A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Free to Act . . . Obtaining Peace

Sometimes when I view our stupidity, inefficiency, wastefulness, cruelty, complacency, ignorance, rebellion, and stubbornness, I get a crazy feeling inside. It doesn't have to be so difficult. There really is a better way.

I asked God, “How can you patiently watch our foolishness?”

I heard him say, “What's the alternative?”


It wouldn't help in creating strong, independent, loving, capable, gentle, creative, and godlike children were God to force a better way upon us. People need space and time to get things figured out for themselves. It's one of the purposes of this telestial world. Making or forcing us to do some good thing would only build resistance and resentment in us. This scripture came to mind:

All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. D&C 93:30-31

So there you have it, “Here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man.”

I've heard people give credit to God for all sorts of atrocities. Why would God allow this? Why is this happening? If there really is a God, why is there so much suffering, evil, and heartache?

Well, God is love. We are allowed to make choices, and so we create problems and get to experience the consequences of our decisions. How are we to learn if not allowed to experience the results of our creations?

Lehi in teaching his family said this, “And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.” 2 Nephi 2:14

God created all things to act or to be acted upon. What does it mean to act? What does it mean to be acted upon? Who is free to act? Who is acted upon? We are creatures of habit, societal norms, addictions, traditions, and customs. Very few are free to act. Most of us are not much better off than Pavlov's dogs

We respond the way we've been trained to respond. Why do we do things the way we do? Well, its tradition.

The media, churches, schools, and our families train us. We go along without much thought or question. We are slaves to habit and social conditioning. Look how easy it is to get someone to conform and go along with the group even when it makes no sense.

How are we set free? How does Christ help us step off the rat-wheel and start acting for ourselves?

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. 2 Nephi 2:26-27

Is it possible to be free without being redeemed? What is sin? What does it mean to be redeemed? When captive, what are our choices? What is the relationship between redemption, eternal life, and freedom? What is the relationship between sin, captivity,and death? What brings misery? What brings peace and happiness?

O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.

And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins. And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls. Helaman 5:9-11

What is God's purpose in sending angels? What is the difference between being redeemed in your sins and being redeemed from your sins? How are we redeemed from our sins? How does knowledge and intelligence save us?

For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God,changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Mosiah 27:24-26

What happens when we are redeemed from the fall? What does it mean to be born of God? When do we become sons and daughters of God? How do we inherit the kingdom of God?

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:20-21

Where is the kingdom of God? What does that mean?

Where is the peace of God felt? What is the relationship between peace and redemption? What is the relationship between peace and the kingdom of God?

If we're looking for the peace the world promotes, we won't find it. The story of Abinadi and the priests of Noah shows the contrast between two very different understandings of peace.

Noah and his priests saw Abinadi as a troublemaker. In their view, he was stirring up contentions among the people.

I command you to bring Abinadi hither, that I may slay him, for he has said these things that he might stir up my people to anger one with another, and to raise contentions among my people; therefore I will slay him. Mosiah 11:28

This was Abinadi's message.

Yea, wo be unto this generation! And the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thy hand and prophesy, saying: Thus saith the Lord, it shall come to pass that this generation, because of their iniquities, shall be brought into bondage, and shall be smitten on the cheek; yea, and shall be driven by men, and shall be slain; and the vultures of the air, and the dogs, yea, and the wild beasts, shall devour their flesh.

And it shall come to pass that the life of king Noah shall be valued even as a garment in a hot furnace; for he shall know that I am the Lord.

And it shall come to pass that I will smite this my people with sore afflictions, yea, with famine and with pestilence; and I will cause that they shall howl all the day long. Yea, and I will cause that they shall have burdens lashed upon their backs; and they shall be driven before like a dumb ass.

And it shall come to pass that I will send forth hail among them, and it shall smite them; and they shall also be smitten with the east wind; and insects shall pester their land also, and devour their grain. And they shall be smitten with a great pestilence—and all this will I do because of their iniquities and abominations.

