Saturday, October 24, 2015

Using the Atonement Daily - A quick how to

I love learning the book of Mormon. We are not just reading it. We are studying it.  My focus in most of my studies this week was 2 Nephi 9. 

I wanted to share with you something that stood out to me in this chapter. This chapter is so full of information. One of the focuses in this chapter is the atonement of the Savior.  That he died so we can return to live with Heavenly Father through His grace. We talk of how the Savior suffered for all of our sins, hurt anguishes so we will not have to go through these pains and anguish alone. There are so many words written about the atonement of Christ. 2 Nephi chapter 9 is one such writing.  Verse 7 is one that talks about the infinite atonement.  Infinite: limitless or endless in space, extent, or size; impossible to measure or calculate. This means this atonement goes on forever and cannot be measured, yet we are counselled to use it in our daily lives. 

My questions are: What exactly does this mean? What does using the atonement in our daily lives actually "do" for us? How does one use the atonement? Isn't the atonement something that was already done?  How do I use it? I know I need to live righteously, but that is just following the commandments, trying to be honest in all my doings. Is that all it is? I wondered. I didn't think that was the case, because "just praying, reading scriptures, going to church and trying to be a good person" didn't feel like I was using anything. I was just doing what I was trying to do. 

I mentioned what it is.  The Bible Dictionary gives a further explanation.  It also refers us back to this Chapter in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 9:5-24.   Verses 23 & 24 tell us what we have to do to get or have the blessings of the atonement but it still does not answer how.  But in the following verses and through the end of the chapter we learn more. We are given a list of what to do and what not to do. 

In our gathering in class and discussing this chapter we talked of the atonement and using in our daily lives. 

Using the atonement in our daily lives means always "Remembering Him and having his Spirit to be with us."  We are reminded of this each Sunday as we take the sacrament. In doing this we will see what the atonement does for us. 

What does it do for us? On a daily basis we can repent and be forgiven of our sins. We can have hope and faith that we will make it to true eternal happiness. It gives us the knowledge and comfort that we are not alone. The Savior, Jesus Christ, felt these pains, hurts, frustrations, imperfections, illnesses, all of it so that each and every one of us would never be alone in our struggles, trials and life.  Our pain is real and some one does know exactly how you are feeling in your painful time. You really are never alone.  

How? How do we use it in our lives? How do I make this something real that I use? How do I do it so I can get these blessings and this comfort the knowledge and the power the atonement give?  Sunday. Attending church and partaking of the sacrament. This renews the covenants. Pondering the sacrament prayer each week and keeping Jesus in our thought and hears through the week.  Everyday. Pray. Often. Pray to our Father in the name of the son, Our Savior Jesus Christ.  Ask for help, blessings, understand, the capacity to learn to change to get out of the situation. Pray for the desire to know the Savior to get to happiness. Pray and praise and give thanks. Honestly just pray.  This open line of communication comes from Christ so praying is using the atonement.  Think about the savior. And give him your troubles. Do not ask the Lord to take away your pains. Let him know through your agency you are ready to let them go. As you give the painful, hurtful sinful things in your life to the Lord you are accepting the atonement. You are believing that He is there and you are not alone and he has the power to pick it up.

So it is more than living a “righteous” life, or going to church. It is more than just praying and going through the motions. It is more than believing. Using the atonement in our daily lives requires action. It is Believing, Feeling, Asking, Doing, Living and Loving. I was using the atonement in my life without knowing it. I wasn’t giving the personal attention and focus I needed to. As I had the desire to strengthen my relationship with my Savior I knew I needed to find out the answers to these questions. I am glad the Lord provided me a way to find them. 

Now with this post if I forget or feel myself needing a refresher I can come back here and read it and know.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Brotherly Love? A look at Nephi and his Brothers

This block was 1 Nephi 15-22
As I continue to study  first Nephi I am drawn back to the relationship of Nephi with his brothers.

So far in the scriptures we have read and heard about Laman and Lumuel.  We have seen how they murmur and fight Nephi at almost every turn. They are drawn to the ways of the world. They see an angel and forget. They get punished by the Lord and know it is by God’s hand and they go back to their bad habits and wicked ways. Many people who study the scriptures come to the realization they probably tend to be a little more Laman and Lemuel than Nephi and Sam.  How quick we are to forget the things we commit to do. How over a period of time, it could be short or long, bad habits start to replace good ones and the natural man tends to take over. 

In these specific chapters several things happen that show us the relationship between these brothers.  I mentioned in my post a couple of weeks ago about what we can learn from the replationshop of Nephi's parents; Lehi and Sariah’s relationship. I think that growing up Nephi had this example of love and forgiveness. Of showing compassion towards those who were angry with him. Nephi also prays all the time. He asks for help for his brothers and for them to be softened. 

In the wilderness Nephi’s bow breaks. His brothers already had crappy bows that weren’t working very well.  So instead of trying to figure it out they get mad at Nephi. (See 1 Nephi 16:20-21)  Then what does Nephi do? He doesn’t yell at them and tell them to take their whiney families and get lost, like some might do. He “Speaks much” unto then “because they had hardened their hearts again, even unto complaining against the Lord their God.” (1 Nephi 16:22)  Then he makes a bow and arrow and asks his father (again a sign of respect as Lehi had been complaining a bit as well.) Lehi prays for forgiveness gets direction from the Lord and Nephi goes out again for food. This time it does not mention any one else going with him. He gets enough food for him and all of the families with him.  Everyone thanks the Lord and is filled with joy.

Same chapter a little later Laman and Lemuel and Nephi’s brother-in-laws decide to kill Nephi and their father. 1 Nephi 16: 37.  Then the voice of the Lord chastens them. And the get over it and move on.

