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I came across some interesting sites the other day and thought I’d share them for people to see.  These stats are rather old (9 years), but they are interesting nonetheless.

The first site shows information on the various divorce rates amoung various Christian denomonations and other groups.  The interesting thing is that athiests have the lowest rate at 21%.  You can view this site at this link: Baptists Most Likely to Divorce.

Now, you’ll notice on that report that although Baptists are the most likely to divorce, Mormons have a 24% divorce rate, which is only 2% lower. 

However, there is one exception: Mormon Temple marriages.  Those Mormons that Marry in the Temple have only a 6% divorce rate.  You can view this information at this site: In Era of Divorce, Mormon Temple Weddings Are Built to Last.  You will notice that this article gives reasons of why the divorce rate for temple marriages is significantly lower.  This list includes the following reasons:

  1. They Date within their Faith 
  2. They Make Sure they’re Committed to their Faith
  3. They get their Lives Squared Away before Marriage (that’s why I was 30 before I was married! : )
  4. They Make the Wedding Ceremony Sacred
  5. They Marry for Eternity
  6. They Believe the Family that Prays together Stays together
  7. They Get Help when they have a Problem
  8. They Believe Children Create a Happy Marriage
  9. They have Family Home Evening every Monday Night
  10. The LDS church and active members discourage divorce.

I would have to agree with these statements.  The Mormon marriages I’ve seen work apply all of these aspects to their marriages.  Those marriages that are unhappy or that fail are not applying these to their marriage.

Do you have any experiences with these suggestions that support these claims?  I’m sure the readers would love to hear!

The title of this article intrigued me when I saw it in the “Time out For Women” flyer my wife received yesterday.  This will be one of the topics in the upcoming conference and Camille Olson will be the speaker.

As I reflected on the title, I naturally thought about the Book of Psalms in the Bible.  I thought of the word “psalm” and looked up the Hebrew translation for it.  Here is the translation directly from the dictionary:

zâmar, zaw-mar’

Definition: a prim. root [perhaps ident. with 2168 through the idea of striking with the fingers]; prop. to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, i.e. play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music

Translated as: give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.

I thought of many of the Psalms in the Bible and how heart-felt and earnest they are.  The writers of the Psalms show the depths of their souls and their relationship with the Lord as they sing praise and also share remorse for sins committed.  When reading the Psalms, I definitely can feel their sense of yearning and dependance on God in joy, sadness, pain, and all walks of life.

My thoughts then turned to the title “Your own Book of Psalms.”  I’m not sure what the speaker will be sharing, but I thought of how I can deepen my relationship with God by sharing Psalms with Him in three ways: prayer, writing in my journal, and writing music to the Lord.

Prayer

What my goal before I pray is to reflect on God and who He is.  He is my Creator and gives me life.  He loves me more than I can imagine and he loves all humankind and His creations as well.  Also, before I pray it is important to consider all the many blessings I’ve received from His hand each second of the day.  By doing these things I stir emotions within myself that cause me to feel humble before the Lord. 

Next, I think about anyone who may need help and I try to imagine what I would feel like in their situation.  I consider if there is anything I can do to help them and this stirs more emotion of helplessness and dependance on the Lord, knowing that all things are in His control.

I then think about myself and my family and the struggles we may be facing.  This stirs even more emotion and I am then ready to pray…pray with emotion like a psalm.

Journal

When writing in my journal I share emotions and get them all out on paper.  Sometimes as I do this I see things come out that I know I need God’s help with and I then use my journal as a means to pray and share my deepest feelings with the Lord.  Other times I just write in the journal and it feels good to get all my good and bad emotions out.

Writing Songs to God

I play the guitar and sometimes I’ll just start strumming some chords and my heart is full and words will come out.  Sometimes the words are from an earnest seeker, sometimes they are joyous, and other times they are songs of sadness.  I’ve found though that when I express my feelings through a prayer of music to God I have felt the Holy Spirit enter into my heart many times and I feel God’s love surround me. 

In closing I thought it would be fun to share part of one of my “psalms.”  It is part of a song I wrote about Jesus called “Believe.” 

He’ll pick you up if you take a step forward and don’t look back again.

He’ll lift you up and carry you on until your journey’s end…

Now all I have to do is give You my heart…it’s true!

Open the door, get set free.  Give Him your heart….

Once inside you’ll see.  And if you’re feeling doubt just believe.

Many of you know (or may not know) I was on a dance team in college.  I received an email the other day about one of my fellow team members.  He lives in the Seattle area now and thy just had their 3rd baby.  The only problem is that she has a serious heart condition and is in the hospital.  She was recently featured in the news here in Seattle.  You can view the broadcast here: http://www.king5.com/video/index.html?nvid=272614

The only problem is that they’re having to pay a ton of bills and they’re praying for help to be able to help their baby survive.  They don’t know that many of us are doing this, but we want to help them and their baby. 

