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#BOMTC Jacob 6-Enos: Faith-Shakers VS Faith-Makers

BEWARE OF FAITH-SHAKERS! Faith-shakers take on many forms. In today’s reading Sherem is the personification of a faith-shaker. Jacob describes meeting the faith-shaker Sherem with these words:

“and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me… And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken(Jacob 7:3, 5, emphasis added)

Jacob 7:2 teaches us that faith-shakers attack Christ and His true doctrine. Faith-shakers are antichrists.

An antichrist is an opponent of Christ; he is one who is in opposition to the true gospel, the true Church, and the true plan of salvation. (1 John 2:19; 4:4-6) He is one who offers salvation to men on some other terms than those laid down by Christ. Sherem (Jacob 7:1-23), Nehor (Alma 1:2-16), and Korihor (Alma 30:6-60) were antichrists who spread their delusions among the Nephites.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.39)

We may have people in our lives that are faith-shakers, like Sherem, but I find that the more common and subtle faith-shakers that Christ’s disciples face today are FALSE DOCTRINE faith-shakers. Sure, a person can preach false doctrine, but it can also come from many other sources.

CAUTIONARY PUN: Satan has all kinds of faith-shaking doctrines, and he is always looking for someone to “Sherem” 🙂

HOW Can False Doctrine Be a Faith-Shaker? President Boyd K. Packer, past President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught that:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986).

Therefore, believing false doctrines will change one’s attitude and behavior as well.

False doctrine is a great faith-shaker! What are some sources of modern-day false-doctrine faith-shakers? Media, philosophies of man, environments, governments, etc. can all be faith-shakers. What false doctrines do they preach?  They speak of coincidental creation, overpopulation, redefining family and marriage, abortion, etc.

Robert L. Millet, a professor at BYU, put it this way:

I thought back on a few of the antichrists in the Book of Mormon–of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor–and reconsidered their doctrine, their approach, their success, and their demise. I then broadened my scope a bit and realized that evil attitudes, as well as perverse teachings and false systems of salvation, also qualify as enemies of Christ. Such teachings as ‘We have not [prayed about this], for the Lord maketh no such things known unto us’; ‘All is well in Zion’; ‘Eat, drink, and be merry’; ‘Dig a pit for thy neighbor’; ‘We have received and we need no more’; ‘There is no devil; ‘Ye cannot know what ye cannot see’; ‘Do this or do that and it mattereth not,’ and myriads of others–these symbolize the slogans of an antigospel.” (Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth, p.68)

HOW Do Faith-Shakers Preach? Antifreeze is probably a good object-lesson to illustrate an answer this question (see Alma 30:53). Antifreeze is very toxic, but animals are attracted to its sweet taste–they temporarily find pleasure in that which kills them!

Jacob 7:2-7 helps us to identify some of Sherem’s faith-shaker tactics. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (CR, Apr. 1975, 94–95).

HOW do I LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers? Most of us have not experienced the great manifestations that Jacob did which helped him to “not be shaken” in the faith (see Jacob 7:5), so how can we “not be shaken”? Jacob 7:10-12 identifies three things that every disciple of Jesus Christ has been given to help them “not be shaken” in the faith. President Benson identified them during a talk in general conference:

May I suggest three short tests to avoid being deceived. . . .1. What do the standard works [scriptures] have to say about it? . . . 2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President . . . 3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost. . . . This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16-17. Emphasis added.)

Jacob 4:6, 8, 13,16 and 2 Nephi 9:40 all contain valuable insights that will help us to LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers and become unshakable, like Jacob!

CLEAVE TO TRUE DOCTRINE! There are a few questions that one can ask to evaluate a doctrine that is being presented and discern if it is a faith-shaker or a faith-maker. Faith-maker doctrines receive a YES to each of the following questions:

  1. Is the doctrine clearly expressed in the standard works of the Church?
  2. Is the doctrine found within the official declarations, proclamations, or statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles?
  3. Is the doctrine clearly taught or discussed by current general Church leaders in general conference or other official gatherings of the Church?
  4. Is the doctrine found in the general handbooks or the presently approved curriculum of the Church? (Source: Sunday School: Spring 2005 President’s Message)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

There is not anything in this world of as great importance to us as obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us search these scriptures. Let us know what the Lord has revealed. Let us put our lives in harmony with his truth. Then we will not be deceived” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:301).

Jacob 7:23 shows how this principle affected the Nephites after Sherem was revealed as a faith-shaker.

The late Robert J. Matthews, a well-respected Latter-day Saint scholar, wrote:

“The Book of Mormon was written specifically and pointedly for our time. The principles needed for salvation anciently are the same principles needed now. Likewise, the way of apostasy in ancient times is a pattern of apostasy in our day. The Book of Mormon shows how apostasies occur, and the terrible effects that apostasy has in the lives of individuals as well as in groups such as political governments and churches. Men such as Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor are notable examples of individual apostates in the Book of Mormon, and it clearly demonstrates their pride and sophistry. These were intellectual giants, but they were spiritually undeveloped and each fell victim to the cunning of the devil, who captured them with an appeal to their carnal and natural desires.” (Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series , p.359)

CLEAVE TO YOUR COVENANTS! During a very difficult time for the early Latter-day Saints, the Lord gave Emma Smith the following counsel:

“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

#BOMTC Day 23, April 29~Jacob 6-Enos or Pages 133-138 (2)

Interestingly, Jacob’s Faith-Shaker VS. Faith-Maker account with Sherem is followed by the faith-making experience of Jacob’s son, Enos. Enos is a pattern for becoming a Faith-Maker (Enos 1:8, 11). A close examination of his experience provides an excellent illustration of the effort required to become an unshakable Faith-Maker.

After Enos receives a witness for himself of Jesus Christ, he begins the faith-making process of seeking the welfare of others (Enos 1:8-16). As you continue to look for examples of Faith-Shakers and Faith-Makers during your study the Book of Mormon, identify the things that you can do to become a Faith-Maker and avoid Faith-Shakers.

Want to learn more about these chapters? Check out these links…

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#BOMTC Alma 26-29: My Brother’s Keeper–Caring for God’s “Peeps”

There are at least two questions that you and I should NEVER ask:

  • And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him? (Moses 5:16, emphsasis added)
  • And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said: I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper? (Moses 5:34, emphasis added)

First of all, consider the source and cynicism of these questions.

Secondly, consider the contrast that these questions pose to the Savior’s answer in Matthew 22 when He was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” It is interesting to me that the two questions presented by Cain are answered by the Savior in His response:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Another interesting contrast to Cain’s questions comes from the answer that the Lord gave when the prophet Enoch saw the sadness of the Lord in Moses 7:

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?

32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

 

Unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father.” WOW!

So how does this relate to today’s reading? Well, think about the situation that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were in. After the Anti-Nephi-Lehies made a covenant with God to never again take up weapons of war, the Amalekites and the Lamanites began to make preparations to go to battle against them. They had no one to turn to. They needed help. They were desperate. The only people that they could ask for help were the people that they had mistreated their whole lives–the Nephites.

Ammon led the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to Zarahemla, where they received protection from the Nephites and became known as the people of Ammon. They were given the land of Jershon for their new home and promised protection by the Nephite armies.

Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah each exhibited the same kind of enthusiasm to become their “brother’s keeper” as they set off for their long and eventful missions to bring everyone to the gospel (see Alma 26 and 29).

Remember when the Savior taught an important principle of the gospel in Matthew 25:31-46?

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

In the April, 2016 General Conference of the Church we were invited to be our “brother’s keeper” as part of the #IWasAStranger efforts of the Church.

Here is a playlist that I created of the Church’s invitations and efforts to help us to help others.

Relevant links for #IWasAStranger efforts:

We usually will not have to look very hard for opportunities to provide “refuge from the storm”

I believe it was around this time of year, when we commemorate the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, that I went on a “Father and Son” campout that taught me a difficult, but important lesson.

I am the oldest of six children, so one-on-one time with a parent was a precious commodity. I was excited to be able to spend some time away from the rest of the family with just my dad. Luckily, I had a pretty good relationship with my dad. It was during a time that our family was also struggling financially. There wasn’t much money to go around and I was old enough to know what was going on (~12 years old).

My mom had put together some food for us to enjoy. Nothing really special, but under the circumstances it was a little more special than “the usual”. To my surprise, my dad had invited another boy to come with us on this “Father and Son” outing. I didn’t ask why; I was a little too annoyed by it to want to bring it up and make a bigger deal about it. The boy was older and I can’t remember that I had ever met him before.

He worked at the same place as my dad. When we got to the camp site, we got everything ready and started to break into the food. I noticed the other boy had a few boxes of “Peeps” that he had gotten out. I am not a fan of Peeps, so I thought that was a strange thing to bring for a night of fun. Then, I noticed that my dad kept giving him “our” food (He has always been a VERY generous person–even when lacking.).

I tried to let it go, but I was a pretty immature and selfish kid. I don’t remember if I said something to my dad in front of the boy or if I waited for a more private and opportune moment, but when I had the chance I kinda gave it to my dad and asked why he was giving away all of “our” good food.

He didn’t get upset, but he was probably pretty disappointed–if he was disappointed he didn’t let me know it. Instead he calmly explained to me that he was sharing with the boy because all the boy had to eat for the entire campout was those couple boxes of Peeps. I think the next thing I did was say something to my dad about how the boy should have known better and that he needed to face the consequences of his lack of preparation (that is the oldest of six speaking).

Now here is where it got painful. Not because my dad hauled-off and hit me or something, but because of what he said next. He told me that the boy’s dad had recently died and that he didn’t have anything else in his home that he could have brought to eat during the campout. Oh boy… oh, boy… I don’t know if I have ever felt such guilt in my life. My heart sank. My conscience began to show me what a jerk I had been. I wanted to cry, not just because I realized how bad I had been, but because I felt a great deal of sympathy at that moment. I honestly didn’t want to eat anything else all weekend (although I am sure I did).

