeniff and tells the story of the Nephites who left Zarahemla at the time of Mosiah I and followed Zeniff back to the land of Lehi-Nephi.
#BOMTC Day 28, May 4~Mosiah 8-10 or Pages 162-167 (5)
In Mosiah 7–9 we read that Mosiah II sent an expedition, led by Ammon, to find out what happened to Zeniff’s colony, which had left Zarahemla over 50 years earlier. Ammon found Zeniff’s grandson, King Limhi, and his people in bondage to the Lamanites. In Mosiah 21, we read about the coming of Ammon and his men from Limhi’s point of view.
#BOMTC Day 28, May 4~Mosiah 8-10 or Pages 162-167 (6)
  1. After Lehi’s death, the Lord commanded the followers of Nephi to separate from the followers of Laman. The Nephites settled in a land that they called the land of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:5–8). The land was later also known as “the land of Lehi-Nephi” (Mosiah 7:1).
  2. About 400 years later the Nephites were led by a king named Mosiah. The Lord commanded Mosiah to flee from the land of Nephi with “as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord.” Mosiah and his people discovered a group of people called the people of Zarahemla. The two groups of people united and called themselves Nephites. Mosiah was appointed to be their king (Omni 1:12–19).
  3. A group of Nephites left the land of Zarahemla to regain part of the land of Nephi (Omni 1:27). They obtained land there under the leadership of a man named Zeniff, who became their king (Mosiah 9:1–7).
  4. About 79 years later King Mosiah II, the grandson of the first King Mosiah, “was desirous to know concerning the people who went to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi.” He permitted a man named Ammon to lead an expedition for this purpose (note that this Ammon was not the son of Mosiah who later preached the gospel among the Lamanites). Ammon and his brethren found King Limhi and his people. Limhi was Zeniff’s grandson (Mosiah 7:1–11).
A less technical, but just as informational map can be found here: Mosiah map (from The Red Headed Hostess).
Want to know more? Check out these great links!

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

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

I don’t like to take much of your time on the last day of the #BOMTC because I know many of you are trying to finish the Book of Mormon.

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Isaiah prophesies of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon

Moroni 10 contains the prophet Moroni’s final words before he sealed up the record to be brought forth by the gift and power of God.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (5)

About 1,400 years before Joseph Smith received the gold plates, Moroni concluded his father’s record by writing some final exhortations to those who would receive the Book of Mormon in the last days (see Moroni 10:1–2). The word exhort means to urge, advise, caution earnestly, admonish urgently. Moroni used the word nine times in the final chapter of the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon Testimonies

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

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

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni 10~4 (1)

Perhaps the most well know exhortations extended by Moroni are those found in Moroni 10:3-5. These verses have always meant a lot to me. I am a living witness of the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (2)

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

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

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (4)

Well, what can I say to that? That was one of the most exciting moments as a parent that I had experienced up to that point. He is now 14 and has read the Book of Mormon several times since then and continues to affirm its truthfulness and helpfulness in his life (He is currently studying the New Testament in preparation for his first year of seminary). His sister followed his example and also read the Book of Mormon in the year preceding her baptism. She is completed it for the third time on her own as part of The Book of Mormon Translation Challenge 2014.

Mission Accomplished! Finished Reading the Book of Mormon on 8/17/14

Mission Accomplished! 3rd kiddo to finish reading the Book of Mormon (8/17/14)

My next oldest (our third child) also finished reading the Book of Mormon to prepare for his baptism. This year we are reading with my fourth child as he prepares for his baptism in October. I have two other young children that I pray will follow the example of their older siblings.

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni buries the plates (1)

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

YAAAAY!!!

I will use the words of Moroni and President Henry B. Eyring to extend this extra exhortation to you:

And now my beloved blog-buddies, “I would exhort you” that when you have finished studying the Book of Mormon as part of the Book of Mormon Translation Challenge, that you would “go back to the Book of Mormon and drink deeply and often” because, “great faith has a short shelf life” (see “Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady“, Ensign, Nov. 2005).

And to those of you who may not have finished reading the Book of Mormon by June 30, “I would exhort you” to remember that it is the direction that you are headed and not the speed at which you are studying that is important on this journey to study the Book of Mormon. DON’T STOP STUDYING!

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni 10~32 (1)

Finally, THANK YOU!

