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Dress Standards and Culture

This is part three of my series on the Washington Post Article

The article mentions that the LDS church has fallen from the highest converting Christian church in America.  The official LDS website states the church is the second-highest converting church in America

The article suggests that other faiths are “willing to express the local culture in many ways that the LDS has been slow to do.”  And further asks if it is necessary for people to all dress a certain way to attend church meetings and for missionaries to be dressed a certain way, etc. 

I would love to hear what people have to say about this because from my own personal experience as a missionary in Germany it was very difficult to even have a conversation with the people about religion.  However, when I went back to work as a “normal” citizen in Germany and Switzerland, they treated me with respect and got to know me as a person.  I found it much easier to have gospel discussions after my mission as opposed to before.

Why do you think the LDS church maintains the standard American white shirt and tie approach to missionary work?  Do you feel a change in this would positively affect the ability for missionaries to embrace the culture of other countries? 

In addition to these suggestions, what other cultural issues have you experienced that the LDS church could improve on, if anything at all? 

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The first time I went through the temple it really freaked me out.  What people wore and what they did and what they said, etc.  It made me wonder what all the hype is growing up in the church and wanting to prepare for the temple. 

I didn’t start feeling the Spirit or trying to put forth effort to understand the temple until 8 years later when one of my newly converted friends wanted to go on a regular basis.  I started going and slowly I started feeling a little more humble, a little softer-hearted. 

A couple years later, my wife was called as a temple worker.  I still had some great hesitation with going to the temple and sacrificing so much time (5 hrs.) to work there.  In the begining I went because I was supporting her, but soon the Spirit kept nudging me and prompting me over the course of a year that I needed to be a worker too.  I resisted until I couldn’t resist the promptings anymore.   The interview with the temple president was scheduled and I became a temple worker. 

For the past year or so as I’ve gone with my wife, I have had many occasions where the Spirit is so strong and I feel so pure in the temple.  After becoming a worker, recently I’ve started to see things symbolically in a way that is amazing along with feeling the sweetness of the Spirit as well.  Virtually everything in the temple points us to Christ’s atonement. 

I don’t understand a lot about why we do certain things in the temple or even why it is necessary.  All I know is that the more I go the more spiritual and closer to Jesus I feel. 

Since I feel my testimony of the temple and it’s importance growing, my new favorite blog is: http://www.templestudy.com/.  I like the insights given about temples and the many references to temples that are found throughout the scriptures.

Critics say there isn’t a need for temples and after Jesus’ death they were done away with.  Those who say that are probably those who say that God can’t speak to man or reveal truths or doctrines.  They are wrong.  God speaks to us in ways I’ve never felt before as I’ve been in the temple.

I invite everyone to visit that blog and learn about temples.  For those of you who may have not been through the temple, some of the information on the templestudy website may not be understood.  You can also visit another temple website: http://www.mormon-temple-ceremony.com/ for basic information on the temples.

During my morning scripture study today I was reading John 15:1-16.  This is a section where Jesus is teaching his disciples on the perfect law of love.  The verses that stand out to me are verses 5, 7, and 10.  They read:

Verse 5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing”

Verse 7: “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.”

Verse 10: “If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commndments, and abide in his love”

My first question was “How do I abide in the Savior’s love?” The answer is obviously in verse 10 by keeping His commandments.  Further research into the scriptures led me to some of the commandments that I personally should do to abide in the Savior’s love.  These include: praying, studying scriptures, acknowledging His hnd in all things, recieving counsel from Him, walking as He walked, and keeping His commandments.

Why is it important to abide in Him?  The answer is in verse 7: “…ye shall ask what ye will, and it shll be done unto you…”

This led me back to verse 5 where Jesus states he is the vine and we are the branches.  If we are not connected to Him (abide in Him), we can do nothing.  This scripture reminds me also of Psalms Chapter 1 verse 3.  Here the psalmist compares a man that “delights in the law” i.e. keeps the commandments of God to a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth fruit and prospers.  Compare this also to when Jesus Christ offers the woman at the well “living water” in John Chapter 4.

I am very grateful for the Lord, Jesus Christ.  I know that I can do many things on my own, but when I do that I do not have the strength of the Lord or His Holy Spirit in my life.  I am very grateful and know that when I abide in him and keep His commandments I feel more love for my fellow men and peace in my heart. 

What is a Mormon?  Many people hear this word and different images come to their minds.  Having served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and having dealt with many members of other faiths through business and other travel experiences, I can probably guess what many think when they hear the word ‘Mormon.’  Many comments have been made to me about being a Mormon throughout the years, some of which I find quite commical.  Here are some statements I’ve heard:

“Aren’t you those guys who ride horses and buggies and can’t use electricity?”

“How many wives do you have?”

“You’re a fool for believing Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  In fact, all Mormons are going to hell!”

“What?!?  You don’t drink coffee, tea, or alcohol????”

“No way!  You’re 28 years old, single, and still a virgin?…why would you torture yourself like that!”

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.  Most people have certain ideas or things either they have heard through the media, history books, or their preacher.  My hope with this blog is that I can provide you insight on why I personally choose the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) faith and to help clarify mis-conceptions many people have about this christian faith. 

How I became a Mormon

Although I was baptized into the Mormon faith at the age of 8, I wouldn’t say I was converted to the faith until I was 11.  Soon after my being baptized, my parents were divorced and I moved away with my mother and siblings.  We quit going to the LDS church. 

My conversion started when I came across a Book of Mormon a few years later.  I had been struggling for a few years since my parents’ divorce and was searching for guidance and direction in my life at the time.  I remembered my father reading the Book and I thought I would read it as well.  The title page, written by Joseph Smith stated that the Book of Mormon was the “most correctly written book….” and that “a man would draw nearer to God by abiding by it’s precepts than any other book…”  I read the Book and felt a peace and calmness as I read of the prophets testifying of Jesus Christ on virtually every page.  By the end of the book, I had felt feelings of love, calm, peace, confidence that I’d never felt before and then I read the following verses in Moroni 10: 3-5:

” 3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how amerciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and bponder it in your chearts.

  4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest the gtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

  5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow the btruth of all things.”
Never before had I had such a desire to pray and ask God if these things (the words in the Book of Mormon) were true.  I had never before prayed to God for an answer, but I knew how to pray.  I knelt down and started praying.  The experience I had was one of the most precious experiences of my life.  I felt an overwhelming feeling of love, peace, excitement, joy, and a desire to share love with all my fellow men come over me.  I knew there was a God and that He loved me and I knew that Joseph Smith (the translator of the Book of Mormon) was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon was true.  It made such an impression on me that I could never deny it. 
Imediately I jumped up, ran up to tell my father and felt the desire to share these truths with all men.
I will be discussing many other of my beliefs and values as a Latter-day Saint, but wanted to start with this experience because it is the foundation of my faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. 
I invite anyone with a sincere and open heart to participate in discussions.  Feel free to ask questions, comment, etc. and I will do my best to answer them.

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