31: “Stand Fast in the Faith of Christ” (August 3–9)
The war chapters—sounds kind of like a PBS documentary, don't you think? Well with all the contention, tactics, wins, and losses, Alma 43–52 would make an epic war movie. So why would Mormon choose to include these stories about battles and intrigue in the Book of Mormon? Join us in this week's study group as we dig into the scriptures to discover how the war chapters apply to our day and why we might actually grow to love them and their message to us.
Books Quoted in This Week's Lesson:
A Witness and a Warning: A Modern-day Prophet Testifies of the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is meant for our day — for us here and now. In A Witness and a Warning you will find President Benson's counsel, insight, testimony, and teachings pertaining to the Book of Mormon. As you study this book along with the Book of Mormon you will find blessings and fulfillment of the promises made by a modern prophet of God.
Verse by Verse, the Book of Mormon Volume 2: Alma 30 - Moroni 10
Do you want to expand and deepen your study of the Book of Mormon? If so, you will find what you're looking for in this commentary written by gospel scholars D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner.
This volume is the second of a two-volume, reader-friendly exploration of the book of scripture that is the keystone of our religion.
It incorporates sound doctrinal commentary with quotations from General Authorities and explanations of difficult passages — all sprinkled generously with the authors' own experiences to illustrate great lessons and personal applications.
Why would Mormon include these chapters about war in the Book of Mormon?
"And I did read many things unto them which were written in the abooks of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet bIsaiah; for I did cliken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our dprofit and learning" (1 Nephi 19:23, emphasis added).
"And now I write asome of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men" (2 Nephi 11:8, emphasis added).
How can we liken these chapters to our day?
Quote: "Today, we are in a battle for the bodies and souls of man" (Ezra Taft Benson, “Witness and a Warning,” October 1979 conference).
Quote: “From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war. From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality. In the Book of Mormon we find lessons for dealing with persecution and apostasy. We learn much about how to do missionary work. And more than anywhere else, we see in the Book of Mormon the dangers of materialism and setting our hearts on the things of the world. Can anyone doubt that this book was meant for us and that in it we find great power, great comfort, and great protection?” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, Deseret Book, 20-21).
Design: A particular purpose or intention held in view by an individual or group (merriamwebster.com).
Why is it important to have a design for war?
How were the designs of the Nephites and the Lamanites different from each other?
5 And it came to pass that the Lamanites came with their thousands; and they came into the land of aAntionum, which is the land of the Zoramites; and a man by the name of bZerahemnah was their leader.
6 And now, as the aAmalekites were of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were, in and of themselves, therefore, Zerahemnah appointed chief bcaptains over the Lamanites, and they were all Amalekites and cZoramites.
8 For behold, his adesigns were to bstir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites; this he did that he might usurp great power over them, and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into cbondage (Alma 43:5–8).
9 And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their houses, and their awives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their brights and their privileges, yea, and also their cliberty, that they might worship God according to their desires.
11 Yea, and they also knew the extreme hatred of the Lamanites towards their abrethren, who were the bpeople of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who were called the people of Ammon—and they would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it—therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed.
12 And the Nephites would not suffer that they should be destroyed; therefore they gave them lands for their inheritance (Alma 43:9–12).
How did Moroni use the designs of the Nephites to protect his people?
19 And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had aprepared his people with bbreastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing—
20 Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing; they had only their aswords and their cimeters, their bows and their arrows, their bstones and their slings; and they were cnaked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea, all were naked, save it were the Zoramites and the Amalekites; (Alma 43:19–20).
Write down your design for your life. What are some goals you can create to accomplish this design?
Background for Alma 46:
- Alma gives a father's blessing to his sons, an apostolic blessing on the church, and prophecies the destruction of the Nephites (Alma 45:9–17).
- Alma leaves Zarahelma and never returns (Alma 45:18–19).
- Alma's son Helaman goes forth to establish the church again in the land (Alma 45:22).
- The people become proud (Alma 45:24).
- Amalakiah becomes leaders of the Nephite dissenters (Alma 46:3–10).
What were some characteristics of Amalakiah?
4 And Amalickiah was desirous to be a aking; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower bjudges of the land, and they were seeking for power.
6 Thus they were led away by Amalickiah to dissensions, notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church, for they were ahigh priests over the church.
7 And there were many in the church who believed in the aflattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they bdissented even from the church; and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous, notwithstanding their great cvictory which they had had over the Lamanites, and their great rejoicings which they had had because of their ddeliverance by the hand of the Lord.
10 Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to adestroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of bliberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the crighteous’ sake (Alma 46:3–10).
What did Moroni do in response to Amalickiah and his dissenters?
12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—aIn memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his abreastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the btitle of liberty) and he cbowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of dChristians remain to possess the land—
14 For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church (Alma 46:12–14).
What did the Nephites who supported the title of liberty do?
20 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and aenter into a covenant that they will bmaintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.
21 And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running atogether with their armor girded about their loins, brending their garments in token, or as a ccovenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be dashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments.
22 Now this was the covenant which they made, and they acast their garments at the feet of Moroni, saying: We bcovenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression (Alma 46:20–22).
Why did these Nephites throw down their garments?
Quote: "Treading upon one’s garments is an ancient ritual practice attested in early Christian Coptic texts where individuals became members of the early church by trampling their clothes as a token of trampling old sins or their old lives” (D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner, Verse by Verse, the Book of Mormon Volume 2: Alma 30 - Moroni 10 Deseret Book, 2011, 67).
What did Amalickiah do in Alma 47–48?
- Dissented to the Nephites (Alma 47:1)
- Gained control over a part of the Lamanite army (Alma 47:3)
- Contrived a plan to poison the chief commander of the Lamanite army (Alma 47:10–18)
- Aided in the murder of the king of the Lamanites (Alma 47:19–24)
- Uses a crooked wedlock to gain control over the kingdom of the Lamanites (Alma 47:32–35)
While Amalickiah was being a pot-stirrer, what was Moroni doing?
7 Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been apreparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.
8 Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small aforts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building bwalls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.
9 And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites (Alma 48:7–9).
Why is it important to fortify our weaknesses?
Quote: “There are carefully charted on the maps of the opposition the weak spots in every one of us. They are known to the forces of evil” (President Harold B. Lee, "Powers of the Gospel,” Improvement Era, November 1949).
What preparations caused the Lamanites to be "astonished"?
3 Behold, I said that the city of aAmmonihah had been rebuilt. I say unto you, yea, that it was in part rebuilt; and because the Lamanites had destroyed it once because of the iniquity of the people, they supposed that it would again become an easy prey for them.
4 But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a aridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of bentrance.
Why were they astonished?
But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were aprepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni (Alma 49:8).
What things you can change in your life to astonish Satan?
Quote: “Yes, there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts… Don’t give in. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence, " BYU Speech, March 1999).
