Mosiah 8

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 8.

Now that King Limhi has urged his people to return to the covenant, he brings Ammon the prophet forward to teach the people (verses 1-2).

Ammon tells the story of his adventures, the story of their people, and also the things which King Benjamin had taught the people ” so that they might understand all the words which he spake” (verse 3).

When the teaching was done, King Limhi sent all the people home to their own families to discuss and ponder and reflect (verse 4).

Then he brings the records of his people for Ammon to read (verse 5).   King Limhi also asked Ammon if he can interpret languages, and Ammon tells him that he cannot (verse 6).

King Limhi says that the reason he is asking is because he sent out a group of people to try and find the land of Zarahemla again, so that they could ask for help because of the bondage forced upon them by the Lamanites (verse 7).   But this group got lost, and while they were lost, “discovered a land which was covered with bones… and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind…” (verse 8).   To prove this, the group had brought back some records of that “ruined” people, and some of their battle gear (verses 9-10).

These records and the markings on the battle gear are in a language no one can translate, “therefore I said unto thee: Canst thou translate?” (verse 11).   So, King Limhi asks Ammon if – since Ammon himself cannot translate – if Ammon knows anyone who can because these records might “give us a knowledge of a remnant of the people who have been destroyed… or, perhaps, they will give us a knowledge of this very people… (and) the cause of their destruction” (verse 12).

But Ammon still has good news for King Limhi!  Ammon may not be able to translate the records, but he knows someone who can!

“… for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God…” (verse 13).

The person with this gift, Ammon says, is called a “seer” (verse 13).

And “a seer is greater than a prophet” (verse 15).

And “a seer is a revelator and a prophet also”, and this gift is “given him from God” (verse 16).

“But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known” (verse 17).

So, Ammon teaches, this ability is a gift from God and by the power of God, for the benefit of “his fellow beings” (verse 17).

And it is the king of Zarahemla who has that “high gift from God”, Ammon tells King Limhi (verse 14).

This good news made the king rejoice “exceedingly, and (he) gave thanks to God” for the “unfolding (of) all such mysteries” (verse 19).

“O how marvelous are the works of the Lord…” (verse 20).

Yes we, His people, do not understand because we do not seek wisdom and do not want Him to rule over us (verse 20).  This makes us like “a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured…” (verse 21).

Mosiah 7

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 7.

We are now about a hundred and twenty years before the time of Christ, and now it’s been three years since Mosiah inherited the kingdom.

Though they are being a peaceful people, they tease Mosiah about the group “who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi” because no one has heard from them since (verse 1).  So Mosiah approves a group of guys to go check it out (verse 2), and the leader of the group is Ammon (verse 3).

Since this group doesn’t know where the missing people are, they “wandered many days in the wilderness” (verse 4).  After forty days, they pitched their tents near a hill to send out small groups to search the area.

The number forty always signifies a spiritual rebirth, like a new spiritual chapter in the story being told or in the lives being described.  It represents a sufficient amount of time to complete a work, and always is a signal something new is about to happen or some work is completed or some new beginning is unfolding.  “Forty days” means pay attention!  Something exciting is about to happen!

Ammon, the leader of the group, took three of his brethren (very Presidency-like, you see?) and “they went down into the land of Nephi” (verse 6).

They found the King of the land of Nephi, and were surrounded by his guards.  They were bound up and put in prison (verse 7).  After they had “been in prison two days, they were again brought before the king… commanded that they should answer the questions which he should ask them” (verse 8).

The King tells them his name is Limhi, the son of Noah, who left Zarahemla (where Mosiah reigns and this search party lives) to inherit the land of Nephi (verse 9).   Being king, he wants to know “whereby ye were so bold as to come near the walls of the city” when even the king himself was outside the gate with his guards (verse 10).  He tells Ammon that this is the only reason Ammon and his buddies are still alive, because king Limhi wants to know the answer (verse 11).

Ammon showed great respect, bowing before the king, and then answered:

“I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness;” (verse 12).  Ammon goes to tell king Limhi that they are from Zarahemla, and that they came in here in search of Limhi’s people (verse 13).

Limhi is “exceedingly glad, and said: Now, I know of a surety that my brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla are yet alive.  And now, I will rejoice; and on the morrow I will cause that my people shall rejoice also” (verse 14).

All this time, just as Mosiah’s people wondered what ever happened to Limhi’s people, so Limhi’s people have been wondering if Mosiah’s people were okay!  This is a joyous reunion.

But not all the news is good.

Limhi explains that his people “are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne” (verse 15).  He pleads for help, saying they would rather be indebted to King Mosiah than to be in bondage under the Lamanites.

Then king Limhi invites the rest of Ammon’s search party to come and “eat, and drink, and rest themselves from the labors of their journey; for they had suffered many things; they had suffered hunger, thirst, and fatigue” (verse 16).

The next day, king Limhi keeps his promise to proclaim to the people what has happened, inviting them to gather themselves to the temple so that he can speak to them all (verse 17).

When the people gathered, King Limhi spoke to them, saying, “O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain…” (verse 18).

He reminds them it won’t be easy, and “there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made”.

But they are not alone!  “… lift up your heads and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob…” (verse 19).  King Limhi is calling upon the people to remember their covenants!  He wants them to remember that God is a covenant God, and that God will do what He has promised.  He also reminds them God has the power to deliver them:  “and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them” (verse 19).

God will keep His promises!  God is able to deliver them!

No wonder he told the people to be comforted, and to rejoice!

He reminds them that this same covenant God who has the power to keep His promises and deliver His people is also the same God which they worship.

“… that same God has brought our fathers (Lehi!) out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now” (verse 20).

This is a covenant God keep His promises.

But as a covenant people, we must also keep our promises.

And when we do not, we are delivered into bondage because we have removed ourselves from the deliverance He is trying to accomplish.   This is what Limhi reminds his people when he says, “and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage” (verse 20).

In this way, king Limhi reviews the history of the people, and how they went into bondage because of being deceived and entering into bad treaties (like unhealthy friendships) (verse 21).  Because of these bad moves, the people found themselves in financial and political and physical bondage (verse 22), and it is “grievous to be bourne” (verse 22).

“And is not this, our affliction, great?  Now behold, how great reason we have to mourn” (verse 23).

This is part of repentance, to review what went wrong and how it affected you and those around you.  Collectively, King Limhi and his people are repenting and turning back to the Lord after being a covenant people that did not behave like a covenant people, even when it cost the lives of those they loved (verse 24).

“For if this people had not fallen into transgression, the Lord would not have suffered that this great evil should come upon them.  But behold, they would not hearken unto his words; but there arose contentions among them…” (verse 25).  These contentions became so bad that not only did they refuse to listen to the Prophet (which the Lord always sends to help people out of bondage), but they even killed him when he tried to prophesy of Christ (verse 26).

King Limhi reminds them of what the Prophet had tried to teach them:

“… that Christ was the God, the Father of all things, and that he should take upon him the image of man, and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning… in other words, that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth” (verse 27).

Except instead of heeding these words, or listening to and obeying the Prophet, the people killed him, “which brought down the wrath of God upon them” (verse 28).

“Therefore, who wondereth that they are in bondage, and that they are smitten with sore afflictions?” (verse 28).

