Saturday, July 31, 2010


Today I read Mosiah 19. This chapter always makes me laugh in a very unkind way. I have titled this post with the single word of karma. The reason for this is because I believe that there is justice in this world/life and I have seen many times where evil people get rewarded with good things because of their money or power.

However, I do believe that it always catches up with them in the end. There are very many people that it even catches up with them in this life. Take for example King Noah. He was a very wicked man and did horrible things to his people and of course to Abinadi. And in the end his people saw through the facade he portrayed and saw him for who he truly was and they rewarded his deception with the exact same type of death he himself had rewarded Abinadi with.

I know several people in this life that are loath to do that which is right in this life because they see the righteous suffer and can't understand why God would allow that to happen. I have met many people who mistakenly think everything is fine between them and God because they have a happy, easy life. I do not understand where people get this absurd notion that if they do that which is right in God's eyes, then everything will be happy and easy for them. What would be the point of that? Without struggle there is no growth. I have already touched on this subject so I will not dwell on it.

I once heard a talk that said there were essentially 3 reasons for following commandments of anyone, but especially God's commandments. The first and most basic reason is fear of punishment. We have ALL been in that camp before. Parents use this method a lot. They say things like don't touch that or else....and other similar threats. Some people do not want to go to hell when they die so they follow God's laws. This is by far the most basic of reasons for following any set of rules. Even animals understand this rule but do not enjoy it.

The middle reason for obeying laws and commandments is in the desire of a reward. Most of us have been in this camp at least once also. Who hasn't heard the phrase, "What's in it for me?" The desire for a reward is basic, everyone understands it. Think of the last time you tried to teach a dog a new trick. The desire for a treat is a great motivator. People want to get into heaven so they do good things.

The final reason for obeying laws and commandments is love. John 14:15 states, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." For the people in this category, the sheer act of knowing they did something for the other person is it's own reward. Sadly, some people go their entire lives without ever once stepping into this category. Well, this may not be true because I think almost all children are in this category for at least a little while. But I have met plenty of adults, teenagers and even children who this is a totally foreign concept for them. It's really sad because this is the one category that can motivate people the strongest.

I hope we all can move ourselves to the final category and do the right thing because we truly love God. I struggle each and every day to get more fully into that category. I hope you are as well. Until tomorrow.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The True Meaning of Zion

Today I read Mosiah 18. This has long been one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. It actually makes me laugh to this day. This is the chapter where the baptismal covenant is explained. It makes me laugh because this is also the chapter that as a missionary I used to share with people who were having concerns about being baptized.

I can still remember probably half a dozen people that I shared this scripture with. Every single one of them would say the exact same thing after reading it. They would ALWAYS say, "I don't have any objections to being baptized, BUT..." and then they would spend the next little while explaining all of the reasons why they did in fact object to being baptized. At the time the Spirit would take over and guide me in what I should say, but afterwards and even today I would always laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Apparently they don't understand what an objection is. LOL. The rest of the chapter is quite insightful also though. I've always enjoyed this chapter because it outlines the true order of our church. How everyone took care of each other and how they helped one another and tried their best to have no poor among them. I've already spoken about my thoughts on the poor and our duty concerning them in my entry on Mosiah 4 so I won't go into them here.

I just wonder how some people can consider themselves good Christians when NO part of their life displays any of the tenets that the Savior taught. It just boggles my mind at times the sheer ability of the human mind to rationalize their actions and to find peace with themselves. The things we allow so many to get away with because they are "a good person". No, they really aren't. A good person is defined by their actions, ALL OF THEM! Not just the ones we want to pay attention to.

That is why I agree with Nephi and oftentimes feel the need to exclaim, "Oh wretched man that I am". We are the sum of what our experiences and how we have reacted to them have made us. I love to watch shows and movies where the character is shown what would have happened had they hit that baseball, or taken that side street, or chosen differently. In every instance that I can recall they have fame and fortune but they find that they are a total jerk and they cannot understand why that is. They do not understand that with different experiences we become different people.

I would much rather be dirt poor but a true Latter-day Saint, than the richest man in the entire world and be a heartless despicable excuse for a human being. It honestly appalls me what some people will do for money. Truly Paul spoke wisely to Timothy when he said the love of money is the root of all evil, for it is the love of that money that will leave people from one depraved act to another. I have gone far afield from where I started on this chapter, but I will end by saying, we cannot have a Zion society until we have a Zion people. And we cannot have a Zion people until we are more concerned with the welfare of others than we are with our own desires and wants. That is the true meaning of charity. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Types of Symbols of Christ

Today I read Mosiah 17. Earlier this year I read through the Book of Mormon and I remember reading this chapter and a verse stood out to me above all others. It was verse 6.

Verse 6 is actually nothing special, about the only reason it stood out to me was the fact that they put Abinadi in prison for 3 days. It was the first time I had noticed that particular fact. The symbolism in the scriptures, not just the Book of Mormon but all the scriptures, all leading us to Christ just amazes me some days. There are several other places in the scriptures where this exact imagery is given. People get put into prison for 3 days, of course Jonah with the whale and several others which I will point out as I come across them.

The other part of this chapter which stands out to me is the conversion of Alma. Abinadi had no idea what effect his preaching would have and likely never knew that Alma believed him. However, as I read this chapter it reminds me of my own mission. To my knowledge there is only 1 person that I taught who got baptized that is still active in the church. But the knowledge that I was able to help even 1 person is phenomenal. I have read story after story of people who felt they were a failure as a missionary because they only baptized 1 person their entire mission or they baptized no one.

I have a really hard time stomaching these types of stories and how easily these people allow Satan to manipulate them and their thoughts. If you were a faithful missionary then your mission was a success. I say this because a true missionary will change all those he/she comes into contact with, and will perhaps most importantly of all, it will change himself/herself.

The success of a mission is NOT based on how many people you help get baptized it is how faithfully you serve. A mission should be about improving lives, including the life of the missionary. Abinadi died knowing he had fulfilled all the commandments that God had given him. I'm sure the life he lived in the service to God changed him for the better. And that's what it really is all about. Serving God and improving ourselves in the process. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Taste of Things to Come

Today I read Mosiah 16. In this chapter Abinadi finishes up his sermon to King Noah and his priests. He also talks about the final judgment we will all receive at the hands of God. I know I have talked about this before but I just can't get over how most people totally misunderstand the final judgment. I thing most people seriously picture God behind a desk with a gavel while someone reads from the book of your life and he pronounces sentence on you.

While it is true that I have not seen it for myself, I know it's not that way. We get to choose where we are going to end up after this life. I do believe God will review our life with us and how we have chosen to live it. I think that it will be more along the lines of a discussion where God goes through our life with us, and helps us figure out the type of person we truly are.

I think we will dwell heavily on the type of company we kept while here on the earth, because that will show us what type of people we enjoyed being around. We will be faced with the secrets in our heart that we have hidden from everyone and that we refuse to acknowledge.

In the end once we have had our interview with God, I believe it will conclude with some form of Him saying that based on who we are and how we have lived our life we will be most happy in whatever kingdom it may be. And I think we will call it fair because there will be a LOT of people that are very, very uncomfortable in His presence and can conceive of no greater punishment than to be forced into His presence and feel His goodness for the rest of eternity. That would be hell for them.

