Monday, September 23, 2013


I just finished reading 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.  I love Nephi.  He is one of my heroes in the scriptures.  Maybe it's because I have read and reread Nephi many times in my attempts to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, so I am very familiar with his writings, but I feel like I know Nephi and I certainly have come to love and admire him.  This morning I read the last chapter in his writings.  I was so touched by his parting testimony, so I wanted to share some of it.

I love Nephi's humility and his faith.  He acknowledges that he is not mighty in writing, but has faith that these words are of great worth and will be made strong unto those who read them.  "...And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal."  (2 Nephi 33:4)

I love these words:  "I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.  I have charity for my people and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgement-seat." (v. 6-7)

Then he says he has charity for both Jew and Gentile.  "...But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.  And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ.  And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.  And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye--for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.  And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day."  (v. 9-12)

I know these are the words of Christ.  I am so grateful for the scriptures.  I'm so grateful for men like Nephi, who sacrificed and gave all, to write these words and to do the will of the Father for our benefit.  I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father to have this precious book and the beautiful doctrines taught within.  I'm so grateful for the Bible and the way the Book of Mormon and the Bible testify of each other, reveal God's plan for us, and clarify doctrine.  What a beautiful gospel!  What hope and happiness come from knowing it and living it!  This is why I share my feelings here as well, "that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day."

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

At Ease In Zion

Today as I was doing my daily scripture study.  I read 2 Ne. 28.  In verse 24-25 it says:  "Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!  Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!"  The previous verses spoke of the devil and the various ways he deceives men.  In verse 21 it reads: "And others will he pacify , and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell."

I have always believed the verse "wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion" to mean those who are complacent.  Verse 21 goes along with what I imagine is the danger of complacency, in that we are here to grow and to be challenged and through those challenges we progress and come closer to God.  Certainly the devil would cheat us of our growth and stop our progress by leading us away into complacency.  I do believe the warning for those who are at ease in Zion does include complacency.

But I also believe there is more to it.  As I thought about it this morning, I thought it was interesting that we aren't to be at ease in Zion.  Yet Zion is the home of the Lord's people, it is supposed to be made up of those who are following Him.  The Lord frequently says that He will prosper Zion and comfort them.  That they should not fear, for He will be with them.  I thought, certainly with these promises and comfort, it would not be hard to feel at ease in Zion and despite adversity be able to say that "All is well!" much as the pioneers sang as they crossed the plains.  Being at ease and proclaiming all is well could be both a blessing from the Lord and a danger that removes one from Him.  What makes the difference?

Verses 26-30 in 2 Nephi give a little more insight to what the difference may be between those for whom it is a blessing and those for whom it is a curse.  It warns of those who deny the power of God, specifically in proclaiming that they have already received enough and need no more.  Those who are built upon His rock "receiveth it with gladness."  The Lord explains that He gives to us little by little and those who listen and receive it are blessed--"for unto him that receiveth I will give more, and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."  Certainly one's ability to accept more instruction from the Lord with a heart open to receiving His counsel will aid in one's progression and bring comfort.

I also gained some additional insight from a cross reference given for verse 24.  It points to Amos 6:1, which reads:  "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria..."  I like the reference to an additional warning, which is also stated in 2 Ne. 28:31.  Both warn of trusting in the arm of flesh, or as in Amos 6:1, trusting in one's own strength, not in God.  Certainly being at ease because one assumes they are powerful enough to deliver themselves from danger, rather than trusting in God, would lead to their destruction, as it has throughout history, both literally and spiritually.

But there was an additional insight I found further in verses 4-6 about the people for whom being at ease has become a danger.  It describes them thus:  "That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."

To me these verses describe those with a life of comfort.  They have the finest things and seem to have what they need without much hardship.  Is that in and of itself a sin or a danger?  No.  The last line describes what makes it so:  "...but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."  In other words, they have no concern for the afflictions of others.  They concern themselves only with their own comfort and do not seek to alleviate the suffering of others.  Certainly this can be easy to succumb to.  Even those in Zion who seek to be obedient and are thus prospered and comforted by the Lord, can easily fall prey to being "at ease" and forgetting others. 

With so much suffering in the world, this charge can be at times overwhelming.  I believe when we seek to be in tune with the spirit, to deny not the power of God but receive His counsel, we can be led to know how to fulfill this mandate, whether in the lives of a neighbor or family member, or in the world abroad.  He will guide us if we let Him. 

As we observe the various warnings to avoid the dangers of complacency, receive additional instruction from the Lord, trust not in the arm of flesh, and to have concern for those around us, we may thus be able to enjoy the prosperity and comfort promised by the Lord to His people and still progress and become like Him.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Even In The Small Things

I have been having a lot of experiences lately where I have felt the guidance of the Lord, either through thoughts that come to me or through answers to my prayers.  They have been both experiences of not listening and following these thoughts, as well as those times when I have listened and followed and thus realized the blessing or tender mercy extended to me or realized my prayers were answered.  This morning I had another couple such experiences and as I did the dishes I thought over these experiences for a few minutes.

