Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God: On Equality, Feminism and Racism and all other isms.

"I don't care that you don't feel equal or that you're not.   

You aren't designed to be and aren't supposed to be. 

Who do you think you are anyways? 

You're not that big in all of creation, and yet you can't be replaced or even replicated for who you are! 

Everyone has their roles. 

You're not bigger than God.

You didn't make yourself. 

Go be a part of something bigger than yourself rather than trying to be the biggest part." 

~God

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Urim and Thummim to Translate - Holy Ghost to Comprehend


It's interesting that Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon  by means of the Urim and Thummim, and it wasn't until he received the Aaronic Priesthood, and was baptized, and the Holy Ghost fell upon him, that he began to be able to understand the meaning of what he was reading/translating.

73 Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.  74 Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. (Joseph Smith History 1).

I understand this had a purpose in the Lord.  One was to show him what the Holy Ghost could do.  The Urim and Thummim alone weren't/aren't capable of providing enlightenment though they could help him translate. But it also demonstrates that someone who merely possesses the Urim and Thummim doesn't suddenly have all-encompassing-power and wisdom, like the Ark in "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" was portrayed to.

Indeed, in 1 Samuel 28 we read of Saul who was by this time fallen from the faith, and for whom the Urim and Thummim weren't providing him answers that he sought:

 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.

What's interesting to me is that I've been so curious about the Urim and Thummim (which I don't possess or have access to....in case you were wondering) and yet I do have the gift of the Holy Ghost and may not have used it to its full potential or understood fully what I have given to me.

The Urim and Thummim have a specific set of purposes, but it alone isn't the only gift the Lord has or has given, nor is it alone the most critical - and when we look at these scriptures in context - we can see it has limitations placed upon it.  Or rather, limitations are given to us concerning what we can do with it.

Perhaps this means that there is more to us and our spiritual makeup and abilities than simply being able to see and translate - and hence the saying that even if we could see the Book of Mormon plates, or translate them ourselves with the Urim and Thummim, or hold the Urim and Thummim ourselves, it wouldn't help us understand them as much as the power of the Holy Ghost or give us a testimony of them.

Just a thought and something interesting I found in the scriptures.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Abridging Scriptures: A "Common" Practice

We think of Mormon as being the "abridger" of the Book of Mormon.

He began abridging after Omni and abridged five books, and didn't finish his own, having been killed in battle partway through his own chapter, and the record being given to his son.

So Moroni finished his father's chapter (Mormon) and then also abridged Ether, and then finished with his own book.

But the one that somehow escaped my attention was that Nephi abridged Lehi's work:

17 But I shall make an account of my proceedings in my days. Behold, I make an abridgment of the record of my father, upon plates which I have made with mine own hands; wherefore, after I have abridged the record of my father then will I make an account of mine own life.
(1 Nephi 1)

But abridging and summarizing work isn't a new practice that began with Nephi.

Genesis isn't a first-hand account, it is a summary or recount or abridgement given by Moses as a restorer of Israel, of the creation.   Not sure where he got his information, either by urim and thummim, or off another record, but it's interesting of the records we have, the earliest that's been handed down to us comes from a restorer - Moses a few thousand years after the creation.  We didn't receive the original record from Adam but through a restorer. 

So the Book of Mormon concept isn't a new concept where a restorer summarizes and catches everybody up or gives what we need to know to us.  But there's also a spiritual principle that's laid out in the scriptures on this in terms of summarizing and what's to be presented and shared by the servants of the Lord:

9 ...It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
 10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
 11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12). 

There were many times in the Book of Mormon where the prophets were counseled not to share what was revealed to them - and this practice is also given to us in the temples, and with special blessings we are given.  

At any rate, thought for the day while I was reading the scriptures.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Two Sets of Records Buried: By Mormon and Moroni

This was the place....
I somehow missed that it is recorded in the Book of Mormon that there were two deposits of plates - one by Mormon and one by Moroni, in Mormon 6 we read:

 And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.

So.....Mormon hid plates.....and Moroni hid plates as well.


This is in harmony with another account drawn from many sources, but is quoted from Brigham Young:

“Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: “This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.”

At any rate,  something I missed that I found and thought was enlightening and a missing puzzle piece in the gospel.

My last thought? 

It is interesting where the Nephites, and one kingdom ended, the last kingdom of the last dispensation of the last days began.  The Hill Cumorah is where the Nephites ended and fell and their records were buried, and the Hill Cumorah is where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints "began." 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Remembering Laman and Lemuel's Service

One of the things that amazes me about the priesthood is that it reveals things that are hidden so often.

