Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I made a mistake! Please forgive me!

Study time!

We're starting in Mormon 4 and it's pretty cool stuff, because Mormon is showing his human side again, and I have to laugh. What did he do? He changed his mind! He felt bad after a choice he made. He felt guilty for abandoning those he loved!

And it came to pass that I did go forth among the Nephites, and did repent of the oath which I had made that I would no more assist them; 

What exactly does this mean? Every word and sentence counts, so what was Mormon doing "going forth among the Nephite's"? It sounds like he was going around apologizing for abandoning them, because since he had dumped them, they'd lost all their battles and the Lamanites were about to wipe them all out. 

Mormon had a big heart and didn't want to see that happen. He wanted to win them back.

and they gave me command again of their armies, for they looked upon me as though I could deliver them from their afflictions.

They were hoping for another miracle. Mormon wanted to give it to them more than anything. How often do we do this in our own lives. We could probably think of a lot of times where we do this for our kids. Saving them from their own bad choices. Granted, most choices our kids make won't literally kill them, wiping them out completely, but still, we don't want them to suffer terribly. What is the right choice here? I think it's individual to the situation. It takes prayer and sometimes fasting. I'm sure Mormon did plenty of this before he went back to leading them. The Lord probably gave his OK. I can't picture him doing it without it.

But behold, I was without hope, for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.

Pretty self explanatory. But how many times has Mormon gone through this cycle? At least he never gives up. He's persistent. He loves his people. He doesn't want to see them destroyed for real, even though he's already seen it in a vision. I guess he's trying to prolong it. But that also sounds like torture. But we go through torture for our own children too. I have three teenagers. Tortured is my middle name.

The next verses are about more battles, which, now that Mormon is leading them again, they win! I'll bet the Nephites think he holds powerful magic! It makes me wonder why they don't believe him about God also. But we often see what we want to see, and ignore the rest.

And now behold, I, Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of blood and carnage as was laid before mine eyes; but I, knowing that these things must surely be made known, and that all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops—

Oh my. He is resisting telling us the terrible "whole" truth. He can't stand to describe it all once again. But he knows it has to be done and if he doesn't say it, someone else will be asked to. Many are called, but few are chosen. He does't just want to be called. He wants to be chosen too. Has this ever happened to you? Has the Lord ever asked you to do something you just didn't want to do? Did you accept or deny? I've done both. It's usually after the fact that I learn my mistake, but by then, it's over and there's no going back. 

And also that a knowledge of these things must come unto the remnant of these people, and also unto the Gentiles, who the Lord hath said should scatter this people, and this people should be counted as naught among them—

Wow! It's like watching an American History movie! The American Indians were absolutely counted as "naught" when the people wanted to colonize farther and farther west. None of their beliefs or history was important. They were considered animals, uncouth, and untrained. It's interesting that so many of their traditions and beliefs are back into popularity now, because, face it, truth is truth, and they did have some, which is why some of it is attractive.

—therefore I write a small abridgment, daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen, because of the commandment which I have received, and also that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.

Whoa! He dares not tell all? It must be pretty dang terrible. His people must be beyond wicked and their destruction was beyond description. What does that entail? What were they doing that was so bad. Seriously? Could it be any worse than what our world is like now? Secret combinations among leaders? Craftiness among men? Murder, theft, rape and no conscience.

Our wars and secret combinations--and we all know they exist even if we aren't exactly sure where--are ruining our world. And we let them. We do. Otherwise the world wouldn't be like it is today. It seems impossible to fix. At least to me. What can one person do? I don't want to have a loud voice. Heck, I don't even want to write this blog. I'm not the person to lead a movement. I keep praying for someone else to stand up, but maybe that's what we're all doing. No wonder.

I'm not sure how to change this other than to take one small step at a time, to make my voice heard. That's why I'm writing this blog. I was told to, so I'm trying to be "chosen" and not just called. Maybe I'll be asked to do more in the future and this post is the first step in that direction. I guess we'll see.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Can you hear me now?

Do you believe the Lord will communicate with you directly? Most people think he doesn't, that it's the Holy Ghost who is delegated to that job, that the HG will relay any messages the Savior wants us to know, but I read this next verse In Mormon 3 and question that philosophy. Maybe he will speak to us directly.

 14 And when they (the Nephites)  had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:

It doesn't say the the Holy Spirit came to him, or that he felt an impression, or that his heart burned with a feeling, it says that the voice of the Lord came to him. The Lord did not appear to him physically, but Mormon heard his voice.

