Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do Mormon's Worship Joseph Smith?

This is another question that missionaries and members of the church have faced and I'll address it in this post. To begin I'm going to have you take a look at the name of our Church, it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite the controversy it is not The Church of Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet that restored the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter-days, but he is not the means by which salvation comes. Acts 4:12 says, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.We do not worship Joseph Smith, we do not baptize in his name, we do not pray to Joseph Smith to even say that carries a deep offense. Salvation is in Christ, and Him only.

We worship quite differently than some congregations of other faiths. We sing Hymns to glorify God and Jesus Christ His Son. The sacred ordinance of the Sacrament is blessed by ones having authority from God and is then passed by others holding authority as well. Every week, we remember our promise to God when we were baptized, to keep His commandments and remember Jesus Christ continually. Talks are given by members of the congregation about varying subjects. They are asked weeks in advance to be prepared to share their personal feelings and their testimonies of the assigned topic. Afterwards, the congregation breaks up for Sunday school, children gather with children, adults with adults and our taught about the Savior and His gospel.

Baptism in our church is an essential part of accepting Christ's redeeming Sacrifice. As Peter, John the Baptist and the Savior Himself taught, baptism is done for a remission or a removal of our sins. Christ has commanded that all must be baptized if they wish to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:5). As Peter says in Acts 2:38 "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins..." We baptize in the name of Jesus Christ because He is our Redeemer, not Joseph Smith.

Our prayers also differ from other faiths. We do as Jesus directed to pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 6:9) We pray in the name of Jesus Christ because He is our mediator with the Father. He died for us and is the One who salvation springs from. Thus our prayers are petitioned to the Father through  Christ's sacred atonement and name. We may thank God for the many blessings each of us have. We may also ask for assistance in areas that we are struggling and we must always ask that His will may be done even if it's not what we asked for or what we want. (Luke 22:42)

I hope this helps everyone understand that we appreciate Joseph Smith for what He did, just as good people from other Christian faiths appreciate Paul and Peter, Luke and Mark and John and James. But, we hold Joseph Smith in such high regards because without the events of 1820 and thereafter we would be indistinguishable and would have no religion. Our gratitude for the prophet Joseph remains at just that, gratitude. Not worshiping, or praying to or even thinking that his name might render some portion of Salvation. I love Jesus Christ. I know He lives.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Are Mormon's Christian? Part II

So as I explained in Are Mormon's Christian blog post, the 2 reasons modern Christianity does not accept us as Christians is;
1.) We do not believe in the Trinity.
2.) We claim that God continues to speak and that the Bible is not the sole authority on Deity.
Elijah and the priests of Baal.

Today I will be explaining the second and similar to my previous post I'm not going to bash on people who do believe that the Bible is the sole authority, I'm just going to explain ourselves and why we believe that God has continued to reach out in love to His children by calling Prophets to the Earth today.

Well, taking a general look at religion should assure you that, we absolutely need a prophet. The Lord says, "he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets," (Amos 3:7) So tell me with the confusion and strife that exist between Christians churches would God reveal His secrets and will to help them be unified? Once again, yes! In fact Paul clearly says that the whole purpose for prophets and apostles is, "for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith..." (Ephesians 4:12-13)

God revealing Himself to the prophet Joseph Smith.
Okay, so maybe we do need prophet's, but what in the world classifies someone as a prophet? In the Bible we read, "If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision..." (Numbers 12:6) The Lord is quite clear here about how He will make a prophet truly known. We also read, "thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord..." (Ezekiel 3:27) Here it clearly says that a prophet will speak with power and authority given to him from the Lord. So now we know some of the many characteristics and qualities that a prophet must have. And finally in concluding the Sermon on the Mount the Lord says that not just anyone who claims these things will be a prophet, He strictly warns them that there will be several false prophets, but He gives the way to identify between the two, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16

I have heard plenty of times that this scripture is saying that there will be no "real" prophets in the last days because Jesus says their will only be false ones. Well I say, if there was only going to be false ones why would He give a way to differentiate between the two? Because there are going to be real prophets in the last days. God has always worked with His children by calling prophets, if you don't believe that God calls prophets to help His children then, quite honestly, you don't believe the Bible. The Bible is a combination of sacred texts written by whom? The prophets. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Are Mormon's Christian?

