Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fun, Interesting, and Useful BYU Websites

Who knew BYU had such a variety of websites? This lists shows us what's good about the Internet: This site shows important events in the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith on today's date. Visit daily or sign up to have updates emailed to you regularly. This interactive BYU campus map allows you to click on a building to see pictures of it and read about the building's history and current use. The map also shows 360 degree photos—virtual tours—at twelve different locations. This quirky and often funny site permits readers to submit any question, and a team of “small band of omniscient know-it-alls (students)” will respond within 100 hours. Just about anything goes. For example, “What can I do with a pound of powdered sugar?” From the website: “Forever Families provides practical, scholarly and sacred information for strengthening individuals, marriages and families of all faiths, organized around themes of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The site offers articles and scholarly reports on many family-related topics. The Missionary Training Center in Provo has its own website. Who knew? Take advantage of the great family history training resources offered here including online lessons from Religion 261: Introduction to Family History. BYU Independent Study offers a long list of free web-based courses from Family History to Music to Religion. This includes REC 76 — Bowling. Online? Like the URL says, this is an LDS Frequently Asked Questions website. It has answers to over 400 LDS related questions. Cool. Download their free OnePage Genealogy program. It can create a single PDF file showing up to 80 generations of family history. If you like any of BYU's bands, then come and listen. This site has many songs from the Cougar Marching Band (including the BYU Fight Song), the Symphonic Band, and the Wind Symphony. Rise and Shout!
If you know of others, please add a comment!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New LDS-Themed Digg Clone

If you like and you follow LDS news and websites, check out Sustain'd. This new website is a clone for LDS content.

You can submit new stories, websites, blog entries, commentary, etc. and then vote on the posts you find interesting. Posts receiving the most votes rise to the main page making it easy to see the latest and greatest in the kingdom.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Romney O'Reilly's Favorite to Win Nomination

Check out this interesting report (about half-way down the page) regarding Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly:

According to the report, O'Reilly was speaking to a gathering in Michigan and indicated that "Mitt ROMNEY is his early favorite to win the 2008 presidential election over U.S. Sen. Hillary CLINTON (D-N.Y.) in what he sees now as the likely head-to-head race."

God Puts Us Where He Needs Us

In the April 2006 General Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard said the following: "In a gospel-sharing home we do not just pray for the health, safety, and success of our missionaries throughout the world. We also pray for our own missionary experiences and opportunities and to be prepared to act on those impressions as they come our way. And I promise you, they will come" (M. Russell Ballard, “Creating a Gospel-Sharing Home,” Ensign, May 2006, 84). This is true.

I recently experienced a miraculous series of events confirming the truthfulness of this promise. As the ward mission leader, I frequently pray for opportunities to find investigators and fellowship less active members. Three weeks ago, I started working for a new employer. Two other individuals, Mark and Dave, had started working in the same office just weeks earlier. One day, as Mark and I were chatting, I mentioned I had learned a foreign language as a missionary. Mark lit right up and asked if I were LDS. When I answered that I was, he indicated he was too but had been less active. Just before moving to this area, he had taken steps to become active again and hoped to start attending the singles ward here. He said he would prefer to meet someone he knows on his first Sunday so that he wouldn't feel alone or out of place. I told him I knew a few people in the singles ward and could ask them to call Mark. A few days later, I called Travis who lives in our ward boundaries but attends the singles ward. He said he'd be happy to call Mark and meet him at Church. We chatted some more, and he mentioned he had just started a new job. Miraculously, he was hired by the same company Mark and I had just started working for. Once he gets settled in, I'll be able to introduce Mark to Travis, and Travis will be able to fellowship him throughout the week. Because we work for a large company with thousands of employees, it's unlikely Mark would have met Travis and learned he is LDS.

Elder Ballard's promise came true in another way. I mentioned that I started working with two individuals, Mark and David. A few days after this experience with Mark, I learned that David is married to a less-active member of the Church. David has a close relationship with his wife's family who are mostly active and living in Utah. I don't know what missionary work I'll be able to do for David, but because some people don't gain a testimony of the gospel until after they've had many contacts with the Church, the Lord probably put me here to be one of those contacts for David. I'll continue to pray that the Lord will bless me with opportunities to share the gospel with him.

