Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week at the Boyacks

 Well... we survived the third week of CET.  It's actually been better than survive, even if I am completely exhausted.  This week I basically finished all my sets... although I have some banners to make for the Gala in 2 weeks.  My stage manager class is coming along.  There are only 3 kids in the class.  It is hard to split up 4 shows with 3 kids. LOL.  This past week we talked about effective communication.  Sadly, it didn't sink in.  A director came to my complaining that the kid assigned to his show has issues with following directions, sighs and rolls his eyes when he is ask for something specifically, and actually interrupted a rehearsal yelling, "cut! Cut!  You missed a light cue," followed by arguing with the director over which script was right.  Gah!  This is the same kid that when I told the director who was her stage manger she cried.  I should have taken that as a sign.  Live and learn.

My lighting class is learning good stuff.  We've talked about different instruments, color, McCandles theory, and made homemade gobos.  They still like playing with follow spots the best though.

In my painting class I've taught them to pain smooth first coats, brick work with sponges, 2 different wet mix techniques, and a feather technique for texture.  They've actually painted pieces of the set.  Seriously, I've got some kids that have got some talent... and some that don't.  LOL.
 We actually had tons of painting to work on... nearly everything I designed is double sided...
 ... and some painting was more or less like cartooning...

 On project did not go as planned.  it looked horible!  Hannah to the rescue!  I brought Hannah to CET one day and turned her loose while I taught class.  She took this...
 ... actually used a ruler and the original drawing...
 ... and saved the day!

 I believe I am done now because I've got 30+ kids in the tech program and They all contribute to the work.
 My staff is great too!  I love these guys!  They are fun.  They work hard.  They follow directions.  They volunteer when not asked.  They definitely bless my life.
 Because we are so far ahead with sets and props we didn't have any projects for the tech kids to do during our double day.  On double day we have all the tech kids for 3 hours instead of 1.  We had them work at clean up for one hour and then we needed to come up with something fun so that we didn't have a revolt.  I so a funny game idea on Pintrest and gave it a try... Angry birds Live.  We stacked all the old cardboard boxes up and put large balls in the wall.  Then we gave the kids small birds to throw.  I can now say we are the favorite teachers at CET.  LOL.  I bet I get 30 more kids in tech next year!  LOL.  I have the same problem this coming week... what to do with kids that aren't needed in rehearsal.  hmmmm... Guess I'd better start surfing Pintrest again.  :)
 We even had a contest to see who could make the coolest "bird" face on their little ball.  I'm telling you... I'm a little nuts.
 Rehearsal for Secret Garden is coming along...  I still have a revolving door of people coming and going.  Sure makes it hard to block and to practice.  And it also looks like many of them don't look at their scripts outside of rehearsal!  Gah!  There is too much to do to not practice.  Each time we run the music we have to start over.    I sure hope this next week goes a bit more smoothly.  In addition, my Assistant Director is my boss at CET.  When we proposed the show we thought it would help me get in... it did, but he is so busy with CET that he doesn't have time to help me.  I sure hope God has mercy on me and this show makes it... I should be thankful that my CET sets are done so I can now go to more Secret Garden rehearsals.  I guess He is granting me some of His mercy!

 My costumer has started bringing in costumes.  They look great!  These are the two servants from India and 3 of my dancing spirit guides.  I love them!
 Friday was dress up day at CET.  Lillian dress was a sea creature... She was cold most of the day so she wore her blanket all around CET.  Silly girl.
 Saturday was the softball rewards for Lillian's softball team.  They lost their game on Thursday, so they did not advance to the finals.  They were all pretty sad, but they all lived.  :)  Sports has bitten Lilli.  She now wants to do it all... volleyball, cheer leading, basketball, and more softball... not to mention more dance, swim lessons, and plays.  Hello!  I can't keep up!  We may need to curve the interests a bit.

