Episode #29: Published July 20, 2020
Did you know Alma had a favorite child? (cough, Shiblon) Okay, maybe he didn't, but his ability to give individual advice to his sons in Alma 36–38 shows he was a prophet AND a father who cared about the struggles his children might face. Join us in this week's study group as we take Alma's incredible advice and apply it to our own lives.
Tamara Uzelac Hall grew up in Utah and Missouri fully intending to get married, raise her 12 children while putting her husband through medical school, God had other plans. She went to college and received both her bachelor's and master’s degrees from BYU. She served a mission in Fresno, California, and worked as a social worker until God steered her life in a completely different direction, becoming a full-time seminary and institute teacher instead. After buying a house and settling nicely into a family ward, she was set up on (another) blind date with a widower, which miraculously worked and catapulted her into married life and became an insta-mom to two little girls. Currently, she and her husband are the parents to four girls and live in Utah. She is a host for Time Out for Women, a featured speaker at Temple Square Youth Conferences, Retreat for Girls, girls’ camp, and has been a speaker at BYU Women’s Conference. She loves all things scripture and is a lifelong student of the Hebrew language. A good flash mob makes her cry, she is a (self-proclaimed) champion Oreo eater, and she believes that cheese is God’s way of saying, “Hey, everything is going to be OK.”
Bonnie was born and raised in Southern California. She is the daughter of both a Palestinian father and a Mayflower descendant mother, which made Bonnie’s love for the world ever so strong. She is most commonly known as “Aunt Bonnie” to kiddos around the world and delights in all things “Auntie.” Bonnie attended Brigham Young University prior to serving her mission in Kentucky. After her mission she went straight to work, she has loved working with start-ups in the food industry and has spent her career watching brands like Jamba Juice, Pinkberry, and Costa Vida take off. Bonnie’s career has given her the opportunity to live in some of the greatest cities of America. She has called San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Austin, and Boston, home. Somehow she always makes it back to the Wasatch Front where she is happy to enjoy the beauty of each season. Bonnie enjoys traveling and can best describe her next destination by searching for something new; new destinations are always more exciting. She has a love for people and cultures and thrives on immersing in the cultures and traditions of places she visits. Her travels have proven to be a great source of learning and faith building and she often speaks to youth groups and women groups about those experiences. She loves the gospel and is grounded in knowing she is a daughter of God.
Amy Whitmore, born of goodly parents, grew up in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. She fell in love with island life, The Book of Mormon, Spanish, and the people of Puerto Rico, while serving in the San Juan mission. Amy’s love of the Spanish language came in handy as she opened restaurants and family entertainment centers throughout the county (and when visiting cities like Juarez, Mexico where a certain karaoke contest practically made her famous with the locals!) Amy took a break from her career after meeting and marrying her “dream man” becoming an instant mom to three children, and settling in the Pacific North West. Amy and “Dream Man” welcomed two more children together and are now happy to call Denver, Colorado, home. When she’s not building forts with her girls, installing a new toilet, dabbling in Real Estate, FaceTiming her precious granddaughter, cheering on the Young Women in her ward or hosting a kitchen Dance Party, Amy loves to travel with her husband (and sometimes even with the children) to beautiful, island destinations!
What are some of the things that Alma teaches Helaman in Alma Chapter 36?
Helaman's preparation to teach the stripling warriors:
How Alma begins his testimony to Helaman
"5 Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been aborn of God I should bnot have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy cangel, made these things known unto me, not of any dworthiness of myself;" (Alma 36:4-5).
How Alma begins his testimony to Shiblon:
"Now, my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been aborn of God I should not have known these things" (Alma 38:6).
Alma retells his conversion experience to Helaman. It begins in Alma 36:13.
Verses mentioned by Amy and Bonnie:
How many days does Alma ponder?
In Alma 36:16 it says that Alma was "racked . . . for three days and three nights," but in Mosiah 27:23 it says "two days and two nights." The time frame in Mosiah refers to the number of days that the priests fasted and prayed, not how many days Alma was "racked."
"Chiasmus (sometimes called inverted parallelism) is a literary device that was commonly used anciently in Semitic and Greek poetry as well as the literature of other cultures. In chiasmus, words or ideas are arranged in a certain order and then repeated in reverse order. This repetition emphasizes important ideas and words. The writer’s main idea is often located at the center of the chiasmus" (see 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, Lesson 93: Alma 36, and scroll to the bottom section titled "Commentary and Background Information").
In the chart, notice that the central message of the chiasmus in Alma 36 focuses on a time in Alma’s life when he turned to Jesus Christ for relief. For more information on Chiasmus, see John W. Welch, “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,” in the New Era, February 1972.
What is the assignment that Alma gives to Helaman?
Elder Christofferson said this about the impact of scriptures in our lives:
“The scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us always to remember the Lord and our relationship to Him and the Father. They remind us of what we knew in our premortal life. And they expand our memory in another sense by teaching us about epochs, people, and events that we did not experience personally” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Blessing of Scripture,” General Conference, April 2010).
Epoch: an era of time, see dictionary.com.
Other examples of "small and simple things" mentioned in Alma 37:
"The meaning of Gazelem is discussed by Reynolds and Sjodahl: "Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz-a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning-a seer." (CBM 4:162.) With this in mind, it is appropriate that such a name was applied to God's seer on earth-the Prophet Joseph Smith.
In three different revelations, spanning a period of two years (1832-34), Joseph Smith was called "Gazelam" by the Lord (D&C 78:9; 82:11; 104:26, 43, 45, 46; pre-1981 edition). His name was disguised in order to prevent his enemies from discovering what plans the Lord had in mind at that particular time (HC 1:255)" (Hoyt W. Brewster, Doctrine and Covenants Encyclopedia, 1988, 204.)
Alma teaches about the Liahona:
"39 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it aLiahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it
"40 And it did work for them according to their afaith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day" (Alma 37:39-40).
"The prophet Alma, in giving advice and counsel to Helaman chose to return to the story of the Liahona, in part because its operation was based on one of the most important patterns used by the Lord to guide and direct us. (Steven C. Wheelwright, "The Power of Small and Simple Things," August 31, 2007, BYU-Hawaii Devotional.)
Alma describes for Helaman what happens when Lehi and his family did not exercise faith and diligence:
"41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by asmall means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were bslothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
"42 Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did anot travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.
"43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a ashadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual" (Alma 37:41-43).
Elder M. Russell Ballard said:
"[I have] been sobered by how small and simple things can be negative and destructive to a person's salvation. A series of seemingly small but incorrect choices can become those little soul-destroying termites that eat away at the foundations of our testimony until, before we are aware, we may be brought near spiritual and moral destruction" (M. Russell Ballard, "Small and Simple Things", Ensign, May 1990.)
Alma sums up the pattern for small and simple things:
What was Shiblon like?
"2 And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your asteadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that bendureth to the end.
"3 I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the aZoramites" (Alma 38:2-3).
Definitions for words Alma uses to instruct Shiblon in Alma 38:10-12 :
Alma ends his counsel to Shiblon:
"And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be asober. My son, farewell" (Alma 38:15).
Sober in Greek means free from illusion, free from the intoxicating influences of sin, to have ones wits about them, or to be rational (see biblehub.com).
