Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Best Handbook for Life

So, about three weeks ago, I began attending an institute class on the Book of Mormon taught by the wonderful Susan Shupe. Her classes are just amazing, and I learn so much from them. She has a way of getting one excited about the Book of Mormon, and helping one see how the stories and teachings apply to nearly every aspect of our lives. She very appropriately calls the Book of Mormon "A Handbook for Life." Truly, this is an amazing book with much to offer. Read on!

For those of my readers who may not be familiar with The Book of Mormon, briefly, it is a compilation of thousands of years worth of fascinating historical and spiritual records of the people in the ancient Americas. The Bible mentions these people in John 10:16. Mormon, a prophet/historian living back in the day, compiled "the cream of the crop" from these records just for us, as he forsaw our day (Mormon 8:35, pp 483). The Bible actually refers to the Book of Mormon in Ezekial 37:16-19, with the sticks of Joseph and Judah referring to the Book of Mormon and the Bible respectively, and the two becoming "one stick," or one testament of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, last week in an e-mail to my family, I shared some of my notes, then I got to thinking I should post my notes on my blog for my extended family, my posterity and my dear other readers. So, here you are. Enjoy!

From President Benson, 5 Reasons We Have the Book of Mormon:

1. It prepares us for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

In 3 Nephi 1:8 (pp. 407), righteous believers in the land were about to be put to death by the wicked if the signs of Christ's birth prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite didn't happen by a certain day. The time was drawing near, and this verse records that the people, as you could imagine, were watching "steadfastly" for the promised signs (the star and "the day and the night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night"). Here are a few thoughts applying that story to our day.

First of all, we, too, should be watching steadfastly for signs of Christ's second coming so we can be spiritually and physically prepared, and help prepare our families for what is to come. Serious readers of the Bible and the Book of Mormon can see these signs in abundance! Pretty scary stuff! Some suggestions for us to be prepared: Be where we are supposed to be, when we are supposed to be there. When Christ appeared to the people in the Americas after his resurrection, where did he come? He came to the temple, where the people had gathered. We need to "stand in holy places" and be frequent temple attenders.

One more note our teacher pointed out about this preparation. In the Book of Mormon, the Book of Helaman is where we are in terms of politics and what is going on in the world nowadays. If you will recall, there was a lot of corruption going on in the government, and people breaking the law and going unpunished because they were able to bribe officials, among other things...sound familiar?! So we are in the book of Helaman, and of course, the following book is 3 Nephi, where the Savior appears. Since the Book of Mormon is "a type and shadow of things to come," we have an exciting time coming, but again, a lot of scary times coming before Christ comes again.

2. The Book of Mormon teaches us the dangers of materialism.

The main danger of this, I think we determined, is that "stuff," including money, can easily distract us from the things that are most important. We've got to be careful to have good balance in our lives.

3. The Book of Mormon teaches disciples of Christ how to live in times of war.

There are a lot of wars that occur in the Book of Mormon! I often wondered why those were included, and now I know. Read on!

We will probably be involved in physical war throughout the world until Christ comes again, and most surely in spiritual warfare, so this is very pertinent to us. How we build up our defenses...defenses for our families...these are all answered here in the Book of Mormon.

As an aside, conference was amazing, as always. I was struck by the frequent mention of how we are raising our children in enemy territory, on a battleground. WOW. If that is not a wake up call, I don't know what is. Scary! I listen to some of my young women tell about things that happen in high school and I am just appalled by things kids are doing nowadays. Truly we are in a battle with evil and we need to have our defenses in place. "Shields up!" as Curtis would say!

4. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to be missionaries.

In our family reading, we are near the beginning of Alma, where Ammon puts his life in his hands to go teach the gospel to the Lamanites, and is captured by King Lamoni. The kids are loving these chapters--they are so adventurous!

As I was thinking about why missionary work is such a prominent part of the Book of Mormon, it occurred to me that as members of the church, we have such great protection for our families that most of the world doesn't have and desperately needs! I think of the promises that are made in the temple, and the protection that is found there. I think of the spiritual protection that has been promised to our families and children just for reading the Book of Mormon daily. I think of how comforting it is to have a prophet of God who gets revelation for us--our day--and can warn us of things to come that we need to prepare for. What a blessing! I think of the counsel of prophets in years past to get out of debt, and to have an emergency food storage in place as well as 72 hour kits. Having these things in place is so comforting! Anyway, again, great protection from living the gospel, and we need to share with others!

5. Finally, the Book of Mormon helps us draw nearer to God.

Check out this cool little fact (courtesy of Susan Easton Black). In all, there are 101 names/titles of Christ that are collectively presented 3,925 times in 6,607 Book of Mormon verses. That would average out to Christ being mentioned about every 1.7 verses. Cool!

Anyway, more exciting things to come! I have some great notes to share on what the Book of Mormon teaches us about relationships, as well as how to have successful scripture study as a family, and some interesting things we should consider about pride.

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