“With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible” – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk, With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible,” by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1988 session of General Conference.

For with God Nothing Shall Be Impossible

This talk was the perfect thing for me to study today.

I think that I’ll start with this quote, even though this came at the end of the talk:

You who may be momentarily disheartened, remember, life is not meant to be easy. Trials must be borne and grief endured along the way. As you remember that “with God nothing shall be impossible,” know that He is your Father. You are a son or daughter created in His image, entitled through your worthiness to receive revelation to help with your righteous endeavors. You may take upon you the holy name of the Lord. You can qualify to speak in the sacred name of God. It matters not that giants of tribulation torment you. Your prayerful access to help is just as real as when David battled his Goliath. – Russell M. Nelson

I have an admission, I get disheartened easier than I would like. Overall, I feel like I’m a very optimistic person. This is all centered on the fact that I know that the Lord is good, I know that He Loves us, and I know that there is no limit to His love, power, knowledge or blessings. In other words, He is a god of abundance, and He wants – no he delights – in blessing us with His abundance.

I’m an optimist, but I am also striving. I’m also trying to be a better person. I don’t believe in the concept of “perfection,” but I do want to do what I can to increase my talents, to “10x” my life. Much has been given to me in my life; much is required. I have a hunger that seems to be impossible to satiate. I have this one life to live – I love it, and I want to “get after it.”

Of course, Heavenly Father wants us to dream big and to work for those dreams. It doesn’t have to be done in some “type-A” kind of way. Look at the life of the Savior. He didn’t have meetings or “SMART” goals. He didn’t come to the earth when he impact more people globally by sending out a tweet or writing a blog. He didn’t walk into Jerusalem and force everyone to be healed. He simply served one at a time. His mode of transportation was his two feet. His mode of communication was his audible voice. Despite the fact that he wasn’t a type-A kind of a dude, he “10xed” his life. He did exactly the needful thing at each moment. He made an impact on our world that is unforgettable. He fulfilled His mission.

This is how I strive to be – I’m really happy with my life, but I’m also still hungry. There is so much that is so great about this world. There is so much to see, to experience. There is so much room for my own growth. There is so much I want to learn. I also want to do everything I can to improve my relationships. I am very serious about my role as a nurturer, and I want to be the kind of woman who is able to nurture others – both my children, spouse, and anyone else I come in contact with.

So – with this insight on my desires, there are specific goals I have. Those specific goals aren’t necessary to mention in this blog, but I guess it is important that I let you know I have them. I have specific goals – some that are easier to achieve than others. A few of them have required greater faith than I’m always able to muster. Thankfully the Lord is patient with me, and He helps me.

***

In the Book of Mormon, there is a story about a group of people: The Jaredites. Their story begins with a journey to the promised land. They originated in the city of Babel, and traveled for about four years before they were commanded to build barges and cross the sea. Finally, the barges were prepared, the food was prepared, God – through the faith of the brother of Jared – blessed them with a way to have light and comfort in these barges. And they began their journey to the promised land.

We learn how the barges moved forward toward the promised land:

“And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.” – Ether 6:6

So – in order to get to the promised land, a furious wind blew. They didn’t drift leisurely toward their destination. This was no pleasure cruise. We learn:

“And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.” – Ether 6:7

Notice the description of the sea: mountain waves, terrible tempests, fierce winds. All of this was done so that the Jaredites could make it to their destination.

I have embarked on my own goals and journeys that have required a lot of faith for me. And the Lord has used metaphorical mountain waves to push me along my path. Sometimes it’s scary. And sometimes, I see the mountain wave, am surrounded by the terrible tempest, and hear the fierceness of the wind. And I am tempted to become disheartened. Which is why I love that quote and this entire talk by President Nelson!!!

President Nelson states:

“And I admire those who strive to be more worthy by overcoming a personal fault or who work to achieve a difficult goal.” – Russell M. Nelson

Though the Lord may use “mountain waves” to push us toward overcoming personal faults or achieving a difficult goal, we shouldn’t be afraid. We should remember that “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

We have evidence of this! Heavenly Father blessed Gideon and his troops against the Midianites. The Lord decreased his troops from twenty-two thousand to ten thousand. Still, that was too many. Gideon, following the instruction from the Lord, whittled his troops down to only 300. And only then did the Lord deliver them, impossible though it seemed.

