Tuesday, December 27, 2011

VIDEO--Are Mormons Christian?

The following is the story and testimony of Elder Gary J. Coleman, member of the Quorum of the Seventy.



For more information about the question "Are Mormons Christian?"
  • 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.
  • Are Mormons Christian? Post on this blog.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

VIDEO--Look to the Light



Remember this Christmas day the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. President Thomas S. Monson, the Lord's prophet in our day, taught, "To catch the real meaning of the 'spirit of Christmas,' we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the 'Spirit of Christ.'"1

Christmas is the time that we celebrate the miraculous birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. At this time perhaps most of all we are more mindful of the needs of those around us. We feel and express gratitude for our blessings, including our families and others in our lives. We are motivated to emulate the example of Him whose birth we honor this day.

Jesus Christ came into the world to show us the way back to our Father in Heaven.2 He alone was perfect in every aspect and He bids us to come and follow His example.3 Motivated by His great love for each of us, He suffered for our sins and our afflictions.4 He knows how to comfort and help us.5 His call to each of us is to come and take His yoke upon us, that our burdens may be light.6

I am forever grateful for my Father in Heaven and His Son. I am forever indebted to Jesus Christ for the matchless gift of His great atoning sacrifice. As I think on the eternal significance of the Atonement, I am motivated to lift up and serve those around me. Let us all lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees of our neighbors this Christmas season. Let us be the hands of the Savior to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters today and throughout the rest of our lives.

Jeremy

1. President Thomas S. Monson,  "The Best Christmas Ever," Ensign, Dec 2008
2. See 3 Nephi 27:13-16Doctrine and Covenants 76:40-43; JST John 1:7; John 14:6
3. See 2 Nephi 31:12; 3 Nephi 12:48; 27:21; Moroni 10:32; John 13:151 Peter 2:21
4. See Alma 7:11-13; Alma 11:40; John 3:16; 15:13; Ephesians 2:4-5
5. See Alma 7:12; Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19; 62:1; John 14:27; Hebrews 2:18
6. See Matthew 11:28-30

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It Was A Miracle!


I hesitate to post an article of the week the week before Christmas on a subject other than Jesus Christ specifically. For years now I have passed over the birthday of the prophet Joseph Smith which happens two days before Christmas in order to not distract from the birth of our Savior. This year, however I am going to post an article by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1923-2008), prophet and fifteenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In doing so, I do not distract from Christmas or take away any meaning or attention from the life of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, learning about the life of this servant of the Lord only accents the life of the Savior and better illustrates His eternal plan and love for us.

Jesus Christ said of His own life and mission, "And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me" (3 Nephi 27:14). For those who did not live at the time of Christ, God has called prophets to draw us unto Him. One prophets taught of his responsibility from the Lord, "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26).

Our day is no different. In 1820, Jesus Christ and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and called him to be the prophet to usher in the "dispensation of the fulness of times" (Ephesians 1:10) and restore the Church of Jesus Christ in these, the latter days. Joseph Smith's mission and calling was to establish once again the Church and fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, thus enabling us-the sons and daughters of God-to make the proper choices that we may return to live with our Father in Heaven.

In commemoration of the 200th birthday of the prophet Joseph Smith, President Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet, seer, and revelator and successor of Joseph Smith, wrote an article in the December 2005 Ensign entitled, "Joseph Smith Jr.—Prophet of God, Mighty Servant." Read this talk and find out more about the man who communed with Jehovah, Jesus anointed this prophet and seer!

Joseph's life was given in the service of Jesus Christ. His mission was to bring to light and knowledge of the Redeemer and His atonement all who wandered in darkness searching for truth. He talked of Christ, he rejoiced in Christ, he preached of Christ, he prophesied of Christ, and he wrote and proclaimed and published and died that we may know to what source to look for a remission of our sins.

Indeed, praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!

Jeremy

see also: josephsmith.net and Joseph Smith on this blog

Saturday, December 17, 2011

VIDEO--What Shall We Give?



"Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Friends remembered and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world's busy life and become more interested in people than things. To catch the real meaning of the "spirit of Christmas," we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the 'Spirit of Christ.'

"Then came that night of nights when the shepherds were abiding in the fields and the angel of the Lord appeared to them, announcing the birth of the Savior. You, with me, recall the words from Isaiah: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel' (Isaiah 7:14)—meaning 'God with us.'

"Times change; years speed by; but Christmas continues sacred. Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

"If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth.

"It was said of Jesus of Nazareth that He 'increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man' (Luke 2:52). Do we have the determination to do likewise?"

--President Thomas S. Monson

See "The Best Christmas Ever," Ensign, Dec 2008, 4–8

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pornography--No One is Immune


Recently I overheard a conversation about pornography. One of the participants of this discussion said that he was sure that some cases exist in which pornography doesn't destroy the viewer's life and family. Of course, he admitted, it wreaks havoc in some people's lives and isn't good, but he believes some people indulge in pornography and are fine.

I wish to today offer my opinion on the matter.

First, to make clear the Church's stance on pornography, I quote President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008):

"Pornography, with its sleazy filth, sweeps over the earth like a horrible, engulfing tide. It is poison. Do not watch it or read it. It will destroy you if you do. It will take from you your self-respect. It will rob you of a sense of the beauties of life. It will tear you down and pull you into a slough of evil thoughts and possibly of evil actions. Stay away from it. Shun it as you would a foul disease, for it is just as deadly. Be virtuous in thought and in deed."1

The link above contains numerous similar quotes, talks, and teachings from the Lord's servants in our day. The teachings of the Church are clear concerning pornography; it is evil, "highly destructive of divine potential, [and is] to be strictly shunned by children of God."2

That being said, there are commandments and rules and guidelines, "adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints," that are given to everyone even though a select few may be able responsibly engage in a particular activity and be okay. Example: perhaps one glass of wine at dinner would do one no harm and the person could perhaps go his or her whole life without drinking to excess or becoming intoxicated. I'm sure some one of you could produce an example of someone you know who may have accomplished this. However, the negative effects of alcohol as a whole vastly outweighs anything good that may come to the few who can drink in moderation and therefore the Lord commands all to abstain.

Pornography, however, is NOT one of the commandments adapted to the weak and the weakest of all saints. Pornography can and will tear down even the mightiest of men (and women) for it is "one of the most effective of Satan’s enticements."3 Indeed, as part of the higher law taught by Jesus Christ Himself while He was upon the earth we learn that, "whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery in his heart."4 Adultery is a non-negotiable commandment and "an abomination in the sight of the Lord."5 

The prophet of the Lord, President Thomas S. Monson said this:

"There may be those of you who are thinking to yourselves, 'Well, I’m not living all the commandments, and I’m not doing everything I should, and yet my life is going along just fine. I think I can have my cake and eat it too.' Brethren, I promise you that this will not work in the long run." Those who pursue such a lifestyle of trying to serve God and mammon will be left with, "all of the emptiness, darkness, and loneliness that Satan provides to those who believe his deceptions, illusions, and lies."6,7

Wickedness never was happiness.8 I do not believe that a soul exists on this planet who can indulge in pornography to any degree and remain true and steadfast in the gospel and to his family. Sooner or later his world and everything he holds dear will come crashing down and he will be left with the tears that inevitably follow transgression.9

The Atonement is the way back for any who have been caught in the trap of pornography. Forgiveness is real for those who's repentance is sincere. This I believe.

Jeremy

1. President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Some Thoughts on Temples, Retention of Converts, and Missionary Service," Ensign, Nov 1997
2. Elder Russell M. Nelson, "Salvation and Exaltation," Ensign, May 2008
3. President Thomas S. Monson, "Until We Meet Again," Ensign, May 2009
6. President Thomas S. Monson, "Dare to Stand Alone," Ensign, Nov 2011
7. See Matthew 6:24
8. See Alma 41:10
9. President Thomas S. Monson, "Preparation Brings Blessings," Ensign, May 2010

Thursday, December 15, 2011

VIDEO--The Real Meaning of the Spirit of Christmas

"To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable and it becomes the spirit of Christ." --President Thomas S. Monson

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

VIDEO--Kids and Christmas

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 18:4)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Light in Their Eyes



