Alma 42

What’s happening?  Alma is teaching Corianton the probationary nature of this life, the fundamental doctrine of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and how justice and mercy play into our recovery through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.

Why does it matter?  The foundation of the whole plan is centered on (1) the Fall of Adam and Eve and then (2) our recovery from that Fall (as well as our own sins) through Jesus Christ. This is basic doctrine, but also complex in execution and easily forgotten when one is justifying their sins.

Between the lines: Often it’s confusing how mercy and justice fit into our doctrine. Alma tries to make it as clear as he can here.

Quote of the day: “And thus we see there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” ~ Alma 42:4

42:1 Wouldn’t Corianton have already known the principles of resurrection, restoration, and justice? If so, how could he have forgotten?

“Let us examine the effects of sin. Suppose one is traveling on the celestial path and commits a sin. The effect is a loss of light. Embracing evil lowers the trajectory of one’s path as the Holy Spirit withdraws.” ~ MJ Bateman, 2006

42:2-5 Why is the Fall of Adam and Eve so important to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation?

“Latter day scriptures help us understand that [Adam and Eve’s] Fall was a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us. Because of the Fall, we are blessed with physical bodies, the right to choose between good and evil, and the opportunity to gain eternal life. None of these privileges would have been ours had Adam and Eve remained in the garden.” ~ Gospel Principles manual

42:6-12 What is a ‘probationary state’ and why did we have to go through it?

You are now experiencing mortal life. Your spirit is united with your body, giving you opportunities to grow and develop in ways that were not possible in your premortal life. This part of your existence is a time of learning in which you can prove yourself, choose to come unto Christ, and prepare to be worthy of eternal life. It is also a time when you can help others find the truth and gain a testimony of the plan of salvation. ~ True to the Faith manual

42:13-15 What is the ‘justice of God’?

“Justice has many meanings. One is balance…. Thus, when the laws of man have been violated, justice usually requires that a punishment be imposed, a penalty that will restore the balance… laws of God are likewise concerned with justice. The idea of justice as what one deserves is the fundamental premise of all scriptures that speak of men’s being judged according to their works.” ~ DH Oaks

42:17 What does justice demand? Who pays that demand? See Mosiah 2:38-39; Alma 34:16; and D&C 19:17.

42:18 Why is sin painful?

“For some reason, we think the Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life to redemption from the Fall, from spiritual death. It is much more than that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in everyday life. When we are racked or harrowed up or tormented by guilt or burdened with grief, He can heal us. The gospel plan is the great plan of happiness. It is contrary to the nature of God and contrary to the very nature of man to find happiness in sin. ‘Wickedness never was happiness.’ We know that some anxiety and depression is caused by physical disorders, but much (perhaps most) of it is not pain of the body but of the spirit. Spiritual pain resulting from guilt can be replaced with peace of mind. In contrast to the hard words condemning sin, listen to the calming, healing words of mercy, which balance the harsher words of justice.” ~ BK Packer, 2001

42:22,25 Can God cease to be God or what is Alma really saying? See also Mormon 9:19.

42:24-27 Alma has good news: how can justice be satisfied?

42:30 Why is true repentance not excusing ourselves? 

“To change is difficult…. Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is ‘re-turning’ toward God.” ~ NA Anderson

ACTIVITY: What brings you joy? A self-evaluation sheet to help choose goals and pastimes.

Alma 41

What’s happening?  Alma is continuing to teach Corianton about the Resurrection, the law of restoration, and the consequences of sin.

Why does it matter?  Just like in chapter 40, these principles are applicable to every person.Between the lines:  Corianton is likely trembling about now as much as his father was when an angel appeared to him.

Quote of the day: “Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.” Alma 41:10

41:1 Why do some people struggle with the doctrine that if we don’t repent, we must pay for our sins? See also 1 Nephi 16:1-3.

41:4 According to this scripture, what is the law of restoration?

41:8-11 Why can wickedness never bring real happiness?

“Truly this statement of Alma, an inspired prophet and compassionate father, is borne out in their lives: ‘wickedness never was happiness.’ If you are ever tempted to experiment with the alluring offerings of Lucifer, first calmly analyze the inevitable consequences of such choices and your life will not be shattered. You cannot ever sample those things that are forbidden of God as destructive of happiness and corrosive to spiritual guidance without tragic results.” ~ RG Scott

41:12-15 What is the good news for the repentant and the bad news for sinners?”

