Tag Archives: priests

#BOMTC Mosiah 28-Alma 1: New Beginnings!

HAPPY EASTER!!!

These chapters are filled with new beginnings that can teach us great lessons. Consider some of the principles that can be learned from the following events:

  • Having been truly converted, the sons of King Mosiah felt a strong desire to preach the gospel to the Lamanites (Mosiah 27:32-28:5).
  • After inquiring of the Lord and receiving an assurance that they would be blessed with success and protection, King Mosiah supported their decision (Mosiah 28:6-9).
  • Because his sons had declined the opportunity to be king, he was then left without a successor to his throne and a caretaker for the scriptural records. At this same time, Mosiah was working to care for the sacred records that had been entrusted to him. He translated the Jaredite records and then conferred all the records upon Alma the Younger (Mosiah 28:10-20).
  • Instead of appointing another king, King Mosiah proposed that the Nephite government be administered by a system of judges (Mosiah 29). Alma was appointed the first chief judge (he was also the high priest over the church) (Mosiah 29:39-44).

#BOMTC Day 34, May 10~Mosiah 28-Alma 1 or Pages 203-209 (3)

Shortly after Alma became the chief judge, Nehor established himself as a preacher and spoke out against the Church and its doctrines. He convinced many to believe him and give him money. When he killed Gideon, a faithful member of the Church, he was brought before Alma to be judged. Finding Nehor guilty of priestcraft and of trying to enforce it by the sword, Alma sentenced Nehor to death.

Here are some lessons from the new beginnings of the sons of King Mosiah, the Nephite people, and Alma the Younger: 

Mosiah 28: As our conversion deepens, our desire to share the gospel increases.

The intensity of our desire to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion” (“Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001).

The key to successful member missionary work is the exercise of faith. One way to show your faith in the Lord and His promises is to prayerfully set a date to have someone prepared to meet with the missionaries. I have received hundreds of letters from members who have exercised their faith in this simple way. Even though families had no one in mind with whom they could share the gospel, they set a date, prayed, and then talked to many more people. The Lord is the Good Shepherd, and He knows His sheep who have been prepared to hear His voice. He will guide us as we seek His divine help in sharing His gospel” (“Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home,” Ensign, May 2006).

  • On another occasion Elder Ballard taught us how we can easily prepare and share the gospel:

There is a great need for clear, simple statements that present those who are curious with the basics about the Church as it is today. Prepare your own list of talking points that will assist you in explaining what we believe to your friends of other faiths. Have on one page a few facts about the Church as it is today to give to them along with a copy of the Articles of Faith.  The four main subjects deal with facts, faith, families, and fruits of the restored gospel.  Most people will not read or focus on more than just a few important facts at one time. Whatever you choose to use to inform your friends and acquaintances about the Church, write it down, check it for accuracy, and keep it simple and short. The growing prominence of the Church and the increasing inquiries from others present us with great opportunities to build bridges, make friends, and pass on accurate information. But it can also present a greater possibility of misunderstanding and sometimes even prejudice if we allow others to define who we are and what we believe rather than presenting it ourselves. Sometimes the best way to answer people’s interest can be by how we live.  Now is the time for all of us to reach out and tell others who we are. Prepare some simple facts and help those who are curious to know a little about the Church and then to want to know more about the Restoration of the gospel. Never hesitate to bear your testimony with sincerity and love. The power of personal testimony cannot be denied and often ignites in others the interest to know more.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits”, Ensign, Nov. 2007)

Book of Mormon Share

Mosiah 29: Each person has a duty to uphold righteous laws and leaders.

The history of the people of ancient America, recorded in the Book of Mormon, teaches that civilizations are built on moral foundations; that when people are morally strong, they do well; that when they are morally weak, they suffer. It teaches us that freedom cannot outlive morality and that freedom is not free—it must be earned” (Ensign, May 1981).

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” “The three significant words used in the 12th Article of Faith,” commented President David O. McKay, “express the proper attitude of the membership of the Church toward law. These words are—obey, honor, and sustain. The Article does not say we believe in submission to the law. Obedience implies a higher attitude than mere submission, for obedience has its root in good intent; submission may spring from selfishness or meanness of spirit. Though obedience and submission both imply restraint on one’s own will, we are obedient only from a sense of right; submissive from a sense of necessity. Honor expresses an act or attitude of an inferior towards a superior. When applied to things it is taken in the sense of holding in honor. Thus, in honoring the law, we look upon it as something which is above selfish desires or indulgences. To sustain signifies to hold up; to keep from falling. To sustain the law, therefore, is to refrain from saying or doing anything which will weaken it or make it ineffective. We obey law from a sense of right. We honor law because of its necessity and strength to society. We sustain law by keeping it in good repute.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1937, p. 28.)

A question has many times been asked of the Church and of its individual members, to this effect: In the case of a conflict between the requirements made by the revealed word of God, and those imposed by the secular law, which of these authorities would the members of the Church be bound to obey? In answer, the words of Christ may be applied—it is the duty of the people to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s [see D&C 63:26; Matthew 22:21]. At the present time the kingdom of heaven as an earthly power, with a reigning King exercising direct and personal authority in temporal matters, has not been established upon the earth. The branches of the Church as such, and the members composing the same, are subjects of the several governments within whose separate realms the Church organizations exist. In this day of comparative enlightenment and freedom there is still cause for expecting any direct interference with the rights of private worship and individual devotion; in all civilized nations the people are accorded the right to pray, and this right is assured by what may be properly called a common law of humankind. No earnest soul is cut off from communion with his God; and with such an open channel of communication, relief from burdensome laws and redress from grievances may be sought from the power that holds control of nations.” (Articles of Faith, pp. 422–23.)

There are many who question the constitutionality of certain acts passed by their respective governments, even though such laws have been established by the highest courts in the land as being constitutional, and they feel to defy and disobey the law. Abraham Lincoln once observed: ‘Bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible; still, while they continue in force, they should be religiously observed.’ This is the attitude of the Church in regard to law observance. … There is no reason or justification for men to disregard or break the law or try to take it into their own hands. It is the duty of citizens of any country to remember that they have individual responsibilities, and that they must operate within the law of the country in which they have chosen to live.” (“The Laws of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1975)

No member of the Church can be accepted as in good standing whose way of life is one of rebellion against the established order of decency and obedience to law. We cannot be in rebellion against the law and be in harmony with the Lord, for he has commanded us to ‘be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign. …’ (D&C 58:22.) And one of these days he is going to come.” (“Our Responsibility as Priesthood Holders,” Ensign, June 1971. The exception to this principle would be when the Lord directs His people through His prophets to take an opposing stand to government. Otherwise they recognize the established authority of government. For more on this subject see, D&C 134 and “Earthly Governments and Laws“.)

Stand for What is Right

Alma 1: When confronted by evil, we must oppose it in God’s way.