This is important! We should ponder this! What does this mean for us? It doesn't say that Mormon heard the Lord's voice out loud. He could have, but it's also plausible that he heard the Lord's voice in his mind. Has this ever happened to you?

Here's what the Lord says to Mormon...

15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.

That's pretty cut and dry. Quite often, I'm guilty of thinking that God sets things in motion and then lets us live, suffering the consequences of our own choices, but here, it sounds pretty clear that he's going to step in and serve up vengeance. This is a huge debate. Does the Savior cause things to happen? Does he punish or are the things we think are punishments really just the natural consequences of our actions? Where we sometimes get confused is that our time is not the Lord's time. His "punishments" seldom happen instantly. At least from what I've seen.

 16 And it came to pass that I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies; and I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come.

Mormon utterly refused? How could he do that unless the people were persistently nagging him to lead them? They didn't want to lose their illustrious leader, but I like how he wouldn't bend. The Lord commanded him to be a witness to what he saw and heard, and then write about it on the plates. I LOVE that he added the phrase, "idle witness". It means he didn't interfere. He didn't keep preaching to them. He didn't try to change the outcome. His people were too far gone and he had finally accepted it. Also, in this verse he mentions that the spirit had manifested futuristic things to him, things that were to come. This states that Mormon KNEW the difference between the Lord's voice and the Holy Ghost's voice.That's cool.

These next verses are awesome and can't be separated! They need to be read as one. 

17 Therefore I write unto you, Gentiles, and also unto you, house of Israel, when the work shall commence, that ye shall be about to prepare to return to the land of your inheritance; 18 Yea, behold, I write unto all the ends of the earth; yea, unto you, twelve tribes of Israel, who shall be judged according to your works by the twelve whom Jesus chose to be his disciples in the land of Jerusalem. 19 And I write also unto the remnant of this people, (the Nephites and Lamanites) who shall also be judged by the twelve whom Jesus chose in this land; and they shall be judged by the other twelve whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem. 

So, he's basically talking to the whole world. Why doesn't he just say "everybody"? Because he wants to be absolutely clear. He's talking to us. There is no doubt. He's talking to YOU. So listen up. You don't want to miss it. 

20 And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil;

 21 And also that ye may believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, which ye shall have among you; and also that the Jews, the covenant people of the Lord, shall have other witness besides him whom they saw and heard, that Jesus, whom they slew, was the very Christ and the very God.
 22 And I would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.
These last three verses are so powerful! Mormon has seen the outcome for all people in a vision. The Lord showed it to him. He also showed him our outcome. Why would he feel the need to persuade us to come to Christ and to recognize His gospel that is among us unless we need him to? 

A huge part of understanding the gospel is understanding the Book of Mormon. It's the cornerstone of our religion.The Book of Mormon is for us, but do we use it? It's an onion. How many layers deep have you gone? Have you only scratched the surface? The B of M is not for "gentiles" who will never read it. It's for the "gentiles" who will. Us. The Mormons. Why does Mormon feel the need to warn us when we have the truth already? That is something to figure out. 

Let's read that last one again.

 22 And I would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.

I think this is good advice. We should probably take it. The way you do this is by getting down on your knees and asking the Lord what he expects of you. It's by asking him to show you where your unbelief lies and to teach you truth. It's by begging him to make you his instrument. It's what we are supposed to do. It's what we are commanded to do. 

None of us are perfect, but God can make us the perfect instrument. We can hear his voice, just like Mormon. We can learn, progress and grow in spirit. 

I have a splitting headache today, so I hope this post is understandable. These are things I strive to do myself. I feel like the Savior wants me to share these things, and like I've said before, I don't know why he wants to me to write this blog, but I will strive to be obedient, even if it's just for me.

Remember something, the harder you work for the Lord, the harder the adversary will work on you. So, in the midst of your spiritual metamorphosis, if you life goes to hell, just know you are on the right track!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Yeah, we're all that!

It's human nature to become prideful when life goes our way. It's one of those things we have to constantly work on. The spirit helps us in that endeavor if we let it, but if, for whatever reason, you don't have the spirit to guide you, what happens? Well, this is what happens....

(We're still in Mormon, for those of you just joining)

And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies.

So now, they're all that. And the truth is, they did do pretty awesome. They have been battling with the Lamanites now for years! And once Mormon got his feet under him--and gained some experience--they started winning the war.

That in itself is a pretty cool lesson. Let's talk about it for a second. Even Mormon, great prophet that he ended up being, had to start somewhere. He failed... a lot. The Lord let him, so he would grow. We don't grow much when life is easy. We need adversity. We need to struggle. It helps us rely on Him if we let it. Anyway, back to verse nine.