I have been asked the question, ‘Isn’t it depressing to have to review the sins and transgressions of people involved in such difficulties?’ It would be if I were looking for sins and transgressions. But I am working with people who are repenting. These are sons and daughters of God who have made mistakes—some of them very serious. But they are not sinners. They were sinners in the past but have learned through bitter experience the heartbreak that results from disobedience to God’s laws. Now they are no longer sinners. They are God’s repentant children who want to come back to Him and are striving to do so. They have made their mistakes and have paid for them. Now they seek understanding, love, and acceptance. I often wish that in the first place they had believed the words of the prophet Alma which he spoke to his wayward son, Corianton.” ~ TM Burton, 1985

Alma 40

Alma 40

What’s happening?  Alma explains the spirit world, Judgement, and the Resurrection to his son, Corianton.

Why does it matter?  Since all of us have need of forgiveness, these teachings are important doctrine for anyone who has ever lived on this earth.

Between the lines: Corianton has recognized his errors and is now concerned about the implications of his actions.

Quote of the day: “God was redemptively at work long before mortal time began on this earth–and He will still be at work even after mortal time is no more.” ~ NA Maxwell

40:1 Why do you think Corianton was worried about the Resurrection?

40:8-10 How does timing come into play for resurrection? How does God view time?

“The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, or ever ‘the morning stars sang together’ for joy; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now’.” ~ Joseph Smith

40:11 What does ‘taken home’ mean? See also Ecclesiastes 12:7.

“These words of Alma as I understand them, do not intend to convey the thought that all spirits go back into the presence of God for an assignment to a place of peace or a place of punishment and before him receive their individual sentence. ‘Taken home to God’ simply means that their mortal existence has come to an end, and they have returned to the world of spirits, where they are assigned to a place according to this works with the just or with the unjust, there to await the resurrection.” ~ JF Smith

40:12-14 What happens to the righteous and the wicked after death? See also D&C 138:32.

“When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world. Are you going into Abraham’s bosom? No, not anywhere nigh there but into the spirit world. Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth.” ~ B Young

40:15-20 When is the first resurrection? See also D&C 76:50-80; 88:95-99

“Those coming forth in the morning of this resurrection do so with celestial bodies and shall inherit a celestial glory; these are they who are Christ’s, the firstfruits. Those coming forth in the afternoon of this resurrection do with terrestrial bodies; the coming forth of terrestrial beings does not commence until after the Second Coming.” ~ BR McConkie

40:21-23 What are some of the comforts in the doctrine of the Resurrection? 

“What a comfort to know that all who have been disadvantaged in life from birth defects, from mortal injuries, from disease, or from the natural deterioration of old age will be resurrected in ‘proper and perfect frame’.” ~ DH Oaks

40:26 If Jesus drank the ‘dregs of the bitter cup’ then why will some people have to do it? See also Mosiah 3:26 and D&C 19:16-18.

Vegetable Gardening 101

Tips for Vegetable Gardening in High Elevation

I have FIVE rules of gardening: 1. Grow plants you love. 2. Size your garden to fit your resources. 3. Give back to the soil. 4. Share what you receive (whether produce, knowledge, or etcetera). 5. Make it joyful. 

I also have FIVE, main tips for successful gardens: 1. Know your soil. 2. Practice timing. 3. Utilize the proper microclimates. 4. Set up a watering system that works for you. 5. Pick the right varieties. 

1. Know your soil (and build it up over the years)

Add Organic Matter: What is organic matter? Plant and animal detritus at various stages of decomposition and you can never have too much! My favorite way to maintain healthy soil is called double dug lasagna gardening

Soil Composition: Soil is made up of both biotic (living or once-living things) and abiotic (inorganic things, like minerals, water, and air). When we want to know about the soil’s composition, we usually want to know percentages of sand, silt, and clay. Ideal growing soil is 40% sand, 40% silt (fine sediment), and 20% clay with a whole lot of organic material intermixed. 

pH Scale: Most edible plants like a basic to neutral soil (5.5-7 on the pH scale) and luckily, most soils are fairly neutral. If you have acidic soil, you can add potash to make it more alkaline (or basic). For more alkaline soil, you can add a sustainably harvested peat moss. 

Amendments: The cool thing is if you take care of your soil, you won’t have to fertilizer. If you do want a fertilizer, however, I would suggest an organic one with a balanced mix of N P K of 10-10-10. What is N P K? N = Nitrogen, P = Phosphorus, & K = Potassium. N is great for green up (leaf and stem growth); P is used for root, flower, and fruit; K is necessary for nutrient pathways. 

To Till or Not to Till… that is the question? Studies have really found no difference in overall production short term but remember there are whole ecosystems in your soil that you want to assist you with healthy plants. Tilling those ecosystems up changes a lot. 

2. Practice Timing

(Planting time depends entirely on where you live.)

