“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the admonitions of the Lord. 2 Nephi 4:13

Carolina Chickadee
Admonition: gentle or friendly reproof....counsel or warning against fault or oversight. ... to reprove gently but earnestly, to counsel (another) against something to be avoided; caution. To remind of something forgotten or disregarded, as an obligation or responsibility.  
Examples: an admonition to be careful.... He offered words of advice and admonition.
Synonyms:  adjuration, admonishment, advice, counsel, guidance, input. 
Related Words: recommendation, suggestion; hint, pointer, tip; data, feedback, information; answer, solution; advisement, consideration, thought; alarm, alert, caution, cautioning, expostulation, forewarning, remonstrance, remonstration, urging, waring, judgment, observation, verdict; assistance, briefing, coaching, direction, instruction, mentoring, priming, prompting, teaching, tutoring; interference, kibitzing, meddling, moralizing, pontficating, preaching; exhortation, lecture, lesson, sermon speech, 

I'm sitting on my back porch. It's mid morning and the Chickadees are having a row of it. Their happy "chick dee, chick dee" song has been replaced by a gargled "rasp- slink, tee tee tee tee" and even a "screamy- squeal."  In the not to far off branches the parents are giving their fledglings a coaching, a lesson, a warning, a few pointers,  i.e....some parental admonishment. 

Occasionally the parents will lift off of the branch, fly to the feeder and return with food. I count at least four babies that are out of the nest and flitting in a flurry of wings amongst the branches, squawking at one another with a pestering chipping sound. They take their instruction with great excitement. 

I imagine if I could speak "Chickadee", I might hear some good preaching and teaching. Clearly from the ruckus of chips and screams coming from the fledglings, accepted wisdom comes easiest from parental chirps and perks, not from one another.  I couldn't be sure but it appeared that the "mealy worm" treats from the feeder (that the parents were frequently gathering) were being used as added encouragement. 

Admonishment is an art form practiced best by wise parents. Who else will a child suffer to teach them? Nephi spoke often of his elder brothers inability to take instruction from him, their younger brother. It did not matter that Nephi's gifts and talents and insights were uniquely different, as the eldest, they believed leadership was their right.  
Admonishment is foremost a parental responsibility. Lehi did not take this responsibility lightly. Nephi tells us that Lehi not only gave his sons blessings and counsel often, but that he and Nephi tried fervently before Lehi's passing to speak to them. Shortly after Lehi passes away however,  sibling animosity grows- first to anger then into hatred. Without the gentle counsel and sweet reproach of their father Lehi, the brothers focus more on their differences than on their love for one another. After only thirty years in the wilderness the family finally separates. 
A Chickadee cools off

I've read and pondered these verses for some time now. What I discovered is that much like the Chickadees ruckus that I heard this morning, not only is the design of the family one that requires parental guidance, but also parental encouragement. It appeared to me that the parent Chickadees were both reprimanding and rewarding their chicks. 

The Lord has told us that we should do the same, for correction, advice, reprove, caution are all difficult for young birds to take. When coupled with gladness and a happy tone, discipline becomes more palatable.  And - if they don't learn from their parents while young, then who? 

In reading these few verses and preceding and subsequent chapters I gleaned a few things about Lehi's family. 
  • Laman and Lemuel took instruction only from Lehi, they resented any instruction Nephi gave 
  • The curse that was placed upon their heads came from their interactions with Nephi - not Lehi.
  • Lehi would reprove with great gentleness and love giving them encouragement and positive images to hold on to such as a river and a valley. (1 Nephi 2:9-10)
  • Nephi was prone to be drawn into his brother's anger rather than respond to it with loving encouragement. (2 Ne 5)
  • Lehi's love could not replace the experiences needed to bring his children to the Lord. But he did bless them that they would not perish and that their sins would be upon his head. (2 Nephi 2) 
  • Once he dies, their faith dwindles and the brothers who were born and/or raised in the wilderness  purposefully separate themselves from those that were born in Jerusalem. (2 Nephi 5) 
  • Lehi spoke many words of instruction and encouragement to his sons. He admonished them often to draw near to the Lord and exercise their faith. 
And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.2 Nephi 4:-1-13 
The word admonition is used in this verse in context with Laman and Lemuel's anger, hence we tend to connect the two, but they are not meant to be connected. To be admonished is to be corrected and feel the love of the one who offers the admonition. Why didn't Nephi's brothers feel the Lord's love? 
I believe it is because they were prone to murmur and complain -not only against Nephi but also their father and his leadership. In looking back at Lamen's and Lemuel's actions murmuring always preceded their anger.
And their anger clouded their ability to feel their father's or the Lord's love. 
A chickadee flits toward the feeder

The Lord's love is long and merciful. Unlike the cruelty of nature where when a young bird refuses his parents council he perishes, the Lord's mercy is long and true. Lehi knew his sons were far from feeling the Lord's love and yet he blessed them that they would not perish. He knew that they would need experiences to bring them to a full understanding of his love for them and that they would not hear or understand what it was he so wanted them to learn. He understood that their eternal existence depended on their ability to learn and take instruction. 

Once we learn to take instruction from the Lord, taking it from others is not a threat or a compromise of power. Our love for one another and the Lord's greater plan of happiness precedes our insecurities and gives us hope and security in what we cannot otherwise know. As the Lord admonishes those whom he loves we too are to love one another in a like manner. 

The Lord has instructed us to admonish one another. 
14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.Romans 15:13-14

Even those who refuse to listen, or obey:
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
And of course I loved this last verse because it reminds me of my beloved Chickadee family that when they are not taking instruction or squawking about their reprimands they are singing to one another and me with "grace in ...their... hearts to the Lord." 
 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16 
A chipping sparrow admonishes us with his stare. 
What a joyful song the birds do sing. 
Such gladness to my heart they bring. 

Of wisdom and song they counsel youth

with hymns of praise, words of truth.

L.Conkey Shaw Copyright May 2013 

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