Repent and Dwell Safely – Part Three of Three – 1 Nephi 22:4-31

You can read 1 Nephi 22:4-31 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is answering his brothers questions about what Isaiah spoke in Isaiah 48-49.
  • Israel will be scattered – physically – all over the earth.
  • Some of the children of Israel will be led away and protected from harm – but still led away or scattered.
  • Some of the children of Israel will be confounded and scattered because they hardened their hearts against the Holy One of Israel.
  • The house of Israel will become apostate.
  • Eventually, the Lord will work a marvelous work and wonder – among the Gentiles. He will restore His gospel and covenants.
  • The Gentiles would then take the gospel and covenants back to the house of Israel.
  • Eventually, all of the people of the earth will know that the Lord—the Mighty One of Israel—is Savior and Redeemer.
  • Those who fight against God (the great and abominable church) will start to war with themselves. They will be ensnared in the pit that they dug for the righteous.
  • The Lord will not suffer that the wicked will destroy the righteous. He will preserve the righteous by His power – even if it means that he will destroy their enemies by fire.
  • After the Lord has saved his people, and destroyed the wicked, Satan will not have any power -this because of the righteousness of the people and through the expression of their agency.
  • A Prophet will be raised up – it is the Savior. We need to heed Him.
  • The Prophet, Jesus, Will gather his children from the all over earth. He will be their shepherd. There will be one fold and one shepherd, and He will feed His sheep.
  • When He has gathered His sheep, they will dwell in righteousness. Satan will have no power—not because the Lord will bind Him. Satan’s power will be quelled because of the righteousness of the people – because of their agency. They will no longer be fascinated by sin.
  • We can dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel, but we must repent.
  • The words of the prophets are true. If we will be obedient, then we will be saved.

Repent and Dwell Safely

Today’s is the third and final post on the concept of repenting and dwelling safely – with the focus on dwelling safely, specifically. Previously, we studied repentance. You can read the first two posts here and here.

Even though I won’t get much into repentance in this post, in case you haven’t read the other ones, I will say that I’m looking at repentance as something more than simply confessing and forsaking sins. Instead, repentance is turning away from our natural tendencies and toward God. Repentance is our choice to change our minds – away from the carnal, sensual, and devilish – and toward the heavenly, holy, and angelic. This may be done through confessing and forsaking sin. It may also be done through other practices including prayer, scripture study, and anything that helps us to have a Heavenly perspective.

Now that we are on the same page regarding repentance, we will move on. In 1 Nephi, we read:

“28 But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.” – 1 Nephi 22:28

One – Who?

The invitation to dwell safely is open to ALL. All nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. There isn’t a person that is going to be denied a safe dwelling place. The only qualification is repentance – or turning to the Lord.

Two – Who…Again?

There are two “who’s” in this scripture. First the invitee (everyone!). The second is the inviter.

Who is inviting us? It is the Lord. It is the Holy One of Israel. He is the One who offers us the promise that if we repent, then we will dwell safely in Him.

Three – What does this mean?

This is what I really want to ponder today, I guess. What does it mean to dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel.

I looked up dwell in the dictionary. We have a few definitions:

Dwell
1: to remain for a time
dwell in the hallway
2 a : to live as a resident
the town in which he dwelled for eight years
the dwelling place of the gods
b : EXIST, LIE
where the heart of the matter dwells
3a : to keep the attention directed —used with on or upon
tried not to dwell on my fears
b : to speak or write insistently —used with on or upon
reporters dwelling on the recent scandal ” – Merriam Webster Dictionary: Dwell

I don’t know for sure the best use of dwell here. I suppose that dwelling safely in the Lord may actually have more than one application in our lives, depending on the circumstances in our lives.

For example, maybe “dwelling safely” in the Lord is – more of a 2b – thing – to exist. If we are turned to the Lord, we can be in the most horrible of circumstances, yet still be dwelling in His safety. I can’t help but think of an examples such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer – who suffered in concentration camps during World War 2. He endured suffering. He was executed. He did not “dwelt safely” in a physical sense.

Yet, it seems that he did dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel – he had perspective and hope for a better world that would come later.

i know I shouldn’t speak for him.

And I can’t even begin to imagine the suffering that he endured. But it is my belief that we can dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel anywhere. We can stand in holy places anywhere. It is about our agency and our attitude. If we have an attitude of repentance – where we are keeping our minds and hearts single to God’s glory by actively turning against the Natural man – then we create these holy places where we can dwell safely in the Lord wherever we are.

All of that being said, I believe that this promise can have physical, literal application as well.

We read:

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world,…” – Ether 12:4

Not only do I like what Ether taught, I believe it! I believe that the Lord will offer us literal safety and peace. If everyone was choosing to turn to the Lord during the 1940s, for example, then the entire holocaust wouldn’t have happened. The world would have been a safer and happier place – for all.

Of course, everyone wasn’t choosing to turn to the Lord in the 1940s. Many people suffered and died because of the pain caused by hatred, malice, and evil. The suffering, though, of the righteous will not be eternal. God will hear their cries, and He will compensate through His grace. Elder Wirthlin taught of the principle of compensation:

“The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.

One of the blessings of the gospel is the knowledge that when the curtain of death signals the end of our mortal lives, life will continue on the other side of the veil. There we will be given new opportunities. Not even death can take from us the eternal blessings promised by a loving Heavenly Father.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin

When we repent, when we turn to the Lord, then we will dwell—free from harm—in Him.

Who – One Last Time

Let’s think about the Holy One of Israel, where we will safely dwell if we repent, one more time.

portrait-of-christ-carl-bloch-205065-gallery

In the Bible Dictionary we read:

“The anointed (Greek) or Messiah (Hebrew). Jesus, who is called Christ, is the firstborn of the Father in the spirit and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is Jehovah and was foreordained to His great calling in the Grand Councils before the world was. He was born of Mary at Bethlehem, lived a sinless life, and wrought out a perfect atonement for all mankind by the shedding of His blood and His death on the cross. He rose from the grave and brought to pass the bodily resurrection of every living thing and the salvation and exaltation of the faithful.

