Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Pleasing Word of God (Jacob 3)

Jacob continues speaking to the Nephites in chapter 3, at least those Nephites who stayed to hear him after getting their butts chewed so badly in chapter 2.  I'd like to think I'd be one of the ones who stayed, despite the hard truth from Jacob the Ripper.  On a lighter note....

Jacob 3: 2
Who are the "pure in heart"?  Seems a little lofty for the likes of me.  How 'bout you?  Well, let's all cut ourselves a little slack.  My arteries may be filled with cholesterol, but I certainly don't want to sin and be out of favor with The Lord.  My desire is to be good, do good, and always be able to receive the pleasing word of God.  That doesn't mean I'm always good, or always do good, or never sin.  When I voluntarily step out of the light into the dark, I don't like it, I'm not comfortable, and my desire to get back into the light is strong.  So, I repent.  And repent again.  And repent again.  You get the picture.  So, maybe I'm one of the pure in heart.  Maybe.  Anywayz...

And what about this "if their minds are firm" stuff?  My mind can be pretty soft at times.  "Firm" brings to my mind a strict parent or something.  Like, "he's firm, but he's fare."  But, I guess that is kind of what Jacob means.  Unbending, unmovable, resolute.

Jacob 3: 1-2
That's some pretty good promises. So, all I gotta do is be pure in heart, look to God with a firm mind and pray with exceeding faith (that's the blue stuff).  I'll give it a try.  It sure would be nice to feast upon His love forever, not to mention having God console me in my afflictions, plead my cause and bring down justice on those jerks who seek my destruction, whoever that is (that's the purple stuff).

So, I'm gonna leave it there for this chapter.  You can read the rest of Jacob 3 if you'd like.  I hope you're having a wonderful day.  I hope your mind is firm.  I hope you are able to feast on God's love for you, because He surely does.

Peace be with you...

Monday, June 6, 2016

Laboring in Sin (Jacob 2)

The Prophet (Nathan I think) rebuking Solomon
Just a few verses into Jacob 2 it becomes obvious that Jacob has some very serious things to say.  He goes on for about 11 verses preparing the listening Nephites with phrases like:

  • Magnify mine office with soberness (seriousness)
  • Rid my garments of your sins
  • Weighed down with anxiety for the welfare of your souls
  • Ye are beginning to labor in sin
  • Which sin is abominable unto me and unto God
  • Grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame
  • It burdeneth my soul to be constrained to admonish you
  • And so on... for 11 verses

I am imagining attending a big meeting where the Prophet of The Lord is going to speak.  I'm excited to see him, and look forward to the spiritual feast.  Then he launches into a rebuking, the likes of which have not been seen in these parts since the days of Noah... or something like that. 

I got 2 choices as I see it...
Listen up!!!

Or check out...
Ok, I'll stay, but I'm definitely scrunching down in my seat.  Hopefully, there's a tall guy with a big head in front of me.

So, what seems to be the issue, Jacob?

Whew!!!  Well, I guess I ain't got nuttin' to worry about.  I ain't rich.  I drive a '99 Jeep Cherokee with 208,000 miles on it.  Besides, I don't need gold or silver or precious ores to know that I'm better than others.  Oh... oops.

Oh, I get it.  It ain't the money grubbing that's so bad; it's the not putting Christ first and not helping others when you can that's not good.  Ok, I'll do better.  Anything else, Jacob?

Yeah, one more thing...

 You guessed it.... POLYGAMY

Well, it seems that some of the Nephites got to reading the Old Testament (Brass Plates), & started to get a few bad ideas when they read about ol' King Solomon and his dad, King David.  

You probably think I was exaggerating with the "700 wives" in the Lego meme above, but get a load of this from 1st Kings, chapter 11...

Could you imagine?  700 wives & princesses and 300 concubines?  Good gravy, man.  No wonder he's dead.  Anywayz, the Nephites were starting down a similar path, and I guess they thought it was OK since it's in the Bible & all.  Turns out polygamy is not OK, unless The Lord specifically commands it.  This is something I've always thought was interesting.  The Book of Mormon talks in detail about the sin of polygamy, and basically condemns it as a moral sin.  But, the early LDS Church practiced polygamy, didn't they?

