In 1 Nephi chapter 4 right at the beginning of the Book of Mormon, we encounter a narrative where a young man is instructed by God to kill an unconscious individual.
I have to admit, on the surface, this is not a very appealing idea to entertain. I would like to share some insights to this account in hopes that it can offer some reasons as to why this happened the way that it did and what Nephi’s motivations may have been.Read Full Post5 Comments
“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he already knows, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him. (Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You)
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Nephi 9:28-29)
“Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; 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.” (2 Nephi 28:29-30)
There is a school of thought out there that I have come across that frowns uponRead Full Post0 Comments
“Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.” – Alma 41:8
Alma said these words to a struggling son named Corianton who had committed some serious sins. There are three important principles outlined in this sentence that go along with some other observations I have made in recent weeks.
- God’s decrees cannot be altered.
- The way is prepared.
- Whoever walks in the way will be saved.
To some, the idea of God being unchangeable may sound constricting and limiting. But imagine how frustrating it would be if you were trying to design an airplane and the laws of physics just kept changing on you continually. Imagine trying to bake a cake when all of a sudden it required cold to cook instead of heat. Imagine if electricity all of a sudden worked like water and water like electricity.Read Full Post0 Comments
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, […] all things must needs be a compound in one…” (2 Nephi 2:11)
There is a binary aspect to everything in God’s work; light and darkness, good and evil, heaven and earth, male and female, etc. As I read the end of Genesis ch. 2 this morning, these things came to mind again.
The Hebrew word for covenant briyth (ber-eeth) means to cut, and then we have this word “cleave,” a single word that has two opposing meanings: “To part or divide by force” or “To unite or be united closely in interest or affection.” It is a bit paradoxical, but I think there is a pattern of interest concerning dividing and uniting things.Read Full Post3 Comments
I always forget that July 1st is the official year mark, but another year has gone by and the blog is up to 455 posts! When I think of everything I’ve studied and learned up to this point, I eagerly await what the future will unfold.2 Comments
The following is a master list of references that I have collected over the years that I will continue to expand to as necessary. Several years ago I wrote a blog post on the Word of Wisdom that was the result of several months of research and many of these quotes were discovered then. There was an event in my life, well, a series of events but one in particular that prompted me to seek a greater understanding of animal life as it pertains to the Word of Wisdom and in the context of the gospel.
I’m posting these references here with as much context that I feel is appropriate for my own personal use and if anyone else out there finds value in these teachings. If you find any additional quotes that you think might be worth adding to this list, post them in the comments section.Read Full Post2 Comments
In Lehi’s vision, there are 18 references to the fruit of the tree of life with only 9 references to the tree itself. (1 Nephi 8)
In Nephi’s vision, there is a larger focus on the tree of life with 9 references to the tree and only 1 reference to the fruit. (1 Nephi 11) When Nephi is explaining the vision to his brothers, he mentions the tree 5 times and the fruit 2 times. (1 Nephi 15) That would make a total of 14 references to the tree and 3 references to the fruit by Nephi in the context of his vision.
Lehi > fruit: 18, tree: 9
Nephi > tree: 14, fruit: 3
Symbolism can convey numerous meanings depending on how the context shifts; herein lies its power.
The tree of life bears a white fruit that captured Lehi’s attention. Immediately following the vision of this tree bearing fruit is a virgin holding a child. The implication is that the tree is synonymous with the virgin, and the fruit is synonymous with the child, or in other words, the tree is Mary, and the fruit is Jesus.
Nephi’s vision tells us that the tree also represents the love of God, as does the fountain of living waters. On another level, however, I believe that Mary may potentially represent Jesus’ spiritual mother as well — our Heavenly Mother (more on that in the future).
What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure yet; I just found this to be an interesting observation, and I’m certain that it is significant.
If the focus of Lehi and Nephi in these visions carries over to their teachings, it makes me wonder if there is more in Nephi’s writings that could lead to a greater understanding of our Heavenly Mother.4 Comments
I can’t think of a more spot-on description of the virtual, media-fueled cloud of blabbering that surrounds us than the great and spacious building mentioned first in Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon.
The building had the characteristics of being large, spacious, and stood in the air, high above the earth. (1 Nephi 8:26) One implication is that this building had no foundation. It was filled will all kinds of people of every age and sex, and they all wore very fine clothes.
It seems that the principal activity of these people was to mock, scoff, and point their fingers at the people who were partaking of the fruit of the tree of life. (vs.27) Their mocking caused some people to feel ashamed and fall “away into forbidden paths” (vs.28) and become lost.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not about to put the blameRead Full Post2 Comments
Every Sabbath day, we witness the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Symbols of his body and blood rest on trays between white linens in a manner that resembles an actual body. When the ordinance begins, the white linens are drawn back and his body rises from the altar (table). The tokens of his body and blood travel out into the congregation and are placed before every individual member.
With our hand, we reach, grasp, lift and partake. We witness that we are willing to take the name of Christ upon us, to keep his commandments and always remember him. We take all this into our inner-most places, our minds, our hearts, and even our bowels (the seat of compassion).
