Tuesday, May 28, 2013

For it sufficeth me

1 Nephi 6

I have often wondered about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Is it real or is it a made up book? I can see how many people would not believe the story of Joseph Smith, and how many people also might look for more, perhaps in the form of archeological evidence of the Book of Mormon in Central or South America. Nephi does not give his ancestry at this time because it is written in the Book of Lehi (which was lost with the 116 pages by Martin Harris; see D&C 3), but in his defense he reveals a powerful phrase that governs all of our choices: "for it sufficeth me".

I am satisfied with Nephi's explanation of why he didn't include the genealogy of his Father. His genealogy is really not important to me or any of the writings of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets to "persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved". It is a book for the spirituality of man and not an archeological record.

One thing my parents taught me about the Book of Mormon is that all the material proof in the world ("the things which are pleasing unto the world") will not make a difference in how you live your life. Spiritual impressions ("the things which are pleasing unto God") are the substance of a spiritual life. I am satisfied with the spiritual manifestations which I have received of the existence of God, of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

I want to pass this bit of wisdom to my children as my parents have passed it to me. The Book of Mormon (and any spiritual document) is for our spiritual progression, and does not need to be proven from every angle to be effective in its purpose. Time spent trying to prove this or that may be fine, but time is better spent finding out how this book can help you spiritually progress. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Preserve the commandments of the Lord

The plates of brass contained the books of Moses and a genealogy of Lehi's family. They were important. They were integral to preserving their future and discovering where they had come from.

I think we have all wondered at one time or another how our life would be different without an influence in our life. Growing up I often wondered what it would be like to not be mormon. I think Lehi and Nephi saw the difference in what their posterity would look like with and without the Brass plates. Lehi also prophesied about the power and influence of the brass plates and how they would be used all over the world. Without the scriptures/brass plates, the history of the Nephites woud have been reduced to an oral history and perpetuated with errors like a game of telephone.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Talking it through

1 Nephi 5

In a moment of weakness we are able to see the recorded disagreement between a prophet and his wife. The squabble was over the children, of course. Their struggles, specifically Sariah were not  how to raise them, but if they were still alive. She showed a lack of faith in God and a lack of faith in Lehi as a prophet calling him a "visionary man". I don't blame her, I am sure she was worried sick when her children did not come back, and Lehi was receiving the brunt of it.

So how did Lehi react to these accusations? With faith. He reiterated that because he was a "visionary man" they were able to escape Jerusalem before its destruction and they were to be blessed with "a land of promise" and finally that he knew that their sons would be all right. I suppose that he knew that she just needed to talk through it and that this experience would help increase her faith after it was over...And that is what happened. After their sons returned she recounted that now she knew "with a surety" that Lehi received a vision and they were being led by God.

Talking through my problems with my wife always makes me feel better. I do not know how many times I have come to my wife with my grumblings of doubt and depression and she just listens, and then talks me through it and we move on. I know there are times when she is feeling stressed and knows what to do, but also just needs to talk through some things. Listening and encouragement are the key. Did you notice that Lehi didn't offer any advice to Sariah? Do you notice how he didn't nitpick and talk down to her? He simply restated why they were there and let the events unfold with faith. I am so thankful for my wife for allowing me to talk through my periods of self doubt and discouragement.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

An oath

1 Nephi 4

Integrity is an important principle that is being lost in our selfish society. The current mentality that if nobody sees you or you don't get caught, then it is fine, is too prevalent. To the point where we cannot trust other people based on their word alone. Dishonesty, cheating, and inconsistency deplete the honor, trust, and respect that could make for much healthier communities.

Nephi met Zoram, and did not personally know him, yet once Nephi made an oath "that he need not fear" and Zoram made an oath that he wanted to stay their "fears did cease concerning him". How great would this be if we could trust people by their word. Inclusive in that trust is our children and spouse being able to trust us in our words. Our children are watching and have an innate sense of justice. They are aware when we say things we do not mean, or when we act different than our words. They need to see integrity in the home so they can then use integrity wherever they go. I think this is a vital part of the necessity of families. Children need to see parents that are honest with each other, and honest with them. If our families were built on honesty and integrity, our communities and society would be more dependable and we could trust each other.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I obeyed the law and the law won

The law - 1 Nephi 4

Nephi recognized the importance of the law, he endured difficult circumstances to ensure they had the plates of brass which contained the law of Moses which they lived by. He stated that "they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law." Without laws and boundaries, there are still "unspoken rules", but even they will get fuzzy without a standard. Our families are filled with laws, boundaries, and "unspoken rules", but sometimes they need to be made into laws to clearly define the lines. Sometimes it feels like children are constantly testing the waters with us as parents to see what they can get away with, and to feel out whether are rules have become laws or have slid into obscurity. Our children benefit when we make clear boundaries for them and enforce them, but it is easy to get lazy because a new rule takes time and effort to become a law. In addition, there are some grey areas with our spouse that could be better defined with frank discussion (Ex: don't buy anything without talking about it first).

It is one thing to lay down and enforce the law (the letter of the law), but it is another thing when children understand why. My wife is excellent at explaining why we have certain rules, while I am not as inclusive. However, when they can see that a rule is designed for their long term benefit, they are more likely to obey and participate in the law. For example, we have restrictions on video games, and have recently cut it down to once a week. My wife has been very thorough on explaining that too many video games are not good for your brain. This was not hard for them to understand because they know the feeling when they have vegged out too long or become monsters because they have been playing too much. In response to the decrease in screen usage our children have started reading a lot more for pleasure. My wife takes them to the library and they love getting a stack full of books each. Because they could see the reasons it has not been a struggle for them and they have replaced the brain destroying activity with brain building activities.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Certainly in uncertainty

Forward with faith - 1 Nephi 3,4

Nephi and his brothers kept turning back and trying different ways to get the brass plates from Laban and fulfill the commandment they had been given. Laman and Lemuel eventually decided it was too hard and decided to beat Nephi and Samuel, luckily an angel stopped them. And afterward Nephi was undeterred by his brother's continued resistance. He kept moving forward, even though he was not certain that he knew what he was going to do he was "led by the spirit not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do". I love that scripture.

Have you stressed out because of a grim or uncertain looking future? Have you ever been faced with a challenge in your relationship with your spouse? Have your kids ever become such a challenge that you are at a loss as of what to do? Well, Nephi didn't know what to do, but he had faith that God was more powerful than armies and would show him what to do because he was commanded to.

Uncertainity is simply an opportunity to show faith, an opportunity to rely on God for guidance and help. I know it is hard to remember to have faith in the moment, and many times a step back, a deep breath, and a prayer are needed, but if you are led by the spirit you will make the right decision.