Sunday, March 27, 2011

Satan's Thrust--Youth

While an apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) gave a talk in the October 1971 General Conference about the era in which the youth are being raised. His talk, entitled, "Satan's Thrust--Youth," (Ensign, Dec 1971, 53) addresses the many evils and lures Satan uses to throw off the rising generation. Taught President Benson:

"We love the youth of the Church and we know the Lord loves them. There isn’t anything the Church wouldn’t do that’s right to help our young people—to save them. They are our future. We have faith in them. We want them to be happy. We want them to be successful in their chosen fields. We want them to be exalted in the celestial kingdom.

"We say to them, you are eternal beings. Life is eternal. You cannot do wrong and feel right. It pays to live the good, wholesome, joy-filled life. Live so you will have no serious regrets—no heartaches. Live so you can reach out and tap that unseen Power, without which no man or woman can do their best."

Although this talk was given almost 40 years ago, the principles contained therein are even more relevant, applicable, and urgent to our generation. Read this talk and decide what you can do to better live in the world but not of the world. The Lord is on our side.

Jeremy

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Importance of the Right Question

Democracy and capitalism work best in countries whose citizens adhere to religions that teach strong moral values and who live by principles of honesty and integrity because of a fear of God and not just of police power.

Elder Clayton M. Christensen, an Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke about the power of religion in democratic states in a commencement address entitled, "The Importance of the Right Question," at Southern New Hampshire University on May 18, 2009.

In his speech, Elder Christensen spoke extensively of a conversation with a Chinese friend who came to America expressly to study democracy and capitalism. He studied the history of democracy in America and in those countries where America has helped establish democracy. His Chinese friend concluded that in order for democracy and capitalism to work, religions had to be strong enough that they held power over the behavior of the population. People had to believe that God would punish them even if the police and court system did not. Elder Christensen then addressed his concerns of what will happen to our America if religious values continue to be fought in the name of separation of church and state.

Read this speech. It isn't very long but it addresses some very interesting, thought-provoking points. I am grateful for the God in whom our founding fathers trusted. I am grateful for the God under whom our nation and government was formed. I am grateful for the God who teaches us correct principles that we may govern ourselves and wisely use our agency and truly be free.

Jeremy

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Importance of A Living Prophet

When I started my blog, my target audience was readers who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It still is, although I'm pretty sure the majority of my readers are members. And today I want to address my comments directly to them, that is, to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the people who know that God has called a living prophet on the earth today and that Jesus Christ leads this Church through His living prophet and apostles.

The article this week which I hope you all read is a talk given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles entitled, "'Abide in Me.'" I wish to share a story he told in this talk of a man he met while serving in Chile.

Recalled Elder Holland, "Just eight weeks ago I was holding a mission district conference on the island of Chiloe, an interior location in the south of Chile that gets few visitors. Imagine the responsibility I felt in addressing these beautiful people when it was pointed out to me that a very elderly man seated near the front of the chapel had set out on foot at five o’clock that morning, walking for four hours to be in his seat by nine o’clock, for a meeting that was not scheduled to begin until eleven o’clock. He said he wanted to get a good seat. I looked into his eyes, thought of times in my life when I had been either too casual or too late, and thought of Jesus’ phrase, 'I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel' (Matt 8:10)."

That man walked for four hours to hear an apostle of the Lord speak. He started at five o'clock in the morning which means he was up before then to be ready to leave by five. And many others have done similar things and made equal sacrifices in order to participate in the blessings of being within the sound of a prophet's voice.

When I hear that story I think of the CES Broadcast last Sunday and of the sparsely populated chapel in Boise, Idaho where Elder L. Tom Perry's talk was broadcast. The Church has enough young people here in Boise to make young adult stake and fill seven wards yet those who chose to come listen to a prophet's voice didn't even fill one chapel. The fireside is even broadcast online so that you don't even have to put your tie back on or change out of your jeans, but somehow I don't think the majority of those not present were at home participating online. The Church holds these firesides every couple months in order to give our age group across the world a chance to be uplifted and edified by a prophet of God, a person who holds a calling that the world was not worthy to experience for hundreds and hundreds of years. Elder Perry spoke to our generation, addressed those concerns and issues that we specifically are facing, and counseled how we can live in this world and be happy. He spoke the will of the Lord to us.

President Thomas S. Monson, the Lord's prophet, seer, and revelator today, taught in a recent General Conference, "How grateful we are that the heavens are indeed open, that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, and that the Church is founded on the rock of revelation. We are a blessed people, with apostles and prophets upon the earth today." ("Closing Remarks", Ensign, Nov 2009, 110.)

Do we echo his words?

I just feel so strongly about the immense blessing we have to hear living prophets speak. The God the Father Himself appeared to call Joseph Smith to be a prophet and begin the line of prophets in this dispensation. A man walked four hours to hear Elder Holland speak. We should do all we can to hear and apply every word spoken by the servants of the Lord.