Buying Plants: like picking a spouse—do a background check! 

Starting Plants from Seed: That’s a whole hour-long lesson on its own, but I’ll just say read your seed packets and count backwards from when you want to put them in the ground to the suggested date to maturity. 

Use season extension—also another hour-long lesson with much trial and error. Covering plants at night where we live until the average last frost date (June 10th) is a good idea. You can also watch the weather and only cover when there is a chance of freezing (temperatures below 32 degrees F). 

3. Pick the Right Microclimates

USDA ZONES (Defined by average annual extreme minimum temperature of a climate within a geographic area. There has been a 1/2 zone shift in the last 20 years.) Ours is now 6a, but I only buy plants suited for Zones 4 (sometimes 5) and below because of our late spring frosts. You can buy plants to 6, but make sure they’re in a warm, protected place. 

Substrates to warm/cool: Good warming helps can be frost cloths, stone, pebbles, cinders, brick, water jugs, hoop frames, black plastic, and south-facing walls. Good cooling substrates can be wood chips, straw, wood shavings, and most organic mulches. 

4. Watering Systems

Think about watering methods well before you plant if you can. Rainwater is slightly acidic so plants love it. Think of all the ways you can conserve water and minimize evaporation. I use rainwater catchment, frost cloths, and buried drip tape. Finding less thirsty plants is always a good idea as well! 

5. Select the Proper Varieties

COOL SEASON: Radishes, Carrots, Onions, Garlic, Kale, Broccoli, Leafy Greens, Peas, Potatoes, Microgreens 

WARM SEASON: Beans, Corn, Squash, Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, Melons 

PERENNIAL VEGETABLES: Asparagus, Jerusalem Artichoke, Rhubarb 

Tips for Container Gardening

Combat Covid-19 Blues with Container Gardening

I. Why use containers? Ease of use, can plant earlier if move in or cover on cold nights, any one can grow this way, no matter how little space, light, or cash you have.

II. The Basics of a Well-designed Container Garden 

A. Materials:

1. A clean container, anything if it has good drainage. Clean with soapy water then rinse.

2. A filler like rock, cans, plastic pots, compost, perlite or soil only.

3. An appropriate soil mixture. Good drainage is key!

4. Trowel and shovel for big pots.

5. Plants!

B. The rule of threes with SPILLERS, THRILLERS, and FILLERS 

For ornamental pots:

SPILLERS: Sedum, Sweet potato vines, Bacopa, Million Bells, Petunias, Nasturtiums, Geraniums, Ivy, Lobelias, Verbenas

THRILLERS: Upright flowers (Poppies & Tickseeds), Grasses, Sedges, Asters, Coleus, Croton Bromeliads, Caladiums

FILLERS: Dusty miller, Impatiens, Geraniums, Begonias, Amaranth, Black-eyed Susan, Petunias, Alyssum

C. Color Coordination—Use the color wheel just as you would on an art project. 

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue

Secondary Colors: Green, Purple, and Orange Warm Colors: Yellow, Orange, and Red

Cool Colors: Purple, Blue, and Green

Complementary Colors: Purple and Yellow; Red and Green; Blue and Orange (Or a Rainbow of Color!)

D. Choose leaf shape and foliage to complement one another

E. Other items to think about: Where to store the arrangement if overwintering all or part of it? Do all the plants in the pot have the same sun, water, and/or soil requirement? Are you planting perennials or vegetables in pots? If so, deeper pots are better for perennials while shallower ones work just fine for strictly flowering annuals. 

III. Maintaining Your Container 

Quick tips: Keep it evenly moist and well-watered. Refresh soil every year. Cut back roots if need to keep it the same size or upsize pot every 3-5 years. Use a mix of sand, compost, and soil or a pre-prepared potting soil from a store. Amend soil quarterly.

IV. Growing Vegetables in Containers—can be just as beautiful as non-edibles but beware of overcrowding.

Some plants that do well in containers: Greens, Herbs, Edible Flowers, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplants, Peppers, Strawberries, Peas, Citrus Trees, Fruiting Shrubs, Dwarf Fruit Trees, and Olives.

However, beware of pests. A good control: insecticidal soap (1/2 tsp dish soap in one regular-sized spray bottle). Rubbing alcohol can be used for scale in citrus.

V. Overwintering Your Container Plants: Store in a garage or basement with heavy mulch such as straw, cover the whole container in cloth or bubble wrap (top and bottom), or bury it in a hole then mulch over the hole. Water every few weeks while the plants are dormant. 