This is Caroline Beard Tippets Barney, born 1826 in Virginia, died 1905 in Lake Shore, Utah (about 5 miles from where I sit).  She was married to a fellow named Benjamin Franklin Barney, who was my father's father's father's father's father, on my father's side.  Yup, my great, great, great grandpa.  Caroline was wife #1 of 3 women married to Benjamin.  She was quite a lady.  She reminds me of a line from the movie Last of the Mohicans:  "Who empowered these Colonials do as they please, and to come and go without so much as a by your leave?" -Duncan Heyward.  "They do not live their lives by your leave, they hack it out of the wilderness with their own two hands, burying their children along the way" -Cora Munro. 

The sad part of the story is that Benjamin left his #1 wife, leaving her to support herself and their children...

It was a long time ago, and I don't know the whole story.  I try not to judge.  Nowadays, lots of good and faithful LDS members have a hard time with the Church's historic practice of polygamy.  Personally speaking, I do believe that the Lord commanded it for a time (from about the 1840s to 1890) in order to grow and strengthen the early Church.  And it did strengthen the Church.  I was in a large meeting once where the question was asked, "Who in this meeting came from polygamist roots?"  The result was about 70-80% of them raised their hands, including me.

Could we get back to Jacob, please?

And verse 30 is really key to this chapter...

Well, that's the end of this post.  I don't really know of a groovy and/or profound way to end it.  I just want to say that, tho I do believe that The Lord commanded certain early LDS Church members to enter into polygamy, I have no problem with those who have a problem with that.  It is a weird thing.  I also know that when The Lord said "Stop" in 1890, He meant it.  Those weirdo groups who still do it today, and claim roots within the LDS Church, they ain't no friends of mine, and they are not associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Euweeka... Gode at wast!!!!"

Peace be with you...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jacob's Errand from The Lord (Jacob 1)

Jesus Christ ordaining his apostles
The book of Jacob in the BOM is only 7 chapters.  That's great  news, since I started 2nd Nephi back in March of 2012.  Sticking to my current APR, Jacob should just take 1 or 2 years.  So, without further adieu (until Jacob 7: 27), in the words of my 2-year old grandson, Gordon, "K, do it!"
The "Them" in verse 17 is the people of Nephi, or Nephites.  After Nephi died, the people loved him so much that they wanted to keep his name going.  So, anyone who followed Nephi as King and Prophet were called "Nephites", even though they were actually Jacobites, Josephites, Samites, Ishmaelites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, Zoramites, etc.  And, yes, I think some of the kids of Laman, Lemuel and Ishmael followed Nephi when he departed the land of Lehi and went to the land of Nephi.  Mostly, though, the descendants of Laman, Lemuel and Ishmael chose to not follow The Lord nor His prophet.  These guys were collectively called "Lamanites".  For the most part throughout the BOM, the Lamanites were the "Bad Guys", even though they were at times very good, and the Nephites were the "Good Guys", even though they were at times very bad.  Simple, huh?

Anywayz... The Nephites were getting a little wild, so Jacob went to the temple to preach to them.  Jacob didn't take this duty on himself willy-nilly.  He first received his "errand from The Lord".  I like the way he put that, but what does it mean?  Jacob said that he and his brother Joseph were consecrated priests and teachers by the hand of Nephi.

Jacob received his Priesthood Office by the laying on of hands from Nephi, who was the Prophet and presiding High Priest over the people.  Nephi received this Office the same way from his dad, Lehi, who received it the same way from... well, someone, and so on. 

This is Moses ordaining his brother Aaron to the High Priesthood
So, what does Jacob tell the Nephites?  What did Nephi tell them?  What did Lehi tell them?  It's been the same since clear back to Adam's day...  

