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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?

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What would you do if you heard of someone taking their son up into the mountains and tying him to a pile of rocks to sacrifice him to God?  That probably wouldn’t fly over too well, yet Christians, Muslims, and Jews all revere Abraham as a prophet.

What about a man that killed a high-ranking official and then stole valuable records from him and fled into the wilderness, claiming that God told him to do all of these things?  That’s Nephi’s story in the Book of Mormon.

How about a more recent one? A man who claimed authority from God to translate additional scripture, build temples, and practice poligamy.  That’s part of Joseph Smith’s story.

These are a few examples.  Kaimi over at By Common Consent wrote more examples from the Old Testament as well.

So why is it that some people believe in Abraham, but not the New Testament and Jesus, yet others believe in the Bible, but reject the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith?  I believe it comes down to what people want to believe, along with what they are willing to allow the Spirit to teach them.

I believe strongly in the power of the Holy Spirit to tell you the truth of all things.  Although specifically referring to the Apocropha, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 91 gives a good example of using the Spirit to decipher and determine which scriptures to follow.  Below is part of the section:

  4 Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him aunderstand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;

  5 And whoso is enlightened by the aSpirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;
  6 And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited….
According to this scripture, one can determine which scripture is true and which isn’t.  This is one answer, but it is highly subjective and people can interpret the Spirit in so many different ways.  However, I firmly believe that one can feel the light and truth of things that are true by the power of the Holy Spirit, and I know personally I’ve felt the spirit confirm many truths found in scriptures of all faiths. 
So when I read something in the scriptures such as Abraham sacrificing Isaac or Joseph Smith and others in the Bible practicing polygamy I figure they were individuals and maybe God told them to do it…maybe not.  It’s o.k. if I don’t know or understand everything.  I take the scriptures that I feel the Spirit with and apply them to my life.  Even though I don’t understand everything fully I’m grateful for the scriptures that help me learn and grow.

12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication

1. Learning from Others

I suffered for years having panic attacks followed by a darkness that would come over me sometimes for days.  I didn’t know what it was for many years, but one day a friend mentioned that I could be struggling with depression and anxiety. I was devastated when I took a test online and learned that I indeed had symptoms for anxiety and depression.  I didn’t know where to turn.  Thankfully, there are other people who have gone through similar experiences to share their insights.  If I didn’t have valuable resources and other people to help me, I wouldn’t have survived because at my lowest point, I was considering suicide.

I didn’t want to use drugs to overcome anxiety and depression, so I turned to others for advice that found in the book: Discovering Light. Discovering Light  is a #1 Amazon bestseller and a book that has valuable insights in the category of overcoming anxiety and depression and contains a  journey in overcoming anxiety and depression without drugs.  This book not only highlights the story of suffering from anxiety and depression and overcoming it, but it

Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medicationalso provides many other resources and books for those who are suffering.  All of the concepts in this book helped me completely overcome anxiety and depression.  It is worth the $10-$13 and will save you a lot of time and money trying to find ways to overcome anxiety without drugs.

Simply click on the image of the book, or the link below to learn more:

My friend also referred me to use self study programs, which were very cost effective and helpful for me as well.  They referred me to a sites similar to the ones listed below:

***Cure Panic and Anxiety***              ***Beat Depression Naturally***

2. Desire to Overcome

After I found out I had both anxiety and depression, I had an intense desire to overcome anxiety and depression.  I wanted a normal life back and held an image of that in my mind.  It was very hard, at times, and I sometimes lost hope and would just sit and stare at the walls wondering if I would ever make any progress.  Thankfully, there were many resources that helped give me hope to keep looking forward and to not give up.  One of the books below, Discovering Light contains many valuable insights and references to other books that helped me maintain a hope and desire to overcome anxiety and depression without medication.  This desire led me to complete the other steps.

3. Faith in God

Alma Chapter 34: 32-34 was what kept me moving ahead.