Cross reference: 1 Peter 5:8
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”
Segment 1 0:00
So when I was around seven or eight years old, my dad reprimanded me for doing something... I don't even remember what I did, I just remember I didn't like the way he handled the situation and I said to him, "You know, you're not doing a very good job as a dad." I mean, he could have easily punished me some more, sent me to my room without dinner or whatever, and he looked at me and he pointed his finger in my face, and he said, "Hey. This is the first time I've ever been a dad. So give me a break, okay?" And my little seven-year-old eyes must have just grown so big because I was like, "Wait, what?" I thought my dad was born a dad, had been a dad for years before I came, and was somehow not able to get it together when I came along. So I cut him some slack, and of course those words replay in my mind every time I mess up as a parent.
I want you to think, what is some of the best parental advice that you've ever been given? Like it may have been given through words or example, and maybe it never even came from a parent, but it came instead from someone you love that guided your path. This is important because this week we are going to study Alma chapters 36 through 38, and next week too, we are going to read about some poignant parental advice that Alma gives to his three sons.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living where we take the "Come, Follow Me" lesson for the week and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall.
Now, if you're new to our study group, we want to make sure that you know how to use this podcast. So maybe you're one of those one and done kind of people, and you just want to listen and be done for the week — totally fine, you can do that with this podcast. Or the other really cool thing is that the podcast is broken up into six separate segments, and each segment is about 10 to 12 minutes long. So you can study your scriptures for 10 minutes a day and be done, which I'm a big fan of because that's about all the time I have.
At the very end of the segment, you're gonna hear some blinging music like when we were little kids if you're as old as me, and then you'll know that that is the end of that segment. The other thing that I really love about the study group is that each week we are joined by two of my friends, and it's a little different every week so we get different takes and different ideas about the scriptures we're studying. And today I have some very dear old friends. My guests are Amy Whitmore and Bonnie ElHalta. Hi!
Hey there Tam.
My smile, I wish we could take a picture of how big my smile is right now because I love you two so much.
Oh I'm so excited. I've been waiting for this and we've been trying to get together for what, months? Right? So this is fantastic. And oh I just adore you and I love Amy with all my heart. So this is exciting.
Oh that's how I met Bonnie was through Amy.
I'm a linker.
You're a linker, you are.
And let's remember the time we met. It was love at first sight. I was on a singles ward Thanksgiving service project, and we were delivering turkeys to the multicultural Senior Living Center that Tammy was managing.
And living in.
And living in.
Times were tough. I got free rent for living in multiethnic senior citizen housing. Oh boy, that was a good time. Yeah, and then after that we were like BFFs. Then I came and lived with you. You bought a house and we lived together for years.
It was the best.
We could have a podcast just on all the stories and experiences we had living together.
Could you even imagine?
Well and if the sound quality sounds a little different during this episode it's because we are remote. Like Amy's in Colorado now and so she dialed in to join us, and Bonnie's out in Eagle Mountain, Utah. That's pretty far away. So if you want to know what Amy and Bonnie look like and read their fun bios about them...
Go check out their information and pictures at our show notes which are at LDSLliving.com/SundayonMonday. Now this week's chapters, Alma gives his final counsel. Final because he's going to die in Alma chapter 45. The same year that he gives this counsel to his sons — Helaman, Shiblon, and then next week we're going to study his words to Corianton. Alma's council this week includes emotional teachings relating to keeping the commandments, the converting power of scriptures, the forgiveness of sins, and steadfastness, and we are going to start with Alma's advice to Helaman. So friends, grab your scriptures and let's dig in.
Amy, Bonnie, what is the best advice a parent ever gave you?
The Lord can't steer a parked car.
Okay, Amy, I'm laughing so hard because our episode last week, that advice, Laurel said that. She even attributes, she goes, "Isn't that Amy's mom who said 'God can't steer a parked car?'"
Nan's worldwide now. Everybody knows, "Hey, man, you said God can't steer a parked car." You guys should put that in some vinyl lettering over the door when you're leaving. I love it. Okay, that's great advice. I like that. Bonnie, were you gonna say anything else?
Well, yes. As I think about it, I have lived apart from my parents since I was a young teenager. They moved to Kuwait and I stayed in California. And so for years and years, my communication with my parents was over the phone. And back in the day, the phone costs a lot of money. You got to call the international operator, the international operator had to call the country operator, the country operator would get you to the city. By the time you got to them, it's eight bucks, and your, your dad says, "Are you okay? Goodbye."
But ever since I was young, one of the questions that my parents would ask me and has always stayed with me. They only asked me one question, "Do you have a current temple recommend?" And my answer was either yes or no, and they knew then how to steer the conversation from there. But it always helped me understand the importance of that and the commitments that I was making. And so throughout my life, that has just been the easiest advice that I was given. And it's also now the question that I ask because it's a simple yes or no, and it's very personal. There's no other questions that need to be asked because you internalize that, and then you seek to find out what the correct answer is for yourself at that time. So, for me, that was one thing has always been very important.
Well, that's powerful. I like that. Thank you, Bonnie. Ame?
I do have to say the real thing because that wasn't the best advice they ever gave, but my parents would always say, especially my dad, every time I'd leave the house, "Remember who you are." So that was powerful for a teenager. Sometimes I would forget.
And I think that goes two ways though, right? I mean we'd talked about this before that it's not just, "Remember who you are as a child of God," but you have an earthly family. "Remember that you are a Hutchins." I had to remember that. And I think that as we talk about in the scriptures, that's huge as Alma tells his kids, "Don't forget. Don't forget who you are and where you came from."
Well, Bonnie, I'm so glad you brought that up because let's jump right into Alma chapter 36. And that is what Alma does, he reminds his sons of their genealogy, like where they came from. So let's go to Alma chapter 36, we're going to read verses one and two. And Bonnie we'll start with you. Will you please read those verses?
"My son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land."
"I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions."
Thank you. I like that reminder in verse two, where you came from and to remember their afflictions — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, that's powerful stuff right there. But in verse one, this is what's so intriguing to me. Underline when he says "inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye will prosper." And I'm going to put these in our show notes because you don't have time to write them all down, but he repeats this phrase: "Inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land." In verse 13, verse 30, then in chapter 37, verses 13 through 16, verse 20, verse 35, chapter 38 verse one, and chapter 39 verse one. So this must be a pretty important message he wants his sons to understand if he is going to repeat it that many times in this conversation he has with his boys, and so I want to ask you, of all the things he could start with, why the commandments?
Because that's where blessings come as we keep the commandments. With all of this crazy going on in the world, and things, you know, everything being uncertain. From our kids going back to college, to my husband's job, to all of these things, I said, "Honey, I feel peace, and I believe that peace comes from the Holy Ghost and I feel that because we're doing our best," and that's one of the greatest gifts I think that we get from keeping the commandments is that we can feel that peace, and we are open when we feel that peace to revelation and direction and guidance. And so I'm really grateful that he started with that because I often share that with my own kids.
Oh I love that. That's great stuff. Amy, thank you for sharing that.
