Last week, I wrote about reminiscing of Germany as a Mormon missionary in Germany during Christmas.

Today, I thought about Germany again and reflected on Christmas songs that they sing there during Christmas that I never hear in the States. My favorite German Christmas songs are:

Still, Still, Still

When I hear this song in German I feel like I am almost right there watching little baby Jesus sleeping.

English and German Versions:

Es Ist Ein Rose Entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose ‘Er Blooming)

I grew to love classical music while I lived in Germany. I like this song because it talks about honoring Jesus’ mother as well as Jesus’ divine mission and prophecies leading up to his birth and does so with a classical feel to the song.

German version with English subtitles:

Kling Glocken

This is just a fun little children’s song, similar to “Jingle Bells” that we sing a lot during Christmas in the U.S.

O Du Frohliche

I really like the version of the song below for a number of reasons. First, I like the song and it reminds me of the amazing Spirit of Christ I felt on my mission in Germany. Second, they are doing a flash mob of this, which is just fun. Finally, it is on the subway and it reminds me of being on the buses and trains and subways speaking with people about Christ.

Other German Songs that are Popular in the U.S. but better in German

(This Nat King Cole version is great, even with an American accent!)

Let us know what your thoughts are on these songs or any other German songs you enjoy. If you have Christmas songs from other languages and cultures that you would like to share, please do so.

Merry Christmas!

While working on a report for work today I had classical music playing in the background. A song came up called “The Dream of You” by Tim Neumark. Foggy in Nidderau I had never heard it before, but as I looked out the window and saw the frosty air and blanket of fog settled over the trees and houses in the neighborhood, my mind’s eye went back to Germany nearly 20 years ago.

nidderau downtown I was in a very little village called Nidderau. We lived on a hill just above a quaint stream surrounded by trees. In the winter, fog would settle into the valley and snow would fall and the ponds and puddles would freeze which provided some fun for us as we rode our bikes to visit the people we were teaching.

We taught some very great people in that town.

The main preacher was very anti-Mormon and we had some experiences trying to get on the good graces with him. He would preach often against us and we would have people invite us into their homes only to bash with us and try to prove us wrong. At first, as a young 19 year old, I wanted to throw down with him and his congregation and get into verbal bouts. Fortunately at the time my language skills weren’t up to par yet so I was forced to speak the things I could read from scripture. I learned to be patient and loving with people who are our “enemies” through interacting with him. I also learned to love others even if they do not agree with me or even want to try to love me.

We taught a homosexual couple in that town. It was a very good experience for me since I hadn’t been exposed to that where I grew up in a pretty sheltered environment. I learned to be loving and tolerant to people who do not believe or live the same way I do. We had to stop teaching them though when one of them started trying to hit on us…

We also taught some refugees from Africa who were Christians that had been persecuted by the Muslims in their town. One family in particular stands out to me. There were a number of kids in the family. The father was a doctor and had been forced to give up his practice and flee his country. Now he was in a land that looked down on him and didn’t recognize his skills or value him as a person. We shared messages of hope and Jesus with him during the Christmas season very often and I believe he enjoyed our conversations. Since he was a refugee, we couldn’t baptize him, but it didn’t matter to us as long as we provided hope for a better day to him and his kids. While we taught him, I felt the love of the Lord very strongly. I have prayed often over the years that he and his family were able to overcome his challenges and have a strong relationship with the Lord.

The members of our ward (congregation) were particularly supportive. The street we lived on had 4 families in our congregation, including the bishop. We would frequently go over for dinner. In Germany, people love beer and for those interested in being baptized into the Mormon Church giving up beer is something very significant. On many occasions, people choose to drink non-alcoholic beer instead of regular beer.

On one occasion, during Christmas, we visited one of the members of the ward for Christmas dinner. During dinner, I was offered non-alcoholic beer and I accepted the offer. Growing up as an active Mormon I didn’t really have much experience tasting beer so it didn’t really do much for me. However, that night when my Dad called, I thought I would give him a scare and I told him I had drank beer that day (I didn’t clarify it was non-alcoholic). I went on to say that everyone in Germany drinks beer and it was o.k. I could tell he was having a dilemma on the other end of the phone and wondering if he should start preaching to me or remain silent. I think he was just shocked that I would have gone throughout all my teenage years and then go on a mission and decide to start drinking while on a mission! I let him sweat it out for a bit before telling him it was non-alcoholic and at a member of the congregation’s house.

One of the things I most liked during Christmas time in this area was how festive it was. There was a small chapel in the village downtown and there were cobblestone streets with shops that had Christmas lights and German pastries everywhere. During the Christmas season, we, along with people from various churches would come and sing carols downtown as well. christmas in germany

As the song stopped playing, my thoughts snapped back to my job at hand, but for a few minutes it was great to reflect on memorable experiences and feelings I had while serving at Christmas time in Germany as a Mormon missionary.

A few years ago, I wrote about an experience I had as I dressed up as a homeless man in an article called “Lessons Learned from My Experience Dressing as a Homeless Man“.

Today I read an interesting article that reminded me about my experience a few years ago. I think it is awesome that the Bishop was humble enough to do what he did to help his congregation.

Read the article “Mormon Bishop Disguises himself as a Homeless Man to Teach Congregation about Compassion“.

It reminds me once again that God doesn’t care about our worldly possessions or appearance, but that He loves us for who we are: His child.

During this time of Thanksgiving, I hope we can reflect on the many blessings we have and reach out to those who may not have as much, who may not appear to care about life or who have lost vision of who they are.

I recently came across an excellent conversion story from a person I don’t know who emailed me and shared his conversion story with me.

As you read this story, you will see that life hasn’t been easy for him and like all of us who choose to follow Jesus, he has had to make some sacrifices, but he has been blessed in return.

Enjoy his story:

Daniel’s Conversion Story

I was called many times and I would not hear (Alma 10:6)

 

I was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. My parents moved  to Florida when I was about 3 and a half. I was raised in a Jewish household in which Judaism played a large cultural role but a rather smaller spiritual one. We would go to synagogue for the high holiday services, and then go back home and eat shrimps and pork. My father is a very secular individual, and his lack of belief in God is rooted in the Gas Chambers of Auschwitz and multiplied by heartbreak and loss. My mother was the more spiritual of the two. She taught me to believe in God and to love the spiritual. And yet, she also believed in a God that did not know or care about the little things that we did. “God doesn’t have an IBM computer” she would tell me whenever I would ask why we didn’t keep the same commandments my orthodox friends did. I went to a Jewish private elementary school and had my Bar Mitzvah at the age of 13, but religion was not a very large part of my life.

 

Nonetheless, I had a lot of experiences that led me to spiritually wonder about the purpose of life. I remember as a small child asking my mother what happened after death, and she didn’t really have a response. She said she hoped there was something after this life, but wasn’t entirely sure. I went to the library and read books for kids about death, but didn’t find any answers there either. My grandfather died when I was 6 and my grandmother when I was 8. Death seemed like an awful force that I could not fully understand.

 

As I got older, my father who had long suffered from heart problems began to have serious health issues. One night when I was in fifth grade he got taken to the hospital by ambulance late at night. When I was 11 he had his third open heart surgery. The possibility of his death was always ever present in my life.

 

Amidst this background, I continued to search for spiritual answers that would help me understand why. After elementary school I stopped attending a Jewish Private School, and went to a public middle and high school. There, for the first time I was surrounded by people of other faiths and began to take an interest in christianity.

 

One of my best friends at the time Sarrah was a strong believer in Christ and she really helped me to learn more about him. She had a lot of light despite a life filled with darkness and trials and I was drawn to that special light. She prayed for me that I would always be surrounded by strong Christian individuals and that prayer came true in a myriad of ways. Wherever I traveled and however far I got away from God, people of faith seemed to literally find me. Thanks to her influence and that of several others, I began to more and more strongly believe in Jesus Christ. I also had a lot of personal experiences such as spiritual dreams that led me to believe in a God and in Jesus Christ. I remember reading Isaiah 53 and trembling with awe at the description of the lamb of God suffering for the sins of all mankind.