He is the greatest Being to be born on this earth—the perfect example—and all religious things should be done in His name. He is Lord of lords, King of kings, the Creator, the Savior, the God of the whole earth, the Captain of our salvation, the Bright and Morning Star. He is in all things, above all things, through all things, and round about all things; He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; His name is above every name and is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved.” – Bible Dictionary: Christ

Really read through that. Jesus Christ, is the Holy One of Israel. He Is:

  • The Resurrection – When we dwell in Him, He offers us life after death. He offers hope!
  • The exemplar – When we dwell in Him, we have an example, a pattern. We don’t have to be uninformed or ignorant.
  • Lord of lords – When we dwell in Him, we dwell with the Lord who exceeds all. And He is righteous, to boot!
  • King of kings – When we dwell in Him, we dwell with the most powerful and righteous king. We aren’t dwelling with an egomaniac, but a loving leader.
  • the Creator – When we dwell in Him, we are dwelling with the Creator. He created this earth, our bodies, we can trust Him for help with our physical concerns.
  • The Savior – When we dwell in Him, we are dwelling with the One who will save us – overcoming both death and hell. I wouldn’t want to dwell with someone who doesn’t have this power!
  • The God of the Whole Earth – When we dwell in Him, we are dwelling with the being that understands everything because He is the God of it. I mean, this just makes sense. What safer dwelling place could we have than with the God of this very earth!
  • The Captain of Our Salvation – When we dwell in Him, we are dwelling with a Being who loves us enough to offer us eternal salvation. I love the idea of dwelling with someone who will run to stop the bus, rather than throw me under it. Can you imagine dwelling with someone who is abusive and full of hate?! You would want to get out. The Savior is neither abusive or hate-filled. He is loving, He offers us Salvation, He is kind, He uplifts, and He builds us up.
  • The Bright and Morning Star – When we dwell in Him, we dwell in light. We dwell in hope. We dwell in truth.

***

It’s a pretty good deal for us. The Lord has extended an invitation to us all. We are invited to dwell safely in Him, if we will but repent. We will dwell safely in His peace, love, sacrifice, omnipotence, omniscience, and salvation – if we will but change our hearts and mind – from the things of the world and instead toward Him.

Peaceful Place

It really is a pretty good deal.

Instruction, Symbolism, and a Warning (Part Two) – 1 Nephi 20:20-22

You can read 1 Nephi 20:20-22 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is quoting Isaiah. See Isaiah 48.
  • The Lord is speaking to the house of Israel through Isaiah.
  • The children of Israel, God’s covenant children, are exhorted to go forth out of Babylon and to flee from the Chaldeans.
  • Instead of embracing Babylon and the Chaldeans, the house of Israel should sing out and praise God to the ends of the earth, saying that the Lord had redeemed them.
  • They should testify of the experiences their forefathers had in the wilderness as they fled Egypt.
  • They should also remember that the Lord has done even greater things.
  • Finally, the Lord gives a warning: There is no peace unto the wicked.

Instruction, Symbolism, and A Warning

Today, we will be wrapping up 1 Nephi 20. This is actually the second part of blog posts for these verses. In these verses, we are studying three main concepts. In part one we studied Instruction from the Lord and Symbolism (Click here for part one). Today, we will be studying a warning.

A Warning

A quick recap for a second. In this chapter, the Lord is speaking to the House of Israel through His prophet, Isaiah. Here at the end, He urged Israel to go forth of Babylon, flee the Chaldeans, and to testify of the Redeemer. He then reminded them that when fleeing Egypt, the children of Israel traveled through the desert without thirsting – the rock was smitten and then the waters gushed out. They were kept alive in the desert because of God.

And finally, we read:

“And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” – 1 Nephi 20:22

One
At the beginning of this verse, we read: And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also,…. The Lord really did deliver Israel. He really did cause water to flow out of a rock. He really did rain manna from heaven. He really did part the Red Sea. As amazing as these miracles sound, the Lord still did greater also.

Satellite view of Magellanic Cloud

As mentioned earlier in the chapter:

“Mine hand hath also laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens. I call unto them and they stand up together.” – 1 Nephi 20:13

Christ created the earth!

Additionally, we know even more than what Isaiah shared – as His prophecy was given hundreds of years before the Savior’s birth. When Christ came to the earth, He also performed amazing works. He healed the sick and gave sight to the blind.

We know that the Lord has done great works.

I think that there is another way that this verse needs to be applied – not only in God’s great works. In verse 21, the Lord recounts the deliverance of Israel. This deliverance was 100 percent because of the power of Jehovah. They did not do this on their own. They did not cause the water to spring forth from the rock. The Lord guided them to this solution. The Lord delivered His people.

The Savior not only delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, but He did greater also. He came to the earth, lived a perfect life, loved and taught the people, suffered in Gethsemane, was taken and judged, died on the cross, and was resurrected. Remember – the rock was smitten, and the waters gushed out. Christ was smitten, and then His living waters gushed out. As a result, we are delivered.

Truly the Lord delivers His people.

***

Now, the interesting thing about 1 Nephi 20:22 is it starts with the phrase: “And notwithstanding…” Notwithstanding means despite. (By the way – quick piece of advice. Don’t just guess at a word’s meaning. Sometimes we don’t get it completely right. Sometimes the context might be confusing. Yes, I understand that you might know the definition of a word, but still, take a minute to look it up in the dictionary. Seeing the definition can sometimes help us to better understand exactly what is being expressed in a scripture…so YES. I did double check the meaning. My guess was notwithstanding=despite. I confirmed it by looking it up…now I can go on!)

So – notwithstanding means despite. Let’s substitute this word into the verse for a moment: And despite the fact he hath done all this, and greater also, there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.

The word “notwithstanding” kind of points us in a direction. This isn’t just a testimony of Christ and His deliverance. This is a warning.

Two
We listed a few things that the Lord hath done above.

  • He delivered captive Israel from bondage in Egypt.
  • He kept them alive in the wilderness in a miraculous way.
  • He created the earth.
  • He was born in the meridian of time, lived a perfect life, and served people – often performing many miracles.
  • He suffered, bled, died, for us, and was resurrected.

Despite all of that, though – there is no peace for the wicked. Despite Christ’s great power – power enough to create the earth, He cannot bless the wicked with His peace. Despite Christ’s grace, He cannot bless the wicked with His peace.