I learned a LOT of valuable lessons that day. One was about making a conscious effort to be “my brother’s keeper”. I obviously didn’t think about it in those terms at that age, but that was the message that sank into my heart. From that point on, it seemed like God would superimpose that boys face on the people in my life that needed a little extra help. I am sorry to say that I was not always as willing to jump in and help like I should have been. But I tried a lot harder, and I tried to withhold judgment a lot more often. #BOMTC Day 44, May 20~Alma 26-29 or Pages 273-279 (1)

Anytime that I think of that experience (like right now) I feel such regret for myself, and sorrow for that boy. I can’t remember his name, but I can’t seem to forget the face as he holds that box of Peeps before my mind’s eye. It was a tough lesson to learn, and perhaps God knew that it could never be taught–it had to be caught. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the lesson was learned and it is still being applied today. It is one of many lessons that the Lord has taught me about being my brother’s keeper.

On another occasion God let me be the brother who needed to be “kept” by another. It was about two years after the “Peeps experience”, when a young ninth-grade boy showed me what it meant to be, “my brother’s keeper”. To him it was no big deal, but it was a BIG deal to me. His name is Deran Coe, and what he did made all the difference in the world for me.

I had just moved from the coast of L.A. to a suburb of Pittsburgh (specifically, Center Township, in the middle of winter). Having been a “beach bum” from the west coast for the previous eight years, I dressed and spoke differently from everyone else at Center high school. My first morning at school was not too bad because the teachers would just assign me a seat, introduce me quickly to the class, and move on to teach their lesson.

Then lunch time arrived… The worst thing about lunch for this “new kid on the block” (special reference for my wife), is that there were no assigned seats, and I didn’t want to take someone else’s “usual seat”, so I awkwardly searched for a seat that looked like it wouldn’t make my bad situation even worse.

Well, it was a small high school (less than 150 students in my graduating class) and the ninth-graders ate in a separate room from the rest of the upper-class students. The best way for me to describe it is to say that it was a lot like a typical LDS cultural hall. It had a stage and a large multipurpose floor. If I remember it correctly, it was filled at lunchtime with about 35 picnic-type tables that could sit about 8 students each. I think it was 5 rows of 7 tables.

It just so happened that I was one of the first students to the ninth-grade lunch room on my first day, so no one had really started sitting down yet. I always took my “sack lunch” from home, so I couldn’t just stand in the lunch line and wait for things to fill in. I decided to take the far corner of the lunch room and hoped that my strategy would work out…

FAIL!

There were only enough students to fill in the first 2-3 rows of tables. That meant that there was at least 1 entire row of tables between me and my new classmates. I just hung my head and tried to drown my embarrassment in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I hadn’t gotten too far into my lonely meal, when I heard a boy’s voice. I looked around a saw a smiling student. He introduced himself as Deran, and asked if I wanted to come and join him and his friends for lunch.

SAVED!

The ironic thing is that there was no room at Deran’s table, so I ended up at the table next to his. That is when I first met the great guys that I would spend most of my high schools days with: Steve, Brett, Jeff, Ryan, Chris, and Aaron.

Deran and I never really became the kind of friends that “hang out” together; we liked each other as friends, but we had different interests. However, because of that ONE little simple act of reaching out to me I had some amazing years of high school–the effects of which continue to this day. I have thanked him a couple of times, but he never really felt like what he did deserved any thanks. Sure it was simple, but it has had simply amazing results in my life.

My sister Seana with Deran Coe at our Senior Prom (1995)

My sister Seana with Deran Coe at our Senior Prom (1995)

 

I am grateful for the painful lesson learned so many years ago. I am grateful to have a father who took the time to be slow to anger so that the Spirit could be quick to teach. I am grateful for “Peeps” each Easter season, because even though I can’t stand the taste they stand as a reminder of what God expects from me when dealing with His “peeps”–He expects me to be “my brother’s keeper”. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him.”(Psalm 41:1–3)

We ARE our “brother’s keeper”!

Dayton’s Legs

Out of love, a 13-year-old boy in Arizona pushed himself to the limit so that his friend, who has cerebral palsy, could participate with him in a triathlon.

My Brother’s Keeper

Thomas S. Monson – April 1990

Parable of the Good Samaritan

A depiction of the Savior’s parable of the good Samaritan, in which a man is robbed and beaten by thieves, and a Samaritan shows mercy on him.

Lord, I Would Follow Thee

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings “Lord, I Would Follow Thee.”

Lyrics

1. Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee–
Lord, I would follow thee.
2. Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.
3. I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper–
Lord, I would follow thee.
4. Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother–
Lord, I would follow thee.

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#BOMTC Mosiah 26-27: “O Who Will Exchange Old Lamps for New?”

These chapters always make me think of the first time I found out the REAL story of Aladdin. My mother had been talking about how Disney movies always create their own versions of the classic tales and it seemed to make everyone believe that the Disney versions were the correct versions (she is very well read, so this is somewhat disappointing to her). I was not aware of what she was referring to (since I am not as well read as my mother…), so I asked her to name a couple of examples. When she mentioned Aladdin I remembered that I had the original story as part of the Harvard Collection at my home. I was determined to discover the REAL story of Aladdin (FYI: It really is better than the Disney one, and Mosiah 26-27 is even better than both versions of Aladdin!).

As recorded in Mosiah 26, some unbelieving Nephites of the “rising generation” influenced members of the Church with flattering words and led them to sin. Mosiah 27 recounts the conversion of Alma (the son of Alma) and the sons of King Mosiah. It tells of their rebellious attempts to destroy the Church of God, the visitation of an angel, Alma’s miraculous change, and the efforts of these young men to repair the harm they had done. As you read the accompanying quotes I hope you will start to see the parallels between the original story of Aladdin and these chapters in Mosiah.

Elder John A. Widtsoe, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1921 until his death in 1952, used the story of Aladdin to warn the youth about giving up the “old lamp” filled with the gospel when the world offers “new lamps” that are empty:

The youth of our day, in their approach to knowledge, are thinking for themselves. For that let us be grateful. And may they think straight, so that truth may not pass them by unrecognized!

Aladdin of Arabian Nights fame secured an old battered copper lamp of magical powers. By its aid he built himself a magnificent palace, acquired great wealth and became the son-in-law of the King. A wicked magician determined to secure possession of the wonderful lamp. With a supply of ordinary but new, highly polished lamps, he approached the palace, offering “new lamps for old.” Aladdin’s wife, who knew nothing of the uncommon properties of the old lamp, gladly exchanged it for a new one. Then Aladdin’s troubles began. Palace, wealth, and station vanished overnight. This ancient tale is being retold in our modern times. Almost every day someone, usually honest enough, offers a new belief or thought, burnished and bright with newness, to replace convictions that we have long held and which have well maintained us. … A careless exchange may result in loss or fearful consequences. (In Search of Truth: Comments on the Gospel and Modern Thought)

#BOMTC Day 33, May 9~Mosiah 26-27 or Pages 196-202 (3)

Elder Marion D. Hanks, Of the Presidency of the First Council of the Seventy, shared a similar caution:

Most young people know the story of Aladdin, how his precious lamp was traded for a more glittery, shiny one which seemed at the moment very desirable and attractive but which turned out to be worthless and useless. The villain of the story was a scheming man who knew the value of the old lamp, and who with evil purpose acquired it by sounding the enticing cry: “New lamps for old.” The tragic figure of the account was Mrs. Aladdin, who had not learned the worth of the priceless light and who traded it for something which appeared desirable but was actually cheap and shoddy and unsatisfying.

If I were in my teens I would want to understand the relevance of the principle of the story of Aladdin to me and my life. I would want to understand the tremendous importance to my personal happiness of appreciating and honoring the precious light I have been blessed with. I would hope to be made aware of the great worth of the light of the gospel in my life and of the light of liberty which is my heritage in this great free land. I would observe, too, that immoral and deluded and dishonest people still walk the streets of my neighborhood and my town and the corridors of my school trying to get me to trade the lamps my fathers made possible for me for their shiny “new lamps” of corruption and unbelief and indolence and disloyalty.

I would seek and pray for teachers who could help me to understand which are lasting values and which are not, and for companions with whom I could freely and happily find and enjoy that which is of persisting worth. I would hope never to be unwise enough to trade a lifetime and an eternity of peace and self-respect for a few minutes of illicit and questionable “pleasure.” (Improvement Era 1954)

LIKENING his own teaching on another occasion, Elder Hanks taught:

“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8.)

…We hear most clearly those voices that are nearest to us, and we are inclined to be responsive to those voices.

Do you remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians after his allusion to the uncertain trumpet? These words: “There are . . . so many kinds of voices in the world, . . .” (1 Cor. 14:10.)

What are the voices to which our young people are listening? What do they hear in their homes, in the streets of their towns and communities? What do they hear over television and radio? What is communicated to them in books and magazines and photographs? What do they hear when they mingle with groups of their associates?

Well, for some the answer will be very good because there are many wonderful parents whose hearts are truly moved toward a love for their young people. There are good teachers and fine, interested human beings all over the face of the earth who honestly try to be helpful to youth and to speak truly and honorably. But for many young people the answers won’t be so affirmative. What voices are they hearing?

• Very frequently, commercial voices. They may be honest voices from honest commerce seeking the trade of youth. They may be voices of conspiring and deceitful men who seek profit at the expense of the future well-being of youth.

• There are pagan voices, iconoclastic voices attacking old traditions and fundamentals, arrogantly assuring that the old ideals, the old standards, the old viewpoints of nobility and honest effort, all of these are outmoded, no longer applicable, and may be abandoned with old faith, old ways, old accepted patterns of moral behavior.

Entertaining voices come from illuminated screens, often in company with actions which are designed to emphasize that part of our nature that needs no emphasis.

