Tuesday, October 27, 2015

1 Nephi 14:1 Stumbling Blocks

The first verse in 1 Nephi 14 gives a powerful promise to the gentiles. I include myself as a gentile, which I define as someone who is outside the fold of God. But gentiles can come unto Christ, just like anyone else and have all the blessings of the gospel given to them. As a father and husband in todays world I feel like it is an uphill battle. I am starting from an outside place (just like a gentile), and doing my best to be included among the blessed people of God. 
Verse 1 says "If the gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks"
There are so many "stumbling blocks" in parenting and marriage. Some of them are personal such as my impatience and unrealistic expectations for my children. Some of them are external such as the ever lurking dangers of the internet, the constant desire for entertainment, and many secular views of the world.
But all of them can be taken away by hearkening unto the Lamb of God. Which for me, means following the teachings of Christ. The biggest stumbling block that I can think of I have already mentioned, my lack of patience. The hardest part about being patient is that you never get a break. In order to be successful at being patient you have to constantly be doing it. I need help with this so I am going to look for answers ("in word, and also in power, in very deed") among the teachings of Christ and apply them to my life.
Some teachings that already jump to my mind are Christ's charity for others. He loved those that persecuted him. I get angry when my kids misbehave, when I should instead correct and teach with love. What are some teachings of Christ that have helped remove your stumbling blocks?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

1 Nephi 13: 1-10 - The great and abominable church

The desires of the world are selfish. The world seeks for money, power, clothes, status, and pride. The results of these desires are loneliness and misery. Nephi saw the manifestation of the world in the formation of a church. I do not see this church as an organization, and I think that is what makes it hard to identify at times. I often see myself aligning myself with this church when I make selfish decisions. As a father, I wonder how do I keep my children away from this church? How can I be a better example? How can I help my children recognize their own pride?
On the other side, the Church of Christ promotes unselfish love for all. Serving, thinking of others, and being humble are the desires of His church. The results of these desires are happiness. Children have many tendencies towards love and humility, but they also have tendencies towards the opposite. I find this especially pertinent towards my older children who have a hard time making decisions based on others, and tends to focus on immediate gratification.
I think one way I will try and help my children more is to look for opportunities to help others with them. When I served others as a child I always felt the spirit of love and joy, if they can feel that then maybe they will seek that feeling in their actions as well.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Thy seed" -1 Nephi 12-

As Nephi's vision continues he was shown his progeny including an era of righteousness with the visitation of Christ and the calling of 12 ministers, and and era of wickedness with the destruction and wars of his people. This got me wondering if I were given a glimpse of my posterity what would it look like, even 100 years from now? I think a large part of that can be influenced by the type of father and spouse I am today. Let's look at the contrast in the two eras that Nephi saw.

The first era he was shown in detail was that of righteousness 1 Nephi 11:6-13. The following are the characteristics of the righteous era:

- Christ showed himself unto them - verse 6
- The holy ghost fell upon twelve ministers of Christ - verse 7, 8
- They were purified through faith in the atonement - verse 11

The following are the characteristics of the wicked era:

- Carried away in the temptations of the devil - verse 17
- Blind eyes, hard hearts, and wandering paths - verse 17
- Vain imaginations and pride - verse 18
- Unbelief - verse 22

Which of these do you want to see in your progeny? Obviously the first. So I will do my best as a father to exemplify and implement the principles of Christ that made a peaceful and happy people. Relying faith in the atonement, using the holy ghost to be a leader and following leaders by that same spirit, repenting of past mistakes, and making changes to create a more peaceful home. My hope is that my children will want that same peace and continue in it for generations.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The love of God and the love of the World 1 Nephi 11:22-35

After Nephi saw the birth of Christ he was asked what the meaning of the tree in his Father's vision represented. Nephi responded "...it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all other things." 1 Ne 11:22.

I have felt the love of God in abundance lately being separated from my family. I have realized that I love them so much, and they give me so much purpose and joy in this life. Without them, I still have things to do, friends, and many people that love me, but with them I have the love of God, a fulfilling and complete joy. I feel the same way when I am with my mother, father, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. I realize some people don't have a loving family, but I know they can still have joy. We all have a Father in Heaven, who is there to comfort, love, guide, and lead us to joy and happiness. 

Nephi also saw a contrast to the joy found of partaking of the fruit of live in the great and spacious building (representing the secular world). The worldly would make fun of our families and demean their value. "Success" to the worldly requires status, money, education, and having more than others. It values separation, pride, and a demeaning attitude. The "great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great." When someone passes away, what is said of how they lived their life? How much money they had? How "successful" they were? Or what kind of father/mother/brother/sister/friend... they were. Did they value familiy and relationships or money and pride?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mothers 1 Ne 11:15-20

My church is often seen as patriarchal centered, and many view it as sexist, because only men are allowed to hold the priesthood. Although, I have questioned this at times, I think my concerns were well addressed by Elder Dallin H. Oak's talk given in April of 2014. Furthermore I feel that their are many examples of the respect and love mother's and women are given in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 Nephi 11 shows another example of that.