 I also took the girls to see Cats! at Broadway Rose in Tigard.  We also took my friend Megan for her birthday.  It was ok.  Some of my favorite characters were ruined by this interpretation.  Some characters did a fair job.  I think the best part was watching Lillian sitting at the edge of her seat, wide eyed, riveted to the play.  Of course, it could have been because the lady in front of her was too tall for Lillian to see over.
Speaking of cats... Lillian has been asked to babysit a Siamese cat for a month for one of my voice students.  Most people at our house are not very supportive.  This cat shouldn't go outside because we don't want to loose her.  Well... while we were out watching Cats, the boys at home left the door open the the cat slipped out.  Lillian was devastated when she got home. (She's been feeling less than supported lately).  She cried.  I tried to help her look for the cat.  Finally, we convinced her to say a prayer.  In the morning... no cat.  She cried again.  This time, John felt guilty and offered to say a prayer with her too.  I felt like I should wander over by the chickens since the cat likes to sit in Chad's window looking at the chickens.  Lillian followed me out.  We were chatting about where the cat could have gone.  John was posting on Facebook that the cat was missing.  Missy was circling and sniffing the air.  Lillian was sure that the cat was there if Missy could smell it.  She started to call the cat and we heard a small "meow".  Lillian screamed with delight.  But we couldn't see the cat.  Finally, Lillian looked up.  There was the cat... on the ROOF!  See Lillian.  Heavenly Father answers prayers... and family members are now more careful about leaving doors open.

Summer Book of Mormon Challenge - Mosiah 22-Alma 9

Mosiah 22

Gideon is one of my favorite heroes of the Book of Mormon.  He had such courage (to fight King Noah) and yet such humility. He's one Book of Mormon character that I look forward to meeting someday.

There are times that I make things more difficult than they really need to be… I fight… I even  disobey… I struggle.  I get in my own way!  Gah!  Nephites are much different.  I think about the history of this group of people: the multiple wars with the Lamanites and such...  For years they fought and lost loved ones- all in an attempt to keep safe and escaped the Lamanites… all it took was some wine, and in one night they were free. 

One humble man with an idea- and they were free. So simple.

I wonder how many times the Lord has given me solutions or directions by inspiration and I ignored it or didn't recognize it because it seemed so simple.  Too simple.

Makes me think.

Mosiah 23

It is interesting that even though Alma and his people were living righteously, they were still exposed to trials.  I think sometimes we think if we are doing everything right, that our lives should be easy.  I do!  After all, we are taught that righteousness and obedience begets prosperity, right?

It does- spiritual prosperity, but not always physical prosperity.

This chapter remind me that life is a time to be tested- even in righteousness.  A little stress will always make things, and people, stronger.

The Lord doesn't not want us to live in or be driven by fear.  There are many times where I have to hush my own fears and cry unto the Lord for guidance, strength and comfort.

Mosiah 24

Notice how the Lord did not promise to take away their burdens, but to make them light by strengthening them.  I think so often we pray that our trials will be taken from us, but the Lord seems to work differently.  If we ask, He can make us strong enough to handle them, in mind, spirit and body.

He made them stronger and their faith grew to the point where the Lord rewarded their faith by allowing them a release from their burdens.

It is important to note how they gave thanks to the Lord afterwards.

I think it's interesting how both times the Nephites escaped they did it when the Lamanites are knocked out.  Lol.

Mosiah 25

Alma brings the different groups together in faith, purpose and worship.  It is so reassuring to me that the truth is out there, being organized, being taught and being heard.

Mosiah 26

And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God..... 

To understand the word, you must first believe.  That is why faith is the first principle of the gospel!

It is that very understanding that softens our hearts.  Hence, without it, their hearts were hardened.

It all comes down to faith.

Those without faith didn't believe or understand.  They wouldn't be baptized. They also deceived the believers.

Those who had faith and believed were blessed and called by the name of Christ.

It all comes down to faith.

Mosiah 27

Wow.  The conversion of Alma the Younger is one of the most amazing conversion stories in the scriptures.  I long to know what he experienced during his time of unconsciousness.  Who did he speak to, what was he taught? How was he taught?

I mean, what an amazing conversion that happened within in!

This chapter is replete with references to faith and repentance.  I love the idea that ALL mankind can be saved- not just a few. 

I also love the joy that they experienced by being tools in the Lord's hands.

Mosiah 28

This chapter is about faith and family.  It really had not been that long since the Nephites escaped the clutches and dominion of the Lamananites.  These very Lamanites taxed them, mocked them and tried to kill them.