When I had serious depression and thoughts of life being better if I weren’t alive, I remembered this scripture.  I believe that the same spirit we possess now will be with us even after we die, so if I don’t deal with it now I’ll be dealing with worse things later.

5. Home Study Programs

A friend of mine told me about an in home program and how they had used to overcome anxiety and depression without medication.  I had tried taking medication, but it didn’t feel right to me so I quit.  This program was a very useful tool for me and I still refer to it often.  I highly recommend it to anyone dealing with anxiety and/or depression.  This book describes in detail how to use the in home study program along with the benefits involved.  In home programs played a crucial role in overcoming anxiety and depression.

Below is a list of very effective in home programs that are both time and cost effective and recommended:

***Cure Anxiety and Panic***            ***How to Cure Anxiety***       ***Stop Depression***         ***7 Steps to a Depression Free Life***

6. Talking with a coach or mentor.

Many people who deal with certain issues from their childhood such as I did with abandonment develop negative addictions.  For me, talking with clergy was somewhat helpful, but bishops aren’t usually trained to handle these issues.  I was referred to a different program that helped me overcome my addictions and also train my thoughts.  Bishops know where these resources are.  If you are not a member of the LDS church, you can also look up various agencies such as: alcoholics anonymous, sex addicts anonymous, etc.  I think they have organizations for people who use drugs, have eating addictions, etc.  I believe that most of these programs will have a 12-step approach.  I found these to be very, very helpful.  There is a list of various resources outlined in detail in this book.

7. Prayer/Meditation

Again in Alma 34, it talks about praying for everything important in one’s life.  This links back to step #2, but I can’t emphasize enough how important faith in God and prayer are.  Through this experience I learned how God cares about me personally…especially when I’m at my “worst”.  I say this in quotes because we are never bad in God’s sight, no matter how good or bad our behaviors are he views us and loves us the same.

Through prayer and meditation, I was able to learn how to focus and control my mind.  I am very grateful to God for the gift of prayer and know that miracles happen as a result of sincere, humble, faithful prayers and patience.

If you are interested in learning powerful meditation techniques check out the following programs:

***Meditation Power***              and     ***Learn how to Meditate***

8. Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)

NLP was the key to me being able to move from just managing anxiety and depression to completely overcoming it.  NLP is another tool I used to clear my subconscious mind.  I worked with two coaches who used NLP on me to clear negative experiences I had seared into my subconscious mind that were affecting my behaviors.  This is another highly recommended tool.  The book contains a whole chapter dedicated to NLP.

Some very good programs to learn about re-programming our subconsious minds are:

***Subconsious Sabatoge***    and   ***Quantum Mind Power***

9. Learning to control thoughts

 Proverbs 23:7 says: “as he (or she) thinks in his (or her) heart, so is he (or she)”.  This is true.  I think this is something all of us will be working on throughout our lives.  However, learning to control our thoughts is essential.  I wrote another post a couple of months ago on how to overcome negative thoughts and provided a few techniques I use.  The post is called “The Gifts of the Spirit: Overcoming Negative Thoughts and Speaking with the Tongue of Angels”.  In addition to that article, Discovering Light has very detailed information on learning to control thoughts and how to train our minds.  If we do not learn this skill, we will not be able to overcome anxiety and depression.

The Quantum Mind Power program is a good resource too.

10. Have a daily routine/Healthy Living (Exercise and Nutrition)

Having a daily routine helps me a lot.  I notice that I do much better when in a familiar environment surrounded with positive things.  For me, this is my daily routine: Wake up, pray, exercise, read scriptures, make breakfast for my wife, think about daily goals, work, come home and either relax or do house chores, etc., read scriptures with wife, pray, go to bed.  Sticking to this schedule keeps me focused and my attitude stays much more positive.

Eating a lot of healthy breads, fruits, protein, and some meat has helped me a lot.  Staying away from sugar and caffeine is essential as well.  I’ve found that the promise in the Word of Wisdom is true in that I receive more health by following its counsel.

