Sunday, November 3, 2013


During the period of history when little note was being given to the birth of The Savior of mankind in a small grotto in Bethlehem, far away Nephi and his brother were laboring in what would one day come to be known as the Americas, striving to prepare two nations of divided cousins for the not too distant future when Jesus the Christ would visit them after his resurrection.

Nephi and his brother had been in the land northward for five years preaching, exhorting and striving to bring their Lamanite cousins to lives of happiness founded on righteousness. Finally, having been rejected to the point that their lives were in danger and they could no longer stay in that land, the two lonely prophets returned to their homes in the land of Zarahemla.

Sorrowfully, they found their homeland in an awful state of wickedness. The righteous were condemned because of their righteousness. The guilty went unpunished in their wickedness because of their wealth and the high offices of government which they held. It seemed that all in the land were committed to get gain and glory in the world that they might have the means to continue in their ways of adultery, stealing and murder. Their ability to choose between good and evil was overpowered with the desire to do all things according to their own philosophies, thereby becoming gods unto themselves.

When Nephi became aware of how deeply his kindred had fallen into wickedness he retired to his garden and exclaimed: “Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father, Nephi, came out of the land of Jerusalem (about 600 years before)…then were people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God and slow to do iniquity…but behold, I am constrained that these are my days.” (The Book of Mormon – Helaman 7:7-9)

It only takes a quick glance at the history of this sorrowing Nephi’s ancestral grandfather to see that the days of old were very much like the days he was presently experiencing. In fact, from my perspective as one who has had the opportunity to spend a great deal of my life reading, studying, and teaching about the eras of the earth’s travails, I have found that only in scant places and for short periods of time have a few of the planet’s inhabitants been wise enough to live after the Lord’s plan of happiness.

Sometimes it is fun to revisit those fantasies of youth when one could discover uncharted lands, storm castles, win fair maiden’s hand; but even a quick perusal of everyman’s life in whatever era quickly brings us back to the reality of the standard of living in those days of yore. Fantasy is quickly replaced by gratefulness for the blessings of this day in which we live. Reality helps me understand that, unlike Nephi, I do not wish to have my days in another era. Reality also helps me to understand that every generation will find sufficient ways to choose to do evil instead of choosing to do good.

To have known the prophet Moses and to have gleaned of his words would have been wonderful; but a forty year diet of sandy manna and greasy quail would have been a heavy price. To have tarried on the shores of Galilee during the days of Jesus the Christ would have allowed one to know the Lord on a different level as we sat on the slope and listened to him teach upon the mount, but to lose the Light of the world to the tomb of Gethsemane would not have been a path I would have wanted to trod.

With joy I exclaim: “I am constrained that these are my days.” The perils of the cycle of the Book of Mormon where prosperity is often all to quickly followed by wickedness, hastily causes me to add: “Am I easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God and slow to do iniquity? -or- Am I desirous that I might continue to do evil and do all things according to the desires of my own heart?”

The Christians of old retreated to the cavities of the mountains in an attempt to escape the constant pursuit of those who would destroy the righteous. For millennium prophets have warned that the real danger is not the loss of mortality, but the loss of Eternal life. We must be aware of those who would destroy the righteous. We likewise must be aware of those influences which would bring down our righteousness. We must seek go to those ‘mountains’ where the words of righteousness will be rekindled and the strength of that spark can grow to become a sustaining fire of hope within us.

Nephi helps us to understand that that restorative mountain cannot be found in times we cannot dwell in or in places found only in dreams, but is to be found and climbed in the here and now and in the place where we currently reside.

As a voice of warning to all people, in all places and at all times, Nephi exhorts us to be aware of the following influences which will bring about destruction to those of all levels of society when they are tempted to move away from the Mountain of the Lord.

First – Being slow to do good and quick to hearken to the evil one.
Second – Setting hearts upon the vain things of the world
Third – Rejecting the petition of the poor and needy while consuming their own lives in gluttony.
Fourth – Not desiring that the Lord God should rule over them and setting at naught his counsels.

Nephi in his prophetic manner was especially strong in warning those who live their lives in relative prosperity. The history of the generations of his nation taught in glaring clarity, the vulnerability towards rejecting the Plan of Happiness, which comes with the self-aggrandizing euphoria of having gained the riches of the earth.

Along with this voice of warning Nephi and his ancient grandfather Nephi also identify those mountains where we can be refreshed and have our strength replenished in order to faithfully continue our climb.

