Tag Archives: priesthood

Why Do Mormons Evangelize to Other Christians?

By Guest Blogger David

Last week I attended a lesson with the full-time Mormon missionaries—the suit-and-tie, black nametag-wearing young men—who are assigned to preach in my neighborhood. They were teaching a lesson to a wonderful man they met on the street a couple weeks ago. This man, a devout Protestant, asked a question that, although phrased somewhat differently, is very important: Why do Mormons evangelize to other Christians? For me, there are at least three reasons why Mormons preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to other Christians:

(1)    We want to share additional witnesses of Christ. Mormons believe in and follow the teachings of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We also believe in and follow the teachings of Another Testament of Jesus Christ—better known as the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon complements the writings of the Bible. Book of Mormon writers testify that that same Jehovah of the Old Testament, who is Jesus Christ in the New Testament, is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Redeemer of mankind.

The biblical promise that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established,” (2 Corinthians 13:1) is fulfilled by the Book of Mormon, which serves as a second witness of Christ. As I work to develop my own relationship with the Savior, better understand his teachings, and strive to emulate his charity for others, I am profoundly grateful for each of the testaments of Jesus Christ and know that all men and women—including faithful, Bible-reading Christians—can strengthen their relationships with Jesus Christ by including the Book of Mormon in their studies. This is one of the reasons that Mormons preach to other Christians.

(2)    We want to share our belief of living prophets. We believe that a man with a prophetic calling no different from that given to Moses, Noah, and Abraham walks the earth today. In short, we believe that there is a living prophet of God on the earth right now. This is a bold declaration and, if it is true, clearly has significant implications. If there is a prophet on the earth right now, then God speaks to man in AD 2012 just as he did in the millennia before Christ’s birth. If there is a prophet on the earth right now, then there is a continuing canon of scripture that we ought to study and ponder. If there is a prophet on the earth right now, then that is a message that should be shouted from the rooftops. Mormons believe that there is indeed a prophet on the earth right now, and that is a message we wish to share with all.

(3)    We are unique regarding priesthood authority. At a recent “Mormonism 101” seminar at Harvard Law School, a leader of the Mormon Church said the following:

We are unique in the modern Christian world regarding . . . divine priesthood authority. . . . The holy priesthood which has been restored to the earth by those who held it anciently signals the return of divine authorization. It is different from all other man-made powers and authorities on the face of the earth. Without it there could be a church in name only, and it would be a church lacking in authority to administer in the things of God. This restoration of priesthood authority eases centuries of questions and anguish among those who knew certain ordinances and sacraments were essential, but lived with the doubt as to who had the right to administer them.

In the New Testament, we read that Jesus traveled from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus made this journey so He could be baptized by one who possessed the proper authority to perform baptism. As we follow the Bible’s command to be baptized and participate in other ordinances, we too must seek out one who has proper authority. A foundational principle of Mormonism is that this authority was lost from the earth in the centuries following the crucifixion of the Savior, but it was restored to the earth in the nineteenth century. We invite all humankind, including our fellow Christians of other sects, to learn about the restoration of this authority and to be baptized by one with proper authority.

The Priesthood

For those who are not of our faith, there is an important aspect of our church that isn’t always brought across in regular religion conversation; this is the Priesthood. Hopefully throughout this message, I will be able to define and explain this aspect clearly for those who don’t understand this doctrine fully. The Priesthood is the authority given to man by God to act in His name. The Priesthood is the power to serve, protect and assist those in need. God gave the priesthood to his twelve apostles during his sojourn on the earth. This power still exists today; it’s real and effects many people today. The Priesthood is God’s authority, so it is very powerful. The Priesthood has the power to heal the wounded, administer sacred ordinances (Sacrament, Baptism, Confirmation etc.) and even calm the troubled soul. The Priesthood is open to anyone who needs help or is afflicted in any way. There are many offices in the priesthood; they all hold different powers and duties.

The Priesthood isn’t a fun and jolly power to be used when one feels it would be fun. The priesthood is only to be used for God’s purposes and intent. When holders of this sacred power feel impressed to use it for a good and righteous cause, the power can truly be administered to the cause. There are specific duties for each office, or level of the priesthood. One must fulfill these duties in order to hold this power worthily. It is different to just hold the priesthood office, than to be able to administer the power which it holds. One must be exercising this power worthily and for a good cause for the spirit to confirm that the power may be executed.

The Priesthood is sacred, and can only be held by worthy members. Only men hold the Priesthood. We are not sure why this is the case, but in no way does this mean that women in the church wouldn’t be worthy or capable of completing its duties. Priesthood holders must be living their lives worthy of God; staying clean from any evil. They don’t have to be perfect because nobody is, but a very good person.