 Come unto Christ and partake of the goodness of God.
Jacob 1: 7-8
3 Notes from these verses:

  • God's wrath ("...lest by any means He should swear in His wrath that they should not enter in..."):  If I read the word wrath outside of the context of Our Heavenly Father I would take the meaning to be anger.  In this case, however, I do not interpret it that way.  I would probably substitute the word chasten for wrath, and the meaning to be more along the lines of a strong reminder for us to clean up our acts in order to be the most happiest we can be, because us being the most happiest we can be is what Heavenly Father wants for us. He is our Father, after all.
  • The "provocation in the days of temptation" refers to the children of Israel not being allowed to enter into the promised land, but instead had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.  
  • View His death, suffer His cross and bear the shame of the world:  This is some deep stuff and deserves some deeper thinking.  I don't want to give my opinion of the meanings here, but encourage you to ponder about it.  One thing that comes to my mind, though, about "bearing the shame of the world"... I'm reminded of Lehi's dream back in 1st Nephi 8 where certain people followed the right path to the tree of life (the love of God), but then noticed there were people in the great and spacious building (the world) pointing their fingers and laughing at them. Unfortunately, their reaction was to cast their eyes down in shame and wander off into darkness.  That part always makes me sad.

So, let's recap the BOM story so far...

  • About 600 B.C. Lehi had a vision of the impending destruction of the Jews in Jerusalem, and took his & Ishmael's families and a guy named Zoram, who was a servant of his cousin Laban, & fled the scene in secret.
  • They first went southwest to the Red Sea, then southeast along the Red Sea for a ways, then due east to what they called "Bountiful".  

  • After traveling in the wilderness and living there in Bountiful for a period of 8 years, Nephi, with his brothers' willing help, built a nice boat and sailed across the Indian and Pacific Oceans for near a year, landing in their promised land,  the Americas.  

  • Lehi and Ishmael settled their families in what they called "The Land of Lehi", it being a tradition to name a place after the leader of the settlement.  Whether The Land of Lehi was located in Mexico, California, Peru or Timbuktu (unlikely) is not important to me or my ramblings.

  • Lehi got old & was going to kick the bucket, so he got all of his kids & grandkids (including Zoram's family) around him & gave them all Priesthood blessings, asking The Lord to watch over them and all of their descendants. 

  • Lehi died.  And, not long after that, Laman, Lemuel & Ishmael's kids got more and more wild, throwing loud parties, blasting rap music in the middle of the night, etc.  So, The Lord told Nephi to get out.  

  • Nephi, Sam, Jacob, Joseph, Zoram, an unknown number of Nephi's sisters and an unknown number of his bad brothers' kids fled the scene.  These guys are the Nephites, and they moved north to a little place they like to call.... The Land of Nephi.  

  • Laman & those other guys stayed in The Land of Lehi, & became the Lamanites.  The Lamanites not only failed to teach their kids anything about God, but brainwashed them into believing that the Nephites were a horrible bunch of no accounts who needed to be wiped out because of the many wrongs they committed against them.  The bad decisions of Laman, Lemuel & Ishmael's kids plunged their descendants into darkness for generations.

  • Sorry about that...Anywayz..., 55 years after Lehi left Jerusalem, Nephi got old & died.  Before he died Nephi designated some dude to take over as king of the Nephites, and ordained Jacob and Joseph to be the spiritual leaders of his people. 
Which brings us to the end of Jacob chapter 1.  Only 6 more to go.  Excited?  Wait till we get to chapter 5. 

Peace be with you...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Nephi's last farewell (2 Nephi 33)

Good Sabbath (today is Sunday), and welcome to the last chapter of 2nd Nephi, and the last words of a great man.  In 2 Ne 33, Nephi ends his life's work by bearing testimony that what he's been teaching since he was young and large in stature was the truth, and have been the words of Jesus Christ.  

Nephi experienced a lot of stuff in his life.  Remember that time his brothers tried to kill him?  Oh, and that other time his brothers tried to kill him.  Then there was that other time his brothers tried to kill him.  But, along with his trials of swollen wrists, broken bows, starving family members, stormy oceans and having to eat raw meat in the wilderness, Nephi had some pretty sweet moments.