 

And yet, something held me back from fully committing to Christ. In part, it was the opposition of my parents whose heart broke as I told them about my interest in Jesus. On the other hand, there were several nagging questions that I just did not feel were settled. I wondered what would happen to the generations of my ancestors who had lived and died Jewish. They had faced the gas chambers and pogroms because of their faith. I could not accept the notion of a God that would condemn them to hell, and yet my Christian friends offered little hope. I began to slowly drift away from Christianity

 

When I was 15 my mom was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. It came as a total shock to me, because she had always been the healthier of my parents. Even though she fought valiantly, she died shortly after I turned 18. The last months were especially difficult even though her faith in the face of that trial was also inspiring. The loss was absolutely devastating to me and in time it continued to gnaw away at my faith. As I began my undergraduate at Brandeis University, I began to read Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and fell under their spell. I didn’t know how to accept a God that would allow my mother to suffer, and so I went to the opposite extreme of denying his existence

 

Around this time, I became friends with a girl named Tatiana who I later found out was Mormon. She was one of the only two undergraduate members of the church in the whole university! She wasn’t active at the time, but she still held many of the same values. She wouldn’t drink and had a very traditional view about the role of women which stood out in a very ‘progressive’/ feminist friendly university. I became really intrigued by her values. We dated for a while, but ultimately things didn’t work out between us.

 

I spent a summer studying abroad in China, and while there had an instructor who was a strong member of the Christian community there. We began to talk about God and religion, and those lengthy conversations with him really opened me up to the possibility of a God again. I noticed the vibrant spirituality that people had in China, and I began to yearn for something more in my life. When I returned, Tatiana had decided to begin going back to church and I felt for some reason prompted to check it out. Up to that point I knew next to nothing about mormonism, but I went to Barnes and Nobles and I sat down and picked up Mormonism for Dummies and the Complete Iditot’s Guide to Mormonism and I sat down and began to read. As I read, I was really struck by the power of the doctrine I read. I began to read about the pre-earth life and the plan of salvation and it just felt right…It filled a hole in my soul. It immediately made sense to me. It answered all the question I’d had about how one could believe Christ was the way and yet also believe that those who didn’t know him could be saved. I went to my friend Tatiana and asked her if I could go to church with her.

The next day was a sunday, and I went with her to the Cambridge University Ward. We were late for sacrament meeting, so I ended up going only to Sunday School and Priesthood, but what struck me was how friendly people were. I was warned to wear a suit and tie, so it took people a while to realize I was not a member. I was asked to give a closing prayer, and when I expressed that I wasn’t a member, people were a bit shocked. Pretty quickly however they set up a meeting for me with the missionaries.

Blessed is he that believe in the word of God and is baptized without stubbornness of heart. (Alma 32:16)

The first time I met with the missionaries, I had thought through a whole bunch of questions relating to the doctrine of the Church. I asked them difficult or near impossible questions such as why are there transvestite and hermaphodidic individuals if gender is a pre-mortal trait, and what happens to those that have more than one husband or wife in this life. My poor missionaries did a great job though of deflecting the questions and inviting me to read and prayer to God sincerely.

 

Even at that early point I knew I was feeling something special. I told my friend Tatiana that she shouldn’t expect me to be baptized quickly or anything, but that I could really see myself liking the church. I had some hang ups with the Church’s conservative political position on things like gay marriage but I felt myself drawn towards it more and more

 

I began to read the Book of Mormon and I remember liking it but also finding some things about it strange. It was strange to me to think of Israelites talking about Jesus Christ, but it also made so much sense to me. It was weird to imagine that Jesus had been hid like a big secret of some sort from the people of Israel. Indeed, it made much more sense to realize that he had been taught about all along  I continued to read everything I could find about the church ( both pro and anti-Mormon) but felt drawn more and more to the church.

 

One day, I was talking to a non-member friend who is really opposed to the Church. She began to bash the church and especially focused on how awful the LDS Temple was. She had a good friend that was married in the temple and that friend’s family could not attend the wedding since they were not members. My friend was absolutely disgusted by this practice. As she spoke to me, I was pretty taken aback and wondered why that was the practice. While thinking about it, I felt strongly prompted to go to see what the temple was like in Boston.It was 9 at night, but I got into my car and drove to the temple ground.

 

When I got to the temple, I got out of my car and I felt an overwhelming spiritual presence.  I had never felt something quite so powerful. I felt it through every fiber of my being. I felt as if the God was talking directly to me. In my mind, I heard his voice telling me that the church was true and that he was there. I was stubborn, and so I got back into my car and I drove to the nearby Catholic and Protestant churches to see if I would feel the same way there. I didn’t feel anything of the sort ( in fact I felt rather negative spiritually in front of the Catholic Church). I then got back to my car and drove in front of the temple, and when I got there again I went to one of the sides and knelt down in front of one of the stained glass windows. There, I poured my heart out to God and I felt transformed by the spirit. My whole being was filled with light. In that moment, I could clearly see the person that the Lord wanted me to become. I could see my potential as his son. I knew without a doubt that God loved me and wanted me to join his church. Since that moment I have never doubted the truthfulness of the Gospel. Even in my darkest moments, that experience has been like a beacon of light.

