The Miraculous Book of Mormon
November 14, 2017
Animal & Food Science Faculty Member
Zeph Quirl is a faculty member in the Animal and Food Science department.
He graduated from Ricks College in 1974 and earned additional degrees from Washington State University. After graduating, he practiced veterinary medicine in Rexburg for 33 years.
He was an adjunct instructor at the college from 1992 through 2012, when he became a full-time faculty member.
Zeph and his wife, Pat, have been happily married for almost 44 years and are the parents of five children and have 20 grandchildren.
He has served in the church in many capacities including as a missionary in Seoul, South Korea.
1. Read the Book of Mormon every day - this is not a devotional assignment, it is a lifetime commitment!
2. Please share, on the discussion board, about a miracle that you've experienced in your life because you were reading and studying the Book of Mormon on an everyday basis.
Hello, and good afternoon! Just a point of clarification to begin: yes, I have been called Professor Quirl, but no, I do not own a turban or know Harry Potter. Thank you all for participating in this devotional by coming or tuning in remotely. And thank you for that beautiful musical number, which invites the Spirit. I pray the Spirit will attend us so our time together may be beneficial.
I also want to thank my family members that are here today. These people, plus those unable to attend, are most near and dear.
There are actually 33 of us altogether, including 20 grandchildren. I haven't got time to introduce everyone, but there is one in the family I would like to give an extra-special thanks to, and that is my companion of almost 44 years, my eternal sweetheart, Pat. Pat and I have been through a lot of things together: a few hard times but a lot of good and happy times. Our history together actually extends beyond 44 years of marriage. After we got married and were looking through some childhood picture albums, we discovered we were actually standing side by side in our kindergarten picture.
As you can see, she was taller than me then, and I still adore and look up to her now! I love you, Pat! There is one more member of our family that you didn't see in the picture, but I know she is also close by today!
Our oldest daughter, Chalyce, was called home by our loving Heavenly Father at the age of 36, a little over four and a half years ago. We know, despite her busy spiritual schedule, she is frequently nearby. When we stop in a quiet moment, we can feel her presence. We are grateful for those special times and sacred opportunities. Brothers and sisters, if you don't get anything else out of this talk today, know with certainty that families are central to Heavenly Father's great plan, and families can be together forever. Of this I bear solemn witness.
My dear friends, what I want to visit with you about today is something else that is very near and dear to me! I'd like to talk about the miraculous Book of Mormon. Starting out, I want you to know I love this book! I have read it, I have studied it, and I have taught from it. It has touched and changed my life. Now, I know we are all members of the Church, and we all know the Book of Mormon is true. Right? Who here knows the Book of Mormon is true? But I also sense some of you have probably already thought, "Ah, Brother Quirl! Really? The Book of Mormon? Again?" And some of you may have even thought, "What can Brother Quirl tell me about the Book of Mormon that I haven't already heard or studied many times before?" But before I lose you and you go to your phones and get on Snapchat or Instagram, let me tell you a story that applies to this situation.
Back in 2003, the Church started holding worldwide leadership training meetings. Using satellite technology, the meetings were broadcast all over the world so Church leaders almost everywhere could be trained at the same time. The first training was held on Jan. 11, 2003, and the second one was held almost six months later, on June 21. Both of those meetings took place on Saturdays. There was a guy in the Rexburg area who had a Church calling which made him eligible to be invited to those meetings. Attending the one in January wasn't too much of a sacrifice, because, as you know, the weather and environment in Rexburg in January isn't too conducive for anything but staying indoors, where it is warm.
From your response, I'm guessing some of you can relate to this Rexburg giraffe? But when the June meeting came along, it was a different story.
For this man there were family wants and needs with his youngest son still at home. This guy was a veterinarian with a busy, growing practice. Plus he and his family farmed a couple hundred acres, which gave them the opportunity to work together as a family, but it also increased the demands on their time. When June 21 came along, the family was busy, and free time on Saturday was precious, with many things needing attention.
To top it off, the weather was beautiful--it was a clear, warm day, with only a light breeze. There was little desire to sit through a long church meeting. But even though his heart wasn't in the right place, he went to the meeting out of duty.
After the opening song and prayer, the meeting started with Elder Packer talking about how to confer the priesthood. The guy thought to himself, "What am I doing here? I've heard all this before. In fact, I've done it several times." The meeting continued with Elder Perry, Elder Hales, Elder Nelson, and Elder Maxwell teaching basic principles of gospel leadership skills. The guy thought he knew it all. His attitude didn't improve. President Monson, then counselor in the First Presidency, was the next to the last speaker. His talk was titled "A New Spirit Will I Put within You." The guy's attitude started to soften a little. The spiritual channels started to open slightly. Following President Monson, President Hinckley was the concluding speaker.
As President Hinckley started to speak, something happened. President Hinckley seemingly looked out through the camera, through the electromagnetic waves of satellite broadcasting, through the digital projector in Rexburg, Idaho, and looked directly into the eyes and heart of this guy with the sulky attitude. As President Hinckley looked, and as he perceived, these are the words he uttered at almost the very beginning of his instruction. "We now have some 350 or 400 new stake presidents every year. We have some 4,500 new bishops each year. Other officers are constantly rotating. New leaders must be trained, and some of the mature leaders may be inclined to say, 'I've heard it all before.'" President Hinckley was talking directly to the man in Rexburg, or so it seemed, and he now had the guy's undivided attention. Then President Hinckley continued, and please listen carefully to this. He said, "Well, repetition is a law of learning. No matter how long we have served, we need constant refreshing." That last phrase hit home, and finally the bad attitude changed. The barriers came down. The Spirit could teach. The Spirit carried to the now-humbled heart of this man the words "Repetition is a law of learning," and they sank in. But the Spirit was also the interpreter and translator for the lesson being so profoundly taught, and the words perceived and remembered were slightly different. The message received was "Repetition is a process of perfection!" To add the final knockout punch, the Spirit seemingly tapped the guy on the shoulder and whispered gently, but with power, "Friend, you aren't processing too well, and you are a long, long way from perfection."
Well, if you haven't figured it out already, the guy with the bad attitude and hard heart was me. That experience took place over 14 years ago, but I still remember it in minute detail. It had an amazing and lasting effect. But this talk isn't about me. So why did I tell you that story, and what has it got to do with the miraculous Book of Mormon? First, please remember, or maybe even write down, the phrase "Repetition is a law of learning" and/or "Repetition is a process of perfection." Those concepts are lessons that are worth learning in and of themselves, but they also play a large part in where we are going in this devotional talk. And, secondly, I hope no one in the audience is making the mistake I made back in 2003 and is saying, "Ah, I've heard it all before. I've already read the Book of Mormon. I know all about it."
As we talk about the miraculous Book of Mormon, there are many miracles we could discuss. Some of them are the miraculous way it was written and recorded on plates of gold and how it was miraculously handed down from generation to generation for a thousand years and never lost or forgotten; or how it was miraculously abridged by an amazing man of God and how that abridgement miraculously includes exactly what we need to hear today; or how it was miraculously buried in the earth and preserved for the space of about 1,400 years and how it was miraculously revealed, after all those many years, to a mere teenage boy; or how those ancient records were miraculously translated into modern English by a man who, by world standards, was uneducated and unlearned. But I don't want to talk about any of those. It is the miracle of the Book of Mormon in your own life, in each of our lives, on which I want to focus.
I'd like to relate another experience. This experience is personal, but I tell it to illustrate some points, not to draw attention to myself or to try to make myself seem anything but very ordinary. Pat and I have the privilege of serving in the Rexburg Temple.
We serve on the Tuesday evening shift, and the shift is divided into 45-minute segments in which you serve in various capacities, as assigned by the shift coordinators. Occasionally, one assignment may finish early, and there will be a little time before the next assignment begins. It was during one of those short breaks I was reading the Book of Mormon. I was reading in 1 Nephi 8, which, as all of you know, is Lehi's dream. Now, I have read or been taught Lehi's dream many, many times, as have all of you. But as I was reading that very familiar story in that quiet, sacred setting, something marvelous, even miraculous, happened. I was reading in verses 24 through 28, about the group of people who had grasped the iron rod and actually made it to the tree of life and partook of the fruit but then, because of the pressures of the world, fell away. Let's review some of those verses a little closer.
