You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Spirituality’ category.

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:

We’ve been having a very good discussion in a recent post with members of various Christian faiths surrounding the concept of revelation and what is considered scripture for both LDS and other Christian faiths.  Part of the discussion surrounded revelation given to both individuals and Church leaders.

This weekend, the LDS General Conference will take place on Saturday and Sunday.  Members of all faiths are welcome to listen to the instruction given by the leaders of the LDS or Mormon faith including the apostles and prophet of the church. 

For those not familiar with where to go to watch conference, I will share a few links.  Additionally, I will share an official history of Mormon General Conference taken from an article written by the LDS Newsroom about 6 months ago.

Resources for General Conference

The following websites are where I typically go to watch conference in order from my favorite to “least” favorite.

1. http://lds.org/general-conference/watch?lang=eng

2. www.ksl.com

3. www.byu.edu

If anyone knows of other resources, feel free to share them. 

Preparing for General Conference

Also, I came across a very good blog written entitled “12 Ways to Prepare for General Conference“.  I thought it was good, so I invite all to read it in preparation for conference.

History of LDS General Conference

This official article was very informative and included some facts I wasn’t aware of about the history of General Conference.

I hope this helps members of all faiths who may be interested in checking out Conference this weekend.

Somehow I’m just not as connected to the blogosphere as I thought.  I received an email with all this hype around a guy who had stood up in General Conference and taken a goofy picture.  It went viral and now became featured in a series of posters on the LDS Friends website with captions underneath them.  I thought some of them were funny.  Here are my favorite three:

Of these ones I posted and the ones listed on the ldsfriends.com website, I think I like the one about alcohol the best. 

Which one do you like…or is there a different caption you would choose altogether?

If you subscribe to the LDS Living magazine, you probably read the recent article on David Ciemny, who formerly managed Lady Gaga’s tour schedule.  He has quite the resume and experience in the music industry and has managed to keep his morals in spite of the surroundings he has been with from being in his own band all the way up to managing major tours.  When he reached the peak of success as Lady Gaga was bursting onto the scene, he could see his touring would keep him away from his family for more than a year.  He decided to quit at that time and stay with his family.

I thought the article was interesting, but it was the comments below the article from readers that got me thinking.  It appears that people were divided on supporting David with his career.  Some people applauded him for being able to keep his morals and be a “light on a hill” or “salt of the earth” so to speak.  Others criticized him for mingling with the “wrong” people.  After all (those who criticize say), how can a “good” LDS guy be really that good if he is touring with the likes of Lady Gaga or opening for Metallica?

In Sunday school I teach the 16-18 year olds and we are studying the New Testament this year.  Over and over Jesus is criticized for mingling with the “wrong” people such as sinners and gentiles who are not of the Jewish faith.  In my opinion, those who criticize this guy for being Lady Gaga’s tour manager fall into the category of the Pharisees who judged Jesus.  If David was able to keep his morals and be a good example, then he probably was planting a lot of seeds and who knows who he may have blessed? 

Now it’s your turn.  Cast your vote.  Do you praise or criticize David Ciemny for being Gaga’s tour manager?

In the LDS faith, people are not baptized until they are at the age of accountability, which according to LDS scripture is the age of 8.   According to that scripture, the parents are commanded to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to their children and baptize children when they turn 8 years old or there is a sin on the head of the parents.

When reading a post about Catholic and LDS baptisms, the writer mentions someone close to her who was baptized as a Mormon at the age of 8 and felt like he didn’t have a choice in the matter.  He says he went along with it because it was the social norm and the thing to do and you “go along with it”.  Therefore, the baptism is essentially meaningless for the individual.

For me, I remember my parents teaching me about being baptized and also learning about it in class at Sunday school while I was 7 years old.  While I didn’t understand everything about the commitment it was (and probably still don’t for that matter!) I do remember being excited and that baptism was a good thing.  I remember practicing with my Dad how to hold onto his arm and keep my hand up so water wouldn’t get into my nose.  I also especially remember my baptism because I had to go under 3 times before I was totally immersed (for Mormon’s the baptism isn’t valid unless you go completely under water).

I wonder though what would have happened if I didn’t want to get baptized.  Would my parents have made me get baptized?  I also wonder if there are examples out there of parents who have kids who reached the age of 8 and decided not to get baptized.

What would you do if your child didn’t want to get baptized (assuming you had taught them about baptism and what it means, etc.)?

I have written some poetry and songs in the past and it is very difficult to find a way to get things out there without knowing someone.  I think this company could be very beneficial for those of you who are like me.  You know you have some good stuff out there, but just can’t find a way to promote it.  The name of the company is Inspired Hearts and Hands and will be described in the owner’s words below:

Inspired Hearts and Hands  is an online marketplace for uplifting art, music, literature, etc. Each item for sale will be posted by the artist, musician, photographer, or writer who created it. There are no fees to sell on our site, no hassles, and we want to promote each of you who have artistic talents and allow you to do what you love. I know many of you have these talents, and I know that you know many others who do as well. Please take a moment to visit the site and learn more about how it works.I know from personal experience that it is hard to market one’s personal creations, no matter how talented they are. This site exists to solve this problem, to promote individuals and their careers to higher levels, and to provide customers products that not only support up and coming artists, but are also positive, uplifting, and affordable.  Please visit: www.inspiredheartsandhands.com for details.

The company accumulating items and will officially launch in June of this year.  If you have something you would like to share with others that is uplifting and inspiring, or if you would like to see a wide variety of inspiring products you normally wouldn’t find in the Christian or LDS bookstore, visit: www.inspiredheartsandhands.com.

I received a forward from my cousin that I thought was funny.  I don’t think I’ve ever shared one on my blog, but I got a little chuckle from this one.  If you’ve seen this before, just delete this as you normally would.  If not, I hope you like it.  Here it is:

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during an icy winter.  They planned to stay at the same hotel they did 20 years earlier on their honeymoon.  Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to have coordinating schedules.  So the husband flew in to Florida a day before the wifeand checked into the hotel.  He decided to send his wife an email but when he sent the email, he accidentally left out one letter. 

Meanwhile, in Houston a widow had just returned from her husband’s funeral.  The man, a minister, had just suffered a heart attack.  The widow decided to check her email to see if she had messages from family and friends.  The widow freaked out when she saw her first message which read:

To: My Loving Wife  Subject: I’ve Arrived

I know you’re surprised to hear from me.  They have computers here and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones.  I’ve just arrived and checked in.  I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing you then!  Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine.

P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!

 

I”m sure many of you have read this one, but for some reason I hadn’t.  I decided to check Snopes.com to see if the email was legit, and it doesn’t specify if this actually happened.  It does say that many times the email goes around with an actual newspaperclipping with this story in it.

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 730 other followers

GraceforGrace Community

Blog Stats

  • 348,597 hits
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 730 other followers