The Holy Ghost often teaches me about the scriptures - things that I never saw myself.

So it was tonight in prayer as I wondered what to do while I struggle in the church with some issues that surround me.   First, I found that prayer was an amazing comfort and I got answers that I hadn't received before.

I was told to regard the story of Nephi, in my prayers.
THIS is how we get brass plates and help our companions...

It was pointed out to me that though Laman and Lemuel were pains-in-the-neck to Nephi, they did assist him very much with his journey and mission.  They helped him build his ship, helped him get the brass plates....indeed, much of what Nephi did wouldn't have been possible were it not for them.  I don't know that I would have as much patience as Nephi did with them beating him and all. But his patience is a virtue to have.

We are Latter Day Saints.  We do need to push it harder and be better than the world even though we have many of the same problems as Babylon - but I never thought, until tonight - that were it not for Laman and Lemuel, some of the blessings we have in the gospel simply wouldn't be possible. 

Now we don't want to be like Laman and Lemuel, ultimately, but we can't forget that though they were difficult, some good things came about because of them, but also, how patiently the Lord worked with them.

I need to remember how diligent the Lord was in Jacob 5 in the olive-tree allegory.  He labored very hard to save the tree even though it wasn't growing the way he wanted it too....we need to remember to do these things as well with the Lord's children and servants and kingdom.....Laman and Lemuel being one example of such diligence and patience.

I need to be like Nephi with his brothers and remember he didn't just write them off, but also remember that at one point they did actually help further the Lord's work.

(I can just feel people saying "ohh, that's not the point of Laman and Lemuel! And if we glorify them we will lead people down the road to apostasy! They were evil!"  Well...yes they were, and this isn't glorifying for sure, but that's not the only thing about them ever and always and those are the things I think we sometimes miss in that and other stories).

Anyways, this perspective came about from prayer.  And this is one way I know that God talks to me because he tells me things I never knew before or understood before.  And I never saw this aspect of the story of Laman and Lemuel until tonight.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Jewish Convert's Perspective on the Book of Mormon

(Most of us are Ephraim - but we are all Israel at last...)
I had a home-teaching companion that was a Jewish convert once.

To hear him open the scriptures and teach from the Jewish teachings are among my choicest scripture-related experiences in life.

At this point, I'm not going to expound from my own knowledge, but am going to share a link here on the subject - an article that discusses 10 things a Jewish convert to Mormonism noticed about the Book of Mormon from her perspectives as a Jew.

If you're new to the blog, you might find some entertainment in one of my not-so-bright memories as a missionary involving the Jewish faith found HERE. 

At any rate, either one is good, but the former is more educational.

All in all the former link helps me see just how little I know about our scriptures.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Laman and Lemuelish: Corrected by Moroni

I'm struggling within the church right now for a lot of reasons.

I know the church is true, however there's a lot I just don't know how to handle or what to do about
it.

Moving from the middle of Sodom (an extremely liberal city) to the middle of "mormon central" has been extremely disconcerting - if mostly for the sense of self-righteousness that is too prevalent among the saints here.   While I struggle to adjust to the culture, it scares me to see how much more we, as a people, are like Laman and Lemuel than we are Nephi.

As I search for answers to my concerns, even as a church leader, I found an answer tonight during family scripture study:

As I read the second epistle of Mormon to Moroni, it hit me just how wicked the Nephites were that Mormon and Moroni were leaders over.  Their people were literally raping and torturing people to death. They had labored with all their might to recover this people spiritually.

Suddenly when I look around at us out here in "Zion" I think maybe we aren't so bad off and certainly not beyond recovery, but this being said - we have a lot of work to do, and we have a lot to answer for.

As I reflect upon this further I realize that the work of reclaiming a lost people is the work that's gone on from the beginning.

Now....how to do it? 

Well....for starters I need to be searching for inspiration in the scriptures while I ponder and repenting myself.   But I also realize: I'm not from here.  I wasn't raised in the Mormon culture, I have a different set of expectations from the Lord's people and the Lord's gospel and church.  There are a lot of things that we do as a people that I don't read about in the scriptures that I just can't see the Lord finding acceptable but that we justify in our culture.  Things that keep many of the righteous out of the church as they look to us while we profess to the the Lord's true church - that they also don't expect from us.

So what to do?  I think I need to start with reading my scriptures for now and praying.