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

#BOMTC Day 85, June 30~Moroni 10 or Pages 530-531, Moroni 10~32

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

A Book with a Promise

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

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#BOMTC Day 84, June 29~Moroni 8-9 or Pages 525-529: “Labor Diligently”

#BOMTC Day 84, June 29~Moroni 8-9 or Pages 525-529, Hard Work Ahead Labor Diligently

Click on the graphic to study Moroni 8-9

Moroni 8 is an epistle Mormon wrote to his son Moroni about why little children do not need baptism. In the epistle, Mormon also taught about how we can prepare to dwell with God. He concluded by expressing concern for the wickedness and impending destruction of the Nephites.

Moroni 9 contains Mormon’s final recorded epistle to his son. He expressed sorrow for the wicked state of the Nephites and urged Moroni to labor diligently to help the Nephites repent. Notwithstanding the corrupt situation of his people, he encouraged his son to be faithful in Christ and to let the promise of eternal life rest on his mind forever.

It is interesting to note that with both of the difficulties addressed in Moroni 8 & 9 (doctrinal and moral issues), the solution that Mormon shared with Moroni was the same: “LABOR DILIGENTLY” (see Moroni 8:6 & 9:6).

What great advice! It seems like the call to “labor diligently” is the solution for not just addressing doctrinal and moral issues, but just about any issue that we will face in life.

So many times we let worry and stress rob us of our strength. Why don’t we just “labor diligently” and address the issues head on?

With each passing day we draw nearer and nearer to the Second Coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. And even if we don’t have any doctrinal, or moral, or persaonl issues we are facing right now, if we “labor diligently” we will be blessed to meet Him some day.

Recently the Church has faced some serious scrutiny in the media for it’s stance on certain doctrinal and moral issues. As I have read the information coming from both the media and the church, I have reflected on two scriptures from Doctrine and Covenants section 1 (which is the Lord’s own “preface” to this modern book of scripture). I invite you to consider how they relate to each of the epistles that Moroni included from his father, and how they relate to the current events.

#BOMTC Day 84, June 29~Moroni 8-9 or Pages 525-529, DC 1~14

#BOMTC Day 84, June 29~Moroni 8-9 or Pages 525-529, DC 1~38 Whether by Mine Own Voice or the Voice of My Servants It Is the Same
I know that if we “labor diligently” to apply D&C 1:38 that we will never fall victim to D&C 1:14 (as the people did in the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon).

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#BOMTC Day 83, June 28~Moroni 1-7 or Pages 519-524: Moroni’s Handbook of Instructions

#BOMTC Day 83, June 28~Moroni 1-7 or Pages 519-524, Moroni's Handbook of Instructions

I really wish that this post on Moroni 1-7 were something that we could just sit down together and discuss, with our scriptures open, ready to learn from each other.

From what I have observed, some people don’t really seem to appreciate these chapters of the Book of Mormon. So, I want to take a moment and look back at the chapter headings and consider what a “gold mine” we have in these small chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Moroni writes for the benefit of the Lamanites—The Nephites who will not deny Christ are put to death.
  • Chapter 2: Jesus gave the twelve Nephite disciples power to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • Chapter 3: Elders ordain priests and teachers by the laying on of hands.
  • Chapter 4: How elders and priests administer the sacramental bread is explained.
  • Chapter 5: The mode of administering the sacramental wine is set forth.
  • Chapter 6: Repentant persons are baptized and fellowshipped—Church members who repent are forgiven—Meetings are conducted by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  • Chapter 7: An invitation is given to enter into the rest of the Lord—Pray with real intent—The Spirit of Christ enables men to know good from evil—Satan persuades men to deny Christ and do evil—The prophets manifest the coming of Christ—By faith, miracles are wrought and angels minister—Men should hope for eternal life and cleave unto charity. About A.D. 401–421.

Do you see what I mean? That is not “milk” of the gospel type stuff; that is serious “meat and potatoes” gospel stuff. Sure, it may seem common place to us, BUT that is only because Moroni put it there in the first place and many of us have known it most of our lives!

Sometimes we don’t realize the value of what we have because we have always had it. But what we are really looking at in these chapters is what Moroni knew was essential, and he knew that these essentials were not yet found in the Book of Mormon. Indeed they are just as Moroni had hoped–they have been, and are, of great “worth” (Moroni 1:4).

Let’s see how these seemingly common-place teachings helped to bring about the marvelous restoration of Christ’s church in the latter days.

As I wrote in the title of this blog post, I like to refer to these chapters as, “Moroni’s Handbook of Instructions”. This handbook has both ecclesiastical and personal application. Let’s first take a look at the ecclesiastical aspect of it.