And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth; yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations. And many things did Abinadi prophesy against this people. Mosiah 12:2-8

Keep in mind the priest's question was designed to find an accusation against Abinadi.

And they began to question him, that they might cross him, that thereby they might have wherewith to accuse him; but he answered them boldly, and withstood all their questions, yea, to their astonishment; for he did withstand them in all their questions, and did confound them in all their words. Mosiah 12:19

This is the priest's question.

And it came to pass that one of them said unto him: What meaneth the words which are written, and which have been taught by our fathers, saying: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth; Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion; Break forth into joy; sing together ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem; The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God? Mosiah 12:20-24

Here's Abinadi's response.

And now Abinadi said unto them: Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things mean? Mosiah 12:25

After reading Abinadi's message of warning, can you see why the priests of Noah would use this question about peace in their attempt to confound Abinadi in his words? What was the priest's understanding of publishing peace and bringing good tidings? Here's Abinadi's explanation of the verses.

And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said, as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.

And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men— Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.

And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed? Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God. For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed? Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed.

And these are they who have published peace, who have brought good tidings of good, who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth! And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their feet! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace! And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever! And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people;

For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. Mosiah 15:6-19

Who are the Lord's seed? Peace comes to His seed through the redemption. Those who have been redeemed are heirs of the kingdom of God. Prophets have come into the Lord's presence and been redeemed from the fall. They know the truth and the truth has set them free. They invite others to come unto Christ and be redeemed. Peace is established as each soul comes unto Christ.

We live in troubled times. Two paths are before us. A scourge is going forth until those who have inherited peace are the only ones left standing.

For I, the Almighty, have laid my hands upon the nations, to scourge them for their wickedness. And plagues shall go forth, and they shall not be taken from the earth until I have completed my work, which shall be cut short in righteousness—Until all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song, saying:

The Lord hath brought again Zion;
The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel,
According to the election of grace,
Which was brought to pass by the faith
And covenant of their fathers.
The Lord hath redeemed his people;
And Satan is bound and time is no longer.
The Lord hath gathered all things in one.
The Lord hath brought down Zion from above.
The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.
The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength;
And truth is established in her bowels;
And the heavens have smiled upon her;
And she is clothed with the glory of her God;
For he stands in the midst of his people.
Glory, and honor, and power, and might,
Be ascribed to our God; for he is full of mercy,
Justice, grace and truth, and peace,
Forever and ever, Amen. D&C 84:96-102

We can be like Noah and his priests and reject the warning of coming danger, reject the invitation to receive peace, and perish; Or we can be like Alma and take the message to heart, repent, and receive the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Hebrews 8:10-12

May our hearts accept the laws of God. May our minds learn his ways. May we receive the light. May we see things the way God sees them and accept the peace he offers. In spite of all the stupidity, inefficiency, wastefulness, cruelty, complacency, ignorance, rebellion, and stubbornness around us, we obtain peace and our souls are at rest in the kingdom of God when we are redeemed from our sins. Christ frees us from our traditions, customs, social norms, addictions, and habits.  With the knowledge Christ gives, we are free to act and no longer be acted upon.

This is an earthly endeavor.    

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Law of the Boomerang

Life is set up to teach us. Understanding the laws of creation, helps us make choices leading to greater happiness and joy. If the law of the boomerang were understood, even the self-interested would make better choices.

Here's a simple video showing a boomerang in motion:

What does a boomerang have to do with life? Watching a boomerang in motion, helps us understand what becomes of our thoughts, words, and deeds.

A wise father taught his wayward son this truth. “That which ye do send out shall return unto you again.”

Let's look at how Alma taught the law of the boomerang to Corianton.

Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.

And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?

O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.

Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.” Alma 41:10-15

The record shows Corianton turning from his sin after being taught truth by his father (Alma 39:1-3, Alma 49:30).

Why don't we make a connection between our thoughts, words, deeds, and the things we experience in life? Notice when the boomerang is thrown, it doesn't immediately come back. It circles around and returns to the thrower.