There are, in my ward in Boise, two people who were recently baptized. They were introduced to the Church by caring friends in California and sought out the Church when they moved up to Boise to go to school. If you were to walk in to church on Sunday or in to any Church function at which they are present and glance across the crowd, you would have much difficulty figuring out who they were since they integrated with the members of the Church here in Boise so well. If you were then to ask me to point them out, I would point across the room and say, “See the dark haired guy and the blond girl that just radiate? That’s them.” Indeed, in talking to them, you would never guess that they, in fact, weren’t baptized members of the Church. Even before they were baptized, Claire and Ian were always shining, and they always radiated light and a contagious, genuine happiness.

You may simply contribute that happiness to their naturally optimistic personalities. Indeed, I did not know them before they gained testimonies of Jesus Christ and of His gospel of peace and hope and therefore I do not know what their personalities were like then. However, no matter their optimistic natures before they were introduced to the Church, I am confident that the light that shines from them is the light of the knowledge of the restored gospel and of a burning testimony of Jesus Christ and His great atoning sacrifice. These two friends have sacrificed much and gone through many trials in order to be baptized, including a general rejection by their own families. But they know the Church is true and they know that the key to true happiness is a life following Christ. And that knowledge and testimony sustains them and gives them happiness and a hope of a better future.

President James E. Faust (1920-2007), apostle and counselor to the prophet, once told a story of a friend who also noticed a light in the eyes of those members of the Church with whom he had come in contact. President Faust said:

“What was that light in their eyes which was so obvious to our friend? The Lord Himself gives the answer: ‘And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings.’1 Where did that light come from? Again the Lord gives the answer: ‘I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’2 The Lord is the true light, ‘and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.’3 This light shows in our countenances as well as in our eyes.”4

We grow and develop that light as we embrace the things of God. As we strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ, we become converted to His gospel and the Spirit lives within us stronger and more frequently. We put off the natural man and become saints though His Atonement, allowing that light to shine unrestricted.5 The Lord said, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until that perfect day.”6 Jesus commanded us to “hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up--that which ye have seen me do.”7 As we cultivate that light and strive to be examples of the believers, His light will shine through us for the blessing of all those around us.

Remember the words of the Savior, “I am the light and the life of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”8 That promise is for all who desire to live in the light of His love.

Jeremy

1. Doctrine and Covenants 88:11; emphasis added.
2. Doctrine and covenants 93:2.
3. Doctrine and Covenants 84:46.
4. President James E. Faust, “The Light in Their Eyes,” Ensign, Nov 2005.
5. See Mosiah 3:19; 4:1-3; 5:1-5.
6. Doctrine and Covenants 50:24.
7. 3 Nephi 18:24.
8. John 8:12.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What is Faith?


Hi there,

My name is Meghan, and I'm one of Jeremy's Canadian jump rope friends and I'm also a Mormon. I had a Sunday School teacher explain that the General Authorities of today and even prophets of old, especially Jesus Christ, taught in parables so that people could better understand the principles of the gospel. She also told us that these parables are related to things they know well. She called on me in class, asking if I could relate anything to jump rope... It took me this long to think of one.

THE ARTICLES OF FAITH 4: We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This fourth Article of Faith is wonderful because it so plainly illustrates the means by which we may receive our eternal salvation. I would like explain a little bit today about the principle of Faith. In the Bible in James 2:17 it reads, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Thus we are told that faith in Jesus Christ is more than merely believing in him, but it requires action on our part; a commitment to follow him and act in accordance to the example he provided us.

Christ taught by parables and so I decided to create a little parable myself relating the principle of faith to something which I know very well: rope skipping. One of my favourite events is Double Dutch Speed. This is a timed event in which there are two turners and one jumper.

The jumper moves their feet up and down as fast as they can in a sort of ‘jogger step’ and the turners must keep up with the jumper so as to make few to no mistakes. I love to turn, and if you ask my opinion, I would tell you that the turner’s job is the most important at any time that you are doing Double Dutch. After all… All the jumper has to do is jump!