And I think also, Alma has a moment here with his boys, right? And he had just come from a muck of a life and turned his life around, and he knows the difference. And if you have one thing to say to your kids if you're driving away, "Keep the commandments! Just remember who you are. If there's one thing that I can bestow upon you, just do that."
Yes. Well, and I like how you said that, Bonnie, because in Alma chapter 36, verse 13, Alma says, "Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the bpains of hell;" And then he goes on to say, "...against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments." It's like, "I know what it's like when you don't keep the commandments. So, take my advice. Listen to what I'm saying." Amy, I talked to you about this before we were going to record this and I asked if you would share this story with us because it's one of my all time favorite mission stories. Will you share that with us.
I served my mission in Puerto Rico, and in this one area, it was my second area, there was this one neighborhood that we probably shouldn't have even been in. It was pretty scary. And the mother of the owner of our house knew that we were missionaries, didn't really understand the whole concept, but she said, she was a minister at her church, and she said, "Hermanas, there is a young man who is really suffering." And she asked us if we would go with her to visit this young man and she didn't tell us very much. So my companion and I get to the house, and in Puerto Rico, they have little windows because of hurricanes, they're little metal slats, and my companion and this woman, I kind of stayed on the street and they walked up maybe three or four feet.
So I'm on the street, my companion's at the window and she can see inside, and she turned around and gave me a look that let me know that what we were about to see was going to be very hard. And I was like, I couldn't imagine and nothing could have prepared me. And we walked in this little bedroom and laying in a bed was this young man, and he's about 18, and he was just moaning in pain. It turns out he'd been shot in the leg in a gang fight, and so the hospital treated him and sent him home and said, "There's nothing we can do for you." So this young man was literally rotting.
And the woman that we were with just sobbed and offered this beautiful prayer, and I was just... the smell was like nothing I've ever smelled before in my life, and the sight. I just kept thinking, "A dog shouldn't suffer like this." And I'm praying, "Heavenly Father, just take him home. This is too much. Too hard." When we left, we got outside and that's when I lost it. I just sobbed and I said to my companion, "Why would anybody have to live like this?" And she didn't answer, we just kind of walked quietly, and the song that played through my mind is just a simple primary song, but it was like a megaphone in my ear, "Keep the commandments, keep the commandments, in this there is safety and peace." That was 24 years ago, I will never forget it. It's etched in my mind.
I think that's the message that Alma's trying to teach his sons. That is the message of "keep the commandments." Not keep the commandments so they'll weigh you down and you'll never have fun, but there is safety and peace in keeping the commandments, right? And what's incredible about this is Alma in Alma, chapter 36, I want us to look at verse three one more time. Okay, so he's giving his first words to his son Helaman, and in verse three, he says, "And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day."
Now I want to cross reference this verse with Alma chapter 53, verses 14 through 19 because you guys, what's so powerful about this verse of scripture, the cross reference, is that just a few years after receiving the counsel from his father, when you read verses 14 through 19, it says, that this is the Helaman that will lead the sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, the 2000 stripling warriors to battle. So here's this dad, prepping his son, giving him some advice because Helaman is going to then lead the 2000 stripling warriors into battle, and I don't know, maybe Alma didn't really know that what happened, but the idea that he would give Helaman this advice in light of what he'll do later is so profound. So going back to you, Bonnie, when your parents asked if you have a temple recommend, are you keeping the commandments? You know, I'm just thinking like those simple questions can prepare our children for battle. Bonnie, were you gonna say something?
Well, yes. And I think every time he says, "Oh, my son," so many times, and coming off of Father's Day and an anniversary of one year of my father passing, it just hit me so hard. "Oh, my son. Oh, my son. Oh, my son, listen, give ye the attention." And he's pleading with his kids to wake up and listen. And in this particular scripture, when he says, you know that you're young, I think it's both physically young, and also spiritually young. They're spiritually young, and he's got to take this time to absorb and give them as much information as possible. And I think that to prepare them like you said because right now we got to do the same thing. We got to prepare all the kids. We got to prepare this generation, both physically and spiritually to be able to handle what's coming their way.
Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing that. I appreciate those words, especially with emphasis on you saying, "Oh, my son," because, you know, as part of Alma's final counsel, he's going to take the opportunity to share his testimony with his sons. He's setting this up and he does it, and he is so careful to make sure that he teaches them where his testimony came from. We're gonna talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 2 15:31
I'm gonna tell you guys a personal story that I actually have never told before ever, and it was surprising to me when I was thinking about it, I'm like, "I've never shared this," but preparing for this lesson brought this story to my memory. It's probably the most impactful testimony that I've ever been privileged to hear, and it came from my Grandpa Uzelac. Now I come from a long line of Greek Orthodox Yugoslavian's, and they love to smoke and drink and swear and that's why I love them so much. My grandfather was the very first convert in his family and he joined the Church when he's 55 years old. And my grandmother, she comes from a long line of Latter-Day Saint's. Like her great, great grandfather is William Clayton. So she marries my grandfather, and he gave up smoking and drinking to join the Church. Not the coffee, though, love the coffee. And I can remember one time as a little girl, we were camping, and I actually hid his coffee thinking that he shouldn't drink it. I hid it once and I was quick to give it back, never to hide it again.
But the memory that just is in my mind is right after my grandmother had passed away, and actually just a few years before he passed away, we were together as a family for the baby blessing for my little cousin Nick. And it was fast Sunday and my grandfather surprised us all. It was totally quiet, no one was getting up to bear their testimony, and then all of a sudden, and I have to explain my grandpa was like 6'6". He was just this tall, worn man, he had worked in the coal mines his whole life, and he stands up and he walks up to the podium. And all of us cousins looked at each other wide eyed like, "What is going to happen?" Because we'd never heard my grandfather bear his testimony before.
We were completely taken back about what we were to witness. And I'll be honest, maybe we were a little bit worried too, thinking, "What is he going to say?" And so my grandpa gets up there. He said, "Hello." He introduced everybody to himself, he said how he was related to the family, and then he shared one of the sweetest, most sincere, apologetic by saying, "I'm not a perfect man," truth filled testimonies that I've ever heard. And it was simple, and it was short, and it was powerful, and I have not forgotten that moment. In fact, I looked around and all the cousins were crying at what we had just witnessed. And all I knew at that moment, and I still remember now looking back is I know where his witness came from. And it came from the spirit and his beautiful heart. And then he would die a couple years after that. I just I loved that moment to hear my grandfather bear his testimony. And I want to talk about this because let's read how Alma starts out his testimony and the testimony he's going to share with his sons. Let's go into Alma chapter 36, and we're going to read verses four and five. And Amy, will you read those two verses for us?
"And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God."
"Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself;"
Amy, will you skip to chapter 38, verse six, because when he starts his testimony in here, this is how he starts it with his son Shiblon.
"Now, my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things."
What is the similarity in how he starts his testimony? What does he want his sons to know?
I think he's just he's so humble and real.
I love in verse five, where he says, "Oh, not because of any worthiness of myself. Oh, I know where I came from. I know what I did." He told the son, "Hey, I get you. I know that it wasn't because I am this great spiritual man. I'm just a man. But the angel did come to me and I was born again."
