Thursday, December 29, 2011

A "Seer", Revelator, Prophet; plates, breastplates and swords

In Mosiah 8 there is so much amazing information I don't know where to start.  I might just do bullets.

We learn the following:
  • Limhi sent out a party of 43 to try to find help for their current situation.  
  • In their search, they couldn't find Zarahemla, which they were trying to find, but instead found a land covered in bones of man and beast.  
  • It was a land of many waters.  
  • They returned with 24 plates with engravings on them, made of pure gold.  
  • They also brought large breastplates, made of copper and brass
  • and rusted swords, where the hilts had broken off.  
Can you imagine, coming across a land left desolate like this?  They describe it as being covered with ruins of buildings of every kind.  Wow.   

(Beautiful photo at Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA, taken by shaunoboyle from his photoblog, here. I imagine the ruins they found resembled something in a setting like this, for some reason.)
I can just picture Limhi, being so excited to realize who Ammon is once Ammon explains that he's from Zarahemla.  Can you feel his heart just swell with that knowledge?  Limhi asks Ammon if he can translate these plates of gold which they had found.  Can you imagine the anticipation of that answer???  Drumroll, please?

Ammon says he... can't, but then says he knows someone who can!  How excited that must have made Limhi and his people feel!

There is then discussion about Mosiah and how he uses "interpreters", and how it is a "gift" from God.
  • They were a tool used to translate the records.
  • No man can look in them except he be commanded.
  • ...lest he should look for that he ought not and perish.
  • Whoever is commanded to look in them is called a "seer". (Mosiah 8:13)
Then there's a description about what a "seer" is.
  • A seer is greater than a prophet.
  • A seer is both a revelator and a prophet.  
  • "...a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can..."
  • "yet a man may have great power given him from God." (Mosiah 8:16)
 Of course, after this,
"the king rejoiced exceedingly, and gave thanks to God, saying: Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates, and these interpreters were doubtless prepared for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries to the children of men.  O how marvelous are the works of the Lord"! (Mosiah 8:19-20)
I can only imagine how excited he was!  I can't imagine how long he waited to hear such things.  Could you imagine, having such things in your possession, and not being able to interpret them?  I think I'd go crazy.  What a blessing, to have been able to finally find a way to get some answers!


Ammon, descendant of Zarahelma

It's been fascinating to read the Book of Mormon in a relatively fast manner.  It's allowed me to grasp things through different glasses.  There's a section in Mosiah and into Alma where there's a bit of a "flashback", where so many different stories are told quite quickly, and it's often been hard for me to keep them straight.  I hope to record on here some notes to keep the stories a bit more clear in my mind.

One thing I caught yesterday in Mosiah 7:3 was the description about Ammon.  Often when we take lazy perspectives on the Book of Mormon, we just assume that most of the main characters are descendants of Lehi, and then Nephi as well.  They're all lumped into the label "Nephites" for general reference.

In regards to Ammon, we learn that he is "a descendant of Zarahemla" –a Mulekite.  For the reference chain on this, read Mosiah 7:3, Omni 1:14-15, and Mosiah 25:2.  (If you click on Mos. 7:3, there's a hyperlink that'll lead you to Omni, then to Mosiah.  Cool!)  That means he was a descendant of Mulek, son of Zedekiah, king of Judah.  He was not of the descent of the family of Lehi. 

Ammon and about 40 others, to include his three brothers, were sent to find the people of Zeniff, who left Zarahemla about 79 years prior to settle in the land of Lehi-Nephi.  When they encountered Limhi and his guards, they (Ammon & bros.) were taken, bound, and imprisoned for several days. 

(The Lamanite King before King Limhi, by Minerva Teichert)

Upon giving an opportunity to speak with Limhi again, they all basically get reintroduced.  We learn of Limhi's background, but *thus far* there is nothing spoken to say if he's a Nephite or Mulekite.  I'm excited to read the account that was kept from Zeniff down to Limhi, and learn more about what went on! 