False voices issue from parked cars or darkened rooms, sometimes tainted with alcohol or inflamed with drugs, treacherously asking, always asking, for self-gratification. “Don’t you love me?” they say. “You know I love you.” Love they call it, but love it is not, and love they do not. True love “seeketh not her own.” But these voices constantly sing their song of counterfeit love, always seeking satisfaction of their own lusts, never really giving or intending to give, or perhaps knowing how to give, not knowing how to truly love.

Misguided voices urging rebellion for rebellion’s sake.

Beguiling voices inviting young eyes to filth or foulness, young ears to that which young ears should not hear.

Foolish voices which suggest that since most people seem to be doing it, it therefore becomes all right to do.

Cynical voices that propound moral relativism, saying that there are no virtues or principles that you can really count on anymore, none that are always applicable everywhere. You make your own rules in this time and generation.

Sophisticated voices that skirt the edge of truth, telling youth, “It’s your life, you live it. Never mind what parents, honest teachers, earnest adults, persons who care, have to say about it or how they feel about it. You decide; it’s your life.”

Peer voices, voices that are inexperienced, something imitating what someone called the “imitation men” they have seen on the street corners.

Aladdin voices singing the same old strain, “New lamps for old.”

Loud voices, persistent voices, persuasive, confusing.

In the midst of all this, where can young people turn to hear a voice that will move them in the direction of their dreams, their noblest and highest and most honorable dreams?

Do you remember the words of the Lord through Isaiah: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left”? (Isa. 30:21.)

Where can young people hear this voice?

The Church offers to its youth answers to some of their serious, sacred spiritual questions. It offers them a guide of conduct that will help them to live with meaningfulness and joy in this world, and it offers them this sacred personal commitment we call testimony that allows them to say “I know God lives.” (Conference Report, October 1965, Third Day, Morning Meeting, p.118-121)

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, used the story of the Prodigal Son to illustrate the same principle:

“[The prodigal son] had exchanged the priceless inheritance of great lasting value for a temporary satisfaction of physical desire, the future for the present, eternity for time, spiritual blessings for physical meat” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 311; see Luke 15:11–32).

#BOMTC Day 33, May 9~Mosiah 26-27 or Pages 196-202

THE REAL STORY: The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 – 23

Thus ‘Ala-ed-Din daily increased in fair fame and renown, and the love of him grew stronger in the hearts of all the subjects, and he was magnified in the eyes of the people. At this time, moreover, certain of the Sultan’s enemies rode down against him, and the Sultan equipped the troops to resist them, and made ‘Ala-ed-Din leader of the army. So ‘Ala-ed-Din went with the troops, till he drew near to the enemy, whose armies were very strong.

And he drew his sword, and rushed upon the enemy, and the battle and slaughter began, and the conflict was sturdy.

But ‘Ala-ed-Din broke them and dispersed them, killing the greater part, and looting their goods and provisions and cattle beyond number. Then he returned triumphant after a glorious victory, and made his entry into his city, who had adorned herself for him in her rejoicing over him. And the Sultan went forth to meet him and congratulated him and embraced and kissed him, and there was a magnificent fete and great rejoicings. And the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din entered the palace, where there met him his bride, the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, who was rejoicing over him, and kissed him between the eyes. And they went into her palace, and presently the Sultan and all sat down, and the damsels brought sherbets. So they drank; and the Sultan ordered throughout the kingdom that they should illuminate for the victory of ‘Ala-ed-Din over the enemy. And the chiefs and the soldiers and the crowd turned [their prayers] only to God in Heaven and ‘Ala-ed-Din on earth, for they loved him exceedingly, because of the excess of his bounty and generosity and his fighting for his country, and his charge, and his rout of the foe. And thus was it with ‘Ala-ed-Din.

But as to the Moorish sorcerer, when he had returned to his country, he spent all this time in lamenting the labour and trouble he had taken in his quest of the Lamp, and the more because his labour was fruitless; and the morsel had fallen from his hand just as it was touching his lips. And he fell to thinking over all this, and lamented, and cursed ‘Ala-ed-Din in his exceeding rage, and at times he would mutter: “That this misbegotten boy is dead below ground I am satisfied, and I hope yet to get the Lamp, since it is still safe”.

One day of the days he drew a table in sand and put the figures down and examined them carefully and verified them, that he might perceive and be certified of the death of ‘Ala-ed-Din and the preservation of the Lamp, beneath the ground; and he looked into the figures, both “mothers” and “daughters,” intently, but he saw not the Lamp. At this, anger overcame him, and he drew the figure again, to be certain of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s death; but he saw him not in the Treasury. So his rage increased and the more so when he ascertained that the boy was alive on the surface of the earth. And when he knew that he had come forth from underground and was possessed of the Lamp for which he himself had endured privations and labour such as man can hardly bear, then he said within himself: ” I have borne many pains and suffered torments which no one else would have endured for the sake of the Lamp, and this cursed boy has taken it without an effort; and if this accursed knoweth the virtues of the Lamp, no one in the world should be richer than he.” And he added: “There is nothing for it but that I compass his destruction.” So he drew a second table, and inspecting the figures, discovered that ‘Ala-ed-Din had acquired immense wealth and had married the daughter of the Sultan. So he was consumed with the flame of anger begotten of envy.

He arose that very hour, and equipped himself, and journeyed to the land of China, and when he arrived at the metropolis wherein dwelt ‘Ala-ed-Din, he entered and alighted at one of the Khans. And he heard the people talking of nothing but the splendour of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace. After he had rested from his journey, he dressed himself and went down to perambulate the streets of the city. And he never met any people but they were admiring this palace and its splendour, and talking together of the beauty of ‘Ala-ed-Din and his grace and dignity and generosity and the charm of his manners. And the Moor approached one of those who were depicting ‘Ala-ed-Din with these encomiums, and said to him: ” O gentle youth, who may this be whom ye praise and commend ? ” And the other replied: ” It is evident that thou, O man, art a stranger and comest from distant parts; but be thou from ever so distant a land, how hast thou not heard of the Emir ‘Ala-ed-Din whose fame, methinks, hath filled the world and whose palace one of the Wonders of the World hath been heard of far and near? And how hast thou not heard anything of this or of the name of ‘Ala-ed-Din, our Lord increase his glory and give him joy?” But the Moor answered: “Verily it is the height of my desire to see the palace, and if thou wilt do me the favour, direct me to it, since I am a stranger.” Then the man said, ” I hear and obey,” and proceeded before him and guided him to the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din. And the Moor began to examine it, and knew that it was all the doing of the Lamp, and cried: ” Ah! There is nothing for it but that I dig a pit for this cursed son of a tailor, who could not even earn a supper. And if the fates aid me I will undoubtedly send his mother back to her spinning, as she was before; and as for him, I will take his life”.

He returned to the Khan in this state of grief and regret and sadness for envy of ‘Ala-ed-Din. When he arrived at the Khan he took his instruments of divination and drew a table to discover where the Lamp was; and he found it was in the palace, and not on ‘Ala-ed-Din himself. Whereat he rejoiced mightily, and said: ” The task remaineth easy, to destroy the life of this accursed; and I have a way to obtain the Lamp.” Then he went to a coppersmith and said: ” Make me a number of lamps, and take their price, and more; only I wish thee to hasten to finish them.” And the coppersmith answered, “I hear and obey.” And he set to work at them and completed them; and when they were done the Moor paid him the price he asked for them, and took them and departed and went to the Khan, where he put them in a basket. Then he went about the streets and bazars of the city, crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” And when the people heard him crying thus, they laughed at him, saying: “No doubt this man is mad, since he goeth about to exchange old lamps for new.” And all the world followed him, and the street boys pursued him from place to place and mocked at him; but he gainsaid them not nor cared for that, but did not cease perambulating the city till he came under ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace, when he began to cry in a louder voice, while the boys shouted at him, ” Madman! Madman!” Now by the decrees of destiny the Lady Bedr-el-Budur was in the kiosk, and hearing some one crying and the boys shouting at him, and not understanding what it was all about, she ordered one of her handmaids, saying: “Go and find out who it is that crieth and what he is crying.” So the damsel went to look, and perceived a man crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” and the boys around him making sport of him. And she returned and told her mistress Bedr-el-Budur, saying: “O my lady, this man is crying: ‘O who will exchange old lamps for new?’ and the urchins are following him and laughing at him.” So the Lady Bedr-el-Budur laughed too at this oddity. Now *Ala-ed-Din had left the Lamp in his apartment, instead of replacing it in the Treasury and locking it up, and one of the maids had seen it. So she said: “O my mistress, methinks I have seen in my master’s room an old lamp; let us exchange it with this man for a new one, to find out if his cry be true or false.” And the Lady Bedr-el-Budur said to her: “Bring the Lamp which thou sayest thou didst see in thy master’s room.” For the Lady Bedr-el-Budur had no knowledge of the Lamp and its qualities, and that it was this which had brought ‘Ala-ed-Din her husband to his present high station; and her chief desire was to try and discover the object of this man who exchanged new lamps for old. So the damsel went and ascended to the apartment of ‘Ala-ed-Din and brought the Lamp to her mistress, and none of them suspected the guile of the Moorish wizard and his cunning. Then the Lady Bedr-el-Budur ordered an agha of the eunuchs to go down and exchange the Lamp for a new one. So he took the Lamp and gave it to the Moor and received from him a new lamp, and returned to the Princess and gave her the exchange; and she, after examining it, saw it was really new, and fell a-laughing at the folly of the Moor.