Yes. Tell me this, just starting right here with this testimony to his son, and he's going to share it with all three of his sons. Why is it important for children to hear their parent's testimonies? Because I'm the worst at this. Sophia will often say to me, "Mom, go bear your testimony." And I'm like, "No because I teach gospel doctrine, and I get to bear it every Sunday. I'm not getting up." I'm not good, I'm just not good at it.
"I don't look good today."
Truly. I know. It's like, "I don't look good. I mean, my outfit's pretty bad." I think of these things.
Bad hair, always bad hair.
Why is it important though, for kids to hear their parent's testimony or their grandparents?
You know, Tam, I don't have any kids of my own. So I always think, "Well, what do I have to offer?" But I think there's two reasons why I share my testimony. One is I think it's important for me to remember and for me to say it out loud. I think every time I do bear my testimony, I'm shocked that I'm saying like, "Oh, yeah, you're right." And it's a great remembrance to myself. The second thing, and I think that Alma does a great job here is "I'm not perfect." And I think that a lot of times people think they have to have this perfect testimony and this angel that came to them, and that's not the case. And in bearing that people can say, "Oh, me too," and I think it's especially important for the youth to understand that, that their parents made a mistake, it's true. And that if we sugarcoat everything in life, the kids when they fail, are going to think that they are bad and wrong, and that can't be because it's our nature to fail and be wrong, and we need to overcome that. So I think it's important for those two reasons.
Oh my gosh, I think Alma the Younger is the very best example of this. Just, "I'm human, and I made mistakes, and I changed my ways. And as I did, my life changed forever." And that's real. And I can relate to that. And I can feel hope because of that.
Here's what I'm going to ask both of you to do this then because Bonnie, you don't have children and you are a wonderful aunt to many. And I want you to tell me, what do you want your nieces and nephews to hear? What testimony do you want them to hear right now?
Oh, Tammy. I am extremely grateful that I have kids all over the world, and I would tell them as their Auntie, that I know I'm a daughter of Heavenly Father. I think that would be the number one thing that I would tell. I think we need to understand who we are and the importance of that. If we understand that, then we understand that if we are truly a daughter, then he wants us home. And that means he's going to give us commandments, that means he's going to give us prophets, that means he's going to give us scriptures as all tools to help us get back home. I think the very most important thing that I would share is that I know I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, and with that comes great joy and great responsibility. And then probably go into details of because I would talk and talk and talk and they'd go, "Oh, Bonnie." But I think for me, as I've traveled and as I speak and have the opportunity to share my testimony, that is always something that Heavenly Father says, "Don't forget. Don't forget to tell them. Don't forget to tell them 'remember who they are.'"
Thank you, Bonnie. Amy, what do you know?
Wow, I feel so much more emotional about what I would say to my nieces and nephews who are now older than my children of course. I want them to know that they're loved. That no matter what they do, or the choices they make, Heavenly Father loves them. It's a love that I have come to understand through the way that I love them, my nieces and nephews and my own children. Like there's really nothing they could do that would stop me from loving them and caring about them. So I think that's probably the most powerful thing.
I feel like you are both modern day versions of Alma the Younger, and it's what I love the most about Alma the Younger is he is not afraid to be vulnerable and share his story. And so he, in fact, in this narrative, in these scriptures, he's about to get real now. So he just introduces like, "I'm going to tell you what I know. I don't know it of myself, but I know it because of what I've done." And so we're going to read in here, we're going to go over a beautiful retelling of a story that we become very familiar with. The challenge will be for us to examine our own story and ask ourselves, "If it testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?" Does does our experience teach of him? Or does it tell about him through our experience? So we're going to talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 3 24:29
I said this earlier, but I will say my favorite thing about Alma the Younger is that he's just, he's real. I love that about any person. You're going to be my friend if you can just say it like it is and be 100% real with me. So I can't wait to meet Alma the Younger because I think we're going to be fast friends. So let's just jump right into Alma retelling his story. So everyone turn to Alma chapter 36, and he starts to retell his story in verse 13. And Amy and Bonnie, you're gonna help me retell it by pointing out some things they love as Alma the Younger retells his story. Like what stood out to you and what you like about his retelling here.
First, I love Alma the Younger too, and I'm grateful that we have this opportunity to talk about him. But he says, you know, "The angel spoke to me and I heard," but then he did, "I didn't hear all the things that he had to say." Because can you imagine an angel coming down to you and like, "Ahh." Right? And so, he heard some things but I love that his brethren might have heard some things, I would love to know what they heard. But he was struck by this, "Oh, this is real?" And he goes back, and I love this Tammy, he goes back and he says, "What? Oh, I remember what my dad told me."
Right. Give us the verses so we can mark them.
Verse 17, I love it. You know that time when your kid, "Oh, sure. You're right, mom and dad," right? And then you're like 25 and you're like, "They're right!" And he says this, in this moment that he's reflecting and pondering, I want that in my scriptures, he gets this time to ponder and put all these pieces together. And what does he go back to?
How much time does he have to ponder?
Mark that. In verse 16, I want us to mark that and I was being tricky and asking that because I remember reading this and thinking, "But wait, in Mosiah it says 'two days and two nights,'" and some people have issue with that. So put Mosiah chapter 27, verse 23. That's the verse of scripture that says, "Two days and two nights," and here's why we need to know this because it's not contradicting at all. He was wracked and all of that experience was for three days and three nights. The Mosiah scripture in Mosiah chapter 27, verse 23, is the retelling of how many days they fasted and prayed for Alma the Younger, for two days and two nights. Okay, Bonnie, keep going or Amy jump in.
Keep going, Bon.
Oh, well, I keep thinking about, you know, again, if this experience happened to me, how would I retell it and what would be the important things that I would tell my children? And I come from a very, very amazing family and I love that he goes, "I remember what dad told me."
Well, Bonnie, I have to say, I think the reason I would say, the reason why these verses really stand out to you, "Oh, my father told me," is something significant about your dad. Tell us a little bit about your dad because I think it's really unique.
My dad is Palestinian. He joined the Church when he came to America here to come to school. He was born and lived Palestine, and joined the Church in early 1960s. He heard the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith and said, "I'm in," and he was in until the day he passed. He comes from an amazing family. Family heritage is very important, and I think that's why, "Oh, my son," is so prevalent in my thoughts. He was a simple man. Simple in stature and mighty in everything else.
What I like about that and the way you speak of your father is, you would absolutely say, "I remember my dad taught me that." I mean, just the way you talk about your dad, those words would escape your tongue, or probably have many times. Like, "My dad taught me that!" Ame, what do you got?
I don't know if you remember, but on my bedside table always I have that rock.
I bought it at Nordstrom. It was fancy. It says, "Remember," and I loved that rock because it was just this little reminder every night to remember. Remember my upbringing. Remember my testimony. Remember who I am. Remember all these important experiences that I read in the Book of Mormon. Remember what I learned on my mission. Remember how my heart was changed. Remember, I love that word "remember." In fact, when we read as a family, my kids make fun of me because when we read the word "remember," we have to say, "Remember, remember, remember."
Oh, I love it.
Because I love that word. I think that's one of the keys to staying on the path is remembering. And I love that he shares it and he says it so many times.
