Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Day We Were Nephites

When I was about six or seven years old, my parents bought me 2 baby chicks for Easter.  They were pretty cute.  My dog, Spike (German Shepherd mix), was about a year old at the time.  Those chicks were around Spike quite a bit, and he ended up raising these chicks for me.  My dad grew up on a farm so he knew how animals would react to one another and he created an environment where the animals were docile with each other.  Strange to me, but it worked out just fine.  Spike herded and played with these chicks as if they were his own.  The chicks grew up to be roosters who had a dog for their mother.  When there were strangers around, Spike would put himself between the stranger and the chickens and bark so the chickens would scatter to the back of the house.  They were very loyal to Spike.  Still strange, I know!  When I read the words of the Savior in 3 Nephi 10, I immediately understood it from my experience with Spike and the chickens.   I'll explain in a minute.  Anyways, today we pretended to be Nephites.......

In 3 Nephi 8-10, we are approaching the arrival of the Savior.  Tempests, earthquakes, fires, whirlwinds and physical upheavals attest to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the Old World while we, as Nephites, are experiencing the movement of the earth in the New World.  I blocked out all light from the outside of my classroom.  I had previously downloaded all sorts of natural disaster sounds on my iPhone (iPod), and plugged it into my lovely speaker dock.  When class started, I turned out the lights and had my class sit and listen to the sounds of a convulsing earth.  It lasted for close to 12 minutes.  As students walked in late, which many do, they were instructed to find a seat, sit quietly, and just listen.  I was trying to give them the "full effect" of being a Nephite during the time of the signs of Christ's death prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite.

We kept the lights off, and discussed what had just happened; the signs testified of Christ's death on the cross in the Old World.  Only faithful Nephites would have recognized those signs and would have had their faith strengthened by them.  We discussed that the storms and earthquakes lasted 3 hours, and then there was total and complete darkness for 3 days, signifying the death of the light of the world. The lights were still off.   Since I also have the Book of Mormon downloaded to my iPhone, I played the portion of 3 Nephi 9 beginning with verses 2-22, which is when the voice of Christ pierces the darkness and proclaims the destruction of many people and cities because of their wickedness.  Still sitting in the dark, we discussed why he destroyed all of the cities mentioned in these verses and that the Law of Moses has been fulfilled.  Instead of burnt offerings, he has asked us to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 

There was silence in the land for many hours (a few minutes for us as Nephites), and then the Lord spoke again.  I played for them 3 Nephi 10:4-7.  
 "O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished youAnd again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.  O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.  But if not, O house of Israel, the places of your dwellings shall become desolate until the time of the fulfilling of the covenant to your fathers."

Chicks who know the voice of their mother will heed the call when it comes.  Loyalty is inbred through nurturing, love, and repetition.  A mother hen accounts for all of her chicks and knows if one is missing.  She will sacrifice her life to protect them.  When danger threatens, she gathers the chicks under her wings for protection.  In a similar way, the Lord loves His people, the House of Israel.  He gave His life for His people and has sought to gather them together so he could protect and nourish them.  On many occasions, however, Israel has chosen to forsake the Lord. 

We are the chicks. We turned on the dim classroom lights and continued to discuss the resurrection and our preparation to His coming.   At this point, we switched from being Nephites to latter-day saints.  We are preparing for His arrival.  He still calls for us to keep His commandments, to keep our covenants, and remain loyal to Him so that when He calls for His elect, we will hear and heed.  There are consequences to our actions if we don't heed.   If we are unrighteous when He calls, we take the chance of not hearing His call.  This is a great message to us to try to be as faithful as we can at all times.  We always want to be ready.

I couldn't find a picture of Spike with the chickens in my scrapbook.  But I found these funny pictures online so I thought I'd post it for your pleasure.  Honestly, if I hadn't seen this same sort of thing with my own eyes in my back yard, I wouldn't believe it either.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What Flattery Will Get You...

Proverbs 20:19 - "He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips."
Proverbs 26:29 - "A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin."