Recall what the Savior said earlier in the chapter:

“O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” – 1 Nephi 20:18

If we want to be blessed with the peace that the Savior offers us – the peace which passeth all understanding – then we need to hearken to His commandments. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we will be perfect. Remember – we are commanded to repent – which means it is understood that we will not get it all right.

Making a mistake isn’t what makes us wicked.

If our hearts are set upon Him, if we are looking to our Savior in faith, if we are pressing forward with faith in Christ, if we love Him, then we aren’t wicked.

Wickedness comes as a result of pride and then turning away from the Savior, not striving, or standing in that “great and spacious building” and jeering at those who are seeking the Lord. These are those who reject the Savior, and they also reject His peace.

Yes, Christ is powerful. He created the earth! But He will not make our choices for us. He will honor our agency and will allow us to experience the consequences of such expression. Peace is available, the Savior shares it willingly, but it is up to us to come unto Him if we want it.

***
We have had a lot of blog posts for 1 Nephi 20. I feel like I have learned a lot! I hope that you are feeling good about what we have studied. I’m not a scripture scholar. I don’t know much about Ancient Israel – the customs, etc. There are many barriers for me when it comes to understanding Isaiah. However, I know that if we take it a little bit at a time and if we will seek to have the Spirit with us, we can learn from his words.

Keeping the Commandments Brings Blessings – 1 Nephi 20:16-19

You can read 1 Nephi 20:15-19 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is quoting Isaiah. See Isaiah 48.
  • The Lord is speaking through Isaiah.
  • The Lord invites us to come near unto Him.
  • The Lord does not speak in secret. He has spoken from the beginning.
  • The Lord has sent us examples who can lead us to the way we should go.
  • If we will hearken (and obey) the commandments, then we will have peace, posterity, protection.

Keeping the Commandments Brings Blessings

Before getting into today’s scripture study, I will admit that there is so much more to the scriptures than what I can discover in this reading. Even though I’ve been studying this very slowly as I blog about it, there is always more to get from the scriptures! There is always something else to learn. We can read the scriptures daily every day of our lives and still not know enough.

Today’s scripture block has a verse that has always stood out to me:

“O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.” – 1 Nephi 20:18

I wish I could remember the first time I read that scripture and liked it. I think that it was when I was a youth – in seminary, probably. Now, I want to make it clear: I had no idea what the rest of this chapter even meant. Isaiah went right over my head. I admit that often when I read Isaiah, the words just went into my head and settled there as a jumbled mess. But this was a verse I could understand.

It still stands out to me now.

We Have the Commandments

First of all, it is important to note that the Lord has not spoken in secret. His word has been declared. We are blessed with the light of Christ. The commandments have been given.

Though there absolutely are mysteries of God, His commandments, for the most part, are not a mystery. He has given them to us. He has sent prophets to preach His word. He has given us the scriptures. Not only that, but He lets us experience real consequences of commandments so we can learn them in a practical way, rather only through abstract thought.

So – we have the commandments. Are we hearkening?

Why Hearken

In 1 Nephi, we read:

“O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments—…” – 1 Nephi 20:18

The sentiment here is one of lamentation. The Lord is lamenting Israel’s choice to disobey the commandments. The Lord still laments when we make the choice not to hearken to the commandments. And why does He lament? Because He wants to be able to bless us.

I think that it is important to understand that God is a God of order. The universe is governed by the laws and principles that He has taught us. He is not an arbitrary or power hungry God. He is a loving Father. And the commandments that He has given us are in accordance to the laws of the universe. If we want to be happy, then we will keep them.

Put another way – the law of gravity is a simple, profound, non-negotiable law of this world. As parents, we have a choice. We can teach our children about the constraints of the law of gravity so that they stay safe. Now, I don’t mean that we sit a three year old down, and talk about physics, Newton’s laws, force, and gravity. Instead, we would probably just say things like, “You need to get buckled” or “Don’t climb up the counter” or “You have to wear a helmet while riding your bike.”

Or we can be “nice” parents and neglect to teach our children about the implications of this law. We can let them climb to high and dangerous heights. We can let them dangle their feet off the edge of a cliff at the Grand Canyon. We want them to be happy and free!

Of course, though this child may not know the law of gravity, he is still susceptible to it.

Imagine a two year old boy: climbing and playing in the grocery cart at a store. He doesn’t like to be buckled, so his parents have decided not to buckle him. They want him to feel happy and free. He stands in the cart. His parents haven’t told him not to stand in the cart because they don’t want to inhibit him. He falls out of the cart and hits his head on the concrete floor and starts having seizures. He has to be hospitalized for a few days as doctors monitor his brain and swelling.

Remember, this is a fictional scenario… What should the parents have done? Should they have discussed the principles of gravity? Maybe not to a three year old. But perhaps rules about staying buckled in the seat would be a more responsible way to avoid such a situation.

(NOW! Before I make anyone feel bad. I know that this can happen even with the best parenting and teachers. I’m not trying to single out anyone who has a child that is a little Houdini. A Houdini who escapes is different than a child that isn’t being taught. This is just an illustration to show that even if we aren’t taught laws, we are still susceptible to them).

The commandments that God gives to us work the same way. They keep us safe. They bless us. Sometimes the commandments are given to us because we don’t quite understand the real law. Sometimes, instead of teaching us the ins and outs of the laws of gravity (because our minds are just too simple to understand it), the Lord gives us other commandments that will help us abide the true law – resulting in safety.

No matter what, we know that our Heavenly Father is a true and living God. He really is our Father, and He loves us perfectly. We can trust Him.

After lamenting, the Lord then tells Israel what the consequence of hearkening would have been.

Peace as a River

The first consequence of hearkening to the commandments would have been peace as a river.

River
Peace as a River

What does this mean?

Well, have you ever sat next to a river? I remember, growing up, I lived in Texas. We lived near the Buffalo Bayou. I would go down there sometimes to ride bikes with my friends. It was muddy, but it remains a place of which I have fond memories. I don’t really remember peace. I just remember riding bikes. And being somewhat careful because there were a lot of snakes there.

As a youth, we moved to Pennsylvania. And we lived close to the Brandywine River. Yes, that river connotes both peace and joy. I remember floating down the Brandywine River on a tube with friends. I remember swimming in it. I remember jumping off of a bridge on Dowlin Forge Road into the River. I remember canoeing with my dad and family on it. As an adult, I would often run on the path that tracked just alongside the Brandywine River. Four seasons of the year it harbored life. Yes. Peace.