Yeah, like I'm looking through here going, "Oh, it's right there and there." You can go through and highlight every time you see the word "remember" in there.
I circle it because I love it so much.
Oh it's a great idea. Circle the word "remember," I'm going to do that.
I just love his honesty and openness. And it's always a reminder to me to be that way with my kids. My 10-year-old loves to hear stories from when I was a little girl. The other night she asked me if I had ever done something super naughty. And I was like, "Oh dear, here it is." She's only 10, she wants to know, where do I start? And I just thought, "You know what? I'm going to tell her." Not all the details, but I said, "I was really curious about this certain thing, and I couldn't stand it anymore." And I looked at her and I said, "I'm guessing that you're going to be curious about whatever... what alcohol tastes like."
And so, I felt prompted to share what I did share with her, just enough so that she knows her mom was not perfect, and that she'll understand herself a little bit better. And I'm guessing that these sons of Alma were similar to their dad. And they could fall into a lot of the same things that their own dad did and he knew that. So I'm grateful for his example here and how he shares sensitively and he shares how horrible it is, and then I love that he says in verse 19, "Basically, I couldn't handle it anymore because the memory of my sins was so horrible," he says in 20, "And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!" Love that.
Amy, love it because I love in 21 where he says, "So my pain was x, but guess what? So is my joy." And he told them, "So you might be experiencing this pain right now, but understand as much as that is painful, you can also experience joy." And then he goes, "And this is how," right? And he continues on. And so I think that's a great reflection for people too, is that sometimes when we're so much in the dark, it's hard to understand that that could be that joy. But that is the beautiful thing about opposition in all things right, get out of that because here's what I got for you.
Yeah, absolutely. I like that, Bonnie, and I think that's important for us to recognize because Satan wants us to think that there could not possibly be any joy or light. "Like this is it. It's over. We're done."
"You're bad. You did wrong."
Yeah. Like, "You can't even make it to the celestial kingdom anyways." So thank you for bringing that up because I think Alma is teaching us, "No you can and it's doable. Totally doable." In fact, I really like this word he uses several times starting in verse 27, in fact, you can highlight it or mark it. In 27, in 28, and in 29, he repeats the word "deliver" — "deliver" or "delivered." And this word stuck out to me because I really like this word in Hebrew. This word in Hebrew is "Yasha." And what I like about it is and I've talked about this before, where Hebrew letters mean things, and I've said how like the letter "A" doesn't mean anything to us other than the letter "A," but if I said to someone who studied Hebrew, "What is the letter 'Aleph' mean?" They would say, "An ox, a head, the front."
And so when I went through and found out what the letters meant for spelling the word "Yasha," this is what it means and I think this is neat. It's spelled "Yod-Shin-Ayin" The "Yod" means a "deed done," something that happened. The "Shin" is to "devour or destroy something," and then the "Ayin" means to "understand and experience it." And so this idea that it's happened, but the Lord is going to come in and destroy it because he understands it. Like he gets it, and that goes back to Alma 7:11, and Mosiah 3:7. And so when he is able to say to us, that he will be delivered and that we will be delivered by the deliverer. The only one who understands and has experienced what we've experienced, he's the only one that can destroy that. And so that was something that stood out to me.
Now, if you read this, it starts the way it ends, and there's a word for that and it's called a Chiasmus. And I'm going to put this in our show notes if you want to research and do more about it, but basically what this is, and this is kind of a really cool literary device or tool that is in the Book of Mormon, and what this is is it's Semitic and Greek poetry, it basically means that the words or ideas are arranged in a certain order, and then they're repeated in reverse order, and I'll put the link so you can see the picture of how this specific chapter is a perfect example of Chiasmus.
It is like an hourglass, right?
It is like an hourglass.
I think that visual helps you understand that chapter, right? He starts up here, he's going to get to the point, and then he's going to bring it back home again.
Thank you, Bonnie, for pointing that out because in the hourglass in the very middle, what you need to know is that's where the central message of the Chiasmus is found. So it focuses on a time in Alma's life when he turned to Jesus Christ for relief. So I love that you brought that up. Thank you.
Okay, so turning back into the Scripture then, after Alma shares his conversion story and his testimony of the Savior's Atonement, Alma then turns his discussion to an important assignment that he's going to give his son Helaman, and we're going to talk about that assignment in the next segment.
Segment 4 34:40
Okay, Bonnie, Amy, what are some small and simple things that have made a big impact in your life? How's that for a question? I already know my answer, Ambien. Small and simple and huge impact.
Do you guys have any examples?
I have several examples. Before I went on my mission, I had some things I needed to clear up. And I didn't understand why it was taking quite so long, but of course now all these years later I understand because I learned some really simple, but important, lifelong lessons. I was living in Connecticut, my parents moved right after high school from California to Connecticut, and I didn't know this Bishop and I was having to tell him my whole story. And he kind of stopped me mid story and he said, "Hey, I want to talk to you about prayer. What do you think it means to have a prayer always in your heart?" And he went on and then he said, "Amy, I want to challenge you to pray always. When you wake up in the morning, I want you to roll out of bed and the first thing you do is say a prayer. When you get in the shower, you turn on the water, I want you to keep praying and I want that to be just a conversation with your heavenly Father. When you get in your car and you go about your day, say a prayer." He said, "And then at the end of the day, it's just this 'Thanks for everything. I had a great day,'" and I have never gone back to any other style of prayer.
Wow that's a great example, and it's true, you do, you pray when I'm with you. Every time we'd go somewhere as single women, we'd pray every time we get in the car. It's like being on a mission again. Bonnie, what do you got?
Little purple pansies. I love little purple pansies and I love that I'm that old that I know that song. And little purple pansies touch with yellow gold standing in the corner of my garden. Oh, they are very tiny, but what, must try, try, try. And I think that for me has been something that I've always, it's this small little thing, just keep trying. "Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming." And I think just that simple thing of "try." It matters not if you try and fail and try and fail again. Right? It's not as much if you try and fail and fail to try again.
Well, thank you for sharing both of those things that you like that are small and simple and powerful in your life. Let's read what Alma teaches about this. He's giving Helaman a very unique assignment. So we're going to read the assignment in one through four. And Amy, will you please read those verses.
"And now, my son Helaman, I command you that ye take the records which have been entrusted with me;"
"And I also command you that ye keep a record of this people, according as I have done, upon the plates of Nephi, and keep all these things sacred which I have kept, even as I have kept them; for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept."
"And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning—"
"Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon."
Thank you. So his assignment and job is to be in charge of the plates. Now I'm going to read verse five and I want you to tell me what is it that he was asked to do that seems odd. Verse five: "And now behold, if they are kept they must retain their brightness; yea, and they will retain their brightness; yea, and also shall all the plates which do contain that which is holy writ."
What was he asked to do?
Take care of the plates, keep them bright.
I know. Like I think that's so interesting to me. And are we talking... did he have to shine them every day? Like what? You know, it's is there a symbolism in this idea to retain their brightness? Bonnie, I love it. I love when I can see that Bonnie's gonna speak. Yeah, go Bonnie.
I think that brightness is keeping it alive. These aren't to be hidden. These aren't to be put in a corner and to collect dust, they are living and you must keep them bright. And so to me it was, "Keep them alive."
