Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why A Manger?


Hello everyone! I’ve had such a busy week. I’ve done more revisions on my novel and have officially drafted my query letter to begin sending to agents. I’ve also finished the first week of my Mosiah inductive study to send to those who’ve agreed to be in  my test group. We’ve got a good sized group so I’m excited to start getting feedback. If all goes well, I’ll have the Mosiah study completed and ready to send to anyone who wants to know their scriptures more in depth in just a few months. Plus, this morning I got to teach the last chapter in the George Albert Smith lesson book, Righteous Living in Perilous Times. What an instructive chapter.

Now onto today’s topic…..

You may not know this about me, but I love collecting both nutcrackers and nativity sets. I don’t have many, but I do love them. You may send donations to….  just kidding. 

I’ve been thinking about the nativity a lot lately. For years I thought about the injustice of the King of Kings having to be born in a stable. Imagine, a filthy manger filled with animals. Couldn’t the innkeeper have at least asked anyone if they’d be willing to give up or share their room for the woman in labor? Could not the Spirit have prompted some righteous soul to help them? Instead, he was born in the most humble of circumstances. Our humble Savior. I love Him so much.

It occurred to me last week, and I don’t know why it never had previously, that Heavenly Father arranged those circumstances intentionally. I mean, He is in charge of the universe. He could have arranged affairs to be more in Mary’s favor. Why didn’t He? Here is what I think. God loves symbolism. The temples, both ancient and modern are rife with it, as are both the ancient and modern Scriptures. So why should we not find symbolism in his birthplace?

1 Corinthians 5:7 calls the Savior our Passover. What does that mean?  In our Old Testaments we have the story of the Israelite Passover. Pharoah’s heart continued to harden and he refused to let the Israelites leave. Moses warned him that if he didn’t change his mind that God would destroy the firstborn son in every household. God is holy and compassionate and does not punish indiscriminately.  He provided a means of safety for all who feared Him. Any family that did not want to be touched by the destroying angel was to slay an unblemished male lamb and spread the blood on the doorposts of their home. When the destroying angel saw the blood he would pass over that home and the firstborn would be safe.  Many children died that night, but not in the Israelite homes. They obeyed their God and were spared.

Now, if Christ is our Passover lamb, does it not make sense that He, too, should be born in a stable. The angel told the shepherds their Savior was born that night. I think he was preparing their hearts for the fact that He would not come as a conqueror to banish the Romans, as many of the Jews hoped, but instead as a humble servant and sacrifice for our sins. So that, if we repent and put our faith and trust in Him we too shall be spared by the blood of the unblemished lamb Jesus Christ. Doctrine & Covenants puts this better than any passage I have ever found thus far. When we are standing before our God and the vileness of our sin is exposed, the Passover Lamb steps forth.

“Listen to Him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before Him—Saying: Father, behold the suffering and death of Him who did no sin, in whom Thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of Thy Son which was shed, the blood of Him whom Thou gavest that Thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto Me and have everlasting life.” D & C 45:3-5.

Do you hear the pleading of the Savior on your behalf?  Do you see the gush of His blood that was spilt for your sins? I will never look at a manger the same again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Test Group Closed

Thanks for the fantastic response to my test group.  It is now closed.  Those of you who signed up will be contacted soon.

Annmarie Worthington

Monday, December 10, 2012

Test Group Filling Quickly

Yesterday, I announced the opening of a test group for a scripture study I’m writing. I’ve already received a large amount of emails from people asking to be in the group.  I’m grateful for the response. Everyone who has already commented or emailed will be in the test group.  I’ll leave the group open for just ten more people, but after that I’m closing it.  So the next ten people need to be quick.

Thank you for the great response.  I’ll have the first installment this weekend.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Looking for a test group

Dear Friends,

I’ve been a member for three years now. There have been many adjustments in my life because of my conversion to Mormonism. Learning a new faith is never easy. On top of that I had to simultaneously learn and begin a career quickly in order for my family to survive financially. Going from stay at home mom to working mom, while continuing to homeschool and build my life from scratch was NOT easy. However, the hardest part for me was learning new ways to think about God, about women’s rights/roles, about how the Spirit speaks to us, and about agency. I’m still learning. Though I have much to learn, I have come quite a distance.

I also learned that not everyone who is a member can be trusted simply because they are a member and everyone thinks they’re wonderful. The upside of that is, the Spirit warned me, but I didn’t recognize it at the time. Or rather, I thought I must be wrong, because people with much more experience with the Spirit were telling me differently. I now know better. Through the grace of God,  I won’t make that mistake again. I’ve learned to recognize the Spirit’s voice better. I’ve learned to trust it over my “counselors”. I’m excited that He warned me, because now I know I’m not dependent on my own judgment when it comes to trusting people.

