I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from The Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity - the pure love of Christ - will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.
- President Marion G. Romney

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alma 5 -- Have Ye Recieved His Image in your Countenances?

I just realized something as I got ready to do this first post -- although there is a uniform curriculum throughout the Church, we sometimes get off by a few weeks due to Stake Conference and other events. So, since we're not in the same ward we're going to have to sort of go with the flow. For now, since I'm the moderator, we'll go with the lesson my ward is studying. If we find there's a tremendous amount of variance from that, we'll adjust as necessary. Sound good? Good.

Our first reading section will be Alma 5. This is Alma speaking to the people of Zarahemla. According to the class member study guide, Alma asks over 40 questions during this sermon. Wow!

Let's read this chapter looking for those questions
And to get the discussion started, think about these things:

*What questions stand out to you? Why?
*Which are especially applicable to Latter-day Saint Women?
*What can we challenge ourselves to improve based on Alma's sermon?

For now, I'm thinking we won't set a time to "meet" online, as we all have differing schedules. But let's do this: read the chapter on the day it's posted (add this to your Google Reader!) and come to the post that day. It will be fun to check the comments throughout the day as time permits and see what others are thinking. We'll be able to communicate, discuss, ask questions, etc. through the comments section. And I will try to post the reading section by 9:00 am MST.

And I am certainly open to any suggestions as we go along -- as in how we could make this go more smoothly, encourage discussion, etc.


Cheryl said...

So, this is for tomorrow, right? (Wed).

Julie said...

Yes. I forgot to mention that. Sorry. Feel free to comment any time tomorrow on this post.

Jill said...

Bless you! We're on this schedule too, and since I teach this class in my branch, I should be able to keep up!

Amanda D said...

Since I am in primary, I don't get the regular Sunday School lesson. I'm excited to do this! Thanks for hosting, Julie!

Amanda D said...

I read the chapter last night, and was amazed at all the questions that Alma asked. I really enjoyed the description of Christ in verse 48.

In verse 59 where it talked about the shepherd defending his sheep against wolves, I couldn't help but think of myself as the shepherd and my sheep the children. Am I doing the best I can to defend my children against the "wolves"?

The verse cross references this one is Psalms 27:23: "Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds." Compared to motherhood, we need to be diligent to know the "state" of our children...being aware of their feelings, friends, happenings at school, etc.

Monica said...

I am not always the best at expressing myself so here is my attempt:

I read this last night and first I will share a quote I have in my scriptures: Bruce R McConkie said, "Repentant persons become more alive step by step." I love that quote because I think the more we repent the closer to Heavenly Father we will be and verse 22 asks how we will feel to stand before Heavenly Father and if we are not repentant,I cannot imagine what we would feel like standing in front of Him. What shame we would feel!

I love this chapter for so many reasons, but I will share one. I love verse 26 where he asks "if you have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask can ye feel so now?"

It reminds me of how I felt when I was baptized at 18 yrs old. I felt so full of the Spirit and so full of the Gospel and I felt like nothing could stop me from being on top of the world because I now had the Gospel and I was willing to share it with anyone and everyone I knew. This scripture is such a wonderful reminder of where are our hearts are now? How do I feel now? Is the Gospel still something that I celebrate and feel so alive with every day? If we have truly felt a change of heart then we should be able to maintain those feelings throughout the remainder of our lives.

As far as applying this to motherhood, I think our celebration of the Gospel should be something we pass on to our children. I think if we truly feel full of the spirit and alive in the Gospel we will pass that onto our children easily as it will always be radiating from our lives and through our actions.

My Stake President had a meeting with all the primary children's parents after Branch Conference back in Feb and he said that we should never complain about serving in the Gospel. He said that if we complain about going to meetings or go grudgingly, if we complain about going to the Temple, etc our children will not go to meetings. He said if we pay our tithes but not our fast offerings our children will not pay tithes; if we drink decaf coffee we can have a temple recommend but our children will not, etc.

Anyway, I thought this was a great point that our attitudes effect our children and I think that is what Alma is saying if we want to apply this to motherhood that what we do or say effects our children's attitudes greatly and their salvations as well.

Lastly I have written in my scriptures the questions, "If I die tonight, where will I go? Am I prepared for the bar of judgement? Can I look Heavenly Father in the eyes?" Those are huge personal questions to ask but I really feel that if we keep them in our hearts then we will know what we should focus on and do with our time and we will become more repentant and grow further in the Gospel.

Julie said...

I love your comments Monica and Amanda! On those same lines -- I have only gotten to about verse 15 because this stuff is just so good! I have some thoughts that do coincide with yours, though, so I'll share what I've got so far.
(That reminds me, let's totally not limit this to one comment per person, okay? Let's DISCUSS!)

I'm really struck lately with the concept of being "changed." Alma, I think, lays out this concept well throughout the chapter. The first place I noticed it was verse 7: "Behold, he changed their hearts." It reminds me of plain and precious truth #21 from the special issue of the Ensign: The Savior can change human nature. I can't stop being completely in awe of that truth. I mean, don't we always say, "Well, I'm just not that kind of person" about whatever quality is being discussed? But this changes all of that! Even if I'm not naturally a person who is kind or loves to study or is clean or motivated, etc....if the Gospel requires that quality, Christ can MAKE me "that kind of person." I have to be willing to be changed, yes. I have to act upon his direction, yes. But when I do that, I will be CHANGED. My very nature will be changed to that of a disciple of Christ. A Christ-like person. This is so huge to me!
In verse 10 Alma gets to the real question: on what grounds or condition are we changed (saved)? Listen and believe the words of the prophets (11) Exercise faith in those words to a mighty change of heart (12) Share what we know (13)
Then he sums it up -- in perfect harmony with Monica's thoughts -- in vs. 14 & 15 Have ye received his image in your countenances (are you like him? have you been changed?)? Do you look forward to the judgement day? You do if you have been changed and continue to repent, right? That's so neat to me! I don't have to fear or even say that I fear that day. I can be confident that I will be judged worthy if I just allow Christ to make me a new person. And the steps Alma lays out are pretty simple, right? I'm thinking they're what we always review and teach and study. Have faith and repent. Desire his atonement's ability to change then allow it to do that.

