Strength & Struggle

This is one of my favorite quotes I found in The Miracle of Forgiveness:

Strength and struggle go together. The supreme reward of struggle is strength. Life is a battle and the greatest joy is to overcome. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak. Do not equip yourselves with superior power and hope to escape the responsibility and work. It cannot be done. It is following the lines of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked.

– Ralph Parlette

Killing those who don’t support freedom

This post may get a little political, but I’ve recently been reading in the book of Alma, chapter 62 (and other places), where dissenters of a “democratic” society who were in support of overthrowing the government and establishing a king, were about to cause the cause the downfall of the whole community. These “king-men”, as they were called were given a choice: support freedom, or be put to death. Many still chose death and fought to have a king even though it had proved destructive in the past. Pride and hopes for power are often what drove these men to support a king. They wanted to rule.

My question: What is the difference between killing one who doesn’t support freedom, and killing one who doesn’t support a dictator? Then what about killing someone who doesn’t believe as you do?

Maybe the difference is in the motive?
If your reason for killing is so you can have power and fame, that’s probably not a good reason.
If your reason for killing is so your civilization won’t be overthrown by wars and dissentions, then perhaps it’s a bit more justified.

Maybe it’s simply a matter of being based on truth?
Freedom IS God’s way. It’s the only way that really works. Although isn’t killing someone for their beliefs in a way taking away that freedom? I suppose that depends on the law.

Any other thoughts?

The Great Experiment

So what if Nephi and his brethren did not return to Jerusalem and obtain the brass plates? What if they had no scripture, or records of their ancestors?

Well, my guess is they would have become as the people in Zarahemla. The people of Zarahemla also came from Jarusalem, shortly after Lehi and his family left. They were also brought to the american continent, yet they had no scripture with them.

And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them. (Omni 1:17)

So within 300 years after leaving Jarusalem, their language became so corrupt that they could not be understood by the Nephites, and worst of all, they denied the existence of the Savior.

Wise purpose indeed that Nephi should obtain the brass plates.

Jacob 5

Oh the dreaded Jacob 5, 77 verses long! While growing up, I never quite understood this chapter. Even after a number of lessons in Sunday school and seminary. I think we spent a couple days in seminary talking about it and all I got out of it was what it meant to graft a branch into another tree, and how it was done.

Then one day in Sunday school, we had a returned missionary, Brother Woodland, that was just thrilled to give us the lesson on the aligory of the olive tree. It was very easy to tell that the class was much less excited about the subject. I don’t think anyone in the room understood it. It’s hard enough to teach a bunch of high school kids, without having such a confusing topic.

Then it happened. We read a verse that opened it all up to me. I can’t remember exactly what the verse was, but I’m guessing it was Jacob 5:25

And he said unto the servant: Look hither and behold the last. Behold, this have I planted in a good spot of ground; and I have nourished it this long time, and only a part of the tree hath brought forth tame fruit, and the other part of the tree hath brought forth wild fruit; behold, I have nourished this tree like unto the others.

After reading this verse our teacher explained that this verse talked about the Nephites and Lamanites. After that one statement the whole aligory finally opened up to me. I went home and read it and understood it all perfectly. I understood the history of the house of Israel. I shared his excitement. I love the aligory of the olive tree now!

Life Centered in Christ

I was reading in the first chapter of Alma this morning. One point that caught my eye was that because the steadiness of the people in the church, they began to prosper, and had an abundance of all things they needed. They were also able to help others who were in need, and gave much of their substance to help the poor. Yet they did not set their hearts upon their riches. I think that’s an important point today as well. The Lord does bless the righteous, but the key is to not become prideful, but remain humbly grateful and give of what you have to those around you. Keep your heart centered upon Christ, and not upon obtaining riches.

One of my favorite quotes is by President Howard W. Hunter.

“If our lives and our faith are centered on Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.”
(The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1997), 40.)

Believing Christ

While reading this morning, I came across the following verses:

2 Nephi 25:23-26

23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

This reminded me of a book I read recently by the title of Believing Christ. This book explains clearly the role of Christ and our absolute need for his atonement. It makes things so clear and more than anything gives a person hope. While discussing this book a with a woman I know, she said this was the book that brought her back in to the church. Before reading it, she didn’t feel she had the strength to come back.

If you’ve ever felt that you’ve done something so terribly wrong that you cannot be forgiven, you don’t believe Christ when He says He can heal you. You may believe in Him. You may believe that He can forgive others, because certainly other people have not done things as terrible as you feel you have done. Well, this thinking is wrong. He can forgive you. He said He will forgive you. You must believe Him when He says this.

No matter how good or righteous you may feel anther person may be, they need the atonement just as much as you do – daily even. As verse 23 states, it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do. Ultimately, if not for the Savior’s grace, we are lost and fallen and no amount of righteousness can restore us until we accept the atonement of Christ and ask for forgiveness.

Book of Mormon Reading Goal

President Hinckley has challenged members of the church to read the Book of Mormon completely by the end of the year. I’ve created this spreadsheet to track my progress.

BOM Reading Goal

Basically, I’ve listed each chapter in the Book of Mormon and how many verses are in it. To the left I’ve listed how many of those verses I have read. Below each chapter is a summary of how many chapters I have left to read, the date I want to read them all, how many days I have left to do so, How many chapters I have to read each day, and finally, how far behind (or ahead) of my goal I am to read two chapters per day.

If you want to use this spreadsheet for yourself, feel free to download it here.

Graven Images

Today, I was reading in Mosiah 12, where Abinadi is condemning King Noah’s wicked priests. He mentions a doctrine from the law of Moses:

35 Thou shalt have no other God before me.
36 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing in heaven above, or things which are in the earth beneath.

I wondered, “No likeness of any thing in heaven?” Does that mean we can’t draw pictures of angels or God? If that’s the case, then we can’t draw pictures of anything because it also condemns likenesses of things in the earth beneath. Of course, it’s okay to create the likenesses, statues, artwork, etc. What is being condemned here is the worship of those images. In Exodus 20:4-5 it makes the same point.
In fact, for the Temple, the ancient saints were commanded to make likenesses of things in heaven:
Exodus 37:7-8:

7 And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.
8 One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof.