Tag Archives: prophet

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.

Attending Church

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Irene whipped up the East Coast and threatened to hit Boston–and hard. Our governor encouraged everyone to stay indoors, so my weekly church services were canceled. I welcomed the rare chance to sleep in as my meetings start at 9:00, but as the day wore on, I realized how much I missed going to church that particular Sunday.

I rarely miss church. The reason why: The Holy Ghost confirms to me that Jesus Christ lives and that truth has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. This is why I go. Here are some more thoughts on going to church:

Every Sabbath day, Mormons around the world attend church. Church meetings are normally held on Sundays; however, this varies depending on location–when I lived in Cairo, we met on Friday, the Islamic sabbath day. Church consists of a three-hours block, one of which being sacrament meeting. Taking the sacrament is the main reason for going to church.

Church attendance also strengthens and edifies me. It gives me time to ponder on my actions during the previous week. It also gives me the motivation and encouragement to be a better person, a better friend, sister, aunt, roommate, Christian, etc. While I get a lot of inspiration from lessons, talks, and being around fellow members, it is the Spirit that truly whispers truths to me.

I encourage those of all faiths to take time out of your busy weeks to attend  your worship meetings. There are so many little hidden tidbits in scripture stories that will come alive. You will come away wanting to serve your fellow man more and yourself a little less.

Practical, Not Fanatical!

This past month, many that I talked to had been scrambling as Hurricane Irene approached to complete a flurry of last-minute preparations. It was reported that there hadn’t been a hurricane to hit Massachusetts since 1996, and many people were anticipating power outages and the loss of telephone, internet, and water access. One of our neighbors rushed out to the store the day before the Hurricane was predicted to hit Boston, and returned to tell us that it took him at least fifteen minutes to just find a parking spot. He said that it was a zoo at the store, and people were clearing the shelves (if they weren’t already) of water bottles, fruits, canned foods, batteries, etc. This conversation gave me food for thought. I couldn’t help but wonder amid the clamor if the sum total of the collective anxiety wasn’t one of the great (and unnecessary) costs of this very costly natural disaster.

On the other hand, not everyone faced these anxieties and concerns as the storm approached. I was pleased to hear several calm and practical voices all around me, for instance, members of our wards (congregations) and neighbors. For example, several friends and composed neighbors gave advice about filling our bathtub with water to use for the toilet and washing, getting bags of ice or making our own and putting them in a cooler to store perishable items in case the power went out. One of these voices of calm that I have learned to appreciate more and more over the years is that of the our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As members of the church, we believe in living prophets and apostles, who have been called of God to guide us for our times. One of the things that members of the Church have been encouraged and guided to do, is to prepare for emergencies, of all kinds, i.e. natural disasters, unemployment, etc. Our family (although living on a graduate student stipend) have made efforts to follow this counsel, and in doing so, the results were practicality and peace of mind. We had enough food to last us at least two weeks or more, and drinking water gallons in the basement. Unfortunately, we found our 72 hour kits incomplete and we were thankful that evacuation wasn’t necessary.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I am grateful for that inspired counsel and for those in our community who sought to help one another feel some of the peace of preparedness during this storm. It’s during moments like these that I realize that emergency preparedness and food storage can be practical and reasonable. It isn’t something we need to be fanatical about, and in the end, that practically leads to peace of mind.

Mormon Finance: Dealing with Debt

Are Mormons richer, poorer, or statistically the same as everyone else? I have no idea. If you do, I?d love to hear it. (Update: A reader just pointed out a great graph from the New York Times that answered this question for the USA). What I do know is exactly how being Mormon is impacting my personal finances, so I’ve decided to write an entire series on the topic.  We’ll cover topics ranging from the donations we are expected to make, to surviving as a single income family, to maintaining a year’s worth of food in our basements (yes we actually do that). I hope you enjoy.

Debt

Thought I’d kick the series off with the subject that has been top of mind for me recently.  Next week, I graduate from business school and along with my wonderfully framed diploma, I will also begin receiving a monthly bill asking me to start paying off my sizable student loans. Ahhh debt, how we love thee.

For the past several hundred years, Mormons have been taught to stay out of debt. It’s drilled into us. Our prophets and leaders talk about it all of the time. The only exceptions for our debt aversion are to finance a modest home, an education, and maybe a first car. All other debt should be strictly avoided.  And the debt we do have, we are counseled to pay off as quickly as possible.

This doesn’t mean all Mormons follow that counsel. I know plenty of fellow Latter-day Saints who have fallen into the debt trap.  Bankruptcy rates in Utah are among the highest in the US. It’s just so hard to say no to things we want sometimes, that we convince ourselves that we can afford things we really cannot.