What caused the Nephites to be happy?
19 And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words unto the children of men; yea, we can behold that his words are verified, even at this time, which he spake unto Lehi, saying:
20 Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my acommandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be bcut off from the presence of the Lord.
21 And we see that these promises have been verified to the people of Nephi; for it has been their quarrelings and their contentions, yea, their murderings, and their plunderings, their idolatry, their whoredoms, and their abominations, which were among themselves, which abrought upon them their wars and their destructions.
22 And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to dwindle in unbelief, and mingle with the Lamanites.
23 But behold there never was a ahappier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni, yea, even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges (Alma 50:18–23).
We can be "delivered in all times" if we are faithful to the Lord.
Quote: ". . . this truth applies not only to war but also to personal challenges such as financial setbacks, loss of employment, the death of a loved one, troubled relationships with family members, and natural disasters" (Lesson 102: Alma 49–51, 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual).
Quote: “Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!
“My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
“When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy” (Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 82).
Segment 1 0:00
The war chapters. It kind of sounds like the beginning of a PBS documentary, don't you think? Well, Alma 43 through 52 could definitely be its own documentary. These 10 chapters are full of contention, tactics, strategies, intrigue, wins and losses, and death. And all for what? Or maybe I should ask, all for why? Why are these chapters in here and why would Mormon take the time to write and abridge, and include these chapters in the Book of Mormon? Today, we hopefully will answer these questions and understand or even see what Mormon saw or understood. We will discover how these chapters fulfill the commandment that Nephi gave regarding the plates, when he instructed that they, quote, "Shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men."
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. You can listen to the full study session all at once, which is perfect for long drives, or you can listen to it in segments as you study throughout the week. Either way, you'll hear a little bit of music when the segment is finished. So listen for that music. And another awesome thing about our study group, and it's my favorite thing, is that we're joined by two of my friends. So it gets to be different each week with different perspectives and takes on the scriptures. So today we have Brooke Romney and Jalyn Peterson. Hi, friends.
Hi Tam. How you doing today?
Good! Now Jalyn, you're an original. Everyone's heard your voice.
The "OG" as we like to say. So, we're super excited to have you back, and I haven't seen your face in a while.
I know. It's been too long during the time of COVID.
How you holding up?
I'm doing good. I'm doing good. I'll tell you what though, reading these chapters gives me some anxiety.
All right. Well, let's hurry and get it over with then.
Well, and I love Brooke Romney. I've wanted to have her on the podcast for a long time. And I met Brooke last year at Timeout for Women, she was a speaker, but something cool about Brooke is that she's also a writer. And Brooke, you wrote a really incredible article that went viral, right?
Yeah, it's been a while, but I wrote one that was "Why we are taking the fun out of life" that was on KSL, and that was really fun. And then another one for LDS Living that was pretty popular was "Jesus is in the Foyer." So those are two that people might be familiar with.
Well, and they're fun. I loved reading those so... but getting to know you last year was a highlight. And so I thought, "Oh I gotta have Brooke on. When can I have her on?" And then I was preparing these chapters and it came to me. "I gotta have Brooke on for the war chapters because she's a mom of all boys."
Yes, I am a mom of all boys and war is something that is fairly natural on a daily basis. Not the horrible times but you know, just the energy of it.
Sure, absolutely. Oh, that's so funny. Well, I'm so glad to have you with us. For those of you listening, if you want to find out more about my friends, you can read their bios and see their darling pictures at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. So I highly recommend you go check that out. Well, ladies, I'm so excited to have you here because we're going to talk about the war chapters. And I gotta be honest, it wasn't until I was on my mission that someone pointed out to me the purpose of these chapters. And I'll be honest too, I skimmed these chapters, kind of like I did Isaiah back in the day because I thought, "Wah, wah, I'm not really at war." But after today, I have a feeling that you're going to love Alma chapter 43 through 52. And heads up, this lesson is super interactive today. So those of you listening, if you are sitting down, make sure you have a journal or a piece of paper and a pen, you're going to want to write. We're going to write a lot of stuff today so be prepared for that. Okay, friends, grab your scriptures and let's dig in. Here we go. Now be honest you two, how do you feel about these chapters? Were you guys anything like me, did you skip them? What was that like?
For me, I never skipped them, like I've always read them through, but they do give me anxiety because I feel like there's the whole "we're fighting against Satan," but I think there's maybe a bigger reason and it feels like in this time of civil unrest and weirdness that we're in, like, it gives me a little more anxiety. And so I've always kind of questioned, you know, "Why?"
So, something that's kind of funny is I used to skip these chapters when I read the "Book of Mormon." So I used to skip Jacob five and then I used to skip the war chapters because I was like, "I don't really care about that kind of stuff. They wrote that for someone who cares about wars, and he thinks that's exciting, and I don't." And then I had a friend who was going through a really difficult time with her husband. She found out he'd been having an affair and it was devastating. And when she was telling me about how she had gotten through, she said that she clung to the war chapters. And I was like, "Wait, the war chapters? Like, why, you know, don't you want to go to the Beatitudes or Third Nephi or something?" And she said, "Because she felt like she was fighting for her family."
And that completely changed things as I read this because instead of thinking about it as a war, it felt really personal to me, like a war against the adversary. And so I just, I had so many new realizations from that, and I read it with a completely different mind and heart. And it was so impactful. I was like, "Okay, maybe these are my new favorite chapters." So it was really fun to read it with that lens instead of looking at the tactical arrangements of the armies and things like that.
Definitely. Thank you, both of you for sharing your thoughts about that. At the top of your page, I'm going to give you two scripture references because what you guys just talked about is exactly what we're going to focus on for this first part. I want you to put First Nephi chapter 19 verse 23 at the top of your page, and then Second Nephi chapter 11, verse eight. So Brooke, will you turn to First Nephi chapter 19, verse 23. And Jalyn, will you do the Second Nephi scripture in chapter 11, verse eight.
"And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning."
Look at the very end of that verse again, and highlight that — "I did liken..." How many scriptures?
All. So that's the first thing we need to know about the war chapters is that they're going to be for our profit and our learning. And then Jalyn, will you read this?
Second Nephi 11, eight?
"And now I write some of the words of Isaiah, that whoso of my people shall see these words may lift up their hearts and rejoice for all men. Now these are the words, and ye may liken them unto you and unto all men."
Perfect. There's that "likening" again. So we've talked a little bit about this and I love how you guys have both shared how we need to get into this, and into the idea of these war chapters because when I was reading this, I thought, "Well, I'm not at war." So I guess my question to you is, how could we liken these scriptures to ourselves?
I mean, there's always been a war against Satan, and I feel like there's a war for, you know, what is truth and what we can really cling to in this time, I feel like we are at war.
I feel exactly the same way. That was perfect, Jalyn.