Now that the Nephites are so successful they decide to get revenge on the Lamanites for killing so many of their brethren. They sound like bullies, and that's just what they are. A giant gang of bullies who think they're "all that." Beware of pride, folks, although most of the time, when we are being prideful, we are the last ones to notice.

10 And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land.

In hindsight, it's like watching a thriller movie. You know exactly what God's reaction is going to be. He doesn't take people swearing by his throne or the heavens lightly. He's not as obvious as Zeus maybe--throwing bolts of lighting and killing the offenders immediately--but things will quickly go downhill for people with that much pride. Plus, now they are crossing another line. They aren't just defending their homes, their wives, and children. Now they are taking the offense in a way that is offensive to God.

11 And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.

Finally! He tells them where to go! He's had it, and his heart just can't take it anymore. He's told us over and over how much it hurts to deal with these people. He loves them with all his heart, but they are so wicked, so evil, and so far removed from God, that they can't even see it. They are past hearing and here's the kicker. They don't know it. THIS IS ALWAYS THE CASE! They don't think they are evil or wicked or abandoned by the spirit. 

This is where we need to liken the scriptures to us. Do you think you are wicked? Are you evil? Does the spirit dwell in your heart all of the time? I'll bet most religious people think it does. Especially us LDS folk. We have the truth, right? We have the gospel. We have the temple. We have a prophet. There's no WAY we're off track.

Beware of pride, my friends. This way of thinking is the quickest way for you to wander off the path. You may have the Book of Mormon, but do you study it? I'm not talking about reading a few verses each Sunday every four years when they discuss it in gospel doctrine class. I'm talking about feasting here. Most do not. I'm not stupid. You're not stupid. We aren't "remembering" the B of M, like I talked about here

You may have been ordained to the priesthood, but do you really hold it? Are you performing miracles? Are you casting out devils? Are you raising the dead? Why not? Seriously, if you hold the priesthood, ask yourself the question of, why not? And if you say it's because you don't have the faith, then dang, you need to get yourself in spiritual shape, brother. These are things we are supposed to be doing! The Lord told us to!

The people who think they are the most righteous are usually the ones who are the least. And if you don't think you are being righteous, fix it. That doesn't mean you have to be pious and boring. It means to get your relationship with the Lord to a place where you can hear him speaking to you... often.

12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.  13 And thrice have I delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and they have repented not of their sins.  14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:
This is interesting. It kind of sounds like Mormon is trying to justify his decision to not lead the Nephites anymore. He really doesn't need to justify, because I don't think anyone here would begrudge him his decision, but he is also driving home the point, ONE MORE TIME, why they are destined to fall. 

Over and over, they have been warned. Over and over, he has begged and pleaded with them to repent. Over and Over they have been given a second chance. How many second chances is the Lord going to bestow? A ton so far, but that is coming to an end.

It seems like all we have talked about so far--in the Book of Mormon--has been dark and dreary. Hmm. Kind of interesting, isn't it? Maybe the Book of Mormon isn't all flowers and happiness and promises of eternity. Maybe that's not its purpose at all. Maybe its purpose is to be a warning. A harbinger. Maybe it was written to warn us of our downfall if we don't listen, if we don't repent, if we don't change. People are people. People don't often change. We know that. It's mainly because we refuse to recognize our mistakes, weaknesses, and mostly our pride. 

One more thing I feel impressed to share. Take it how you will.

Often, the adversary will impersonate the Holy Ghost. Yes, he is perfectly capable of this. Just as the Holy Ghost will warn you away from "evil", the adversary will "warn" you away from good. He doesn't want you to learn. He doesn't want you studying out of "the best books", he doesn't want your relationship with the Savior to grow. Be aware of this. Be sure you are absolutely listening to the correct voice. Be sure you are living your life in such a way that you will recognize truth when faced with it. This is vital, study it out, and pray about it if you don't believe me.

We'll get to what the Lord tells Mormon in the next verse next time, so stay tuned!

And above all, don't be afraid. Fear is of the devil.

Monday, September 28, 2015

People are stubborn

People are stubborn... and hard-hearted. It's true now and it has been true throughout all time. I'd like to believe that there is goodness at the basic core of man, and I don't intend to change my mind about that (it would make me lose heart) but I try to put myself in Mormon's shoes. It would be dang near impossible to not want to smack those people upside the head.

Let me show you.

And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God.

