33: "The Rock of Our Redeemer" (August 17–23)
If you knew Christ was coming in three days, what would you do? That’s a terrifying question, right? Well, what would you do if you knew Christ was coming in 85 years? That’s plenty of time to stock up on toilet paper. However, even that amount of time wasn’t enough to help the Nephites. In Helaman 1–6, we’ll see how some contentions and “serious difficulties” prevented the Nephites from preparing spiritually for Christ’s coming and we'll learn how we can avoid making the same mistake.
Books referenced in this episode:
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 day prophet of God.
Highly informative and easy to read, this commentary on the Book of Mormon provides stimulating views that complement the scriptures. It will be treasured by anyone who wishes to understand more fully the teachings of those whom the Lord called in the land of promise to testify of him.
It was roughly 52 BC at the beginning of the Book of Helaman. Adding the 33 years of Christ's life, this means the first chapter in the Book of Helaman was roughly 85 years before the coming of Christ.
Why is it important to study this time period in the Book of Mormon?
Quote: “In the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming. A major portion of the book centers on the few decades just prior to Christ's coming to America. By careful study of that time period, we can determine why some were destroyed in the terrible judgments that preceded His coming and what brought others to stand at the temple in the land of Bountiful and thrust their hands into the wounds of His hands and feet" (President Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, Deseret Book, 20-21).
What was the "serious difficulty" the Nephites were facing in Helaman 1?
"1 And now behold, it came to pass in the commencement of the fortieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, there began to be a serious difficulty among the people of the Nephites.
"2 For behold, aPahoran had died, and gone the way of all the earth; therefore there began to be a serious contention concerning who should have the judgment-seat among the brethren, who were the sons of Pahoran.
"3 Now these are their names who did contend for the judgment-seat, who did also cause the people to contend: Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni.
Quote: "I am not here to be right. I am not here to be right. I am not here to be right. I am not here to be right. I am here to get it right" (Brené Brown).
Contention: "Strife in words or debate; quarrel; angry contest; controversy" (see webstersdictionary1828.com)
How is "serious contention" a part of Satan's tactics?
Quote: “The sins of corruption, dishonesty, strife, contention, and other evils in this world are not here by chance. They are evidences of the relentless campaign of Satan and those who follow him. He uses every tool and device available to him to deceive, confuse, and mislead” (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Deep Roots," Ensign, Nov. 1994, 76).
What did contention distract the Nephites from?
"15 And they came down again that they might pitch battle against the Nephites. And they were led by a man whose name was aCoriantumr; and he was a descendant of Zarahemla; and he was a bdissenter from among the Nephites; and he was a large and a mighty man" (Helaman 1:15).
"18 And it came to pass that because of so much contention and so much difficulty in the government, that they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla; for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city Zarahemla" (Helaman 1:18).
"19 But it came to pass that Coriantumr did march forth at the head of his numerous host, and came upon the inhabitants of the city, and their march was with such exceedingly great speed that there was no time for the Nephites to gather together their armies.
"20 Therefore Coriantumr did cut down the watch by the entrance of the city, and did march forth with his whole army into the city, and they did slay every one who did oppose them, insomuch that they did take possession of the whole city" (Helaman 1:19–20).
- Coriantumr is killed and the Nephites regain Zarahemla (Helaman 1:32)
- Helaman is made the chief judge (Helaman 2:2)
- Kishkumen wants to kill Helaman (Helaman 2:3)
Introduction to the Gadianton robbers and secret combinations:
"4 For there was one aGadianton, who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen" (Helaman 2:4)."
"23 And it came to pass in the forty and ninth year of the reign of the judges, there was continual peace established in the land, all save it were the asecret combinations which bGadianton the robber had established in the more settled parts of the land, which at that time were not known unto those who were at the head of government; therefore they were not destroyed out of the land" (Helaman 3:23).
Why is it important to study chapters about the Gadianton robbers in the Book of Mormon?
Quote: "The Book of Mormon teaches that secret combinations engaged in crime present a serious challenge, not just to individuals and families but to entire civilizations. Among today’s secret combinations are gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime families. The secret combinations of our day function much like the Gadianton robbers of the Book of Mormon times. They have secret signs and code words. They participate in secret rites and initiation ceremonies. Among their purposes are to ‘murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God’ [Helaman 6:23].
“If we are not careful, today’s secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times….
"Satan is the founder of these secret combinations [Helaman 6:30; see 2 Nephi 26:22]. He uses secret combinations, including gangs, ‘from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men’ [Helaman 6:30]. His purpose is to destroy individuals, families, communities, and nations [see 2 Nephi 9:9]. To a degree, he was successful during Book of Mormon times. And he is having far too much success today" (President M. Russell Ballard, "Standing for Truth and Right," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38).
Where does Satan attack first?
"25 Yea, he saith unto them: aDeceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy; behold, this is no harm. And thus he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to blie that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him" (D&C 10:20–25).
The significance of the heart:
In Near Eastern cultures the disposition or orientation of the heart is very important. For instance:
Final judgment in Egyptian religious imagery was the weighing of the heart (consider the Egyptian influence in the Book of Mormon).
- The heart was weighed against the feather of Ma'at (goddess of truth, justice, righteousness).
- Lighter heart=righteous deeds
- Heavier heart=evil deeds
If the heart weighed more than Ma'at’s feather, then horrible consequences awaited the candidate
- The Egyptian concept akin to repentance was called “swallowing the heart.”
The original Hebrew text in Exodus 7:3 and 10:1 says God will allow Pharaoh's heart to become heavy.
(For more about the weighing of the heart in context of the Book of Mormon, see Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon: Volume Two: Alma 30 through Moroni 10 by Andrew C. Skinner and D. Kelly Ogden.)
What would cause men's hearts to fail them in the latter days?
What does President Nelson say is the reason men's and women's hearts will fail in the latter days?
How did forgetting their identity start among the Nephites?
"33 And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who aprofessed to belong to the church of God" (Helaman 3:33)."
"12 And it was because of the apride of their hearts, because of their exceeding briches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the cpoor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a dmock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites" (Helaman 4:12).
What can we do to overcome pride and remember our identity?
"6 Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first aparents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were bgood" (Helaman 5:6).
Quote: "Forgetting God has been such a persistent problem among His children since the world began. Think of the times of Moses, when God provided manna and in miraculous and visible ways led and protected His children. …
"And the challenge to remember has always been the hardest for those who are blessed abundantly. Those who are faithful to God are protected and prospered. That comes as the result of serving God and keeping His commandments. But with those blessings comes the temptation to forget their source.” (President Henry B Eyring, “O Remember, Remember” October 2007 general conference).
What did pride lead some of the Nephites to do?
"34 And they were lifted up in apride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction" (Helaman 3:34).
How did the believing Nephites react?
"35 Nevertheless they did afast and bpray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their chumility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the dpurifying and the esanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their fyielding their hearts unto God" (Helaman 3:35).
Fasting and prayer:
What are the blessings of fasting?
"12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in" (Isaiah 58:11–12).
(For those unable to fast from food or drink, see the September 2008 New Era article "I have a medical condition that keeps me from fasting, but I still want fast Sunday to be special. How can I bring the Spirit closer to me on fast Sundays?")
What happened when Nephi and his brother Lehi went to the land of Nephi to preach to the Lamanites?
- They were arrested and put in the same prison as Ammon and his brethren (Helaman 5:21).
- Nephi and Lehi are surrounded by a pillar of fire (Helaman 5:24) .
- The prisoners are overshadowed with a cloud of darkness and afraid (Helaman 5:28).
- Aminadab, a Nephite dissenter, encourages the prisoners to repent (Helaman 5:41).
- Cross reference with Mark 5:36 "Be not afraid, only believe."
- The Lamanites repent, pray, and have faith (Helaman 5:41).
"42 And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth; yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed" (Helaman 5:43).
What happened to the 300 people who were in the prison?
"49 And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt.
"50 And it came to pass that they did go forth, and did minister unto the people, declaring throughout all the regions round about all the things which they had heard and seen, insomuch that the more part of the Lamanites were aconvinced of them, because of the greatness of the evidences which they had received" (Helaman 5:49–50)."
What do we do if we are waiting to receive evidences of Christ?
Quote: “I am not asking you to pretend to have faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.
“You have more faith than you think you do because of what the Book of Mormon calls 'the greatness of the evidences.' 'Ye shall know them by their fruits,' Jesus said, and the fruit of living the gospel is evident in the lives of Latter-day Saints everywhere" (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lord I Believe," April 2013 general conference).
Segment 1 0:00
Here's a fun fact about me. I don't know if you guys know this or not. I do not like reading for pleasure. In fact, the last book that I read for pleasure is called "Super Fudge," and I read it in sixth grade. Now, why do I tell you this? Because Helaman chapters one through six really opened my eyes, and it helped me to fully appreciate the enormity of what Mormon did, and why it's called the "Book of Mormon." You guys, he abridged, meaning he took larger works and he shortened them, which I think I kind of knew, but in my mind, I just assumed maybe he just organized everything together or collated everything into one book, but no, he read and read and then he read some more. He poured over hundreds of plates, and he was guided by the Spirit on exactly what to include. He retold stories in his own words, he included actual quotes, he gave us "and thus we seize," and he managed to do it in such an incredible way that I don't think anyone today could or has been able to match this incredible piece of literature. I'm just amazed and I cannot wait to show you what I found today.
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, I want to make sure that you know how to use this. One of the things you can do is you can listen to the study group all at once, and bam, you're done for the week, or maybe you'd like to learn a little bit of time, and you can listen to one segment per day as you study, and each segment is about 10 to 12 minutes long, and there's six of them. But either way, you'll hear a little bit of music, like those storybooks when we were little kids, if you're as old as me. And when this music plays, you're finished for that segment. So listen for the music. Now another incredible thing about the study group that's my favorite part, is each week we're joined by two of my friends, so it's a little different each week and you get different perspectives on the scriptures. So today we have KaRyn Lay, and Pania Matthews. Hi friends.
Okay, this is so much fun because Pania is joining us from New Zealand. Hi!
It's tomorrow morning at 9am for you, right?
It sure is and it's winter.
Oh yeah, I'm looking at you with a sweater on and I'm sweating.
It's pretty cold.
Or is it a jumper? Do you call it a "sweater?"
I call this a cardigan.
Oh a cardigan. Cardigan, cardigan. I'm sorry, I'm gonna have to resist the temptation to do that all day. So the two of you met in South Korea, right?
Yeah, we were there both teaching English at the same time, right?
Back in 2007, I think. Yeah, that was a long time ago.
It was a long time ago, but what a lovely time we had. Neither of us spoke Korean.
Yeah, but you know, so it was interesting being in Korea because, that's like, the Koreans looked at me and they're like, "Well, you're not American. So you must be Korean."
They thought you were Korean, so they'd start talking to you and you wouldn't be able to say anything.
No, that's right. And I'm like... I had this man on the train go, "Are you Korean?” Because I'm talking English to another one of our friends, and we go, "Yap, yap, yap." And he goes, "Are you Korean?" I'm like, "No." He goes, "Not even a little bit?" I'm like, "No, not even a little bit, sir." Yes, that was hilarious.
That's funny. They never mistook me for Korean. I had super blonde hair so occasionally they thought I was a Russian but that was all I ever got. Yeah...
I did a little bit of time in Korea and the only word I knew was "gam-sa-ham-ni-da," and I said it all the time. If you can say "thank you" in any culture, any language, you're pretty much safe.
Well, if you want to know more about my friends and see some cute pictures of them, check out their bios and information at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday, and you can see how Pania does not look Korean, or KaRyn. Neither one of them are Korean.
Okay, well, I'm going to start out today's episode, I have to just start it out by saying, thank you Mormon. I've done some thank you's like Corianton, but this one, thank you, Mormon. Because, for me, after studying the scripture block, I have come to believe that Mormon was incredibly careful about including the writings of Helaman. In fact, in Helaman chapter three, verses 13 through 15, Mormon talks about all of the records that were kept concerning these people. And in verse 14, he says, "A hundredth part of the proceedings of his people" that he chose to include in these scriptures. And I'm like Jenny Reeder, I don't do public math. So I had to look up what "a hundredth part" mean. It just means one part of 100 but I think this is a bigger umbrella for, "There just are so many records we had to read through and abridge," that even in verse 15, it says, "There are many books and many records of every kind." So today, we are going to jump in and study the hundredth part that Mormon chose. I hope I'm using that in the correct context. Anyway, whatever. Grab your scriptures, friends, and let's dig in.
I have a question for both of you. Okay, here we go. If you knew Christ was coming in three days, what would you do?
Okay, just kidding. I hate that question. I'm just kidding! It's the worst question people ask in Sunday School.
I wish everybody could have seen our faces when you asked that question.
Oh, for sure.
KaRyn and I were like, "Uhh."
It was the best stumped faces I've ever seen. Oh, I hate that question so much. It got asked one time in a ward I was in and I called my best friend and I said, "How would you have answered this? If you knew Christ was coming in three days, what would you do?" And she said, "I'd take a Xanax. I can't handle that kind of pressure." And I asked my husband the same question, I came home and I go, "How would you have answered this?" And oh, I love his answer so much, he looks at me and he goes, "Unless he's bringing me a bucket of money, I'm going to work. It doesn't change anything for me." Okay, so I don't really have that question, but I do have this one. So this is a sincere question. If you knew Christ was coming in 85 years, what would you do?
Oh, that's a really, really good question.
If the Prophet got up a general conference in October and said, "He will be here in 85 years."
Man I think I would just like, ah, I don't know, what would I do? I think I would probably just start gathering all the children and like forcing them to hear me because I don't think I can change any adults, but I think I could probably start teaching the kids. I don't know...
Oh I like that. That's great answer. All right, you Pania.
So I think similarly, along KaRyn's line of thinking, you know, being a single Auntie, I would say having 28 nieces and nephews, I take that role quite seriously of trying to live and be an example to them, giving them opportunities to, you know, test the spirit, you know, test the testimonies and gain their testimonies because I'm not gonna be around in 85 years. My family genes don't last that long, you know, anybody's I suppose, but they may not too, but their children may. And so, you know, that's their foundational teaching and learning and exposure to testing and retesting the spirit to gain the testimonies to weather them through the storms. So when they're adults, they will keep doing that so our great grandchildren, our children and our grandchildren will be ready for the Savior's return.
Wonderful answers. You know, it's interesting in this, that's the timeline we're dealing with in Helaman chapter one. Turn to Helaman chapter one, and you can look down in the corner, it says 51 BC, so in 51 years, Christ will be born, and then 33 years after that, he's going to be crucified. And so we have two major things happening, so a total of 85 years until he comes to America in Third Nephi Chapter 11. There's a cool quote that Ezra Taft Benson said about these specific chapters we're going to study today and for the next five weeks, and so I want us to read this quote by him. And Pania, can you read this quote for us?