The Lord enabled Sarah to have a baby in her old age and Mary to bear a child though she was a virgin.

The Lord directed the children of Israel to the Red Sea, where they miraculously crossed it on dry ground.

The Lord brought Nephi and the Jaredites to the promised land.

The Lord brought forth His gospel – in its fullness – in the latter days starting with only a few uneducated farmers and people from rural New York. And now, it has grown and continues to grow and do good throughout the world.

Really, when think about it, nothing is impossible. This is true. It’s not just some statement meant to make you feel better as you keep trudging along in life. It is true. It is meant to be a beacon of hope and the knowledge that we need in order to embark on our own life’s missions – though they may require a ton of faith and strength that we feel we don’t have.

We can learn to achieve the impossible as we come to the Lord. President Nelson teaches how to achieve by highlighting three spiritual themes.

Faith

If we don’t have faith, if we don’t have vision, then we are doomed before we even begin. I feel like I could write an entire book about faith and why it is absolutely critical if we want to “10x” our lives, if we want to make any progress, if we want to feel any joy. It all hinges on faith.

And faith is more than just trusting in God. It’s more than believing that He can do something. Faith also means that we trust that He can empower us to do what we must. I have trouble with this, but the Lord is gently teaching me.

So we need faith. President Nelson teaches:

“Faith is nurtured through knowledge of God. It comes from prayer and feasting upon the words of Christ through diligent study of the scriptures.” – Russell M. Nelson

Yes! I love this! Nephi teaches us that His brothers murmured (which came as a result of a lack of faith) because they “knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” (See 1 Nephi 2:12)

When we come to know the Lord through prayer and scripture study, then increased faith comes as a result. We learn that He is trustworthy, and that we can rely on Him. We learn that with Him nothing is impossible because He will empower us. Often, the way I think about it is: Well, if God thinks that I can do this, then I guess I can do it. I shouldn’t second-guess the Lord. Even though it seems like second guessing ourselves is a sign of humility, it isn’t. Second guessing our capability to do what the Lord thinks we can do is not only a lack of faith, it is pride, and a lack of understanding that God is omniscient and omnipotent. We should believe Him when He believes in us.

Focus

Oh! I love this point, too. As I’ve been climbing the path of my own goals, I have been reminded time and time again about my focus, about my vision, and how that would be a huge determining factor on my success.

I think about Peter, who walked on the water. When he began to focus on the stormy water, he lost focus on His Savior. He faltered in his faith – that the Savior would empower Him to walk on the water. Peter focused on failure, and failure followed.

This is a long quote, but I really love how President Nelson teaches us about focus:

“Imagine, if you will, a pair of powerful binoculars. Two separate optical systems are joined together with a gear to focus two independent images into one three-dimensional view. To apply this analogy, let the scene on the left side of your binoculars represent your perception of your task. Let the picture on the right side represent the Lord’s perspective of your task—the portion of His plan He has entrusted to you. Now, connect your system to His. By mental adjustment, fuse your focus. Something wonderful happens. Your vision and His are now the same. You have developed an “eye single to the glory of God.” With that perspective, look upward—above and beyond mundane things about you. The Lord said, “Look unto me in every thought.” That special vision will also help clarify your wishes when they may be a bit fuzzy and out of focus with God’s hopes for your divine destiny. Indeed, the precise challenge you regard now as “impossible” may be the very refinement you need, in His eye.

As we develop an “eye of faith,” we will be able to focus. I know that this doesn’t just happen. We have to choose to align our focus with God’s. And when you do develop focus, don’t take it for granted. Little things can blur your focus. There is an active adversarial force working against us (hint: SATAN!). Not only do we need to align our vision with God’s to give us focus, we need to keep calibrating our vision – so that it remains united with His.

Strength and Courage

I think that strength and courage come as we cultivate faith and focus. It comes when we keep our covenants – especially the covenant to always remember Him.

In and of myself, I’m not strong. I’m not courageous.

Here’s another example. In and of himself, Nephi wasn’t strong. He wasn’t courageous. He didn’t rely on his own wits. Instead, he knew the way to find strength and courage:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” – 1 Nephi 3:7

Nephi knew that he didn’t need to be strong and courageous. He needed to be open and meek. He needed to be close to the Spirit. That this meekness and openness would help him to see the opportunities that the Lord would put in his place in order for Nephi to do as the Lord commanded.

