Before the birth of Christ, the Greek influence of Alexander the Great’s Empire permeated every part of the Hebrew society. Increasingly, there was a struggle between those who wanted to live by the word of God and those who wanted to incorporate the Greek philosophies into their lives. Even some of the priesthood leaders of Israel were swayed into mixing the philosophies of the Hellenistic (Greek) influence with the law and priesthood of God. Not all Israelites were so eager to adopt this new blend of philosophy. Among these faithful were various groups of Hebrews who wanted to be found living God’s law when the Messiah came. These faithful groups fled to the wilderness, just as the ancient Israelites fled Egypt, in search of their own promised land.
In more recent history, we see this same pattern repeated by many of the reformers and separatists who left the religion of their country to seek after a more perfect way. America was founded by the families who wanted to have the religious freedom needed to live a more perfect way and our Mormon pioneers left their various homelands to build Zion in the desert.
If you haven’t noticed, the philosophies of men have not ceased to infiltrate every aspect of our modern lives. So, how do we keep our families from falling victim to these lies? Elder Jeffery R. Holland has the answer, “In these last days, in this our dispensation, we would become mature enough to stop running. We would become mature enough to plant our feet and our families and our foundations in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people permanently. Zion would be everywhere—wherever the Church is. And with that change—one of the mighty changes of the last days—we no longer think of Zion as where we are going to live; we think of it as how we are going to live.” Continue reading →
It was their first day in their new home. The young mother stepped through the maze of unpacked boxes as she made her way to answer the knock at the side door. There on the porch stood a tiny bit of a woman, a long ponytail wound and pinned up around her head. She introduced herself as Delores Fizzy, the next-door neighbor. She was smiling with extended arms. On one hand rested a large plate filled with a two-layer chocolate cake, in the other hand a small blue book – The Book of Mormon.
Choosing the neighborhood for their first home was a big decision for Don and Marlene Grabow. When they had decided on a house they went up and down the street to meet the neighbors and get their impressions of the neighborhood and its families before they purchased it. The opinions were unanimously positive, though many included an interesting caution – a Mormon family lived in the home directly next door to the one the Grabows were considering. Those giving the caution seemed to think that might be negative, but to Marlene, it was an opportunity to learn more about the beautiful choir she had long admired, though she knew nothing of the beliefs of the church to whom the choir belonged. So when the Mormon neighbor made her delivery that first day, Marlene thought things might get more interesting than she had anticipated. Continue reading →
Do you like to read? Do you ever listen to audio books? What is it about a particular book that makes you excited to recommend it to others? Do you ever share your list of favorites with friends or family? Have you ever seen someone you don’t know, reading your favorite book, and felt an overwhelming connection to them, simply because they were reading something so dear to you?
On Labor Day, my husband and I spent the day running errands in preparation for our son’s upcoming wedding. On our trip to the grocery store, we picked up some salted mixed nuts that my husband’s sweet mother, Margie, said she was wishing for. We stopped into the care center for an impromptu visit to give them to her, knowing how much she was craving the salty goodness of some roasted cashews.
When we entered her small apartment, Margie was so excited to see us and was thrilled at the yummy treat we presented to her, but she wanted to share something with us that was much more nutritious. She clapped her hands together and exclaimed, “guess what?! I just finished the Book of Mormon, again!” She was beaming with the Spirit that comes to a person when they have a burning love for and testimony of the Book of Mormon and she wanted to pass on her enthusiasm to us. She wanted us to feel the warm glow she was already basking in.Continue reading →
It’s difficult to read 3 Nephi 17 in the Book of Mormon and not weep alongside the Savior and those who experienced the sacred occasion of His appearance and ministry to the Nephites following His Resurrection. It is also difficult to imagine that anyone, after reading the account, would not also experience a deep witness of the Spirit that Jesus is the Christ and that the Book of Mormon is a true record. A record that was written for our day and preserved to come forth at this very time, when more than ever in the history of the world we need Him and His gospel. We need Him to save us and heal us from the inevitable, broken hearts of mortality!
How grateful I am for the Book of Mormon. It has truly changed my life. Tonight I found myself in the crowning chapter of the book, weeping. I wept because I imagined myself among the Nephites, with my husband, our children, and grandchildren – my entire family. I wept because I know that what the Savior wants more than anything else is to heal each and every one of us through the power of the Atonement. I wept because the Savior wept. He was truly overwhelmed by the love He received from these people. What a contrast to what He had just experienced in Jerusalem, among His own, only days before. They crucified Him!
18 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
19 And it came to pass that Jesus spake unto them, and bade them arise.
20 And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
21 And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
22 And when he had done this he wept again;
I wept because I know that I will have that same experience at His Second Coming if I am true and faithful to the covenants that I have made in His Holy Temple. I wept, imagining what it will be like to kneel with the Savior and have Him pray for me – I know He will. I wept because I know I need to repent more, and more often. I wept because I so want to be a better person and to become like Him. But oh, I am so weak. How grateful I am to know that although we are commanded to be perfect, it’s not going to happen in this life. What we can become is pretty perfect at striving to be perfect. I think that’s what’s expected of true disciples of Jesus Christ. I am committed to ‘striving’ a little harder, every day.