Relate this timed event to our probationary state here on Earth. Make Heavenly Father the jumper, who jumps perfectly and never tires. You are one turner, and Christ is the other: “Judges ready, jumpers ready, set, go!” The event is under way and as you begin to turn the ropes, the jumper, in this case, Heavenly Father, enters and begins to jump. Right foot, left foot, right, left. You, Christ, and Heavenly Father start to gradually speed up until you all agree on a fast, yet steady and comfortable pace. As time passes, Heavenly Father continues to jump perfectly, but you, being imperfect, begin to tire. You can no longer feel your arms and they seem to only be moving by momentum. You want to give up because the pain in your shoulders is too much to bear but you hear a voice inside your mind urging you to know that if you stop turning that the whole event will fall apart. Just as you begin to slow your arms, you can feel Christ begin to speed up his turning on the other end. In so doing, he has made up the difference for your lack of speed and the event continues smoothly and without error until the clock runs out.

The principle of faith is modeled quite clearly in this analogy. The time represents the time we have on Earth; a time of testing, to feel both joy and pain, and to gain experience and return again to live in the presence of God. Heavenly Father is the jumper. He jumps perfectly and serves to represent the way to eternal life. If you, as a turner, can keep Him in the ropes for the duration of the event without causing a mistake, then you will be able to achieve your eternal salvation. The voice inside your mind is the Holy Ghost, providing you with personal revelation and a means to know what to do—to never give up. Christ is the second turner. He begins along with you, and when you tire and feel as though you have expended all of your energy and cannot turn any longer, he makes up the difference. He takes you the rest of the way after you put in all of your effort, “for [you] know that it is by grace that [you] are saved, after all that[you] can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)

Thus we see faith in action. The only way for Heavenly Father to have made a mistake and the only way in which you could have lost your eternal reward would have been if you did not turn at all. Without the slightest movement on your end of the ropes, Christ could not have made the event even start. Simply raising your hands up to your waist allows the ropes to start moving if Christ turns them. As soon as you began to move your arm, you were demonstrating faith in Jesus Christ. You were proving to him that you trusted in his ability as a turner to make up for your shortcomings after you had done your very best.

“Therefore ye are justified of faith and works, through grace, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to them only who are of the law, but to them also who are the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” (JST Rom 4:16)

Eternal salvation granted by faith, works, and grace is a wonderful promise which is given to all those who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and who repent of their sins and take upon them his holy name by entering the waters of baptism. I urge every one to fall to their knees and pray that they might have faith enough to act when times get tough, that they might know that Heavenly Father loves them and that Christ yearns to help them to achieve their eternal salvation. I testify that faith and works are essential in our search for eternal happiness.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You Matter to Him

How is the someone's worth determined? In the professional world, people are "worth" the value of their assets, i.e., the total value of their stocks and bonds, their bank accounts, their real estate, and the ability they have to create more. In the sporting world, athletes are bought and sold by teams who place a dollar value on their skills and abilities to increase the value of a franchise and fill seats. And in the world in which most of us live, our worth is determined by how well we keep up with the Joneses.

But these methods of valuation are not the Lord's methods. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf apostle and counselor to the prophet taught that, "the Lord uses a scale very different from the world's to weigh the worth of a soul." In his address given in the October 2011 General Conference entitled, "You Matter to Him," President Uchtdorf taught about the worth of souls and that, "a person's true value had little to do with what the world holds in high esteem." He continued, "you could pile up the accumulated currency of the entire world and it could not buy a loaf of bread in the economy of heaven."

President Uchtdorf also taught about the ways Satan uses the world's valuation of worth to distract us, either encouraging us to think that, "because of ability, birthright, or social status, [we] are set apart from the common measure of all that surrounds [us]," or encouraging us to, "focus our sight on our own insignificance until we begin to doubt that we have much worth." What matters to the Lord is that we are doing the best we can, that our hearts are inclined toward Him, and that we are willing to help those around us. And if we are doing the best we can, all will be well. President Uchtdorf concludes:

"Brothers and sisters, the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love.

"God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him."

This talk contains to many more wonderful teaching about our worth in God's eyes. Read it, accept it, apply it. I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us and desires our eternal happiness. If you do not feel that, make the necessary changes in your life so that this knowledge can give you lasting hope and happiness.

Jeremy