Although these suggestions are good, there is even more involved with eating properly and taking care of our bodies.  A complete chapter is dedicated to nutrition and how it plays a role in being able to overcome anxiety and depression.  In addition, the following programs on nutrition and exercise are available:

***P90X***                and           ***Shakeology***                

11. Keep a Gratitude Journal

The book Real Men Do Cry has a great reference on counting our blessings and how gratitude can change our mood.  I found this to be true in my situation as well.  I keep track of all the positive things that happened to me and at the end of the day I write them down.  This keeps me in a positive state and away from dwelling on the negative.

12 Relaxation

For someone who has struggled with anxiety, relaxing is a learned technique.  There are certain activities, music, and thought control techniques needed in order to train our minds to relax instead of fly into “fight or flight” mode.

I found Reiki and meditation to be very relaxing and would recommend checking the following programs out:

***Reiki Home Study Course***   and ***Deep Zen Meditation***

In conclusion, I know that if you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression how hard it can be.  Some of you may be on medication and that might be necessary or even mandatory for you, which is fine.  My main purpose is to share some things that have helped me and I encourage you to incorporate any of these things, if you haven’t already.  Also, please feel free to share any additional things that have helped you so other readers can benefit from it.

I also want my readers to know that I know that God hears your prayers and will answer them in due time.  I’ve learned to be grateful for my experiences with anxiety and depression because I’ve learned how dependent I truly am on God and have see how great His hand can be in my life if I stay close to Him.  I pray that we can all stay close to our Father in Heaven and know that if we do, he’ll lead us through the dark and discouraging times on our lives.

My wife and I have most recently been reading Truman G Madsen’s book entitled “Christ and the Inner Life.”  This is a very good book and some of the concepts from it I’ve written about in previous posts.

I’ll share some quotes from the book that recently caught my attention:

I say to you that when he (Jesus) said to the woman of Samaria and to others, “He that believeth on me, shall never thirst”; I say to you that when on the cross he looked down and back, under the searing sun, and said, “I thirst,” he was reflecting both the promise and the need that all of us have.  We, too, thirst until we ache.  We, too, are living and dying on deserts.

A few paragraphs later, Madsen further concludes by saying:

May God help us to walk in the light; and, when we do not feel that we have it, to walk in the memory of it with integrity.

I thought it was interesting to note that Jesus, who had stated those who follow Him will never thirst was left alone and thirsted not only physically, but spiritually on the cross when he said “Father why hast thou forsaken me?”  While his enemies scoffed and ridiculed him telling him to save himself.  At this moment Jesus didn’t feel like he had the light anymore as His father had withdrawn himself from him.  Jesus, who was all-powerful could have used his powers to save himself and destroy his enemies, but he didn’t because he had integrity.  Jesus proved to be conquerer by holding on to the memory of the light he had felt and his mission and finished his mission with integrity. 

How often do we feel like we’re alone in life?  How often do we feel the darkness of sin, doubt, or discouragement and cry out to God and feel that we are yet alone?  How often do we just simply not feel like walking with God, or doubt that He is there walking with us?  What do we do when we feel that God has forsaken us?

I like what Madsen says about walking in the memory of the light.  When all seems to be lost, the memories may be all that we have to rely on for a season.

First, we need to make sure we’re in the light. In a previous post, I shared ways to “plug” into the light throughy keeping the commandments and scripture study.  I would add sincere prayer to this as well.  We should continue to do these things even when we don’t feel like it because these are ways to stay in God’s light and feel His Holy Spirit.

Second, we need to remember.  We’re probably all familiar with scriptures relating both those who remembered and those who forgot.  I’ll share a few examples that come to mind.   

Poor examples in the scriptures include: Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon, King David and Solomon, the Isrealites during Moses’ time.  In each of these individuals’ lives they had marvelous spiritual experiences.  David and Laman and Lemuel both saw heavenly beings with their eyes.  However due to negligence in keeping their eyes focused towards God, each of these individuals erred greatly and suffered because of it.  A side note is to remember that repentance is always there for us, but the further we fall from God’s light and love, the harder it is to get back.