This question seems to be coming up quite a bit and I feel that I might address it a little more fully. In today's religious world, the general population of Christians who don't believe that Mormon's are Christians believe this for mainly 2 reasons.

1.) We do not believe in the Trinity.
2.) We claim that God continues to speak and that the Bible is not the sole authority on Deity.

I'm going to focus on topic #1 in this blog and I'll post later about #2. instead. I'm also not going to explain why we don't believe in the Trinity, but rather explain why we believe that "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit..." (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22

The Appearance of The Father and The Son.
We believe that God, our Heavenly Father, is the literal Father of our Spirit's.  Hebrews 12:9 refers to Him as the "Father of spirits...", Romans 8:16 refers to us as the "offspring of God" and in John 20:17 Jesus identifies the Father not only as His Father, but "our Father" as well. We believe He has a physical body, but unlike ours His is Immortal, Glorious, and Perfect. 

We believe that Jesus Christ when He was resurrected received a body exactly like our Father in Heaven's and that Jesus Christ still has His body at this very moment. Several times throughout the New Testament His Apostles testified to thousands that He was risen and that He has physical body of flesh and bone at this very moment. The Savior Himself testifies of this in Luke 24:36-39. He appears to His apostles and they are scared because they think He is a ghost, a personage of Spirit, but he calms them and says, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."

We believe that the Holy Ghost doesn't have a body, but He is a Spirit. We believe that He touches the hearts of many people and that He bears witness of the truth to all who seek for it.

Well, I can testify that Jesus Christ lives and that His kingdom is on the Earth today and it is being led by a Prophet of God. I have received that witness of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

Why do bad things happen to good people and bad people have it easy? This a question that I think everyone get's at one point or another in their lives. It would seem in the world today that sin and evil are exalted and good and holy are trampled upon. Now God has His own mindset and His own plans remember the scripture from Isaiah, 
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your way, and my thoughts than your thoughts..." (Isaiah 55:8-9
If this is the case and Gods ways are not always understood then we can find comfort that He loves us and would not allow us to suffer something if it were not for our own good. But, I'm not going to explain why bad things happen to good people, instead I'm going to tell you why you must not give up despite that question. 

In my recent scripture I stumbled across a cluster of scriptures that enlightened my mind on the subject. In the Old Testament it says this, concerning two different groups of people who handled this question in different ways,
"Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a  book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." (Malachi 3:14-16)

The first group of people who experienced this decided that giving up and giving in to sin was the easier route, "It is vain to serve God... the proud happy, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered..." It is a little troubling at times to see those who are wicked succeed, but their is a description by implication concerning these type of people, prideful. In contrast it gives the account of the humble followers of the Lord. The Lord hearkened to these people and He recorded their goodness in a "book of remembrance". 

We cannot be the proud and vain who have departed from the path of righteousness because of the easiness of the sin. This is one thing we must not do. Hold fast to that which is good. Finally remember the words of the Savior,
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broadis the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14
Let's stay on the strait path as tough as it seems so we may have our names recorded in the book of remembrance.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is Christ Out Of Christmas?

With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is quite easy to forget the purpose behind it. People are wrapped up in buying gifts and making plans. Time is spent cooking and cleaning. Activities include building snowmen or setting up nativity scenes and through it all, it would appear that the meaning of Christmas is overlooked. It would seem that other than Christ's name in the word He is almost entirely left out... or is He? I'm going to show how ordinary things in Christmas can help you remember the Savior. Here is a list of the things done at Christmas that I have found help me remember the reason for the season;

1.) Santa Claus. How in the world does jolly ol' Saint Nick have anything to do with Jesus of Nazereth? Well, lets begin with His clothing. He wears a red suit with white trim. He comes to all the world to bring gifts (Jesus gifts are way better).
Notice anything?
Next, let's think of the song "Santa Claus is coming to town". In the song these words are said,
"He's making a list And checking it twice; Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice...He sees you when you're sleeping He knows when you're awake He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake!..." Well, these same things are said of the Savior. His list is in the Book of Life and He will be judging you based on whether you've been "naughty" or "nice".

