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.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Man, are we in trouble?

I'm going to start the same way I end this post today. By telling you this... let this blog be your scripture study time. I know you're busy. You don't have time to read blogs without substance. Countless people say they don't have time to study the scriptures. This can be your scripture study time. We'll take a few minutes (almost every day) to feed your mind and spirit. And we'll also be doing something the Lord as commanded us to do. "Remember the Book of Mormon." He's serious. This is how serious he is... 

And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief  (a disbelief in truth and a belief in false doctrine and tradition) and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— D&C 84: 54-57
Has this condemnation been lifted? Are we still under it? Do we truly appreciate the Book of Mormon and understand what it is REALLY telling us? 


Let's begin.

From verse 16 to the end of chapter two in Mormon, there is mostly war and more war. Normally, I would not suggest skipping verses, and when you read, DON'T do that, but for the sake of time--and the fact that I don't want you to be bored--I will sum up.

The Nephite armies move north, very close to the place where the plate were buried. How serendipitous! It gives Mormon a chance to go get them. And he does. But because of their "wickedness and abominations" Mormon doesn't want to keep writing about the wicked, naughty Nephites. He's sick of it. It's all he's known since he could remember anything. What a way for a kid to grow up. How did he ever survive it spiritually?

19 And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day.

I think it's interesting that he says he "knows" he'll be lifted up at the last day. How has does he know this? How does he know he's on the right track when all of his life he has been surrounded by death and destruction, wickedness and abominations? My guess is that the Savior himself told him. I doubt He only visited Mormon the one time. Mormon had most likely been visited numerous times, the lucky duck. It's what we should all strive for. The Lord has promised to visit us in the flesh if we desire it and work for it. 

"When any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him." ~Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 151 and also found in History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 3:381.

There were times at the end of chapter two that Mormon was able to rouse the people somewhat to fight for their wives, children, homes, but he mostly lamented the wickedness of his people. He knew the Lord didn't fight beside them and he knew also that all was probably lost. It would have been really hard to stay enthusiastic. 

26 And it came to pass that when they had fled we did pursue them with our armies, and did meet them again, and did beat them; nevertheless the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.

Why does he include this here? Remember, every word, every sentence is important. It's there for a reason, to teach us something. What should we be learning here? Maybe it's that after all you have done for someone, you have to let go. They are responsible for their own thoughts and actions. You can't save anyone but yourself in the end, and then it's only if you have the Savior helping you. We need to trust that things happen for a reason. That people are where they are on the wheel of progression because that is where they need to be. It's one of those things to pray about to get your own answer.

At the end of this chapter, the Nephites do rally! They win the battle and beat back the Lamanites. So much so, that they kick them totally out of their lands. But it wasn't because the Lord helped them. They were just lucky.

They made a treaty with the Lamanites, which I think is pretty huge. They must have really kicked their behinds.

29 And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward.

We don't know exactly where this is (supposedly), but it sounds to me like the Panama Canal area. That is the only narrow land between the "land northward" and the "land southward" that I know of. It's not an important fact for your salvation, but it's still fun to guesstimate. 

I'm going to end here, because I don't want these posts to be super long. I'm hoping they will give you the chance to study the scriptures even though you're busy. Most people can flit through blog after blog, but at the end of the day they feel like they have wasted their time if the blogs didn't have substance. 

I want your reading of this blog be your chance at studying the scriptures. I can't tell you how many people tell me that they just don't have time to study. I think we make it too hard. We think we have to read whole chapters to make it worth it. That couldn't be farther from the truth! Use this blog as your B of M study time. We will go through it together, verse by verse, and hopefully, we'll all learn something and be fed by the spirit at the same time.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dang, this is depressing.

I know a lot of teenagers. I have three off them. None of them, and I mean NONE of them are qualified to lead an army. So, what was it about Mormon that allowed him to be qualified at the ripe old age of 15? Seriously. Fifteen.

1. And it came to pass in that same year there began to be a war again between the Nephites and the Lamanites. And notwithstanding I being young, was large in stature; therefore the people of Nephi appointed me that I should be their leader, or the leader of their armies.

This absolutely blows me away. At age fifteen, Mormon was asked to lead the armies of the people of Nephi. Lead. Their. Army. How did they even know about him? He never mentions that he was popular in any way. How had he gotten their attention? Was he into sports? Did they have sports? Was his dad a big wig? Into politics? In the military himself? Does he ever mention that his dad was still alive? Why doesn't his dad lead the army? Mormon was an ancient Joan of Arc, I guess.

Why Mormon? He was large in stature (sounds a lot like Nephi) so he was a big kid, but did that qualify him to LEAD an army? Did he have experience? Where did he get it? Seriously. Who asks a teenager to lead an army unless they have experience leading men, figuring out battle strategy, and understand the art of war etc... and where would Mormon get that at age 15? I'm still wracking my brain to figure it out, but I guess the Lord had his hand in it. Mormon was in the right place at the right time, and the Lord made sure things fell into place for him. I would really like to know the details. 

