Sunday, June 29, 2008

Love Your Enemies, Mormon 5: 8-13

8 And now behold, I, Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of blood and carnage as was laid before mine eyes; but I, knowing that these things must surely be made known, and that all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops—
9 And also that a knowledge of these things must come unto the remnant of these people, and also unto the Gentiles, who the Lord hath said should scatter this people, and this people should be counted as naught among them—therefore I write a small abridgment, daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen, because of the commandment which I have received, and also that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.
10 And now behold, this I speak unto their seed, and also to the Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel, that realize and know from whence their blessings come.
11 For I know that such will sorrow for the calamity of the house of Israel; yea, they will sorrow for the destruction of this people; they will sorrow that this people had not repented that they might have been clasped in the arms of Jesus.
12 Now these things are written unto the remnant of the house of Jacob; and they are written after this manner, because it is known of God that wickedness will not bring them forth unto them; and they are to be hid up unto the Lord that they may come forth in his own due time.
13 And this is the commandment which I have received; and behold, they shall come forth according to the commandment of the Lord, when he shall see fit, in his wisdom.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 5:8 - 13)

Mormon has probably known very few moments of peace in his life. He is well acquainted with war, bloodshed, and carnage. He has tried to show his brethren the Nephites, that their salvation, temporal and spiritual can only be found through the Lord. He knows that his people will not repent, and therefore will be destroyed.
And yet he maintains hope. Not hope for his people, but rather hope for his enemies, that someday they will be receptive to the message of the Lord and Savior. He sees the destroyers of his people as children of a loving Father in Heaven. He see them as God sees them. Regardless of the fact that the Lamanites will destroy his people, he hopes for the day when they will repent and become humble and submissive to the word of the Lord.

Life being what it is, we all have probably had moments where we have been treated unfairly. It would be human nature, aka, the natural man, that would want to strike back at these moments in anger, and feelings of self justification. Mormon is a perfect example of, “Love your enemies, do good to them that curse you…”
Because of his ability to see God’s children the way that He does, he has hope. Hope for himself, and hope for future generations.

This hope provides peace of mind for me when everything around me seems to go sideways at time. I am a son of God, and He has sent me here. Keeping that thought foremost in my mind will help me to overcome life’s struggles and vicissitudes.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pictures from Brazil

Colin recently sent us several pictures from the forest near where he is serving. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rely on your own strength and perish - Mormon 4:13-18

13 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and this because their number did exceed the number of the Nephites.
14 And they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods.
15 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and seventh year, the Nephites being angry because the Lamanites had sacrificed their women and their children, that they did go against the Lamanites with exceedingly great anger, insomuch that they did beat again the Lamanites, and drive them out of their lands.
16 And the Lamanites did not come again against the Nephites until the three hundred and seventy and fifth year.
17 And in this year they did come down against the Nephites with all their powers; and they were not numbered because of the greatness of their number.
18 And from this time forth did the Nephites gain no power over the Lamanites, but began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 4:13 - 18)

The Lamanites win a few battles and believing in a higher power, albeit the wrong one, they offer up human sacrifices to their idol gods. The Nephites are enraged and fight back with great ferocity. So much so, that they drive the Lamanites back out of their lands.

Throughout the Book of Mormon it always appears that the Lamanites were more numerous than the Nephites. This is mentioned several times during conflict, see Jarom 1:6, Mosiah 20:11, Mosiah 25:3, and Alma 2:24-35.

In times past, the greater number of Lamanites caused the Nephites to turn to the Lord for protection. They were put into a situation where they needed to rely on Him or be destroyed. In the past, they eventually turned to Him who is mighty to save. Unfortunately, at this time they are too far gone. They are past feeling, meaning they couldn’t feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit encouraging them to repent and be saved.

