Tag Archives: repent

#BOMTC Moroni 8-9: “Labor Diligently”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#BOMTC Ether 13-15: New Jerusalem–ZION as a Pattern for LIFE

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

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

The Last of the Jaredites: Coriantumr and Shiz

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian

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

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

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

temple square mormon

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

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

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

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

DC 94, Kirtland Temple Concentric Squares

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

DC 94, Kirtland Temple Concentric Squares

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

Diagram of the Tabernacle of the Congregation with commentary notes

Diagram of the Tabernacle of the Congregation with commentary notes

The Tabernacle (Exodus 25-30)

A video explaining the Tabernacle and its importance.

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

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

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

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

Good, Better, Best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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#BOMTC Mormon 5-7: FALLEN!

Imagine how Mormon must have felt as he witnessed the devastation of the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He had labored his entire life to do the will of the Lord and had tried over and over to help the people repent and return to God.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon Abridging

“I write a small abridgment,” said Mormon, “daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen … that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.” (Morm. 5:9)

Mormon’s message is for our day: “How can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?” (Morm. 5:22–23) In these chapters we can see the extreme consequences that can come upon a people once they have turned from God and resist repentance.

In the short video below, the end of the great destruction of the battle of Cumorah is depicted. As Mormon and his son Moroni behold the hundreds of thousands of Nephites slain in the last battle with the Lamanites, Mormon laments, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! …How is it that ye could have fallen!” (Mormon 6:17 & 19).

O Ye Fair Ones

As I was doing some research for this post, I ran across an article that I had long forgotten about. It is called, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1“, and it was written by Jeffrey R. Holland, when he was the commissioner of Church Education. I don’t believe that there is anything better that I could post than what he has already left for us to study. It will be well worth your time to learn from this master teacher about Mormon and his book.

Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1

(Jeffrey R. Holland, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1,” Ensign Mar. 1978)

The Prophet Joseph Smith once wrote in his journal, “It was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:226.) One who must have felt that “awful responsibility” as much as any other in this world was Mormon, when at the tender age of ten years he was introduced to the weighty assignment that would be his.

After nearly a thousand years of Nephite history he was called of God to select and summarize the story of his people. That story tells in part of “peace in the land” and “all manner of miracles,” including the appearance and sermons of the resurrected Son of God.

But the story also contains the terror and depravity of that civilization gone awry, a dispensation concluding “without order and without mercy” in which women were fed on the flesh of their husbands and children were offered as sacrifice to dumb idols. In the end, Mormon’s was a painful and very lonely task.

Of the record Mormon helped to produce, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, 4:461.) After long decades of darkness, the appearance of Mormon’s book would be one of the first contributions toward the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) in preparation for the fullness of times. His task was as crucial in the eternal plan of salvation as it was unique.

One prevailing impression we have as we read of Mormon’s life and times is that he has been almost too modest, too brief (scarcely twelve pages) with the inspiration and insight of a man so uniquely chosen and prepared to write. Indeed, we are grateful that his son, Moroni, shared with us both his memories of and his personal correspondence with his father, which reveal Mormon’s great doctrinal strength, his humanity and hope, and his abiding devotion to his people. (See Moro. 7–9.)

While acknowledging our indebtedness to Moroni for including these wonderfully inspiring chapters, we nevertheless wonder what other great discourses we might have received from Mormon if the book he abridged or the times in which he lived had not restricted his hand and limited his opportunity to speak to us. What we do have from him—and thus what we come to know of him—is of the highest order and places him in the front ranks of ancient America’s prophetic voices.

We know that “every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose” in his premortal existence. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.) Perhaps that call has an effect on those men even in their earliest mortal years, for Mormon was recognized by his predecessor Ammaron as being “a sober child” and one “quick to observe.” (Morm. 1:2.) As a lad only ten years of age, Mormon received a charge from Ammaron that some fourteen years later he should “go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim” and there obtain the ancient and faithfully recorded history of his people. (Morm. 1:3.) It was a charge he accepted and faithfully fulfilled.

Under the guidance of his father, for whom he was named (see Morm. 1:5–6), young Mormon moved to the land of Zarahemla when he was eleven years of age and prepared for his prophetic role. But these were difficult times. After more than two hundred years of peace and righteousness introduced on the western hemisphere by the Savior himself, the civilization had now declined to the point where “both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceeding wicked one like unto another. … And there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus.” (4 Ne. 1:45–46.) Indeed, that wickedness continued unchecked upon the whole of the land until even the disciples of Jesus, that last remnant of Christ’s ministry among the people, were taken away by the Lord:

“And the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.

“There were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.” (Morm. 1:13–14.)

Maintaining his integrity and faithful independence amidst such evil practice, Mormon was, at approximately the same age as the young prophet Joseph Smith, “visited of the Lord.” (Morm. 1:15.) Still in his teens, he tried valiantly to preach to his people, but because these people had willfully rebelled against their God and because their wickedness continued to run rampant, he was finally forbidden of God to speak. “My mouth was shut,” he records, “and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them … because of the hardness of their hearts.” (Morm. 1:16–17.)

Other, if less divine, opportunities for service were given to him. Like his ancestor Nephi, Mormon was also “large in stature” (Morm. 2:1), and with both a strong body and a resolute spirit he was chosen to lead the armies of the Nephite people—at the age of sixteen.

Even as Nephite blood flooded the battlefields, however, an army of domestic adversaries—thieves, robbers, murderers, and magicians—sheared the more private fabric of Nephite society. There was despair at home and abroad, and great sorrow among the people.

But as Mormon records, “Their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

“And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. …

“The day of grace was past with them, both temporally and spiritually.” (Morm. 2:13–15.)

The theft of personal property naturally grew into more conquest of home and lands until Mormon watched these, his brothers and sisters, stand in open conflict against each other and fall in open rebellion against their God. The bodies of the dead were “heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.” (Morm. 2:15.)