In my wise old age, I have learned how to discern someone who is trying to influence me for my own good from someone who is influencing me to my detriment through flattery.  I do not naturally have this gift for discernment.  I have learned the hard way.  I've been known to be gullible.  I'm getting better at it than I used to be.  I'll share with you one painful example of how I allowed flattery to influence a decision I made. See below....

It pains me to even discuss this car.  I used to own one of these.  It was something I was "smooth-talked" into buying.  I didn't feel or see the flattery coming. "Blah, blah, blah."   I wasn't forced into anything.  This ended up being my nightmare packaged as a bargain beauty.  I won't even discuss how.  Trust me. Flattery lured me into buying this "rotten, red tomato".  Ugh.  It still hurts.

Here's a good attempt at flattery!  Once a salesman came to my door and told me I looked like some movie star he knew.  (Hahahahaha.)  I don't even remember what he was selling because I was so intrigued with his unique door approach.  He probably told all my neighbors they looked like movie stars.  Tammie?  Did he come to your door? 

President Ezra Taft Benson has said, "The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming."  Today we had a great discussion on FLATTERY.   In 3 Nephi 1:29-30, the youth of the church, or the rising generation, were growing older, and "they became for themselves" (selfish), and were being led away by the Zoramites (anti-Christ apostate Nephites) by their lyings, and flattering words to join the Gadianton band.    They began to decrease in their faith and righteousness, leading them to be wicked.   I pointed this out to my class because of the sadness I felt in reading this.  I wanted to see if they felt that this reflected our youth of today.  We talked about ways they have been influenced by flattery and we shared examples of "masked flattery".  Sometimes we aren't aware of the influence of flattery until it's too late. 

In 3 Nephi 3, Lachoneus, the chief governor of the Nephites, has received an epistle from Giddianhi, the leader of the Gadianton Band.  Giddianhi uses what I call "insulting flattery" to get Lachoneus to give up the land, cities, and possessions of the Nephites.  He disguises his "requests" (demands) to sound civil.  In actuality, Giddianhi intends to take what he wants regardless of Lachoneus' decision to keep or retain their possessions. A person who attempts to flatter us, thinking that his flattery will work, really shows how little he thinks of us. Giddianhi tries to make the deals he's proposing sound better than they really are.  Lachoneus, being a "just and brave man" couldn't be frightened by Giddianhi's threats or demands and chooses to fortify the Nephites. This is what he has them do:

1. Cry unto the Lord for strength (spiritually)
2.  Gather together their people, provisions, flocks, substance in one place (unity)
3.  Fortify and protect themselves (temporally) with armies and guards.

It was crucial that the Nephites follow a righteous leader, who wasn't susceptible to the deceivings of flattery.  I was important that they exert their faith in God; the source of their strength.   They also received strength from each other through unity.  To have contention with one another would diminish their strength.  They needed to temporally prepare and work together to help each other.  The Nephites ended up gathering enough provisions to survive off of for 7 years from their preparation.  The Gadianton band eventually was extinguished. 

As latter-day saints, we're fortunate to have the scriptures and living prophets to teach us how to prepare for troubled times.  Everything we discussed today about flattery and how to avoid being influenced by it can come in quite handy.  I want to believe all of the youth in my class can avoid becoming like the youth described in 3 Nephi 1:29-30.  We'll be going through 3 Nephi with a "fine-toothed comb" as a class.  This is important stuff!

This is my sensible set of wheels.  It helped me get over the "sting" of the red MGB. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What One Man Can Do...