 

I knew that I should be baptized

 

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. (Psalms 27: 10)

 

Telling my father about my decision to be baptized wasn’t an easy thing to do at all. Luckily, soon after that, we met in New York for the Jewish high holidays. The weekend before, I had been with my ward to a camp out up in Sharon Vermont at the Joseph Smith Birthplace and I got up to bear my testimony that i knew the church was true. Telling my father of that testimony was much harder though. We walked around Manhattan near Lincoln Center, with the Manhattan temple nearby, and I finally worked up the courage to tell him. His reaction was of course quite negative as I would have expected. He strongly forbade me from getting baptized and told me that if I did he would not want to have anything to do with me.  I compromised with my father and agreed that I would wait six months before baptism so that he could know that it was a sincere desire of my heart

 

I spent the next semester studying abroad in London and it was a pretty challenging time in many ways. Throughout it all, however, I went to church every Sunday and bore my testimony each month during fast & testimony meeting. At times, I felt quite alone, but my faith in the atonement of Christ got me through it all.

 

After six months, my father was still as opposed as ever to my being baptized, and so I rather painfully ended up postponing my baptism again. Even though I was over 18, my father’s approval was ultimately very important to me and I wanted to try to respect him. I returned to the U.S. from Israel and as I was about to leave Florida to drive up to Philadelphia where I would spend the summer my father finally gave me his permission to be bapitzed. I went up to Boston then next weekend and I was baptized into the University Ward there. I still remember the joy that I felt when I was baptized. I felt cleansed from all of my sin and like an innocent child in the eyes of God. It was such a wonderful and unforgettable feeling.

 

Although there were challenges after baptism and confirmation, I felt a new energy and ability to cope with trials. My co-workers that summer were strongly critical of the Church because of its stance on gay marriage, and I struggled with internal doubts over that same topic, but I kept on striving and struggling. My ward had a trip to palmyra and while there I prayed in the sacred grove and felt the Lord confirm to me again that everything I had come to believe was true. That summer was one of great growth and development ( and I met my future wife while living in Philadelphia as well!).

 

Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them. (D&C 31:6)

 

Still, one of the hardest decisions loomed before me. Even before baptism, I had begun wondering whether I would have to serve a mission. I began rationalizing and telling myself that since I was older than most missionaries I wouldn’t have to do so. Nevertheless, I felt really strongly that I should serve and that service would transform my life for the better in so many ways. It was ultimately a difficult choice knowing how strong my father’s opposition would be, but I realized that whenever I thought about serving I felt incredible peace and calm, while when I thought to stay home I felt selfish and ill at ease. I felt a burning desire to share the gospel with others and to help them feel what I felt. Ultimately, I knew that I had to serve. I filled out my papers, deferred from law school, and told my father about my choice to serve.

 

Of course, he didn’t take that well and he threatened me once again with disowning. The hardest part wasn’t the threat, rather it was seeing the pain that I knew I was causing him Yet, I understood that serving would be ultimately what would secure for me an eternal family. Still, I remember feeling so physically and spiritually ill when I put in my papers. I had to remember to ‘cast not my confidence away’ and rely on the Lord. For weeks I felt discomforted and filled with despair. I was certain I’d never see my father again if I went to serve a mission. I didn’t know how I would pay for schooling once I got back. Yet, I put my faith in the Lord. When I got my call and heard that I would be serving in Novosibirsk, Russia I felt the spirit fill me with an overwhelming sense of peace and a confirmation that what i was doing was right.

 

I had the most incredible mission experience. I loved serving the Lord and I am so grateful for that experience. I know that the call was inspired of God. On my mission I gained a far deeper testimony of the savior and his church. I came to know him as I learned to love and serve his children. They were far and away the best two years I have ever spent, and I am so grateful to the Lord for the opportunity. I am thankful I was able to touch and teach some of my precious brothers and sisters and to help them enter the waters of baptism.

 

While on my mission, I felt strongly prompted to apply to law school at BYU Law. I had already been accepted and deferred at a higher ranked law school, but I still felt a strong prompting to apply there. I ended up getting offered a full scholarship and was able to come to law school without having to take upon myself massive debt. I am currently finishing up my first year of law school and absolutely loving it. I am also engaged to Jessica who I met back in Philadelphia. Perhaps most importantly of all, my testimony is still burning strongly and I am filled with conviction and the power of the Lord. I am grateful to him for all of my many blessings and for the opportunities that yet lay ahead. I know that my redeemer lives and I am so grateful to him!