They were nothing monumental, in fact, eternally, and perhaps even temporally, they were quite inconsequential.  But what struck me as I thought about them is how amazing it is to me that the Lord does care enough and know us and our lives so well as to be able to prompt us and direct us, even if it is merely for our convenience, and not just due to some danger or emergency.

I pray over many things.  Little things.  Things many people might not think to pray about.  Sometimes I feel like an old Saturday Night Live skit I saw as a kid, making fun of a woman in her kitchen praying over everything...that her eggs wouldn't burn, that her coffee wouldn't be cold.  I don't believe that I take it to that extreme, but I do find myself speaking silent prayers over many seemingly small things.  And I realized this morning, that even when I haven't prayed for a specific direction, I receive thoughts or inspiration over seemingly small things too.

Why would this be? I wondered.  Why would my Heavenly Father who sees all the sorrow and pain in the world, still prompt me so often on things that were only for my convenience, not my safety or eternal salvation?  I felt amazed by this and the scripture in Matt. 7:7 came into my mind, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."  Perhaps because I pray over small things, because I ask, that is why I receive direction in small things.  Perhaps because I have learned from a few too many experiences of not listening to my promptings, but dismissing them instead as my own thoughts, and because I have now tried to follow them, even if they seem ridiculous or hard, perhaps that is why I continue to receive such direction.

I'm sure others have these thoughts and perhaps they also dismiss them as their own silly thoughts, and don't recognize them as a loving Heavenly Father trying to guide them.  This morning as I pondered all this I thought, perhaps it is my growing recognition of His hand in my life that makes it possible for me to follow and to receive more and more of it.  The scripture came to my mind: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understnding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths"  (Proverbs 3:5-6).  I know this is true.  He will guide us as much as we allow it and recognize it as from Him.

Whenever I recognize a blessing or tender mercy, no matter how small, I say as silent prayer of thanks to my Father in Heaven.  I want Him to know I realize His hand in small things and that I truly am grateful for everything He does for me.  Gratitude and acknowledgment seem to be keys to continued guidance and answers to prayers.  Perhaps it is not just that He is more likely to grant it when we are grateful and acknowledge His hand in our lives, but also because we are more apt to see and recognize the many blessings He gives each of us every day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Thoughts

I'd like to start just writing down my thoughts that come to me as I attend church on Sundays or as I study my scriptures during the week.  I think it's important to record the insights that I gain so I can remember them.  Hopefully they will also be of benefit to others.

Today's lesson was on the plan of salvation.  How grateful I am for my knowledge of this plan.   Today and also earlier in the week as I was reading the scriptures, it became plain to me that really the purpose of this life is to prepare ourselves to be comfortable in God's presence.  The plan is for us to return to Him, but because we are fallen and will make mistakes, a way had to be provided for us to be able to be comfortable in His presence.  No unclean thing can dwell with God.  So we needed a Savior to make us clean again.

I read in 2 Ne. 9 about the resurrection and how we will be restored to our bodies, delivered from physical death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In Alma 11 we read that our spirits and bodies will be reunited again in their perfect form.  In both chapters it states that we will be restored to a perfect knowledge of all our guilt.

2 Ne. 9:14 says, "Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness."

Are the righteous those who have not sinned?  No, all have sinned and come short of perfection.  What is the difference?  The righteous have repented and sought the Lord's will and thus are "covered" through the Atonement of Christ.  I love the allusion to Adam and Eve, who after transgressing, became aware of their nakedness and hid from the Lord.  But the Lord clothed them with coats of skin and covered their nakedness.  The righteous are spared from this recollection of their guilt through the power of the Atonement.  They are able to dwell in the Lord's presence and feel comfortable there because they have prepared themselves through obedience and repentance and thus through the Atonement and the grace and mercy of God, they are forgiven and made clean again.

I love the quote from Brad Wilcox, who in answer to someone's claim that we Mormons are trying to "earn" heaven, responded that we are "not trying to earn heaven, but to learn heaven."  We are seeking to prepare ourselves to feel comfortable there.  To align our will with that of our Heavenly Father so that we will want to be there with Him.  When we go somewhere that we don't feel comfortable, we don't usually want to stay.  The Lord wants us to live with Him again, so we must learn to apply the Atonement in our lives so that we may be made clean and able to withstand His glory.

I love this understanding.  The great judgement day will not consist of someone who wants to be with God being told they just didn't measure up, rather we will be our own judges in the sense that we will only be able to attain that glory which we have prepared ourselves to be comfortable in.  When we read in the scriptures that the wicked will be burned when Christ comes again, I believe this means that they will not be able to withstand His great glory and thus it will be as fire to them.  They will not withstand His presence.  Only those who have sought to become like Him and are changed through the Atonement of Christ will be able to endure His glory and be partakers in it.

We must seek to do all we can to prepare and to learn the ways of heaven.  2 Ne. 9:46 says:  "Prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgement, that ye may not shrink with awful fear; that ye may not remember your awful guilt in perfectness..."

I don't know about you, but there are certainly things I don't want to remember in that day.  It is comforting to me to know that the Atonement can clean us and make us pure and that we nor the Lord will remember our sins.  D&C 58:42 says: "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more."

