Wednesday, August 5, 2009

3 Nephi 8-11

I know it has been a while (again) since I've posted.
I had an interesting 'ah-ha' moment this morning as I read 3 Nephi 8-10. I realized that in chapters 9 & 10, Jesus Christ speaks directly to the people. They are still in darkness both times, but they are spoken to twice before 3 Nephi 11.
Why is that important? Well, it struck me that three is very symbolic. Also the three days and nights of darkness. In 3 Nephi 11, they are spoken to for the third time. Does this tie into the law of three witnesses as well? Something to contemplate.

What really struck me though, is that many times (maybe due to my mission) I focus on 3 Nephi 11 and on. However, I realized today that these people were being prepared to see Jesus Christ. When they hear the voice in 3 Ne. 11, they've actually already heard a voice from the heavens twice. While it takes three times for them to distinguish what is being said, they had been being prepared to hear it. So, I'm not sure why, but this strikes me as interesting. How am I being prepared? How do I prepare myself each day to hear the voice of the Lord? Do I actually hear it in my life?

Finally, the symbolism is also striking. Twice, when they were spoken to from the heavens they were in darkness. The third time (when Christ descended) there was light. What great symbolism for the light of gospel knowledge.

Yes, I could go on and on. So much there to think about, so I thought I'd share as I keep on thinking about it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leadership model and divine direction

In 5 minutes it will be 12:00 am. I guess that qualifies as an early morning moment right?

I really should be working on something else, but I felt like I really needed to record this, and typing is much faster than writing in my journal by hand.

I was asked a while ago to accompany a stake leader to help with some training and ideas for a small struggling Spanish branch within our stake. While I've been excited and happy to do so, I've had a difficult time trying to figure out what to prepare as I couldn't get hold of the people that I'll be working with to find out the time constraints, what they've been working on, and what I can help with etc. Finally, yesterday someone called me back. Unfortunately, I've been swamped all day today and started at 9:30 tonight trying to put this together.

While I found some general ideas that I'd like to teach, I'd been struggling to know exactly what to teach. I couldn't find my Spanish scriptures, so I grabbed some off of my bookshelf. The set I grabbed weren't actually mine. They were a companion's from my mission. They somehow made it home with me and I've never been able to track her down to return them to her - so here they sit on my shelf.

Anyways, as I've been jotting down notes and trying to get my lesson plan down and put together, I started with a prayer. Things really began to flow, but then I've got so many ideas I'm trying to figure out how to work them all. I decided to stop for a second and make a list of what my focus will be. Which principles am I really trying to teach, and what should I be teaching?

As I paused, my eyes wandered to the back of the 'borrowed' scriptures. There lay a picture of my companion and her family, tucked into the back of her scriptures. I pulled it out to look at it, and along with it came a jumble of other papers.

In addition to the papers, I found the plan of salvation done in construction paper - already ready. I'd been agonizing about wanting to use part of this, but not having the time to put it together. The other bonus is that it is ALREADY in Spanish!

Some might say - coincidence, but I don't really think so.

Then, I found some notes she'd taken from a missionary meeting. I couldn't believe the message and felt like it was really just for me.

It said -
Leadership Model

Whatever you do, you must teach others to do
1. Explain
2. Demonstrate
3. Practice with those being trained (most of the time in this)
4. Evaluate (positive and kind)
5. Practice again

Don't offend.

It also said that we need to find joy in being a member of the Church. This is interesting to me as part of my lesson is about joy.
Also - It is by doing that we learn. God Cannot break his commandments.
Rejoice that we have the commandments.

There are so many little nuggets in there - so much to ponder and think about. Unfortunately, I am tired and deciding to go to bed.
I believe the rest of my inspiration will come in the morning, but just wanted to get this down now while it was fresh.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Alma 16

Alma is the book (after 2nd Nephi in the Isaiah chapters) where I would always get bogged down and stuck when I was reading the Book of Mormon. I just had such a hard time getting through Alma for a very long time. I can't even count how many tries it took me until I broke the Alma barrier. I remember however, that once it was broken, I couldn't believe what I had been missing. I was amazed and enthralled. Now, I have read and re-read the Book of Mormon so many times since that first time, but I think I still worry inwardly a little about getting through Alma.

With that history in mind, as I sat down to read today I was thinking. Okay, if I can just get to chapter 17, I'll be okay. This is because from chapter 17 on is one of my very most favorite stories. I kept thinking.. I just need to get through this to get there. What a pity. As I read from 13 to 16, I felt a little ashamed that I'd forgotten how amazing these chapters were. They all are, but it was a blessing to read this morning.
I really spent some time pondering Amulek, and the price of his discipleship. He lost all of his riches, his father and his kindred when he chose to follow the gospel, and he was a rich and influential man. I pondered what the price of my discipleship is. Would I be willing to pay such a price as he did?

I also pondered over the realization that I go through life with faith that everything will always work out. Do what is right, keep the commandments, and things will work out. However, I thought about that as I thought about the wives and children of the men who were cast out who had believed. They were burned. I realized, that sometimes, things don't work out right. Sometimes the Lord does let awful things happen. I understand why - Alma 60:13, as well as some verses in Alma 16 tell us that it is so that the Lord can judge the wicked. If they were always stopped from doing wicked, there would be no free agency. While I understand this, I just hadn't understood that sometimes things don't work out. While tough, that's also part of his plan as well.

Along those lines, someone sent me an e-mail forward the other day. It said that the because the Lord loves us, He sends different people into our lives. However, the people in our lives aren't always there to make us happy. Some will make us sad, some will hurt us, some will leave us...etc. However, it is all part of the refining and trying process. We are sent the people and experiences which we need to be worthy and become what HE would have us become - not necessarily what WE think we should become.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

One's actions - something to ponder

As I've been reading in the end of Mosiah and the beginning of the book of Alma, I've had one thought that has strongly impressed me.

I think that we often fail to see the impact that one mortal person has upon their own individual sphere, as well as upon generations, and thousands of others. I know that I often feel microscopic, and that my personal contributions may amount to nothing.

Then I remember a quote that says, "The hand that rocks the cradle, rocks the world" or something to that effect and I think about the impact that I can have upon the world as a mother... I think we forget how much we can touch and influence others.

As I've been studying, I've been thinking about and contrasting these impacts. I know that I previously commented on Abinadi's impact upon generations. Likewise, in Alma 3, chronicles that more than 19,000 were slain in one battle, and later, the number of the slain was not taken because of the greatness of the number. Thousands and tens of thousands or souls were lost all because ONE man wanted to be the king.

Think about that. Thousands and tens of thousands. All for ONE man. Who, by the way, was wicked. Absolutely Astonishing.

So, as I've had this observation simmering in the back of my head, this morning I began to think of contrasting people who had changed the world. I thought of Lehi and Abinadi whom I've mentioned previously. Then I thought about Joseph Smith. I realized that because of his simple prayer, he changed the world. Currently there are over 12 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the world today. Over 12 million lives have been touched by a young farm boy and his simple prayer. Not to mention the millions who were affected and who have since passed away. On a greater scale, I think of Jesus Christ. I think about the impact which He has had upon the world. Wars have been fought for Christianity's sake. Men and women have become better people because of Christ's teachings. Most importantly though, through Christ, we gain hope of a better world. We obtain forgiveness and mercy, and eternal life through Him.

I read the following quote, written in 1917 by Joseph F. Smith which really caused me to pause and consider.

"The voice of the pessimistic agitator is heard in the land today. He is loud in denunciation of existing systems and vigorous in demand for new laws and governmental reforms. Progressive legislation is undoubtedly necessary, and abuse of power, neglect of duty, or other evils in national or local administration, should be promptly corrected; but the crying need of mankind is individual reformation. The thorough purification and effective regulation of society as a system through repressive legislation is a stupendous and well-nigh hopeless undertaking. The natural and rational plan of improvement must deal largely with the education of the society unit, the individual citizen." (Joseph F. Smith, "Unchastity, the Dominant Evil of the Age, " Improvement Era, June 1917, p. 738.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Era February 2009

This morning as I was searching for shoes trying to get my kids out the door, I came across the New Era magazine from February 2009 that had somehow slipped underneath the couch. After I got my kids out the door, one of the articles caught my eye, and instead of just one article, I ended up consuming the magazine from cover to cover.

As I blogged yesterday in regards to the influence which Abinadi had upon the future church, I was interested to read the very first article in this magazine. It is a message titled, "The Value of A Good Name." Similar to Alma's conversion, the author Elder L. Tom Perry talks about the conversion of his ancestor Gustavus Adolphus Perry back around 1830. Elder Perry then goes on to share that his brother spent a year searching, and was amazed that he had found more than 10,000 descendants of this man.

I think of the monumental impact that joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has had upon the descendants of this man. I also think of the impact that Elder L. Tom Perry has had throughout the world as he serves as an apostle of Jesus Christ. We have no idea what kind of an eternal ripple our small daily decisions will have upon the future. This inspires me to try to do better each day.

Additionally, I enjoyed an article titled, "It's not easy" about a young girl whose friends invited her to church. She became converted and later was able to be baptized. She discussed some of the difficulties of being the only member of the church in her family. She states that sometimes people ask her how can she do it, how can she stay so strong in the Church all by herself. I loved her answer.

"Well, the answer is simple. I'm not alone. I have had my struggles since my baptism - it's not easy being the only Church member in my family. But the Lord has promised that He will never leave us alone (John 14:16-18)...Life is hard, and we have all gone through times when we have felt that our strength is gone and our faith is weak. But if we will cling to the One who loves us the most - Heavenly Father - and strengthen our relationship with Him through study and prayer, we will make it through. The Lord promised: "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88).

I love that scripture - it gives me great comfort to know that our Heavenly Father is ever mindful and watchful of us.

Looking forward to a wonderful day.