Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bedtime Stories get a new twist

This past week I read a story in the Engisn magazine (published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) that really had a great idea for bedtime stories.  With four kids, I'm always being asked to share some kind of great story to help the kids fall to sleep, but generally the stories I share are more for company's sake, rather than helping the kids get sleepy.  Usually they involve leprechauns, fairies, princesses, or squirrels. 

Well in the January 2012 issue of the Ensign, there's an article on page 10 titled, "Helping Children Love the Book of Mormon".  The writer, Clyde J. Williams of the Ensign Correlation Department writes this idea, which I just love:
"... I often used scripture stories as bedtime stories.  In later years my daughter shared how influential this was. She said, 'I think stories that were told over and over again became favorites for us.  You sat beside our beds and shared the stories from the scriptures.  We loved them and asked to hear them again and again because even at that age we could feel the spirit of the message they carried and knew the people you were telling us about were valiant and faithful.  We wanted to be like them.'" 
With this in mind, I tried it.  For the past several nights, I've been sharing stories from the Book of Mormon with my oldest son.  Lucky for him, the stories involve cutting off arms, people being struck dead, and promises of missionaries never being killed.  And he totally eats it up.  When I told him about a man trying to kill Ammon (the second Ammon –did you realize there are two different Ammons in the BoM?), while lying on the floor with King Lamoni and his wife, and the man was struck dead as he lifted his sword to kill Ammon, my son's response was, "NO WAY!!!"  He totally thought it was cool.  Not necessarily that someone died, but to witness the power of God in action –the promise of God in action.  Very cool, I'd agree.

(Minerva Teichert's rendition of Ammon defending the king's flocks.)
The added benefit of sharing scripture stories with your kids is that once they're addicted, you have no excuse to not keep up with your own scripture studies.  Personal study every day is a must!

Let me know if you too try this one out on your kids.  I'd definitely recommend it to a friend!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Good Vibrations

Having just read a chapter from Annalee Skarin's Ye Are Gods, I wanted to share a few quotes that really impacted me. 

(Ye Are Gods, by Annalee Skarin)

In chapter 14, titled "The Substance of Eternal Elements", Annalee writes that symbols are used to represent sounds, thoughts, and ideas.  Letters represent sounds, letters make up words, represent thoughts, and thoughts represent ideas and realities.  She wrote an "a-ha" line for me:

"God claims the title of the "A" and the "Z" of the alphabet, or the "Alpha and Omega" which contains all the other letters in between and can express or contain all knowledge." (p.144) 
 Shortly thereafter she explains that someday, we will not only deal with the symbols, but the reality of what they represent.  And that reality is based upon matter, which is vibrations.  Those vibrations are based upon "the force of thought or intelligence that created the thought originally". (p.145)  I love how clearly this was explained.  

Later in the chapter, she discusses the key to maintaining high vibrations:

"Thus the admonition to worship 'God with all one's might, mind and soul and to love one's neighbor as oneself,' and to forgive one's enemies.'  These contain the keys of glory and dominion and light and life and reach beyond earth into the spiritual realm of vibration, holding the very power of reality and creation." (pp.146-147)
Not surprising is that one of the quickest downfalls to these principles are some of the things we mortals battle the most.  Annalee soon discusses the principles of self-righteousness.  One quote really hit a nerve:
"Self-righteousness is always wickedness.  It is critical.  It is bigoted.  It is un-Christlike.  It is cruel.  And surely it has no place in the highest realms of thought.  To feel self-righteous one has to feel superior to his fellow men.  He has to mentally place himself as a judge over them, and view with condemning attitude their weaknesses." (p.147)


This chapter digs deep into a vast array of related topics, but the biggest is that in the Greek version of the Bible, the word "devil" is translated to mean "accuser". (p. 148)  Time and time again, this is a tactic that the "accuser" uses to befall us.  Are there any who are immune to this sin?  Who have not been critical or unjustly accused another at some point in their lives?  

There's a way to overcome this.  Through repentance, which she describes in a new light as "the power to 'recall' the vibrations we have released in error and selfishness, through a burning desire to correct the mistakes.  It is the gift Christ gave to a world, to every human being who desires it..." (p. 152)  What a beautiful, new way to describe repentance.  She also explains the concept of what love really is: 

"Lip prayers have no meaning, send out no vibrations, and are wasted. 

Love is the ruling power in the realms of eternal light.  Love is the most powerful vibration that can possibly be released from a human heart.  Love is allied with joy and happiness and light –thus to love God and our fellowmen fulfills all the laws and truly keeps all the commandments.  It casts out fear.  It casts out hate, jealousy, pride and prejudice.  It conquers darkness, ignorance, discord, disease and holds the keys of eternal happiness here and forever more.  
Learn to control vibrations by controlling thoughts and you will hold the keys of eternal life in your hands." (pp. 158-159)  
What a quest!  To learn how to keep my thoughts on the high-vibrational plane of love!  With God all things are possible. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Noah was a Looker

UPDATE 3/1/15: I had a reader point out that this post is quite rude, being anti-fat and anti-ugly.  I tend to agree with him.  I pondered pulling/editing the post, but I'm going to leave it for discussion's sake, and apologize for my carelessness.  I should've known better.  I don't say this to appease or gain popularity, but the reader's right, and this post is awfully cruel.  I suppose it was meant to point out the stereotypes, but in the next breath was just as stereotypical.  My sincere apologies to anyone who may find this over the top.  I've got a long way to go.  Oh - and for the record, I actually think the pic of Noah below makes him appear quite appealing.  There is lots an artist can do to persuade our impressions, regardless of weight or beauty, isn't there?


I can't get over some days, how quickly and swiftly King Noah led the people of Zeniff to such wickedness.  Typically we see King Noah as ugly, fat and surrounded by luxurious superfluousness.  It's quite a disgusting picture.  With this in mind, the picture viewer naturally thinks, "No way!  I'd never follow a guy like that!"

(Photo taken from a quite hilarious blog post found here.)

This made me wonder, "Why did the people follow him?"  I think the paintings have him all wrong.

My guess is, Noah was not fat or ugly.  The scriptures say he was lazy; perhaps that's what some people equate with fat.  Mosiah 11:2 says "...he did walk after the desires of his own heart.  And he had many wives and concubines." 

What decent woman would go after a guy that looked like that?  And then be coerced to go along with the idea of multiple wives, in a civilization that thus far showed no sign of accepting polygamy?  And then agree to stay with someone who takes on concubines?  Seriously???

No, I'm guessing he was "really really ridiculously good-looking", like Derek Zoolander says.  Male model good-looking, is my guess.

(photo source)

Seriously, to leave hundreds of people to accept that kind of lifestyle, and then to accept a 1/5 tax standard, and then wholly turn to IDOLATRY???  Like, worshipping graven images! (Mosiah 11:7)

About two years ago I read H.B. Moore's book, Abinadi, which profiles a fictional view of King Noah, and later volumes Alma, and Alma the Younger take a more in depth look at the idolatry that went on.  Let me say, that stuff is just wrong!  I can't imagine being led so swiftly into such things, but it seems clear to me that Noah was one convincing dude.  Flattering. 

The reason I felt to write about this, is it made me wonder what, if anything, would lead me to follow someone away from my God.  I say nothing.  But I wonder if the people who followed Noah said the same.  Let's hope it's not also the case with us!