Friday, September 27, 2013


I have never been one of those people who needs to know exactly where my life is going.  Most of the time I just take what comes and try to make the best of the situation. 

It’s not that I don’t have goals but I believe life can be good in a variety of ways so why worry about which one happens.  As long as the family is happy and we have enough to eat and a place to live, then the other parts of life will sort themselves out.

I have made a better effort to listen to the promptings of the Spirit so I can know what Heavenly Father wants but in many cases it seems He feels much as I do about too many specifics. 

The other day I was preparing a lesson for class on the experience Nephi had after he and his family arrived in the land Bountiful (1 Nephi 17).  They had been marching through the wilderness of Arabia for eight years and had finally come to a place that showed some promise for the future.  There was plenty of food, water and other resources and it appears the environment was very hospitable.  I’m sure many (Laman and Lemuel especially) felt that this was the end of their journey – The Promised Land.

But “after the space of many days” Nephi was called by the Lord to disrupt the quiet, idyllic life that many had surely come to enjoy.

And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying; Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. (1 Nephi 17:8)

Whenever I read scripture, I try to put myself in the place of those in the story so I can imagine my thoughts as Nephi:

What!!!  Hey, we just got here.  This is a nice place and we have lots of food and great weather and life is grand.  Why can’t we just stay?  The past eight years have been difficult, and you know my brothers are gonna be upset if we have to move again.  Are you sure we need to do this?  Besides, I know nothing about making ships.  I’m from Jerusalem and have no experience with ocean voyages, storms on the sea or anything of that sort.  Can’t we just stay put for a while?

And so forth! 

But Nephi isn’t me.  So his response was totally different and actually more in line with what I hope I have done in my life.

And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?

Making tools

The concern wasn’t that there was to be a big change in life.  It wasn’t that he had no experience with boat building. Nor was he worried that his brothers would rebel (that was just the way they were).  

He was interested in where he could find rocks that had ore that could be made into metal for hammers and axes and such stuff so they could build a ship.  NO PROBLEM that he didn’t know anything about ships or other sailing stuff!!!  Nephi just wanted to do what the Lord asked him to do.

Nephi was confident that God could show him how to build a ship – without actually knowing many of the skills necessary for such a job.  He was willing to do what he knew to do and then expected the Lord to show him the rest.

That is faith.  That is trust.

That is what life should always be.  Experiences in mortality are to prepare us for the life of eternity.  Who knows all we will be called upon to do when we are resurrected?  It won’t be all harps, singing and riding on clouds – God has much more important work for our eternal souls (D&C 88:15) to complete.  The best way to prepare is to listen NOW so when we get there it is a habit.  Then we will listen and DO what He has for us to do.

The still, small voice of the Holy Ghost is the guide we have to find Father’s will.  Our sensitivity to His voice greatly enhances our ability to do His will.  And…

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.  (John 7:17)

The finished product


For a modern day example of this same attitude/faithfulness, take a gander at a story over on another site.  This little girl is pretty special to me and she exhibits exactly what Nephi taught in his ‘boat-building’ adventure.  In fact, I printed the story out for my students so they could see an example from real life.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


One of my students asked me the following question one day: 

“Brother Whitmer, why did Joseph Smith say the Book of Mormon is a perfect book?  Haven’t there been lots of changes in the book to fix errors?  And if it isn't a perfect book, how can we believe it is true?”
The Gold Plates of Mormon

My answer went something like this:

Joseph did not state that the Book of Mormon was a perfect book.  What he DID say was:

“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon, Paragraph 6)

Being the ‘most correct’ book does not indicate that it is perfect – in fact, the prophet himself is leaving room for error.  But not error in doctrine or revelation from God – he was leaving the door open to account for the challenges mortal man has in recording the words and revelations of God.
The First Vision
The writers of all scripture are mortal men and have biases, fears, shortcomings and attitudes that affect the way they see and record the revelations they receive.  They are not perfect men!! But they listen and record, as best they can, the things they witness concerning God and Christ and their kingdom.

The Book of Mormon is the “most correct” book because it has had only one translation and the translator was called of God to perform that work.  Yes, there were errors in some of the transcribing by scribes and when it went to the printers.  There were also some words that were misunderstood and had to be corrected after the printing.  But the doctrine and principles of truth that are available to mankind in the Book of Mormon are simple, clear and completely focused on the role of the Savior Jesus Christ in the redemption of man.

Our only source of Salvation

Any person who studies the words of the prophets contained in the Book of Mormon will better understand the role of Jesus Christ in the Father’s Plan of Salvation – the vital role that provides a way to overcome all the challenges of mortality -- sin, death, sickness, physical ailments, mental struggles, and all else that comes to mortal men and women (see Alma 7:11-13).

That was the gist of my answer to that student.  Now I add something for those who may read this posting.

For 183 years there have been doubters and naysayers all over the world who have declared that Joseph was a fraud or false prophet and that the Book of Mormon was the invention of deceitful men.  

Yet, millions who have read the Book of Mormon have come away with a greater appreciation for the Lord and Savior of this world.  Jesus Christ is the focus of all Joseph taught and Jesus is the leader and center of the religion Joseph founded.  We honor the prophet for that, but we worship the Savior.  Any who think otherwise do not understand the Latter-day Saints.

The Eternal Atonement

The keystone of our religion remains firmly centered in the arch.  And that keystone is another testimony of Jesus Christ – the one true Founder and Finisher of our faith.

I love Him and hope to be with Him one day.  

Monday, September 16, 2013


…Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
Our First Parents who
were always faithful
to each other.

Recently Teresa and I have been visiting some of the folks we love the most who live near us.  Many are relatives or long-time friends and some are fairly new additions to our circle but we have grown to appreciate each of them for specific reasons.  Some make us laugh and others offer us ways to serve and step outside our selfish world view.

I have noticed that most of these people are in the later reaches of mortal life and are suffering from some physical or mental weakness that makes life difficult.  Maybe we like them because we are approaching those years and want to get some clues on how to deal with the future.  For whatever reason, our days are better when we visit with these good souls and offer the hand of fellowship.

But there is an even more important message in our visits with our friends.  Without exception, one or both in the couple has a debilitating malady that makes life nearly unbearable for their companion.  Some are losing their mental faculties; others are physically weak or incapacitated; but, despite the challenges proffered by their lives, all these couples have stayed true to their companion.  Not just by staying in the home but by sacrificing all their time and efforts to support and provide for their spouse.  Many of these good people are ill themselves but they work day and night to care for and protect their eternal companion from the ravages of this mortal experience. 

When God commanded Adam and Eve to “cleave” unto each other, and none else, most often we consider the need to be morally true to our spouse.  But I believe He was also thinking of times like the end of life. 

It has always been interesting to me that He used the word “CLEAVE” because it has two meanings – and they are opposites.  I guess it was His way of seeing who would be faithful and understand what He really meant in His command.

The adversary would invite the world to cleave from (split or sever) their companion because it is too hard to care for them.  The Lord challenges us to cleave to (become very strongly involved with or emotionally attached to) and hold on because these are the people we have covenanted to love and cherish throughout all eternity. 

Eternal Covenants are made here.
My hope is that when the time comes to care for my sweetheart, I will be prepared to give ALL I have to protect and love for her.  She is my most important friend and I want that to be true forever.

I WILL cleave unto her with all my heart!!!