Thursday, October 16, 2014

the book of mormon book club, chapter four


1 Nephi, Chapter 4: Nephi’s Courage


 

        This chapter, to me, is about Nephi’s courage, which is propped up by his faith and unflinching obedience.

 

Let’s begin with the first three verses.

 

Who and what does Nephi reference in verse 2?

 

 

 

 

 

Like Nephi do you look to the scriptures for faith, courage, and strength?

 

 

 

 

 

          Clearly Nephi’s faith is deeply rooted and bearing fruit.

 

 

Let’s read verses 4 and 5.

 

          See? Right off the bat we’re watching the courage of Nephi.

 

Now verse 6. I love verse 6.

 

And I was led by the Spirit not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.

 

 


          I know we just got started, but we need to pause here for a second because this is a verse that has powerful personal application.

         

When have you been led by the Spirit? Write freely, my friends. I’m sure it’s been more than once or twice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, onto verses 7-19. Ready, go!

 

          This is an intense scene, is it not? Imagine Nephi, strong, courageous, faithful Nephi standing over Laban and receiving the commandment to take Laban’s life. I imagine his facial expression reading shock and confusion. In verse 10 he says, “I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.”

          In chapters two (and three) we see that when Nephi was required to do something that maybe didn’t make sense to him, he sought the Lord for wisdom and understanding. Here the Lord is asking him to do something that doesn’t make sense to him, so in verses 14-17, he’s reviewing it in his own mind. I like that Nephi seems to be continually working to keep himself on the same page with the Lord. He’s making sure his will aligns with God’s. It’s a good practice, wouldn’t you agree?

 

 

The Lord could have taken the life of Laban and spared Nephi from the task. Why do you think he didn’t?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What “hard things” has the Lord required of you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verses 20-38 finish off this chapter, read them then we’ll chat.

 

 


How many miracles do you count in these verses?

 

 

 

 

What type of man do you imagine Zoram to be?

 

 

 

 

          In verse 22 we learn that Laban, so drunk he had passed out, had been out that night partying it up with “the elders of the Jews.” Knowing the wickedness of Laban and now his friendly association with the elders gives us yet another insight into just how corrupted this people had become. No wonder they were about to be destroyed!

In verse 37 it says, “When Zoram made an oath unto us our fears did cease concerning him.” Did that stand out to anyone else? In our culture a verbal promise is pretty cheap. This is why we have contracts and signatures and notaries and lawyers. Our verbal words more or less don’t mean a thing. And here Zoram makes an oath and that’s that. They can trust him explicitly. Wow. Can we bring that kind of integrity back to this world? Please?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

book of mormon book club, chapter three


1 Nephi, Chapter 3: Back to Jerusalem


 

Let’s begin with verses 1-6.

 

If this were you, not Nephi, how would you react?

 

 

I think if it were me, I’d say something along the lines of, “You want me to do what? Doesn’t my life mean anything to you?” You see, I’m pretty positive that if Nephi and Laman and Lemuel didn’t know Laban personally, they had to have known him by reputation. As we’ll soon see this guy had money and power and he was ruthless.

I’m sorry to admit, my friends, that all too often my attitude is more like Laman’s and Lemuel’s than Nephi’s. As much as I’d like to believe I could answer the way Nephi does in verse 7, I just don’t know if that would be the case –at least in this particular situation.

 

 
What does Nephi say in verse 7? Go ahead and write this whole verse out. Writing helps with memory and this is a good verse to memorize.

 

 
 

Let’s read it again, one more time.

 

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my Father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

 

 

          Write this promise on your heart my friends. It’s a real one. I. Know. It. I have lived it.

 

When have you been asked to do or face something that was beyond your power?

 
 
 

Now, onto verses 8-14.

 

Let’s take a second to recap. They “cast lots” to see who has to go up to the house of Laban. (More proof they knew just the kind of guy they were dealing with.) Laman loses, asks Laban for the record, receives a death threat, runs for his life, escapes, and tells his brothers what happened. Laman and Lemuel and Sam are like “Well, can’t say we didn’t try. Let’s go home.” And then we get another glimpse of the level of Nephi’s faith.


Verses 15-20.

 

Anything stand out to you in those verses?

 

 

 

 

 

          This is what struck me. First, I’d really like to put the first part of 16 (Wherefore let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord)

In vinyl on my living room wall. Second, and a little more relevant to our discussion, Nephi really grasped the importance of obtaining the record. He understood it was necessary for the preservation of their language as well as the importance of his people having access to the “words of the prophets.”

          To me, this is a great deal of insight for one who just a few pages before described himself as “exceedingly young.” To my mind, just as he had with the whole moving into the wilderness thing, young Nephi must have gone to the Lord concerning this journey as well. The Lord must have provided this wisdom to Nephi concerning the significance of the record. To me the deeper lesson here is this: While God requires obedience he doesn’t necessarily require blind obedience. If we go to Him with “diligence” and “lowliness of heart” asking and knocking –He will answer.

 

Have you had the experience of asking and receiving? Record it here:

 

 

 

 

Now, onto verses 21-27.

 

Describe Laban.