The bread and wine (water) first enter our mouth on their journey and pass by our mind, then down our throat passing our heart, and then reach the bowels where they are absorbed into our entire bodies as nourishment. These tokens literally become part of us, transforming us; implying something much more profound.4 Comments
Men are that they might have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25)
The word “joy” as found in the following standard works:
- D&C: 42 times
- New Testament: 72 times
- Old Testament: 137 times
- Book of Mormon: 145 times
“…my soul was filled with joy…” (Alma 36:20 )
“…there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (vs.21)
“…that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (vs.24)
“…the fruit […] was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted.” (1 Nephi 8:11)
“…And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy…” (vs.12)
“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul. (1 Nephi 11:21-23)
“…they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.” (Helaman 5:44)
“…the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire…” (vs.45)
Taste: to try the relish of by the perception of the organs of taste; to distinguish intellectually; the sense by which we perceive the relish of a thing; judgment; discernment. (Websters 1828 Dictionary)
“I leave something on that tray when I take that bread.” (Bro. Brown, gospel doctrine teacher, TX)
The Sabbath becomes holy when we have separated it from the days of labor, when we have created something new, when it becomes a sign between us and God of a living relationship and a covenant.
God is not intimidated by others ascending, in fact, he desires it above all other things.
Those that truly follow God will inevitably become a paradox to others. This will challenge the follower’s faith as well as that of those around them.
Bread and wine are not naturally occurring, they are the result of man’s intervention. Jesus chose two food sources that took planning and effort to produce. One is a solid, and one is a liquid. One comes from grass, the other from a vine. Both require a crushing process to create. One is chewed the other is not. Both can be prepared and served with or without a fermentation process. Fermentation causes the bread to spoil quicker, while it makes the wine last longer.
We worry too much about “what’s next” instead of “what’s now.”
Words are not truth, they only describe truth. They are like metaphors or symbols, they are not really the things they describe. Herein lies their weakness, but also their power. Weakness because they can never truly capture reality, and power because of their potential to lead one to it.
“Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ. Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips—For behold, verily I say, that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority. Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off. Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit;…” (D&C 60-62,64)
Forgiveness is a recognition of a higher justice, an acknowledgement that injustice will not ultimately prevail. There is no forgiveness without love. God does not seek to merely satisfy justice, he desires oneness.0 Comments
I’m a big fan of dinosaurs, I mean, who isn’t? I saw this article a few days ago and it blew my mind. They found these fossilized remains of a nodosaur and they are so well preserved that it almost looks like it is sleeping. I don’t have any gospel-related angles on this, it’s just really rad and an amazing discovery. Here’s a link to the full article and more photos.Read Full Post0 Comments
“Symbolism exists precisely for the purpose of conveying to the imagination what the intellect is not ready for.”
– Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of CS Lewis, Vol. II (San Francisco, 2004), 565
My good friend Rick N. sent this quote my way via the @CSLewisDaily twitter feed. This quote is new to me and I think it is wonderful for how well it captures the essence of what symbolism can do. It reminds me a lot of this post where I shared a story about how I answered my 4-year old’s question with a sign instead of the literal answer which unfortunately would have been incomprehensible to her.
I also love how this quote includes imagination in the equation. Sometimes we may only consider symbolism and the potential meanings while forgetting the role imagination plays in helping us explore the possibilities. I feel as if I have discovered a hidden door in a familiar room and I am thrilled to see what awaits on the other side.1 Comment
What are we? Are we this tabernacle of clay composed of water, carbon, and a host of chemicals and bacteria? These atoms that existed long before our birth and will continue long after our death?
As I have pondered questions such as these, I have concluded that core substance of our being is our mind. Some call it consciousness or the soul, LDS scripture calls it “intelligence,” (see Intelligence, Guide to the Scriptures) but I will address it here as the mind.
Aside from immortality or mortality, when you peel back the layers of God or man, there is a mind at the heart of each.
Between God and man is a vast gap. One of the most noticeable differences is that God is immortal, and we are not. The resurrection is a gift from God that raises us to his level concerning physical death. With that aspect of the gap aside, what then remains?
Read Full Post
“Part of the greatness in my life has come from the mistakes I have made that I have been forgiven for.” – Jim D., bishopric counselor in Utah
“Good order is the foundation of all good things.” order, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Order is peace.
“It’s so hard when you have to, but so easy when you want to.” – unknown
On a linear scale, we only see 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum. Visually speaking, we are profoundly blind.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anais Nin
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
Hope encompasses everything that we believe is actually possible. To increase hope, we must first increase our knowledge of what is out there, then decide what we believe concerning what we find. Hope expects something, it looks for fulfillment and faith is what we employ to reach that end.
“Ambiguity kills great ideas, and great leaders kill ambiguity” – Scott Belsky, founder of Behance.