Most of the time, there are many things occurring between when we throw something out and when it returns. We throw out many thoughts, words, and deeds within a single interaction, and have multiple interactions each day. We throw out both good and evil. When the boomerangs start returning, we don't always understand why they are coming back. Often we don't even remember throwing them.

Another reason the relationship between sending and receiving might not be recognized is the mode of delivery. When we send something out, we have a different viewpoint than when we are on the receiving end. Blaming, making excuses, and justifying our thoughts, words, and deeds are also a hindrance to seeing a clear connection. We learn by continually experiencing both ends of the stick.

Jesus taught, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” Matthew 7:12. For what you do to others, will be done unto you. So if you think about the boomerangs you send out, imagine them coming back to you. Do you want to experience the other end of the stick? If so, send it out. If not, make another choice. This law is designed to teach.

Here is another example, “And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it” 1 Nephi 22:14

Not only do our words and deeds return to us, but our thoughts also return. Even our fears return to teach us. Job gives us incite into his experience, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” Job 3:25

This is what Jesus teaches, “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” D&C 6:34-36

These are the results of those who choose faith in God over fear:

Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. Alma 56:47 . . .

And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, I numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain. But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war. Alma 56:55-56

We learn through suffering. We learn when the boomerang returns to us. It is the path Jesus walked, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; ” Hebrews 5:8 And it is the path we walk, “And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer.” Doctrine and Covenants 105:6

The natural man will immediately start judging others after learning about the law of the boomerang, but Paul taught our judgments of others are really only a judgment of ourselves, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” Romans 2:1 And so, this law can only be used internally.

The law of the boomerang is taught throughout the scriptures.

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6: 37-38

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

Understanding the law of the boomerang gives new meaning to King Benjamin's words, “And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not 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, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” Mosiah 4:29-30

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ye Will Not Suffer Your Children To Fight and Quarrel One With Another

This morning we were talking about which truths we've been taught yet still don't live. The first thing that came to mind is, “There is still contention in our home.”

King Benjamin taught, “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, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But 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.” Mosiah 4:14-15

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;” Doctrine and Covenants 121:41 We are to be long-suffering yet not suffer our children to fight and quarrel one with another. In other words, we are not to allow our children to fight and quarrel.

To solve the contention dilemma in our home, we needed the help of our family. We gathered the children to talk about solutions. Everyone had an opportunity to share their ideas while Dad took notes. We discovered three levels of commitment in our home.

At the lowest level, children often find themselves in the middle of a fight.

At the next level, children don't like contention and walk away from arguments and disputations.

At the highest level, children look to serve each other and improve each situation.

If everyone was at level two or three, contention would be eliminated; but we still have some in our family who choose to remain at level one.

In Mosiah 4:14-15, King Benjamin made the connection between walking in the ways of truth and soberness and eliminating contention. We have noticed much contention comes as a result of lazy and idle time. These are times when children look for ways to pick and tease. When children have a sober mind and a good focus, the home environment improves. Those with a sober mind reflect and ponder upon the consequences of their actions. As light and intelligence are gained, the desire to align life with truth increases.

We talked about what to do when a fight erupts. Most of us felt that running would be a healthy solution. Running laps would remove the child from the situation and give them an opportunity to get some fresh air, cool off, burn off some steam and energy, and have time to think about a better solution to their problems. All of us feel better when we exercise. We have a lot of runners in our family who run just because it makes them feel good.

One of our sons came up with the mantra, “Until you strengthen your mind, we will strengthen your body.” lol :-)

Family life is a work in progress.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Tribute to Jesus

As I listen to Karen Carpenter's "Top of the World", 
I think of the joy Jesus is in my life.  
This is a tribute to Him.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Book of Mormon Has a Message For the Latter Day Saint Gentile

In the title page of The Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon identifies the three groups of people the book addresses. “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile.”

In order to receive the message of the Book of Mormon meant for us. it is important to recognize which group we identify with. Am I a Lamanite? Am I a Jew? Or Am I a Gentile?

