Notes: Habakkuk 1

I decided to add a new category to my blog posts, just for notes that I take down while reading or studying the scriptures, or whatever I write down while in my Bible study class. These aren’t going to be full blog posts, just a collection of thoughts and ideas.

I’m going to start out today’s post with the book Habakkuk, since that’s what we covered in class this morning.

According to the Desires of our Hearts, Neil A. Maxwell, November ’96 Ensign

– Habakkuk, “to embrace”

– Habakkuk’s ministry coincided with the appearance of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) in world history

– May have written in connection with the battle of Carchemish in which Nebudchadezznar defeated the Egyptians in 605 B.C. and before the first deportation of the Jews in 507 B.C.

– It is believed that Habakkuk lived in Jerusalem, thus making him a contemporary with Lehi in Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4).

Habakkuk 1:2-4

2. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!

3. Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

4. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

The prophet is frustrated. The Lord is teaching him a lesson here.

The Lord suspends judgement in our mortal realm for a while. God acts the same way with the righteous — He lets them go about their way for a time, He will not instantly correct them, but respects their agency.

Habakkuk 1:12

12. ¶ Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

The Lord uses the wicked to punish the fallen covenant people. I think that, even in our fallen states, the Lord can still use us. 🙂

In one way, it occurs to me that it could be a blessing, in a sense, that the wicked are doing the will of the Father. Not in being wicked, but in punishing these people. I think that the Lord has purposed these people.

New blog

Hello there. I’ve been writing more and more posts regarding religion and scripture study on my personal blog, so I thought it might be a good idea to start a new one just for that. 🙂

Plus, I’ve been cleaning up my old website, nephi.org. It’s long been unmaintained, and I’m interested in poking and prodding at it a bit. Right now, it’s got a few bugs hanging about, but I’m working on it in the background on a new host and I’ll have it cleaned up proper soon.

If you want to read what this blog is about, just check out the about page.

I’m going to copy my blog posts about scriptures from my personal one over to here, just so I have them all archived in one place. So there will be a lot of content, but it’ll already be familiar to some.

Comments are enabled for the blog posts, so I’d be interested in hearing your comments if you have any to share. 🙂

Archives: when things go wrong

I have had a couple of experiences recently that have made me stop and wonder how I react when things don’t go the way I planned. And by recent experiences, I mean, I’ve had a few things not go so well lately. But I’m curious about my attitude after the fact. I’m noticing that I often use it as a justification to do something irresponsible, because, I somehow deserve it.

One simple example. I love to go driving around as a way for me to just relax. I do it a lot when I need to go think for a while, and either get my mind off of things or just ponder on something. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I also like to drive fast. Most of the time, I’m a safe, reasonable driver. When things go really bad though, and I decide to go for a drive to cool myself off, I’ll tell myself it’s okay to go speeding down the freeway like a madman to help me unwind and relax. So, somehow in my mind, when life does not meet my expectations, I’m justified in executing civil disobedience. That is not right, but it’s my attitude. In fact, in those times of anxiety, not only is it my attitude, but it *feels* right. It really does feel like I’m allowed that exception to responsibility. And that’s what I’m trying to figure out where that came from.

I have another example that seems totally unrelated, but it’s been rolling around in my head as well. Chocolate has been marketed in my lifetime as a rewarding pleasure for when things go wrong in your life. You’ve had a rough day, go lounge on the couch while sucking on a piece of candy, and all will be right. The principle marketed is that if, if things go wrong, you deserve a reward.

I’m starting to break down that assumption as well and try to rework my perspective. It requires humility. Which is hard. And that’s what occurred to me last night, after a very long day of many things going wrong. At first, like usual, I was angry, and determined to do something to “make things right.” Some way to reward myself. What got me started thinking about how maybe my attitude was wrong is I decided that I didn’t have to get up early the next morning to go to my Bible study class before work and I could sleep in instead. That’s when I realized that my attitude of self-reward was cutting me out of things that would really be blessings in my life. Once I got on that mental track, I started re-thinking the purpose of trials and difficulties. And it was then that the Lord had a chance to work on my heart a little bit, and I became humbled to a small degree. The anger and bitterness left my heart. I got to see, in part, that I had become hardened by the obstacles that He thought I was ready to face. Instead of rising to the challenge and seeing them as opportunities for growth, I was viewing them them with an attitude of “how dare you upset my stability?”