The next few verses talk about the battles that happened, one after another. The whole B of M is about people who can't seem to get along. Back and forth, back and forth, someone is always upset and starting a war. It sounds a lot like the world we live in now if you think about it. 

In verse 3, Mormon's armies are so frightened that they turn tail and run away! They go north and finally reach the city of Angola. How would you have liked to have lived in that town? Armies are not usually recommended guests! I won't go into details here, but remember they were a wicked, dishonest, and forsaken people. Imagine what they were capable of. They take over your city, build fortifications and hope to survive. At least the residents hoped to survive. They had a chicken crap army living there that kept running away from the enemy. What happened to the citizens of that city? Were they driven out too? Did the Lamanites leave them alone and only follow the army, or did they stay to rape and pillage? I can't imagine the atrocities that must have happened, and still, the Nephites would not repent, but were hateful and prideful! They were driven out of Angola and the Lamanites followed them, driving them out of every city they tried to hide in!. Poor Mormon. He probably felt like an utter failure! Here he was, now only 16, leading the Nephite army, and they lost one battle after another.

Seriously. Every. Single. Battle.

I wonder if his people complained and wanted him replaced. Did they think they'd made a mistake appointing him their general? Did he have good councilors? Obviously not. They lost every battle! But then, he was leading an army that did not have the Lord at its back.

Finally, in verse 8...

But behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.

Mormon seems a little amazed that they have gone through so many trials and STILL the Nephites won't repent. How hard and traumatic does your life have to be before you are sufficiently humbled? I guess some people never get to that place. Some people never are humbled. Some people would rather die than admit they were wrong.

And at the end of that verse he uses the word "revolution" which is interesting. Why did he choose that word? Here's the Webster dictionary definition.

Revolution : the usually violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one  : a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.
I'l let you ponder that. But remember. Every word counts. It's important. Peel back the layers of the onion to understand it. What kind of revolution was this? I'm guessing is was as much spiritual as physical. If you look at the spiritual side, then the part of the definition that says, "a complete change in the way people live and work etc..." makes sense. They had completely evolved into something else. 

And now, finally, something good happens for Mormon.

And now, the Lamanites had a king, and his name was Aaron; and he came against us with an army of forty and four thousand. And behold, I withstood him with forty and two thousand. And it came to pass that I beat him with my army that he fled before me. And behold, all this was done, and three hundred and thirty years had passed away.

Finally! A miracle for poor Mormon! It's about dang time! And guess what happens now!  10 And it came to pass that the Nephites began to repent of their iniquity, and began to cry even as had been prophesied by Samuel the prophet;

Is your heart melting? Are you so happy that the people are finally turning to the Lord? That they are finally repenting? Yes? Well, stop it! Don't be happy! This isn't a happy moment! These people are still idiots! And do you what to know why? I'll tell you. They only repented for one reason and here it is... for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land.

Those selfish, little brats! They only cared about their possessions! Even Mormon was deceived for a little while, but he was young and maybe a bit altruistic and naive. We'll cut him some slack.

 12 And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people. 

13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

Again, poor Mormon. Teenagers take thing really hard too. Everything seems so huge and terrible to them. I don't know how "normal" he was as a teen, but this had to weigh heavy. It had to have been traumatic--everything he'd gone through. Most teens don't have to witness death and destruction at every turn as Mormon did. It had to have shaped him. It had to have scarred him to some degree, especially being so alone in a spiritual way. No one to confide in who thought like he did. But I would guess that the Lord blessed him and took some of these heartaches to himself. I'm sure he was with Mormon every step of the way. He would have to have been. Mormon wouldn't have made it otherwise. Just think about that.

And the poor people of Nephi. There weren't allowed to take happiness sin. That had to have been hard. For a while though, I bet they did! 

14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.

They wished to die? And yet kept fighting to live? I don't think they knew what they wanted. They didn't have hope for the future. What kind of a world were they leaving for their children? A world of blood, fear, hate, and sadness. 

It had to have been pretty terrible. Gadianton robbers everywhere, people being robbed all the time. If there was as much wickedness as Mormon says, there was probably a lot of murder and rape too. We're going to end with verse 15, because I'm depressed enough as it is, and I'm ready to wallow in misery for the unrepentant Nephites.

15 And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away.

Fourteen years have gone by. Mormon is a man now, and he's pretty graphic here, but he says it like it is. He wasn't one to beat around the bush, but he didn't really have room on the plates to do that anyway. He knew we would be reading these words someday. He wanted to make it plain and simple so we would understand. This could happen to us. This is happening to us. As much as we want to deny it, it is. And just like the people of Nephi, we can't see it. We think we're right. We think we're righteous. We think we are chosen. So did the Nephites, and yet they were hewn down and piled like dung upon the face of the land. 