 

 

 

 

         If you used words like evil, murderous, selfish, thief –you’ve hit the nail on the head. He was one villainous man, no question.

 

Let’s continue, verses 28-31.

 

          I don’t know if there is anyone in all of scripture more spiritually stupid than Laman and Lemuel. Honestly. An angel of the Lord stands in front of them, tells them to return to Jerusalem, tells them that Laban will be delivered into their hands, and instead of marveling at the experience what do they do

 

 


What do they say?

Focused so heavily on the power of a man, they completely forget the Power of God. Unbelievable! But wait! Do we, in a way, do this same thing?

 
Do we ever fear man more than God? Have we ever found ourselves being more concerned with the opinion of man than the opinion of God?

Friday, October 3, 2014

book of mormon book club: first nephi series, chapter two


 
1 Nephi, Chapter 2: Into the Wilderness


Read Chapter 2 verses 1-5

 
The fact that people are trying to kill you is pretty good motivation to pack your bags, but even so, can you imagine!? As a woman I like to think of this through the point-of-view of Sariah. What would I do if my husband woke up one morning and said, “Pack up the food and toilet paper (I count toilet paper as a necessary provision). I’m going to get the tent and sleeping bags. We’re leaving our house, heading for the woods!” I think I’d be saying, “For how long?” –I’m super reasonable, and go-with-the-flow you see. So, my number one question would be: for how long? The answer to that question (forever, my Sweets) would be the one that would instantly spark a series of strong protests (aka kicking and screaming). I might even go as far as to tell him something along the lines of, “Have fun without me!”

 I like my city life. I do. When I’d finish my ranting –my husband always, with great patience, waits for me to finish my ranting- he’d calmly tell me that this wasn’t some hair-brained idea of his, that it was in fact a commandment of the Lord. Then, then I’d take all of thirty seconds to find a quiet place to hit my knees –and if I’m being honest with you, I’d likely take my complaining straight to the Lord. He’d also patiently wait for my ranting heart to calm, and then he’d confirm the truth to me, in his own time, in his own way.

 

How would you feel? What would your reaction be?

 
Who all was in this original group leaving Jerusalem? List them off:

 
Read verses 6-8.

     The Lord said, “Depart into the wilderness.” Apparently three days out of Jerusalem was the wilderness.

 

Do you think Lehi thought his traveling was done? Why or why not?

 
      I have to tell you, this made me laugh. Perhaps you noted yesterday that Nephi and his family were city-people, born and raised? Maybe you didn’t. I’ve overlooked this every other time I’ve read this book –and I have read it a lot. But I can so picture just how out of their comfort zones they must have been to be moving further and further away from everything that was normal and convenient for them.

          I feel I can relate to them just a teensy bit because I am a city-girl born and bred. I’m used to heavy traffic, over-sized shopping centers, and being able to find virtually anything I need within half of an hour. My husband, however, is a country-boy born and bred. When he took me “home” for the first time, to meet his parents, I seriously thought I had entered another country. So I can just imagine poor Sariah at this point.

          Her husband has parked their family in the middle of nowhere. She was probably thinking, now what? How do we catch fish again? Where am I going to get our clothing? Our shoes? Who am I going to talk to out here in this wilderness?

 

Go back to verse 4 for a second.

 
What did they leave behind?

 

I get the idea this was a family used to living a certain lifestyle that had definitely come to an abrupt end. Gold, silver, and precious things left behind. I wonder if suddenly a marketplace in walking distance, and a well to draw water from, and a comfortable place to sleep had suddenly become “precious things.”

          Top it all off with the well-established fact that women need other women and here is Sariah –with her husband, and her four sons, and not another woman to talk to in the whole world. Put yourself there for a second. Anyone else suddenly feel intensely lonely?

          God gives us strength my Sisters, strength to do His will, strength beyond our own. He truly does.

 

Let’s read verses 9-14.

 
Is anyone else guilty of murmuring? I complain, almost daily, about having to scrape Cheerios off my floor. Note: Food I have in overabundance, a floor in a house that I get to live in, that I have the ability to clean. See all the blessings I overlook and disregard when I complain? If complaining isn’t of the Devil, it is certainly a card he loves to watch us play.

I’m going to stop complaining about having to sweep and mop my floors.

 

What are you going to stop complaining about? –That is, if you are a complainer.

 

Read verse 15.

 

Why do you think this was included as a verse?

 

Read verses 16-19.

What else do we learn about Nephi here?


 

What do we learn about prayer?

 

 

Have I sought Him diligently with lowliness of heart?

 

Verses 19-24 Nephi is in prayer with the Lord, what is he told?

 

19.

 

 


 

20.

 

 

(What does it say about the Promised Land?)

 

 

21.

 

22.

 

23.

 

Circle the word ‘except’ and turn to D&C 82:10. Write that verse out below:

 

 

 

 

24.

 

 

How does verse 22 apply to you?

 


How do scourges (trials, temptations) stir us up to remembrance of the Lord and His promise?


 

What is scourging your life at the moment? Are you remembering?

