Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bible Teaching from the LDS Perspective

1. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, merciful, kind, and just. God is also holy (incorruptible, pure).
2. He has a perfected body and spirit, and righteous passions
(Most Christians subscribe to the Nicean Creed created by a council of catholic scholars, which says that God is a spirit entity with no body, parts, or passions). This is based on one scripture that says “God is spirit.” And another scripture, which says “God is love.” However, the Bible talks about Moses talking to God face to face and writing the 10 commandments on stone tablets with his finger. Also, other Bible passages talk about God feeling anger, compassion, mercy, love, ect. Differences in doctrine depend on which scriptures you interpret literally and which you interpret figuratively.)
3. God is our Heavenly Father. The Bible talks about us being the spirit offspring of God and entitled to an eternal inheritance in the next life. This special relationship differs from the relationship between God and animals and plants.
4. In spite of our skin color, race, and ethnicities, all humans are spiritual brothers and sisters.
5. Because God is all knowing, he looks down on us from heaven and sees all our actions and knows all of our thoughts and feelings. We can communicate with God through prayer and meditation. Mormons refer to God as Our Heavenly Father. The Bible tells us to be grateful so we give thanks for our blessings in prayer. The Bible tells us to “ask and ye shall receive” so we ask for divine assistance for what we need.
6. God communicated back to us through his Holy Spirit. This permeates all things and is how God can be omnipresent or in all things. This is how God is in our hearts. Through God’s Holy Spirit, He can direct us to do his will and manifest his approval of our actions by entering into our hearts. The Bible calls this communication the “still small voice” and says that it will cause “our hearts will burn within us.” This is the spirit of revelation and means that all people can speak with God.
7. Because God is perfectly kind, He not only knows the trials, adversity and pain we experience from moment to moment, but he cares and is waiting to help us. In our greatest trials Gods spirits can enter into our heart and give us comfort and ease our physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. God’s Holy Spirit is also called “The Comforter”
8. Proof of God’s existence. Some people look at nature and see God in the wonder of creation. To some, the order of the universe, the beauty of the earth, how the physical constants are calibrated perfectly for life to exist testify that there is a great creator and architect of the heavens and the earth. Others believe the accounts of God appearing to certain men written in Holy Scripture like the Bible. And others believe because they have had a personal experience with God, felt his Holy Spirit in their heart, experienced a miracle, or an answer to prayer.

Pre-mortal existence:
1. There is no beginning and there is no end to existence
2. At some point God took our raw intelligence and organized our spirit and the spirits of every person, animal, plant, and rock.
3. Our innocent spirits lived in heaven with God and received our first lessons about God and his plan for us.
4. Although we are considered children of God we were not like God because we did not have a body that we could use to act and to create life.

The Great Plan of Happiness and Salvation:
1. It is God’s work to help us grow and develop to obtain “eternal life” or life with God and life like God lives. The Bible says Eternal life is to “know God.” We can only really know God if we can “walk in his footsteps” so-to-speak, and do a little of what he does.
2. God creates life and it is his plan to share his power to create life. This is why marriage and raising a happy family is so important. No matter what a person achieves or accomplishes in the world in terms of service, praise, or material gain, it is a universal truth that we experience our greatest joys and learn our greatest lessons in the context of our own family relationships. God is a parent so we learn about God by being parents. Despite world population, this is why the Bible tells Adam and Eve and everyone to have children and be parents.
3. So, God presented a plan whereby we would be tested. We would come to Earth, get a body in which we could act, do, create life and be parents. A vale was placed over our memory so we cannot remember living with God before our birth and how great it was. We are placed in a situation where we are given the freedom to act and where we are influenced by our own natural appetites, the devil, our innate sense of right and wrong (conscience) and by God’s Holy Spirit. So, we are tested to see whom we will listen too and what we will do.
4. Consequently, by following our conscience and God’s Holy Spirit as well as controlling our natural appetites and ignoring the devil we will live a life that God approves of and feel much happiness and joy and go back after this life and live with God in heaven and receive our heavenly inheritance.