Alma 39

What’s happening?  Alma’s son, Corianton, has engaged in sexual sin while on his mission. Alma is going to help him repent and turn to Jesus Christ, the one person who can really help Corianton find his way back.

Why does it matter?  This chapter is a great study on where to start to repent, no matter the sin.

Between the lines: Alma, of all people, understands what it’s like to have big sins to work through. He is well positioned to speak to his son about this with love and true doctrine. 

Quote of the day: ” Repentance is God’s ever-accessible gift that allows and enables us to go from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm. Repentance isn’t His backup plan in the event we might fail. Repentance is His plan, knowing that we will.” ~ LG Robbins, 2018

39:2 What was Corianton’s first mistake?

39:3-4 How important is the law of chastity? See also “Sexual Purity,” For the Strength of Youth, 35–37.

“Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. ‘God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.’ On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less! We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth intact. As President Brigham Young taught: ‘The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth … is worth worlds.’” ~ JD Jones, 2017

39:5 Why do you think Alma had to confront Corianton? 

“Clearly among His greatest concerns regarding mortality are how one gets into this world and how one gets out of it. He has set very strict limits in these matters.… Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God. … Marriage was intended to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman. … This is a union of such completeness that we use the word seal to convey its eternal promise” ~ JR Holland, 1998

39:6-7 What are unpardonable sins?”

All who partake of this, the greatest of sins, sell themselves as did Cain to Lucifer. They learn to hate the truth with an eternal hatred, and they learn to love wickedness. They reach a condition where they will not and cannot repent. The spirit of murder fills their hearts and they would, if they had the power, crucify our Lord again, which they virtually do by fighting his work and seeking to destroy it and his prophets.” ~ JF Smith

“All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy.” ~ Joseph Smith

“Murderers are forgiven eventually but only in the sense that all sins are forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost; they are not forgiven in the sense that celestial salvation is made available to them. After they have paid the full penalty for their crime, they shall go on to a telestial inheritance. (Rev. 22:15).” ~ BR McConkie

“Perhaps there is a common element in those two sins, unchastity and murder. Both have to do with life, which touches upon the highest of divine powers. Murder involves the wrongful taking of life, while moral transgressions may lead to the wrongful giving of life. At the least, sexual transgressions involve a wrongful tampering with the sacred fountains of life-giving power. Immorality rejects the God-given sanctity of life itself.”  ~ BC Hafen

39:8-9 How can we know when we need to repent?

“I invite each one of you to thoughtfully review your life…. Is there a dark corner that needs to be cleaned out?… When it is quiet and you can think clearly, does your conscience tell you to repent?” ~ RG Scott

39:11 How has your example been to people around you who are not of your faith? What can you do to be a good example to those around you who might be seeking truth?

“As in the time of Alma, the bad conduct of a few members slows the work.” ~ NA Maxwell

39:12 How can we lovingly help others change?

“After this severe rebuke, Alma the loving father became Alma the teacher…. So Alma taught Corianton. He spoke first of Christ.” ~ BK Packer39:13 How do we truly turn to the Lord?39:14 How can we remember to keep our priorities straight when it comes to the ‘vain things of this world’? See also D&C 68:31″When we place our trust in our property, we have ‘carnal security.’ In that state of mind we are inclined to say that all must be well with us and with Zion because we are prospering, thus relying on worldly success as a mark of divine favor. He who does this is an easy mark for being led ‘carefully down to hell.'”  ~ DH Oaks

39:16-19 Has Jesus made provisions for the redemption of all and if so, how?

“He was acquainted with the situation of all nations and with their destiny; …He knows the situation of both the living and the dead, and has made ample provisions for their redemption.” ~ Joseph Smith

Alma 27

What’s happening? Ammon takes his coverts (called the Anti-Nephi-Lehies or the people of Ammon) to safety. He’s overcome when he is reunited with Alma.

Why does it matter? The Lord is guiding these faithful converts to safety so they won’t have to suffer more death or temptation to break their oaths to not take up arms.

Between the lines: The Lord is placing a righteous people right where He needs them.

Quote of the day: “And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.” (Alma 27:27)

27:27,30 Why were they a favored people of the Lord? How do we become favored of the Lord? See also D&C 130:20-21

Alma 26

What’s happening? Ammon is bearing his soul in gratitude, which may have been taken as bragging by his brother Aaron.

Why does it matter? We’ve read all the great trials and adventures Ammon and his brothers have been through, now this chapter is a pay off to see how Ammon feels about it.

Between the lines: Ammon is so overcome with happiness, he has to clarify his exuberance isn’t for his own efforts, but because of the great works of the Lord.