However, all have fallen and are carnal and we must all work to overcome this within ourselves. We have to ask His help in changing our nature so that we no longer desire to do evil, but good continually. Only this way can we truly be prepared to enter into His presence. It is a daily struggle, but one most definitely worth it! Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One God

Today I read Mosiah 15. This chapter has caused much confusion for many people. I remember when I was a missionary, I helped baptize a young woman named Sherry. She was the only person who I helped baptize that I know read the Book of Mormon on a consistent basis. I remember quite clearly the day she read Mosiah 15. It confused her so much that she started over reading the Book of Mormon from 1 Nephi convinced she had missed something.

The reason this chapter can confuse so many people, is because Abinadi is teaching the priests of Noah here that Jesus Christ is both the Father and the Son. This can be a very confusing concept because Latter-day Saints don't believe in the Trinity, we believe in a Godhead, meaning 3 separate persons who comprise 1 God. They are 1 God because they all have the same purpose. They are 1 in much the same way a man and his wife are commanded to be 1 flesh.

I remember reading an answer Joseph Fielding Smith gave to this question once. He stated that Jesus Christ was the Father in that He created all things here on this earth, under the direction of our Heavenly Father. So he is the Father of our earthly bodies. He is also the Father in that He bought us from our debtors, namely sin. It is still not the easiest concept to wrap one's mind around, but suffice to say Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost are 3 separate personages, but 1 God in purpose. As I mentioned above we should all be striving to reach such a state of purpose and aligning ourselves to God's will.

I also like how Abinadi touches on the salvation of little children, which I will touch on much, much later when we read Moroni 8. However, I do like that it is mentioned here and that it is clear they understood the doctrine well before Mormon's time. Until tomorrow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Savior's Suffering

Today I read Mosiah 13 - 14. It honestly amazes me that people don't understand the Atonement better. I don't say that to be mean, it's just the truth! I really don't get it how people can not understand it.

In Mosiah 13 Abinadi teaches the priests of King Noah and Noah himself about the Atonement and why it is necessary. Essentially teaching that someone has to pay the price for sins. Justice demands no less. Typically that person is the perpetrator of the act that needs atoning for. However, God did not wish to see us suffer and so provided a way for us to not have to suffer.

This is the part where I get confused that others are confused. Any parent has felt what I am going to talk about next I am sure. All parents at some point or another are going to have to care for a sick child. Some unlucky parents are going to have to watch their children waste away in front of them and even die and I promise you it will cause the parent more pain than if they were to go through it themselves. What parent who is faced with such a situation, whether they believe in God or not, has not thought to themselves how willing they would be to take their child's place. Most have even prayed for God to remove the child's suffering and place it on their own head.

They understand the pain our Father felt when faced with watching all of His children suffer the greatest agony any of us can even begin to comprehend. Those parents should be able to better understand the Atonement better than anyone else. However, all too often they focus only on their loss and not what God has planned for them and lose their way.

I absolutely hate it when people bemoan their fate and ask why such and such is happening to them because they have tried so hard to do what is right and keep the commandments. No where in the scriptures that I am aware of does it promise that if you live a good life you will not be tried and tested. No where in all the prophecies of all time that I can recall does it say, just be a good person and God will make your life peaches and roses. If we didn't have trials and tests in this life we would not grow, and that's a fact! We came here to face trials! We came here to be tested!

This life would be a waste of time if we did not suffer a little misery every now and then. We would gain nothing from it if we were not pushed to our limits so that we could learn who we really are. It's when we are pushed as far as we can go and forced to make a choice that our true colors show. I remember in college I was faced with a choice so horrible that it literally drove me to tears. The choice itself does not really matter, suffice to say I was left to choose what I want, or choose what God was asking me to do. Obviously I chose to do what God asked of me, but I have never had to do anything more challenging before or since. That is the choice where I knew if I chose incorrectly, my life would never be the same and I would essentially be turning my back on God and my whole life up until that point would have been a waste and been for nothing.

Thankfully I chose wisely and my testimony is intact and each day I improve just a little bit more. I am grateful beyond words for the Atonement and for the the Savior's suffering for me personally. I hope and pray each and every day that I don't give cause to increase His suffering but rather that through my actions I may make it lighter and easier to bear. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Effects of Sin

In Mosiah chapter 12 Abinadi is commanded to return to the people he had prophesied to 2 years ago and to call them to repentance again. It also contains what I think is the funniest verse in the entire Book of Mormon, which is actually verse 1. I'm sure that is not the way it happened, but it is sure written funny.

Anyway, the main lesson to me in this chapter is the effect sin has on the mind. Here are a people that have been taught the law of Moses, that have blatantly turned their back on it, and do not even recognize that they are doing wrong. The human mind has an infinite capacity to rationalize away its actions.

These people if they were willing to admit it to themselves, were doing that which is wrong in the sight of God. And yet when a prophet came to them to declare it unto them, they took offense, and claimed that they had done no sin. They seemed shocked almost that a prophet was telling them they had done wrong. I have met many people in my day, but I must admit that I don't remember meeting anyone that had been taught the right thing to do, who wasn't doing it, that if I pressed them they were shocked to hear they were breaking the commandments. Everyone that I met that fell into that category when push came to shove knew they were doing that which is wrong.

Some people are very good at rationalizing away their sins. Satan is more than willing to help them lie to themselves, because that is exactly what they are doing. Sadly, eventually guilt fades away after enough repeated actions and time. But the Spirit of God will not always strive with man, the scriptures state. But it is always our actions that drive it away. May we all keep the commandments of our God and bring Him happiness and not add to His suffering. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Effect of an Unrighteous Ruler

Today I read Mosiah 11. This chapter always calls into question the wisdom of Zeniff, at least it does for me. I mean, he confers the kingdom on Noah, his son, who I can't believe that Noah was such a good actor that Zeniff didn't have at least an inkling of what his son's character was. So it just always makes me wonder if Zeniff just conferred the kingdom on his oldest son knowing what type of person he was, or he was just plain unobservant.

Anyway, this chapter is a perfect case study of the effects of an unrighteous ruler on his/her people. In chapter 10, Zeniff mentions that the last time they went up to battle with the Lamanites, his people went up in the strength of the Lord. So we know the people were generally righteous at that time. We are not given a time line for how much time has passed between that battle and chapter 11, but I can't imagine it was very long.

And because of the influence and the example of King Noah we see how the people have become and how far they had fallen! Sadly, it's still happening today. People do things because they see their leaders do it. At my work I still see certain employees breaking rules because they "saw a supervisor do it".

I understand that it is the natural man in everyone who makes mankind so quick to do iniquity, but it's just disturbing how naturally most people take to it. I truly believe that the light of Christ inside everyone guides and directs people to do that which is right until someone squashes it inside their hearts with too much debauchery! The only way to stay clean in this life is to constantly work at it. It's hard to remain righteous when it is so easy to sin and offend God and the spirit in each of us.

I've had my own struggles with my personal weaknesses that I still deal with on a daily basis, just like everyone in this life does. It's only as we work at it everyday that we can get better by degrees so that eventually we overcome that weakness and it becomes a strength with the help of our Heavenly Father, just like it says in Ether 12:26. I long for that day when I know longer have to fight against the tide and can make my weaknesses a strength. Until tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Sins of the Fathers

Today I read Mosiah 10. I was impressed by the fact that all throughout their history, the unreasonable hatred of the Lamanites for their brethren the Nephites was all based on a lie. However, the Lamanites believed it to be true, and that made it true for them. Most people have heard the phrase that perception is reality. And while that is false, just because you believe something is true does not make it true in reality, the fact that you believe it is true, blinds you to all else.

This is why it is SO important to teach our children the right path they should walk. Because what we teach our children is what they will believe for the rest of their life. It will help shape and mold them. And it will be almost impossible to overcome. Good or bad, what we teach our children stays with them.

Also, we teach our children more by our actions than we ever do by our words. We can preach and give sermons until the cows come home, but if we don't follow what we preach, then neither will our children. We have to do what is right and who our children by what we do that we believe what we are teaching them. I just hope and pray that I can be the Father my children need and that I can make sure I am following what is right so that they don't have to guess what I believe or what is right. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Natural Man

Today I read Mosiah 9. It is a basic chapter about King Zeniff and his desire to possess the land of Nephi. I was impressed in this chapter how it is an almost perfect case study of the Natural Man.

In Mosiah 3:19 we learn that the natural man is an enemy to God and has been since the fall of Adam. In this chapter, Mosiah 9, we are given several examples of the natural man and with a little thought, it is no wonder why these qualities would make one an enemy to God.

In verse 2 we learn that the natural man is blood thirsty. I have often wondered why so many people in this world have a problem with their temper. They lose all control of themselves and perhaps worst of all, they then seek to excuse their behavior by saying they lost their temper. As if that should wipe the slate clean and we shouldn't hold people accountable for their actions when they have lost their temper. The idea is as idiotic as not holding people accountable for their actions when they are drunk.

The Lord has always been against things that take away a persons agency. Run away emotions can be addictive just like alcohol is. However, it is still no excuse for it happening. I can be remarkably un-Christlike at times. I hate with a passion someone who would strike their loved ones because they cannot control their emotions. I have been so mad before that I wanted to hit someone, but I cannot fathom why someone would strike their spouse or children. Such actions are quite reprehensible!

We learn in verse 10 - 12 that the natural man is lazy. In Moses 1:39 we learn that our God is a god of work. And the question I always ask myself is, if our God is a god of work why should we not work? It sickens me how some people could work if they chose to and don't. Especially when I know some people would work if their bodies would allow them to, but they won't. It's almost as disturbing at all the so called unwanted pregnancies of people who have no control and are promiscuous, and yet some very worthy, wonderful people fight and struggle for years to have a baby!

But I digress, the natural man is lazy and desires not to work, either for the common good or for his/her own good. We can also infer from this chapter that the natural man seeks to solve his/her problems through violence. War is most definitely an invention of the natural man. Now, some may argue that God in the Old Testament sent His people to war. While this is true, I am a believer that God can only use the tools that His worshipers understand. And the fact of the matter is that during those times, His followers, the Israelites, were a product of their environment, one of violence. Nonetheless, no one would argue that the first recorded violence was done by Cain and was most definitely a product of the devil and his influence.

This chapter is quite instructive in helping us to know the paths we should walk if only by showing us what NOT to do. I hope that all of us put off the natural man and do their best to "become as a little child: submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Prophet, Seer and Revelator

Mosiah 8 is what I read today. I have always been fascinated with ancient cultures and people. I've always been saddened that some people can take as fascinating a subject as history and make it as dull as dirt. It's strange, but even though I already know the story of the Jaredites, every time I read Mosiah 8 or the Book of Omni, I get all giddy and excited about the prospect of finding an ancient civilization and exploring it trying to unlock its mysteries! I imagine myself with the 43 people that King Limhi sent out discovering the ancient, dilapidated buildings and finding all the dead people and animals and trying to ferry out its secrets!

Alas, I digress. The other reason I have always enjoyed this chapter is for the wonderful teaching tool that it is. In this chapter Ammon teaches Limhi about a prophet, seer and revelator. I was struck today by its description and one particular phrase Ammon uses, "Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles;" This phrase instantly brought to my mind the priesthood.

A few weeks ago in 3rd hour at church, during Priesthood meeting, we had a lesson on Priesthood. During that lesson we talked about how the priesthood is a tool of service and nothing more. One who holds the priesthood cannot use it to bless his own life except in the sense that the proper use of it will bless his life immensely. But it does not bring power to the individual at all. Rather it forces the man who holds it to true humility since it cannot be used except in the service of others.

I had a mission companion that one day mentioned to me how he felt God must really love women more than men. I asked him what he meant and he replied that to enter the temple, men must hold some form of the priesthood, but women just have to be worthy. Now, I'm not sure if it has to do with greater love or not, but I do think that women are more naturally compelled to serve and don't need the priesthood to help them serve others because they do it of their own volition. Men on the other hand as a whole, seem to need that added incentive.

I personally am grateful for the opportunity to hold the priesthood, to have a tool whose sole purpose is to bless the lives of those around me. To act in God's name, in His behalf if He were here. It fills me with happiness and peace to know that I can be His tool on the earth. May we all strive to do His will in this life so that we may be worthy of His greatest reward for us, to become like He is! Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Some Things Never Change

Today I read Mosiah 7. This is where Ammon goes in search of the people of Limhi. I was struck by Limhi's speech to his people in the latter half of this chapter. He talks about Abinadi and how the people had put him to death because of his preaching.

As I was reading that verse, verse 26-28, I was struck by how some things never change. Religion is the means by which mankind defines deity and worships Him in whatever fashion they deem fit. However, all throughout history and even today, there is no single topic which can cause greater controversy than religion. And I'm left to wonder why that is.

As we draw closer to our God, the author of peace and love, shouldn't we become more like him and more at peace with the world? I always thought so, but as I look back on history and think of the prophets that have been stoned, the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman's persecution of early Christendom, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the early America's including the founding of Rhode Island, even down to today with the more extremist sects of Islam waging war against Christians. Never has there been more killing than in the name of God.

I can't help but ask myself why people are so inflamed when it comes to religion. Everything I know of God leads me to believe He is not pleased by this. In our church of course we believe that all men have the right to worship how and what they may and only ask for the same privilege. But it amazes me the sheer amount of atrocities that are committed in the so called cause of what is right. War is the single most ridiculous invention of mankind. Pride gets in the way when two people don't agree with each other and unfortunately those two men are kings and so they gather up as many men as they can and have them all kill one another until either one of them wakes up to the sheer lunacy of the idea or one finally kills the other.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Satan is GOOD at what he does. For 2000 years all Christendom has taught is to love your neighbor as yourself. If everyone on this planet would do that, there would be no wars, we would have no crime, and life would be paradise. But such is not our fate. We can only change ourselves, and that's a fact. It is up to us to make sure we are living the teachings of the Savior to their fullest each and everyday. Only by changing ourselves, one at a time can we ever hope to bring about a greater good. Until tomorrow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

No more desire to do Evil

Today I read Mosiah 5 - 6. In Mosiah 5 verse 2 the people tell King Benjamin that they believed his words and that they have had a mighty change of heart and have no more desire to do evil but to do good continually.