2.) Frosty the Snowman. Okay so Santa Claus was a little out there, but Frosty? How could Frosty the Snowman possibly have anything to do with Jesus? Well, sit back and I'll tell ya. The song "Frosty the Snowman" says this,
"Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale, they say,
He was made of snow but the children
Know how he came to life one day...
Frosty the snowman knew
The sun was hot that day,
So he said, [Let's run and
We'll have some fun
Now before I melt away.] For Frosty the snow man Had to hurry on his way, But he waved goodbye saying, [Don't you cry, I'll be back again some day.]" Do I even have to point out, how this clearly refers to the Saviors life on Earth and then His Second Coming? 

3.) Crazy Shopping! So Frosty, eh you stretched that out a little bit, and Santa was on the verge of pathetic, but I'm still reading this because my Ipod is charging, so I can play Angry Birds and I have nothing better to do. Well as it turns out even through ridiculously long lines we are still able to find Christ in this. Imagine this, it's 2011 years ago and there is a line this big, lined up outside of a little stable outside of Bethlehem, where they are waiting too have an opportunity to see the Savior. Just like Zacharias at the temple. 

Just so you know the purpose of this blog wasn't to say "Look! These are hidden messages inside of Christmas!" This blog was to get you looking for things that help you remember the reason for the season. There are probably tons of other things that I could've said, but I'll let you find those things and share them with your friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism...

Unification in the primitive Church of Jesus Christ was not as easy as it seemed. This is apparent because of the apostate practices that soon arose and over time false precepts and ceremonies became binding traditions that led to the destruction and ultimately the demise of the Church. My purpose in writing this blog isn't to go into detail about what happened to Christs church after this apostasy had set in, but why the Apostles were so desperately trying to hold it all together in a sense. Paul teaches us in his epistle to the Ephesians,

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive"

-(Ephesians 4:11-14)

Modern day prophets.
Their relentless efforts to unify the saints was just as Paul stated; to come to a knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, and to keep us from being deceived. If we were to take this and apply it into the world today we would easily find that we are not in the unity of the faith. Even those of the Christian faith cannot agree on the same principles and doctrines. And if there is no unity, deception can creep in and can lead the souls of the children of men to an eternal destruction. However, God is not going to allow that to happen. In the above quoted scripture God gives us the solution to this problem. The answer is apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. 

The  Twelve Apostles today.
We can find comfort and peace knowing that if we are being led by prophets and apostles, we are not in the plains of uncertainty and will not be "tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine". So now we have some clues as to where the true body of Christ really resides. When we look around traditional religion and find neither prophets and apostles or a God who speaks, we then know what we need to seek.

That is the importance of the message that we as member's of Jesus Christ's church reestablished today, have to share. We have prophets and apostles. We have a God who, in His love, has reached out again to the children of men and are calling them to Zion. I know this to be true and invite you to consider the evidence that God has done just this; that He has called apostles and prophets today, that God continues to speak and is not bound by the false doctrines of men. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Was Jesus Plan B?

Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden.
Throughout the course of my mission I have come to find that many people not of our faith believe that the Fall of Adam and Eve was the worst thing that has ever happened and that it thwarted God's "original" plan. I will show you how the Fall of Adam and Eve was not an accident nor was it a mistake, but that it was a crucial and necessary part of God's original plan.

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things...But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you..." (1Peter 1:18-20)

This scripture teaches us that Jesus Christ was foreordained, before the world even came into being, to give His "precious blood" for our salvation. So if He was foreordained to be the sacrificial lamb, then what was He going to be sacrificed for if it were for nothing less than the Fall of Man? 

God has a foreknowledge of all things, why would God put two people who were going to fail, and thereby condemn all of us unnecessarily, to lead off His supposed plan of felicity? He didn't "hide" the knowledge from Himself. Nor was He unaware of what would befall mankind. The simple fact of the matter is the Fall of Man was part of His grand plan for us.