In the midst of this kind of personal and public destruction, Mormon made his way to the hill Shim and obtained the plates of Nephi in fulfillment of Ammaron’s commandment. There on these ancient metal plates he would, over the weeks and months ahead, give “a full account of all the wickedness and abominations” of his people, for there was little else to record. Indeed, these scenes of wickedness and abomination had been before his eyes “ever since I have been sufficient to behold the ways of man.” (Morm. 2:18.) Nephite history in the fourth century A.D. was by every standard an unpleasant story to tell.

Striving to maintain what military defense he could, even as he recorded the inevitable demise of his people, Mormon urged that the Nephites “stand boldly” and defend “their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes.” (Morm. 2:23.) Although there was an occasional temporary gain, Mormon faced the most hopeless of all military tasks—fighting when “the strength of the Lord was not with us.” He records in his history, “Yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.” (Morm. 2:26.)

As he fought against the enemy with sword and shield, he also tried to pierce the heart of his own people with strong testimony. But his cry was in vain. These people would not make that one crucial admission that the Lord God of Israel held the keys to their success. (See Morm. 3:2–3.) The warring would go on.

Both armies fought on in the feeble strength of the arm of flesh; and after two surprisingly successful defenses against Lamanite attacks, the Nephites “began to boast in their own strength.” (Morm. 3:9.) In utter despair Mormon threw down his weapons of war and vowed he would have no more to do with their cause. Though he “had loved them” (Morm. 3:12), he refused to lead their military forces and, by the Lord’s command, waited “as an idle witness” for total destruction. (Morm. 3:16.)

Yet at such moments of disappointment and frustration we learn something special about the heart and hunger of this man. His faith, his hope, and his charity were irrepressible. He could not abandon his own people. Notwithstanding their wickedness, he agreed once more to lead them. But some critical threshold had been passed. These people had decisively chosen darkness over light, evil over goodness, blood over benevolence. Prayer unto God “all day long” (Morm. 3:12) for that kind of soul was difficult indeed, but so Mormon prayed. Nevertheless, the judgments of God overtook his people and the degree of Nephite wickedness was equaled only by their loss of life.

Mormon records: “It is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.

“And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.” (Morm. 4:11–12.)

Undoubtedly it was in one of these times that Mormon wrote the painful letter to his son which Moroni recorded in his own book.

“My beloved son,” he writes, “I am laboring with [the Nephites] continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it. …

“They have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.” (Moro. 9:1, 4–5.)

But Mormon’s remarkable and indomitable spirit prevails. He holds to faith, hope, and charity, and to the miraculous intervention of angels and heavenly priesthood powers, as a prophet always will. Indeed, he loved his people with a “perfect love” that “casteth out all fear.” (Moro. 8:16.) He would simply try once again.

“And now, my beloved son,” he writes, “notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; … for we have a labor to perform.” (Moro. 9:6.)

The Spirit of Christ could yet lead this people if they would permit it to do so, and by his light they could yet “lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:21.) Even in the midst of these wicked days there was an opportunity to repent, a message delivered by the very angels of heaven. In the midst of his people’s abject wickedness, Mormon reminds his son that, in the past, “by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:25.)

And what God did in the past, he would do now: “Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.” (Moro. 7:36–37.)

What a remarkable message to be delivered in what we know were frightful and unfaithful times! We wonder what miracles might have been wrought, even at that late hour, if congregations of Nephite saints had claimed the privileges which could have been theirs. But they did not choose to claim them and so, for them, the day of miracles did indeed cease.

Gradually, inevitably, inexorably the Nephites lost men, women, children, property, and possessions to the increasingly powerful Lamanites; they “began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun.” (Morm. 4:18.) And as Nephite women and children were being sacrificed to Lamanite idols (Morm. 4:21), Mormon once again took command of the Nephite army, though he knew it was in vain and would be the last time.

“I was without hope,” he said, “for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.” (Morm. 5:2.)

Mormon achieved some temporary victories and maintained some temporary positions, but ultimately the Lamanites moved upon them in numbers so vast that “they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet.” (Morm. 5:6.)

In solitude and sorrow Mormon withdrew from the horde and wrote to an audience yet unborn but certain to receive his record. For Jew, Lamanite, and Gentile he describes the destruction of what had once been “a delightsome people,” a nation who once had “Christ for their shepherd.” (Morm. 5:17.) Now he records that “they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they.” (Morm. 5:18.)

At Mormon’s request, the Lamanites let the Nephites gather in the land of Cumorah (Morm. 6:2–4) to wage “the last struggle” of these peoples. (Morm. 6:6.) Mormon, now old and hoping only to protect the record, hid in the Hill Cumorah all the plates with which he had been entrusted, save the brief abridged record that he gave to his son Moroni. (Morm. 6:6.) In fearful anticipation and finally horrible realization, Mormon and Moroni fought as the remaining Nephite men, women, and children fell before the oncoming armies of the Lamanites. Mormon himself fell wounded, but his life, for a time, was spared as the Lamanite armies swept on. Only he, Moroni, and twenty-two other Nephites remained; 230,000 of their nation had fallen.

The scope and significance of that horrible slaughter may be seen more readily when we realize that the great American Civil War of the 1860s, the costliest war, in terms of human life, that the United States has ever known, took the lives of 140,000 men in a five-year period. Here, 230,000 fell in a single day.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon and Moroni After Final Battle

Looking out over that carnage, Mormon cried:

O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! …

“O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!

“But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.” (Morm. 6:17, 19–20.)

As his own death approached, Mormon concluded his record with one great and final testimony.

To the mighty remnant of the house of Israel he testified that they must come to know that they are God’s covenant people. They must come to know that repentance is the only course to salvation.

They must come to know that war must cease and the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only victory over death and the grave.

If indeed the great remnant of the house of Israel will lay hold upon his record and the gospel of Jesus Christ which it teaches, then, he promises, “it shall be well with you.”