God’s power is sacred and dominant. It blesses the lives of all those who hold it and receive it’s influence. The Priesthood is a gift and a blessing whose power can bless anyone humble enough to receive it.

Three hours?

When my co-worker inquired about Mormon Sunday services, her response was “3 whole hours?” Yes, 3 hours each Sunday may seem like a lot, but when you break it up into three sections, with socializing in between, it doesn’t seem as daunting.

The first hour of Mormon Sunday services is called Sacrament meeting. It is the main purpose of the entire service. The worship starts with an opening song sung by the congregation, followed by a prayer which is given by a member of the congregation. We then sing another hymn, followed by the passing and taking of the sacrament. During this time, is a moment that I like to take and reflect on the week that has just ended, think of what I did well and what things spiritually I need to improve on. After the sacrament is over, 2-3 members of the congregation who have previously been assigned, give 5-10min talks(aka sermons) about various gospel subjects. In between the talks, there is usually another hymn that is sung, or a musical number performed by members of the congregation. After the last speaker, another hymn is sung, then a prayer is offered.

The second hour is called Sunday School. There are various classes to choose from. Usually a class entitled Gospel Essentials that covers the basic aspects of the church. Another class is Gospel Docterine which usually goes more deeper into the docterine of the church. Some times, depending on the need, there is a class called Temple prep that helps those who are planning to go to the temple for the first time prepare. For children under the age of 2(or 18months I think), there is nursery class, Ages 2-12 go to primary class, and ages 12-18, have their own Sunday school as well. Each year the theme of the classes rotates. One year is Old Testament, next is New Testament, then Book of Mormon and so on.

The third hour of services for adults are classes where the women and men are separated. The men go to Priesthood and the women to Relief Society where another lesson is taught. Children ages 2-12 all stay together and ages 12-18 are split up into classes of young women and young men.

Yes, 3 hours of church each week is not always easy and often does seem long, but I can’t imagine my life without it. By the time Sunday rolls around, I am exhausted from my week. Going to church, learning my about my Savior, worshiping him and being surrounded by an incredible support system of people who believe the same things as I do and struggle with the same things I do is very energizing. It gives me a renewed sense of who am I, my purpose in life, and excitement to move forward in becoming a better citizen, co-worker, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend.

What is your Sunday service like? How long? Do you enjoy it? If you are Mormon, which hour is your favorite?

Instant Community

A few weeks ago, I was driving home from running Saturday morning errands when I started to feel some abdominal pain. Over the course of the twenty minute drive, I went from, “I’ll just go home and rest,” to, “PAIN! HURTS! SWEATING PROFUSELY! NAUSEA!”

Long story short, I drove straight to the ER, where the doctors diagnosed me with appendicitis. Arriving to the ER at 10:30 a.m., I was in surgery by 3:00 p.m. An appendectomy is not exactly what the 6th day of Christmas ordered, and I was pretty nervous and frustrated about the flights and days of work I would surely miss over the next week.

Between my arrival and the surgery, I could have been very alone and scared were it not for several church members who showed up at the hospital. Turns out, my mother in Texas had called my friend from church in Boston, who called the relief society president, who called the bishop, who called my home teachers, all of whom came to wish me well before the surgery*.

(*relief society president = leader of women in each congregation. bishop = leader of the congregation. home teachers = each person or family has two individuals assigned to check up on them and visit them at least once a month)

One purpose of the visits was to receive a priesthood blessing of comfort and health, a common practice in the Mormon church. We closed the curtain of my ER room while my bishop and home teachers laid their hands upon my head and gave me a priesthood blessing that I would be healthy, calm, and safe. There, in a dreary hospital room, these men called upon the power of God to give one of His daughters much-needed peace.

During the terrible night after the surgery, more church members showed up and kept me company as the effects of anesthesia took an uncomfortable hold. The next day, even more church members came to visit me in the hospital. I never once felt alone. Rather, I was reminded of how much church members deeply care for one another.

The nurses and doctors kept commenting on the continuous stream of visitors, saying things like, “wow, you are really popular,” and, “where are all these people coming from?” This phenomenon isn’t new to me. Growing up, my mom always visited church members in hospitals and cooked meals for families who needed support. My dad was always ready to give priesthood blessings, and many times would do so at all hours of the night.

The sense of love and community is one of the many things I treasure as a Mormon. From Cairo to London to Boston, members in my congregations cared for and supported one another with sincere Christian love. The Mormon ward (or congregation) system is truly inspired. The community is not just a social structure, but also an instant family where members strive (we’re all human after all) to selflessly serve one another.

A Partner With God

I am now counting down the weeks before our little girl is born. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can be best prepared both practically speaking and emotionally. I have been working hard to make sure we have everything ready: meals in the freezer, diapers and clothes ready, babysitters for my son arranged, etc. There is a lot to do to get ready for a baby but what I learned from my son is that the most important preparation is emotional and spiritual.