So we're going to read two really great quotes from Ezra Taft Benson on these war chapters. And as we read, I would love for you to think about how this changes your understanding of the value of these chapters personally. And Jalyn, will you please read this quote?
"Today, we are in a battle for the bodies and souls of man" (Ezra Taft Benson, “Witness and a Warning,” October 1979 conference).
Okay, and Brooke, will you read the second quote?
“From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war. From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality. In the Book of Mormon we find lessons for dealing with persecution and apostasy. We learn much about how to do missionary work. And more than anywhere else, we see in the Book of Mormon the dangers of materialism and setting our hearts on the things of the world. Can anyone doubt that this book was meant for us and that in it we find great power, great comfort, and great protection?” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, Deseret Book, 20-21).
I just think about wow, I mean, it looks like that was 1979 is when he said that, and how much more true that becomes as time goes on. We see the evidence of not putting our focus on the right principles.
Yeah, and I feel like... when I talked to my mom about her raising kids when she did, and then me raising them now. You know, she is more than willing to say it was not this hard. Like it was not this intense. And so I find if it was true in 1979, then it's probably especially true today. I feel like things have really ramped up and wars from so many different sides, you know, whether it's in the schools or mental health, like there's just so many things that I feel like we're really needing to battle against. And she said, "Yes, being a mom was hard back then for a million reasons, but the intensity of the battle she felt was a lot less than what we have to do today."
I would have to agree. I think that's totally true. And as I'm raising kids, sometimes I think, "Well, my parents didn't do that for me, or my parents didn't have to deal with this." And then a little voice was like, "It's not the same anymore. The bar has been raised for parenting, and for helping kids, and being aunts and uncles and grandparents," and I think it was chilling to me that just short quote, Jalyn, that you read. "We are in a battle for the bodies and souls of man." Like it really is such a battle — physical, emotional, mental. All the chips are on the table for this. It's big. Well, I'm super excited to see how these chapters are for me and for you and for us. I'm going to ask those of you who are listening to share your thoughts about this on social media this week, and I can't wait to see what you share because I want to know what you learned from the war chapters. So I'm going to share some of the things that I have learned about our day from these chapters, and we'll start in the next segment.
Segment 2 10:29
Okay, here's what I want to know. Especially from you, Jalyn, because I know you real real well. Have you ever, you or Brooke, have you guys ever designed something? Like a prom dress or garden or I don't know, like, of course I'm listing things I've never designed because I didn't even go to prom. So... have you guys ever designed something or came up with a plan for something?
Oh absolutely. Love a good home reno project and then, you know, I like to set goals, try to design my life, that works out sometimes, sometimes not, sometimes God has other designs. But yeah, I like planning stuff out.
Yeah, I've done a couple just home... like we redid our family room and put some built ins and a new fireplace and things like that. I am a little more of a free spirit so my husband does the exact parts, so he does the measure, I come up with the ideas and he makes sure the measurements are available and that we can afford whatever my mind has come up with.
I think that's great. I like how you said that "you're a bit of a free spirit." That's me. That's my way of saying, "I don't like to measure and I don't know what the little nicks mean in between each number." I have no idea. None. Well, let's look into Alma chapter 43, and we're going to see what the word "design" has to do with wars and with this story. So let's go to Alma chapter 43.
So the Zoramites are joining with the Lamanite armies to attack the Nephites. And in this war of the Lamanites versus the Nephites, there are two sets of designs. Let's go to Alma chapter 43, we're going to read verses five through eight. These are the designs of the Lamanites. So mark those and write to the outside "Lamanites." And Jalyn, read for us what the Lamanite's design was.
"And it came to pass that the Lamanites came with their thousands; and they came into the land of Antionum, which is the land of the Zoramites; and a man by the name of Zerahemnah was their leader."
"And now, as the Amalekites were of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were, in and of themselves, therefore, Zerahemnah appointed chief captains over the Lamanites, and they were all Amalekites and Zoramites."
"Now this he did that he might preserve their hatred towards the Nephites, that he might bring them into subjection to the accomplishment of his designs."
"For behold, his designs were to stir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites; this he did that he might usurp great power over them, and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into bondage."
So these are their war designs and how they're going to beat the enemy. So that's what the Nephite's design is. Brooke, will you read in Alma chapter 43, verses nine through 12.
"For they knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should worship God in spirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would destroy."
"Yea, and they also knew the extreme hatred of the Lamanites towards their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who were called the people of Ammon—and they would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it—therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed."
"And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires."
"And the Nephites would not suffer that they should be destroyed; therefore they gave them lands for their inheritance."
If someone tells me, "You got to take up arms and go kill people," like I'm gonna have to have some sort of like, purpose to do this, right? So if you're a leader, you have to be able to motivate all those people that you want to accomplish your designs, you're going to have to motivate them for some sort of reason. And so you have to have, "Well, what's the story that I'm going to tell them that I'm going to convince them of so that they're going to go do my bidding for me?"
Well, and as I look at this, how powerful is hatred as a motivation? Like hatred keeps people in subjection. And so I think as we figure out, what is our motivation? You know, for what we're doing, for what we're fighting, for what we're battling. Is it fear and hatred? That is the Lamanite's motivation for what they're doing. Or is it love and freedom and God? And as we contrast those, you know, like, we have to start figuring out individually where our heart is when it comes to our own battles. And I'll be the first say there are times when my motivation is fear. I hope there's never a motivation of hatred, but you know, when people plant that seed into our hearts, like how are we living? You know, how are we working things out? And like, what are we fighting for?
That has never been more applicable than right now. I mean, even what you're talking about within your own life, but I look at what's going on in society now on my Facebook feed, on everything, and how you need to choose which story you're buying, and is it one coming from fear and hatred? Because that narrative is definitely out there, or is it coming from faith and love of God? And I think, you know, it's more important than ever, that we keep asking that question.
Absolutely. I feel like Satan feeds fear, and Satan feeds anger. And there was a time when I was so angry at someone and Satan justified every single one of my thoughts, to the point where I was just the most right I've ever been about anything, until I realized I was the most wrong, unfortunately. But he does, he uses that fear and that anger. When we talk about this design that we have, and the role that the word "design" plays into our lives, we have to have a design, we just have to. And Jalyn, I want to go back because you said this earlier, you said, "And then I have a design for my life," where you had a plan that didn't always turn out. I think many of us can relate to that. It's like, how many designs have we come up with, right?
Yeah, yeah. But I think it goes back to like even when you're planning those designs, are you doing that? Is it out of fear? Is it out of fear of, you know, other people judging you or what other people are going to think? Or is it out of, you know, the love of God in your heart? Is it really leading you to what is for your best and highest good, and not just what you think the world is gonna, you know, praise you for how you're going to get your self-esteem there. I've definitely made a lot of designs based upon what I thought other people would think of me, and it doesn't work out. Shockingly, it doesn't work out. Thankfully, God saves me from myself and those times but yeah.