In Doctrine and Covenants 18:1-5 we find a “commandment” that was given to Oliver Cowdery. See if you can discover what that commandment was by taking a good look at those verses.

Now, behold, because of the thing which you, my servant Oliver Cowdery, have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:

Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written are true; wherefore you know that they are true.

And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written;

For in them are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.

Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Alright, so what was the “commandment” that Oliver was given? Yes, you can see the word “commandment” in verse 3. But you need to use verses 4-5 to really understand why he needed to “rely upon the things which are written“. Let me review those verses with you again with a little added detail:

Now, behold, because of the thing which you, my servant Oliver Cowdery, have desired to know of me, I give unto you these words:

Behold, I have manifested unto you, by my Spirit in many instances, that the things which you have written [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18] are true; wherefore you know that they [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18] are true.

And if you know that they are true, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that you rely upon the things which are written [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18];

For in them [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have chronologically preceded D&C 18] are all things written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock.

Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock [the Book of Mormon and the revelations that have preceded D&C 18], the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

The verse summary of D&C 18 also gives us a clue to the commandment given to Oliver:

1–5, Scriptures show how to build up the Church

Was that helpful? Are you starting to see the commandment that Oliver was given? In the article, “How the Revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants Were Received and Compiled” we learn that:

Most of the Christian churches located in New York at the time Joseph Smith received his first revelations had “confessions,” “creeds,” “platforms,” or “articles of faith.” These documents contained brief statements of basic beliefs, doctrine, duties of members, and other information useful to investigators and members. Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants (which was known as the Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ during the first decade of the Church) has many parallels to the confessions of the Christian churches of the day and appears to have been written for the same purpose. It is composed of short statements about basic doctrines, ordinances, duties of members and priesthood bearers, and the baptismal and sacrament prayers.

What appears to be an early draft of the Articles and Covenants (in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting and dated in 1829) is in the Archives of the Historical Department of the Church. It is titled: “A True Copy of the articles of the Church of Christ.” Oliver Cowdery wrote at the beginning of this document that he composed it by commandment. If the procedure was the same then as now, such a commandment would have come through the Prophet [D&C 18:3]. This document contains quotations from the Book of Mormon and from earlier revelations [D&C 18:4-5]. Most of the Book of Mormon quotations are retained in the current form of section 20.

The existence of this document helps solve two matters concerning the text of section 20. First, when a comparison is made between the current text and various earlier printings of section 20, it is clear that this section has had numerous additions and deletions. For example, section 22 was included as part of this section when it was first published in the Evening and Morning Star. Similarly, verses 14–15, 41, 50–52, and 61–67 are either additions to the text or are verses that were completely revised over the years.

The second matter involves a letter that Oliver Cowdery wrote to Joseph Smith in July or August of 1830, asking that a part of verse 37 which he considered to be in error be taken out of the revelation. A portion of this early document is similar to verse 37 in section 20, but does not contain that part of the verse Oliver Cowdery wanted removed. The portion questioned by Oliver was later reinserted by the Prophet.

Thus, section 20 is an example of the principles taught in sections 67 and 68 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In section 67, we are informed that the revelations were given in the language of the Prophet Joseph Smith with all the normal imperfections of human communication. In section 68, we are told that when a servant of the Lord is moved upon by the Holy Ghost, what he says is the mind and the will of the Lord, and is scripture. The historical background of section 20, therefore, appears to be centered in an effort to put into words the basic beliefs and tenets of the Church. The document was drawn from earlier revealed sources and was thus inspired by the Spirit over a period of time; it is, therefore, scripture.

On 9 June 1830, the first conference of the Church was held as directed in the Articles and Covenants of the Church (section 20). The complete Articles and Covenants were read in this conference by Joseph Smith as one of the first items of business. This document was then received by the “unanimous voice of the whole congregation.” Thus, section 20 became the first revelation of this dispensation canonized by the Church. It was also the first revelation of this dispensation to be printed in the first edition, and was printed on the first page of the first newspaper of the Church, the Evening and Morning Star (vol. 1, no. 1, June 1832). From that point on, basic practices of the Church have been conducted in accordance with this section. In succeeding conferences, the Articles and Covenants were read in order that the Latter-day Saints might be reminded of the policies and procedures they were to follow.