I know Elder Ballard's promise is true. As we pray for opportunities to share the gospel with other, the Lord will grant us our desire. We must then have the courage to act on it.

Remember How Great Things the Lord Has Done

The Lord has shown great mercy in delivering our fathers from “all manner of afflictions” and from bondage. We should follow the counsel of Moroni (Moroni 10:3) and ponder this, for Jesus Christ can deliver us too. Consider the following counsel:

2 Nephi 1:1-3
1 And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of teaching my brethren, our father, Lehi, also spake many things unto them, and rehearsed unto them, how great things the Lord had done for them in bringing them out of the land of Jerusalem.
2 And he spake unto them concerning their rebellions upon the waters, and the mercies of God in sparing their lives, that they were not swallowed up in the sea.
3 And he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained—how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem.

2 Nephi 9:53
53 And behold how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men; and because of his greatness, and his grace and mercy, he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh, but that he would preserve them; and in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel.

Mosiah 27:16
16 Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.

Alma 62:50
50 Yea, they did remember how great things the Lord had done for them, that he had delivered them from death, and from bonds, and from prisons, and from all manner of afflictions, and he had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies.

Ether 6:30
30 And it came to pass that Orihah did walk humbly before the Lord, and did remember how great things the Lord had done for his father, and also taught his people how great things the Lord had done for their fathers.

Moroni 10:3
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Great Gospel Study Resources on the Web

The Internet has a wealth of gospel study resources. Consider the following:

Mormon Studies: BYU's Resource Guide. "...Lee Library's resource guide for online material on Mormon theology, history, culture, and people. Use this guide to search for articles, books, biographies, diaries, manuscripts, dissertations, family histories, photographs, films, music, art, and more. This guide will greatly facilitate your research on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Religious Education Archive. Search two collections:
  • The Image Collection. "...contains images pertaining to the doctrines and history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Images include photographs, drawings, and paintings of LDS historic sites, Holy Land sites, and significant people in Church history and doctrine."
  • 19th Century Mormon Publications. "This collection of early Mormon publications includes books, missionary tracts, doctrinal treatises, hymnals and periodicals which helped define the doctrinal development and historical movements of the Mormon people in the 19th century."
LDS General Conference Scriptural Index. "This index links from scriptures to the general conference talks that cite those scriptures.... [The website has] indexed the scriptures cited by speakers in LDS General Conference between 1942 and the present."

Strong's Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. This website allows you to look up a word from the Bible and find the Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) word it was translated from. Strong's Concordance will show all other places in the Bible that word is used, the other English words it was translated into, and alternate meanings. Passage Lookup. See how a Bible verse is rendered in 20 different English translations. This may aid in better understanding the meaning of a verse.

If you know of other good resources, please post a comment.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Three Key Book of Mormon Themes

Near the end of his life, Alma the Younger sat down with each of his sons to give them fatherly counsel. We can read his counsel to his eldest son Helaman in Alma 36. In the first three verses, Alma provides the following counsel:

1. “...inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” (verse 1)

2. “I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.” (verse 2)

3. “...whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” (verse 3)

Using the chiastic style of his Hebrew ancestors, Alma emphasized the importance of these three principles by repeating them in reverse order at the end of Alma 36:

3. “...I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.” (verse 27)

2. “...he has brought our fathers out of Egypt...and he has also brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem; and he has also, by his everlasting power, delivered them out of bondage and captivity...and ye...ought to retain in remembrance, as I have done, their captivity.” (verses 28-29)

1. “...inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and...inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence” (verse 30)

These three principles point us to Jesus Christ, and teach us of his love, mercy, and role as our Savior. All are taught abundantly throughout the Book of Mormon directly and symbolically. I will touch on each briefly here.