This is what we had for breakfast at seminary.  This has nothing to do with my post.  Just information. =)

This is actually what has been on my mind.  We've been studying Helaman 13-15, Samuel the Lamanite prophesying of the signs of the birth and death of Christ. If we were among the believers in Zarahemla, (as I'd like to think I would have been), these signs would have brought us peace and strengthened our faith.  In Helaman 14:15-19, Samuel teaches us why it was necessary for Christ to die.  This was the completion of his earthly mission to bring to pass our resurrection in order to enable us to overcome spiritual death.  Samuel proceeds to give the Nephites the sign of his death, shown in the tumultuous earth and the absence of light, and then he speaks of righteous saints being resurrected.  In verse 25 it reads: "And many graves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many."  We know that Christ was the first to be resurrected, but the Nephites wouldn't have been able to witness His resurrection with their physical eyes.   The resurrection of the righteous on the American continent ministering to their own people would have been a sure testimony to them of His divinity; something they could "see" so they could "know" for themselves.  The fulfillment of Samuel's prophecies, found in the book of 3 Nephi,  testifies of the same.

I also found this very interesting from another part of the Book of Mormon.  In 3 Nephi 23, once the resurrected Christ is among the Nephites, he asks Nephi to bring him the Nephite records.  As he looks at them he notices that the testimony and prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite have not been written.  His Nephite disciples confirm to him that Samuel did prophesy unto them and all of his prophecies had been fulfilled.  The Savior then commands Nephi to have them written.   Nephi obeys, and that record makes up chapters 13-15 of Helaman.  Had the Savior not specifically requested those words to be recorded, we would never have heard of Samuel the Lamanite

This made me think of how it would have changed the Book of Mormon to not have had Samuel's prophecies in it.  Kinda makes you wonder..........The Savior's concern for this record to be written was expressed in 3 Nephi 23:9 : "Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them...."  It was important that the ministry of those resurrected saints was recorded to testify of His resurrection (which preceeded their resurrection) and glorify the name of the Father.  Their resurrection also means that our resurrection would happen as well.  We wouldn't have known that from the Book of Mormon if Samuel's record hadn't been recorded.

  We have no record of where Samuel came from; we only know he was a Lamanite.  We don't know how old he was.  We don't know if he had a family, how he was converted to the gospel, how long he lived or where he went after he fled Zarahemla.  He is never heard from again.  But as a servant of the Lord, following the voice of the Spirit, he served an important purpose.  His testimony was important enough to the Savior for him to command another one of his servants to record it for posterity.  Now Samuel's account, prophecies, and message is read all over the world bringing people unto Christ.  

This is a little of what I taught my class today.  I didn't think they'd catch all of that by just reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover.  So we ate green bagels and talked about Samuel.   Just another day with my cool juniors and seniors at seminary.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Building and Maintaining Our Wall

I don't usually get into too many "artsy-fartsy" lessons because I end up spending way too much time for little result.  But today we did revert back to our elementary school days and played with brown contruction paper.   I gave each student at least 2 rectangular pieces of paper (shaped like "bricks") and asked them to write on each paper something they have learned in church, or something they have read in the scriptures that has helped to build their testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They could pick any principle, doctrine, standard, or commandment they wanted.  


I asked each student to come up and tape their paper "bricks" to the board.   As they did that, I had them share with us what they wrote as they contructed our "testimony wall".  I adapted this activity from another teacher and decided to try it.  When I incorporated this into my lesson, I kept thinking that this activity was too childish for my juniors and seniors.  They're beyond this elementary school stuff.  I thought they might have felt silly doing it.  I pushed through my doubts and continued.  As they brought up their "bricks", I could see who had a testimony of what.  I loved seeing that.  Some of the "bricks" they brought to the board were: God lives, tithing, daily scripture study, the power of the Priesthood, prayer, modesty, the Atonement, service, attending church, the Holy Ghost is real, etc.

In Helaman 13-15, Samuel the Lamanite had the confidence of the Lord behind him to boldly stand on this wall in Zarahemla.   The Spirit of the Lord protected him as he called the Nephites to repentance.   There was nothing the Nephites could throw or shoot at him that would deter him from accomplishing what he was sent to do.  Samuel's testimony was based on the foundation of Christ, making Samuel "steadfast and immovable".  My interactive object lesson was designed to show them what their "testimony wall" consists of and how to maintain it. 