“In the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming. A major portion of the book centers on the few decades just prior to Christ's coming to America. By careful study of that time period, we can determine why some were destroyed in the terrible judgments that preceded His coming and what brought others to stand at the temple in the land of Bountiful and thrust their hands into the wounds of His hands and feet" (President Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, Deseret Book, 20-21).
I get kind of stressed as we're talking about this because every time I... like that quote, I was thinking like, "Am I the kind of person who would show up to the temple?" Like I'm gonna be honest, temple attendance is not like high on my list. It's something I'm working on. But like, I think about that and I'm like, every time that we have these sort of like, "Christ is coming," and, "Where will you be?" kind of moments. I just think "Huh, I'm probably going to be in front of the TV watching like, Real Housewives or something.” But I just worry that, you know, like thinking about that I'm like, "Yeah, I got to put myself in the right places because he's going to come to that temple, but will I be there?"
And I think it's just about like even if we're not at the temple, that we're, you know, trying to do good wherever we are. So you know, sort of like, it doesn't matter when He comes because I'm thinking, you know, if He comes back, He's likely to hit you guys first. So in New Zealand, we're good... for a couple days before he makes his rounds around the world.
We'll text you, "He's here. Christ is coming."
Exactly, you know. I mean, you know me, but the point is, for me, wherever you are in the world is to be continuously trying to be doing good. So whether you're physically at the temple or we're at home, or we're, you know, somewhere else, you're still doing good things.
Absolutely. You know that part of the quote where it says, "By careful study of the time period, we can determine why some are destroyed and others won't." And I feel like that's what we're going to do today. We're going to do a careful study of this time period, and as we do that, kind of just sort of start taking some notes and notice what steps led some people to not be at the temple, versus at the temple. I think you'll be surprised. I think we all qualify as being at the temple; however, as we study today, you're going to see one little thing that could change everything and get us off course. And so that was what was going to be so fascinating about today's study. I also want you to notice how closely it resembles our day but I do have one piece of advice, so please pay very close attention to this advice. Here we go.
Our purpose is to not ascribe any of this to one specific modern political party, or what you determine to be a faction. This is my sort of like service announcement. Okay, here we go. I'd like to be playing a "beep" right before it. There is a tendency to do this on almost every Sunday school class, so resist the temptation to point fingers at anyone. These words are to serve as a warning to us so that we can be aware of the dysfunction all around us on all sides, among all people, including ourselves. So let's begin by comparing these words to our day by studying one word in Helaman chapter one, verse one, and we're going to do that in the next segment.
Segment 2 11:28
Okay, I have a question. This might be a little personal, but I'm gonna appreciate your answer. What makes you the most mad?
I think for me because I'm always on the go, my mind's always going, and so often I'll like skip ahead a few steps, and so it makes me mad when no one's skipping with me.
That's a good one.
Either they're skipping slower or their skipping left or their skipping right, and I'm just like, "Where are you going? What are you doing? We're over here. Come this way." So that just grates me the wrong way. Yeah.
For me, it's literally when I walk into the kitchen, and people have dripped things on the counter, and they can see it – they can see needs to be wiped off. They can see the drips, and nobody thinks like, "Oh, you know what, I'll just grab a little something and wipe that down." And then I stick my hand in it... So help me, I lose it. That and the other one is the sock or the piece of underpants right in front of the hamper. Literally, just like lift the lid, go that one extra, like one second, put it in. That's all. Those are the things that really butter my biscuits.
Well, thank you for both of your answers and for being willing to be transparent about what makes you mad. The reason why I asked you that question is because it has something to do with Helaman chapter one, verse one. Let's go there, and I want us to just read this together, and I want you to tell me what's going on in this verse. So Helaman chapter one, verse one. KaRyn, will you read that for us.
"And now behold, it came to pass in the commencement of the fortieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, there began to be a serious difficulty among the people of the Nephites."
Okay, underline what is going on. What is mentioned in verse one, a what?
Yes, underline that.
Is this the first time in Scripture that the word "serious difficulty"...? It feels like this is the first time I'm ever hearing "serious difficulty."
I'm going to look that up right now.
You're looking for "serious difficulty." Is that right?
No, just the word "serious."
It shows four times in the Book of Mormon, once in the Doctrine and Covenants, and once in the Pearl of Great Price.
In the Book of Mormon, the first time is in Omni and then not again until right now, Helaman chapter one. That's pretty cool.
It's just interesting because it's not like they haven't had this problem before, but it gives us some insight into the depths of the, depth of this problem right here. Like the government has had difficulties before, but to call it "serious difficulty," all of a sudden, I'm like, "Oh, I wonder sometimes that's what it feels like right now and watching the world." So anyway, you can cut all that...
No, I'm so glad that you brought that up KaRyn because in Omni, it refers to it as "serious wars" and "serious contentions," but you know, right here, we have "serious difficulty." So, we're going to find out what this difficulty is, in verses two through four. So I'm going to read verses two through four, and what I want you guys to do is look for what the serious difficulty is mentioned in these verses, okay? I'll read verses two through four.
"For behold, Pahoran had died, and gone the way of all the earth; therefore there began to be a serious contention concerning who should have the judgment-seat among the brethren, who were the sons of Pahoran."
"Now these are their names who did contend for the judgment-seat, who did also cause the people to contend: Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni."
"Now these are not all the sons of Pahoran (for he had many), but these are they who did contend for the judgment-seat; therefore, they did cause three divisions among the people."
What's the serious difficulty? What one word did all those verses have in common?
Perfect answer. That is exactly, you know, contention is prevalent all throughout these chapters we're studying today, and I'm going to put all the different verses in our show notes so you can see where it is. But there's a lot of contention. In fact, in Helaman chapter three, the word is used eight times as a litmus test for the spirituality of these people.
You what Tam? I can't really connect this to our day at all. Like there's nothing here that seems even remotely worth talking about right now in our environment.
We got off on the wrong start. Sure, sure. Let's read this quote by Elder Wirthlin, and here's what he has to say about our day and contention. KaRyn, will you read this quote for us.
“The sins of corruption, dishonesty, strife, contention, and other evils in this world are not here by chance. They are evidences of the relentless campaign of Satan and those who follow him. He uses every tool and device available to him to deceive, confuse, and mislead” (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Deep Roots," Ensign, Nov. 1994, 76).
KaRyn, I'm gonna go back to your funny comment, "That doesn't sound like our world at all." Let's talk about our world. Like where do you personally see contention in our day?
I've been thinking a lot about this. I read this quote recently, I think it was Auntie Brene, we call her Auntie Brene Brown because she's like everyone's dear aunt, and she says, "I'm not here to be right. I'm not here to be right. I'm not here to be right. I'm here to get it right." And that to me is like the essence of all of our contention. Like right now, I feel like every time I log into anything, and I do social media as part of my job, so it's really painful to be in that space sometimes and to see the way that it's so divided. And I think a lot of it just comes from us wanting so desperately for our egos to be right because we're scared of what it means if we're wrong. But what if we looked at it differently and thought like, "How can I get this right?" And then that opens all kinds of doors to curiosity and empathy and thinking about the other person on the other side of that internet computer. Is that what they're called, "internet computers?"