First – Seek the counsel of the Lord.
Second – No longer desire to do evil but to do good continually.
Third – To be learned is good if we hearken unto the counsels of the Lord.
Fourth – Before seeking for riches, seek the kingdom of God.
Fifth – Seek riches only with the intent to do good.

The failure to heed the words of prophets in days of old, which days prophetically foreshadow our own day, brought destruction of lives and loss of happiness to many ancient generations. Hopefully, we can learn from the graphic lessons, turn to the counsel of the Lord and pass the perilous test of living in a day of varying degrees of prosperity, forsaking ourselves to get gain and glory in the world that we might have the means to continue in our ways of adultery, stealing and murder. Thus causing our ability to choose between good and evil, to become overpowered by the desire to do all things according to our own philosophies, thereby becoming gods unto ourselves.


  1. Thank you! Loved this. Timely words of truth and warning. You are still an amazing teacher Bro. Riley!

    Sis Cocanour

  2. Well stated; and just think we are still in the foothills. I greatly miss your classes and look forward to your "Thoughts".

    Paul Hansen

  3. Part 1. Can't step into the same river twice; life flows. "You can't go home again", even to Zarahemla! There's a term (not) called recall distortion (but I can't remember the psy. term at the moment) which describes most peoples tendencies to remember positive things much more vividly than negative experiences. It's a big problem for investors.
    Part 2. "I am constrained ..." this applies of course much more broadly than to time but to almost every aspect of our temporal beings. We long for realities which have little bearing on reality (you tied this nicely to Part 1, but innuendo isn't easy).
    Part 3. "those fantasies of youth" must (should) be matured into "the here and now and in the place where we currently reside."
    Part 4. Eschew evil and evil influences. Do good.
    An aside: I am sure that there are men (because I have so often heard them referred to) who realize themselves to be evil: murderers, stealing from the poor for their own gluttony, whatever. I have met a few who seemed like that to me, but never one who appeared to see himself as such. Rationalization has been so powerful that selves are justified; even if only by their upbringing - their mama made them do it :-) If my experience is in anyway close to normal, then the more pertinent goal for most would seem would be to help them see "a better way", not to turn from their evil way, that comes later. When I point out to someone, say Paulette :-), that she is wrong I am often met with resistance rather than having my truth embraced. There must be a more effective approach. In my better moments I approach her differently and more effectively. Could that lesson apply more broadly or is our relationship a one-off?

    Paul Maddox


  4. Gracias por el mensaje Pte , sabe que me han ayudado muchos sus pensamientos inspirados, ya que han fortalecido mi espíritu y me han ayudado a meditar y cambiar algunos aspectos de mi vida.

    edna liliana vega castrillon

  5. Once again you verbalized so well the whats and whys of correct prioritizing....We have been away visiting our son Bob, and his wife Cherie. Had lots of time to sit in the warmth of the sun and think. Now I must get back in the groove ...your message is so relevant to us. Thanks. once again

    Jean Seavey

  6. Beautiful as always! My kids from New York to Vacaville and Utah in between receive and love your messages of inspiration. You're all over!
    Looked for you both last night. I hope you were able to be there. As always, it was wonderful and a beautiful way to top off a wonderful Sunday.
    Bill used his strong influence being a huge fan of organ music and arranged for me to make my organ debut in the morning! I'm ready to stop stretching and growing! Piano is one thing but the organ it a totally different ball game! And, to top it off, President Davis had to be presiding! Oh well!
    I will be in touch regarding your tickets. I had them in my hot little hand last night but saved them for you!

    Kathie Brooks

  7. Crazy! I was studying with the intention to try to understand the feelings of Laman and Lemuel because i really never have understood why they could see so much and believe so little and that totally helped! Thank you!

    Love you both!

    Brooke Riley

  8. Paul - Well stated; and just think we are still in the foothills. I greatly miss your classes and look forward to your "Thoughts".

    Bill - I also miss the classes, but I am afraid that ship has left the harbor!!

    Paul - Maybe so but it still sails on ever larger seas, can't you feel the gentle breezes?

    Paul Hansen

  9. Bill,
    I am "burdened with an uncontrollable amount of negativism and depression" upon realizing the despair you have so regularly experienced as a result of our friendship.
    "I have not been able to overcome the part of my nature from which emanates despair when I witness people who are burdened with an uncontrollable amount of negativism and depression, who always find their days partially cloudy rather than mostly sunny, their glasses half empty rather than half full."
    Be that as it may, I beseech you to retain me on your email delivery list. Without them my half-empty glass might drain completely. :'(

    Paul Maddox