Monday, March 20, 2017

Remembering Covenants

In our Book of Mormon class this past week we delved into the 'War Chapters' of the Book of Mormon.  Behind the scriptural language and doctrinal teachings these chapters tell the tale of ancient warfare that took place over the course of over 15 years between the Nephite and Lamanite nations.

Central to this historical narrative is a Nephite military leader Moroni.  Moroni serves as a great leader to his people physically and spiritually.  In our discussion in class we took note of a particular passage wherein Moroni uses his coat to create the Title of Liberty.  This becomes a symbol for freedom and the purpose of the Nephites participation in this war.  Later in the history there is a passage concerning the title of liberty that highlights a great principle about covenants:
"And he [Moroni] did raise the standard of liberty in whatsoever place he did enter, and gained whatsoever force he could in all his march" (Alma 61:4)
Moroni in leaving to defend the Nephite people in a civil conflict made sure that wherever he went lifted the Title of Liberty.  The members of the Nephite army had covenanted to uphold that standard and to protect it with their lives.  The basis of the Title of Liberty rested on their commitment to God, freedom, peace, and their wives and children.  By raising the Title of Liberty everywhere he went, Moroni rekindled the flames of passion and commitment in those that had made that covenant.

We likewise need to be sure to remember our covenants and put ourselves in places that we can easily remember them.  A Nephite in need of remembering his covenants would be unlikely to find them in Lamanite territory and those that have made covenants will be unlikely to remember them if they are in unholy places.  While living in Utah right now there are reminders of covenants everywhere in the form of temples and churches.  I'm blessed to have the ample opportunity to remember and renew these covenants.

But this is not always the case.  Sometimes we enter the battlefield and can't easily remember our covenants and what God has promised to do for us if we are faithful.  It is in these times that we need to hoist our own Title of Liberty in whatever way we are able.  A background on your phone with a quote from the scriptures.  Having a picture of Christ around the house.  There are many ways we can remember Christ and remember our covenants.  And if we can simply remember and act accordingly, we will have heavenly aid in the spiritual battles we fight each and every day. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Words of God: A Spiritual Backbone

This week in our class we spent a good portion of our discussion on one truly devilish man: Korihor.  We don't know much of this man besides what attributes and attitudes he shows towards the Doctrine and teachings of Christ.  We learn from the scriptures of his flattering and pleasing doctrines of the here and now.  Korihor taught that the scriptures and holy records hold no importance for us, and he taught that “when a man was dead, that was the end thereof” (Alme 30:18). Korihor truly lived in the moment, and taught that there is nothing important in this life other than the self-gratification that we can receive from moment to moment. Korihor, and those that followed his teachings, placed restrictive blinders on their understanding of the world.  

But with this remarkable example of blinded focus on these earthly lives there is an equally remarkable example of eternal perspective.  This perspective is provided by the chief judge and prophet over the Nephite people: Alma.  Alma exemplifies eternal perspective, teaching boldly that he knows “ there is a God, and also that Christ shall come” (v. 39).  Alma knew that there is a lot more to this life than what is happening now, but that amazing this have happened and will happen by the goodness of God.  Alma also taught us that we “have all things as a testimony” that this is true (v. 41).  

I personally find it amazing that such a great example of perspective is given in such length for us to study.  In my study of the scriptures I have truly found that it has broadened my mind and enlarged my memory.  Korihor, who taught that the scriptures and words of the prophets were of no use, lacked any spiritual strength or moral backbone.  But Alma who took all things as a testimony of God, and studied and taught from the words of God's chosen servants, was able to stand firm in the face of opposition.  We likewise will become more like Alma or more like Korihor, as we either hearken or separate ourselves from the word of God.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Small Chapters, Big Doctrine

This week in my study of the Book of Mormon I was once again taught a profound truth by a simple passage.  Alma Chapter 6 is fairly unassuming as far as chapters go.  Only 8 verses long and it doesn't record the major doctrines or teachings that Alma had conveyed to his people.  This chapter is sandwiched in between two of the great sermons taught by Alma the Younger, the rebuking and internally questioning Alma 5, and the messianic Alma 7.  It would be easy, therefore, to skip over Alma Chapter 6 as merely a connecting chapter without any major doctrines contained therein. 

But in my study of Alma it is clear that at least one heavenly truth is found in verses 5 and 6, which read:
5. Now I would that ye should understand that the word of God was liberal unto all, that none were deprived of the privilege of assembling themselves together to hear the word of God.
6. Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.
After Alma set the church in order in Zarahemla, the word of God was preached to everyone and made readily available for the common people.  But we learn that even amidst the preaching of the word there are many who miss the opportunity or deny the blessings that come from hearing the word of God.  Our lives can be much the same in our relationship with God.  He is forever liberal with us, blessing us day to day with the breath we have as King Benjamin taught us, but sometimes we miss out on the multitude of blessings for various reasons.

But I love that Mormon takes the time to include in verse 6 that the people of the church gathered in fasting and prayer for the welfare of those who didn't know the great blessings in store from having a relationship with God.  We can be the light that helps someone come to feel of that joy, or we can be the ones to help another notice the shower of heavenly blessings despite what the world may point out in the contrary.  The Book of Mormon truly does teach us how to be happy and how we are able to help others be happy.  We're not in this life alone, but we are here as a part of God's family.  It is our sacred privilege to help our brothers and sisters to experience the blessings of God.