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Recently I received some comments on an old article I wrote about Mormons being born again. I reached out to a friend of mine I met through this website who is a pastor at Addisville Reformed Church in Pennsylvania. I want to thank Doug Dwyer for taking the time to answer my questions and hope that it helps both Mormons and Christians from other faiths see where we have common ground.
I was out with the sister missionaries the other night visiting a family they are teaching. The family is a great young couple just starting out in life in their early 20′s. They are very new in their careers and have all the aspirations that young couples have such as: earning enough money to live comfortably, raising children, and making their dreams come true in life.
While I was there, I felt that I needed to ask them why they are meeting with the missionaries? She said it is because she sees how happy people who have faith are and she wants that in her life and in the lives of her children. Her husband, once was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (i.e. Mormon). He said that he decided around the age of 18 that he wasn’t going to stay active as a member of the church. However, after a few years he notices a void in his life and said that he also shares the same desire and knows he will “come back” someday.
They also shared experiences they have had learning about the Gospel from his parents, who are active church members. We read scripture together and I shared some stories of my conversion. He then shared a story of revelation that had come into his life at a young age and shared a witness of God answering prayers. He also said he felt a desire to pray and read scripture with his wife, which they never have done.
After the meeting, I couldn’t help but think that this meeting must have been an answer to the prayers of his parents. I also thought of my own conversion story as well as that of Alma the Younger’s in the scriptures, where the children, who are rebellious are saved through the faith and prayers of their parents.
Since you can read about Alma’s conversion story, I’ll briefly share my story and how it relates to my father.
My Conversion Story
After my parents’ divorce I became very rebellious at a young age. Although I was very young, I was getting into some very bad addictive habits and I was angry at my father, God, and especially anything related to the Mormon Church.
One summer, my mother persuaded me to go and visit my Dad, which I did reluctantly. The one thing I didn’t want to do was go to church, which I knew my Dad was actively involved in. Upon my dismay, he told me that as long as I was staying with him, I had to go to church. So I did and hated it.
However, after a few days I started to notice something and my heart started to change. I noticed my Dad wasn’t what I thought he was and he actually cared for me. I noticed a feeling of love and peace in his home that I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. After staying with him for a couple of weeks, my heart had changed so much that I knew I wanted to live with him in an environment that was away from the bad friends and influences I had without a father figure in my life. I also started reading scripture and praying and God softened my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit.
When I told my father all of this, he started to cry tears of joy and told me he had been praying for this to happen as he saw me slipping into a dark place. As I look back on things, I realize that it was indeed a miracle because I had no intentions of ever coming back. It was solely through my father’s faith that I was blessed with the grace of the Good Lord to experience what I did at that time and have experienced many times since then.
This message is to all of you parents out there who may have a child who has made some wrong turns. My heart goes out to you as I am a father of young children. At their tender ages, I can’t imagine them making bad choices as they are so innocent and full of love and life. If you have older children who have strayed, I’m sure you see your older children and remember them when they were young and so close to God. Don’t give up hope. The lives of the young couple I met with this week with the missionaries, Alma the Younger in the scriptures, and my own life are testimonies that through the faith of parents’ sincere prayers, our children can return once again to light and truth from God.
My first thought was to share the traditional stories those of us who have been around the Mormon Church for awhile have all heard. I’m sure there are many bloggers out there who are well more versed on the history of Mormon faith healing and miracles, but for those of you interested, there are quite a few Mormon faith healing stories of the first Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Those of you who have stories to share on the history of healing or perhaps a relative who was miraculously healed, please share in the comment section because I know there are a lot of faith healing stories out there which would be beneficial for all of us to hear.
Also, as I researched, I found numerous inspirational stories of faith and healing from Mormons all over the world. For example, the LDS Addictions Recovery website has some amazing testimonials of people who were on the street and totally addicted who turned their will to God and were healed.
Another miraculous healing I recently read in the very inspiring book Let it Go by Chris Williams. This book is about Chris’s experience with a drunk driver hitting his family’s car. Chris’s wife, unborn son, daughter, and one of his sons were instantly killed. His other son was in very critical condition and had brain damage. Doctors thought that he had a very slight chance of survival, and if he did survive, would have permanent brain damage. Chris relates a story of how he felt God’s love encircle him and as he laid hands on his son to give him a blessing of healing, he felt God tell him to say his son would be completely healed. Three weeks later, his son was o.k. and released from the hospital.