How do we respond to such malicious and evil designs? Do we strike back? Allow me to suggest a course of action—one which is in harmony with the teachings of the Savior, and one which, if followed, will be in harmony with the wise counsel of prophets past and present: 1. Avoid those who would tear down your faith. Faith-killers are to be shunned. The seeds which they plant in the minds and hearts of men grow like cancer and eat away the Spirit. True messengers of God are builders—not destroyers. We send our missionaries into the world to teach and to assist people in receiving truth line upon line until the fulness of the gospel is received. (See D&C 98:112.) As one new convert testified: “My previous church provided me the chapter on mortality. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added two more chapters pertaining to the premortal and postmortal existences.” 2. Keep the commandments. President Brigham Young promised, “All we have to do is to go onward and upward, and keep the commandments of our Father and God; and he will confound our enemies.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957, p. 347.) If we obey holy laws, we will take upon ourselves “the whole armour of God” and we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (See Eph. 6:11–18.) Moreover, obedience ensures us of the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit. 3. Follow the living prophets, as we have just been admonished. One Church leader taught: “Always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. … But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” (Heber J. Grant, quoted by Marion G. Romney in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78.) We walk in uncharted mine fields and place our souls in jeopardy when we receive the teachings of anyone except he that is ordained of God. (See D&C 43:2–7; D&C 52:9.) 4. Do not contend or debate over points of doctrine. The Master warned that “the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil.” (3 Ne. 11:29.) We are inconsistent if we resort to Satanic tactics in attempting to achieve righteous ends. Such inconsistency results only in frustration, loss of the Spirit, and ultimate defeat. Remember, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege.” (Eleventh Article of Faith.) 5. Search the scriptures. Few of us would go astray or lose our way if we regarded the scriptures as our personal guide or compass. (See Alma 37:44.) The iron rod is the word of God, and if held to, we will not fall. 6. Do not be swayed or diverted from the mission of the Church. There are those who would draw you off course and cause you to waste time and energies. Satan used a diversion ploy when he tempted Christ in the wilderness. The Savior’s decisive response, “Get thee hence, Satan” (Matt. 4:10), is a proper example for all of us. 7. Pray for your enemies. Christ said to the Nephites, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.” (3 Ne. 12:44; see also Matt. 5:44; 3 Ne. 12:10–12.) While on the cross, the Savior pled, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.) There are many who are kept from the truth—not because they don’t want it, but because they know not where to find it. 8. Practice “pure religion.” Involve yourself in Christian service. Succor the needs of the sick and poor; visit the fatherless and widows, and be charitable to all whether in the Church or out of the Church. (See James 1:27 and Alma 1:30.) 9. Remember that there may be many questions for which we have no answers and that some things have to be accepted simply on faith. An angel of the Lord asked Adam, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?” He answered, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 5:6.) There may be times when we are called upon to climb Mount Moriah’s and to sacrifice our Isaac’s without a full and prior explanation. Faith is the first principle of the gospel; it is a principle of progress…. I promise all missionaries—and all members—that if the nine actions just mentioned are followed consistently, victory will be yours and faith and testimony will be preservedAt the same time—1. I assure you that opposition to our cause testifies of its divinity. Would satanic powers combine against us if we were not posing a threat to such powers? 2. I assure you that opposition, if met and overcome, has a refining influence upon our lives. A verse in one of our hymns reads: When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. (“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns, no. 66.) The Savior learned obedience by the things which he suffered. (See Heb. 5:8.) Joseph Smith’s oppositions gave him experience and worked for his good. (See D&C 122:7.) 3. I assure you that the waters in which we are wont to swim are but little puddles when compared with the deep rivers of opposition in which the Prophet Joseph and others swam. (See D&C 127:2.) 4. I assure you that our cause is just and it will succeed, regardless of the opposition exerted against us. Earlier Saints were bolstered by these words: “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” (D&C 121:33.) President Brigham Young said: “Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it upstairs; you never kick it downstairs. The Lord Almighty so orders it.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 351.) With all my heart I implore those who are walking on the fringes of our faith to seek the safety of the center. This can be done best by counseling with your leaders and remaining within the fellowshipping circle of the Saints, and receiving nourishment from the good word of God. Do not permit faithless people to turn you out of the right way or to put you out of existence. (See Moro. 6.) And I pray for those who deal in the highest form of larceny—that of stripping people of their precious testimonies. Such action, if continued, will lead only to the futility and emptiness of the dream of a night vision. (See 2 Ne. 27:3; Acts 5:33–39.) God help us all in our war against sin. Though our numbers may be few and our dominions small, may we go forward “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Ne. 14:14). (“Opposition to the Work of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1981)

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#BOMTC Mosiah 18-21: Count the Ripples!

It is difficult to determine the effect that one person can have, but with time the results can be seen. You may never know how the decisions you make will affect others. Abinadi may have died without knowing if anyone believed his teachings, but Alma was converted because of Abinadi’s efforts, and he and his descendants had a great influence on the Nephites for many generations.

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the following example:

“You don’t know how much good you can do; you can’t foresee the results of the effort you put in. Years ago, President Charles A. Callis, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, but who previously was president of the Southern States Mission for twenty-five years, told me this story. He said that he had a missionary in the southern [United States] who came in to get his release at the conclusion of his mission. His mission president said to him, ‘Have you had a good mission?’

“He said, ‘No.’

“‘How is that?’

“‘Well, I haven’t had any results from my work. I have wasted my time and my father’s money. It’s been a waste of time.’

“Brother Callis said, ‘Haven’t you baptized anyone?’

“He said, ‘I baptized only one person during the two years that I have been here. That was a twelve-year-old boy up in the back hollows of Tennessee.’

“He went home with a sense of failure. Brother Callis said, ‘I decided to follow that boy who had been baptized. I wanted to know what became of him. …

“… ‘I followed him through the years. He became the Sunday School Superintendent, and he eventually became the branch president. He married. He moved off the little tenant farm on which he and his parents before him had lived and got a piece of ground of his own and made it fruitful. He became the district president. He sold that piece of ground in Tennessee and moved to Idaho and bought a farm along the Snake River and prospered there. His children grew. They went on missions. They came home. They had children of their own who went on missions.’

“Brother Callis continued, ‘I’ve just spent a week up in Idaho looking up every member of that family that I could find and talking to them about their missionary service. I discovered that, as the result of the baptism of that one little boy in the back hollows of Tennessee by a missionary who thought he had failed, more than 1,100 people have come into the Church.’

“You never can foretell the consequences of your work, my beloved brethren and sisters, when you serve as missionaries” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 360–61). (Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Manual, Lesson 18: God Himself Shall Redeem His People)

Now, why would Elder Callis be so concerned about ONE boy from Tennessee? Well, if you don’t know about Elder Callis, the following story may help you understand his concern:

“Many years ago an elder who served a mission in the British Isles said at the end of his labors, ‘I think my mission has been a failure. I have labored all my days as a missionary here and I have only baptized one dirty little Irish kid. That is all I baptized.’

“Years later, after his return to his home in Montana, he had a visitor come to his home who asked, ‘Are you the elder who served a mission in the British Isles in 1873?’

“‘Yes.’

“Then the man went on, ‘And do you remember having said that you thought your mission was a failure because you had only baptized one dirty little Irish kid?’

“He said, ‘Yes.’