And now, here are the sons of Mosiah, approaching their father saying, "Hey, Dad.  We'd like to go back there and teach them about God."  No wonder they had to ask for many days.  I wouldn't have let them go!  How frightening for Mosiah, as a father, to even consider allowing his sons to purposefully to into such dangerous conditions. I'm sure he would have said no, if it weren't for the answer he received from the Lord. 

If find it interesting to note that in chapter 26 Mosiah turned to Alma for inspiration when it came to a kingdom matter. But this was  a family matter, and he took it to the Lord himself.  The Lord came back gave a green light to his sons.  I wonder if Mosiah was still scared for them.  Nevertheless (awesome word!) he allowed them to go because he had faith in the answer he received and the promised that the Lord extended.

As a parent, it is frightening to make choices that I know will affect my children forever. I pray often that I will be in tune to the Spirit, so that I might lead and guide my children where the Lord wants them to go.

Mosiah 29

It's interesting that Mormon decides to put most of Mosiah's letter word for word, rather than summing it all up.  His own words show his humility and the love and concern he had for his people.

Verse 27 is eerily similar to the direction of this great land today, "And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you..."  Things are changing here- and not for the better.  The tide of standards and integrity are receding, the voice of the people is crying louder and louder for redefining of family, stripping away the rights of the workers and people's freedom to choose.  They are being tricked into thinking that this is a new form of enlightenment, and "upgrade" to how things have been done in the past.

Not so.

God's standards will never change.

Alma 1

Nehor, Nehor, Nehor, oh how you sound like so many out there today!  Proclaiming what you term the truth, buying people's allegiance with lies and misperceptions, playing to their vanity.  And how easily the people succumbed.

Of course they did. He made the path wide and easy.  He removed the struggle, the accountability and humility and replaced it with selfishness, laziness and pride.

Sinning always seems the path of least resistance.  But we see in the end of this chapter (and pretty much all cases of sinful behavior) that it is not the path to happiness.  Only righteousness is.

Alma 2

Three times in this chapter it's pointed out that the Nephites were strengthened by the Lord in their trials.  The battles were not taken from them but they were strengthened enough to be victorious.

Alma 3

Wouldn’t life be so much easier if the wicked had a red mark on their forehead? Well, lucky for us we have the Holy Ghost, the gift of discernment and clarity of mind to see the wicked people around us.

Many people do not have a knowledge or testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I wonder how different their lives would be if they had. It might not change their circumstances, but would that testimony give purpose to their pain, and strength to their fight?  Would it take the sting from death?  I can't even imagine.

For the Nephites and Lamanites, in just one year tens of thousands of souls lost their lives. Here is where the perspective comes 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 than others.

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

Alma 4

Oh the Nephite cycle!!

In verse 10 it says:... the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fall in its progress.

Above it I have written: Are you a stumbling block?

People watch us. They watch to see if we live what we claim to believe.  When we don't live we what claim to believe, it leaves others confused. If we as members of the church are negative, angry, and not living the gospel, what incentive does that give, what example does that give to those who aren't members of the church?  Does our behavior- the lives that we lead- draw people closer to the Savior or not?

A few things that I really loved:

Verse 14:...for Christ's sake...   The things that the humble followers did, they did for Christ's sake. I pondered what that meant. My interpretation is that everything good that we do, we do because the Atonement has allowed us to.  They say that he suffered for our sins, so I  know that some of the blood and tears that he shed were for me. Conversely, I'd like to think that the good things that I do can ease his burden, further his cause and bring my Savior joy- that maybe I can lighten his load by choosing the right. I love that.

Verse 15: ...nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail them...   They were humble, and the Spirit didn't let them down. Love it!

I love the humility of Alma.  Not that prestige was important to him- but he gave up a prestigious position for the sake of helping rebuild the kingdom. That inspires me to ask myself: How much would I be willing to give up to further the Kingdom? I've covenanted to dedicate all that I have to do so.  I hope I do

Alma 5

...and they awoke unto God...their souls were illuminated

What beautiful descriptive words.

I love this verse: 
16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

Can I imagine the voice of the Lord taking to me?  What would I like Him to say? What would He actually say?  Do I have the image of God in my countenance?