As an adult, I have lived in Phoenix. Rivers in Phoenix are not like rivers in other places. For most of the year, the river is simply a dry river bed. But during the winter months when there is a little rain, or in the summer during the monsoon season, there are days – here and there – when the rivers are flowing with water. There is nothing like water in the desert.

I also spent time in Utah – for a while, living in Midway, Utah. Midway is a town situated near the Provo River. Additionally, there are other little creeks, canals, and springs.

peace as a river
Snake Creek

There is something about the running water and lush banks that truly make rivers little oases of peace in our lives.

I love the imagery of this verse. If we will hearken to—which means listen to and keep—the commandments. Then we will have peace as a river. I know that there are more ways I can think about the river to better understand this metaphor, but for know that is what is coming to me.

It is also important to understand what the Savior means by peace. In the New Testament, we read:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

The Savior doesn’t offer us the kind of “peace” that is defined by the world. The definition of peace – as given by the world seems to be one that is more or less an omission of fighting or war. We don’t tend to focus much on the conditions of the heart. The worldly definition of peace is an outward definition.

The Lord, however, has another idea of peace. We learn in the Guide to the Scriptures:

In the scriptures, peace can mean either freedom from conflict and turmoil or the inner calm and comfort born of the Spirit that God gives to His faithful Saints. – Guide to the Scriptures: Peace

The Lord’s definition of peace is centered on the inner calm and comfort we feel as a result of His Spirit. In this way, we can experience peace even when we are in the middle of a physical conflict of some kind. Conversely, we can experience inner turmoil even when the outward conditions of our life seem “peaceful.”

So – when we keep the commandments, we can have peace, the kind of peace offered by the Lord. The kind of peace that comes through His living waters.

Righteousness as the Waves of the Sea

ocean
Ocean Waves

The next thing we learn in this verse is that if we will hearken unto the commandments, then we will have “righteousness as the waves of the sea.” Again, we are given another physical metaphor to understand an abstract concept.

I have been fortunate enough to live on the North Shore of Hawai’i. In the winter time, when there is a swell, the waves are so big and powerful that I can’t really describe them.  They are amazing, powerful, and they just keep on going. All day, all night, all day, and all night again. The waves never stop.

This post is already so long, but maybe it is worth thinking about. If we hearken to God’s commandments, then a blessing is righteousness. And not simply righteousness, but unflagging righteousness – like the waves of the sea – full of energy, power, and endurance.

waves of the sea

There is so much more to study, but I need to finish for now. I still love this scripture so much. I find hope in it. I desire to have peace as a river and righteousness as the waves of the sea. I know that I can do this, if I will hearken unto the Savior. Even though there are times when it seems difficult to do, the sacrifice is a small price to pay for the generous blessings He desires to give us.

There Was a Great Calm – 1 Nephi 18:21

You can read 1 Nephi 18:21 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • After Laman and Lemuel loosed Nephi, he took the Liahona, and it began to work again. The Lord also answered Nephi’s prayer – the winds and storm ceased and there was a great calm.

There Was a Great Calm

We have been studying 1 Nephi 18 which details the journey of Lehi and his family – on the ship to the promised land.

In case you might need a refresher, when Lehi and his family first boarded the boat from Bountiful (on the Arabian Peninsula), things were going well. They were driven forth before the winds – on a course to the promised land.

Then, of course, Laman and Lemuel forgot God. They ignored the commandments. They got raucous. Nephi was compelled by the Spirit to talk to them. There was no time (or margin of error) for an open rebellion against God while out on the Ocean. (We can guess – they were either in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean…not where you want to be in a major storm).

Laman and Lemuel were so hard in their hearts, they didn’t care about rebelling against God while on the open ocean! (Can you tell that I really can’t get over this fact! Anger and wickedness makes us so irrational!) They tied up Nephi for days, and it was only with the real threat of death that they finally repented and untied Nephi. This is where we read what happened next:

“And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm.” – 1 Nephi 18:21

Prayer

The winds, the storm, the danger didn’t stop immediately. First Nephi prayed.

I love the chorus of the familiar hymn:

“Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day.
So, when life gets dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.” – Did You Think to Pray?

Night to Day
Prayer will change the night to day.

There is so much hope in that refrain. There is so much hope in the power of prayer, and yet – I consistently underestimate it. I have experienced the power and miracle of prayer! And yet, I forget. I leave my room in the morning, forgetting to pray.

I forget to pray!

***

It was one thing for Nephi to pray while in the middle of the storm. That makes sense. But then he was untied. The Liahona started working again. It seems like Nephi could have just steered himself out of there. He didn’t need to pray again – to ask for another blessing.

But Nephi did. He prayed unto the Lord.

What do you suppose Nephi prayed for? I can’t say that I know. But here are a few things that I know about prayer:

Jesus Pleads with us to pray
When Jesus visited the Nephites in the Americas (the promised land), he stated:

Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;” – 3 Nephi 18:19

Jesus Promises to Answer Our Prayers
After teaching the people to pray, Jesus continued:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” – 3 Nephi 18:20

Not only has the Savior invited us to pray, but he tells of the benefit of prayer. When we ask God for blessings (that are good and right), in the name of Christ, and believing that we will receive – then it will be given unto us!

What did Nephi pray about? Not sure, but I’m going to guess that he asked for the storm to cease. They had been suffering for days. Though the Liahona was working, they were still at great risk of death. We have to speculate here, but I think it is okay to imagine that Nephi prayed gratitude that Laman and Lemuel had repented, gratitude that the Liahona was working, and a request – that the winds and storm would cease.

Calm

After Nephi uttered his prayer, the winds and storm ceased. There was a great calm.

This brings me so much peace and hope right now. I have experienced my own trials and storms. I often feel “tossed about” by the storms and winds of my life. It is easy for me to get caught up in these feelings – and get a little anxious and scared.

I feel hope by Nephi’s story because he prayed, and the Lord granted “a great calm.”

It’s interesting to note – they were still at sea. They had not yet been delivered. There were still miles to go. They would still be in the ocean for “the space of many days.” Though they were still in the wilderness of their affliction, they had been blessed to simultaneously feel “a great calm.”

The Lord may not always deliver us from our challenges, but we can feel calm and comfort even as we traverse the “oceans” in our lives.