This is the accepting-consequences part of repentance.   It is justice being demanded.

“For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them” (verse 29).

This is the dishing out of our own consequences.

Anytime we feel like we are banging our head on the wall, can’t make progress, think other people are crazy-drama and not helping, or feel confused or irritated or frustrated or stuck or embittered or angry, that is the clue.  That’s when it is time to stop blaming other people and accept our own responsibility for the consequences we chose.  We must turn to the Lord, and repent, and work it out.

We get what we give.

If we are bitter and angry, we are going to receive hurt feelings and un-appreciation.

If we are hateful and mean, we are going to receive drama and isolation.

If we make bad choices, we are going to get those consequences.

“If my people shall sow filthiness, they shall reap the chaff… and the effect thereon is poison” (verse 30).

“If my people shall sow filthiness, they shall reap… immediate destruction” (verse 31).

Every single choice we make, every single interaction we have, every thing we think, say, or do is either CREATING or DESTROYING.  There is no in between.  It’s a process or a continuum of each, but it is either one or the other.

If you are not nourishing and nurturing those you love then you are destroying those relationships.

If we are not doing what He says, if we are not living as He lived, if we are not loving unconditionally, if we are not living worthy of the conditions for promised blessings, then we are leaving Him instead of drawing closer.   We are missing out.

Those are the consequences: “and ye are smitten and afflicted” (verse 32).

But there is hope and joy in CREATING instead of destroying.  There is hope and joy and peace in choosing the Savior, and demonstrating that choice in every little thing we do in each moment of the day.

“But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind… if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage” (verse 33).

He will.

He promised.

 

I Hate Cancer, Especially on Thursdays

My day started out normally enough.

I slept well, woke gently, and floated between dreams and waking until I was ready to get up.

I ran my 5k, completing week seven before collapsing onto the stretching mat to recover.  My 5k’s are now five-zies-three-zies, meaning I run five minutes then walk three, run five, walk three, etc., for thirty minutes.   The first two sets of five minutes are easy now, which feels better and feels good.  The last two sets of five minutes remind me I am not a runner and that running could kill me.

Except I do love it, and feel so much better after it.  Slowly, my body that has had so many battles the last few years is – slowly – coming back, coming alive, getting strong.

I went to work, and I love my work, so that’s always a good day even when it makes my brain hurt from research or my heart hurt from people working hard (or not working hard) to heal.

I had a mapping session today!  I had to get an ear mold for my cochlear implant processor on the right side.  Unlike hearing aids, processors don’t “plug” into the ear.  They just hook on, because the sound goes through the brain (via the magnet on the back of my head) not through the ear.  With the magnet, this is normally enough to keep it on my head – but not for running or dancing.  So I get ear molds that hook onto the processor, like hearing aids, except that they don’t “plug up” my ears, just fit in at the edges to help keep it in place.   So we got that done.

Then we did a hearing test, to see how I have been hearing with my latest map.

A “map”, of course, is a measure of what the computer part of my cochlear implant is picking up.  So it “maps” the frequencies and volume settings, to see how big of a window for each frequency I am hearing.  We adjust these settings, so that the sounds are balanced and I pick up the right frequencies and all that.  Because the computers can only pick up a small range, it has to compress normal ranges of sound into what I hear (which is why initially it sounds so awful, then robotic, then my brain leans to interpret it correctly).  But also because of that compression, the computers are super sensitive to changes in loudness.  So not only is it trying to pick up different kinds of sounds, but also balance the loudness of sounds.

So, basically, a mapping session adjusts the level of stimulation in each electrode, so that I can hear soft sounds well and comfortably tolerate loud sounds.  This is done for each of the 32 electrodes on each side, which makes it a tedious process but is still a miracle to me.

Anyway, my last map was the one I have loved the most since having surgery.  However, I could not always hear my mother, and I could not hear little kids, and I was missing parts of words.  So we tested, and my volume was low enough that some sounds of words (like “s”, for example) were being completely missed or dropped.  I wasn’t hearing at those decibels, and so just missing out.

So then we did a word test, where different sentences are read and I have to repeat them.  I only got 68 of 100 words correct, which is lower than my last score of 70 something.  So frustrating!  But it explains a lot of my stress and frustration the last few months.

Because it is very hard work to hear, and takes so much energy, I just have to do my best and don’t always know that the sound should be better.  It just is, and is so much better than before, so I don’t always realize I am missing so much.

And, because it is such a miracle, people around me take it for granted, too, and forget that I can’t hear everything (I only can hear where my face is pointing because of the microphone settings I use), that I can’t hear two sounds at once (both sounds just go to static), and that I am having to think about what I hear – so there is a slight but enough-of-a delay to leave me behind when people talk to fast.

That, along with language and culture differences, really make communication very hard for me.  It is so much better, yes.  Obviously.  And sound is much more accessible, which was what I wanted.  So it is a miracle, and I am very happy with them.  But I do not hear everything – not just because I cannot, but because the computers on my head are only computers, and limited to what they can pick up.  And out of what they do pick up, only about 68% is making sense to me.  So that’s a big gap, and when emotions are high or people are impatient, it leaves me frustrated and confused – and hurt, when people are oppressive about it instead of patient.

When I say, “I don’t understand” and try to clarify, I really am asking for help – not trying to start drama or fight or argue.  I really just don’t understand, and really do just need help.  So you don’t have to take it personally, and I will ever be grateful for your patience.

But mostly, it is a miracle, and I love it.

I have two friends that I can hear their voices perfectly, and I grieve because I never get to be around them, and I crave that perfect sound.  I miss understanding so easily, so well, and the enjoying interaction with another person almost without effort.  I hope as I continue to practice and learn, other sounds will smooth out in a similar way.

Anyway, because I was missing frequencies, we opened those higher frequencies back up.  We had them turned way down because sounds like dishes, water, and other high frequencies were so painful they made me sick or pass out.  High frequencies are not pretty sounds anyway, so it’s hard to make them sound normal or comfortable.  But if I want to be able to hear high sounds, like understanding the voices of little children, then I have to get enough of the stimulation to try – even if we keep the volume of it down.

See? It gets complicated!   HERE is a cool article about mappings.

So we turned my high frequencies back up, but just a tiny bit.  We are going to try to teach me slowly.  We also turned up the general volume on all frequencies for both “ears” up on both sides.   So I am getting more sound than I have ever had before!   It’s amazing!

Also, it’s loud.  I am not dizzy or sick like I have been after some mappings, so we are still in the normal range.  But it does make me want to rip the processors off my head and enjoy the silence again.  Except I have to endure it to learn, so here we go another round.

I also got my remote fixed so that it will quit beeping in meetings and church!

It as quite the mapping session, and we got a lot done!  Brooke is my hero.

My friend Stephanie went with me, and then we went to eat after.  I got the most amazing salad, and I think I am still full of salad.  Also, I love salad.  I mean really, seriously, for realz I love salad.  The only thing better than a good salad is going out to eat with friends, and having a side of girl talk with my salad.  Stephanie has been a good friend to me since my first day at Brookhollow, all the way through my baptism, and helped with my surgeries.  We have worked together at TCC, and I am glad when she has summers off so that we can meet for lunches frequently and often, with Temple dates in between.  I am glad of her, enjoy our story swapping, and also I love salad.