Having seen a devastating day of judgment upon his own people, Mormon closed his weary eyes, seeking the rest of the valiant and the consolation of the saints. But to his eternal credit—and for our eternal good—he left behind a testament which would one day speak “out of the dust” and “hiss forth from generation to generation.” (Moro. 10:27–28.) It would be in every way “a marvellous work and a wonder.” (Isa. 29:14.)

For a wonderful followup to this article see, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 2

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Moroni Mourning

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#BOMTC 3 Nephi 8-10: The Death of the LIGHT

 Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“No single historical event in the whole Book of Mormon account is recorded in so great detail or at such extended length as the fulfillment of the signs signifying that Jesus had been lifted up upon the cross and had voluntarily laid down his life for the world” (The Promised Messiah, 572)

Pause for a moment to consider that statement. Read it one more time; wonder WHY.

Take your time… look away from the screen. Look over some of the things you marked in 3 Nephi 8-10.

Did you notice any patterns? Were there any key words or phrases that kept coming up? Why would Mormon include such detail concerning the signs that accompanied the death of the Savior?

Could it be that Mormon intends these chapters to serve as a pattern for what is to come before the Second Coming? Is it possible that Mormon is trying to warn the wicked in the latter days?

#BOMTC Day 67, June 12~3 Nephi 8-10 or Pages 423-428, Come Unto Me (1)

Around thirty-three years after seeing the sign of the Savior’s birth, the Nephites began to look for the sign that Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied of the Savior’s death. Although many signs were given, doubts and disputations arose among the people. Within the next year, Samuel’s prophecy was fulfilled. After great storms, earthquakes, and other calamities caused widespread destruction, darkness covered the land for three days. In the darkness, the people who had survived the destruction heard the voice of Jesus Christ. He invited them to repent and return to Him. When the darkness dispersed, the peoples’ mourning turned to joy and praise of Jesus Christ.

I found three particular phrases that stood out to me in these three chapters. Each one helps me to better prepare myself for the Second Coming of the Lord. As you read each of these phrases in their complete verse, you will see how each of them seem to be related to one another. And if these chapters are a pattern and a warning for us as we approach the Second Coming, then I need to make sure that I am not delaying my repentance and that I accept His invitation to come unto Him and be covered by His Atonement.

#BOMTC Day 67, June 12~3 Nephi 8-10 or Pages 423-428, Repent NOW

3 Nephi 8: The lamentation, “O that we had repented before this great and terrible day…” (vv. 25 & 25). I have always loved the following account related by President Spencer W. Kimball of an experience he had with a young man who was not quite sure he was ready to repent:

“In an interview with a young man in Mesa, Arizona, I found him only a little sorry he had committed adultery but not sure that he wanted to cleanse himself. After long deliberations in which I seemed to make little headway against his rebellious spirit, I finally said, ‘Goodbye, Bill, but I warn you, don’t break a speed limit, be careful what you eat, take no chances on your life. Be careful in traffic for you must not die before this matter is cleared up. Don’t you dare to die.’ I quoted this scripture:

“Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works.

. . . And there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy. (1 Ne. 15:33-34.)

“A slow death has its advantages over the sudden demise. The cancer victim who is head of a family, for instance, should use his time to be an advisor to those who will survive him. The period of inactivity after a patient learns there is no hope for his life can be a period of great productivity. How much more true this is of one who has been involved in deliberate sin! He must not die until he has made his peace with God. He must be careful and not have an accident.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, pp.145-6)

#BOMTC Day 67, June 12~3 Nephi 8-10 or Pages 423-428, Come Unto Me

3 Nephi 9: The invitation, “Come unto me…” (vv. 14 & 22). The following quote from President Thomas S. Monson is a faithful echo of the Savior’s continual invitation to come unto Him:

“Our Heavenly Father rejoices for those who keep His commandments. He is concerned also for the lost child, the tardy teenager, the wayward youth, the delinquent parent. Tenderly the Master speaks to these and indeed to all: ‘Come back. Come up. Come in. Come home. Come unto me.'” (President Thomas S. Monson, “The Race of Life”)

#BOMTC Day 67, June 12~3 Nephi 8-10 or Pages 423-428, As a Hen Gathereth Her Chickens

3 Nephi 10: The illustration, “As a hen gathereth her chickens…” (vv. 4, 5, & 6). Christ used the image of a common chicken to communicate his loving care and covenant relationship to his children. The following is taken from the Deseret News, Saturday, Oct. 11 2008.

Jane Allis-Pike, a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, calls Christ’s description of himself gathering the Nephites under his wing the “hen metaphor.” Christ chose this metaphor to communicate something to the fearful survivors.

“I suggest that Christ uses the hen metaphor to rekindle the survivors’ faith and trust in him, and to remind and teach them of the true nature and condition of their covenant relationship with him,” Allis-Pike said.

Christ chose the common chicken for his metaphor because of the hen’s selfless devotion to its chicks. Allis-Pike explained that a chicken is almost defenseless, yet it will never abandon its offspring when danger arises. It also is an active mother and will gather its offspring together to protect them. If necessary it will shield its little chicks with its own body — offering itself to preserve their lives.

To the hen, its chicks are valued greatly. It actively will call to them. “Perhaps the most important point about the chicks in this metaphor is what is assumed. These chickens obey instinct. They come to their mother … this means that when the hen calls they come without hesitation, without delay and without question run to the safety that is only found underneath their mother’s wings,” Allis-Pike said.

It may seem paradoxical for Christ to compare himself to a mother, yet, as Allis-Pike explained, he has figuratively given birth to his children. “Christ has specific qualities normally existing only in the purview of women and mothers,” she said.

A mother hen calls her chicks to protect them from predators. Satan is the predator, according to Allis-Pike. “Just as the mother hen literally uses her body to protect her chick’s life, Christ literally uses his body to protect his children from spiritual destruction,” she said.

Christ also used his body to bring the resurrection of all people to pass.

“The beauty of the hen metaphor is that it goes beyond language, allowing the readers to simply feel Christ’s love for us,” Allis-Pike said.