  • He witnessed a vision of the Mother of The Savior being big with child
  • He witnessed a vision of the life, baptism, ministry and atoning sacrifice of Christ
  • He witnessed a vision of the visit of the resurrected Savior to Nephi's descendants in the land Bountiful
  • He witnessed a vision of Columbus sailing the ocean blue, the Mayflower bringing the pilgrims to Plymouth Rock, the Revolutionary War, the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that gospel being brought back to his posterity
  • He witnessed a vision of our day

I wonder if Nephi felt a tinge (just of tinge) of envy when he saw how we can communicate today with computers and iPads and stuff instead of carving on plates.  Then again, I don't think an iPad would have lasted the 1400 years between Moroni and Joseph Smith.

Anywayz....  a scripture or 2 from chapter 33.  Watch for how much Nephi loves his people, how much he loves the Savior, and how much hope he has for his posterity.

I like that, "If ye believe not in these words, believe in Christ; and if ye believe in Christ ye shall believe in these words."  Personally, I believe Nephi spoke the words of Christ.

Next, on to Nephi's little brother, Jacob.  He's a little more stern than his big brother, but at least he speaks French.

Thanks for stopping by... Peace be with you...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Don't Forget To Pray (2 Nephi 32)

I uttered my first prayer when I was about 5 or 6 years old.  I didn't quite know how to pray, as I recall, but I knew some words that seemed to make me feel good.  Words like "Bible", "God", "Mary", "Joseph" and "Gospel".  I would say these words out loud to myself before I went to sleep. Sometimes memories from childhood can be a bit sketchy, but I really believe that saying those words aloud made me feel better.  They had a calming effect.  And I remember feeling less afraid of the dark.

Saying those words, Bible, Gospel, God, Mary and Joseph, may not have been the most eloquent prayer ever uttered, but God answers all sincere prayers, even if we don't know what to say to Him. Prayer brings light where there was darkness, and hope where there was fear.

2 Nephi 32: 8-9
Chapter 32 in 2nd Nephi is a shorty, but a goody.  It's really worth the read.  Verses 8 and 9 really stand out to me because they are yellow have helped me to pray many times, even when I didn't feel like it, or worse, didn't feel I like I was worthy enough to speak to Him.   According to Nephi's calculations, if you feel like not praying, or feel like you shouldn't pray, or feel like The Lord doesn't want to hear from you today, those dark thoughts aren't coming from a very reliable source.

Story Time!!!

This is actually a fairly long story, and I've most likely already used it in a previous post, so I'm going to brief-a-tize it.  While serving a mission for The Church in Oxford, Ohio in 19 & 88, mein kampf & I had tracted a road about 5 miles out of town.  It was a long road and it was a hot day, and it was dark by the time we got back to our apartment.  Upon discovering that we had lost our tracting record, and, therefore, had no way of knowing who had asked us to come back and who had thrown us out, we decided we'd better ride our bikes the 5 miles back to where we knew we last had it.  On the way out there were faint remnants of light on the horizon, but on the way back it was completely dark.

Imagine the picture above, but without the headlight on, that's what it looked like.  We rode our bikes in the center of the road with our eyes looking down.  We could barely make out the road directly beneath us, but nothing in front of us.  All the sudden both of us darted to the side of the road at the same time.  Just as we did so, a vehicle sped passed us with no lights on.  Didn't see it coming; didn't hear it coming.  We didn't know it was coming until it past us.  The only light on it was the license plate light.  Why we both darted to the right at the same time remains a mystery to us, but not to The Lord.
Then there was the dog

Riding by a farm, we were chased by a dog.  Imagine the photo above, but with all the lights turned out.  I could here the dog's feet hitting the road, and I could hear the dog's breathing growls, but couldn't see where he was.  Now, that freaked me out.  Was I scared?  You are speaking with someone who has laughed in the face of death -- sneered at doom and chuckled at catastrophe.  I was petrified.

Well, what did you do????

At that scary moment in the dark I prayed.  A song jumped into my head and I started to sing it to myself. Peace came to me.  The dark wasn't so dark anymore.  And, best of all, I was still alive and in possession of both of my pant legs.