See? Hard-hearted. The Lord had spared them. Mormon could see it, but the people couldn't. And not only could they not see it, they hardened their hearts more!

Here's a question. Does the Lord change his mind? Can he? Is he allowed? Actually, I don't think he changes his mind at all. I think he has a plan, but he doesn't tell us the plan from the beginning. He only gives us bits and pieces, so it looks like he's changed the plan, when in reality, he's just given us a chance to grow up, mature, learn, and listen better. Then he gives us the next piece of the plan. He's dealing with immature souls here. I think it's pretty loving of him to do it this way. So... back to verse 2 and to why I asked this question in the first place.

And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people—Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.

In the beginning of Mormon chapter 3 (which is what we're studying today) Mormon commands the people to fortify their cities because he knows the Lamanites haven't turned peaceful, aren't tending their homes and gardens, and living the law of consecration. They are preparing to come back and beat the crap out of the Nephites. Mormon wants his people prepared, even if they are stubborn, hard-hearted doofuses.

But now he's also commanded by the Lord to preach to them! To call them to repentance and to be baptized! Remember in chapter one that he was commanded NOT to preach repentance to them? Why now? What changed? Well, Mormon is no longer 15. He's a man. He's their leader. They respect him. Maybe they'll listen. And maybe the Lord, in all his mercy, wants to give them one more chance to change. He already knows if they will or won't though, but Mormon doesn't. That's the interesting thing here. Maybe it was to hold the people accountable, one last time, and to give those who had grown up and were finally at an age of accountability, a chance to choose. He wanted them to know that if they repented, the Lord would spare them. It was a promise and the Lord keeps his promises always. And maybe it was also to prove to Mormon that there weren't any honorable men or women left to save. Seriously. None.

I want to look at verse 3 again.

And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God.

What does it mean to "cry" unto the people? Was it knocking on doors, looking nice and spiffy in new clothes, hoping someone will let you in? I seriously doubt it. Picture it. What would "crying" to the people look like? To me, it would be fervent pleading and begging for the people to listen. Intense bearing of testimony. The kind, that if it happened today, would seem overly dramatic and stupid. We'd look at him and think he was nuts, even if he was the general of our armies. We'd think he'd had one too many to drink. Nobody "cries" repentance today unless you're an evangelical preacher or a bible pounding lunatic. Maybe those lunatics know something we don't. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge.

I can totally hear it. "We saved ourselves. We were strong. It wasn't God who liberated us from the Lamanites. There was no God at our head or at our back. It was you, Mormon. And you're a great leader. That's why we won." 

And as for hard hearts... I had a conversation with a friend the other day where she could explain everything away with science. EVERYTHING. And if you can't explain with science, it's just mumbo jumbo. The thing is, everything she said sounded very logical and even right, but in my heart, I knew something different. The things that science can explain can be explained, because God uses math and science. It doesn't take a genius to know that. But it does take faith to believe in the things you can't explain or understand right away.

I'm sure Mormon wondered why he couldn't preach when he was young, but now he could. Maybe he learned why, but until that time, he had to show faith and be obedient in doing things that were hard and that he didn't understand. Even with everyone telling him he was wrong. That's strength.

And it came to pass that after this tenth year had passed away, making, in the whole, three hundred and sixty years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave unto me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us.

Told you. The Lamanites weren't finished. They weren't big on forgiveness. It wasn't in their vocabulary.

And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward. And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force.
They didn't wait. They didn't play defensive. They took the offensive. Very brave.

And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again.

Booya! Take that!

And in the three hundred and sixty and second year they did come down again to battle. And we did beat them again, and did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea.

The Lamanites don't seem to learn, do they? They just don't get it, and they don't give their hate a rest. They just keep coming. No fear--I'll give them that. But here's the question. Why does Mormon include all of this? Why does he show us how relentless the Lamanites are? Is there something we are supposed to learn from this? Ask yourself, do you have a grudge you won't let go of? For years possibly? My mother in law didn't speak to her sister for 10 years after a fight. TEN YEARS! Do you hate someone so much that they are on your mind constantly? I hope not. But if that is the case, you need to deal with it. Usually by letting it go. Just let it go. You won't be able to do it on your own though. You will have to beg the Lord for help. He's the only one who can take it away. Pray and visualize yourself giving up this burden to him. Picture him taking it from you. Picture him taking you in his arms and forgiving you of your own sins. That's what needs to happen anyway. It's wonderful to experience this. A priceless gift.

This is all for today, my friends, and it's plenty of food for thought. May your day be blessed.