Friday, July 21, 2017

Testimony of the Book of Mormon

I love this testimony of the Book of Mormon by Elder Holland given in his October 2009 General Conference talk titled "Safety for the Soul":

"I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”
Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs. Like them, “[I] give [my name] unto the world, to witness unto the world that which [I] have seen.” And like them, “[I] lie not, God bearing witness of it.”

I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days. 

My witness echoes that of Nephi, who wrote part of the book in his “last days”: 

“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 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.”

Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”15—and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you. Of this I earnestly testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Enoch Letters

I recently finished reading the book "The Enoch Letters" by Neal A. Maxwell. I borrowed the book on May 17th. That day, in our scripture study group, we had asked "So our job in these latter days is to build up Zion, but HOW do we do it?” That was how I approached this book - looking for things that we could DO to build Zion. I wrote them down in my study journal and last night I finished typing up the notes I had taken so I could share them with my friends in our study group. So here are some things that stood out to me as I read with that in mind - "How do we build Zion?" These are things I would have underlined if it was my book :) All bold, italic and cap emphasis is mine.


to the reader, for his willingness to blow away the chaff while searching for any kernels, To the Lord, “for such kernels as there may be”

- Thousands of people successfully applied the commandments of God and thereby had great and unparalleled happiness.
- God sets before us both incentives and warnings, it’s just as important to have before us POSITIVE consequences of RIGHTEOUSNESS as well as NEGATIVE consequences of SIN
- Moses 7:61 - My people will I preserve
- Enoch and Zion - unique because of serious and steady application of the teachings of Christ

P. 3 - An unbeliever asks “How can he (Enoch) assume to denounce our way of live and win our support? Does he not know that to get along here he must go along with things as they are?” Lesson: Zion did NOT go along with Babylon’s ways of how it is

P. 6 - Enoch “yet there is a gentleness about him, even a mildness and meekness in his bold denunciations” - reminded me of Pres Kimball.
- Enoch discusses God’s Plan of Salvation - “The most daring and simple explanation of life I have ever heard”, consistent with itself.
- Babylon spends its time trying to tell or hear some now thing (goes viral, then forgotten)

P. 7-8 - He is my God and your God, Enoch not only calls all men his brethren, but actually treats all in that manner.

P. 8 - Enoch - BOLD - must dismiss all teachings (if false) or none (if they are true!) No middle ground/gray area

P. 9 - Enoch at one with ancestors, speaks warmly and personally of them, his heart is much turned to his fathers.

P. 10 - Find fascination, not fault, with prophet’s words
- UNITY - mutual esteem and mutual desires.

P. 11 - You and I are responsible for their present conditions in life…

P. 13 - “We cannot practice one principle of Jesus Christ apart from all his other principles, and have full happiness.”
- All the principles of Jesus need each other.
- Justice is but one of a cluster of concerns prophets/God address

P. 14 - “Their (Enochians) love of God seems to move these people to a greater love of their fellowmen.
- Enoch, a preacher AND A PERFORMER of righteousness

P.15 - Enoch’s claims are so bold and daring that you can’t lay them aside.
- I reflected too much on what I would give up, reflected too little on what I might GIVE to others.

P. 17 - We are pilgrims on this planet (it’s all a test!)
- Enoch teaches of higher ways, prepares for a better world.
- We do not hurry to heaven, or the straight and narrow path requires patience and persistence.

P. 18 - Time will come when every man who will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee to Zion for safety - D&C 45:68
- Accept [difficulties, trials, offenses] with good humor, rather than assuming malevolence on part of another, with whom we have made common cause

P. 19 - World feeds on jealousy
- Small puffs of pride can be blown away by the breeze of brotherhood
- left alone, they become dark thunderclouds which drench all round about.
- Listen to each other instead of seeking to display their own learning. More willing to be impressed than they are eager to impress. EACH SEEKS TO DO HIS SHARE that all may be equally yoked together in labor.
- help they offer needy enlarges the soul instead of the greed of him who is helped

P. 20 - Forgiving friends, when friends forgive us, so much easier to forgive ourselves.
- Trials, WHY? Bad conditions can wear away even good men.

P. 21 - When, in the judgement of God, the good can exist side by side with the wicked as do wheat and tares, God will permits it. But when, in his infinite wisdom, He chooses to both prepare and preserve a people, the righteous are withdrawn, and then things become much worse among the reside of people where you remain.

P. 22 - LOVING REGARD, not ordinary esteem… they perceive themselves as carrying out divine purposes, which purposes both preceded their own birth and will persist after their passing
- creates feelings about the PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.
- take no note of time, seal these generations to each other.

