Friday, January 29, 2016

Fortified in All Things

This week I was reading Alma 43-63 from the Book of Mormon and pondering on which message really stood out to me this time.  There are many things I have learned from these chapters, but this time I feel that the message is to fortify your homes and families against the battles being waged by evil.

In these chapters we learn about Captain Moroni, a great military leader of the Nephite people.  Yet through it all he doesn't enjoy war.  He gets frustrated with his own people for their lack of understanding the cost of preserving their freedoms.  He hoists a flag with what we learn is the "Title of Liberty", it said, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children".  (Alma 46:12) He went forward with his armor on and flag in hand and called the people to action.

A painting by Arnold Friberg showing Captain Moroni in armor waving the title of liberty, while the Nephite soldiers raise their swords toward him as a sign of support.
Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty
Moroni didn't just call them to arms, he called them to put their faith in God, because he said they would be destroyed "if we do not stand fast in the faith of Christ." (Alma 46:27)

The enemy in this story is a man named Amalickiah who wanted to destroy the freedom of the people and make himself the king.  "Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God." (Alma 48:7)  Moroni not only strengthened the people spiritually, he prepared the land in a way that these people had never done before.  He had the people "throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.  And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites." (Alma 48:8-9)

Now, I share these many scriptures because it brings me to what we need to do to fortify our own lives.  What can we do to protect our families against the wars around us not only in material ways, but in spiritual ways as well.
Conquest of Lisbon by Alfredo Roque
Our homes and families are under seige and we need to do as Moroni did and build up our banks of love, and our forts of prayer, our walls of gospel standards.  Our watchmen and soldiers as our prophets, parents and church leaders.  We can put on the armor of God as well.

knight in armor

Ephesians 6:10-2

My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

 President Spencer W. Kimball said in his April 1979 General Conference address, "What must we do? We must be constantly alert to their evil presence in our homes and destroy them as we would the germs and filth of disease. We must hunt them from the closets of our minds, freeing ourselves of such worldliness, quenching the embers of wickedness before they become destructive flames. How do we do this?
There is only one sure way and that is through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and being obedient to its profound and inspired teachings. Surely we must be made to realize that the purchase price of a family hearth free of such evil influences is the keeping of the commandments of God."  (for the full address, "Fortify Your Homes") 

A family sitting in a living room with a Church magazine and the scriptures open for family home evening.

I feel it really comes down to the consistent habit of doing the little things that matter most.  We as a family need to pray, read scriptures, have our family home evenings and good recreation activities done together.  We need to attend our church meetings and build up our faith and trust in God by creating a Christ-centered home.  We need to be watchful as President Kimball said, always on the alert to those things that enter our home that would start to break down our fortifications.  These things could come through media, styles, language, attitude, etc.  Our risks will be diminished as we do our best to strengthen our faith and relationships.

The world is at war.  What will you do to fortify your home and family, "but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". (Joshua 24:15)


Friday, January 15, 2016

Where Can I Turn?

I was thinking about my scripture readings for this past week and struggling to internalize what I had read when one day I had a knock come to my door.  There were two men from a different church wanting to share a message.  I have met one of them before as they come around often and I enjoy chatting with them and talking about the scriptures, usually.

This time felt a little different.  I had been a little worn down by some extra stresses in my life and actually didn't want to answer the door, and then when they shared their message it was about what happens when we die and it felt all wrong.  One of them shared their thoughts on what happens to us when we die and gave many scriptures they thought supported this view and I just stood there.  Finally he asked what I thought about all this and if I would like to hear more.  I said that I actually didn't feel peace with the message they shared.  They kept trying more to convince me by reading more scriptures to me and I still just stood there.  When asked again what I thought, I told them that I am sure in what I believe and don't view those scriptures in the same way.  After they left, I felt overcome with the intensity of the conversation.  I had never been in a situation like that before, where it felt like I was being pushed.

Korihor wanted to see a miracle
Korihor and Alma

As I reflected on this experience I thought of the chapters I had read in the scriptures about the different teachers from different churches.  There was Korihor who taught against Christ's existence and twisted words of prophets and scripture to fit his his views.  Previous to Korihors coming, there had been a time of peace.  When Alma is talking with this Korihor, Alma says in 30:34 that the gospel is preached because it brought joy into their lives.

A painting by Jerry Thompson illustrating a Zoramite standing and speaking with outstretched arms on top of the gold Rameumptom surrounded by torches of fire.
Zoramites in their Synagogue

I also thought about the Alma's experience when he went among the Zoramite people and found them worshiping in a strange manner.  He went to help the people do what was right because he feared they would rise up and cause a war.  In Alma 31:5 it says " the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God."  Alma had hoped the word of God would have a positive effect on those he went to teach.

This brings me back to my door-step with the two strangers.  They invited me to think about what they had to share.  As I have looked into what they believe, I still don't find the peace and comfort that comes with what I already have and believe.  In my mind I had the question, "where can I find peace that the Lord provides?"  I feel the answer for me has already been found.  I find peace in my heart, I feel light in my mind in the truths I have found in being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint.

Where can I turn for peace?  Only in and through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.


I am thankful for learning by study and faith (D&C 88:117) where we can "learn who we are, why we are on this earth, and how we should live in order to enjoy happiness and peace in this life and a fulness of joy in the next." (Gospel Learning)

I know as I listen to the Spirit in my heart I will always be guided to do good and will find peace in my heart, even during turbulent times.

Living Water
By Simon Dewey