I’m so grateful for the lessons that we learn in the Book of Mormon.

“Blessed Are the Peacemakers” – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the October 2002 session of General Conference.

So…Notice…President Nelson gave this talk in October 2002. One year after 9/11. The U.S. had entered into a “war with terror” shortly after 9/11 in 2001. And I can kind of recollect that there was a big debate whether or not to go to war with Iraq at the time in 2002. Many people were undecided on the subject.

On a personal level, I was quite pregnant in October 2002 (my second child arrived in December). My own married life was one of turmoil. But I do remember happy times with my kids.

It’s interesting to think about it. Both the conditions of my life and the world at large were anything but peaceful. But there is a way to find and make peace in our lives.

I don’t really remember this talk specifically. As I read this talk today, I can’t help but feel the prophetic nature of it. I really love President Nelson’s understanding of the gospel, of peace, and his philosophy in general.

Onto the talk!!!

Morning Sun in Phoenix

One

“Peace can prevail only when that natural inclination to fight is superseded by self-determination to live on a loftier level.” – Russell M. Nelson

I love this! It is pure and simple truth. Having peace is one hundred percent up to us. We cannot fight enough wars, twist enough arms, or write enough laws to force peace. Treaties, armistices, de-militarized zones…may cause a cessation of bullets, but they do not create actual peace. Instead, if we want to experience peace, then we must put off the natural man and yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit. We need to become Saints. We need to be kind, benevolent, and patient.

As much as I love to think of this on a world-wide scale, I think that it is important to apply this same principle to our own lives. We will only have peace when we give up the natural desire to fight and instead determine to live in a more celestial manner.

Sometimes this can be hard. In fact, I feel that right now – in our current environment, we are constantly being goaded into fighting. There are 24 hour news cycles that seem bent on stirring people up to anger. And, I have found that the more these types of media are consumed, the quicker anger we become with everyone around us.

So, first and foremost, we must make a determination to “give up” the cantankerous contention and instead treat others with patience, love, and respect.

Two

“The commandments to love God and neighbor are interrelated. We cannot fully love God without loving our neighbor. We cannot fully love our neighbor without loving God. Men really are brothers because God really is our Father.” – Russell M. Nelson

I get it. Sometimes it is hard to love our “neighbors.” Sometimes people hurt us – purposely or not. Sometimes we forget that people are our brothers and sisters because they look differently than we do, talk differently than we do, walk differently than we do, think differently than we do.

But the thing is, we are all children of God. I am of the opinion that if we all really understood that we were children of God, and if we all really sought to forge a relationship with Him, then world peace would be a natural result of such understanding and conviction. I know that as I’ve grown closer to the Lord, I have also been given the insight that everyone around me is one of God’s children. And though I might not always agree with that other person, God loves them as much as He loves me.

Even if I have a difficulty with someone, I’ve learned that I ought to love them – if only for the fact that it is God’s child, and I love Him so much, I don’t want to hurt Him by hurting one of His sons or daughters.

Obviously, I’m not perfect at this! But this mentality has helped me to have more peace and patience in my life.

Three

“We can learn to love our fellow human beings throughout the world. Whether they be Jewish, Islamic, or fellow Christians, whether Hindu, Buddhist, or other, we can live together with mutual admiration and respect, without forsaking our religious convictions. Things we have in common are greater than are our differences. Peace is a prime priority that pleads for our pursuit.” – Russell M. Nelson

I love this statement! It is so incredibly applicable right now! We can learn to love one another. We don’t have to overreact, freak out, revolt, or organize against other people. It’s interesting, here President Nelson made a list of obvious differences in our world – Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists…Maybe now, the list would include conservatives, democrats, vegans, hunters, liberals, libertarians…etc, etc, etc.

I hate to say this, but I don’t know if we have done a great job of following the counsel of an apostle. Of course, I know that many people didn’t hear this message. But to those of us who did, have we become kinder, gentler, and more peaceful? Or are we fed up, frustrated, and fighting?

We really can live together with mutual admiration and respect. It will take humility, but think of the result: Peace! Joy!!!!!!! Isn’t peace and joy worth a little bit of compromise? It is worth saying, “will you forgive me?” or – sometimes even harder, “I will forgive you,” so that we can have peace and joy in our lives!!!

Peace is worth every effort!!!!!!!!!!

Four

“These prophecies of hope could materialize if leaders and citizens of nations would apply the teachings of Jesus Christ. Ours could then be an age of unparalleled peace and progress. Barbarism of the past would be buried. War with its horrors would be relegated to the realm of maudlin memory. Aims of nations would be mutually supportive. Peacemakers could lead in the art of arbitration, give relief to the needy, and bring hope to those who fear. Of such patriots, future generations would shout praises, and our Eternal God would pass judgments of glory.” – Russell M. Nelson

So…I really love this talk. I am a bit of an idealist at times. I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic. I know that peace is possible, if we will but choose.

I love what President Nelson taught in this paragraph.

Benefits of Choosing Peace

  • Unparalleled Peace and Progress
  • End of War

Imagine that!

Actually, in some ways it is kind of easy for me to imagine living life in peace. I’m so blessed to live in a safe place. I can go out for a walk in the morning without much fear. (It’s not perfect, of course, but I’m just trying to say that I’m not living in a war-torn country). I keep my eyes open for suspicious activity, and don’t run into it much. Usually, the only threats I face when going out are: unaware drivers, coyotes, and tarantula hawks…

Tarantula Hawk
You don’t have to know that this is a tarantula hawk to know that you should give it some space!!!!! It’s nearly as big as a hummingbird! 

In all seriousness, I just want to express that I understand I live a privileged life here in the U.S. Things are pretty good, but really they could be better!!! Unparalleled peace and progress? Sounds amazing. End of war? Doesn’t everyone want that!!!???

What We Need to Do

  • lead in the art of arbitration – settle the dispute!!!
  • give relief to the needy – desperation is often a cause of unrest and lack of peace
  • bring hope to those who fear – Hope…that leads me to the next quote.

Five

“The hope of the world is the Prince of Peace—our Creator, Savior, Jehovah, and Judge. He offers us the good life, the abundant life, and eternal life. Peaceful—even prosperous—living can come to those who abide His precepts and follow His pathway to peace. This I declare to all the world.” – Russell M. Nelson

I can’t even estimate how many mental fist pumps I did when I read this paragraph. The Lord is our Hope. He offer us a good life, the abundant life, and eternal life!

