Latter-day Saints. Yep, they’re everwhere!

I don’t know why, but in the past two weeks I’ve noticed the presence of Mormons and Religion everywhere, even TV. As I stated in an earlier blog: Latter-day Saints. They’re Everywhere!

While watching “House M.D.” on Fox a few weeks ago, House thinks that a patient has liver cancer, the idea comes up that they should get the patient drunk and measure her response to indeed diagnose if she does or not have liver cancer. House chooses Jeffery Cole, a Mormon who does not drink alcohol, to be the control group.

House eggs on Cole by asking “All life is sacred, right? Would you pull an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath?” You can view this by clicking here. Choose “The Right Stuff: Airdate 10/2/2007” and fast forward to 26:30 minutes into the show to get the whole context of what brings the situation up.

Fox’s House Website lists a little information about the character Jeffery Cole:

Mormon Character Jeffery Cole on House

#18 – Jeffery Cole
Specialty: Genetics

A religious man with responsibilities, he is both compassionate and principled. He may be a potential lightening rod for House’s punishment with his divided priorities.

I hope that he stays on the show for a while, it will be interesting how the writers will make this character interact with House, as well as how they will attempt to give this character dimension.

An Amazing Sabbath Day

This weekend was an amazingly spiritual one. Having the Aaronic Priesthood, I was blessed to participate in the sacrament ordinance and perform the blessing of the bread.

What is said during baptism, blessing of bread, blessing of water are the only three ordinances that must be said word for word in the church. Anticipating this day, I have been studying the sacrament bread blessing prayer and sacrament water blessing prayer for over two months and had it down to a science.

Of course when I was driving to church and walking down the hall to the Bishop’s office for a quick meeting, I ACTUALLY FORGOT THE WORDS! “It figures” I thought. However, having faith that I would be able to perform this ordinance by the grace of Heavenly Father, I did not fear.

Before discussing what is done for the blessing of the bread with the Bishop, we knelt down and he said a wonderful prayer: That I may be able to officiate successfully, have clear thought and speak clearly and precisely. This eased my tensions further.

After the meeting, I must’ve drank from the water fountain at least ten times, trying to thwart off a dry mouth. When my mouth is dry, my speech suffers. It didn’t work. I had a card that the ward mission leader gave me when I was conferred to the Aaronic Priesthood. It was titled “Suggestions for ordinance work” and it had the list of blessings and prayers in it. I read off the bread prayer over and over. It made me feel a little bit better.

Sitting up in the stand during sacrament meeting was going fine. The church was unusually crowded that day. The entire church was filled. So much that I could not see my family anywhere; they were in the lobby. “More people to witness me messing up and saying the prayer twice” I thought.

And then I found out why it was so crowded-there was a baby being blessed and there were a lot of people in town visiting. When the Bishop asked that the people participating in the blessing to come forward, two full middle rows stood up! It was revealed to me later that day that 320 people attended sacrament meeting.

The second hymn started and my heart started to beat faster. Nervousness set in. We all stood up in unison. We approached the table and uncovered the bread. I began breaking the bread…I got the end piece again! Those things are harder to break apart. While breaking the bread, I had the epiphany to make it the pieces slightly smaller so we could have enough for the entire congregation and so I would not have to prepare and bless the bread TWICE. I successfully got two trays done, the other three priest handled the rest.

I finished first and stood there reverently. The other priest continued breaking the bread until they were done. The hymn was finished and the sister playing the organ concluded the song. Panic set in!

Having been on the end of the line and wanting to avoid running into the priest next to me, I carefully moved back until I was clear and then proceeded forward and to the middle of the line. They raised the cloth up and held it for me. I proceeded to kneel down on my left knee and slide out the microphone tray.

The little light turned red-the mic was hot! “Here we go, you’ll do fine.” I said to myself. Now the microphone tray has a tiny microphone in it and has the bread prayer and water prayer so you can read it while speaking. In my opinion, it wasn’t designed very well. Having to put your mouth right at the microphone, you cannot really read the prayer very well. The words are too close.

All of the sudden, peace and calm came over me. I began to speak:

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (D&C 20:77)

It was a miracle! I made it through and I think I didn’t mess up. I looked to my right at the Bishop for approval that I said it correctly.

He nodded his head “yes.” I had made it. I was even more relieved when I found out there was enough bread and the Teachers and Deacons began their way back to the sacrament table.

Later that afternoon, I was interviewed by my Bishop for receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. It was an amazing Sabbath Day.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on YouTube

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appears in seven videos that have been posted on YouTube addressing common questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka “Mormons.”

