I originally wrote this post in July of 2017. I’ve updated it since:
Christ gave His chosen Twelve Disciples in both continents a rare opportunity. One by one, he asked them “What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?” Eleven of the Jewish Disciples and nine of the Nephite Disciples asked for the same thing:
We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom.
But John and three unnamed Nephites requested to remain on the earth and serve the Lord long after their natural lifespans. I used to wonder why the disciples were not unanimous in asking for that blessing. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a missionary forever?
This all started a few weeks ago when our primary president came to me with an interesting request. She wanted the kids to meet a very special visitor: the great Nephite prophet, Moroni. So I found myself this morning standing in front of a bunch of kids, wearing a white nightgown, holding a homemade aluminum foil leaf of the Gold Plates, and telling them “my story.”
I was reading the last chapter of the Book of Moroni the other day. Moroni is running short on time and even shorter on space on the plates at this point, so you know he’s gotta be really careful about what he includes and how he words his final messages to us. Not surprisingly, he spends the entire time testifying of Christ and the Atonement. During his last few verses– his “dying breaths” so to speak– he pleads with us to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness… and love God with all your might, mind and strength.” And, as with all scripture, this invitation comes with a promise: if we will accept Moroni’s invitation to come unto Christ, “then is his grace sufficient for you.”
The wording of that promise struck me. It sounds kind of backward, doesn’t it?
A previous post discussed how a rebel coalition of Lamanite soldiers combined together to stand valiantly against commands of the wicked king to go to war against the Lamanites. The rebellion could have been the turning point for the whole Lamanite nation. And they had every advantage:
- They had the numbers (the majority)
- They had the weapons
- They had the mountain
- They had the warning and foreknowledge
- They had the conviction
Like the Lamanite rebels, we come into life with every advantage over the forces of our own adversary. But in the end, all the advantages were not enough for the Lamanites. And if we’re careful, our advantages won’t be enough, either.
I am indebted to a wonderful sister in my ward for her testimony today. From the pulpit, she read these words of Nephi, describing his family’s efforts to start settling once they landed in the New World:
And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem.
See, if I were Nephi, I would be a little hesitant to plant all my seeds right away, wouldn’t you?
This is an edit and update of a post I originally ran in 2017. Enjoy!
Amalickiah was not successful in his first military campaign against the Nephites. His captains tried to attack the city of Ammonihah but found it so heavily fortified that it would have been suicide. So they headed to the city of Noah and swore an oath to take it or die trying. But that one was even more heavily fortified. So, they went the “die trying” route.
During the few years following, while the Lamanites were still reeling from that stunning defeat, Moroni had been preparing the hearts and cities of the Nephites to be victorious the next time Amalickiah’s forces would come. By the time Amalickiah had decided to come down himself with the rest of his army, all the cities of the Nephites had been turned into an Ancient American Fort Knox. The Nephites were totally prepared.
But when the Lamanite armies arrived in Alma 51, that preparation didn’t matter because there weren’t enough people to defend the forts. Moroni was missing. His entire army was missing.
The other day as I read in Mormon, I saw some really interesting wording that I thought would make a good blog post. But as I started writing about it, I realized that the only way to see the neat connection I saw was if you read the selection without regard to the verse markings. So I went on a tangent in my original post about how the verse markings can often get into our way. My thoughts and feelings kept flowing and that tangent became this whole post which I’m calling “The Three Degrees of Scripture Study.”
Originally posted January 5, 2017
A little while before the birth of our first kid, a wise ward member gave me some counsel I will never forget. He said that when a first child is born, there are actually three people born that day: the child is born into mortality, the woman is born into motherhood, and the man is born into fatherhood. The whole family takes a huge collective step forward in their roles. All emerge on the birthday as brand new creatures. So when my wife and I finally welcomed our son, I expected it to hit me harder. I expected my whole outlook and perspective on life would suddenly change now that I was a father. But that never happened.
In chapter 6 of Moroni, we get a glimpse of what it was like to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Nephite Saints:
And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
In the Church today, you’ll see a lot of fasting (like today). You’ll see a lot of praying. And you’ll probably see a little too much speaking one with another. But how often do we speak to each other about the welfare of our souls?
I get the feeling Nephi was a pretty patient, generous guy. Throughout all of 1 Nephi, he recounts many attempts by Laman and Lemuel to tie him up, beat him up, leave him in the wilderness to be devoured by beasts, throw him in the ocean, strap him to a flailing ship, and murder him when they arrived at the promised land. Yet through all their whining and anger and attempted murders, Nephi is very careful to always refer to Laman and Lemuel as his “brethren.”
But all that changes in 2 Nephi. Finally, when Laman and Lemuel are so past feeling that they and their descendants have all given themselves to the dark side and devolved into violent, hate-filled savages, Nephi has to acknowledge what sadly has been unfolding for decades by this point. In 2 Nephi 4, he refers to back to one particular experience where Laman and Lemuel try to drown him and in remembering this, Nephi thanks the Lord for protecting him against his “enemies.”
Nephi’s not the only one who’s experienced that change from brother to enemy, of course. There are many modern-day Nephis among us.