“The visitor put out his hand and said, ‘I would like to shake hands with you. My name is Charles A. Callis, of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am that dirty little Irish kid that you baptized on your mission.’” (President James E. Faust, “Them that Honour Me I will Hounour”, Ensign, May 2001; See also, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 602–3.)

Abinadi before King Noah

The story of Abinadi (see Mosiah 11–18) is an example of how doing what’s right, even when it’s hard, can affect many lives for good. When Abinadi chose to be the one, his choice led Alma to be the one as well—the only one of King Noah’s priests to accept the gospel, which influenced an entire nation.

Track the RIPPLE EFFECT that Abinadi had:

Abinadi: Abinadi’s testimony to wicked King Noah cost him his life (see Mosiah 17:20), but changed the life of one of the king’s priests, Alma the Elder (see Mosiah 18:1), who at the time was “a young man” (Mosiah 17:2).

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

Alma the Elder: Alma helped bring into the Church about 450 of King Noah’s people (see Mosiah 18:35). They joined the Nephites at Zarahemla, where Alma became the high priest of the Church and baptized many more (see Mosiah 25:18). His son was Alma the Younger (see Mosiah 27:14).

Alma the Younger: Alma was the Nephites’ first chief judge and high priest of the Church (see Mosiah 29:42). He helped convert more than 3,500 people and converted many more during later missions to Nephite cities. Alma’s sons served missions as well. His oldest son was Helaman.

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

Helaman, Son of Alma: Helaman kept the records and was one of the high priests of the Church (see Alma 46:6). At about 73 B.C. and again about 54 B.C., he reestablished the Church after years of war (see Alma 45:22Alma 62:46). He led the 2,000 stripling warriors. His son was also named Helaman.

Helaman, Son of Helaman: Helaman kept the records of the people as well. He became chief judge of the Nephites. During his righteous rule, “tens of thousands” joined the Church (Hel. 3:26). He had two righteous sons, Nephi and Lehi.

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

Nephi and Lehi, Sons of Helaman: Nephi was chief judge before leaving to preach the gospel with Lehi. These brothers were such powerful missionaries that most of the Lamanites were converted to the gospel (see Hel. 5:50). Nephi turned the records over to his son, Nephi.

Nephi, Son of Nephi: Nephi became a great prophet. He taught and baptized many in the wicked days before Christ’s coming, even raising his brother from the dead (see 3 Ne. 7:15–26). He was chosen as one of Christ’s 12 disciples when the Savior appeared (see 3 Ne. 12:1). The disciples helped convert all the Nephites and Lamanites after Christ’s coming (see 4 Ne. 1:2).

Abinadi’s teachings and example affected countless lives over the years, from Alma the Elder to Nephi, the disciple of Christ. These men didn’t just affect the lives of their converts. Those people likely affected others, including their own children and their children’s children, who also affected others. You never know how many people will be affected by what you choose to do. So make sure you choose the right. (see Count the Ripples, New Era, Feb. 2005)

young woman in a crowd

Will you be the one? Are you the one? The one who refuses to participate in gossip? The one who stands up for the Church? The one who chooses the right—whatever the circumstances—even when nobody else does? (Be the One, New Era, May 2013)

Make Waves

What kind of waves will you make?

In a general conference address, Elder Harold G. Hillam shared the following two RIPPLE EFFECT stories:

When we see the effect one person can have . . . , it perhaps is no wonder that the Lord reminded us, “Remember the worth of souls.”

One of the talks that has had an everlasting impression on me is one given in a Saturday evening session of a stake conference years ago. The talk was given by a young mother. Here’s what she said: “I have been doing the genealogy of my great-grandfather. He and his large family of sons and daughters were members of the Church.

“My great-grandfather,” she said, “left church one Sunday with his family, and they never returned—no indication why.”

She then said, “In my research, I have found that my great-grandfather has over 1,000 descendants.”

And then she said, and this is the part I have not been able to forget, “Of those 1,000 descendants, I am the only one active in the Church today.”

As she said these words, I found myself thinking, “Is it only 1,000, or could it be more?”

The answer is apparent. The spiritual influence that family might have had on their neighbors and friends did not happen. None of his sons nor any of his daughters served as missionaries, and those they would have touched with their testimonies were not baptized, and those who were not baptized did not go on missions. Yes, there are probably many thousands who are not in the Church today, and not in this very meeting, because of that great-grandfather’s decision.

As I heard her talk I found myself thinking, “What a tragedy! Perhaps if I had been there at that time, I could have said something to the father, to the family, to the priesthood leaders that might have helped to prevent such a calamity to their family and to so many in the future generations that would follow.”

Well, that opportunity of the past is lost. But we can now look to the present and to the future. I would say to those who find themselves in the same position as that great-grandfather: Would you consider what you might be doing to your family and to all those who come after you? Would you ponder the effects of your thoughts and your actions?

… I would like to tell you of a stake conference I was assigned to attend. It was a reorganization; the stake president and his counselors would be released, and a new presidency would be called. The stake president was young and had served wonderfully for almost 10 years. He was a spiritual giant, but he was also an administrative giant. In my personal interview with him, he told me how he had delegated much of the responsibility for the stake functions to his counselors and to the high council and had thus freed himself to interview those who needed encouragement. Individuals and couples were invited to come to his office. There he got to know them, counseled with them, and invited them to do better, to put their lives in order, and to receive the blessings available to those who follow the Lord. He helped them by putting them in the care of a capable leader, a teacher who helped them to understand the beauties of the doctrine. Then he told me that in these interviews he would often ask if they would like a blessing. “I have placed my hands on the heads of many members of the stake,” he said.

The next day in the general session of the stake conference, I doubt I have ever seen so many tears—not because they felt the president should not be released, but for the deep love of a young stake president who had blessed their lives. I felt prompted to ask, “How many of you have had the hands of the president on your heads?” I was amazed at the number of people who raised their hands. I thought to myself at the time, “How many of these people will bless the name of this great man, not only now but throughout the eternities?” Yes, these will be the great-grandfathers who will, because of this loving leader, leave a legacy of generations of thousands who will call him blessed.

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

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

This chart shows the lineage of Alma and approximate life spans of him and his descendants mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Alma’s conversion while listening to Abinadi (see Mosiah 18:1) and Alma’s baptism at the Waters of Mormon (see Mosiah 18:14) were important events for himself and for the Nephite civilization. Not only were Alma’s descendants able to receive the blessings of the gospel, but for over four hundred years many of them were key prophets and principal keepers of the plates of Nephi who in turn spread the gospel to the general population. (View PDF)

A final story, shared by Ryan Squire, will probably suffice for illustrating our point today. His grandfather believe that on his mission he had never brought anyone into the Church. Here is the rest of the story:

I served in the São Paulo Brazil Mission. While I was there, I met an elderly Japanese couple who served in various capacities in the mission. Brother and Sister Tsuya were well known for two things. First was the haircuts Brother Tsuya would give the missionaries.

