On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you today? How about the past week? The past year? Or overall? Would you (and those around you) consider you to be a generally happy person overall? Maybe you’re just not a “happy” kind of person. Maybe you’re not a total grump, but maybe on the overall personality spectrum, you’re a bit closer to the Mr. Grinch end than the Relief Society President end. Maybe you’re holding out hope that you would be eventually happy. You know, once your sons have returned from their missions. And your quorum takes their ministering assignments seriously. And your husband stops leaving the toilet seat up. Or maybe you’re just enduring life right now and looking forward to that day of release when you will finally be able to rest in eternal felicity in heaven because sure then you will be happy, right?
I like listening to my dad tell stories from his time in the army. One thing he observed is that the drill sergeants he had were very much like the drill sergeants you see in the movies: insulting, swearing, and strict almost to the point of abusive. And he saw why. Although my dad was a married, returned missionary with 2 kids when he enlisted in the army, the rest of his group were 18 and 19-year old boys. And they acted the part. The primary goal in basic training is to crush you and try and get as much of the silliness and horseplay out of you as possible.
I’m in the middle of the saddest part of the Book of Mormon. Throughout the latter half of 3 Nephi, Christ ushers in a period of peace and national righteousness that gives us modern readers a little preview of the Millenium. Then, 3 Nephi ends, and by the end of the very next chapter, the Nephites are largely corrupt and ripe for their final destruction. No gradual decline this time– they come out in open rebellion against God, the day of grace is past, and you know this is the end of the end. Each time I read the story of their self-destruction in my studies, it feels more sad and sickening than the last. This time through, I noticed some interesting details from the war accounts from Mormon 2 that I had overlooked before.
This post first appeared on Power in the Book of Mormon The Atonement of Christ is the center of our faith. But it’s also the principle of our faith that is…
Years ago, I heard a Bishop say: “Brothers and sisters, the restoration was messy.” I didn’t think much about his wording at the time. But over the few years following (including my mission), I encountered a lot of people wanting to “educate” me about early Church leaders. Joseph Smith was the most common target, of course. They cited all sorts of stories about him that seemingly “proved” he was a lying, womanizing con man. I mostly brushed off these claims during my mission. Those critics were not historians. I knew their agenda. I figured they were mostly lies, or at least huge distortions of the history. So, when I got home from my mission, I bought an 800-page history of Joseph Smith. It was written by an active stake patriarch and Church historian who worked on the Joseph Smith Papers project, so I figured his book would blow away all those false accusations with the fiery testimony of truth. But I was surprised to find that instead of tearing down all the stories the critics had told me, history largely confirmed them. And you know what? That’s OK!
I have a confession to make. On my mission, I didn’t agree with a certain part of the missionary manual. But before you stone me for heresy, hear me out, and I’ll tell you how that changed.
I love the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. Here’s why…
I no longer try to imagine Christ suffering from the sins of the whole world on His shoulders for three hours. Instead, I try to picture Him kneeling down just for me.Bleeding from every pore just for me. In my mind, I picture Christ stopping time and spending as many minutes or hours or days or years is necessary to work out my salvation.
We’ve heard over and over again that the Gospel is all about families. And it is. But sometimes, when family members will not support us in our decisions to live the Gospel, we are ultimately left to choose between our family and our God.
Have you ever wondered why our Church is sneered at for being alarmist, perfectionist, and completely uncompromising? This is why. We are trying to learn the lesson the Nephites never learned. We are trying to learn that in it’s never just “a small number” of wicked men. It’s never just “a little pride.” There are no such things as “little dissensions.” There is no “small part of the people” that can fall away without bringing destruction upon the rest. And when it comes to God’s laws, we only need to compromise on “a few particular points” to find ourselves very stuck, very soon, in very big trouble. When it comes to wickedness, it’s never, ever just “a little.”