The Adversary, Devil, Lucifer, or Satan
1. Satan was known as Lucifer in the pre-mortal existence. He is also a spiritual child of God and one of our spiritual brothers who rebelled against God and the plan of Salvation.
2. The Bible says that Lucifer wanted to take God’s place. He argued that God’s plan was no good and the risks were too great. Many of us would come down to earth, get bodies, give into our animal appetites, forget God and go to hell. He used fear as his weapon.
3. Lucifer proposed an alternate plan to have us come to earth, get bodies, not be given free agency to choose between good and evil but be forced to do Lucifer’s will and then return back to live in heaven again in the same state as we were before. This is the nothing-ventured nothing-gained plan.
4. For his rebellion Satan could no longer be in the presence of God and “Fell from heaven”.
5. The Bible calls this conflict “the war in heaven.” The Bible says that a “third-part” of the spirits in heaven were led away and followed Satan’s plan and were cast out of heaven to the earth without bodies.
6. If you have a body then you accepted God’s plan and rejected Satan’s plan and choose to come to earth.
7. The war in heaven continues on earth as Satan tries to disrupt God’s plan. Satan wants people to sin as much as possible so he can say the plan was never a fare plan.
8. Just as God allows us to choose, make mistakes that sometimes negatively impact others, he also allows Satan to entice us and tempt certain people do terrible things. Although not his intent, Satan becomes part of God’s plan to provide part of the test to see whom we love and will follow in this life. God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he does allow them to happen to teach us. In this way you can rightly believe there is a purpose for everything that happens to us without believing that God caused it.

The Need for a Savior:
1. God is perfect; therefore only perfect people can be in his presence. The Bible says “no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God.” Therefore, if we are unclean at all we cannot return to heaven.
2. God is Just, and has set up the rules and commandments we must follow in order to return to heaven. The reward for perfect obedience is Eternal Life while the punishment for disobedience is damnation.
3. Unfortunately, the Bible says that all man has sinned and has fallen from perfection and therefore cannot return into the presence of God. As is stands, the plan of happiness seems pretty hopeless.
4. However, God is also a merciful God as well as a just God. Now, mercy cannot violate justice. God is not going to say, “well, I know I gave you the rules, and you broke a bunch of them, but ahhhhhhhh, yer so cute, I guess we can overlook a little sin, come on in.” The Bible says that this would make God a liar. The only way to rectify this is to appoint someone to accept our punishment for us. This is not such a radical idea. If I had a debt with the bank, the bank would allow a 3rd-party to pay my debt on my behalf. As long as they get their money the demand of justice have been satisfied. This person who has volunteered to pay our debt with God is Jesus of Nazareth.
5. Jesus Christ lived in heaven with us in the pre-mortal existence. He is the first spirit child of Heavenly Father and therefore our eldest spirit brother.
6. In the same way God has a body (and therefore in one place at a time) but is omnipresent (everywhere at once) through his Holy Spirit, God can be both all-powerful and benevolent at the same time through Jesus Christ. In this way God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit make up the Trinity or Godhead, which the Bible says are “one in purpose.”
7. Jesus Christ was the only physically begotten of God through the Virgin Mary. In this way Jesus Christ was part-God and part-man. He was able to live a sin-free life, and willingly take upon himself our sins and pay our debt with God. Christ’s atonement is much more than dying on the Cross. The night before, Christ secluded himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t profess to understand how this works exactly, but during his prayer he took upon himself the guilt and pain of all our sins which caused him such pain and suffering that he sweat blood from every pore of his body. This experience in the garden is much more than guessing he was going to die the next day and being scared to go through with it. Because Jesus Christ is part-God and part- man he could give his life on the cross and die and he had power over death and come back to life 3 days later.

1. God organized the universe. Mormons do not believe that God created the universe “ex nilo” or from nothing. Rather, God organized everything spiritually and physically from materials and raw intelligence that already existed.
2. There are creative periods described in which light and dark were created, land was separated from the waters, plants and animals were placed in the earth, and man and women were created. There has always been considerable conflict between evolutionist and creationists about the details. Mormon’s feel that the creative periods could have been millions or even billions of years long, and the God can use the processes of nature in the creation process. God is not confined by time and everything is present to him. Mormons believe that science and religion can harmonize together.
3. However, the evolutionist theory has been used to support the Social Darwin Philosophy that man evolved from pond scum and therefore is no better than pond scum, which leads people to adopt an “eat or be eaten attitude.” Mormons believe that every person is a child of God and that we should therefore treat everyone like we would want to be treated.

The Fall of Adam:
1. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden. They were in a state of innocence. The Bible says the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam. This means that she was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved." This sets the example for the traditional family and the proper relationship between husband and wife.
2. Adam and Eve were given a commandment to not eat the fruit of a certain tree and if they did they would both eventually suffer physical death as well as immediate spiritual death and be forced to leave the presence of God in the Garden. Satan tempted Adam and Eve, they ate the fruit and were thrown out of the garden and eventually died. Their sin was not only eating the fruit but also eating it after listening to Satan. They again followed Satan by feeling embarrassed after eating the fruit and covering their loins with fig leaves after he mocked them for being naked. Evil is doing the will of Satan while Good is following God, whatever it is.
3. Adam and Eve where taught the plan of salvation and about Jesus Christ who would come at some future point to overcome the consequences sin or physical and spiritual death (separation from your body and from God) Adam and Eve accepted Christ, were the first Christians, and taught these things to their children.