Don't be silly and think you have no need to repent, or that you're good enough because you pay your tithing, go to the temple, and listen to your leaders. (This also falls under the umbrella of "unbelief")

On a lighter note, the Lord is anxious for us to turn to him! He's standing there, wringing his hands, waiting, praying that we will take that one teeny, tiny, little step in his direction! Just say sorry! Apologize for being prideful. Apologize for watching R rated movies, or porn, or for swearing. Stop reading smut novels and yelling at your kids. Stop working so much and ignoring your family. Stop judging that neighbor who drives you nuts or denying forgiveness because you're right... or whatever your vice is. Don't let yourself go past your day of grace! It's baby steps, friends. One little thing at a time. You can do it. You have to do it... or you won't make it to where you really want to go.

Disclaimer: I can NOT figure out what the problem is with the font. It changed overnight! One of these days... 

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Lord uses Love and Logic? Who knew?

Oh my word! Mormon gives us the secret to having the Lord minister to us in the flesh! In verse 15 of chapter one in the book of Mormon, he says, 

 15 And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.

Remember, if it wasn't important, it wasn't put in the B of M. Every word counts. So what should we take this to mean? Why would Mormon add it? Is he bragging? Is he saying he's all that? Seriously, that wasn't his personality. What he's doing is telling us that he wasn't a silly kid, only interested in the latest styles or being popular. He was studious and who knows, maybe a little boring. But he's telling us that being sober is one of those qualities that gave him the upper hand and got the Savior to come visit. Is this really possible? Absolutely yes! I know people who have been visited by the Savior. Are they prophets in the traditional sense of the word? No! They are normal, average, everyday people like you and me! The theory that He will only visit a "prophet" is false and one of those "false doctrines" we need to STOP believing. It falls under "Unbelief".

16 And I did endeavor to preach unto this people, but my mouth was shut, and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them; for behold they had wilfully rebelled against their God; and the beloved disciples were taken away out of the land, because of their iniquity.

So, if the Lord appeared to you, would it be totally awesome? Would you want to tell the world? Would you want to shout it from the rooftops and convert everyone to the gospel who you loved and cared about and then some? Me too! But Mormon was forbidden! How depressing for him, and he was only 15!!! Wow!

We also find out our previous question in this verse. The one where we wondered what happened to the disciples? Well, they were taken away out of the land. Could some of them have died? Yeah, it's possible, but here it says they picked up and moved. At least that's what it looks like to me. Not absolutely necessary to know, but a fun detail, none the less.

It also says here that the people had willfully rebelled. Do you understand what that means? It means they'd had testimonies at one time. They had been taught the truth and basically gave the Lord the finger. They didn't care. They were angry, hateful, selfish, devilish and the like. The Lord is going to let them suffer the consequences of their choices. He uses Love and Logic, just like we should with our own children. That right there is a very important detail. There's only so much you can do and the Lord doesn't force. I find it very difficult to parent this way. I don't want to fight with my kids, but I do. I'm too controlling. I don't want them to do anything wrong. I prefer Satan's plan, I guess. It's something I'm working on.

17 But I did remain among them, but I was forbidden to preach unto them, because of the hardness of their hearts; and because of the hardness of their hearts the land was cursed for their sake.
 18 And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.
I get a kick out of these next two verses. The Lord curses the land because of the evilness of the people, and so he should. But the funny thing is, the worse the people become, the more attached to their possessions they become. It sounds like they are being robbed right and left, so what do the intelligent people of Zarahemla do? They bury their stuff. Probably money, jewels, and the like. But because of the curse, the land became "slippery". I LOVE that description! Basically, they can't remember where they buried their stuff. It slipped through their fingers. It reminds me of the movie "Holes" where they dig and dig, knowing it's down there somewhere, but they just can't seem to find it! What a sense of humor the Lord has!

Here's my favorite part of the whole chapter... kind of. If you have ever wondered if magic was real, if all those stories were true, now you can absolutely know they are. It's in the Book of Mormon! Mormon himself says it. Magic and sorcery exist. They are real!
19 And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land, even unto the fulfilling of all the words of Abinadi, and also Samuel the Lamanite.
There you have it in words, plain and simple. "Magics" could also be interpreted to be the priesthood of the devil. He has priesthood too, you know. His could easily be considered black magic or sorcery. So, in this light it's not a great and positive thing like in the movie, Harry Potter. I prefer that kind of magic, and I believe it also exists, but we call it by a different name-the power of God or God's priesthood.
Anyway, just some good stuff to think about. Mormon was a really good kid at a young age. So much so that the Lord came to him. He had a job for him to do. He has a job for you too. Pray constantly. That's what Mormon did. He stayed in that (literally) God-forsaken land. He wanted to preach but wasn't allowed to. The other disciples were led away, but he was obviously told to stay there. Why? The only faithful member. Alone. How terrible, hard, and depressing it must have been. In the next chapter we'll find out why he had to stay. It's pretty amazing.