Friday, January 31, 2014

We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ...



Number One Misconception about Mormons

Mormons are not Christian



As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), I would answer, "Yes, I am a Christian."  From the scriptures...

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (Nephi 25:26).
 
But of course I'm going to say that.  I'm a Mormon.  I guess we need to back up a little and define what Christianity is.

Wikipedia defines Christianity as "a monotheistic religion based on the life and oral teachings of Jesus as presented in the New Testament."

Based on that definition, yes, Mormons are Christians.  We read the Bible and are encouraged to study the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  We are encouraged to pattern our lives after His and to seek out opportunities to lift and serve others, so that others will come to know Jesus Christ.

So why is there a question about whether or not Mormons are Christians?

A few Christians of other denominations have told me:

"You worship a different Jesus Christ."



I think their belief is based on the LDS Church's use of The Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon is a record of God's dealings with some Israelites who left Jerusalem and traveled to the Americas.  It details their belief in Jesus Christ and includes an account of His visit to those people after His resurrection.  Remember the scripture from the New Testament in which Jesus Christ refers to His "other sheep"? 

John 10:16 
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ visited these Israelites, His "other sheep", in the Americas after His resurrection.


This video depicts how we imagine it would have been based upon the scriptural account found in 3 Nephi.  (To read the scriptural account of Jesus Christ's visit to the people in the Americas, click here.)  Jesus Christ healed the sick and lame and blessed the children.  It is a beautiful video.  Please take a moment to view it.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Women and the Priesthood

I have heard a lot of talk lately about women and their desire to be ordained to the Priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka LDS Church or Mormon Church).

  • Why can't women hold the priesthood?  It's archaic that the priesthood is a "male only" institution.
  • Bishops and Relief Society presidents are supporting this.  How can it be bad if they feel it's the right thing and the natural next step?
  • What do women do when they don't have a worthy priesthood holder in their house?  They should be able to bless their own children.
  • What's wrong with asking the Prophet to receive a revelation asking for women to receive the priesthood?
  • It used to be that only white men could hold the priesthood, and now all worthy men can receive it.  Women are next.  As civilization progresses, we realize that women are as good as men and should be able to have all the same opportunities.

I could go on and on.

First, if you aren't LDS (Mormon), here's a little background.  The Priesthood is the authority to act in God's name with His power to help others: perform saving ordinances, provide blessings, etc.  Beginning in Old Testament times, God bestowed His priesthood on worthy men.  When Jesus Christ was on the Earth, He bestowed the priesthood on worthy men.  While there is some information in the Bible about righteous, worthy women, they were not Priesthood holders.  When The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established, it was not simply a church that was made up by a mortal individual or group of individuals.  It was restored by God through His chosen servant (Joseph Smith, Jr.) and is His church.

God established His church on the Earth to help His children return home to live with Him.  How do we do that: return to live with our Heavenly Father?  We need to do the best we can to draw closer to God, to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and His atonement, to learn to rely upon God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to live what we believe to the best of our ability trusting in Jesus Christ's atonement.

Each child of God is unique.  We have unique talents, attributes, and opportunities.  God created each of us as a unique son or daughter.  Gender is an integral part of our identity.  As a daughter of God, I have had the privilege to give birth to 4 wonderful sons.  Giving birth is a human trait unique to females.  Is it unfair that men can't give birth?  Men have the opportunity to bear the priesthood.  Is that the same as being able to bear life?  No, but the priesthood can only be used to serve others, not oneself.

I believe that both of these unique opportunities (women to bear children and men to bear the priesthood) are necessary for our growth during this mortal experience.   They teach us to care more about others' needs than our own and push us to our limits. 

In today's society, the media is mindful about making fun of women, minorities, etc., but if you watch any sitcom, men are usually the bumbling fools who need to be saved by the women in their lives.  In schools, boys are failing at a higher rate then girls.  More girls than boys attend and complete college.  More young men are in prison, and the rate seems to be increasing.

Is there are correlation between the media portrayal of men and these alarming facts?  I don't know. 
But I do know that people, especially children, tend to live up to whatever expectations you have of them.  If you expect them to fail, they usually will.

What does this have to do with the Priesthood?  If a man's only role model is the clown on TV, he has no true role model.  My husband is a righteous priesthood holder.  He sets such a wonderful example for my sons.   As a bearer of the priesthood, I know he feels the weight of this responsibility, and, as good a man as he is, he is even better because he wants to be a righteous priesthood holder.  If women held the priesthood, many men would not feel they needed to live up to the standards they should, because the women could do it for them.  (Sorry if that sounds sexist.)


So...  Back to the original questions.
  • Why can't women hold the priesthood?  It's archaic that the priesthood is a "male only" institution.  Because it is the priesthood of God, and God determines who holds it, not man (or woman).  "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways may ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Do you trust God enough to trust in Him and His servants, even if it doesn't match current political or social theories and trends


  • Bishops and Relief Society presidents are supporting this.  How can it be bad if they feel it's the right thing and the natural next step?  Matthew 24:24 reads, "For there shall arise... false prophets, and... they shall deceive the very elect."  A prophet is defined as one chosen by God to speak for Him or one who claims to receive divine inspiration on behalf of others.  The "Ordain Women" movement's leader, Kate Kelly, seems to be claiming divine inspiration on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that she believes deeply that it's time for women to receive the Priesthood.  It sounds to me as if she is putting her inspiration, knowledge, and enlightenment above that of the Prophet of God.  
  • To put this in perspective, President Ezra Taft Benson gave an address at BYU in 1980 speaking about prophets.  He said, "The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or diplomas to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time. Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to his prophet on the same subject" (emphasis added).  In order not to be deceived, we must study, ponder, and pray.  
  • We must listen to God's chosen prophet, not a self appointed one.  If we have questions, we must continue the same pattern: study, ponder, and pray.  Listen to God and to the answers you receive from Him.  He will confirm what His chosen prophet says.


  • What do women do when they don't have a worthy priesthood holder in their house?  They should be able to bless their own children.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides Home Teachers to all families, and they can bless those without a priesthood holder in their home.  Also, prayers are not the sole domain of men.  God hears all righteous prayers and answers them. 


  • What's wrong with asking the Prophet to receive a revelation asking for women to receive the priesthood?  This is being put forth, because Emma Smith asked her husband, Joseph Smith, Jr., about tobacco and alcohol, and He went to the Lord and received the revelation on the Word of Wisdom.  First, Emma was his wife.  It was appropriate for a wife to ask her husband such things.  We no longer have intimate connections with the prophet as the Church of Jesus Christ is so large.  
  •  If you believe that President Monson is the Prophet, a prophet of God, you should know that God will inspire him to ask the right questions.
  • If you have questions, you are to go to your Bishop or Branch President.  If they cannot give you the answers you seek, go to your Stake or Mission President.  They can seek answers from General Authorities, as needed.  Second, you can (and should) pray and ask God for that which you need including answers to your questions.  If you have a question about the priesthood and women, pray and ask God.  Study the scriptures.  Ponder.  Pray again.  He will answer you, and His answer will be correct.

  • It used to be that only white men could hold the priesthood, and now all worthy men can receive it.  Women are next.  As civilization progresses, we realize that women are as good as men and should be able to have all the same opportunities.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Not everything was restored at once when the church was re-established.  However, things are done in God's time.  While I personally do not believe that God will extend the priesthood to women, if it is God's will, it will be done in His due time.  Also, we will not be given additional knowledge and responsibilities without study of existing knowledge (scriptures, conference talks), improving our ability to fulfill the responsibilities we currently have, and sincere prayer.  We must be mindful that God is a God of order and He will reveal things through His chosen servants, not self-appointed ones. 


    Finally, I believe that one of the most helpful and inspiring revelations is The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  Careful study and prayer will answer questions about gender roles and the priesthood (among other things).



    I have a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind.  I know that President Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God.  I know that all can receive their own testimonies and answers to difficult questions through scripture study, deep thought, obedience to the principles of God, and sincere, heartfelt, and humble prayer.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    We Follow Jesus Christ

    Here's the text of a story about the exhibit at the Washington DC Temple Visitor Center (and the link http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-beliefs-explained-at-washington--dc-temple-visitors-center-exhibit).



    News Story —  25 May 2012

    Mormon Beliefs Explained at Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center Exhibit

    Salt Lake City — 

    What do Mormons believe? Are they Christian? How do they worship? Those are a sampling of questions answered by a new exhibit in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (Mormons) visitors’ center in Washington, D.C. The visitors’ center, which draws thousands of people each year, is adjacent to the Washington D.C. Temple.

    “If people are going to ask questions, we need to do everything we can to give them the answers,” said Elder Don Olsen, visitors’ center director. “The Church has many resources to provide people with answers to their questions. We have a beautiful exhibit space and decided we should use it to help in that effort.”
    The exhibit, entitled “We Follow Jesus Christ,” will be on display at the visitors’ center through the end of August. It provides answers to 24 questions about the Church that seem to have captured most people’s interest.