Well, for everyone who's listening, here's what I want you to do right now. I want you to think about what is your design? What is your specific design for yourself or for your family? I want you to take a moment and write down what your design is. And it might even start as just a list of hopes. You know, it's interesting in my patriarchal blessing, several times it says, "For me to be careful and write things out and come up with a plan." Over and over and over again. And now, Brooke and Jalyn, I asked you earlier about this exact word because we were talking about it, and I wanted you to come ahead of time with this thought in your mind. And so I asked you to think about a time where you had a design and how that played out.
For one thing, I think it's very fascinating that you bring up patriarchal blessings because I was thinking every time I sit down to like, kind of reevaluate, look at my designs, I always go back to my patriarchal blessing to be like, "Okay, if it's in line with this, if it can be in line with this, then I know I'm kind of on the right path." But I think I've talked about this before on the on the podcast, but mine was with law school. Like I really had a plan of when and where I was going to go to law school, and I kept like, "Okay, I'm going for it. I'm going to do it," and just nothing kept working out. So plans changed and I think I've, you know, I feel like law school was kind of my Martin Harris thing where I just kept asking, asking, and finally God's like, "Fine, go. Go do it. Just leave me alone about it already." And it's one of those things were I don't know that I can look back even yet and know exactly why it didn't work out at the timeframe I wanted it to work out. Like it's not like something magical happened in my life other than I met Tamara which is magical. But there's things like that I don't know until I actually, you know, get to the big picnic in the sky as to whether I'll be able to look back and go, "Oh, that was why." But I always trust and have faith that there's a higher purpose and there's something, God definitely has something better for me in those designs.
Yeah, I believe that.
So my life has been completely not my design. So I thought I would just get married and live next to my parents and raise children and do all of those things just kind of like they did. And what I realized is the important part was the preparation, the preparation to just let God's will be done in my life, and of course you have to have a plan. But if you're prepared, you're ready for whatever plan God wants you to have. And so it didn't look like living in a house next door to my parents with four perfect kids, but it has looked like something really exciting and really fulfilling, and I feel like it's been able to get me to who I'm supposed to be.
Well, Brooke, you're right on with what you've just said. In fact, go to Alma chapter 43 and I want us to look at verse 19 because you said something about preparations and that is exactly how Moroni felt. Let's go to Moroni chapter 43, and we're going to look at verse 19 and 20 to see what Moroni did. And Brooke, will you read those two for us.
"And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing—"
"Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing; they had only their swords and their cimeters, their bows and their arrows, their stones and their slings; and they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea, all were naked, save it were the Zoramites and the Amalekites;"
Highlight those words in verse 19 and 20, highlight the word "prepared" and "not prepared." It's just what you said, Brooke, the idea of once you have the design, then you go into the preparation mode. Those of you who are listening, next to where you wrote your design, I recommend, write down the goal, write a goal that you can set to accomplish your design. And if you're a youth, this is a great opportunity to use the Church's new goal setting program. Write one thing down that you can start doing now to achieving or accomplishing your design. Once you have a design and you're prepared, then you're ready for war and Moroni knew he was. And so you know what you're fighting for, and you know who you're fighting against. So in the next segment, we're going to look at what Moroni created to encourage his people in this war and design.
Segment 3 22:04
I want to know, have either one of you ever created a vision board?
Oh, yeah, I'm looking at it right now.
I have one in my room and I have one right there.
Oh, I love it, love it, love it. Okay, this is great. Brooke, have you ever done a vision board?
Almost every year at New Year's, we create one, a vision board
Like a family one?
Individually, we each create one.
That's so awesome.
You can tell Jalyn's a little bit more organized and thoughtful.
Jalyn doesn't have four kids. Jalyn doesn't have four boys. Okay, so Jalyn has too much time on her hands.
I've never created a vision board in my whole life.
I know. I know.
I'm coming over on Saturday, we're getting the magazines, we're doing it.
Unless you count the one picture in college that I had next to my bed that was a girl in a bikini because I thought that would be good incentive for me to get up and workout every day because I wanted a body like that.
Yeah. Oh, that worked for me for a little bit. Body for life.
But, the closest I ever got. And I'm like, "Vision this, I'm out." So what's the point of a vision board? Tell us.
It's your design. It's the visual representation of the design of your life of being proactive about this is where I want to go.
Well, Brooke, how do your boys do with the vision board?
Some do better than others. So some use it as a way to torment their mom and cut pictures out of magazines that show no motivation or interests.
Give me an example.
Oh, like, only basketballs one year. Like they just put basketballs, or basketball players on their vision board and I said, I kept like, you know, nicely cutting out words that might be motivational, and they would not put one word on there. It was just pictures of basketball players and basketballs and I was like, "Okay, this is going great." And then others are very motivated and they put words that are inspiring and they put pictures that are inspiring. They put places they want to go.
Oh, I think that's wonderful. This might be a fun back to school activity you could do as a family with kids. How's fun. Well, what if I told you that Moroni was way ahead of his time, and he actually created the first vision board. You guys want to see it?
That sounds fun.
Let's go to Alma chapter 45. So here's what you need to know. In Alma chapter 45, verses nine through 17, Alma's speaking to his son Helaman and he's prophesying that the Nephites are going to be destroyed, and he has a timeframe for it and everything. So that is in verses nine through 17. He also leaves his sons with father's blessings, which I love, and he leaves the Church sort of with an apostolic blessing. And he does that because in verses 18 and 19, it says that he just departs. He leaves the land and nobody hears from him ever again. And some people think, "Was he buried?" We don't really know, but there's some scripture references that kind of support the idea that he was like Moses, he was just taken up. So that's the end of Alma. We just need to have a moment of silence. We spent so much time studying Alma the Younger and all of his good words, and this is the end.
What an end too to just like disappear like that. Love it.
Gone. And I love when he's talking to Helaman and he kind of like, he's like, "I'm going to tell you this, but you can't tell anybody else," and I'm like, "Oo we get a little secret."
That verse is really personal I feel like to me because the best part that our Church teaches is personal revelation. You know, I have a friend who was really struggling with a specific doctrine of the Church, and she got a really personal revelation of how it works out for her in her mind, and she said, "I know this isn't meant for a Church wide audience, but this was Heavenly Father speaking to me so that I could feel at peace." And so I love that he said, "Okay, this isn't for everyone. This is just for you to know right now," and boy, I think of the heaviness of that, like knowing that information, I just would be like, "Hey, thanks. I don't want to know that, can we rewind and I can just continue to live my life because that was not something that was fun to hear." You know?
I like that Brooke. That's a great application of those verses of scripture. That was great. So in this story then we have that, and then we have Alma who's gone. And then Helaman goes forth to establish the Church again, and that's in verse 22. But the people grew proud, we're going to see a pattern for this, and they left their beliefs and they became wroth. I love how it says that word, "Roth against those who still believe." Let's go to Alma chapter 46. We're going to be introduced to a man named Amalickiah, and this guy is no good. I mean, he is trickery, he is a leader, and he is wanting to bring down the Nephites.