So, here is what happened… In D&C 18:1-5, Oliver was commanded to take an active roll in creating the Articles and Covenants of the Church (D&C 20) by “rely[ing] upon the things which are written” in the Book of Mormon and the revelations that chronologically preceded D&C 18.

Now what parts of the Book of Mormon match up best with D&C 20? In the true spirit of discovery and seeking learning by faith, you may want to take a break from this post and study Moroni 2-6 as if you were Oliver Cowdery and had been commanded by the Lord to “rely upon the things which are written” to figure out how to organize Christ’s Church. As you do so, I would recommend that you mark anything that stands out to you.

Once you have completed your study, go to D&C 20 and look for the elements that you discovered in Moroni 2-6. I would encourage you to write the Book of Mormon references that you discovered with their companion scriptures in D&C 20. After my first read I found eight references in Moroni 2-6 that are directly correlated to companion scriptures in D&C 20. I am sure that there are more. See what you can discover for yourself!

These chapters from Moroni seem to have been inserted and intended to be of “worth” for the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. However, as I mentioned before, we can also see these chapters as a Personal Handbook of Instructions.

To me, these chapters can serve as a handbook from Moroni on “How to Never Be Alone”. This man knows what it is like to be alone! He has been alone for a loooong time (it appears to be about 20 years). During that time long time alone he has protected the plates and added to them.

Now I know that Moroni’s intent in writing these chapters is not to be a handbook for how to never be alone. All I am doing is “likening” what is found in these chapters to things that the Lord has given us to help us never feel alone… even when we are.

Once again, in the spirit of discovery and seeking learning by faith, I invite you to study what is found in Moroni 1-7 and find what can help you to understand that you never have to feel alone when you live the gospel. This time you really will have to be like Oliver Cowdery, because there will be no supporting document to show you the right answers. You can do it! “Rely upon the things which are written,” and find what the Lord has given you in these chapters so that you never have to feel alone.

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#BOMTC Day 82, June 27~Ether 13-15 or Pages 513-518: New Jerusalem–ZION as a Pattern for LIFE

Click graphic to read Ether 13-15

Click graphic to read Ether 13-15

There is a lot of bad stuff that happens in Ether 13-15, and it is not very fun to read about. The prophet Ether told the Jaredite king, Coriantumr, that his people would be destroyed because of their wickedness, and he admonished Coriantumr and his people to repent. When they refused to repent, war and wickedness escalated for many years until the entire Jaredite nation was destroyed. Only Ether and Coriantumr survived to witness the fulfillment of Ether’s prophecy.

#BOMTC Day 82, June 27~Ether 13-15 or Pages 513-518, Coriantumr Kills Shiz

The Last of the Jaredites: Coriantumr and Shiz

CAUTION: This short film would probably be rated PG-13

IF you watch this film about the last battle of Coriantumr and Shiz, you will notice a scriptural content error at the end. Understandably, it was most likely an intentional artistic edit to increase the drama of the already dramatic battle.

 

The prophet Ether’s record of the Jaredite civilization serves as a witness that those who reject the Lord and His prophets will not prosper. These chapters are also a fulfillment of God’s decree that “whatsoever nation shall possess [the land of promise] shall serve God, or they shall be swept off” (Ether 2:9).

However, what I would like to focus on in these chapters is great to learn about–NEW JERUSALEM (Ether 13:1-12). I love to learn and teach about New Jerusalem!

The Guide to the Scriptures, one of the study helps of the LDS scriptures, teaches the following about New Jerusalem:

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

#BOMTC Day 82, June 27~Ether 13-15 or Pages 513-518, New Jerusalem

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

Where I find real relevance and immediate personal application for New Jerusalem–the City of Zion–is in the plat that was created by Joseph Smith for the organization of the holy city (History of the Church, Vol. 1 Chapter 26 [June 1833- July 1833]).

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

This plat became the model for the early Saints as they built their first settlements. At the center of the plat of Zion for New Jerusalem there are 24 temples! Everything in the city is built around and focused on the temple. To help understand the relevance of this in one’s life it is important to remember that the temple is a symbol of the Savior. So if I am patterning my life after the plat of Zion, I am not just creating a temple-centered life, but rather a temple-centered life is a Christ-centered life.

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

#BOMTC Day 82, June 27~Ether 13-15 or Pages 513-518, salt lake city base and meridian

The Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian

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

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

This same method also allows me to find my way to the temple by simply reversing the cardinal directions of most local addresses. If I am at Rice-Eccles Stadium (451 S 1400 E, Salt Lake City), then I just need to travel four-and-a-half blocks North and then 14 blocks West and I will arrive at the Salt Lake temple.

temple square mormon

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

ZION, the City of New Jerusalem, not only “sets forth an orderly pattern intended as an earthly reflection of the ideal religious community” (Far West Plat Reflects Inspired City Plan) but also a pattern for a Christ-centered lifestyle.