I have thought on this many times over the past decade and a half since my seminary days. And there have been many times when I am praying and begging for forgiveness for my latest sin that I desire the very same thing that I may have a mighty change of heart so that I no longer even have the desire to do evil. Sadly, as of yet, it has not happened that way.

What I have found is that as I struggle and strive to do my best over the years, I find that certain things no longer phase me the way they once did. I liken this much to a butterfly leaving its cocoon. I have been told that it is a very difficult thing for a new butterfly to emerge from its cocoon. I've been told it can take a long, long time and that the butterfly has to struggle mightily to release its self from its self imposed prison. But, according to the facts, it is the struggle that gives it its strength to fly in later days and the rest of its life.

Without that struggle it will eventually die and be unable to fly. Its the struggle that strengthens it. What a comparison! Think back on your own childhood. How many times did you need help and someone was wise enough to help you but not do it for you? As an adult we realize that those were the people who were the most helpful and helped us to grow. If we didn't have to struggle to overcome our weaknesses here on the earth, we would not grow nearly as much.

I've heard many people ask why certain people must suffer so much when it seems others hardly suffer at all. It hardly seems fair. Which is silly in the first place because there is nothing fair about life. I'm not sure where kids get a sense of life should be fair from. However, Heavenly Father has each given us our own person set of trials that will help us grow the most. If we were to be given someone else's trials, we would not grow nearly as much as we will with our own trials.

God can help us overcome our trials with His help. We cannot do it alone. We can grow and face our trials on our own and even do admirably well I think. However, to truly grow and become the best we can become, we need His help to change us. And He will only do that when we have learned all we can from that particular trial. Just like the butterfly will not be freed until it has grown strong enough to survive, we will not be freed from our trials until we have grown strong enough to not repeat our mistakes. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Are we not all Beggars?

Today I read Mosiah 4, a chapter that is often times downplayed by otherwise faithful Latter-day Saints. This is the chapter that more or less concludes King Benjamin's wonderful sermon to his people that converted an entire nation to the true worship of Jesus Christ.

This chapter talks a lot about giving of your substance to those who stand in need. I was always taught by my father that when someone asks you for help and you don't render it, that is a sin upon you. Most especially this applies to those people who we all run into who ask for help in the form of money.

More than 3 times I have been in a Sunday School class when this chapter is being discusses and inevitably someone will say that King Benjamin is not referring to giving money to these people. And every time I sit there and wonder if these people are reading the same chapter 4 of Mosiah that I am. Because he says in very plain terms that that is exactly what we should be doing.

I remember being a missionary and I would always get accosted by people on the streets, or even in supermarkets sometimes, by people asking for money. And every time without a word I would reach into my pocket and give them a few dollars. I had a companion for 6 months, over 2 different companionships, who would especially call me a fool for giving away my money so carelessly.

Every time it would come up I would calmly reply to him that it did not matter what the individual was going to use the money for, the only important thing is that they asked for it, and I had it to give. It's actually interesting that about a year later we were companions again and we were eating at a Popeye's chicken restaurant and someone came up asking for money. To my surprise, as I reached for my money, my companion was also reaching for his money without complaint and gave to this man who had asked for assistance. When he saw my look of surprise he smiled and said, "Well, if there's nothing else that I've learned from you Elder Kaestner, it's how to be more charitable and give to those in need without complaint."

I've often wondered why so many people are so attached to their money? Especially those who live the gospel to its fullest in every other way. The Lord has said in times past that the earth has more than enough for all those who live on it and to spare. It is up to us to be charitable stewards and impart of our substance to those who stand in need.

I remember, again as a missionary, I met a homeless man named Robert. I remember him, because not once in the 4 months that I knew him did he ask me for money, or anything for that matter. The first time I met him, he was outside of a Wal-Greens store and he had a beautiful smile but there was sadness in his eyes too. I had brought my lunch that day but for some reason had not eaten it all. As we talked I asked him if he was hungry and when he replied that he was I handed over my uneaten lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwich and chips. For the next 4 months I would bump into Robert every so often, maybe once or twice a week and that was all. And just like the first time, he was polite and had a wonderful countenance to him, and he never asked for help. Every time I saw him after we talked I would ask him, "Robert, have you eaten yet today?" And every time he would smile that sad smile and say, "Not yet, Elder, but I am working on it." And every time I would pull out what I had, which was usually only around $2-3 and hand it to him and say, "Go eat, Robert".

I do not know what became of him, he disappeared one day and we never saw him again. I do not know what brought Robert to his current state of affairs, nor did I care. It was only important to me that he was a Child of God and that he was suffering and I could do something small to alleviate his suffering. To those who may read this, know this, just as King Benjamin says in this chapter, God WILL hold us accountable to those we may have helped but turned away for any reason other than we had not the means to do so. When God blesses us, He expects us to use those blessings to bless the lives of others He will place in our path. May we use those blessings appropriately and help those in our lives that cross our paths. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

the True Atonement of our Lord and Savior

Mosiah 3 was the chapter for today. Sometimes I feel bad only reading 1 chapter at a time in the Book of Mormon each day or sometimes 2, but if I don't write about each individual or couple of chapters, I feel like I am missing so much that could be passed on. For example there is SO much in Mosiah 3 that I almost feel I am doing a disservice only having one entry about it.

Most people tend to focus on verse 19 in chapter 3 of Mosiah, about the nature of man and the natural man. However, I was struck this time by the completeness of the explanation of the Atonement in this chapter. This entire chapter is about the Atonement of the Savior and about teaching his people to whom they may look for Salvation.

I was particularly struck by verse 7, "And lo, he shall suffer temptation, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people." This reminds me a lot of Alma 7:11 which also talks about what the Savior suffered for our sakes.

I taught a lesson on the Atonement in Priesthood a month ago, on Father's day. I used the scripture as an example because I think it's interesting that the verse in Alma says nothing about our sins. This verse in Mosiah 3 barely even mentions the wickedness. Because he would become our comfort, he had to suffer every conceivable emotion and torment that man may face so that he would know EXACTLY how we would feel eventually. Yes, you can comfort people without knowing what they are feeling, quite well actually. But most people hate it when someone tells them they know how they are feeling. They get offended and scream out that they couldn't possibly know how they are feeling. Because of this I am typically very careful and tend to say things like "I can only imagine what you must be feeling right now." or "I think I know how you might be feeling".

The Savior however, can say with 100% certainty that he knows exactly how we feel. He's felt it. He knows what will comfort us. Every time I contemplate the Atonement I'm left in awe at what He suffered for us, for me. It gives me great hope to try better and to not add to His suffering.

Verse 25 - 27 was also insightful. As a missionary, several people accused my religion of believing in a hell of fire and brimstone. Verse 25 - 27 of Mosiah 3 clears that little misconception right up. It is not that we believe hell is an actual lake filled with fire and brimstone, rather, the anguish when we come face to face with our own sins and imperfections will cause us to suffer similarly as if we had been tossed into a lake filled with fire. Yea, we will wish even as Alma the Younger did that we could cease to exist rather than to come face to face with such a righteous and supreme being as our Father in Heaven.