Sometimes it may seem that our challenges and trials are overwhelming and too great for us to handle. It is in these difficult times that we need to turn to a loving Heavenly Father who gives weakness unto us that we might humble ourselves before him. His grace is sufficient when are mere mortal strength is not enough to save us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bloodlust, Computer Games, Addiction, and the downfall of the Nephites - Mormon 4: 5-12

5 But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.
6 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did make preparations to come against the city Teancum.
7 And it came to pass in the three hundred and sixty and fourth year the Lamanites did come against the city Teancum, that they might take possession of the city Teancum also.
8 And it came to pass that they were repulsed and driven back by the Nephites. And when the Nephites saw that they had driven the Lamanites they did again boast of their own strength; and they went forth in their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation.
9 And now all these things had been done, and there had been thousands slain on both sides, both the Nephites and the Lamanites.
10 And it came to pass that the three hundred and sixty and sixth year had passed away, and the Lamanites came again upon the Nephites to battle; and yet the Nephites repented not of the evil they had done, but persisted in their wickedness continually.
11 And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.
12 And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 4:5 - 12)

The Nephites and Lamanites are bent on destroying each other. They are consumed, or rather addicted, to bloodlust. They “delighted in the shedding of blood continually.”

I have frequently wondered why the Anti-Nephi-Lehis felt the need to bury their weapons, see Alma 24:15-19. The church has never taught that we are not allowed to defend ourselves (with this being the sole exception to that rule). In fact, the opposite has been taught, see Alma 43:29-30. So why then did the Anti-Nephi-Lehis feel compelled to bury, and then never touch again, their weapons? How does that answer correlate to the verses above, and what does that have to do with addiction? Finally, what is the relevance to society today?

Were the Anti-Nephi-Lehis overzealous when they buried their weapons of war? They too had delighted in shedding the blood of others. They were not in the same situation as someone that hasn’t taken the life of another and felt pleasure in the act. They were addicted to bloodlust and they could no longer live their lives the way that others did in this regard.

For example, not being an alcoholic, I can walk through a smoke filled bar (though why I would want to, I don’t know, but stay with me on this), and feel disgusted by the scene. However, if I walked through the same bar with another good and upstanding member of my Elders’ Quorum who is a recovering alcoholic, he might start to salivate and feel cravings to indulge in his addiction. However, though I might not be weak in regards to alcoholism, I do have my weaknesses, just like everyone else.

One of my weaknesses I have learned is violent computer games. My kids used to love to play a game called Warcraft III – DOTA. The game is played on-line in real time against other people. The game rewards you for the ability to annihilate your opponents. They introduced me to the game and I loved it. For me, it was an incredible rush of adrenalin and endorphins. Pleasure inducing chemicals were released in my brain as I played. I could spend hours on the game and not realize that much time at all had passed. I only played the game for a short while as I quickly learned the consequences of indulging this behavior. As mentioned, the game encourages and rewards violent and aggressive behavior. After quitting the game the endorphins and adrenalin stopped. I would come down off of the “high” of playing and it made me irritable. I noticed that I snapped at my wife and children when I shouldn’t. For me, and I would guess for most others as well, the game would quickly have become addictive. My only choice, as I saw it, was to bury my game of war for peace. Peace in my home, and peace in my heart and soul.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, and if you are I thank you, you will remember that I broke both of my elbows a few months ago. I spent a week in the hospital recovering and was administered some very powerful pain killers. I took pain meds for a few weeks and slowly tried to wean myself off of them. The last step to get off proved difficult for me. When I stopped taking the pain meds I started experiencing panic attacks and I had great difficulty sleeping. It would have been very easy to just continue taking the pain meds and develop an addiction to them.

Point being, addictions are very real. In the verses above the addiction is bloodlust. The Nephites and Lamanites probably had the same adrenalin rush and endorphins release that I experienced while playing computer games. Addictions come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, e.g. alcohol, drugs, pain killers, pornography, gambling, overeating, computer games, anger, violence, and bloodlust just to name a few.

