Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mosiah's Sons and The Second Comforter

In the book, The Second Comforter, Denver Snuffer lays out the difference and need to seek the face of Jesus Christ, personally.  A additional reference has been jumping off the pages at me for the last several days, held in the Book of Mormon.

As the sons of Mosiah were leaving their father and the land of Zarahemla, they are described as taking their "numbers", their bows, arrows, etc. to obtain food as they journeyed towards the Lamanites to preach.  It is assumed that by now they have experienced baptism of water, and of fire, and received the conferral of the Holy Ghost in some form or ordinance.  I cannot imagine them attempting to go preach to a wild and ferocious people without having received such.

Alma 17:9 describes how they fast and pray much that the Lord would give them a "portion of HIS Spirit to go with them, and ABIDE with them".  In verse 10, it says that "the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted.  And they were comforted."

They are receiving Christ through the veil.

This is before Christ was born upon the earth, receiving his mortal or immortal tabernacle.  To have HIS Spirit come and abide with them is also known as "The Second Comforter", which is again promised later by Christ in St. John 14:23, and explained further in D&C 130:3.  Although worded slightly different, there is another reference I recently stumbled across in Moses 5:10, relating to Adam's experience.  "...And again in the flesh I shall see God."

It is to be accomplished in this life, if possible.  The invitation is for now, not just when we die.  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Random Thoughts on Moroni, the Captain

Just a few thoughts about Moroni, the Captain in Alma.

  • He knew and understood the hearts of his enemies.
  • He anticipated the thoughts and intents of their hearts and minds.
  • He prepared to oppose their evil designs.
  • He went above and beyond in preparing for more than the worst he imagined they could inflict upon him.
  • He trusted not in the arm of the flesh.  
  • He was humble enough to seek council with other inspired men, including other Chief Captains.
  • He spread his resources.
  • He was fearless in speaking truth.
  • He understood balance in all things.
  • He was not ignorant to the temporal needs of his men, women and children.
  • He was not haughty or puffed up, despite leading thousands and thousands of men.  If he was, it was not such that those who compiled records, who were prone to observe pride, took any note of it. 
  • He prepared well in advance, sufficient enough to build walls of dirt, walls of timbers (which surely involved cutting down timbers), walls of spears and watchtowers. 
  • He must have had adequate skill, either in defensive war, or in delegation, to sufficiently support training of men to utilize his defensive barriers.  
Yes, he was mortal, and surely had imperfections.  But "if all men had been... and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.  Behold he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God." (Alma 48:17-18)

"Behold, I am Moroni, your chief captain.  I seek not for power, but to pull it down.  I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country.  And thus I close mine epistle." – Alma 60:36

Monday, April 6, 2015

Aminadi and the Writing on the Temple Wall

"I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was the same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God."- Alma 10:2
These are the first words of Amulek to the people he was addressing.  He introduces himself, mentioning his forefathers.  We don't have their record contained in the Book of Mormon thus far.  This is all we have to date.  So...

Abraham + Sarah
Isaac + Rebekah
Jacob + Rachel
Joseph + wife
Manasseh + wife
undetermined amount of generations
Lehi + Sariah
Nephi + wife
undetermined amount of generations
Aminadi + wife
undetermined amount of generations
Ishmael + wife
Giddonah + wife
Amulek + wife

 In one line in the Book of Mormon, we have allusion to a story that involves God writing with his finger, on the wall of the Nephite temple.  What all happened there?  I'll make a few assumptions.  

It appears that those who might have interpreted the writing on the wall of the temple were not able to.  Perhaps they were kings or priests.  Why did God need to write a message on the wall of the temple?  Were people not willing to listen to his words through other means?  Why something so drastic?  Were they in a state of apostasy, and only something which could not be erased would be heard?  Or maybe was this just to liven up the history books, so Amulek had some fun family history to pass on to his children?  

And what of the Nephite temples?  Did they require a recommend to attend?  Must one be of the tribe of Levi to officiate?  Must one be worthy to enter the Nephite temple?  Must one have been of a given age to attend?  Were their rites and ceremonies the same as ours today, or were they more like those of the Jewish customs?  Were women permitted to enter?  To officiate?  Was there anything required to prove worthy to be admitted?  

Who was Aminadi, that he is mentioned by name as being someone so peculiar as to be the one to interpret this writing?  Did he use any special tools to interpret it?  Was it just a gift, that he could read these writings?  Did people believe him?  Did he get persecuted for his abilities or for his actions?  Did he have to go into meditation, or a trance, to interpret it?  Or could he read it like you're reading my writings here?  Did the people believe his interpretation?  Did it cause them to repent?  Or did they largely ignore it?  Or perhaps believe, only to fall into a state of ambivalence after awhile? 

Was Aminadi anyone of importance?  Was he a Nephite king?  Or a Nephite priest, working in the temple?  Or just a temple observer?  Was he worthy to attend the temple?  Who was he?  Was he wealthy or poor?  

We learn in verse 5 that Amulek knew of the "mysteries and marvelous power" of the Lord, but he "did harden [his] heart, for [he] was called many times and [he] would not hear; therefore [he] knew concerning these things, yet [he] would not know" (vs.6).  

