Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Moroni 10

Well, it hasn't been easy, but it's sure been worth it. Last night, amidst the fun and chaos of a family party, I found a quiet spot in the house and finished up the last few chapters of Moroni. And even with all the noise I was able to find some wonderful treasures in these chapters. I hope to be able to go back and study chapters 7-10 a bit more closely in the near future. The plea to "search dilligently in the light of Christ," and thereby "lay hold upon every good thing" deserves some thought and attention.

I see in my mind's eye searching through a dark room, with a reliable flashlight at hand to help me find the things of worth I am looking for. In a world increasingly filled with noise and distraction, evaluating everything in the light of whether it brings us closer to or farther away from the Savior is worthy advice indeed.

Overall, some major themes of the Book of Mormon I have seen include:

  • Jesus christ is the promised Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of the world and our only hope for salvation from sin and death.
  • The Lord's promises are sure, and He will fulfill all His words.
  • If we are faithful we will prosper.

I hope that through this experience your appreciation for and testimony of the Book of Mormon has increased. I hope that overall it's been a positive experience. I had hoped to post more here throughout the month, but due to all the crazyness that is usually part of December, along with completing each day's reading assignment, I didn't get to it. But it's been rewarding, and I think I'll try it again next year.

So, we'll see you next December. Thanks for reading along!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Day 5: Into Isaiah

5 days in, are you keeping up? :-)

As I'm reading, I frequently find myself wanting to stop and linger over certain passages, and normally that's exactly what I do. And normally, it takes me much longer to read through the Book of Mormon. President Hunter once said something to the effect that we may sometimes find an hour spent studying a single verse. That said, challenges like Presiden't Hinckley's and NaBoMoReMo are a nice chance from time to time to get the "panoramic view" of the Book of Mormon.

So in the mean time when I find something that's worth pondering, I'm making a little note, hopefully to come back later and spend some more time with it.

Today takes us into the "Isaiah chapters." Why when room on the plates was so precious did Nephi feel compelled to include a large number of Isaiah's words? When the Savior visited the Nephites he told them to "search these things"--not just a suggestion to do so but--"a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things dilligently; for great are the words of Isaiah." (3 Ne 23:1)

Why so much emphasis on Isaiah? In 2 Ne 6:4, Jacob says "I would speak unto you concerning things which are, and which are to come; wherefore I will read you the words of Isasih." I think the value of Isaiah's words is their applicability to the past, present, and the future. His words have multiple layers of meaning, in that they can be applied to the Israelites of his own time, they can be likened unto ourselves in our day, and they teach us of things to come in the latter days and the millenium. Before Nephi begins the long stretch of Isaiah's words in Second Nephi, he says "ye may liken them unto you and unto all men." And I think that is the great key to gaining value from Isaiah, likening his words (and all the scriptures for that matter) to our own lives and situations. As Nephi says earlier, "but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." (1 Ne 19:23)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Day 2

As I shared my testimony today, I indicated that I don't have scientific or empirical evidence that the gospel is true, that the Book of Mormon is true and so forth. But I can't deny the spirit that I feel when I immerse myself in the Book of Mormon, or when I attend the temple, or when I give my heart and soul to this work. There's nothing like it in the world. It's by that spiritual witness that I know these things are true.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

NaBoMoReMo Day 1

Today is day 1 of NaBoMoReMo. 1 Nephi chapters 1 through 10. Some thoughts that I had while reading:

1 Nephi 1:20
. . . I Nephi will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance

I have heard this called the "thesis statement" of the Book of Mormon. The next few chapters extrapolate on this thesis, showing Nephi and his brethren being delivered from the hands of Laban in order to obtain the plates of Brass. Nephi is careful to point out it was by faith that this was accomplished. Nephi also is careful to point out that when the Lord gives a commandment, and His children do all they can to obey that commandment, He "prepares the way" (3:7) and "provides the means" (17:3) so they can accomplish what He has commanded them.

This theme of deliverance is a powerful one. I believe the Lord can, through faith, make us "mighty," even unto "deliverance" from a number of forms of bondage, be it temporal or spiritual. Whether it's credit card debt, addiction to drugs or pornography, mental or physical disability, the bondage of sin or abuse, the Lord can deliver us. In 7:17, Nephi is given the strength to physically break the bonds of his brethren, and sometimes that is what happens. We're given the strength to overcome our challenges and free ourselves from our bondage.