Those that suffer from addiction, whatever its nature, can no longer live their lives like those that are not suffering from the same addiction. An alcoholic can not go near a bar because of the effect it will have on him/her. He/She needs to be attending recovery meetings, and should have a sponsor to whom they are accountable. A person addicted to pornography needs to create safety nets to ensure accountability. A person addicted to violence, whether it be in the real world or virtual world needs to bury their weapons of war for peace.

At this point in the Book of Mormon the Nephites are addicted to bloodlust. They did not reach out for the help they needed. They probably didn’t even perceive that they were suffering from an addiction. Eventually their addiction literally destroyed them.

Are you facing any personal demons that seem overwhelming? If so, there is hope. Since the creation of Adam and Eve there has never been a better time to be an addict and a Mormon. The church has tremendous resources available to those suffering from addiction and to the family members of those that are affected by the addiction of another. This,11677,2872-1,00.html would be a good place to start.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Missionary e-mail 6-20-08

Wow, what a week!

Flaviane's baptism went great. She chose me to baptize her which I haven't done in a while. I'm lucky I remembered the words. She has been doing great and we are helping her to keep reading the scriptures every day.

We heard great news about 2 investigators of ours this week. We are teaching 2 boys,12 and 15, who are the sons of less active members. Their parents are divorced and we have never met their father. We worked hard with their mom and she went to church this week for the first time in about 10 years. The boys went to another city and went to church with their dad whom we talked to that day. It turns out that he was inactive but has been going back to church for the last 3 months. Right before we found the boys, he had been praying that in some way his sons would get interested in the gospel and go to church too. The oldest son is already excited to serve a mission and both of them and their parents are excited for their baptism on the 28th.

This week in the office has been pretty productive. One of my jobs is to get all the papers from the new missionaries coming in and enter in their information by hand into the computer which can take quite a bit of time. I had fallen back a little in my work and had 11 american missionaries to enter into the system which would take forever. Since I get their papers through email now, I spent 2 days writing a Visual Basic program and combined it with a massive Excel macro and bam... click a button and it does it instantly now. That should make things a little easier for future secretaries I hope.

We had breakfast at President Hoggan's house again this week. It was a really nice treat to eat pancakes with maple syrup... mmm This week we will be preparing for the transfer in 2 weeks. That means we will be going to Pizza Hut this Tuesday as a treat. Ill try to beat my old record of 17 slices.

Well, thats about it for the week. Love you all tons! Tchau!

Elder Childs

Monday, June 16, 2008

What battles did you fight today? Mormon 3:1-4

1 AND it came to pass that the Lamanites did not come to battle again *until ten years more had passed away. And behold, I had employed my people, the Nephites, in preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle.
2 And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people—Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.
3 And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God.
4 And it came to pass that after this tenth year had passed away, making, in the whole, three hundred and sixty years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave unto me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 3:1 - 4)

Just as Captain Moroni prepared for war in a time of peace, so does Mormon. Just as Captain Moroni knew that the Lord would fight their battles if they would repent and humble themselves before Him, so does Mormon. Unfortunately for Mormon, unlike Captain Moroni’s people, his do not choose to turn to the only source that could save them.

Obviously, the people do not wish to die, but if the choice comes down to repenting and having the Lord fight the battle, or struggling to overcome their challenges and adversity alone, and remain in their sins, they choose to fight with their own strength.

How many times do we choose to struggle with our own difficulties instead of turning to the Lord for help? He is all-powerful and mighty to save. He loves us and wants us to succeed in life. He stands ready and willing to help those that will humble themselves before Him and call on Him for guidance and help.

We do not have to fight our daily battles in this life alone. What challenges do we face that are too great for Him? Do we battle with depression, loneliness, addiction, health problems, unemployment, wayward children?