There are things I miss about my old life very much, like orchestra. Most of them, however, I can live without and are just preferences. Others are more significant. Some of my old friends I miss tremendously, but I’ve also learned that our Savior means it when He calls us friend (D&C 84:63). I am not alone.  In addition to making new friends, I’ve grown to love solitude. I also have learned how to draw companionship from my relationship with my Savior.

One of the things I miss the most is in-depth inductive scripture study. I came from an academic church background. Plus, I’ve always had an almost insatiable appetite to learn. I’ve searched for inductive studies that incorporate LDS scriptures and haven’t been able to find any.  I had wondered if maybe I just haven’t located them (after all, I am a newbie), but after speaking with a friend who is very familiar with the LDS publishing industry (Gary Lawrence) I realized they don’t exist. That means if I am going to get to study the latter-day Scriptures the way I have the ancient ones, I’m going to have to write it myself.

This is where you come in. I’ll need a test group. I don’t want this to be useful only to me. If you would be willing to dig into your scriptures with me and give me feedback on what I write, I would be very grateful to you. I’m sure many of you will be able to add information to it, as you’ve all been Mormon many years more than I have.

If you’re interested, here is what it would require:

1. As I write sections of the study, you will do all of the assignments and reading.

2. When you’re done, you’ll write out what was helpful and what you wish were different.

3. If you think I left something significant out, tell me.

4. Don’t pass the studies on to anyone else until I feel they are ready.

5. It will also require patience. I have four children to raise, a home to run, as well as two jobs, and book revisions to do. I may not have every installment as quickly as everyone will want.

Still interested? Just leave a comment below with your email address so I know where to send it. If you are uncomfortable leaving your email address, just comment and then email me privately. My email is . The first study I will do is on the book of Mosiah.

Please note that you do NOT have to be a Latter-day to participate in this test group. Also, this group will have a limited size. There will only be so many suggestions I will be able to usefully process, so I cannot let the group get too large.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trials versus Temptations


I have been so swamped lately. Between moving to a new home and dealing with Lyme treatments I fell quite behind both at work and at home. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, though there is still much to be done.  I have learned a lot over the last few months and kept hoping I’d have time to write some of my ideas down. Here’s my first chance.

I’ve pondered for some time the difference between the two uses of temptations in James chapter one. In the first section temptations are to be rejoiced in.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:2-4

The second section is not so fortunate.

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:13-15

Many scholars would interpret the first one trials and the second one temptations, though they are from the same Greek root word. Why such disparity in the two uses of the same word then?  One type brings perfection; the other brings death. The difference lies in their part of speech. The first word translated temptation is a noun. The next one is a verb.

In the first use, temptations is the noun peirasmos. Essentially, this is saying this tempation/trial/affliction is here. You didn’t necessarily do anything to get it here, but it is here none the less.  The second use of the word temptations is the verb peirazo. We cause this affliction. Our lust is living, moving, breathing. We walk right into this affliction.


Let’s look at both of them a little more closely and see how we can come out in a way that pleases our Father. The first section covers verses 2-12. James begins by telling us to rejoice in our trials. Why would we do that? Because the trying of our faith helps us toward our perfection. The word the King James translates as patience literally means to abide under. In other words, we are now able to bear up courageously.

Think of it like a quest in the ancient King Arthur’s court. The knight has to be tested. Can he uphold the standards of Camelot and be considered worthy to serve in court? He has to go through many trials to see what he can handle.  The same is happening to us during our trials.  When James talks about the “trying of your faith” he literally means the proof of it; a crucible, or test. We show our faith and what it is worth by what we are able to bear up under.

Throughout the section he gives advice on needing wisdom and dealing with the trial of riches (or lack thereof). In the end, if we pass the test, we are rewarded with the crown of life (vs. 12). I love the description of the recipients. It says the Lord gives it to those who love Him. What we are demonstrating when we courageously bear up under trials is that we love our Savior. Not only do we love Him, but we trust Him enough to go through anything He sees fit to bring into our lives.  That is something to rejoice in.

Next the mood turns darker….


The next section begins in verse 13. James wants us to know from the beginning that this type of temptation does not come from God. Here we are entrapped by the own lusts we’ve allowed to live in our hearts. What do we desire? Now certain desires in and of themselves are not wrong. It is what you do with them that becomes the sin. A fleeting attraction doesn’t matter unless you feed it by dwelling on it. That is what stirs it up to a covetous nature. Then that lust is conceived when action follows. The conception gives birth to sin. Once sin is allowed to grow and mature, it becomes death.

The word translated conceive literally means to take with. It is often used in the sense of taking a prisoner. That is exactly what sin does to us. It takes us prisoner and cheats us out of the life we were intended to live.

Honestly, wouldn’t you rather deal with the trials than the temptations? Now I realize we all have weaknesses. In fact, God intended it that way. However, we’re not bound by our natural desires. Those become temptations when we do something to make it that way, or don’t do something to kill it. Yet, even then there is hope. It doesn’t have to become a pattern.

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Ether 12:27