But he, when he got the Lamp and knew it was the Lamp of the Treasure, instantly put it in his bosom and abandoned the rest of the lamps to the people who were chaffering with him, and went running till he came to the outskirts of the city, when he walked on over the plains and waited patiently till night had fallen, and he saw that be was alone in the desert, and none there but he* Then he took forth the Lamp from his bosom and rubbed it, and immediately the Marid appeared to him, and said: “At thy service, I am thy slave in thy hands; ask of me what thou desirest.” So the Moor replied: “I require thee to remove the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din from its site, with its inmates and all that is in it, and myself also, and set it in my country, the land of Africa. Thou knowest my town, and I wish this palace to be in my town, among the gardens.” And the Marid slave replied, “I hear and obey. Shut thine eye and open it, and thou wilt find thyself in thy country along with the palace.” And in a moment this was done, and the Moor and the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din and all in it were removed to the land of Africa. Thus it was with the Moorish sorcerer.

To return to the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din. When the Sultan arose in the morning from his sleep, in his affection and love for his daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, he was wont every day when he was aroused from sleep to open the window and look out towards her. So he arose that day, as usual, and opened the window to look upon his daughter. But when he approached the window and looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, he beheld nothing-nay, the place was as bare as it was of yore, and he saw neither palace nor any other building. And he was wrapped in amazement and distraught in mind; and he rubbed his eyes, in case they were dimmed or darkened, and returned to his observation, till at last he was sure that no trace or vestige of the palace remained; and he knew not how or why it had disappeared. So his wonder increased, and he smote his hands together, and the tears trickled down over his beard, because he knew not what had become of his daughter.

Then he sent at once and had the Wezir fetched. And he stood before him, and as soon as he came in he noticed the sorrowful state of his sovereign, and said to him: “Pardon, O King of the Age. God defend thee from calamity. Wherefore dost thou grieve?” The Sultan replied: “Perhaps thou dost not know my trouble?” And the Wezir said: “Not a whit, O my lord. By Allah, I have no knowledge of it whatever.” Then said the Sultan: “It is evident thou hast not looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din.” “True, O my master,” replied the Wezir, “it must now be still closed.” Then said the King: “Since thou hast no knowledge of anything, arise and look out of the window and see where ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace is which thou sayest is shut up.” So the Wezir arose and looked out of the window towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, and could espy nothing, neither palace nor anything else. So his reason was amazed and he was astounded, and returned to the Sultan, who said: “Dost thou know now the reason of my grief, and hast thou observed the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din which thou saidst was shut?” The Wezir answered: “O King of the Age, I informed thy Felicity before that this palace and all these doings were magic” Then the Sultan was inflamed with wrath, and cried out: “Where is ‘Ala-ed-Din?” He answered: “Gone to the chase.” Thereupon the Sultan instantly ordered some of his aghas and soldiers to go and fetch ‘Ala-ed-Din, pinioned and shackled. So the aghas and soldiers proceeded till they came upon ‘Ala-ed-Din, whom they thus addressed: “Chastise us not, O our master ‘Ala-ed-Din, for the Sultan hath commanded us to take thee chained and pinioned. So we beg thy pardon, for we are acting under the royal mandate, which we cannot oppose.” When ‘Ala-ed-Din heard the words of the aghas and soldiers, wonder took hold of him, and his tongue became tied, for he understood not the cause of this. Then turning to them, he said: “O company, have ye no knowledge of the cause of this order of the Sultan ? I know myself to be innocent, and to have committed no sin against the Sultan or against the kingdom.” They answered: “O our master, we know no cause at all.” Then ‘Ala-ed-Din dismounted and said to them: “Do with me what the Sultan ordered, for the command of the Sultan must be on the head and the eye.” Then the aghas chained ‘Ala-ed-Din and manacled him and bound him with irons and led him to the city. And when the citizens saw him bound and chained with iron, they knew that the Sultan would cut off his head; and since he was exceedingly beloved of them all, the lieges assembled together and brought their weapons and went forth from their houses and followed the soldiers to see what would be the event.

When the troops with ‘Ala-ed-Din reached the palace, they entered and told the Sultan; whereupon he straightway commanded the executioner to come and cut off his head.

But when the citizens knew this, they barred the gates and shut the doors of the palace, and sent a message to the Sultan, saying: “We will instantly pull down thy house over thy head and all others in it, if any mischief or harm come to ‘Ala-ed-Din.” So the Wezir went in and informed the Sultan, saying: “O King of the Age, thy command is about to seal the book of our lives. It were better to pardon ‘Ala-ed-Din lest there come upon us the calamity of calamities; for the lieges love him more than us.” Now the executioner had already spread the carpet of death, and seated ‘Ala-ed-Din thereon, and bandaged his eyes, and had walked round him thrice, waiting for the King’s command, when the Sultan looking out of the window, beheld his subjects attacking him and scaling the walls with intent to pull them down. So he immediately ordered the executioner to stay his hand, and bade the herald go out to the crowd and proclaim that he had pardoned ‘Ala-ed-Din and granted him grace. When ‘Ala-ed-Din saw he was free, and espied the Sultan seated on his throne, he drew near and said to him: “O my lord, since thy Felicity hath been gracious to me all my life, vouchsafe to tell me what is my offence.” Then the Sultan said: “O traitor, hitherto I knew of no offence in thee.” And turning to the Wezir, he said: “Take him and shew him from the windows where his palace is.” And when the Wezir had led him and he had looked out of the window in the direction of his palace, he found the site bare as it was before he built his palace thereon; and he saw never a vestige of the palace at all. (The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 & 23)

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#BOMTC Jacob 6-Enos: Faith-Shakers VS Faith-Makers

BEWARE OF FAITH-SHAKERS! Faith-shakers take on many forms. In today’s reading Sherem is the personification of a faith-shaker. Jacob describes meeting the faith-shaker Sherem with these words:

“and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me… And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken(Jacob 7:3, 5, emphasis added)

Jacob 7:2 teaches us that faith-shakers attack Christ and His true doctrine. Faith-shakers are antichrists.

An antichrist is an opponent of Christ; he is one who is in opposition to the true gospel, the true Church, and the true plan of salvation. (1 John 2:19; 4:4-6) He is one who offers salvation to men on some other terms than those laid down by Christ. Sherem (Jacob 7:1-23), Nehor (Alma 1:2-16), and Korihor (Alma 30:6-60) were antichrists who spread their delusions among the Nephites.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.39)

We may have faith-shakers in our life who are like Sherem, but I find that the more common and subtle faith-shakers that Christ’s disciples face today are FALSE DOCTRINE faith-shakers. Sure, a person can preach false doctrine, but it can also come from many other sources.

HOW Can False Doctrine Be a Faith-Shaker? President Boyd K. Packer, past President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught that:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986).

Therefore, believing false doctrines will change one’s attitude and behavior as well.

False doctrine is a great faith-shaker! What are some modern-day false-doctrine faith-shakers? Media, theories, environments, governments, etc. can all be faith-shakers. What false doctrines do they preach?  They speak of coincidental creation, overpopulation, redefining family and marriage, abortion, etc.

Robert L. Millet, a professor at BYU, put it this way:

I thought back on a few of the antichrists in the Book of Mormon–of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor–and reconsidered their doctrine, their approach, their success, and their demise. I then broadened my scope a bit and realized that evil attitudes, as well as perverse teachings and false systems of salvation, also qualify as enemies of Christ. Such teachings as ‘We have not [prayed about this], for the Lord maketh no such things known unto us’; ‘All is well in Zion’; ‘Eat, drink, and be merry’; ‘Dig a pit for thy neighbor’; ‘We have received and we need no more’; ‘There is no devil; ‘Ye cannot know what ye cannot see’; ‘Do this or do that and it mattereth not,’ and myriads of others–these symbolize the slogans of an antigospel.” (Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth, p.68)

HOW Do Faith-Shakers Preach? Antifreeze is probably a good object-lesson to illustrate an answer this question (see Alma 30:53). Antifreeze is very toxic, but animals are attracted to its sweet taste–they temporarily find pleasure in that which kills them.

Jacob 7:2-7 helps us to identify some of Sherem’s faith-shaker tactics. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (CR, Apr. 1975, 94–95).

How do I LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE Faith-Makers? Most of us have not experienced the great manifestations that Jacob did which helped him to “not be shaken” in the faith (see Jacob 7:5). So how can we “not be shaken”? Jacob 7:10-12 identifies three things that every disciple of Christ has been given to help them “not be shaken” in the faith. President Benson identified them during a talk in general conference:

May I suggest three short tests to avoid being deceived. . . .1. What do the standard works [scriptures] have to say about it? . . . 2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President . . . 3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost. . . . This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin” (Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16-17).

Jacob 4:6, 8, 13,16 and 2 Nephi 9:40 all contain valuable insights that will help us to LEAVE Faith-Shakers and CLEAVE to Faith-Makers and become unshakable, like Jacob!

CLEAVE TO TRUE DOCTRINE! There are a few questions that one can ask to evaluate a doctrine that is being presented and discern if it is a faith-shaker or a faith-maker. Faith-maker doctrines receive a YES to each of the following questions:

  1. Is the doctrine clearly expressed in the standard works of the Church?
  2. Is the doctrine found within the official declarations, proclamations, or statements of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles?
  3. Is the doctrine clearly taught or discussed by current general Church leaders in general conference or other official gatherings of the Church?
  4. Is the doctrine found in the general handbooks or the presently approved curriculum of the Church? (Source: Sunday School: Spring 2005 President’s Message)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

There is not anything in this world of as great importance to us as obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us search these scriptures. Let us know what the Lord has revealed. Let us put our lives in harmony with his truth. Then we will not be deceived” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:301).

Jacob 7:23 shows how this principle affected the Nephites after Sherem was revealed as a faith-shaker.