On the way home from my salad, my brother called.  My father is back in the hospital.  That’s what brings us back to cancer.

My uncle died of cancer.

My grandmother died of cancer.

My mother had ovarian cancer, and is an amazing miracle of a survivor.

That’s what saved my whacky ovaries, was her knowledge about early testing.

And now, my father has cancer.  And it’s back.  Bad.

So that’s how I got to Arkansas tonight, on duty with my aunt until morning when my step-mother and uncle come back for a shift of sitting with my dad.   It’s been good, though, because we have talked and chatted and laughed.  We have done some singing, told some jokes, and talked about everything and anything.  I got to tell him about my job interview next week, about how I built my house, about my school (he said he was proud of me for my education), and about my work.  We have shared memories from growing up, laughed about adventures we have had, and talked about all kinds of life-ness.  It has been amazing.  I love him so much, and we have come so far, and I am grateful for each and every moment – truly, indeed.

Except for the cancer part.

I am sick of cancer.  I hate it.  Bleh.

But if there is anything our family has learned, is that cancer is best fought together instead of alone.

My mom taught me that.  She is my cancer hero, a true warrior.

So here I am, in a dark hospital room, with the glow of my laptop screen burning my eyes.  There is a view of giant crosses outside the window, where I can overlook my old private practice office where I worked when I lived here.  Little cars move their headlights through the roads below, almost like an airport.

My aunt is playing cards, and my dad is telling old stories, and I am typing.

It’s as normal as anything, picking up where we left off, and good time chillaxing with the family.

Except for the cancer part.

Except that we’re sitting in a hospital room.

But – what is also true – is that here we are together, a united miracle, a postcard of at-one-ment.

And that’s a good thing.

The most important thing.

The most important thing of all.

Mosiah 6

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 6.

Now that he has finished his big speech, King Benjamin decided to take a census of the people who entered the covenant (verse 1).

“And it came to pass that there was not one soul… but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ” (verse 2).

All the people chose the covenant!

King Benjamin testified, and the people responded by acting in faith.

But entering into a covenant is not a done deal.   It’s a process.

The Savior’s love is unconditional, but the relationship with Him is conditional upon our participation in it.

King Benjamin knew it would be good and wise to help the people remember to participate in this process, to remember to keep their covenants.  So he “appointed priests to teach the people, that thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God, and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made…” (verse 3).

In this way, the people were organized by who their teachers were, and by their own families (verse 3).

This is home teaching!

Once the people were organized by families and in regards to their spiritual care, King Benjamin  passed the kingdom down to his son, Mosiah (verse 4).  King Benjamin lived three more years before passing away in the peaceful land of the covenant people (verse 5).

Mosiah followed his father’s instruction, by remaining true to the covenant.  He “did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him” (verse 6).

Like his father, he worked hard and taught his people to work hard.  Instead of taxing them to provide for himself, he taught self-reliance by example.

“And King Mosiah did cause his people that they should till the earth.  And he also, himself, did till the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people, that he might do according to that which his father had done in all thing” (verse 7).

The last sentence is maybe the best: because the people acted like covenant people, and because they worked hard to be self-reliant, and because they loved as the Savior loved, “there was no contention among all his people…” (verse 7).

They established Zion.

I would to God that every soul who professes to be a Latter-day Saint was of that character, a holy temple for the in-dwelling of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but it is not so. Is there any individual within the sound of my voice to day, that has received the Holy Ghost through the principles of the Gospel, and at the same time has not received a love for them? I will answer that question. Wait and see who it is that falls out by the way; who it is in whom the seed of truth has been sown, but has not taken root; and then you will know the individuals who have received the truth, but have never received a love of it—they do not love it for itself. What a delightful aspect would this community present if all men and women, old and young, were disposed to leave off their own sins and follies, and overlook those of their neighbors; if they would cease watching their neighbors for iniquity, and watch that they themselves might be free from it! if they were trying with all their powers to sanctify the Lord in their hearts, and would prove, by their actions, that they had received the truth and the love of it! if all individuals would watch themselves, that they do not speak against the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, nor in short against any being in heaven or on earth. Strange as this may appear, there have been men in ‘this Church that have done it, and probably will be again! If this people would be careful not to do anything to displease the spirits of those who have lived on the earth, and have been justified, and have gone to rest, and would so conduct themselves, that no reasonable being upon the face of the earth could find fault with them, what kind of society should we have? Why every man’s mouth would be filled with blessings, every man’s hand would be put forth to do good, and every woman and child in all their intercourse would be praising God, and blessing each other. Would not Zion be here? It would. What hinders you from doing this?… When a man of God preaches the principles of the Gospel, all things give way before it, and some embrace it because it is so mighty. But by and bye those characters will fall out by the way, because the soil has not depth to nourish the seeds of truth. They receive it, but not the love of it; it dies, and they turn away. If every person who has embraced the Gospel would love it as he loves his life, would not society wear a different aspect from that of the present? I do not intend to enter into a detailed account of the acts of the people, they are themselves acquainted with them; people know how they themselves talk, and how their neighbors talk; how husband and wife agree in their own houses, and with their neighbors; and how parents and children dwell together. I need not tell these things, but if every heart were set upon doing right, we then should have Zion here. I will give you my reason for thinking so. It is because I have had it with me ever since I was baptized into this kingdom. I have not been without it from that day to this. I have therefore a good reason for the assertion I have made. I live and walk in Zion every day, and so do thousands of others in this Church and kingdom, they carry Zion with them, they have one of their own, and it is increasing, growing, and spreading continually. Suppose it spreads from heart to heart, from neighborhood to neighborhood, from city to city, and from nation to nation, how long would it be before the earth would become revolutionized, and the wheat gathered from among the tares.

~ Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1

Mosiah 5

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 5.

Now that King Benjamin finished his big speech, so far, he wants them to respond.  He sets the pattern for them, literally, by asking them to respond (verse 1).  This demonstrates what his speech was all about, that faith requires action.  Our choices, behaviors, and interactions all demonstrate our faith.  So if we believe, we must respond – act – in some way.

“And they all cried with one voice, saying: “Yea, we believe all the words… and know of their surety and truth…” (verse 2).

But how do they know?  Testimony!

King Benjamin (as later taught in the School of Prophets) defined faith as including a knowledge that God exists, an accurate knowledge of who He is, and knowing our lives are in line with His will.   When we have this kind of faith, we have testimony.   If any of those three are off, out of sorts, or struggling, then our testimony also struggles.

We may, sometimes, be hard on ourselves because the better we know our Savior the more we become aware of how very out-of-line we are.  But this awareness is part of repentance, and repentance is part of progress.  Making progress at becoming more-in-line *is* part of being in line (in Order) with His will.

So the people exclaim this as part of their testimony, saying that faith “has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (verse 2).

That’s sanctification, which comes through action – either repentance, obedience, or service in some form.

Sanctification comes by the power of the Spirit, but we are to “sanctify ourselves” by doing the hard work of action.

“… through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, (we) have great views of that which is to come…” (verse 3).

This is revelation!

“And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy” (verse 4).

When we listen to the words of the Prophets, when we read our Scriptures, when we say our prayers, when we the “plain and simple” things the prophets have taught us, then it will be as the Savior said: we will have joy and peace.   It is the plan of happiness!  But we must do the work to receive the words (through prophets, scriptures, and prayer), because these are the venues through which revelation comes.