The other thing the Tsuyas were known for was their incredible love and mission spirit. They spoke no Portuguese and spoke English with a thick accent. But they would take a box of copies of the Book of Mormon they bought with their own money to the fruit fair on the street each week and would always come back empty-handed. Their spirit was incredibly powerful.

One transfer day I had the chance to talk to Brother Tsuya. I found out that he had joined the Church in Hawaii. I told him that my grandfather had served a mission in Hawaii and was there during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Brother Tsuya was very surprised and said he had joined the Church then but didn’t remember an Elder Squire. I told him that it was my mom’s father, Elder Thurgood, who had served in Hawaii.

Brother Tsuya almost fell out of his chair and yelled out “Elder Thurgood is your grandpa?” He related the story of their meeting. He said while he was eating a meal in the Hawaiian community style, he was being inappropriate and was taking the Lord’s name in vain among other things. A missionary, my grandfather, had spoken up and asked him to stop. Brother Tsuya said he took the name of the Lord in vain again. He said that my grandpa had come over to him, hit him on the shoulder, and lectured him about how little he knew about life, how he wasn’t as smart as he thought, how he needed to quit smoking and do a bunch of things differently or he wouldn’t ever amount to anything.

Brother Tsuya told me that when he went home that night, he knew my grandpa was right. He thought about it and decided he wanted to make some changes. He ran into two similarly dressed missionaries a couple of weeks later and listened to the discussions with a sincere desire to change. Brother Tsuya gave much of the credit for his decision to listen to the missionaries to my grandpa.

I quickly wrote home telling my family I had huge news and that Grandpa Thurgood needed to be there when I made my telephone call at Christmas. When I called home, I finally told him that I had met somebody he brought into the Church. I will always remember how quiet he became as he said, “Ryan, you are mistaken. I never brought anybody into the Church on my mission.”

I asked him if he remembered hitting a smart-aleck Japanese kid at dinner in Hawaii and then lecturing him on how much he needed to change his life. He became instantly curious and said that he did remember the incident well. He was transferred away shortly after that and hadn’t heard more.

I told him that two weeks later that boy had decided to listen to the discussions because of what you said to him that night. He had later married in the temple in Hawaii. He had served in various callings in the Church and blessed many, many lives. He served as a mission president in Japan for three years. He also served as president of the MTC in Japan. He had served multiple missions with his wife.

My Grandpa Thurgood was in tears and couldn’t talk to me after that. He had spent over 50 years thinking his mission hadn’t made a difference to anybody. When the Tsuyas completed their mission in Brazil, my grandpa and his wife went to the temple with them and had a tearful reunion.

My grandfather’s experience reminded me of Abinadi, my favorite Book of Mormon prophet. Abinadi had come before the wicked priests of King Noah and shared the gospel with great power and authority. He testified boldly and was burned to death because of what he taught. The only fruit he had the chance to see was one of the priests, whose name he may not have even known, who asked the king to let Abinadi go and then was chased out of the court. That priest (Alma the Elder) then became a great prophet himself.

We never know the effect our testimony will have on those around us. How could my grandpa have known the difference his testimony at dinner would have on a young man?

We learn that it is not ours to judge those around us when sharing the gospel. It is so easy to look at others and assume they are not interested in the gospel. We think the soil is rocky and that nothing would grow if we tried. Our responsibility is to cast seeds. We are called to share. We are called to invite. We are called to include. The gospel is a gospel of repentance, a gospel of change. In Christ is the power to change. Christ has the power to heal. There is nothing so exquisitely sweet as seeing a soul come unto Christ.

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

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

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

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#BOMTC Mosiah 5-7: Becoming the Children of Christ

For being such a short chapter, Mosiah 5 hits on some pretty essential and deep doctrines. King Benjamin speaks of being born again (born of God), adoption, and becoming children of Christ (See Romans 8 for more from the Apostle Paul on this).

Did you notice how many times the word NAME appeared in Mosiah 5? 12 times in 8 verses is a pretty obvious clue as to the intent of King Benjamin’s message. So, to answer Juliet’s question, “What’s in a name?”, the gospel answer is, “EVERYTHING!” The following is an excerpt from one of my favorite essays that helps me to understand the significance of King Benjamin’s teachings about the importance taking and keeping of the “name” of Christ. If you read this before your sacrament meeting, I hope that it will help the ordinance to be a bit more meaningful for you today:

“We Who Owe Everything to a Name”

He wasn’t of particularly august origins. His natural father was a local from a town north of Rome, so he really didn’t have any great connections. He had met Caesar once. Caesar had obviously been impressed about some qualities that he saw in the young man for he adopted him as his son in the will and made him his chief heir. Now, I should point out that in Roman eyes the legal adoption of a person gave that person every claim not just to the property and patrimony of the adopting party, but also to the heritage, the political connections, the name, the dignitas, everything else that came with the adoption. The Romans really made no serious distinction between a natural and an adopted son. It wasn’t considered like the adopted son was an imposter or some kind of a late claimant. He was simply considered as if he had been born of the adopting party. And so Gaius Octavius, at that time, when he became adopted, took the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. Historians refer to him as Octavian, but he called himself Caesar, son of Caesar, and that name made all the difference. The men who had been loyal to Caesar flocked to him. Slowly his power grew. Inevitably Mark Anthony and Octavian clashed, fought, and Anthony was beaten. Octavian became Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome, the man who ordered the census that took Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Fascinating! It was Cicero who recorded Mark Anthony’s comment on their fates. Octavian was “that boy, who owes everything to a name!” The phrase reverberated in my mind and heart. Didn’t I owe everything to a name? Hadn’t my father given me the good life I had by making me his, by adopting me? It was later that I discovered the Apostle Paul’s use of the term adoption in reference to our relationship with Christ. The word adopt or adoption does not appear in the Old Testament, with its kinship obligations to orphans, nor is it found in the Book of Mormon, whose laws and social customs were derivative of Mosaic Law. But Paul understood the implications of being an heir by adoption. He, though a Jew, was a Roman citizen in a Roman world. And he used the implications of Roman law to explain to the gentiles the inheritance they might receive through the gospel’s new covenant in Christ’s blood. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15)… It is Christ who makes us his heirs. He becomes our father, as King Benjamin explains: “Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; . . . ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters” (Mosiah 5:7). (Lynda Mackey Wilson, “We Who Owe Everything to a Name“, BYU Studies 47, no. 2 (2008))

Chiasm in Mosiah 5:10–12

This chiasm from Mosiah 5:10-12, discovered by John W. Welch in 1967, “successfully builds to its climax and intensifies its final exhortation against transgression by the striking introduction of these carefully chosen and intentionally reiterated terms.” Since the initial discovery of this chiasm, Welch and other scholars have extensively analyzed the presence of chiasmus and other Hebrew poetic structures in the Book of Mormon, including their important roles in communicating textual meanings as well as their significance for locating the book’s cultural and literary historicity.

Want to know more? Check this out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#BOMTC Day 34, May 10~Mosiah 28-Alma 1 or Pages 203-209: New Beginnings!