So Nephi did that. Nephi’s trust in the Lord WAS his strength and courage. That is when the Lord makes even more out of Nephi, so much so, that I feel like I’m speaking the truth when I say that “Nephi was courageous.”

I love the hymn quoted by President Nelson –

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well!
Come, Come Ye Saints

And another hymn:

When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliv’rance is nigh.
We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness.
We’ve proved him in days that are past.
We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

And another hymn:

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
How Firm a Foundation

I know that I’m not special. I know that if you are reading this, you have gone through your own trials of faith. You have had times when you wondered how to endure the impossible. I know that I’m not the only one on this earth who has had goals, ambitions, trials, and more.

Though I’m not the only one, the only testimony I can give is my own. I know that God loves us. I know that His work and His GLORY is us! It is our eternal success. I know that He delights in blessing us with his best blessings. I know that He wants us to dream big, and that really – we can’t even dream as big as He does. I know that our Heavenly Father wants us to experience joy, and that joy is related to us fulfilling the measures of our creation.

I know that if we choose to embark on the path that will bring us joy – if we will embark on the path that will help us to do what we were sent here to do, then we are not on an easy path. I know that refinement and improvement is sometimes tiring and painful. You can’t get to the top of the mountain without climbing a mountain.

But, we can do it. God thinks we can! So we can!

I love the final verse of How Firm a Foundation. It is how I feel with my whole entire heart:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
How Firm a Foundation

I will remain with Jesus. He is the source of any power and light in my life. He is the reason I’ve been able to do anything good in my life. He is my Savior and Redeemer. His Atonement has blessed me – It has healed me from heartache and pain. It has forgiven me of my sins. It has brought me comfort in times of physical illness and distress. And it has empowered me as I have sought the abundant life He offers. The Savior has enabled me to do things that I never could have imagined doing. Through Him, I have received personal commandments, and though they seem impossible, I can echo what Nephi said. I KNOW that the Lord will not give us a commandment without a way for us to keep it.

Our Heavenly Father is not Lucy. He doesn’t set up the football with the intention of taking it away as we fall flat on our backs. He doesn’t set us up for failure. Though we don’t always see solutions to our problems, though there are times when we keep falling and failing, if we trust in God, He will guide us to the solution. We will make it to the top of the mountain.

empire pass

Long Post. (I feel like I say this every time)

***

I’m so grateful to know that we are guided by a prophet today who is confident in the Lord. I’m grateful to know that Russell M. Nelson is so confident in the Lord’s power, that he believes the Lord can make us powerful! I am grateful to know that President Nelson believes that nothing is impossible for the Lord – and that this statement is not just to puff up and flatter some jealous god, but that this statement is made for us to realize that the Lord is powerful enough to work miracles in us and through us! That His power is powerful enough to give us power!

I’m grateful that President Nelson knows this and has taught us this. I respect him, and I’m so grateful to be guided by a living prophet who has trusted God enough to truly know that with God nothing shall be impossible.

 

Advertisements

In the Lords Own Way – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk In the Lord’s Own Wayby Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1986 General Conference.

african-woman-sierra-leone-689319-gallery
This is just a random woman – not the same woman I mention in my story below. But pictures are nice, and the woman I met was vibrantly dressed just as this woman is.

Several years ago, I accompanied the missionaries who were teaching a lesson to a young woman from Sierra Leone. I will never forget her bright smile that matched her colorful clothes.

Though her smile was bright, her story was terrible! I mean, it was heart-wrenching. She was being taught with some other members of her family. It was a little confusing at first for me – I didn’t understand who was related to whom. There were cousins, brothers, uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents, sisters. This was a family, but they all seemed to have some kind of convoluted relationship to each other.

As she told her story, I began to understand why. She was a refugee – her home country was at war. And this war was terrible. She was living in this home – with extended family – because her immediate family had been murdered. She witnessed atrocities that I couldn’t even imagine. She escaped and fled to America. She had so little. The rest of her extended family and friends there had similar stories.

I don’t remember much about what the Missionaries taught. I just remember that my heart ached for these people. It made no sense to me.

