Tag Archives: family

#BOMTC Mosiah 1-2: A Tent, a Temple, a Tower–See, Sacrifice, Serve

THE GREAT CONFERENCE OF 124 B.C. I like to compare this part of the Book of Mormon to our modern-day general conference of the church (Pretty good timing for this blog post, isn’t it?). Each time that I read this account I imagine what it would have been like to be there personally (I really do!). I love King Benjamin and his teachings! Not that everything else in the Book of Mormon isn’t as important, but I believe that if the Old Testament contained the account of King Benjamin (Mosiah 1-6) it would be one of the most beloved books of Christendom (and other faiths that revere the Old Testament.). In fact, President Howard W. Hunter called it, “…one of the greatest prophetic sermons ever given (“The Opening and Closing of Doors“, Ensign (CR), November 1987, p.54)

For my purpose today, I will simply focus on three simple words that help me remember the treasures of King Benjamin’s teachings: TENT, TEMPLE, TOWER. These are each nouns–simple objects–but they help me remember three simple verbs that make a BIG difference in life: SEE, SACRIFICE, SERVE. I will attempt to describe this relationship below…

#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150 (3)

A TENT: SEE!. Genesis 26:25, is the key to understanding the connection here. It seems like a very simple and informational verse, but in that scripture, relating to Isaac, you will find the words altar, tent, and well–there is great symbolism in those three words. Each word can symbolically represents an aspect of an individual’s life (anciently). Your “altar” represented your LORD. If your altar was made of unhewn stone, then people knew you worshiped Jehovah. If it were hewn, then people knew you worshiped a god of this world. Your “tent” represented your LIFE. You could tell all kinds of things about a person by simply looking at their tent. You can do the same when camping today. Your “well” represented your LIVELIHOOD. Isaac was a man of the flock and therefore was always in great need of a well (and notice where this scriptural event takes place–Beer-sheba, “well of an oath“. This may have been the same place which was called Beer-sheba a hundred years before this, in the time of Abraham; but as the well, from which it had its name originally, was closed up by the Philistines, the name of the place might have been abolished with the well; when, therefore, Isaac re-opened it, he restored the ancient name of the place. See Genesis 21 for the background to this significant well, and the verses in Genesis 26 that precede verse 25.).

Now, if our tent represents our life, then we can see a likening to the account found in Mosiah 1-2. Where did the people pitch their tents, and in which direction did they face them? “And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple” (Mosiah 2:6). If your tent represents your life, the what does the temple represent? As per the previous explanation  the temple is where the Lord’s altar was located, so the temple represent the LORD. So we would say that if your TENT is facing the TEMPLE, then your LIFE is facing the LORD!

A similar illustration can be found in several scriptural accounts. In Numbers 2 as the wondering Israelites are given their order of encampment, all tents are faced toward the Tabernacle! Another example is The Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34). The characteristic rite of the Feast of Tabernacles was the dwelling in booths made of the boughs of trees. Remarkable celebrations of the Feast of Tabernacles took place at the opening of Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs. 8:22 Chr. 5:37:8) and in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 8:14). Genesis 13:12; 14:12 is a great example of how facing one’s tent makes a difference. Lot goes from merely facing his tent toward Sodom to dwelling in Sodom (and we know what trouble that caused him…). He should have been more careful about which way he was facing his tent!

For those who are familiar with Salt Lake City, you know that the grid-system is the basis for addresses of businesses and homes. What you may not have realized is that each address is based on your position relative to the Salt Lake Temple. When you give someone your location/address in Salt Lake County, you are really just telling people how far you are/live from the temple (this system was developed when the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed the Plat of Zion [click here for a diagram]). If I were to move to 13200 S. 2700 W., I would be 132 streets South and 27 streets West of the Salt Lake City Temple. Pretty easy to find the temple!

A temple-centered life is a Christ-centered life! So… which way is your tent/LIFE facing?

During the press conference introducing Howard W. Hunter as the new President of the church, he presented the theme that would become the hallmark of his brief administration. He invited “the members of the Church to establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church temple worthy. I would hope that every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it. Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people.” (Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 625).

President Howard W. Hunter also said:

I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would [1] be worthy of-and carry-a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families. Let us be a temple-attending people. [2] Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. [3] Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. [4] Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing. If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, [5] gather in the history of your family and prepare the names for the sacred ordinances performed only in the temple. This family research is essential to the work of the temples, and blessings surely will come to those who do that work.” (“Exceeding Great and Precious Promises“, Ensign, Nov. 1994)

The following account contains some great examples of how to face our tent/LIFE to the temple/LORD:

“Several years ago I heard about a good brother who described his attitude as President David O. McKay gave the concluding talk of general conference. It was a [muggy] afternoon, and this was the fifth session he had attended. He was sitting in the balcony, and his mind had a serious wandering problem. He noticed a man sitting in the middle section who had fallen asleep with his head tilted back and his mouth open. It occurred to him that if he were in the roof of the Tabernacle, he could drop a spit wad through one of the vent holes right into the mouth of that sleeping man. What a glorious thought! Following the meeting, he overheard two men talking about their feelings during President McKay’s talk. They were visibly moved by what they had heard. He thought to himself, ‘These two brethren were having a marvelous spiritual experience, and what was I doing? Thinking about dropping spit wads from the ceiling!’ President Spencer W. Kimball said that worship is “an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord.” (Ensign, Jan. 1978, p. 5) One youth described how he first experienced the spirit of worship. He had been marginally active through his Aaronic Priesthood years. When he attended sacrament meeting, he usually sat in the back with a group of his friends, and he was less than a model of reverence. One day, however, he came in a little late, and there were no seats by his friends. He sat alone, and for the first time in his life, he closed his eyes during the prayers, he sang the hymns, he listened to the sacrament prayers, and he paid attention to the speakers. About midway through the first speaker, he found tears welling up in his eyes. With some embarrassment, he carefully glanced around; no one else seemed emotional. He didn’t know for sure what was happening to him, but the experience changed his life. It was during that meeting that he really started his spiritual preparation for his mission. He felt something, and fortunately, he acted and thus sustained those feelings. (Elder Jack H. Goaslind, Yagottawanna, Ensign, May 1991)

#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150 (5)
A TEMPLE: SACRIFICE.
 The tabernacle was a portable temple. Perhaps the best known temple in the Bible is the one built by Solomon in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles. 2–5). In the Book of Mormon, the righteous followers of God were led to build and worship in temples (2 Nephi 5:16Mosiah 1:183 Nephi 11:1). Ancient temples were places of animal sacrifice in similitude of the atoning sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ. Many people miss the fact that in Mosiah 2:3 the people “took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burn offerings according to the law of Moses.”

After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord gave them the law of sacrifice. This law included offering the firstborn of their flocks. This sacrifice symbolized the sacrifice that would be made by the Only Begotten Son of God (Moses 5:4–8). This practice continued until the death of Jesus Christ, which ended animal sacrifice (Alma 34:13–14).

