Book of Mormon

Studying the Scriptures

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Studying the Scriptures

Prior to being baptized and becoming a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 10 March 1998, I told the missionaries who were teaching me that I would not make a decision about baptism until after I had read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price each in their entirety. I sincerely believe that the Lord’s hand was at work in the matter as I was inspired to develop a 40-Day Reading Schedule to carry out the task at hand.

Believe it, or not, there are some who have been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints their entire lives and have never read either of these volumes of Scripture in their entirety. It is my hope, my sincere prayer, that once they read them for perhaps the first time in their entirety, they will gain a thirst to want to read them again and again. I have now in my 17 years as a member of the Church read the Book of Mormon 9 times in its entirety, and the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price each 13 times in their entirety. I find that each time I read them I learn something that I did not learn before. I have also read the Bible 9 times in its entirety.

Oftentimes when I am reading and studying the scriptures, I like to use other resources that I have available in my library and look up certain portions of the Scriptures that I am reading or may have questions about for clarification. This proves to be very beneficial especially when I am preparing a talk for Church or writing an article such as this one. Each of us have our own methods of reading and studying the Scriptures. Please understand that I am not in any way saying that one method is better than another, or that a particular method is wrong and another is right.

With that being said, in my humble opinion, I do believe that sometimes we can, if we are not careful, spend more time pondering over what has been written about the Scriptures by others, than actually reading the Scriptures themselves. After all, it is the Word of God, which stands firmly on its own, that is the greatest and last authority. Sometimes I fear that people can get too caught up in becoming concerned about what someone has written about a subject than they do about the real subject at hand. In short, what I am saying is, there needs to be a delicate balance. Again, the Word of God itself should always be our final authority.

I particularly like what President Ezra Taft Benson taught us about this. He said, “Always remember, there is no satisfactory substitute for the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. These should be your original sources. Read and ponder more what the Lord has said, and less about what others have written concerning what the Lord has said.” (Address to educators, Salt Lake City, September 17, 1976.) Those are great words of counsel.

I also agree with the strong counsel of President Romney given to a group of Seminary and Institute coordinators in 1973. He told them:

I don’t know much about the gospel other than what I’ve learned from the standard works. When I drink from a spring I like to get the water where it comes out of the ground, not down the stream after the cattle have waded in it. … I appreciate other people’s interpretation, but when it comes to the gospel we ought to be acquainted with what the Lord says. … You ought to read the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants; and … all the scriptures with the idea of finding out what’s in them and what the meaning is and not to prove some idea of your own. Just read them and plead with the Lord to let you understand what he had in mind when he wrote them.” (Address delivered at Coordinators’ Convention, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, 13 Apr. 1973.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith gave us this great admonition in 1832. He said:

Search the scriptures—search the revelations which we publish and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. … For when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how He will save them. … Again we say: Search the Scriptures, search the Prophets and learn what portion of them belongs to you.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, pp. 11–12.)

The beauty of reading the Scriptures is just as J. Richard Clarke once said, “Brothers and sisters, you don’t have to be a natural student to read the scriptures; you just need to love the Lord.” (J. Richard Clarke, “My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures,” Ensign, November 1982, p.15.)

What is the Book of Mormon?

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Book of Mormon

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider the Book of Mormon to be a sacred volume of scripture that is comparable to the Holy Bible. The Book of Mormon is not intended to replace the Bible,nor does it detract from the teachings of the Bible, but rather its teachings enhance those doctrines and principles that are taught in the Bible.It is exactly as its name declares, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Latter-day Saints testify that the Bible and the Book of Mormon together present an irrefutable testimony of the Divine Redeemer and Savior of the World, and the immensity of His love for all people.

To date the entire book of Mormon has been translated into 85 languages, and selections of the Book of Mormon have been translated into an additional 25 languages. Thus, the volume is made available to many people in their native tongue, but the question that begs an answer is, “How many people have ever read the Book of Mormon or know anything about it?”

In 2014, three returned missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Kyson Kidd, Jacob Justice and Jake Christensen – set out on a new mission to find an answer to that exact question. The culmination of their quest was the creation of a video called “What is the Book of Mormon?” which was published on YouTube on 1 January 2015, and has already received over 10,000 views.