However, there are a lot of Mormons who do try to follow this counsel. My parents are some of them.  They made some serious financial sacrifices in order to pay off our house as soon as possible.  They’ll tell you it was the best thing they’ve ever done, but they worked very hard and went without a lot of other luxuries in order to achieve it.

My wife and I have decided to try and follow their example. As we go off into the real world and start earning income again, we’re basing our goals around getting out of debt as fast as we can.  You are all invited to the party when we make the last payment in a few years. Just don’t judge us if we are hosting that party in a cramped apartment with outdated furniture. Paying off debt doesn’t always come cheap. 🙂

…..Don’t forget to leave comments sharing your thoughts on debt.  I’d be happy to get into discussion on interest rates, the value of debt, the difference between good and bad debt, or whatever else floats your boat. Just drop a line.

Happy Spring

This time of the year makes me happy for several reasons: the fact that there are flower and leaves on the trees, the time when we celebrate Easter and it’s also a time when we can listen from our prophets and apostles during General Conference.

One of the things I like about living in Massachusetts is that we can see all the seasons of the year in a very distinct way. Although I get tired of the long winter months I also get very excited when spring comes which is usually on the last days of April.  As I was riding my bike along Cambridge and Boston this week it makes me happy to see the tulips and daffodils that are out as well as the cherry trees. I also enjoy just seeing people out exercising or just sitting of the banks of the Charles river. All this beauty makes me contemplate on the creations of God. I’m so grateful to live in such a beautiful place and to have the ability to contemplate it.

A great event that we celebrated last week was the sufferings and resurrection of the Savior. The fact that Jesus, a perfect and sinless being, willingly took upon Himself all of our pains, mistakes and errors in order to make us clean and give us the opportunity to live with God again is certainly beyond our mortal understanding. He knew it wouldn’t be easy and He could have done it by revelation but He chose to do it in person. He pleaded with the Father when suffering in the garden of Gethsemane and asked if possible He would not suffer all the pains and afflictions of the world and yet He submitted His will to God and finished that which only Him could do.

Another important event regarding our salvation took place in Palmyra, NY. Also in the spring, it was where God and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, who was searching for a church to join, in 1820. It was during that great event that God told Joseph not to join any of the existing churches as he was called to be the next prophet and restore the truth that had been lost.

Today we have living prophets and apostles who guide and help us know what God wants for us. Every first weekend of April and October they address us at what we call General Conference. Its transmitted to us via satellite as well an online. Last month I was able to watch and enjoy many of the talks. One that stuck up to me was given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf when addressing the men of church on living up to our potentials. As a member of the Mormon church we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost, soon after we are baptized, which gives us the promise of having the divine companionship of the Holy Spirit which will help us in difficult time as well as guide and inspire us, as long as we allow it. The Holy Ghost also allows us to  communicate with God and receive revelation. President Uchtdorf explains how we are living below our privileges if we don’t seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost as well as revelation.

Why I Believe

I was born into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was taught from the Bible and Book of Mormon since I can remember. I remember being 14 years old and waiting for my big “spiritual experience” to know for myself that the gospel of Jesus Christ was true. It was at a church youth conference, that I finally realized, I did have my own testimony, although it was small and simple, it was there. I realized that the for most of us, the truth of the gospel isn’t revealed in a loud and obvious way. It comes through studying the scriptures and praying to our Father in Heaven to know of it’s truthfulness. For me, it is simply a good feeling I get when I study the words of God. It is a peaceful feeling, that no matter what happens, God is in control. Although it can be difficult to follow God’s commandments, I find that when I do, it brings more joy and happiness than anything tangible. When I put my faith in God and follow his will, I find my life to have more meaning and purpose.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that he atoned for each of our sins. He is our older brother and wants nothing more than our success in this life and the life after. I know that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father, whose love is beyond anything imaginable. He cares for us, his children, individually and knows us better than we know ourselves. I know that the Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith restored God’s church to the earth. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and that he leads and guides God’s true church on this earth today. I know that if we submit our will to our Father in Heaven, he will lead us to have the happiest most successful life possible.
“Now, this is the truth. We humble people, we who feel ourselves sometimes so worthless, so good-for-nothing, we are not so worthless as we think. There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are children of God and that He has actually given His angels … charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”–George Q. Cannon

Patriots’ Day Junkie

It’s been my experience that our Southern ladies and gentlemen crazy love our country.  Probably the best 4th of July I’ve ever had was last summer while we were living in South Carolina.  Pancakes, fried chicken, blue-grass & peach ice cream.  And fireworks.  They seriously let you buy stadium-sized fireworks on sale for 25 bucks and you can let them off in your backyard, the nearest school ground, wherever.  We saved some for a random night at the end of July, and within two minutes of lighting our first one on our apartment lawn, one of the rooms on the third floor had joined in, setting stuff off from their balcony. And Wal-mart?  The groceries were basically one giant red-white-and-blue flag, for the entire summer.