It’s like trying to make a call without a phone.   You need the phone to make the call.  It doesn’t matter if it is a house landline or a cell phone or Skype or G+, but you need something to make the connection.

Prophets, scriptures, and prayer make the connection so revelation can happen.

We had two talks about this at our most recent General Conference (April 2011): the President Uchtdorf and Elder Bednar talks.

It is doing the work to keep these connections consistently open that makes us a covenant people.

“And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days” (verse 5).

This was the right answer to King Benjamin’s question, because it not only demonstrated faith (with action) but also an understanding that faith is a present-progressive kind of deal.  It is an ongoing, active process, not just a one time checklist.  So King Benjamin was glad for his people, and told them they were righteous for desiring this covenant (verse 6).

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made, ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters, for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore ye are born of him and have become his sons and daughters” (verse 7).

This is powerful.  It’s a lot of words and a very long sentence.  But it’s powerful.

It is about becoming a covenant people, about becoming the House of Abraham through covenant, and so also the House of the Lord.  It’s about the Temple.

(SEE THIS BLOG on 1 Nephi 15.  REALLY.  SERIOUSLY.)

As they become His people, of the House of the Lord, then the Savior is the Head of that House (verse 8).  Because becoming a covenant people means becoming of the House of the Lord, then they must be holy (set apart) because they are called by the name of Christ (verse 9), which is the Son of the Man of Holiness (Seriously!  Did you click on the 1 Nephi 15 blog yet?!  Mega-cross-reference between 1 Nephi 15 and Moses 6!).

Like any “adoption” (Romans 8:15), part of becoming a covenant people is getting a new name (Revelation 2:17, 3:12).  It has always been, since the time of Abraham (see Genesis 17).  We should “remember to retain the name written always in your hearts” as a reminder of this covenant, as well as for the purpose of being called in the resurrection (verse 12).

But then we must prove ourselves to be of the covenant.  Being born into it is not enough, and even being adopted into it is not enough.  We must actively participate in this new family we have chosen.   It’s the participating that makes us family.  It’s the participating that builds intimacy.

“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger (outside the covenant, in Old Testament terms) unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (verse 13).

If we want it to be real, we must make the covenant first in our thoughts and intents.

If we do not, then “ye know not the name by which ye are called” (verse 14).  This is more than just the literal or symbolic forgetting of the new name.  This is the forgetting that you are adopted into the House of the Lord, adopted into the Family of Holiness.

We must remember to which House we belong, to which Family we belong.

“Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable (FAITH!), always abounding in good works (ACTION!), that Christ, the Lord God Omnimpotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all” (verse 15).

Amen.

Temple Physics: I Want to be a Photon When I Grow Up

I am not a quantum physicist.

In fact, no matter how in-depth I study the brain, and no matter fancy titles like neurobiopsychoscientist, “real” scientists will still say our studies are a “soft” science and don’t count.

Respectful scientists might acknowledge our contribution to the study of patterns, if nothing else, while others would still discount our forms of measurement and so declare our observed patterns irrelevant.

Except that, the fun thing about quantum physics is that it requires an observer in order to see the pattern.

I have written about this before, because I find it so fascinating and study all I can, and wait for the pieces to fall into place.

That’s observing.

So when I observe, then I notice the patterns and can see clearly what is happening.

This is significant to me because of my spiritual beliefs, in which the Savior tells us to “observe” in two ways:

First, to “observe” that we keep the commandments.  Not just that we keep the commandments, but observe ourselves keeping the commandments.  There is a distinction, and I think the distinction is significant.

Second, to receive revelation or other understanding, we are first required to study it out for ourselves.  Study is a process of observation.  Observing what the prophets teach us (hearkening – hearing and doing), observing how these principles work in our lives (the “experiment” of Alma), and observing the benefits of following these principles (or consequences of not).

Because both of these are required processes for understanding, I think “observing” is significant.

Then, to make it significant-er, scriptures equate “Light” and “understanding”, almost as if they were the same thing (see D&C 88:11).

But not only are they defined as the same thing, they are consistently tied to the process of creation and its purpose of celestial-ness.

Always.

So I have wrestled and wrestled with this, searching and studying and pondering and praying.

It came to me again this spring, when I saw the “light” process again connected to creation in the pattern of cell division (see THIS BLOG about when I was learning about ovarian cancer – and what I learned that day made the entire process of whacky ovaries worth it, I assure you).  I promise this blog will make a little more sense if you look at that blog, even for a quick review.  And there are pictures, which is always fun. But it’s out there in Emily World, so hold tight until it makes sense for what it teaches.

So.

How are Light (temporal) and understanding (spiritual) the same thing?  And how does it connect to creation paving the way for celestial-ness?

Those were my questions, for more than a year now.

Pieces have filtered through, sinking in as I study and ponder.

If you clicked on (or remember) that light blog above, then you remember this silly video about the double slit experiment:

For those bored by science (even in cartoon form), think shadow puppets.

If you send light through a double slit, you should see the pattern of the slits on the wall.

Except that’s not what happens.  The photons of lights show up as random dots, not reflecting the slits at all.

Unless… drumroll… it is being “watched” (see the video clip above).

When the photons are being watched, then they line up (in Order) and show the slit pattern.

When they are being watched,
the light follows the pattern
of the slits through which it goes.

When I am “observing” (watching myself keep the commandments)
I follow the pattern
of the Savior through whose atonement I can go.

When they are not being watched
the light is random,
not having a pattern.

When I am not “observing” (to keep the commandments)
my life is random, scattered, and un-organized
with no pattern (by which to testify).

So we see, whether it is quantum physics or Emily World, the difference between “observing” or not.

Except the question is still why the connection between light and understanding?

What about “observing” changes the way light behaves?

What about “observing” organizes light, so that it is transformed into a clear pattern?

The scientific drama is that back in the 1920’s there was a big split.  Scientists now follow the idea that we cannot know at such a level what is happening, because clearly quantum physics do not follow the rules – even though the behavior is predictable.

By this, they are focused on how the behavior is predictable – we know what will happen if there is any “observing” happening or not.  If there is observing, the pattern shows; if there is not observing, there is no pattern.  So, they say, it is impossible to understand because it does not follow the rules.

But the original theory, before the big philosophy split, was that even though it doesn’t follow the rules, the behavior is predictable, and so it is possible to understand.  Not following the rules is part of the pattern, so therefore it can still be understood because of that pattern.  Not just understood, but actually seen.  Like a postcard from creation, similar to watching cell division happen.

But how to resolve the difference?

Light – like Emily – does not follow the rules, because the rules – the Laws of physics – would say that the behavior should be the same either way.  We should always see the pattern, because it is going through the slits.   The photons have to go through the slits, and so the pattern of the slits should evidence when they “land”.

The same with Emily: I can only get to celestialness by way of the atonement, so my behavior should match.

But it doesn’t, not unless I am “observing” to keep the commandments (see D&C 42:78 for an example).

And the light doesn’t show up in patterns, unless it is being watched.

So how is it possible that if a photon is one thing, a photon, going through the slits, why does it show up two different ways?  How can the behavior be predictable and yet also conditional?  Why does it not follow the rules?