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

There is a simple symbol that is found in the Kirtland Temple that uses a similar theme to convey this same lesson of Savior-centered living.

DC 94, Kirtland Temple Concentric Squares

The concentric squares that are found on the interior decor of the arched windows of the Kirtland Temple are a simple and significant symbol that are said to represent sacred space with increasing zones of holiness.

DC 94, Kirtland Temple Concentric Squares

The squares represent the temple as a sanctuary from the world with areas in the temple being holier and holier, similar to the ancient temple’s outer court, Holy Place, and Holy of Holies. The following diagram of the layout of the Tabernacle of the Congregation is a good illustration of this.

Diagram of the Tabernacle of the Congregation with commentary notes

Diagram of the Tabernacle of the Congregation with commentary notes

The Tabernacle (Exodus 25-30)

A video explaining the Tabernacle and its importance.

Even the order of the Camp of Israel in the wilderness is an illustration of this symbol of sacred space with it’s increasing zones of holiness. The Tabernacle was at the center of the camp and was surrounded by the priesthood-bearing Levites, and the Levites were surrounded by the other Tribes of Israel.

Organization of the Camp of Israel (Numbers 1-10)

Organization of the Camp of Israel (Numbers 1-10)

These simple squares that symbolize sacred space should also represent our lives and serve as a pattern of priorities for this life. I invite you to discover how this symbol of concentric squares can help you to improve your life by placing Christ at the center. Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk entitled, “Good, Better, Best” that may be helpful for you to study and how each of the three concentric squares can represent those things in your life that are, “good, better, best” and ponder how to prioritized the the many aspect of your life using this pattern of the plat of Zion. If New Jerusalem is a pattern for you, then what do you need to do to become “NEW”?

Good, Better, Best

Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.

I.
We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.

Jesus taught this principle in the home of Martha. While she was “cumbered about much serving” (Luke 10:40), her sister, Mary, “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (v. 39). When Martha complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, Jesus commended Martha for what she was doing (v. 41) but taught her that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (v. 42). It was praiseworthy for Martha to be “careful and troubled about many things” (v. 41), but learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more “needful.” The scriptures contain other teachings that some things are more blessed than others (see Acts 20:35; Alma 32:14–15).

A childhood experience introduced me to the idea that some choices are good but others are better. I lived for two years on a farm. We rarely went to town. Our Christmas shopping was done in the Sears, Roebuck catalog. I spent hours poring over its pages. For the rural families of that day, catalog pages were like the shopping mall or the Internet of our time.

Something about some displays of merchandise in the catalog fixed itself in my mind. There were three degrees of quality: good, better, and best. For example, some men’s shoes were labeled good ($1.84), some better ($2.98), and some best ($3.45).1

As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best. Even though a particular choice is more costly, its far greater value may make it the best choice of all.

Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom” (D&C 88:118; emphasis added).

II.
Some of our most important choices concern family activities. Many breadwinners worry that their occupations leave too little time for their families. There is no easy formula for that contest of priorities. However, I have never known of a man who looked back on his working life and said, “I just didn’t spend enough time with my job.”

In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best. A friend took his young family on a series of summer vacation trips, including visits to memorable historic sites. At the end of the summer he asked his teenage son which of these good summer activities he enjoyed most. The father learned from the reply, and so did those he told of it. “The thing I liked best this summer,” the boy replied, “was the night you and I laid on the lawn and looked at the stars and talked.” Super family activities may be good for children, but they are not always better than one-on-one time with a loving parent.

The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.