When Christ spoke to the Nephites, he expanded the metaphor to include the past, present and future.

“How oft have I gathered you,” refers to the past.

“How oft would I have gathered you,” is a conditional reference to the past.

“How oft will I gather you,” refers to the future.

“And then in the very act of speaking to these people he is talking in the present and caring for them. Like a hen who watches gently over her chicks, Christ is always available,” Allis-Pike said.

In the four verses of the metaphor Christ uses the verb “gather” eight times. This is an active process, according to Allis-Pike. Those who were killed in the destruction were those who refused to be gathered.

“But if the chicks, or the people of the House of Israel, run away … Christ can not save them from the devouring predator, Satan,” Allis-Pike said.

According to Allis-Pike, the hen metaphor sequence in Third Nephi can also be read as a “covenant lawsuit” where Christ takes the position of a prosecutor over those who have died and where the survivors act as witnesses.

Each reciting of the hen metaphor is posed as a question and builds a case against those who rejected the merciful invitation to be gathered. It also applies the covenant question to the Nephite survivors … and to the readers of Third Nephi as well.

Christ finished his invitation. Allis-Pike points out that the survivors’ response to this second announcement from Christ was not silence. The people begin to weep. They weep for the lost. They weep for their sins. But Christ’s love turns their weeping to joy as the darkness lifts.

“Christ’s use of the hen metaphor has played a major role in this transition (from weeping to joy). Christ in his infinite wisdom has created a visual, powerful healing metaphor that allows people to come to terms with the destruction and the loss of life they have witnessed … and teaches of their covenant relationship with Christ,” Allis-Pike said.

Don’t WAIT, “later” may be too LATE!

#BOMTC Day 67, June 12~3 Nephi 8-10 or Pages 423-428, NOW or LATER

Below is a video that I created from the Bible Videos produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is an attempt to visualize the final hours of the Savior’s life. These are the events that occurred in the vicinity of Jerusalem which led to the destruction that we studied in 3 Nephi 8-10.

“The Hour Is Come”

The Final Hours of the Savior’s Life

#BOMTC Day 67, June 12~3 Nephi 8-10 or Pages 423-428, Come Unto Me TSM

“Our Heavenly Father rejoices for those who keep His commandments. He is concerned also for the lost child, the tardy teenager, the wayward youth, the delinquent parent. Tenderly the Master speaks to these and indeed to all: ‘Come back. Come up. Come in. Come home. Come unto me.'” (President Thomas S. Monson, “The Race of Life”)

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#BOMTC Helaman 6-7: Cup Up? Fill Up!

As you have studied the book of Helaman, you have seen that the Nephites made choices that led the Spirit of the Lord to withdraw from their lives, while the Lamanites made choices that invited the Spirit to increase in their lives.

Because of the missionary efforts of Nephi and Lehi, thousands of Lamanites in Zarahemla had been baptized, and the majority of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi had been converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:19–20, 50–51). Following their missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. Unfortunately, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them. The prophet Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. He also prophesied that because of the Lamanites’ righteousness, the Lord would be merciful unto them and preserve them. Mormon recorded that the Lord withdrew His Spirit from the Nephites and began to pour out His Spirit on the Lamanites (see Helaman 6:35–36).

influence of the Spirit

When Nephi saw the state of his people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He went up on a tower in his garden to pray and to mourn the wickedness of the people. When the people heard him praying and mourning, a multitude gathered to learn why he was so upset. After the people gathered to hear Nephi praying upon the tower in his garden, He used the opportunity to teach them (see Helaman 7:12–29). He warned them of the consequences of their decisions and emphasized that if they refused to repent of their sins, they would lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.

In Joel 2:28-29, the Lord promises that in the last days He “will pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh”.

For illustrative purposes, let’s liken ourselves to a cup. A cup can be placed in a few different positions. You can place it with the opening facing up, sideways, or upside down. My position as a cup is determined by my attitude and actions. Now, if the Lord is going to “pour out” His Spirit upon me, then I want to be “cup up” (like the Lamanites in these chapters) with a good attitude and righteous actions. Sometimes my attitude and actions may be bad (like the Nephites in these chapters), in which case I am “cup down”–not a very good position if the Lord is pouring out His Spirit. Sometimes I may not be doing anything bad, but I am not necessarily doing anything good either (see D&C 58:26-28), in which case I could liken myself to “cup sideways”–also not very conducive to receiving an out-“pouring” of the Spirit of God.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that our attitude and actions can cause us to withdraw from the Holy Spirit:

“The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

“Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit….

“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord [cup down], that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006).

I invite you to read/listen to/watch Elder Bednar’s entire conference talk so that you can assure yourself that you are living like the righteous Lamanites (“cup up”) in these chapters. His message, along with these chapters, can help you identify what you need to do to be “CUP UP” so that you can “FILL UP” on the Spirit of the Lord.

That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us

Today, I speak by way of reminder and admonition to those of us who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I pray for and invite the Holy Ghost to now assist me and you as we learn together.

Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins “is the introductory ordinance of the gospel” of Jesus Christ and must be preceded by faith in the Savior and by sincere and complete repentance. “Baptism in water … must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to be complete” (see Bible Dictionary, “Baptism,” 618). As the Savior taught Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). My message this afternoon focuses on the baptism of the Spirit and the blessings that flow from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

The Ordinance of and Covenant Associated with Baptism

As each of us was baptized, we entered into a solemn covenant with our Heavenly Father. A covenant is an agreement between God and His children upon the earth, and it is important to understand that God determines the conditions of all gospel covenants. You and I do not decide the nature or elements of a covenant. Rather, exercising our moral agency, we accept the terms and requirements of a covenant as our Eternal Father has established them (see Bible Dictionary, “Covenant,” 651).

The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.

Confirmation and the Baptism of the Spirit

Following our baptism, each of us had hands placed upon our head by those with priesthood authority and was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us (see D&C 49:14). The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:499). We were baptized by immersion in water for the remission of sins. We must also be baptized by and immersed in the Spirit of the Lord, “and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Ne. 31:17).