 This speech was made by Alma the Younger.  Remember, he was the one who saw the angel of God and was struck down for three days while he was in an amazing repentance process. But, despite these wonderful and very real experiences, listen to how he explains he received his testimony:

46 Behold, I say unto you they are made aknown unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have bfasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit ofcrevelation which is in me.

It's the Spirit that gives us our testimony- not our experiences. it's how much we open our hearts to the Spirit and allow him to testify of the truthfulness for the gospel. The same things happened to the twelve apostles. Even thought they walked with Jesus, it was when they were pricked in their hearts that they knew.

Alma 6

God's house is a house of order. Alma saw that there was a work to be done, first in the church then outside.

He made sure leaders were called by the priesthood. Then those who didn't want to be there were kicked out, and those who wanted in were baptized. The church was purged and planted, and once again healthy. Only AFTER that happened did Alma feel like he could leave and serve his mission.

I also think the pattern for Alma's testimony was interesting as it was spelled out in verse 8.  His testimony of Jesus Christ gave him the spirit of prophecy, which gave him the revelation of truth. 

Very cool!

Alma 7

Alma established some very important- critical- truths in this chapter:
1.        The most important thing above ALL ELSE is the Redeemer and His Atonement.  (vs 7)
2.        The Lord God has power to do all things- whether we understand them or not (8)
3.        Repentance is the way to prepare to meet Him (9)
4.        The Atonement is broken down and explained
1.        Jesus was the Son of God (10)
2.        He experienced suffering and afflictions and temptations in order to take upon our pains and sicknesses (11)
3.        He allowed Himself to die, to loosen the bands of death for us (12)
4.        He took on our infirmities so He can be filled with mercy, and know how to succor and comfort us (12)
5.        The Son of God suffered physically in order to pay the price for our sins. (13)
6.        His sacrifice offers us deliverance (13)
5.        Repentance and baptism are the ONLY ways to take advantage of the Atonement in our lives (14)
6.        Sin leads to our eternal destruction (15)
7.        The Lord is always consistent and right (20)
8.        We have a duty to follow God (22) and it is our testimonies that make us aware of that duty.
9.        Oh the Eternal To-Be List! (23 & 24)
1.        Humble
2.        Submissive
3.        Gentle
4.        Easy to be entreated
5.        Full of patience
6.        Full of long-suffering
7.        Temperate in all things
8.        Diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times
9.        Ask God for your needs, both spiritual and temporal
10.     Always give thanks to God for what He gives you
11.     Have faith
12.     Have hope
13.     Have charity
14.     Always abound in good works
10.     If we do the above things, the Lord will cleanse us from our sins (25)
11.     We are blessed with peace according to our faith and good works (27)

What and AMAZING sermon Alma gave!  How beautiful it was then, and how applicable it still is today!

Alma 8

Amulek is the epitome of  the right guy at the right time. But I must add- doing the right thing. He was a righteous man, he listened to the angel he saw in a vision (how can you not?), he let Alma in, studied with him, was taught by him and eventually, was asked to preach with him.

We know that Amulek was almost, if not as equally, a powerful teacher and speaker as Alma. He must have had an amazing testimony.

I wonder, in my life, how many blessings and opportunities I've had, just by being the right girl at the right time doing the right thing.  I know meeting my husband was one of them. Today we celebrate our 17th anniversary. I gave him a card that congratulated him on celebrating the day he made the smartest decision of his life- but seriously, I am blessed to be with him. 

I know that I've been blessed in my life, not because I'm awesome or anything- but simply because God saw that I was willing to follow Him, to go where He wants me to go, do what he wants me to do, and be what He wants me to be

I also love how, when Alma receives a message from the Lord, he not only did what he was asked. He went about it "speedily."  That shows a willingness and eagerness to follow Him. What a great example these two men are to me.

Alma 9

"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods."

C.S. Lewis

 Alma uses the words 'remember' and 'forgotten' six times.  The people of Ammonihah were once believers, but over time they had "forgotten" what they once believed.

Our circumstances and moods fluctuate, and for some, so does their faith.   Times get tough, obedience is difficult, fears take over- we begin to forget our testimonies.  Doubt creeps in we falter.