Okay, Bonnie, read verses six and seven then.
Come on, I don't have that much to say. First, I have to say, I love the Book of Mormon. I read it, and have read it every day for a lot of years, and it's changed my life and it continues to change my life. So when I read, like in verse two, when he says, "I have kept them. It is for a wise purpose that they're kept." I always think this, "That wise purpose is me!" Like, I think I'm the wise purpose.
Yeah, that's so great. "It's me!" So they're kept for a wise purpose and we're going to keep them bright. So Bonnie, I want you to read verses six and seven because he said to retain their brightness, and then he kind of expounds on what that means.
"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise."
"And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."
So what profound truths were we just taught about small and simple means?
I was talking about this the other day that in our world today, we need to remember that small and simple things, not only great things can come to pass, but I think small and simple things can also detract. And he says, "They can confound the wise," small and simple things can get in the way sometimes of testimonies and of covenants and of remembrance, like we've been talking about, but if we remember to stay on track, those small and simple things can add up, and great things can come to pass.
I just looked up the word "means" because I was like, "Does it just mean things?" And it says, "An action or system by which a result is brought about, a method." I love that. Just as I even think about my life. I got married when I was 35, and I had been given some promises in my patriarchal blessing that I thought, "There's no way God's going to be able to give me these blessings." And they were really specific to this life, and it's amazing to look back, and to see like how these little things led to things being accomplished that I never thought would be possible.
Absolutely. And there are countless examples of that in our lives. And I like that so much, Amy. In Alma chapter 37, verse eight, this is a specific small and simple thing that he's to teach us about. And it actually goes back to what you'd mentioned earlier Ame, so go and read verse eight for us.
"And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls."
What specific thing is he talking about in verse eight?
I think he's talking about the plates.
Yeah, that's exactly it. And so it goes back to what you said, Ame, like you read the Book of Mormon every day. That small and simple thing, just to read a few verses every day has made a huge difference. In fact, in my scriptures, next to verse eight, I wrote "scriptures — big impact." There's a really powerful quote by Elder Christofferson about the impact that scriptures can have on our lives, and I want us to read this because it reminds me of what you said Ame.
“The scriptures enlarge our memory by helping us always to remember the Lord and our relationship to Him and the Father. They remind us of what we knew in our premortal life. And they expand our memory in another sense by teaching us about epochs, people, and events that we did not experience personally” (D. Todd Christofferson, “The Blessing of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 33).
What is epochs?
An epoch is an era of time. So there you go. It's a very sophisticated way to say that which I would never have known if I didn't just look it up. Okay, here we go. So the power though, it just kind of goes back like, we were the wise purpose. And the whole point of reading the scriptures is for us, it's for us to come to Christ. There are other examples in Alma 37 of small and simple things. If you want to mark this in verse 24, small and simple are the interpreters, the Urim Thummim. We talked about this earlier in another episode, but the idea that "Ur" and "Thummim," those are Hebrew words, and "Urim" is Hebrew for "lights," it comes from the word "Ur." The word "Thummim" is Hebrew for perfections. They're both plural words in Hebrew. It's "lights and perfections," which I think is pretty cool.
And then if you were reading and you got to verse 23, and you wondered, "What in the world is the word 'Gazelem?'" So I found the meaning of the word "Gazelem" in a great reference book by Reynolds and Sjodahl, and they said, "Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz-a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men" (CBM 4:162.)
So we have this word "Gazelem." Now, this is really interesting because with this in mind, it's appropriate that such a name would be applied to God's seer on Earth who would be the Prophet Joseph Smith. Now, in the pre 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, it's going to call Joseph Smith, "Gazelem." In three different revelations spanning the period of two years, Joseph Smith was called "Gazelem" by the Lord, and I'm going to put these in our show notes the different Doctrine and Covenants revelations, and they're going to use that word and the reason why that word was used throughout the Doctrine and Covenants was because Joseph Smith's name was disguised in order to prevent his enemies from discovering what plans the Lord had in mind at a particular time.
And you can read about that in "History of the Church" volume one, page 255. And so now we have our recent version of the Doctrine and Covenants, it will actually say Joseph's name or "my servant," but in the pre 1981 edition, it had the name "Gazelem." And so in your scriptures, in verse 23, you can mark the word "Gazelem," and you can just right next to it, "Joseph Smith." So that was sort of a little side note because I wanted to be able to understand what that word means because it did stand out to me when I was reading it.
So now let's jump back in to our discussion of small and simple things because that discussion doesn't end here. And we talked about how great things are brought to pass by God through small and simple things, but the next segment, we're going to talk about what Bonnie brought up, which I'm so glad she did, that how Satan the Great Deceiver and manipulator, he also uses this concept of small and simple things sometimes to trick us and we'll talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 5 45:54
Okay, let's just jump right into this one because we're gonna go right into something that's small and simple and we're gonna talk about it. Go to Alma chapter 37, verse 38. All right, here we go. And Bonnie, will you read verse 38, please?
"And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it."
Okay, now he's going to teach about the Liahona in order to teach Helaman a very important principle about how the Lord guides his children. Now we studied the Liahona back in Episode Five, and it's first Nephi chapter 17. We talked about the purpose of the Liahona and that operated based on faith and obedience. Now the Prophet Alma in giving the advice and counsel to Helaman, he chose to return to the story of the Liahona in part because its operation was based on one of the most important patterns that is used by the Lord to guide and direct us, so we're going to Look at this pattern.
We're going to read Alma chapter 37, verse 40 and 41. Now as we read these verses, Amy and Bonnie, here's what I want you guys to look for. Tell me about how God blesses us when we do these specific things in these verses, okay. So I'm going to read 40 and 41, and I want you to tell me what the blessings are.
"And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day."
"Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;"
So tell me, what are the blessings in those verses from small and simple things that they did? How often did they have miracles? Did that stand out to you in that verse?
"...They had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God day by day."
I sometimes think miracles are every now and again, maybe once in my life.
Maybe one for you, maybe for Amy.
I mean, "day by day," you gotta be kidding me.
I'm a big believer in miracles. I married a widower who had three children. And there was an event where the youth in our stake were singing all these songs about God's miracles, and the youth would share their favorite miracle, and then they would sing a song. And three teenagers got up in a row and said, "My favorite miracle that Christ did in my life is when my dad had cancer and he was healed." And I'm like, sitting in the back starting to cry, like for my son because his mom had cancer and they prayed for miracles, and the next youth got up and said, "The greatest miracle I ever saw in my own life by Heavenly Father or Jesus was when my mom had this terrible illness and we didn't know if she was gonna make it and we got our miracle." Now, I'm sobbing. Like snot is coming down, I don't have anything to wipe, I just can't stop crying. And a third person gets up and says almost the exact same thing. And I am beside myself, I'm so sad. I'm thinking, "My poor son in his face. He's gonna wonder where his miracle was, where was God in his life," and I can't see him because I'm far enough away that I can just kind of make him out but not see his face. So the event is over, and I've kind of taken care of my tears, and we're walking to the car, and it's just the two of us, and I say, "So, um, how did you like that?"