As we gain experience with the Holy Ghost, we learn that the intensity with which we feel the Spirit’s influence is not always the same. Strong, dramatic spiritual impressions do not come to us frequently. Even as we strive to be faithful and obedient, there simply are times when the direction, assurance, and peace of the Spirit are not readily recognizable in our lives. In fact, the Book of Mormon describes faithful Lamanites who “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Ne. 9:20).

The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in the scriptures as “a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12; see also 3 Ne. 11:3) and a “voice of perfect mildness” (Hel. 5:30). Thus, the Spirit of the Lord usually communicates with us in ways that are quiet, delicate, and subtle.

Withdrawing Ourselves from the Spirit of the Lord

In our individual study and classroom instruction, we repeatedly emphasize the importance of recognizing the inspiration and promptings we receive from the Spirit of the Lord. And such an approach is correct and useful. We should seek diligently to recognize and respond to promptings as they come to us. However, an important aspect of baptism by the Spirit may frequently be overlooked in our spiritual development.

We should also endeavor to discern when we “withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved” (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.

The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us.

I recognize we are fallen men and women living in a mortal world and that we might not have the presence of the Holy Ghost with us every second of every minute of every hour of every day. However, the Holy Ghost can tarry with us much, if not most, of the time—and certainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is not with us. As we become ever more immersed in the Spirit of the Lord, we should strive to recognize impressions when they come and the influences or events that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.

Taking “the Holy Spirit for [our] guide” (D&C 45:57) is possible and is essential for our spiritual growth and survival in an increasingly wicked world. Sometimes as Latter-day Saints we talk and act as though recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives is the rare or exceptional event. We should remember, however, that the covenant promise is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. This supernal blessing applies to every single member of the Church who has been baptized, confirmed, and instructed to “receive the Holy Ghost.”

The Liahona as a Type and Shadow for Our Day

In our day the Book of Mormon is the primary source to which we should turn for help in learning how to invite the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The description in the Book of Mormon of the Liahona, the director or compass used by Lehi and his family in their journey in the wilderness, specifically was included in the record as a type and a shadow for our day and as an essential lesson about what we should do to enjoy the blessings of the Holy Ghost.

As we strive to align our attitudes and actions with righteousness, then the Holy Ghost becomes for us today what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family in their day. The very factors that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona not to work anciently will likewise cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost today.

The Liahona: Purposes and Principles

As we study and ponder the purposes of the Liahona and the principles by which it operated, I testify that we will receive inspiration suited to our individual and family circumstances and needs. We can and will be blessed with ongoing direction from the Holy Ghost.

The Liahona was prepared by the Lord and given to Lehi and his family after they left Jerusalem and were traveling in the wilderness (see Alma 37:38; D&C 17:1). This compass or director pointed the way that Lehi and his caravan should go (see 1 Ne. 16:10), even “a straight course to the promised land” (Alma 37:44). The pointers in the Liahona operated “according to the faith and diligence and heed” (1 Ne. 16:28) of the travelers and failed to work when family members were contentious, rude, slothful, or forgetful (see 1 Ne. 18:12, 21; Alma 37:41, 43).

The compass also provided a means whereby Lehi and his family could obtain greater “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord” (1 Ne. 16:29). Thus, the primary purposes of the Liahona were to provide both direction and instruction during a long and demanding journey. The director was a physical instrument that served as an outward indicator of their inner spiritual standing before God. It worked according to the principles of faith and diligence.

Just as Lehi was blessed in ancient times, each of us in this day has been given a spiritual compass that can direct and instruct us during our mortal journey. The Holy Ghost was conferred upon you and me as we came out of the world and into the Savior’s Church through baptism and confirmation. By the authority of the holy priesthood we were confirmed as members of the Church and admonished to seek for the constant companionship of “the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

As we each press forward along the pathway of life, we receive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi was directed through the Liahona. “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5).

The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed.

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. …

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” (D&C 121:45–46).

And the Holy Ghost provides for us today the means whereby we can receive, “by small and simple things” (Alma 37:6), increased understanding about the ways of the Lord: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless us with direction, instruction, and spiritual protection during our mortal journey. We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through meaningful personal and family prayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent and exacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring of covenants, and through virtue, humility, and service. And we steadfastly should avoid things that are immodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.

We also invite the ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost as we worthily partake of the sacrament each Sabbath day: “And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day” (D&C 59:9).

Through the ordinance of the sacrament we renew our baptismal covenant and can receive and retain a remission of our sins (see Mosiah 4:12, 26). In addition, we are reminded on a weekly basis of the promise that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. As we then strive to keep ourselves clean and unspotted from the world, we become worthy vessels in whom the Spirit of the Lord can always dwell.

In February of 1847 the Prophet Joseph Smith appeared to Brigham Young in a dream or vision. President Young asked the Prophet if he had a message for the Brethren. The Prophet Joseph replied: “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom” (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 41; emphasis added). Of all the truths the Prophet Joseph might have taught Brigham Young on that sacred occasion, he emphasized the importance of obtaining and keeping the Spirit of the Lord.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of the living reality of God the Eternal Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost. May each of us so live that we may always have His Spirit to be with us and thereby qualify for the blessings of direction, instruction, and protection that are essential in these latter days. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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#BOMTC Alma 40-42: “True Doctrine, Understood, Changes Attitudes and Behavior”

President Boyd K. Packer taught:

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

Is that a true statement? To me the key word that makes that statement true is the inclusion of the word “understood”. I think that as we understand a doctrine then we will begin to feel the need to change. The discussion that Alma has with his son Corianton seems to be a great illustration of this.

As Alma warned his son Corianton about the consequences of sin (Alma 39), he also taught about the doctrine of life after death (Alma 40). He explained that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (doctrine), all mankind will be resurrected (doctrine). He taught about the spirit world (doctrine), where the dead, depending on their choices in mortality, wait in either paradise or prison until the resurrection. Alma also taught that the plan of restoration (doctrine) includes not only physical resurrection but also a spiritual restoration (doctrine) in which our eternal state reflects our mortal actions and desires (Alma 41). Alma emphasized the principle that wickedness can never lead to happiness (see Alma 41:10). 