Book of Mormon Title Page

An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi

Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.


The prophets of the Book of Mormon saw our day and know exactly who they are addressing and what message each group needs to hear. These identities stay consistent throughout the entire book.

Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. Mormon 8:34-35

How does the Book of Mormon serve each of these three groups?
  • To show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.
  • To the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.

It was foreseen that the house of Israel would be scattered among all nations. It would follow that all the nations upon the face of the earth would be blessed by this bloodline.

Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual; for it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations. 1 Nephi 22:3

With this understanding, Mormon continues to distinguish the Gentiles from the House of Israel in his writings. Notice even when the Gentiles receive the fulness of the Gospel, they are still called gentiles. In the Book of Mormon, receiving the Gospel does not seem to change a Gentile into an Israelite.

Yea, even my father spake much concerning the Gentiles, and also concerning the house of Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive tree, whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.

Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.

And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer. 1 Nephi 10:12-14

The gentiles are given the hope that if they repent and return unto the Father, they shall be numbered among God's people; but still the record does not show that their identity changes when they accept God's offering and protection. What is the difference between being numbered among them and becoming one of them?

And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel. But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father. 3 Nephi 16:12-14

If Joseph and the people attending the dedication of the Kirtland Temple have already been baptized, why did Joseph still identify the members of the church and himself as Gentiles? Joseph Smith reiterates these distinctions between these three groups of people in his prayer.

Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.

But thou knowest that thou hast a great love for the children of Jacob, who have been scattered upon the mountains for a long time, in a cloudy and dark day. We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed; And the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David; And the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father.

And cause that the remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten because of their transgression, be converted from their wild and savage condition to the fulness of the everlasting gospel; That they may lay down their weapons of bloodshed, and cease their rebellions.

And may all the scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the earth, come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before thee. D&C 109:60-67

Just as the gentiles were allowed to go through and tread down the seed of Nephi's brethren,

And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten. 1 Nephi 13:14

the house of Israel shall go through among the gentiles, and shall tread them down. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last. 1 Nephi 13:42

But if they [gentiles] will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel. 3 Nephi 16:15

Which specific group of Gentiles is Jesus describing in this verse? Who has been called to be the salt of the earth?

When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men; They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. D&C 101: 39-40

Which group of Gentiles were called with an everlasting covenant?

What is this group of Gentiles doing? What have they rejected? What will the Father do?

And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. 3 Nephi 16:10-11

Who is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ? What does it mean to reject the fulness of the gospel? What does it mean to receive the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision. D&C 76:14

As Gentiles we have the opportunity to be numbered among God's people but it requires us to repent and return unto God. We too must seek the face of the Lord and receive the promise of eternal life.

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; D&C 93:1

And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. D&C 39:5

And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life. D&C 101:38

Individually, we each must make the choice.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Don't Need to Pay a Man to Receive Blessings From the Lord

About five years ago, I learned that I don't need to make a payment to men to receive blessings from the Lord. Up until this time, I paid more than 10% of my earnings to the church of my fathers.

In my religious culture and family tradition it's that wonderful time of the year when people report on how much money they've given to the priests. If it isn't at least 10% of their income, they are judged as unworthy and denied “the Lord's blessings”.

But this is the Lord's truth. “Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” 2 Nephi 9:50

It is very common among churches to ask the congregation for money to support the priests. This is what the Book of Mormon has to say about priestcraft:

And he (Nehor) had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money. Alma 1:3-5

But Alma said unto him: Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction. And thou hast shed the blood of a righteous man, yea, a man who has done much good among this people; and were we to spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance. Therefore thou art condemned to die, according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law. Alma 1:12-14

Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor. Alma 1:16

Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price. Alma 1:20

Here is another excerpt from the Book of Mormon which juxtaposes the free offering of Jesus Christ with priestcraft.

For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.

Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.

He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. 2 Nephi 26:23-29

Giving money to the priests is not part of Jesus's temple recommend questions. Giving money to the priests will not bring forgiveness of sins or make you worthy before the Lord.

. . . there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins. O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Mormon 8:32-33

God has asked us to give alms to help relieve the burdens of the poor. This is how it is to be done:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:1-4

What is the reward of men? What is the reward of God? From whom do we seek our reward?

Why have we turned things upside down? Since when has giving money to support the priests and the building of spacious buildings become noble, righteous, and a condition for worthiness?

And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding? 2 Nephi 27:27

I suspect if head high priests preached only for the love of God and the reward He gives, their motives would be more pure and not governed by their pocket books.

Note: In the LDS church, those at the local or low level are not paid. They are the ones doing the paying. Those at general or high levels are paid.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cry Unto the Lord

Over the last few years, I've thought a lot about what it means to cry unto the Lord. In the last few weeks, I have received greater understanding.

First, what does it mean to cry?

Cry (verb):
  • shed tears, especially as an expression of distress or pain.
  • shout or scream, especially to express one's fear, pain, or grief.
  • say something in an excited or anguished tone of voice.
Cry (noun):
  • a spell of weeping.
  • a loud inarticulate shout or scream expressing a powerful feeling or emotion.
  • a loud excited utterance of a word or words.
  • an urgent appeal or entreaty.

This kind of emotion cannot be faked or forced when communicating with the Lord. It's something that comes from deep within the heart.

When I no longer cast blame and judgment and am unwilling to make excuses. When I no longer am the victim but willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon me (Mosiah 3:19). All that is left is the pain of a broken heart. The defense mechanisms I set up to protect myself from the pain are gone, and I cry. I pray continually by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry. (2 Nephi 33:3)

What kind of heart cries because of the pain of others? What kind of heart free-falls totally trusting in God? What kind of heart cries unto the Lord in all things?

Moses 7:49 And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?

Moses 7:54 And it came to pass that Enoch cried unto the Lord, saying: When the Son of Man cometh in the flesh, shall the earth rest? I pray thee, show me these things.

Moses 7:58 And again Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the earth rest?

Moses 7:45 And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life?

Moses 7:50 And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.

1 Nephi 2:16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

1 Nephi 2:18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.

1 Nephi 17:7 And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been in the land of Bountiful for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord.

2 Nephi 4:30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

2 Nephi 5:1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren.

2 Nephi 26:7 O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord; but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are just.

Enos 1:15 Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.

Mosiah 23:28 Therefore they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord that he would soften the hearts of the Lamanites, that they would spare them, and their wives, and their children.

Mosiah 29:20 But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him.

Alma 37:36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

Alma 34:27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.

Alma 18:41 And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and my people.

Alma 15:10 And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.

Alma 38:8
8 And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.

Alma 43:50
50 And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them; and they fled even to the waters of Sidon.

Alma 43:49
49 And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.

Alma 14:26
26 And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

Ether 1:37
37 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon their friends and their families also, that they were not confounded.

Ether 2:22
22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

Ether 6:7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.

3 Nephi 1:12
12 And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:

3 Nephi 3:15 Yea, he said unto them: As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton robbers.

The list of scriptures goes on. The soft heart, the broken heart, the heart that cries to God is heard by God. “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” 2 Nephi 2:7

Our culture teaches us to harden our hearts, fight for our rights, defend our position, make a mock of our brother, seek our own self interest, and war one with another.

Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel. Ether 4:15

The Lord really does know how to fix things. Let us soften our hearts, cry unto the Lord, and love each other.    

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I Give You My Burden. I Am Thy Servant.

As I struggled with a challenge that was out of my control, I heard the Lord speak these words, “Give me your burden.”

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalms 55:22

As my burden weighed heavily upon me, I yearned for relief. I handed my burden over to Jesus. Now it was his problem not mine. He asked for it, and I was willing to give it to him.

