Saturday, September 24, 2011

Entrusted by God with our Rings

When Frodo is first entrusted with the ring, it was a great responsibility. The responsibility and sacrifice were too much for many. He first objected thinking that he didn't deserve such a responsibility. Gandolf told him he must. He then tried to pass the responsibility back to Gandolf who rebuked him saying: "Don't tempt me, Frodo! I dare not take it. Not even to keep it safe. Understand, Frodo. I would this ring from a desire to do good... But through me, It would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine" ( So thus Frodo becomes the ring bearer.

We are all entrusted with a ring of sorts. We are given stewardship over the souls of mankind. That is our responsibility. Some may say that it is too great for even the greatest of men and women. But it is our task. We must carry the responsibility with dignity and pride for it is our calling. I am not just talking to missionaries but to all of us.  As we live to that which we are entrusted and do the things that the Lord wants we like Frodo will receive our reward when the ship into the West comes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keeping Covenants...Don't join the Army of the Dead!

Do y'all remember in "The Return of the King" when Sauron's army was going to attack Minas Tirith and they had that huge battle in Plennor Fields? It was so sick when all hope seemed lost and out of nowhere Aragorn swoops in with the Army of the dead and saves the day; def. my favorite part.

The army of the dead always intrigued me, and they have a really interesting story. Also known as the oath breakers, the Dead Men of Dunharrow were once asked to came to the help of Isildur when he went to fight against Sauron. However they did not come to his aid when called upon despite the oath of allegiance they pledged to him. Because they broke their promise they were refused the opportunity to have peace or rest until they fulfilled their oath. They were miserable, and had they kept their oath, peace and rest would have been the outcome.

Some of us, like the dead men, have made oaths or covenants through baptism. We promise to join the Savior's ranks to be a light to the world and an example to those who do not know him. The promised reward is the constant companionship of his Spirit which blesses us with peace and joy. However, if we do not keep those covenants then we will have to live knowing that we let the Savior down.

But none of us are perfect, and like the story of the army of the dead, there is always the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. When we mess up, the King of Kings always gives us another chance to fulfill our oath-to keep our covenants; and even though falling short may have kept us from that peace, he is always waiting to extend that to us as long as we ask for forgiveness.

Alma 34:31 in the book of Mormon states:
      "Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you."

So make and keep covenants! They bring peace and happiness, and even if we fall short God is always waiting to extend his arm of mercy towards us.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Gospel and the Ring

So, what does the ring represent? I think the description of the history of the ring in the book sheds a little light on the ring. It says:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

This ring was different. it was not like the others. it had more power. It took the agency of the people who bore it. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the ring it the pride and vain imaginations of the world. i also think of peer pressure and of the captive powers and addictive habits that they are.  These deadly poisons corrupted the people who bore them slowly. There are multiple times in the books that you see the bearer succomb to the nature the ring creates. Think about Bilbo in Rivendale. Frodo is still recovering from the stab of the ringwraith, and bilbo comes bearing gifts to him. He asks if he can see the ring. Even after being away from the ring for a while, it still has a hold on him. In 1 Nephi 8, the prophet Lehi describes a vision he had of the plan of salvation. He talks of the tree of life, or eternal life with our Father, and about 4 types of people. We will focus on one by startting out the story at verse 24:

"And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree. And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed. And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost" (1 Ne. 8:24-28).

Pride is a menace. it is the one sin that everyone struggles with. but the key is to put off the natural, prideful man and become like Christ, "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things whatsoever the father seeth to inflict upon him" (Mosiah 3:19)

Similar to the story the ring cannot be rooted out of our lives until we destroy it. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sam and Frodo: Our relationship with Heavenly Father

Throughout the book you follow the adventures of Frodo and Sam after they separate from the fellowship. Their quest to Mordor is not an easy one. It is one full of trial and tribulation. It is one full of betrayal and burden. Their leader Smeagol takes them down through the tunnels of Shelob's lair. He plans to betray them. Before they get to the tunnel, Sam overhears Smeagol's plot to kill them. As he alerts Frodo, frodo won't listen. He tells Sam that Sam doesn't know what he and Smeagol are going through, what the ring has done to them. He ends by saying, "You can't help me anymore." Sam says, "You don't mean that." Then Frodo withdraws from the friendship of Sam by commanding, "GO HOME!"

