“I had the same good feeling while reading scriptures and while watching a fictional movie, how is that possible?”
I have heard this question or something like it asked time and time again. I’ve heard this example used to illustrate how ’emotions should not be trusted,’ which, I actually agree with. This question makes a valid observation if you are working under some kind of assumption that the Holy Spirit only confirms specific spiritual things as ‘true’ and shouldn’t ever be showing up during something like a movie (only if it’s a church movie though, right?)
Without proper context, people can be led to conclusions that are incorrect because the foundational assumptions are problematic to begin with. I’m not blaming the person who has the question, I’m not sure we do a very good job at really teaching how the Spirit works and what the relationship is between the truth we have and the truth possessed by everyone else.
Emotions themselves are a tricky because they are simply reactions to things we are exposed to. If someone punches you, it hurts and you feel mad, if someone scares you, you feel terror for something that isn’t really terrifying once you realize it. If someone says sweet things to you, you feel good, even though they may really want to take advantage of you. Reading something inspiring, it can also make you feel good.
There’s nothing wrong with all that, but where we do go wrong is in makRead Full PostGo to Comments
I was reading Alma chapter 29 recently and I thought I’d share some observations that I think are particularly relevant to today’s world.
I love how you can keep coming back to scripture to find new things. As we age, mirrors reveal changes, but the mirror does not change, we do.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that one cannot step twice into the same river , so perhaps one cannot read the same scripture twice. Additional knowledge, insights and understanding gained through time and experience cause previously bland verses to come to life in new and exciting ways.
Alma 29 begins with a ponderous Alma wishing that he could change the world in a dramatic way.
1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
2 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.
Remember that this is the Alma who was called to repentance by an angel who spoke with a voice that shook the earth . Alma had this incredible experience and feels that perhaps others would respond in the same way if they experienced the same thing. In a way, we do the same thing when we Read Full PostGo to Comments
What if we modernized Korihor’s philosophies and compared them to the kinds of things we hear people saying today?
For morning study a couple days ago, I started off reading about the sons of Mosiah but then felt like reading about Korihor. As I read, I had my trusty 1828 Dictionary app out to further analyze the words Joseph Smith used to translate Korihor’s ideas. Then, I looked in a modern dictionary to discern how his theories might be composed by someone presenting the same arguments today.
This exercise revealed a very familiar-sounding rhetoric. I also began to think about song lyrics from the movie Frozen (because I have 3 daughters) that reminded me of some words Cain spoke, and then all of it together reminded me of something Karl Marx wrote; all from pondering Korihor’s doctrines.
As for my modernized version of Korihor’s ideas, I claim ownership of my interpretations and any errors that I might have made. This is merely a personal exercise, so feel free to go back to the original text in Alma 30 and try this out yourself.Go to Comments
“…lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not…” – Moroni 7:19
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21
The scriptures encourage us to seek after that which is good and there are ways explained that illustrate how we can do that.
Like many kids, I enjoyed collecting things such as baseball cards, coins, rocks, fossils, etc. Over the years my interests changed; I no longer collect any of the things that I valued so highly as a child.
What I have enjoyed collecting over the course of my adult life is truth.
The scriptural admonitions that encourage me to lay “hold” on good things drive me to dig and discover the good in everything I explore. If you think about it, truth and good are not hard to find, but they can be difficult toRead Full PostGo to Comments
I’ve been working on this particular article for months, maybe close to a year. I can keep tweaking this over and over or I can just share what I’ve got thus far, so that’s what I’m doing.
Because I am a man, I’m writing this from the perspective of a man particularly to the men out there. I’m writing this to me, to the men in my family, my friends, perfect strangers and especially to the men that will dare to go near my daughters one day (sorry, that’s just the papa bear speaking). I’m writing this to hold myself accountable for the things I understand and hope that the information might help improve a relationship out there somewhere.
It is up to you to take what is useful and cast aside what isn’t.
I’ve been surrounded by females my entire life. I have three little sisters (no brothers) and am a father of four daughters (no sons) and my wife has four sisters. (and one brother, whew!) My life has been heavily influenced by females and so understanding the dynamics of men and women in life and in the gospel has always been an interesting topic to me personally.
I am repulsed at the thought or the sight of any man, including myself, oppressing my mother, wife, sisters or daughters through selfishness or “unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39) More and more we see domestic violence, divorce, depression and an absence of the oneness God seems to intend. I’ve seen the criticisms of policies and doctrines of the LDS Church that some argue place men above women. It’s an understatement to say that this is a complex issue with many facets and it is not my intentionRead Full PostGo to Comments
In the King James Version of the Bible, we find the terms “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit,” while in modern translations we typically see only “Holy Spirit” used. Technically, the modern translations are more correct since the Greek words behind Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are actually the same. So let me repeat this important fact: in the New Testament, there is no distinction between the words (pneuma= ghost, spirit; hagion = holy) that are translated as Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.