Keeping the faith means that regardless of the change in circumstances and even our moods, we maintain our testimonies of our Savior and His gospel.  It's not always easy to do, but we read here the price of those who don't.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Book of Mormon Challenge - Mosiah 1-17

OK.  Here are my thoughts on the chapters I read this week:

Mosiah 1

"Search them diligently that ye may profit thereby..."  

I love the scriptures! I a second witness that we may profit eternally by reading them!

Mosiah 2

I love how every man had his tent pitched towards the temple. All things lead to the temple.

To trifle means to treat something without seriousness or respect. In verse 9, King Benjamin made it clear that he didn't command them to come so they would be casual in their listening--his intent was for them to listen and obey him.

I can imagine that must be how President Monson feels as he stands before us. When he feels he has been impressed to relay a message, he doesn't want it to be received casually. He doesn't want the people to trifle with his words, because they are not his words, but the Lord's words. And when the Lord speaks it is for a reason.

The Lord doesn't do small talk.

The first sentence in verse 22 says it all: "And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments."

I truly believe we do not understand just how easy we have it.

The Savior has suffered beyond our comprehension so we don't have to suffer more than we need be.  He has done the hard part. In comparison, our lot is easy. All we have to do is keep His commandments and trust Him.

With that perspective, my trials seem light and trivial. I am not bleeding from every poor. I am not at death's door, needing angelic support. I am not hanging from a cross.  He has done all of that for me.

I can handle what's been give me in gratitude because of that, and for many other things: the life he has given me, the blessings I receive for keeping the commandments, and so on.

Mosiah 3

Don’t you love the commands the angel gave King Benjamin?

1. Awake.  I think sometimes in our lives we can be asleep to spiritual things, and the first thing we need to do is snap out of it. We need to be conscious and aware of our spiritual life and environment.

2. Hear the words which I shall tell thee. After we are awake, we need to actually hear and listen to the things we are being taught, whether it come from the scriptures, our leaders, inspiration--we need to hear what they are saying for the gospel really is the good news.

The angel also teaches King Benjamin some very important points of doctrine:

1. The Lord hears our prayers.
2. He judges us.
3. The Savior, Jesus Christ, will come to earth, performing miracles and the Atonement
4. Salvation comes through Him.
5. He will be resurrected after three days.
6. He will judge the world in a righteous judgment.
7. Salvation is extended to those who sin in ignorance.
8. Salvation can only be achieved in faith and repentance.

I read the list in verse 19 of all the wonderful things a child is: submissive, meek, humble, full of love...willing to submit ti his father....that is SO not how my children act!  But that is beside the point.

I am in charge of me and how I respond to her behavior. I must be submissive (to the Lord's will), meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit to all things which the Lord seemeth fit to inflict upon me. It is up to me and no one else who I respond.

Mosiah 4

Two wonderful and strong points begin this chapter:

Belief in God, humility, trust, repentance, daily prayer  and continual obedience qualifies man to receive salvation through Jesus Christ.

If we do these things we will always rejoice and be filled with His love, and always retain a remission of our sins (for isn't that what joy is, knowing God and being clean?)

This half of the chapter is interesting to read in the light of the times. It says we are not to judge a person in need, but give all that we are able, for we not all beggars?

But in truth, there are some people truly in need due to hard times, and others in need/want because of their choices, so much so that taking handouts has become more of a given than an exception.  Hence, when we give them what they ask for, it is enabling unhealthy behavior.

I'm sure King Benjamin didn't know the world 'enable,' but since he was taught this truth by an angel, I'm pretty sure his teaching here is solid.

So, we are told to give what we can to the needy (and if we can't, simply to have the desire to give is sufficient), but what if what the needy is asking for would not help them in the long run?  Are we judging them  by withholding from giving certain assistance and things as we try to encourage them to learn to do for themselves?

Mosiah 5

Verse 12 and 13 stuck out to me today "but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called.."

Mosiah 6

The Lord's church is a church of order. We see that here. Names were recorded, priests and teachers were ordained (the Priesthood) and organized, regular meetings were held.  Doesn't sound to different than today . . . except we don't have Lamanites trying to kill us.