So many people cannot reconcile God with everlasting punishment. They cannot understand why God will not save all of His children and bring them home. They do not understand that the nature of man is such that not everyone WANTS to return to live with Him. It is a tender mercy on His part that as painful as it must be, He allows them to choose another life than the one He knows will bring them the most happiness. I am striving each and everyday to align my life with His will so that my nature desires nothing more than what He has chosen for me. May we all find the happiness we are seeking for in this life, and the next. Until tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

In Service to our God

Today I read Mosiah 2. The most famous verse from this chapter is verse 17 which states that when you are in service to your fellow being, you are only in the service of your God. This got me thinking on the nature of service and what it means to all of us.

Everyone is familiar with the type of service that Jesus performed. The kind of service where you give of your time, energy and talents to the betterment of someone else. We are afforded the opportunity to give this type of service quite often at church each week, usually some kind of service project involving a clean up action after a natural disaster or helping someone move.

However, we do ourselves a disservice if that is all we consider service to be. Service truly is anything that we do for someone else to better that person's life or situation. For example, if you are married or live with someone at all, you can perform a service by doing the dishes, cleaning up after yourself, making dinner, etc. These are all acts of service and will most often be met with great joy by the beneficiary. Sometimes as time goes by, maybe not so much as habits are formed and acts of service begin to be viewed as chores or things the person should be doing anyway.

If we can all get into the habit of viewing those everyday acts as service it will make our own lives that much more pleasant, even if the other person does not appreciate them or view them as service. Because we know from Mosiah 2 that all service is recognized by our God in heaven. We should strive to be doing those things with a happy heart and to make the best of our current situation by finding opportunities to serve each and every day. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

If all Men would be like King Benjamin

I read Mosiah 1 today. And the phrase the comes to mind as I read it is one usually reserved for Captain Moroni in the book of Alma. "if all men had been, and were, and ever were would be like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever..."

I think this applies to King Benjamin also, because here in Mosiah 1 we have a perfect example of a father who takes the time to teach his sons. I recently had the opportunity to speak in church, on Father's day actually, about the qualities a father in Zion has. I came across an article by President Benson that stated the calling of Father is eternal and one will never be released from it.

We all know a father's duty is to provide for his family. However, this is usually limited to their temporal needs, and often times their spiritual needs are sorely neglected. Usually because of a severe deficiency in their own spiritual lives. Whatever the reason however, it is inexcusable. If every father would teach their children the right way in which they should go, then as Mormon states it would cause the powers of hell to be shaken forever.

The best teaching method for parents has always been and always will be by example. However, it also is important to do actual teaching by word as Benjamin obviously did with his children. I firmly believe that almost all of our current societal ills stem from a break down in teaching good values to our children. We must each of us take care that we are teaching our children appropriate things and that they understand the importance of the things we are teaching them.

My wife is of course, pregnant with our first child. I look forward to being able to teach her the things that I have been taught in my life and in helping her find her way in this world. I can think of nothing more I would rather be than a father, except for maybe a husband. I smile at the thought of teaching her the knowledge I have accumulated in my life and in watching her grow up in righteousness until the Lord! Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

As One Crying from the Dust

Today I read the Book of Omni and the Words of Mormon. I remember the first time I ever read the Book of Mormon and got to the Words of Mormon and I was SO confused. Of course I think I was only around 6 - 8 years old at the time. Just a fun fact.

The Book of Omni has always intrigued me. The sheer number of people that write in it and it covers 230 years in just 4 pages. The verse that really stood out to me today was in Omni 1:11 which was written by Abinadom where he says he knows of no prophecy except that which has already been written. I don't know exactly why I like this verse so much but it makes me happy to know that in the first 140 pages of the Book of Mormon, we already have the fullness of the gospel laid out to us. There is great comfort in that I think.

The Words of Mormon I have always enjoyed because it just gives us more insight into King Benjamin than we already had I feel. I also find it interesting that even though Mormon had already abridged the rest of his people's history and it would be a duplication of sorts, he included the small plates because he was commanded to. How grateful we all should be for these 10 men, who fulfilled the commandments of their God without knowing the reasons why. It is possible that after they wrote it, Nephi and Mormon were told the reasons why they needed to include the small plates or in Nephi's case to create them. However, at the time it needed to be done they just had to do it on faith.

How many times have we been asked to do something and we think to ourselves how pointless it is and how such and such already takes care of the need, etc, etc. This is always a great reminder to me that I never know what the consequences of my actions or my inactions will be. To this day I can think of around a half dozen or so times where I followed a prompting of the Spirit and can discern no apparent purpose for what I did. I still don't know what would have happened if I didn't follow through with it or in all actuality what DID come from it because I did it. I suspect I will never know. I feel a slight kinship with Nephi and Mormon in that regard. For example, I still don't know what will ever, if anything, come of doing this blog, but I felt it was an inspired idea so I will do this for a full year and then see what happens.

I guess I'm trying to say, when you feel an urge to do something righteous, whether you recognize it as a true prompting or just the light of Christ in you telling you what to do, don't question it. You are being given the opportunity to be God's tool and representative on the earth at that moment. You will never regret it either I promise you that, even if you never find out what it was necessary. :) Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

the Purpose of the Law of Moses

Today's reading was the Book of Jarom. Several things stood out to me in the chapter. First, I find it odd that even from the beginning there have always been so many more Lamanites than there were Nephites, and yet, as far as we are aware, when Nephi's group split with Laman's group, almost double the amount of people went with Nephi.

Now, towards the end of the Nephite civilization I can understand why so there were so many more Lamanites since they included dissenters from the Nephi's also, but in the beginning the Lamanites were comprised of Laman, Lemuel and the 2 sons of Ishmael. Whereas Nephi took Sam, Zoram and their families as well as Jacob and Joseph with him. It is just strange to me how much quicker the Lamanites spread and that they have always been since the beginning a way to stir up the Nephites to remembrance of their covenants.

The 2nd thing that stood out to me is that unlike the Jews, the Nephites always seemed to recognize what the true purpose of the law of Moses was. Abinadi teaches later in the book of Mosiah that salvation does not come by the law of Moses but through Christ who the law of Moses was meant to turn us towards. But even from the beginning the Nephites recognized this principle. And I think that in the beginning the Jews did too. However, somewhere along the way they got lost. Certain priests read in the scriptures how the Jews would kill their own Messiah and he had those passages removed, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. He tried to avoid the future and by so doing inadvertently set the stage for it's fulfillment!

The law of Moses came about of course because of the stiffneckedness of the Jews who were brought out of Egypt. The Lord saw that they needed in addition to the law, a set of daily tasks to keep them focused on the goal and to help remind them by what power they would be saved. When it was first given to them, they knew that there was nothing about killing a certain animal that would save them. It was a way to point them towards the ultimate sacrifice that WOULD save them. But the fact that the Jews no longer believed it by 600 B.C. is evidenced by the statement of Laman and Lemuel to Nephi in 1 Nephi 17 where they declare that they know the Jews are a righteous people because they keep the law of Moses.