During our discussion, we talked about how each time we attend church and seminary, we layer our learning and add mortar to our structure.  With each "brick" representing a doctrine or principle we learn, and the mortar representing a confirmation from the Holy Ghost of the truthfulness of those things, we build a solid "testimony wall" to stand on.  

I was so happy to see that several people wrote prayer on their "brick".  They have a testimony of prayer; absolutely wonderful.  I used those "bricks" to show how our wall can crumble.  I asked them to imagine how the strength of the wall would be compromised if we just took away one thing.  As I pulled away the prayer "bricks", it left holes in the wall.  This visual alone was worth the elementary school activity.  I validated them in knowing how hard it is to live righteously in a world with so much opposition.  I also told them that it doesn't get any easier.  They must press on doing what they're doing, and don't lose any "bricks".  Once you gain a "brick", it just needs reinforcement.  The doctrines and principles will always be true.  We simply need to continue in our obedience, study and faith to strengthen our mortar.  No one expects them to build their wall in a day.  The layering is done over time.  The idea is that when they are called to stand on their wall, they can do so with confidence in the Lord and his gospel, knowing that it won't crumble beneath them. 

I see so many quiet students in my class who have such valiant testimonies.  With a larger class, we don't get to hear from them.  From now until the end of the seminary year, I really would like to create an atmosphere where we get to hear them bear their testimonies.  I think that would add mortar to many students' walls. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Prophet's Concern

This is my lesson planned for tomorrow; Samuel the Lamanite.  I taught a lesson today that had a similar bold prophet whom the Nephites rejected.  Nephi, the son of Helaman, had just called the wicked Nephites in Zarahemla to repentance.  They are heavily infiltrated with Gadianton Robbers throughout their society.  Their righteous are being persecuted, and their morals and government laws have been corrupted.  Nephi, without concern for his own position, or safety, boldly declares the truth.

Over the last week or two, I have been listening to a podcast that I subscribe to on iTunes.  It is called "Conversations: A Mormon Channel Original"Conversations features interviews with people of interest to the LDS community—General Authorities, Auxiliary leaders, and faithful Latter-day Saints.  The interview I listened to this week was conducted by Sister Sheri Dew interviewing Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Sister Kristen Oaks.  Sister Dew commented that Elder Oaks seemed very bold, clear, and direct, yet kind in how he teaches principles of the gospel.  She asked Elder and Sister Oaks to comment on how Elder Oaks is able to speak with such clarity, boldness, and fearlessness.  

In paraphrasing Sister Oaks' response she said that as an Apostle of the Lord, he's called to speak the TRUTHespecially in these times of great darkness.  It is difficult for people to hear, and it will become more difficult to hear as time goes on.  He, and all the leaders of the Church, are worried for the welfare of souls.  He'll be a spokesman for the Lord because he carries it in his heart.  

Elder Oaks stated that he is most worried to do what is right, and not much worried about pleasing other people (audience, peers, or anyone else).  He's only worried about pleasing the Lord.  "I want to know what He wants me to do, and I don't have much concern about my own position or positioning myself for my own personal advantage."  When he has had opposition to some of the things he's taught, that has not bothered him.  "I'm just concerned about whether I've done what the Lord wants me to do, and done it as well as it can be done by me."

I played a short 5 minute exerpt from this interview for my class today so they could hear Elder Oaks' voice for themselves.  I believe they were impacted by his sincerity and candor.   As we go through the scriptures, we can list the many prophets who have been sent to teach the principles and doctrines of Jesus Christ to the world.  As some of them have called a specific group of people to repentance, many of them have been criticized, persecuted, and even killed because of their testimonies. As men who are called to speak truth, I am grateful for their documented testimonies in the scriptures and I admire their courage.  Our modern day prophets are no different.  They are just as courageous (if not more), and there is no doubt in my mind that they are sent to declare truth to us and the world for the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Since I'm teaching Samuel the Lamanite tomorrow, I had to show you this awesome idea.   Isn't this a great excuse to make Rice Krispy Treats?????  My "Samuel" is going to be a little Playmobil indian instead of this cool figurine, but it'll get the job done.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Warnings From Mormon About Secret Stuff

I saw this movie back in the 70's with my dad.  I started asking my class if they had ever seen this movie, and then stopped myself, thinking they were too young.  (If they hadn't seen "Indiana Jones" movies, then they certainly hadn't seen "The Sting".)  I was wrong; some of them had seen it. As I was deciding on how to teach about the signs people give to one another in a secret society, this movie came to mind. 