I have so many examples. 1 Nephi 17 Nephi chastises and truly lectures and tells his brothers of all they have seen and what they should know by now. It takes years before we see Nephi get upset with them in this detail where it seems the sorrow for them is overtaken with a lecture. But they still do not heed his words here. What happens? They get angry of course! They want to throw him into the sea. So Nephi calls upon God again and the Lord shocks them out of it. Literally, shocks them out of it. They touch Nephi’s hand and are shaken by God’s power.

What I am drawn to here is the relationship.

Anger, hate, love, forgiveness, sorrow, compassion, gossiping, ganging up on each other, praying, nurturing, threatening, restraining, teaching, continuing on.  How many families and people these days do we hear about that haven’t talked to their siblings because they are mad at them. Where they haven’t talked to a parent or brother or sister for years over some feud, misunderstanding, or wrong that was done to them?

Why do Laman and Lemuel continue on with Nephi and company instead of just going out on their own? Why doesn’t Nephi tell them they can’t come with him and mom and dad and his family anymore?   We know in general they all need to go to the Promised Land. But personally? What kept this family together?  Here are a few of the things that keep coming back to me.

1.       Prayer: Nephi and Lehi do this all of the time. Probably Sariah and Sam, too.  I am sure when they are closer to God from time to time the others probably pray.

2.       Unconditional Love: Even though they have a dysfunctional family they were given a great example of love from their mother and father. Nephi seems to have this love for his brothers. This is evident in how often he prays for them and forgives them.

3.       Compassion: Life can’t be easy for them at this point. They left their worldly things behind. They have been travelling and camping for years. Nephi is already converted to this plan so he gets it. He is ok with it. Lemuel and Laman went because they were told to.  They hate it. Nephi seems to understand this and is compassionate toward them even in their anger.

4.       Forgiveness: How many times do Laman and Lemuel try to kill Nephi? But he forgives them. Time and again he forgives them.  Laman and Lemuel forgive Nephi for all the things they perceive him to do that causes them anger, too.

5.       Charity: Nephi has charity. The pure love of Christ. He loves his brothers and wants to help them and have them progress and make it to the Tree of Life. In spite of his father’s dream and all of his brothers short comings; Nephi knows that they have a chance to make it to the tree of life and eternal salvation because of Christ.  Nephi show charity as he provides food for all of them. As he pleads with the Lord not only for himself but his brothers and their families.  This keeps his brothers with him and their company all this time.

I cannot ever imagine a time in my life or anything my siblings could do to make me just never talk to them again.  My sister and I were best friends. Once we went a week without talking. Life got busy. I didn’t have a chance to call. One day I talked to my mom and she asked me about the fight my sister and I were in.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  I had said something that hurt my sisters feelings. She thought I was mad at her and not calling but she didn’t want to call me because I was the one who was wrong and hurt her feelings. As soon as I called her it was over. We even laughed about it.  I didn’t grow up with the life Nephi and his family seemed to have in Jerusalem. I did grow up knowing that families are forever and we were not put in our families by accident.  We knew them before we got here. We can be like Lehi’s children and forgive each other, love each other, get mad at one another, get over it. Grow up. Be a family, have our own families. Have different thoughts and beliefs and still be a family.     

(Wait, what? That end up lifelong enemies? I am not in those chapters yet! At the end of this block of scriptures they are all getting along!)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Next Block. Different Assignment

We are given 9 Skill Study Types to learn over the Semester.  This week we had to write about the one we learned about. the Scripture block was 1 Nephi 6-14.   The skill study was: Symbolism.
This is not as blog posty as my last blog post, but this is what I turned in:

Study Skills Report
Which skill was presented in the most recent Gathering and how did you use it throughout the week?

(Study Skill: Substitutions, Setting, Principles and Doctrine, List, Clustering, Flag Phrases, Symbolism, Visualize, and Cause and Effect)
Skill: Symbolism
I used this skill since the gathering to go back and study Lehi’s vision again with a greater understanding of using the symbolism in the dream to make it more person and meaningful to me.
Show some examples of how you used the skill:
(example: I, Candace, having been born of goodly parents)
1.    Why were people ashamed when they partook of the fruit?  I looked at the foot notes and I discussed the symbolism of this with others.

2.    In understanding the meaning of the tree of life I watched the digging deeper video about this again.
3.    The stumbling blocks the Gentiles stumble upon are symbolic of the ways of the world that get into the way of my life. They also refer to other churches. There are so many things these simple phrases can be symbolic of.
What did you learn from using this Study Skill this week? (“Learning” implies something you didn’t know before)
I learned that the Tree of Life represents more than happiness. It is my Heavenly Fathers love for me. Making the book of Mormon person to myself this week I tried to use the symbolism in Lehi’s dream and see how it relates to be. I learned that perhaps at times in my life as the world came to me I fell off the straight and narrow and into the midst of darkness. The straight and narrow path that the iron rod is next to is s one way path. You progress forward. I think I had gotten to the Tree at one point in my life, living worthy of my temple recommend. Learning more of the gospel. The one day I looked up at the great and spacious building, the world and I let it in and I fell away from the tree. Luckily the iron rod was still there and through Christ and the Atonement I was able to work my way back.
How would you teach this skill to someone that had never used it before?
I would teach using symbolism much as was outlined in the directions. While studying the scriptures you can use the 6 points outlined.
~Look for Scriptural interpretation
~Look for teachings of modern prophets
~Consider the context
~Use the study aids in the scriptures (The topical guide, bible dictionary, footnotes and so on.)
~Let the nature of the object used as the symbol contribute to an understanding of its spiritual meaning.
~Look for Christ in scriptural symbols.
All of these things help us understand the symbolism. They are ways we can gain further understanding of the words the Lord had saved and preserved for us in these Latter days.