Monday, April 2, 2012

Book of Mormon Study - Alma 3

I often think life be so much easier if the wicked had a red mark on their forehead. When I really stop and think about it, the people of today do a fairly good job of "marking" themselves.

Well, lucky for us we have the Holy Ghost, the gift of discernment and clarity of mind to see the wickedness to avoid  around us.  We are blessed to have living prophets and standards to help us stay on track.

How frightening the Lamanites must have looked to the Nephites. I cannot imagine living with the daily threat of war and death. If I ever saw a Lamanite running after me with his loin cloth, war makeup and ax, I would probably die on the spot of a heart attack.

Our war is a bit different... yet the enemy, oddly, looks similar.

“For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet:

“Servants of God have always counseled his children to dress modestly to show respect for him and for themselves. Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because it’s ‘the style,’ it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard: “There is an entire subculture that celebrates contemporary gangs and their criminal conduct with music, clothing styles, language, attitudes, and behaviors. . . “I do not believe that you can stand for truth and right while wearing anything that is unbecoming one who holds the priesthood of God. To me, it is impossible to maintain the Spirit of the Lord while listening to music or watching movies or videos that celebrate evil thoughts and use vulgar language” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 51–53; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38–39).

But the sad truth is that there are millions of people around the world that live in daily fear of war and death. Depending on where you are in the world, the sound of gunfire and bombs is a part of daily life. Guerrilla warfare is the controlling force. Broken governments, civil war, oppression, bloodshed and sorrow is a part of the lives of millions of people.

I don't know if I could do that.
For the Nephites and Lamanites, in just one year tens of thousands of souls lost their lives. Here is where the perspective comes in in verse 26: "...tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey....(27) For every man receiveth wages for him who he listeth to obey."

There is a toll to be paid, if not in this life then most definitely in the next. In fact, the toll paid in this life is simply an extension, a preview, of the price we will pay- whether good or evil- in the next. If we are righteous we have the sweet gift of testimony and faith the help us through difficult circumstances. We choose to have faith, we list to obey they voice of God. And though we suffer because we are mortal and have agency, just as all around us do, that faith is what consecrates our trials for the eternal rewards we will receive.

The same rules apply to the wicked. Though they are wicked, they might find some happiness/pleasure in this life. But, without that faith and testimony, their lives are shallow. They attached greater meaning to positions and power, pride and prestige, assuming that these are the purpose of life. They follow the flesh, never seeing beyond this world to the higher, broader purpose to life. They choose to obey the adversary, and become tools in his hands for the physical destruction of the righteous.

Life has difficulties for everyone- the righteous and the wicked. The difference is who we choose to follow.That will affect how we see this life and what we strive for. These all determine where we and up.

It really does come down to choices. This life is full of joy and sorrow. Everyone is faced with difficult circumstances- some more that others.

But, it's not our circumstances that define us. It's our choices.

Who we list to obey, how we choose to act every day; how we choose to view the people in our lives; what we choose is important to us. It is up to us.

The Lamanites followed the Adversary. They didn't follow the Lord. They had no faith, no testimony. This affected everything they were, and yet, because they looked at life through the eyes of his world, they could not see it. A tragedy we see still around today.

What did you think/learn today?

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