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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!

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I was on a business trip this past week to present our regional territory plans to our Vice President. People were very nervous on our team since he is pretty intense with the way he scrutinizes our plans during our presentations. The morning of the presentation I was praying and reading in the Book of Mormon and found a cross reference to the Bible in Psalms 37. In this chapter in the King James Version advises us not to fret about things but to rely on the Lord. I didn’t know if people in my group were religious or believed in God at all, but I felt prompted to email this scripture out to the team. I was pleased when the whole team replied and were thankful for me sharing the scripture with them. They felt it helped them feel more comfortable and prepared to present.

I thought it was awesome how God showed me a scripture to not only help me but the whole team as well. I later learned that my mother had been praying for me while I was there along with me.

Do you have any experiences with sharing the gospel with your co-workers?

I came across notes from a talk given about 1 1/2 years ago by James E Faust, who at that time was serving as a counselor to President Gordon B Hinckley for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Parts of his talk was on having a healthy self esteem.  I will list the 6 keys that he mentioned and share some of my thoughts as well.

6 Keys to a Healthy Self Esteem

  • Keep your Free-agency

In my opinion, this is one of the only things that we truly have control over.  We have the power to decide what we will do in any given situation.  I have written about controling our thoughts and how our thoughts shape who we are.  If we get in the habit of doing good things and keeping the commandments good things will come our way.  If we choose bad things or even go to the extent of using harmful things like drugs, our agency is given away.  It is our choice to either choose the will of God or not.  Those who choose to live within the commandments of God have a healthier self esteem than those who do not.

  • Humility

There are a few scriptures that point out how humility and meekness bring us joy and abundance. (Isaiah 29:19; Psalms 37:11)  Those who feel the love of God and the joy that comes from humbly following Him feel greater joy and self-worth than those who do not. 

  • Honesty

I know that when I’ve chosen to be honest in all my associations and conversations I feel much better about myself than when I’ve chosen not to.  Those who strive to be honest with themselves, their friends, their employers, and all people feel greater self esteem.  The big challenge for me and probably many other people is the small “white lies” that creep in there.  If I exaggurate a story or build myself up in a way that isn’t necessarily completly true that is lying.  Some may say it’s impossible to be completely honest.  Maybe it is, but striving to be honest will surely lead to a greater self-image.

  • Love of Work

I grew up on a farm and learned to appreciate work.  I wouldn’t go as far to say that I love it.  However, I do know that I definitely feel better about myself when I’m working for a good cause than when I’m bumming around. 

  • Ability to Love

This one is a life-long pursuit and those who are blessed with this ability to give and accept love have much higher self-esteems than those who do not.  For years I feel that I didn’t love and respect myself as a child of God.  I had negative thoughts about myself and blamed others for some of the bad things I did as a result of not respecting myself or others.  Fortuneately the Lord was there for me the whole time and helped me through this.  I learned that it is o.k. not to be perfect and to love myself for all my strengths and weaknesses.   I’ve learned that love is a choice.  In fact, loving others doesn’t come naturally for me.  I have to pray for this love every day and I feel that the more I pray to the Lord, the more He blesses me with the ability to love myself and others.  To read a list of great scriptures on love and charity for yourself and others, click here.

  • Love of God

1 John 4:8 states: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”  Therefore, in order to love we must, as Joseph Smith stated in his Lectures on Faith gain a “correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.”  These attributes can be found in the scriptures and include: mercy, grace, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, constant, all-knowing, and many more.  I know that when I strive to show love towards God that I have better self-esteem and desire to do good.  I feel more grateful for the blessings that He gives me on a daily basis and realize my dependance on Him. 

 

In conclusion, I realize that we all struggle with varies things and some of us struggle with self-esteem.  I know how difficult it can be to learn to love myself, others, and God, but I also know that it is possible to overcome.  My hope is that this post helps some of you who may be struggling with any self-esteem issues and that this serves to assist you as it did me.  Feel free to share any thoughts you have.

This morning I was reading an excellent talk given by John H Groberg a few years back called “The Power of God’s Love.”  If you saw the movie “The Other Side of Heaven,” you will remember many stories he shares in this excellent talk.  I encourage you to read through it.

What impressed me today were the following phrases:

Since all love emanates from God, we are born with the capacity and the desire to love and to be loved.

Only as we feel God’s love and fill our hearts with His love can we be truly happy.

 

The more we obey God, the more we desire to help others. The more we help others, the more we love God and on and on. Conversely, the more we disobey God and the more selfish we are, the less love we feel.

 

…trying to find love without helping and sacrificing for others is like trying to live without eating—it is against the laws of nature and cannot succeed.

 

When we understand who God is, who we are, how He loves us, and what His plan is for us, fear evaporates. When we get the tiniest glimpse of these truths, our concern over worldly things vanishes.

 

I learned that just as rockets must overcome the pull of gravity to roar into space, so we must overcome the pull of the world to soar into the eternal realms of understanding and love. I realized my mortal life might end there, but there was no panic. I knew life would continue, and whether here or there didn’t really matter. What did matter was how much love I had in my heart.

 

 

 

…when we are ready, His pure love instantly moves across time and space, reaches down, and pulls us up from the depths of any tumultuous sea of darkness, sin, sorrow, death, or despair we may find ourselves in and brings us into the light and life and love of eternity.

As I read this, my mind went back to various times throughout my life that I’ve felt the Love of God so much that I knew without a doubt that there was a God and He loved me.  I remembered times in my life when all I wanted to do was help other people and had no worldly cares because of the love of God that was in me.  It’s a truly amazing experience.  But, as Groberg states, the pull of the world comes and it is easy to forget that love sometimes.