Friday, December 23, 2011

A Word about Mormon

I found something new while reading "The Words of Mormon" a few days ago.  He writes,

"...I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi.  And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ..." (Words of Mormon 1:3-4, underline added)
(photo source)
It seems clear to me, that Mormon, who was abridging hundreds, if not thousands of plates, had searched out these few books, ranging from the words of Nephi, up through where we read about Benjamin's people.  These are just a few short pages, but he found them invaluable enough to seek out among hundreds, and to include them for our use and knowledge.  There must be some pretty precious thoughts included here.

Thank you, Mormon!!!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

6 Month Challenge - Spiritual Gifts

Part of my 6 month challenge included an assignment, to pick a topic to look out for in my reading.  I was to write it inside the cover of a new copy of The Book of Mormon, and then highlight any verses where the topic comes up.  Here's what's inside my cover:

Gifts of the Spirit
I find it interesting lately, how many people are leery of anyone professing to have gifts of the Spirit.  But they are talked about ALL the time in the scriptures.  This challenge is truly evidence of that for me, as I'm marking all these verses in blue colored pencil.  I found one again in Omni, a very seldomly quoted book, where many generations had opportunity to pen a few verses.  Here is Amaleki speaking:

"...I shall deliver up these plates unto [king Benjamin], exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil."  (Omni 1:25, italics added)

(Sorry, I don't have source info for this.  If you know it, please let me know so I can cite {or get permission!;}.  So beautiful!)
It seems a lot of people these days are hesitant to believe anything that is extraordinary.  Most of us use cell phones, wireless internet, fly in airplanes, and do or use many things that work by unseen means, but when we hear of someone who can prophesy or do things we don't understand, we often automatically chalk it up to being evil –of the devil.  Amaleki cautions us to observe whether or not it is "good".  For he wants us to believe in these good, marvelous gifts.  Is that not what Christ did?  The most extraordinary, wonderful miracle for all of us?  

We are to continue to believe.  And more than that –to know, and experience the blessings of these things. 


Witnessing the Writing

Omni 1:9 - "Now I, Chemish, write what few things I write, in the same book with my brother; for behold, I saw the last which he wrote, that he wrote it with his own hand; and he wrote it in the day that he delivered them unto me.  And after this manner we keep the records, for it is according to the commandments of our fathers.  And I make an end." 
A few things struck me about this verse.  

First was the fact that Chemish points out that this is the manner that they keep their records, and it's according to the commandments of their fathers to do it a certain way.   
  1. He had to witness the writing.
  2. It was physically written by the author doing the "speaking".
  3. The writing was finished by the author on the day it was delivered to the next author, who was acting as witness.
It never occurred to me that due to these points, the second fact is pertinent: the Law of Witnesses.  Chemish points out that this was a commandment of the fathers, meaning each writer in the Book of Mormon must do it this way.  There must be at least two witnesses to what was being written.  One was the writer, and the second was the soon-to-be receiver of the plates, and possibly those in his company.  And we get to be the third, upon receiving the words from them.  


Thursday, December 15, 2011


In the last little while I've had two very big situations happen, and comparing the two, I've really gotten a good look at how forgiveness works, and doesn't.

One instance I erred against someone.  I sought forgiveness, and was told I was forgiven, and then the relationships connected to this person were all severed.  I was told I wasn't remorseful enough; I didn't realize the magnitude of my actions, and until I did, and until I did x, y, and z, "working" to obtain salvation in their eyes, I was cut out of the circles.

The second instance involved a major blowout.  Someone had suppressed their feelings toward me, to the point where one night it all exploded.  It was unnerving, revealing, and raw for all involved.  I took a drive to get a breather, returned home, and faced a sincere and true apology from this person.  And then I frankly forgave, having the previous situation above to thank.  Being told you're forgiven and then denied love and friendship by a Christian is sickening.  

Forgiveness is a funny thing.  We are told to forgive "seventy times seven".  But do we?  Do we impose stipulations?  Justice?  Who are we to play God, and pose the judge in whether or not someone has "suffered enough" for their sins?

We're not.

Jacob 5 and 6 illustrate to me, once again, how MERCIFUL God is.  Over and over in my life I've been taught this, but funny enough, when someone I regarded as a spiritual mentor told me that I'm not repentant enough, I thought God had damned me.  That I was "cast out" from his presence.