 

Are Mormons Christian?
[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUs407sadoY]

 

 

How are Mormon Beliefs Similar to Other Christians?
[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNTPHK3ydIE]

 

 

Do Mormons Worship Jesus Christ in Their Church Services?
[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUs407sadoY]

 

 

How Do Mormon Beliefs Differ From Other Christians?
[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZGY_uSuH_g]

 

 

Does the Church Support Political Candidates?
[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nEQBDyYjXw]

 

 

Why Do People Say Mormonism is a Cult?
[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EValAeeZuFE]

 

 

Is There Scientific Proof Authenticating the Book of Mormon?
[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AQTr9oB8lw]

Christianity, Mormonism, God and Jesus Christ

Bold statements seem to be coming up everywhere that:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not Christian.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in a different God.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in a different Jesus.

Here are my thoughts based on simple facts:

Definition of Christian:

Dictionary.com defines Christian as:

of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith.

We believe in Jesus Christ and that he is the son of God and that only through him we can be saved.

Your God, Our God:

Through personal testimony, we know that the Book of Mormon restores the full gospel to men today. We also believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. How can it be said that we believe in a different God and Jesus? The Book of Mormon writes of the same Jesus and God as in the Bible Old Testament and Bible New Testament. The same God that created our Earth. The same Jesus that suffered on the cross for our sins. Just another testament.

Simplify your View:

Liken your hearts to a child. Go back to the basics. Realize that God, Heavenly Father, loves you so much. Being a perfect being, he is fair and just. It does not matter and we do not have to argue about the Trinity of the Nicene Decree. The point is, he is our Lord God. He is our Heavenly Father. He gave his only son. His son gave himself for us.

Agency & Diligence:

In the eleventh article of faith it states:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

It is up to yourself to decide what you believe is right or wrong. Just make sure you are informed. Make sure you are informed by gathering all the facts. Make sure you ask the right questions. Look at the Church History: the good and the bad. I realized that the Church, even though divinely inspired and restored, is ran by man–the son of God. We are not perfect beings, but we are striving to be.

Look at the successfulness of the Church today. How can anything built on a lie ever prosper to the magnitude of this Church has reached in such a short amount of time? It is now, because it is true.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:16-20)

How It All Ties Together:

With that being said, when investigating the Church, it helped to realize that God, being a perfect being that loves us all, would give us a fair chance. What he wanted us to do is exercise some faith, have sincere intentions and to find out personally.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? (Matthew 7:7-10)

I asked for bread from my Heavenly Father. I prayed about it. Sincerely. Afterwards, I received my answer without a doubt. I was fed good. I was given the truth.

Conclusion:

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christian. We base our lives on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in God. If your father was a police man, but someone else called him a constable or a peace officer, his function is still the same.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in Jesus. He is the begotten son of God. He died for our sins. Through him we are saved.

How I received the answers to my questions

The foundation of my newly found faith lies in receiving answers to three critical questions that we are encouraged to ask when investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  1. Is the Book of Mormon true?
  2. Was Joseph Smith a true prophet of God?
  3. Is this church the right and true church?

Very simple questions that yield very powerful results. In my opinion, answers can come in many ways:

  1. Feeling the Spirit.
  2. A thought that just clicks and makes sense in your mind.
  3. An event that happens and triggers a sense that you just received your answer.
  4. A faint whisper in your ear.
  5. It could be anything, actually.

It could be very obvious. It could very subtle.

The best way to receive an answer is to prepare yourselves to be more attentive.

  1. Pray often and throughout the day.
  2. Study. Read the Bible and Book of Mormon often. At least once a day. Before studying, pray to Heavenly Father that you may understand the things you will read. After reading the Bible and Book of Mormon, pray again to know if the things you have read is true. Specifically ask if the Book of Mormon is true. Specifically ask if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. Specifically ask if the church you are investigating is true. Wait, listen.
  3. Attend Church.
  4. Ask any question that comes to your mind to your missionaries or Mormon friends. (ALL questions are welcomed and there is an answer for EVERYTHING!)
  5. Fast and Pray.
  6. Begin obeying the Words of Wisdom.

In the New Testament of the King James Bible, the book of James, Chapter 1, Verses 5 through 7 state:

“If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” (James 1:5-7)

What the above verses mean is that if you ask Heavenly Father with absolute faith, believing you will absolutely receive an answer, and that you sincerely intend to act after receiving an answer then you will receive one. It seems easy enough but it was difficult for me. Only through prayer, sincere study, and honestly wanting to know the truth; was my answer received.

In the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moroni, Chapter 10, Verses 3 through 5 state:

“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:3-5)

These wise words changed my life.

I admit, I tried a few years prior, but maybe for a few days and I also had my doubts as well. The next time I tried, I studied, I prayed and I had patience to kept at it.