I am a bit of a control freak. I really hate giving up control, especially if it’s because I feel like I can’t do it all on my own. Giving up control to benefit someone else is not too hard for me but being forced to give up control is extremely hard for me. I am a really independent person and I feel that I have no business getting myself into things that I can’t do on my own. I’ve always known this about myself and it’s never really been much of a problem. It’s caused a few stressed out days/weeks but nothing too much beyond that. And then came motherhood.

After I had my son I literally did not sleep for 72 hours. I was so overwhelmed with not only the responsibility of motherhood but the responsibility of having a newborn. If you’ve experienced what it is like to be a first time parent you know that newborns are so fragile, anything could go wrong. And, as a control freak I had to be the one to make sure nothing happened, it was all on me. With each passing day of no the sleep the crazier I got. It literally became too much for me. I couldn’t do it on my own. I couldn’t watch him constantly. This was very hard for me to accept and I didn’t know what to do. My husband gave me a priesthood blessing to help calm my mind and spirit. In the blessing I was reminded that motherhood is not meant to be a solo job. It’s not even meant to be only a partnership between mother and father. Parenthood is meant to be a partnership with God.

After I really internalized that God was in charge and in control I was finally able to sleep and relax. I have to try my best to do my best but more importantly I have to have faith that God will give me strength and that he has a plan for my family. Without God I can’t do it and it is supposed to be that way. Just like my newborn is dependent on me, I am dependant on my Father in Heaven. And just like I love my children with all my heart and will always do what I can to help them, my Father in Heaven loves me and will always help me.

This time around I can feel myself getting nervous about having to give up so much control again but I know I can do it and I know that God will be there for me. I know that He loves me. These are the ways I am trying to prepare for the arrival of our little girl. This is the most important preparation I can do, to prepare to be a partner with God.

Mormon Missionaries

On Sunday we had the full-time missionaries over.  When we asked them how things were going they really brightened up and told us about a family they just started teaching. They said in their first lesson with this family they talked about prayer because no one in the family had ever prayed before. They shared with us what a powerful experience it was for them to watch this family pray for the first time and how happy it made them that the family had a good experience praying together.

I think often people are kind of scared of the full-time missionaries or think of them as aggressive preachers.  I wanted to share this moment we had with the missionaries to just display the attitude of most of the full time missionaries. Most of them just want to help people be happy. They get excited when they see people coming closer to God because they know it will help them find happiness. Missionaries go around teaching the gospel as a way of helping people.

Not everyone is going to be interested in what the missionaries have to say and trust me, they know that, but they try to reach and talk to as many people as possible so that hopefully they can find the people that are interested or who are looking for more out of life. I very much respect and admire the full time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Generally, missionaries are 19-23 years old. They leave home for two years and work every day from 6:30am-10:30pm. They often have to learn a new language or be immersed in a new culture with very little training. They face rejection daily and quite frankly serving a full-time LDS mission is just plain hard. But, the vast majority will tell you that it is worth it because they were able to help bring even just a few people closer to Christ. That takes guts, courage and strength. I’m really glad to be a part of church that cares so much about those searching for more truth.

Priesthood Blessings of Healing

I just got back from a couple of weeks in Utah.  My younger and only sister got married. This trip turned out to be more eventful than planned. A week before my sister’s wedding my dad had to unexpectedly have back surgery. Right before surgery my dad received a priesthood blessing of healing.

Healing priesthood blessings are quite common among Mormons. I have received healing priesthood blessings before and after the birth of my son and at other times when I’ve been very sick. Was I miraculously healed every time I’ve had a healing priesthood blessing? Was my dad miraculously healed after receiving a priesthood blessing? In short, not every blessing has the same results. Some have miraculous healing experiences and some don’t.

Having access to the priesthood is not like have access a magic wand. The priesthood allows worthy members of the Church to do the work of God through His power. If it is God’s will that someone is miraculously healed, they will be. My uncle had a brain tumor when he was 13. It was a type of tumor where the prognosis was not good. He received experimental medical treatments as well as a priesthood blessing. In the blessing he was promised that he would heal and serve a full time mission for the LDS Church and have a family. He was miraculously healed and everything he was promised in his blessing eventually happened.

My dad was not necessarily miraculously healed. After receiving the blessing he still needed surgery and there will most likely be lasting effects from his problem. However, he was blessed with the strength necessary to face his challenges. He was able to enjoy my sister’s wedding day and dance with her at the reception even though 6 days before he had had serious back surgery.

Sometimes a healing priesthood blessing takes the health challenge away and sometimes we are able to have borrowed strength from our Savior to endure, either way, I think it is pretty miraculous.