I often wonder what the purposes and reasons for the Lord sending us here to earth are, and I believe that one of the main ones are that we are here to experience hardship and difficulty, so that we can grow. Honestly, that’s a really hard concept for me to swallow. But as I tried to see things from a better perspective last night, it just felt *right*. So I think I may be onto something, and I’m going to try and see if I can’t figure it out some more.

I’m not really excited at the prospect of more things going wrong, but I’m starting to wonder now if it’s one way the Lord is trying to tell me something. For instance, that my load is too heavy and I’m not keeping balance.

I think there are a lot of things I can learn when things go awry, and they include lessons about myself. How to keep calm and cool under pressure is one that is really difficult. At work, I’ve learned to solve it with one change in attitude: we pull together, not apart. I’ve found that a lot of my stress and anxiety comes when I try to get myself out of a predicament. But if I focus on getting through it, working with others, then it requires a lot more self-resolve and patience. Both are areas I could use some work on.

I’d like to leave one last note, for myself at least, that this is certainly not a new principle acquired. It’s just something I’ve started to figure out. I’ve got work to do on the area.

Archives: truth and trivia

At work today, I randomly commented to my friend, Jason, “It’s interesting to note what drops out of your life when your time gets filled with important things.” That seems to be the trend my schedule is taking lately. Not to say my schedule is a paragon of efficiency and order. I just had pudding for dinner. But I have noticed that as my surplus of resources diminishes, things change. And it’s curious to note what gets dropped.

It makes me think of this talk I heard some time:

“When compared to eternal verities, the questions of daily living are really rather trivial. What shall we have for dinner? Is there a good movie playing tonight? Have you seen the television log? Where shall we go on Saturday? These questions pale into insignificance when times of crisis arise, when loved ones are wounded, when pain enters the house of good health, or when life’s candle dims and darkness threatens. Then truth and trivia are soon separated. The soul of man reaches heavenward, seeking a divine response to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after we leave this life? Answers to these questions are not discovered within the covers of academia’s textbooks, by dialing information, in tossing a coin, or through random selection of multiple-choice responses. These questions transcend mortality. They embrace eternity.”

Archives: studying the scriptures

Whenever I feel like a post was kind of cut off a bit, I feel the need to explain myself a bit, and give a bit of background to the overall story.

Basically, a recent occurrence in my life for the past couple of months has been a renewed effort to find out what purpose the Lord has in store for me in this life.  I really have no idea, to be honest, but I’m trying to find out a lot of answers.  Not just my purpose generally, but what I’m supposed to do with all this free time and resources that I have.

Well, one habit I used to hold dearly was that I would study the scriptures a lot.  That hasn’t really been a focus in my life as much as it was before, for probably eight years or so.  I mean, I have been reading them on a regular basis, but generally not more than anything other than a sense of obligation at times.  Never anything I’d really call “studying”.

Not too long ago, though, I got a new idea for an approach I could develop towards studying.  It mostly came because I was getting exasperated a bit by following the letter of the commandment (read your scriptures daily) rather than the spirit (feast upon my word).  I like to mix things up now and then, and this time was no different, and I don’t doubt that this current idea will eventually fade away and I’ll be trying something new later on.

For now, though, what I do in the morning is I read the scriptures (the Book of Mormon) until I find a passage that I find interesting.  It doesn’t matter how much I read, but as long as I find something that stands out — that either makes me ask a question, or consider the passage, or something I just find kinda cool.  Then I write it down in my little notebook.  There’s nothing cooler than going back to old notebooks, where I’ve recorded previous thoughts and questions, and seeing what I wrote years ago.  It’s a lot of fun.  So far though, my new method has been very effective, if not the most effective I’ve had yet.  The reason I say that is because I find myself thinking about that scripture during the day or week.