1. Keep the Commandments to Prosper in the Land

This principle is simple and oft repeated. Twenty verses in the Book of Mormon use nearly this same wording: If we keep God's commandments, we will prosper in the land. Some verses then continue with the corollary that if we do not keep God's commandments, we will be cut off from his presence. See 1 Nephi 2:20-21; 1 Nephi 4:14; 2 Nephi 1:9; 2 Nephi 1:20; 2 Nephi 1:31; 2 Nephi 4:4; Jarom 1:9-10; Omni 1:6; Mosiah 1:7; Mosiah 2:22; Mosiah 2:31; Alma 9:13; Alma 36:1; Alma 36:30; Alma 37:13; Alma 38:1; Alma 48:15; Alma 48:25; Alma 50:20; Alma 62:45-51; Helaman 3:20; and 3 Nephi 5:22.

Many of the stories in the Book of Mormon teach this principle. The Nephite pride cycle, which we see repeated over and over, is a perfect example. When the Nephites—or the Lamanites—were living righteously, the Lord prospered them in various ways. Often, they enjoyed temporal wealth, a symbol of the more important spiritual wealth or treasure in heaven we will enjoy in the eternities. Prosperity also took the form of strength during battles with more numerous enemy armies. In most of the battles the Nephites fought, the Lamanites outnumbered them. However, when the Nephites called upon God in faith, he strengthened them that they could prosper against the greater foe.

2. Remember the Captivity of Our Fathers

Why would we be counseled to remember the captivity of our fathers? Alma answers this in Alma 5:6:

“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?”

Remembering our fathers' captivity reminds us that the Lord delivered them from both physical and spiritual captivity through his mercy and long-suffering. And if he could deliver our fathers from captivity, he can deliver us too. Any time we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we should turn to the Lord. He can help us to escape. We must also remember that through the Atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins and ultimately escape the chains of hell.

Like the first principle, this counsel is repeated throughout the Book of Mormon. See the following verses: Mosiah 27:16; Alma 5:6; Alma 9:9-10; Alma 29:11-12; Alma 36:2; Alma 36:28-29; Alma 60:20; Ether 7:27; Ether 10:2.

Not only is this principle expressly taught, but we also see many examples of it throughout the Book of Mormon. The verses above remind us of the children of Israel escaping from bondage in Egypt and of Lehi and his family being led away from Jerusalem. We should also remember stories like Alma and his people miraculously escaping their captivity in the land of Helam (Mosiah 24).

Note that throughout the Book of Mormon, the prophets exhort us to remember the Lord and what he has done for us:
  • “...remember how great things the Lord had done..., that he had delivered them from death, and from bonds, and from prisons, and from all manner of afflictions, and he had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies.” (Alma 62:50)
  • “...remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.” (Helaman 5:9)
  • “...remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation....” (Helaman 5:12)
  • “ in remembrance of the body of thy Son...and always remember him....” (Moroni 4:3)
  • “ it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son which was shed for them;...always remember him....” (Moroni 5:2)
  • “...remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men....” (Moroni 10:3)
3. Trust in God and Be Supported in Our Afflictions
Our mortality is a probationary period, a time to learn, grow, and prove ourselves so we can expect trials, troubles, and afflictions. While the Lord promises to lift us up at the last day, we must still endure challenges in life to prove ourselves faithful. However, if we will place our trust in him, he will grant us peace and strengthen us to endure our struggles.

We see many examples of this message of hope throughout the Book of Mormon. In one example, Helaman, Gid, and Teomner, and their small Nephite army are struggling to defend their lands against a greater Lamanite force. While suffering from hunger, fear, and a lack of support from their government, they turn to the Lord:

“Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.” (Alma 58:10)

As promised, the Lord visited his people in response to their prayer of faith:

“Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.” (Alma 58:11)

Alma and his people in the land of Helam provide another beautiful example of this principle. After escaping from the wicked King Noah and setting up their own community in the land of Helam, Alma and his people were discovered by a Lamanite army and became subject to one of the former priests of Noah.