I think in a lot of ways all of us can be like that. Where we know what we should be doing, but over time, either through sin or for other reasons, we trick ourselves into believing something that isn't true and getting our hopes up. Children are notorious for this. But adults are no less susceptible. We need to all stay on the strait and narrow path and endure to the end to gain salvation and everlasting happiness in the Kingdom of our Father. Until tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

To Become Truly Converted

Today I read the book of Enos. I have always enjoyed this book and there are a great many lessons that can be taught from his writings. I remember reading this book as a child in Primary and wondering how anyone could possibly pray all night and all day. I don't wonder anymore.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I came to realize that this was not just one session of 36 hours worth of prayer. This was a true wrestle before the Lord as Enos describes it. This was a true hunger for forgiveness and many, many individual prayer sessions. When I was a missionary in the MTC, there as a particularly hard day that comes to mind. My heart was troubled and I desired to pray. So after the day, before doing anything else, I knelt down to pray, and stayed there for the next hour and 20 minutes.

That is the single longest prayer I have ever had, and I tell you that it felt like 5 minutes to me. So I can understand how someone can pray for an extremely long period of time. But I have also had days where something weighed so heavily on my mind that it was all I thought about, no matter what else I was doing, and I would say another quick prayer every hour or so to guide my thoughts and to help me make the best decision. That is what I believe it means to pray all day and all night.

I was once asked a question, how do you know when someone has become truly converted to the Lord? The answer is they become concerned with the welfare of others. Enos is a perfect example, among many in the Book of Mormon, of what it means to be truly converted. He prayed for the welfare of the souls of his own people and then he did something truly remarkable. Something that would not be taught for another 450 years! He prayed for his enemies.

The Savior taught us to pray for our enemies and to do good to those that hate us, but how many of us really do this? I know I could be much better about it. There are many, many examples of this in the Book of Mormon, the sons of Mosiah and Alma the Younger immediately come to mind. I think Enos is unique in that he recognized that the time had not yet come to truly convert the Lamanites and instead of giving up, he prayed that the records he was keeping might be preserved and used to help convert their descendants. What faith! Those are the actions of someone who is truly converted and has had a change of heart.

Someone once said the true measure of your conversion is your desire to share the gospel. New converts are renowned for their zeal and fervor in sharing the gospel with everyone they know. They have tasted of the sweet Spirit and can't bear to not share it with everyone. Sadly, after a time, that fire dies. We should all of us find a way to keep the zeal we each once had. I know I can be better about it. May we each reclaim that fire in ourselves and not be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ! Until tomorrow.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The First Anti-Christ

Tonight I read Jacob 6 - 7. I have always been struck by Jacob 7. This is the chapter where Sherem, the first anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon, appears. It is really interesting to see the contrast of the anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon compared to our day.

In the Book of Mormon, the anti-Christ's believe the scriptures, but deny the Christ. This is interesting because as both Jacob and Alma point out, the scriptures all testify of Christ. For the Nephites there was some little validity to the scriptures as a source of "family history", but ultimately the entire purpose is as Nephi says, to show forth the great things the Lord has done for the children of men and His tender mercies.

I actually personally prefer the discussion between Alma and Korihor in Alma 30. The reason being because as Alma points out, I too feel that all things denote there is a God. I really don't understand how anyone can look at the world around them, at the perfect order and harmony of nature, and not recognize that there is a God. That we are not here by chance. I look at my cat, lying on the bed beside me as I write this, and the fact that he has his own personality, generally the same as any other cat I've ever met, but at the same time completely different than any other creature out there. How can anyone deny the spirit and the individuality of us all?

Towards the end of Jacob 7 when Sherem calls forth the people of Nephi he confesses that he fears he has committed the unpardonable sin, and truly we cannot say for certain if he did or not, but he did knowingly deny Christ after he had a testimony so it will not be well for such a person. I have often wondered at how someone who has a testimony can lose it. And I have come to the conclusion that we lose a testimony the same way we gain one, one step at a time. Even people who goof up and commit really heinous crimes are usually horrified by what they have done the first time it happens.

Sherem most likely did not have the devil appear to him to tempt him until the doubt had already taken root in his heart. Almost all of us would recognize instantly if the devil were to appear to us without his first bringing us down spiritually first. We would react as Moses did during his vision and respond with "Where is thy glory that I should worship thee?" The way to make sure we never fall prey to such an attack upon our spirituality is to strengthen our testimony every day. I learned years ago that there is no standing still in this life spiritually speaking. We are ALWAYS moving one way or the other whether we realize it or not. So let's all make the conscious choice to move forward and grow closer to our Heavenly Father. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Olive Tree Allegory Part 2

Today I read the 2nd half of Jacob 5. It's intriguing to me that the people of Israel should be compared to an olive tree vineyard. As I was reading it, I of course know that the branches represent people and the fruit are the works of those people.

However, I was reading it and if I were to read it as just a story about an owner of a vineyard I kept wondering to myself why wouldn't you just cut out those branches which only produce wild fruit. I don't know the first thing about olive trees so I can't answer it, but it just again re-enforced to me why you have to understand the symbolism of it all for it to make sense.

Having a knowledge of ancient Israel and the Book of Mormon peoples helps out a lot too. The larger picture of this chapter to me though is again, a true testimony of how the Spirit can help you to understand the scriptures better. Years after I was taught by the Spirit how to interpret this chapter, I came upon an article in an Ensign written by one of the prophets, I believe it was President Benson, where he explains Jacob 5. I got out my Book of Mormon and followed along with the article and was pleased to see that the notes I had written down exactly corresponded with the verses and what the Prophet was teaching. It made me feel good about myself that I had really listened to the Spirit those days, because it took 2 days for me to make it through that chapter there was so much He had to teach me. I hope you all find as much pleasure in the scriptures as I do. Until tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Olive Tree Allegory Part 1

Sadly, I was only able to read the 1st half of Jacob 5 today due to it still being painful to look down for too long. Nothing really struck me today in my reading so I thought I would talk a little bit about why I like this chapter.

Like most people who read this chapter, for the first half of my life, I hated this chapter. It was challenging to understand and it is a very long chapter, possibly the longest in the Book of Mormon. However, one day while I was on my mission, the eyes of mine understanding were opened and I was able to read this chapter in a new light.

I opened my Book of Mormon like I did everyday and saw that it was Jacob 5 and groaned a little inside. I said a prayer that Heavenly Father would help me understand the chapter better and as I started reading, it was like someone was there beside me whispering to me what each part meant. I did not physically hear anything, but when I would read a part of the chapter and read something, I would just instantly and instinctively know what the true meaning was. The first thing that became very apparent to me was that this chapter is about the Lord's history with the people of Israel.

It dealt with the frequent apostasy of Israel, the scattering of Israel, and the reclaiming of the Israelites. I will discuss more in depth tomorrow about the chapter itself, but even though I didn't get much reading done because of my injuries, I wanted to make sure I read at least a little and blogged. Remember to start each scripture reading session with a prayer and prepare your mind and spirit and the Holy Ghost WILL help you understand what you are reading and help you make it your own. He did for me that day. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Importance of Scriptures

Hello everyone, today is a special day. Today I only read a little bit of Jacob 5 for a couple of reasons. #1, I somehow managed to pull several muscles in my neck that makes it extremely difficult and painful to move my head at all. So I am pretty much stuck in an arm chair with an ice pack on my neck at all times with my head in the same position.

