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Recently I had a very nice gentleman stop by and leave the following comment on my blog:

You are a rare person to see common ground between the LDS and non-LDS Christians. I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time. I’d like to know more about what you believe and how our heavenly Father brought you to your current level of revelation.

This message is in response to his inquiry on knowing more about what I believe and how Heavenly Father brought me to my current level of revelation.

I have not always believed in the LDS religion.  In fact, for a time, I was very bitter towards it and filled with hate for Mormons.  I was young when my parents were divorced, but as a result I put blame on my father for splitting up our family.  My father was LDS and my mother was baptized LDS but left the LDS church and became an Evangelical Christian. 

After my parents divorced I lived with my mother and sisters.  We went to the LDS church for a few months after the divorce, but soon started attending other churches.  I started regularly attending the Baptist church and also spent some time in the Presbetyrian and Lutheran churches as well.  As a young man, I learned many great things at these churches and met some very wonderful people who helped me learn of God and Jesus Christ.  Also during this time I was taught many things about the LDS church that made me dislike the church even more.  During this time, my hate towards the LDS church was very strong and also towards my father.  I wouldn’t even go and visit him as a result.  However, after a couple years of avoiding my father, I decided it would be good to at least go and meet my new little brother who my Dad and Step-mother had just had.  I decided to go and visit my father.

I was a very young man at the time I visited my Dad and I clearly remember one of the first things I told him when I saw him was that I was not going to set foot in an LDS church.  However, I ended up seeing the love in my Dad’s heart for the Lord and the way he treated others.  I did end up going to church and witnessed the same thing and my heart was softened towards the LDS people.  It didn’t take me very long to begin to feel the Spirit of the Lord in a way that I never had at any other church.  I soon decided to read the Book of Mormon.  After reading the Book of Mormon, the following passage stood out to me in Moroni chapter 10:

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 merciful 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 ponder it in your hearts.

  4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
  6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
  7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

The scripture stood out to me and I received a desire to pray to know if the things found in the Book of Mormon were true.  I remember thinking that if I were to pray and find these things out that many questions would be answered for me including: is there a God, is Jesus our Savior, will God answer prayers, is the LDS church true?

Almost instictually I dropped to my knees and offered a simple prayer asking if it was true.  As I prayed, I felt a warm feeling come over me that filled me with a love and happiness I had never before felt.  I felt a desire come into my heart to share the gospel with people who may not know of God and Jesus.  I felt born again as a new person as the hatred I had been holding onto dissolved into love and a desire to tell people of Jesus Christ and his teachings.

That was the first experience I had with God and being born again as a new creature as the scripture in 2 Corinthians 5 discusses.  Since that time I’ve had many more experiences with God answering prayers through visions, feelings form the Holy Spirit, scriptures in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and through listening to prophetic voices.

I’ve shared these experiences because I feel it is the foundation for the answer to both of the questions posed by my evangelical brother who stopped by and I will now answer his questions.

I believe in a God who loves each one of us and who is liberal in His blessings to His children all over the world.  I believe we are created in His image and have potential to become like He is.  I believe in Jesus Christ and that through Him one can be saved both physically and spiritually.  I believe that God will speak to us through many ways including scriptures like the Bible and Book of Mormon, but also other good books as well.  I believe that if we strive daily to stay close to God, he will stay close to us through His Holy Spirit, which will guide us in our daily walk through life.  I believe that when we make mistakes, through repentance made possible from the atonement of Jesus, all of us can be forgiven for any sin we commit and I know that the Lord will help us overcome any weakness we have and help it become a strength.

Since I have family who are both LDS and non-LDS Christians, I have the unique opportunity and blessing to see how God works in many ways.  I have seen that the beliefs that I stated are shared by both my LDS and non-LDS family and friends.  Throughout my life since I decided to be active in the LDS faith, I have seen many amazing miracles as I’ve served others through missionary service, church service, and in my family.   My brother-in-law and sister are missionaries for an Evangelical Church called the Puget Sound Christian Center.  They have blessed the lives of many young people in their ministry and I have seen the Lord bless their lives as a result.  They have genuine hearts and are true Christians. (you can learn more about their ministry on this website: http://ignite-plu.blogspot.com/).

In addition to this, I have been blessed as my mother, who is not an LDS Christian anymore, has shared with me some very inspirational books and messages from Christian preachers and pastors who I would normally not hear from in the LDS church.  As I listen to sermons from the late Adrian Rogers and other pastors, I have felt the same Spirit that I feel when I listen to the LDS General Authorities as they speak in General Conference and elsewhere.  I feel that the Spirit of Christ confirms truth and truth can be found anywhere that people are sharing the gospel of Jesus.

At a young age I was exposed to various Christian denomonations as I have throughout my life.  I can not say that I always have felt a bond towards their faith, especially after I joined the LDS faith.  However, as I have opened my eyes to try and see things how God sees them (a life-long pursuit in all areas!) I have been blessed to see a common ground between our faith in Jesus Christ and also the power of prayer in both of our faiths.  As my fellow Evangelical brother stated in his comments, both faiths are Christian faiths.

Maybe it is a rare thing to find common ground between LDS and non-LDS Christians, but to you LDS people who struggle to find good in Christians of other faiths, and for you Christians you find it difficult to find good in LDS I encourage both parties to let go and pray to see each other as God sees all of us.  I know that as you do you will find that you learn more about yourself, God, and others.

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The title of this article intrigued me when I saw it in the “Time out For Women” flyer my wife received yesterday.  This will be one of the topics in the upcoming conference and Camille Olson will be the speaker.

As I reflected on the title, I naturally thought about the Book of Psalms in the Bible.  I thought of the word “psalm” and looked up the Hebrew translation for it.  Here is the translation directly from the dictionary:

zâmar, zaw-mar’

Definition: a prim. root [perhaps ident. with 2168 through the idea of striking with the fingers]; prop. to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, i.e. play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music

Translated as: give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.

I thought of many of the Psalms in the Bible and how heart-felt and earnest they are.  The writers of the Psalms show the depths of their souls and their relationship with the Lord as they sing praise and also share remorse for sins committed.  When reading the Psalms, I definitely can feel their sense of yearning and dependance on God in joy, sadness, pain, and all walks of life.

My thoughts then turned to the title “Your own Book of Psalms.”  I’m not sure what the speaker will be sharing, but I thought of how I can deepen my relationship with God by sharing Psalms with Him in three ways: prayer, writing in my journal, and writing music to the Lord.

Prayer

What my goal before I pray is to reflect on God and who He is.  He is my Creator and gives me life.  He loves me more than I can imagine and he loves all humankind and His creations as well.  Also, before I pray it is important to consider all the many blessings I’ve received from His hand each second of the day.  By doing these things I stir emotions within myself that cause me to feel humble before the Lord. 

Next, I think about anyone who may need help and I try to imagine what I would feel like in their situation.  I consider if there is anything I can do to help them and this stirs more emotion of helplessness and dependance on the Lord, knowing that all things are in His control.

I then think about myself and my family and the struggles we may be facing.  This stirs even more emotion and I am then ready to pray…pray with emotion like a psalm.

Journal

When writing in my journal I share emotions and get them all out on paper.  Sometimes as I do this I see things come out that I know I need God’s help with and I then use my journal as a means to pray and share my deepest feelings with the Lord.  Other times I just write in the journal and it feels good to get all my good and bad emotions out.

Writing Songs to God

I play the guitar and sometimes I’ll just start strumming some chords and my heart is full and words will come out.  Sometimes the words are from an earnest seeker, sometimes they are joyous, and other times they are songs of sadness.  I’ve found though that when I express my feelings through a prayer of music to God I have felt the Holy Spirit enter into my heart many times and I feel God’s love surround me. 

In closing I thought it would be fun to share part of one of my “psalms.”  It is part of a song I wrote about Jesus called “Believe.” 