The late Robert J. Matthews, a well-respected Latter-day Saint scholar, wrote:

“The Book of Mormon was written specifically and pointedly for our time. The principles needed for salvation anciently are the same principles needed now. Likewise, the way of apostasy in ancient times is a pattern of apostasy in our day. The Book of Mormon shows how apostasies occur, and the terrible effects that apostasy has in the lives of individuals as well as in groups such as political governments and churches. Men such as Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor are notable examples of individual apostates in the Book of Mormon, and it clearly demonstrates their pride and sophistry. These were intellectual giants, but they were spiritually undeveloped and each fell victim to the cunning of the devil, who captured them with an appeal to their carnal and natural desires.” (Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series , p.359)

CLEAVE TO YOUR COVENANTS! During a very difficult time for the early Latter-day Saints, the Lord gave Emma Smith the following counsel:

“Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

#BOMTC Day 23, April 29~Jacob 6-Enos or Pages 133-138 (2)

Interestingly, Jacob’s Faith-Shaker VS. Faith-Maker account with Sherem is followed by the faith-making experience of Jacob’s son, Enos. Enos is a pattern for becoming a Faith-Maker (Enos 1:8, 11). A close examination of his experience provides an excellent illustration of the effort required to become an unshakable Faith-Maker.

After Enos receives a witness for himself of Christ, he begins the faith-making process of seeking the welfare of others (Enos 1:8-16). As you continue to look for examples of Faith-Shakers and Faith-Makers during your study the Book of Mormon, identify the things that you can do to become a Faith-Maker and avoid Faith-Shakers.

Want to learn more about these chapters? Check out these links…

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#BOMTC Alma 26-29: My Brother’s Keeper–Caring for God’s “Peeps”

There are at least two questions that you and I should NEVER ask:

  • And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him? (Moses 5:16, emphsasis added)
  • And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said: I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper? (Moses 5:34, emphasis added)

First of all, consider the source and cynicism of these questions.

Secondly, consider the contrast that these questions pose to the Savior’s answer in Matthew 22 when He was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” It is interesting to me that the two questions presented by Cain are answered by the Savior in His response:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Another interesting contrast to Cain’s questions comes from the answer that the Lord gave when the prophet Enoch saw the sadness of the Lord in Moses 7:

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?

32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

 

Unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father.” WOW!

So how does this relate to today’s reading? Well, think about the situation that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were in. After the Anti-Nephi-Lehies made a covenant with God to never again take up weapons of war, the Amalekites and the Lamanites began to make preparations to go to battle against them. They had no one to turn to. They needed help. They were desperate. The only people that they could ask for help were the people that they had mistreated their whole lives–the Nephites.

Ammon led the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to Zarahemla, where they received protection from the Nephites and became known as the people of Ammon. They were given the land of Jershon for their new home and promised protection by the Nephite armies.

Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah each exhibited the same kind of enthusiasm to become their “brother’s keeper” as they set off for their long and eventful missions to bring everyone to the gospel (see Alma 26 and 29).

Remember when the Savior taught an important principle of the gospel in Matthew 25:31-46?

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

In the April, 2016 General Conference of the Church we were invited to be our “brother’s keeper” as part of the #IWasAStranger efforts of the Church.

Here is a playlist that I created of the Church’s invitations and efforts to help us to help others.

Relevant links for #IWasAStranger efforts:

We usually will not have to look very hard for opportunities to provide “refuge from the storm”

I believe it was around this time of year, when we commemorate the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, that I went on a “Father and Son” campout that taught me a difficult, but important lesson.

I am the oldest of six children, so one-on-one time with a parent was a precious commodity. I was excited to be able to spend some time away from the rest of the family with just my dad. Luckily, I had a pretty good relationship with my dad. It was during a time that our family was also struggling financially. There wasn’t much money to go around and I was old enough to know what was going on (~12 years old).

My mom had put together some food for us to enjoy. Nothing really special, but under the circumstances it was a little more special than “the usual”. To my surprise, my dad had invited another boy to come with us on this “Father and Son” outing. I didn’t ask why; I was a little too annoyed by it to want to bring it up and make a bigger deal about it. The boy was older and I can’t remember that I had ever met him before.

He worked at the same place as my dad. When we got to the camp site, we got everything ready and started to break into the food. I noticed the other boy had a few boxes of “Peeps” that he had gotten out. I am not a fan of Peeps, so I thought that was a strange thing to bring for a night of fun. Then, I noticed that my dad kept giving him “our” food (He has always been a VERY generous person–even when lacking.).

I tried to let it go, but I was a pretty immature and selfish kid. I don’t remember if I said something to my dad in front of the boy or if I waited for a more private and opportune moment, but when I had the chance I kinda gave it to my dad and asked why he was giving away all of “our” good food.

He didn’t get upset, but he was probably pretty disappointed–if he was disappointed he didn’t let me know it. Instead he calmly explained to me that he was sharing with the boy because all the boy had to eat for the entire campout was those couple boxes of Peeps. I think the next thing I did was say something to my dad about how the boy should have known better and that he needed to face the consequences of his lack of preparation (that is the oldest of six speaking).

Now here is where it got painful. Not because my dad hauled-off and hit me or something, but because of what he said next. He told me that the boy’s dad had recently died and that he didn’t have anything else in his home that he could have brought to eat during the campout. Oh boy… oh, boy… I don’t know if I have ever felt such guilt in my life. My heart sank. My conscience began to show me what a jerk I had been. I wanted to cry, not just because I realized how bad I had been, but because I felt a great deal of sympathy at that moment. I honestly didn’t want to eat anything else all weekend (although I am sure I did).

I learned a LOT of valuable lessons that day. One was about making a conscious effort to be “my brother’s keeper”. I obviously didn’t think about it in those terms at that age, but that was the message that sank into my heart. From that point on, it seemed like God would superimpose that boys face on the people in my life that needed a little extra help. I am sorry to say that I was not always as willing to jump in and help like I should have been. But I tried a lot harder, and I tried to withhold judgment a lot more often. #BOMTC Day 44, May 20~Alma 26-29 or Pages 273-279 (1)

Anytime that I think of that experience (like right now) I feel such regret for myself, and sorrow for that boy. I can’t remember his name, but I can’t seem to forget the face as he holds that box of Peeps before my mind’s eye. It was a tough lesson to learn, and perhaps God knew that it could never be taught–it had to be caught. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the lesson was learned and it is still being applied today. It is one of many lessons that the Lord has taught me about being my brother’s keeper.

On another occasion God let me be the brother who needed to be “kept” by another. It was about two years after the “Peeps experience”, when a young ninth-grade boy showed me what it meant to be, “my brother’s keeper”. To him it was no big deal, but it was a BIG deal to me. His name is Deran Coe, and what he did made all the difference in the world for me.

I had just moved from the coast of L.A. to a suburb of Pittsburgh (specifically, Center Township, in the middle of winter). Having been a “beach bum” from the west coast for the previous eight years, I dressed and spoke differently from everyone else at Center high school. My first morning at school was not too bad because the teachers would just assign me a seat, introduce me quickly to the class, and move on to teach their lesson.

Then lunch time arrived… The worst thing about lunch for this “new kid on the block” (special reference for my wife), is that there were no assigned seats, and I didn’t want to take someone else’s “usual seat”, so I awkwardly searched for a seat that looked like it wouldn’t make my bad situation even worse.

Well, it was a small high school (less than 150 students in my graduating class) and the ninth-graders ate in a separate room from the rest of the upper-class students. The best way for me to describe it is to say that it was a lot like a typical LDS cultural hall. It had a stage and a large multipurpose floor. If I remember it correctly, it was filled at lunchtime with about 35 picnic-type tables that could sit about 8 students each. I think it was 5 rows of 7 tables.

It just so happened that I was one of the first students to the ninth-grade lunch room on my first day, so no one had really started sitting down yet. I always took my “sack lunch” from home, so I couldn’t just stand in the lunch line and wait for things to fill in. I decided to take the far corner of the lunch room and hoped that my strategy would work out…

FAIL!

There were only enough students to fill in the first 2-3 rows of tables. That meant that there was at least 1 entire row of tables between me and my new classmates. I just hung my head and tried to drown my embarrassment in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I hadn’t gotten too far into my lonely meal, when I heard a boy’s voice. I looked around a saw a smiling student. He introduced himself as Deran, and asked if I wanted to come and join him and his friends for lunch.

SAVED!

The ironic thing is that there was no room at Deran’s table, so I ended up at the table next to his. That is when I first met the great guys that I would spend most of my high schools days with: Steve, Brett, Jeff, Ryan, Chris, and Aaron.

Deran and I never really became the kind of friends that “hang out” together; we liked each other as friends, but we had different interests. However, because of that ONE little simple act of reaching out to me I had some amazing years of high school–the effects of which continue to this day. I have thanked him a couple of times, but he never really felt like what he did deserved any thanks. Sure it was simple, but it has had simply amazing results in my life.

My sister Seana with Deran Coe at our Senior Prom (1995)

My sister Seana with Deran Coe at our Senior Prom (1995)

 

I am grateful for the painful lesson learned so many years ago. I am grateful to have a father who took the time to be slow to anger so that the Spirit could be quick to teach. I am grateful for “Peeps” each Easter season, because even though I can’t stand the taste they stand as a reminder of what God expects from me when dealing with His “peeps”–He expects me to be “my brother’s keeper”. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him.”(Psalm 41:1–3)

We ARE our “brother’s keeper”!

Dayton’s Legs

Out of love, a 13-year-old boy in Arizona pushed himself to the limit so that his friend, who has cerebral palsy, could participate with him in a triathlon.

My Brother’s Keeper

Thomas S. Monson – April 1990

Parable of the Good Samaritan

A depiction of the Savior’s parable of the good Samaritan, in which a man is robbed and beaten by thieves, and a Samaritan shows mercy on him.

Lord, I Would Follow Thee

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings “Lord, I Would Follow Thee.”

Lyrics

1. Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee–
Lord, I would follow thee.
2. Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.
3. I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper–
Lord, I would follow thee.
4. Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother–
Lord, I would follow thee.

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#BOMTC Mosiah 26-27: “O Who Will Exchange Old Lamps for New?”