While all of these examples are awesome, and the Good Lord has shown His hand countless times, I thought that I would share a few personal stories that were very impressive for me at various stages of my life. As I reflect on each of them, I am grateful for God’s merciful hand in my life.
I’ll start with the story of my sister being brought back to life, then share a personal story of healing within myself, and conclude with a recent story about my wife and our unborn daughter (due this June 20th).
The Day my Sister Died (and lived)
I was seven years old, but that didn’t stop my father from granting me my wish to help out on the farm. On this particular day I was busy pulling down a 80 lb hay bales, and rolling them to the feeding trough, cutting the strings and distributing the hay for the yearling calves. I wanted to make sure I was doing my job correctly, so I was very focused on making sure I did as my father had taught me and not clump the hay all in one spot. Rather, spread it out evenly so all the calves could get a good meal.
My focus was suddenly snapped as I heard a shrill screaming shrieking noise that startled me. I wondered what could be making that noise and when I looked a few hundred feet away from where I was it scared me even more. The noise was coming from my father. Tears were streaming down his face and he was running faster than I had ever seen him run in my life. What was even more frightening was my little sister, who was 3 1/2 years old was laying limp and lifeless in his arms. I dropped everything I was doing and ran towards my grandfathers house where I saw my father running.
By the time I entered the pantry my grandmother, grandfather, and father were surrounding my young sister. She was laying in my father’s arms limp and they couldn’t find a pulse. My grandmother had called for help and in the meantime, grandpa and dad proceeded to give her a blessing.
My father knows more precisely what was said in the blessing, but if I recall it correctly, he commanded her to be healed and promised that she would live a life of service to God. Shortly thereafter, her pulse returned and her stay in the hospital was very short.
She was daddies little girl and always followed him around the farm wherever he went. I’ve had conversations with him about how proud of her he was and how much he loved his little girl. On that particular day, as he was pulling hay bales down, he didn’t realize that she had slipped out of grandpa and grandma’s home to follow him. He pulled a line of hay from a stack that was 13 bales high, each bale weighing 80-100 lbs. which came crashing down right on top of her. It was the first healing miracle I witnessed and it made an impression on me that the Lord can and still does work miracles through His faithful servants.
Today, my sister is one of the most dedicated and committed members of our family to the Lord, Jesus Christ as she and her husband serve as pastors and missionaries for a local Foursquare Church. They are also beginning the process of planting a new church. She is a sweet blessing to our family and I thank the Lord that her life was spared at that time. Many times throughout my life she has touched me and moved me to be a better person who is more dedicated to the Lord.
My Blessing of Healing
Those of you who follow this blog know of my struggles I’ve had in the past with anxiety and depression. Those of you who read my book know how big of a challenge it was for me to overcome anxiety and depression, especially in my personal relationships.
Shortly after I was married to my wife, I was still struggling with sever anxiety. I was traumatized by my parents’ divorce at a young age and I still had panic that my wife may leave me or be taken away from me.
A couple weeks after we were married, I was visiting a friend of mine. My wife was on a trip to Taiwan and I was scheduled to go visit her. However, I was in a state of panic wondering if she would still want me knowing I was suffering so much from anxiety, etc. I asked my friend to give me a blessing.
In the blessing, God talked to me through him. I felt words of comfort and he also pronounced a blessing of healing, that I would be freed from anxiety.
Since that time, I have never suffered from a panic attack, which is a miracle given that I had suffered for years prior to that. I feel the Lord’s hand in my life as I am a husband and father of two beautiful kids (soon to be three), which leads me to the final story of healing.
Healing for My Wife and Unborn Child
A few months ago my wife told me she was very weak from bleeding. Given that she was about 15 or 16 weeks pregnant, I knew that wasn’t a good thing. We had had a miscarriage before so I thought that perhaps this was the case. My mind then went to the “what if” situations of if it was something more that could be wrong with her and she was bleeding internally.
As the blood kept coming, I knew we needed to do something. I called her Dad to see if we could have him come over and watch our kids who were sleeping and then called the hospital and explained the situation. I then had the impression to give her a blessing of healing.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Mormon concept of giving a blessing, I’ll try and summarize it. Members of the church who hold the Melchezedek Priesthood have the authority and power to act as the “voice” of God so to speak and give a blessing. Blessings can be given for comfort, or for healing. In the case of healing, we annoint the person receiving the blessing with consecrated oil, place our hands on their head, and then speak the words the Lord gives us. It is a very humbling experience because going into the blessing the person doesn’t know what words are going to be given. (Read this article for a more detailed description on blessings).