He's like, "I thought it was a great mom!" And I said, "How did you feel when those kids were talking about their miracles? And you didn't get your miracle." And he said, "That's so funny. That's the same thing Brother Gosar asked me. I did get my miracle." I'm like, "Oh?" And he said, "You're my miracle." And I learned so much by this, you know, 16 year old boy — "You're my miracle." Like he said, "I would have been very different in my life had things worked out differently," and never in a million years would I think he would feel that he got his miracle. I think it's how we look at things and he taught me a very valuable lesson that day about miracles.
Oh that is a beautiful story, Amy, I love that. And you are their miracle, for sure.
Some days more than others.
Well, let's turn this the other way then because there's a negative pattern in this. And so I'm going to start in the middle of verse 41 and I'm going to read through verse 43, and I want you guys to sum up the negative pattern that Alma warns his son about. He says, "They were slothful and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence, and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey. Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness or did not travel in a direct course and were afflicted with hunger and thirst because of their transgression. And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual."
Sum up the negative pattern then.
You doubt and get slothful. I think doubt is the first thing and doubt is a slippery slope and it puts you right down into then you get very apathetic about things and slothful, and it's a small and simple things you just one day go, "Hmm, not today."
Well, and earlier you said, "Small and simple things that we stop doing." How they really do make a big impact in a negative way. In fact, look back at that verse because I think what stands out is in verse 42, what direction did they travel?
They didn't go the direct course.
And it says they were afflicted with hunger and thirst. You know, I mean, so then it became very temporal and physical, right.
It didn't have to be so hard. Sometimes I think we make things a lot harder than it needs to be because we don't recognize the simple little miracles in our life, the small and simple things.
That's exactly right. In verse 43, I just want you to mark this word. Mark the word "shadow" because if you read that and thought, "Huh. These things are not without a shadow." Just as a side note, I want you to know, this is kind of a cool word. When you see this word in the Book of Mormon, "types" or "shadows," that word "shadow," it's saying it's not the real thing, but instead, when light shines on an object, it casts a shadow beyond what it really is. And so that's what the Scripture is teaching us here. I'm going to teach you something beyond what this really is.
This isn't really about Liahona. This is about the direction that we're traveling in our lives, and how the Lord has a pattern with how he works with us. And so on my scriptures, I wrote these two different patterns. The two patterns at the top of my page, I wrote "consistent faith equals small daily miracles, which equals marvelous works." Those three things. The negative side is "slothfulness equals miracle cease, which equals progress ceases." I want us to read this quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard because he added his own personal insight into how this negative pattern encouraged by the devil and his followers works. So Bonnie, I want you to read this because you brought it up earlier and I like this quote.
"[I have] been sobered by how small and simple things can be negative and destructive to a person's salvation. A series of seemingly small but incorrect choices can become those little soul-destroying termites that eat away at the foundations of our testimony until, before we are aware, we may be brought near spiritual and moral destruction." ("Small and Simple Things", Ensign, May 1990.)
So this part has been on my soul heavy because I'm losing brothers and sisters in the Gospel over small and simple things, and I don't want to be triked about that that's important to them, but in the grand scheme of things, this particular point and that quote that I just read, has been weighing heavy on my heart, or letting things get in the way.
Thank you, Bonnie. So let me ask you this then, what are the small and simple things then that will help us when those termites come. Like what are some small and simple things that we can do to have a big impact in our life or help us get on the right path.
So Tam and Bon, you both know, I was not a perfect child or teenager. I made a lot of mistakes and had to figure things out on my own, but it was the small and simple things that made a huge difference in my life and bringing me back to an understanding of who I was, and why I was here, and what I wanted and needed to accomplish in my life. Like amazing young women leaders who loved me for me as I was, and parents who loved me. And music was a huge part of my life. When my mom bought me that Janis Cat Perry CD, I walked by faith, I listened to it every single day. And no matter what I was doing or the choices I was making, I would remember those songs, and be reminded of those things. And it was these little reminders along the way that never let me forget who I was, and that God had a plan for me, and that I was wasting a little bit of time along the way.
So thank you, both of you for sharing those thoughts and feelings. I really like in Alma chapter 37, verse 47, how I feel like Alma really sums up the pattern of small and simple in this verse. So Amy, will you please read Alma chapter 37, verse 47?
"And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell."
And last week we talked about this, but the idea of just looking to him if that's all you can do, just turn your neck and look, that is the simplest and the smallest thing that you can do, do it.
For me, he tells his son to teach 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 times I think. Like, we have a responsibility, and he says, "Look to God and live, and then go tell others."
I love that you just shared that, Bonnie, because he'll tell 2000 young men who I think were also told by their mothers, when they say in Alma chapter 56, verses 47 and 48, "Our mothers knew it." How did they know their mothers knew it? Probably by example and probably by word. I just think that's so powerful. And that is a beautiful ending to Alma's instruction to his son Helaman. And so in the next segment, we are going to talk about what Alma had to say to his son Shiblon who I think might have been the favorite son.
Segment 6 57:01
Okay, so I'm kind of thinking Shiblon might have been the favorite child. I do kind of laugh because I read what Hugh Nibley had to say about Shiblon and he said he thought Shiblon was a bit of a prig — p, r, i, g. And that word just makes me laugh so hard because they actually say it in the movie, "The greatest Showmen," and I was like, "What in the world does that mean?" And so I had to look it up, but he said he thinks Shiblon was sort of like a "do-gooder." And I want us to read just the verse that makes me think he might have kind of been the favorite. So let's go to Alma chapter 38 and read verses two and three. And Bonnie, we're with you. Will you read those please?
"And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end."
"I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites."
I mean, am I right?
He's so great. All right, Shiblon, we get it. So great. Now, the instruction, however, is pretty poignant. And so I want to just dive right into this. And here's what he has to say to his son. And there's so many words we have to define in this instruction. And it's found in Alma chapter 38 and it's verses 10, 11, and 12. I'm going to kind of go Institute on you because he's got a lot to say to his sons with these specific words. We're going to mark them, and then you can write out any definition you have. So Amy, will you please start and we're going to read in verse 10. And I'm just going to kind of stop here and there as we read verses 10, 11, and 12, okay. So bear with me as we stop and define. Hit it.
"And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things."
Thank you. So Bonnie, there's the teach again — teach, teach, he wants Shiblon to teach. This is interesting, so the word "diligent," okay mark that. I want you to be, he says right there, "I would that you should be diligent." This means "consistent and careful." But then "temperate in all things," to be "temperate" means to "use moderation in all things or to exercise self-control." So he's telling Shiblon, "Be moderate, use self-control as you're teaching these things." So now go to verse 11.
"See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength."
Let's read about this word when he says, "...see that ye have not pride and that you don't boast." And so Bonnie when you read, teach us about the word "pride" right there and what Elder Hales has to say about it.
One aspect of pride is putting greater trust in oneself than in God. Pride is also evident when a person thinks he or she is superior to or more important than others. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “True disciples speak with quiet confidence, not boastful pride” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).
Thank you. I don't even know how to speak with quiet confidence. I got to work on that. Okay, verse 12, Bonnie, you said you loved this verse, will you read it for us?
"Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness."
Why do you love that verse?