Click on graphic to read Mosiah 28-Alma 1

Click on graphic to read Mosiah 28-Alma 1

These chapters are filled with new beginnings that can teach us great lessons. Consider some of the principles that can be learned from the following events:

  • Having been truly converted, the sons of King Mosiah felt a strong desire to preach the gospel to the Lamanites (Mosiah 27:32-28:5).
  • After inquiring of the Lord and receiving an assurance that they would be blessed with success and protection, King Mosiah supported their decision (Mosiah 28:6-9).
  • Because his sons had declined the opportunity to be king, he was then left without a successor to his throne and a caretaker for the scriptural records. At this same time, Mosiah was working to care for the sacred records that had been entrusted to him. He translated the Jaredite records and then conferred all the records upon Alma the Younger (Mosiah 28:10-20).
  • Instead of appointing another king, King Mosiah proposed that the Nephite government be administered by a system of judges (Mosiah 29). Alma was appointed the first chief judge (he was also the high priest over the church) (Mosiah 29:39-44).

#BOMTC Day 34, May 10~Mosiah 28-Alma 1 or Pages 203-209 (3)

Shortly after Alma became the chief judge, Nehor established himself as a preacher and spoke out against the Church and its doctrines. He convinced many to believe him and give him money. When he killed Gideon, a faithful member of the Church, he was brought before Alma to be judged. Finding Nehor guilty of priestcraft and of trying to enforce it by the sword, Alma sentenced Nehor to death.

Here are some lessons from the new beginnings of the sons of King Mosiah, the Nephite people, and Alma the Younger: 

Mosiah 28: As our conversion deepens, our desire to share the gospel increases.

The intensity of our desire to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion” (“Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001).

The key to successful member missionary work is the exercise of faith. One way to show your faith in the Lord and His promises is to prayerfully set a date to have someone prepared to meet with the missionaries. I have received hundreds of letters from members who have exercised their faith in this simple way. Even though families had no one in mind with whom they could share the gospel, they set a date, prayed, and then talked to many more people. The Lord is the Good Shepherd, and He knows His sheep who have been prepared to hear His voice. He will guide us as we seek His divine help in sharing His gospel” (“Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home,” Ensign, May 2006).

  • On another occasion Elder Ballard taught us how we can easily prepare and share the gospel:

There is a great need for clear, simple statements that present those who are curious with the basics about the Church as it is today. Prepare your own list of talking points that will assist you in explaining what we believe to your friends of other faiths. Have on one page a few facts about the Church as it is today to give to them along with a copy of the Articles of Faith.  The four main subjects deal with facts, faith, families, and fruits of the restored gospel.  Most people will not read or focus on more than just a few important facts at one time. Whatever you choose to use to inform your friends and acquaintances about the Church, write it down, check it for accuracy, and keep it simple and short. The growing prominence of the Church and the increasing inquiries from others present us with great opportunities to build bridges, make friends, and pass on accurate information. But it can also present a greater possibility of misunderstanding and sometimes even prejudice if we allow others to define who we are and what we believe rather than presenting it ourselves. Sometimes the best way to answer people’s interest can be by how we live.  Now is the time for all of us to reach out and tell others who we are. Prepare some simple facts and help those who are curious to know a little about the Church and then to want to know more about the Restoration of the gospel. Never hesitate to bear your testimony with sincerity and love. The power of personal testimony cannot be denied and often ignites in others the interest to know more.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits”, Ensign, Nov. 2007)

Book of Mormon Share

Mosiah 29: Each person has a duty to uphold righteous laws and leaders.

The history of the people of ancient America, recorded in the Book of Mormon, teaches that civilizations are built on moral foundations; that when people are morally strong, they do well; that when they are morally weak, they suffer. It teaches us that freedom cannot outlive morality and that freedom is not free—it must be earned” (Ensign, May 1981).

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” “The three significant words used in the 12th Article of Faith,” commented President David O. McKay, “express the proper attitude of the membership of the Church toward law. These words are—obey, honor, and sustain. The Article does not say we believe in submission to the law. Obedience implies a higher attitude than mere submission, for obedience has its root in good intent; submission may spring from selfishness or meanness of spirit. Though obedience and submission both imply restraint on one’s own will, we are obedient only from a sense of right; submissive from a sense of necessity. Honor expresses an act or attitude of an inferior towards a superior. When applied to things it is taken in the sense of holding in honor. Thus, in honoring the law, we look upon it as something which is above selfish desires or indulgences. To sustain signifies to hold up; to keep from falling. To sustain the law, therefore, is to refrain from saying or doing anything which will weaken it or make it ineffective. We obey law from a sense of right. We honor law because of its necessity and strength to society. We sustain law by keeping it in good repute.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1937, p. 28.)

A question has many times been asked of the Church and of its individual members, to this effect: In the case of a conflict between the requirements made by the revealed word of God, and those imposed by the secular law, which of these authorities would the members of the Church be bound to obey? In answer, the words of Christ may be applied—it is the duty of the people to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s [see D&C 63:26; Matthew 22:21]. At the present time the kingdom of heaven as an earthly power, with a reigning King exercising direct and personal authority in temporal matters, has not been established upon the earth. The branches of the Church as such, and the members composing the same, are subjects of the several governments within whose separate realms the Church organizations exist. In this day of comparative enlightenment and freedom there is still cause for expecting any direct interference with the rights of private worship and individual devotion; in all civilized nations the people are accorded the right to pray, and this right is assured by what may be properly called a common law of humankind. No earnest soul is cut off from communion with his God; and with such an open channel of communication, relief from burdensome laws and redress from grievances may be sought from the power that holds control of nations.” (Articles of Faith, pp. 422–23.)

There are many who question the constitutionality of certain acts passed by their respective governments, even though such laws have been established by the highest courts in the land as being constitutional, and they feel to defy and disobey the law. Abraham Lincoln once observed: ‘Bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible; still, while they continue in force, they should be religiously observed.’ This is the attitude of the Church in regard to law observance. … There is no reason or justification for men to disregard or break the law or try to take it into their own hands. It is the duty of citizens of any country to remember that they have individual responsibilities, and that they must operate within the law of the country in which they have chosen to live.” (“The Laws of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1975)

No member of the Church can be accepted as in good standing whose way of life is one of rebellion against the established order of decency and obedience to law. We cannot be in rebellion against the law and be in harmony with the Lord, for he has commanded us to ‘be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign. …’ (D&C 58:22.) And one of these days he is going to come.” (“Our Responsibility as Priesthood Holders,” Ensign, June 1971. The exception to this principle would be when the Lord directs His people through His prophets to take an opposing stand to government. Otherwise they recognize the established authority of government. For more on this subject see, D&C 134 and “Earthly Governments and Laws“.)

Stand for What is Right

Alma 1: When confronted by evil, we must oppose it in God’s way.