Originally, sacrifice meant to make something or someone holy (What an awesome way to think about sacrifice!). It has now come to mean to give up or suffer the loss of worldly things for the Lord and His Kingdom (I prefer the original meaning…). Disciples of Christ should be willing to sacrifice (MAKE HOLY) all things for the Lord. Joseph Smith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith, 69).

In the Church today members partake of the sacrament of the bread and the water in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Members of Christ’s Church today are also asked to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9:19–22). This means that they are humble, repentant, and willing to obey God’s commandments.

Modern-day temples continue to be a place of sacrifice today! For example, one must make certain sacrifices to be worthy to enter the temple and sacrifice must be made to actually worship in the temple. I like how Elder Neal A. Maxwell, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, put it:

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” (Ensign, May, 1995).

#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150 (4)

A TOWER: SERVE. Perhaps the most oft quoted verse of Mosiah 2 is verse 17, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (my daughter’s current favorite scripture!). King Benjamin became himself the great object-lesson of Mosiah 2. As their king, and in his advanced age, he had not burdened them but rather served them–a servant-leader, like the Savior! Atop his tower–not because he is above them, but so that they can hear him–he stands as a symbol of service!

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that “service is essential to salvation.” (Ensign, June 1975)

President Marion G. Romney, who was a member of the First Presidency, taught:

Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.  Knowing that service is what gives our Father in Heaven fulfillment, and knowing that we want to be where He is and as He is, why must we be commanded to serve one another? Oh, for the glorious day when these things all come naturally because of the purity of our hearts. In that day there will be no need for a commandment because we will have experienced for ourselves that we are truly happy only when we are engaged in unselfish service” (Ensign, Nov. 1982).

Elder Henry B. Eyring, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, expounded upon the fact that as “unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:21) we must do all that we can to repay our indebtedness to the Lord:

Let me give you three rules of managing the debts of gratitude you have accumulated …. First, wherever you may labor in life, give more than you take. Second, whoever is around you in life, find someone to help. And, third, ask God to multiply the power of your efforts to give and to help. …He will help you to give and to serve others, even when it seems nearly impossible. Then, you can rest assured that you have done your best to manage your debts of gratitude. But, of course, your debts will only grow, since God always blesses bountifully His grateful servants.” (“Debt Management“, Brigham Young University – Idaho Commencement April 27, 2002)

So important is the need for us to make a personal commitment to the service of our fellowmen that President Spencer W. Kimball made it the theme of a message to Regional Representatives in April 1980. He said:

Recently we established the new consolidated schedule which is aimed at enriching family life even further, together with greater opportunity for individual and family gospel scholarship and for more Christian service. We are trying to provide more time and emphasis on Christian service, so that our example can be more powerful in the world and so that those who are so worthy of attention might get more attention than they sometimes have in the past.” (“We Feel an Urgency,” Ensign, August 1980)

And in a message to the youth of the Church, President Kimball said: “The Lord does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.” (“President Kimball Speaks Out on Service to Others,” New Era, March 1981)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

We know . . . that even the most extreme acts of service-such as giving all of our goods to feed the poor-profit us nothing unless our service is motivated by the pure love of Christ. If our service is to be most efficacious, it must be accomplished for the love of God and the love of his children. . . . This principle-that our service should be for the love of God and the love of fellowmen rather than for personal advantage or any other lesser motive-is admittedly a high standard. The Savior must have seen it so, since he joined his commandment for selfless and complete love directly with the ideal of perfection . . . “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt.5:48). . . . Service with all of our heart and mind is a high challenge for all of us. Such service must be free of selfish ambition. It must be motivated only by the pure love of Christ. . . . I know that God expects us to work to purify our hearts and our thoughts so that we may serve one another for the highest and best reason, the pure love of Christ. (Ensign, Nov. 1984, see also “Serve God By Serving Others)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, illustrated the saving and sanctifying principle of service with the following true story:

Amidst the terrible hostilities in Missouri that would put the Prophet in Liberty Jail and see thousands of Latter-day Saints driven from their homes, Sister Drusilla Hendricks and her invalid husband, James, who had been shot by enemies of the Church in the Battle of Crooked River, arrived with their children at a hastily shaped dugout in Quincy, Illinois, to live out the spring of that harrowing year. Within two weeks the Hendrickses were on the verge of starvation, having only one spoonful of sugar and a saucerful of cornmeal remaining in their possession. In the great tradition of LDS women, Drusilla made mush out of it for James and the children, thus stretching its contents as far as she could make it go. When that small offering was consumed by her famished family, she washed everything, cleaned their little dugout as thoroughly as she could, and quietly waited to die. Not long thereafter the sound of a wagon brought Drusilla to her feet. It was their neighbor Reuben Allred. He said he had a feeling they were out of food, so on his way into town he’d had a sack of grain ground into meal for them. Shortly thereafter Alexander Williams arrived with two bushels of meal on his shoulder. He told Drusilla that he’d been extremely busy but the Spirit had whispered to him that Brother Hendricks family is suffering, so I dropped everything and came [running]. May God, who has blessed all of us so mercifully and many of us so abundantly, bless us with one thing more. May he bless us to hear the often silent cries of the sorrowing and the afflicted, the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, the poor. Indeed may he bless us to hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit when any neighbor anywhere is suffering, and to drop everything and come running. I pray in the name of the captain of the poor, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.” (“A Handful of Meal and a Little Oil”, Ensign, May 1996)

President Thomas S. Monson shared the following story of a pioneer family being blessed by celestial service:

One of my children came in, said that Brother Newton Halls folks were out of bread. Had none that day. I put our flour in sack to send up to Brother Halls. Just then Brother Hall came in. Says I, Brother Hall, how are you [fixed] for flour. Brother Millett, we have none. Well, Brother Hall, there is some in that sack. I have divided [it] and was going to send it to you. Your children told mine that you were out. Brother Hall began to cry. Said he had tried others. Could not get any. Went to the cedars and prayed to the Lord and the Lord told him to go to Joseph Millett. Well, Brother Hall, you neednt bring this back if the Lord sent you for it. You don’t owe me for it. You can’t tell how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew that there was such a person as Joseph Millett.” (Gifts, Ensign, May 1993)

The Joseph Millett Story

Joseph Millett gives flour to a man who had been directed to him by the Lord.

In 1871, in the tiny Mormon farming settlement in Spring Valley, White Pine, Nevada (about 60 miles from Ely), Latter-day Saint Newman Hall found himself entirely out of flour and unable to feed his family. He asked some of his neighbors for help, but no one had a surplus. Finally he approached neighbor Joseph Millett who divided his supplies with the Halls. When Hall told him that he had been directed there following prayer, Millett told him there was no need to repay the loan. Millett recorded in his diary, “You can’t tell how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew that there was such a person as Joseph Millett.

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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 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506: Your “Stance” Determines Your Liberty or Captivity

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Your STANCE Determines Your Liberty or Captivity

The Brother of Jared was saddened by his people’s request to be led by a king. He said, “Surely this thing leadeth to captivity” (Ether 6:23). Though the Brother of Jared prophesied that establishing a Jaredite king would lead to captivity, his words were not immediately fulfilled. The first Jaredite king, Orihah, ruled in righteousness. However, a man named Jared became king two generations later by forming a secret combination. During the reigns of their kings, the Jaredites went through several cycles of hearkening to the prophets and living in righteousness, and rejecting the prophets and living in wickedness.

