Father’s Day Move

There is a woman in our ward whose husband died a few months ago, leaving behind his wife and two young daughters. The family had additional changes in circumstances after the death of the father that necessitated a move to another state. Unfortunately, the only day on which they could move was a Sunday and not just any Sunday, but Father’s Day.

I will always remember the first counselor in our bishopric standing up in priesthood meeting and saying that there was nothing better we could be doing on Father’s Day than helping a family who has just lost their father. These inspired words touched the hearts of the men in our ward. The evening of Father’s Day found 21 of us at the home of this dear family who were still grieving for their father. There were so many of us that we formed an assembly line and routed boxes and furniture out of the house and into the truck, filling the moving truck in less than a half hour.

Isaiah 1:17 -> “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”

I pray that the Lord will bless and comfort this family.

Why was Elijah translated?

Elijah was the last prophet to hold the sealing power of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the power to bind in heaven ordinances performed on earth, before the time of Jesus Christ.  Elijah came to the Mount of Transfiguration to confer the sealing power upon Peter, James, and John.  In order to do so, he needed his physical body, since spirits cannot lay hands on mortal beings (See Doctrine and Covenants 129:8).

It’s interesting to note that Elijah also came to earth to confer this same sealing power to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on April 3, 1836 (See Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-16). At this time, however, he came as a resurrected being, since he was with Christ in his resurrection (See Doctrine and Covenants 133:55).

On A Mission

I envy the missionaries that serve a mission to spread the gospel. As a convert past his teenage years and with a family to take care of, I felt that I had missed out on this amazing experience. I thought I could only hope for the many opportunities to help other people learn more about the full gospel of Jesus Christ as I have.

One question I often hear among the brethren is: “Where did you go for your mission?” It seems like such an ice breaker, which is something I definitely have a need for.

There is hope though! Early on I learned that seniors can go on missions as well. In Mike’s parents are on a two year mission! When I retire, I would like to go somewhere on a mission. It would be amazing to put everything away and concentrate on the gospel and serving. But that time seems so far away. I can’t wait.

It is said that “every member is a missionary.” That is true, but it didn’t feel the same. Not until I read a chapter in the Doctrine & Covenants that really get my pumped up:

Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.

Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.

Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen. (D&C 4)

The verse that stands out to me is:

…if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work

And there you go, I’m on a mission!

Thankful for: Family, Friends and the Gospel

It’s Thanksgiving Day and I’ve had some time to think of what I’m thankful for. There are a lot of things: My family, my friends and the Gospel.

I am thankful for my family. A man is nothing without his family. A family is necessary to keep me grounded and progress in life. With family, I have the desire, the drive and the purpose to move forward. I receive unconditional love. I give unconditional love.

I am thankful for my friends. A man is nothing without his friends. Friends are needed to keep me on path . With friends, we help each other, that we may do well and take care of our immediate families. Friends are just an extension of family.

I am thankful for the Gospel. A man is nothing without the gospel. The gospel is needed to know where I am going. With the gospel, I become a better person to benefit myself, my family and my friends.

The Gospel According To St Matthew: Why so many parables?

Throughout the New Testament Jesus tells many parables. But why speak in parables instead of speaking the message directly? The wisdom delivered in these parables seems otherwise impossible to convey.

In the New Testament of the Bible in Matthew Chapter 13, Jesus gives immense knowledge with the parables of the sower, the wheat and the tares, the grain of mustard seed, the leaven, the treasure hid in the field, the pearl of great price, and the net cast into the sea.

These parables seem to connect principle spiritual truths with the temporal world so we can relate to the importance of it all.
When Jesus was asked why he spoke in parables, he answered:

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (Matthew 13:11-13)

The knowledge is freely given to everyone, but only those who are seeking it will receive instructions on how to obtain it. These parables contain information about the Kingdom of God and what to do to obtain it.

Additionally, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he says:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:6)

My interpretation of this is to not share and give precious things, such as knowledge about Heavenly Father and his Kingdom, that would not be received well to where it would be mocked and may bring harm towards your way.

A Convert’s Survival Guide: What to Expect BEFORE your Baptism

If you are taking lessons from a missionary and decide to get baptized, there are certain things they want done before the actual baptism.

Today, there are four lessons before your baptism. Missionaries want to sure you understand what you are taking on by being baptized.

The four lessons are broken up by topic:

  1. The Restoration
  2. The Plan of Salvation
  3. The Gospel of Jesus Christ
  4. The Commandments

I will write about these four lessons at a future date.

You can decide to be baptized at any time during the four lessons. After committing to be baptized, the rest of the lessons (if any) will be taught before it is done. There is also a baptismal interview that is done before hand. This is done by a missionary district leader.

The following questions asked are:

  1. Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father?
  2. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
  3. Do you believe that the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith?
  4. Do you believe that [the current Church President – which is Gordon B. Hinkley at this time)] is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?
  5. What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?
  6. Have you ever participated in an abortion? A homosexual relationship? Have you ever committed a serious crime? If so, are you now on probation or parole? *
  7. You have been taught that membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints includes living gospel standards. What do you understand of the following standard. What do you understand of the following standards? Are you willing to obey them?
    1. Are you willing to keep the Sabbath day holy, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to fellow members?
    2. What do you understand of the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman? Are you willing to obey this law?
    3. What do you understand of the Word of Wisdom? Are you willing to obey this law?
    4. What do you understand of the law of tithing? Are you willing to obey this law?
  8. When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?