Nephi asked to see the vision of his Father. The first thing he sees is "the mother of the Son of God" -1Ne 11:18-. There are many other examples where a woman was placed first. The first one to see the resurrected Christ was Mary Magdalene. Eve was the first to partake of the fruit. Many people see this as a mistake, but I feel that Eve had foresight beyond Adam, and knew that the only way to have true joy would be to be faced with opposition. During his ministry, Christ used women as examples of devotion, love, and forgiveness, such as the widow's mite, the woman at the well, and the woman accused of adultery.

Nephi was shown the mother of Christ, and the birth of the savior before anything else, and Christ's reverence to women, should be exemplified in my life. The well-being of my wife is my first priority, and for many reasons. Nothing compares to the sacrifice a woman goes through to bring children into this world. I have been fortunate to see my wife selflessly go through pregnancy and childbirth multiple times. My best efforts to help her did little to ease her pain and discomfort, I do not know how I would handle such drastic changes to my body (just imagining it seems crazy!). Yet my wife did it, and through her selfless love has fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams to become a father. I am nothing without her.

As men can do little to help a woman's pain and discomfort during pregnancy (although we, as husbands, should try our best), women deserve every comfort a man can offer, especially as a father. Which is why I think that when I am around the kids with my wife, no matter how long a day I have had at work or whatever my ailments, she should not have to take turns with me changing diapers, putting kids to bed, or whatever family responsibilities are left for the day. She is a mother all day, she was pregnant for 9 months, I can be a father the rest of the evening, and after the kids are in bed, then I can be her husband, and nothing could make me happier.

This past mother's day I made these certificates and presented them to my wife. Now to follow through!

This post was centered on the actions of my wife as a mother which is only one of the many mother's that have influenced my life. My respect and love for my own mother is another subject that begs eternal respect and praise. How do you honor the women in your life? 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"I do not know the meaning of all things" 1 Ne 11:17

Before Nephi was shown the vision that his father saw he was asked a few questions. Some questions that Nephi had an answer for, and some questions that he did not. One of the questions that he was asked has made me think and ponder on multiple occasions.

"Knowest thou the condescension of God?" -1 Ne 11:16- 

What has confused me about this phrase is the juxtaposition of the words condescension and God. the word condescension has a negative tone to me, as it is usually used to describe someone's prideful actions, and God has a positive and loving connotation to me, so initially the phrase does not make sense to me. But if you think of the position of God as a perfect being who interacts with imperfect humans that he loves, it is a condescension. So in other words, I think the question is saying "Why do you think God interacts with souls that are imperfect, what does God do for his imperfect children".
Having made sense of that phrase Nephi's response is what strikes me as an important lesson for me as a father. 

"I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things" -1 Ne 11:17-

Nephi expresses his imperfect knowledge while addressing a fundamental truth; that he knows his Father in Heaven loves him. I feel that God, in many instances, has given me a taste of his love for me in blessing me with children. I have a relationship with my children, and my father, that is similar to my relationship with my Father in Heaven. Although I am far from perfect, I definitely have more experience and insights on life than my children, and I want to pass on my knowledge to my children so they can have the best chances of happiness. I know that much of my advice will go unnoticed and unappreciated by my children, but what I think will be most beneficial and important for my children is to know that I love them. With limited understanding kids often don't see the importance of rules, traditions, or simple instructions, but they can always understand that their father loves them.

So how are my kids going to know that I love them? How can I do better in showing and expressing love? These are the simplest and first ideas that come to mind.

Say "I love you" in a meaningful way
Play with them
Go on outings
One-on-one interaction
Serve and help others together
Talk to them as an equal
Explain why 
Have patience

Anything you can think of?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"I believe all the words of my father"

Nephi believed "all of the words of [his] father -1 Ne 11:5-, but still desired to see what his father saw. This really opens up a lot of questions for me about what Nephi was thinking. He believed, but he wanted to SEE. I don't know what his motives were, was he just curious? Did he just want to know what his father saw? Did he just want more detail? Whatever the reason, he was given another reason as to why he would see a vision; to bear witness of Jesus Christ.

I also wonder about this father and son relationship between Lehi and Nephi. Why did Nephi believe his father? Why did Laman and Lemuel not believe. I assume they all heard the same things from Lehi, what was the difference? I think the difference was the desire of the children. Just as Nephi wanted to see the vision his father saw, Laman and Lamuel, we learn later, did not even bother to ask what anything meant. I want my kids to ask questions and seek out answers on their own, but we first have to give them something to think about. I am going to share more of my experiences with my children. I can recall many experiences from my mother, including her conversion story. I heard my father speak in church probably close to 100 times. Without even thinking about it, these stories and experiences were probably what caused me to ask in prayer like Nephi and "desire to behold the things which my father (and mother) saw".