These chapters always make me think of the first time I found out the REAL story of Aladdin. My mother had been talking about how Disney movies always create their own versions of the classic tales and it seemed to make everyone believe that the Disney versions were the correct versions (she is very well read, so this is somewhat disappointing to her). I was not aware of what she was referring to (since I am not as well read as my mother…), so I asked her to name a couple of examples. When she mentioned Aladdin I remembered that I had the original story as part of the Harvard Collection at my home. I was determined to discover the REAL story of Aladdin (FYI: It really is better than the Disney one!).

However, Mosiah 26-27 is even better than both versions of Aladdin! As recorded in Mosiah 26, some unbelieving Nephites of the rising generation influenced members of the Church with flattering words and led them to sin. Mosiah 27 recounts the conversion of Alma (the son of Alma) and the sons of King Mosiah. It tells of their rebellious attempts to destroy the Church of God, the visitation of an angel, Alma’s miraculous change, and the efforts of these young men to repair the harm they had done. As you read the accompanying quotes I hope you will start to see the parallels between the original story of Aladdin and these chapters in Mosiah.

Elder John A. Widtsoe, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1921 until his death in 1952, used the story of Aladdin to warn the youth about giving up the “old lamp” filled with the gospel when the world offers “new lamps” that are empty:

The youth of our day, in their approach to knowledge, are thinking for themselves. For that let us be grateful. And may they think straight, so that truth may not pass them by unrecognized!

Aladdin of Arabian Nights fame secured an old battered copper lamp of magical powers. By its aid he built himself a magnificent palace, acquired great wealth and became the son-in-law of the King. A wicked magician determined to secure possession of the wonderful lamp. With a supply of ordinary but new, highly polished lamps, he approached the palace, offering “new lamps for old.” Aladdin’s wife, who knew nothing of the uncommon properties of the old lamp, gladly exchanged it for a new one. Then Aladdin’s troubles began. Palace, wealth, and station vanished overnight. This ancient tale is being retold in our modern times. Almost every day someone, usually honest enough, offers a new belief or thought, burnished and bright with newness, to replace convictions that we have long held and which have well maintained us. … A careless exchange may result in loss or fearful consequences. (In Search of Truth: Comments on the Gospel and Modern Thought)

#BOMTC Day 33, May 9~Mosiah 26-27 or Pages 196-202 (3)

Elder Marion D. Hanks, Of the Presidency of the First Council of the Seventy, shared similar cautions:

Most young people know the story of Aladdin, how his precious lamp was traded for a more glittery, shiny one which seemed at the moment very desirable and attractive but which turned out to be worthless and useless. The villain of the story was a scheming man who knew the value of the old lamp, and who with evil purpose acquired it by sounding the enticing cry: “New lamps for old.” The tragic figure of the account was Mrs. Aladdin, who had not learned the worth of the priceless light and who traded it for something which appeared desirable but was actually cheap and shoddy and unsatisfying.

If I were in my teens I would want to understand the relevance of the principle of the story of Aladdin to me and my life. I would want to understand the tremendous importance to my personal happiness of appreciating and honoring the precious light I have been blessed with. I would hope to be made aware of the great worth of the light of the gospel in my life and of the light of liberty which is my heritage in this great free land. I would observe, too, that immoral and deluded and dishonest people still walk the streets of my neighborhood and my town and the corridors of my school trying to get me to trade the lamps my fathers made possible for me for their shiny “new lamps” of corruption and unbelief and indolence and disloyalty.

I would seek and pray for teachers who could help me to understand which are lasting values and which are not, and for companions with whom I could freely and happily find and enjoy that which is of persisting worth. I would hope never to be unwise enough to trade a lifetime and an eternity of peace and self-respect for a few minutes of illicit and questionable “pleasure.” (Improvement Era 1954)

LIKENING his own teaching on another occasion, Elder Hanks taught:

“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8.)

…We hear most clearly those voices that are nearest to us, and we are inclined to be responsive to those voices.

Do you remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians after his allusion to the uncertain trumpet? These words: “There are . . . so many kinds of voices in the world, . . .” (1 Cor. 14:10.)

What are the voices to which our young people are listening? What do they hear in their homes, in the streets of their towns and communities? What do they hear over television and radio? What is communicated to them in books and magazines and photographs? What do they hear when they mingle with groups of their associates?

Well, for some the answer will be very good because there are many wonderful parents whose hearts are truly moved toward a love for their young people. There are good teachers and fine, interested human beings all over the face of the earth who honestly try to be helpful to youth and to speak truly and honorably. But for many young people the answers won’t be so affirmative. What voices are they hearing?

• Very frequently, commercial voices. They may be honest voices from honest commerce seeking the trade of youth. They may be voices of conspiring and deceitful men who seek profit at the expense of the future well-being of youth.

• There are pagan voices, iconoclastic voices attacking old traditions and fundamentals, arrogantly assuring that the old ideals, the old standards, the old viewpoints of nobility and honest effort, all of these are outmoded, no longer applicable, and may be abandoned with old faith, old ways, old accepted patterns of moral behavior.

• Entertaining voices come from illuminated screens, often in company with actions which are designed to emphasize that part of our nature that needs no emphasis.

• False voices issue from parked cars or darkened rooms, sometimes tainted with alcohol or inflamed with drugs, treacherously asking, always asking, for self-gratification. “Don’t you love me?” they say. “You know I love you.” Love they call it, but love it is not, and love they do not. True love “seeketh not her own.” But these voices constantly sing their song of counterfeit love, always seeking satisfaction of their own lusts, never really giving or intending to give, or perhaps knowing how to give, not knowing how to truly love.

• Misguided voices urging rebellion for rebellion’s sake.

• Beguiling voices inviting young eyes to filth or foulness, young ears to that which young ears should not hear.

• Foolish voices which suggest that since most people seem to be doing it, it therefore becomes all right to do.

• Cynical voices that propound moral relativism, saying that there are no virtues or principles that you can really count on anymore, none that are always applicable everywhere. You make your own rules in this time and generation.

• Sophisticated voices that skirt the edge of truth, telling youth, “It’s your life, you live it. Never mind what parents, honest teachers, earnest adults, persons who care, have to say about it or how they feel about it. You decide; it’s your life.”

• Peer voices, voices that are inexperienced, something imitating what someone called the “imitation men” they have seen on the street corners.

• Aladdin voices singing the same old strain, “New lamps for old.”

• Loud voices, persistent voices, persuasive, confusing.

In the midst of all this, where can young people turn to hear a voice that will move them in the direction of their dreams, their noblest and highest and most honorable dreams?

Do you remember the words of the Lord through Isaiah: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left”? (Isa. 30:21.)

Where can young people hear this voice?

The Church offers to its youth answers to some of their serious, sacred spiritual questions. It offers them a guide of conduct that will help them to live with meaningfulness and joy in this world, and it offers them this sacred personal commitment we call testimony that allows them to say “I know God lives.” (Conference Report, October 1965, Third Day, Morning Meeting, p.118-121)

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, used the story of the Prodigal Son to illustrate the same principle:

“[The prodigal son] had exchanged the priceless inheritance of great lasting value for a temporary satisfaction of physical desire, the future for the present, eternity for time, spiritual blessings for physical meat” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 311; see Luke 15:11–32).

THE REAL STORY: The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 – 23

Thus ‘Ala-ed-Din daily increased in fair fame and renown, and the love of him grew stronger in the hearts of all the subjects, and he was magnified in the eyes of the people. At this time, moreover, certain of the Sultan’s enemies rode down against him, and the Sultan equipped the troops to resist them, and made ‘Ala-ed-Din leader of the army. So ‘Ala-ed-Din went with the troops, till he drew near to the enemy, whose armies were very strong.

And he drew his sword, and rushed upon the enemy, and the battle and slaughter began, and the conflict was sturdy.

But ‘Ala-ed-Din broke them and dispersed them, killing the greater part, and looting their goods and provisions and cattle beyond number. Then he returned triumphant after a glorious victory, and made his entry into his city, who had adorned herself for him in her rejoicing over him. And the Sultan went forth to meet him and congratulated him and embraced and kissed him, and there was a magnificent fete and great rejoicings. And the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din entered the palace, where there met him his bride, the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, who was rejoicing over him, and kissed him between the eyes. And they went into her palace, and presently the Sultan and all sat down, and the damsels brought sherbets. So they drank; and the Sultan ordered throughout the kingdom that they should illuminate for the victory of ‘Ala-ed-Din over the enemy. And the chiefs and the soldiers and the crowd turned [their prayers] only to God in Heaven and ‘Ala-ed-Din on earth, for they loved him exceedingly, because of the excess of his bounty and generosity and his fighting for his country, and his charge, and his rout of the foe. And thus was it with ‘Ala-ed-Din.

But as to the Moorish sorcerer, when he had returned to his country, he spent all this time in lamenting the labour and trouble he had taken in his quest of the Lamp, and the more because his labour was fruitless; and the morsel had fallen from his hand just as it was touching his lips. And he fell to thinking over all this, and lamented, and cursed ‘Ala-ed-Din in his exceeding rage, and at times he would mutter: “That this misbegotten boy is dead below ground I am satisfied, and I hope yet to get the Lamp, since it is still safe”.

One day of the days he drew a table in sand and put the figures down and examined them carefully and verified them, that he might perceive and be certified of the death of ‘Ala-ed-Din and the preservation of the Lamp, beneath the ground; and he looked into the figures, both “mothers” and “daughters,” intently, but he saw not the Lamp. At this, anger overcame him, and he drew the figure again, to be certain of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s death; but he saw him not in the Treasury. So his rage increased and the more so when he ascertained that the boy was alive on the surface of the earth. And when he knew that he had come forth from underground and was possessed of the Lamp for which he himself had endured privations and labour such as man can hardly bear, then he said within himself: ” I have borne many pains and suffered torments which no one else would have endured for the sake of the Lamp, and this cursed boy has taken it without an effort; and if this accursed knoweth the virtues of the Lamp, no one in the world should be richer than he.” And he added: “There is nothing for it but that I compass his destruction.” So he drew a second table, and inspecting the figures, discovered that ‘Ala-ed-Din had acquired immense wealth and had married the daughter of the Sultan. So he was consumed with the flame of anger begotten of envy.