“Although reasons vary according to time and place, the poor and the needy have nearly always been present. Regardless of cause, our Heavenly Father is concerned for them. They are all his children. He loves and cares for them.” – Russell M. Nelson

At the time, I was a young, single mom. By all accounts and purposes, I would fit into the “poor and needy” category. I had just gotten a job that was helping out tremendously, but I couldn’t cover all of the needs we had. Now, I didn’t feel bad about the stress I experienced during this time. And then, meeting with that young woman from Sierra Leone (whose name I cannot even remember. She ended up moving to Philadelphia where there was a large constituency of other refugees), I was overcome with a knowledge – I have abundant blessings. My life is overflowing with blessings. Compassion filled my heart as I realized a very unfair but real truth.

Life isn’t fair. It doesn’t make any sense that I grew up in the U.S. It doesn’t make any sense that I was born in a part of the world where boys and girls are educated – where children have something called a “childhood.” It doesn’t make any kind of sense that while others are suffering so deeply, I was in an environment where I was expected to go to college. In the world at large, university is relegated to the rich or exceptional. In my world it was an expectation for all. It made no sense that I could drive, have credit cards, have children, go out to eat, go for a run, and all of this with overwhelming safety.

It seems random and nearly cruel to think so many suffer while there are some who have so much. I knew that my blessings had nothing to do with me. I did nothing to deserve where, when, or to whom I was born. I have done nothing to deserve my blessings and opportunities.

As I thought about this privilege that I enjoy, I felt a whispering from the Spirit. God does love all of His children. And I need not be embarrassed by my blessings. He is not a God of scarcity, but a God of abundance. And now, it is my responsibility to show my gratitude by sharing with others. This needs to be done, as President Nelson taught, In the Lord’s Own Way.

Family

Because I have been given much, I too must give. The first way that this is accomplished is through the family.

“Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, … [And] All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.” – Doctrine and Covenants 83:2, 4

This is such a simple and elegant way to take care of all the world. And this was done by the family I visited. They set aside their pride and extended their arms, home, and resources to their cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. Though individually they had little, together they had so much.

In fact, on the occasions I visited this home, there were always new members moving in and out. And they always offered me food and friendship.

President Nelson taught:

“The Lord’s “own way” includes, first, reliance on self, then on the family. As parents care for their children, they, in turn, may reciprocate when parents become less able. Family pride promotes solicitude for each member, taking priority over other assistance.” – Russell M. Nelson

***

I have been a recipient of the tender care and generosity of my family. I have spent time living in my dad’s house for the last six months!!! I have lived in my mom’s house, in my in-law’s house. I have been blessed by family that without judgement extends open arms to me and my family when we have been in need.

And the result of such love – more love! It is a divine plan that God has created – we can care for one another, and as we do, we are all filled with His love that never fails.

The Church Organization

There are times when families cannot help.

Back to the example of the family that I knew from Sierra Leone. Yes, they supported and cared for one another, but there were some things that they just could not do. They received many rides to and from church for months. They relied on other ward members for these rides. Sometimes families just can’t do everything.

When families cannot support each other, then we have our larger “ward family” that can help. Our church has been organized to extend help when needed.

The “Lord’s Own Way,” has been instituted in the church at this time. President Nelson taught:

“As individual members of the Church, you and I participate in the Lord’s “own way.” At least once a month, we fast and pray and contribute generous offerings to funds that enable bishops to disperse aid. This is part of the law of the gospel. Each of us truly can help the poor and the needy, now, and wherever they are.” – Russell M. Nelson

***

Once again, I have had my own experiences with this. I have both contributed to the fast offering funds and I have been a recipient of these funds.

It was hard to ask for help. Really hard. In fact, that experience was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I’ve always wanted to be a “high-yield but low-maintenance” member of the church. Before asking for help, I had always considered myself one who pays a generous fast offering. Though I knew that there was nothing wrong with accepting help from the church, I had always pridefully thought that those funds were for other people who needed more than I did.

And it could have been argued that there were more people who had less.

But I still had a need. My family still had a need, and I felt prompted to go to the Bishop and ask for help. I knew that this was the divine system that the Lord had created for us.

We are supposed to bear one another’s burdens. I have always tried my best to apply that in my life by extending help to others. However, fully applied this means that there are also people who are helping to bear my burdens.

