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