Because I always thought being bold was bad. I was always told I was a bowl in a china shop and I was too bold, and that I spoke my mind too much. That just bold was, was not ladylike or feminine, or a sister, you know? And I've come to respect that that scripture that says, "Open your mouth and it shall be filled," and I believe it with all my heart, and so I just pray that when I do open my mouth, that it's the words that need to be spoken.
Next to the word "bold," I'm going to put "Bonnie," and I'm going to put Philippians, this is a great cross reference, Philippians one, verse 14. Here's what bold means, "To teach the Word of God without fear." That is you, and that is Amy. The two of you have this gift, definitely. To be bold, but not overbearing. Okay, I get that. You know, James E. Faust, he taught that the word overbearing he says, “I do not believe that we need to be … loud, pushy, or insensitive in our approach [to missionary work]” (in James P. Bell, In the Strength of the Lord: The Life and Teachings of James E. Faust , 373).
That's what it means to be overbearing. You don't have to be loud, pushy, or insensitive, but we can teach the Word of God without fear. And then this idea of "bridle all your passions." I thought this was so fascinating. This idea of word "bridle." I'm going to read this because this teaching comes from Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen in their book, "The belonging heart," and here's what they say: "A bridle is the headgear used on a horse. It includes reins and sometimes a bit, which give the rider control. A passion is a strong emotion. A bridle is intended to direct—not destroy—desires and passions. 'Alma taught his son: ‘See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.’ (Alma 38:12; emphasis added.) He did not say eliminate or even suppress your passions, but bridle them—harness, channel, and focus, guide them. Why? Because discipline makes possible a richer, deeper love'" (Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, The Belonging Heart: The Atonement and Relationships with God and Family , 302).
I just like that so much that this idea of bridling our passions doesn't mean get rid of them, but when we bridle them we're capable of more love. And then he goes on to speak about refraining from idleness. Mark that word in verse 12. Ame, will you read this about idleness.
"To be idle is to spend time doing nothing of significance. “Idleness can lead to inappropriate behavior, damaged relationships, and sin. One form of idleness is spending excessive amounts of time in activities that keep you from productive work, such as using the internet, playing video games, and watching television” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 40)."
Thank you. I mean, that's hard. That word when I read it, I'm like, "Oh, I'm guilty." But I'm not idle all the time, okay. I can usually like a good TV show and I think that's okay, right? What are we talking about here with idleness?
I think it's possible to spend a good portion of the day or even all day doing things that bring no benefit, or have no benefit. Like, I really like this word game that I play with my sister, and we're pretty competitive and sometimes I'll look at my clock and be like, "Oh my gosh, Lisa, it's two in the morning. We gotta go to bed." And I, you know, end the thing and think to myself, "What if I had used those 20 minutes or two hours doing something that would have made..."
Do not say "indexing," whatever you do. Because I already have enough guilt about that. Yeah, I mean, you're right, we could definitely spend more of our idle time doing good things for sure. But in this council to Shiblon, let's read verse 15 to see how he ends this council because I think this is a great way to end what he has to say to Shiblon, and Bonnie, will you read that.
"And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell."
Highlight "be sober" because this is such a great word in this verse of scripture, and it does not mean "Don't drink alcohol." He's not saying, "Refrain from beer. My son, farewell." In Greek, this word means "free from illusion, free from the intoxicating influences of sin." It means to have one's wits about them and be rational, but I just like free from illusion, free from the intoxicating influences of sin. Put the cross reference, First Peter, chapter five, verse eight. In First Peter, chapter five, verse eight, we are getting counsel to us, which I think is a great way to end this fatherly counsel to sons. Here's what Peter has to say to us. And Bonnie, will you read that for us?
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
Thank you. Just this imagery of a lion pacing back and forth, right? You've seen that at the zoo, just waiting to see who he is going to devour, who it is that's going to give in to not being any of these things that we just read about. Who's going to be very idle, who won't bridle their passions, who can't be sober. Of all those teachings we just listed right here and the things, is there anyone that... I mean, Bonnie, you shared with us that the idea of being bold stood out to you. Did anything else stand out to you or Ame?
I have teenagers and I talk to them often about being vigilant. And when you think you're going down one path and it seems like everything is okay and great, be honest with yourself, what path is it that you're really going down?
Anything? Any thoughts you have Bonnie?
My thought is that sober to me was also, "Be at peace. It's okay. We got it. Just go for it. it's okay."
So that ends the council. That is what Alma has to say to two of his sons, Helaman and Shiblon, and next week, we're going to read what he has to say to Corianton, which is so great. I love those words. But this week's was great because the idea that this parental advice that he's giving his sons, the testimony that he shares. I mean, when I think about, I want to share my takeaway because one of the things that's stood out to me in this as I was reading is that, and I said it earlier, we're so often taught that we need to teach about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And I kind of feel like Alma the Younger was telling about the Atonement of Jesus Christ with his own story.
And I feel like if we could do that as adults, tell our story, it would do so much good. And I want my kids to know that I've messed up. I want them to know that I've used the repentance process, and I want them to know there's beauty in that. And that's what Alma the Younger just kept trying to teach over and over again. And so that was my takeaway as I studied these verses of scripture, and then it really hit home Bonnie when you said your dad asked, "Do you have a current temple recommend?" And that might be my own check for me on a regular basis, but I like the idea of asking that to my kids. I think that was pretty powerful. So that was my takeaway. What did you guys have? What was your takeaway for today's episode?
There's so much but I would say the one thing that kept echoing in my mind just that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass and that it goes both ways, and we need to look at the small things and see them for what they are. We need to look for miracles every day.
Amen. I like that.
The part that really hit me was, "Look to God and live." Like we can get so consumed right now if you turn on the TV and the news and hear the world, but Alma's telling his kids, "Look to God and live. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid to be bold. Don't be afraid to be afraid to be a divine daughter. Don't forget your heritage. Don't forget your ancestors. Don't forget what your dad told you. Look to God and absolutely live."
Ladies, thank you so much. Thank you for joining me today. This was such a great discussion about these three chapters. I loved it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Oh I love you too.
Oh I love you guys.
For those of you listening, we would love to hear what your big takeaway was from this episode. If you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook, or if you're not following us on Instagram, you should because it's such a great place to ask questions as you study throughout the week. And any question you ask, I try to answer, and so go ahead, ask away. Another thing I like is we put up posts throughout the week asking questions and I want you to share some of your thoughts, and things you think about the posts. And then on Sundays, it's usually on Sunday's, we always call for your big takeaway, so comment on the post that relates to this lesson and let us know what you learned. I read every single one of them. I's my favorite thing about Sunday's is reading what your takeaway was from the scriptures this week.
You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode on LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. And it's not a bad idea to go there anyway because that's where we have all the links to all of the references, that we mentioned in this epsiode this week, and we have the entire transcript of this whole discussion. So check that out.
The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our awesome study group participants were Amy Whitmore and Bonnie ElHalta. I love you guys! And you can find more information about these ladies at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Our podcast is produced by KaRyn Lay with postproduction and editing by Erika Free and Katie Lambert. It is recorded and mixed at Mix at Six Studios and our Executive Producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. And you are God's favorite. See you next week.