The Third Sunday of Advent

The Festival of Advent is celebrated the four Sundays before Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. This year, my family is celebrating Advent with activities and a devotional each Sunday night. Read about our first week HERE and our second week HERE.

Helama 14 5Last night as we were setting up our Christmas tree, my six year old son asked me if we believed in the star on the top of the tree. I thought it was a very insightful question for a six year old to ask. I said yes we do believe in the Christmas Star and asked him, what does the star symbolize? He said, “It’s Jesus’ birthday star.”

We went on to talk about the signs of Christ’s birth, specifically the signs given to the people on this continent by the prophet Samuel the Lamanite. In Helaman 14, we read:

2 And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.

3 And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.

4 Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.

5 And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.

6 And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.

7 And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth.

8 And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life.

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Seeing with an Eye of Faith: Visualize Your Desired Future

A remarkable phrase shows up a number of times in the Book of Mormon. It involves “looking forward” with an “eye of faith” to a desired result in the future. The idea is that if there is something that you sincerely desire, you should use your inner “eye,” or your imagination, and picture yourself as already being there or having what you want.  Through your faith that it is possible, you can begin to see yourself as having already reached your goal.

In the book of Alma 5:15-16, Alma preaches to the people about the goal of being received into heaven when their life on Earth is over.  In order to direct them toward that goal, he asks them if they can imagine how things will be at that future time when they finally get there. As they “look forward with an eye of faith,” what kind of outcome do they see? He asks:

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality … to stand before God …?

 16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

What Alma is trying to have his audience do is to visualize their own future in minute detail. They are to imagine being resurrected and raised to stand before God.  They are to imagine themselves hearing the approving voice of the Lord accepting them into heaven — reaching their ultimate goal.  He suggests that if they try to visualize this scene and what they envision is only negative, then perhaps they need to find that balance in their lives so that the way they are living is in alignment with a positive outcome and then exercise their faith so that they are now headed in this more desirable direction.

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Heroes of the Fallen Kindle Edition – FREE for a limited time

For the next couple of days, the Kindle Edition eBook of “Heroes of the Fallen” is available for FREE at Amazon.com: http://goo.gl/7gX7V

Back in 2010 I reviewed and recommended “Heroes of the Fallen” by David J. West. The book is a story of ancient warfare, political and religious intrigue, and courageous but often flawed heroes set in the ancient America of the Book of Mormon, around 320 or so years A.D. A few parts are quite gory and it is the first of an intended trilogy, so the book leaves you hanging at the end, but I enjoyed it immensely.

Don’t have a Kindle? That’s okay. You can get the book for free from Amazon and then read it on your iPhone, iPad, or PC Computer using Amazon’s free book reader applications.

Go get it! Get it NOW!

Timeline of Book of Mormon and Old Testament Prophets 800 BC – 400 BC

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

I’ve been getting ready to study the Book of Mormon for Sunday school in 2012. I wanted to create a way to more easily place the first three prophets of the Book of Mormon (Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob) into context related to the prophetic books, and some historical writings like Ezra, of the Old Testament. After some research and experimentation with layout, I put together this timeline of Old Testament and Book of Mormon prophets between 800 B.C. and 400 B.C.

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Language Unique to the Book of Mormon: “On The Morrow Month”

[Cross posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

The Book of Mormon records that Giddianhi, the leader of the antagonist Gadianton Robbers, wrote a letter to Lachoneus, the leader of the protagonist Nephites, demanding that they relinquish all their property and join their cause. In his letter he gives an ultimatum:

“And behold, I swear unto you, if ye will do this, with an oath, ye shall not be destroyed; but if ye will not do this, I swear unto you with an oath, that on the morrow month I will command that my armies shall come down against you, and they shall not stay their hand and shall spare not, but shall slay you, and shall let fall the sword upon you even until ye shall become extinct.”

It was a few years ago that the peculiarity of Giddianhi’s ultimatum really stood out to me for the first time.

As an English major with a particular interest in literature written before the 20th century, I had read a variety of texts from the Old English, Middle English, Renaissance, Early Modern,18th and 19th Century periods. At the time I had been reading a great deal of early American writing, often in the original spelling and grammar, which had been written between 1500 and 1860. I had just finished a handful of books published around the time when Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon and the phrase “…on the morrow month…” in Giddianhi’s letter really stuck out as an unusual construction.

I wondered if “on the morrow month” was in common usage in the 19th century, when Joseph was translating the Nephite record, but had since fallen out of use. Or maybe it was a construction adapted from the Jacobean language of the King James Bible. I had never run into it in any of my other reading, so I started to investigate.

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