But I’m not sure people realize the intimate allegiance Mormons also have with Uncle Sam.  Outside of military schools, Brigham Young University (BYU–the Church’s largest private university) has the largest ROTC program.  We believe that God guided and inspired the Founding Fathers in writing the Constitution and in setting up our democratic republic–and that part of the reason for the need for a free nation was to prepare a place where the restored gospel could be established again.  We have a deep appreciation and respect for the Founding Fathers. Joseph Smith, our first president of the church recorded the Lord’s words in Doctrine & Covenants 101:80 “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”

This past weekend my sweet city of Boston hosted Patriots’ Day–commemorating every little detail of the events of April 18-19, 1775.  I kind of went junkie on it all.  I went to every single thing I could.  Battle of Lexington reenactment: got up at 4 AM in the morning.  Sat:  battle of Concord (by myself), then the crazy skirmishes along Battle Road back to Boston (these ones are better because we don’t really have clear records of these, so they just go nuts and shoot each other for like 40 minutes.  Think Sweet Home Alabama).

But my favorite was the service at the Old North Church Sunday night where they hung the two lanterns warning that the British were coming.  When we got to the fourth verse of “America the Beautiful” in that church I about lost it–the first two lines are “O beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years.”  I think watching the HBO miniseries John Adams this past month with my husband and just living here and visiting all the Revolutionary War spots had something to do with it, but I have never felt so strongly about our country as I did singing that dang song.  Our country really was founded upon a belief in, reliance on, and obedience to God–“We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” [April 18, 1775] –John Adams and John Hancock.  America, do you realize this?

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

My Country, ‘Tis of Thee

Mormon General Conference

Ever had one of those days where you are just walking around feeling like life couldn’t get any better? I did, today.  I love days like that.  Think of the Carpenter’s song “Top of the World” and you’ve got the idea.

There are lots of factors why I was feeling so great this morning: I just whittled my to-do list in half (why do we have to-do lists and not to-be lists?), I’ve started exercising again, I’ve got an AWESOME wife, and as I’m about to graduate I’m just feeling generally grateful. However, I think the real reason I feel so amazing is the way I spent this past weekend watching 10 hours of talks in our church’s general conference (mentioned by our friends at Mormon Perspectives).

One thing I absolutely love about being Mormon is the opportunity it gives me for renewal.  This weekend was a perfect example.  As I listened to the prophets and apostles speak, I felt great.  There were so many talks that genuinely left me feeling uplifted and inspired.  I not only feel like I want to be a better person (kinder, more compassionate, more full of faith, and more hard-working, etc.), but I feel like I have actually become a better person. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it, but I feel changed by the experience.  It’s like I’ve moved a little from knowing I should do something, to actually desiring to do it. The best analogy I can think of is exercising.

Most of the time, I just think of exercising as something I should do and when I don’t follow through I feel bad about it.  However, every once in a while when I am consistent enough about my workout routine, I really look forward to hitting the gym.  I start to relish it.  That’s the kind of change I feel after this weekend, but with deeper things like spirituality, love, compassion, faith, hope, and true commitment.

The great thing is that general conference isn’t the only time I feel this.  It’s not uncommon for me to have a similar experience after attending church on Sunday.  Some days it happens when I’m reading my scriptures.   Sometimes it’s when I go to a church service project or activity. My point is that as a Mormon my life is full of these types of experiences that leave me feeling renewed, revitalized, and recommitted.  I’m grateful for that.  It makes me happy!

What types of things leave you feeling renewed?  I’d love to hear.

Come listen to a Prophet’s voice

This weekend, Mormons around the world are tuning in to listen to our modern Prophet and Apostles speak and instruct us on how to become better disciples of Jesus Christ and in turn better people. Our friends at MormonPerspectives.com have outlined what Conference is and why it’s important (1, 2, and 3 times!). If you’re interested in watching any of the sessions, the player below has been embedded for your convenience and curiosity.

**Update – The sessions have now completed and the in-page video player has been removed. The talks, songs, and messages from Conference are available by video or audio feed here. Text will be uploaded on Thursday, 4/7. **

Like conferences happening around the world, participants are actively tweeting about what they hear, what they feel, and what they think while watching Conference. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ldsconf.

What did you hear that resonated with you? Has your heart been softened or changed?