Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Source of Charity, the Perfect Love of Christ

More than anything else in this world of war and sorrow, we need charity, the pure love of Christ. Mormon teaches us how we can be filled with this love, and through the downfall of the Nephite nation, we can see the consequences of losing this love. From that story, it's easy to see parallels in the world today. But there is also hope that man can change and be filled with the charity toward one another.

The key to experiencing the pure love of Christ is the Holy Ghost. In an epistle to his son Moroni, Mormon writes, "And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer..." (Moroni 8:26). Therefore, the key to feeling the love of Christ is to do that which will permit the Holy Ghost to dwell in our hearts. This can take place as Mormon explained, through repentance and a remission of sins and through a meekness and lowliness of heart or humility.

Prayer can also invite the Holy Spirit to be with us. Mormon teaches that we can pray to be filled with the pure love of Christ. "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ..." (Moroni 7:48).

If the visitation of the Holy Ghost will fill us with love, then driving away the Holy Ghost will cause that love to depart as well. The story of the Nephites' downfall demonstrates this principle. Mormon describes for his son what he sees happening to the Nephites as they deny the Holy Ghost. He writes, "I fear lest the Spirit hath ceased striving with them; and in this part of the land they are also seeking to put down all power and authority which cometh from God; and they are denying the Holy Ghost" (Moroni 8:28).

Without the Holy Ghost, the Nephites are no longer filled with the love of Christ. The resulting void is filled with anger. Mormon tells his son that the Nephites "do not repent, and Satan stirreth them up continually to anger one with another" (Moroni 9:3). Worse, because "the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them" (Moroni 9:4), "they have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually" (Moroni 9:5).

Looking at terrorism in the world today, we can understand why the prophecy is being fulfilled that in the last days "the love of many shall wax cold" (Matthew 24:12). With so much wickedness driving the Holy Ghost out of the hearts of men, they are being filled with anger and hatred. Terrorists do not fear death and even "thirst after blood and revenge continually."

What can we do? Share the gospel which leads to a mighty change of heart. Alma the Younger teaches of people who received the gospel and experienced this change of heart, and as a result, they "humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end..." (Alma 5:13). That humility, trust in God, and faithfulness will bring the Holy Ghost into the hearts of men. Pray that doors will open around the world for the preaching of the gospel. And wherever you are, set an example of righteous living and share your testimonies that Spirit can work on those around you and lead to their hearts being filled with the pure love of Christ.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Obscure Book of Mormon References

I love the Book of Mormon. I know it's God's word and that it was written for me and for our day. I also love it because it's so varied in its stories and so rich in its detail. Having read the Book of Mormon cover to cover at least 20 times, I've repeatedly run across many interesting references to events, people, and other curious details that raise more questions than they answer. In some instances, these obscure references help testify of the divine role of our Savior and our need to have faith in him. In others, they just leave me scratching my head.

Mostly for the sake of entertainment, I list some of these obscure references here. I'm not looking for answers or trying to prove the Book of Mormon true. I do hope that these interesting tidbits will lead some individuals to read the Book of Mormon more, even if it's just to explore its dustier nooks and crannies.

The Brother of Jared Moved the Mountain Zerin by Faith

Ether 12:30:
30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.

This seems like a rather significant event of “Biblical proportions” like that of Moses parting the Red Sea, yet its only mention in the Book of Mormon is this obscure reference.

Aminadi Interpreted the Writing on the Temple Wall and Written by the Finger of God

Alma 10:2-3:
2 I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was that same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God.
3 And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren.

With regards to the Brother of Jared moving a mountain, at least he was mentioned prominently elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. In this reference we have two obscure elements: the man and the event.

Cureloms and Cumoms

Ether 9:19:
"And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms."

Orson Pratt identified cureloms as mammoths, but we have no record of a Church leader explaining what a cumom may have been. According to the Wikipedia entry for cureloms, some Church members have speculated the cumoms may have been an alpaca, llama, or some other animal.


Ether 9:16, 21-22 (14-23):
16 And the Lord began again to take the curse from off the land, and the house of Emer did prosper exceedingly under the reign of Emer; and in the space of sixty and two years they had become exceedingly strong, insomuch that they became exceedingly rich—
21 And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.
22 And after he had anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead he lived four years, and he saw peace in the land; yea, and he even saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day; and he died in peace.