How do we respond to such malicious and evil designs? Do we strike back? Allow me to suggest a course of action—one which is in harmony with the teachings of the Savior, and one which, if followed, will be in harmony with the wise counsel of prophets past and present: 1. Avoid those who would tear down your faith. Faith-killers are to be shunned. The seeds which they plant in the minds and hearts of men grow like cancer and eat away the Spirit. True messengers of God are builders—not destroyers. We send our missionaries into the world to teach and to assist people in receiving truth line upon line until the fulness of the gospel is received. (See D&C 98:112.) As one new convert testified: “My previous church provided me the chapter on mortality. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints added two more chapters pertaining to the premortal and postmortal existences.” 2. Keep the commandments. President Brigham Young promised, “All we have to do is to go onward and upward, and keep the commandments of our Father and God; and he will confound our enemies.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957, p. 347.) If we obey holy laws, we will take upon ourselves “the whole armour of God” and we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (See Eph. 6:11–18.) Moreover, obedience ensures us of the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit. 3. Follow the living prophets, as we have just been admonished. One Church leader taught: “Always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. … But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” (Heber J. Grant, quoted by Marion G. Romney in Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78.) We walk in uncharted mine fields and place our souls in jeopardy when we receive the teachings of anyone except he that is ordained of God. (See D&C 43:2–7; D&C 52:9.) 4. Do not contend or debate over points of doctrine. The Master warned that “the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil.” (3 Ne. 11:29.) We are inconsistent if we resort to Satanic tactics in attempting to achieve righteous ends. Such inconsistency results only in frustration, loss of the Spirit, and ultimate defeat. Remember, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege.” (Eleventh Article of Faith.) 5. Search the scriptures. Few of us would go astray or lose our way if we regarded the scriptures as our personal guide or compass. (See Alma 37:44.) The iron rod is the word of God, and if held to, we will not fall. 6. Do not be swayed or diverted from the mission of the Church. There are those who would draw you off course and cause you to waste time and energies. Satan used a diversion ploy when he tempted Christ in the wilderness. The Savior’s decisive response, “Get thee hence, Satan” (Matt. 4:10), is a proper example for all of us. 7. Pray for your enemies. Christ said to the Nephites, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.” (3 Ne. 12:44; see also Matt. 5:44; 3 Ne. 12:10–12.) While on the cross, the Savior pled, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.) There are many who are kept from the truth—not because they don’t want it, but because they know not where to find it. 8. Practice “pure religion.” Involve yourself in Christian service. Succor the needs of the sick and poor; visit the fatherless and widows, and be charitable to all whether in the Church or out of the Church. (See James 1:27 and Alma 1:30.) 9. Remember that there may be many questions for which we have no answers and that some things have to be accepted simply on faith. An angel of the Lord asked Adam, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?” He answered, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 5:6.) There may be times when we are called upon to climb Mount Moriah’s and to sacrifice our Isaac’s without a full and prior explanation. Faith is the first principle of the gospel; it is a principle of progress…. I promise all missionaries—and all members—that if the nine actions just mentioned are followed consistently, victory will be yours and faith and testimony will be preservedAt the same time—1. I assure you that opposition to our cause testifies of its divinity. Would satanic powers combine against us if we were not posing a threat to such powers? 2. I assure you that opposition, if met and overcome, has a refining influence upon our lives. A verse in one of our hymns reads: When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine. (“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns, no. 66.) The Savior learned obedience by the things which he suffered. (See Heb. 5:8.) Joseph Smith’s oppositions gave him experience and worked for his good. (See D&C 122:7.) 3. I assure you that the waters in which we are wont to swim are but little puddles when compared with the deep rivers of opposition in which the Prophet Joseph and others swam. (See D&C 127:2.) 4. I assure you that our cause is just and it will succeed, regardless of the opposition exerted against us. Earlier Saints were bolstered by these words: “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” (D&C 121:33.) President Brigham Young said: “Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it upstairs; you never kick it downstairs. The Lord Almighty so orders it.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 351.) With all my heart I implore those who are walking on the fringes of our faith to seek the safety of the center. This can be done best by counseling with your leaders and remaining within the fellowshipping circle of the Saints, and receiving nourishment from the good word of God. Do not permit faithless people to turn you out of the right way or to put you out of existence. (See Moro. 6.) And I pray for those who deal in the highest form of larceny—that of stripping people of their precious testimonies. Such action, if continued, will lead only to the futility and emptiness of the dream of a night vision. (See 2 Ne. 27:3; Acts 5:33–39.) God help us all in our war against sin. Though our numbers may be few and our dominions small, may we go forward “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Ne. 14:14). (“Opposition to the Work of God”, Ensign, Nov. 1981)

ON THIS DAY IN 1829: Harmony, Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery ran out of supplies during the translation of the Book of Mormon and went to Colesville, New York, to obtain provisions from Joseph Knight Sr.

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#BOMTC Day 31, May 7~Mosiah 18-21 or Pages 182-188: Count the Ripples!

#BOMTC Day 31, May 7~Mosiah 18-21 or Pages 182-188 (1)

Click the graphic to read Mosiah 18-21

It is difficult to determine the effect that one person can have, but with time the results can be seen. You may never know how the decisions you make will affect others. Abinadi may have died without knowing if anyone believed his teachings, but Alma was converted because of Abinadi’s efforts, and he and his descendants had a great influence on the Nephites for many generations.

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the following example:

“You don’t know how much good you can do; you can’t foresee the results of the effort you put in. Years ago, President Charles A. Callis, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, but who previously was president of the Southern States Mission for twenty-five years, told me this story. He said that he had a missionary in the southern [United States] who came in to get his release at the conclusion of his mission. His mission president said to him, ‘Have you had a good mission?’

“He said, ‘No.’

“‘How is that?’

“‘Well, I haven’t had any results from my work. I have wasted my time and my father’s money. It’s been a waste of time.’

“Brother Callis said, ‘Haven’t you baptized anyone?’

“He said, ‘I baptized only one person during the two years that I have been here. That was a twelve-year-old boy up in the back hollows of Tennessee.’

“He went home with a sense of failure. Brother Callis said, ‘I decided to follow that boy who had been baptized. I wanted to know what became of him. …

“… ‘I followed him through the years. He became the Sunday School Superintendent, and he eventually became the branch president. He married. He moved off the little tenant farm on which he and his parents before him had lived and got a piece of ground of his own and made it fruitful. He became the district president. He sold that piece of ground in Tennessee and moved to Idaho and bought a farm along the Snake River and prospered there. His children grew. They went on missions. They came home. They had children of their own who went on missions.’

“Brother Callis continued, ‘I’ve just spent a week up in Idaho looking up every member of that family that I could find and talking to them about their missionary service. I discovered that, as the result of the baptism of that one little boy in the back hollows of Tennessee by a missionary who thought he had failed, more than 1,100 people have come into the Church.’

“You never can foretell the consequences of your work, my beloved brethren and sisters, when you serve as missionaries” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 360–61). (Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Manual, Lesson 18: God Himself Shall Redeem His People)

Now, why would Elder Callis be so concerned about ONE boy from Tennessee? Well, if you don’t know about Elder Callis, the following story may help you understand his concern:

“Many years ago an elder who served a mission in the British Isles said at the end of his labors, ‘I think my mission has been a failure. I have labored all my days as a missionary here and I have only baptized one dirty little Irish kid. That is all I baptized.’