Because of this, I am not able to look down and therefore not able to read my scriptures like I would like to. So I pulled up the Book of Mormon on and read a few verses in Jacob 5 that way. I did not read very much because it is painful to do so, but also, my scriptures that I have now are new and not very marked up, and Jacob 5 is a wonderful chapter that I have a hunch will take lots of time and lots of marking before I am finished.

Given all of this, I was very loath to miss even one day of reading the scriptures, even a little, and also I did not want to miss a day of blogging. So today, since I did not get to spend a full 30 minutes reading the scriptures, I thought I would just take a few moments and reiterate how important it is to read the scriptures every day, even if you can only read for a few minutes or for a few verses, it is THAT important to read them. It doesn't matter what kind of pain you are in, making the effort will pay off and increase the Spirit in your life. It is a very hard habit to cultivate and I spent years not prizing the scriptures like I should have and for sure not reading them like I should have. I have been trying like crazy the last few years to make up for it all. Reading the scriptures on a daily basis is also a really great way to minimalize the amount of "sinning" that one does day to day. So everyone, stay tuned and hopefully I will be back to ship shape tomorrow and will be able to delve into Jacob 5 with you. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The First Fruits of Christ

Today I read Jacob 3 - 4, saving the big boy for tomorrow! That blog should be interesting, depending on what the Spirit teaches me. Anyway, the phrase that stood out to me today comes from Jacob 4:11 where those who utilize the Atonement in their lives are called the first fruits of Christ.

It's such a descriptive phrase. The scriptures in other places declares that by their fruits you shall know them. Some people get confused by this phrase, but really it's quite simple. We know an apple tree because it grows apples, an orange tree because it grows oranges, a lemon tree for the same reason, a pomegranate tree because it has pomegranates on it. Likewise, we know what type of a person someone is by their actions.

In James 3:11 it states that a fig tree cannot bear olive berries. Likewise we know what type of a person they are by their actions. We as a people are always making snap judgments about other people based on how they are dressed, how they talk, and those that are around them. That is human nature and there is nothing wrong with it. However, we should not write people off just because of those snap judgments, we should wait to see how they conduct themselves and what they do. That is their fruit.

Likewise, we are the fruit's of Jesus' labors here on the earth, if we will allow Him into our lives. We need to become like him and give up our old sinful lives. In Romans Paul declares that we should walk in a newness of life after baptism. That our old lives are dead and we should be a new creature. I agree. We must bear fruit of our own worthy of Him and our covenants that we have made. I pray that all of us can bear fruit worthy of our Savior and His sacrifice for us. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Brought out of Jerusalem

I read Jacob 1 - 2 today in my reading. A couple of things stood out to me in Jacob 2. I have always enjoyed verses 18 - 19. It is often quoted in the church. It briefly states to seek ye first the kingdom of God and then seek for riches if you so desire, because then you will seek to use riches as they are meant to be used, to help the poor and the needy.

It is always heart warming to see righteous people use their resources for good. My in-laws are a good example of that. Every fast Sunday (1st Sunday of the month) they invite many, many people over to their home for a dinner of sour dough waffles. They certainly don't have to do this, but they very much enjoy using their prosperity to the betterment of those around them. This is a perfect example of using what the Lord has blessed someone with for the benefit of others.

The 2nd half of Jacob 2 is very interesting. It is interesting to me because Jacob is forced to admonish his people against the practice of plural marriage. I'm sure lots of anti-LDS folks find that chapter and chapter 3 very entertaining considering the church's early days and practice of plural marriage. It mentions also David and Solomon and the many wives that they had. I have always been taught the reason the ancient prophets, like Abraham, Jacob(Israel) and David all had multiple wives is because they were given to them by the Lord.

The Nephites however, as evidenced by this chapter, had not been given multiple wives by the Lord. Also, if you study the early days of the church you will also find that no one took another wife save the prophet ok'd it. Now, personally, I can't understand why someone would want more than 1 wife. I love my wife with all my heart and cannot even for a moment conceive of sharing my heart with another woman, let alone at the same time!

I've often said that if the practice of plural marriage ever arises again in the church it will be a real challenge for me. One wife is more than enough for me. However, I do find it interesting that so many people who hate the Mormons for the early days of plural marriage and still accuse us of plural marriage, cheat on their wives! It's so sad to see what a state of debauchery we have slid into as a country when the sanctity of marriage means nothing to what appears to be the vast majority of people.

Now, I know that is not true, but the current statistic I think is that 48% of all marriages end in divorce. I would wager that at least a third of that 48% is because of infidelity in one form or another. Nevertheless, I do not wish to harrow up your minds on such a repugnant topic as this one, just as Jacob wished he would speak of happier things to his people, I will speak no more on this. Suffice it to say we need to be doing better as a nation. Children have a right to be born to loving parents that are married. Children grow and progress better in a stable life style. Rear your children in the right way they should walk and they will not depart from it the Bible says. I believe this admonition and I hope you all do too. Until tomorrow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I must obey

Today I finished up the book of 2 Nephi by reading chapter 33. I have always been struck by Nephi's closing statement where he says, "for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey." as if he had no other recourse but to obey the commandments he has been given.

I think it always has stayed with me is because I feel the same way. Of course I am not perfect and I do not live my life perfectly, however, I view the commandments as non-optional. Yesterday morning before church my wife and I were talking together and I mentioned that when I served my mission, the days and weeks leading up to it I wasn't too happy about it and didn't really want to go, to the point that later my dad told me that he really worried I would change my mind, up until the point when I got on the plane.

However, he needn't have worried, because serving a mission is a commandment from God given through one of his prophets and it must be obeyed. I had no choice but to go on my mission. Yes it was challenging and I didn't really start to enjoy it until month 3 when I finally hit the mission field and got to work, but it was still a commandment. And honestly, I didn't mind being there and doing the work, the hard part was actually the separation. Separation from my family and separation from my friends.

It was also a challenge because I knew that serving a mission would change everything. That I was giving up my entire life. That even if my friends were still around when I got back things would be very different. I had built up a nice little life for myself and God asked me to give it up, for His sake. Of course I did it, it was just really challenging. However, like Job before me, when I had proven myself, God gave me a better life in return for the one I had given up for Him. He always does that too. I have given up my entire life for Him no less than 3 times now and every time it is worth it. Surprisingly it gets easier with time.

But it is so interesting to see people who view the commandments as mere suggestions. They most certainly are not. They are laws that God lives by and must be obeyed if we ever hope to return to Him and be like Him. That is why I like chapter 33 of 2 Nephi because I feel he is a kindred spirit to mine for I too feel I must obey God's commands. Hopefully all of you feel the same way too. Until tomorrow.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My favorite chapter

Today I read 2 Nephi 32, which is my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon. It is only 9 verses long but it contains so much of the gospel. There is so much to disect in this chapter that it's hard to choose just one thing to talk about. I think I'll focus on verses 8-9 and talk about prayer.

It's one of my goals to one day own at least one biography of each of the modern day prophets. So far I have Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Howard W. Hunter and Gordon B. Hinkley. I recently read the one on Brigham Young and something that I found interesting was that he taught when we don't feel like praying is the time we most should pray.