Good examples in the scriptures of those who remembered in spite of hardship and despair include: Paul, Nephi, Moroni, and Joseph Smith.  There are of course numerous other examples, but these are the ones who come to mind. 

In 2 Nephi 4, Nephi turns to God in prayer when he feels his strength slacken, Paul states numerous times in the Bible to count it a joy to suffer for the Lord and reflects on Jesus’ sacrifice to help him “stay the course”, Moroni refuses to deny Jesus despite the fact he is the last believer left in his world.  Joseph Smith certainly wasn’t perfect by any means, but when times were hard and he felt like God wasn’t there for him anymore he didn’t give up on God, rather he turned to him in prayer and in turn received revelation.

There are numerous other means and ways given to us to remember God today.  Temple attendance and partaking the sacrament (in the prayer we promise to “always remember Him”) are two more examples. 

I know life probably isn’t easy for you, and it’s definitely not always easy for me.  But I know that life would be much harder without God in my life and the belief I have in Jesus as well.  As I’ve built memories with them, and try to further develop my relationship with them on a daily basis through scripture study and prayer as well as weekly partaking of the sacrament, I feel that life is much better.  I also believe that when we develop these habits it makes it that much easier to look back on the good feelings and spiritual strength we receive gradually over time. In addition, when we don’t feel the Spirit for a season we realize our dependance on God and become grateful for His mercy. 

When we’re down and don’t feel the light anymore I hope we can all remember to call upon God and keep walking in His light with integrity. 

Because of the recent media on the Fundamentalist LDS group that “got busted” in Texas for abuse and polygamy the LDS church has made efforts to distance itself from this sect.  Below is a recent interview with the LDS public affairs representative regarding the churches current stance on polygamy and how it wants the world to view the LDS church:

 

Polygamy is a huge issue and it is a great concern still for members of the LDS church.  Some have concerns with polygamy and say the LDS church still “practices” polygamy in the sense that it is still a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants section 132.  In addition, people are still married in temples for eternity to spouses after one spouse passes away, so polygamy is technically still a part of LDS doctrine. 

Depending on the Christian you speak with, they will either denounce or embrace polygamy.  Generally speaking, the Christian world claims the Bible to be the only word of God.  The Bible contains polygamy all throughout it’s text and depending on which Christian denomonation you speak with, they can argue for or against it.  Here’s a christian website discussing the issue: http://www.gotquestions.org/polygamy.html.  Here’s another website that has people, including pastors arguing for polygamy and that true Christianity should allow polygamy with other Christians arguing against it: http://www.answering-christianity.com/ntpoly.htm.  As you can see in many cases interpretations of scripture are a matter of semantics as to whether God truly “approved” polygamy in the Bible or not and are up for interpretation.

Those who follow the LDS faith could have an easier time answering the polygamy question than their fellow Christians due to the fact they believe in modern, continuing revelation. 

Joseph Smith stated “I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 324). The LDS website also says polygamy isn’t allowed unless God directs it.  Therefore, God can take away polygamy or ordain it through his prophets as he did through Nathan in the Bible (2 Samuel 12:8).  Currently the LDS church doesn’t practice polygamy on grounds of a reveleation from a prophet named Wilford Woodruff that is contained in the Doctrine and Covenants in the “Official Declaration 1.”

However, there are still some questions that remain for both LDS christians and other Christians who believe in the Bible:

If the LDS church wants to take such a strong stance against polygamy, shouldn’t the church completely take it out of it’s doctrine, since it is still supported in D&C 132?  Why or why not?

Also, if one is to consider himself/herself a true Christian, should they believe in polygamy because it is supported in the Bible?  Why or why not?

 

This scripture is in 1 Nephi 2:16:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

Just a little preface for those who may not be familiar with this scripture.  Nephi’s father, Lehi had just had a vision that was difficult for his family to understand.  In this example, Nephi turns to the Lord rather than to science, other men, etc. to learn the Lord’s mysteries.  As a result, the Lord visits him and softens his heart.  This experience serves as a building block for the rest of Nephi’s life as one reads through the Book of Nephi and sees how strong Nephi is in the Lord throughout his life.

As I read over this again this morning I thought about my own life.  What are the “mysteries” that I’ve experienced and what are some that I’ve seen others struggle with?  Examples include: is there a God? Which church is true? Is the Book of Mormon true?  The Bible? Why am I sick? What job should I take? Who should I marry? What school should I go to? Why do we have temples and what is the meaning of what we do in temples? How can I experience God’s love?  How can I love my enemy? How can I trust in something I can’t see (Jesus, God, etc.)? Why did I lose my job? Why don’t I feel happy?

I could go on, but the point is that “mysteries” to me are basically anything we don’t understand (which is about 99% of life!).  Since there are so many things in life that are incomprehensible, that makes it even more important to turn to the Lord. 

In the very next verse (1 Nephi 2:17) Nephi describes how we can know the mysteries of God, which is through the power of the Holy Ghost.  Other scriptures state that the Holy Ghost will “teach us all things,” and by the power of the Holy Ghost we’ll “know the truth of all things.”

Receiving an answer and recognizing the answer from the Lord through the Holy Ghost may not come all at once.  It didn’t for Nephi, but eventually the Lord visited him and said in 1 Nephi 2:19:

Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. 
 

Notice that the Lord didn’t simply give Nephi an answer, but it was because Nephi was:

1. Humble (i.e. didn’t rely on the philosophies of men and science but relied on the Lord)

2. Never gave up (he didn’t just ask once and call it good and then blame the Lord for not answering.  He diligently sought)

3. He had faith (he believed the Lord would answer him)

I encourage all of us to follow Nephi’s pattern when we have a question or do not understand something whether it be gospel or spiritually related or something else in our lives such as our children, job, friends, spouse, or anything else. 

One thing I’d like to add in conclusion.  Although we can apply this formula to virtually any question we have in our lives, these scriptures are specifically referring to the “mysteries of God.”  People ask questions such as “Was Joseph Smith really a Prophet?” “Is the Book of Mormon a true Book?” “Did Jesus really exist and atone for the sins of the world?” “Is there a God?” “How do I recognize answers to prayer?” “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”

Whatever questions we are asking ourselves, I hope we can apply these principles in our lives and turn to the Lord rather than man or science.  I don’t know much about God’s mysteries and many of life’s mysteries, but the little I do know has been revealed to me through the Holy Spirit when I follow this pattern to know the mysteries of God. 

I’ve been reading Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon most recently.  Today I read in the “Hebraisms and other Peculiarities” chapter a section on a poetic form called “climax” (which means “ladder” in Greek), which was discovered in 1898 by a biblical scholar.  The definition of this poetic form is described as follows: “Climax occurs when the same word or words found at the end of one clause are repeated at or near the beginning of the next clause.” (Echoes, pg 166)

 The book then shares some examples of climaxes found in the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon.  I thought the one found in Moroni 8:25-26 was beautiful and wanted to share it.  I will break it down as it is broken down in the book to emphasize the use of climax:

And the first fruits of repentance is

baptism; and

baptism cometh by faith unto

the fulfilling the commandments; and

the fulfilling the commandments bringeth

remission of sins; And the

remission of sins bringeth

meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of

meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the

Holy Ghost, which

Comforter filleth with hope and perfect

love, which

love endureth by diligence unto prayer,

until the end shall come, when all Saints shall well with God.

If I hadn’t read about this poetic form, I would have read right over it and missed great symbolic purpose.  I think it’s awesome to see how this is like a ladder, or climax in that each step builds on the other and at the top of the ladder is love, which is the greatest commandment.  Even better, it doesn’t just stop there.  The verses tell us how we can maintain our love and the result (dwelling with God) if we are diligent in keeping love in our hearts.

What are your thoughts as you read this?  Also, do you know of any other examples in the scriptures where this poetic form is used?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints boldy declares itself as the only true and living church.  Furthermore, Joseph Smith boldly states that God the Father and Jesus Christ declared that the christian churches only had a portion of the truth and that he should join none of them.  Therefore, The Church of Jesus Christ (Mormon) declares that it’s baptism and confirmation is the only valid one in order to receive exhaltation. 

Obviously, a member of the LDS church isn’t following their religion if they judge someone for joining another religion as it states in the Articles of Faith to let everyone worship whatever or whoever they want to

However, in this article it discusses the droves of people that join other churches and many other churches and faiths claim the Holy Spirit told them to start their specific denomonation or join their religion. 

As stated in Bruce Nielson’s blog, some may argue about the definition of what a “church” really is.  However, I think whether a church is a congregation, or an actual building it is irrelevant.

I believe that God answers prayers of people of all faiths and leads them closer to Him if they ask in faith.  However, if they are recieving answers to their prayers and feel led by God to join a certain faith, how is it that God can lead someone to something that he told Joseph Smith was wrong? 

My theory is that God loves all truth no matter where it is and will lead all of us according to what we are willing to receive and that God has revealed much truth in forms of religion, science, and other means as well.  I also believe He has much more to reveal as soon as we are ready to receive it.  What are your thoughts?

In a recent post, entitled “Making our Hearts a Manger,” one of my friends, Brad Trnavsky, shared an interesting insight.  He commented that “when we were children all of our hearts were like that (a place for the Savior)… As you get older it’s harder to see past our own bias and prejudice.”  Later that day when I was speaking with him he further shared insight on how his own daughter has no biases and that she “would share her lollipop with anyone.” 

In the Bible, Paul shares a similar insight in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12: “when I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things…now we see through a glass, darkly…”

I thought about my life and how various experiences have led me to “see through dark glass,” as Paul describes.  I then asked myelf what “childish things” have I put away?  I don’t remember a whole lot about myself as a child and my perspective is different than someone from the outside looking in.  I wanted to get some insight on how I was as a child and thought my parents would be the best people to consult.  I emailed them and here is the feedback I received from my father:

As a very young child, you were pretty inquisitive. You were always getting in to things, and making messes in the process. I remember that one time you got into the diaper pail and had dirty diapers scattered all over the house. You were just sitting in the middle of it all having a blast. You were always asking questions. If we went to the movies, you were quite a pain to have there because we couldn’t watch a movie for you asking questions. We’d always say, “Just watch the movie and listen and you’ll find the answer. You were also pretty tender hearted, and felt bad for things that were hurt. You loved us to read books to you. It didn’t matter what kind of books they were. You were also reading by the time you went to kindergarten. One thing that you loved was horses. You would always just make your way over the their corral and just watch them. You loved to ride them. Another thing that you liked was being outdoors. It didn’t matter what the weather was like, you wanted to be out. We put the fence up in the back for that purpose. If I was mowing the lawn, or driving the tractor, you had to be on their riding with me. We mowed lots of grass together, and cleaned lots of stalls riding on the tractor together…One thing that you really didn’t like was contention…Your were also very bright and loved to watch the stars, and play with the cats that we had. The main thing I remember about you during those years and beyond was you felt responsible to be a good example and to try to be a problem solver…”

As I read this, it brought back memories and humbled me.  First, I thought of how inquisitive children are and as a child I wasn’t scared or inhibited in searching for new knowledge no matter where it was.  In the early years learning and growing are all children are doing and the world is like water and kids are like sponges soaking it all in.  I asked myself how do I view the world today?  Am I still searching for knowledge and learning and growing or do I think I have it all figured out.  Worse, have I allowed the “dark glass” of prejudice or things other people have said or done to me to hinder me from progressing?  As a child, I wanted to learn, grow, and find answers.  I didn’t care what people thought even if it was in a movie theater! 

Next, being tender hearted is a good quality of most children.  How am I doing in that category now?  Do I know how my friends and family are doing/feeling?  Do I care about their needs above my own or am I too wrapped up in my work or what I think is important to me to stop and make a phone call, or pause while my wife or friends are talking to me in the middle of doing something, etc.?  How about the people I help at church?  Do I really care about how they’re doing?  What about the world?  Do I pray for and care about people in other nations or communities that do not have as much as I do or am I too busy with other things? 

I’ll have to admit I love the smell of fresh grass to this day and perhaps the reason is because of the many rides my father and I took on the lawn mower.  Something I’ve also learned from my mother is to appreciate nature.  She’ll call me and tell me about a neat view of Mt Rainier or when a full moon is out or she sees a blue heron flying (this is her favorite bird).  Children are the same way as I was as a kid.  They appreciate and love playing outside.  They love God’s creations as I loved horses, cats, and the outdoors.  I feel maintaining this simple awe for nature and respect is a very important characteristic to maintain in order to fully appreciate God. 

Finally, my father says as a kid I wanted to be a problem solver.  Being the oldest, I do remember feeling a sense of responsibility.  I ask myself this question now.  If something is wrong do I take initiative to fix the problem or do I wait for someone else to fix it? 

This excersize was very good for me because it allowed me to reflect and remember that I am essentially still a child and don’t know as much as I usually think I do.  Even though I’m older, I’m still a child learning and growing.  The more I remember this and internalize this, the better off I’ll be.

In addition to these practical implications, the Savior shares spiritual and eternal implications of being as a child.  The scriptures share some great insights, which I will share. 

1. (Mosiah 3:19) As a natural man, I am an enemy to God unless I become like a child: humble, meek, patient, full of love, and willing to submit to everything the Lord asks me to do. 

2. (Luke 9:48) If I receive the Lord like a child I will be “great in the kingdom of God.”  For me this is basically the same concept of being humble and submissive to the Lord.

3. (Mark 10: 13-16) In this verse, Jesus’ disciples “rebuke” those who brought children with them to see Jesus.  Jesus reprimands His disciples and says “suffer the children to come unto me for of such is the kingdom of God.”  He further goes on to say that unless they receive the kingdom as a little child they can not enter into His kingdom and he blesses them. 

3 Nephi 9:22 is very similar to the verses in Mark as well.  In 3 Nephi, Jesus tells the people on the American continent that unless they repent and become as a child they won’t inheret the kingdom of God.  Notice that He adds that repentance is necessary for us to become as a child and therefore inherit God’s kingdom.

4. (3 Nephi 11:37-40) In this scripture Jesus informs the people that not only humbling oneself as a child and repentance are necessary, but baptism is also necessary to inherit the kingdom of God.  Verse 39 also states that this is Christ’s doctrine and whosoever builds on this doctrine is built on a rock (i.e. a solid foundation). 

5. (3 Nephi 17:21-25) In my opinion, these scriptures are some of the most touching scriptures we have.  Here, Jesus prays and blesses the peoples’ children one by one and weeps because of the love and joy he has for them.  It shows how much love Jesus has for children and it sheds some further light on the joy he must feel when we decide to humble ourselves like a child and submit to Him so he can bless us.  This is probably why the prophet Moroni stated that “children are alive in Christ.”  I can’t think of anything more fulfilling than being able to say that I am alive in Christ with confidence.  When I focus on becoming as a child I am progressing towards this goal.

In conclusion, I invite you to either reflect on your childhood or ask your parents to provide you some insight on what you were like as a child.  Or if you have children look to them as an example.  Consider some of the “childish things you’ve put away” and pray and reflect on what you can do to incorporate them back into your life.  The promises are great if we can remember to become as a child by removing the dark glasses we see through and learn to see as a child.

I recently posted a blog on Grace vs. Works (https://graceforgrace.com/2008/02/19/do-you-believe-living-a-good-life-is-more-important-than-grace-or-less/).

I wanted to highlight a blog that answers this question very effectively.  I like this post because it not only answers the question, but other scriptures that have lead people to debate this topic.  Check out the blog here:

 http://thoughtsonlds.blogspot.com/2008/01/thoughts-on-grace-vs-works.html

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