 

 

 

 

I imagine Sariah laying on her blanket that first night in the wilderness, soaking her pillow with tears, her heart literally aching in her chest. I bet her faith was wavering –at least a little, maybe a lot. In the end though, she did not fail her faith, and it did not fail her. At some point or another, maybe even still a little mad about what was being required of her, she turned her heart to the Lord, and He carried her.
If she could stand among us now, right now, I’m willing to bet she’d tell us Sister to Sister that life is not easy. There are a lot of difficult challenges to face and mountains to climb. We will be asked to do more than we think we can possibly handle, but the Lord’s hand is upon us. It is always there, lifting and sustaining. If we are looking for it, we will see it. We will have heartbreaks and sorrows, but it doesn’t mean we can’t also have JOY, deep and abiding joy. Our Savior knows us personally, He loves us, and His promises are sure. Be willing.




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

i'm half zombie

Seriously. It was night 3 of Bear's* new wake-up to play at 2:30am game. I'm over it. I cannot, cannot go down this road again... No, no, no, no, no, no. Please, please, no!

A person really does need more than 3 hours a night. It's a true story. I'll admit that I've been a bit lazy with this baby. No set bedtime routines, yet. He's still in the pack-and-play next to my bed. And, as of this morning -as I've moved through this day in a fuzzy cloud of sleep depravation- I've decided I need to just bite the bullet. Take the shot. Feel the pain. And see what happens and pray like I've never prayed before that this sweet child will be a good sleeper.

In other news, he's *this close* to crawling on hands and knees. Babies are so cute and sweet and fun, except for that they're so dang HARD. They really have this weird ability to bring out the best of yourself, and also the worst. As in, I'm going on about 3 to 4 hours a night x a week at this point. I feel more dead than alive, and I yelled at Pirate this morning for coming in and waking me up when I had, for three half seconds actually had the luxury of falling asleep.

Luckily, Hubs stepped in this morning and helped me cross off a few of the must-dos on todays list, so really all I have to do now is pick up Pirate from school, and survive until bedtime. It's doable. I'm pretty sure.

Tonight: Hot bath, book, and bed by 9:00.

(Breaks down in tears of laughter at how ambitious that plan is. My odds of completion are about as likely as winning the lottery. Hahahahahahahahahahaaa. *sob*)

Friday, September 26, 2014

First Chapter of The Book of Mormon Book Club: First Nephi Series


1 Nephi, Chapter 1: Nephi Introduces Himself


 

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents…

 

Here they are; the famous first words of The Book of Mormon. Raise your hand if you’ve read these words more times that you can count. I know I have. In fact, I’ve found that these words are so deeply etched in folds of my brain that reading them switches my brain over to auto-read while my mind wanders to things like the mountainous pile of laundry that needs folding, and the meat that needs taken out of the freezer.

I mention this because if I do this, there are probably at least a few of you who do this too. It’s okay. It happens. We’re human. Some of us are more Martha than Mary. This time through, I’m determined to stay focused. I hope you are too.

 

Let’s read: 1 Nephi 1:1-3

 

What do we know about Nephi from these first three verses?

 

 

 

 

Do you have anything in common with Nephi? If so, what?

 

 

 

 

Let’s continue onto verses 4-15.

 

What do we know about Lehi from these verses?

 

 

 

 

Let’s go back to verse 5 for one second:

 

Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.

 

 




 
Have you ever prayed with all your heart for someone? For yourself? Take a few minutes to reflect and record your experience.
 
 
 
 
 
Now let’s look more closely at verses 13-15.
 
In vision Lehi sees Jerusalem, his birthplace, the “great city” in which he had “dwelt all his days” destroyed and the inhabitants carried away captive into Babylon. I don’t know about you, but if I saw my hometown destroyed and its people carried away to be slaves, I’d be devastated. Yet, Lehi comes away rejoicing with a full heart. In 14 he exclaims, “Great and Marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens and thy power and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth, and because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!”
          Somehow I have a bit of a hard time wrapping my mind around his reaction. The only thing that makes sense to me is the statement he makes at the end of verse 14: thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish! The scripture says he saw “many great and marvelous” things –perhaps he saw much more than just the destruction of his city. Perhaps he came away knowing what we with lesser faith must only believe: That the promises of the Lord are sure, that those who come unto him shall not perish.
 
Am I “coming” towards Him? Is my heart turned towards him? Is my face on His? Am I moving towards Him in thought and action?
 
Let’s continue, read verses 16-20.
 
Lehi goes about prophesying and declaring the things he saw and heard and he is met with mockery. In verse 20 they become angry, they cast him out, stone him, and seek to take his life. In our day I imagine this would look a little
like the prophet and apostles having rocks lobbed at them during General Conference. When I think of this scene in this way, I really get just how hardened this community had become. They were members of the church after all.
Then I have to wonder, in our own small ways, do we do this too? Not with literal rocks of course, but with criticisms? What about with deliberate disobedience? Just something to think about.
 
Let’s move onto my very favorite part of the chapter, the end of verse 20.
 
But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
 
Tender mercies are brought on by faith and deliver us. Deliver us from what?
 
 
 
What have been some “tender mercies” in your life?