The Abundant Life! I love the sound of that. Abundant blessings, joy, peace. This is what the Savior offers us. We cannot have peace unless we will abide His precepts and follow His pathway to peace.

Six

“Now, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what does the Lord expect of us? As a Church, we must “renounce war and proclaim peace.” As individuals, we should “follow after the things which make for peace.” We should be personal peacemakers. We should live peacefully—as couples, families, and neighbors. We should live by the Golden Rule. We have writings of the descendants of Judah as now merged with writings of the descendants of Ephraim. We should employ them and expand our circle of love to embrace the whole human family. We should bring divine love and revealed doctrines of restored religion to our neighbors and friends. We should serve them according to our abilities and opportunities. We should keep our principles on a high level and stand for the right. We should continue to gather scattered Israel from the four corners of the earth and offer the ordinances and covenants that seal families together forever. These blessings we are to bring to people of all nations.” – Russell M. Nelson

Even more mental fist pumps!!!!!!

This is a call of action to each of us. We can be peacemakers in our corners of the world. We can be peacemakers with our significant others, our friends, our siblings, our children. Instead of “being right,” we can “be excellent to each other.” We can live the golden rule. We can learn from history – that hatred and anger never amount to anything good for anyone. Anger doesn’t bring peace. Humility and love brings peace.

We should be very careful not to falsely label our contentiousness as “righteous indignation.”

Instead, we should seek to have charity – which is kind, patient, and not easily provoked. As we each develop the attributes of charity within the walls of our own homes, we can then extend our loving arms outward – to neighbors, friends, outsiders, and even enemies.

We can become peacemakers! And we will be blessed!

Six

I love this talk. I feel like my writing about it is a pitiful attempt to shed any other light on what I learned. Of course, you should go to the source.

As I read this talk, I kept feeling—over and over—that President Nelson truly was an apostle of God bearing a special witness to the world. Who knew that President Nelson would end up being the prophet seventeen years after giving this talk? God, I guess! But in reading this, I felt that the Lord has molded President Nelson and refined him into the loving, kind, peacemaker that leads our church today. In fact, just a few weeks ago, President Nelson met with the NAACP. He stated:

“We don’t have to be alike or look alike to have love for each other. We don’t even have to agree with each other to love each other. If we have any hope of reclaiming the goodwill and sense of humanity for which we yearn, it must begin with each of us, one person at a time.” – Russell M. Nelson at 110th Annual NAACP Convention in Detroit

President Nelson was proclaiming peace and exhorting us to extend love to all – even a year after 9/11 when emotions were still so high and anger seem justified. He begs us to proclaim peace and extend love to all still now.

I’m grateful to know that President Nelson, who leads our church, is a peacemaker.

Blogging the Book of Mormon – How Beautiful Upon the Mountains – 1 Nephi 13:37

You can read 1 Nephi 13:37 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
  • This is one of my favorite scriptures.

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains

Today’s scripture study is one verse. It’s one of my favorite scriptures, and I’m excited to study it.

“And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.” – 1 Nephi 13:37

I am not completely sure why it is one of my favorite scriptures. Maybe it’s because I have been seeking Zion and I want to help build it. I want to have the gift of the Holy Ghost in my life. I want to be lifted up and saved. Maybe it’s just because I like the idea of publishing peace. I like sharing my joy. And I really want to be beautiful on the mountains. Oh well…just gonna study it for now.

IMG_4172Heber Valley Golden Hourchurch of dirtimage-44AB1F89AD-31DC-485F-99EA-F952CA2EB34BWasatch Mountain

Hope you liked the mountain top pictures…now to the studying.

And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day

The first part of the scripture tells us about a group of people – those who seek to bring forth Zion.

Who are these people?

Well…When we covenant with God through baptism, I think that we say that we will do this. In Mosiah 18, Alma the elder is explaining the baptismal covenant to the people:

And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 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—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” – Mosiah 18:8-10

Bearing one another’s burdens. Mourning with those that mourn. Comforting those that stand in need of comfort. Standing as a witness of God… These are ways that we share the love of God with others. These are ways that we build God’s kingdom – by building up others.

As I write this, it is also not lost on me that I have made sacred covenants in the temple. One of the covenants that I’ve made is that I would use the opportunities and talents that the Lord has given me to build His kingdom. (You can learn more here.)

And why? Why is it so important to seek to build up Zion? Well, maybe it is helpful to remember God’s work and glory – our immortality and eternal life. Heavenly Father’s whole purpose is for us to return to Him and be happy. This is why we are here on earth. He wants to bless us with His greatest blessings. In fact, He delights in it.

So – He has given us a path on how everlasting joy is accomplished. We need a body, first of all – which is why we are all here on earth. And then, He has given us the commandments. They are part of the path back to Him. He has also given us the gift of the Atonement through His Only Begotten Son. He has created a way for us to return to live with Him and have joy. This is only achieved when we actually follow His path.

So – why is it so important to build Zion? Because it is the path to joy! Because it is the purpose of why we are here. Because, if we really believe in our Father in Heaven, and if we really love Him, then we want others to feel this great joy, too.

We have an example of a Zion-state society in the scriptures:

“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.

16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” – 4 Nephi 1:15-16

This is the result of Zion. Happiness. Confidence. Love. Safety. Peace. Trust. Growth. Loyalty.

Yes – blessed are those who seek to bring forth Zion! Imagine what it would look like if we lived in a world where we had that in common – we were all trying to build Zion! It would be pretty amazing. We can make the corners of our own worlds more amazing by seeking to bring forth Zion. Zion building has to start somewhere, it might as well start with us!

For they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost;

One of the blessings of seeking to bring forth Zion – is to be able to have both the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. Recall the scripture from above. Alma taught the people:

“Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” – Mosiah 18:10

When we serve God and keep His commandments, then he pours His Spirit upon us.

And what’s the big deal about that? Well…a few things I guess:
One – God’s Nature is the Nature of Happiness
In Alma, we read:

“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.” – Alma 41:11

Alma taught his son that going against the nature of God is going against a nature of happiness. From this, we learn that God’s nature is a nature of happiness! His Spirit will bring us more happiness because it is His spirit! I really like that. I want to be happy in life. I like happiness!