Amanda, I'm excited to get to verse 48 & 59! I love your insights!

The Motherboard said...

I *LOVE* this idea of a scripture blog! I have a scripture journal, but never thought to do a blog. That would be much easier!
Do you mind if I read the chapter and come back and comment?

Amanda D said...

Monica, I love how you put the reminder of how we act trickles down and affects our children's actions. This is something that I really need to remember. I will definitely think twice about complaining when it is time to plan my lessons for primary from now on.

Julie said...

Motherboard, WELCOME! Please join us!
I agree, too. I think our children will either be better than us or worse than us. It just depends on us. No pressure, though, right? Not really, because we have all the tools.

TaLaisa said...

Wow. I looked at the section and thought 53 verses, it'll take forever.
I've read and re-read and I'm still not finished.

But I was so touched I had to stop and write, now.

I love in verse 33 where he says, 'Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto ALL Men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.'

I love that no where in the verse does it give room for exceptions. He loves every single person and has given the gift of repentance and mercy to all men.

And then in 54, "..will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another;"

I love how plainly they state what the Apostles have been trying to reiterate in every conference. We should not find ourselves in a place of looking down on anyone. If anything, we should find ourselves with hands outstretched to those who do not know what we know. Showing the love of the Savior through our actions does more than preaching.

We have a great responsibility.

TaLaisa said...

I too love the way he speaks of change.

In 12 'according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart.'

and 13 'a might change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God.'

I have looked back on my life and often wondered, "how could I have done 'that'?" and "WHAT was I thinking?" in recollection of mistakes I have made. I am sad for the sins, but happy for the way I have been changed. I believe the reason that I cannot understand my own actions (anymore) is because I am no longer the same person that made the mistake. I have been changed through repentance and faith.

I have grown and learned new things and along the way become a stronger person, with a stronger conviction to live my testimony. That is an amazing aspect of repentance. What a blessing it is.

Janelle said...

In the previous chapters Mormon points out that the Amlicites fulfilled prophesy by marking themselves so they could be clearly identified by the Nephites. I think there are ways people mark themselves today as people not to be associated with. Whether it is drug associations or pornography references or music choices or their demeaner we still need to be watching.

But in Alma 5 we learn that the Righteous will be marked as well. They will have Christ's image in their countenances. I have several women in my ward that I am watching and emulating because I can see their light. I think I can learn to be more like the Savior by following their living example in my ward. They have the mark of a righteous woman - or the countenance of the Savior.

I hope this makes sense. Many of Alma's questions were uncomfortable under self inspection, but I can see the change Alma describes in my life. It may be gradual, but I am changing.

Cheryl said...

There's certin key on my keybord tht's not working, so I'll do the best I cn with wht I don't hve...

My fveorite verses re 2 nd 29 (crp! Now my eight button isn't working either! Blst! Or my closing prenthesis button. Wht is going on!? Sigh.

I like those two verses becuse I feel I need to work on both of them: Pride nd Envy.

I love ll the comments tht hve been mde, though. I pprecite every insight --especilly bout being good exmple to our children. So importnt!

I would sy more, but I think I need to go reboot my computer. This is frustrting!

Monica said...

Talaisa- oh how hard it is to not be judging others! I love how you say, "Showing the love of the Savior through our actions does more than preaching." That is so true and makes me want to work that much harder to be a better person and to not be judgemental of others.

Julie said...

I love that thought, too, Tay & Monica & Janelle. Don't you think we can apply this to motherhood? We need to teach the doctrine (like Alma states in verse 13, but as important -- we need to LIVE the doctrine. So huge! And then our children will see that light in us and on our countenances. They will naturally accept what we teach because they see the joy it brings to us.
And Cheryl, I made a note of those things in my scripture journal, too! I thought 30 was significant, too. Especially in regards to your post about loyalty. We have to be loyal to our brothers and sisters. Nothing at another's expense. It struck me that the three things listed in 28, 29, & 30 are so common to all of human nature. They're the "universal sins" to borrow President Benson's phrase. So Alma is asking, have you allowed Christ to change this part of your nature? Because those are certainly not things that would be in his countenance.

Great insights everyone! And a great chapter to start with. Keep commenting as much as you'd like. I'm going to get working on our next section post, but like I said, keep the discussion up!

And if any of you would like to be added as contributors, let me know.
My email is stanton underscore julie at msn dot com

TaLaisa said...

I've thought about it and I think that showing the love, not just talking about the love of the Savior is a prime learning opportunity with our children. The world and the people in it are changing at a rapid pace, teaching our children love and acceptance of all God's children will make huge steps toward creating a heaven on earth.

Also as they are learning day to day, we have to allow them to make mistakes. As I see how correcting mistakes and learning from them has had such a huge impact on me, I have to allow the same opportunities for them. That is not to say I should allow them to make the same mistakes I did. But I have to remember that they need to learn from THEIR own mistakes as well.

SO if they flood the toilet while I'm posting on the Scripture blog, I won't make an impact on them by reminding them that they did the same thing last week and why why why are they making that mistake again?

Just as I learned that screaming does nothing for lake eau de toilet in my bathroom, I have to let them learn that anti-bacterial wipes do not flush like the kandoo wipes.