So he enters the picture and this is in Alma chapter 46 verses three through 10, and then you want to cross reference also chapter 49, verse 25. But here's what we know about Amalickiah, or did you guys mark anything in your scriptures about Amalickiah? In chapter 46, verse four through 10.
Yeah, I did. As I've been reading the Book of Mormon this year, I have been so impressed by how often flattery leads people away because it's so easy. It's so easy to buy into flattery. And I was just struck that again, Amalickiah, as evil as he is, he starts with flattery and with seeking power.
Absolutely, Brooke, I liked that you brought that up about Amalickiah. These verses tell us he's big, he's strong, he's cunning. He wants to destroy the foundation of liberty. And then the last cross reference to chapter 49, verse 25, is he was a Nephite by birth. He was raised to be a believer, and so we have him now, causing dissension among the people. And Moroni is furious. Look at Alma chapter 46, verse 11. And Jalyn, will you read verse 11.
"And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah."
Okay, so he's so mad that he decides, "I'm going to do something. I have to remind everybody what our design was and what we're going to do." So let's read verses 12 through 14, and here is Moroni's vision board. You can even write "vision board" next to those four verses. It's so great. And Jalyn, I'm gonna have you continue to read. Will you please read 12 through 14.
"And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole."
"And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—"
"For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church."
"And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come."
Thank you. That's awesome. So we have this thing called the "title of liberty," and Moroni puts it on the pole and then he waves it back and forth for everyone to see. This is this big visual reminder of what the design was to fight for the freedom, to fight for their families, their children, everything, and then this happens. Brooke, will you read for us Alma chapter 46, verses 20 and 21.
"Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them."
"And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if they should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, the Lord should rend them even as they had rent their garments."
This is neat. In that verse 21, mark the part where they rent their garments. The reason they did that, this is kind of cool. Treading upon one's garments, is an ancient ritual practice. It's tested in early Christian Coptic texts and the Coptic means "Egyptian" or just "ancient" or "old," where individuals became members of the early Church by trampling their clothes as a token of trembling old sins or their old lives. So that was a way of them saying, "We're done with what we've believed, we're entering into this new covenant, this new design," and I want to think about this for a minute, and I wanted to ask you guys, for us today in the world we live in, what is our vision board, our religious vision board? Like visual things that we can see.
So the vision board in my room has like pictures of temples, it has, you know, "Testimony of the Living Christ," it has "Proclamation to the Family." Like I think all of those, articles of faith, any of those I think are pointers to Christ.
I think it's really important for us to have those visual reminders. And I love that people came running when they saw. Moroni was like, they ran because they were so convinced of his purpose. And so I think about it in my mind, like, do I come running like with the purpose of Christ? Do I come running with the purpose of even like, individually in our family, like, are we so convinced by what is behind what we're being taught that we would run to defend it? And if not, how can it be a little more clear in our lives? How can we understand it a little bit better, so that we might want to.
Thank you Brooke.
I think that's why we have to have a design. There's so many other distractions. And, you know, it's so easy to not have that focus. And I think you have to have the design and those reminders, so that you can run when someone calls, so you hear the call. Otherwise you could miss it.
Yeah. Because Amalickiah, he had a design, oh he absolutely did. And in this story, he has followers and they followed him in, they depart to go to the land of Nephi, and Moroni was not having it. Like he's so mad that he then does not want Amalickiah to join forces with the Lamanites, so he pursues Amalickiah and the people with a goal to bring them back, and Amalickiah saw this, so he flees into the wilderness with a small number of his followers. The rest stay, and Moroni captures all of them, brings him back with this idea that he's going to kill any one of them who won't buy into or agree with the design or the title of liberty. And I like how in Alma chapter 46, verse 35, it says that, that many of the Amalekites did support the cause of freedom. And at the end it goes, "There were only a few who died." I like that. Just a few didn't agree. So then the title of liberty is going to be hoisted up on every tower throughout the land. It's an enzyme to these people and the people had peace. They had such beautiful peace. This peace though, unfortunately, it did not last long. It was only four years of peace. And we're going to discuss what happened and we will learn from this new unrest in the next segment.
Segment 4 33:47
This one we're going to just jump right into, and we're going to start where we left off with the story in Alma chapter 47. Okay, so remember, Amalickiah and a small number of people fled into the wilderness. They ended up in the land of Nephi and they want to join forces with the Lamanites. And oh that Amalickiah, because he is a... this is what I put in my scriptures, he is a "pot stirrer" and literally. Look in Alma chapter 47 verse one, Alma chapter 46, verse 30, Alma chapter 48, verse three, they all say he stirred up the people. So I just love them that they used the word "stirred" like he is a pot stirrer. And his job is to just get everybody on his side. So in Alma, chapter 47, we have a lot of trickery and intrigue in these 36 verses. There's a poisoning, a stabbing, some lies, a crooked wedlock. I mean you guys are not going to want to miss this story so make sure you read it because we don't have time.
But long story short, Amalickiah, becomes king of the Lamanites and that's what he stirred the pot to do. He had a design and he had a plan and it worked. Meanwhile, when you go and read that story, here's what you need to know in the back of your head, Moroni is also working, and there are some things that he's doing it and he is getting his people ready. So here's what I want us to do. Let's go to Alma chapter 48, verses seven through nine. So know that Alma 47 and 48 are parallel with each other. Is that the way you could say it? So when Alma 47 is happening, here's what Moroni is doing in Alma 48. So in Alma, chapter 48, verses seven through nine, I want you guys to mark the action words that tell us what Moroni is doing, and I will read these verses.
"Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God."
"Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land."
"And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites."
What words did you guys mark?
"Preparing again." We see that, preparing the minds of the people to be faithful. "Strengthening, erecting forts, throwing up banks of Earth. Building."
Yeah. What does that mean?
To shore it up, to make it stronger.
I love these verses so much because, Moroni, he prepared the minds and the hearts of the people to be faithful to God. And then he asked them to go physically do the work. Like, we can't just sit back and you know, say, "It's all going to be well," like he asked them to dig in. And then I love in verse nine that he, "...in the weakest fortifications, he places greatest number of men." And I think that's just such a great commentary on how we should be doing things because you're going to have weaker parts of your personality, of your spirit, and that's where you need to fortify personally.
Because that is where Satan will attack. That's exactly where Satan will attack is those weak parts. And you know, I think about too like, you know, Moroni, he's honestly this 25 year old kid. I just keep thinking of how many times has the Prophet told me to do something that's strengthening and fortifying and doing all of that, and I'm like, "Why? I don't see any Lamanites around," you know, like, there had to be some people who are like, "I don't want to go dig a ditch today. I don't wanna..." You know what I mean? Like, "No, we need to do this." I don't see any Lamanites, they've never been here. But you know, how important to like, do the preparation, even if we do not know what that's for even if the attack never happens. You never know what that preparation did for you in strengthening those weak parts.