Just as a side note, here is another example of a secret society shown on the big screen.  They're everywhere, if you look for them, in dark places, where no light can be found.  (God = light, Satan = dark)  Part of the problem with the Nephites in the Book of Helaman was that they were so preoccupied with division within their nation that they were vulnerable to attack from the Lamanites and secret combinations from within.

In "The Sting", starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw, con artists target a wealthy man from New York.  They create an elaborate, secret sting operation to get this man to trust them enough to bet his money on a false horse race. There is a group of them working together to pull this off, who will eventually get their share of worldly wealth for participating.  Every layer of deceit and lying by these con men lures this man into a false sense of security.  They communicate in public with a rub of the nose which is only known to those within their secret group of cons.  The wealthy man's greed for money and power eats at him to participate in this transaction, which eventually ends up in his loss of his money. 

In Helaman 1, Kishmumen, the murderer of Pahoran II, entered into a covenant with other supporters to overthrow the Nephite government for power and gain.   They agree to keep all of their acts of evil unknown to the public, only communicating through signs. In verse 12 it reads: "Therefore, Kishkumen was not known among the people of Nephi, for he was in disguise at the time that he murdered Pahoran. And Kishkumen and his band, who had covenanted with him, did mingle themselves among the people, in a manner that they all could not be found; but as many as were found were condemned unto death."  The Nephites worked to exterminate these secret bands, later led by Gadianton, but their secrecy kept them virtually undetectable. 

Mormon makes it clear to us at the end of Helaman 2, that "...In the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi."  Clearly, his message to us is to protect ourselves from the evil that surrounds us.  Staying faithful in dark times is our mission.  The Lord offers us a protection from the evil around us through the Spirit.  Today's lesson helped us to open our eyes to the sly way that Satan creeps into/through our society.  It is always easy to point out faults in others rather than ourselves.  With that in mind, we have the Book of Mormon to reveal to us the weaknesses of the Nephites.  We're meant to notice those weaknesses so we don't repeat them.  Those weaknesses exist in us as well, and we would be well to take the warning of this prophet, Mormon. 

We've only scratched the surface in the Book of Helaman in singling out how the Nephites mirror our society.  More tomorrow.......... 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ridding Ourselves of Satan, "City By City"

This is the most dramatic picture of Helaman I've seen.  Isn't it awesome?  My last post was spurred by a map of the Promised Land that I use in class.  I have even shrunk a copy down to fit into my scriptures so I can refer to it often as I read the Book of Mormon.  Well, today as Cody, Chelsea, April, Scott and Brad presented their chapters of Alma 54-58, I had an impression that I shared with them at the end of class.  I love when the Spirit teaches me things "on the spot".   That's one of the most amazing blessings of being a teacher. 

As we were going through the chapters, we came across Helaman's epistle to Captain Moroni.  In his epistle, he shares which Nephite cities the Lamanites have obtained by the shedding of blood.  The cities he mentions are Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni, and Antiparah.  If you look on the map, these are centered around the south west part of the land, next to the south wilderness.   It's as if the adversary and his influences have infiltrated through the main body of Nephites, creating a poison they must rid themselves of possessing.   Helaman's mission is to re-acquire these cities one by one, without the shedding of blood, if possible. 