Coach Ken Niumatalolo: Faith and Family Precede Football

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Ken Niumatalolo Head Coach Navy

Ken Niumatalolo was promoted to Head Football Coach at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on 8 December 2007 by Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. As the head football coach, he has received the distinguished honor of being the second person of Polynesian descent to be named head coach of a NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football program. He also has the distinct honor of being the first Samoan collegiate head coach on any level. On 23 January 2014, he was inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Ken Niumatalolo Family Football PatchNiumatalolo recently agreed to serve as the Baltimore Area Council’s honorary recruitment chair. On 2 August 2014, at Navy’s Football Media Day, each new Cub Scout and the Scout who recruited him in the Baltimore Area Council had an opportunity to meet Coach Niumatalolo and had their pictures taken with the team. In addition, each Scout received a patch (pictured here) which was designed by the Niumatalolo family.

Field Director, Jeffrey Griffin stated,

To do this we needed the Naval Academy’s approval, as well as the approval of the NCAA. This means other football coaches can do the same thing if their schools allow them. The NCAA said yes to this idea as long as the Coach (in this case Coach Ken) or the project don’t go after Boy Scout/Venture-age youth. That would be a violation of NCAA rules.

Niumatalolo and his wife, Barbara, are volunteers in the Baltimore Area Council. Their oldest son, Va’a, a 2011 graduate of Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Maryland, and now a freshman at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where he plays the position of Linebacker for the BYU Cougars, is an Eagle Scout. Their youngest son, Ali’i, is presently a junior at Broadneck High School and plays the position of Middle Linebacker for the Broadneck Bruins varsity football team. He is a Life Scout working towards earning his Eagle.

Ken and Barbara also have a daughter, Alexcia, the oldest sibling, who played the position of Starting Defender for the Maryland Terrapins during her college career at the University of Maryland. She was recognized as a Division 1 Athlete.

Ken Niumatalolo Family - Salt Lake TempleCoach Niumatalolo is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his family are members of the Broadneck Ward of the Annapolis Maryland Stake. He begins each day by reading and studying the scriptures in the Book of Mormon. His life is based on faith and principles of the gospel, and he firmly believes that putting the Lord first and listening to the voice of the Spirit are the real keys to success. It is that faith and those principles of the gospel which govern his own life that have helped him, as the patriarch of his home, to keep his family well grounded. He attributes devotion to family, church service, and living the gospel as playing a major role in his being able to handle the stress and rigors of being a college football coach for almost two decades.

Coach Niumatalolo will be featured in the new feature-length film produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called “Meet the Mormons” which will premiere in select theaters on 10 October 2014.

Please take a moment to read the article at About Mormons.org written by this author which is titled “Ken Niumatalolo – Putting the Game in Proper Perspective.”

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For Such A Time As This

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To Everything There Is A Season. . . . .
“To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Webster’s dictionary defines the word pioneer as “a person who plays a leading part in the early development of something.” Therefore, in the truest sense of the definition, as the only person in my immediate family who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am a pioneer. And so, I would like to take just a few moments to share some of my thoughts about being a pioneer member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we are taught, “To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I strongly believe that I am the person that has been chosen, and given the responsibility by my Heavenly Father for such a time as this to lead the rest of my family to the saving knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a responsibility that I dare not take lightly.

I am reminded of the words of President Lorenzo Snow:

You exert a certain degree of influence, and be it ever so small, it affects some person or persons, and for the results of the influence you exert you are held accountable. You, therefore, whether you acknowledge it or not, have assumed an importance before God and man that cannot be overlooked.” (JD, 18:299).

And so, I have a responsibility to be a positive influence on my family. Along those same lines, I must also set the example that I wish my family to follow. I am reminded of the words of President Harold B. Lee:

You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure if you would rescue the man that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul.” (CR, April 1973, p.178.)