So let me read this quote by Harold B. Lee, he said, “There are carefully charted on the maps of the opposition the weak spots in every one of us. They are known to the forces of evil” (President Harold B. Lee, "Powers of the Gospel,” Improvement Era, November 1949). When you think about our own weak spots, how do you fortify? How do you strengthen? What are some actual specific things that we can do to be prepared against Satan and his tactics?
Well, you know, all of just the regular answers, but the title of liberty really helped me understand that we have to do them with a purpose. And so, we're not just saying prayers, right? We're communicating with our Heavenly Father who has a plan for us. That's what we're doing. Like saying a prayer might mean nothing to someone. It's just okay, "We're thankful for this day..." When you say, you know what, it's really important that you have a relationship with God. Having a relationship with God changes your life. He can influence you, he can direct you, he can guide you, but you've got to have a relationship with him so you're gonna have to start praying.
I think that's so important too. I think of like, you know, my nieces. You know, I don't know how old your kids are Brooke, but like when they hit teenagers and like they know more than you, they know more than everybody, and when they hear stuff from the prophet like, you know, "Don't pierce your ears twice or don't..." like it's stuff that to them is so stupid and even like, there's just this whole, you know, down on organized religion and they're just, you know, everyone and Mormon's are so judge-y. And, you know, have they started with the why? Like, I think more than ever, kids like need to understand the depth of them.
So here's my question coming back then because for people who don't have children, and if anyone in here who's listening is struggling with their own weak spot, and they needed to be fortified or strengthened, I have a very personal question for one of you. And I want you to think about this. Has there been a time in your life where you were at war, truly war, and what fortification worked?
I feel like my life has been a continual war, but the fortification for me like, you know, there's definitely been times it's harder, but for me, it was digging in. It was daily scripture study. It was studying every Institute manual. It was going to the temple once a week. When I felt most at war with where I was at versus where I wanted to be, that's exactly how I fortified and I know that sounds trite, and I know it sounds like, "Oh yeah, good for you. You read your scriptures and life got better." And it's not... It's not that life just magically gets better, but that you gradually by degrees, you can look back and see how much God was sustaining you and lifting you up during that time period because all you were doing was the preparation.
Thank you, Jalyn.
There was a time when I was really struggling personally with my testimony, and I had continued to read the scriptures, but it was very out of duty and habits. And one of the things that really changed me was I was a primary teacher for eight-year-olds, and I was questioning a million things, but I could not deny Christ and His life and what he'd done. And every week when I taught that really, really simple Gospel to eight-year-olds in a way that they could understand, it brought me back to foundations that I had forgotten about because I had gotten so lost in the weeds of so many things. And so, for me, sometimes it's just going back to the beginning, like, am I a child of God? Do I believe it? Do I believe in my Savior and what he's taught? And just starting with the simple, especially if you find that you're getting yourself lost in the really complicated?
Wow, that's such a good point. I have had so many eight-year-old primary classes that have just saved my faith. Like there is something about that age group and that they're getting baptized that you're just... Yeah, I've had a lot of primary callings that have saved my testimony for sure.
I love what both of you shared. Those experiences are so real and many of us can relate to everything that you just said. And sometimes at our very best efforts, we are trying so hard, and we are doing what Moroni did with his people — we're preparing, we're strengthening, we're fortifying ourselves and our people for war, but guess what? In this story, you guys, the Lamanites in the Amalekites, they're also preparing and strengthening and fortifying. And you know what, they're doing a pretty incredible job I might add. So in the next segment, we're going to see what they did, who was more prepared, and as a result, who fared better.
Segment 5 42:52
So I'm going to count down. On the count of three, I want you to give me your best astonished face. And for those of you listening, if you're driving, I want you to do it. Well on the count of three, everyone listening, give me your best astonished face. Make it while you're driving because I think that'd be pretty hilarious. Okay, you guys ready? Best astonished face.
1, 2, 3.
I love it! Okay, those are good astonished faces. Now why did I have you do this? This is such a great part of the Scriptures. Everyone go to Alma chapter 49. This word "astonishment," it stood out to me because it is used often in this chapter. And I'm trying to imagine the Lamanite faces every time they were astonished at what they saw. So let's read some of these verses. Go to Alma chapter 49, verse one. The Lamanites are coming to battle and they think they have it made in the shade you guys. But what they didn't know is that Moroni had already been preparing his city, the city of Ammonihah. So in verse four, they dig up a ridge of earth for protection, and when the Lamanites see this earth dug up for protection, let's read verse five, and Brooke, will you read that for us.
Now at this time, the Chief Captains of the Lamanites were astonished exceedingly because of the wisdom of the Nephites and preparing their places of security.
Thank you. There they are. They're astonished at what has happened. In verses six through seven, the Lamanites are prepared or so they think. So they come in and in verse six and seven, you can mark the word "prepared" for all the times they're prepared. But then we have in verse eight, this is so great, eight and nine, the Nephites, you guys they're more prepared. Jalyn, will you read verses eight and nine for us.
"But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni."
"And it came to pass that the Lamanites, or the Amalickiahites, were exceedingly astonished at their manner of preparation for war."
Don't you just picture like that cartoon character, you know, like one where their jaw just hits the ground and like "dong, dong, dong." You know?
Their eyes bug out of their head like "Whatttt."
Yeah, I always kind of giggle when I get these and I'm like, "That would have been hilarious to kind of watch and see them go, 'Whatttt? There's no way.'"
Go to verse 14, okay. Here's another astonishment. Read this.
"But behold, to their astonishment, the city of Noah, which had hitherto been a weak place, had now, by the means of Moroni, become strong, yea, even to exceed the strength of the city Ammonihah."
Okay, and turn to verses 22 and 23 because I think this was the ultimate astonishment to them, and Brooke, will you read verse 22 and 23.
"Now when they found that they could not obtain power over the Nephites by the pass, they began to dig down their banks of earth that they might obtain a pass to their armies, that they might have an equal chance to fight; but behold, in these attempts they were swept off by the stones and arrows which were thrown at them; and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies."
"Thus the Nephites had all power over their enemies; and thus the Lamanites did attempt to destroy the Nephites until their chief captains were all slain; yea, and more than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain; while, on the other hand, there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain."
That idea in verse 23, highlight that the Nephites "had all power." I think that must have been the ultimate astonishment for the Lamanites. And then I think for my astonishment, I actually was astonished when I read the end of verse 23. "...Not a single soul of the Nephites, which was slain."
Tell me some of your thoughts as you read this chapter.
