Hello everyone! It’s week 2 of my second 6-week transfer assignment here and I’m still alive! It’s all wonderful and I am loving it here.
Just the other day I got to musing about something that happened a few weeks before I came on my mission. In an interview with President Brent Carr, our stake president back in Boise, he asked me a question about mission preparation. He said, referring to the announcement of the age change for missionaries made over a year ago, that with more and more young men and women going out to serve younger, the great task of preparing to serve needed to happen earlier. He asked me what I thought would be an important part of making that happen. He asked what youth need in order to be more prepared to serve. I told him, after thinking about it for a few moments, that youth needed to gain a love for the scriptures earlier.
The Standards Works of Scripture for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price
I don’t think I realized, in that moment, how inspired President Carr’s question had really been and how my answer had been the truth, and something I, myself, had really needed to hear. I think I needed to hear it more than he did. Maybe he knew that. Because it really is so, so true.
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. A keystone is the central wedge-shaped stone of an arch. “An arch is a strong architectural structure made from wedge shaped pieces that lean against each other. The middle piece, or keystone, is usually larger than the other wedges and locks the other stones in place (Preach My Gospel
).” As the “keystone” of our religion, the Book of Mormon is what holds everything together.
“The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.”
It was written by many ancient prophets, just as the Bible was and, together with the Bible, testifies of the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is, literally another Testament of Jesus Christ. In fact,
“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.”
(Introduction to the Book of Mormon)
As the paragraphs from the introduction state, The Book of Mormon contains ‘the fullness of the everlasting gospel.’ All that really means is this:
- God is literally our Father and we are literally His children.
- He loves us.
- He has a plan for us to be here on earth to live, learn, love, and grow.
- Ideally, that plan concludes in our returning to live with Him. Or, in other words, with our going to “Heaven.”
- He gave us the perfect way to do just that. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to set an example for us, to teach, to suffer for our sins, and to ultimately die for us.
- Christ was then resurrected and He lives. He lives that we might live. And the way to follow Christ and return to live with God is, at its core, pretty simple:
There are 5 steps:
First, faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement
then repentance (or asking for forgiveness from wrong decisions and sins),
receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and
enduring to the end — in other words, to keep having faith, repenting, and trying to do what is right.
The Book of Mormon teaches these things. It teaches us these steps we have to take in order to return to live with God. And that holds everything together.
As the keystone, the Book of Mormon also engenders a promise. At the very end of the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, an invitation is extended. It reads,
“We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. “See Moroni 10:3–5
. Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.”
(Introduction to the Book of Mormon).
When and if a person reads the Book of Mormon, ponders (or thinks about) the message it contains, and asks God, sincerely, if it is true, they will be able to come to know for themselves that it is the word fo God and that, together with the Holy Bible, it testifies and teaches of Christ. And what follows is, that because the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God and he did restore Christ’s church to the earth.
It’s huge! It’s everything! If a missionary wants to serve with all their “heart, might, mind, and strength,” (Doctrine & Covenants 4:2
) they have to love this book. And they have to read it and read the Bible and learn to love what is taught within those holy pages.
If any member of the church wants a rock solid testimony of their Savior and Redeemer and of the restoration of the gospel, they just have to read the Book of Mormon.
If anyone not of this faith wants to understand what we believe, or see if what we live (try to, anyway, nobody is perfect!) and teach is true, they just have to read the book and accept the invitation to ponder and pray about it.
It’s marvelous! It’s simple! It’s way non-invasive! It’s a book! It changes lives!
In the past little while, that has struck me like a ton of bricks. So friends, if you are preparing for a full-time
mission, a part-time mission, marriage, college, a new job, a new baby, grand children, great grand-children, or just life in general, learn to love the scriptures. The stories told in the Bible and Book of Mormon are all at once classic and wondrous. There are battles, love stories, visions and dreams, kings and queens, daring escapes, sibling rivalries, blood, sweat, and tears, drama, intrigue, spies, quotes you can put up in vinyl on your kitchen walls, and most importantly, Jesus Christ. They’re really just about the coolest books ever. Let’s be honest.
So, if you haven’t ever read the Book of Mormon, or it’s just been a while, or it’s just been a few days or hours, I invite you to read it. Read it and talk to God about it. Don’t take my word for it. Take His. I love it, if you haven’t figured that out already, and I know that you could love it, too. It has changed my life and it has made me happier than any other book. I invite you to read what could become your favorite book of all time. It’s definitely my favorite.
Well, friends, my time is short. My heart has been full of my love of the scriptures recently, so I chose to focus on that in my message home this week. But all is well here in St. George. The weather is temperate and I’m trying to be the same. Just kidding. I’m fine. haha
I can feel your love and support for me and I am so grateful for it. I can feel the strength that comes from your prayers and good thoughts and it means the world. A missionary from the area I’m serving in is on a mission is Spain. She got very sick the last few weeks and is possibly going to have to return home. Just yesterday on Fast Sunday
, the ward that she is from fasted for her and for the decision that has to be made about the remainder of her mission. The love and strength that came from that action was overwhelming. You could feel it in the room as they bolstered together to support this young women who is serving the Lord in Spain. I know I’m not sick and I don’t have an entire congregation fasting for me, but I feel that strength that comes from my family and friends caring about what I’m doing and supporting me as I spend this time of my life dedicated to sharing the gospel. It’s really the best thing and the best feeling in the world. I hope I never say this too much: Thank you.
I want you all to know how much I love you. I am who I am because of every single one of you. I am here on a mission and I am who I am because of your friendship, your kindness, your example, your sense of humor, your support, and your love. I can’t tell you how much you all mean to me, because there aren’t words good enough. But I love you so much and I am forever grateful for you. I hope I can one day be the kind of friend to you that you all have been to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Remember that you are loved and have a fabulous week! I love and miss you!
Much love and rice and beans,