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

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alma 6 -- The Church in Zarahemla is cleansed and set in order

This is a much shorter chapter after a huge one in Alma 5! If you have more insights from continued study of that chapter, keep commenting on that post!

Alma 6 is short, yes, but as I quickly read through it, I feel that there's enough there for a good discussion.
As you read this chapter, think about how the Church is set-up today. Why is this order necessary?
What are your thoughts about verse 5? What does Mormon mean?
And verse 6 - what are your thoughts about this as a missionary tool? Have you had any experiences with this?
We certainly don't need to restrict ourselves to these questions, but just to get us started...


Janelle said...

When Alex was assistant ward mission leader, we were on fire. My joy knew no bounds having investigators to our home, teaching the gospel, answering questions and bearing testimony. Alex had the opportunity to baptize and confirm many new members and reactivate someone he home taught. Missionary work was our life and because of this experience we so hope to be able to serve couple missions together.

But our zeal faded. One month ago the missionaries challenged me to prepare someone to teach the gospel to by June 5. I picked the date. Nothing happened. Why? I didn't do the things listed in vs. 6. Dang it! I need to love my neighbor enough to share. Women at the school always ask me why I'm so happy and not stressed, and I give them some lame answer or another. But there is one really good reason and I don't share for fear of offending. I'm setting a new date for myself and I'm hosting an ice cream social at my house for my neighbors to come to my house to facilitate conversation. I want experiences like Alma's and the four sons of Mosiah. But wanting is not enough.

Also, do you guys think that the church is in need of a similar cleansing? Are we like the church in Alma's day or are we better? I was reading a member girl's blog about how everyone NEEDS this $2000 purse and how much she loved her husband for getting it for her. Ugh! I was so caught being judgemental because I wanted to comment, "Sooo, how does the large and spacious building look from the inside." Rude! I can be so rude. If Satan doesn't get you do the initial sin, he's sure to catch you on judging someone who is doing it. Anyways, my point is I do think there are people who are lifted up in their pride because of their riches and fine apparel, but that is hard to say without being judgemental.

What topics or themes have you seen the Prophet and brethren bearing down in pure testimony about lately? In what ways are we currently being called to repentance?

Cheryl said...

See!!?!? This is why I miss Janelle so much. Sigh.

Anyway, to answer your questions: At first, when I read verse 5, I thought this, "I wonder what it would be like to live in a society of free men, where the Gospel of Jesus Christ was "liberal unto all". "
And then I realized that we do! We live in a free land, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is available to all men. Of course, I'm sure it's much harder (obviously) to spread the Gospel across the world then throughout a city like Zarahemla. But that doesn't mean it's impossible.

Like Janelle mentioned, I have the best intentions when it comes to missionary work. Right now, I'm working on being a good example and standing firm in the face of family members who think my beliefs are kind of hokey (in laws). But is that enough? Shouldn't I be better? Automatically? Just because I know better? Shouldn't I be seeking out those that need the Gospel? Need to come back to Church? Need some love and support?

Janelle, I also appreciated your discussion on those that are sinning and those that sin because of the sinners. I'm very guilty of that; judging others because of their weaknesses. It's easy for me to see people and think "what are they doing?! They know better!"

My favorite topics the Elders of the Church have been teaching lately are those on womanhood and motherhood. I find it amazing how desperately the women need to hear these things; how the women of the world (and in the Church) have allowed themselves to stray so far from the things that will bring them the most happiness --like that woman Janelle talked about who needed an expensive bag. And it's not just the riches I've seen --it's the sense of entitlement to alone time, careers, hobbies, and worldly pursuits. I'm guilty, because of my blogging (oh, the irony!). But because of the talks at General Conference and other places, I am reminded more than ever that the Elders of the Church are so very, very, very much in tune with the Spirit and with the things that we (as members of the Church) need to hear!

Last thought: I found it interesting that in verse 3, the ones that were "blotted out" were the ones with the pride; who refused to repent. That's exactly what happens now with excommunications --it's not that what they do is unrepentable (for the most part), it's that their pride is too important.

Amanda D said...

My first thoughts when I read verse 5 was General Conference. We can hear if we choose, and we have it available online, in magazines, in talks, etc we just have to be willing to do the work to hear the word of God.