The experience of receiving help from the church, the experience of receiving funds from this sacred fast offering fund, has given me a deeper reverence for the organization that the Lord has made to provide for His children. My love for the others in my ward grew. I don’t know who has donated to the fund – from those who are wealthy, to the widow’s mite – I have been blessed by their offering, and this experience reinforced my commitment to make the same offering for others in need.

Spiritual Poverty

Not all poverty is that of a material nature. Some people are poor in spiritual matters. President Nelson teaches:

“As they are taught and abide doctrines of Deity, spiritual strength will come that enlightens the mind and liberates the soul from the yoke of bondage. When people of the earth accept the gospel of Christ, their attitudes change. Their understanding and capabilities increase.” – Russell M. Nelson

The Lords “own way” to help with spiritual poverty includes the missionary program and other ministering programs. I kind of hate talking about “programs.” The Lord’s own way is mentioned when we understand our baptismal covenants –

“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—” – Mosiah 18:9

We are taught to mourn with others, comfort others, and stand as witnesses of God. President and Sister Nelson were visiting a Polynesian family in their home. This family had very little, materially, but they served and sang for President and Sister Nelson. This family was filled with deep gratitude for the gospel – which brought them richness and joy in life.

President Nelson shares:

“While wiping tears from our moistened cheeks, Sister Nelson and I looked at each other, comprehending that the gospel brings spiritual wealth which may bear little relation, at first, to tangible abundance. Conversely, people with plenty can be spiritually poor. Yet the Lord is concerned for them all!” – Russell M. Nelson

No Poor Among Them

One of my favorite concepts is that of Zion – that there is no poor among them.

Our Heavenly Father is a God of abundance. There is NO END to His Glory! There is NO END to His blessings. We live in a fallen world, and it is easy to see the challenges and difficulties so many face. Additionally, when we give in to the temptations of Satan, we then give in to his modality – which is one of scarcity. With Satan, there is no rich among them. All are poor. All are oppressed. All suffer. The suffering, poverty, and scarcity result in overwhelming misery.

But that is not God! President Nelson teaches:

“In time, in the Lord’s “own way,” the poor will no longer be poor.” – Russell M. Nelson

We must understand who we are – children of God, and when we understand that our God is a Father of abundant, eternal blessings, powers, and gifts. When we understand our worth and the love of our father, we should be motivated to implement His Way into our lives.

As President Nelson said, then:

“Righteousness, independence, thrift, industry, and self-reliance become personal goals. These qualities transform lives.” – Russell M. Nelson

When we obey, we access the blessings of God that bring richness into our lives – I don’t mean material riches, but true richness. We experience gratitude, joy, safety, and peace. If we want to have this kind of richness in our lives, it begins with our own quest to serve and comfort others.

***

I love the gospel. I know that this blog post is kind of scatterbrained. Right now these blog posts aren’t the most polished posts that I’d like to write, but I’m doing my little study challenge, so sorry about that!

Anyway – I love the gospel. I love that even though there is so much that doesn’t make sense in this world – even though there are so many who suffer while others live in comfort – the Lord has designed a way for all of us to experience His charity and abundance. I know that as we take our covenants seriously and as we take the charge to care for the poor and needy – both spiritually and materially – then we will begin to erase these divisions. We can all experience the abundance that the Lord so freely offers to us.

I’m also grateful to know that we are led by a prophet who has experienced so much in this world. He is, undoubtably, materially blessed. But unlike the rich young ruler, he has put aside his own ambitions and has followed the Lord. He has used his wealth to bless others in so many ways. I know that these experiences have helped to make him  capable to lead our church in these latter-days.

Illustrated Book of Mormon for Teens – 1 Nephi – Lehi’s Dream

This post is the next installment of my Illustrated Book of Mormon for Teens Project.

006 Lehi's Dream

There is sooo much to say about Lehi’s dream. I mean, I think that you could really fill an entire book treating only Lehi’s dream and its interpretation. I limited this to only 2 pages.

(oh – and Lehi’s dream really lends itself to fun illustrations!!!)

I decided to focus on the four types of people we read about in Lehi’s dream:

Group One

The first group of people commenced on the strait and narrow path. When th mists of darkness surrounded them, they lost their way. They wandered off and were lost. How did this happen? It’s because they were NOT holding fast to the rod. When they encountered a trial, they were overwhelmed and overcome by it.