Yes, I believe that's the actual name of it yeah. That's a great point that you bring up though, to get it right. I really like that KaRyn.
I think for for me here in the context say I live and work in I suppose exist in is contention around answering the question, ko wai au. "Ko wai au" is "Who am I?" There's so much around the country that tells you or being Maori isn't enough. You know, and sometimes that narrative can come, in some ways, and the way we sit in church as well, and can I be a Maori daughter of God? Or do I have to be a daughter of God? And are they different? So the confusion for me and for my family, my nieces and nephews, you know, we all are faithful members of the Church, but it's trying to understand how to work through the contentions of ourselves and in deciding and understanding who I am is Maori daughter of God. And is that okay? Is that enough? Will that get me to the celestial kingdom if I acknowledge both of those very important parts of who I am.
I love what both of you said because it makes me go back into the book of Helaman. No matter what the source of contention is, look what it does. Let's go to Helaman chapter one, and we're going to look at verse 15, and then at verse 18. I'm going to give you a little background of 15. We have some contention here with a man by the name of Coriantumr, and Coriantumr is going to side up with the people of Zarahemla to defeat the Nephites. That's his goal. And he's mighty and he's strong and he has a lot of strength and wisdom. And then we come into verse 18 because Coriantumr is going to overtake the Nephites, but look how he does it. Pania, will you read that for us?
"And it came to pass that because of so much contention and so much difficulty in the government, that they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla; for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city Zarahemla."
Thank you. Next to verse eighteen somewhere, I have highlighted "because of so much contentions and so much difficulty" it equaled, in the bottom I wrote "distraction." They were distracted from protecting their people. And how easy is contention a distraction for all of us? Like you don't necessarily need to answer this, but for those of you who are listening, I just want you to think about this for a minute. Who or what is that to you today? Like are you causing contention and distracting other people? Or what is the contention that's distracting you? Maybe that's just something you need to kind of think about in your own life right now, and what is it distracting you from? Revelation? Having a relationship with God? I mean, it goes back to what you said, Pania and KaRyn, for just being right.
I was just thinking about internet trolls because their whole like "MO," their whole "modus operandi," is to show up in places where they're not invited, and to create contention to distract us from like the real conversations that we need to have. And wow, when you put all your energy into fighting a troll, or like going into that space with them, then you've got nothing left to have really, really deep and meaningful connection with other people. And I think that's this idea of like we're all guarding our city in one way shape or form, and when we get distracted by life's internet trolls, we're not paying attention to what really needs our attention. Yeah, it's just really interesting how we let that contention takeover, and it's like a little seed that just blooms, like an algae bloom.
Yeah, it doesn't start with a major contention. It's something little and then it just grows and grows and grows. Pania any other... any thoughts?
I was just thinking about what KaRyn was saying and wondering if she was referring to a certain conversation we were having online where that exact thing happened. I guess in my mind when you know, thinking about this specific experience, like often sometimes we can't just stop listen, understand, and not comment. So you know, you just feel like you have to comment every time something comes up. Yeah, so that contention was the trolling, that's where my mind went.
Beautifully said. Yeah, no, thank you for sharing that. Well, in in this story, the distraction, what's so interesting to me about the story is that it's not so much that they were destroyed, as it is who destroyed them. So I want to think about this for a minute because like Elder Wirthlin said, "Satan uses every tool." And we will see this throughout Helaman and in the next segment, we're actually going to talk about one specific tool and a serious problem that existed among the people.
Segment 3 22:36
All right, we're just going to jump right back into the scriptures, and we're going to read about Satan's specific tool. So go with me everyone into Helaman and we're going to do chapter two. I'm going to give you a little background. So back in the Helaman chapter one, Coriantumr's killed. Then the Nephites, they go back in and they regain Zarahemla. Yay! Then Helaman is made the Chief Judge. Awesome. And by the way, the Helaman we're talking about right now is the son of Helaman and the stripling warriors so that we have some context. So that was his dad. So we have Helaman the Second, so he's made the chief judge. And then we have a man by the name of Kishkumen. And he comes in and he wants to kill Helaman because he doesn't want Helaman to be the chief judge. All right, now let's go into Helaman chapter two, verse four, and we are going to get introduced to this specific tool that Satan uses. And KaRyn, will you please read for us verse four.
"For there was one Gadianton, who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore he became the leader of the band of Kishkumen."
Okay, now I want you to put verses 13 to 14 next to that verse, and let's turn there. We're going to read verses 13 and 14.
"And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi."
"Behold I do not mean the end of the book of Helaman, but I mean the end of the book of Nephi, from which I have taken all the account which I have written."
And then at the end of that verse, I want you to put Helaman chapter three, verse 23. We're going to read one more verse about this group of people. 3:23 and go ahead and read that.
"And it came to pass in the forty and ninth year of the reign of the judges, there was continual peace established in the land, all save it were the secret combinations which Gadianton the robber had established in the more settled parts of the land, which at that time were not known unto those who were at the head of government; therefore they were not destroyed out of the land."
So we get introduced to Gadianton robbers and the secret combinations. I want you to listen to this quote by President M. Russell Ballard, and this is pretty striking what he has to say about these groups, and I'll read this quote.
"The Book of Mormon teaches that secret combinations engaged in crime present a serious challenge, not just to individuals and families but to entire civilizations. Among today’s secret combinations are gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime families. The secret combinations of our day function much like the Gadianton robbers of the Book of Mormon times. They have secret signs and code words. They participate in secret rites and initiation ceremonies. Among their purposes are to ‘murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country and also the laws of their God’ [Helaman 6:23]. “If we are not careful, today’s secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times…. "Satan is the founder of these secret combinations [Helaman 6:30; see 2 Nephi 26:22]. He uses secret combinations, including gangs, ‘from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men’ [Helaman 6:30]. His purpose is to destroy individuals, families, communities, and nations [see 2 Nephi 9:9]. To a degree, he was successful during Book of Mormon times. And he is having far too much success today" (Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Standing for Truth and Right," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38).
I like that he pointed out those secret combinations, but I would also add that they don't look the way, that when you say those words, I have certain images, like biases that popped into my head, but come on, like it's happening in white collar, it's happening, those Gadianton robbers and secret people are happening in suits and ties and boardrooms and other places as well, right? Like, it's not just dealings in the back dark alley. They've infiltrated so many parts of our daily life that it's really easy to think it's one thing and miss the mark that it's happening in another place.
I'm so glad you brought that up because I thought the same thing. I said he's giving very obvious examples here, but the world we live in today, it's so much more subtle. Go back into the story in Helaman chapter two, and we're going to go back to the story about Kishkumen and this is interesting, and it's going to be the theme for the rest of the book of Helaman. In Helaman chapter two, Kishkumen has a design, and his plan is that he wants to kill Helaman. And look at verse eight, it says, "And when the servant of Helaman had known all the heart of Kishkumen..." Highlight that.
When he knew that all the heart of Kishkumen was to do evil and kill Helaman, the servant of Helaman sneaks in and actually kills Kishkumen in the middle of the night, but I think what's important is to look how he was killed. In verse nine, at the very end, it says, he "did stab Kishkumen even to the heart, that he fell dead without a groan." Throughout this book of Helaman, you're going to see the word "heart" repeated over and over and over again. Now think about this for a minute because the Gadianton robbers and Kishkumen didn't just wake up one day and decide, "I think I'll be a reign of terror and cause some destruction of these people." It goes back to what you said, KaRyn, it started with this little seed that got planted in their heart, and that is the very first body part that Satan attacks. Next to the verse nine where it says "he was stabbed in the heart," I want you to put this cross reference. Doctrine and Covenants, section 10, verses 20 through 25. And if you go there, look how it starts out.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, that Satan has great hold upon their hearts; he stirreth them up to iniquity against that which is good; And their hearts are corrupt, and full of wickedness..."