I wish that I could say that I have a good missionary example, but I am too worried about insulting anyone. I tell myself that I am being a missionary by being a good example, but in reality I need to buckle down, and "join in fasting and mighty prayer". I have people in my family that could benefit, and neighbors and friends, etc.

TaLaisa said...

I am just loving this! I really appreciate all the comments and perspectives. Thanks Julie for starting this and everyone for commenting.

I wanted to comment on this from Janelle; "What topics or themes have you seen the Prophet and brethren bearing down in pure testimony about lately? In what ways are we currently being called to repentance?"

Sometimes when they ask a similar question in Sunday School it seems you get as many different answers as there are people commenting. I often feel like the repetitive themes that I notice are because that's what I need to work on most.

So, the theme I noticed most in the last two conferences were the declarations that we are a LOVING people, accepting of others, allow all men the privilege to worship how where or what they may, and a big one; we are not exclusive. Cliques and ward only groups need to become neighborhood groups. Our children need to be encouraged to play with good friends of all religions. We need to be good neighbors, friends and missionaries through action and example.

Living in Utah, I've heard stories of people keeping their children from playing with non members, what kind of missionary spirit and example is that setting???

My husband is a convert to the church. He joined as a teenager. If the parents of the boys who were members had said "don't play with him" things would be very different.

From my own reading I was struck by verse 6. Where it mentions that members are commanded to meet often and join in fasting and prayer in behalf of the welfare of others.

I often have a tough time with all the meetings meetings meetings. (extraneous of those on Sunday) All too often I've been in attendance at meetings that turn into gabfests and gossip sessions all in the name of 'member welfare'. I realized while reading this scripture that I can indeed feel better about meetings that are serving the purpose mentioned in this verse.

But how do you go about changing the tone of the meeting from exchanging 'information'(gossip) to that of fasting and mighty prayer?

Is it possible to go into a meeting prepared and gain something useful when the tone is not of the proper nature?

I feel challenged and will be working on my own purpose at the meetings I have to attend and see if it makes a difference.

Cheryl's comment "the women of the world (and in the Church) have allowed themselves to stray so far from the things that will bring them the most happiness --like that woman Janelle talked about who needed an expensive bag. And it's not just the riches I've seen --it's the sense of entitlement to alone time, careers, hobbies, and worldly pursuits."

Was also so good to hear. I've been working on being a better Mother and the days that I am doing my calling as opposed to fitting Mothering into my own agenda, I am happier. Things don't always go as planned, we still have chaos at times. But I'm able to deal with them with a little more perspective.

Julie said...

Great thoughts, friends. As I sat down to finish chapter 5 and read 6, I kept your comments and questions in mind. It enriched my study. I had things to ponder and write in my journal about with nearly every verse in this chapter! I'll try to just share a few, though.
I love how similar the order of the modern church is to what Mormon described here. There are righteous priesthood holders to "preside and watch over" the Church...this is so simple. We need presiding authorities to ensure things are done according to the "order of God" - that the ordinances and doctrine remain pure. We need them to "watch over" us for similar reasons. While we are entitled to personal revelation, we also need to know what God expects of us as a people and with this order, we always know what source we should trust. We have priesthood leaders who are called to receive revelation for the Church as a whole and when we listen and follow, we are assured we will not be deceived.
Janelle, I liked your question so much. And for me, the themes I've noticed from the Brethren lately are a testimony of the plain, simple, life-changing doctrines of the Gospel: faith, repentance, the gift of the Holy Ghost, prayer, revelation, eternal families, our life before we came here. They are things I have known -- never doubted -- but as I become more "converted" to them (I mean as I realize how really, truly life-changing they are and that they are unique to this Gospel), I want to share them.
We have some great neighbors who are not members of the Church. We've become friends with them over the years we've lived here. Our children play together, we have plenty to talk about, we've had them over for dinner, I've even prayed for opportunities to talk about the Gospel with them. Casual ones have presented themselves, which I appreciate. But recently, as I've been experiencing a true conversion to the doctrines of the Gospel, my prayers have changed. They've become much more like verse 6. I am praying for THEM ... not for me. I am praying that they will be blessed with a desire for more. And then that I will be worthy and ready to be an instrument in whatever way the Lord sees fit. I have experienced an increase of love for these good friends. And my faith that they will accept the Gospel has increased, too. I know that if I live the Gospel and live it in a way that is noticeable (I don't necessarily mean outwardly, though I can't really express what I mean), the Lord will be able to use me as a tool for bringing the Gospel to my friends. And I now really do want that more than I want the uniqueness of living in Utah and having non-member neighbors, because frankly, that's selfish and silly.