I have always believed that there is never a time when we shouldn't pray. That we can never be "unworthy" to pray. I believe that the people who feel they are unworthy to pray are given those feelings by the devil. We should always pray to our Father in Heaven, no matter what we have done no matter what activity we are about to perform, we should always have a prayer in our heart. If we do always have a prayer it will be that much easier to keep the Spirit about us. As we continue to pray we will grow closer to our Father in Heaven and it will make it that much easier to pray even more. So continue to pray no matter what and we will become more like our Father in Heaven. Until tomorrow.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The 2nd most read chapter in the Book of Mormon

Today I read 2 Nephi 31, which I think is the chapter in the Book of Mormon that I have read more times than any other save only 3 Nephi 11. This of course being because of my mission. The first half of the chapter, is about the Savior's baptism, so of course we would share it anytime someone was going to be baptized. The 2nd half of the chapter is about enduring to the end.

I've often found it ironic that the 1 man that has ever lived on this earth and had true power in His possession was also the most humble man to ever live. Power is such an interesting thing. Very, very few people realize I think that power is given by other people to someone. It is not something one can possess without others around. I say this because power is one of those things that is totally and utterly at the whim of others.

A king has power only because his soldiers choose to follow him and thus he can enforce his will upon others. A priest has power only because his followers don't question him. A mob boss only has power because other criminals choose to carry out his commands. A boss in a corporation has power only because his/her employees do what he/she tells them to do. The reason it is so hard for 1 person to make a difference is because even if that 1 person rebels, the person in power still has all their other followers to back them up. I have honestly wondered sometimes about this phenomenon because I know for a fact that at any given time one of my employees could stand up to me and there's honestly nothing I can really do about it to stop them. However, it is amazing to me how people just stay in their roles and don't question those in power.

Truthfully even the Savior's power is obtained in the same way. He has His power because the very elements obey Him. He asks them for things and actions and they comply. He is able to walk on water because the water chooses to uphold Him. He can heal the sick because the illness in the person in question chooses to listen to Him when he commands it to be gone. However, unlike the mob boss or the king or anyone on this planet, the elements have such faith and trust in their God that they understand He will never ask them to do something that is not for their benefit.

If we could only have the faith the elements display! Everyone I know except for my younger brother, reads the scripture in Matthew 17:20 to be "If ye have faith [the size of a] mustard seed...". But that is NOT what it says. It says, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed...". I don't think it is a mistake. I think the Savior is trying to teach us that if we had total, complete and unwavering faith, AS DOES a mustard seed, we can move mountains, etc, etc. Most everyone I have ever brought this up to rejects it out of hand right at first. But we are taught that EVERYTHING in this universe has intelligence. We all know the story of the fig tree that Jesus cursed because it fulfilled not the measure of its creation. We've all heard the stories of the animals that have gone rogue and become man hunters and defying their very nature.

Obviously these beasts and plants and other non-sentient beings for lack of a better word, can choose to disobey even our Heavenly Father! That's an incredible thought. So given this knowledge, I really think that our Savior was trying to get his Apostles to understand that the faith needed to move a mountain is the type of faith a grain of mustard seed has. The type of unwavering faith and unshakable love the elements have for our Father. Then we too can move mountains and walk on water if it is our Father's will.

I must admit that I did not intend to take this post in this direction. I was originally going to talk about baptism and being cleansed from sin by the Holy Ghost, but I feel the Lord had another use for my blog today. I hope it has helped someone out there who may read it and find what they are looking for. May the Spirit be your constant companion as He is mine. Until tomorrow.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Bible, a Bible

2 Nephi 29 and 30 is what I read today. Anyone who has ever been a missionary has a special place in their heart for 2 Nephi 29, for anyone who has ever been a missionary has most likely heard at least someone utter the phrase, "I've already got a Bible, I don't need another one." or "There's only 1 Bible."

Even among the Chinese population where I served I heard people tell me that there is only 1 Bible. I think the Lord's response to these people is most poignant. "Wherefore mumur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?" I've often wondered why people would flat out refuse to even give it a chance when they were told it was more of God's words. I know if someone came out with another book claiming it was a record of ancient times written by prophets of God, I would at least read it.

But as always, Satan has done his work well. He has managed to convince the world that certain scriptures in the Bible are meant to be taken in a way in which the original author never intended. And people are so willing to believe what they are told. I was talking with one of my employees yesterday about our customers. I work in the telecommunications industry and my employees talk with people all day long attempting to assist the people with their computer issues. She said, "You know the old adage 'Seeing is believing'? Well I think for most people it's actually backwards and it's actually 'Believing is seeing'." How true that is. It's not necessarily that when we see it we will believe it, it's become I don't want to believe it therefore I don't see it.

People have become such skeptics. I remember when I used to talk to people on the phones trying to help them get their internet online and I would suggest something and some people would immediately tell me "That won't work". My response was usually something along the lines of you haven't even tried it yet! Let's at least give it a try before we discount it.

When I was younger I used to think the phrase, the love of men will wax cold, was in reference to homosexuality. I don't anymore. I think it more has to do with the genuine love most people have for other people in general leaving and people start to treat one another with contempt and with a total lack of respect. Which we see in our day. A lot of people, especially in big cities, have lost their love of mankind. And treat each other worse than they would treat a dog on the streets. It's sad really, to see the light of Christ going off in so many people all at once and just as in the movie series Star Wars it happens to the sound of cheers and clapping. Just as Enoch's vision, Satan is indeed laughing and his angels are rejoicing.

It is up to us to be God's servants here upon the earth and do good as much as we can and to be examples upon the earth. The Latter-day Saints certainly do not have a monopoly on goodness. All people have the capacity to make the world a better place. Let's all improve life within our own sphere of influence and make the world a better place one step at a time. Until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Prophecy fulfilled

I read 2 Nephi 28 today and laughed out loud when I read verse 20. "For behold, at that day shall [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good."

If ever a prophecy has ever been fulfilled it is that one. And we see if being fulfilled every single day. All you have to do it turn on the news and you will see people being persecuted and hated for standing up for what is right. When people stand up to the immorality that has become a way of life in this country people scream and rage against them saying they are intolerant and that they are the ones guilty of bigotry.

Think back to the latest vote against gay marriage in California. I say the latest for there have been several. When it did not go the way the liberals wanted it to go, they lashed out against the LDS church. They staged a protest against the Los Angeles temple. And yet there were many, many more people who voted to uphold marriage than just the Latter-day Saints. But we were accused of being hateful, bigots, you name it and we were called it.

I have never seen such hate directed at righteousness as I now see in the world of the news camera. I have never seen such a divided nation that is only divided because it chooses to be. I have never seen people carry around a wound of over 300 years ago as a badge of honor. I have never seen a people so willing to ignore the big issues and focus only on the little ones. We have people who attack the police and show no respect for the law and when those police naturally retaliate we get up in arms and scream "How dare that police man hit that person!". The devil most definitely has great hold on this people.

And yet, like Sodom before it, there is still good among us. We are not fully ripe in iniquity. The majority does not desire that which is evil. The multiple votes in California about gay marriage have proved that. Most of our problem is the majority does not speak out and defend ourselves when the minority causes a ruckus. If we are going to make changes in this world and stand up for that which is right, we must be that source of righteousness in the world. We can be the city set on a hill and the light unto the world! We just have to stand up for what we know to be right. Until tomorrow.