One thing that I do to get myself to ask questions while reading, is I’ll look at a passage and say, “Now, why did they put *this* in there?  Who cares?  What does it matter?  Is that important?”  And that kinda stirs the mind and gets me thinking about why it would be included, what importance it could have had to the author (think of all the stuff we write in our journals that seem important to *us*, but to anyone else it would be a bunch of fluff).

As an example, I’ll use the one I found this morning.  It’s in the book of Mosiah, chapter 10, verses 4 and 5.  They read:

4. And I did cause that the men should till the ground, and raise all manner of grain and all manner of fruit of every kind.

5. And I did cause that the women should spin, and toil, and work, and work all manner of fine linen, yea, and cloth of every kind, that we might clothe our nakedness; and thus we did prosper in the land–thus we did have continual peace in the land for the space of twenty and two years.

Now, aside from the comment about continual peace, there’s not really anything of substance there on first glance, it would normally seem like to me.

However, this time when reading it, verse four caught my mind, and I thought it was interesting how he said “all manner of fruit.”  When I was thinking about it later during the day, I realized that it may stand as a bit of a description of how their culture was advanced and organized that they could have not only the technology to raise all different kinds of fruit, but the agronomy and sciences to do so.  Like, for instance, grapes grow differently from bananas, and they are not the same as pineapples, apples, oranges and peaches.  It would take some skill and organization to be able to handle *all* manner of fruit.  I dunno.  I just find it interesting.  The same thing with the cloths as well … the different types have to indicate that there were artisans trained in different skills.  Anyway.  Interesting.

So, that approach of study is working for me well so far.  I’m having fun with it.

Going back to my earlier point, though, and with my recent discoveries, I’m remembering how much I enjoy studying the scriptures.

When I served my mission in Argentina, I studied them voraciously during all my free time.  Early on, I had the goal to finish reading the entire standard works.  Every free moment I had, I would read, and I got through it rather quickly.  Once I was done with that, I colored all my verses with a coloring scheme I had developed, and marked up my scriptures quite a bit.  I still have that set today, and it’s great to reference them, because I can flip open my books to almost any chapter in any book and find something I’ve highlighted.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist though, or more accurately, fixated on progression and refining my processes.  My original approach to highlighting verses was to do it on a dialogue basis, which works well for the Book of Mormon or the Gospels where there are a *lot* of conversations, but that doesn’t apply to every other book.  So, I’m taking it much slower this time around and I’m trying to categorize each book and see how I can distinguish it as to what a good markup scheme would be.  Doing that entails reading through the book first and getting a feel for what the common themes and topics are … something that gets pretty frustrating at times, because I’m so eager to start marking things up.  In fact, I’m already planning on doing a third refinement of my approach that I’ve done with Isaiah (the first book I’ve looked at, yet), because I couldn’t wait started using colors before thinking it all through.

It’s fun, though.  But really, I’m glad to have found something I can do with some of my time.  Some of the happiest moments in my life so far have been me hunched over a little desk in 25 de Mayo or Neuquen or Esquel, trying to understand the scriptures.  I’m not nearly at the same level as I was before, but I’m having a fun time trying to get there.  Good times.  I tell you what.

Archives: the sabbath

It has, for some reason, recently been a thread of thought for me wondering about the implications of some of God’s commandments, and how they would apply to a newly forming civilization in ancient days.  Everything in our age is so established, that it’s interesting to me to think about the requirements necessary to properly keep some of them.