So I just love the idea of the surprise. When I was talking about it with a friend, I thought, "Have you ever had someone that you grew up with, and then you meet them later, and you're like, 'Wow, like, you sure did great things. I never expected that out of you.'" You know?
That's happened to me before. Someone said that to me.
And how cool that you astonished someone and I just think that we're all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. And with work and preparation and the assistance of God, like we can be so incredible. And you know, my friend that went through that really difficult trial, through Christ and work and effort and therapy, she became someone who was incredibly strong. And I just love the idea of weak things becoming strong. I just love that through this chapter.
For me too, I really think of how things that have worked in the past with your weak spots may not be what you need for the future. I mean, it says that they had never known a manner of like fortifying like this among all of Lehi, all the people of Lehi. I mean, it must have been standard practice that you show up to war, naked, you know, and then the first time you see Moroni, who's 25, who said, "I know. Let's get dressed a little bit and, you know, maybe have a breastplate and some armor." And the Lamanites were shocked at that, and they thought, "Oh, you're just so cunning because you came up with this whole method of actually getting dressed to go to battle."
Yeah they're like, "We can do that too."
Yeah. So then they do it. And then they see that like there's been this whole other method device that had never been done before. And I think in order for us to strengthen and fortify our weak parts, it really is going to take God to show us our weaknesses, first of all, and then to give us a way that maybe we have never even considered, of how we need to fortify that and do something completely different than what's been done before.
That's so cool you guys are talking about this because I have written down here, "Let's astonish Satan." I want him to go, "Wait, what? I did not see that coming." And how awesome when we think, "Okay, then what can we do?" What's something we can do that's different than what we've done? I, you know, I have my own personal experience with this, and I was doing the scripture study, go to the temple, go to church, pay my tithing, but when I was single, I remember there was a point where I was doing all of those things and I think the thing that I needed to step up was I wasn't believing. That was hard for me to believe, that's been my weakest point in my wall. And I think the spirit was like, "You just need to believe." And then I read this great quote by Elder Holland, "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence." And this is what Elder Holland said:
“Yes, there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts… Don’t give in. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence, " BYU Speech, March 1999).
And that is how I fortified, and it worked. I think I astonished Satan.
I love that because one of my weakest places is my ability to be quiet. And a couple of years ago, I realized how much that was missing from my life. And I do hope that maybe I astonished Satan when I decided that I was going to turn things off. I'm still not great at it. It's really hard for me even when I was like a little girl, I brought a book into the shower, like I ruined every book I owned because I read it in the shower because I was like, "I'm awake, I want to be like learning and all that," you know. And so, one of the things that I had to start doing was I realized, "Like I'm really weak. I am really weak in this area and if I am always having input, the spirit cannot get through." And so I started making time in my life for quiet, and that's been a big difference for me to be able to feel like it's not just me talking to Heavenly Father but that I have a relationship.
Wonderful. Thank you, Brooke for sharing that. So I'm gonna just challenge everyone listening, how are you going to astonish Satan? If something popped into your head right now, write it down, and if you're not quite sure, do what Brooke just mentioned, go to Him in prayer and say, "Heavenly Father, what can I do to astonish Satan?" Without of course raising the bar to some level of you know, mania. It's just going to be something different for all of us, but that's our goal. Let's astonish Satan, exceedingly astonish him so we can absolutely beat this war. And I also probably want to ask a takeaway, if I could at some point throughout the week, like, "How are you going to astonish Satan?" It might be kind of fun to see what people... their own experiences for doing that.
Going back to then Moroni chapter 50, this is great because in verse one it says, "Moroni did not stop making preparations for war." And so Moroni's preparations for his people who have kept their covenants, their designs, and supporting the title of liberty was super successful. And so in the next segment, we're going to see just how successful it was.
Segment 6 52:14
I'm gonna play a song for you. It's an oldie but a goodie. So let's see if this takes you down memory lane.
"Don't worry, be happy."
Oh my gosh, do you guys remember that song?
Let's go into the scriptures and see what this song has to do with Alma chapter 50. Brooke, will you please read for us in Alma chapter 50 verses 18 through 23, and as we read these, I want you to tell me what this song has to do with these verses.
"And they did prosper exceedingly, and they became exceedingly rich; yea, and they did multiply and wax strong in the land."
"And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words unto the children of men; yea, we can behold that his words are verified, even at this time, which he spake unto Lehi, saying:"
"Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord."
"And we see that these promises have been verified to the people of Nephi; for it has been their quarrelings and their contentions, yea, their murderings, and their plunderings, their idolatry, their whoredoms, and their abominations, which were among themselves, which brought upon them their wars and their destructions."
"And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to dwindle in unbelief, and mingle with the Lamanites."
"But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni, yea, even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges."
What do you think? What did you mark?
I love that it said that those who "were faithful in keeping the commandments were delivered at all times." I love thinking about that because we've been reading the Book of Mormon, we know that there's mostly not lots of happy times. Like there's a lot of war, there's hardship, there's heartache, and the people who were keeping the commandments were still delivered every time, and I think we can really use that right now.
You know, and something important... I appreciated that I saw this in the seminary manual when I was looking over this lesson, it says, ". . . this truth applies not only to war but also to personal challenges such as financial setbacks, loss of employment, the death of a loved one, troubled relationships with family members, and natural disasters" (Lesson 102: Alma 49–51, 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual). And you know, it doesn't are "delivered immediately and everything's perfect." At all times, sometimes at all times, takes a couple years, but it works.
That's what I noticed out of this too is that we see the promises have been verified. Like God, he means what he says, but you know, I like that you bring up the fact maybe it's because I'm, you know, I tend to see the negative side of stuff. I'm like, you know, I keep thinking of that scripture of "yet an effectual struggle remain to be had." Like it was hard work digging those ditches and cutting down the timbers and everything and getting all that stuff. Like, that's a lot of work, and I'm sure the day to day grind of that was not necessarily pleasant. But I think that goes back to the whole that's why you have a vision board and the long term view, so you can know that the promise of the Lord is verified that you will be delivered whether or not like you said, that's immediate, or how much hard work you had to do to get there, you can have that long term vision of "you will be delivered" as long as you're keeping the commandments.
And one of the things that really hit me from 23 is it says, "There's never been a happier time since the days of Nephi," and I'm going back to the days of Nephi, those didn't seem that happy. But what I'm realizing is, and I've compared and contrast this a lot, as we study the scriptures, it was happiness and fulfillment inside their hearts. The people of Nephi understood the plan. They understood, you know, directly from God, what was happening and what was supposed to be happening, and they found joy in their circumstances. They found joy, living on raw meat. They found joy wandering in the wilderness, and I'm kind of looking at that and I'm thinking, "I wonder if more of the happiness was inside their hearts," because they were in the middle of a battle, and they were like building forts and that doesn't sound like the lap of luxury.