The Council in Heaven where Jesus was chosen to be the Savior
Jesus Christ' sacrifice, for us, wasn't "Plan B". It was exactly planned out and was part of God's Original Plan to have us become like Him. I know that Jesus Christ was prepared and was chosen to be our Savior. I love Him and I would invite you all to consider the evidence of this truth for yourselves. 

Do Mormon's Believe In A Different Jesus?

Well, I have encountered this question several times since being on my mission. The conclusion I came up with is this, there are several types of Jesus that people believe in. I'll try and make a list of the types of Jesus, I have heard people describe. There are several different attributes Jesus has, but I put the most relevant ones pertaining to our Eternal Salvation.

The type of Jesus that requires absolutely nothing from us, but saves only those who believe in Him, through His grace.
The type of Jesus that reflects a lot of the attributes of todays world so that all types of people will be drawn to follow Him. 
The hellfire and damnation Jesus, that only allows those who obey the commandments with a Pharisaical type of diligence, to be saved.
Contrary to the previous one, the all loving Jesus, who doesn't care who you are, what you act like, or what you do because he loves you, you are saved.
The type of Jesus that realizes we are all mortals and therefore doesn't condone sin, but rather it is justified because of our nature.

Well, this is the Jesus we believe in.

He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. (2 Nephi 2:6-8)
He lives this very moment and has a resurrected body of flesh and bone. He is not a Spirit, but is a distinct and seperate Being than from Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost. (3 Nephi 11:14-17)
He has Atoned for our sins and is mighty to save, but His grace is conditional upon our effort to follow His example. (2 Nephi 31)
His name is the ONLY name by which we can be saved. (2 Nephi 25:19-20)
He was foreordained before the Earth was even created to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. (Ether 3:14)
Most importantly, He suffered for our sins was crucified for our sakes and was resurrected that we may find life in Him. (Mosiah 3:5-9)

I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe He lives this very moment and that He is the Author and Finisher of my faith. I know He died for me and that He loves me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Do You Love More Than God?

I find it interesting that at times we all undermine God's love and faithfulness by putting Him on the back-burner. He has done so much for us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. He has given us wonderful blessings in our lives, such as families and friends, but we still are unappreciative at times. He is so kind that despite our wickedness He still wants to help us be happy. He knows how it is possible and He gives us ways to be happy through obedience to His commandments. This is the kind of being God is. His motives aren't for dominion over us, but are out of love. Why would we put anything above Him?

Keep the Sabbath Day holy by attending church.
Yet we do, by using all of our time watching T.V. or playing games and taking no time to read His Holy Scriptures, we also do this by treating the Sabbath Day as if it is our day to show respect to ourselves for all that we have done, instead of thanking God for all that we have received. We do this by not praying and talking to Him and most importantly by not following His Son's example of the only true way to happiness. Our obedience to God's commandments is a reflection of our belief in His reality. Let's put God first in our life and let the rest follow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Most Offensive Blog Ever!

So have you ever been offended? Well, prepare to be. Just kidding. This blogs purpose isn't to offend you, but to help you realize how to overcome offense and what you can do when you are offended. I have been offended several times, most have come from being a missionary and knocking on someones door who isn't as happy to see you as you are to see them. Before I can even open my mouth I've been swore at in 7 different languages and threatened me with barbed-wire wrapped around a baseball bat. (None of that was true.) So as shocking and as offensive as a situation like that would have been, I know just how not to take offense. This can apply into any offense that you may have been exposed to. 
 1st.) Forgiveness. You have got to forgive them first, not out of self-righteousness pride, but out of a sincere love for your Savior and therefore your fellow man.
2nd.) Long Suffering. Despite the sour offense that has just occurred you cannot let it allow you to question your love for Jesus Christ and thereby deter you from keeping His commandments and being obedient
3rd.) Humility. I have found that it is easiest to take offense when you are perfect, or at least think that you are perfect and better than those around you. When you realize the struggles you have and the imperfections you have, you are better able to have patience with those imperfect people who surround you.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Just Brought Out The Badger

Nature's fiercest creature would shrink in the presence of a honey badger in a bad mood. Very few creatures, if any, could take on a blind honey badger with both paws tied behind it's back and live to tell the tale. I hope I'm getting my point across. Honey badger's are easily nature's most fearless animal. It has been known to take on lions, king cobras, and other animals expecting a "flawless" victory, but only obtained defeat. They have thick rubbery skin that helps them take bites and attacks from predators. Believe it or not this is actually all true. Honey badgers are unbelievably aggressive and will not back down from confrontation.