Sometimes we will face situations in our lives that are difficult, dark, and full of adversity. We won’t be able to “see” far ahead of us. The thing to remember: The Lord doesn’t expect us to have a clear road. He doesn’t expect us to be able to disperse the mists of darkness. Instead, He provided us with His Word – the Iron Rod. We can have surety, security, and peace – even in mists of darkness.

Group Two

The second group DID hold on to the rod. In fact, they are described as “clinging” to it. They arrive at the tree of life (overcoming the mists of darkness), they partake, and then they look around. They hear the mockery of those in the Great and Spacious building and they are ashamed. Thy decide to leave! They leave JOY!

This group, I feel, weren’t motivated by faith. They are motivated by fear and pride. They clung to the rod – out of fear: fear of disappointing others, maybe. When they arrive, their fear then motivates them to give up the accomplishment that they made.

If we are motivated by fear – even to do good things – then we must remember that fear will not just disappear. It will haunt us. Instead, let faith motivate us, and we will have joy!

Group Three

The third group also caught hold of the iron rod. They held fast until partaking of the fruit. They were filled with JOY. They were motivated by FAITH: so they weren’t overwhelmed by the mists of darkness. Nor were they ashamed by the jeering of those in the great and spacious building.

This group knows that true joy – true contentment – comes only from the Savior. He is the Prince of Peace. He is the Word, and He offers us the fruit of the tree of life.

When we partake, we can experience this kind of peace and sublime joy.

Group Four

The fourth group of people feel their way to the great and spacious building. They have NO INTEREST in the tree of life. They don’t even start on the path! To me – they are like raccoons – more obsessed with the “shiny” stuff that is easy to procure – like a piece of tin foil – rather than something of real value.

They reject what is real, life giving, and joy…then they mock others who obtain it. Why? If they are having so much fun in the great and spacious building, what does it mater to them what everyone else is doing? Why do they care – if they are so happy? They aren’t! They are empty and their actions testify of the emptiness of the pride of the world – even if it is “shiny.”

SaveSave

Illustrated Book of Mormon for Teens – 1 Nephi – Lehi Dwelt in a Tent

This is the next installment of my Illustrated Book of Mormon Commentary for Teens project.

005 Lehi dwelt in a tent

As a teenager, I always loved the verse, “And my father dwelt in a tent.”

I felt like it was worth celebrating this short verse. And as I thought about it, the poignancy of this verse started to stand out.

Lehi was rich. He was educated. He lived a comfortable life in Jerusalem and then followed the Lord. He left everything behind to follow the command of the Lord. The Lord told Lehi that he would take his family to a “promised land.”

This is no promised land…not yet anyway. Lehi is living in the wilderness – the desert. I think that it would have been hard to imagine a promised land in the wilderness – especially because Lehi and his family had once lived in a nice and comfortable situation back in Jerusalem.

But Lehi trusted God. He dwelt in a tent. A simple verse, but so full of meaning. What an example of trusting in the Lord!

SaveSave

Illustrated Book of Mormon Commentary – for Teens – Table of Contents

If you are interested, I’ve decided to make things a little easier to navigate. Here is a list of the subjects treated in the Illustrated Book of Mormon Commentary that I’m making for my 16 year old daughter.

Illustrated Book of Mormon for Teens – 1 Nephi – Obtaining the Brass Plates

This is the next installment of my Illustrated Book of Mormon Commentary for Teens project.

These pages are all about the experience of Nephi, Laman, Lemuel and Sam – obtaining the brass plates.

003 Obtaining the Brass Plates part 1

In these pages, I explained to Tiger that there were three basic attempts to obtaining the plates.

The first attempt was rather conventional and arbitrary. Laman, Lemuel, Nephi and Sam decided to go and ask Laban for the plates. The arbitrary aspect – casting lots. I explained that casting lots was a common way to make decisions in ancient times. People felt like the fate of the cast lot was the will of God.

Unfortunately, this attempt was not successful.

The second attempt – to buy the plates – was thoughtful and required a sacrifice. Nephi convinced his brothers to go back to their home, collect all of their goods and try to purchase the plates from Laban.

This was another unsuccessful attempt that also endangered the lives of the sons of Lehi.

004 Obtaining the plates part 2

The third and final attempt was spiritual. Nephi explain that he was led by the Spirit – not knowing beforehand what he would do.