Jeremy

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Abide in Me"

In 2004, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk entitled, "'Abide in Me,'" in the April General Conference. This talk is the article of the week this week and all should read it, member and non-member alike. He teaches that the command "abide in me" given by the Jesus Christ in the fifteenth chapter of John, "is the call of the gospel message to . . . everyone . . . in the world. Come, but come to remain. Come with conviction and endurance. Come permanently, for your sake and the sake of all the generations who must follow you, and we will help each other be strong to the very end."

He concluded, "Jesus said, 'Without me ye can do nothing' (John 15:5). I testify that that is God’s truth. Christ is everything to us and we are to 'abide' in Him permanently, unyieldingly, steadfastly, forever. For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must be firmly attached to Him, the Savior of us all, and to this His Church, which bears His holy name. He is the vine that is our true source of strength and the only source of eternal life. In Him we not only will endure but also will prevail and triumph in this holy cause that will never fail us."

Elder Holland is an apostle of Jesus Christ. His testimony can help us know how to come unto Jesus Christ and develop the resolve to abide in our Savior that we may have eternal life.

Jeremy

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Are Mormons Christians?

This past weekend I was in Louisiana at the first annual Mardi Gras Madness jump rope workshop hosted by the Heart 'n Soul jump rope team. It was a blast; I saw a lot of good friends that I haven't seen in a while, we put a lot of great routines together, and, since we were in the south, we ate a lot and often. I love the south.

(*As a side note, Mardi Gras isn't just the party most people hear about, especially if you stay away from the French Quarter and Burbon street in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is a season, like Christmas, filled with lots of decorations, family-friendly events, parties, food, and parades. Done right, Mardi Gras can be a fun, wholesome event.)

As things were winding down and we were just hanging out, the conversation turned to holidays and Christmas and such and one of my friends asked, "So how does Christmas work out for you then?" I was a bit thrown off guard, not really understanding the question and I answered, "Well, I believe in Jesus Christ, Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, so we do Christmas like everyone else..." I suppose that I take for granted sometimes that people just know that I am a Mormon and assume they know that means I believe in Jesus Christ.

I believe in Jesus Christ. I know He is my Savior, that He suffered in Gethsemane and died on Calvary's cross, and that He rose again. I believe that one day He will come again. I unequivocally believe that through Him and His Atonement I can be forgiven of my sins and can overcome my weaknesses and that I can someday be perfected as He and His Father are. His words are recorded in ancient scripture such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon. He speaks through prophets today to guide us through this life. He is my Elder Brother, my Redeemer, my Advocate with the Father. Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ.

What is a "Mormon?"

I believe some confusion comes, in part, because the Church is so often referred to as "the Mormon church" and members of the Church are referred to as "Mormons." Please understand, the term "Mormon" is a nickname given to members of the Church early in the history of the Church because they read The Book of Mormon. The official name of the "Mormon" church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The proper term for members of the Church are called Latter-day Saints, or LDS (I say, "I am LDS," or, "I am a Latter-day Saint). When I explained this to my friend, he apologized but I explained that the nickname "Mormon" is not offensive in any way and there is no need to apologize. In fact, the address of the basic website for the Church is mormon.org. Mormon.org explains basic doctrines and beliefs of the Church and has options to chat live with members, read profiles of members of the Church, and request missionaries to come to your house if you so desire.

Simply knowing and understanding the name of the Church alleviates much confusion as to whether or not Mormons are Christian. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe in Him whose name the Church bears. Jesus Christ was the Jehovah of Old Testament and the Messiah of the New Testament. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His Church, led by Him through His living apostles and prophets. Below is a video of the testimony of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.


What's the difference?

My friend replied that he didn't know that Mormons were Christian and then asked, "So what makes you different then than Presbyterians or Methodists?"

The distinction between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and protestant religions is found in the organization and creation of the LDS Church. When Jesus Christ was on the earth, he established His Church "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). The authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ (called the priesthood) was lost with the persecution and martyrdom of the apostles. Over time the doctrines were corrupted and unauthorized changes were made in Church organization and priesthood ordinances such as baptism and the conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost. The protestant churches were created in an attempt to "reform" the current religious practices but without the authority or revelation to do so.

Thus, a "restitution" (see Acts 3:19-22) or restoration of all things was necessary. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, called him to be a prophet, and through him restored the fulness of the gospel, the priesthood authority to act in God's name, and all priesthood ordinances. The plain and precious truths lost in the darkness of apostasy were restored through the Book of Mormon. What is the difference between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other Christian faiths? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of all things, it is the Church of Jesus Christ in our day as was established by Him when He walked the roads of Palestine.

So who is Mormon?

Remember the nickname "Mormon" originated because one of the unique aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we read the Bible and The Book of Mormon. The full name of The Book of Mormon is "The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ," further witnessing that those who read it and live by the teachings found therein are Christians.