Accepting Jesus Christ:
1. There is some difference among Christians about what is necessary to do this. All are agreed that the first thing required is to have faith. Faith is believing in something that you think is true such that your belief causes you to act in a certain ways. Faith assumes that belief is based on imperfect knowledge such as circumstantial evidence and not “iron clad” proof. This is like using a seat belt. You use it because you believe it can save your life even if you have never been in a car accident before. However, talking about seatbelt safety is not really faith if you don’t actually put it on every time you get into a car. In the same way, saying you belief in Jesus and going to church is not really faith unless you try to live a Christ-like life.
2. The second step is repentance. This means changing your actions to follow God’s commandments and follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Repentance requires acknowledging your mistakes, feeling true sorrow for sin (and not just for getting caught), confessing and making restitution if possible, and then not doing the sin again.
3. Why do you need to change if Jesus is going to pay for your debt in the end? The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, although infinite, is not to be considered a blank check or credit card with an unlimited balance. We shouldn’t have a “heck, lets max out the account” attitude especially when you realize that you would be maliciously adding to the pain and suffering Christ experienced in the Garden. Faith in Christ means, love for Christ, and a desire to never sin again.
4. Why is repentance important? Eternal Life is like becoming a concert pianist. We have all been given the gift or talent to gain Salvation. But we need to work at it to develop that talent. The piano isn’t much fun if all we learn to do is tap out “chop sticks.” With Christ as our master teacher we are given time in this life to practice and refine our skills until we can play and enjoy the beautiful heavenly music. Repentance is a process of recognizing our weaknesses and overcoming them with Christ’s help, step by step, “grace to grace” and “line upon line, precept upon precept.”
5. Baptism. Christianity has a pattern of requiring outward expressions, which represent an inward commitment. Baptism by immersion as Christ himself was by John the Baptist in the New Testament signifies Christ’s death and resurrection as well as your own rebirth and a newness of life as a follower of Jesus Christ. The Bible talks about being baptized by water and of the spirit. The baptism of the spirit represents the personal change a person feels when they accept Christ, which is more than just going through the motions of being dunked under water. Believers who have felt this baptism of the spirit, baptism by fire, or baptism by the Holy Spirit consider themselves “Born Again Christians.”
6. Baby’s have no need for baptism. Jesus Christ taught that men must “become like little children” and that “of such is the Kingdom of Heaven” If a baby dies before the age of understanding and accountability, then through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ all debts are paid and that child is guaranteed Eternal Life. The Bible teaches that children are incapable of sin. Also, the Bible teaches that men are judged according to their understanding. This means if someone lived the best they knew how, and never accepted Christ because they never were taught about him, then they would be covered because by their actions they accepted Christ through their faith in God and striving to do right. However, they will at some point need, in the next life and before judgment, to be taught about Christ and accept him. The Bible says that one-day “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.”

Spirit World After Death:
1. Death is the separation of the spirit from the body. Body + Spirit = Soul. The body without the spirit is like a glove on a hand. It is inanimate and turns “back to dust from whence it came.” The spirit is still thinking, aware, remains on earth, but enters into a different dimension. There is countless accounts of near-death experiences were people during a code situation were floating above their bodies, could see and hear things going on in the room and then pass through a tunnel of light into another world. These people are usually greeted by someone they know and told that it is not their time and escorted back to their bodies.
2. The Bible talks about 2 places in the World of Spirits, called paradise and prison. The vale over our memory is still not taken from off our minds. We are the same people we were before. But in the spirit world all people will be taught about Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation. The wicked will suffer severe punishment for their sins at this time depending on the severity of the sins. Good people will have to opportunity to teach about or learn about and accept Jesus Christ while waiting for the resurrection and final judgment. This is a busy period with much work to be done. There is no sitting on a cloud and strumming a harp here. This is the heaven and hell that most churches talk about. However, Mormon’s believe the Bible teaches that this period does not last forever.

1. The Bible teaches that everyone (all those who came to earth), good and bad, righteous and wicked will be resurrected at some point after the Spirit World. This means, that just like Jesus Christ rose from the dead, all people will receive a perfect body again in the prime of life. The scriptures say, “Not a hair of the head shall be lost.” Can you imagine the joy a developmentally handicapped person will feel to finally have a perfect body and to be able to run, jump and do everything that other people could do but could only watch. This is a free gift for our faith in coming to earth. Satan and his angels refused this reward.