Before I started speaking the words during the blessing, the Lord’s Spirit came over me and I sensed a complete feeling of peace and that everything was going to be fine. I knew in my heart that whatever happened would be the Lord’s will and I was prepared to accept it.
When I began speaking, I was impressed to speak the words that she would be healed and the baby would be fine. For a split second I had a bit of doubt seeing how much she had bled (which seemed like much more compared to the miscarriage we had had), but I put the doubt out of my mind and focused on the promptings I received.
Shortly afterwards, her bleeding slowed down and we didn’t even need to go into the doctor that evening.
She is now 26 weeks along and we found out we are going to be having a little girl.
These are just a few “Mormon Faith Healing Stories” that I have personally witnessed in my life. I’m positive there are many of you out there who have stories to share. Whether you are Mormon or not, I know that the Lord can and does heal according to His will and the faith of the people receiving and/or giving the healing. I would love if you shared some healing stories you have seen in your life. I think it will be a great blessing to those who read this.
1 Peter 3:15 discusses the importance of always being ready to share our testimonies of the gospel of Christ.
That time came for me unexpectedly (which it usually does).
We are getting ready to paint our house and I have had painters over the past few days coming over to give us quotes on pricing.
The other day, the doorbell rang and there was a clean-cut young man standing there. His image was much different than the last painter who came 1/2 hour late and who clearly was suffering from a hangover. This young man was punctual and actually dressed nicely. More importantly, he was friendly and very professional as he assessed the property, making small conversation and asking the right questions. He was also very thorough in his process of putting a proposal together.
While he was putting together a few scenarios for me, we discussed his goals in life. I learned that he was preparing to go to college. We discussed this for awhile and it came up that I had gone to BYU. At this point he seemed a little interested and asked me about my experience there. I told him about what I had majored in and what I had learned.
He went on to tell me that he used to attend the Mormon church until he was 15 when his parents were divorced. He decided to move up from Nevada to the Seattle area with his mom, where he didn’t feel he had the support he needed or friends at church, so he fell away.
Immediately I had a lot of questions in my mind such as: by falling away does he mean falling away from God or the Mormon Church? How has his life been since falling away? Is he considering coming back?
However, since we were in a business situation and I also had a meeting I needed to get to, I didn’t delve deeper into the conversation.
When he left, I felt the need to help him and wondered if I made the right decision in that moment, or if I should have dug a bit deeper.
What would you have done?
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 88,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
A couple years ago, I wrote a post titled Does God Want Us to Be Rich? In that article, I concluded that as long as our hearts are first, placed on building the kingdom, then strengthening our own faith, and then the lives of others, that God does indeed want us to be rich. I also share an experience where God blessed me with a lot of money at that time as a result in putting Him first.
The other day, someone left a comment on that post that they, as a Chrisitan have faith in God and a desire to earn $180,000 to bless the lives of other people. They then asked the following question:
…can we ask for something specific (say $180,000)? Will God honor that request, or will He wait until we’re ready to receive it because He doesn’t want us to squander it?
I’m not God, so that is a heavy question since God knows the intentions of their hearts. However, from my experience, God can answer specific prayers and the more specific the better. It depends on a few things such as 1. If it is His will 2. If their hearts are ready to receive it 3. If they are willing to put in the work and effort to raise it.
Those are my thoughts, but I’m confident that many of you who read this can further help with this question. What experiences or advice do you have?
I read a very interesting article on a teacher who is non-Mormon that taught a college course in Germany on Mormonism.
She discussed the attitudes of many of her students when she brought up the topic of Mormonism. Having been a missionary in Germany nearly 20 years ago, I wasn’t surprised to hear some of her examples such as Mormons being cultish, blasphemis, Mormons are only interested in other people to convert them, and so on. One stereotype I hadn’t heard, but can see why they said it was Mormons being overly concerned about money. The kicker was when she said a missionary came in and told the class God brought the Berlin Wall down in 1989 because East Germany was willing to allow Mormon missionaries into the country.