In LDS theology, having these two terms is helpful because we actually do make a distinction between the personage in the Godhead and his influence. Though this distinction exists, the terms do not seem to beRead Full PostGo to Comments
“And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance,which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:11-12, emphasis added)
I’ve heard this scripture about a billion times and I’m not complaining, it’s a great one, but sometimes we can tend to overlook the value of things that we are too familiar with.
The phrase “shafts in the whirlwind” always made me think of tornadoes, but having a shaft inside of a whirlwind didn’t Read Full PostGo to Comments
The inspiration for this article came from an observation I made today during an Elders quorum lesson on prayer.
We read the following portion of the sermon from Amulek in Alma 34:
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17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
I recently started the Book of Mormon over again in audio form while I’m at work. Chapter 6 of 1 Nephi caught my attention and led to some significant thoughts about agency.
And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.
For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.
Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.
Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 6:3-6)
The limited resources Nephi had forced him to focus on what was most important. He desired to record “the things of God” over things that were pleasing unto the world; think about that. What types of things wouldRead Full PostGo to Comments
After crying out “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!” Alma 29:1
The well-intentioned Alma the younger wanted a sorrow-free world and thinksRead Full PostGo to Comments
“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…” 2 Nephi 9:28
- Does knowledge equal wisdom?
- When we think we have things figured out on our own, do we pray less or more and for what reasons?
- What knowledge in this world is worth setting aside a relationship with the one who holds your life in his hands moment to moment?
- Why would one put more trust in the learning of man versus the wisdom of the revelations of God?
We live in a world where quick answers and quick results are demanded. If a website on a phone takes more than 5 seconds to load we groan with frustration. If traffic slows a little or one person slides in front of us, we are angry. We stare into microwaves waiting the excruciating 60 seconds for our food to cook. Not only do we want things fast, we want them cheaply, we want to obtain them with as little effort on our part as possible. Perhaps a “good deal” seems more valuable than a quality product.
Endurance is overshadowed by convenience; it is cheaper to replace things than to fix them. Rather than reconcile, repair and renew, we discard, destroy and dissolve. How deeply have these cultural philosophies that we practice daily bleed into our spiritual life? Is is any wonder that so many people give up trying to communicate with God and make dramatic life decisions based on what they think or suppose they “know of themselves?”
“Have ye inquired of the Lord?…We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” 1 Nephi 15:8-9
- What does it mean to “inquire” of the Lord?
- What are the requirements for “inquiring of the Lord” and how are they different from how we inquire for information in temporal matters?
- How well do we really know and understand the scriptural pattern for inquiring, asking, seeking and knocking?
- Do the things of God come as cheaply as the things of this world?
In the Book of Mormon, Alma and King Mosiah had rebellious sons who experienced a miraculous conversion. Fueled by a divine manifestation and a spiritual rebirth, they had a burning desire to reach out and share the experience.
I don’t think we focus enough on what is was that initially brought this desire to go out on this mission.
These men received a manifestation of God to themselves. (Lecture 2, questions 146 & 147) They knew the pure love of God, it changed them, they were born again and that experience will always cause an individual to immediately desire to reach outward in genuine concern for others. Unless you know God and unless you have tasted of his redemption yourself, then much of your efforts will feel like you’re just under the pressure of trying to get people to join a club.
When you remove God from the equation, when his literal power and influence are Read Full PostGo to Comments
“Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.” (1 Nephi 1:2)
At the very beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi tells us that he is writing his history in the language of the Egyptians. When we are reading First Nephi, we reading something that was written in retrospect, after Lehi’s party arrived in the promised land. This is where Nephi made his first set of plates (1 Nephi 19:1). It is at this point that he chooses to write in Egyptian for some reason instead of Hebrew and we don’t have any explanation as to why.
It is centuries later that Moroni explains that they wrote the record in a reformed version of Egyptian instead of Hebrew because of a space issue on the plates:
“And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.” (Mormon 9:32-33)
Mormon and Moroni’s reasons for using their reformed Egyptian could have been very different from Nephi’s reasons. Nephi was writing things that he considered sacred at a time of great conflict between his people and his brethren. He might have wanted to protect the information by writing it in a language other than Hebrew so that the information would be hidden from others in case his records fell into enemy’s hands. His intentions might have been to conceal the content of the records rather than save space.
Nephi starts writing his records almost immediately upon arrival in the promised land while Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael are still part of the camp. What if only Nephi knew how to write in Egyptian? Perhaps Nephi didn’t think it was wise to write his record (that included the murmuring and disobedience of his older brothers and step brothers) in a language that they could read. Think of what might have happened if Nephi was out hunting and Laman snuck into his tent to read his “journal”. Nephi’s brothers and step brothers already hated him and reading his depiction of them could have thrown them into a rage and put his family in danger.
