Thursday, May 29, 2008

In The Book of Mormon- Learning the Law of Judgment

When some people first start reading the Book of Mormon they are aghast to discover the story in which Nephi is required by the Lord to slay Laban. This incident is shown as the sons of Lehi go to Laban to procure the plates of brass, as commanded by the Lord.

First, we must remember how important these plates were. It is discussed that they were needed to not only preserve the language of their fathers, but also to help the people always remember the covenants that were made with their fathers to the Lord. We see the effects of a people without scriptures as we later learn the fate of the people that Mosiah discovers in the land of Zarahemla.

At first, it may seem quite harsh for the Lord to have commanded Nephi to slay Laban, but after studying it, I have come to understand the principle of judging others from this incident, as combined with the principle of LAW.

In Matthew 7:1-2 the Savior warns us about the law of judging when he says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."

In the course of the story in question, if you will recall, the brothers had several ideas about ways to gain the plates from Laban. The first plan they had was to cast lots and see who would simply go and ask for the plates, the lot fell on Laman, and this is what happened,

“And we cast lots—who of us should go in unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house. And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father. And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee."

It is here that Laban passes judgment on Laman, calling him a robber and then inflicting the punishment for a robber, as death. Thus with what measure he judged he will be judged, as the law states.

The next plan was to go to their father's house and get the "inheritance" that was left behind and take it to Laban and try to "purchase" the plates from him. When Laban sees the gold and precious stuff they bring to try and buy the plates he "lusts" after it, "And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property. And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban."

Oh no, guess who is the actual robber in the story? Yep, you guessed it Laban. Now, remember the punishment Laban himself attaches to robbers, is death. When he passed judgment he cast his own fate.

As Nephi catches Laban in a drunken state he is reluctant to slay him but the Lord commands it. He is simply enforcing a "law" that he had already set, “and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again".

Hope this adds another insight to your study. At last, be careful not to pass unrighteous judgments, not only your life, but your eternal life may depend on it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tithing: Open The Windows of Heaven

I believe that paying tithing to God is similar to the "Word of Wisdom", a principle with a promise. I think that the ultimate blessing we receive from paying tithing is simply being able to gain a testimony of the first law of heaven, which is the law of obedience and sacrifice.

There are many wonderful stories of financial success attributed to the fact that the individuals involved are full tithe payers. These stories can be very faith promoting but there are many instances of people who pay a full and honest tithe and do not receive monetary gain in return.

That is not the promise, the promise is: (Malachi 3:10) "and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

When the "windows of heaven" open I feel that the blessing is simply a more increased power to receive light, just as an open window lets in the sunlight. Obedience to the commandment of tithing or any commandment for that matter, allows one to "prove" the Lord to see if His word is sure.

Understanding law helps: D&C 130:20 "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— 21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."

Paying tithing allows one to call upon the blessing attached to obedience to that law, of added light and knowledge. The temple is, among other ways, one of those places we are permitted to go to receive that added light and knowledge; it is allowed because of the obedience to the laws that predicated it, one being tithing.

In the Christian society there is often a debate over who we are to pay our tithes and offerings to.

I remember an old joke that went something like:Lord, I will throw my money up into the air and whatever you need you keep, and whatever you don't need, let it fall to the ground and I will keep.

Similar to this bit of humor, when we decide the conditions of the law instead of the Lord and choose who we want to pay our tithes and offerings to, we are essentially doing the same thing as the person in the joke.

One of the earliest recorded instances of tithes being offered is in the scriptures, in the book of Genesis. It is when Abraham paid tithes, after his return from his conquest in battle, while delivering Lot from his enemies.

In Genesis 14:20 it explains what Abraham does next with his increase, “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” It is more interesting to note to whom he paid the tithes. In Genesis 14:18 we read, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.”

He paid tithes to Melchizedek because he was the rightful priesthood holder being the priest of the "most high God", or in other words, one having authority to act in God's name. I think the matter of debate is not one of "if the Lord requires tithing" but more the matter of who is the rightful representative of the Lord, holding the office of High Priest for one to pay their tithing to. For me, that holder is the Bishop of my ward, the High Priest of the Aaronic Priesthood, and Melchizedek Priesthood holder of the most high God.

Finally, God does not need our money for himself, but we need to learn to become obedient and learn to sacrifice for ourselves so that by "law" he can bless us with the further light and knowledge that is required to come to truly KNOW Him. He, as a loving Father is leaving that decision in our hands, and we must learn to open our hands and give, and make it as an offering in righteousness to know HIM.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wheelchair Foundation - Deliveries Videos - Embedded Video

Wheelchair Foundation - Deliveries Videos - Embedded Video

As I was looking at the website this morning, I noticed that the church has a new link to LDS Philanthropies. I couldn't help but notice the story on the church's Wheelchair Initiative and decided to check more fully into it. The church in partnership with the Wheelchair Foundation has been responsible for the delivery of more than a quarter million wheelchairs around the world. I was even more surprised to learn just how that foundation was started. This is a video of the BYU graduation speaker for 2002, Kenneth Behring and his story about the foundation and it's beginnings. Hope you enjoy it!