This story fascinates me.  Tucked inside just 6 verses, we learn about this mysterious story, and the response of Aminadi's descendant, Amulek.  Could Amulek be much like us?  Largely asleep to the history of our fathers?  Perhaps there were just a few generations in between this grandfather and his grandson.  Let's say 3-4 generations.  It was long enough to get to the point where for much of his life, it appears that Amulek just didn't really care to explore such things.  He was aware it had happened, but it probably was too out of the norm to examine.  In fact, it was so out of the norm, that the people where Amulek lived, in Ammonihah, found his restoring of a similar or even the same message to be so objectionable as to kill those who believed it just a few chapters later.  Death by fire, actually.  

I find the similarities uncanny.  It has been 3-4 generations since we had Joseph Smith.  His descendants of 3-4 generations have all passed on, with the passing of Eldred Smith a little while back.  When I speak of Joseph's teachings to those around me, the typical response is that we do not need dead prophets anymore, as we have living ones.  Because of this, it is easy to ignore the revelations and mysteries that Joseph restored.  I suppose this is fine, as long as the living ones are not as blind as the people of Ammonihah.  I hesitate to wonder if we are. 

The idea that God will not allow men to be led astray does not match up to this scripture.  It actually appears to be quite the opposite, if my assumptions are remotely correct.  God will not force anyone to listen to his words, nor to read the writing on the wall.  It's up to each one if they will harden their heart and ears or soften them.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Passover, Blood Moons, Easter Sunday and Grandma

Not sure where to start this post.  It's the fourth of April.  The night after a blood moon.  The second day of Passover.  The night before Easter Sunday.  This year we've decided to try celebrating Jewish Holy Days, rather than ones with quasi-Christian influences.  Over the years I've heard bits and pieces of people suggesting that Christian holidays are really take-overs by Christians of Pagan ones, so after thinking about it, I settled to reason that their ideas were sound.  That maybe if Mormons believe they are adopted into the House of Israel, maybe I ought to become more familiar with these holy days, and how to celebrate them.  

I started by sharing this video with my husband and mother, both of whom would be influential in making any effort a success.  Without their support, I knew I'd have a high "fail" rate.  

It's short and sweet, and after watching it 3 times I felt I'd have a good idea on how to attempt to do this, even though there are many aspects that are quite nearly impossible for a modern family to achieve.  For example, how does one get the blood of the firstborn, unblemished lamb on their door posts?  I don't even know where I could buy lamb's meat, much less acquire blood.  So this video suggests simply painting on cardboard to simulate the idea.  We did that tonight.  And last night we did a "treasure hunt" for the leavened bread, hid throughout the living room.  My kids loved it so much they asked if we could do it again tonight!  haha!

Since Passover this year supposedly goes from April 3-11, we'll be doing little bits and pieces of the celebration over that time.  Today we participated in a Seder with a Jewish lady in the ward, and although the kids went a bit haywire (and I kinda lost my mind too), it was really enjoyable.  I feel confident I could try this on my own next year.  

Now that the kids are asleep and we're wondering if we ought to fill Easter Baskets, I began thinking of my grandma.  She was the only grandparent I really knew, as the other grandparents had passed either before I was born, or when I was very young.  She was devoutly Christian, in fact probably the most religious person I'd ever known.  If one could be called fanatical, she would be one.  I've heard stories of her taking the bible so literally as to "eat" the word, by tearing out pages of her scripture and eating them.  Gosh I love her.  What I would give to be able to sit down with her and share all the things I've learned over the last few years.  I would love to see her response.  Would she support my findings?  Would she oppose me, and call me a heretic?  She was one who searched for a restoration of God's church, following minister after minister.  She would stand up in church and bear her testimony, rather than walk up to the microphone.  This past Sunday I stayed home after recovering from Strep Throat, and heard that a brother stood up in his pew to bear his testimony, and didn't go up to the stand.  I told my mom that he must've been thinking of Grandma, because that's totally something she would do.  Considering it was Palm Sunday, even more something up her alley.  (As I write this, my husband just walked in with two Easter Lillies, which is exactly what she used to take in to church and set on either side of the pulpit on Palm Sunday.)  In fact, on Palm Sunday or Easter - whichever would be closest to Easter, she would typically go up to the pulpit and sing us a song.  A capella.  And usually she couldn't hear if she was off tune, so we just smiled and hoped she'd sit down now.  But what I would give to sing with her songs of praise.  I think she'd probably be the only one in the house I'd really feel comfortable singing with like that.

Also on Easter Sunday, Grandma would call up the phone operator at 6 am, and announce "He is Risen!"  She would wear her royal blue dress, and on one of her lapels she would pin a large white cross.  Sometimes they were jeweled, and sometimes made with paper and tape.  Easter was surely her favorite holiday.  For her it was truly a Holy Day, and for years it has been one for me too.  I have to wonder if she would approve of our consideration of Passover.  She loved the Jews, and one of the highlights of her life was her trip with my granddad to Jerusalem.  Years before she died she gave me a large picture book that she had as a memoir of her trip, and I still keep it as a cherished reminder of her.  Oh how I wish I could talk to her again, in her prime of her mind and coherence, and see what she makes of all the amazing things going on in the world today.  I have to wonder what she would say.  

Fittingly, her name was Mary.