And going on the principle that all things are both temporal and spiritual (D&C 29:31), then what’s the connection between Light and understand, and what does it have to do with creation leading to celestialness (which is the Temple pattern, so again, it is significant)?

If I want the answer, I have to “study it out”.

So I devoured THIS ARTICLE last summer, and have pondered it since.

Then in April, THIS ARTICLE came out, and studying that out is what connected it to the cell-division-light blog, which gave me the first glimpse of how light connected to creation-ness.

Then in June, THIS ARTICLE came out, related to another new experiment with all its stats not yet released.

So for those who don’t care about math or science, the important part is that we know light is both particle (showing the pattern as it goes through the slit) and random (appearing random).

Because even elementary school kids know this by now, because we have known it for a while, I love using the analogy in my nerdy-therapist-workshops, especially those tense ones on marriage, in regards to males and females.

Males are the particle: the compartmentalized point on the line, holding information, full of raw information.

Females are the waves: they have the ups and downs that take that information and give it color, all while connecting the dots of the line so that the message can actually be transmitted.

People always laugh, but it’s a basic analogy easy to understand while being packed full of principles we can all apply and practice.

But when I was running my 5k today, I saw a clip about the double slit experiment being recreated in an oscillating liquid by a drop of silicone.  I could not find the reference yet for the original article (though there are tons of references about it if you Google it).

Here’s a (bad phone recording of) the clip I saw on TV, which was from the show Through the Wormhole (click to view):

Did you see?  Look at what happened when they did it:

It recreated the double slit, only with the for-dummies manual.

There evidence of both: the particle (enclosed circles) and the wave (around the circles).

It goes back to it being both particle and wave (that’s why it follows predictable), but more (that’s why it doesn’t follow the rules).

The center circles, to the left and right, have a specific area that never touch.

But the waves around them move it.

They said, in the show, you could see the droplet moving randomly like a quantum particle, but behaving like a quantum wave.

“The wave appears to guide the droplet.”

“In fact, the wave fields around the droplet develop a memory of the trails they have followed.  Despite their random behavior, they follow a small number of paths.”

There are two distinct “beings” (for lack of better terms):  quantum particles and quantum waves.

So go back to the parallel:  the males are the particles, and the females are the waves.

The male is the droplet, trying to function to shine light.

The female is the wave, with a memory of whence they have come, and a plan to help that light shine – despite what appears at times to be random behavior.

The droplet (male) is moved by the wave (female) that guides it.

The male cannot move – cannot progress – without the female.

The female’s purpose lies in helping guide the male.  She could still be a wave without the droplet, but her purpose is to carry the droplet.

And when they are observed functioning together, then the pattern is revealed.

That’s the doctrine of marriage (even watching each droplet with all its waves, like ripples in a pond).

It’s beautiful.  It makes sense.  It’s “plain and simple”.

It makes me cry like at the symphony – that kind of beautiful, that kind of purity, that kind of depth, that kind of profound.

From creation, male (particle) and female (wave) were made to be “one” (Genesis 2:24).

Separate in function, but one in purpose, and designed to be one unit working together to create Light.

Like a photon.

That’s the connection of “light” and “understanding” to “creation” and “celestial-ness”!

And, when we “observe” this, we see the “pattern” (of the Order of the Priesthood).

It’s the pattern of how the Priesthood and Relief Society work together:

“..it is a beautiful thing to see the priesthood and the Relief Society work in perfect harmony. Such a relationship is like a well-tuned orchestra, and the resulting symphony inspires all of us.”   ~ Elder Cook, April 2011 General Conference

It needs both in order to create, and what it creates is light, and it is by Light (understanding) that we progress (celestial-ness).

Think that’s deep stuff, how Light reflects the doctrine of marriage and so shows the path from creation to celestial-ness?

Think it’s amazing how the Temple pattern is right there, in a photon?

Take it one step further.

Take a picture of the math of all this (courtesy of the Physics Forum):

And if it doesn’t look familiar, turn it upside down as if you were hanging it from the ceiling to LIGHT your way:

(Really, it is both, put together, but that’s for a different blog.)

Does that look like any lights you’ve seen?

Yes.  It’s the sheckinah.

It’s the pillar of Light, the presence of the Lord, that led the Israelites through Egypt into the promised land.

Just as it is through a pillar of Light that messengers appeared throughout the restoration.

Can you “see” (and so also “understand”)?  The purpose of having Light is to “observe” – to “see” (John 9).

Do you see any “pillars of Light”?

Mosiah 4

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 4.

King Benjamin finished his big speech in the last chapter, and the people respond by falling to the ground – an outward symbol of internal humility (verse 1).

“And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth.  And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men” (verse 2).

They believed in Christ before He came.

And their belief requires a three-fold response:

1.  Applying the atonement;

2.  Receiving forgiveness; and

3.  Purifying their hearts.

“And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words, the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ…” (verse 3).

Peace of conscience is part of the testimony of remission of sins.

With his people in peace, King Benjamin has more words for his people to remain in peace and progress even further (verse 4).

He begins with a comparison between the goodness of God and our nothingness (without Him) (verse 5).

“The goodness of God” is an accurate understanding of who God is ( his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering) as well as what He has done through the atonement (verse 6).

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things… believe that he has all wisdom, and all power…” (verse 9).

An accurate understanding of who God is and what He has done for us transforms us by causing us to respond to Him and the love He has for us:

“Believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before GOd; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them” (verse 10).

But now that the people have done this, and now that they have confirmed their choice to be a covenant people, King Benjamin warns them to remember what they have learned about God, and to be humble by remembering that they are nothing without God (verse 11).

“If ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you” (verse 12).

If you do this, there will be evidence, “fruit” of proof that demonstrates this love of God.

“Ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably…” (verse 13).

Contention is not of God.

Love is of God.

“And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another…” (verse 14).

As covenant people, we provide both for the physical and spiritual needs of our children.

Our children learn what love is by how they feel love in the home.

Our children learn what peace is by how they feel peace in the home.

So it is important to teach them the love of God and the peace of God, so that these are what feel familiar, so that these are what they seek after when they are grown.

“Ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (verse 15).

But this love and service must be taught by example:

“Ye yourselves (not just the children you are teaching) will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need…” (verse 16).

You will nourish and give life to those around you.  This isn’t just about food and money and material help in temporal ways, though that is very important and absolutely necessary.   Temporal assistance to those around us is absolutely a vital part of the gospel.

But there is also the spiritual nourishment and life-giving and creating-ish kind of gift we should be giving.  There should not be any contention, no drama, no tearing-down, no angry words, no raised voices that chase the Spirit away.   Love and peace are what will nourish and teach by example, teach by helping them become familiar with the very Spirit of God.

And, specifically, we are to help because we are commanded to help – not because we think someone deserves it or not (verses 16-18).

“For behold, are we not all beggars?  Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?” (verse 19).

So remember, King Benjamin says, that while you are begging for forgiveness – that which you do not deserve and only God can give  – remember those who are “begging” for temporal help, regardless of whether or not they deserve it.  We do not “deserve” the forgiveness He has given us (verse 20).

“And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another” (verse 21).

We must live as the Savior lived, including nourishing those around us both temporally and spiritually.

“… for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God – I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally…” (verse 26).

But do this in “wisdom and order” (verse 27).