There were a few things I really wanted to illustrate to Tiger:

  1. Laban vs. Nephi – Laban was rich, powerful, and armed. By all accounts, the odds were in Laban’s favor. Of course, these advantages don’t matter in comparison to Nephi’s advantage – he was on the Lord’s errand and was “armed” with the Spirit. In fact, Laban will ironically die by the very sword he probably thought would keep him safe.
  2. Nephi’s ability to make split second decisions. Often, we talk about decision making and we cite the Doctrine and Covenants – study the matter out in our hearts, pray, if we feel good, then it is good. If we feel a stupor of thought, then it is the wrong answer.

    The thing is – there are times when we don’t have the luxury of time to really “study out” our decisions. Nephi does this, and we see his thought process, but this is all happening in moments.

    The reason why Nephi was able to make these split-second decisions – and they were the right decision – is because he prepared daily to have the companionship of the Spirit.

    There are times when we don’t have much time to make an important decision. I want my teenage daughter to know that she can feel assured with her decisions – even the ones made in an instant – if she is living worth of the Holy Ghost and then following its promptings.

***

Okay – so that’s this next little installment. I’m amazed at how much I’ve been learning while making this book. Right now, my life is busy (like so many of you, I know). I don’t have much time to work on this book. So, it is what I count as my “scripture study.” I know that it is the best way to spend my time in scripture study. I learn so much, and I feel like it is a valuable way to teach my children.

If you are thinking of doing a project like this, but you feel overwhelmed by the project and lacking on time, then keep in mind a few hints to make it more manageable

  • Start early – I started these projects about 1-2 years before giving it to them. It may sound crazy, but then I can work on a little bit at a time and not feel overwhelmed with the scope of the project.
  • Consider this as your personal scripture study while you are working on it. For this project, especially, I have had to spend a lot of time reading and pondering various points in the Book of Mormon. Though this isn’t conventional “scripture study” time, I’m studying the scriptures, and I’m doing just as Nephi said: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26, emphasis added).

SaveSaveSaveSave

Illustrated Book of Mormon for Teens – 1 Nephi – Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi

This is a continuation of my Illustrated Book of Mormon for Teens project.

I actually titled this page “Circumstances and Choices”

002 Laman Lemuel and Nephi
Comparing and contrasting are always funs way to learn in the scriptures.

At the beginning of the Book of Mormon, we are introduced to a family … Lehi’s family. Specifically, we read about several interactions between Lehi’s eldest sons – Laman and Lemuel – and his younger son – Nephi. They shared many experiences. All of these sons:

  • are sons of Lehi, the prophet
  • are covenant members of the House of Israel
  • are fleeing Jerusalem
  • Are experiencing afflictions, trials, and blessings in the wilderness
  • are all facing many of the same challenges -like hunger, obtaining the plates, living in the desert, building a boat

So – they actually have plenty in common.

Despite these similar circumstances, Lehi’s sons make different choices resulting in vastly different outcomes.

Nephi

The choice:

“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 2:16

Nephi’s desire to know God results in:

  • A visitation from God (through His Spirit)
  • A softened heart
  • Increased faith
  • A new perspective
  • Power
  • Joy
  • The consecration of Nephi’s afflictions for His Gain

Laman and Lemuel

The choice:

“And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmurbecause they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” – 1 Nephi 2:12

Laman’s and Lemuel’s refusal to know god results in:

  • Murmuring
  • Complaining
  • Violence against Nephi
  • Wickedness and sin
  • Becoming “past feeling”
  • Anger
  • Becoming murderers in their hearts
  • Powerless
  • Their afflictions don’t become a source of joy or growth – instead their afflictions remain hardships

***

What will YOU choose???

***

So there you have it – this is basically what I wrote in Tiger’s book – word for word. It isn’t all that personalized, but I think that it teaches a nice lesson. 🙂

And isn’t it crazy to think about – sometimes we want to blame our circumstances for the decisions we make, but Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi are proof that we can be agents to act for ourselves. They are testimonies that WE HAVE THE POWER to decide if our afflictions and difficulties amount to consecration and miracles or into hardness and misery. If we get a handle of who we are – children of a loving God, then we can get a handle on making better choices and having a better life.

 

 

SaveSaveSaveSave