P. 23 - Pervasive power of community

P. 24 - Some have no thirst for righteousness.
- “the righteous will enjoy the words of eternal life in this world and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory. Those who do not actually enjoy the words of eternal life are seldom moved to do the earthly deeds that make eternal life possible.
- so simple, so direct, so easy that many will say it cannot be right.
- The thumb can make a man blind to the sun, but the sun is still there. Blindness brought upon the man by himself, when we draw other things too close, placing them first, we obscure our vision of heaven.

P. 25 - friendship ripens into CHARITY - one heart
- at first still had opinions and ways of living
- Need greater unity in the way we live as well as way we think - one heart!
- sense and urgency but no panic
- just a desire to move swiftly and surely to establish a people.
- Perfection is a direction to be pursued in the process of time: Renounce evil and disengage in wrong doing, then→ engage anxiously in doing much good = MIGHTY CHANGE. Fear of God→ awe/wonder@grace→ shame for past sins and gratitude for light= weep together, ONE HEART

P. 26 - Commerce of Christ - the morals of the marketplace matter and find their way into families
- Babylon - hates mankind, then hates themselves - or - hates themselves, then hates mankind the more
- Listen to words of God and of prophets, prayer, fasting
- Perform labors of community life - but - remember the PURPOSE! (It’s a test of charity, service, love!)

P. 27 - Trials = imagine the heart and affection a man feels when there are so many anxious to administer to his needs.
- accept it in love and wonder, desire to bless others likewise
- Righteous unity = each man does more than he imagined or even wanted to do himself. Example: seeing other pass a breaking point without breaking. Or - going a second mile with a burden they are only required to carry one mile
- We are inspired to do more. = performance is sanctified for welfare of his soul.
- Quiet goodness. Noticing but ignoring the offence (of my teenager!) knowing that the offender (teen) knows better and will do better momentarily. Thus offender (teen) comes more quickly to his senses.
- Babylon would have us defend our wrongs
- Speak the truth in love, it helps us all to listen.

P. 28 - Each finds a way for his/her talents to be so employed
- Builders, gardeners, vineyards…. All being assigned a task
- No idlers!!
- Combine time and talents to learn to truly love neighbors
- Small daily duties well done lead to big differences
- No easy way to rush to righteousness

P. 31 - Lively commerce of common concern

P. 32 - Evil is erotic and erratic - since it must entice so many in such a multitude of ways:
  • “I have the truth, therefore I have all truth”
  • “There is no truth”
  • “All Truths are not equally important”
RESULT of these three attitudes: THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH STOPS
  • “No matter what I do, it is not wrong”
  • “I have done wrong, but it is not serious”
  • “I have done such wrong, there is no hope for me

P. 36 - Not a mystical experience

P. 37 - How/Why believe in anything so simple?
- Looking beyond the mark - missing plain and precious OBVIOUS things
- God does not want the way back to his presence to be complicated
- Intellectual embroidery is an unreliable frill
- TRUTH in gospel is hardy and homely cloth

P. 37-38 “It is not necessary for you to understand the mysteries inside the simple realities of life. The sunshine that causes crops and trees to grow is not something we can explain. Yet we depend on sunshine. The regular coming of the rain that gives us water and that makes our crops grow is a blessing we cannot explain. Yet we accept it. We do not refuse food simply because we cannot explain the seasons or make ourself the seeds we have planted.”

P. 39 - Final change must be in the heart, not the mind.
- Babylon - must work to maintain compliance by it’s citizens
- Zion - efficient, all seek not better but BEST, lss and less structure to see that people do their duty one toward another.
- When inner man is changed, we have less and less need for outer controls - because WE LOVE EACH OTHER!

P. 40 - And we love deeply because we love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength
- Fathers know that their chief duties are to God, Family and to Zion. “They prize their wives and children as eternal possessions to be cultivated more tenderly and diligently than any earthly crop.
- See their Father’s faith in actions of daily life
- Children exceedingly glad to behold faith of fathers

P. 41 - Give no place for evil to tarry - AT ONCE TURN YOUR THOUGHTS TO THINGS OF VIRTUE  - light dispels darkness. Likewise, consider HOW TO SERVE OTHERS - energies turned from pleasing self to fresh considerations that flow from seeking welfare of others.

P. 42 - City of Enoch - not idyllic, undisturbed, tranquil scene where people sit around and talk of truth. There are duties to be done, skills to put in service
- neighbors love neighbors.
- Each mans’ work is his love made manifest for mankind.

P. 43 - Help gladly and quietly without acclaim
- Happy because they give more thought to content of speech than smoothness in their speaking.