Of course, it is important to remember what happiness actually is. It’s a deep, abiding peace and joy. It is the kind of happiness that gets us through hard times and easy times. It isn’t fleeting pleasure, but real confidence and purpose.

Mormon taught Moroni about the blessings of the Comforter. (by the way…that name: the Comforter. That title tells you a ton! Who wouldn’t want that as a constant companion. Comfort. Peace. Love. AMAZING!)

“And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.” – Moroni 8:26

The Holy Ghost is a comforter. He fills us with hope and love. When we seek to build Zion – which is the gospel – not only are we filled with the Spirit, we are sharing a gospel that will help the recipient be filled with the Spirit.

It’s an upward cycle. It’s really cool.

And if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb

That sounds nice. I’d like to be lifted up. I really would like to be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb.

Not much to say here…well except that – notice: the first two parts of this scripture – seeking to build up zion and then being filled with the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost – is the secret to enduring to the end!

So, the Lord gives us a commandment – to build Zion. And the blessing of doing this is having the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Which gift will help us to endure to the end.

Which then will lift us up at the last day.

So often we talk about our lives on earth as a “test.” We are being tested and tried, it is true. But I think that we overlook the fact that this is an open book test! Heavenly Father has given us everything that we need to succeed.

And whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.

This is the part that I really like. I love the imagery of it. But what does it mean?

Publish Peace
Publishing peace is a lot more than going around with a sign that says “make love, not war.” In fact, most of our modern “peacemaking” techniques will never work in the long-term. They are like fad-diets. They show promising results, but are impossible to maintain…because they miss the real point.

When I think of “peace” the first scripture I think of was uttered by the very Prince of Peace

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

When we publish peace, we are not just saying “can’t we all just get along?!” We are sharing real Peace, the Peace of Christ. This peace lacks confusion. It passes all understanding. It enlightens and uplifts. It calms our anxiety and fear.

Richard G. Scott described peace as follows:

“God wants each of His children to enjoy the transcendent blessing of peace of conscience. A tranquil conscience invites freedom from anguish, sorrow, guilt, shame, and self-condemnation. It provides a foundation for happiness…

Peace of conscience is the essential ingredient to your peace of mind. Without peace of conscience, you can have no real peace of mind. Peace of conscience relates to your inner self and is controlled by what you personally do. Peace of conscience can come only from God through a righteous, obedient life. It cannot exist otherwise. On the other hand, peace of mind is most often affected by external forces such as concern for a wayward child, economic pressures, real or imagined offenses, deteriorating world conditions, or more to do than sufficient time to do it. An unsettled mind is temporary, transitory. Peace of mind is restored by resolving the external forces that disturb it…

It is well to remember that even with peace of conscience you can have temporary periods when your peace of mind is interrupted by external concerns. Your understanding of the causes can relieve much of the pressure they generate. As your personal life conforms to the teachings of the Lord, you can seek His help in resolving the troubling issues. Thus your faith in the Lord and in His teachings will yield peace of mind. Your efforts will be stepping-stones to greater personal growth as Spirit-guided solutions are found…

In summary, you can regain peace of conscience by repenting of personal transgressions that cause you internal turmoil. Then peace of mind can be secured by resolving the external pressures that cause you temporary anxiety, worry, and distress.” – Richard G. Scott

Peace, on a variety of levels, can come to us – but only through Christ.

Tidings of Great Joy
The tidings of great joy – Christ! Christ came to this earth. He was born in a lowly stable. He descended below all. He lived a life – growing little by little. He served others. He healed the sick. He taught the people. He established His church. He suffered for our sins. He died on the cross. He was resurrected. He overcame death and hell, so that we could overcome death and hell.

There is hope! This life isn’t it. There is so much more than our earthly experiences. Because of the Savior, all will be made right – at one point or another. Because of the Savior we can return to Heavenly Father and live in a state of happiness.

Tidings of great joy!

The people who do all of this – seek to bring forth Zion, are filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost, endure to the end, are raised at the last day and saved in God’s kingdom, who publish peace and tidings of great joy…how beautiful! Can you imagine a more beautiful life? Filled with the Spirit! Filled with hope. Filled with joy. Yes – there are trials. Of course there are trials. You can’t get to the tops of the mountain without climbing a mountain!… But the Lord comforts us, gives us peace, and strengthens us. And it is beautiful.

Mountain Tops

“Teach Us Tolerance and Love”

Today, I’m studying the talk, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1994 General Conference.

Crayon Crinkle Project

Well, I guess I’ll start by stating the obvious. This was a really good talk. Tolerance. Love. President Nelson stated:

“I have been impressed to speak on the subject of tolerance—a virtue much needed in our turbulent world.” – Russell M. Nelson

This talk is so relevant today. He gave this talk 24 years ago – before the 24 hour news cycle – which, I believe, has made so many people so angry. Instead of surrounding ourselves with that which promotes tolerance and love, it seems like everyone is getting angrier and even tribal.

Not only has a lack of tolerance and love been problematic for society, at large, I can also see how this lack creeps into my personal life. It causes rifts, judgments, and misunderstandings. Instead of having love, patience, and long-suffering for others, I tend to get annoyed easily. This talk was timely, and I hope you will read it.

President Nelson quotes the following scripture story:

““Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Russell M. Nelson

When the Savior was asked about the most important commandment to keep, he didn’t mention keep the Sabbath Day Holy or Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. He didn’t tell this lawyer any commandment that the lawyer may have expected.

During a political climate that exacted an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the Savior proclaimed that the greatest of all commandments were to 1) Love God, and 2) Love Others.

President Nelson explained:

“Hence, our highest priorities in life are to love God and to love our neighbors. That broadly includes neighbors in our own family, our community, our nation, and our world. Obedience to the second commandment facilitates obedience to the first commandment. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,” (Mosiah 2:17)” – Russell M. Nelson

Recently in my personal scripture study, I’ve been reading and studying the vision of the tree of life – when Nephi sees the vision and learns what each symbol means. In studying this, I’ve learned a lot about desire, and Nephi, himself, learns that the tree of life represents the Love of God, which is the most desirable above all other things. (You can read more here.)