The Song:  Ere You Left Your Room This Morning

LDS Hymn Book, pp 140
Please pray if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are perfect
  • You aren't perfect
  • You are worthy to speak to Him
  • You are not worthy to speak to Him
  • You are repentant
  • You are not repentant
  • You feel like praying
  • You don't feel like praying
  • Everything is going wonderful
  • Nothing is going right
  • You are basking in the life-giving light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • You are crying inside the darkest abyss with nowhere to turn
  • Or anywhere in between.  

Prayer really does change the night to day.
Don't forget to pray.

Peace be with you...

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Plain Doctrine of Christ (2 Nephi 31)

These last few chapters of 2nd Nephi are some of my very favorites.  Last week year we talked about 2nd Nephi 30, in the which Nephi made a bunch of prophesies about our day, and what would happen to both Jew and Gentile.  In Chapter 31 it's as if Nephi puts down his prepared lesson and just speaks from his heart.

After spending days and days reading his favorite Isaiah scriptures to his people, and seeing their reaction...

... Nephi breaks it down to the plain Doctrine of Christ.  For his soul delighteth in plainness.  So let's talk about what Nephi really wants us to get out of all of his teachings.

First:  Baptism is essential to salvation

In order to enter into the Kingdom of God, a person must be baptized by an authorized Priesthood holder.  Exceptions to this commandment include children who have not reached the age of accountability (8 years old) and those who are disabled to the degree that they are also unaccountable.

I was baptized when I was 8 years old, sometime in November of 1974.  My dad was an inactive member of the church, and did not hold the proper Priesthood Authority, so he couldn't baptize me.  Some guy named Bro. Lowe happened to be in the font and already wet from baptizing his son, Mark, so he did the dunking.  In The Church we are baptized by immersion, so when my big toe stuck out of the water, I had to be baptized again.  There went the toe again.  Third time's the charm;  Bro. Lowe planted his foot on my foot, and was able to put me all the way under the water.  Whew! I was finally clean from all those sins I'd accumulated since my birthday on November 9th.  I don't remember how many there were, but I'm glad they're gone.

So, since we know that Jesus Christ was completely without sin, did he need to be baptized?  Is baptism just for cleansing our sins, or is there more to it than that?

                 Verse 7 
Christ was baptized not for His past mistakes, but as an act of obedience, and a covenant that He would always be obedient.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost is essential to salvation

After baptism, baptismees are confirmed a member of The Church, and are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, also by one holding the proper Priesthood authority.  I have zero memory of my confirmation, but I'm sure it looked something like the photo above (except I'm a dude).

Where baptism cleanses us from sin, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, or the baptism of fire, sanctifies us, and makes us (or has the potential to make us) holy.  And this "speaking with the tongue of angels" thing and this "shouting praises unto the Holy One of Israel" thing, I think that means that once we receive the Holy Ghost, and the witness of Christ and His Gospel that follows those who sincerely seek it, the Holy Ghost will testify to others when you testify of Him.  Anywayz, that's what I think.

Repentance is essential for salvation

I'm kinda going outta order here, but next in the chapter is Repentance.  To repent means to turn away from bad junk, and turn toward God.  Most definitely a person sincerely repenting must ask Heavenly Father for forgiveness, but even more important than that is what comes next.  Which leads me to...

Enduring to the End is essential for salvation

The word "enduring" conjures up images of marathons and summits of high mountains.  It seems to connote (one of my favorite words) hardship and suffering.  I like how President Monson puts it much better.  Enduring to the End to me is less about always choosing the right, no matter how hard the rain falls, and more about daily repentance, no matter how hard I fall.

And lastly (but really firstly)...

Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ is essential for salvation

So, there you have it, the Doctrine of Christ.  To sum it up in JB-ese...

  • Have Faith in Jesus Christ
  • Repent and follow Jesus Christ
  • Covenant to be obedient to Jesus Christ through baptism and other ordinances
  • If you fail, start over
  • Rely alone on the merits of Jesus Christ; He is mighty to save
The End.  I'll see you next year time.

Peace be with you