Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alma 26

Ammon, who is known as one of the greatest missionaries in the Book of Mormon, had some wonderful experiences serving the Lord, and working to convert his people and the Lamanites. Near the end of his experiences, he sums up his feelings in two very poignant verses. He says,

            "And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again. And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some" 

These sentences bring back strong, sweet memories of my time as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I served for 18 months in and around Baltimore, Maryland. I met people from all different walks of life, with different religious backgrounds, social experiences, ethnicities, and most importantly, with different ideas of what is right and wrong. During this time I was able to talk to hundreds, if not thousands of people about my belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior, and of His restored Gospel and Church upon the earth.
Some people wanted to listen, and they appreciated the beliefs I shared, but nonetheless declined to learn more. Some people were rude, and had no desire to see me let alone listen to me. Some were mean hearted, and treated me as if I had personally wronged them. Yet, some wanted to listen. Wanted to learn. They felt the Holy Spirit moving inside them, and desired to be in the fold of God. They felt the truth as the Holy Ghost spoke to their spirit of the eternal truths I shared. These people, I will never forget. These people made the ones who hurt my heart seem like distant memories. These people acted as a healing balm to my bruised soul. 
When people ask if I loved my mission, if it was hard, if it was worth it, I remember those who listened and learned of the truth, and changed their lives for good. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alma 17

Not very often does my blog post have to do with current events (if you can call local news current events), however today I saw a direct correlation between what is going on here in Rexburg, Idaho, and what I was reading in the Book of Mormon this week.

Yesterday there was a flash flood in Rexburg, Idaho- worse than any locals had seen for almost 50 years. Water was gushing through the city, and there was damage everywhere, but most notably in downstairs apartments, and on BYU-Idaho campus. This tragedy, which could be seen as something terrible, has given the community the opportunity to show forth their Christian values. Students came together to help one another, and clean up apartments. Students were seen forming lines to remove water from basements (as seen in the second video on the link). This great opportunity to show forth our love of each other, and service through the Lord and His servants, will be seen by many all over the country.

In Alma 17:11 we read "And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls".

We weren't out among the Lamanites here, by any means, but we did go through afflictions, and with those afflictions comes the opportunity to be good examples, and be an instrument in the Lords hands.

Students at BYU-Idaho using buckets to remove flood water

Friday, July 11, 2014

Alma 13

In Alma 13:28 we read about the promise that Alma delivers, that we will not be tempted above that which we can bear. We can look back at this promise and apply it to our lives. Often times it feel like we are drowning in the temptation that surrounds us. It is literally everywhere, and we have to deal with it in our temporary mortal state, weaknesses and all. But we are promised by a prophet of God, those temptations will never be stronger than we can bear, as long as we are humble, and pray continually to our Heavenly Father for help and guidance.
We read about this promise in the Bible as well. Paul, in his address to the people of Corinth, says "[God]  will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it".  So this promise, which is reiterated in the Book of Mormon, is a promise God has always made to His children. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Alma 10

One of my favorite concepts I read about in the Book of Mormon is the prayers of the righteous affecting the unrighteous. We've read before that Alma the younger was visited by an angel because his father prayed that would happen, and the his son would have a change of heart. In this chapter, we are reading about the missionary companionship of Alma and Amulek and their preaching to the people of Amonihah. From the reprimanding that is taking place, we can infer that these people weren't too righteous, and they needed to be told to change. In fact, they are told they are so wicked that it is only because of the righteous prayers of those who are keeping the commandments that is keeping them all from being wiped out by a flood, or famine, pestilences.

Amulek tells them if they try to kick the righteous out of the city, or if they kill them, not only are they condemning themselves further by sinning more, but also removing their righteous prayer protection.

From this we can learn two things that are applicable today. First, if we have a friend or family member who is not making good decisions, we can be assured that our prayers are affecting them, even if they aren't returning to righteousness, they are protected by our love and prayers.

Secondly, if we ourselves are choosing unrighteousness (let's hope we aren't), we need to be considerate of those who are righteous and keep them safe from harm. They may be the only thing holding back God's wrath from us!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Alma 5

This chapter, if you haven't read it recently, is amazing. There is so much practical, spiritual advice packed into 62 verses. It is so great. One of my favorite set of verses is Alma 5:14-19. In this verse we are asked to ponder if we have the image of God engraven upon our countenances. When I think of this, I remember experiences I had as a missionary. I served in Baltimore Maryland, which is not the most suburban paradise. It is actually very urban, and has a fairly high crime rate. Many convicts recently out of prison end up in Baltimore city, so safety is a big concern when living there. As a missionary, I remember many instances where myself, or other missionaries, were saved from harm due to our "countenances", or as the people of Baltimore said, we were "those God people"! So many times I met with people on probation, or who quickly after the meeting went to prison, and I never felt scared to be with them, because they knew we were of God, and they respected that. Even if they didn't want to keep the commandments, or join our Church, they understood that we were of God, and didn't want to harm us.
When we have the image of God engraven upon us, we stand out in a good way. People recognize the Spirit about us, and our goodness.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Alma 1-4

In Alma 1:21 we see that the people of the Church have been persecuted by those who do not believe. They are being mocked and even killed for their belief. During this time it would be easy for the members of the Church to lose hope and faith, lose patience in Heavenly Father and in their persecutors. If they did any of these things they would be in the wrong. If, for example, when a non-believer was treating a believer poorly, and the believer could have easily turned and treated the non-believer just as poorly, but instead, they refrained from treating their own people and any other people poorly, and were richly blessed for it.

Today, we are treated badly by all sorts of people, those who hate Mormons, those who are Mormon, and those who know nothing about Mormons. But, like Christ counseled us, we turn the other cheek. We treat each person with kindness despite their actions towards us.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mosiah 25-29

In Mosiah 25 we read about the different tribes, or groups of people, who make up the Nephites. There were the people of Nephi, who are literal descendants of Nephi, but there were also those who were the descendants of Jacob, Joseph, Mulek and Zarahemla, as well as many others. These peoples may have not had blood in common, but they did have one thing in common: they followed the commandants of God.
Today, there are many different people, from many different countries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yet, we all gather together every week, in our different meeting houses all over the world, and learn the same things. We also have more in common, as Latter-day Saints, with other Christians all over the world, with our beliefs in the Bible and in Jesus Christ. Further, we can remember that other religions believe in God, and in an afterlife that we can earn as we are good. And one step further, we know that each of the people on earth are children of our Heavenly Father, and our brothers and sisters, and as such, we should be one with them, as the Nephites were.