Isn’t it interesting that most important commandments – to love God and to love others – is the most desirable above all other things? I’m convinced that God’s commandments are never little rules given by a power hungry and arbitrary God. His commandments are the secrets to a happy life.

Anyway, if we want to be commandment keeping people, then we need to love God and love others. One way that we show this love is through our kindness to others.

Love Begins at Home

President Nelson shares a cute experience:

“I was amused recently when one of our grown children confided that she had always thought that she was her daddy’s favorite daughter. She was surprised to discover later that each of her eight sisters harbored that same feeling. Only when they had become mothers themselves did they realize that parents hardly have favorites. (Incidentally, our only son never had to wonder who was our favorite son.)” – Russell M. Nelson

Reading this, I wondered, do my children feel this way? I think that my younger two know that they are the apple of my eye. But my teenagers may not realize how much I love them. So – I’m stopping for a second to write them a note. They need to know it! And if your children don’t think that they are your favorite children, maybe take a second right now to tell them how much you love them. If it means that you stop reading this blog post, then great. You can finish reading it later. (or not).

Just imagine what this world would be like if children were reared in homes where they felt confident of the love that their parents have for them.

Heavenly Father Loves us, Too

Ideally, our examples as parents would help a child understand the great love that Heavenly Father has for each of us. Additionally, our children would learn that – just as contention, selfishness, and general unkindness are not acceptable in the home they are also not acceptable ways to treat our other brothers and sisters on this earth. We are all children of God, and we should treat each other as such.

President Nelson stated:

“Yet His children can be so intolerant with one another. Neighboring factions, whether they be identified as groups or gangs, schools or states, counties or countries, often develop animosity. Such tendencies make me wonder: Cannot boundary lines exist without becoming battle lines? Could not people unite in waging war against the evils that beset mankind instead of waging war on each other? Sadly, answers to these questions are often no. Through the years, discrimination based on ethnic or religious identity has led to senseless slaughter, vicious pogroms, and countless acts of cruelty. The face of history is pocked by the ugly scars of intolerance.

How different our world would be if all parents would apply this inspired instruction from the Book of Mormon: “Ye will not suffer your children … that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …

“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.”

If such training occurred, children and parents around this globe would join in singing, “Fill our hearts with sweet forgiving; Teach us tolerance and love.” Men and women would respect their neighbors and the beliefs held sacred by them. No longer would ethnic jokes and cultural slurs be acceptable. The tongue of the tolerant speaks no guile.” – Russell M. Nelson

This is the true pathway to peace. Marches, protests, wars, laws, or legislation – won’t change anything in this turbulent world. Instead, we need to change our hearts. And parents have the power to do this. We can teach our children not to quarrel with each other at home. We can also teach our children that all of God’s children are our brothers and sisters, so the same love and tolerance applies to those outside of our family.

I love this quote! I love it so much.

I would love to live in a world where we can truly feel safe. This doesn’t come through segregation and “safe spaces.” This comes as we stop pointing fingers at one another. All of us need to stop making assumptions about one another. We need to simply love one another, listen to one another, and be kind. We can change the world – starting in our own homes and neighborhoods. We don’t need world leaders to make treaties, laws, and speeches. We can do it ourselves if we choose. The feelings of safety will come when we simply choose to love one another.

The Risk of Tolerance

Even though President Nelson has taught tolerance, He does warn us:

“Now may I offer an important note of caution. An erroneous assumption could be made that if a little of something is good, a lot must be better. Not so! Overdoses of needed medication can be toxic. Boundless mercy could oppose justice. So tolerance, without limit, could lead to spineless permissiveness.” – Russell M. Nelson

Though tolerance is important, we also have to be aware of a bigger picture. Too much tolerance may end up destroying the very thing we are trying to protect with our tolerance!

I’m reminded of an experience in the Book of Mormon. In the Book of Helaman, we read about the Gadianton Robbers – basically a “Mafia” of sorts – organized crime – secret combinations. We read how both the Lamanites and the Nephites reacted to this troubling development.

“And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.

And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.

And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.” – Helaman 6:37-39

When the Gadianton Robbers started to proliferate in the communities of the Lamanites and the Nephites, the Lamanites show the example of love and tolerance that we need to adopt.

The Lamanites did not tolerate this wickedness. They understood that it would end up destroying their society. So, the Lamanites hunted down this band of robbers, and then notice what they did: they did preach the word of God.

Because of the love that the Lamanites had for their brothers, but their unwillingness to tolerate the cancer that was growing in their society, the Lamanites were able to eliminate the Gadianton Robbers.

Now look at the Nephites. They not only tolerated the people, but they also tolerated the behavior. The Nephites built up and supported the Gadianton Robbers. This eventually destroyed the Nephite civilization.

We can be loving and kind, just as the Lamanites were, while also rooting out the sin and wickedness that will destroy our society and bring misery. This requires that we are obedient to the commandments and worthy of the constant companionship of the Comforter.

President Nelson stated:

“Real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.” – Russell M. Nelson

The Lamanites in the example above are the perfect examples of courageous confrontation. Their love compelled them to preach the pleasing word of God – even to the most wicked among them – and they were able to root out the Gadianton Robbers. The Lamanites had true love – even for those who were destroying the society – they didn’t support the self-destructing behavior of the Gadianton Robbers. Instead, they boldly and patiently preached the word of God.

We can’t make choices for others. We can’t force others to see things the way that we do. It isn’t god-like to do so. But we can be good examples. We can live worthy of the Spirit. The Spirit will then direct us on when to “preach” and when to remain quiet. The Spirit will help us how to show tolerance for others without tolerating behavior that is destructive.

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There is so much more in this talk, but I need to wrap things up right now.

I’m so grateful to know that we are led by a prophet who is tolerant of others – of their religious views, their ethnic backgrounds, their tastes, etc. I’m grateful to know that not only is he tolerant, but that he preaches tolerance. I have been in the presence of our Prophet during a sacrament meeting once. I remember the overwhelming feeling of love I felt while he spoke to us.

I know that President Nelson isn’t a perfect man. I don’t intend to mythicize or deify him. But I’m grateful to know that we are led by a man who preaches tolerance and peace – especially during a turbulent time when it seems like everyone wants to be “right” at the expense of happiness and peace in our society.

I know that if we follow the advice of President Nelson, we will have more joy and peace in our personal lives and in the world, at large.