I love to see the continuity in His church throughout time. Just another testament today for me.

Mosiah 7

Ammon had a tough job to do, so he took with him strong men.  I know that when I have a tough time in life, or when I know I have something difficult coming up, that I benefit from surrounding myself with strong people who can help support me and lift me up--help me be stronger.

In verse 4 it says that they knew not the course they should travel, so they wandered for 40 days until they reached their destination. Now, they did end up getting where they wanted to go, but I wondered if they would have gotten there faster if they had prayed about it.  Perhaps they did, but it didn't say here.  I know that God leads me and guides me, but I also know that when I am purposeful in my prayers and listen for direction, my paths are straighter and easier.

I love how, in verse 13, Ammon gave King Limhi the benefit of the doubt, even after being imprisoned for two days. He wasn't angry. He didn't hold a grudge. He wasn't offended. He simply said, "No prob. I knew if you knew it was me you wouldn't have done it."  I think of all the times I've heard people choose to be offended by the actions of someone else, rather than giving them understanding, the benefit of the doubt.  

At this point in the scriptures we have three separate Nephite groups:  King Mosiah's people, King Limhi's people and the people of Ammon who fled after Abinidi was killed.

The good news is that it won't be long until the will be gathered together again.

The overall message of this half of the chapter is summed up in verse 33: IF ye serve the Lord He will help you.

Mosiah 8

 I am sure when the forty three people set out for Zarahemla that that was where they expected to go. They had faith they would end up there, so much so that even when they were lost they were still diligent (8).

But despite their intentions and efforts, the Lord did not lead them to Zarahemla, but to a wasteland.  I bet it was not what they had expected.  But, because of their diligence in taking step after step, they found the 24 plates which held the precious story of the brother of Jared and his people, which were preserved for the benefit of the Nephites, and us.

I find in here a wonderful example of how Heavenly Father directs our paths to where we need to be. Sometimes people worry that they can't hear the word of God telling them His will, where they should go and what they should do--and they allow that worry to stall them.  They stand in the middle of the road waiting for the Spirit to point them in the right direction. But, we learn here a simple truth:  Be prayerful and obedient, the go forth in diligence. The Lord will take you where He wants you to go.  But it is up to us to move.

Mosiah 9

So, here we are taking our first break from the chronological story of the people of Nephi, and taking a step backwards of about fifty years. It's like a flashback, or back story, in a novel.

This story picks up where Omni 1:30 left off.

We learn in the first two verses what caused such a the battle between the first travel party mentioned in Omni 1:27-28.  The leader of the first group wanted to kill the Lamanites, but Zeniff saw some good in them and fought to spare their lives.

I like Zeniff. He saw the good in people--so much so that he allowed himself to be deceived by the Lamanites. BUT, he was an eager optimist, full of vision and energy--some thought too much energy (he even admits that he was 'over zealous.')

He was willing to fight for what he believed and he was also willing to see himself through honest eyes. He admitted that he was over zealous, and that he was slow to remember the Lord. But, he turned things around, and battled the Lamanites in the strength of the Lord (17) and they cried mightily unto Him.

He was strong and humble, willing to repent. And he accepted responsibility for their situation. It must have filled him with such sorrow to have buried his people with his own hands.

Zeniff is one of those guys I'm excited to meet someday.

Mosiah 10

By this time Zeniff and his people had been in the land of their inheritance for 34 years total. After their battle with the Lamanites they had 22 years of peace. They didn't sit around eating bon bons and relaxing. They used that time of peace to prepare for war and to protect themselves.

Sometimes when we have a peaceful break between our trials we tend 'rest' and let things go a bit, but here is a great lesson that we can apply spiritually   We should use our peaceful times to arm ourselves with faith and knowledge, so that when tough times come, we will be prepared.

Not only did he prepare his people, but he was also aware of his enemies tactics. Again, a good spiritual message there.

In verse 12 we read the frightening description of the Lamanites, and really it was all because they held a grudge. The price of holding grudges and being offended is steeper and more dangerous than I think we realize.

Perspective, one of my favorite words, played a huge role in the state of the Lamanites. They understood not  the dealings of the Lord, and had in their hearts the view that they were wronged. It was this perspective the fed the anger and hatred, and hardened their hearts.