I know that joining the church can be tough and that Satan often puts challenges in the way. However, I also bear witnesses that if we follow Christ and show our faith everything will work out for the better. Every good thing in my life today has come because I showed faith. Because of my faith I have a scholarship at a law school, a wonderful fiance and I had the most incredible opportunity to serve God on my mission. All the things I was afraid I would lose have not been lost. Although not perfect, my relationship with my father continues to improve and I was blessed to be able to see him again after my mission. If you have faith and not fear and follow the savior I promise that the Lord will pour down his blessings from heaven!

 

Hey Everyone,

Sorry this is so late, but better late than never, right?

Which quote is your favorite?

general conferenceToday was the first day of General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e. Mormons).  For those not familiar with it, I’ll briefly describe it in my own words.

Based on a revelation given to Joseph Smith, found in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 20, verses 61-62, the church is to come together for inspiration and conducting business, which includes sustaining the elders of the church.  The revelation suggests every 3 months, but we come together every 6 months now.

During the conference, all of the highest leaders of the Mormon church speak including all of the 12 apostles, the First Presidency, Many women leaders, and also members of the Quorum of the Seventy.

Each of the people who speaks spends time praying and preparing for what the general membership of the church needs to hear along with people not of the Mormon faith who may be listening in.  It is interesting to learn from the perspectives of the leaders at the highest level, who dedicate everything to traveling around the world to help humanity.

Today one of the members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Robert D Hales, encouraged all of us to reflect and re-read or listen to what was said during this weekends’ Conference.  He said that we would receive personal revelation from the Lord in doing so.

As he spoke, I reflected on an experience I had just a few months ago.

In last Aprils’ General Conference, one of the members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Richard G Scott, spoke about the power of reading scriptures as a family.   We had tried numerous times over the years to have family scripture study.  Over the course of just a couple of days we would get out of the habit and back into our normal schedule.  We would then completely forget about it until the next General Conference, when someone would say something about scripture study as a family again and the cycle would continue.

As I read Elder Scott’s talk, this time was different.  When I re-read his talk a couple of months after he gave the talk, it was as if I was hearing it for the first time.  Things jumped off the page at me and I received a simple, but inspired idea to help my family.  A simple, but very profound idea came clearly into my mind.  I knew it was from the Lord because of how clearly and powerfully it entered into my mind.  It was simply this: put a copy of the scriptures out on the kitchen table as a reminder to read.  After saying a blessing on the food, read a few verses out of the scriptures and have a small discussion with the kids.

We started doing it and the results have been great!  It’s been about 4 months now and we are to the point that if we don’t read scriptures, our 4 year old daughter will remind us to.  It has become a habit and part of our routine.

I’m very grateful that God speaks to us individually and through His servants.  It has blessed the lives of my family.

I encourage everyone to listen to General Conference tomorrow and then spend time in the ensuing months to re-read or listen to the messages.  I’m confident you will receive personal revelation.

 

In the Book of Mormon, there is a story about a lady named Abish.  For those of you not familiar with the story, I’ll summarize it for you, or you can read about it here.

Abish is a Lamanite.  At that time in the history of the Book of Mormon, Lamanites are not followers of Jesus Christ as a whole.  Therefore, Abish had hidden her testimony of Jesus Christ for many years.  When the Nephite missionaries come and preach of Jesus Christ and perform miracles, she runs throughout the land sharing her testimony and bringing people to the location where the missionaries are.

 

Recently, I attended a beautiful wedding followed by a baptism of a nice young lady and her boyfriend/husband.  I felt it an honor to be able to baptize her as she expressed an outward desire to enter into a covenant with the Lord to take His name upon her and keep His commandments.

When I asked her what brought her to the point of wanting to be baptized, she said it was her boyfriend.  Her boyfriend had been baptized a number of years ago, but hadn’t been attending church for quite a while (Mormons label this as being “inactive) when they met.  They had a child together and moved in with each other.  Over the course of four years, he would talk with her about his testimony of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Over time, she grew to have a desire to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ, but didn’t know what to do.