He arose that very hour, and equipped himself, and journeyed to the land of China, and when he arrived at the metropolis wherein dwelt ‘Ala-ed-Din, he entered and alighted at one of the Khans. And he heard the people talking of nothing but the splendour of ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace. After he had rested from his journey, he dressed himself and went down to perambulate the streets of the city. And he never met any people but they were admiring this palace and its splendour, and talking together of the beauty of ‘Ala-ed-Din and his grace and dignity and generosity and the charm of his manners. And the Moor approached one of those who were depicting ‘Ala-ed-Din with these encomiums, and said to him: ” O gentle youth, who may this be whom ye praise and commend ? ” And the other replied: ” It is evident that thou, O man, art a stranger and comest from distant parts; but be thou from ever so distant a land, how hast thou not heard of the Emir ‘Ala-ed-Din whose fame, methinks, hath filled the world and whose palace one of the Wonders of the World hath been heard of far and near? And how hast thou not heard anything of this or of the name of ‘Ala-ed-Din, our Lord increase his glory and give him joy?” But the Moor answered: “Verily it is the height of my desire to see the palace, and if thou wilt do me the favour, direct me to it, since I am a stranger.” Then the man said, ” I hear and obey,” and proceeded before him and guided him to the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din. And the Moor began to examine it, and knew that it was all the doing of the Lamp, and cried: ” Ah! There is nothing for it but that I dig a pit for this cursed son of a tailor, who could not even earn a supper. And if the fates aid me I will undoubtedly send his mother back to her spinning, as she was before; and as for him, I will take his life”.

He returned to the Khan in this state of grief and regret and sadness for envy of ‘Ala-ed-Din. When he arrived at the Khan he took his instruments of divination and drew a table to discover where the Lamp was; and he found it was in the palace, and not on ‘Ala-ed-Din himself. Whereat he rejoiced mightily, and said: ” The task remaineth easy, to destroy the life of this accursed; and I have a way to obtain the Lamp.” Then he went to a coppersmith and said: ” Make me a number of lamps, and take their price, and more; only I wish thee to hasten to finish them.” And the coppersmith answered, “I hear and obey.” And he set to work at them and completed them; and when they were done the Moor paid him the price he asked for them, and took them and departed and went to the Khan, where he put them in a basket. Then he went about the streets and bazars of the city, crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” And when the people heard him crying thus, they laughed at him, saying: “No doubt this man is mad, since he goeth about to exchange old lamps for new.” And all the world followed him, and the street boys pursued him from place to place and mocked at him; but he gainsaid them not nor cared for that, but did not cease perambulating the city till he came under ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace, when he began to cry in a louder voice, while the boys shouted at him, ” Madman! Madman!” Now by the decrees of destiny the Lady Bedr-el-Budur was in the kiosk, and hearing some one crying and the boys shouting at him, and not understanding what it was all about, she ordered one of her handmaids, saying: “Go and find out who it is that crieth and what he is crying.” So the damsel went to look, and perceived a man crying: “O who will exchange old lamps for new?” and the boys around him making sport of him. And she returned and told her mistress Bedr-el-Budur, saying: “O my lady, this man is crying: ‘O who will exchange old lamps for new?’ and the urchins are following him and laughing at him.” So the Lady Bedr-el-Budur laughed too at this oddity. Now *Ala-ed-Din had left the Lamp in his apartment, instead of replacing it in the Treasury and locking it up, and one of the maids had seen it. So she said: “O my mistress, methinks I have seen in my master’s room an old lamp; let us exchange it with this man for a new one, to find out if his cry be true or false.” And the Lady Bedr-el-Budur said to her: “Bring the Lamp which thou sayest thou didst see in thy master’s room.” For the Lady Bedr-el-Budur had no knowledge of the Lamp and its qualities, and that it was this which had brought ‘Ala-ed-Din her husband to his present high station; and her chief desire was to try and discover the object of this man who exchanged new lamps for old. So the damsel went and ascended to the apartment of ‘Ala-ed-Din and brought the Lamp to her mistress, and none of them suspected the guile of the Moorish wizard and his cunning. Then the Lady Bedr-el-Budur ordered an agha of the eunuchs to go down and exchange the Lamp for a new one. So he took the Lamp and gave it to the Moor and received from him a new lamp, and returned to the Princess and gave her the exchange; and she, after examining it, saw it was really new, and fell a-laughing at the folly of the Moor.

But he, when he got the Lamp and knew it was the Lamp of the Treasure, instantly put it in his bosom and abandoned the rest of the lamps to the people who were chaffering with him, and went running till he came to the outskirts of the city, when he walked on over the plains and waited patiently till night had fallen, and he saw that be was alone in the desert, and none there but he* Then he took forth the Lamp from his bosom and rubbed it, and immediately the Marid appeared to him, and said: “At thy service, I am thy slave in thy hands; ask of me what thou desirest.” So the Moor replied: “I require thee to remove the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din from its site, with its inmates and all that is in it, and myself also, and set it in my country, the land of Africa. Thou knowest my town, and I wish this palace to be in my town, among the gardens.” And the Marid slave replied, “I hear and obey. Shut thine eye and open it, and thou wilt find thyself in thy country along with the palace.” And in a moment this was done, and the Moor and the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din and all in it were removed to the land of Africa. Thus it was with the Moorish sorcerer.

To return to the Sultan and ‘Ala-ed-Din. When the Sultan arose in the morning from his sleep, in his affection and love for his daughter the Lady Bedr-el-Budur, he was wont every day when he was aroused from sleep to open the window and look out towards her. So he arose that day, as usual, and opened the window to look upon his daughter. But when he approached the window and looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, he beheld nothing-nay, the place was as bare as it was of yore, and he saw neither palace nor any other building. And he was wrapped in amazement and distraught in mind; and he rubbed his eyes, in case they were dimmed or darkened, and returned to his observation, till at last he was sure that no trace or vestige of the palace remained; and he knew not how or why it had disappeared. So his wonder increased, and he smote his hands together, and the tears trickled down over his beard, because he knew not what had become of his daughter.

Then he sent at once and had the Wezir fetched. And he stood before him, and as soon as he came in he noticed the sorrowful state of his sovereign, and said to him: “Pardon, O King of the Age. God defend thee from calamity. Wherefore dost thou grieve?” The Sultan replied: “Perhaps thou dost not know my trouble?” And the Wezir said: “Not a whit, O my lord. By Allah, I have no knowledge of it whatever.” Then said the Sultan: “It is evident thou hast not looked towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din.” “True, O my master,” replied the Wezir, “it must now be still closed.” Then said the King: “Since thou hast no knowledge of anything, arise and look out of the window and see where ‘Ala-ed-Din’s palace is which thou sayest is shut up.” So the Wezir arose and looked out of the window towards the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din, and could espy nothing, neither palace nor anything else. So his reason was amazed and he was astounded, and returned to the Sultan, who said: “Dost thou know now the reason of my grief, and hast thou observed the palace of ‘Ala-ed-Din which thou saidst was shut?” The Wezir answered: “O King of the Age, I informed thy Felicity before that this palace and all these doings were magic” Then the Sultan was inflamed with wrath, and cried out: “Where is ‘Ala-ed-Din?” He answered: “Gone to the chase.” Thereupon the Sultan instantly ordered some of his aghas and soldiers to go and fetch ‘Ala-ed-Din, pinioned and shackled. So the aghas and soldiers proceeded till they came upon ‘Ala-ed-Din, whom they thus addressed: “Chastise us not, O our master ‘Ala-ed-Din, for the Sultan hath commanded us to take thee chained and pinioned. So we beg thy pardon, for we are acting under the royal mandate, which we cannot oppose.” When ‘Ala-ed-Din heard the words of the aghas and soldiers, wonder took hold of him, and his tongue became tied, for he understood not the cause of this. Then turning to them, he said: “O company, have ye no knowledge of the cause of this order of the Sultan ? I know myself to be innocent, and to have committed no sin against the Sultan or against the kingdom.” They answered: “O our master, we know no cause at all.” Then ‘Ala-ed-Din dismounted and said to them: “Do with me what the Sultan ordered, for the command of the Sultan must be on the head and the eye.” Then the aghas chained ‘Ala-ed-Din and manacled him and bound him with irons and led him to the city. And when the citizens saw him bound and chained with iron, they knew that the Sultan would cut off his head; and since he was exceedingly beloved of them all, the lieges assembled together and brought their weapons and went forth from their houses and followed the soldiers to see what would be the event.

When the troops with ‘Ala-ed-Din reached the palace, they entered and told the Sultan; whereupon he straightway commanded the executioner to come and cut off his head.

