Sunday, May 31, 2009

Receiving Enlightenment through the Study of the Book of Mormon

The following is a talk I gave in church today on the Book of Mormon. It really helped me gain a stronger testimony of it and realize the universal help it can provide, particularly in recognizing false political, educational, and philosophical ideals.

"One of the great families to join the Church in Canada was that of Archibald Gardner. From his journal, we learn of the family's experience in Canada during the year 1843. "Robert Gardner describes the day of their baptism: 'We went about a mile and a half into the woods to find a suitable stream. We cut a hole through ice eighteen inches thick. My brother William baptized me. . . . I was confirmed while sitting on a log beside the stream. . . .  

"'I cannot describe my feelings at the time and for a long time afterwards. I felt like a little child and was very careful of what I thought or said or did lest I might offend my Father in Heaven. Reading the Scriptures and secret prayer occupied my leisure time. I kept a pocket Testament constantly with me. When something on a page impressed me supporting Mormonism, I turned down a corner. Soon I could hardly find a desired passage. I had nearly all the pages turned down. I had no trouble believing the Book of Mormon. Every time I took the book to read I had a burning testimony in my bosom of its truthfulness.'" (Pres. Monson, Ensign, November 1990)

The Book of Mormon Brings Us Closer to Christ

Pres. Benson:

"The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity of a redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.  

Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention (2 Nephi 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon is similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time." – (Pres. Benson, Witness and a Warning, p.3)

Pres. Hinckley: 

I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras. 

No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to His commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard Him and His word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death. The Book of Mormon is an affirmation of the Old Testament proverb: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). (Pres. Hinckley, Ensign, August 2005)

Keep the Commandments

How many times are we promised that if we keep the commandments of God, we will prosper in the land? And to further describe this prosperity, King Benjamin said, 

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:41)

D&C 84:49-51,54-57 

49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me. (Lee: and one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to bring us closer to Christ.) 

51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. 54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— 

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. 

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 

57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.

Not all Scripture is Equal 

We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth. (W and W, p.6) 

Not all truths are of equal value, nor are all scriptures of the same worth. What better way to nourish the spirit than to frequently feast from the book which the Prophet Joseph said would get a man "nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book"? (W and W, p.10)

Teaching our Children 

Alma 23:6 – After Ammon and his brethren overcome the trials of bringing the gospel to the Lamanites, seven of the Lamanite cities were converted and it was said of them, 

“And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.” 

If our children and grandchildren are taught and heed these same truths, will they fall away? We best instruct them in the Book of Mormon at our dinner table, by our firesides, at their bedsides, and in our letters and phone calls - in all of our goings and comings. 

Some spiritually alert parents hold early-morning devotionals with their families in their homes. They have a hymn, prayer, and then read and discuss the Book of Mormon. (W and W, p.11)

Personal Thoughts 

“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come” (Introduction). Just previous to His visit, the land was filled with evil, robbers, darkness, and all manner of wickedness. The only thing that could disperse this darkness was the Savior. So it is in our lives, no matter how dark or sinful or dismal our lives are, the Lord is the only one who can help us. So why not read and abide by the precepts of the book that will bring us closer to Him than any other book? 

Paraphrasing Elder Nelson, “[The Book of Mormon] can help with personal problems in a very real way. Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon!”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Better Understanding the 5th Article of Faith

My wife took on the challenge to memorize the Articles of Faith in Spanish, and since she posted them on the shower door, I decided to try it too.  As I was going through them, I got to the 5th Article and reading it in Spanish changed a very important part of the meaning for me.  

For those who are familiar with the tune that the article is put to in the Children's Song book, that's generally how I'm able to recall most of the Articles of Faith in English, the way that it's sung never fully made sense to me, since it didn't emphasize the punctuation.  There's a pause between "laying on of hands" and "by those..." but you don't hear the pause where the comma is between "authority" and "to preach...", which is where the Article explains to what end a man must be called of God.  I had always thought that it was saying that, "a man must be called ... by someone in authority who can preach the gospel and administer its ordinances."  But the comma between "authority" and "to preach" is very importand and makes it read instead that, "a man must be called ... by someone who has authority, SO THAT the man who is called can preach the gospel and administer its ordinances."  In other words men are called to preach the gospel and administer its ordinances, they aren't just called with no purpose by someone who happens to have the authority to preach and administer.

In Spanish, in addition to the comma, the article also says that a man must be called...so that he can preach the gospel... that's the translation of "a fin de que"
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

Creemos que el hombre debe ser llamado por Dios, por profecia y la imposicion de manos, por aquellos que tienen la autoridad, a fin de que pueda predicar el evangelio y administrar sus ordenanzas.
I hope I explained the realization I came to well enough to be understood.  I'm not sure how many English speakers have thought the same thing, but my wife said that she always understood it the other way (the way I thought the article read) too.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Media Collection Managers

About a year ago I had posted about some media collection managers that I had tried out and liked.  Unfortunately the one I liked the most (DVDSpot) went away about six months ago and I haven't really found a comparable one yet.  The closest I've found is DVDCrate.com, which looks like almost the same code.  The one thing that makes it not that great is the uploading feature.  You have to have a list of all the UPC's to upload them, and I don't have a code scanner or the desire to buy one.  DVDSpot allowed you to upload a list of names and then you could select which one you owned if it came up with multiple versions of the same DVD.
  • I've tried IMDB.com's "My Movies" but there is no upload feature, so the only time I add a movie is after I see it and am on the movie page reading the trivia or other people's reviews.
  • A lot of people talk about DVD Aficionado, but it's just not an appealing website, and not worth it overall.  Similar to IMDB, you have to search for the movie to add it.
  • DVD Corral has had a most welcomed face lift, and I will have to try it out again.  [5 minutes later] In fact I just did, and I happened to find my old DVDSpot export which contained all the UPC's for the movies I owned at that point.  This one actually has me excited!
Anyone else using an online collection manager they love?  Maybe one that does books and music as well?