“A teacher is always quiet during a test.” – quote a young woman in the ward found on Pinterest0 Comments
The two things that the Gentiles need to avoid are uniting with the great and abominable church (those that mock) and fighting against Zion (the pure in heart). (2 Nephi 6:12)
The people of the Lord are they that wait for him (2 Nephi 6:19)
Learning is not wisdom (2 Nephi 6:13)
“You fill your houses by depriving the needy.” (Isaiah 3:14)
Wisdom and understanding originate from the mind of God and not man.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn OF me,” (Matt 11:29 KJV) should read “Take my yoke upon you and learn FROM me.” (Matt 11:29 NABRE) The Lord is saying, “Pull with me and I will teach you along the way.” The learning is in the doing.
“If you don’t know what to say, say something.” – comment from church member about helping a struggling soul
“Never be unkind. Ever.” – from Kate, My Wrestle With Mormonism0 Comments
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” 
This statement appears on the introduction page of the Book of Mormon and anyone who has cracked open a copy is probably familiar with it. I’ve often wondered about what Joseph meant by “most correct” because that is quite a profound claim. I think a clue is in the latter half of the quote where he mentions “precepts.”
A precept is, “any commandment or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct.”  What is moral relates to “the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong.” 
This isn’t just another book with some history in it; the Lord refers to it as a “new covenant.”  He says, “the whole worldRead Full Post6 Comments
Creator of the great site TempleStudy.com, Bryce Haymond, has started a new project called ThyMindOMan.com. I was wondering where he was for the longest time and then all of a sudden he appeared out of nowhere with this new project. It seems that he’s had some sort of spiritual awakening and has a lot of new insights to share. I’ve caught up on all his new posts and I thought this video he shared was well done and very inspiring, so enjoy!
Special thanks to the creators over at yhwhproject.org for their beautiful work and testimony.1 Comment
“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.” – LDS Bible Dictionary
This description of prayer in the LDS Bible Dictionary is incredibly straightforward and profound, and I love the implications. The Bible dictionary further suggests that “Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting” the “true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children).” We may think that ending our prayers with the phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen” is how one “prays in the name of Jesus Christ” but the dictionary states that “We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us…”
When imagining prayer, we may picture a single person kneeling reverently, but prayer is not an individual act; there are always at least two minds involved. A prayer to God assumes an audience, and a group of people gathered in prayer all have a common desire in mind to which they affirm with the word: “Amen.”
I think that I have taken this for granted for too long. When pondering the temple phrase “true order of prayer,” I contemplated what is it about that ‘order’ that makes it ‘true’ in contrast to any other form of prayer.
I have found the most insight in distilling these thoughts into what I believe is a profound and simple truth: “prayer unites wills.”
This opens a world of possibilities. How does this idea change how I approach God and what I bring to that setting? How does this idea impact the unifying power that could come to family prayer? How does this idea influence my role as mouthpiece of group prayer and everyone involved?
Lecture 7:3 states:
“God said, Let there be light, and there was light—Joshua spake and the great lights which God had created stood still — Elijah commanded and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain: He again commanded, and the heavens gave forth rain,—all this was done by faith; and the Savior says, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, say to this mountain, remove, and it will remove; or say to that sycamine tree, Be ye plucked up and planted in the midst of the sea, and it shall obey you. Faith, then, works by words; and with these its mightiest works have been, and will be performed.”
Words make the mind visible and therefore knowable. How might we use that power better and with more precise intent?0 Comments
Here are some great quotes I have come across recently and a few thoughts to go along with them.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein
Wow, there’s a lot I don’t understand and I think this blog proves that point.
“To be clever enough to get a great deal of money, one must be stupid enough to want it.” – G.K. Chesterton
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
I love to ponder this idea when it comes to spiritual things.
“There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear.” – Daniel Dennett
Anyone else ever feel like this at church, or on facebook during a major election?Read Full Post2 Comments
Personally, I don’t have much use for optimism or pessimism, where you expect the best or the worst outcome.
I’m more of a pragmatist in that I see myself as “one who holds that the meaning of beliefs are the actions they entail, and that the truth of those beliefs consist in the actions they entail successfully leading a believer to their goals.” [source]. That feels very Alma 32 to me on many levels. I tend to lean a little more toward pessimism in that regards but I don’t see it as being negative, I see it as viewing the world with that sense of caution that experience brings. Children are full of optimism because they are naive. They have the faith of innocence and this can be dangerous.
The adult is more likely to be full of pessimism due to disillusionment. Having lost their innocence, it gets harder to see positive outcomes when more often than not, failures come in brutal waves. Both the adult and the child see reality through destructive paradigms and this places both in a state of danger.
You cannot have faith like a child when you have lost your innocence. I don’t think the answer is somehow returning to innocence, it’s not possible. I think we progress by advancing to another state altogether.
I think this is where hope and faith come into play. I define hope as everything that falls into the sphere of what I actually believe is possible. Faith represents the action I take to bridge the gap between what I believe is possible and what reality reveals in the end. It may not end up being what you had hoped for, it may be something worse, but it may be something better. Until that time, faith, focus, desire, determination, vulnerability, patience, understanding, and wisdom are my watchwords. Whatever the outcome, hope can be fulfilled through faith.0 Comments