He’ll pick you up if you take a step forward and don’t look back again.

He’ll lift you up and carry you on until your journey’s end…

Now all I have to do is give You my heart…it’s true!

Open the door, get set free.  Give Him your heart….

Once inside you’ll see.  And if you’re feeling doubt just believe.

03-07-08  Recently this post was posted on the postmormon.com website and I have received many comments from former members who are eager to debate doctrine.  My intention with this post was not to debate whether Joseph Smith was a prophet or the LDS church is true/false, etc.  Any comments made that are not uplifting or off-topic will be deleted.  If your intentions lead to off-topic discussions you are invited to go to another forum. Here is the original post:

I was on vacation a couple years ago in Hawaii and there was an interesting lesson on how to strengthen against apostasy.  I jotted down the 9 steps to strenthen against apostasy and put them in my scriptures.  This morning I came across them again and thought I’d share. 

Personally, I feel apostasy is distancing myself from the Lord and His teachings and truths that he has revealed to me about His gospel and teachings.  Each one of us have had different things revealed to us and it is up to us to keep searching and growing in light and truth.  When we stop searching by praying, studying scriptures, serving, etc. we are taking steps towards apostasy.  Following these suggestions can help us maintain the Holy Ghost and help us endure to the end.

Strengthening Against Apostasy

1.) Avoid those who would tear down your faith

2.) Keep the commandments

3.) Follow the living prophets

4.) Don’t debate points of doctrine (3Nephi 11:28)

5.) Search the scriptures

6.) Don’t be swayed from the mission of the church

7.) Pray for enemies

8.) Practice pure religion (James 1:27)

9.) Remember not everything has an immediate answer

 

As I look over these steps, I see things I can definitely improve on.  Questions to consider are: how do I react when someone from another faith comes on my blog and shares their experiences and even attacks me?  Do I pray for them or do I try to argue points of doctrine with them?  How am I doing with studying the scriptures?  Am I practicing pure religion as James describes it by visiting the homeless and the widows?  Am I impatient when I pray and demand an immediate answer?  Do I follow our modern day prophets or do I scoff at them? 

These are important things to consider.  I know the closer I am to the Lord and His Spirit, the happier I feel.  I hope we can all ponder these questions and be thankful if we’re on the right track and if we’re not, make some changes to get back on track.

In one of my recent posts, I said it was a law that God would answer our prayers.  I was wrong….he’ll answer our prayers if we are keeping the commandments.  Here’s proof: John 15:10 “if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love…” and John 15:7 “if ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.”

Furthermore, it is important to keep the commandments because if we “keep not the commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with us and we’ll walk in darkness.” (Doctrine and Covenants 95:12).  Therefore, if we are keeping the commandments God is bound by his promise to answer our prayers.

I was reading an article in the Ensign today and a reader posed a question about prayer.  Here is the question:

I have always been taught to pray, but often I don’t seem to get answers.  I have faith and think I’m worthy.  What should I do?

It appears that this person is trying to keep the commandments and believes that they will receive an answer to their prayers, but either isn’t receiving an answer to their prayers or they are not recognizing the answer to their prayers.

How would you respond to this person?  How do you receive answers to your prayers and how do you recognize the answers are from God?  What would you suggest this person should do to receive an answer or recognize an answer to their prayers?

Leave your comments below…

Recently I posted a blog on why I believe in God.  Many of you emailed me directly and a couple of you left responses.  This blog is written in response to a comment left by someone on my blog who says he doesn’t believe in God.  I appreciate him getting in touch with me and sharing his perspective with me.  It caused me to reflect on my beliefs.  Here were the comments left on my page:

“…after careful consideration, pondering, reading, rationale, et. al, I’ve come to the conclusion  that there isn’t a god.  And because I don’t believe in a god, I only have to live for myself and those that I love.  And I mustn’t fear death, for I also don’t believe in hell.  It’s a wonderful way to live life.  It makes me very happy.”