For example, members of the church contribute to feeding the hungry by giving generous fast offerings.  The assist those after disasters by giving to humanitarian aid.  They provide counseling for those with addictions, mental illness, and real life struggles by giving full tithes and generous offerings.  They give spiritual help through donating to the missionary funds, the Book of Mormon funds, or the Temple funds.  That’s why we fill out the little tithe/offering forms!

This is how we do the work of the Savior: we provide temporally through our tithes and offerings, and we provide spiritually through service and by being loving and kind peacemakers that invite the Spirit into our homes, families, wards, jobs, and interactions.

“… watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord…. remember, and perish not” (verse 30).

 

Mosiah 3

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 3.

King Benjamin continues his famous speech, looking forward to what is yet to come.  He tells the story of an angel visiting him (verse 2) to declare “glad tidings of great joy” (verse 3) in response to his prayers and righteous life (verse 4).  He is told these things, that he might testify of them (which was why the last chapter had such a big preface about testimony).

So the angel tells him:

“… the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sigh, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases…” (verse 5).

This, of course, is a prophecy regarding the birth of the Savior, and the work He would do during His ministry.  It cross-references us to “The Living Christ”.  But it also applies in our day, whether literally or symbolically.

How have I seen the Savior working in my life and in the life of those around me?

What mighty miracles have I witnessed?

What was “sick” in my life that is now healed?

What was “dead” in my life that is now resurrected?

How am I now able to walk (in righteousness), though I was “lame” before?

What do I see – or, what do I understand now that I did not understand before?

How am I able to hear Him now, even submitting to His will and heeding His promptings, when before I was stubborn and obstinate?

What “disease” in me has healed, or has been made at-one?

This is the work of the atonement.

The angel explains what the Savior suffered to accomplish that atonement:

“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than a man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (verse 7).

Who is this, that could endure so much to give us such a gift?

“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (verse 8).

He endured “more than a man can suffer” because he was also Divine, “the Son of God”.

He knows us so well, so intimately, to suffer for us specifically – for me specifically – because He is the Creator.   But He was born of  a woman, Mary, and so understands our mortality.

“And lo, he cometh unto his own” (us), “that salvation might come unto the children of men” (those who should know better but are not behaving and interacting like covenant people) “even through faith on his name” (verse 9)

“and even after all this, they shall… scourge him, and shall crucify him” (verse 9).

“And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men” (verse 10).

This is important.

Because He conquered death in two ways:

First, there is a physical death.  Being divine spirits born in mortal bodies outside of our Father’s presence, since the time of the Fall, we are subject to physical death.

The resurrection of Christ conquers physical death, so that all of us get immortality.   His Divine act on our behalf means that all of us (our spirit selves), after death, will be reunited with our bodies.   This is His free gift, a reuniting after our being separated from Him (physically) during mortality.

Second, there is a spiritual death.  But there are two kinds of spiritual deaths.  First is the demands of justice for all of us born in this fallen state outside of God’s presence.   The atonement of Christ means that each of us will get to be reunited with our Father-in-Heaven, even if only for judgment.

“For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned” (verse 11).

But there is also a second kind of spiritual death.

The first spiritual death is being outside of God’s presence because of the Fall.

The second spiritual death is when we place ourselves outside of God’s presence by our own choices.  Our own personal sins and transgressions remove ourselves from His presence, and it is only by the atonement of Christ that we can be reunited with Him again, made at-one again.

“But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God!  For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 12).

So the resurrection conquers physical death, and the great atoning sacrifice meets the demands of justice to conquer the first spiritual death.

Everyone gets those free gifts, no matter what.

Everyone gets immortality, no matter what.

But the quality of that immortality, how close we get to be to His presence at that time, our very eternal life (after the pattern of our lives now), depends upon how close we choose to be to Him now.

Immortality is already a done deal; it’s unconditional for everyone.

Eternal life (the quality of that immortality) is conditional based on what we choose.  We are choosing, in every choice, behavior, and interaction, whether we want to be closer to God or not.  Every choice we make demonstrates whether we are worthy of the sacrifice Christ made for us or not.  Every choice we make demonstrates whether we are focused on Him or not.

Except, being born to earthly parents in a fallen state of mortality, of course we cannot do it on our own.   So the atonement also conquers this spiritual death of our own choices, but the condition is that we strive to make good choices that show our love and obedience through our faithfulness.

This is the sanctifying process: that as we are told by the Savior – either through His words or by the Holy Spirit – to make good choices, our responding to that by making good choices (and through repentance when we do not), makes us more worthy than before, more whole, more perfect – as in complete.   Because each bit of repentance, each good choice, enacts that Great Exchange when we give Him what is not of God, to receive His righteousness.

I am not good.

But I can choose to give Him the not-good in me, and receive His righteousness.

That’s sanctifying.

That’s what makes me worthy to return to my Father’s presence, even though I – without Him – am not worthy.

Without this process – without the atonement of Christ or the sanctifying of the Holy Spirit – it would be impossible.

But it is possible, and that is the way to salvation – the way to be reunited in our Father’s presence.

This is what King Benjamin teaches the people, because that is what all prophets teach the people.

“And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, nad tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them” (verse 13).

This verse is packed!

First, it points out how all the prophets before the time of Christ knew Christ would come, and this is what they taught the people.

Secondly, it again points out that it is individual belief – demonstrated by obedience – that brings remission of sins, even though what Christ has done conquers both physical and spiritual death (from the Fall) for everyone.

Because everyone needs that atonement for the second spiritual death, the one we bring upon ourselves, the message of it goes to all people – “every kindred, nation, and tongue” – so that all can receive it.

“Yet the Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses” (verse 14).

If we would just do what He says, we wouldn’t need laws.   The people were stubborn and obstinate (like myself), and so needed specific laws to help them stay on track, and specific rules throughout the day to remind them of what it was all about, why it was so important, who – what people – they were trying to become.

“And many signs” (always given with a covenant), “and wonders” (always given in response to faith), “and types, and shadows” (always given in response to study and pondering), showed he unto them, concerning his coming; and also holy prophets spake unto them concerning his coming; and yet they hardened their hearts, and understood not…” (verse 15).

It says they didn’t get it.  They “missed the mark”.  They got so lost in the law itself, that they forgot what the law was trying to accomplish.  The law wasn’t about rules; it was about learning to become (look and act like) a covenant people.

But it is not the law that saves them.  It’s not the rules that save the people.

It’s the atonement, “only in and through the name of Christ” (verse 17).

So instead of being lost in rules and laws, we should remember they are there to teach us and protect us and guide us like the boundaries they are.   But their purpose and function is to point us to Christ, and to get us home.  That’s what’s most important.

Rather than analyzing the rules or why we have them or what all they mean, we should be focused on the path that they make clear.   The rod shows the way, and we should be walking along that way, excited for the tree of life we see ahead.

“Become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ” (verse 18).

That is the only way.

And He has done it.

He has done His part.

He has fulfilled His premortal covenant obligation.

Now we must do ours: to testify of that atonement.

And we testify in words, by telling others about the atonement to help them remember, and by our choices that demonstrate we are grateful for and honoring that gift.

“And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (verse 20).

Testify!

“And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children” (verse 21).

None will be blameless because we are responsible for what we know.  As we are taught, and as all people obtain a knowledge of the Savior, we must respond to that knowledge.  We are held accountable for that response.