Perspective has the power to make or break a man.

Mosiah 11

I wonder why Zeniff conferred the kingdom on his son Noah. Did Noah keep the law of God when his father was alive, or was he already wicked?  Was it Zeniff's nature to look at the good in people that caused him to see past the bad into the good in Noah (if there was any?)  Perhaps his other sons were even worse than Noah.

Who knows. But, I do know that I am sad it happened. King Noah was a bad man. He knowingly went against the will of God.

It's amazing what pride coupled with laziness creates. King Noah and his crew felt entitled to all the good things in life while giving nothing in return. 

It is nice to know that even when people are wicked (or especially when they are) that Heavenly Father still loves them and wants them to return to Him. That's why he sends prophets---that's why he sent Abinidi.

I wonder how old Abinidi was. Was he part of the group that left Zarahemla with Zeniff? Did he know King Benjamin, and get to hear him before they left?

We always picture Abinidi as being very old, so perhaps that was a great possibility. 

Or, was Abinidi sent from somewhere else? In verse 27 King Noah asks, "Who is Abinidi, that I am and my people should be judged of him..."  He could either be saying that like, "hey, I totally know this guy. He's one of my followers. What makes him think he's better than me?"  Or he could mean, "Who is this guy? I don't know him and doesn't know me, so how can he judge me?"

I don’t know, but it's intriguing, if nothing else.

The Lord has a purpose in all that He does. And if we live righteously our lives will be used for His purposes--the greatest of which is allowing to learn and grow--and our lives will be prolonged by Him until we have done all that He knows we need to do for Him and for us.

Abinidi's work wasn't finished yet, so the Lord preserved his life, and delivered him out of their hands.  I have faith that the Lord will do the same for me. (and yet, I am SO grateful that my trials are not people trying to kill me!)

Mosiah 12

I admire Abinidi for his courage to return to preach and prophesy in the same city where he could have lost his life two years before.

I know there are many times that God has asked me to do things that seemed scary or frightening to me, and I am not always as eager to jump right in!  But, I try to.

The thing that really blows me away is that I think Abinidi knew from the beginning how this would end. In verse three he prophesied the fiery death of King Noah, a death that was to be the same as what he would end up handing to Abinidi.

I wonder how I would do if God asked me to do something that I knew would require my life.  I'd like to think I would go willingly (maybe not cheerfully) and do what he has asked me to do.

I LOVE ABINADI!  He is standing in court in front of the king a priests, who smugly think they can catch him in a trap of words.  They ask him one question (albeit a very long question--5 verses long) and he goes on for four and a half chapters. He doesn't even give them time to breathe! Boom, there it is!

I started reading this and couldn't stop until his speech was over.  It was, and still is, amazing.  The words he spoke, the passion that seeps through even 2100 years later. His understanding of the scriptures and prophecies, his testimony, his love for the Savior--his words are so passionate and so rich I couldn't stop reading.

Among his first words to the priests, he says, "Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding."  Abinadi knew where their hearts were. He must have known Alma's heart. Perhaps this was one of the reasons he spoke so specifically about the Savior, so that Alma would know what to teach.

Two things were learn: Actions follow the heart (verse 27) and Live what you teach (29)

Abinadi cannot be swayed. The priests try to use his own religion against him, but he cannot be moved. "Have ye done all this?" he asks them of the commandment of God. They hadn't. They knew it and Abinadi knew it, too.

Their actions showed where their hearts were. The good news is that even as bad as a heart can be, it can always change. Look at Alma. He was doing, as far as we know, the same things the other priests were, and his heart changed.

Hearts are pliable, able to change instantaneously under the right conditions. The softer the heart the more pliable it is.  Though Alma was doing bad things, his heart was not fully hardened. The power of the Atonement, through the Spirit brought in by Abinadi's words, reached into his heart, changing the soft part into something strong.

God doesn't want hard hearts. He wants strong hearts, hearts that will not fail men. A heart can be strong and soft at the same time. In fact, I believe that is the heart of God. Strong and immovable (understanding the need for justice), yet soft and filled with mercy, with room for love throughout. That's the kind of heart I want--strong and soft and big.