First off, I commend this person for sharing their views.  Although many of his views are not aligned with mine, one of them is.  The view that he loves those around him and loves himself.  This I find to be very positive and there are many (including myself) that need to work on further developing the trait of loving and respecting oneself as well as his friends and family.    

Next, I would like to offer some suggestions to my friend just in case my friend ever has a faint desire to learn if there is indeed a God and how to find out. 

I would like to address a few laws that I know to be true.  In Doctorine and Covenants 130:20 it states that when we keep the commandments of God, he is bound to bless us.  It is a law and with every blessing there is a law attached to it.  What are some laws of Heaven?  Some examples include: Faith, Prayer, Tithing, Fasting, all of the commandments basically.  For purposes of addressing the topic on hand, I would like to focus on the laws attached to faith and prayer.

The Law of Faith

In my opinion, the most beautiful and simple explanation of how to excersize faith is in Alma chapter 32 of the Book of Mormon.  If my atheist friend even has the faintest desire to find out if there is a God, I recommend a careful study of this chapter.  It outlines step by step how to excersize faith.  Here are the steps:

1. Develop Humility (Alma 32 verses 12-16)

2. Desire to believe (verse 27)

3. Experiment upon the word (verse 27)

4. Hold on to truth…nourish the “seed” through prayer (verse 37)

5. Patience (verse 42)

6. Diligence (verse 42)

7. Recieve reward of Faith (verse 43)

If faith is a law, then god is bound to bless us with knowledge if we follow these steps.  He only blesses us with knowledge and miracles according to our faith. ( 2 Nephi 27: 23; 2 Nephi 26:13) Alma compares faith to a seed that if planted in our hearts will grow into a tree of knowledge if we are patient and nourish the seed by reading and studying and believing.  If we do not practice these steps then God can not bless us according to the laws of nature as seen when Jesus couldn’t perform miracles in the Bible because of lack of faith.  (see Matthew 13:58 and 3 Nephi 19: 35

However, numerous examples are contained in the scriptures of the miracles that are able to be perfomed because of following the prescribed steps of faith.  Some examples are: the miracles of Paul in the bible (Acts 19:11); numerous examples of healings in the scriptures; and people receiving a testimony or witness of the spirit according to their faith.  There are thousands of other examples in the scriptures that witness of miracles as well. 

It appears that my atheist friend was almost ready to recieve an answer or witness that there is a God.  He completed the steps of having a desire to know, and reading and studying.  I’m not sure if this studying was done in humility.  I’m not the one to judge, but if it was done in humility and he still didn’t recieve a witness then it was because he didn’t practice the law of prayer.

The Law of Prayer

In the scriptures it states: “All things ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall recieve” (Matthew 21: 22)  This is a law.  God promised he would do this and I testify from personal experience that he will.  Examples of people recieving a witness that there is a God by praying include Enos in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith when praying to find out which church he should join, and other examples throughout the scriptures. 

My atheist friend also commented on my experience I posted about praying to know if the Book of Mormon was true that there is no way that I could have had this experience and that it was something I had imagined up.  This story reminds me of an anti-christ in the Book of Mormon named Zeezrom who challenged Jacob, a prophet of the time. 

In closing and in response to my atheist friend, I want to tell you that I have tried the experiment on the words of God.  I know that the law of faith and the law of prayer works.  I know that I have felt God in ways that I can’t describe and that one can’t understand unless they have experienced them.  I feel like Joseph Smith in a small sense that the experiences I’ve had I know are from God and I can’t deny them.  If I were to deny that God has sent me His Spirit to testify that Jesus is our Savior, the scriptures including the Book of Mormon and the Bible are true, and that He (God) actually exists; I would be lying to God and myself.  This I will not do.

I invite my friend to try this experiement with humility and faith.  If you have the desire and patience I testify to you that you will recieve a witness.

If anyone reading this has similar experiences to share or ideas to help my atheist friend, feel free to contribute in your comments.

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