Around that time, the missionaries knocked on her door and she gladly let them in.  The missionaries told me about the nice young couple that they had met and also that her boyfriend was a member.  They had been living in our ward boundaries (every congregation is divided into what we call “ward”, or a territory so we can take care of each other better) for nearly a year and we hadn’t even known it!  We were glad to welcome them into our ward and she started taking the lessons.

The lessons went by very nicely because her boyfriend had done such a great job of preparing and teaching her, even though he didn’t attend church at all, or associate with members of the congregation.

I realized that although people may not be “active”, they still have testimonies and if given the chance, they, like Abish, will gladly share their testimonies.

 

I recently read an article entitled “Do Vegetarians Live Longer?”.  There were numerous studies cited that support eating a purely vegetarian diet vs. a meat-based, or Paleo diet.  However, a couple studies that stood above the rest was a study that showed eating mostly plant-based diet with some meat (mostly fish) is the best diet for longevity.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

pescetarians—those who have a mostly plant-based diet but eat some seafood—were the true winners, with a slightly lower mortality rate than vegans, ovo-lacto vegetarians, and indiscriminate meat eaters. This may have to do with the food, but it could also be because pescetarians tend to put quite a bit of thought into their intricate dietary direction. Because they are often pickier when it comes to the food choices they make, they might do the same when it comes to other aspects of their lives such as exercise, smoking, getting enough sleep, etc.

Given the basic principle of Paleo eating is that our bodies are designed to eat the way our ancestors ate, it looks like we’re supposed to be eating (say it with me now) a largely plant-based diet and some animal products.

This research falls in line with a revelation given to Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, called the The Word of Wisdom, which has been called many times “God’s Law of Health”.

Compare the statements above to some quotes from the Word of Wisdom:

inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father

tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man

all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man

flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly

All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;

And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.

Most people know that Mormons do not drink strong drinks or smoke or use drugs, but when you look more closely at the Word of Wisdom, there are a lot of “dos” as well such as eating mostly grains, fruits, and vegetables.

It looks like Science may have caught up with what God revealed a couple of hundred years ago and what our ancestors did thousands of years ago!

Every Wednesday I go visit members of our congregation and our community who we haven’t seen in awhile, who have fallen away, or who haven’t learned of Jesus Christ and His gospel yet.  My intention is to help them feel God’s love in their lives as many times they have chosen a different path in life.   I do this in a number of ways, but it always includes praying and reading scripture together along with challenging them to take action and move towards God.

When I prepare for these visits, I spend a few days contemplating and praying about who God would have me visit.  Once I have an idea of who to visit, I then spend a few days praying and reading scriptures with these people in mind so God can prepare me for what they need at that time in their lives.

A God of Miracles

There is a great scripture in the Book of Mormon that discusses how God is still a God of miracles today.  Here’s part of the chapter:

7 And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues;

8 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not understand them.

9 For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?

10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.

11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.

I love these verses!  The other day I was able to witness a God of miracles.

Dreams from God

As I was reading scripture and preparing for one of my visits, I felt an impression in my mind from God that I needed to visit an active member of our congregation and tell them I had felt that God wanted them to invite someone close to them to their home and listen to a message from the missionaries about the gospel of Christ.  I didn’t know anything more than that.  Just that I needed to challenge them to do this.

For me, this was something that would normally be a bit awkward.  First, I don’t usually receive answers to prayer to challenge other people to do things.  Secondly, I wasn’t sure how they would take the news with me showing up on their doorstep telling them God wanted them to do something.

However, my experience has led me to believe that I should never turn down a prompting from God and that if I follow the promptings things will work out for the best.  Therefore, I visited this individual in our congregation and informed them of my experience I’d had.

To my surprise, the person told me they knew exactly who they needed to ask to come to their home.  They went on to tell me about a dream they had had a month or so earlier.

The Dream

The dream was pretty cut and dry.  In the dream, the member of our congregation had seen a certain family sitting around their (the members’)  living room.  There were missionaries there teaching them the gospel.

When the member woke up, they said they had felt a spiritual confirmation that they needed to invite this family over.  However, for various reasons they hadn’t done so yet.

When I showed up and told them of my experience, they knew right away that they needed to invite the family over and accepted the challenge without a problem.

He Cares

From this experience I learned a few things.  First, God cares for each one of us and wants the best from us.  He is watching over all of us and those of us who know Him are the ones He uses to bring his other children back to Him.  Next, I learned that miracles definitely still happen today and God is a God of miracles.  Finally, I learned once again that if I trust in God and act on promptings from His Spirit things will work out for the best.