This is why this blog can help you. Everyday we are faced with choices and with temptations that seem like "lions", but all we gotta do is "Bring Out The Badger"! Be ferocious in standing up for what is right and what is true. Be fearless in the face of foes and "badger" the bitterness of the diabolical one. Prepare your thick rubbery defense by reading the scriptures, praying and treasuring up the words of Eternal Life continually. Maul the snot out of those who attempt to lead you astray and corner you in peer-pressure. Don't give in or give up. In all seriousness you really can determine if you will be valiant or cowardly. Let's follow the example of our dear Saviour who as Hebrews says, "but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Jonah And The Vine?

The account of Jonah has always been a fascinating story to many people. But, I'd like to focus on a part of the story not mentioned too much. The part I'd like to pick up at is after Jonah had been swallowed by the whale and called Nineveh to repentance. If you don't know too much about Nineveh, at the time Jonah was called to tell them to repent, you should research a little bit about just how wicked Nineveh was. However, through the whale experience Jonah decided that he would go ahead, despite what torture they would do to him, and tell them to repent. After he got about a day into the city he delivered his message, Nineveh took 3 days to cross. Expecting to be taken captive at some point he continued prophesying throughout the city and before he knew it he was out the other side... ALIVE! He had just made it through the most difficult and abominable people in the world and not even a scratch! He had seen the wickedness and abominations of the people and thought that they needed to be destroyed so he decided he would see how God would destroy the people and sat up on a hill over viewing the city, when Jehovah appeared to him.

Instead of being happy that Nineveh had repented of their iniquities and sins and was spared, Jonah was furious with the Lord for sparing them. That night Jehovah caused a plant to grow in order to give Jonah shade from the heat of the day. In a night it grew and the next night it was destroyed by a worm. To teach the lesson to Jonah and to us a little better the Lord helps Jonah realize that if we can have mercy and love for a plant which we didn't create and only knew for a little amount of time, can't we have mercy and love for 120,000 souls that are so mixed up in wickedness they don't know their right hand from their left? The story ends there and not much else is said about Jonah. But, this is what we learn from this story that if a soul is willing to repent, no matter how wicked or abominable they may have been, God will have mercy on us and He will not give up on us. I really do know that He is there and that He cares about us. Let's not wait for a threatening situation to occur before we turn our hearts over to God.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Increase Your Faith In Jesus Christ

First let's understand what faith is. Faith is actions coupled with belief in something which is true. Here is a scriptural example of faith,
"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet... prepared an ark to the saving of his house..." (Hebrews 11:7)
So not only is there obvious belief, but also an action to go with the belief. I will list a few ways you can increase your belief in Jesus Christ that will help you endure lifes challenges.

1.) Prayer. If you aren't saying your prayer's and trying to draw closer to God it would be like trying to come to shore with your anchor still out. The scriptures teach that you should ALWAYS have a prayer in your heart. I think of it the same as I would with the relationship with someone you love. If I never communicated with my parents how could I form any relationship with them? I couldn't. The same principle applies with God.

2.) Studing the scriptures. You cannot find comfort and an increase in belief if you aren't learning more about what you are believing in. Just as Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5:39) We have been counselled by the Saviour to always be learning more about Him. The more learn about Him the more we can come to love and appreciate Him.

3.) Live it. Regardless of your religion if you live the principles and commandments you have received you will draw closer to God than if you were to disregard them. Living your religion says more to God than speaking it does. God is pleased with those who will show their love for Him by obedience.