P. 44 - Duty turn to Delight
- Happiness → creates energy to do more
- Misery → hold back → despair → scarcity

P. 45 - Powers of Heaven - principles of righteousness cannot be used to gratify PRIDE or AMBITION or to control the children of men.
- Walk and talk with confidence in the presence of the Lord.
- Enoch is  preaching a new hard doctrine of one remaining sacrifice that each of us must be willing to make

P. 48 - So much of mankind’s talents and thoughts are enthralled with things instead of truths
- Commandments not imposed in Zion “We do things out of devotion”
- God gives us 1) Breath 2) Time 3) Increase

P. 49 - Why hard to yield? Why does he not yield quickly?

P. 50 - Remember that “our” possessions aren’t really ours anyway. “It’s easier to give up that which is not ours.”
- Possessions and business - a fun adventure? But such are, unknowingly, turning aside from the great adventure of affording affection in their own family
- sense of eternity lessens anxiety rooted in “time”

P. 51 - Gardeners/builders… no man esteems himself above his neighbor, for each has gifts.
- It’s so much easier to learn both what to do and how to do it, when we first know WHY things must be done at all.
- splendor springs from the work of all our people, each of whom revels in the talents and accomplishments of the other

P. 52 - Each is inclined to glorify God rather than himself, and to thank God first for giving talents that make such beauty possible.

P. 53 - Love even when love is not returned
- Helps us “in the process of learning to love others more deeply to realize who others really are - our eternal brothers and sisters, our friends of the future, our peers of a past beyond the pale of mortal memory.”

P. 54 - Be patient, even if others are impatient with me.
- ABSORB unkind words
- often when I feel wounded it is my pride, not a principle, that is the cause.

P. 55 - ONLY BY BEING INSIDE ZION that we can experience such unity.
- Things that seem unclear become clear
- Things that at first seem obscure become obvious
- You would not criticize a group of people who sought the same high ground in the midst of a flood. You would not see their presence in one place as an unintelligent act, for they came together in order to be saved. So it is here.
- all are humble

P. 58 - ZION - in order for men to partake of the fruits of felicity, they  must plant the seeds there of.
- Do not suppose that a single skill, one attribute, or one tremendous talent could make such a city. Many seemingly small things are combined here which together make a big difference.

P. 59 - Life is not labrynth. Mortality is no Maze if a man possess the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide him.
- Ordinances - both endings and beginnings.

P. 60 - Meetings move us to tears of gratitude.
- divest ourselves of material things = the final measure of a man
- wealth put to effective use in the care of those who have less

P. 61 - People bound together in love and truth, produce more in cooperation, thus more to share!
- All have stronger desire to share than to receive.
- World, wickedness, violence, bloodshed = aliens from God. consumed in sin and wars. Only thought of themselves, of today, of revenge.
- All who will not take up his sword against his neighbor must flee to Zion for safety.

P. 62 - When people can no longer be stirred up to remembrance, their hearts become like shells and then stones.

P. 63 - Physical separation of Enoch’s people necessary,
- Able to withstand the wickedness of the world
- Giants stood afar off in great perplexity
- Liberty in Love
- Diversions among men mirror divisions WITHIN each man.
- Only when the war within each man has first ended can there be real peace!

P. 66 - World more and more wicked, City of Enoch - more and more righteous
- Mountains flee (symbolic of obstacles/trials?)
- rivers of water turned out of their course
- Enoch, great love for fellow men, even those yet to be born

P. 76 - “There were not enough in the day of Enoch who were willing to sustain that which was right. One part of other had to leave the earth; and the Lord translated Enoch and his city and took them home to himself.” - Wilford Woodruff, JD 11:243

“We are trying to understand the gospel as Enoch understood it and as Christ understood it, and to do BUSINESS as THEY DID IT, living in cooperation and managing our affairs in the same way; but many of us ARE NOT WILLING to be taught in TEMPORAL MATTERS” - Franklin D. Richards, April 1898 Gen Conf

“He (God) gave Enoch a system, known now as the Order of Enoch, or the United Order. It provided that all the citizens of Zion should work together and that whatever was produced should be given into the Lord’s storehouse, and that every man should be given from the common store according to his wants and needs. The people, taught by Enoch, were able to overcome the LOWER FEELINGS and to divide all things with each other, so that all were equal.” - John A. Widtsoe

People of Nephi - 4 Nephi

  • growth , prosperity, city building
  • Fasting, praying, meeting together oft
  • Kept commandments
  • Many miracles
  • No contentions or disputations
  • Every man dealt justly
  • All things in common
  • No rich, poor, bond, or free
  • Peace, prosperity
  • LOVE OF GOD in hearts of the people
  • They were in one

Monday, July 3, 2017

Live By Covenants

I liked this quote shared on the Word of Wisdom Health Challenge facebook page - they shared this quote from Elder Ballard's April 1999 General Conference talk, and posted with it: This lifestyle is not one of convenience, but I know we gain spiritual power when we obey the commandments and teachings we know to be true. Stay strong!

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