Alma concluded his counsel to his son Corianton by explaining that Heavenly Father had provided a way for those who sin to obtain mercy (doctrine). He taught that the justice of God demands that sinners be cut off from the presence of God (doctrine). He then testified that Jesus Christ would “appease the demands of justice” (Alma 42:15) by suffering for all who have sinned and by providing mercy to the penitent (doctrine). Once Corianton “understood” all of this “true doctrine”, he returned to the ministry that he had previously forsaken (Alma 42:31). Twenty years later, he was still faithfully ministering the gospel. (see Alma 49:30Alma 63:10)

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior”

The Mediator

A portrayal of the analogy Elder Boyd K. Packer used in his April 1977 general conference address. A young man who fails to pay a debt is saved from the grasp of justice through the mediation of a friend. (10:44)

President Boyd K. Packer also gave a wonderful talk which used these chapters as an outline to teach the doctrine of repentance (“I Will Remember Your Sins No More”). I invite you to read, watch, or listen to his talk in its entirety and see what changes in “attitudes and behavior” it may inspire you to make.

I Will Remember Your Sins No More

My message is about a father and a son. Alma, the father, was a prophet; his son, Corianton, a missionary.

Two of Alma’s sons—Shiblon and Corianton (the youngest)—were on a mission to the Zoramites. Alma was greatly disappointed at the failure of his son Corianton to live the standards of a missionary. Corianton forsook his ministry and went to the land of Siron after the harlot Isabel (see Alma 39:3).

“This was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted” (Alma 39:4).

Alma told his son that the devil had led him away (see Alma 39:11). Unchastity is “most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost” (Alma 39:5).

“I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime.” He then said: “I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.

“But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God” (Alma 39:7–8).

He sternly commanded his son to accept the counsel of his older brothers (see Alma 39:10).

Alma told him that his iniquity was great because it turned away investigators: “When they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words. And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities” (Alma 39:11–12).

After this severe rebuke, Alma the loving father became Alma the teacher. He knew that “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else” (Alma 31:5). So Alma taught Corianton.

He spoke first of Christ: “My son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ. Behold, I say unto you, that it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people” (Alma 39:15).

Corianton asked how they should know about the coming of Christ so far in advance.

Alma replied, “Is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?” (Alma 39:17).

Corianton was “worried concerning the resurrection of the dead” (Alma 40:1).

Alma had inquired of God concerning the Resurrection and told Corianton of the First Resurrection and of other resurrections. “There is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead” (Alma 40:4).

He had inquired as to “what becometh of the souls of men from this time of death to the time appointed for the resurrection” (Alma 40:7).

He then told Corianton, “All men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11). The “righteous are received into a state of happiness” (Alma 40:12), and the evil are “led captive by the will of the devil” (Alma 40:13). The righteous remain “in paradise, until the time of their resurrection” (Alma 40:14).

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

Alma told his son “that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works” (Alma 40:21).

“The soul”—that is, the spirit—“shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul” (Alma 40:23). “This,” he said, “is the restoration of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets” (Alma 40:24). Alma said that “some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing” (Alma 41:1).

Alma then said: “And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.

“Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee” (Alma 42:1–2).

He told Corianton about the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Adam and Eve: “And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will” (Alma 42:7).

“It was appointed unto man to die” (Alma 42:6).

Alma then explained why death is absolutely necessary: “If it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Alma 42:11).

Alma taught Corianton about justice and mercy: “According to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men” (Alma 42:13).

Alma explained that “the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).

Alma taught Corianton about the unwavering standard of eternal law (see Alma 42:17–25).

He very bluntly explained why punishment was necessary: “Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul” (Alma 42:16).

Alma knew personally the pain of punishment and the joy of repentance. He himself had once greatly disappointed his own father, Corianton’s grandfather. He rebelled and went about “seeking to destroy the church” (Alma 36:6). He was struck down by an angel, not because he deserved it but because of the prayers of his father and others (see Mosiah 27:14).

Alma felt the agony and guilt and said: “As I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. …Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (Alma 36:17–21, 24).

Alma asked Corianton, “Do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice?” (Alma 42:25). He explained that because of the Atonement of Christ, both could be satisfied by eternal law.

“Moved upon by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 121:43; see also Alma 39:12), Alma had rebuked Corianton with sharpness. Then, after plainly and patiently teaching these fundamental principles of the gospel, there came the abundance of love.

The Prophet Joseph Smith was taught through revelation that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death” (D&C 121:41–44).

Alma said: “O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility” (Alma 42:30).

Corianton’s grandfather, also named Alma, was among the priests who had served the wicked King Noah. He heard Abinadi the prophet testify of Christ, and he was converted. Condemned to death, he fled the evil court to teach of Christ. (See Mosiah 17:1–4.)

Now Alma, in turn, was the father pleading with his son Corianton to repent.

After sternly rebuking his son and patiently teaching the doctrine of the gospel, Alma the loving father said, “And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance” (Alma 42:29).

In agony and shame, Corianton was brought “down to the dust in humility” (Alma 42:30).

Alma, who was Corianton’s father and also his priesthood leader, was now satisfied with Corianton’s repentance. He lifted the terrible burden of guilt his son carried and sent him back to the mission field: “And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. … Go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness. … And may God grant unto you even according to my words” (Alma 42:31).

Corianton joined his brothers, Helaman and Shiblon, who were among the priesthood leaders. Twenty years later in the land northward, he was still faithfully laboring in the gospel. (See Alma 49:30Alma 63:10.)

It is a wicked, wicked world in which we live and in which our children must find their way. Challenges of pornography, gender confusion, immorality, child abuse, drug addiction, and all the rest are everywhere. There is no way to totally escape their influence.