Everyone faces trials and tribulations in this life. It is part of the fabric of life:

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

(Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3:25)

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

(New Testament | 1 Peter 4:12 - 13)

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

(New Testament | Hebrews 12:6 - 7)

The good news is that we do not have to walk alone:

16 ¶ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

(New Testament | John 3:16 - 17)

28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

(New Testament | Matthew 11:28 - 29)

7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:
8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

(Old Testament | 2 Chronicles 32:7 - 8)

14 For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil—I will fight your battles
(Doctrine and Covenants | Section 105:14)

I am grateful to know that when life becomes difficult, as it always does, that I can turn to my Lord and God for deliverance. If I will humble myself before Him, repent of my sins, and strive to do His will, I am never alone.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Adversary is not my friend: Mormon 1: 8-12

8 And it came to pass in this year there began to be a war between the Nephites, who consisted of the Nephites and the Jacobites and the Josephites and the Zoramites; and this war was between the Nephites, and the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites.
9 Now the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites were called Lamanites, and the two parties were Nephites and Lamanites.
10 And it came to pass that the war began to be among them in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon.
11 And it came to pass that the Nephites had gathered together a great number of men, even to exceed the number of thirty thousand. And it came to pass that they did have in this same year a number of battles, in which the Nephites did beat the Lamanites and did slay many of them.
12 And it came to pass that the Lamanites withdrew their design, and there was peace settled in the land; and peace did remain for the space of about four years, that there was no bloodshed.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 1:8 - 12)

The cry of war is heard again in the land. The people’s selfishness and greed spurred them on to anger and to hate their brothers. The people stopped listening to the voice of the Lord and instead listened to their adversary, who only wants their destruction, and they willingly complied.

Why do we allow our anger to get the better of us? When was the last time that your anger actually did you any favors? When was the last time that anger filled you with joy and peace? If anger takes me farther away from my Heavenly Father, why do I give that emotion any place in my heart?

Love or hate, the choice is ours to make. I can choose to follow the straight and narrow path that will lead me back home, or I can choose to listen to the promptings of him that wants me to be miserable and walk the broad road that leads to my destruction. The good news is that the straight and narrow path has a rod of iron along its length, that if I hold onto it firmly I can not be led astray.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Phoenix Writers Wanted

Like many of you, I enjoy writing. In kindergarten I wrote the epic tale, Mully, Mully the Monster, which was critically acclaimed by my mother, who I think still has this story in her hope chest some thirty five years later. Since then, I have been unable to find a good 12 step program to overcome my need to put pen to paper. Well ok, fingers to keyboard now, but you get the idea.

Writing is an act of creation. A rather insightful friend told me that writing was a gift of the spirit that falls under the gift of tongues.

I enjoy writing fiction, fantasy in particular. I am looking at putting together a writers’ group in the Phoenix, AZ area. I live in Chandler, and another person that has expressed interest in this lives in Glendale, so we’re covering a fairly large part of the valley. If you are interested and live in this area, please let me know by adding a comment to this posting.

Your current writing skill is not as important as a desire to want to become better and a willingness to help others around you improve as well.

My resume as a writer is brief:

I entered a short story in the 74th Annual Writers’ Digest contest and won an honorable mention. Over 17,000 stories were entered. In the general fiction category I placed in the top 100. I had another story accepted for publication by a small magazine that unfortunately went belly up before I got published. I currently have a small anecdotal experience under consideration for a humorous LDS book. Long story short, since writing Mully, Mully the Monster, more people than just my mom have expressed an interest in my writing, but as of right now, I am unpublished.

Whether you are a published writer, or simply want to be one some day, if you live near Phoenix, we’d like to have you in our group. When I first started writing as an adult I was really, really bad. With diligent effort and a willingness to let others tell me what my weaknesses are, I think that I have improved to at least mediocre. Back then, passive verbs were some of my best friends. If you don’t know why they shouldn’t be, then this writers’ group would help. If you do know why they should be avoided, you can help the rest of us get even better.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Today will be a good day. 4 Nephi 1:14-18

14 And it came to pass that the *seventy and first year passed away, and also the seventy and second year, yea, and in fine, till the seventy and ninth year had passed away; yea, even an hundred years had passed away, and the disciples of Jesus, whom he had chosen, had all gone to the paradise of God, save it were the three who should tarry; and there were other disciples ordained in their stead; and also many of that generation had passed away.
15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an *hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.