“Perfection is an eternal goal. While we cannot be perfect in mortality, striving for it is a commandment which ultimately, through the Atonement, we can keep.” President James E. Faust
I’ve always loved the Primary song, ‘I Wonder When He Comes Again.’ After reading the account of the Savior’s appearance to the Nephites, I think I now know.
The record left by the Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, is truly revelatory when compared to our day – and in particular, to what is going on within the Church, as we speak. In seven chapters, Jacob’s ability to know what to record, which would be of greatest worth to covenant members of the Church now, is simply stunning!
Jacob’s final chapter is the result of the people rejecting the message he boldly recorded at the beginning of his writings. “And it came to pass…” that the anti-Christ, Sherem (our first in the Book of Mormon), enters onto the scene and we learn of the many sophistries he enlisted to undermine a prophet of God – one with, literally, “unshakable faith.”
And “thus we see,” in only seven chapters the effects of sin on those who reject a prophet of God and exactly how to stand, ourselves, with “unshakable faith” against the constant barrage of challenges to our faith – thus our standing before God. Continue reading →
One of my favorite Bible stories is that of the prophet Elijah and the priest of Baal. Elijah was a prophet during a time of great wickedness among the Israelites. They had a wicked King, King Ahab and his wife Queen Jezebel. Jezebel made an order that all the prophets of God must be killed, but Obadiah, the King’s servant, hid 100 of the prophets instead of killing them. Most of the Israelites no longer followed God, but worshiped idols instead. In time, when the people would not repent, the Lord sent a famine upon the land. It did not rain, their crops did not grow, many of their animals died. When the Lord felt like it was time to end the famine he sent Elijah to the king. Elijah told Ahab to gather all of the people of Israel and all of the Priests of Baal and other false priests that ate at Jezebel’s table. Knowing Elijah to be a powerful prophet, Ahab obeyed.
Elijah told the people they would know who the true God was that day.
Elijah had the priests prepare a bull for a sacrifice. When they did, he told them to use no fire, but to call on their God to bring fire down from heaven. The priests prayed to Baal and nothing happened. They cut themselves, as the scripture said was their custom, and nothing happened. Continue reading →
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a 1,000 page, two-volume book containing the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon. In conjunction with the release of the printer’s manuscript project, the Church posted an article about seership, seer stones, and their roles in translation and revelation. The article is scheduled to be published in print in the Church’s October 2015 issue of the Ensign magazine.
“Images of the seer stone will be placed at the new priesthood restoration site that is being completed in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and will be dedicated Sept. 19 by President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Snow said. Images of the seer stone will also be available in the Church History Museum, which is being renovated and will be opened a week before general conference in October.”
Since that time, many people have either been excited to see the pictures of the stone or have been critical of the Church for keeping this part of the history hidden for nearly 200 years. I’ve heard one person express interest and love for the Church, because as he put it, “I am a very visual person.” Another person, said in disbelief, “I’ve never found a magic stone.” Many others have talked about how the Church has kept this as a secret part of its history. Continue reading →
“The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines … It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time.” ~ Ezra Taft Benson, 1
The Book of Mormon was written for our day. Ezra Taft Benson pointed out that the ancient people from whom we got the Book of Mormon did not even have the book. The prophet Mormon abridged centuries of records. The Lord guided him to know what needed to be included for our wisdom and safety. Here’s what we can learn about the apostates and their teachings as found in the Book of Mormon. Continue reading →
It’s the New Year and we are all trying to come up with new goals to ignore, rationalize, and trample all over. Come on, admit it! We all do it. We want to be better people …. but not really; at least, not bad enough. Oh, to have an attitude like unto Nephi.
And the truth is we accomplish many things throughout the year that we never even dreamed of, and we rarely give ourselves any credit. A few years ago, I decided not to make any “New Year’s Resolutions” and instead, at the end of the year, I wrote up a list of all the things I had accomplished during that year. This activity was much more satisfying than any I had done before. We are typically better people than we think we are.
Recently, I rediscovered a diagram and a list of scriptures that I had forgotten I put on the inside of the cover of my Book of Mormon. Sorry, I don’t know what teacher gave these inspired thoughts, but I suspect it was S. Michael Wilcox.
The diagram spells out a number of “foils,” or comparisons, between Nephi and Laman and the attitudes each represents.
On this diagram, you can see how incident after incident Nephi (and good ole’ Sam—who most of us resemble, because most of us aren’t leaders, but we are good, strong, and righteous followers) chose to obey even when things didn’t work out so well and even when there wasn’t much reward in it at the time. Continue reading →
Some concerns have surfaced about the history of the Church and of Joseph Smith. Is there a way to still be a faithful believer?
With the Church’s recent publication of the essays about Polygamy in the Topics section of its website, there has recently been a flurry of criticism both directed at Joseph Smith, and at the Church. I had noticed some common themes in people’s statements that I thought would be good to address. Before I address those five common concerns, let me start with a fictional conversation that will hopefully help you notice a pattern that the Lord has established.
Was Nephi Hiding the Truth From Us?
Imagine you had the following conversation with a friend. (In order for the story to make sense, just know that the “small plates” of Nephi contained a more spiritual history of Nephi’s people. The “large plates” contained a history detailing the wars and other “non-spiritual” events of his people.)Continue reading →