“Years later, after his return to his home in Montana, he had a visitor come to his home who asked, ‘Are you the elder who served a mission in the British Isles in 1873?’

“‘Yes.’

“Then the man went on, ‘And do you remember having said that you thought your mission was a failure because you had only baptized one dirty little Irish kid?’

“He said, ‘Yes.’

“The visitor put out his hand and said, ‘I would like to shake hands with you. My name is Charles A. Callis, of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am that dirty little Irish kid that you baptized on your mission.’” (President James E. Faust, “Them that Honour Me I will Hounour”, Ensign, May 2001; See also, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 602–3.)

Abinadi before King Noah

The story of Abinadi (see Mosiah 11–18) is an example of how doing what’s right, even when it’s hard, can affect many lives for good. When Abinadi chose to be the one, his choice led Alma to be the one as well—the only one of King Noah’s priests to accept the gospel, which influenced an entire nation.

Track the RIPPLE EFFECT that Abinadi had:

Abinadi: Abinadi’s testimony to wicked King Noah cost him his life (see Mosiah 17:20), but changed the life of one of the king’s priests, Alma the Elder (see Mosiah 18:1), who at the time was “a young man” (Mosiah 17:2).

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

Alma the Elder: Alma helped bring into the Church about 450 of King Noah’s people (see Mosiah 18:35). They joined the Nephites at Zarahemla, where Alma became the high priest of the Church and baptized many more (see Mosiah 25:18). His son was Alma the Younger (see Mosiah 27:14).

Alma the Younger: Alma was the Nephites’ first chief judge and high priest of the Church (see Mosiah 29:42). He helped convert more than 3,500 people and converted many more during later missions to Nephite cities. Alma’s sons served missions as well. His oldest son was Helaman.

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

Helaman, Son of Alma: Helaman kept the records and was one of the high priests of the Church (see Alma 46:6). At about 73 B.C. and again about 54 B.C., he reestablished the Church after years of war (see Alma 45:22Alma 62:46). He led the 2,000 stripling warriors. His son was also named Helaman.

Helaman, Son of Helaman: Helaman kept the records of the people as well. He became chief judge of the Nephites. During his righteous rule, “tens of thousands” joined the Church (Hel. 3:26). He had two righteous sons, Nephi and Lehi.

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

Nephi and Lehi, Sons of Helaman: Nephi was chief judge before leaving to preach the gospel with Lehi. These brothers were such powerful missionaries that most of the Lamanites were converted to the gospel (see Hel. 5:50). Nephi turned the records over to his son, Nephi.

Nephi, Son of Nephi: Nephi became a great prophet. He taught and baptized many in the wicked days before Christ’s coming, even raising his brother from the dead (see 3 Ne. 7:15–26). He was chosen as one of Christ’s 12 disciples when the Savior appeared (see 3 Ne. 12:1). The disciples helped convert all the Nephites and Lamanites after Christ’s coming (see 4 Ne. 1:2).

Abinadi’s teachings and example affected countless lives over the years, from Alma the Elder to Nephi, the disciple of Christ. These men didn’t just affect the lives of their converts. Those people likely affected others, including their own children and their children’s children, who also affected others. You never know how many people will be affected by what you choose to do. So make sure you choose the right. (see Count the Ripples, New Era, Feb. 2005)

young woman in a crowd

Will you be the one? Are you the one? The one who refuses to participate in gossip? The one who stands up for the Church? The one who chooses the right—whatever the circumstances—even when nobody else does? (Be the One, New Era, May 2013)

Make Waves

What kind of waves will you make?

In a general conference address, Elder Harold G. Hillam shared the following two RIPPLE EFFECT stories:

When we see the effect one person can have . . . , it perhaps is no wonder that the Lord reminded us, “Remember the worth of souls.”

One of the talks that has had an everlasting impression on me is one given in a Saturday evening session of a stake conference years ago. The talk was given by a young mother. Here’s what she said: “I have been doing the genealogy of my great-grandfather. He and his large family of sons and daughters were members of the Church.

“My great-grandfather,” she said, “left church one Sunday with his family, and they never returned—no indication why.”

She then said, “In my research, I have found that my great-grandfather has over 1,000 descendants.”

And then she said, and this is the part I have not been able to forget, “Of those 1,000 descendants, I am the only one active in the Church today.”

As she said these words, I found myself thinking, “Is it only 1,000, or could it be more?”

The answer is apparent. The spiritual influence that family might have had on their neighbors and friends did not happen. None of his sons nor any of his daughters served as missionaries, and those they would have touched with their testimonies were not baptized, and those who were not baptized did not go on missions. Yes, there are probably many thousands who are not in the Church today, and not in this very meeting, because of that great-grandfather’s decision.

As I heard her talk I found myself thinking, “What a tragedy! Perhaps if I had been there at that time, I could have said something to the father, to the family, to the priesthood leaders that might have helped to prevent such a calamity to their family and to so many in the future generations that would follow.”

Well, that opportunity of the past is lost. But we can now look to the present and to the future. I would say to those who find themselves in the same position as that great-grandfather: Would you consider what you might be doing to your family and to all those who come after you? Would you ponder the effects of your thoughts and your actions?

… I would like to tell you of a stake conference I was assigned to attend. It was a reorganization; the stake president and his counselors would be released, and a new presidency would be called. The stake president was young and had served wonderfully for almost 10 years. He was a spiritual giant, but he was also an administrative giant. In my personal interview with him, he told me how he had delegated much of the responsibility for the stake functions to his counselors and to the high council and had thus freed himself to interview those who needed encouragement. Individuals and couples were invited to come to his office. There he got to know them, counseled with them, and invited them to do better, to put their lives in order, and to receive the blessings available to those who follow the Lord. He helped them by putting them in the care of a capable leader, a teacher who helped them to understand the beauties of the doctrine. Then he told me that in these interviews he would often ask if they would like a blessing. “I have placed my hands on the heads of many members of the stake,” he said.

The next day in the general session of the stake conference, I doubt I have ever seen so many tears—not because they felt the president should not be released, but for the deep love of a young stake president who had blessed their lives. I felt prompted to ask, “How many of you have had the hands of the president on your heads?” I was amazed at the number of people who raised their hands. I thought to myself at the time, “How many of these people will bless the name of this great man, not only now but throughout the eternities?” Yes, these will be the great-grandfathers who will, because of this loving leader, leave a legacy of generations of thousands who will call him blessed.

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

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

This chart shows the lineage of Alma and approximate life spans of him and his descendants mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Alma’s conversion while listening to Abinadi (see Mosiah 18:1) and Alma’s baptism at the Waters of Mormon (see Mosiah 18:14) were important events for himself and for the Nephite civilization. Not only were Alma’s descendants able to receive the blessings of the gospel, but for over four hundred years many of them were key prophets and principal keepers of the plates of Nephi who in turn spread the gospel to the general population. (View PDF)

A final story, shared by Ryan Squire, will probably suffice for illustrating our point today. His grandfather believe that on his mission he had never brought anyone into the Church. Here is the rest of the story:

I served in the São Paulo Brazil Mission. While I was there, I met an elderly Japanese couple who served in various capacities in the mission. Brother and Sister Tsuya were well known for two things. First was the haircuts Brother Tsuya would give the missionaries.