Cheryl, I also loved your comments about verse 3. Wow! It is so true. When I skimmed this last night, I thought, gee, there's a difference from the modern church. But the way you explained that and as I really read that verse properly, I see that you are totally right. Again, like in verse 28 of chapter 5, we are told that pride is what will keep us from being in the presence of our Heavenly Father and from enjoying the blessings He has made available for us on earth. Huge. And it really becomes apparent when you factor in Janelle's comment. When we point a finger of judgement toward others, we end up in that exact same large and spacious building. It represents pride and pride is an ugly sin that takes many faces and forms. In fact, it takes whatever form it needs to to keep us away from the straight and narrow path. I remember writing in a set of scriptures once that the gates of hell are huge. I am realizing that more and more. The way to the Celestial Kingdom requires strict obedience and specific ordinances. Everything else leads us away from that goal. It seems a little overwhelming at first glance, but really, it's nice to know there's a specific path. It's much easier to get to our destination when we have directions.

Julie said...

And Amanda -- so true! Around conference every 6 months our Bishop reminds us to have our tents pitched in the right direction. He encourages us to think of conference as an opportunity to pitch our tents toward the temple instead of thinking of it as a weekend to pitch our tents in the canyon without having to find a substitute teacher. I love that! It is liberal unto all, but we have to make the effort.

Janelle said...

TaLaisa - It is very difficult to influence the tone of a meeting you are not in charge of. I so feel your pain on this. I say, ask for an agenda or prepare one if you are the person who is conducting. Email it ahead of time so everyone will know when its their time to contribute.

Sometimes I would even host "meetings by mail" on light months where assignments were given as well as an updated calender, personal progress goals, accomplishments of the girls etc. The meetings by mail were very well received because it saved everyone an hour, and had all our duties in written form.

I'm not as organized as this repsonse reflects. I just typically had an agenda and that worked.

Monica said...

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments and insights. Sorry I am late on posting this but I am grateful to read all your comments. I feel like I don't have much to add because you've all said such good points. I too was struck by verse 6 and how we need to meet often and pray and fast for others. I think that is something that is often missed. I think when it comes time to pray and fast we think of only our own needs or our family's needs but not the needs of others.

I agree with what Julie said about her neighbors that she needs to pray for THEM. I think this is an area that I can definitely improve on.

I always think missionary work is difficult because I usually don't know people who are not members. We had wonderful neighbors who weren't members and it was fun letting them know about the Church. they came to an event once at Church at Christmas time and really enjoyed it, we shared about what Conference was with them and they did their own research about the Church through the Church's website. They were most impressed with our keeping the Sabbath holy. They would watch my husband work so hard on Saturdays, especially down pouring rainy Saturdays and then not work on beautiful sunny Sundays. That was a huge example to them and even though we didn't feel like we were doing anything special they were watching and let us know afterwards how that touched them.

Even though they did not want to hear the discussions, the seed was planted and maybe one day they will want to know more.

I want so badly to be a better missionary and have those opportunities. I am excited because Ethan will start preschool in Sept and will be going to a Methodist preschool and I am hoping that I will be able to meet other mothers of other faiths and have more missionary opportunities. I too have to work on not judging other people for their faults or things that they do as nonmembers. I hope to improve in all these areas and thank you again for all your wonderful comments and insights. I am enjoying this greatly!

Cheryl said...

Where you mentioned that the gate to the Celestial Kingdom is smaller than the gate of hell (I'm obviously not quoting), it made me think about how easy it is to justify certain things. I find myself justifying my actions or my INaction, because I'm tired, or busy or both. And at times, I do have to be careful where I put all my energy, but we are told to wear out our lives for the Gospel's sake. Am I doing that? Am I doing all I can? And most importantly, am I qualifying myself to have the Spirit with me every day? (dang it, where did I hear that last quote? I swear it was Gen. Conference).
Reality? I'm not. I'm so far behind in these things.

I like what Monica said about setting examples and being friends with our neighbors (well, all of you had good examples of that). I often wonder how people percieve me, all yellin' at my kids and being frazzled. Is that what I want the world to think of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Well, maybe if it's important them to see that I'm human, you know... :)