As I removed myself from looking at that situation from a Mormon perspective and put myself into the situation of one of the students, I can completely see where the stereotypes come from. Many of us as Mormons appear cultish in that we clump together and don’t associate with people of other faiths. If we do associate with them, we try to proselyte to them and if they don’t accept, we dust our feet off and move on.
Regarding the money stereotype, the scriptures always talk about obeying God and then being prosperous. Perhaps we put too much emphasis on the being prosperous part and not obeying God part.
Finally, I feel there is also a sense of Mormons feeling they may be a bit better than other people in other faiths since we’re in the “one true church” and all good things that happen in the world are a result of the good Mormons (as alluded to by the missionary in the example).
I hear Mormons scoff and complain sometimes at the fact that people have these stereotypes towards us, but maybe we are the ones who create those stereotypes.
“CAR!” my friend, Steve yelled, but it was too late.
We didn’t see the car in time. I had just enough time to turn my front wheel and suddenly I was flying through the air and the “WHAM!” I hit the pavement and the back of my head whiplashed into the asphalt, cracking my helmet.
My first thought was: Wow! Helmet’s actually do save lives. Followed by I’ve gotta get an Advil and get back on the bike!
I wasn’t riding just for fun. I was riding in memory of my Grandmother, who had passed away from Diabetes related complications. Two months earlier I had written an article called “The Last Words I Heard my Grandmother Speak” and sent it out to a few hundred family and friends asking for donations towards Diabetes research for the American Diabetes Association. Close to 60 of my friends and family had been kind enough to donate money towards the cause and I had committed to riding 100 miles.
Fortunately, for me the Good Lord was looking out for me. Moments later a medic on a bicycle who happened to be riding along the trail at that very moment stopped and checked me (and my bike) out. He concluded that I didn’t have a concussion, but that I should go back a few miles to the medic station.
I was a bit annoyed. We were only 35 miles into it and had found some good friends along the ride from India. We had a good thing going as we had been drafting off each other. To turn around was so frustrating for me. However, after some convincing from the medic, I realized he was right and that I should go get checked out.
It just so happened (like I said, the Good Lord was blessing me) that a lady across the street had seen the accident and she had a pick-up. She came over and offered to drive me to the aid station. She happened to be a retired physicians assistant, so she had some good pointers for me along the way.
The medic checked my vitals and everything was fine. I had a slight headache, but he determined it was from the heat and had me drink a bottle of watter and Powerade. A few minutes later, Steve and I were back on the trail. We were at mile 35 and had 60 more miles to go.
The next 22 miles were the hardest for me on the whole ride. I had rested for over 1/2 hour and my legs had stiffened. I wasn’t sure if I could go on at some points. However, with a few prayers and sheer determination, I was able to make it.
God was with us again as we pulled into the rest area. The people manning that location had thought all the other century riders were gone and they were literally starting up their motorcycles to leave. As we pulled up, they were very glad that they had seen us. They took our information and called all the aid stations letting them know there were still some riders on the trail. The stop on at the aid station had set us back about 45 minutes from the other riders. If we hadn’t met this motorcycle gang (they called themselves the Lollypop Guild motorcycle gang read about them on Facebook here) at the rest area, we would not have had any more Tour support while we were riding the most brutal portion of the course starting at mile 62 in the foothills of the Cascades. Praise God they were there!
A few miles later, we were winding our way through the foothills of the Cascade mountains. This was the second time I seriously wondered if I could make it. The elevation gain was about 3000 feet. That combined with the heat, and perhaps my wreck caused me to get a bit light-headed and my nose started to bleed. I barely stayed on my bike, wobbling up hill after hill.
At the next rest area, about 64 miles into the ride, I was able to get some Alieve. This helped my aching muscles, my sore knee, and my slight headache. After that, I felt like a new man and Steve and I kept pushing through the ride.
All was well until about mile 84 when we hit a monster hill. The hill is a category 5 (on a scale of 1-5) and it was 3 miles long. Somehow we muscled our ways up that bad boy and made it home.
When we got there, our lovely wives were there to greet us.
It felt so great to fight through adversity and with a lot of help from Providence and very good people I was able to finish the ride. Not to get too philosophical, but it was like a mini example of our journeys in life. We work hard and do all we can, but the Lord picks up the slack and usually helps us back on our feet through using other people.
I am grateful for a wonderful Grandmother who set such a good example for me in my life at a young age. It was her memory that kept me going. I am also grateful for all of the wonderful people who donated to support the cause. Together, we were able to earn the “Champions” medal for the amount of funds we raised ($2,440 so far).