The other thing the Tsuyas were known for was their incredible love and mission spirit. They spoke no Portuguese and spoke English with a thick accent. But they would take a box of copies of the Book of Mormon they bought with their own money to the fruit fair on the street each week and would always come back empty-handed. Their spirit was incredibly powerful.

One transfer day I had the chance to talk to Brother Tsuya. I found out that he had joined the Church in Hawaii. I told him that my grandfather had served a mission in Hawaii and was there during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Brother Tsuya was very surprised and said he had joined the Church then but didn’t remember an Elder Squire. I told him that it was my mom’s father, Elder Thurgood, who had served in Hawaii.

Brother Tsuya almost fell out of his chair and yelled out “Elder Thurgood is your grandpa?” He related the story of their meeting. He said while he was eating a meal in the Hawaiian community style, he was being inappropriate and was taking the Lord’s name in vain among other things. A missionary, my grandfather, had spoken up and asked him to stop. Brother Tsuya said he took the name of the Lord in vain again. He said that my grandpa had come over to him, hit him on the shoulder, and lectured him about how little he knew about life, how he wasn’t as smart as he thought, how he needed to quit smoking and do a bunch of things differently or he wouldn’t ever amount to anything.

Brother Tsuya told me that when he went home that night, he knew my grandpa was right. He thought about it and decided he wanted to make some changes. He ran into two similarly dressed missionaries a couple of weeks later and listened to the discussions with a sincere desire to change. Brother Tsuya gave much of the credit for his decision to listen to the missionaries to my grandpa.

I quickly wrote home telling my family I had huge news and that Grandpa Thurgood needed to be there when I made my telephone call at Christmas. When I called home, I finally told him that I had met somebody he brought into the Church. I will always remember how quiet he became as he said, “Ryan, you are mistaken. I never brought anybody into the Church on my mission.”

I asked him if he remembered hitting a smart-aleck Japanese kid at dinner in Hawaii and then lecturing him on how much he needed to change his life. He became instantly curious and said that he did remember the incident well. He was transferred away shortly after that and hadn’t heard more.

I told him that two weeks later that boy had decided to listen to the discussions because of what you said to him that night. He had later married in the temple in Hawaii. He had served in various callings in the Church and blessed many, many lives. He served as a mission president in Japan for three years. He also served as president of the MTC in Japan. He had served multiple missions with his wife.

My Grandpa Thurgood was in tears and couldn’t talk to me after that. He had spent over 50 years thinking his mission hadn’t made a difference to anybody. When the Tsuyas completed their mission in Brazil, my grandpa and his wife went to the temple with them and had a tearful reunion.

My grandfather’s experience reminded me of Abinadi, my favorite Book of Mormon prophet. Abinadi had come before the wicked priests of King Noah and shared the gospel with great power and authority. He testified boldly and was burned to death because of what he taught. The only fruit he had the chance to see was one of the priests, whose name he may not have even known, who asked the king to let Abinadi go and then was chased out of the court. That priest (Alma the Elder) then became a great prophet himself.

We never know the effect our testimony will have on those around us. How could my grandpa have known the difference his testimony at dinner would have on a young man?

We learn that it is not ours to judge those around us when sharing the gospel. It is so easy to look at others and assume they are not interested in the gospel. We think the soil is rocky and that nothing would grow if we tried. Our responsibility is to cast seeds. We are called to share. We are called to invite. We are called to include. The gospel is a gospel of repentance, a gospel of change. In Christ is the power to change. Christ has the power to heal. There is nothing so exquisitely sweet as seeing a soul come unto Christ.

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

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

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

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#BOMTC Day 27, May 3~Mosiah 5-7 or Pages 156-161: Becoming the Children of Christ

Click on graphic to read Mosiah 5-7

Click on graphic to read Mosiah 5-7

For being such a short chapter, Mosiah 5 hits on some pretty essential and deep doctrines. King Benjamin speaks of being born again (born of God), adoption, and becoming children of Christ (See Romans 8 for more from the Apostle Paul on this).

Did you notice how many times the word NAME appeared in Mosiah 5? 12 times in 8 verses is a pretty obvious clue as to the intent of King Benjamin’s message. So, to answer Juliet’s, “What’s in a name?”, the gospel answer is, “EVERYTHING!” The following is an excerpt from one of my favorite essays that helps me to understand the significance of King Benjamin’s teachings about the importance taking and keeping of the “name” of Christ:

“We Who Owe Everything to a Name”

He wasn’t of particularly august origins. His natural father was a local from a town north of Rome, so he really didn’t have any great connections. He had met Caesar once. Caesar had obviously been impressed about some qualities that he saw in the young man for he adopted him as his son in the will and made him his chief heir. Now, I should point out that in Roman eyes the legal adoption of a person gave that person every claim not just to the property and patrimony of the adopting party, but also to the heritage, the political connections, the name, the dignitas, everything else that came with the adoption. The Romans really made no serious distinction between a natural and an adopted son. It wasn’t considered like the adopted son was an imposter or some kind of a late claimant. He was simply considered as if he had been born of the adopting party. And so Gaius Octavius, at that time, when he became adopted, took the name Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. Historians refer to him as Octavian, but he called himself Caesar, son of Caesar, and that name made all the difference. The men who had been loyal to Caesar flocked to him. Slowly his power grew. Inevitably Mark Anthony and Octavian clashed, fought, and Anthony was beaten. Octavian became Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome, the man who ordered the census that took Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Fascinating! It was Cicero who recorded Mark Anthony’s comment on their fates. Octavian was “that boy, who owes everything to a name!” The phrase reverberated in my mind and heart. Didn’t I owe everything to a name? Hadn’t my father given me the good life I had by making me his, by adopting me? It was later that I discovered the Apostle Paul’s use of the term adoption in reference to our relationship with Christ. The word adopt or adoption does not appear in the Old Testament, with its kinship obligations to orphans, nor is it found in the Book of Mormon, whose laws and social customs were derivative of Mosaic Law. But Paul understood the implications of being an heir by adoption. He, though a Jew, was a Roman citizen in a Roman world. And he used the implications of Roman law to explain to the gentiles the inheritance they might receive through the gospel’s new covenant in Christ’s blood. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15)… It is Christ who makes us his heirs. He becomes our father, as King Benjamin explains: “Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; . . . ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters” (Mosiah 5:7). (Lynda Mackey Wilson, “We Who Owe Everything to a Name“, BYU Studies 47, no. 2 (2008))

Chiasm in Mosiah 5:10–12

This chiasm from Mosiah 5:10-12, discovered by John W. Welch in 1967, “successfully builds to its climax and intensifies its final exhortation against transgression by the striking introduction of these carefully chosen and intentionally reiterated terms.” Since the initial discovery of this chiasm, Welch and other scholars have extensively analyzed the presence of chiasmus and other Hebrew poetic structures in the Book of Mormon, including their important roles in communicating textual meanings as well as their significance for locating the book’s cultural and literary historicity.

 

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