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 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 Nephi 8:24-25, 28; emphasis added).
Please note the words "fell away."
Then two verses later, a different group of people moved along the iron rod. In verse 30 it says, "He saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree" (1 Nephi 8:30). Please note and compare the words "fell away" to "fell down." At that point, the contrast in my mind's eye of one group "falling away" and the other group "falling down" became amazingly significant. At that point, at that moment, the Spirit taught me in a most significant and powerful way. I was taught of true faith and humility, of sincere reverence and respect, and of heartfelt commitment and dedication. I was taught of proper worship. I was taught of being in the world but not of the world, and of keeping an undistracted focus on principles of eternity. And, most importantly, I was taught of the love of God. "[And] God so loved the world, that He [sent] his only begotten Son" (John 3:16). I was taught of a loving Savior who knows me personally, and I was taught of an Elder Brother who loves me so much that He even died for me. This all happened in a spiritual instant but had an amazing and miraculous long-term effect.
As I pondered those feelings, it was apparent nothing totally new had been received. The words or the verses were not new, and even the feelings were not totally unexperienced, but the Spirit used that opportunity of repetition to strengthen and reaffirm the truth and validity of many powerful gospel principles. It was an amazing spiritual confirmation, a strengthening of testimony, a witnessing through the Spirit of a loving Father's tender mercies. It was a personal miracle stimulated through the medium of the Book of Mormon. My life was touched. My life was changed by a Book of Mormon miracle! I am grateful for that reaffirming witness of eternal truths. I am grateful for that repetition.
This was a miracle in my life, but it was not a singular event for mankind, and it definitely wasn't particular or restricted to me. The point of sharing the experience is not to extol anything special about me but to serve as an example of what the Book of Mormon can do in our personal lives when we go to it frequently. Many of you may have had similar but different individual miracles with the Book of Mormon in your own lives. There have been many wonderful examples offered on the devotional discussion board. I hope you will read them, if you haven't already. When we have these kinds of experiences, we crave more. But if you can't say you have had a Book of Mormon miracle, I encourage and challenge you to seek your first. Elder Nelson, in the most recent general conference, pointed out there are many areas of your life that can be affected. Elder Nelson promised: "My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions--every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day."
So what are the lessons to be learned or relearned? What are the take-home principles from that story? What must we do to allow the miracles of the Book of Mormon to happen in our lives? There are several that come to mind. The first seems almost too obvious but may be the biggest stumbling block for many of us. We've got to read the book! We've got to pick it up on a regular, daily basis and open the cover!
In today's busy world, with all the seemingly important things on our schedules, it is incredibly easy to let things without a due date or a deadline, such as daily Book of Mormon reading, get pushed to the bottom of the list and postponed. It is amazingly easy to let priorities get moved around, and we tell ourselves the change will just be for today. Then, before we know it, it has been three days without reading, and a new pattern has sprouted. Pretty soon, it has been a week, then a month, and we are totally out of practice. Please don't let that happen! If you are not reading the Book of Mormon on a daily basis, for whatever reason, please change and start doing it. Most of us spend so much time each day on social media or playing games or watching movies or simply goofing off that we really can't say we don't have enough time. There is a short video of some young people in eastern Europe who accepted a challenge to read the Book of Mormon for 20 minutes every day. It bears witness of the change it made in their lives. It can do the same for us!