Some are led by curiosity into temptation, then into experimentation, and some become trapped in addiction. They lose hope. The adversary harvests his crop and binds them down.

Satan is the deceiver, the destroyer, but his is a temporary victory.

The angels of the devil convince some that they are born to a life from which they cannot escape and are compelled to live in sin. The most wicked of lies is that they cannot change and repent and that they will not be forgiven. That cannot be true. They have forgotten the Infinite Atonement of Christ.

“For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him” (D&C 18:11).

Christ is the Creator, the Healer. What He made, He can fix when broken. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of repentance and forgiveness (see 2 Ne. 1:132 Ne. 9:45Jacob 3:11Alma 26:13–14Moro. 7:17–19).

“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10).

The account of this loving father and a wayward son, drawn from the Book of MormonAnother Testament of Jesus Christ, is a type, a pattern, an example.

Each of us has a loving Father in Heaven. Through the Father’s redeeming plan, those who may stumble and fall “are not cast off forever” (Title Page of the Book of Mormon).

“And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!” (D&C 18:13).

“The Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; nevertheless” (D&C 1:31–32), the Lord said, “he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).

Could there be any more sweeter or more consoling words, more filled with hope, than those words from the scriptures? “I, the Lord, remember [their sins] no more” (D&C 58:42). That is the testimony of the Book of Mormon, and that is my testimony to you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Boyd K. Packer, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior”

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#BOMTC Alma 5-6: A Mighty Change of Heart!

You may remember a general conference address in which Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles compared the process of conversion to the process of pickling a cucumber (Referred to as, “The Parable of the Pickle” in “Ye Must Be Born Again,” Ensign,May 2007). For many of us this was a new and powerful object lesson, but Elder Bednar wasn’t the first Apostle to make this comparison. President Lorenzo Snow shared a similar insight 150 years earlier:

“Place a cucumber in a barrel of vinegar and there is but little effect produced upon it the first hour, nor in the first 12 hours. Examine it and you will find that the effect produced is merely upon the rind, for it requires a longer time to pickle it. A person’s being baptized into this church has an effect upon him, but not the effect to pickle him immediately. It does not establish the law of right and of duty in him during the first 12 or 24 hours; he must remain in the church, like the cucumber in the vinegar, until he becomes saturated with the right spirit (Teachings: Lorenzo Snow, CHAPTER 3: LIFELONG CONVERSION: CONTINUING TO ADVANCE IN THE PRINCIPLES OF TRUTH).

Although Elder Bednar may not have been the first to use “the parable of the pickle” as an object lesson of true and continual conversion, he did elaborate on it with more power, and authority, clarity, and completeness than I could ever hope to offer. I commend his words to you below… (Keep scrolling though, I do have more!)

Ye Must Be Born Again

These pages are an invitation to CHANGE in the same way! When the Church was threatened by internal contention and wickedness (see Alma 4:9–11), Alma knew that true reform could only come through a mighty change in the hearts of Church members. Alma gave up the judgment seat so he could focus his efforts on strengthening the Church. As the High Priest of the Church, Alma began his mission to reclaim the people of Zarahemla by “bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:19) and calling on the people to repent. Alma began his mission by reminding the people of Zarahemla that the Lord had delivered their ancestors from physical and spiritual bondage. He encouraged them to prepare for the judgment of the Lord by having faith in the word of God and evaluating the spiritual condition of their hearts. As Alma continued preaching in Zarahemla, he warned the people that their decision to hearken to or reject his words held certain blessings or consequences. Alma also compared Jesus Christ to a good shepherd who called after them and desired to bring them back to his fold. He encouraged the people to repent and avoid the unclean things of the world so they could inherit the kingdom of heaven. After setting the Church in order in Zarahemla, Alma went to the city of Gideon.

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (4)

One of the classic stories that I feel illustrates Alma 5-6 well is HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS”, by Dr. Seuss

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (7)

What exactly was the Grinch’s problem? The same thing that Alma has noticed with his people (and perhaps us)–Heart Disease! Elder Gerald N. Lund, who later served as a member of the Seventy, taught that when the word heart is used in the scriptures, it often refers to “the real, inward person” (“Understanding Scriptural Symbols,” Ensign, Oct. 1986). How is a “mighty change of heart” different from the other ways in which people may change?

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (6)

One way to express that someone has had a mighty change of heart is to say that they have been “born of God” or “born again”–the change that a person experiences when they accept Jesus Christ and begin a new life as His disciple.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“You may ask, ‘Why doesn’t this mighty change happen more quickly with me?’ You should remember that the remarkable examples of King Benjamin’s people, Alma, and some others in scripture are just that—remarkable and not typical. For most of us, the changes are more gradual and occur over time. Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality” (“Born Again,” Ensign, May 2008).

President Ezra Taft Benson also explained that experiencing “a mighty change of heart” is most often an incremental process: 

“Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were: Alma the Younger, Paul on the road to Damascus, Enos praying far into the night, King Lamoni. Such astonishing examples of the power to change even those steeped in sin give confidence that the Atonement can reach even those deepest in despair. But we must be cautious as we discuss these remarkable examples. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds and thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said ‘were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not’ (3 Ne. 9:20; italics added)” (“A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989).

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (3)

CHART YOUR HEART!

In medical practice a cardiogram is a chart that doctors use to evaluate the status of our physical hearts. It helps identify conditions that need treatment. Study the verses from Alma 5 that are listed at the bottom of the spiritual cardiogram below. What does your SPIRITUAL CARDIOGRAM look like?

#BOMTC Day 36, May 12~Alma 5-6 or Pages 217-223 (8)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught us this about CHANGE: 

“Here the most crucial challenge, once you recognize the seriousness of your mistakes, will be to believe that you can change, that there can be a different you. To disbelieve that is clearly a satanic device designed to discourage and defeat you. We ought to fall on our knees and thank our Father in heaven that we belong to a church and have grasped a gospel that promises repentance to those who will pay the price. Repentance is not a foreboding word. It is, after faith, the most encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary. Repentance is simply the scriptural invitation for growth and improvement and progress and renewal. You can change! You can be anything you want to be in righteousness.