However, as we'll find out on December 3rd, when Nephi is bound by his brethren on the ship (18:11), there are times in our lives when, through no choice of our own, we have to suffer through trials and afflictions, sometimes for much longer than we'd prefer. Sometimes the Lord doesn't remove our trials or challenges, but His "deliverance" comes by strengthening us so we can more easily bear the burdens placed upon us.

I don't think it's by coincidence the story of Nephi and his family appears at the front of the Book of Mormon. There is so much here that is applicable to our journey through life. We each have a wilderness through which to travel, and Nephi, through numerous comparisons and contrasts, shows what kind of attitudes and actions bring joy and success on that journey (despite hardships), and which kind bring misery and sorrow. The Book of Mormon is full of these kinds of contrasts, showing the results of faithfulness and obedience, as well as the fruits of rebellion and wickedness.

One last thought. In 5:22 Nephi reflects,

. . .it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry [the plates of brass] with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise.

The Lord had Nephi and his brethren go to great lengths to restore the Brass plates to a righteous branch of the house of Israel. As my wife and I read through today's reading we imagined Lehi and his family taking time to study the plates of brass while they tarried in the Valley of Lemuel, and what new doctrines and lessons they must have learned from that study. In our own wilderness, it is "wisdom in the Lord" that we should carry the scriptures with us. As Nephi testifies, he "searched" them, and found them to be "desirable," even of "great worth."

I hope as you immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon during NaBoMoReMo, that you also find the Book of Mormon to be of great worth to you personally, as you travel through the wilderness of life.

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NaBoMoReMo + NaTeSeMo

Donna suggests December also be NaTeSeMo - Or National Temple Service Month. Essentially, strive to attend the temple as often as possible during December, and take family names for a real "White Christmas". Sounds good to me. :-) At the suggestion of our home teacher, my wife and I have been trying to attend the temple weekly. We have received some great blessings as a result.

On each of the LDS temples are the words, "Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord." Often in life, we are invited to the houses of friends, neighbors, and family members. As we go we take our best manners, in hopes that we might be invited again to spend time with those whose company we enjoy. In turn, our hosts do their best to make us feel comfortable and welcome, in hopes that we will return often.

What a privilege it is to be invited to go to the House of the Lord, and to enjoy His company there. If we go with reverence in our hearts, and take our best manners, He makes us feel welcome and comfortable, "like a child at home." For me the temples are kind of like middle ground between here and heaven. For a couple of hours or so, I get to spend some time outside of the cares of the world and in the presence of God. The temple is a place of revelation, "he will teach us of his ways." I can take questions about life's struggles, and Father in Heaven always has answers for me, if I'm willing to be humble and listen.

So yes, while you're reading the Book of Mormon during December, make plans to attend the temple if possible, as often as possible. What a great way to review the year that has passed, and to make plans and resolutions for the year to come.

Thanks Donna, for your challenge!

Monday, November 26, 2007

December is NaBoMoReMo!

December is NaBoMoReMo - National Book of Mormon Reading Month. The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to read the entire Book of Mormon during the Month of December.

December is normally hectic and sadly filled with busyness and lots of commercialism. My hope is that by immersing ourselves in the Book of Mormon, we can remember the "Reason for the Season" and keep the Savior near to the thoughts and intent of our hearts.

Tell the world about your experience as you read. Blog about your reading (tag posts with NaBoMoReMo), share your testimony. Write about the first time you read the Book of Mormon. Tell your friends and family, invite them to take the challenge also.

Overall, I hope to increase the world's awareness of the Book of Mormon. I hope to provide a unique experience for those who have never read the Book of Mormon. I hope to encourage as many as possible to experience first-hand the power the Book of Mormon to bring souls to Christ.

I know that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God, and, along with the Bible, is another testament of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and loves us dearly. He suffered for my sins, and for yours. Through Him and His atonement we can return to our Father in Heaven if we will repent and live according to His teachings.

Spread the word!