Helaman's army of the sons of the People of Ammon, have "entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites hand themselves from bondage." (Alma 53:17)  Helaman persuaded their fathers to keep their original oath never to take up their weapons of war.   Helaman shares with Moroni in his epistle, "But I would not suffer them that they should break this covenant which they had made, supposing that God would strengthen us, insomuch that we should not suffer more because of the fulfilling the oath which they had taken." (Alma 56:8)  The covenant the People of Ammon made is what gave Helaman's army their strength.  Their success in cleansing the land of the Lamanites depended on the People of Ammon keeping their oath.  Power in covenants.

As Helaman's epistle continues, he details to Moroni how his army contributes to re-acquiring these cities one by one, city by city.   Each acquisition is done carefully, with deliberation, purposefully, with patience and thoughtful prayer.  The righteousness of the young men in this army contributes to their success.  They were "firm and undaunted", "obeyed to perform every word of command with exactness", they had "exceeding faith in a just God", and expressed gratitude for their success and safety.

This is the part I shared with my class.  If the Lamanites represented the influence of Satan and each city represented a part of you, then could we safely say that these scriptures reveal a pattern for us to follow on how to cleanse ourselves of evil?  If we are struggling with living the standards or we have something in our character that needs to be changed in order to be in line with God's will, it's possible for us to change and repent little by little, and focus on changing one thing at a time.  Each time we take back our agency to conquer Satan, we gain strength.  These young stripling warriors set the example for us of how to tap into the power of the covenants we've made, and the level of commitment to God we must have.  

Covenants + Righteousness = Power/Strength

The Lord blesses me daily for my service as a seminary teacher.   What I wasn't aware of when I accepted this calling was the amount of light and knowledge I would gain on a personal level.  When the Spirit teaches me something, I don't question it.  I just teach.   My "happy moment" is when I see their understanding of what was taught light up in their eyes.  Being a part of that is waaaaaaaaaaaay cool!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Don't Leave Your Strongholds!

My husband Joe is a map guy.  He was a cartographer for the National Guard many years ago.  I've always thought maps were boring.  We've been married for 25 years.  I've been told that when you've been together with the same person for a long time you begin to take on the other person's traits; you start to think alike, dress alike, and in some cases, look alike!  To be honest, I have been startled a few times when we've come out of our closets wearing the same colored clothes!  Well, he's rubbed off on me in many ways. In reading the Book of Mormon this year, I have been enamored with this map!  I have followed the Nephites and Lamanites meticulously through this map since Nephi's ship landed on the Promised Land.  Absolutely fascinating!!! 

This whole week, my class is presenting the war chapters in the Book of Mormon.  One student per chapter.  Today, I was very intrigued with Hailey's chapter, Alma 52.  When you watch the movement on the map, it brings the story to life.  I have a large black and white copy of a map, like the one above, against the chalk board in my class.   I have two colors of sets of magnets; one color for the Nephites and one color for the Lamanites.    I place them on the map according to where we are in the scriptures and they move around as the storyline progresses.

In Alma 52, Moroni has a plan to get the Lamanites to release control of the city of Mulek, a Nephite city that they wanted to reclaim.  The Lamanites had fortified the city well so there was no way Moroni was going to get in, thus Moroni's plan in verse 21........  "And it came to pass that Moroni, having no hopes of meeting them upon fair grounds, therefore, he resolved upon a plan that he might adecoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds."    He commands Teancum to take a small number of his men and march past Mulek so the Lamanites would see them.  The Lamanites pursue them as they travel north towards Bountiful, where Lehi's army is waiting. Meanwhile, back at Mulek, the Lamanites have left the city "exposed and vulnerable", which is when Moroni swoops in and takes possession of it.   The Lamanites left their stronghold.

Teancum continues to lure the Lamanites into the hands of a fresh Nephite army led by Lehi who were left to protect Bountiful.  Moroni is in pursuit of the Lamanites from behind. The Lamanites find themselves surrounded by the Nephite forces on both sides.  Many Nephites and Lamanites are killed in the battle, but most of the Lamanites lay down their weapons of war and concede to be prisoners of the Nephites. 