“If there is one lament I cannot abide, it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” If you want to talk about discouragement, that is one that discourages me. I’ve heard it from too many people who want to sin and call it psychology. And I use the word sin to cover a vast range of habits, some seemingly innocent enough, that nevertheless bring discouragement and doubt and despair.

“You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. Another satanic sucker punch is that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. That’s just not true. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, “I’ll change”-and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend-indeed, you had better spend-the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as they did for Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Even if you have serious amends to make, it is not likely that you would qualify for the term “the vilest of sinners,” which is the phrase Mormon used in describing these young men. Yet as Alma recounts his own experience, it appears to have been as instantaneous as it was stunning. (See Alma 36)”  (However Long and Hard the Road, p.6)

President Ezra Taft Benson taught how people who have had a “change of heart” want to live:

“When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed. … The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human behavior. …

“Men [and women] changed for Christ will be captained by Christ. Like Paul they will be asking, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ (Acts 9:6.) …

“Their will is swallowed up in His will. (See John 5:30.)

“They do always those things that please the Lord. (See John 8:29.)

“Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him.

“Enter their homes, and the pictures on their walls, the books on their shelves, the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians.

“They stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places. (See Mosiah 18:9.)

“They have Christ on their minds, as they look unto Him in every thought. (See D&C 6:36.)

“They have Christ in their hearts as their affections are placed on Him forever. (See Alma 37:36.)

“Almost every week they partake of the sacrament and witness anew to their Eternal Father that they are willing to take upon them the name of His Son, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. (See Moro. 4:3.)” (“Born of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1985).

Are You Saved?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings. According to some of these, our salvation is assured—we are already saved. In others, salvation must be spoken of as a future event . . . or as conditioned upon a future event. . . . But in all of these meanings, or kinds of salvation, salvation is in and through Jesus Christ” (Ensign, May 1998). The following are summaries of the six different meanings of which Elder Oaks spoke:

  1. We are saved from the permanent effects of death. Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected.

  2. We are saved from sin through Christ’s Atonement and by following the gospel plan. Repentance is an important part of being saved from the consequences of our sins.

  3. We are saved when we are “born again.” This happens when we enter into a covenant relationship with Christ by accepting baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and taking Christ’s name upon us. We must also faithfully keep and renew that covenant relationship.

  4. We are saved from the darkness of ignorance as we learn about the gospel plan. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings light into our lives.

  5. We are saved from the second death, which is final spiritual death, because of Christ’s Atonement. Everyone, except for those few who become sons of perdition, will enter into a kingdom of glory.

  6. Our hope is that we will be finally saved in the celestial kingdom. In addition to the other requirements, this salvation, or exaltation, also requires that we make sacred covenants in God’s temples and remain faithful to them.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS”

Every Who

Down in Who-ville

Liked Christmas a lot…

But the Grinch,

Who lived just North of Who-ville,

Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas!

The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on quite right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were to tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But,

Whatever the reason,

His heart or his shoes,

He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,

Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown

At the warm lighted windows below in their town.

For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath

Was busy now, hanging a mistleoe wreath.

“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer.

“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”

Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,

“I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!”

For, tomorrow, he knew…

…All the Who girls and boys

Would wake up bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!

And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!

That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.

And they’d feast! And they’d feast!

And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!

They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast

Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!

And THEN

They’d do something he liked least of all!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.

They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!

They’d sing! And they’d sing!

AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!

And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing

The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!

“Why for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!

I MUST stop Christmas from coming!

…But HOW?”

Then he got an idea!

An awful idea!

THE GRINCH

GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“I know just what to do!” The Grinch Laughed in his throat.

And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.

And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!

“With this coat and this hat, I’ll look just like Saint Nick!”

“All I need is a reindeer…”

The Grinch looked around.

But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.

Did that stop the old Grinch…?

No! The Grinch simply said,

“If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!”

So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread

And he tied a big horn on top of his head.

THEN

He loaded some bags

And some old empty sacks

On a ramshakle sleigh

And he hitched up old Max.

Then the Grinch said, “Giddyap!”

And the sleigh started down

Toward the homes where the Whos

Lay a-snooze in their town.

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.

All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care

When he came to the first house in the square.

“This is stop number one,” The old Grinchy Claus hissed

And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.

Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.

But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.

He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.

Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue

Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.

“These stockings,” he grinned, “are the first things to go!”

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,

Around the whole room, and he took every present!

Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!

Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!

And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,

Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!

Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos’ feast!

He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!

He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.

Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!

Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.

“And NOW!” grinned the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree!”

And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove

When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.

He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!

Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.

The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter

Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.

She stared at the Grinch and said, “Santy Claus, why,

“Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”

But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick

He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!

“Why, my sweet little tot,” the fake Santy Claus lied,

“There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side.

“So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.

“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”

And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head

And he got her a drink and he sent he to bed.

And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,

HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!

Then the last thing he took

Was the log for their fire.

Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar.

On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.

And the one speck of food

The he left in the house

Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.

Then

He did the same thing

To the other Whos’ houses

Leaving crumbs

Much too small

For the other Whos’ mouses!

It was quarter past dawn…

All the Whos, still a-bed

All the Whos, still a-snooze

When he packed up his sled,

Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!

The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,

He rode to the tiptop to dump it!

“Pooh-pooh to the Whos!” he was grinch-ish-ly humming.

“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!

“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!

“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two

“The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!”

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch,

“That I simply must hear!”

So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It started in low. Then it started to grow…

But the sound wasn’t sad!

Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn’t be so!

But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville!

The Grinch popped his eyes!

Then he shook!

What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!

IT CAME!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

And what happened then…?

Well…in Who-ville they say

That the Grinch’s small heart

Grew three sizes that day!

And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light

And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!

And he…

…HE HIMSELF…!

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

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