Do you have any experiences that you consider to be miraculous?  If so , please share!

christian and mormon logoRecently 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.

1. What is your definition of a Christian?
Romans 10:9 speak of holding to Christ’s Lordship and his victory over the grave. Digging a bit deeper here I would say that a Christian is someone who has submitted himself (herself) to the lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives and has placed their hope and confidence in his atoning death and victory over death through his resurrection.
2.  Do you consider Mormons to be Christians?
I consider you a Christian. I have met Mormons who I sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives. I do not consider all Mormons Christians. Nor do I consider all Presbyterians or non-denominational or Catholics Christians. You have to live in the reality of Romans 10:9 and not all church going people, including Mormons, have sincerely done that.
3. Where do you see common ground between Christians and Mormons?
Wait-you just asked me if Mormons are Christians and then you ask me to speak of common ground between “Christians” and “Mormons” a bit confusing! Let’s change “Christian” to “Evangelical” as that is the group within Christianity that I identify myself with.
We share many things in common. Our culture, morals and worldview are similar. We both strive to know and love Jesus Christ. We both feel great concern for the direction our society is going. We both are the brunt of jokes by those in the world-with all the talk of tolerance Mormon and Evangelicals are not shown it by this society (I would say even more so Mormons). We both love our kids and want them to grow up to be God loving and people of integrity. We both look to the promised hope-Christ’s return. I imagine many Mormons and many Evangelical waking up in the morning and praying and hoping-perhaps today!
4.  Where do you see difference?
Joseph Smith and the restoration. Evangelicals may seem very judgmental to Mormons but we are officially apostates in the Mormon understanding of the church. We (Evangelicals) find it hard to get a handle on just what it is that you do believe. The whole exaltation concept just sounds strange. The fact that there are many gods seems to fly in the face of our Scripture. Your temples seem mysterious. Your understanding of Priesthood and your belief in the Book of Mormon and native people being somehow Jews-seems foreign to us. Aaron-when I have asked you about some of these things-like exaltation you say “to me it means becoming more like Christ-I really don’t think much about it beyond that.” I’m not sure what to make of it! Is it a goal to become a god or is that just some doctrine from the 19th century that is no longer spoken of.  That is just one example. There seems to be layers of Mormon teaching and thought-and because your beliefs are dynamic and evolving it is hard for us to wrap our brains around what you now think verses what was taught in the past. And what is still believed but not discussed very much-at least for now.
5. Where do you feel the greatest challenges are in building the gap between groups?
Because of our past history-we are suspicious of each other. Whenever Mormons and Evangelicals get to know each other-those old attitudes start to fade. When you begin to build relationships and get to know the person-it changes your opinion-I know it has mine.
Hatred grows when you dehumanize the other person.
6.  Where do you see a need for Christians and Mormons to unite in a common cause and why?
The push to redefine marriage and the homosexual movements success in turning their agenda into a civil rights issue and what all that means for our churches. In the recent issue with the BSA (my church holds charters to Cub and boy scout units-both my sons went through scouting-Dan is working on his eagle and David is an eagle scout) I looked to your church to help me work through this issue based on the recent vote. We both need to be united when it comes to Religious Freedom in this nation. Disaster relief-during the recent tornado in Oklahoma when I saw Mormons and Evangelicals working side by side doing cleanup and recovery-that was a beautiful picture for me. I hope some friendships were made!
7.  Is your perspective on Mormons the same as most Christians?
No-I have studied the Mormons and their story since I was in high school and have had a genuine love for them since then. Evangelicals are pretty ignorant about Mormons. They get the polygamous sects confused with your church all the time. Many think Mormons still have plural marriages-I set them straight about that. If many met and spoke to Mormons they would see them as being Christian. Among leadership I believe it is slowly changing and becoming more positive.
8.   What is the greatest thing Christians can learn from Mormons?
You do a better job in the discipleship of your children. Family Home evenings, seminary before school, service in the church and mission-we fall far short when it comes to raising our children in the knowledge of the Lord.
 Conclusion
I agree with everything Doug had to say and feel good that he sees some movement towards common ground between the faiths.  I feel that it is slowly moving to where Evangelicals and Mormons are “playing nicer in the sandbox” and as Doug states, even working side by side.
What are your thoughts on these questions?  Also, are there any other questions you would have asked?

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