When we obtain a knowledge of the Savior, we will become aware of the vast separation between us and Him.   But we are not lost, for this is where the atonement – the at-one-ment – applies “through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord” (verse 21).

If we repent – which is a demonstration of faith, believing that the atonement is big enough, complete enough, even for me – then we will be made at-one again.

This is the testimony King Benjamin gives his people (verse 23).

So this is his testimony: that the atonement of Christ conquers physical death for all of us, and conquers spiritual death for all of us to be reunited with our Father-in-Heaven at judgment:

“wherefore they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil” (verse 24).

And if we have made good choices – through obedience (good choices) and repentance (the only way to make bad choices at-one again) – then we will receive the peace and joy and eternal life, which is life continuing in our Father’s presence (as it does now, except reunited in His presence).

If we have not, then we will feel our separation from God, receiving “an awful view of (our) own guilt and abominations, which doeth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment…” (verse 25).

Our misery and endless torment will be because we will have then seen God, and remembered Him, but not able to live with Him.

We will have already chosen, because now is our choice.

While it is still now, while we are in mortality, we can choose to experience this now, through repentance, and not suffer it later with such eternal consequences.

“This life is the time to prepare to meet God.” (Alma 34:32)

Justice will be demanded.

The atonement meets the demands of justice.

But the atonement has to be chosen now in order to receive its mercy.

This is what King Benjamin wants to make sure his people understand.

Mosiah 2

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 2.

Mosiah left his father, King Benjamin, to go gather the people for the king’s big speech.  And it is a big speech, and it is a famous speech, and it is AMAZING.   So the people “gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak to them” (verse 1).

And there were lots of them, “so many that they did not number them” (verse 2).

Since this was a gathering of the people, and they were coming to hear the words of the Prophet, the teachings of the Lord, and prepare themselves for the Temple, they brought “the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice… and offerings…” (verse 3).

This is an important pattern from the Old Testament.

It is why we have Sacrament before we have the talks during Sacrament meeting.

The atonement has to happen first.

It is why we get more out of the Temple experience if we go prepared, having studied and repented and sacrificed in some way to get there.

It is why the New Testament says don’t come to Sacrament angry at people (and don’t even take Sacrament if you are being offended – which is not of God – or un-forgiving).  It says go, make peace, then come back and take Sacrament.  Because being at-one is part of the atonement, so much that there cannot be any hard feelings towards anyone when we approach God.

It’s a small verse in the middle of a big chapter, but it is very important.

So also is the next verse: “and also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land… and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with the love towards God and all men” (verse 4).

This is also huge, because all of this that they are thanking God for happened a long time ago.   It’s been hundreds of years since the people were delivered out of Jerusalem, just in time before the Babylonian captivity.   It’s been hundreds of years since those prophets of that day did teach the people, write the records, and pass them down generation after generation.

When was the last time we thanked God for our deliverance, whether it is personal deliverance in our day – physically, emotionally, conversion-ly, or spiritually – or whether it is ancient deliverance, such as living in a free country where we are allowed to worship God the way we see fit for ourselves?

When was the last time we thanked God for the teachers he appointed hundreds of years ago, whether the writers of the Book of Mormon records, the restoration through the Prophet, or those who taught our ancestors, so that we were even born?

When was the last time we thanked God for the peace in our land?

When was the last time we rejoiced because we knew having commandments taught us to love God?

When was the last time did we consciously do the work to love another person because we are commanded to do so, and because they are a child of the same God, and because learning who they are teaches us more about who God is?

This is the work we must do BEFORE going to the Temple.

This is the preparation work that makes us worthy.

Our Temple recommend questions are interview questions so that priesthood authority can give us permission to go, like Mosiah calling the people to gather.

But it is our individual preparation work that makes us worthy.

Are we truly worthy?

What have we done, on this day, to be thankful?

What have we done, on this day, to do the work of love?

What have we done, on this day, to establish peace?

“And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family… every family being separate one from another” (verse 5).

This is the order of things, and the families being organized as part of that order.

Families go to the temple TOGETHER.

This verse also reminds me of an ancient Jewish custom that said families had to remain separate because it was part of modesty, part of chastity, part of fidelity.  You couldn’t face your tent or home towards the front windows of another house.  It could be off center, or the front could be away from the courtyard, but you didn’t invade the privacy of others by facing your front door towards theirs.

In our day, this applies emotionally and spiritually as well.  We need to focus on our own families, not in isolation from one another, but out of respect for other families and in effort of organizing our own.   We should be caring for our parents, seeking spouses, and raising children.

That is the work of a family as commanded, whether it means going to Sonic with your mom or writing letters to your dad or caring for elderly parents.

That is the work of a family as commanded, whether it is dating or being married with the understanding it takes a lifetime to learn to be a spouse or whether it is the bittersweet grief after a sp0use of many years is gone.

That is the work of a family as commanded, whether it is praying for children, spending time looking into their eyes and listening, playing hard with them, celebrating accomplishments, bidding them farewell as they start their own families, or celebrating your posterity as their family grows.

“And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple…” (verse 6).

Again, families – as a whole – TOGETHER – are focused on the Temple, ready to receive what the Temple has to offer.

So many people came that King Benjamin had a tower built, so all could hear (verse 7).

This is General Conference, folks!

“And it came to pass that he began to speak to his people from the tower… (and) he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those… that they might also receive his words” (verse 8).

General Conference and Ensign!

The pattern that has always been!

King Benjamin begins, “… I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view…” (verse 9).

He’s not messing around!

General Conference isn’t just for a good time, cool quotes, or to get a hint at what’s happening next.

General Conference is to receive instruction and revelation and be obedient unto it.

The words given are by the power of the Spirit, from the Lord, to His covenant people.

The Prophets that deliver them, even King Benjamin, are still only a “mortal man” (verse 10).

“I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind…” (verse 11).

Yet the Lord has blessed his efforts, and King Benjamin shows what a set-apart leader looks like.

First:  It is not priestcraft, because King Benjamin’s words are the Lord’s words, King Benjamin has been called to speak, and King Benjamin has provided for himself (verse 12).

Second:  King Benjamin has ruled in righteous dominion: “Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves of another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery…” (verse 13).

Third:  His reign has been righteous, and he has raised up a righteous people.  He has “taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you…” (verse 13).

Fourth:  He lives by example:  “And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes…” (verse 14)

Fifth:  He uplifts (teaches) instead of oppressing (grieving):  “that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be bourne….” (verse 14).

Sixth: His focus in on accomplishing the task given him by the Lord.  “I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day” (verse 15).

Seventh:  He knows his purpose: “I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God” (verse 16).

What amazing lessons of leadership that apply to everything from parenting to testimony-by-example to professional work to leadership positions.

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (verse 17).

And he does as he teaches, teaching both by word and example:

“and if I, who ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?” (verse 18).

But service is not enough.

Gratitude is also required.

“And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!” (verse 19).

This is humility.  Not fake-humble or low-self-esteem that can’t accept compliments.

This is humility, which is a righteous understanding that all things are given to us by our Father-in-Heaven, made possible by the atonement of His Son, and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace with one another…” (verse 20).

