Second Coming: Brace Yourself

Over the last few months, the Lord’s Spirit has whispered these words to me, “Brace yourself.” These words have been repeated to me many times. I am taking them quite seriously.

In the last two weeks, I’ve encountered videos online where two unrelated people have witnessed that they are hearing the same prophetic words, “Brace yourself.” I can’t help but feel that I must take these words and these times very seriously.

I appreciated very much these two videos by Michal B. Rush which he published earlier this month (July 2020). He briefly puts into clear context the prophecies in 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, and 3 Nephi regarding the last days and what we can expect when the remnant of Israel which will return before Christ’s Second Coming. These are great reminders of how seriously we need to take the scriptures, study them for ourselves, and not put off our devotion to learning and understanding them any longer. The time is short. In my heart I feel that the days of the Lord’s forbearance are few.

Part 1

I am doing my best to be prepared, to brace myself as I have been instructed. I would not be surprised if some of the readers of this blog have heard and are heeding the same or similar words from the Holy Spirit in the last few months.

I cannot speak to your experience, but the sun-bright message of the Lord to me is “the time to prepare is right now.” The season of taking His counsel lightly has passed, but rest assured, we can find protection and peace in His sacred Word and in our covenants with Him.

The intrigues, criminal enterprises, and secret combinations of those we normally would trust at the highest levels of our governments, worldwide are soon to be revealed, much to the shock of the world. As a friend and someone who cares for your spiritual safety, I repeat: Brace yourself.

A Prophet’s Example

I was inspired by the example of President Russel M. Nelson’s who recently studied over 2,200 scriptures about the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I want to follow that example. I’m excited to begin the adventure myself today.

After he was done reading all these verses, President Nelson said:

I have devoted much of my 92 years to learning about the Savior, but rare are the occasions when I have been able to learn as much as I did over this six-week study period. (Ibid.)

If he could learn more about Christ after serving in the Quorum of the Twelve for over 30 years, can’t I too? I’m going to give it my best.

Here are links to pages from the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide that discuss the life and teachings of Christ.

Jesus (Bible Dictionary)
Jesus Christ (Topical Guide)
Jesus Christ, Advocate
Jesus Christ, Antemortal Existence of
Jesus Christ, Appearances, Antemortal
Jesus Christ, Appearances, Postmortal
Jesus Christ, Ascension of
Jesus Christ, Atonement through
Jesus Christ, Authority of
Jesus Christ, Baptism of
Jesus Christ, Betrayal of
Jesus Christ, Birth of
Jesus Christ, Condescension of
Jesus Christ, Creator
Jesus Christ, Crucifixion of
Jesus Christ, Davidic Descent of
Jesus Christ, Death of
Jesus Christ, Divine Sonship
Jesus Christ, Exemplar
Jesus Christ, Family of
Jesus Christ, Firstborn
Jesus Christ, Foreordained
Jesus Christ, Glory of
Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd
Jesus Christ, Head of the Church
Jesus Christ, Jehovah
Jesus Christ, Judge; Jesus Christ, King;
Jesus Christ, Lamb of God
Jesus Christ, Light of the World
Jesus Christ, Lord
Jesus Christ, Mediator
Jesus Christ, Messenger of the Covenant Jesus Christ, Messiah
Jesus Christ, Millennial Reign
Jesus Christ, Mission of
Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, Power of
Jesus Christ, Prophecies about
Jesus Christ, Redeemer
Jesus Christ, Relationships with the Father
Jesus Christ, Resurrection
Jesus Christ, Rock
Jesus Christ, Savior
Jesus Christ, Second Comforter
Jesus Christ, Second Coming
Jesus Christ, Son of Man
Jesus Christ, Spirit of
Jesus Christ, Taking the Name of
Jesus Christ, Teaching Mode of
Jesus Christ, Temptation of
Jesus Christ, Trials of
Jesus Christ, Types of, in Anticipation
Jesus Christ, Types of, in Memory

Bonus: You can view his January 2017 devotional address, where he talked about his study of these verses, here.