I still felt the burden in the coming days. I asked myself, “What attachment do I have to this burden? Why do I want to hang on to it when Jesus said he would take it? What can I do? What do I do with all the pain and ramifications of the situation? Even though I can't fix the problem, there must be something I can do to redirect my focus and attention.”

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. Mosiah 7:33

This mantra came to mind, “I give you my burden. I am thy servant.”

I repeated these words over and over. I prayed for strength to truly let go and let God handle the problem. God inspired me with things to do and ways to see things differently. I did what he asked without attachment to the outcome.

His light and intelligence began to give me a deeper understanding. I felt His love, hope was restored, and I experienced the miracle of the atonement.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 (emphasis added)

Light (noun):

  • the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.
  • understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment.
  • spiritual illumination by divine truth.
Light (verb)
  • provide with light or lighting; illuminate
  • make (something) start burning; ignite
Light (adjective)
  • having a considerable or sufficient amount of natural light; not dark.
  • of little weight; easy to lift.
  • easily borne or done.
  • gentle or delicate.
  • free from worry or unhappiness; cheerful.

God has enlightened and illuminated my understanding, unfolded a mystery, ignited my spirit with the fire of his love, made my burden easy to lift, has been gentle with my feelings, and given me happiness. Yes, His burden is light!

I gladly give Him my burdens. It is my privilege to be His servant.    

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The End of the World

What are your thoughts on the end of the world? Many worry, others don't care, some think it is all science fiction, a few have geared-up to weather the storm. Many movies have been made about this topic. Here are just a few clips from some of these movies: 

WARNING: Some of the clips contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

End Of The World #Trailer 2016

End Of The World Movies

WatchMojo rates the top ten in this clip.

#1 1964 Dr. Strangelove
#2 2011 Melancholia
#3 1998 Last Night
#4 1959 On the Beach
#5 2013 This is the End
#6 1983 The Day After
#7 2013 These Final Hours
#8 1988 Miracle Mile
#9 2012 Seeking a Friend for the End of the Worlds
#10 2014 Interstellar

Honorable Mention
2009 Knowing
2000 Titan A.C.
2005 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
2012 The Cabin in the Woods

I don't know about you, but this doesn't look like a bright future and something to look forward to.

The scriptures give a different explanation of the end of the world. The end of the world is the destruction of the wicked.

And Jesus left them, and went upon the Mount of Olives. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying: Tell us when shall these things be which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the Jews; and what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked, which is the end of the world? Joseph Smith Matthew 1:4

The harvest is the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked. . . As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world, or the destruction of the wicked. JST, Matthew 13:39,41.

The end of the world is a day to be looked upon with joy and anticipation. A time when mankind is set free. The only thing to fear is the condition of our hearts.

After explaining the reason for blogging, Denver started his blog with this post:

It is a misnomer to speak of the “kingdom of the Devil” because the description presumes something more organized than is the case. It is difficult to organize when fear, hatred and anger are the primary motivations. Love is a far more cohesive, creative and loyalty producing motivation. All that Satan does is designed to destroy itself, as well as all those who follow him. The Kingdom of Heaven contrasted with Hell

Here are a few excerpts from Denver's blog published this week:

The kingdom of God will “grind to dust” through persuasion, example and overcoming the world. If there is no need for financial, legal, administrative, or social assistance from the governments of men then the New Jerusalem can break free of man’s corrupt governments.

The way Zion will “grind to dust” the kingdoms of man will not be by force. The “kingdom of God” will progress “by faith & revolutionize the world, not by power, nor by might, but by pure intelligence.” (JS Papers Administrative Records, p. 157.)

Not all the wicked will be persuaded, and there will be violence because of corruption in the coming days. In the future, it will be with the gentiles as it was with the Nephites: the wicked will destroy the wicked:

But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed. (Emphasis added.)