Two VERY important lessons we can learn from these chapters are:

  • Rejecting the words of prophets leads to captivity.
  • As we follow the counsel of prophets and remember the Lord, we prosper.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught:

“It was the ultimate sacrilege that Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, was rejected and even put to death. And it continues. In many parts of the world today we see a growing rejection of the Son of God. His divinity is questioned. His gospel is deemed irrelevant. In day-to-day life, His teachings are ignored. Those who legitimately speak in His name find little respect in secular society.

If we ignore the Lord and His servants, we may just as well be atheists—the end result is practically the same. It is what Mormon described as typical after extended periods of peace and prosperity: “Then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One” (Helaman 12:2). And so we should ask ourselves, do we reverence the Holy One and those He has sent?” (A Sense of the Sacred, emphasis added.)

Perhaps a better title for today’s post would have been: “The STATURE of Liberty: It’s All About Your STANCE.”

Here’s why: I liken what happens with the people these chapters to an analogy that a popular news commentator once made using the Colossus of Rhodes and the Statue of Liberty. I have made a few edits to help it flow.

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Colossus of Rhodes

This is a painting of the Colossus of Rhodes. They didn’t have cameras in 280 B.C. So, this is an artist’s rendering of what it may have been like. This was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It took 12 years to build. It stood about 107 feet high. (The Statue of Liberty is 151 ft. from the base to the torch.) You can get a sense of how huge this thing was. We’re not sure but we think that it was in somewhat of a slouched or relaxed position. Rhodes had become an important economic port in the ancient world and the people felt invincible. It’s interesting to note that the Colossus of Rhodes stood for less than 50 years. The torch, the crown — look familiar? Fifty years this stood and then it was knocked down by an earthquake. And then it laid there in rubble for 800 years as people came from all over the known world to see its great fall. Got it?

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Statue of Liberty (2)

Now, contrast this with the Statue of Liberty. Here’s the Statue of Liberty. The difference in its stance speaks volumes and it was meant to. First of all, you’ll notice that the Colossus of Rhodes is holding arrows and a bow, right? What is she holding? She’s holding the tablet of law. If you notice also her feet, she’s standing like she’s almost on the balls of her feet. And she’s moving forward. Her arm and torch is outstretched to the world. She’s going this way while she’s holding the tablets that signify the law, the Constitution that enables her to move forward and to break free of the chains that the European system had put in place. She’s able to move forward. I want to ask you a question: Is this still our stance?

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Statue of Liberty (3)

This is similar to the contrast that we find as we study the Jaredite kings and people. In just a few pages of scripture we flip-flop through more than 24 kings that take either a “stance” of the Colossus of Rhodes or that of the Statue of Liberty. And unfortunately the people tend to follow suit in their “stance”.

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Statue of Liberty

In the end the Jaredites fell, just like the Colossus of Rhodes did. And just as people came to see the ruin of the Colossus of Rhodes, the people of the Book of Mormon found the Jaredite ruins (Mosiah 8:8).

We need to take a moment and consider our “stance”. Which of these two figures represents my “stance” when it comes to living the gospel? It seems that for the Jaredites, their liberty or captivity always came down to their “stance”.

Sometimes there are “hot topics” that show up in the news that relate to the gospel. Or sometimes there are social changes that relate to the gospel. Many times we may be tempted to compare our “stance” with someone else’s “stance” on these hot topics and changes. But what we really need to consider is, “What is the Lord’s ‘stance’ on this?” Once we have identified His “stance”, it seems to me that the only question left to answer is, “Am I willing to take His ‘stance’ or not?” If we are not willing to take His “stance” then the prophetic words of the Brother of Jared will be fulfilled again in our lives: “Surely this thing leadeth to captivity” (Ether 6:23)

We must be different from the Jaredites!  We cannot afford to flip-flop when it comes to our “stance” on the gospel. We must decide to be a “Stature” of Liberty and take a “stance” which will allow us to hold up the Light (3 Nephi 18:24), continually holding firm to the Word of God (1 Nephi 8:301 Nephi 11:25; 15:23-25) and move forward with faith (2 Nephi 31:20Doctrine and Covenants 128:22).

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Statue-Of-Liberty-3

I believe that the following letter from Clayton Christensen, written to correct a misunderstanding/mis-representation of his beliefs by a reporter, is a great illustration of the principles taught in Ether 8-10. Pay close attention to his STATURE and STANCE on the gospel…

June 21, 2014

Dear Friends:

I am writing about an article by Michael Fitzgerald, titled “How the Mormons Conquered America: The success of the Mormon religion is a study in social adaptation.” It appeared a couple of days ago in a journal, Nautilus.  I am misquoted in the piece.  Fitzgerald interviewed me several months ago relative to this article. He wrote notes as we talked; he did not record our conversation.

In the article, Fitzgerald reviews the history of how the church has changed several practices, such as polygamy and ordaining blacks to the priesthood. He then refers to same-sex marriage; and in that same paragraph quoted me as saying, “… I think I’m farther along than the church is on this one.” It implies that I support same-sex marriage, and that I expect that the leaders of the church in the future will agree with that position.

This is not true. I did not say this. I support wholeheartedly every phrase in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” And I sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who penned that document.

I am grateful that I belong to a church in which we do not attempt to convince God or our leaders that certain opinions in our society are correct, and God’s are not. Society changes its mind quite frequently. I do not believe that God changes his mind, however. When society is telling me something new, even when it has assembled powerful reasons and powerful people on its side, I do not ask society whether it is correct. I ask God.

I understand that this mis-representation of my beliefs by Mr. Fitzgerald is being widely circulated through the church. I would be very grateful if you could forward this letter to anyone who you believe ought to see this – and by the fastest and most effective ways possible.  Thanks for your help!

Clayton Christensen

Belmont, MA

I love the STANCE of Brother Christensen, because he has adopted the Lord’s STANCE!

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, the Young Women General President, gave an amazing talk in the Women’s Session of the April 2015 General Conference of the Church. In her talk she issued a challenge for everyone to, “build the kingdom of God by STANDING up boldly and being defenders of marriage, parenthood, and the home.”

Defenders of the Family Proclamation
By Bonnie L. Oscarson

What a privilege and joy to be a part of this marvelous assembly of girls and women. How blessed we are as women to be joined together this evening in unity and in love.

I recently read the story of Marie Madeline Cardon, who, with her family, received the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from the first missionaries called to serve in Italy in 1850. She was a young woman of 17 or 18 years of age when they were baptized. One Sunday, while the family was holding a worship service in their home high in the Alps of northern Italy, an angry mob of men, including some of the local ministers, gathered around the house and began shouting, yelling, and calling for the missionaries to be brought outside. I don’t think they were anxious to be taught the gospel—they intended bodily harm. It was young Marie who marched out of the house to confront the mob.