“...Amulon began to exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and began to persecute him, and cause that his children should persecute their children....[H]e exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them.” (Mosiah 24:8-9)

Putting their trust in God, “they began to cry mightily to God” (Mosiah 24:10). When their captors commanded them to stop praying, they “did pour out their hearts to [God]; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts” (Mosiah 24:12). Then came his reply:

“Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (Mosiah 24:13-14)

These three great themes in the Book of Mormon repeated point us to the Lord for prosperity, strength, and deliverance from our afflictions and captivity. Jesus Christ loves us. Through him we can endure and overcome all things.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Earliest Olmec Writings Found reported today that a stone slab with the earliest known writing in the Americas had been found in Mexico. One scholar believes the writing dates from 1000 BC to 900 BC. For more information, visit the website:

The Olmecs may have been Jaredites. The following websites, among many, discuss this posibility:

Surviving Jaredite Names in Mesoamerica (Meridian Magazine)
A New Model for Book of Mormon Geography
A Social History of the Early Nephites (FAIR)
Searching for Book of Mormon Lands in Middle America (FARMS)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Blessings of Tithing

Great promises are given to those who faithfully pay their tithing. They include the following.

Growth in knowledge and testimony

President Heber J. Grant: “Prosperity comes to those who observe the law of tithing. When I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone. . . . What I count as real prosperity . . . is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same. That is prosperity of the truest kind.” (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham (1941), 59)

Defense against evil

President James E. Faust: “In our time we are surfeited with a pestilence of violence, evil, and wickedness in so many forms. Those who keep their covenants and pay their tithes and offerings will have some extra defense against these virulent modern-day forms of evil.” (October 1998 General Conference)

Development of the soul

Elder James E. Talmage: “After all, the prime or great purpose behind the establishment of the law of the tithe is the development of the soul of the tithe-payer, rather than the providing of revenue. The latter is an all-important purpose, for so far as money is needed for the carrying on of the work of the Church the Lord requires money that is sanctified by the faith of the giver; but blessings beyond estimate, as gaged by the coin of the realm, are assured unto him who strictly conforms to the law of the tithe because the Lord hath so commanded.” (Articles of Faith)

Peace and happiness

President Marion G. Romney: “As is true with respect to all of God’s commandments, the payment of tithing brings a peace and happiness unknown to the defaulter.” (“The Blessings of an Honest Tithe,” New Era, Jan.–Feb. 1982, 45)

Protection from destruction of the wicked in the last days

Elder Rudger Clawson: “Does it mean that if a man will not pay his tithing, that the Lord is going to send a ball of fire down from heaven and burn him up? No; the Lord does not do that way. The Lord works on natural principles. This is what it means: . . . It means that the Spirit of the Lord will withdraw from him; it means that the power of the priesthood will withdraw from that man if he continues in the spirit of neglect to do his duty. He will drift away into darkness, gradually but surely, until finally . . . he will lift up his eyes among the wicked. That is where he will finally land; and then when the destruction comes and when the burning comes, he will be among the wicked, and will be destroyed.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1913, p. 59)

Food, clothing, and shelter

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I have wept as I have seen the poverty and the suffering of the people in this part of the earth. My heart reaches out to them. I do not know what the solution is, except the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it is the only thing that will help them and bless their lives. If they, even living in poverty and misery, can look to God with hope and faith it will sustain them in their hours of sorrow. Furthermore, I believe with all my heart that if they will accept the gospel and live it, pay their tithes and offerings, even though those be meager, the Lord will keep His ancient promise in their behalf, and they will have rice in their bowls and clothing on their backs and shelter over their heads. I do not see any other solution. They need a power greater than any earthly power to lift them and help them” (missionary meeting, Philippines Cebu Mission, 1 June 1996). (“Inspirational Thoughts,” Ensign, Aug. 1997, 3)

More easily pay our debts

President Ezra Taft Benson: “Let us pay first our obligations to our Heavenly Father. Then we will more easily pay our debts to our fellowmen.” (“Pay Thy Debt, and Live,” Ensign, June 1987, 3)