Bottom line: Truth is power. Actions follow the heart.

Mosiah 13

I love the faith that Abinadi had in God and his mission. The priests were looming in on him, and he still was unafraid! "Touch me not...I must fulfill the commandments wherewith God has commanded me."

He knew that he would be protected until his mission was done.

I think sometimes we lose focus on our missions, and we can let fear and doubt--even other people-- creep in and take control. It takes great faith to say, 'touch me not!' to those things that might distract us.  

He knew his mission and his message were what mattered. It didn't matter what was going to happen after he gave his message. In fact, if he did, indeed, know that he was going to be killed when he was finished with the message, it gives verse 9 new meaning-- "But I finish my message; and then it matters not that I am going to be burned at the stake, if it so be that I am saved."  Now, THAT is eternal perspective!

The condition of the heart is the key to the condition of our testimony and our faith.

Mosiah 14

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon, as well as the book of Isaiah. The beauty in which he speaks of our Savior touches me so. It is easy to see that Isaiah not only loved Him, but knew Him.

Mosiah 15

There's so much good stuff in here: Justification and mercy, resurrection, little children are save, the Father and Son are separate, redemption.  I could write about them all! But, I won't.

Verses 6-9, especially 9, are my favorite verses in this chapter. They speak to our Savior, the Atonement, and His role in the Plan of Salvation.

Vs 7- "the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father." Notice in this verse how the word IN is used, rather than BY.  It didn't say that Jesus’ will was swallowed by God's will. That would imply that God's will is overtaking the Son's, as if it were God's doing. But, it says in. That tells me that it was Jesus’ doing to put His will in line with His Father's.

That is one of the greatest reasons we are here: to align our will with God's. And someday our we will be so good at it that now only will our will be in line with God's, but it will be swallowed up in His will.

I love the imagery in verse 9 of the Savior ascending to His place in the heavens, standing in between  us and justice. I don't visualize Him between us and God, for God is always approachable, but Jesus Christ stands between us and certain death. He is the life boat that will save us from this sinking ship of mortality, and all we have to do is listen to His directions and follow them. How grateful I am to Him!!

And how grateful I am to God that He has appointed prophets to make this known to us--even prophets such as Abinidi that lived 2200 years ago.  Truth is truth regardless of time, and Abinidi's words are as true now as they were then.

I also love how Abinidi made sure they understood that little children are saved. I wonder if anyone hearing that had children at the time.

Chapters like this do make me want to 'break forth into joy' and sing together! Doesn't it?

Mosiah 16

Oooo, more good stuff!  I love the meat of the gospel! 

Jesus Christ is a light that will never be darkened. Beautiful.

I love how the gospel is completely inclusive. Everyone that has ever lived will have had a chance, if not now then by the end of the Millennium, to here the gospel and gain a testimony of it. That truth is spoken of here in verse 1, as well as Revelation and other places in the scripture. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ. And yet, there will be some--many--who, despite their testimony, will choose not to follow Him.

Mosiah 17

Abinadi was amazing. The courage he had, the faith he had. I have to believe that God lessened the pain of his terrible death as he gave his last testimony. 

I see a type of the Savior in Abinadis story: he came as a sheep to the slaughter, willingly and knowingly. And yet, his call to testify was more important than his own life. Amazing.

And now we meet Alma. It seems that Alma was a newer priest, as he was so young. It would also appear that, since he already knew the iniquities of the people, that he may have been a righteous priest. Perhaps he was appointed to pacify those that still believed. Who knows. But, it's an obvious assumption that King Noah didn't care much for him, as it didn't take much at all for King Noah to order his death.

I wonder if this wasn't the straw that broke the camel’s back for King Noah and Alma's relationship. 

Regardless, I admire the courage and humility of Alma.

I also think it this chapter testifies to the importance of record keeping and journal writing. Alma spent days making sure he recorded all of Abinidi's words and what happened. I also have to believe that when he was recording the words if Abinidi, that God helped him, through the Spirit, remember with accuracy all the words Abinidi spake.  It would have been difficult for Alma to recall word for word all that is written. I think the hand of God plays a much larger and more involved role on the scriptures than we realize.