They continued their vicious yells and demands for the missionaries to be brought out. Marie raised her Bible up in her hand and commanded them to depart. She told them that the elders were under her protection and that they could not harm one hair of their heads. Listen to her own words: “All stood aghast. … God was with me. He placed those words in my mouth, or I could not have spoken them. All was calm, instantly. That strong ferocious body of men stood helpless before a weak, trembling, yet fearless girl.” The ministers asked the mob to leave, which they did quietly in shame, fear, and remorse. The small flock completed their meeting in peace.1

Can’t you just picture that brave young woman, the same age as many of you, standing up to a mob and defending her newly found beliefs with courage and conviction?

Sisters, few of us will ever have to face an angry mob, but there is a war going on in this world in which our most cherished and basic doctrines are under attack. I am speaking specifically of the doctrine of the family. The sanctity of the home and the essential purposes of the family are being questioned, criticized, and assaulted on every front.

When President Gordon B. Hinckley first read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” 20 years ago this year, we were grateful for and valued the clarity, simplicity, and truth of this revelatory document. Little did we realize then how very desperately we would need these basic declarations in today’s world as the criteria by which we could judge each new wind of worldly dogma coming at us from the media, the Internet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators. The proclamation on the family has become our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world, and I testify that the principles set forth within this statement are as true today as they were when they were given to us by a prophet of God nearly 20 years ago.

May I point out something obvious? Life rarely goes exactly according to plan for anyone, and we are very aware that not all women are experiencing what the proclamation describes. It is still important to understand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive for the realization of that pattern the best we can.

Each of us has a part to play in the plan, and each of us is equally valued in the eyes of the Lord. We should remember that a loving Heavenly Father is aware of our righteous desires and will honor His promises that nothing will be withheld from those who faithfully keep their covenants. Heavenly Father has a mission and plan for each of us, but He also has His own timetable. One of the hardest challenges in this life is to have faith in the Lord’s timing. It’s a good idea to have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go. We need to teach our daughters to aim for the ideal but plan for contingencies.

Defenders of the Family Proclamation, Bonnie L. Oscarson

I would like to issue a challenge for all of us as women of the Church to be defenders of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

During this 20th anniversary year of the family proclamation, I would like to issue a challenge for all of us as women of the Church to be defenders of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Just as Marie Madeline Cardon courageously defended the missionaries and her newly found beliefs, we need to boldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places—even when the world is shouting in our ears that these principles are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant. Everyone, no matter what their marital circumstance or number of children, can be defenders of the Lord’s plan described in the family proclamation. If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!

If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!

“If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!” Bonnie L. Oscarson

There are three principles taught in the proclamation which I think are especially in need of steadfast defenders. The first is marriage between a man and a woman. We are taught in the scriptures, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”2 For anyone to attain the fulness of priesthood blessings, there must be a husband and a wife sealed in the house of the Lord, working together in righteousness and remaining faithful to their covenants. This is the Lord’s plan for His children, and no amount of public discourse or criticism will change what the Lord has declared. We need to continue to model righteous marriages, seek for that blessing in our lives, and have faith if it is slow in coming. Let us be defenders of marriage as the Lord has ordained it while continuing to show love and compassion for those with differing views.

The next principle which calls for our defending voices is elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers. We eagerly teach our children to aim high in this life. We want to make sure that our daughters know that they have the potential to achieve and be whatever they can imagine. We hope they will love learning, be educated, talented, and maybe even become the next Marie Curie or Eliza R. Snow.

Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father? I would hope that as we encourage our children to reach for the very best in this life that we also teach them to honor and exalt the roles that mothers and fathers play in Heavenly Father’s plan.

Our youngest daughter, Abby, saw a unique opportunity to stand as a defender of the role of mother. One day she got a notice from her children’s school that they were having Career Day presentations at the school. Parents were invited to send in an application if they wanted to come to school to teach the children about their jobs, and Abby felt impressed to apply to come and speak about motherhood. She didn’t hear back from the school, and when Career Day was getting close, she finally called the school, thinking they may have lost her application. The organizers scrambled around and found two teachers who agreed to have Abby come talk to their classes at the end of Career Day.

In her very fun presentation to the children, Abby taught them, among other things, that as a mother she needed to be somewhat of an expert in medicine, psychology, religion, teaching, music, literature, art, finance, decorating, hair styling, chauffeuring, sports, culinary arts, and so much more. The children were impressed. She finished by having the children remember their mothers by writing thank-you notes expressing gratitude for the many loving acts of service they received daily. Abby felt that the children saw their mothers in a whole new light and that being a mother or father was something of great worth. She applied to share again this year at Career Day and was invited to present to six classes.

Abby has said of her experience: “I feel like it could be easy in this world for a child to get the sense that being a parent is a secondary job or even sometimes a necessary inconvenience. I want every child to feel like they are the most important priority to their parent, and maybe telling them how important being a parent is to me will help them realize all that their parents do for them and why.”

Our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is a wonderful example of honoring women and motherhood, especially his own mother. In reference to our earthly mothers, he has said: “May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and [our earthly] mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”3

The last principle we need to stand and defend is the sanctity of the home. We need to take a term which is sometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It is the term homemaker. All of us—women, men, youth, and children, single or married—can work at being homemakers. We should “make our homes” places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived. What a difference it would make in the world if all people would see themselves as makers of righteous homes. Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness.

Sisters, I am grateful to be a woman in these latter days. We have opportunities and possibilities which no other generation of women has had in the world. Let us help build the kingdom of God by standing up boldly and being defenders of marriage, parenthood, and the home. The Lord needs us to be brave, steadfast, and immovable warriors who will defend His plan and teach the upcoming generations His truths.

I bear witness that Heavenly Father lives and loves each of us. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422: Satan’s Strategy

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Satan's Strategy (1).jpg

Click on the graphic to study 3 Nephi 6-7

Is it possible for someone to be …

  • Rich and humble?
  • Poor and prideful?
  • Educated and humble?
  • Uneducated and prideful?

Of course one could answer “YES” to each of the questions above, but as we read in these chapters, it takes a conscious effort to prevent pride and to seek to be humble no matter what our circumstances may be.

Something else that we can learn from these chapters is that IF we do not ENDURE TO THE END blessings can be LOST in the LAST hour.  Following their miraculous deliverance from the Gadianton robbers, the Nephites enjoyed peace for about three years. But pride, class distinctions, and persecutions arose among the people. While some remained faithful to the Lord, many entered into secret combinations. Because of the secret combinations, the chief judge was murdered and the Nephite government was overthrown. The people divided into tribes and appointed their own leaders. Nephi continued to minister unto the people with power and great authority. As recorded in 3 Nephi 6–7, some of the Nephites experienced the tragic results of rejecting the prophets, while others experienced the blessings that come from repenting and hearkening to the Lord’s chosen servants.

strategy

It seems that there are two great strategies at play in our lives: UNITY & DIVISION

You may see it differently, but to me, God’s strategy is to strengthen His children through UNITY. Unity in covenants, unity within family, unity with the priesthood, unity in our communities, etc. There is great STRENGTH in UNITY!