Key Verse: “He Will . . . Deliver You” (Mosiah 7:33)
King Limhi’s people escaping captivity.

I love this verse. I only recently “discovered” it. King Limhi, son of wicked King Noah in the Book of Mormon, gathered his people around the temple in the land of Nephi and made this amazing promise.

But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 7:33.)

His people, who were in bondage to the Lamanites after the raucous reign of Limhi’s father Noah, were told to follow three distinct steps in order to win deliverance from their enemies.

  1. “Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart”
  2. “Put your trust in him”
  3. “Serve him with all diligence of mind”

A short and simple formula, but the promise is staggering.

To me, following #2 is easier than steps #1 and #3, but all are needed. If you follow #2, #1 and #3 will come naturally, eventually.

P.S. The word perseverance does not appear in the verse, but it’s there, nevertheless. Perseverance is the key to success in life and faith.

I also like this cross-reference, 14 chapters later.

And now all the study of Ammon and his people, and king Limhi and his people, was to deliver themselves out of the hands of the Lamanites and from bondage. (Mosiah 21:36; emphasis added.)

“All [their] study” was to “deliver themselves” from bondage. Though they called upon God, they also called on themselves to do their part. I believe God wants to help us fix our problems, not to always fix problems for us, with little interest or participation on our part.

All Your Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength

I’ve been pondering the meaning of serving God with all your heart, might, mind and strength, as commanded in scriptures.

. . . O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2; see also Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22;37; Mark 12:30; Doctrine and Covenants 59:5.)

Then I found these definitions from the 2015 Mutual Theme cards. (Emphasis added.) To start, here is a take on how to serve God with all your heart:

The heart sustains life. “Heart” often means the center or core of something and the place where desires and emotions reside. To serve God with all our heart is to give Him all of our desires, will, and love. He asks us to love Him by keeping His commandments and loving others.

Then, with all your might:

Serving with our might can mean simply doing what we are able to do, both spiritually and temporally, and is outward focused. Whatever our individual talents (from lifting a heavy couch to staying positive in difficult situations), we can use them to strengthen others.

With all your mind:

The power to think is a gift from God. . . . The way we think greatly affects attitudes and behavior, as well as our standing after this life” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Thoughts,” Our minds help us learn and change for the better—if we seek after good things.

And with all your strength:

The energy with which we serve God is part of giving Him all our strength. Strength is also spiritual power, inner commitment, resilience, and diligence in doing good. We can show our strength as we live the principles the Savior Himself lived. Then we can receive divine spiritual power.

To serve and worship God in this way is a complete offering. No question stands between you and God. The heart and mind are not divided. There is no holding back or turning back. Repentance is genuine and far reaching. Your heart is broken, your spirit, contrite. Your commitment is sure. There is no question as to your devotion or where your affections lie. This is what God asks of us—to purchase our hearts and minds without a discount. No hidden fees. No refunds. No revolving credit.


Alma’s Interview Questions
The Conversion of Alma [the Younger] by Gary L. Kapp
Many readers of the Book of Mormon are familiar with these three striking questions from Alma the Younger, recorded in Alma chapter 5, verse 14:

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, [1] have ye spiritually been born of God? [2] Have ye received his image in your countenances? [3] Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

Did you know that, in this same chapter, one of the longest in the book, Alma poses 45 “interview” questions. I say interview because they address what’s in the human heart at the deepest levels.

If you’d like to conduct a rigorous self-interview, ask yourself all these questions and give yourself a score of 1–5 for each answer (1, meaning “I’m not doing so well” to 5, meaning, “I’m doing great”), then add the score (225 is perfect).