One night after studying what the missionaries have given me, my wife and I got on our knees and I prayed. I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true. I prayed to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I prayed to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true church and the right one to join. After the prayer, I waited. About five seconds later I had the chills, a feeling of overwhelming happiness and I began to cry.

Without a doubt, the Holy Ghost just gave witness to me of the things I asked.

This testimony is the foundation of my faith. All other things are built upon the fact that I asked and received an answer.

Prologue: How it began

This is first entry of what I hope will be hundreds, if not thousands of entries in this blog.

This is a blog about faith. My faith. A journal for my family, friends and strangers to read.

This is how I remember it. I would say it all began back in High School. The first few weeks of my Sophomore year at a brand-new High School. I don’t quite remember how it began but I started playing hacky sack with two guys. One of which would become very close friends through the years. His name was Mike. Oh yeah, he was Mormon too.

He was an ordinary boy. He had the heart of a kind spirit which you couldn’t really tell at times.

Three years went by and it was time for me to graduate. I thought I probably wouldn’t see him again because we only really hung out at school. I was wrong.

The following school year, I found myself working at a start-up internet company. There were a few people from my High School that were recruited to work there. I saw a few old faces and one day Mike showed up for a job. I spoke with him before he interviewed for the job. I had some clout with the boss so I really talked him up. He was hired that day.

It was fun and like old times. We got to work together and hang out again. Mike didn’t really change from high school. He was still brazen in his humor and the typical teenager.

About a year later we parted paths again. I left to go work for another start-up internet company a few weeks before it was sold. He left to go work at another place as well.

About a year later, our paths crossed again. We began working for another internet start-up. It was fun working with him again. We also began working on our own internet business, while doing our day jobs as well.

Plans were going good. We were working all weekend when one night another friend stopped by to visit. His name is Sam.

Somehow we began talking about life. (Actually they did, I pretty much tuned them out.) The gist of the conversation was “how doing things right was easier.” Shortcuts, although easy, were always more difficult in the long run. Things came back to you one way or the other.

I remember tuning out most of the conversation. They were talking so much I offered to take them on a little drive. We drove to the lake and basked in the darkness and light of the stars.

Before I realized it, something happened and clicked in Mike’s mind:

Doing things right was easier.

Shortcuts in life were not.

After driving back to my apartment. Mike left for home enlightened. Sam left as well, satisfied in having the conversation.

The next few days was like a whirlwind. Mike left living at his friends to go back home! He also quit working on creating our own business. He began reading and studying the Bible and Book of Mormon. He talked to his Bishop. He was going through a process that I did not understand. About six months later, he went on his mission.

Wow. Where did that come from? It was amazing how he just left. I was happy for him. A little weirded out, but happy that he was happy.

Two years goes by and I get a call from him. He was on his way home from his mission. I remember visiting him at his parents home the night he arrived back in town.

There he was. A lot skinner than I remembered him. A lot more taller than I remembered him. A lot more strange than I remembered him.

One thing that really stood out was he was using words and phrases like “trash” in place of “shit.” This coming from a guy that used a lot more colorful words in the past.

I offered him a job at my established internet company when he came back. He accepted.

There were a lot of things that I noticed when he came back:

He had an unbelievable drive to get things done.

He was very motivated and positive.

He was also very religious. He would pray before we ate lunch. He would talk often of religion.

Most importantly: He was happy! He was at peace! He acted like he knew his part in the world.

We parted ways again after a few months. My internet company wasn’t doing well at the time and Mike left to go work for another start-up. I struggled for a few more months before deciding to get a job at another start-up internet company. We parted ways again.

I remember instant messaging Mike one day, telling him about a job I found in the online classifieds. He was also looking for a new job. It turned out we were looking at the same job. When we came to the realization that we were both applying for the same job, we laughed and told each other we would recommend each other.

The job interview was scheduled 30 minutes apart in time and a street down from one another. I interviewed first and things went well. I acknowledged that Mike was applying for the same job I was and recommended him. (I also felt bad my internet company never really helped him.) Mike went on his interview after mine down the street and he acknowledged that I was applying for the same job and he recommended me. (He pointed out I had a family to take care of and really needed the money.) Even though we were interviewing for the same job, we were both hired.

The latest internet company ended up doing very well. I enjoyed working with Mike every day. It was like old times again until he decided to leave two years later to try his own business at real estate. (Are you starting to see a pattern here?)

He tried at it for six months and then asked to have his old job back.

All the while, while knowing Mike after he came back on his mission he made a large impression on me. The way he carried himself had changed. He was someone that I looked up to. He told me bits and pieces about his faith. I had seen the change in his life. My interests were peaked. We began talking more and more about his religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He saw enough interest in me that he submitted my name to the Mormon Missionaries.

I always jokingly tell him at work: “It’s all your fault, Mike!”