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For those of you not familiar with the prophet, Joseph Smith’s “first vision”, I’ll start with a short video that depicts it along with his writings. Joseph Smith was the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). An important note is that in the video below, it doesn’t depict how Satan tried to overcome Joseph Smith before Heavenly Father and Jesus appeared to him. For a full account, you can read his history here.
My thoughts on first vision
I think that the first vision is a testimony that God works through small and simple things that challenge the worlds’ views. Joseph Smith was an unlearned boy of only 14 years. He couldn’t write well and didn’t attend school. However, he had great faith and desire to know God’s will and he was humble and sincere by asking. He didn’t just flippantly pray on a whim. Rather, he had pondered things in his mind and heart for months and perhaps years and on his own came to the conclusion that only God can give him the wisdom he needs.
I would do well to apply this in my life. Daily. Remember that I am nothing and if I want wisdom and strength to overcome Satan’s power and also know what God wants me to be and do, I need to ponder in my mind and sincerely ask for strength and guidance.
Principles learned from First Vision
1. God answers the humble prayer of an honest seeker
2. Heavenly Father is separate from Jesus and loves Jesus as a son
3. Jesus is Heavenly Father’s messenger and does what Father wants him to do.
4. Satan is real and tries to hinder our progression
5. If we’re tempted, it takes effort on our part to exercise faith and call upon God. Only God can dispel Satan through our faithfulness. If we have God with us, Satan has no power.
6. Satan is more powerful than we are alone. We need God to overcome Satan.
7. Be humble and God can work miracles with us.
What are your thoughts on the first vision and what other principles can we learn and apply to our lives?
The other day we took the kids out to buy some toys with the money they had earned. As we walked out of the store, a homeless guy was waiting and asked for some change. I had a couple dollars in my wallet and I also encouraged the kids to give them some of their money, which they did.
He tried to refuse their money, but I insisted as I wanted to teach the kids the lesson so beautifully taught by King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon:
And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
It also reminded me of this video of being civil to ALL people…not just the ones we are comfortable with:
I’ll have to admit that I’m not always as generous as I should be and I’m judgmental a lot of the time when I see homeless people-especially when I’m in a rush or in a sketchy part of downtown. Fear and selfishness keeps me moving on rather than stopping and trying to get to know them and help them.
I’m curious. What do you do when you see a beggar or homeless person?
There he was again, left on the outside looking into his home where his wife and children were. However, he wasn’t allowed to enter. He had come home intoxicated yet again and this time, he was afraid, his wife really meant what she said when she said she was leaving him. He looked on through the Washington rain and his face was wet, but more from his tears than from the rain. He had to do something quickly…
Fortunately, for my friend, Milt, this story has a happy ending. It is with his permission that I write this article. I feel it a blessing to have been a witness to God’s gracious hand in the life of my friend, Milton Bridges.
The story from my perspective starts in early 2013 when the Mormon sister missionaries met Milt’s wife and started teaching her. I participated frequently in teaching her. She always had a very kind and sincere heart, but it wasn’t until she began seriously studying the Book of Mormon that her heart fully turned to the Savior and she converted to the gospel in May. She had a desire to give away the ways of the world completely and follow Jesus and she was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ.
She was very happy with her new faith and what it could mean to her family. The only problem was that her husband, Milt, wasn’t ready to give up his addiction to alcohol. It was in later that summer that Milt came home intoxicated for the last time.
Milt had become a friend of mine through the process of getting to know April and also as he would come and play basketball with us at the church. All of us who played ball grew to love Milt and looked forward to him coming. Sometimes, he would be a little inebriated and we could definitely smell the alcohol, but he was always welcome to come and play and we loved him.
When I received the phone call after Milt had broken down and been kicked out of his home for what he feared was the last time to see them, my heart was sad for him, but I was very happy that he had hit the bottom. This meant he was truly ready to change. He was humble and yearned for a miracle. It is at this point, in my experience, that God can work miracles in our lives. Milt asked me to come over and give him a priesthood blessing.
For those of you who are not familiar with priesthood blessings, I’ll describe it as best I can.
In the Mormon church, men are given the priesthood authority to act as a mouthpiece of God when called upon when giving a blessing. It is like in the Bible in James 5:14 when he asks if there is anyone who is sick and that if so, they should call upon the elders of the church, who will come and anoint them with oil and pray over them. There are other examples in the Bible of elders coming and “laying their hands” on people to heal them.
When I arrived to Milt’s location, he was a very broken man, but he had slim glimmer of hope. This is all that God needed. As I laid my hands on his head, the Holy Spirit moved me on what to say. I can’t remember the exact words, but the feeling I had was that if Milt spent time coming closer to God and studying his word and praying, he would be healed from his addiction.
After I gave him the blessing, he thanked me and went to a alcohol rehab center for a month.
We (those of us who were his friends in the Church) all prayed for him every day and occasionally heard from him through limited text messages.
He came out of the center and was clean and didn’t want to touch alcohol and hasn’t since. It was a miracle!
A few months later he began meeting with the missionaries and decided to be baptized. When I was getting ready to baptize him, he told me that when he was given the blessing a few months earlier, that he felt something come over him and the desire to drink was removed.
The first step in Milt’s conversion story was the healing of his alcohol addiction. The next miracle was the healing of his heart and the conversion of his soul to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had been reading and praying for a few months when he realized that he had a testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and wanted to be baptized. He recognized all the blessings his family had received since his wife had joined the Church and he had seen miracles in his own personal life as well.
I considered it an honor when he asked if I could baptize him. I had seen everything he had to go through to get to that point and the new man that he was as he embraced the gospel was indeed a miracle.
The picture I’ve included is of me, Milt, and the Elders who taught him the lessons prior to his baptism. This is right before I baptized him.
When I see Milt with his two cute little kids and his wife at church, and when I see him passing the sacrament, I am amazed at the miracles that each and every one of us can receive if we open our hearts in humility to the Lord.
Once we are converted, we then help strengthen our brothers. Milt did exactly this and his brother, was also baptized a few weeks later. Below is a picture of Milt, his wife, kids and his brother.
When I see this, the song that comes to mind is one I’ve heard at other Christian churches “Our God is an Awesome God“!
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.