  1. And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? (v. 6)
  2. Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? (v. 6)
  3. And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell? (v. 6)
  4. And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they [fathers in captivity] destroyed? (v. 8)
  5. And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? (v. 9)
  6. And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? (v. 10)
  7. Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? (v. 10)
  8. What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell? (v. 10)
  9. Behold, I can tell you—did not my father Alma believe in the words which were delivered by the mouth of Abinadi? (v. 11)
  10. And was he not a holy prophet? (v. 11)
  11. Did he not speak the words of God, and my father Alma believe them? (v. 11)
  12. And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? (v. 14)
  13. Have ye received his image in your countenances? (v. 14)
  14. Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (v. 14)
  15. Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? (v. 15)
  16. Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? (v. 15)
  17. I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth? (v. 16)
  18. Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you? (v. 17)
  19. Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God? (v. 18)
  20. I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? (v. 19)
  21. I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? (v. 19)
  22. I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil? (v. 20)
  23. And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? (v. 22)
  24. Behold, what will these things testify against you? (v. 22)
  25. Behold will they not testify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are guilty of all manner of wickedness? (v. 23)
  26. Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white? (v. 24)
  27. And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? (v. 26)
  28. Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? (v. 27)
  29. Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? (v. 27)
  30. That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins? (v. 27)
  31. Behold, are ye stripped of pride? (v. 28)
  32. Behold, I say, is there one among you who is not stripped of envy? (v. 29)
  33. And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? (v. 30)
  34. And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? (v. 39)
  35. Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? (v. 39)
  36. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? (v. 45)
  37. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? (v. 45)
  38. And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; [?] (v. 53)
  39. yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; [?] (v. 53)
  40. yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; [?] (v. 53)
  41. yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?
  42. 5Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them? (v. 55)
  43. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? (v. 58)
  44. For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? (v. 59)
  45. And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he [the shepherd] not drive him out? (v. 59)

Doctrine and Covenants Listening Times I said in a previous post, I’m working on a little project of tabulating the lengths of scripture audio recordings, for both female and male narrators. Here’s my second installment, the Doctrine and Covenants. The total listening time for the female voice is just under 15 hours while the male voice is 47 minutes longer—about 15 3/4 hours.