Please view the blog set up to help their baby and if you feel inclined to donate some money to help them, it would be an answer to their prayers.  Here’s the blog:

 

http://helpbabymia.blogspot.com/

I was looking up something from Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith that he gave in 1835 and I came across Jerry Stokes’ website.  In his website he compares these lectures to the Word of Faith movement (which I’ve never heard of before) and says it is heretical.  I will have to agree with him that many things stated in the Lectures on Faith are heretical to mainstream Christianity, which is a given for LDS theology.  One of the things he points out as being heretical is the fact that Joseph Smith states that one of God’s main attributes is faith and that without faith He would cease to be God.  This concept is found in Lecture 1 verses 13 – 17 and is quoted below:

13. As we receive by faith all temporal blessings that we do receive, so we in like manner receive by faith all spiritual blessings that we do receive. But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, 11:3 –

14. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

15. By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him.

16. Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute — for it is an attribute — from the Deity, and he would cease to exist.

17. Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity? This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavouring to teach to man.

I can understand Mr Stokes’ concern coming from a Christian perspective.  He may be appalled to hear that Jehovah, who created the world, would need faith.  After all, the Greek meaning of the word faith is “conviction of religious truth or of God.”  If Jehovah is all-powerful and all-knowing and He is the being who we worship, what need is there for Him to have faith in Himself?  Furthermore, does this lesson God’s stature and is it blasphemous to say that God has faith just as man does?

I don’t think it is wrong to say God has faith.  By definition, faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  For example, we read in the first book of the Bible (Gen 1:1-2) that God created the heaven and earth and the earth was without form.  The Hebrew definition of “without form” means “to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), i.e. desert; fig. a worthless thing; adv. in vain” .  Therefore, God hoped for and had faith in himself that the earth would be made and he created the beautiful world that we live in out of chaos (or nothing depending on your belief).  This fits into the definition of faith that we just discussed. 

Now, does saying this lessen God’s stature and elevate man’s in relation to God?  Not at all.  In fact, this proves the majesty of God and shows us our relationship to Him.  We are humans and have seeds of divinity in that we have the power to have faith and create things, etc.  But no one can create a world. 

Now, I will admit that I disagree with Joseph Smith’s statement that God would “cease to exist” if He didn’t have faith.  In the scriptures we read that God is never-changing and always exsisting.  God would be God regardless of whether He created worlds or not.

Overall, I believe in Joseph Smith’s statements on faith and man’s relationship to God.  I believe that man has great potential and that we are children of God and therefore have seeds of divinity within us. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you think God has faith and is it wrong to say that He has faith?  Do you have any other examples from the scriptures where God or Jesus showed faith?

The official statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) says the following about the purpose for temple garments:

Like members of many religious faiths, Latter-day Saints wear religious clothing. But members of other faiths — typically those involved in permanent pastoral ministries or religious services — usually wear religious garments as outer ceremonial vestments or symbols of recognition. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, garments are worn beneath street clothing as a personal and private reminder of commitments to God.

Garments are considered sacred by Church members and are not regarded as a topic for casual conversation. (LDS Newsroom)

I’ve personally never really paid that much attention to why people of various religions wear certain clothes…especially their underwear!  However, as a Mormon, somehow this topic gets brought up on occasion and I can understand our friends of other faiths having questions about why we wear garments. 

For example, I was on a business trip a few years ago and shared a room with a colleague.  When we were changing he looked at me and had a hard time not doing a double take.  He had questions…a lot of them.  All I knew was that it is emphasized that garments are not used for casual conversation and I’m afraid I confused him more than helped him with my vague explanation of why we wear garments. 

Today I was reading in the scriptures and also a talk on how the garment is an outward expression of an inner commitment.  The verse I read today that impressed me was in Alma 34:36:

…the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t really paid attention to this before, but one purpose for the garment is to remind us of the suffering that Jesus went through for all of us and to remind us that our sins are washed away through his blood.  I then became curious and thought I’d look up more scriptures with this imagery and I found quite a few that share similar imagery.

I’m sure if I had sat down with my friend and showed him the scriptures related to the garment, it would have made a lot more sense to him rather than giving a vague answer and telling him it is too sacred to talk about.  Our friends may or may not agree with wearing the garments, but they should definitely gain more understanding if we approach it with confidence and understanding from their perspective.

Have any of you had a similar experience?  If so, what approach have you taken on explaining the purpose behind wearing the garment?

Other Good posts about Garments:

Some History of Mormon Underwear

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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