Why the heart of all the places for Satan to attack? What is it about the heart?
They've often used heart in poetry. The heart has been everything, right? Like the heart is the space where your being is captured. It's the place where you feel everything. So like Satan when we say that Satan gets into the hearts of men, he's not actually like in our hearts living in our ventricles in our age, right? But he has infiltrated the very center of who we are as sons and daughters of God. And because we have no other word to describe that or way to describe that, that's why I think that we've relied on poets and writers and everyone has relied on the word "heart" for so long to describe that.
And our Maori culture, the mind and the brain has a very male kind of energy. It's like no, no, you know, knowledge. The heart is compared to as the female energy, it's softer, it's you know, it's more caring, and so when we think about the role, you know, as a husband or wife, or in the role of the male and the female and their partnership, the role of the woman is to protect, to look after and to guide, and so the information and the whatever that you're letting into your heart and your mind, when it connects, that's powerful. When this connects, it's just going to be starting everything off.
Wow, those were really great comments. And as you're talking, I'm thinking, you know, this is perfect because this idea of the heart, it goes right into, I learned this for today's lesson, and it fits perfectly with what you guys just said because in Near Eastern cultures, there the heart is very important. In fact, the heart plays a huge role in the final judgement in the Egyptian religious imagery and I want to tell you about that because this is so cool. It's fascinating to me. So the final judgment in the Egyptian religious imagery, they have a ceremony that's called the "Weighing of the Heart," which means when you were dead, your heart would be taken out of your body and it would be weighed against what is called the feather of Ma'at. Ma'at was the goddess of truth, justice, and righteousness. And it would be weighed on a scale with the feather one one side and then your dead heart. And if the heart was heavy and weighed more than the feather, you were a more evil person. If your heart was not very heavy, then it meant you were a more righteous person, and that it would then determine what you would get in the next life. And so I'm imagining like my heart getting weighed and I'm dead and everyone's like "Oooh" over the crowd, "Oooh didn't see that one coming."
But if your heart weighed more than Ma'at's feather then horrible consequences awaited the candidate. Now the Egyptian concept that is equal to repentance is called "swallowing the heart." Now this is kind of cool because in Exodus chapter seven, verse three, which is the whole story about Pharaoh and Moses, and then again in Exodus chapter 10, verse one, the original Hebrew text says that Jehovah will cause or allow Pharaoh's heart to be heavy, meaning that Jehovah would weigh his evil deeds and his intractable attitude toward the Israelite slaves. And that was so powerful because then it made me think, how would my heart weigh out? How does my heart weigh in I should say, actually, how would my heart weigh in it that day? And I just want you to kind of consider that question.
If your heart were to be weighed, would it be heavy or would it be light? Now, keep thinking about that because there's one important role that plays a huge factor in the weight of your heart. Okay, so go to Luke chapter 21, verse 26, these are verses of scripture that talk about our day. Pania, will you read verse 25 and 26?
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;"
"Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken."
Thank you. Okay, I'm going to play a sound bite for you. This is our Prophet speaking specifically about these verses of scripture. And as you listen to them, I want you to tell me when we're done, what will be the cause of men's hearts failing them in the last days?
What did the prophet say? Why would we have our hearts fail us?
I picked up the fear of identity and purpose or forgetting our identity and purpose.
It really echoes a lot of what you've been saying today, Pania, about our identity and who we are as daughters and sons of God. And so I want you to kind of just think about that. Mull it over in your mind a little bit about who you are, what is your identity. And in the next two segments, we're going to talk about the ways that we can remember our identity, and how our hearts affect the choices we make.
Segment 4 33:19
So before we met, I sent you guys this question because I really wanted you to think about this and have some time to chew on this question and it is, what do you think determines or makes up our identity?
So I think from the time we're little, we're told who to be, and that's part of growing up, right? Like it's part of it. We learn who we are from our family of origin, we sort of collect the stories and the narratives and the ideas that come from that family, and I think one of the beautiful things about growing in our relationship as a disciple of Christ is that at some point we get to a place where we're like, "Okay, so my family of origin tells me I'm this person and that this is my identity. And the world tells me this is my identity from there." And as a disciple of Christ, I get to learn what my identity is from the source. And that to me is the gift of growing older, right? Is that when I recognize that all those other sources that try to tell us who we are, they don't hold a candle to the information that we are getting on a regular basis from our Heavenly Mother and our Heavenly Father about how we are like them. That's where our true identity comes from.
Thank you, KaRyn. That was beautiful. Pania?
Yeah, I mean look, this is something that I could talk about till the cows come home. Is that something you say in America? "The cow's coming home."
And I think it's because I grew up thinking that there were two worldviews — the Church and being Maori, but then, as of yesterday, I started realizing, "Well, it's actually one worldview." As Maori, we identify ourselves by identifying geographical features. We identify a mountain, a body of water, the canoe there that different tribes arrived to New Zealand on, the meeting houses that our families and our people lived around, and the tribe that we whakapapa, or connect to, and by identifying where I'm from and also identify us to any other Maori who my family might be. In whakapapa or genealogy, it takes us all the way back to the canoes that brought us here, and the canoes, where the canoes thing came from the Cook(Kūki) Islands in Rarotonga. And so whakapapa is hugely important for Maori because it answers the question ko wai au, "Who are you?" And it's not, "Who are you?" Or, "Who am I?" That's from "Who did you come from?"
And so being raised for me, I was raised with two matriarchs, my mom, her mom, who for me, were the foundation of that where that idea came from your Maori daughter of God because they raised me in the Gospel, and they raised me in the roles and responsibilities I have culturally back to our meeting houses in this identity is being Maori. They will correct me right away if I did anything wrong at Church, and they'll correct me right away if I did anything wrong in the Maori world. But then yesterday, I started realizing, why can't my Maori worldview be my eternal worldview? And the world view is, who am I? I'm a Maori daughter of God. And so I have roles or responsibilities as a Maori daughter of God.
Yeah. Oh, that's beautiful. This idea too when you said, it's not who I am, but this idea of who I have come from, is so powerful in helping us remember what our identity is. And it's interesting that the Prophet would say that our hearts faileth because we forget that. We forget, and like KaRyn mentioned, we forget who we have come from being Daughters of heavenly parents. And I want us to jump right back into Helaman chapter three. We're going to read a verse of scripture that shows us how we forget, what little thing happened that causes us to forget our identity. So Helaman chapter three, verse 33, and Pania, will you read that verse for us, and then we're going to cross reference it to another verse.
"And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—"
Cross reference that with chapter four verse 12. And let's go over there on the other page, and Pania, read verse 12, please.
"And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites."
Thank you. Did you see in both of those we have the heart again. "And in their hearts, they have truly forgotten who they were." Daughters and sons of God wouldn't do that. They wouldn't. I mean of verse 12, "All of the things making a mock of that which is sacred, not helping the naked or the poor."
