Friday, November 11, 2011

Why Become a Mormon?

What is it about the Church of Jesus Christ that causes people to join it? Why would I want to meet with the two young men in dark suits that knock on my door? What is it that all of this has to offer me or my family? Why should I want to be a Mormon?

I grew up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I spent my Sundays in church and sunday school. I knew that I couldn't drink alchohol, coffee, or tea; I couldn't smoke, I couldn't have sexual relations before marriage, as well as other things. I didn't ever question it, it was the way I was raised, it just seemed normal to me.

Towards the end of high school and for a year after graduating, I began to drift a little bit. Meetings every Sunday weren't my favorite thing to do, so if I could find an excuse not to go, I would. I didn't see a need to follow the commandments. For me it was a time to really find out what I wanted to do with my life.

What has really changed my life is one decision. My parents wanted me to go on a mission, just like most of the other young men my age. I wasn't sure if I wanted to, or even could, spend two years teaching other people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I spent years trying to decide whether I would go or not. One time when I was with my dad, I really thought about what I was doing with my life. The answer I came up with is that I wasn't really doing anything. I wasn't moving forward, I felt like I was stuck in limbo. I decided the only way to move forward was to give a mission a shot. I got things into motion (with prodding and help from my mom) and on November 18, 2009 I started my mission.

For those who haven't been on a mission, it is a difficult thing. I had never felt so alone, so overwhelmed, and so scared about what was going to happen. I didn't want to be where I was, and the only thing that kept me from leaving and going home was that I knew going back would just put me back into limbo. I spent many hours on my knees asking for help from my Father in Heaven. As the days past I received that help. As I began to study, and then live what I was learning, my life began to change.

I have always felt like my life was good. I have a great family who never let me go without. Things weren't always perfect, but I really feel like I couldn't have had it much better. It is now November 11, 2011 almost two years since I began my mission, and I have never been happier in my life. I don't understand why, because I have never worked so hard, given so much, or been quite this tired. I don't have luxurious things, and I can't even watch sports! It hasn't been easy, but I know that if you want to be happy, have a happy family, grow into a better person, have more love, have more trust, build bonds that will never be broken, and especially become a disciple of Jesus Christ; this is the church for you! I know that because of what it has done in my own life. This is Christ's church on the earth today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Putting It All Together

I used to love getting gifts that you had to put together.  For the 30 minutes to an hour of putting things together I could barely contain my excitement. One thing I realized is that if you don't look at the instructions, that will last even longer! One time for my birthday, I got a model truck. I thought it would be fun to figure it all out for myself. As I would struggle to figure out where things are supposed to go, and how things are supposed to look, I would have to go back to the instructions. Sometimes I would just look at one or two instructions, and disregard the rest. I could get it mostly put together doing this, but down the road I would find out something didn't work how it should (like the door that should have opened wouldn't). The only way that I could get it put together in the right way and have everything work the way it should was to read ALL the instructions.
I see people all over who do this same thing! I think everyone has an aversion to instructions. They like to pick a couple things and build the rest how they think it should be. Often people will only look at a few verses of scripture in a chapter. When they disregard the next verses, they put things together wrong. A good instance of this is in John Chapter 3 starting in verse 16:
"16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

This would seem to say that all you have to do is believe in Christ to be saved. If you read on however, it says:
"19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

We can see from this that those who "doeth evil" bring condemnation upon themselves. When we read the whole instructions we realized that we HAVE to believe in Jesus Christ, but we also HAVE to have good deeds or works. If we want to find the truth then we have to use all the instructions. I know that this is one reason we have a prophet here today. He has seen salvation put together before, because of this he can help us do what we read in the instructions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Are You Listening?

Have you ever had a discussion with someone who just couldn't understand the point you were trying to get across. You can prove your point, but they still keep arguing theirs. In your mind you couldn't understand why they wouldn't accept what you were trying to say, and they are probably thinking the exact same thing. Usually arguments like this just result in both people getting frustrated. This happens to everyone, especially when you are on a mission.