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Unity

Satan’s strategy is to DIVIDE. Division WEAKENS, hence the saying, “Divide and conquer!”

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Divide and Conquer (2)

To understand this next part, we need to define the difference between a strategy and tactics. A strategy is the large, overall plan that can comprise several tactics, which are smaller, focused, procedures that are part of the overall plan/strategy.  God uses several tactics (procedures) to unify: sealed in families, gathered as Saints, worship meetings, temple ordinances, missionary work, caring for the poor and the needy, priesthood quorums, Relief Society, visiting teaching, home teaching, service, etc. All of these tactic help to STRENGTHEN us, in part, because of the UNITY that they create among ourselves and with our God. God is our greatest strength, so if we are unified with Him then His grace (strength) is sufficient.

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Don't Panic, Organize

However, Satan has many tactics that he employs to “divide and conquer” and destroy the “strength in unity” that we seek to create with God and His children. Several such tactic are found in these chapters as Satan makes his final attempt to divide as many people as he can from the blessing of receiving the Savior’s impending visit after His resurrection (see 3 Nephi 11). His tactics in these chapters are not much different from the tactics that he is implementing today: pride, love of riches, class distinction, contention, dissension, rebellion, violence, and secret combinations.

#BOMTC Day 66, June 11~3 Nephi 6-7 or Pages 417-422, Calvin and Hobbs Divide and Conquer

Take a moment to consider how many things God asks you to do every day and each week to STRENGTHEN you, as you UNIFY with Him and His children. Consider the STRENGTH that you feel in your life when you faithfully fulfill those daily and weekly duties. Then contrast that with the WEAKNESS that you feel as you neglect to unify with God and His children and instead allow Satan to DIVIDE you from God’s unity and strength with his tenacious tactics.

Don’t LOSE your blessings in the LAST hour by falling prey to Satan’s WEAKENING tactics, like many of the people did in these chapters. Rather, ENDURE to the END and use your agency to comply with God’s tactics of STRENGTH that will bring UNITY with God and His children (3 Nephi 7:21-22). You have the ability to choose which strategy will have power in your life–“Divide and Conquer” or “Strength in Unity”. Choose wisely!

 ON THIS DAY IN 1829: Utica, New York. Richard R. Lansing, clerk of the Northern District Court, entered Joseph Smith’s copyright application for the Book of Mormon. (See a copy of the original below…)

Original manuscript copyright of the Book of Mormon. Richard R. Lansing, clerk of the federal district court, prepared two copies of the application for the copyright of the Book of Mormon. One is housed in the Church archives and the second in the Library of Congress.

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#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150: A Tent, a Temple, a Tower: See, Sacrifice, Serve

#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150 (2)

Click on the graphic to read Mosiah 1-2

THE GREAT CONFERENCE OF 124 B.C. 

I like to compare this part of the Book of Mormon to our modern-day general conference of the church. Each time that I read this account I imagine what it would have been like to be there personally (I really do!).

I love King Benjamin and his teachings! Not that everything else in the Book of Mormon is not as important, but I believe that if the Old Testament contained the account of King Benjamin (Mosiah 1-6) it would be one of the most beloved books of Christendom (and other faiths that revere the Old Testament). In fact, President Howard W. Hunter called it, “…one of the greatest prophetic sermons ever given (“The Opening and Closing of Doors“, Ensign, Nov. 1987.)

For my purpose today I will simply focus on three simple words that help me remember some treasures of King Benjamin’s teachings: TENT, TEMPLE, TOWER. These are each nouns–simple objects–but they help me remember three simple verbs that make a BIG difference in life: SEE, SACRIFICE, SERVE. I will attempt to describe this relationship below…

#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150 (3)

A TENT: SEE!. Genesis 26:25, is the key to understanding the connection here. It seems like a very simple and contextual verse, but in that scripture, relating to Isaac, you will find the words altar, tent, and well–there is great symbolism in those three words. Each word can symbolically represents an aspect of an individual’s life (anciently).

Your “altar” represented your LORD. If your altar was made of unhewn stone, then people knew you worshiped Jehovah. If it were hewn, then people knew you worshiped a god of this world.

Your “tent” represented your LIFE. You could tell all kinds of things about a person by simply looking at their tent. You can do the same when camping today.

Your “well” represented your LIVELIHOOD. Isaac was a man of the flock and therefore was always in great need of a well (and notice where this scriptural event takes place–Beer-sheba, “well of an oath“. This may have been the same place which was called Beer-sheba a hundred years before this, in the time of Abraham; but as the well, from which it had its name originally, was closed up by the Philistines, the name of the place might have been abolished with the well; when, therefore, Isaac re-opened it, he restored the ancient name of the place. See Genesis 21 for the background to this significant well, and the verses in Genesis 26 that precede verse 25.).

Now, if our tent represents our life, then we can see a likening to the account found in Mosiah 1-2. Where did the people pitch their tents, and in which direction did they face them? “And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple” (Mosiah 2:6). If your tent represents your life, the what does the temple represent? As per the previous explanation, the temple is where the Lord’s altar was located, so the temple represent the LORD. Thus, we would say that if your TENT is facing the TEMPLE, then your LIFE is facing the LORD!

A similar illustration can be found in several scriptural accounts. In Numbers 2 as the wondering Israelites are given their order of encampment, all tents are faced toward the Tabernacle! Another example is The Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34). The characteristic rite of the Feast of Tabernacles was the dwelling in booths made of the boughs of trees. Remarkable celebrations of the Feast of Tabernacles took place at the opening of Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs. 8:22 Chr. 5:37:8) and in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 8:14). Genesis 13:12; 14:12 is a great example of how facing one’s tent makes a difference. Lot goes from merely facing his tent toward Sodom to dwelling in Sodom (and we know what trouble that caused him…). He should have been more careful about which way he was facing his tent!

For those who are familiar with Salt Lake City, you know that the grid-system is the basis for addresses of businesses and homes. What you may not have realized is that each address is based on your position relative to the Salt Lake Temple. When you give someone your location/address in Salt Lake County, you are really telling people how far you are/live from the temple (this system was developed when the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed the Plat of Zion [click here for a diagram]). If I were to move to 13200 S. 2700 W., I would be 132 streets South and 27 streets West of the Salt Lake City Temple. Pretty easy to find the temple!

A temple-centered life is a Christ-centered life! So… which way is your tent/LIFE facing?

During the press conference introducing Howard W. Hunter as the new President of the church, he presented the theme that would become the hallmark of his brief administration. He invited “the members of the Church to establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church temple worthy. I would hope that every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it. Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people.” (Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 625).