  As demonstrated in the scriptures, letting go of your stronghold even just once could result in the adversary attacking you when you're least expecting it, making yourself vulnerable to losing control and falling into temptation.  It only takes once.    I asked my class what they considered to be their strongholds.  The first thing I heard was friends.   Next they mentioned listening to uplifing music and lyrics, keeping the law of chastity and not putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation that you can't get out of.  Sticking to the Word of Wisdom, only owning and wearing modest clothing, being loyal to your family,  and keeping away from movies that chase away the SpiritI liked this last comment because it's not enough to stay away from only rated R movies.  There are some PG-13 movies that offend the Spirit, and we have to remember that these are the world's (not the Lord's) ratings on movies. 

The charting of the Lamanites and Nephites on the map that we did today simply illustrated how the Lamanites had their weakness exposed.  Their focus was on power, physical strength, and bringing the Nephites into bondage.   They took action without thinking, and didn't realize that their adversary had designed for them to fall into temptation all along.   The map showed that the Lamanites were surrounded by the adversary who took advantage of them at their weakest moment. Had they stayed back in Mulek within their fortifications, there would have been no way for the Nephites to overtake the city. 

This time through the Book of Mormon has been magical for me (and hopefully for my class).  Because I'm a visual learner (thus all the pretty pictures in my blog), my depth of understanding has increased tremendously through following this map.  I'll never admit to Joe that maps are extremely interesting!  I'm trying to avoid the "I told you so".  The day I do admit that to him will be the day he agrees to sit and knit with me. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hoisting of A Reminder

My youngest daughter, Jordan, plays soccer for the Hawks in Temecula, CA.  We drive her all over the state and pay way too much money for her to play soccer.  I keep waiting for her to get tired of soccer.............nope.  Hasn't happened yet.  There are times when I drive her to tournaments where there are dozens of teams to sift through in order to find her team.   If we're not familiar with the fields, we have to drive around and scour for a familiar face/uniform.  Just a few weekends ago as we were trying to find where we belonged, I saw the Hawks flag go up.  The team manager was at the field they would be playing at and she hoisted the flag on a pole.  She did that to draw the players to the field.  She also did that to make a statement that the Hawks were taking that side of the field as their own.  Now we could see where Jordan belonged.  When we saw the flag, I told her to go to it and she would find her friends there.  Once she saw the flag, she felt comfortable and reassured.  I knew that once she got to the flag, her coach, her friends, and other parents on the team would be there to welcome her.  The Hawks flag symbolizes a commitment she made to this team.  I'm reassured when I see it because I know there are people at that flag who have made a similar commitment as Jordan. 

What young woman doesn't want to marry a "Captain Moroni"?   This man never sleeps (hard-working & diligent), he never gives up, he stands for what he believes in, and he's confident in his faith in Christ. 
"And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;  Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.  Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood." (Alma 48:11-13)

Captain Moroni, in seeing how easily the Nephites forget the Lord, creates a "flag" to unify them through a covenant.  He rents his coat and writes "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children" (Alma 46:12) on it and fastens it upon the end of a pole.   All those who were true believers of Christ, Christians, entered into a covenant that they would never forsake God (keep his commandments, not fall into transgression, or be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ).  They swore this with their lives.  Captain Moroni hoists this Title of Liberty up for all to see on every tower.  It draws the Nephites to it.  Where this flag waves, there they would find people who have made the same covenant/commitment.
Symbols can spur personal righteousness.  I wear my CTR (choose the right) ring quite a bit.   President Uchtdorf taught us that CTR could also stand for "current temple recommend".  Since that talk, I wear my ring every day.  It's a reminder of a commitment, a promise, a covenant.  We need these constant reminders because it's in our nature to forget.  This is why we take the sacrament weekly.  This is why we meet for seminary every day.  The covenants we make are always remembered by the Lord.  We're the ones who need to be reminded daily so that it keeps us humble and focused.

I had to include just one more picture of Captain Moroni. (The artwork I've found on him is spectacular!)  He wins my vote for being the coolest Nephite dude in a uniform.