120 Days Closer to Jesus Christ
For anyone who follows this blog regularly, you are aware that I don’t usually post too much about myself on here. Yes, I share personal spiritual stories from time to time, but I avoid going into the mundane of my daily routine. I do this for a variety of reasons. But mostly, I do it because I don’t want to ever have my close friends or family fearing that their daily interactions with me will show up online one day for the world to see. This especially applies to my church family. The Brethren have, especially within the past couple of years, asked that members avoid sharing their counsel in individual stake meetings or trainings online or via social media. I feel this overflows into what occurs on a weekly basis in my own branch. Although I receive some amazing lessons and hear some truly significant talks in my tiny branch, that counsel and guidance is for those of us here in the Jasper Branch of the Bessemer Alabama Stake. The Lord didn’t mean for those teachings to be broadcast to the world. They are sacred, and for our own enjoyment.
However, for the next 120 days or so I am going to change that up.
At the beginning of this year my local priesthood leader invited us, as a branch, to read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover. There was a plan whereby we were supposed to read four pages a day, and then be able to stick together and encourage one another through the reading process. I am not sure how many individuals did this, but I do know from personal experience the blessings that came from obedience to that invitation. Today, in a combined Priesthood and Relief Society meeting during our third hour, our branch presidency once again invited us to read The Book of Mormon in its entirety, and even provided booklets with which to aid our study. They are rather nice, and very professionally put together. On the first page of the booklet there are two quotes which I really enjoyed. One of them is this one.
“I counsel you, my beloved brothers and sister and friends everywhere, to make reading the Book of Mormon a few minutes each day a lifelong practice…I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity — the pure love of Christ — will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.”
– Elder Marion G. Romney; Conference Report, April 1960 pp. 110-123
That’s powerful. And I loved that my branch president really stressed the wonderful blessings promised there.
On the second page of the book there is a list of ten suggestions which will aid in our “120 Days Closer to Christ” program. They are as follows:
- Arise daily by 6AM., except weekends
- Generate the Spirit daily by A.) Practicing humble fervent, vocal prayer. B.) Pray for a burning spirit of testimony, love and charity. C.) Meditate about yourself and your family. D.) Ponder the thought and scripture of the day.
- Organize your day and and include A.) Complete the daily scripture reading assignment. B.) Wisely use your time. C.) Have family prayer. D.) Commit to say only positive and uplifting statements about others. E.) Serve one person daily. F.) Participate in physical exercise.
- Attend the temple or prepare to obtain a temple recommend.
- Try to obey all the commandments.
- Do quality Home/Visiting Teaching – 100% each month.
- Hold Family Home Evening.
- Go the second mile in your church callings.
- Plan a date with your spouse once a week.
- Attend all church meetings.
The third page of the book then starts in with the daily reading assignments. There are a few pages for each day, broken down into chapters. There is a certain passage to “mark and ponder” from the daily reading. There is also another short verse included with each section that relates to what we’ve read that day. And then there is the “Daily Thought”, which is a short quote which also relates to that day’s reading (I peeked ahead and even saw a quote from Ghandi; that makes me stoked!).
Overall, I really like the proposition, invitation, and the blessings that can come from this.
Near the end of our meeting I wanted to raise my hand and share this verse of scripture, but, due to lack of time, did not.
“Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
Doctrine & Covenants 1:37-38
In August of 2005 President Gordon B. Hinckley invited all members of the Church to read the entire Book of Mormon by the end of the year. Blessings were promised, and some people enjoyed those blessings. Personally, I remember being a travelling insurance salesman at the time, and on that cold morning of December 31st, parked in my car on a country road in The Middle of Nowhere, Alabama, I fervently read so that I might enjoy the blessings promised by our beloved Prophet.
In early 2010 my former branch president invited our fledgling congregation to read The Book of Mormon. In fact, he even had us raise our hands and sustain the action. Blessings were promised, and once again some people enjoyed the promised blessings.
Today, as my wonderful Priesthood Leader stood in front of me, I knew what the Lord wanted from me and my fellow Saints. He was inviting us to draw closer to Him.
This is a deeply personal thing, and a thing that involves not just me, but my entire congregation. I have no doubt that the Adversary, Ol’ Scratch himself, will fight mightily to keep me and my fellow Southern Saints from enjoying the promised blessings. But I’m going to share my daily ventures here with you with the hopes that A.) It’ll force me to be accountable at the end of each day. And B.) You might each get something out of this too.
If we maintain our 120 days undisturbed, my branch will finish The Book of Mormon at the end of our next General Conference weekend.
I look forward to this journey.
So please feel free to join me here, and especially in reading for the next four months. The goal is to be closer to Jesus Christ at the end. I know we will be.
But as for now, I’ve got to go read!