Category Archives: Scripture Studies

Moses 2:1-5 Creating & Dividing Darkness & Light


Reading Moses 2 this morning —

And the earth was without form, and void; and I caused darkness to come up upon the face of the deep; and my Spirit moved upon the face of the water; for I am God.

God caused darkness to come. I suppose when I usually think of the creation story, it’s already dark and God adds light to it. But in this verse, God brings darkness to this formless earth. What would that mean? Are there already stars around, but now there’s something blocking that light? Or clouds? Or a distance? Or another star passes away?

Why come up upon the face of the deep? What does face of the deep mean or what does it look like? What is “the deep?” Is it the waters? Is it “something formless deep in space?”

Why “up” upon? Is this darkness something that was under the deep and now is out in the open and visible? (so to speak)

And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was light.

4a And I, God, saw the light; and that light was good.

God saw “that light was good.” That light in general is good? Did God see that this light was good? That is was created properly? Were there other lights to chose from but this was a good one? Had he created other lights in the past that didn’t go as they should, so he recognized this as good?

Are we talking about the creation of the sun?

Are we talking about how the light gets to the earth? It was getting here in a good amount of time? Or included a good amount of energy, etc.?

4b And I, God, divided the light from the darkness.

If I’m picturing a sun shining on a planet, then the light is only covering one half of that planet. It would seem that the light is already and always separate from the darkness. What if, instead of this meaning that the light and dark are separated, it means that the light and dark and mixed together in divisions. The light and dark are divvied out, portioned out, take turns. They are divided not from each other but within each other.

Now it sounds like a math problem: Let’s divide the light from (?) the darkness. If each part of darkness is divided by each part of light, how many parts will we have? No, that doesn’t work we’d still have half and half. 🙂 But anyway, I still want to think of how this could be thought of as dividing huge never-changing chunks of light and dark into smaller, rotating chunks of light and dark.

That is, into day and night. What we had before was “light half” and “dark half.” Now we have each area of the earth receiving both light and dark. The rotation of the earth is what gives both light and dark, or day and night.

And I, God, called the light Day; and the darkness, I called Night; and this I did by the word of my power, and it was done as I spake; and the evening and the morning were the first day.

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Sister Sharon Eubank’s entire talk “Turn On Your Light”


I just reread this talk in order to pull from it some quotations. But the entire talk is bewilderingly perfect. If you haven’t listened to it, do it as soon as you can. It might be one of the best 13.41 minutes of your life. 🙂

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/turn-on-your-light?lang=eng

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(or read it here:) Continue reading


Elder Christofferson “Preach what you practice” and other quotes to keep handy


https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/04/the-voice-of-warning?lang=eng

A crucial element of the parental duty to warn is to paint not only the demoralizing consequences of sin but also the joy of walking in obedience to the commandments. Recall the words of Enos about what led him to seek God, receive a remission of sins, and become converted:

“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication.”19

Deseret News opinion editor Hal Boyd cited one example of the disservice inherent in staying silent. He noted that while the idea of marriage is still a matter of “intellectual debate” among elites in American society, marriage itself is not a matter of debate for them in practice. “‘Elites get and stay married and make sure their kids enjoy the benefits of stable marriage.’ … The problem, however, is that [they] tend not to preach what they practice.” They don’t want to “impose” on those who really could use their moral leadership, but “it is perhaps time for those with education and strong families to stop feigning neutrality and start preaching what they practice pertaining to marriage and parenting … [and] help their fellow Americans embrace it.”32

We trust that especially you of the rising generation, youth and young adults on whom the Lord must rely for the success of His work in future years, will sustain the teachings of the gospel and the standards of the Church in public as well as in private. Do not abandon those who would welcome truth to floundering and failing in ignorance. Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or to fear—fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering. Remember the Savior’s promise:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”33


Elder Perry’s experience at the Vatican (quotes to keep handy)


Pope Francis opened the first session of the assembly with this statement: “We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. … It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis.”1

In referring to those of the rising generation, he said it is important that they “do not give themselves over to the poisonous [mentality] of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern”; this must be done.2

There were many who saw and expressed this unity, and they did so in a variety of ways. One of my favorites was when a Muslim scholar from Iran quoted two paragraphs verbatim from our very own proclamation on the family.

During the colloquium, I observed that when various faiths and denominations and religions are united on marriage and family, they are also united on the values and loyalty and commitment which are naturally associated with family units. It was remarkable for me to see how marriage and family-centered priorities cut across and superseded any political, economic, or religious differences. When it comes to love of spouse and hopes, worries, and dreams for children, we are all the same.

What the restored gospel brings to the discussion on marriage and family is so large and so relevant that it cannot be overstated: we make the subject eternal! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity.

The entire theology of our restored gospel centers on families and on the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in a premortal life where we all lived as literal spirit children of God our Heavenly Father. We believe that we were, and still are, members of His family.

We believe that marriage and family ties can continue beyond the grave—that marriages performed by those who have the proper authority in His temples will continue to be valid in the world to come. Our marriage ceremonies eliminate the words “till death do us part” and instead say, “for time and for all eternity.”

We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values—but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God.

A great number of secular people have concluded that a committed marriage and family lifestyle is the most sensible, the most economical, and the happiest way to live.

No one has ever come up with a more efficient way to raise the next generation than a household of married parents with children.

Why should marriage and family matter—everywhere? Public opinion polls show that marriage is still the ideal and the hope among the majority of every age group—even among the millennial generation, where we hear so much about chosen singleness, personal freedom, and cohabitation instead of marriage. The fact is that strong majorities worldwide still want to have children and to create strong families.

Once we are married and once we have children, the true commonality among all mankind becomes even more evident. As “family people”—no matter where we live or what our religious beliefs may be—we share many of the same struggles, the same adjustments, and the same hopes, worries, and dreams for our children.

We need to remind ourselves once in a while, as I was reminded in Rome, of the wonderfully reassuring and comforting fact that marriage and family are still the aspiration and ideal of most people and that we are not alone in those beliefs. It has never been more of a challenge to find a practical balance between employment, families, and personal needs than it is in our day. As a church, we want to assist in all that we can to create and support strong marriages and families.

We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important, why marriage and family really do matter, and why they always will.

My brothers and sisters, the restored gospel centers on marriage and family. It is also on marriage and family where we can unite most with other faiths. It is around marriage and family where we will find our greatest commonality with the rest of the world. It is around marriage and family that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the greatest opportunity to be a light on the hill.


Sis. Eubank & Pres. Nelson (quotes from their talks to keep handy)


President Nelson (A Plea To My Sisters)

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng#note8

Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church. He prophesied: “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”5

My dear sisters, you who are our vital associates during this winding-up scene, the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. You are the women he foresaw! Your virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith, and righteous lives will draw good women of the world, along with their families, to the Church in unprecedented numbers!6

“We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. …

“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.”8

Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.

Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.12 We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.

My dear sisters, nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women—women like my dear wife Wendy—whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.

Sis. Eubank (Turn On Your Light)

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/turn-on-your-light?lang=eng

“Finally, my dear sisters, may I suggest to you something that has not been said before or at least in quite this way. Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.

“Among the real heroines in the world who will come into the Church are women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility. …

“… It will be … female exemplars of the Church [who] will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.”3

What a prophetic statement that is. Just to summarize:

  • It will be the good relationships of women that will trigger much of the major growth coming to the Church in the years ahead.

  • The friendships that Relief Society women, young women, and Primary girls build with sincere, faithful, godly women and girls of other faiths and beliefs will be a significant force in how the Church grows in the last days.

  • President Kimball called these women from other backgrounds “heroines” who will be more concerned with being righteous than selfish, who will show us that integrity is more valuable than visibility.

Each of us needs to be better at articulating the reasons for our faith. How do you feel about Jesus Christ? Why do you stay in the Church? Why do you believe the Book of Mormon is scripture? Where do you get your peace? Why does it matter that the prophet has something to say in 2017? How do you know he is a real prophet? Use your voice and your power to articulate what you know and feel—on social media, in quiet conversations with your friends, when you’re chatting with your grandchildren. Tell them why you believe, what it feels like, if you ever doubted, how you got through it, and what Jesus Christ means to you. As the Apostle Peter said, “Be not afraid … ; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”4

Everyone on the beach could think only of traditional solutions, and they were paralyzed. But one couple, in a split second, thought of a different solution. Innovation and creation are spiritual gifts. When we keep our covenants, it may make us different from others in our culture and society, but it gives us access to inspiration so we can think of different solutions, different approaches, different applications. We aren’t always going to fit in with the world, but being different in positive ways can be a lifeline to others who are struggling.

When we build, when we lift the burden of others, it blesses our lives in ways our trials cannot take away. I have a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley placed where I see it every day. He said: “You don’t … build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.”9

There is an energy that comes from happiness and optimism that doesn’t just bless us—it builds everyone around us. Any small thing you do to light real happiness in others shows that you are already carrying the torch that President Kimball lit.

I was 15 years old at the time President Kimball’s talk was given. We who are older than 40 have been carrying this charge from President Kimball ever since that day. Now I look out at the 8-year-olds, the 15-year-olds, the 20-year-olds, and the 35-year-olds, and I’m going to pass this torch to you. You are the future leaders in this Church, and it will be up to you to carry this light forward and be the fulfillment of this prophecy. We who are older than 40 link our arms through yours and feel your strength and energy. We need you.

Listen to this scripture found in Doctrine and Covenants 49:26–28. It may have been written under different circumstances, but tonight by the Holy Spirit, I hope you will take it as your personal call to this sacred work.

“Behold, I say unto you, go forth as I have commanded you; repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you.

“Behold, I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst, and you shall not be confounded.

“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, and I come quickly.”11

….

I appeal to each of you to put yourself in a place where you can feel the generous love God has for you. You cannot put yourself beyond the reach of that love. When you feel His love, when you love Him, you will repent and keep His commandments. When you keep His commandments, He can use you in His work. His work and glory is the exaltation and eternal life of women and men.

The prophets are calling on us, my sisters. Will you be righteous? Will you articulate your faith? Can you bear being distinct and different? Will your happiness in spite of your trials draw others who are good and noble and who need your friendship? Will you turn on your light? I testify the Lord Jesus Christ will go before us and be in our midst.

 


Adam and Eve — first parents


I am looking through the scriptures for references to parents this morning. I know that’s only kind of a successful way to see what the scriptures might teach me about mothering. But, I did have this question come into my mind: What’s the purpose, or benefit, of describing Adam and Eve as “our first parents” rather than “the first people on earth?”

For example, when Alma is teaching his son in Alma chapter 42, he says,

“For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken…”

And Antionah in Alma 12,

“…lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever?”

And 2 Nephi 2:15

“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air…”

So seriously, why would they refer to Adam and Eve as the first parents, even “our” first parents, rather than other terms like first man and woman or first people, and so on?

Maybe it’s a Book of Mormon thing:

Mosiah 16:3

“yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents…”

Helaman 16,

“but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—”

2 Nephi 9:9,

“like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents…”

1 Nephi 5:11

“and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents…”

Ether 8,

“even that same liar who beguiled our first parents…”

Yep, that’s a Book of Mormon thing. Interesting.

They also refer to Lehi & Sariah as their first parents from Jerusalem, and when learning about the Jaredites, the first parents who came from the tower.

There’s also a bit of debate about how parents’ actions affect children. Lehi asks God that if Laman & Lemuel don’t teach their children about the gospel, that future sins of the kids will be answered on the heads of the parents (2 Nephi 4). Later missionaries to the Lamanites say that the state of the Lamanites is because of the tradition of their fathers (for example, their hatred towards the Nephites). But, of course, they can learn and change and repent. Ideally, this notion would mean that the Lamanites were innocent, while also being in a fallen, God-less state. One of the Nephites-turned-Lamanites argues that this attitude implies that these descendants are guilty, and this is wrong because no child is guilty because of the works of a parent (Alma 30).

So back to my original question, what effect does it have to refer to Adam and Eve as our first parents? Is it because of this question of guilt and tradition? Is it because that is simply how they thought about humanity? They also refer to the first people to leave the tower as parents and the first people to leave Jerusalem as parents. Should this teach us something about how they saw their ancestry — of a male and female, not just of a male? Yet, later accounts of lineage don’t focus on mothers at all (“pure descendant of Nephi,” for example). What can we learn from this language?


President Kimball on testimonies


“I know it is true.” Because those few words have been said a billion times by millions of people does not make it trite. It will never be worn out. I feel sorry for people who try to couch it in other words, because there are no words like “I know.” There are no words which express the deep feelings which can come from the human heart like “I know.”
Some of our good people get so terrified at triteness that they try to steer around and away from their testimonies by getting out on the fringes. Don’t you ever worry about triteness in testimony. When the President of the Church bears his testimony, he says, “I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, a divine representative. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” You see, the same thing every one of you says. That is a testimony. It never gets old, never gets old! Tell the Lord frequently how much you love him.
A testimony is not an exhortation; a testimony is not a sermon (none of you are there to exhort the rest); it is not a travelogue. You are there to bear your own witness. It is amazing what you can say in 60 seconds by way of testimony, or 120, or 240, or whatever time you are given, if you confine yourselves to testimony. We’d like to know how you feel. Do you love the work, really? Are you happy in your work? Do you love the Lord? Are you glad that you are a member of the Church?
Just tell how you feel inside. That is the testimony. The moment you begin preaching to others, your testimony ended. Just tell us how you feel, what your mind and heart and every fiber of your body tells you.