I also think it's really interesting that he makes a distinction between the pride entering the Church and the pride entering the hearts of the people in the Church. And to me, that's a really important reminder, like, the Church is the people, right? But the structure of the Church can withstand our pridefulness, but the body of Christ, the people that make up that Church, like, destruction will come if we don't root this out, and it will affect the Church as a whole. But I just really thought it was interesting that he also said they "professed" —"professed" to belong to the Church, right? But that's kind of like he's being a little bit like, "Nice try guys. You're professing to be part of the Church, but you can't profess to be part of this Church and then treat people the way that you're treating them." It's just really interesting to me.
I love that you brought that up KaRyn, because it leads us right into... we're not even going to spend time on the pride cycle, you can study that all on your own and the Come, Follow Me manual has a great picture of it. What we're going to spend time on is how to overcome the pride cycle, and so let's turn to Helaman chapter five. In fact, I'm now going to put Pania's name next to Helaman chapter five, verse six. I just wrote it down, "Pania," because this is your verse Pania. This is how we're going to overcome the pride cycle, and I want you to read it because it's everything you've just said. Here's how we're going to overcome it. Now, as we read this, here's what I want you to do. I want you to connect President Nelson's words when he said, "Our hearts will fail us because we have forgotten our identity." I want you to connect that to this verse in verse six. So go ahead and read it.
"Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good."
Is that Pania's scripture or what?
I love it.
Pania, according to that verse of scripture, how do we overcome pride? What do we need to remember?
The works of those who have gone before us, and the good works, specifically. But like you were saying I think earlier, and the bad because we can learn from that as well. Just remember, reflect, and act accordingly.
It seems to me that your culture is so deeply rooted and steeped in this idea of, you remember who your family is, you better remember where you came from, right?
Each of our tribes and sub tribes, we have a meeting house. In the meetinghouse I've carved these stories for that specific purpose to remember. Remember that specific carving of their ancestor. That's why he's on there. That's why she's on there. That's why their painted on there so we can remember and take the lessons from our ancestors and apply them into now.
And I think there's so much to learn from that what you just talked about because you might have a family you don't really like. Maybe you don't have a family you want to remember, or ancestors, and so really this verse six is talking about the bigger picture, like, "Remember who you are." Remember your parents, remember being up in the premortal life, and what that was like and what you fought for." Remember all of that is the key. This is the "remember" chapter. You can put "remember" in big letters at the top of this page because it's said so many times. And in this verse right here, they're remembering the words of their father Nephi, who is the son of Helaman is remembering what their father taught them. He's like, "Oh, yeah, our dad Helaman taught us to remember, remember, remember." Because forgetting God is so easy. Let's read this quote by Elder Eyring about how easy we are to forget. And KaRyn, will you please read this quote.
"Forgetting God has been such a persistent problem among His children since the world began. Think of the times of Moses, when God provided manna and in miraculous and visible ways led and protected His children. … "And the challenge to remember has always been the hardest for those who are blessed abundantly. Those who are faithful to God are protected and prospered. That comes as the result of serving God and keeping His commandments. But with those blessings comes the temptation to forget their source.” (President Henry B Eyring, “O Remember, Remember” October 2007 general conference).
So I actually was thinking about this. Once upon a time, I was riding the bus, and I hate riding the bus, but I love the people watching and I love the process of like being with people in that space, right? In public transportation. And we were driving past a mall that had a lot of really fancy stores, and all of a sudden, as I was sitting there among these beautiful people who are riding the bus to their jobs or to wherever they were going, and looking out the window at like, very fancy stores... Well, first of all, I started to feel okay about my own poverty because I was like, "I think Heavenly Father blessed me with poverty so that I wouldn't have the challenge of trying to remember him while money is at stake," right? Like Elder Eyring said, I think it's even harder work for those who have been blessed with prosperity to remember that they need God, and that they are his hands here on this earth than it is... and I'm sure there are so many good wealthy people, I'm not saying anything about that, but I am saying that sometimes I think when we do have that little bit of prosperity, it becomes so much harder to remember that we need God for every breath.
Yeah, I agree. And you know, and it's I think, you know, there's another Maroi proverb that goes “whakatauki, whakatauki, whakatauki,” and that means, "Be humble, be humble, be humble." And then when you're adding gratitude to that and then always keeping that at the forefront of your mind helps you to be grateful for everything. You know, if it's still bad, it's not over.
Both of you, thank you for everything you shared for this segment. Your words were powerful and beautiful. And going back to this idea of remembering, one of the things I want us just to think about is that in the next segment, we're going to add to our knowledge of remembering who we are, and defeating the pride cycle by discussing two absolute failsafe, surefire things that we can do to remember.
Segment 5 45:48
I remember fasting as a little kid, or maybe it's the same way it is right now, "I'm starving." You didn't fast as a little kid?
I used to sneak cereal into my room all the time. In fact, the night before I'd hoard food in my room because I didn't want to get caught eating bread. Oh, fasting is so hard.
I honestly can't even remember fasting as a kid. Like the first time I remember fasting is as an adult in my life. Oh maybe on my mission, my mission was probably the first time that I really fasted.
Well you were an adult then.
Yeah, well, there you go. Oh we had to fast at my house 100%.
I'm sure we probably did too, but I just didn't do it.
I didn't really understand it to be honest. I'm like, "We got to go without food. Seriously?" I mean, my life revolved... and it still kind of does, you know, it's weird. The weirdest thing for me was just this last fast Sunday. It really hit me because I was like, "Oh, wait a minute, like, fasting during Coronavirus is so weird because there's not an actual Sunday where there's testimonies," and like it's really on your honor here. So fasting is crazy. We're going to talk about fasting. Let's go into Helaman chapter three really quick. I want to show you a couple verses so we can get to this story, okay.
In Helaman chapter three, we already read some of these verses, but the 49th year, it was a really good year. And we read that in verse 23, we read about the Gadianton robbers, but if you keep reading in verse 24, there's a ton of prosperity, life is good, everybody's super happy. And then we get into the 51st year, and pride started to settle back in and we read those verses. It got back into the hearts of the people, and then the believers, unfortunately, start to be persecuted by those who have pride in their hearts. So I want us to read these verses. I want us to read how they reacted to the persecution. Let's go Helaman chapter three, verse 35. Okay, KaRyn, will you please read Helaman chapter three, verse 35.
"Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their fyielding their hearts unto God."
Okay. Look back at that verse though. So many great things, purifying, sanctification, all these wonderful things, but how did it start? What's the first two things they did?
Fasting and praying often.
Now, I asked you guys another question. There are two things I asked you to come prepared with. And the second thing I asked you to come prepared with was, do you have a story in your life where this made a difference — fasting and praying?
I do. I do. Me! Me! Me! Me!
Hit it, KaRyn. Make a difference.
So this is really interesting because when I was... Pania actually knew me in Korea and I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, and I fell in love with a guy and I moved to D.C. to have my love internship, as they sometimes call it. And right before I went there I had this really strong impression that I needed to offer something to the Lord. I kind of thought that I would offer something to the Lord and then I would get the desire of my heart which was to get hitched. This is so silly. You guys are gonna think I'm the weirdest person ever.
No because your whole my story I'm like, "Uh huh, I've done that. I've had that barter conversation." Carry on.