The second lesson to be learned from my experience in the temple is about finding a proper place and time to read. We don't have to be carried away to the figurative "tops of the mountains" to connect with the Spirit. We don't even have to be in the temple, as in my story, but we do have to be in a place, both physically and mentally, where we can turn off or tune out the noise and static of the world. And what do I mean by the noise and static of the world? It can be loud music, video games, social media, smartphones, television, Netflix, even fun-loving roommates. There are so many distractions it is really tough to get away from them all, but with purpose and dedication, it can be done, and must be done to allow the Spirit to connect. The process of finding a proper distraction-free location starts with choosing a time that works best each day for you. For some it may be early morning, for some it may be evening, and for some it may even be in the middle of the day. Pick a time best suited for you, and stick with it. The next part is taking the earbuds out of your ears and silencing your phone, or at least putting it on airplane mode, if you are using it as your source of the Book of Mormon. Turn off the television and the game box, and close the computer. If we are not willing to shut out the worldly noise, the still, small voice has no hope of ever getting through the worldly clutter. The last part is choosing the actual quiet place. This can be difficult on a busy university campus or in an apartment with a bunch of roommates, but it can be done. Maybe it will mean making the extra effort to walk to the library or finding an empty classroom, or it may be as simple as closing your bedroom door. Just find a place that you and the Spirit can be alone. Find that place and stick with it!
The third lesson from the story is to listen, recognize, and apply. These could be three separate items, but for the sake of this message, we will combine them. Even when we are in a quiet place and have shut out the noise of the world, we must train ourselves to not let our minds wander. We must train our minds and our hearts to listen for the still, small voice. During this special daily time, we must concentrate and focus. Starting with a prayer will definitely help. As we do so, the Spirit will come. We will recognize the promptings. We will feel the message. We will receive the miracle. It will be given to us in our minds and our hearts. When we hear and feel that message, we must then recognize and acknowledge the source. We must recognize that what we are receiving is personal revelation from a loving Heavenly Father through the power of the Holy Ghost. Then we must apply and use what we have been given, and may I suggest that the first part of application is giving thanks for the blessings and miracles that have just come. We have been told, "In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things ..." (D&C 59:21). As we give thanks for what we have received and then actively apply those principles in our lives, we will be given more "line upon line, precept upon precept" (2 Nephi 28:30). The blessings and miracles from the Book of Mormon through the Spirit are endless. No matter how many times we have heard it or read it, we can learn new things or have old things reinforced in new ways. After we have given thanks, we must act on those promptings to help ourselves and others become better and do better.
Back in August 2005, when President Hinckley challenged us all to read the Book of Mormon by the end of that year, he said, "Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God." Almost 12 years later, President Monson, in his closing remarks at the April 2017 general conference, added his counsel and witness to that of President Hinckley. He said: "My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven's help in our lives." I add my sustaining testimony to those of our dear prophets. I promise you that through the repetitive study and application of the principles found therein, the Book of Mormon will help guide us along and through the miraculous spiritual and physical processes of life. It will help us stay on the strait and narrow path leading back to our loving Father in Heaven.
In summation, brothers and sisters, as President Monson counseled in the video, if you haven't read the Book of Mormon, please read it! If you have read it, even if you have read it many times, read it again. Read from it daily. Remember, repetition is a law of learning; repetition is a process of perfection. There is not a better instrument to help us along that process of perfection than the Book of Mormon. Pick it up daily. Go to a private, quiet place, and block out the noise and distractions of the world. Open the amazing pages, and prepare yourself for miracles. Open your heart and your mind. Listen for and recognize the workings of the Spirit as they come to you, and I promise you they will come! Give thanks to your loving Heavenly Father for His tender mercies. Apply the received miracles in your life as you strengthen your discipleship and as you help others around you come unto Christ. This end product is actually one of the biggest and greatest miracles of the Book of Mormon.
My young brothers and sisters, I love the Book of Mormon! I know it is true. It is the keystone of our religion. If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith is a prophet. If Joseph Smith is a prophet, then the priesthood and its keys have been returned to the earth and the true gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fulness. If the gospel has been restored, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church on the earth today. And that true Church has been and continues to be led by living apostles and prophets through divine guidance from heaven. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, live! They know us personally. They love us. And They want us to return to them. This knowledge and affirmation is a miracle of the Book of Mormon. To this I bear solemn witness and testimony in the name of our beloved Friend and Savior, even Jesus Christ, amen.
 Russell M. Nelson, "The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?" Ensign, Nov. 2017.  Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Testimony Vibrant and True," Ensign, Aug. 2005.  Thomas S. Monson, "The Power of the Book of Mormon," Ensign, May 2017.