What a wonderful plan for our salvation--for our eternal happiness!  How merciful is our Lord to teach us of His ways and to provide the means whereby we may be made clean again--through the Savior, Jesus Christ.  How grateful I am for Him and for this knowledge!  How earnestly I desire to be made like Him that I will feel comfortable in His presence and partake of His goodness and glory.  I pray that this will be the desire of many, that we may all return to Him and fulfill this great plan of mercy and that our dear Savior's sacrifice for us will not be for naught, but will be embraced by each of us and applied in our lives and result in our salvation and eternal happiness. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Am A Child of God

"I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him some day.

I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him some day.

I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I'll live with him once more.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him some day."

This is a simple hymn that I grew up singing as a child.  We sang it a lot, and to be honest, it wasn't really my favorite.  The tune is very simple, and as I grew up, it seemed like a song that should be relegated to the youth, with its simplistic words, melody and message.

Today my Relief Society teacher made me realize the power in this song.  While I take for granted the "simple truths" taught to me by my loving mother as a child and often long to know the "mysteries of God" spoken of in the scriptures, I forget that knowing these basic truths is what propels me forward, yearning for further knowledge.

I know my Heavenly Father lives.  I know He loves me.  I know I lived with Him before I came to this earth, and I know that I may return to live with Him again.  These simple, basic principles of faith, are not simplistic nor should I take them for granted.  They are the foundation, which I was blessed to be given as a child, but as I was reminded today, they are truths which others have yet to come to know.

And so, today, I wanted to write this to any who may be reading who do not know this for themselves.  God lives.  He loves you.  You are His child.  He has a plan for you and there is a glorious purpose for this life He has given us.  It is a joy and a blessing to know this.  I thank my Heavenly Father for the blessing of knowing this from an early age and I thank Shannon Kitchen for reminding me of the power of these words today.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Awake, My Soul! No Longer Droop In Sin

With it being New Year's Day, I took some time this morning to make some goals for the new year.  I don't generally like to make too many, since that just becomes overwhelming and then I don't do any of them, so I just like to set one or two in three areas: physical, spiritual, financial; and then I usually set some goals I want to do better as a family.

As I was doing that, I began to feel a little overwhelmed by how many more things I could list if I were the kind to make more extensive lists.  One of my goals last year and again this year is to read my scriptures every day.  So after making my list of goals, I began to read.  I thought about writing in my blog today and was looking for scriptures about change and new beginnings, so I was reading little bits and pieces throughout all the different books.  Somewhere in my search I turned to James and read, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was...Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."  (James 1:22-24, 27.)

I went on to the next chapter to read about not judging others and showing mercy and that faith without works is dead.  I began to feel very inadequate.  I wondered will I ever be this?  Will I ever fit the description of charity given in 1 Cor. 13 or Moroni 7?  Will I ever be the mother, friend, daughter, follower of Christ that I should be?  That I want to be?  And not just when I'm old and gray, but now when my children need me to be patient, long-suffering, kind, and loving?  I was feeling pretty rotten, and discouraged by my weaknesses.

Then my mind turned to Nephi.  I admire him so much.  I admire his faith, his obedience and his courage.  In my own weaknesses I have thought of his words that he knew the Lord would provide the way for him to be obedient and I have found comfort that He would do the same for me.  Today my thoughts turned to the time that this man of great faith, a man who exemplified  what I hope to become, still also got discouraged by his weaknesses too.  So I decided to read again the verses in 2 Ne. 4:17-35.  I won't quote the whole selection here, but here are some highlights that I loved and that I related to this morning:

"Notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth:  O wretched man that I am!  Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.  I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.  And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.  My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions...He hath filled me with his love...He hath confounded my enemies...Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the nighttime... O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?...Awake, my soul!  No longer droop in sin.  Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul... Do not slacken my strength because of my afflictions.  Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."

The Lord is merciful and will help us.  We should not get discouraged or frustrated.  Nephi's words reminded me of one of my very favorite scriptures--Psalm 116:1-8:   "I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.  Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.  Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.  Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling."

 It is good to examine ourselves and our lives and make changes where necessary, but as Pres. Uchtdorf counsels, we must be patient with ourselves.  In his book, Forget Me Not, he says, "I want to tell you something that I hope you will take in the right way: God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect....God wants to help us to eventually turn all of our weaknesses into strengths, but He knows that this is a long-term goal.  He wants us to become perfect, and if we stay on the path of discipleship, one day we will.  It's okay that you're not quite there yet.  Keep working on it, but stop punishing yourself." 

He goes on to say that we should be thankful for the small successes we have.  "These successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him."  This reminds me of the scripture in Alma 37:6-7:  "...but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.  And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."

And so I hope that my small efforts to pray each day, read my scriptures each day, and spend a little more time dedicated to playing with my children each day will be those small and simple things that become great.  That my simple list of goals will place me on the path to become the person I hope to become.  I will try to be patient and trust that the Lord in His mercy will make up the difference that I cannot.  And I will seek to be happy and cheerful in that journey, rejoicing in the Lord and in His boundless love and mercy and remembering the many blessings He has given me each day.