But when the citizens knew this, they barred the gates and shut the doors of the palace, and sent a message to the Sultan, saying: “We will instantly pull down thy house over thy head and all others in it, if any mischief or harm come to ‘Ala-ed-Din.” So the Wezir went in and informed the Sultan, saying: “O King of the Age, thy command is about to seal the book of our lives. It were better to pardon ‘Ala-ed-Din lest there come upon us the calamity of calamities; for the lieges love him more than us.” Now the executioner had already spread the carpet of death, and seated ‘Ala-ed-Din thereon, and bandaged his eyes, and had walked round him thrice, waiting for the King’s command, when the Sultan looking out of the window, beheld his subjects attacking him and scaling the walls with intent to pull them down. So he immediately ordered the executioner to stay his hand, and bade the herald go out to the crowd and proclaim that he had pardoned ‘Ala-ed-Din and granted him grace. When ‘Ala-ed-Din saw he was free, and espied the Sultan seated on his throne, he drew near and said to him: “O my lord, since thy Felicity hath been gracious to me all my life, vouchsafe to tell me what is my offence.” Then the Sultan said: “O traitor, hitherto I knew of no offence in thee.” And turning to the Wezir, he said: “Take him and shew him from the windows where his palace is.” And when the Wezir had led him and he had looked out of the window in the direction of his palace, he found the site bare as it was before he built his palace thereon; and he saw never a vestige of the palace at all. (The Story Of ‘Ala-Ed-Din And The Wonderful Lamp. Part 22 & 23)

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#BOMTC Day 44, May 20~Alma 26-29 or Pages 273-279: My Brother’s Keeper–Caring for God’s “Peeps”

#BOMTC Day 44, May 20~Alma 26-29 or Pages 273-279 (2)

Click graphic to read Alma 26-29

Before we get going today, I have two quick questions for you. The first one is multiple choice, the other is open comment. Once you answer the multiple choice question below, you will be able to leave your comment on the results page after you press the “vote” button (There will be a “comments” link at the bottom of the results). The question that I would like to get your comment about is this:

What have you noticed about the Book of Mormon by studying it at this pace?

Thank you!

Now, there are at least two quick questions that I should NEVER ask you:

  • And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him? (Moses 5:16, emphsasis added)
  • And the Lord said unto Cain: Where is Abel, thy brother? And he said: I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper? (Moses 5:34, emphasis added)

First of all, consider the source and cynicism of these questions.

Secondly, consider the contrast that these questions pose to the Savior’s answer in Matthew 22 when He was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” It is interesting to me that the two questions presented by Cain are answered by the Savior in His response:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Another interesting contrast to Cain’s questions comes from the answer that the Lord gave when the prophet Enoch saw the sadness of the Lord in Moses 7:

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

31 And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?

32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

 

Unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father.” WOW!

So how does this relate to today’s reading? Well, think about the situation that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies were in. After the Anti-Nephi-Lehies made a covenant with God to never again take up weapons of war, the Amalekites and the Lamanites began to make preparations to go to battle against them. They had no one to turn to. They needed help. They were desperate. The only people that they could ask for help were the people that they had mistreated their whole lives–the Nephites.

Ammon led the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to Zarahemla, where they received protection from the Nephites and became known as the people of Ammon. They were given the land of Jershon for their new home and promised protection by the Nephite armies.

Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah each exhibited the same kind of enthusiasm to become their “brother’s keeper” as they set off for their long and eventful missions to bring everyone to the gospel (see Alma 26 and 29).

Remember when the Savior taught an important principle of the gospel in Matthew 25:31-46?

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

In the most recent General Conference of the Church we were invited to be our “brother’s keeper” as part of the #IWasAStranger efforts of the Church.

Here is a playlist that I created of the Church’s invitations and efforts to help us to help others.

Relevant links for #IWasAStranger efforts:

We usually will not have to look very hard for opportunities to provide “refuge from the storm”

I believe it was around this time of year, when we commemorate the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, that I went on a “Father and Son” campout that taught me a difficult, but important lesson.

I am the oldest of six children, so one-on-one time with a parent was a precious commodity. I was excited to be able to spend some time away from the rest of the family with just my dad. Luckily, I had a pretty good relationship with my dad. It was during a time that our family was also struggling financially. There wasn’t much money to go around and I was old enough to know what was going on (~12 years old).

My mom had put together some food for us to enjoy. Nothing really special, but under the circumstances it was a little more special than “the usual”. To my surprise, my dad had invited another boy to come with us on this “Father and Son” outing. I didn’t ask why; I was a little too annoyed by it to want to bring it up and make a bigger deal about it. The boy was older and I can’t remember that I had ever met him before.

He worked at the same place as my dad. When we got to the camp site, we got everything ready and started to break into the food. I noticed the other boy had a few boxes of “Peeps” that he had gotten out. I am not a fan of Peeps, so I thought that was a strange thing to bring for a night of fun. Then, I noticed that my dad kept giving him “our” food (He has always been a VERY generous person–even when lacking.).

I tried to let it go, but I was a pretty immature and selfish kid. I don’t remember if I said something to my dad in front of the boy or if I waited for a more private and opportune moment, but when I had the chance I kinda gave it to my dad and asked why he was giving away all of “our” good food.

He didn’t get upset, but he was probably pretty disappointed–if he was disappointed he didn’t let me know it. Instead he calmly explained to me that he was sharing with the boy because all the boy had to eat for the entire campout was those couple boxes of Peeps. I think the next thing I did was say something to my dad about how the boy should have known better and that he needed to face the consequences of his lack of preparation (that is the oldest of six speaking).

Now here is where it got painful. Not because my dad hauled-off and hit me or something, but because of what he said next. He told me that the boy’s dad had recently died and that he didn’t have anything else in his home that he could have brought to eat during the campout. Oh boy… oh, boy… I don’t know if I have ever felt such guilt in my life. My heart sank. My conscience began to show me what a jerk I had been. I wanted to cry, not just because I realized how bad I had been, but because I felt a great deal of sympathy at that moment. I honestly didn’t want to eat anything else all weekend (although I am sure I did).

I learned a LOT of valuable lessons that day. One was about making a conscious effort to be “my brother’s keeper”. I obviously didn’t think about it in those terms at that age, but that was the message that sank into my heart. From that point on, it seemed like God would superimpose that boys face on the people in my life that needed a little extra help. I am sorry to say that I was not always as willing to jump in and help like I should have been. But I tried a lot harder, and I tried to withhold judgment a lot more often. #BOMTC Day 44, May 20~Alma 26-29 or Pages 273-279 (1)

Anytime that I think of that experience (like right now) I feel such regret for myself, and sorrow for that boy. I can’t remember his name, but I can’t seem to forget the face as he holds that box of Peeps before my mind’s eye. It was a tough lesson to learn, and perhaps God knew that it could never be taught–it had to be caught. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the lesson was learned and it is still being applied today. It is one of many lessons that the Lord has taught me about being my brother’s keeper.

On another occasion God let me be the brother who needed to be “kept” by another. It was about two years after the “Peeps experience”, when a young ninth-grade boy showed me what it meant to be, “my brother’s keeper”. To him it was no big deal, but it was a BIG deal to me. His name is Deran Coe, and what he did made all the difference in the world for me.

I had just moved from the coast of L.A. to a suburb of Pittsburgh (specifically, Center Township, in the middle of winter). Having been a “beach bum” from the west coast for the previous eight years, I dressed and spoke differently from everyone else at Center high school. My first morning at school was not too bad because the teachers would just assign me a seat, introduce me quickly to the class, and move on to teach their lesson.

Then lunch time arrived… The worst thing about lunch for this “new kid on the block” (special reference for my wife), is that there were no assigned seats, and I didn’t want to take someone else’s “usual seat”, so I awkwardly searched for a seat that looked like it wouldn’t make my bad situation even worse.

Well, it was a small high school (less than 150 students in my graduating class) and the ninth-graders ate in a separate room from the rest of the upper-class students. The best way for me to describe it is to say that it was a lot like a typical LDS cultural hall. It had a stage and a large multipurpose floor. If I remember it correctly, it was filled at lunchtime with about 35 picnic-type tables that could sit about 8 students each. I think it was 5 rows of 7 tables.

It just so happened that I was one of the first students to the ninth-grade lunch room on my first day, so no one had really started sitting down yet. I always took my “sack lunch” from home, so I couldn’t just stand in the lunch line and wait for things to fill in. I decided to take the far corner of the lunch room and hoped that my strategy would work out…

FAIL!

There were only enough students to fill in the first 2-3 rows of tables. That meant that there was at least 1 entire row of tables between me and my new classmates. I just hung my head and tried to drown my embarrassment in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I hadn’t gotten too far into my lonely meal, when I heard a boy’s voice. I looked around a saw a smiling student. He introduced himself as Deran, and asked if I wanted to come and join him and his friends for lunch.

SAVED!

The ironic thing is that there was no room at Deran’s table, so I ended up at the table next to his. That is when I first met the great guys that I would spend most of my high schools days with: Steve, Brett, Jeff, Ryan, Chris, and Aaron.

Deran and I never really became the kind of friends that “hang out” together; we liked each other as friends, but we had different interests. However, because of that ONE little simple act of reaching out to me I had some amazing years of high school–the effects of which continue to this day. I have thanked him a couple of times, but he never really felt like what he did deserved any thanks. Sure it was simple, but it has had simply amazing results in my life.

My sister Seana with Deran Coe at our Senior Prom (1995)

My sister Seana with Deran Coe at our Senior Prom (1995)

 

I am grateful for the painful lesson learned so many years ago. I am grateful to have a father who took the time to be slow to anger so that the Spirit could be quick to teach. I am grateful for “Peeps” each Easter season, because even though I can’t stand the taste they stand as a reminder of what God expects from me when dealing with His “peeps”–He expects me to be “my brother’s keeper”. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him.”(Psalm 41:1–3)

We ARE our “brother’s keeper”!

Dayton’s Legs

Out of love, a 13-year-old boy in Arizona pushed himself to the limit so that his friend, who has cerebral palsy, could participate with him in a triathlon.

My Brother’s Keeper

Thomas S. Monson – April 1990

Parable of the Good Samaritan

A depiction of the Savior’s parable of the good Samaritan, in which a man is robbed and beaten by thieves, and a Samaritan shows mercy on him.

Lord, I Would Follow Thee

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings “Lord, I Would Follow Thee.”

Lyrics

1. Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee–
Lord, I would follow thee.
2. Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can’t see.
Who am I to judge another?
Lord, I would follow thee.
3. I would be my brother’s keeper;
I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart.
I would be my brother’s keeper–
Lord, I would follow thee.
4. Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon,
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother–
Lord, I would follow thee.

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