    Among the answers are explanations of Latter-day Saints’ belief in God, the role of men and women in the Church, if Mormons are Christian, political neutrality, religious freedom and the importance of marriage.
    Volunteers are assigned to visitors’ centers to help people gain a basic understanding of the Church. The display helps visitors get answers to specific questions on various topics related to the Church. (See the link We Follow Jesus Christ, in the Additional Resources section at the right.) Much of the material is taken from the Church’s MormonNewsroom.org website, which is a resource for frequently asked questions and official news and statements of the Church.

    “Our missionaries love it,” exclaimed Elder Olsen. “They are using it to supplement the wonderful resources and interactive displays already available in the Visitors’ Center.”

    The display has been very popular with visitors in the few days since its opening. Elder Olsen said a woman who had questions about the Church came into the visitors’ center just after the exhibit opened. “Our missionaries escorted her to the display. She was impressed with the Church’s openness in dealing with the issues and as a result of her experience she asked for more information about the Church.”

    The Washington D.C. Temple is located just off the Capital Beltway in Kensington, Maryland. At night the temple, which has become an important landmark, is well lit and easy to spot. It was dedicated in 1974.
    The Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center has produced a video of their exhibit which can be seen on its Facebook page.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Temple Open House in Atlanta, GA.


    If you've ever been curious about (Mormon) Temples, here is an opportunity to go inside! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Atlanta, Georgia temple was closed for extensive renovation in 2009. Before it reopens later this year, there is a free, no obligation open house and tour. If you're near Atlanta, please take the time to check it out.



    Public Invited to Tour Atlanta Georgia Temple


    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    A Living Prophet of God

    In the Old Testament, God spoke to prophets. He instructed them, inspired them, and gave them authority to act in His name, so they could teach and lead the people righteously.

    "[H]e spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began..." (Luke 1:70).




    “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).


    After the Savior's death and resurrection, many taught righteous principles based upon the Savior's teachings. However, due to the death of the apostles, the authority to act in God's name and to receive revelation on behalf of the people was lost from the earth.



    Individuals could certainly receive answers to their own prayers and receive inspiration (revelation) in their own realm of stewardship (how to raise their families, what was the right choice for them as individuals, etc.), but there was no representative chosen by God to represent Him on the earth. Without a prophet on the earth, we could not receive instruction and guidance as it relates to the gospel in today's society.


    In 1830, the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established. To find out more details about the restoration, please view the following video.





    Today, we have a living prophet who leads, counsels, and guides us. His name is Thomas S. Monson.



    I know that God has restored his gospel to the earth in it's entirety, including selecting a prophet to lead people back to Him.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    The Beginning and The End...

    I've had an interesting week pondering the beginning and the end of life.

    Monday morning, I held a beautiful newborn baby. I was privileged to hold that sweet, little infant who only recently left his Heavenly Father's presence. When I held him, I could feel deep in my heart and soul how precious he is, and how precious we all are as spirit children of God.




    Today, a member of my congregation died. There's nothing like the beginning and the end of life to remind one that God is in charge of all the things that matter.


    As I think of this good man who has returned to his heavenly home, I picture a loving reunion taking place.




    God intended for families to be eternal units. Father, Mother, children, grandparents, etc. Families are made up of not people we associate with only in this life with whom all bonds are severed at death. Family relationships are eternal relationships which can be continued beyond the grave.



    "
    In 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World,' the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles proclaim that 'marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.' God's plan enables families who live the gospel and receive the necessary ordinances to be together forever with Him... When a man and woman are married in the temple, their family can be together forever. This is a common goal of Latter-day Saints." (lds.org)



    I look forward to the day when we all will be reunited with our loved ones beyond the grave in complete families with "no empty chairs."

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    The Scriptures

    I love the scriptures. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for preserving the words of His prophets, so I can read them, and learn about what He wants me to do. I was reading some of the scriptures listed under the topic "the value of scriptures" in the Bible's topical guide. The first one was quite profound.

    Psalm 19:7 - “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”


    I also love this quote from David M. McConkie. It lists a couple of reasons why everyone should read the scriptures:

    [I]t is contrary to the economy of heaven for the Lord to repeat to each of us individually what He has already revealed to us collectively. The scriptures contain the words of Christ. They are the voice of the Lord. Studying the scriptures trains us to hear the Lord’s voice.”


    When I read the scriptures, it strengthens my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. the Mormon church) contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All the components of Christ's church as listed in the Bible are part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    I am grateful that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers, so that I can pray about what I read and receive personal answers, and know of God's will for me and my family.