Sunday, April 24, 2011

1 Nephi 2-5

Look at Laman and Lemuel’s train of thought: “And they said he had done it [Lehi left Jerusalem] because of the foolish imaginings of his heart.” (1 Nephi 2:11)

I’ve heard people close to me criticize, for example:

- A friend ‘s decision to work and save for years in order to attend a college with others of the same high standards.
- Putting off college for two years to serve a mission
- Believing that Christ came to the Americas.
- Believing in God.

What stood out each of these times was the caustic tone of the person making the remarks. Reflecting, I hear an echo of Laman and Lemuel’s accusation: “the foolish imaginings of out heart.”

As I said before, I don’t think Laman and Lemuel are evil people, just misguided. This attitude seems to be timeless; let us remember that. (And keep in mind, of course, that sometimes our friends are right.)

I like Nephi’s progression. “And I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord to the tent of my father.” (1 Nephi 3:1)

Hopefully, we will not simply “go to” but “return from speaking with the Lord to”:
- PEC meeting or Weekly Planning session
- a crucial business meeting
- a home-teaching visit
- a DTR talk (or family council with our spouse),
- or any other place where we have to make decisions.

More murmuring: “And thy brothers murmur, saying: it is a hard thing which I have required of them. But behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.” (1 Nephi 3:5)

Laman and Lemuel essentially “shoot the messenger” – getting mad at their dad for relaying what God wanted them to do. Why were they mad? Because they didn’t want to do it.

I really like Nephi’s example of likening. “Let us be strong like unto Moses: for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea, and they divided hither and thither.” (1 Nephi 4:2)

"Let us go up, the Lord is able to deliver us, like unto our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.” (1 Nephi 4:3)

Let us (me) remember the scriptures and personal history to similarly live in sacred space. Let us (me) truly have the faith to expect miracles in our (my) everyday life. Perhaps not the big miracles but the small “line upon line” miracles. Let us understand precisely what we need – a dose of charity for an irritating coworker, a smile while meeting new people, a sense of humor with a troublesome child – and pray and work for that.

The Book of Mormon project: 1 Nephi 1

After a friendly reminder from the bishop and a good Sunday school lesson, I've decided that I need to be more dedicated about my scripture study. I need to search them instead of simply reading. So I'm re-reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning, writing my insights in my journal, and blogging what I learn. So far I'm 7 out of 7 this week, up from too-glassy-eyed 4 or 5.

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So, from the beginning.

One of the big things I've been impressed with is that the Book of Mormon depicts ordinary people, being asked to do extraordinary things. Sure, there are lots of really good people, but I don't think above and beyond the people you meet in church on Sunday.

For example, look at 'murmuring' and the general level of rebelliousness. Laman and Lemuel aren't evil, they're just really stubborn and prone to anger. They try to kill Nephi because they see his plan as completely ruining their life -- and there are a lot of people that would behave similarly.

Or, who 'murmurs.' Lehi murmurs when the steel bow breaks and he thinks they are all going to starve. Sariah murmurs when she thinks Laban has killed all of her sons. Laman and Lemuel murmur all the time, of course -- the only person who doesn't murmur is Nephi. And my journalistic guess is that he wasn't always perfect either but he was writing the record so we don't get to hear about it. (Except in lament form in 2 Nephi 4.)

The action in 1 Nephi 1 begins with some strange scenes, including Lehi seeing a vision and throwing himself on his bed. Not much of a catchy lede, is it?

Stephen Covey makes the point that private victory precedes public victory. Wars are won in the general's tent. Anger and malice are quieted in the heart before others observe a changed countenance. The events of Gethsemane gave Christ the courage he needed for Calvary and completed the triumph of the empty tomb that first Easter morn.

In 1 Nephi 1:20 we have the first "thus we see" passage. These form somewhat of a series of thesis statements [PDF, but a really good one], and this is the first one.
"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."