Monday, February 27, 2017

How to Survive When Your World is Falling Apart All Around You

“In [4th Nephi], Mormon records his own life and history. It consists of 9 chapters and contains much of sorrow, bloodshed, wars and wickedness. In fact, Mormon was asked, at age 15, to serve as the commander-in-chief of all the Nephite armies. This is indeed a compliment to him, but it could also be a sad commentary on what wickedness had done to the men in his nation.

            We are told that the word, “Mormon,” means “more good.” See History of the Church, volume 5, pages 399-400. Mormon certainly exemplified his noble name.

            Before we study the 9 chapters in his book, we will take time to consider how this humble prophet survived in such a wicked environment and maintained his courage and his spirituality. There are many lessons for us in the principles taught by Mormon’s  life.

            We will list 6 steps, out of many, which we find in this book, and will narrow our approach down to “How to survive when your world is falling apart all around you,” using Mormon as our example. We will quote from his writings to support each step.



Step 1 (Mormon 1:15). Gain your own strong testimony of the gospel: “I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.”

Step 2 (Mormon 1:5, 2:17): Personal, strict obedience to righteous commitments, covenants, etc: “I remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me [in Mormon 1:3-4]. I had gone according to the word of Ammaron, and taken the plates of Nephi, and did make a record according to the words of Ammaron.”

Step 3 (Mormon 2:19): Confidence in your personal standing with God: “I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day.”

Step 4 (Mormon 3:11): Allow for “time out” when things become overwhelming, realizing that you will try again later, after you’ve regained strength: “I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.”

Step 5 (Mormon 5:1-2). Try again, and keep trying, even though there may seem to be little or no hope of success, because of seemingly “impossible” people. It is Christlike to keep trying with people: “I did go forth among the Nephites, and did repent of the oath which I had made that I would no more assist them; …But behold, I was without hope.”

Step 6 (Mormon 7:1). Love your enemies. Desire good for them. Do good for them. Such feelings and actions provide stability and are a means to spiritual survival for one’s self: “AND now, behold, I would speak somewhat unto the remnant of this people who are spared [the Lamanites, the bitter enemies of Mormon who have virtually destroyed his people] if it so be that God may give unto them my words, that they may know of the things of their fathers [the gospel of Christ, which their ancestors had]; yea, I speak unto you…”

            As stated above, Mormon is a wonderful example of someone who maintained his spirituality and Christlike attributes while surrounded by terrible wickedness and insensitivity to spiritual things.”

-David J Ridges, “The Book of Mormon Made Easier” Part Three: Helaman through Moroni, pg 237-8

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Caution: Steps to Wickedness

            "In studying the last half of Fourth Nephi, we will follow Mormon’s description of the downfall of a righteous nation, …[as] we did … elements of a Zion society, in verses 1-23.

            We will list the steps which Mormon points out …[in] the Book of Mormon which describes these tools of the devil, which he uses to destroy nations and individuals. You will no doubt see additional steps to the ones we list:

            Step 1. Pride and Materialism

4 Nephi 24 And now, in this two hundred and first year there began to be among them those who were lifted up in pride, such as the wearing of costly apparel, and all manner of fine pearls, and of the fine things of the world.

            Step 2. Selfishness.

25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.

Step 3. Divide into classes; look down on others; priestcraft; apostasy.

 26 And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.

Step 4. Pick and choose which parts of the gospel to live.

Step 5. Allow, but not necessarily participate in, wickedness in society.

Step 6. Lower the standards of the Church as far as the sacrament and worthiness is concerned.

 27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.

Step 7. Start desiring to be wicked.

 28 And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity, and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts.

Step 8. Put pressure on members of the Church who still want to live the gospel with exactness. Many in society begin trying to impose their “beliefs” upon faithful saints.

 29 And again, there was another church which denied the Christ; and they did persecute the true church of Christ, because of their humility and their belief in Christ; and they did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them.

 30 Therefore they did exercise power and authority over the disciples of Jesus who did tarry with them, and they did cast them into prison; but by the power of the word of God, which was in them, the prisons were rent in twain, and they went forth doing mighty miracles among them.

Step 9. Become angry at the Lord’s anointed, the leaders of the Church.

 31 Nevertheless, and notwithstanding all these miracles, the people did harden their hearts, and did seek to kill them, even as the Jews at Jerusalem sought to kill Jesus, according to his word.

 32 And they did cast them into furnaces of fire, and they came forth receiving no harm.

 33 And they also cast them into dens of wild beasts, and they did play with the wild beasts even as a child with a lamb; and they did come forth from among them, receiving no harm.

            Step 10. Select leaders whose values reflect their own desires for personal wickedness, support them, and follow them in persecuting the righteous.

34 Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did dwindle in unbelief and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away.

 35 And now it came to pass in this year, yea, in the two hundred and thirty and first year, there was a great division among the people.

 36 And it came to pass that in this year there arose a people who were called the Nephites, and they were true believers in Christ; and among them there were those who were called by the Lamanites—Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites;

 37 Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites.

 38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did dwindle.

 39 And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning.

 40 And it came to pass that two hundred and forty and four years had passed away, and thus were the affairs of the people. And the more wicked part of the people did wax strong, and became exceedingly more numerous than were the people of God.

 41 And they did still continue to build up churches unto themselves, and adorn them with all manner of precious things. And thus did two hundred and fifty years pass away, and also two hundred and sixty years.

 42 And it came to pass that the wicked part of the people began again to build up the secret oaths and combinations of Gadianton.

 43 And also the people who were called the people of Nephi began to be proud in their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, and become vain like unto their brethren, the Lamanites.

 44 And from this time the disciples began to sorrow for the sins of the world.

            Step 17. Almost everyone becomes very wicked. There is no discernable difference between many who are members of the Church and the wicked.

 45 And it came to pass that when three hundred years had passed away, both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceedingly wicked one like unto another.

 46 And it came to pass that the robbers of Gadianton did spread over all the face of the land; and there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus. And gold and silver did they lay up in store in abundance, and did traffic in all manner of traffic.

-David J Ridges, “The Book of Mormon Made Easier” Part Three: Helaman through Moroni, pg 233-6.