Doctrine and Covenants Time (Female) Time (Male)
Title Page
0:00:32 0:00:26
Introduction 0:13:48 0:13:34
1 0:08:16 0:07:37
2 0:01:15 0:01:16
3 0:05:01 0:04:28
4 0:01:40 0:01:34
5 0:08:03 0:07:28
6 0:08:42 0:08:00
7 0:02:18 0:02:10
8 0:03:14 0:03:01
9 0:03:05 0:02:28
10 0:14:29 0:12:46
11 0:06:27 0:05:58
12 0:02:26 0:02:14
13 0:01:17 0:01:22
14 0:03:13 0:03:09
15 0:01:29 0:01:30
16 0:01:23 0:01:19
17 0:03:05 0:02:56
18 0:08:41 0:07:51
19 0:07:40 0:07:23
20 0:17:21 0:16:12
21 0:04:01 0:03:47
22 0:01:15 0:01:11
23 0:02:36 0:02:25
24 0:05:03 0:04:38
25 0:03:34 0:03:25
26 0:00:58 0:00:57
27 0:05:11 0:04:43
28 0:03:57 0:03:45
29 0:12:10 0:11:22
30 0:03:08 0:03:03
31 0:02:53 0:02:48
32 0:01:46 0:01:47
33 0:04:13 0:04:05
34 0:02:34 0:02:31
35 0:06:54 0:06:39
36 0:02:13 0:02:03
37 0:01:11 0:01:07
38 0:09:24 0:08:36
39 0:05:25 0:05:04
40 0:01:08 0:01:07
41 0:03:21 0:03:09
42 0:18:48 0:17:03
43 0:08:20 0:08:20
44 0:01:41 0:01:50
45 0:14:59 0:15:53
46 0:06:19 0:06:49
47 0:01:32 0:01:37
48 0:02:15 0:02:20
49 0:06:54 0:07:27
50 0:08:41 0:08:51
51 0:04:26 0:04:48
52 0:07:53 0:08:12
53 0:01:55 0:01:56
54 0:02:44 0:02:52
55 0:02:10 0:02:16
56 0:05:19 0:05:36
57 0:04:45 0:05:02
58 0:12:08 0:12:58
59 0:05:20 0:05:25
60 0:03:56 0:03:58
61 0:08:00 0:08:03
62 0:02:30 0:02:26
63 0:13:47 0:13:51
64 0:08:45 0:08:43
65 0:01:59 0:01:57
66 0:03:37 0:03:37
67 0:04:09 0:04:25
68 0:07:47 0:08:12
69 0:02:30 0:02:41
70 0:04:24 0:04:38
71 0:02:34 0:02:41
72 0:05:44 0:05:55
73 0:01:32 0:01:39
74 0:02:14 0:02:14
75 0:06:41 0:07:07
76 0:19:41 0:21:19
77 0:07:45 0:08:01
78 0:05:42 0:06:05
79 0:00:59 0:00:59
80 0:01:03 0:01:04
81 0:02:50 0:02:57
82 0:06:01 0:06:04
83 0:01:24 0:01:27
84 0:22:48 0:23:01
85 0:03:43 0:03:52
86 0:02:44 0:02:43
87 0:02:37 0:02:43
88 0:30:11 0:30:45
89 0:04:22 0:04:30
90 0:07:25 0:07:38
91 0:01:26 0:01:24
92 0:01:06 1:08:00
93 0:10:07 0:10:21
94 0:03:21 0:03:29
95 0:04:14 0:04:11
96 0:02:50 0:02:51
97 0:06:43 0:06:51
98 0:11:05 0:11:19
99 0:02:06 0:02:08
100 0:03:40 0:03:42
101 0:19:31 0:19:40
102 0:09:48 0:10:21
103 0:08:47 0:09:01
104 0:17:54 0:18:24
105 0:09:30 0:09:57
106 0:02:09 0:02:20
107 0:21:00 0:21:46
108 0:01:59 0:01:53
109 0:19:25 0:17:03
110 0:04:20 0:04:16
111 0:02:42 0:02:43
112 0:08:37 0:08:05
113 0:02:43 0:02:32
114 0:00:58 0:00:56
115 0:04:23 0:04:01
116 0:00:29 0:00:32
117 0:04:11 0:03:52
118 0:01:58 0:01:42
119 0:02:51 0:02:59
120 0:00:40 0:00:41
121 0:10:49 0:10:01
122 0:03:29 0:03:25
123 0:04:54 0:04:39
124 0:38:32 0:34:33
125 0:01:23 0:01:17
126 0:00:56 0:00:58
127 0:05:19 0:04:41
128 0:17:32 0:15:50
129 0:01:45 0:01:43
130 0:05:10 0:04:59
131 0:01:28 0:01:25
132 0:23:48 0:21:24
133 0:14:54 0:13:29
134 0:07:09 0:06:37
135 0:06:58 0:06:12
136 0:08:10 0:07:24
137 0:02:09 0:02:05
138 0:13:54 0:13:01
OD 1 0:10:18 0:10:16
OD 2 0:05:12 0:05:25
Total Time 14:56:15 15:43:48

Key Verse: “Put Your Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good” (D&C 11:12–14)

Here’s another passage I discovered while still in my teens. It’s been an important part of my spiritual foundation ever since.

And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; and then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive. (Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–14; compare Micah 6:8; emphasis added.)

These simple, straightforward verses have resonated with me since I first read them at age 18. They’re also a practical measure that inspire a few questions in me.

  • Are you putting your trust in the Spirit that leads you to do good or in that spirit that leads you to do wrong or bad?
  • Are you trusting in the Lord or in man and and reason—”the arm of flesh” (see 2 Nephi 4:34)?
  • Is it okay with you to not be right? Are you humble?
  • Do you set aside judgments and harsh opinions in favor of understanding others and listening to them?