He interrupts to give emphasis, creating some of that beautiful Hebrew poetry:

“I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will (He who gave us agency!), and even supporting you from one moment to another (His Spirit quickens our spirit!) -” (verse 21).

Then he continues back to the first thought, connecting service and gratitude as one expression of love for God, demonstrated by obedience:

“I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls, yet ye would be unprofitable servants” (verse 21).

We can do nothing without Him.

It is by His Spirit, because of the atonement, by our Father’s plan, that there is fruition to anything we do or try, even in the very lives we live.

We come so short, owe such a debt, that we cannot pay the price.

We cannot be profitable.

But the Savior has paid the price, meeting the demands of justice so that we are “even” – at zero –  by His great atoning sacrifice.

Yet, still, we are not “profitable”.

It is by the power of the Spirit, because of that atonement, that there is “fruit”, that there is progression, that we are sanctified, that we can bring something back to the Father, and in that way be profitable.

What is profitable to the Father?

Souls.  (D&C 18:10).

So we can be profitable by spiritually creating families through marriages, physically providing bodies for spirit children, by fulfilling our premortal covenant to testify of Him so that souls can be converted – not just in baptism, but even in their own progress, at whatever “line” they are on along the way.

Remember the Elder Scott quote from 2002 General Conference:

Your happiness now and forever is conditioned on your degree of conversion and the transformation that it brings to your life.

Baptized or not, endowed or not, your conversion is measured by the transformation of your life.  If we are making progress, our lives should be different today than they were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago.  The Savior’s love is unconditional, but His blessings are conditional upon our degree of conversion – which is about way more than just being baptized or endowed.

“And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments” (verse 22).

That’s all.

He died.

He suffered, and He died.

And that’s all He asks, is for us to be obedient to what He has asked us to do.

“And he has promised that if you would keep his commandments, ye should prosper in the land” (verse 22).

The “prosper in the land” phrase always has the double layer of referring also to celestial-ness.

“And he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments, he doth bless you and prosper you” (verse 22).

He will keep his promises.

King Benjamin tells us we shouldn’t be whiny babies about this, that it is serious business.

“In the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him” (verse 23).

That’s big.

But there’s more.

“And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth IMMEDIATELY bless you; and therefore he hath paid you.  And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever” (verse 24).

We can’t catch up.

He loves us that much, blesses us that well, and is that diligent – paying attention even now, knowing you even now – so quick to keep His promises of blessing, so immediate in blessing us – even when answers or orchestrating take a while because others have to also respond to Him.

Everything is His.

We have nothing to be proud about, in a boasting kind of way.

“Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth…” (verse 25).

In Isaiah, it says that dust of the earth is even more obedient than we are.

“And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves…” (verse 26).

Yet still, we can try to fulfill our purpose and live worthy of the sacrifice the Savior has made for us, and by Him fulfill our role in carrying out our Father’s plan.

And most basic of all, above all else, our role is to testify.

This is our premortal covenant: Jehovah agreed to atone for us, and we agreed to testify of that atonement.   So everything we do should be testimony, either in words or actions, in whatever form, in some way inviting others to know God by loving and serving them in peace.

“Therefore… I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me” (verse 27).

He wants to be free from the blood and sin of that generation, and like prophets before him, can be so because he has testified.

If we do not testify, the blood and sins of our generation is upon us.

They are not held accountable for what we do not teach them.

(This is why, in marriage, you cannot be angry at your spouse for what you never taught them or told them – that is contention and gamey and not of God.)

If we do testify, then we are free from the blood and sins of our generation because their choices then fall on their own agency in response to the testimony they have received.

So King Benjamin wants to testify one last time, “that I might be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I shall stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you” (verse 27).

This is so important that he says it again:

“I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood…” (verse 28).

This is not a wishy-washy-wishing (thank you, President Monson!).  This is serious testimony, direct and clear, bold and brave, plain and simple, offered “that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God” (verse 28).

With this testimony completed, he grieves his people and lets them know the practical purpose he must also serve: to pass his kingdom to his son, Mosiah (verse 29, 30).   He wants the people to continue to do what they have always done, keeping the commandments of the Lord and prospering in the land with peace from enemies (verse 31).

And then he gives a prophetic warning:

“But, O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you…” (verse 32).

This is very serious.

He is talking to a covenant people, who know the covenants by which they are bound.

There is no ignorance, and there are no excuses.

He says that those who follow this spirit of contention, those who “obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge” (verse 33).

You know better, he is saying.

Love and peace and service and gratitude is of God, and the Lord’s ways.

Hate and contention and bitterness and negativity is not of God.

And you all know better.

“I say unto you, that there are not any among you… that have not been taught concerning these things” (verse 34).

You know the Scriptures, and that they are true, and what your covenants are, he says (verse 35).

“And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved…” (verse 36).

Not only does contention mean you are choosing to withdraw from the Lord’s very presence, which means you remove yourself from understanding what is wise and good and right, and so this also removes you from His protection, provision, and blessings (including promises).

Why?

Because it puts you in open rebellion against God, like Satan.

“I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God… to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness” (verse 37).

Without repentance, finishing mortality in open rebellion against God means you have removed yourself from the atonement that brought mercy.  Without that mercy, the demands of justice must still be met – that price still has to be paid (verse 38).

“… Mercy hath no claim on that man…” (verse 39).

“I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand” (verse 40).

This echoes Nephi, who said that plain and direct words are only harsh to those who do not want to submit to the teaching the words bring, only offend those whose hearts are hard against change, only difficult for those who do not want conversion.

But the covenant people who do want conversion, who are constantly converting, ever-repenting, being sanctified by the Spirit through love and service and peace-making, they are blessed.

“I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end, they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness” (verse 41).

That’s powerful.

And he means it, emphasizing once more, pleading once more:

“O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (verse 41).

Yichud

This was on Jewish Treats this morning… thought it was interesting, especially after recent release of the new youth video:

 

According the Jewish law, a man and a woman who are not married to each other may not be secluded alone in a room or other private space. To comply with this law, couples who are dating, spend a great deal of time in public places or in the company of other people. This law includes an engaged couple and, in fact, applies up until the moment the groom places the ring upon the bride’s finger under the chuppah.

In Hebrew, words often have a positive and a negative meaning. Yichud is the term used to describe this law prohibiting “unchaperoned time alone,” but it is also the Yichud Room to which the new bride and groom are escorted immediately after the chuppah (at Ashkenazi weddings*).

Although there have been times and communities in which the post-chuppah yichud was meant to be a time during which the couple actually consumated the marriage, that is no longer the custom today. In the Yichud Room today, it is customary that the bride and groom enjoy a light meal (in many cases they have been fasting during the day until the conclusion of the ceremony) and exchange small gifts. By the very act of being secluded in a room, the bride and groom are making a public declaration of their married status.

As a significant part of the wedding, there is ceremony and fanfare surrounding the Yichud Room ritual. The couple is escorted to the room directly from the chuppah with dancing and music, and the room is checked by the couples’ two “witnesses” to ensure that no one else is in the room. Once the door is closed, it is guarded so that no one disturbs the bride and groom. They remain sequestered for approximately 8-10 minutes (thus giving them private time together during a very public event).

*While the Yichud Room is primarily an Ashkenazi customs, some Sephardi couples also enter the Yichud Room after the wedding feast.

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