Family experts have warned against what they call “the overscheduling of children.” In the last generation children are far busier and families spend far less time together. Among many measures of this disturbing trend are the reports that structured sports time has doubled, but children’s free time has declined by 12 hours per week, and unstructured outdoor activities have fallen by 50 percent.2

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.”3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”

He continued: “I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting.”5

The First Presidency has called on parents “to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles. … The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place … in … this God-given responsibility.” The First Presidency has declared that “however worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”6

III.
Church leaders should be aware that Church meetings and activities can become too complex and burdensome if a ward or a stake tries to have the membership do everything that is good and possible in our numerous Church programs. Priorities are needed there also.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve have stressed the importance of exercising inspired judgment in Church programs and activities. Elder L. Tom Perry taught this principle in our first worldwide leadership training meeting in 2003. Counseling the same leaders in 2004, Elder Richard G. Scott said: “Adjust your activities to be consistent with your local conditions and resources. … Make sure that the essential needs are met, but do not go overboard in creating so many good things to do that the essential ones are not accomplished. … Remember, don’t magnify the work to be done—simplify it.”7

In general conference last year, Elder M. Russell Ballard warned against the deterioration of family relationships that can result when we spend excess time on ineffective activities that yield little spiritual sustenance. He cautioned against complicating our Church service “with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. … The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. … What is most important in our Church responsibilities,” he said, “is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed.”8

Stake presidencies and bishoprics need to exercise their authority to weed out the excessive and ineffective busyness that is sometimes required of the members of their stakes or wards. Church programs should focus on what is best (most effective) in achieving their assigned purposes without unduly infringing on the time families need for their “divinely appointed duties.”

But here is a caution for families. Suppose Church leaders reduce the time required by Church meetings and activities in order to increase the time available for families to be together. This will not achieve its intended purpose unless individual family members—especially parents—vigorously act to increase family togetherness and one-on-one time. Team sports and technology toys like video games and the Internet are already winning away the time of our children and youth. Surfing the Internet is not better than serving the Lord or strengthening the family. Some young men and women are skipping Church youth activities or cutting family time in order to participate in soccer leagues or to pursue various entertainments. Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.

Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.

IV.
Here are some other illustrations of good, better, and best:

It is good to belong to our Father in Heaven’s true Church and to keep all of His commandments and fulfill all of our duties. But if this is to qualify as “best,” it should be done with love and without arrogance. We should, as we sing in a great hymn, “crown [our] good with brotherhood,”9 showing love and concern for all whom our lives affect.

To our hundreds of thousands of home teachers and visiting teachers, I suggest that it is good to visit our assigned families; it is better to have a brief visit in which we teach doctrine and principle; and it is best of all to make a difference in the lives of some of those we visit. That same challenge applies to the many meetings we hold—good to hold a meeting, better to teach a principle, but best to actually improve lives as a result of the meeting.

As we approach 2008 and a new course of study in our Melchizedek Priesthood quorums and Relief Societies, I renew our caution about how we use the Teachings of Presidents of the Church manuals. Many years of inspired work have produced our 2008 volume of the teachings of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of this dispensation. This is a landmark among Church books. In the past, some teachers have given a chapter of the Teachings manuals no more than a brief mention and then substituted a lesson of their own choice. It may have been a good lesson, but this is not an acceptable practice. A gospel teacher is called to teach the subject specified from the inspired materials provided. The best thing a teacher can do with Teachings: Joseph Smith is to select and quote from the words of the Prophet on principles specially suited to the needs of class members and then direct a class discussion on how to apply those principles in the circumstances of their lives.

I testify of our Heavenly Father, whose children we are and whose plan is designed to qualify us for “eternal life … the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7; see also D&C 76:51–59). I testify of Jesus Christ, whose Atonement makes it possible. And I testify that we are led by prophets, our President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog, Fall and Winter 1944–45, 316E.
2. See Jared R. Anderson and William J. Doherty, “Democratic Community Initiatives: The Case of Overscheduled Children,” Family Relations, vol. 54 (Dec. 2005): 655.
3. Anderson and Doherty, Family Relations, 54:655.
4. See Nancy Gibbs, “The Magic of the Family Meal,” Time, June 12, 2006, 51–52; see also Sarah Jane Weaver, “Family Dinner,” Church News, Sept. 8, 2007, 5.
5. “Each a Better Person,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2002, 100.
6. First Presidency letter, Feb. 11, 1999; printed in Church News, Feb. 27, 1999, 3.
7. “The Doctrinal Foundation of the Auxiliaries,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 5, 7–8; see also Ensign, Aug. 2005, 62, 67.
8. “O Be Wise,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2006, 18–20.
9. “America the Beautiful,” Hymns, no. 338.

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

ON THIS DAY IN 1844: 171 years ago today, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his faithful and beloved brother, Hyrum Smith, were martyred at Carthage Jail. May we honor their lives by living our lives the BEST we can today! PRAISE TO THE MAN!

#BOMTC Day 82, June 27~Ether 13-15 or Pages 513-518, Joseph and Hyrum Statue at Carthage

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