Today I was thinking of one of the Ten Commandments, specifically, to keep the sabbath day holy (Exodus 20:8).  It occurred to me that in order to keep this one, that a society-civilization would have to have some kind of a calendar system in order to keep it.  And with that, I started thinking of some of the principles related to that.  For instance, I believe that it could imply a sense of order in our own lives and houses.  How can you keep the Sabbath if you aren’t prepared for it, or even know when it is?

I don’t really have much more to comment on the matter, since that was really my only thoughts so far.  On a personal matter, though, I find it easier to “keep” the sabbath if I look at it from a certain perspective.  Growing up, I always had a pessimistic approach of it, where I basically considered it a day of all the things I couldn’t go and do — shopping, sports, whatever.  But now, I try to look at as a sabbatical, which oddly enough, has a more effective approach linguistically for me.

I believe that the Lord considers it a day of rest, and that’s what I tell myself to do on Sundays: give it a rest.  If I wanna go play on the computer or spend time on video games (which I don’t really consider all that bad, but wouldn’t really say it’s all that great either), I tell myself to just give it a rest for one day.

The other week I was sick for a few days, and was stuck at home doing pretty much nothing.  I decided to stay completely off the computer while I was at home resting, because I know that sitting myself hunched over a terminal all day long isn’t really gonna help me get better much quickly.  What ended up being just a few days with a cough and some body pains, actually turned into an incredibly positive experience because I got to give the normal day-to-day routine of my life a rest, a real sabbatical, and it gave me some serious insight into my daily habits.  I had not only the time, but the peace of mind to read, to think about things, to write down my thoughts, and worship.  I was a little sad to have to go back to the daily grind.

Anyway, that’s all. 🙂

Archives: the imperfect relationship

I had a really interesting thought tonight, and I thought I should write about it, despite it being something pretty personal, so here goes.  I’ll actually quote almost verbatim an excerpt from my journal:

I was saying a prayer tonight, and just suddenly the thought occurs to me that it is so amazing that in our raw, imperfect, mortal form here on earth, that it’s possible to even create a relationship with Heavenly Father.  That is just so cool.  It really takes some work, but even with just a little bit, you can recognize how He feels about you and your current condition and path that you are on.

That’s so amazing to me that its possible, because of *all* the things we have yet to learn and do in the eternities for our progression, it’s possible to create a real, recognizable connection with God right now; that we have the capacity to do that is, again, amazing.

I’m sure that, compared to how things can be in a more perfect form it’s probably not much that we achieve here, but you can still create a relationship that is as real and fulfilling as anything else here on Earth, and moreso, I imagine (mine isn’t *that* strong, but I certainly can’t deny it’s there).  Amazing stuff, I’m really thankful for that. 🙂

Archives: religion in general

Our church’s General Conference was this weekend (a semi-annual worldwide broadcast where the leaders have five two-hour sessions of talks, once every Easter weekend, and once in October), and as usual, it’s gotten me thinking a bit.

One thing that keeps coming to mind is that I should blog a bit on religious topics.  I’ve always been extremely hesitant to do so for a variety of reasons.  For one, I hate being preached to when I’m not interested in input, and because of that, I tend to go out of my way not to preach to other people who may not want to hear what I have to say.  Add to that that I’m extremely tolerant of people’s lifestyles, regardless of what my moral compass tells me how I should live.  I’m just open and accepting, but also strictly guard my own personal values, and try not to impose them on others.  Still, I get the distinct impression that I should share some my opinions a bit more, so I’m going to do so, but I’ll tread carefully.

Part of the problem is that I have a hard time in social relationships distinguishing between what should be private and what should be public.  When it comes to spiritual matters, I consider it all succinctly private, and rarely tell anyone anything.  So, it’s going to be a bit hard for me trying to find that middle ground between what I should say and what I shouldn’t.  Even writing this post is a bit of a difficult task — I’m never too sure how much information to reveal.  Living the gospel and it’s effects are, in my opinion, a highly personal affair.