Just wait, it gets even weirder. So I actually had been reading about Ether in Ether about the 16 stones. And so I took 16 clear stones and on the back of them on each one of them, I wrote the things that I wanted, and some of them were like things that like I wanted the Lord to light up, right? Like, I wanted to be more humble, I wanted blah blah blah, but one of them was that I wanted to fall in love and get married. So I had a stone for that. So I decided that every week of that year, and I kind of didn't have an endpoint, but that every week I would fast because it was the hardest thing for me because as you recall, I mentioned not really remembering fasting until I was on my mission. And it's not something that I enjoy and it's really hard, so I was like, "Okay, I'll do this thing." So every day for a year in order to like get the Lord to light my stones that I had hewn from the mountain of Michael's craft store, I fasted every Sunday and I prayed. And it's really interesting because I sure did not get married after that.
I left D.C. in heartache and heartbreak, unmarried, but what I did discover through that year of putting my will on the altar was what I learned from this scripture where it says, "And they did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation." And I know we talked about the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, but for me, the act of fasting every week for a year was that that humility made it possible for me to lift and carry things that I couldn't have lifted. It was the gateway to mercy and the gateway to having grace because I felt joyful and consoled, even though marriage was not in the cards after that year. And honestly, like I look back and I'm like, I'm sure my stones were lit. I'm sure I got some of those lighted stones, but the biggest one for me was recognizing that God was present in my life at every turn. And that when I subject my will to his that I can become the person that he knows I am.
Thank you KaRyn for sharing that. And to me it sounds like you were reminded of who you are through all of that.
I'm just curious, how long did you fast when you say you fasted every Sunday?
No, that's a really really important question.
It is. I want to know.
So I would just do breakfast and lunch, so I'd eat around three or four.
For how many weeks? How long did this last?
I did it for a year. I did it for a whole year.
Wow, a whole year every Sunday.
Yeah, and I wouldn't recommend that to everyone, but for me it was the right thing to do. But I want to say to I think, Tammy, you're right on that it was about identity. My whole life, I've wanted to get married and take on someone else's name, right? Like to me, that was the end goal. Like, I'm going to get this new name and that new name is going to create an identity for me or I'll become somebody, I'll become somebody important because I'm married. And in that year, I realized that it doesn't matter because the name that I've taken on myself is the name of Christ, and that when all else fails, whether I get married or not, that is the name that will be solidly planted in my heart.
Amen. So I want to know, KaRyn, how long was it until you did finally get married?
Uh, two years. So it took some time.
You bet it did, and I love that.
But I was fine. I was fine.
Exactly. You were fine.
Pania, did you have a half fasting story?
When I was asked the question, when the question came to me, I did a little bit of a brainstorm of a range of experiences I could share, but I think I want to share one as a result of a strong prayer, where the answer was no. So my dad passed away 20 years ago, 21 years ago this year. He was 51 when he died, young, healthy, healthy, healthy man. I've never seen him go to the hospital, even go to the doctor's, but he had a minor heart attack before the heart attack that took his life. So he had this short heart attack. And in one night, he wasn't feeling well. He asked for his home teachers to come over and give him a blessing and there for me was like something's not right here. And so as I went to pray that night, I was praying about everything except what was right right in front of me. And then out of nowhere, the thought way in the back of my mind said, "Heavenly Father, please don't take my dad. I'm not ready to let him go."
And three weeks later, he had gone home, you know, Heavenly Father took him home. When that happened that took me back to that prayer and expecting a different answer because I had asked him, I specifically got down and asked him not to take my dad, but he did. The answer was no, and I think the power of that is, you know, with the initial grief and the separation, the spirit of love of Heavenly Father still being there to comfort, comfort not only me as his child, but comfort my Mum. You know, in our household there are all these children. That prayer has been a constant strengthener of faith and of testimony to help us as a family continue as a single unit.
Wow, thank you. What I liked about that was when you said the answer was "no," but that he was still there to comfort. Isn't that beautiful to think that he wasn't like, "No and see you later!" Like, "The answer is no, but I'm going to help you get through it, no matter what." And I think that's how he works all the time in our lives. "I know you're not going to get married right now KaRyn, but I'm going to help you through it. I'm going to be there with you. I'm going to get you through it." And when we rely on our Heavenly Father, when we petition the very God of the universe, as my friend Laurel said, how beautiful that we can do that. And that it really does do verse 35 says — it makes us firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ. And we can fully acknowledge there are some people who can't fast, which is fine and Heavenly Father understands that absolutely, and there are other ways that you can go about having this experience.
But Heavenly Father is understanding your heart and your condition, and also that little kids really should not be compelled to fast. It says that in the General Handbook, which I think is great because one of my worst moments as a mom was I was newly married, and my little eight year old, it was fast Sunday, and she was in the kitchen eating and I had set it up. "We are fasting this Sunday," and I walk in and I saw her eating and I walked right over and I said, "We are fasting. It is a fast Sunday. Do you understand me?" And I walked away and the spirit really was like, "Well done Mom... you really instilled faith and fasting in that eight year old."
And you know what Tam, my story should be a proof positive that if your kids don't fast when they're little someday they'll come to it, right?
Yeah if that's still every mom, let it go. It's okay.
It's one Sunday of a million.
Oh, exactly. So I think back to that moment, and now she's older and she has fasted successfully. So this idea of fasting and the stories that you shared, I just really appreciate how heartfelt they were because to me and everyone who listened, they were evidences to all of us that fasting and prayer work. And so in the next segment, we're going to talk about the importance of these type of evidences and I use that word specifically, and how much they can impact our faith and remembering who we are.
Segment 6 57:34
Tell me ladies, why is evidence important in a court case? In a case of law, why do you need evidence?
It establishes truth.
No, that's perfect. Listen, I've watched a lot of "Law and Order" so I know the answer, but you're gonna want some evidence. Yes, it establishes truth. That is the perfect answer. Okay. So let's go into Helaman chapter five because Nephi and Lehi, they go to the end of Nephi to preach and they're arrested and they're put in jail. And this is interesting, it's the same jail that Ammon and his brother were in. So and that is in Helaman chapter five, verse 21. Now I love this story so much in Helaman chapter five. The Lamanites had cast him into prison and then they come to retrieve Lehi and Nephi and they're going to kill them.
And as they go to reach out to touch them, fire engulfs Nephi and Lehi, they're brothers, and nobody can touch them. And as they're doing this, they all of the people in the prison are absolutely amazed at what is happening. And while they're amazed, something happens in verse 28. They're looking at this fire all around Lehi and Nephi, and then it says they're "overshadowed with a cloud of darkness and an awful solemn fear comes upon them." So of course, they're terrified. Who wouldn't be, right? So as they're standing there and they're watching this, Lehi and Nephi, they are hearing a voice and it sounds like a whisper and the voice is telling everyone in the prison to repent and it happens three times. And then this cloud of darkness in verse 34, KaRyn, will you please read verse 34 and 35.
"And it came to pass that the Lamanites could not flee because of the cloud of darkness which did overshadow them; yea, and also they were immovable because of the fear which did come upon them."
"Now there was one among them who was a Nephite by birth, who had once belonged to the church of God but had dissented from them."
So these people, they're standing there, and they look to this man who once was a believer, he once was a Nephite, and they basically say, "What do we do?" Now this once believer tells these people, "Look inside the fire, they're talking to angels. Lehi and Nephi are talking to angels." Now his name is introduced to us in verse 39. KaRyn, will you continue to read verse 39.
"Now the man’s name was Aminadab. And Aminadab said unto them: They do converse with the angels of God."
And now read verse 40.
"And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: What shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?"
