The example of a 7-year-old

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With the start of a new year, the year in which my daughter turns eight and is eligible to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my wife and I talked about how we could help her prepare for this wonderful ordinance. My wife thought it would be great for our daughter to read the Book of Mormon before she turns eight. We both felt this was a good goal but did not say anything to her because we wanted her to set her own goal, whatever it might be.

Then out of the blue a couple Sundays ago our daughter was sitting in church when she told my wife that she thought she should read the Book of Mormon this year before she turns eight! My wife acknowledged to our daughter that that was a prompting from the Holy Ghost. We were both pleased to see our daughter listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Because of my daughter’s example, I decided that I should re-read the Book of Mormon this year as well. A number of years ago I had switched from serial readings of the scriptures to topical readings (in part to have posts for this website). It’s been a while since I’ve read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover; I’ve read it in its entirety countless times in the past, including 10+ times as a missionary but I’ve become so ensconced in my topical studies that I have neglected the larger picture that comes from reading the whole book with consistency.

My daughter is already in 2 Nephi; I’m not quite that far along yet. I’m always struck by 1 Nephi. It’s a remarkable book; Nephi was a remarkable individual. I have a post or two I want to write about what struck me this time through 1 Nephi so look for those in the coming days.

I’m grateful to my daughter for serving as a good example to me and inspiring me to return to serial reading of the scriptures in addition to topical reading of them.

Mormon Messages: Good Things to Come

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A new Mormon Messages video shares one of my favorite stories ever shared in General Conference. In October 1999, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland related a story about his car breaking down just outside Kanarraville, UT as he was a young man headed across the country to attend graduate school. Here is the Mormon Messages video of the story:

Here is the text of Elder Holland’s story from his talk An High Priest of Good Things to Come:

“Forgive me for a personal conclusion, which does not represent the terrible burdens so many of you carry but it is meant to be encouraging. Thirty years ago last month, a little family set out to cross the United States to attend graduate school–no money, an old car, every earthly possession they owned packed into less than half the space of the smallest U-Haul trailer available. Bidding their apprehensive parents farewell, they drove exactly 34 miles up the highway, at which point their beleaguered car erupted.

“Pulling off the freeway onto a frontage road, the young father surveyed the steam, matched it with his own, then left his trusting wife and two innocent children–the youngest just three months old–to wait in the car while he walked the three miles or so to the southern Utah metropolis of Kanarraville, population then, I suppose, 65. Some water was secured at the edge of town, and a very kind citizen offered a drive back to the stranded family. The car was attended to and slowly–very slowly–driven back to St. George for inspection–U-Haul trailer and all.

“After more than two hours of checking and rechecking, no immediate problem could be detected, so once again the journey was begun. In exactly the same amount of elapsed time at exactly the same location on that highway with exactly the same pyrotechnics from under the hood, the car exploded again. It could not have been 15 feet from the earlier collapse, probably not 5 feet from it! Obviously the most precise laws of automotive physics were at work.

“Now feeling more foolish than angry, the chagrined young father once more left his trusting loved ones and started the long walk for help once again. This time the man providing the water said, ‘Either you or that fellow who looks just like you ought to get a new radiator for that car.’ For the second time a kind neighbor offered a lift back to the same automobile and its anxious little occupants. He didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the plight of this young family.

“‘How far have you come?’ he said. ‘Thirty-four miles,’ I answered. ‘How much farther do you have to go?’ ‘Twenty-six hundred miles,’ I said. ‘Well, you might make that trip, and your wife and those two little kiddies might make that trip, but none of you are going to make it in that car.’ He proved to be prophetic on all counts.

“Just two weeks ago this weekend, I drove by that exact spot where the freeway turnoff leads to a frontage road, just three miles or so west of Kanarraville, Utah. That same beautiful and loyal wife, my dearest friend and greatest supporter for all these years, was curled up asleep in the seat beside me. The two children in the story, and the little brother who later joined them, have long since grown up and served missions, married perfectly, and are now raising children of their own. The automobile we were driving this time was modest but very pleasant and very safe. In fact, except for me and my lovely Pat situated so peacefully at my side, nothing of that moment two weeks ago was even remotely like the distressing circumstances of three decades earlier.

“Yet in my mind’s eye, for just an instant, I thought perhaps I saw on that side road an old car with a devoted young wife and two little children making the best of a bad situation there. Just ahead of them I imagined that I saw a young fellow walking toward Kanarraville, with plenty of distance still ahead of him. His shoulders seemed to be slumping a little, the weight of a young father’s fear evident in his pace. In the scriptural phrase his hands did seem to ‘hang down.’ In that imaginary instant, I couldn’t help calling out to him: ‘Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead–a lot of it–30 years of it now, and still counting. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.'”

Do Good and Love God, Part 1

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“But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13).

We can learn a lot from this interesting scripture. We learn that which of God invites and entices us to do good continually. In other words, that which of God does not just invite us to do good; it invites us to do good all the time. Another important lesson from this verse is that God does not force us – He invites us and even entices us (for example, with the promise of eternal life) because that is sometimes what it takes to motivate us. Being enticed to do good provides us with hope; hope and faith are inseparably connected. Another thing that this part of the verse teaches us is that there are things that invite us to do good that are not necessarily “of God”, or rather, there are good things that are not necessarily inspired of God. The second sentence in this verse teaches us more about the conditions of inspiration.

“Every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13). This is a conjunctive statement. That means that all of the separate conditions or clauses of the sentence are required to support the conclusion. That which is inspired of God invites us to do good and love God and serve Him. It requires all three – do good, love, and serve. Why is this important to understand?

This means that there are things that invite us to do good that are not necessarily directly inspired of God, as I mentioned earlier. I don’t want to minimize any good thing but that which is good does not necessarily equal that which is best. As Elder Oaks stated in General Conference in October 2007, “We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives” (Source).