Here are some pictures of the ride for you to enjoy:
Here’s the very first video around 8:00 a.m. when we first started the ride:
This is the point where you commit to either riding the 70 or 100 mile route…
Three miles after we decided to ride the 100 mile route, I got in the wreck, cracked my helmet, and scraped up my hip and elbow. I’m blessed that nothing more happened. Here’s my helmet and scraped elbow:
Here’s the best video! Riding into the finish line with our wives to greet us:
Here’s Steve and I after the ride
Our Indian friends we met along the way
The Lollipop Guild Motorcycle Gang
My jersey number (jersey number was yellow to signify over $2000 in donations…thank you everyone!)
Champion for Diabetes medal due to funds donated…thank you all once again (if I had made it back in time, Detlef Schrempf was the one who gave out the medal. Becca, my wife got it instead and was able to meet Detlef).
Finally, my beautiful bride, Becca (she rode the 45 mile route) who initiated getting a team together for the Tour de Cure. Without her, I wouldn’t have done this.
Recently, a Sunday School lesson in our Mormon Church was on a Book of Mormon prophet named Enos. His account is very short in the Book of Mormon, but it is a very important chapter in the Book.
In short, he describes a long prayer and process he goes through to receive forgiveness from his sins through Jesus Christ. His description could be described as what is commonly known in Christian circles as a “born again” experience because he prays and confesses Jesus as his Savior and asks Him to take away his sins. He then is filled with the Holy Spirit and prays for his fellow friends and his enemies alike.
As I reflected on Enos’ experience, it reminded me of my own.
When I was in my early teenage years, I had been already living a pretty devious life and was full of hatred and anger. Through the grace of God I picked up a Book of Mormon and read it within a few weeks. At the end of the Book of Mormon, I had a very big desire to pray and know if the concepts in the Book were true. The concepts in the book include the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes: faith, repentance, baptism, committing our lives to the Lord, and receiving the Holy Spirit.
According to a modern Mormon prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, for every one person who has a “born again experience” such as Enos, there are thousands of people who do not have a huge manifestation of the Holy Spirit all at once. Rather, it comes gradually as we keep the commandments of God.
I feel fortunate to have had an experience like that of Enos. Immediately after I prayed, I felt a warmth come all over me and a love and desire to share the Good News with my fellow man. From the age of 13 (when I had this experience) I had the desire to go on a mission and tell the world about the gospel. My mission was everything I dreamed it would be. Although I was in a country (Germany) whose people didn’t accept the gospel with open arms, I still grew to love the Lord and the German people. If I hadn’t had this born again experience as a younger man, I’m not sure that I would have been able to be so motivated to go on a mission, and the experience is something I reflect on almost daily that sustains my faith now.
I would be curious to see how many people out there have had a “born again” experience. If you have, please share. If not, please share how you have experienced receiving the Spirit and a testimony of Jesus.
On Sundays we try and focus more on the Savior than we normally would during the week. By this I don’t mean that we forget about God during the week and then do a turn-around on the Sabbath, but we try and make Sundays a little more focused on Jesus and His gospel.
One example is that we try not to watch movies or TV shows that aren’t centered around the Savior or the Gospel.
Our little girl, who is 3 1/2 years old, loves her Disney cartoons, but on Sunday we typically have her watch cartoons about Jesus.
Recently, we watched a cartoon about Jesus titled “Jesus the Son of God” that has the story of him as a young boy going to the temple and being left behind by his family. It shows how his parents, Mary and Joseph searched all through the city and one of the last places they look was in the temple, where they find Jesus teaching the Jewish priests about fulfilling the Law of Moses.
As I watched the cartoon about Jesus, I thought about my own life and how many times I look for answers in many other places before going straight to a place (such as the scriptures, prayer, church, temple, etc) where I know I can find my answers from God. Generally, when I do this, I receive answers in the form of peace and guidance.
I also thought of how many people are out there struggling to find peace and light in their lives and they search in all the wrong places. It is my hope and prayer that I can be an instrument in God’s hand to help some people find Him. It is also my hope and prayer that all of you can do the same. I believe that as we do this together, many people will be blessed and find God.
P.S. for those of you with small children, or if you just like cartoons about Jesus, here’s a link to the video: