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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.

jm_300_BOM3.p-P1.tiffAfter 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.

Today in church our bishop and some of his family members shared experiences they had while visiting Uganda, Africa.  It impressed me how he shared his testimony of how the love of God is shown in all people throughout the world and how he was so grateful for his relationship with God and Jesus Christ.

His experiences and testimony reminded me of a scripture in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 26:33, which reads:

…for he (the Lord) doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he ainviteth them ball to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he ddenieth none that come unto him, black and white, ebond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the fheathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

This scripture reminded me of another statement made by the Baptist Preacher who believes in the Book of Mormon, John Ridenour.  In this statement, he submits that God is non-denomonational and that God doesn’t really care about doctrine as much as he cares about how we treat each other.  A part of his statement is included below:

How does God think?

When He looks down over my city, Kansas City, Missouri, He doesn’t see Baptist churches or Lutheran churches or Catholic churches or Pentecostal churches or Mormon churches. He sees His children. That’s it. God is not “denominational.” We have over 100 denominations in our city but I submit-the Lord recognizes none of them. That is, His Church is built upon the rock of revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 13). I submit-when the Lord looks down upon any city, He sees His Church-and all who have had a personal revelation that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, are members of His Church. I’m saying–I want to view His church as the Lord sees His church–based upon a revelation of His Lordship, not doctrinal agreement. Why wait ‘till we all get to heaven to think like God thinks?

I’m also saying-too often we’re divided by doctrine. That ought not be. He who has confessed Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior is my brother in the faith. Fellowship is centered around His Lordship, not doctrine. Again–all who confess Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives, regardless of creed, color, or class, are my brothers and sisters. I like the way C.S. Lewis said it in his classic book “Mere Christianity.” Lewis says, “…it’s not that we Christians disagree; it’s that we disagree on the importance of our disagreements…” How true! Example…

For some of the brethren, it’s very important that we believe in baptismal regeneration before we will fellowship; for others it’s very important that we believe in irresistible grace (the Calvinist point of view of Salvation) before we can fellowship; with others, the will of man (Armenian point of view) plays a crucial role in one’s salvation. With some of us, we embrace the “second blessing” typically known as “the deeper life experience.” Methodists call it sanctification. Others of us do not believe in the second blessing experience. Some of us believe in the “baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit” with the evidence of glossalalia; others of us don’t. Some of us are pre-millennial regarding our views on the Second Coming; some of us are post-millennial; a few of us are amillennial. A few of us think esoteric temple rites have a role to play in the afterlife.

See what I mean? Fellowship too often is based upon doctrine.

We as mortals will never come close to seeing things the way that God does, but I think that the Book of Mormon scripture along with this statement by John Ridenour are very positive steps in starting to see things the way God does.  One of the beauties and magnificence of God is that he sees all people the same whether they believe or not.  He loves unconditionally in a way that we will never comprehend and His arms are always stretched out ready to receive us.  I believe that God blesses all people, and those who take steps of faith towards Him come to know and love Him.  As a result, we come to love and appreciate all people and see them as God sees them.

Now, I’m sure most people will agree that God loves everyone and is not partial towards one group of people, as the Bible teaches, but it leaves the questions: which doctrines and religions are recognized by God? Which ones are not?  Does it even matter?

All I can speak from is personal experience, and I firmly believe the path I’m on is the correct path.  I believe that God appeared to Joseph Smith and re-established the Church of Jesus Christ.  I believe this as a result of personal study and sincere prayer and many experiences.   However, I do not believe that the LDS church has a monopoly on truth and there are many things which haven’t been revealed to us as to how heaven works. 

I know many people in other faiths who say they’ve had just as personal of experiences and a witness from God that their path is the correct path.  I don’t doubt that God has just as close of a relationship with them as He does with me.  But if we believe there is one faith, one Lord, one baptism, etc. how can we say that God is not denominational?

For those of you who are interested in statistics, I thought this was intersting.  It’s found on the LDS Newsroom website.  I shows stats on how many members the church has, how many missionaries, how many members in each country, how many countries we’re doing humanitarian aid for, etc.  Here’s the site:

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/statistical-information

I recently read a blog today from a person I don’t know, but that I can tell is an earnest seeker of truth. 

His post was entitled “Restructuring the Church for Explosive Growth.”  In his post he poses the question “What if we were to build a system from scratch that was simply designed to make disciples, create community and fully release each other’s gifts? What would the church look like? The church would look strangely similar to the first church.”

In his blog, he also suggests that a true church of Christ needs three things to work, namely:

Structure One – Body Church. This is a group of people (15-25) who live life together (like a body), regular share meals (like a family) and consistently gather in homes to build each other up under the direct headship of Christ.

Structure Two – Discipleship Training Center (the city church) – This is the School of Tyrannus idea where the teachers and trainers of a cluster of body churches (3-5) hold constant trainings designed to “make disciples” “teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded” and would be overseen by a group of city-wide elders.

Structure Three – The Apostolic Team – This is a diverse team of people with apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching gifts that take responsibility for the health and well-being of many different city and body churches while using most of their resources to expand into new areas without ever neglecting the needs of existing works.

I agree with his analysis and suggestions of the three ways to have a church more closely aligned with Christ’s original church.  The good news is that this church already exists.  A short analysis of the three points and how they relate to this church are included below:

“Body Church”

 All members of this church are assigned other members to visit and care for in each others’ homes as well as instruct each other through the scriptures as led by the Holy Spirit.  In addition, every member is required to pay a tithe and fast offering which goes towards the needy in the congregation similar to the original Church of Christ.

“Discipleship Training Center”

He proposes that a group of Elders from various congregations within the same city come together to teach and train each other under the direction of Jesus Christ.  Again, this organization is found in a church in existance today.  The congregations are called “wards” and a group of wards within a city are called a Stake.  Elders from the stakes and wards meet regularly and train each other as directed by the Holy Ghost.  Weekly the elders in a ward meet as a quorum and quarterly they meet together as a stake to be instructed and led.

“Apostolic Team”

In this church there is a prophet and twelve apostles that lead and direct the church as a whole.  The whole church has over a thousand stakes and each stake has an evangelist, or patriarch that gives patriarchal blessings…prophetic blessings in a sense, to the members of the stake.  In addition, the apostles and the quorom of the seventy in this church share the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world. 

I appreciate the insights made on this blog as to what the true, original church of Jesus Christ should look like.  In addition to what has been stated, I will add a few more scriptures and insights from the Bible as to what the true Church of Jesus Christ should look like. 

According to the Bible, the original church was organized with Jesus Christ as the head, twelve apostles, and a quoroum of the seventy.  After Jesus died, Peter became the authorized leader of the church under the direction of Jesus.  The apostles ordained Elders, Pastors, Prophets, Teachers, and Evangelists (see Ephesians 4:11) in the original Church of Jesus Christ. 

In addition, the members of the church lived the law of consecration and had “all things in common,” and “sold their possesions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.”(Acts 2:45

The original Church of Jesus Christ aslo had the following characteristics: the members were called saints (Ephesians 4:11-14); saints received church callings by the laying on of hands (Acts 13:1-3); people healed by the laying on of hands and anointing with oil (Mark 6:13) (James 5:14); temple worship (Acts 2:46); the saints saw visions of angels on numerous occasions (Acts 12:7-9; 27:23-24) and Stephen even saw a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ (Acts 7:55); baptism was essential for salvation and one was baptized before receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37-39); the structure of the church had one chief apostle or prophet, which was Peter and then twelve apostles were essential (Acts 1: 15-26).  For more information on what was found in the original church, see “17 Points of the true Church.”

The good news is that the original Church of Jesus Christ has been restored again.  I invite this person to view the restored Church of Jesus Christ’s websites and to pray for guideance from the Holy Spirit as to whether this church is the true church.  I promise that if his approach is sincere with a desire to follow the Savior, he will know through the Holy Ghost that this church is indeed the restored Church of Jesus Christ.   

From personal experience as a member of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, I can testify to my fellow friend of another faith that this is indeed the restored original church of Jesus Christ.  I’ve seen many miracles and felt overwhelming feelings of joy and love while serving others in this church.  This church is what he is looking for if he’s seeking an organization that is the same that existed in the original church.  If he approaches the investigation with faith and nothing wavering he will receive a confirmation that this is the true church. 

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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