And I think sometimes, especially today, we can see happiness as like checking off all the boxes like I went on an awesome vacation, I have a decorated home, and you know, my kids are all obeying. Like, I don't think that that's really the point of happy. Like I really think that it's insight and understanding that the Lord has delivered us because we are staying close to him.
Such a good point of that we give ourselves happiness. It doesn't come from an external circumstance, and that it's what you choose to think about and focus on that gives you happiness. And it just shows opposition in all things. You know, life is not supposed to be some big, happy, comfortable thing all the time, and I think a lot of times, it's a 50/50 gig we're here for. It's half good, half bad, and it's not supposed to be roses and daisies all the time. It's part of the journey.
Well, I think maybe that's why it felt so happy inside. They've just been battling...
And there's a really great quote by President Nelson speaking to us specifically about the happiness that you guys have been talking about, about finding your happiness and being happy. Jalyn, will you read this quote for us by President Nelson.
“Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year! “My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. “When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy” (Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 82).
I love that. Amen.
Yeah. How true is that?
You know, I was thinking when we were reading verse 23, it made me go back to... we didn't spend time on this, but I want to point this out right now. I want you to cross reference verse 23, with Alma chapter 46, verses 15 through 16. And you can even write in your margin "The cause of Christians." I feel like the quote from President Nelson and what you both have shared is the cause of Christianity. And I don't even know if you noticed this when we read it, but it's worth pointing out. So go to Alma chapter 46, verses 15 through 16. This is so cool.
Okay, so we have this word "Christian" that's introduced to us in the Book of Mormon. And I looked up the reason for this, so if you look up in Alma, chapter 46, verses 15 and 16, the word "Christian" is introduced to us in verse 13, but I want us to read 15 and 16, and it says,
"And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come."
"And therefore, at this time, Moroni prayed that the cause of the Christians, and the freedom of the land might be favored."
Now, after that word "favored," put Alma 48, verse 10, and then let's go to Alma chapter 48, verse 10, and that says, "And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians."
And it just kind of made me think like, "Am I a Christian? Am I supporting this cause of Christians of the title of liberty of supporting my family, my friends, my religion, and am I finding joy and happiness amidst all of this sorrow?" I feel like that is the cause of Christianity or the cause of Christians. And so it makes me Just think, have you had an experience as a Christian when the Lord blessed you or someone you knew in the midst of a difficult time?
So my husband and I lived in Arizona. It was during like a real estate boom, he was in commercial real estate, and things were going really well. So when I had the life plan, I didn't end up living next to my parents, but all the other things were actually working out fairly well. It's not like we just had like excess of everything, but it life was really good. And I had three little kids and we had church callings, and we had this fun neighborhood, and in 2009, the market crashed and it crashed super hard in Arizona. And my husband lived on 100% commission, and so literally, our income stopped. And everybody kept saying, "Oh, it will be quick. Don't worry." So you know, you start living off savings and you start crossing your fingers and you pretend like nothing Is that wrong, but it did not stop.
And I remember, there was definitely heavy, heavy moments and feelings of hopelessness. And I remember praying, basically, I even remember praying like, "Could we like try to get a lottery ticket or something like I need an out. My husband needs a job and I need an out." And I remember, my mother in law actually just brought this up to me, we were just with her last week and she said, "I remember you making laundry detergent and like clipping coupons, and getting tons of your food for free," with like all the coupon type, you know, websites out there. And she said, "I remember you being so happy still, like, how did you do that?" And as I looked back on that time, it was really, really, really hard to go from there to literally no money ever. But I don't remember feeling down, I remember feeling hopeless at times, but I remember being able to be happy and to be a mom and to learn new things and try to figure out how I can help my family, and I know that was Christ, like lifting me up.
He wasn't going to send me like the Hail Mary. We actually ended up selling our house and going back to grad school and living in student housing and starting our life all the way over again, but I don't remember looking back at that time thinking I hated it. We had beautiful moments in between and we learned so much and I became capable at things I had never thought I could do. And I know, I know, it was only through him that I was able to feel that way during such a dark time.
Brooke, thank you for sharing that. And I love that you credited Jesus Christ as being the source of your joy and that's what it's about. That is how we get through these hard times is we remember who he is and what he can do for us, and he has far more power than we can even begin to imagine. But even just a little bit of his power will get us through the yuck. So thank you for sharing that.
I think that's why we have the hard times... It's so we get to that point of like, you know, Christ, who's the only one able to deliver, sometimes we have to go back to that basic of like, "Oh, yeah, someone else is in charge."
So good. So good. Well, guys, so what do you think about the war chapters now? Do you like them better than Isaiah?
Oh, yes. I'm still skipping those Isaiah chapters.
Okay, so here's what I want you guys to do. Tell me what your takeaway was from today.
I think my takeaway from reading the chapters was that we have to prepare, we have to be purposeful, we have to believe in the cause of Christ, and then we have to be willing to do the work in order to receive that deliverance. And I just felt so inspired by the Nephites and the leaders that we were able to study. I'm really inspired to do better in my own life.
My takeaway was looking at different ways to make weak things stronger — trying to think outside the box of, you know, what's never been done before because I think the world we live in is going to require different efforts to strengthen things against something we probably don't even know exists yet. And so developing that personal relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to have that personal revelation, so I know specific ways for me to strengthen my weak places.
I think for me, when I said, "Let's astonish Satan," I was like, "Yeah, let's really do that!" And I remember when I was teaching seminary, there was this moment where they had re-changed the whole seminary teaching program, and it was interesting because one of the teachers was like, "I don't like the changes that they're making." And at that moment, this thought came into my mind that said, "Satan is changing his program on a daily basis, and so we have to be willing to meet him and match him and do better." And so that's my goal. I'm gonna astonish him. So it was a great discussion. Thank you so much for being here, ladies. I loved having you on this podcast. This was so fun.
Thank you so much, Tammy.
This was amazing. Thank you.
I love you. We would love to hear what your big takeaway was from the episode for those of you listening. If you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook or followed us on Instagram, you should. It's a great place to ask questions as you study and I try to answer anything I can during the week, and it's probably my favorite part of the week is on Sunday, it's usually Sunday, when we ask for you what your big takeaway was. I look forward to it every Sunday because I just get to sit and read and learn from all of you and I read every single one and I love hearing what you're learning.
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 the links to all the references and a transcript for this whole discussion. So check it 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 fabulous study group participants were Brooke Romney and Jalyn Peterson, and you can find more information about my friends at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Our episode today was produced by Katie Lambert. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios and our Executive Producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week, and you warriors really are God's favorite.
I want to see it. Show me your vision board.
It's horrible and I'm going to show you because this is hysterical. Oh, look it all fell off the wall. I came home the other day and all the vision... like it's now right here in the pile on my ottoman, but yes, I do have a vision board.
But it has fallen to the earth.
It has fallen to the earth. So... you know... maybe I need to put something better.