Many times in our lives we are like Frodo. Our Sam, Heavenly Father, warns us of many of the perils of this life. we knew him before this life and our friendship grows even stronger as we push through trials and adversity. but the great Betrayer, Satan, the father of lies, sometimes leads us on what we think are safe paths. Heavenly Father sees the dangers ahead and warns us accordingly. but how often are we like Frodo telling our Heavenly Father that he doesn't understand, telling him to go home? At that time the Spirit of God backs off. And we are left with the betrayer. The prophet Ezekiel talks about this when he says, "Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head" (Ezekiel 33:4). As we get closer and closer to danger and the betrayer leaves our side, we then are turned to the Lord. At that moment the Lord can help us through the situation, but only after we repent. And just like Sam the Lord is there to help us and carry us through the trial.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Battle of Helms Deep: Are you winning the Battle?

Everyone loves the intense battle of Helms Deep. Rohan was faced with legions of Saruman's Uruk Hai, their people were trapped with no where to go, and they were deserted by the Rohirrim. All odds were against them. Their only hope was that Saruman's forces wouldn't be able to breach the Deeping Wall. Elves rallied to their support, but the uruk hai were too overwhelming. Ladders, catapults, and suicide bombers weakened the wall allowing the uruk hai to pour into Rohans last line of defence. They did all they could but the opposition was too great. And just when all hope seemed lost, and they made their final push to an inevitable death, a light appeared in the East.

Gandalph appeared. He came as promised and brought with him the promise of deliverance to the defeated. Armed with a host of Rohirrim they swarmed the Uruk Hai, and absolutely annihilated them. The people were saved from what seemed like inevitable destruction.

I always pictured Gandalf as a symbol of Christ, and the battle of Helms Deep like the battle that each and everyone of us fight daily. In the Old testament, the prophet Isaiah, when the King of Judah was put in pretty much the same situation as Thoden of Rohan, promised him that the Lord wouldn't let the Assyrians (Uruk Hai) destroy them as long as he had Faith in Christ. All hope seemed lost. If you picture all of middle earth in you mind, the Assyrians conquered the equivalent of all but Helms Deep. The Isralites were outnumbered, outmatched, and anything that stood in the Assyrians way was demolished. All hope seemed lost. Then one morning after the Assyrians had camped outside of Jerusalem "the angel of the Lord went out, and smote  in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand (185,000) of them" (2 Kings 19)

So in our own lives when we see the armies of evil or negativity conquering all that is around us, or when we may become discouraged at the seemingly hopeless battle we are fighting to be as good as we can, remember that if we have faith in Jesus Christ he will give us the strength to win our battles,and keep his commandments.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gollum: the Natural Man

Gollum is one of the most misunderstood character's in the books or the movies. Maybe because of his annoyingly scratchy voice. But the tragedy that is the story of Gollum is one of what happens when we let the natural man take over in our lives.

Gollum's story starts in the village of the Shire, but down among the Riverfolk. His real name is Smeagol. The story begins that he was a simple hobbit who enjoyed going down to the river. One day while fishing with his friend Deagol, Deagol had a fish bite his line which pulled him into the water. While in the water, Deagol found the ring. When he got out, Smeagol saw the ring and lusted after it. He desired it more than anything he had wanted before. It was Smeagol's birthday after all. He deserved it. Deagol wouldn't give it to him. So his coveting of the ring caused Smeagol to murder Deagol. He then took the ring. He caressed it calling it his "precious". It came to the point where he desired the ring more than food and more than companionship. For the next 500 years, Smeagol made the transition from carefree hobbit to disgusting creature living on the ring's power. He was addicted. The Ring became his master and created the Split personality of Gollum. it just goes to show what happens when we let the natural man take over and stop caring about what matters most.

We learn from the Book of Mormon that "the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." From this scripture, we can learn something that Smeagol never does learn: how to put off the natural man. We must apply the Atonement in our lives and become a saint. We must recognize that the things that matter most are not things but our loved ones. We must be submissive to the will of the Father in all things.

If we do these things, we will be able "to receive all that the Father has!" I know that these things are true. So let us be not like Gollum, sucking life from a lifeless object, but let us seek life from Him who brings us Everlasting life!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Into the West: Our Journey Back Home

At the end of Frodo's journey, After peace had been established in the land and the ring was destroyed, we find Frodo taking a journey into the west to the Undying lands. He had completed his mortal quest, and met every obstacle with resilient courage. He succeeded in what seemed like an impossible journey, and because of such he was given a sacred privilege; to live the remainder of his life among the elves.

It was Frodo's purity of heart and selfless character that qualified him for that great privilege, and we, like Frodo, after we complete our mortal quest, if we met it with courage and demonstrated our trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ by following his example, we will gain a similar reward.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma speaks about what happens after we finish our mortal journey. He says:
     "And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.

This is the reward promised us if we follow the teachings of Christ. And doesn't that sound great?!

 So, if we, like Frodo, press forward "with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men...[we] shall have eternal life" (2 Ne. 31:20).