Another thing I worry about is that I certainly do not want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn.  A holier-than-thou attitude annoys me just as I’m sure it does anyone else, and I certainly don’t want to be going off telling people about what I’m doing, as I think it may appear as vanity.  I’m also not one for trying to point out where the world is wrong and needs to change.  I’m a firm believer in progress, but also practicality.  Life changes are gradual, and the only way to gauge how a person is doing is to do a self-examination and honestly ask how you’re doing, and to consult the Lord.

So, that pretty much covers everything I’ll avoid doing — blatant finger-pointing, yelling, criticizing, grandstanding and terrifying the masses … but I still don’t have a clue what I am gonna share.   Probably my opinion in mild form, some small personal examples, and my beliefs.

Yah.  I have no idea what’s gonna happen.  So, we’ll see.  I’ll try not to keep it too over the top or anything.

Archives: to each his own

I thought of, perhaps, one way I can get my religious views across … instead of just focusing on doctrine and whot-not, just instead tell things how I tend to perceive and apply them in my life. That may work. Who knows.

I had a great comment on my last post from a self-proclaimed atheist, which basically noted that it’s possible to extract good principles from religious ones without attaching the supernatural to it. And I would totally agree.

I have long had a motto in life that demonstrates my tolerance for a lot of personal decisions people make in their lives — to each his own. Growing up, I like to look back on the fact that I’ve been able to both be friendly and make friends with people with whom I wildly disagree on moral issues. I respect their right to explore and choose what they think works best for them in their lives, just as I’ve done the same for myself. In doing so, I tend to not try to unload my own moral values on them unless they show any interest, and even then, I’ll only respond in equal scale. I’m not going to dump a library of books on someone’s head just because they ask one question, nor would I drag them to church and haunt them for the rest of their life just because they showed a small interest.

Okay, I totally forgot where I was going with all of this. More proof that writing this stuff is not going to be nearly as simple as I thought it was going to be. I did have one example that I wanted to share, so maybe I’ll just cut to that.

My main point was that people can extract a lot of good principles from religious living without necessarily subscribing to the whole. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not just encompass moral living as related directly to moral issues, but it also has instruction and guidelines on how we can live healthy good lives that will benefit all of mankind, personally and collectively, socially and individually. I can’t deny, though, that the best benefits to both person and world will only come from living the whole gospel instead of piece meal. To each his own, though. 🙂

A good example of practical, provident living that is taught by our church is the Word of Wisdom, which is a set of instructions related to diet. Anciently, the Jews were given dietary restrictions as well, and these were given both as guidelines for health and also to separate the Jewish nation culturally from others, as they would be mingled in with the rest of the world. Today’s revealed guidelines are much simpler in nature, but they are also tied to the religious belief that harmful substances not only damage the body, but the spirit as well.

I won’t go into a lengthy explanation of what the Word of Wisdom is, especially when Wikipedia has a decent entry on it. I will add this note though — that clarifications have been added to the law as it was originally given, and that that is also a part of our religion — ongoing revelation. The Lord has changed, altered, simplified or straightened His commandments in the past, so it stands to reason that He still can do so, and does. An example would be that we are not required to give animal sacrifices anymore. Thank goodness, too, I’m not sure I could stomach whacking any animals over the head.

This is the interesting thing about carnal commandments, though, is that there are benefits to living them and the Lord will bless us whether we regard the spiritual counterpart or not, or even believe in God for that matter. There is a law in heaven that says that God will bless us when we obey any of His commandments. Pretty cool stuff, actually.

Alright, that’s enough for me. If this post sounds too preachy, sorry about that … sure seems that way for me. As I said, I’m still trying to find the right medium to do this, so forgive me if it comes across a bit heavy-handed.

I figure I should throw in some personal experience to the mix here. Uh. Let’s see. I’ve never smoked or drank any alcohol, and I feel great. How’s that. I can’t even drink any carbonated soda though without hiccuping immediately afterwards, so I’m pretty sensitive to some stuff anyway. I can’t think of anything else. I sure hope these posts get better. My sister is much better at this than I am. 🙂