President Howard W. Hunter also said:

I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would [1] be worthy of-and carry-a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families. Let us be a temple-attending people. [2] Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. [3] Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. [4] Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing. If proximity to a temple does not allow frequent attendance, [5] gather in the history of your family and prepare the names for the sacred ordinances performed only in the temple. This family research is essential to the work of the temples, and blessings surely will come to those who do that work.” (“Exceeding Great and Precious Promises“, Ensign, Nov. 1994)

The following account contains some great examples of how to face our tent/LIFE to the temple/LORD:

“Several years ago I heard about a good brother who described his attitude as President David O. McKay gave the concluding talk of general conference. It was a [muggy] afternoon, and this was the fifth session he had attended. He was sitting in the balcony, and his mind had a serious wandering problem. He noticed a man sitting in the middle section who had fallen asleep with his head tilted back and his mouth open. It occurred to him that if he were in the roof of the Tabernacle, he could drop a spit wad through one of the vent holes right into the mouth of that sleeping man. What a glorious thought! Following the meeting, he overheard two men talking about their feelings during President McKay’s talk. They were visibly moved by what they had heard. He thought to himself, ‘These two brethren were having a marvelous spiritual experience, and what was I doing? Thinking about dropping spit wads from the ceiling!’ President Spencer W. Kimball said that worship is “an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed. No one can worship for you; you must do your own waiting upon the Lord.” (Ensign, Jan. 1978, p. 5) One youth described how he first experienced the spirit of worship. He had been marginally active through his Aaronic Priesthood years. When he attended sacrament meeting, he usually sat in the back with a group of his friends, and he was less than a model of reverence. One day, however, he came in a little late, and there were no seats by his friends. He sat alone, and for the first time in his life, he closed his eyes during the prayers, he sang the hymns, he listened to the sacrament prayers, and he paid attention to the speakers. About midway through the first speaker, he found tears welling up in his eyes. With some embarrassment, he carefully glanced around; no one else seemed emotional. He didn’t know for sure what was happening to him, but the experience changed his life. It was during that meeting that he really started his spiritual preparation for his mission. He felt something, and fortunately, he acted and thus sustained those feelings. (Elder Jack H. Goaslind, Yagottawanna, Ensign, May 1991)

#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150 (5)
A TEMPLE: SACRIFICE.
 The tabernacle was a portable temple. Perhaps the best known temple in the Bible is the one built by Solomon in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles. 2–5). In the Book of Mormon, the righteous followers of God were led to build and worship in temples (2 Nephi 5:16Mosiah 1:183 Nephi 11:1). Ancient temples were places of animal sacrifice in similitude of the atoning sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ. Many people miss the fact that in Mosiah 2:3 the people “took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burn offerings according to the law of Moses.”

After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord gave them the law of sacrifice. This law included offering the firstborn of their flocks. This sacrifice symbolized the sacrifice that would be made by the Only Begotten Son of God (Moses 5:4–8). This practice continued until the death of Jesus Christ, which ended animal sacrifice (Alma 34:13–14).

Originally, sacrifice meant “to make something or someone holy” (What an awesome way to think about sacrifice!). It has now come to mean to give up or suffer the loss of worldly things for the Lord and His Kingdom (I prefer the original meaning…). Disciples of Christ should be willing to sacrifice (MAKE HOLY) all things for the Lord. Joseph Smith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith, 69).

In the Church today members partake of the sacrament of the bread and the water in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Members of Christ’s Church today are also asked to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9:19–22). This means that they are humble, repentant, and willing to obey God’s commandments.

Modern-day temples continue to be a place of sacrifice today! For example, one must make certain sacrifices to be worthy to enter the temple and sacrifice must be made to actually worship in the temple. I like how Elder Neal A. Maxwell, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, put it:

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” (Ensign, May, 1995).

#BOMTC Day 25, May 1~Mosiah 1-2 or Pages 145-150 (4)

A TOWER: SERVE. Perhaps the most oft quoted verse of Mosiah 2 is verse 17, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (my daughter’s current favorite scripture!). King Benjamin became himself the great object-lesson of Mosiah 2. As their king, and in his advanced age, he had not burdened them but rather served them–a servant-leader, like the Savior! Atop his tower–not because he is above them, but so that they can hear him–he stands as a symbol of service!

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that “service is essential to salvation.” (Ensign, June 1975)

President Marion G. Romney, who was a member of the First Presidency, taught:

Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.  Knowing that service is what gives our Father in Heaven fulfillment, and knowing that we want to be where He is and as He is, why must we be commanded to serve one another? Oh, for the glorious day when these things all come naturally because of the purity of our hearts. In that day there will be no need for a commandment because we will have experienced for ourselves that we are truly happy only when we are engaged in unselfish service” (Ensign, Nov. 1982).

Elder Henry B. Eyring, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, expounded upon the fact that as “unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:21) we must do all that we can to repay our indebtedness to the Lord:

Let me give you three rules of managing the debts of gratitude you have accumulated …. First, wherever you may labor in life, give more than you take. Second, whoever is around you in life, find someone to help. And, third, ask God to multiply the power of your efforts to give and to help. …He will help you to give and to serve others, even when it seems nearly impossible. Then, you can rest assured that you have done your best to manage your debts of gratitude. But, of course, your debts will only grow, since God always blesses bountifully His grateful servants.” (“Debt Management“, Brigham Young University – Idaho Commencement April 27, 2002)

So important is the need for us to make a personal commitment to the service of our fellowmen that President Spencer W. Kimball made it the theme of a message to Regional Representatives in April 1980. He said:

Recently we established the new consolidated schedule which is aimed at enriching family life even further, together with greater opportunity for individual and family gospel scholarship and for more Christian service. We are trying to provide more time and emphasis on Christian service, so that our example can be more powerful in the world and so that those who are so worthy of attention might get more attention than they sometimes have in the past.” (“We Feel an Urgency,” Ensign, August 1980)

And in a message to the youth of the Church, President Kimball said: “The Lord does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.” (“President Kimball Speaks Out on Service to Others,” New Era, March 1981)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

We know . . . that even the most extreme acts of service-such as giving all of our goods to feed the poor-profit us nothing unless our service is motivated by the pure love of Christ. If our service is to be most efficacious, it must be accomplished for the love of God and the love of his children. . . . This principle-that our service should be for the love of God and the love of fellowmen rather than for personal advantage or any other lesser motive-is admittedly a high standard. The Savior must have seen it so, since he joined his commandment for selfless and complete love directly with the ideal of perfection . . . “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt.5:48). . . . Service with all of our heart and mind is a high challenge for all of us. Such service must be free of selfish ambition. It must be motivated only by the pure love of Christ. . . . I know that God expects us to work to purify our hearts and our thoughts so that we may serve one another for the highest and best reason, the pure love of Christ. (Ensign, Nov. 1984, see also “Serve God By Serving Others)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, illustrated the saving and sanctifying principle of service with the following true story:

Amidst the terrible hostilities in Missouri that would put the Prophet in Liberty Jail and see thousands of Latter-day Saints driven from their homes, Sister Drusilla Hendricks and her invalid husband, James, who had been shot by enemies of the Church in the Battle of Crooked River, arrived with their children at a hastily shaped dugout in Quincy, Illinois, to live out the spring of that harrowing year. Within two weeks the Hendrickses were on the verge of starvation, having only one spoonful of sugar and a saucerful of cornmeal remaining in their possession. In the great tradition of LDS women, Drusilla made mush out of it for James and the children, thus stretching its contents as far as she could make it go. When that small offering was consumed by her famished family, she washed everything, cleaned their little dugout as thoroughly as she could, and quietly waited to die. Not long thereafter the sound of a wagon brought Drusilla to her feet. It was their neighbor Reuben Allred. He said he had a feeling they were out of food, so on his way into town he’d had a sack of grain ground into meal for them. Shortly thereafter Alexander Williams arrived with two bushels of meal on his shoulder. He told Drusilla that he’d been extremely busy but the Spirit had whispered to him that Brother Hendricks family is suffering, so I dropped everything and came [running]. May God, who has blessed all of us so mercifully and many of us so abundantly, bless us with one thing more. May he bless us to hear the often silent cries of the sorrowing and the afflicted, the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, the poor. Indeed may he bless us to hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit when any neighbor anywhere is suffering, and to drop everything and come running. I pray in the name of the captain of the poor, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.” (“A Handful of Meal and a Little Oil”, Ensign, May 1996)

President Thomas S. Monson shared the following story of a pioneer family being blessed by celestial service:

One of my children came in, said that Brother Newton Halls folks were out of bread. Had none that day. I put our flour in sack to send up to Brother Halls. Just then Brother Hall came in. Says I, Brother Hall, how are you [fixed] for flour. Brother Millett, we have none. Well, Brother Hall, there is some in that sack. I have divided [it] and was going to send it to you. Your children told mine that you were out. Brother Hall began to cry. Said he had tried others. Could not get any. Went to the cedars and prayed to the Lord and the Lord told him to go to Joseph Millett. Well, Brother Hall, you neednt bring this back if the Lord sent you for it. You don’t owe me for it. You can’t tell how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew that there was such a person as Joseph Millett.” (Gifts, Ensign, May 1993)

The Joseph Millett Story

Joseph Millett gives flour to a man who had been directed to him by the Lord.

In 1871, in the tiny Mormon farming settlement in Spring Valley, White Pine, Nevada (about 60 miles from Ely), Latter-day Saint Newman Hall found himself entirely out of flour and unable to feed his family. He asked some of his neighbors for help, but no one had a surplus. Finally he approached neighbor Joseph Millett who divided his supplies with the Halls. When Hall told him that he had been directed there following prayer, Millett told him there was no need to repay the loan. Millett recorded in his diary, “You can’t tell how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew that there was such a person as Joseph Millett.

Want to learn more? Check these out:

ON THIS DAY IN 1829: Palmyra, New York. Martin Harris’s wife, Lucy, filed a complaint against Joseph Smith, attempting to prove that he never had gold plates.

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#BOMTC Day 7, April 13~1 Nephi 17-18 or Pages 37-42: What Do You KNOW?

Click this graphic to read 1 Nephi 17-18

Click this graphic to read 1 Nephi 17-18

In these pages we find Nephi receiving the command to build a ship. His efforts are mocked by his brothers, Laman and Lemuel (the infamous naysayers); whose rant against Nephi consists of several “we knew” and “we know” statements (1 Nephi 17:19-22). However, Nephi is quick to point out to them the truth about what they really know (1 Nephi 17:25-29,42,46). He reminds them of something similar to a bumper sticker I remember seeing: “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite!“(1 Nephi 17:35,40; 1:20. More on this concept can be studied by reading Elder Russell M. Nelson’s article entitled, Divine Love. You must read the footnoted references in the talk for it to make sense–very insightful!).

#BOMTC Day 7, April 13~1 Nephi 17-18 (or Pages 37-42) Jesus Loves You But I'm His Favorite

Nephi is the perfect example of “likening” scriptures. It seems that almost every time that he is trying to persuade someone to follow God he uses an experience from what we now consider the Old Testament (their Brass Plates). In just this one instance he refers to the liberating of the Israelites from bondage, the crossing of the Red Sea and destruction of Pharaoh and his army, the manna, water from the rock, the pillar of light and a cloud by day that led and protected them, their subsequent wondering and regeneration before entering the Promised Land, and even the reason for the current residents being expelled from the land. He caps it all off by reminding them that one can either become RIGHTEOUS or RIPE (1 Nephi 17:35).

This is the perfect LIKENING because they are also going to cross the water to enter a Promised Land. But Nephi is not done yet. In verse 41 he likens his brothers to the faithless and fearful Israelites who had to be chastened and “straitened”. Nephi seems surprised that, after all that the Lord has done, those at Jerusalem are “nearly unto ripeness” (1 Nephi 17:43). He continues to liken Laman and Lemuel to those who are ripening and points out that they are “swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:44-45).

Nephi’s words seem to infuriate the already agitated brothers, but the Spirit of God protects Nephi much the way it will when Abinadi testifies before the evil king Noah. Unlike Abinadi’s situation however, Nephi is commanded to “shock” his brethren with a bit of God’s power. It makes sense that the Lord would do this. Being so hard of heart, and so focused on the physical, it seems that the physical is all they will respond to (1 Nephi 17:53-55; 18:20). Interestingly enough, the chapter ends in a very different, yet similar way to its beginning. Laman and Lemuel once again exclaim, “we know“, but this time they are correct in their statements.

Nephi is then instructed by the Lord on how exactly to go about building the ship (1 Nephi 18:1-4), which will become the stage for the next dramatic episode of the “wavering” Laman and Lemuel (1 Nephi 18:9-20). I guess it is not enough to “know”, we must always act on what we “know” to be right, but first we must make sure that what we “know” IS right.

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.  The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.

So what do you “KNOW”, and how does that affect your ATTITUDES and ACTIONS? Are you becoming RIGHT or RIPE before God? Remember what Joseph Smith taught the brethren about The Book of Mormon: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” Happy sailing on your personal journey toward God’s Promised Land–The Celestial Kingdom!

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#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 or Pages 31-36: “Have [WE] Inquired of the Lord?”

#BOMTC Day 6, April 11~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) (2)

Click on this graphic to read 1 Nephi 16

We start off with good ol’ Laman and Lemuel in their usual “state of complaint”. Nephi quickly diagnoses their problem as a hard heart (spiritual heart disease), “therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought” (1 Nephi 14:3).

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Spiritual Heart Disease

In 1 Nephi 15:7  Laman and Lemuel are complaining that they “cannot understand” the things that their father, Lehi, shared with them about his vision of the Tree of Life and his discourse on the Olive Tree (On a side note, in the ancient world an olive tree was very much a “tree of life”. Olive trees provided Israel with food–nourishment, light–vision, healing–life, and anointing–power. Professor Andrew Skinner put it this way, “It was used to worship God as well as to sustain man. The olive tree and its oil were unequivocally regarded as one of the necessities of life. In fact, nothing from the olive tree went unused in the daily life of Israel. The oil from the fruit (the olives) was used for cooking, lighting, medicine, lubrication, and anointing. Those olives not crushed and pressed were pickled in brine and spices and then eaten. The wood of the olive tree was not only used in constructing buildings but also in making furniture, tools, and carvings and even in crafting the shepherd’s crook or staff. In turn, one may truly say that the olive tree was, and continues to be, a staff of life in the Middle East.” See “Autumn, Olives, and the Atonement,” in Religious Educator 1, no. 1 (2000): 107-121).