If you do these things, you’ll be led by the Spirit. You will be joyful and enlightened and, if you truly believe, your righteous prayers will be granted.

When Nephi broke his his steel bow (see 1 Nephi 16), he didn’t slip into murmur mode, as his brothers and even father did. He went out and made himself a new bow and arrow and asked his father for directions to the nearest hunting hot spot (see v. 23). He clung to “that Spirit which leadeth to do good.”

With his “can do” attitude, he humbled his father and older brothers. He had a successful hunt. He had a successful life!

He wrote a successful book (the small plates of Nephi) that was included in a larger work, the Book of Mormon. He left behind an unforgettable name and example. All this because he “put [his] trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good.”

Pearl of Great Price Listening Times

I’m working on a little side project: tabulating the lengths of scripture audio recordings, for both female and male voices. Here’s my first installment for the Pearl of Great Price. The total listening time is just over three hours.

Pearl of Great Price Time (Female) Time (Male)
Title Page
0:00:28 0:00:26
Introduction 0:04:02 0:03:31
1 0:10:31 0:10:23
2 0:06:49 0:06:53
3 0:05:37 0:05:47
4 0:07:04 0:06:53
5 0:13:26 0:13:05
6 0:16:49 0:16:13
7 0:18:21 0:18:23
8 0:06:03 0:05:59
1 0:09:09 0:08:48
2 0:06:45 0:06:35
3 0:08:11 0:07:38
4 0:07:36 0:07:01
5 0:04:15 0:03:49
Facsimile 1
Facsimile 2
Facsimile 3
JS-Matthew 0:10:30 0:09:40
JS-History 0:48:46 0:50:21
Articles of Faith 0:03:15 0:02:51
Total Time 3:07:37 3:04:16

Key Verse: “All Victory and Glory” (D&C 103:36)
Young Captain Moroni was a diligent, faithful man who served the Nephites.

I found this verse in the Doctrine and Covenants when was still a teenager. I love it. It strikes me as a simple formula for success. It’s a success formula from a very authoritative source—the most authoritative source there is, in fact.

In this verse, spoken by our Savior, there are three keys to winning “all victory and glory”:

All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith. (Doctrine and Covenants 103:36; emphasis added.)

Let’s look at definitions of these three keys for a moment:

  1. Diligence. Describes a “steady, earnest, and energetic” and even painstaking effort, includes perseverance.
  2. Faithfulness. The quality of “having or showing true and constant support or loyalty“; also, “firm in devotion or support.”
  3. Prayers of faith. A genuine prayer of faith is “a reverent communication with God during which a person gives thanks and asks for blessings. . . .”

If you are diligent, faithful, and persevere in prayer, your “victory” is assured.

Key Verse: “He Did Visit Me and . . . Soften My Heart” (1 Nephi 2:16)

This verse has stuck with me for years. I don’t ever remember hearing it quoted over the pulpit or in Sunday school. To me, it is one of the key verses in the entire Book of Mormon because it’s like a hinge for the rest of the book. It’s from the early life of Nephi, one of the sons of Lehi, who took a spiritual approach to a big problem.

After Lehi’s revelation about the destruction of Jerusalem in around 600 AD, he left the city and traveled three days into the wilderness, leaving behind home and to escape those who protested Lehi’s prophecies and threatened his life.

Nephi’s older brothers Laman and Lemuel were none too happy about leaving behind the comforts and security of home. Nephi on the other hand wanted to believe and follow his father. He went off by himself for a time, his is what he said.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, . . . having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. (1 Nephi 2:16; emphasis added.)

It started with a sincere desire, not denial or mocking. He cried to the Lord who visited him, softened his heart, enabling him to believe his father’s words. Consequently, he did not rebel like his brothers. And that all the difference for his posterity kept faith alive for nearly 1,000 years that followed.