Modern revelation speaks of the coming distress among the wicked:

I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man; (D&C 63:33, emphasis added.)  All or Nothing,  6

The kingdoms of men will be ground to dust because all peaceful men will choose to live above their laws in Zion. There will be no commerce to be taxed, but only labor to feed and clothe one another. No legal agreements because people will honor their promises to one another. No police, no lawyers, courts or prisons. They will “deal justly with one another” never asking for mercy, or pardon for failure. To deal “justly” requires every citizen to hold themselves to the rigorous standard of “justice” instead of the lax standard of “mercy.” Even as they hold themselves to a standard of “justice,” they will show “mercy” and “forgiveness” and “charity” to others. “Justice” is only to be applied internally to make us deal fairly with others. Externally, every man expects to allow his neighbor the kindness and mercy he hopes the Lord will show to him in the day of judgment.

As the best of society gravitates to live in Zion, those who refuse to obey a higher standard will be left behind. They will become increasingly unproductive, unlawful, unkind, unmerciful, and ungovernable. Babylon will collapse into chaos. Zion will thrive. All or Nothing, 7-Conclusion

The end of the world looks very different looking through the two different sets of lenses.   

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ye Shall Not Resist Evil

The Book of Mormon shows us the pattern in the creation of Zion.

And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them, and did truly repent of their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus; and they did also receive the Holy Ghost.

And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.

And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. 4 Nephi 1:1-3

#1 They did truly repent, were baptized, and received the Holy Ghost.
#2 They were converted unto the Lord.
#3 There were no contentions and disputations.
#4 They did deal justly one with another.
#5 They had all things common.
#6 They were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

There is order in the development of people. There is essential preparation needed before God will call us Zion. In our excitement and zealousness, we are tempted to take short cuts and skip a few steps. If we were to skip to step five without successfully moving through steps one, two, three, and four, it would be disastrous. If people tried to have all things common without the necessary preparation, it would fail.

Communism also seeks to have all things common:

In political and social sciences, communism is a social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state. 

Many questions come to mind about the sequence of development needed in God's people: Why do men need a proper baptism before they can be converted to the Lord? How does conversion unto the Lord prepare us to let go of our contentions and disputations? What does it mean to deal justly one with another? Can we deal justly with each other while we are still contending and disputing? Why do men need to deal justly with each other before they have all things common?

Having no contentions is mentioned in four different verses in 4 Nephi. After living without contentions and disputations, did the people discover deeper levels of having no contention among them?

And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. 4 Nephi 1:2

And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus. 4 Nephi 1:13

And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. 4 Nephi 1:15

And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.4 Nephi 1:18

I watched my children discuss color, light, and reflection of light this morning. My daughter who is an artist was explaining the following concept to a younger sibling:

An object that appears a certain color reflects the light frequency that corresponds to that color, and it absorbs all the other frequencies in the visible light spectrum. An orange absorbs all of the frequencies but orange. A banana absorbs all of the frequencies except for yellow.

I noticed it really bothered him that she would say something appears to be orange because it absorbs everything except orange. In his mind that just couldn't be right. It was obvious to him that if something was orange, it had orange in it, not every color except orange.

As I walked down to the garden, I thought about what I had just observed. It was curious to me the amount of energy he put in to resisting a concept that was new to him.

I started thinking about resistance. How does it make me feel when I'm resisting something? Is there ever a need to resist? Can I still have a difference in thought or opinion without putting up a resistance? Resistance seems to be a breeding ground for contention.

I found three scriptures that speak about resisting evil. This is what Jesus said:

    But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:3

    But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; 3 Nephi 12:39

This is what Pahoran said:

    Therefore, my beloved brother, Moroni, let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God. Alma 61:14

Which counsel should we follow? Does the Lord understand something that Pahoran doesn't? Is it necessary to resist evil? Zion will be a place of refuge for those who would rather flee than take up his sword against their neighbor.

And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy. (D&C 45:66-71)

I've asked myself many questions: When contention arises in my home, do I join the contention by seeking to control and subdue it? When someone accuses me, do I feel a need to defend myself? When someone is angry, irritable, and upset, am I offended? How do I handle injustices? Can I eliminate war by warring against evil? Do I resist evil?