Okay, now here's the key. And the conversation that Aminadab has with them is he says in verse 41, "Oh, you just have to repent. That's all you have to do, repent." And then he reminds them, "Remember, you were actually taught this and your ancestors. They were taught this by Alma and Amulek in Zeezrom, that if you repent and if you accept Christ, that you can then enter into light, and you just have to repent." So it's interesting to me because I was thinking about this, about the idea of being reminded verses remembering because it seems to me that Aminadab had to be reminded of who he was. Right here, he's just helping these people remember what was taught to them. And so the people then, when they find out what they have to do, let's go into Helaman chapter five, verse 45, and Pania, will you read verse 45.
"And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words."
Now skip down to verse 49, and tell us, how many people were there that have this experience?
Yes, 300 souls asked for forgiveness. They began to repent, and look, there's that heart again, the spirit enters into their heart. And now we'll go to verse 50. And Pania, read verse 50. This is the key to all of this.
"And it came to pass that they did go forth, and did minister unto the people, declaring throughout all the regions round about all the things which they had heard and seen, insomuch that the more part of the Lamanites were convinced of them, because of the greatness of the evidences which they had received."
Highlight that. "The greatness of the evidences." And I recognize that maybe some of us are waiting for this greatness of evidence. There are many of us members of the Church who are kind of in that place of darkness and fear all around us and, "What do we do?" And I loved how Elder Holland put this. And so, KaRyn, will you read that for us?
Sure. Or do you want Pania to read it?
Oh yeah, we're at Pania.
“I am not asking you to pretend to have faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle. “You have more faith than you think you do because of what the Book of Mormon calls 'the greatness of the evidences.' 'Ye shall know them by their fruits,' Jesus said, and the fruit of living the gospel is evident in the lives of Latter-day Saints everywhere" (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Lord I Believe," April 2013 general conference).
He's like, "If you and your family want to be healed, don't let those questions stand in the way," and I think that's a beautiful reminder that like, I love that he's like, "Don't pretend you have faith that you don't have, be honest about it, but if you want to be healed, don't let the question stand in the way of faith."
And I think it also leans towards, "Ye shall know them by their fruits," which kind of means, "Well, you should know..." you know, is it an apple? Is it a banana? You know, you're like, "Is it a good banana? Is it not a good banana?" You know, so it means that like takes action.
And Pania just to look around you. As a storyteller, I'm constantly reminded that the stories are everywhere. If we start asking, if we start looking for them, and we start allowing people to share their stories of faith with us, that is healing. It is powerful to hear other people's stories and to see those evidences of God's hand in their life because once those stories start to collect into our consciousness, into our cultural consciousness, then it's much harder to deny. And I would also say that collecting your own stories and looking back at those, those are the evidences of God's hands. Like I was just joking because we're talking about my 16 stones, and I found the journal where I wrote all of them in there, and I have a whole record of that time of my life. So when I get old, and my children want to know something about me... What? I don't know what, but I'll have those evidences that that are hard evidence from my experience that they can go back and look at.
And it reminded me of an experience I had teaching a seminary class one morning, and it was about answers to prayers. I said, "How many of you have prayed for something, you know, and received an answer?" You know, they put their hands up, "What was yours? What was yours?" You know, just went around. And after that, we said, "Well, now you know that God answered your prayers. So you know, God knows it, you know that he answers your prayers." And so though no one can ever make you deny, however big or small, "Where's my Simon?" or, "Where's the keys?" Or whatever... no one can even make you deny that that was not an answer to your prayer that you can keep in your back pocket because now you have a responsibility for your knowledge of knowing that God answers prayers.
But you better write it down or else you're going to forget it.
Absolutely. I was just gonna say that, KaRyn, thank you for saying that. And everyone right now those of you listening, if you have a journal or a piece of paper, I want you to write this at the top of the page. "My greatness of evidences are..." and I want you to keep a list. I want you to start writing down what your evidences are that you have faith and that you believe and that you know, and going back to, "What are your evidences of faith to help remind you that you're a daughter or a son of our loving Heavenly parents?" Your evidence's of faith keeper. I mean, if you can only come up with one, great. But then tomorrow, you'll probably come up with another, and kind of keep rolling that idea in your mind because sorry, the part in the quote that I love is when he says, "You have more faith than you think you do." And so reminding ourselves by what you just said, KaRyn, writing down our evidences of faith, what that looks like in our lives, will help us to remember who we are, will help us to be able to defeat Satan, and that is to help us keep our hearts just right where they need to be — set and reminding us of who we are.
Well, and I love in Helaman in that same part where we're talking about Lehi and Nephi in the fire, surrounded by fire, and it says when they looked around, and they saw that they were encircled about by that fire, their hearts did take courage. And I love that. Like if we're going to end on anything, if we're heading in that direction, like, those evidences of God's power and purpose in our lives, that we write down and that we go back to on a regular basis, those are the things that give our hearts courage. Throughout this whole thing we talked about hearts Tammy, and like hearts failing and hearts being full of fear, but the truth is, is that the power of God when it's manifest that is where our real courage comes from, and that is so cool. Sorry, I cry so much.
Cry away. That is so cool. That is a beautiful way to end. "Let your heart take courage." Amen. Thank you. Thank you, KaRyn. Thank you, Pania, for being with me today. That's the end of our story, and it's just beautiful. So here's what I want you to do, take a couple minutes to gather your thoughts and tell me what was your takeaway from today? I'll start. My takeaway, because I really liked this, is when KaRyn said, "Fasting was the gateway to mercy." And I just thought that was such a great reminder that it is and I love to fast, I've grown into it for sure, I didn't as a kid, but that was pretty powerful. Fasting is the gateway to mercy.
I think for me, it was Pania talking about that she's connected to the places in her Maori heritage. It's made me think about what places do I identify with and are those places holy? And am I making sacred the different places in my life that have blessed me? Like, am I making my home a sacred place that identifies me? Am I making the temple and the gospel as a whole? Am I making those places sacred?
And I think for me, I'm taking away the beautiful experience that I've had here today with, you know, faithful Daughters of Heavenly Father and the power that we could share, uplifting each other, and remembering our Savior, and being able to continually reflect on the status of our heart, and is our heart healthy? Is it weak, is it strong? And always remembering to be grateful for whatever context we're in. That our identity by physical and eternal are important in they definitely interact with each other, but mostly thank you very much for this opportunity.
Yeah, so fun.
Oh, Pania, I loved having you here. This has been so great. I love you both. But we would love to hear what your big takeaways were from this episode for those of you who are listening, and if you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook, or followed us on Instagram, you should because it's a great place where you can go and ask questions as you study, and I try to answer them throughout the week. So when you guys post questions, I'll get to it and I'll give you an answer. And it's fun because other people also give answers to some of the questions and it's been such a great community of Sunday on Monday studiers.
So comment on the post that relates to the lesson and let us know what you've learned, and I read every one, it's my favorite part of Sunday, I just sit and read everyone's takeaways and I learn from the things that you post. 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 you can get all of the links to the references that we use in our show notes as well as a complete transcript of this 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 incredible study group participants were Pania Matthews and KaRyn Lay. And you can find more information about these ladies at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Our podcast is 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 capital letters remember, remember, oh remember you are God's favorite
Pania, I think we get a biscuit now.
You get a biscuit!
With some butter and a hot chocolate!
When she said, "Biscuits are cookies," I'm like, "I'll dip my cookie in some butter. You bet I will."
Oh now I want a biscuit. Now all I want is a biscuit. Plus all that talk about fasting, just made me like want to eat the whole kitchen.