One of the ways that I can be a positive influence and set the example that I should before my family, is by having and maintaining a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel. I must always be ready to give an answer for not only what I believe, but why I believe it. This principle is taught to us in 1 Peter 3:15-17:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you of the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience that whereas they speak evil of you as evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

On 10 March 2014 I celebrated my 16th year as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Never would I ever have imagined that one day I would be a member of the Lord’s true Church.

I was raised in a good Christian Baptist home with a dear mother who made sure that her four children were nurtured in the good Word of God. I grew up in a home where it was understood that if mom was going to church on Sunday, than so were you. There was no argument, discussion, or debate. From a very early age as I grew to love and appreciate the blessed Scriptures, my focus was set on one day fulfilling my grandmother’s dream and what later became my own personal goal of becoming a Baptist minister. But the Lord had other plans.

Through all of my years of being taught righteous principles as a youth and later teaching Sunday school classes and training in Bible College to become a Baptist minister, the Lord was preparing me for a greater work that He had for me to do. I am so grateful that I yielded to His will for my life instead of pursuing the path that I had chosen. I am a living testimony that if we will but “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart; and lean not unto [our] understanding and in all [our] ways acknowledge Him . . . He shall direct [our] paths” (see Proverbs 3:5). In the words of one of my favorite hymns:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified. That for me a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died. Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me. Enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I am thankful for the callings that I have received over the past 17 years – Activities Chairman, Single Adults Representative, Youth Sunday School Teacher, First Counselor in the Young Men Presidency (Ward level), member of the Stake High Council, a counselor in two Bishoprics (as Second and then First) Counselor, High Priest Group Leader, Ward Mission Leader, Ward Missionary, Teacher for High Priest Group, Gospel Doctrine Teacher –  and for the lessons that I have learned from each of them. Each of those lessons has helped to strengthen my testimony and have given me a stronger desire to do those things which the Lord would have me to do. Even more so, I am grateful that a loving Heavenly Father would call me to serve in these capacities and it is my humble prayer that I will always be willing to serve wherever the Master would need me to serve. May I always be willing to serve with the attitude of Nephi:” I will go and do the things which the Lord have commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7, Book of Mormon).

Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taught me that living the True Gospel is not in thinking about myself all the time, but rather it is about  serving others. Being a member has also given me a greater understanding of the importance of, and appreciation for, family history work. The work that I have begun on my family history has sparked a great deal of interest in my family. It has also opened many doors of opportunity to share my faith and my testimony with family members, prayerfully planting seeds that will one day soon, yield a rich harvest.

As I look back through the pages of my family history, I can see the hand of God at work. I come from a heritage that is rich with people who dedicated their lives to being community leaders, educators, defenders of this great nation in several wars, and ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it is no coincidence that I would grow up to also have a thirst for education, to honorably serve my country, and most importantly to have a sincere love for the Gospel. It was all part of the Lord’s plan. I believe that every stepping stone along the way was setting the pathway to bringing me to where I am today. As I prepare family names to take to the Temple, I know that the Spirit of Elijah is present and that the Lord, as well as my ancestors, is pleased with the work that I am doing.

I will close with the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are a favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory, “the dispensation of the fullness of times,” when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth, . . . when the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwell with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations, and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. (HC, 4:609-610.)

I testify to you of the hope that is in me and that hope is Jesus Christ and the knowledge that I know that His Church is the True Church and that His Gospel is truth. I further testify that I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and that President Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet in these the latter days. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that as the pioneer member of the Church for my family, as I continue to share my testimony of this Gospel, others will want to follow in my footsteps to learn of that blessed hope. The windows of opportunity are open and I am willing to do the work which the Father has for me to do. That I may do so humbly and by His perfect will is my prayer. In the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

The Legacy of the Scriptures

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Young man reading the scriptures

“Ancient and modern prophets and disciples sacrificed much to preserve and provide the scriptures. These scriptures now help us measure correctness and truth, strengthen our faith, and light our path.” [1]


King James Version of the Bible

John 5:39-47

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41 I receive not honour from men.
42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?


Book of Mormon

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).

The Bible and the Book of Mormon – The Word of God

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Bible and the Book of Mormon

The question has been asked, “Does the Book of Mormon detract from the teachings of the Holy Bible, or in any way attempt to replace the Bible? “ I will answer the question thus.