Emer is probably the least known of all the Book of Mormon personalities who were privileged to see the Savior. Interestingly, another of our obscure references—the cureloms and cumoms—are mentioned during Emer's reign.

The Prophets Zenock, Neum, and Zenos

1 Nephi 19:10:
10 And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel.

These prophets are quoted for their testimonies of Jesus Christ. Zenock and Zenos are quoted elsewhere in the Book of Mormon by other prophets (see Jacob 5:1, Jacob 6:1, Alma 33:15, Alma 34:7, Helaman 8:19-20, Helaman 15:11, 3 Nephi 10:16). Neum shows up only in this verse. Who were these men? The footnote for Zenock refers readers to the Bible Dictionary entry for “Lost Books.”


Mosiah 11:3:
3 And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.

The wicked King Noah laid a heavy tax on his people of one-fifth of their valuable metals including ziff. The footnote indicates “HEB related words: adjective, “shining” verb, “to overlay or plate with metal.”

Neas and Sheum

Mosiah 9:9:
9 And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.

After Zeniff a small group of Nephites to repossess the land of Lehi-Nephi, they planted many different fruits and grains including neas and sheum. The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) reports, “As it turns out sheum is a perfectly good Akkadian (ancient northern Mesopotamian) name for a grain dating to the third millennium B.C.” At a Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) symposium, one botany professor indicated neas and sheum were “perhaps grains but possibly tuber crops.” An archaeobotanist concluded that these foods “were most likely native crops new to Lehi's people.”


There isn't really a conclusion since this blog entry is more a fun diversion than it is a discussion on a serious gospel topic. However, it's safe to say that many of these obscure references are like other mysteries like the nature of the dinosaurs. We may have to wait until the Millennium to know the truth.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Is BYU Football A Waste of Tithing?

In recent years, particularly after the huge new indoor practice facility was funded and built, I've heard some people question the legitimacy of spending so much money on sports at Brigham Young University. As is evident from the name of my blog, I'm a huge fan of BYU sports, especially football and basketball. I believe that the funds spent on BYU sports are not wasted.

Let me first state that I don't know whether tithing monies are used to support BYU sports. I know that a lot of people have donated money to build the Indoor Practice Facility, Larry H. Miller Field, and other facilities. I also know that the sports programs raise money through ticket sales, advertising, and concessions, and I know that companies like Nike may help supply uniforms. I don't know whether the sports programs pay for themselves. If they don't (and the point of this post is not to debate the profitability of the various mens and womens programs), I don't know whether tithing funds are used to make up the difference in revenues and expenses.

For the purpose of this post, let's assume that some tithing funds are used to support BYU sports. If you disagree (and you may be right), then at least we can agree some people donate huge amounts of money which arguably could be spent on more humanitarian or gospel-related projects.

Given those assumptions, I still believe that the money spent on BYU sports is well-spent for many reasons. In my mind, the primary reason is that BYU's sports programs, especially football, are an indispensable missionary tool which reaches many people other missionary programs are less likely to reach. Take this recent article on the San Francisco Chronicle website, for example. The author talked to the well-known Reverend Jerry Falwell. They talked about football. Reverend Falwell said, "My respect for Catholicism and Mormonism goes straight up watching Notre Dame and Brigham Young play." Sure, I don't think BYU football will convert Jerry Falwell, but it shows what a positive effect BYU sports can have on people who probably wouldn't listen to the missionaries.

We are aware of the many players who came to BYU from various backgrounds and later joined the Church. Many are now serving as member missionaries in various parts of the world.

Other former BYU players and coaches now at the professional level also continue to spread goodwill about the Church in countless ways. Take a look, for example, at this Philadelphia NBC 10 story by Vai Sikahema about Andy Reid, both Church members who were formerly involved with BYU football.

Funds spent on BYU sports also help to reach countless youth, members and non-members alike, in a positive manner. So many LDS young men and women are involved in high school sports and want to continue on at the collegiate level. Others want to attend a university where they can be involved in different ways from the marching band and cheerleading to rabid fan and supporter. Without strong programs, many of these students would go elsewhere and participate in programs that are not as tolerant of missions nor as strong in upholding the values we believe in.

Whether or not tithing is used to support BYU football and other sports, I believe the money spent on BYU's sports programs is worth it. These programs play a significant role in the missionary efforts of the Church and its progress.