Mormon, on the other hand, notes that they had altered the Hebrew and the Egyptian among them to the degree that the reformed Egyptian characters may have been more compact than what their altered Hebrew was like. These theories are only speculation on my part, but I think they illustrate that there are many possibilities to consider.
In 600BC, there were at least three Egyptian candidates for what Nephi could have used on his plates: Hieroglyphic, Hieratic, and Demotic. The only one that doesn’t seem to be available in Nephi’s time is Hieratic, but I have a theory that doesn’t dismiss it as a candidate so let’s see which one works best.Go to Comments
One of the most powerful scripture study tools I utilize is a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. I have a free app version on my iPhone (sorry Android users, I don’t think there is one quite yet, but you can use this site) that I use practically every time I’m in the scriptures.
I’ve been studying Alma 5 quite a bit and seeking to unlock its many treasures. I took just four verses, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and began to define keywords and I’ll share with you some of these definition excerpts for you to ponder.
12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.
14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
MIGHTY – 1. Very strong; valiant; bold; 6. Vehement; rushing with violence; as a mighty wind or tempest.
VEHEMENT – 1. Violent; acting with great force; furious; 2. …very eager or urgent;Read Full PostGo to Comments
Download the Map Now!
I love the subject of Book of Mormon geography and enjoy hearing all the theories and research. For full disclosure, I’m inclined to believe that the majority of the events in the Book of Mormon occurred in North America in the Eastern United States, that said, I tried to not let any biases influence what I was seeing in the text.
My goal was not to “find” Book of Mormon lands, but to get an idea of how they were laid out and where cities were in relation to one another. I looked at many maps and found what I believed were some pretty fatal flaws. My theory on the so-called “narrow neck of land” is way different from Read Full PostGo to Comments
1 Nephi 10
17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God–and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come–I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
20 Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.
21 Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.
22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.
1 Nephi 11
1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
2 And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?Go to Comments
“All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” Alma 30:44
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines denote as:
DENOTE, verb transitive [Latin To note or mark.] 1. To mark; to signify by a visible sign; to indicate; to express.
I would like to thank a new friend of mine for an observation he made in a recent email exchange:
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“I thought I understood the idea of stand ye in holy places, but now I see it as, ye stand in holy places. What’s holy and sacred in us, goes where we go if our intent is to be holy and sacred.” (Emphasis added)
“…the words of Isaiah are “not plain” to men, but they become plain when understood through the spirit of prophecy – the Holy Spirit”
Avraham Gileadi, The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interprative Keys from the Book of Mormon, p.12Go to Comments
Enemy territory can be avoided in many respects, but what happens when the enemy territory expands its influence into your borders? In the Book of Mormon, the wars become interesting if you approach them in the context of the spiritual battles the rage between the human soul and the temptations of the adversary.
Remember, remember what is important
The Title of Liberty emphasized the importance of what was being threatened: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” (Alma 46:12)
Fortifications & Armies
And he also placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies. (Alma 50:10)
What are fortifications? What are our armies? Church leaders, home teachers, friends, family?
Retreat is not weakness
If the enemy breaches your gates and you are not strong enough to defend yourself, retreat: And it came to pass that the Lamanites did come out with their numerous army against us. And when they had come and were about to fall upon us with the sword, I caused that my men, those who were with me, should retreat into the wilderness.” (Alma 58:18)
Principles from the Joseph in Egypt
Joseph when serving under Potiphar in Egypt was accosted repeatedly by Potiphar’s wife.
Joseph was well-built and handsome, and Potiphar’s wife soon noticed him. She asked him to make love to her, but he refused and said,…”I won’t sin against God by doing such a terrible thing as this.” She kept begging Joseph day after day, but he refused to do what she wanted or even to go near her. One day, Joseph went to Potiphar’s house to do his work, and none of the other servants were there. Potiphar’s wife grabbed hold of his coat and said, “Make love to me!” Joseph ran out of the house, leaving her hanging onto his coat. (Genesis 39:6-12 CEV)
Joseph did well to remember what was important and he fortified himself by building a wall of space between him and the tempter – he didn’t even go near the temptation. Second, Read Full PostGo to Comments
This list was obtained from a blog post over at Gently Hew Stone.
The first impression I got was to scrutinize the list but it appears that these were very wisely chosen. I did something similar back in the mission field where I created a pamphlet that summarized each book in the Book of Mormon.
It’s very interesting through exercises like these to observe how Christ-centered the Book of Mormon is. I really like this version where particular scriptures sum up entire books of the Book of Mormon though so here it is.Read Full PostGo to Comments