They other day I was having a discussion about a point of doctrine about something I had figured out. The person I was talking to just couldn't get what I was trying to say though. He was telling me I was wrong and just wouldn't get my point; it was a pretty typical argument. We both got a little frustrated with each other and just agreed to disagree. About ten minutes later I really started to wonder why my friend didn't agree with me. I didn't care about whether he believed me anymore, and so I asked what it was that caused him to believe differently. He started explaining, and three or four times I caught myself about to argue, but I held off. By the time he was done explaining, I didn't understand why we were even arguing in the first place! We both believed the SAME THING! He was trying to show me one point, and I was so focused on making my point that I thought he was disagreeing with me. In all reality we both felt so strongly about what we were thinking of, that if the other person said anything different we automatically felt the other person was wrong.

I finally realized why there are so many false ideas about "Mormons" going around. Let me use an example: The Book of Mormon. Many people are against the Book of Mormon because they think it teaches things that are contrary to the Bible. They figure that Joseph Smith wrote it to twist the true teachings about Jesus Christ, and emphasize his own beliefs. They probably have a very strong belief of the Bible, and feel that the Book of Mormon is attacking what they know to be true. When they talk with a member of the LDS Church, they will try to make the point that they don't really believe in the Bible. In a believer's mind, if someone believes the Bible then they would have to believe the exact same thing as them. If they don't take a step back and research the LDS Church without that bias, they wont ever see the big picture and understand why we believe the Book of Mormon to be true. They would never be open to learning more about Christ. With that being said, it works the other way too. We should all be open to understanding why people come to the beliefs they do, and then judge the belief by it's merit.

If all we do is judge things by their truthfulness, we will never have to give up something we know to be true. If you fear changing however, you could miss something greater. I encourage you to give this a shot. I don't know everything, but I hope that I will continue to find truth everywhere. One thing I do know however, is the Book of Mormon was translated by a prophet of God. From that I have come to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our savior!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is It Enough...

To just be a good person? It seems to me that is what society focuses on. When I was a young child and would jump into the middle of a movie and start watching my first question would be, "who are the good guys and the bad guys?" Just from that I would pick sides of what I wanted to happen in the movie. We always root for the people that we think are good. There is a belief going around that all we have to do in order to be saved is be a good person. It makes sense right? Christ was a very good person, actually it isn't really possible to find someone who is a better person. So if we are good people, then it would make sense that we would be saved. Personally, I have met great people who I want to be ok, but does it take more than just being good?
Christ's Atonement frees us from sin if we repent. So it is actually sin that would keep us from returning to our Heavenly Father. Sin is transgression of divine law. Some sin harms others, and that is what most people condemn. What we don't think about is the sin that harms us or offends God. Many take the stance that they don't need to go to church, view only appropriate material, or stay away from their addictions. These are all examples of things that don't directly hurt others all the time, but they do hurt themselves. There are many different examples of being a good person but not keeping all of God's commandments. 
Obedience is a law that God has always set forth. He gives us commandments and asks us to keep them. If we are obedient we are blessed and eventually we can be cleansed from sin and return to live with Heavenly Father. If we are not obedient, no matter how "good" we are, we are unclean and cannot return to our Heavenly Father. Obedience does make us into good people, and being a good person is important, but never forget to follow all the commandments that the Lord has given us. I know obedience is the only way to find "happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come" (The Living Christ).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

On God's Path, Comfort or Trial?

"I used to go to church every Sunday, pray, read my scriptures, ect... But ever since I stopped things have been going better." This is a question that has come up on my mission a few times, and I have always had a hard time answering it.  It's hard to show people that even though things are seemingly easier when you don't live the gospel, it just isn't true!

I have an example with the jobs I have had in my life. The summer after I graduated from high school I got a full time job for the first time. I spent the next three months working really hard, and wishing that I could have things a little bit easier. I went to school and the next summer I had a harder time finding a job. I spent a while looking and during that time I played a lot. I would go golfing or just do something around the house. It was really easy and relaxing, but I remember thinking, "I feel useless!" Even though my job the first summer was hard and I wasn't really fond of it, deep down things were much better than when I didn't have a job.

The peace that the gospel brings isn't the easy way we think we want, but it is the way that lasts. If we want to be happy it requires living all of God's commandments. I know that living the gospel is truly worth it, and even though it isn't always easy, you will always find greater peace and happiness from it than you will from other paths.
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