The Book of Mormon is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel. The Book of Mormon was written by many ancient prophets and abridged onto gold plates by one such prophet named Mormon, thus the name "The Book of Mormon." Mormon's son Moroni hid up the gold plates and hundreds of years later he appeared to Joseph Smith in a vision and told Joseph where to find the plates. Joseph Smith translated the record by the gift and power of God (see Joseph Smith--History 1:27-54, 59-75. See also the Title Page and Introduction of the Book of Mormon.)

We regard Mormon and Joseph Smith as prophets just as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, or Paul. We do not worship Mormon or Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is not our version of the Bible. We worship the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father and we read and strive to heed all of Their words, those given anciently found in the Bible and The Book of Mormon and those given in our day through modern prophets and apostles.

Summary

The term "Mormon" is a nickname given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because we read The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a volume of ancient scripture comparable to the Bible written by ancient prophets who lived on the American continents. Mormons are Christians; we believe that Jesus Christ lived, we believe in His teachings found in the Bible, we believe that He suffered and died for us and that He was resurrected that we may all have the opportunity to repent; become cleansed, resurrected, and perfected; and return to live with Him and our Father in Heaven forever. We differ from other Christian religions in that we are not a reformation of another church, but a restoration of the Church that Jesus Christ Himself established when He lived on the earth.

I love the Lord Jesus Christ. I love this Church. I love the Book of Mormon. I know that all the wonderful things in my life are all a direct result of my striving to follow Him and His teachings I learn at church and in the Bible and Book of Mormon. I am a Mormon and I am a Christian.

Jeremy

Further information:

  • VIDEO: Are Mormons Christian? Testimony of Elder Gary J. Coleman.
  • Topic: Mormon on lds.org. Contains videos and official Church answers to the questions, "Who are the Mormons," "What to Mormons Believe," and "What is different between the beliefs of Mormons and other Christian churches?" Great website, check it out!
  • "Are Mormons Christian?" A mormon.org FAQ with answers from members of the Church.
  • Church Apostle Answers Frequently Asked Questions from newsroom.lds.org. Video answers of questions such as, "Are you Christian?," "What is the role of Jesus Christ in your faith?," "Do you worship Jesus Christ in your Sunday services?," "In what ways are you similar to other Christians?", "In what ways do you differ from other Christians?" See also the transcript of the interview.
  • About The Book of Mormon from this blog

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Power of the Book of Mormon in My Life

The Book of Mormon is an ancient record full of history and teachings of prophets and a people who lived in the Americas. Even more importantly, it is a companion to the Holy Bible, essential in having the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a record of God's dealings with His children in the Americas, and it contains the account of Jesus Christ's appearance after His resurrection. Although written centuries ago, The Book of Mormon was written for our day, compiled by Mormon who saw us in a vision and knew exactly what we would need to strengthen and sustain us in these latter days.

Elder Richard G. Scott, while serving in the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, wrote an article entitled, "The Power of the Book of Mormon in My Life," (Ensign, Oct 1984, 7). In this article he taught, "By studying pages of the Book of Mormon, you will learn the messages that have been divinely placed there for you and your families, and for those you supervise. You will know how to correct the influences of false traditions. There are problems and challenges but they were all seen beforehand by the Lord. He has given you the way to correct these deficiencies, but they are of little value if they remain locked in a closed book. It is not sufficient that we appreciate it nor that we testify that the Book of Mormon is of God. We must know its truths and make them a part of our lives."

The Book of Mormon is vital in our quest to obtain that greatest of all the gifts of God, even life eternal with Him and our families. The Book of Mormon is the best source of inspiration, peace, truth, hope, and guidance. It helps in our endeavors to withstand the evils of the world and teaches us how to lean on the Savior in our times of trial. President Marion G. Romney (1897-1988), apostle and counselor to the prophet Spencer W. Kimball, counseled, "If we would avoid adopting the evils of the world, we must pursue a course which will daily feed our minds with … the things of the Spirit. I know of no better way to do this than by daily reading the Book of Mormon." ("The Book of Mormon," Ensign, May 1980, p. 66.)

Elder Scott wrote, "It is not sufficient that the Book of Mormon be found in our homes; its principles must be captured in our minds and hearts. Through consistent reading, prayerful pondering, and conscientious application, its teachings will become an essential part of the fabric of our lives."

The Book of Mormon must be an integral part of our lives if we are to hold fast to the iron rod and partake of the fruit that is most sweet and precious above all other fruit and fills our souls with joy (see 1 Nephi 8). I love the Book of Mormon; I have numerous stories and experiences, some similar and some different than the stories of Elder Scott, through which I have gained a knowledge that that the Book of Mormon is true. I have a deep and abiding testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and the principles and commandments contained therein are the best path to peace and happiness in this world and eternal life in the world to come.

As I conclude, I echo the words of Elder Scott, "If you have not yet drunk deeply from this fountain of pure truth, with all of my soul I encourage you to do so now. Don’t let the consistent study of the Book of Mormon be one of the things that you intend to do but never quite accomplish. Begin today."

Jeremy