That's absolutely NOT how God works.

Jacob 5 illustrates just what great lengths our Heavenly Father and Savior will go to, to allow us to come to them.  To forgive us outright.  To give us a second chance.  And a third.  And a fiftieth.  And a 490th.  God nourishes.  Prunes, digs, dungs, again and again and again.  He feeds us, prunes out sins and imperfections, adds nourishment when our soil runs dry or decrepit.  And even then, when we become weak, "he stretches forth his hands" (Jacob 6:4).  No one, not even "spiritual" mentors or religious leaders, can take that away from you. 

(photo source)

So this Christmas season, my wish for you is forgiveness.  If you believe God to be a harsh God, I hope you find the comfort of his outstretched hands, regardless of what anyone imposes upon you for judgment.  I hope your friends and loved ones forgive you, and that you frankly forgive them, even if they haven't asked for forgiveness.  It's not worth the pain, to act as judge for someone else, including yourself.  Let God do that.  I hope you find His mercy, which no man can truly offer or deny.  He truly LOVES you, and will FORGIVE.  We need just to take His hands.

Merry Christmas!


Last week on my other blog I did a book review for a woman named Connie Sokol.  In her book, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, she shared a quote that has really changed my perspective on how I fill my time.  It's in chapter six, called "Get Organized!" 

"Sister Susa Young Gates... once asked her father [Brigham Young] how it would ever be possible to accomplish the great amount of temple work that must be done, if all are given a full opportunity for exaltation.  He told her there would be many inventions of labor-saving devices, so that our daily duties could be performed in a short time, leaving us more and more time for temple work.  The inventions have come, and are still coming, but many simply divert the time gained to other channels, and not for the purpose intended by the Lord."  (-taken from CS's FFF, p.85, quoting Andrew C. Skinner, Temple Worship: 20 Truths That Will Bless Your Life (SLC: Deseret Book, 2007), p.145)  
(photo source)
Leaves me speechless really.  

Wellllll, except to say that I can't get on my own case for spending hours on Nerdbook games, but I have spent hours on Nerdbook in the last few years that really could have been better spent doing more important things.  Yes, there is a time and a place, a season, etc.  But how many excuses do we give this line to, when really there ARE better priorities.  Much better uses of our time.  

I heard a lady once in church say that it really has nothing to do about time.  We have plenty of time to mess around with movies, gadgets, shopping, etc., but omitting the spiritual aspect of our lives, especially temple service, really says we just don't think it's a priority.  Ouch.  The guilty taketh the truth to be hard. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Moving Trees

Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to be able to tell a mountain to move, and it would?  I never thought about it much, besides the idea that it's referred to in the scriptures, and it seemed like a feat I would likely never achieve in this life.

But Jacob says it's possible.  And not only possible, he says that "we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea." (Jacob 4:6)  That doesn't mean that he could if he wanted to.  It means that he did, because he says "we truly can" (italics added).  As if it happened on more than one occasion.

(photo source)
What kinds of faith would you need to have, to move a tree like this, roots and all, by power-filled words?

What kinds of life changes would need to get you there?  Is it worth it?  Since it's possible, wouldn't it be worth it to try?  To investigate the possibility?

Pretty dang cool to me.  Thanks Brother Jacob.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Doctrine of Christ