* – If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you will be sent to the mission president for a follow up interview.

These questions were taken from my own experiences and cross-referenced with Preach My Gospel Chapters 3 and 12. (Thanks Joey)

Strengthening Our Families

Last Sunday during Elders Quorum, we had a lesson on Strengthening Our Families out of the Book Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball.

Within this lesson we discussed how the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan. We, as parents, need to “build reservoirs” of spiritual strength when our children for the tough times they may face. It is our responsibility to make sure home is a refuge for our children from the outside world.

Home is where our children should be nurtured: both in temporal things and spiritual things. The lesson also teaches how important it is for: scripture study, family activities, just spending time with them and having family home evenings. Prayer in our homes should done in the morning and in the evening and be a common event, not reserved for special occasions.

One of the men in Elders Quorum mentioned a book in which one of the quick things they do during the morning and evening is read from a devotional book: Stand a Little Taller: Counsel and Inspiration for Each Day of the Year by Gordon B. Hinckley, the current profit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This book came highly recommended.

This definitely seems to be a book that I have to get as soon as I can.

The Gospel According To St Matthew: Seek First the Kingdom of God

For the past week I have been carefully reading The Gospel According to St Matthew of the New Testament in the Bible. There are mounds of knowledge and information from this one book alone. I find comfort in knowing that the wisdom of Jesus Christ contained in this book has been available to many before me. In this post and those to follow I will occasionally write about what I have taken from the Gospel According to St Matthew.

There are many temporal things in the world that are sought after by men such as: money, houses, cars and fame. You see the shows on MTV: “Cribs” and “Pimp my ride.” The next generation of men and women as well as the generations before have been programmed to want such worldly things. I admit, I too have been influenced to want such things.

In the New Testament, Matthew Chapter 6 reads:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

I have realized that before I seek after the riches of this world, I should seek the spiritual riches first. I should lay up my treasures in heaven. If I were a perfect person, I would not have any want for the temporal. I would not have any want for the things which are temporary. I would only seek the spiritual things, the things that would last forever.

In the New Testament, Matthew it reads:

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:24-33)

What I take from these verses are:

No man can both seek temporal riches (wealth) and spiritual riches (God) at the same time. It is wise to not worry about the every day needs of your temporary body. Heavenly Father knows our needs and will provide for our needs if we put him first.

An example is the Law of Tithing: Paying a full tithe which is 1/10th your increase. Even the concept of 1/10th your increase must be of divine origins-it is an easy number to discern! Move the decimal point 1 plays to the right. My belief is that tithe is necessary because:

  • It helps the Church grow.
  • It is a solemn act of consecration that proves your faith.
  • It humbles us and allows us to remain meek and obedient in other commandments and covenants.
  • It allows you to become more wise with your money; that you may do more with that 90% than you would have with the 100%.
  • You will receive blessings invaluable and definitely valued greater than that 10% given.
  • Your Heavenly Father has given us 100% of what we have, giving back a mere 10% is nothing in comparison.

As stated following in Doctrine and Covenants 130:

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated — And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)

This says that obedience is a two way street between ourselves and Heavenly Father. If we follow the commandments Heavenly Father has given, Heavenly Father has no choice but to give the blessings which were conditionally promised.

In the Old Testament, Malachi Chapter 3 and in the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi Chapter 24 it states:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10, 3 Nephi 24:10)

Heavenly Father promises that if tithe is paid, he will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing.

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.

The Family Likened To a Car – Jesus Christ is the Master Mechanic

This Sunday, there was a combined Relief Society / Priesthood Meeting. Our Bishop began to relay a message to us holding examples of real-life tires (worn evenly, worn unevenly, a blown out tire that has lost its thread and then a shredded tire.

The message took about an hour, but let me summarize the main ideas of what he said:

The road is like the straight and narrow path in life.

We can be likened to a tire. A tire that is aligned with the gospel wears evenly and last a while. A tire that isn’t aligned (to the gospel) properly will wear out faster and unevenly. A tire that has too much pressure or too little pressure and overloaded can blow out when traveling on the road. A shredded tire is a total catastrophic failure from all factors: not being aligned, not pressured correctly, overloaded, adverse road conditions.

The front tires would be the parents of a family: both mother and father. They turn together and guide the entire car and back wheels.

The back wheels would be the children. They follow where the parents go. They follow our examples.

The suspension that connects the tire to the car is likened to the gospel and scriptures that we have: The Bible (Old Testament, New Testament), the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and modern revelation. They absorb the roughness in the road and keep the front tires tracking straight.

The steering column is likened to the Prophet on Earth that we have today, Gordon B. Hinckley. Input from the steering wheel is transferred to the steering column, which turns the suspension and finally the front tires.

Heavenly Father would be the steering wheel and person behind it. Giving revelation to the Prophet, which is the steering column.
The family would be the entire car, made up of all the previous components connected together going down the road of life.

Jesus Christ is the master mechanic. He can fix anything on the car. Normally when you have an unevenly worn tire, blown out or shredded tire you would just buy a new one. Not Jesus Christ. He can repair any tire.

Being a car freak and total nerd, I completely enjoyed and appreciated the message that he brought forth. It is a very good analogy and puts everything in perspective in an automotive point of view.