Quote of the day: “When we reach a point of consecration, our afflictions will be swallowed up in the joy of Christ. It doesn’t mean we won’t have afflictions, but they will be put in a perspective that permits us to deal with them.” ~ NA Maxwell

26:1 How can Ammon be so positive after all he and his brothers have been through?

26:4 How can we rejoice as the converted Lamanites did? See also D&C 18:15-16.

26:10-11 Are there different kinds of pride? How do the words rejoicing and boasting differ?

“Divine joy is available to all who are willing to serve the Lord with the same degree of commitment as Ammon and his companions.” ~ CJ Williams

26:11 When has your heart become “brim with joy”?

“With our steady pursuit of joy and with each increasing measure of righteousness, we will experience one more drop of delight—one drop after another—until, in the words of a prophet, our hearts are ‘brim with joy’.” ~ NA Maxwell

26:12 Why is it important to remember we’re nothing without the Lord?

“In our own strength we can do nothing as Ammon admitted to his brother. When we seek the praise of man more than the praise of God, it will become easy to fall.” ~ MJ Ashton

26:14-16 How can we communicate how we feel?

“In so many of life’s situations, do we not genuinely yearn to be able to connect, especially with those we love the most? Or with others who have played special roles in our lives? …The Holy Ghost will help us by transmitting our feelings, teachings, and testimonies to others….” ~ NA Maxwell

26:17, 20 What effect does the Atonement of Jesus Christ have on those who have repented?

“When memory of prior mistakes encroached upon Ammon’s mind, he turned his thoughts to Jesus Christ and the miracle of forgiveness. Then his suffering was replaced with joy, gratitude, and thanksgiving for the Savior’s love and forgiveness. Please, go and do likewise.”  ~ RG Scott

26:21 Why do people fail to see the things of God? See also 1 Corinthians 2:14

26:22 What are “Mysteries of God”?

“Until it is understood, a simple truth may be a great mystery…. To understand spiritual things, a man must have spiritual discernment, that is, guidance by the Holy Ghost. For this reason we are confirmed and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” ~ JF Smith

26:27 What should you do if your heart is depressed?

“There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the devil until his depressive spirit leaves you. …To press on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression, will eventually bring you out on top into the sunshine.” ~ ET Benson

26:37 How do you think Ammon’s mission strengthened his testimony that God is mindful of all people?

Alma 25

What’s happening? The Lamanites attack the Nephites. Some Lamanites are converted at this time. And Abinadi’s prophecies concern the wicked priests of Noah’s children come to pass.

Why does it matter? The Lamanites are covering their remorse for killing the Anti-Nephi-Lehies with more killing, this time directed at the Nephites.

Between the lines: Anger can mask deeper emotions. Remorse and regret in this case.

Quote of for the day: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

25:1-3 What are the negative effects of getting even?

“Let us, as disciples of Jesus Christ, return good for evil. Let us not seek revenge or allow our wrath to overcome us. …Remember: in the end, it is the merciful who obtain mercy.” ~ DF Uchtdorf

25:16 How did the Nephites’ obedience to the law differ from that of the Jews?

25:17 What does Mormon teach us about being a servant of God?

Alma 24

What’s happening? The Lamanites attack the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.

Why does it matter? This is the ultimate example of peace-seeking people.

Between the lines: One of the saddest stories in the Book of Mormon, this tells of people who refuse to even go near to something that may tempt them to live their old ways. By refusing to take up arms, they show us peaceful actions can soften hearts.

Quote of for the day: “Notwithstanding the evil and the tragedy, I see a silver thread shining through the dark and bloody tapestry of conflict. I see the finger of the Lord plucking some good from the evil designs of the adversary.” ~ GB Hinckley, 1968

24:1-2 Why were the other Lamanites angry enough to go to war against the Anti-Nephi-Lehis?

24:10-11 Why were the converted Lamanites forgiven of serious sin? How does this compare to today?

“This chapter is a remarkable tribute to the Lamanite converts. The world today desperately needs such peacemakers. A rather remarkable fact that we should also notice in this chapter is that God not only permitted many Lamanites to repent of their murders, but also seems to have forgive them. This may be justified on the grounds that the Lamanites before their conversion had little spiritual light and were ignorant of the consequences of their misdeeds.” ~ Sperry, BOM COMPENDIUM

24:21-22 What was so different about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies burying their weapons and why did they do it?

“While the message of the story is not to insist on universal pacifism, we do learn that by not returning aggressions from others we can have a profound effect on them. Literally, we can change their hearts when we follow Christ’s example and turn the other cheek. Our examples as peaceable followers of Christ inspire others to follow Him.” ~ LT Perry