Nephi has one simple, and personally tested, question:

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Have Ye Inquired of the Lord

Have ye inquired of the Lord?

I would like to pause at this point to leave the murmurous brothers and focus on US. By this point we have read 30 pages of the Book of Mormon. HAVE WE INQUIRED OF THE LORD? If there is something that WE have not understood, have WE asked for His help? Before WE read, are WE asking for His blessing and guidance? While WE read, are WE asking Him to manifest its veracity to US? Or have WE read 30 pages of Christ-centered/saturated text and not even once thought to “inquire of the Lord?” (1 Nephi 15:8)

Have WE Inquired of the Lord?

Have WE Inquired of the Lord?

Alright, back to Laman (indeed, a “LAME”-man) and Lemuel… their reply to Nephi’s soul-searching question is one of spiritual immaturity, doubt, and convenience: WHY TRY? They say, “We have not [inquired of the Lord]: for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto US” (1 Nephi 15:9, emphasis added). Well, even if they were right in that assumption (and they are not!), couldn’t they at least try? The wording seems to imply that they believe that the Lord will make it know to others, but not them. Pretty convenient for them–don’t give God a chance and you don’t have to do anything yourself either. People do this all the time today. What “sins of omission” may we be committing by simply putting the blame on God without giving Him a chance?

#BOMTC Day 6, April 12~1 Nephi 16 (or Pages 31-36) Sins of Omission

As President Thomas S. Monson is fond of saying, “If we do not TRY, then we do not DO. And if we do not DO, then why are we here?” Laman and Lemuel can blame God and appear correct, to themselves (as I said, people do it all the time today—it’s just convenient). But to Nephi, and you, and I, this is a “LAME”-man response!

"If we do not try, then we do not do." ~ President Thomas S. Monson

“If we do not try, then we do not do.”
~ President Thomas S. Monson

Nephi then asks a few soul-searching questions of them and then bears his witness that “if” they would sincerely give the Lord a chance, even in their lame and corrupt state, God will “surely” make these things “known” unto them (1 Nephi 15:11). Nephi KNOWS! He then goes on to share with them what he has learned by inquiring of the Lord. In the process we not only learn more ourselves about the vision of the Tree of Life, but also the judgment and justice of God (1 Nephi 15:26-36).

Of course Laman and Lemuel cannot feel very good about themselves after hearing the plain truth of God’s judgment and justice. Instead of changing anything though, they once again complain. “Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear” (1 Nephi 16:1). Wow! Are they serious? It is indeed true that, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for [because] it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:2).

The truth can either CUT us or TOUCH us, it just depends on the condition of our HEART. HARD hearts must be CUT; SOFT hearts need only be TOUCHED. I am sure that as you read the truths in chapter 15 you were touched. However, it appears that the same exact same words will CUT those who are of a hard heart (spiritual heart disease). Nephi leaves them with the perfect reflective “If…, then…” statement to ponder, and an invitation to repent in 1 Nephi 16:3-4.

Well, the families grow and prepare to move on. But before they leave their temporary residence they are given “means” to guide them. Lehi finds a “round ball of curious workmanship” that “pointed the way” they should go on their journey (1 Nephi 16:10). They would indeed need this divine guide, since the wilderness they were entering was called “Shazer”, meaning “twisting” (1 Nephi 16:13). However, with the help of their God-given guide they were able to not only find their way, but also keep to the “most fertile parts” of the wilderness (1 Nephi 16:14,16).

Painted by Ken Corbett

Painted by Ken Corbett

Once again, we depart from the story for a LIKENING moment to ourselves. What has the Lord given us to guide us through our “twisted” journey here on earth? Many of the brethren have compared this divine guide, later identified and being called the Liahona, to God-given guides such as the Holy Ghost, a Patriarchal Blessing, and the Scriptures. And just as the Liahona worked “according to the faith and diligence and heed” they gave to it, we must do the same with “Life’s Liahona’s” that we have been given (1 Nephi 16:28). For, as Nephi said, “thus we see that by SMALL MEANS the Lord can bring about GREAT THINGS (1 Nephi 16:29. See also, Alma 37:6-7—really you need to study the whole chapter of Alma 37 for proper perspective). Are we using “Life’s Liahona’s” to look to the Lord and encounter the “most fertile” parts of the “twisted” wilderness that this world seems to place in front of us?

Laman and Lemuel would not look to the Lord nor inquire of Him. Lehi temporarily lost sight of the Lord as well (1 Nephi 16:20-27). Nephi’s questions properly persuade people to look to the Lord and inquire of Him (1 Nephi 15:8; 16:23).

By the time we come to the end of chapter 16, we find that Nephi was right all along and Laman and Lemuel are left without excuse, because even as they reach an extreme state of rebellion “the voice of the Lord came and did speak many words unto them [Laman and Lemuel], and did chasten them exceedingly” (1 Nephi 16:39). I guess God has left them without excuse and convenience. The fact of the matter is that the Lord did make such things “known unto” them, and they can never deny it. LOOK TO THE LORD! (D&C 6:36-37).

NOTE: It was one year previous to this date, on April 12, 1828 in Harmony, Pennsylvania that Martin Harris went to Joseph Smith’s home (in Harmony), where he began to help with the translation of what would become the 116 Book of Mormon pages from the book of Lehi that were lost. I find it very interesting that it was during pretty much the same time period in 1828 (mid-April to mid-June) that Joseph and Martin translated the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon known to us as the Book of Lehi. Just one year later, Joseph would translate the entire remaining unsealed portion of the Book of Mormon in almost the same amount of time, but with even greater persecution and interruptions. Here is a brief summary from the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home Study Seminary Students of what led up to this point:

From mid-April to mid-June 1828, the Prophet Joseph Smith was translating the gold plates while living in Harmony, Pennsylvania. A wealthy farmer and businessman named Martin Harris was acting as scribe while Joseph translated the Book of Mormon. Martin was 22 years older than Joseph and had given Joseph and Emma $50 (which was a substantial amount of money at that time) to relocate to Harmony, where Emma’s family lived, thus helping to support Joseph while he translated the plates. In February 1828, Joseph allowed Martin to take copies of characters from the plates to be authenticated by two professors in New York City (see Joseph Smith—History 1:63–65). Lucy Harris, Martin’s wife, had become increasingly concerned about Martin’s interest and financial involvement in the translation of the plates. She and others began to pressure Martin for evidence of the plates’ existence. To satisfy their concerns, in mid-June Martin requested that Joseph allow him to take the 116 pages of manuscript they had completed to show as evidence.

For some very insightful and informative information on the topic of the translation and the lost manuscript, see the HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION to D&C 10 in the Joseph Smith Paper project.

A couple articles that may interest you and go well with these chapters are:

DON’T FORGET TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS…

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