(Book of Mormon | 4 Nephi 1:14 - 18)

One hundred and ten years have passed since Jesus visited the American continent after his resurrection. An entire generation has lived in peace and harmony with each other. There is no contention in the land. There are not the normal (as one would define normal in today’s society), plagues of anger, bitterness, jealousy, and pride.

How is this possible? As I live day to day and frequently find reasons to become upset about this or that, how did they live their entire lives in peace? The answer is found in verse 15, “because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.”

The people no longer put their own desires first in their lives. Their desires were to do God’s will. By so doing they were filled with His love. They became one. When Jesus was in Jerusalem He prayed that His disciples would become one even as He and His Father were one, see John 17:21-23:

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

They were as concerned for the welfare of their neighbors as they were for themselves. Today, I am going to try and not take offense at others words or actions. Today, I will try to do something kind for someone else. Today, I will try to put a smile on someone else’s face. Today, I will try a little bit harder to make God’s will my own.

Perhaps if I can help someone else today, that person’s burdens of care will be lifted and in turn they might help someone else. It probably won’t spread to the entire 6 billion people on earth today, but that’s ok. If I can follow through on my desires, it will make for a good day for me, and hopefully others around me as well. If I feel good about it at the end of the day today, maybe I’ll want to do it again tomorrow.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Anti Gospel of Greed: 4 Nephi 1: 4-8

4 And it came to pass that the thirty and seventh year passed away also, and there still continued to be peace in the land.
5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.
6 And thus did the thirty and eighth year pass away, and also the thirty and ninth, and forty and first, and the forty and second, yea, even until forty and nine years had passed away, and also the fifty and first, and the fifty and second; yea, and even until fifty and nine years had passed away.
7 And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned.
8 Yea, even that great city Zarahemla did they cause to be built again.

(Book of Mormon | 4 Nephi 1:4 - 8)

About thirty years pass away in peace. The Lord’s disciples perform great miracles in His name. The people were blessed and prospered. Somehow this happened without the people going through their normal pride cycle, i.e. the Lord blesses them, they begin to prosper, they take the credit for their prosperity themselves, they don’t feel that they need the Lord, they turn away from the Lord, they fall because of their pride.

Here, the people remembered the Lord in all circumstances, and gave Him the credit for their blessings.

I see the pride cycle in society today. The church grows much quicker in less developed countries where the communities are not lifted up by their pride. I served my mission in a well developed country. I taught six people that eventually were baptized and joined the church. That was three times the mission average. My son, who is serving in Brazil, had one Saturday where he baptized more people than that.

Point being, when life is going well, we have a tendency to take credit for it ourselves. We don’t feel that we need God in our lives. It is when life becomes difficult that we have a tendency to reach out to a power greater than ourselves. The question is frequently asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The answer very well may be, “To keep them good. We can handle a lot of things, but few can handle both humility and prosperity at the same time.”

Turn on the T.V. Sunday morning and flip through the channels. You will find many pastors of pride teaching their gospels of greed. If prosperity was the reason for our existence, then why did Jesus come to earth two thousand years ago instead of today? Having created the earth, He knows where the oil is and He knows where the precious metals and gems can be found. For all that, He could do a weekly pay per view where he raised a few dead people. He would be a billionaire several times over.

The Savior appears to have lived a life of relative poverty, as can be seen in Matthew 8:19-20:

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Jesus relied on others for His temporal needs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying to get ahead just like everyone else. However, I hope that if I become more prosperous, I will always remember the source of all blessings, and rightly give Him credit for all that I have. What do you think? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why wasn't Jesus born in today's society?