My heritage is predominantly Methodist and Lutheran. I was born and raised in a Baptist home, and at one point in my life, I was attending a Baptist Bible College studying to become a Baptist minister. However, God had other plans for my life, and on 10 March 1998, I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others).

I have heard the repeated argument that Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are not Christian because they use another book besides the Bible, namely the Book of Mormon, in their teachings. Those who follow this belief attempt to substantiate their argument by quoting a passage of scripture found in the Bible in Revelation 22:19,

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

I believe that what many people do not understand or fail to realize is that the Bible as included as a part of the canon of scripture, is not written in chronological order. Also, there are many Bible Scholars who will agree that the passage quoted from Revelation 22:19 refers only to the Book of Revelation. In fact, John did not have the entire Bible at his disposal when he wrote as we do today.

If a person were to use this one scripture alone in trying to substantiate his claim that Mormons are not Christian because they also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God, then his supposed “evidence” would not carry much weight in supporting his case. How can I say this? I ask that the passage of scripture, again found in the Bible, in Deuteronomy 4:2, be presented as a plausible witness in this case. That passage of scripture reads,

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

If we were to apply the same litmus test to this verse of scripture as to the one found in the Book of Revelation, then would it not logically follow that after reading this passage in the Book of Deuteronomy that we should close our Bibles and read no further?

The Bible is indeed the Living Word of God. Having read it 9 times in its entirety, I can testify of its Divine truthfulness. Likewise, having also read the Book of Mormon 9 times in its entirety, I can also testify of its Divine truthfulness. Both volumes testify of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the World. In fact, Latter-day Saints refer to the Book of Mormon as Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Latter-day Saints are not in any way teaching anything new or some type of foreign doctrine. We preach and teach of Jesus Christ. We believe that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the inspired Word of God. Furthermore, we believe that the Book of Mormon does not detract from the teachings of the Bible, but rather, the Book of Mormon enhances our knowledge and understanding of the sacred scriptures. There is a passage of scripture found in the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 25:26, 27 which helps to clarify our position:

26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

I have found in some cases that people base most of what they think they know about the Book of Mormon on what they have heard, not necessarily on what they have actually read. Having been raised as a Baptist, I find this very similar to an atheist who refutes the Bible based on things he has heard, not necessarily on anything that he has read himself. I have read and studied from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon and bear witness that both are the Word of God and that both testify of a Savior who loves us all, equally and unconditionally.

We cannot judge something based on one statement (i.e. one passage of scripture). We need to read and understand the context in which that scripture is being used. When I was in Bible College my professors taught us that we should read the verses before a particular passage and sometimes the verses after to get the full meaning. Many a misconception and false teaching has been the result of lifting one passage of scripture totally out of context.

40-Day Scripture Reading Schedule

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Matthew Christopher Jennenjohn
Professor Matthew Christopher Jennejohn

Layne Benzley Family
Dr. Layne Benzley and family

I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Prior to becoming a member of the Church I told the missionaries that were working with me at that time (Elder Matthew C. Jennejohn, and Elder Layne Benzley) that I would not be baptized until I had read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price each in their entirety. As a result, I felt inspired to create a 40-day reading schedule to complete the reading. Below you will find the schedule as it was originally designed. I have shared this schedule with several people in different parts of the world. I pray that this will be of a help and blessing to someone.

~ Keith Lionel Brown © 2014

Why I Believe – James Reitdijk

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James Reitdijk Mormon

For five and a half years, James Rietdijk, of Dutch ancestry, joined his musical interest and his belief in God to serve as a full-time missionary with a Christian performing group. After appearances in many countries throughout the world, he came in contact with missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while in the United States in Alabama. After reading and studying the Book of Mormon, he gained a personal testimony of its truthfulness and was converted to the Church. In this new video, James tells of his amazing journey and why he became a Latter-day Saint Christian.

 

LDS Youth – I Know Who I AM

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In April of 2012, the South Jordan River Stake decided to celebrate their youth as they again completed reading the Book of Mormon. This video represents 4 months of hard work from 301 youth, 8 committee members, the Stake Presidency, and untold support from family members as well as other people.