 

 

How does one bring God’s love back into life then?  Personally, I think an answer is found in the Book of Mosiah chapter 4 verses 11-12.  In verse 11, King Benjamin says (paraphrased) that if we have tasted of God’s love and want to retain it we have to do the following:

  1. Remember God
  2. Acknowledge our “nothingness” before him in humility
  3. Praise Him for his goodness
  4. Pray to Him
  5. Stand strong in the faith.

In my life I’ve found that the best way to remember God is to read the scriptures daily and start with a sincere prayer.  I pray to God (well, try to anyways) as I would another person and thank Him for his love and patience He’s had towards me throughout my life.  I pray about my family, friends, my heart to be softened so I will love all people and see them as He does.  I pray for spiritual discernement and understanding.  I try to obey His commandments as best I know how as well.  Many times I feel the love of God in my heart very strongly.  Other times I don’t.  I believe that standing strong in the faith comes into play when we aren’t feeling the love as strongly, but we continue to try to develop a relationship with God.  And conversly, when everything is going well it is important to remember to thank God and be grateful and continue on in study, prayer, and obedience.

 

 

These are a few thoughts experiences that have helped me.  What are some things that you do to retain and/or bring back the love of God into your life?

 

 

 

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?

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.

Recently one of the members of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons or LDS) gave an excellent talk entitled “Faith of our Father.”  This talk is excellent for those in the LDS church and all Christians.  I was especially moved by the following remarks:

When my own family contemplates the phrase “faith of our fathers,” often it is the Lutheran faith that comes to mind. For generations our ancestors belonged to that denomination. In fact, my son recently discovered that one of our family lines connects back to Martin Luther himself.

We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God, even without having the fulness of the gospel. We lift our voices in gratitude for their selflessness and courage. We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father.

We believe that it is a fundamental human right to worship “Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”4

As I reflected on these comments my thoughts turned to my sister and brother-in-law who are members of a non-denominational Christian church.  They are youth ministers and feel called to help youth know Jesus.  I’ve been touched as they’ve shared their experiences with me of miracles they’ve seen with prayer, healings they’ve witnessed, places the Lord has called them to go, etc.  It has been a great example to me of how to turn one’s heart over to the Lord and serve as He would serve.  If you want to check out their website it is under my “Evangelical” section of this blog under “Ignite.”  You can read more about their ministry and how the Lord is working in their lives.

Next, I thought about my mother who is a member of another Christian faith.  She is another great example of following her heart and following the Lord.  She is always calling me with some great scriptures she has read and something she’s heard from one of her favorite pastors on Christian radio.  I also love praying together with her and the sincerity she as a Christian shows for the Lord. She is another great example of a righteous woman who has turned her heart to the Lord.  I’m grateful for her example.

I then thought of some of my friends from other faiths who have helped me throughout my life.  Many of whom have commented on this blog from time to time.  One such friend commented in one of my earlier posts entitled “Receiving and Recognizing Answers to Prayer” when she made a comment on how prayer is a sacred conversation.  Some more of my Christian friends made some good comments and analogies on the “Making our Hearts a Manger” post a couple months ago.

Also, there are many of you who frequent this site who are at varying stages in spirituality…most are Christian and a few do not profess any faith that I have learned from and respect.  Some of you I’ve emailed personally and responded to personally and I appreciate your example of continuing to learn and grow and the desire to be closer to Jesus.  It helps me with my relationship with the Lord. 

I want to thank you personally for sharing what you have learned and continue to learn.  I feel we all are from the same God who created us and that He works through us as we are willing to learn and come to Him through prayer.  Sincere seekers of truth in all religions and faiths sharing their ideas and spiritual growth are what makes us all grow closer to God and Jesus Christ.  I hope we can all continue to learn and grow together.

In General Conference this week one of the Twelve Apostles, Jeffrey Holland said (paraphrased) that many Christians err in the verses in Revelation 22:18-19 that state:

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

  19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book 
President Holland goes on to state that the “words of the book of this prophecy” are pertaining to only the book of Revelation and that having additional scripture such as the Book of Mormon is not adding or taking away from the book of Revelation.  He says many Christians err in that they think the “book of this prophecy” is the whole Bible and that many books in the Bible were written well after the book of Revelation was written. 
If this is the case, one could argue that even though Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and other scripture, he did indeed add to the book of Revelation in at least five chapters which you can view here (make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the Book of Revelation translations).  One could argue that the hard life Joseph led and the imprisonments he had to face, the many babies that he and Emma had that died, and ultimately what caused his death were all part of the curses described in the book of Revelation.
The curse in Revelation doesn’t only mention adding to the book, but taking away from the book as well.  One could argue on the other hand that Joseph Smith wasn’t adding anything, but he was restoring the “plain and precious truths” that were taken out of the Bible as the Book of Mormon suggests.  One could argue that the “curses” that came as a result were persecution that has happened to other earlier Christians who translated the Bible or to those who don’t have the “fulness of the gospel.”  One could argue that Joseph Smith was persecuted because Satan was trying to thwart the work from progressing, etc. 
I can see why someone could side on the first option.  Especially those Christians who believe the Bible is all God has revealed and ever will reveal and that further revelation isn’t necessary and that throughout all the years there hasn’t been anything taken out of the Bible.  However I personally disagree with this.  I feel that continuing revelation is necessary and that many truths were indeed taken out of the Bible throughout the years.  In addition, if God had prophets and apostles before why wouldn’t he have them now?
What are your thoughts?

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. 

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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