Just read 2 Nephi 31-33.  The last verse in chapter 31 says,

"And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father..."
The whole chapter seems to give a sequence of events.  I'll sum them up here, and give Jen's translation after each verse.
  1. "The Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding." (vs. 3) -- Don't worry if you speak southern, Australian, or ebonics.  God knows how to speak to you, and will give you light to understand his doctrine.
  2.  "...if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water... how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!" (vs.5) -- We need to follow his example and be baptized by water, and immersion (implied).
  3. "...he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments." (vs.7) -- He didn't question why he had to get in a river and be immersed to keep God's commandments.  He illustrated obedience.
  4. "...after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove" and "then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost" (vs.8, 13) -- How do you expound upon that?
  5. "...then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel." (vs.13) -- Do any of us truly believe this is possible?  Why don't we believe this?  Can we do this on a daily basis, once we receive this purifying gift?  If our answer is no, why not???
Following this, Nephi gives the "Now what?" for after one is baptized.  Is all done?  "For ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save." (vs.19)  You've showed God you're interested, willing, and obedient.  Now what?  Nephi tells us: "Wherefore, ye must
  1. press forward with a steadfastness in Christ
  2. having a perfect brightness of hope
  3. and a love of God and of all men.
  4. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ,
  5. and endure to the end, 
  6. behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
I love Nephi's plainness.  In the next chapter he continues the doctrine.  
"...again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all the things what ye should do." (vs.5) -- The Holy Ghost is a "show-er".  He shows us what we should do.  I like how if we put "show-er" together it makes the word "shower".  More on this idea later.  
Nephi finishes the discussion on the "doctrine" by saying, 
"Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh.  And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do."  
A few thoughts to wrap this post up.  
  1. Baptism by water symbolic, but done physically.  There are physical effects, emotional effects, and spiritual effects.
  2. Baptism of fire is symbolic, and done by the laying on of hands.  It is a physical action, which produces physical effects, emotional effects, and spiritual effects.  
  3. Nephi suggests that after we follow this doctrine, Christ shall manifest himself unto you "in the flesh".  This promise is also stated in St. John, among other places.  Nephi prophecied that Christ would not come in the flesh until 600 years after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem.  Clearly Nephi was not re-nigging on that prophecy.  So what does he mean, that Christ will manifest himself unto you in the flesh?  Something to chew on. :)

Thou Shalt Write...

2 Nephi 29:11 reads...

"For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written." 
 I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty much like a clear cut commandment to me!  Sounds like I need to be a little more diligent at writing the things I learn of God.  Very cool!


Friday, December 2, 2011

2 Nephi 25, Take 1

My Bishopric gave our ward (congregation) a challenge a few weeks ago, which was to read The Book of Mormon in 6 months or less.  I'm giving it a go.  

Currently, I'm on p. 98, which is 2 Nephi 25.  In the previous chapters, Nephi had recounted the prophecies of Isaiah, and in chapter 25, he decided to explain a little why he did that.  He says that his people, who have now been out of Jerusalem for nearly 40 years, don't know much of the Jews.  He chose not to teach them such things, because of the Jews' wickedness at the time.  He says that the people of the "last days" (vs. 8) will understand these prophecies, and will "know of a surety, at the times when they shall come to pass" (vs.7).  I find this fascinating.

I still read the prophecies of Isaiah, and have no idea what they're talking about, except a few select verses.  So many references to names and places are intimidating, but Nephi says in vs. 5, "I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews."  Wow.  So it looks like I need to find a faithful Jewish follower to more greatly understand these prophecies.

Any faithful Jews out there who want to help me understand Isaiah?


A Warm Welcome!

I'm trying a new venture here, thanks to some inspiration I had while doing my daily studies.  This is a new blog, for a new day.

In the next few weeks, my family is going to be undertaking some major shifts.  We'll be moving 2000 miles, back to where my roots are.  And I say where my roots are, not because I was born and raised there, but because my heart belongs there, insofar as I can understand it.  I don't know how to explain that, but it's truer than true.

As I'm getting ready to begin this new journey, it seems to mirror what's going on in my spiritual life.  Not a major move, but I feel to blog about major shifts coming into my psyche, my spirit, my knowing.  I've been writing at JenHeadJen for some time now, focusing on book and product reviews, and for some time now, I haven't been working in that genre.  I feel it's time for a change; a "major shift".  I feel it's time to share with anyone who would like to join me in this journey.  I don't know who you'll end up being, but I hope you'll enjoy the ride.

While this blog might evolve over time, for the time being my intention is for it to be a place to record insights I gain from day to day, that I hope might possibly help inspire some of my friends who climb on the van with me.  I also hope that some of you will be willing to participate in sharing your journey and advancement, which will perhaps allow each of us to build upon each other's growth by sharing what we learn along the way.  Please feel free to comment, to share your own perspectives, or just enjoy reading.  If you'd like to share a post, please email me the content at jenheadjen[at]gmail[dot]com.

God bless, and happy trails!