President Joseph F. Smith: "... one of the best ways that I know of to pay my obligations to my brother, my neighbor, or business associate, is for me first to pay my obligations to the Lord. I can pay more of my debts to my neighbors, if I have contracted them, after I have met my honest obligations with the Lord, than I can by neglecting the latter; and you can do the same. If you desire to prosper, and to be free men and women and a free people, first meet your just obligations to God, and then meet your obligations to your fellowmen. Bishop Hunter used to put the matter in these words: "Brethren, pay your tithing and be blessed", and that is just what I mean." (Conference Report, Apr. 1903, p. 2)

Fewer problems, more prosperity

Elder James E. Faust: “One of the greatest lessons I have learned during my lifetime about doing the best things in the worst times is that people who pay their tithing in both difficult times and good times get along better. They simply have fewer problems; there are fewer family problems and fewer financial problems. Their outlook is more positive, their ability to do and function is increased, and they prosper spiritually as well as temporally.” (“Doing the Best Things in the Worst Times,” Ensign, Aug. 1984, 41)

More power to inspire our families to live the gospel

President Heber J. Grant: “The law of financial prosperity to the Latter-day Saints, under covenant with God, is to be an honest tithepayer, and not to rob the Lord in tithes and offerings. Prosperity comes to those who observe the law of tithing; and when I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone, although as a rule the Latter-day Saints who are the best tithepayers are the most prosperous men, financially; but what I count as real prosperity, as the one thing of all others that is of great value to every man and woman living, is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same. That is prosperity of the truest kind.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1925, 10)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Abhor Sin

Our Attitude Toward Sin and Righteousness
September 4, 2006

“Therefore they were called after this holy order [of the high priesthood] and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceeding great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.” (Alma 13:11-12)

President Spencer W. Kimball wrote, “This passage indicates an attitude which is basic to the sanctification we should all be seeking, and thus to the repentance which merits forgiveness. It is that the former transgressor must have reached a 'point of no return' to sin wherein there is not merely a renunciation but also a deep abhorrence of the sin—where the sin becomes most distasteful to him and where the desire or urge to sin is cleared out of his life. (Spencer W. Kimball, God Will Forgive, Ensign, Mar. 1982, 2)

Look at the language used in the scriptures to describe the proper attitude toward and actions regarding sin (underlined) and righteousness (bolded):

  • 2 Nephi 4: 31. Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
  • Romans 12:9. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
  • Alma 13:12. could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence
  • 2 Nephi 9:49. Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness
  • Proverbs 8:13. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18. Flee fornication.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:14. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
  • 1 Timothy 6:11. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
  • Alma 45:16. the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance
  • 2 Timothy 2:16. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
  • Mosiah 5:2. the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

    • “Perhaps of all the evidence of true conversion and a remission of sins, this is the most significant: the disposition to do evil no more, but to do good continually” (Spencer J. Condie, “A Disposition to Do Good Continually,” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 13).
    • “The seeds of our disposition toward good or evil are largely sown by our desires. In teaching the wayward Zoramites how they could gain a knowledge of the truth, Alma admonished them to “exercise a particle of faith,” and if they could “no more than desire to believe, [to] let this desire work in [them]” (Alma 32:27). What begins as a fleeting desire, when cultivated and pursued long enough, becomes a habitual form of thought or behavior.” (Spencer J. Condie, “A Disposition to Do Good Continually,” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 13)

  • Alma 19:33. their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.
  • Mosiah 4:13. ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

First Entry

The purpose of this blog is to share with the world my personal LDS gospel study. Ocassionally, I'll research a topic and write up a paper or study sheet. If it's polished enough, it may end up in my scriptures. But normally, it just winds up buried deep in My Documents. I'd like to post my thoughts and research in the event they might be useful to others in their own study of the scriptures.

I tend to focus more on the Book of Mormon, but sometimes my thematic studies will cross all books of scripture and include quotes from Church leaders and other sources.

From the name of my blog, you can correctly infer that I'm a graduate of Brigham Young University and a huge fan of their sports teams. Don't prejudge me, however. I'm a huge fan of the Utes (so long as they're not playing BYU).

Please come back often, read what I post, and provide constructive feedback. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.