Judgment Day:
1. This is a belief that everyone will one day sometime after death and being resurrection that we will all be brought to stand before God to be judged of our actions, thoughts, and desires. The Bible teaches that we will judge ourselves. The vale over our memory will be lifted and we will then have a “bright recollection of all our guilt” on the one hand or “of our righteousness” and faith in Christ on the other. People will no longer be able to rationalize and excuse their sins while standing before God. Just imaging how different we could behave if we remembered that we would one day have whatever bad we were doing replayed to us in vivid detail while standing before God. I still don’t feel ready for this final exam. If we accept Christ then God says he will “remember our sins no more.”
2. The Bible teaches, “God is love” and that in heaven “all things (gifts, talents) pass away, but charity (the pure love of Christ), never faileth.” So, the most important thing we can develop to be ready to stand before God is to develop love for others through selfless service. The Bible teaches to “lift the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees” and to “clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and visit the sick.” Then when we stand before God we will feel the love, peace, and joy of his Holy Spirit with in us instead of feeling fear and unworthiness.

1. The Bible teaches that “in my father’s house there are many mansions” and that Heaven is divided into 3 degrees of glory “like the glory of the sun, the moon, and the stars.” After the resurrection, people will be resurrected to differing states of glory, power, and ability depending on their faith in Christ in this life. Those who are faithful will enter into the highest degree of heaven “third heaven’ and dwell with God the Father at obtain Eternal Life. Those who were good and honorable but not valiant in their faith in Christ will be able to dwell in the Terestial Kingdom with Jesus Christ and to be ministering angels forever. The liars and murders and wicked wicked will not be punished in spirit hell forever, but eventually will be resurrected to and obtain the Telestial Kingdom and will be accompanied by the Holy Spirit. Satan and his angels who refused to follow God’s plan and a select few mortals called sons of perdition will receive no glory and go to a place the Bible calls “Outer Darkness.”
2. While everyone is resurrected, and most everyone will receive some sort of salvation from Outer Darkness, only those in the Celestial Kingdom will have Eternal Progression and will be able to continue to develop into becoming more like our Heavenly Father. All others, though saved from hell, are still damned in that they cease in their development and ability to create and procreate.

Eternal Families:
1. When Christ was on the earth he gave authority to Peter, who was to lead the church after Christ left to baptize and to do marriages and to conduct the business of the church. This authority is called the Priesthood. Jesus said that this authority represented the “keys of the kingdom, and whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.” So, if Peter was to marry someone, that couple if they were righteous and faithful would be married for this life and into the next---Forever.
2. The Mormon church is the only church to marry a husband and wife “for time and all eternity” while all other churches and government officials marry a couple “until death do you part” or “for as long as you both shall live.” However, I find that most people who go to other churches believe that families can be forever despite what their church teaches.
3. The Bible teaches us to “lay up in store treasures in heaven where moth and rust doth not corrupt.” Mormons understand that our relationship with God, Jesus Christ, our family, and friends are the most precious treasures we can take with us into the next life.

The Bible Story:
OLD TESTAMENT: Law (5 Books of Moses), Writings, and Prophets
1. The creation
2. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the Fall
3. Tempted by Satan, Cain kills Abel
4. Adam’s children listen to Satan more than God
5. Noah builds the ark and the wicked killed by flood
6. People build tower of Babel (Iraq), and languages confounded
7. Abraham wants to worship the true God and leaves Ur (Syria) and settles in Caanan (Israel) and meets the High Priest Melchizedek, King of Salem, who teaches him and helps him become a high priest over his family.
8. Priesthood authority and birthright passed from Abraham to Isaac, then Jacob, and then Joseph.
9. Joseph on the 12 sons of Israel (Jacob) is sold as a slave into Egypt due to jealousy
10. Joseph saves his family during the drought and famine by giving them food when they come to Egypt for help many years later. Joseph is a friend to Pharaoh.
11. Pharaoh in Egypt fears the Israelites numbers and orders all Israelite children killed. Moses (an Israelite) is hidden in basket and raised by Pharaoh’s wife.
12. Moses finds out who he is and leaves Egypt to find the true God and finds Jethro, the High Priest of Midian who helps him become a high priest over his people.
13. Moses performs miracles in Egypt and frees the Israelites from bondage, parts the Red Sea.
14. The Israelites rebel against Moses and wonder in the desert for 40 years, 10 commandments given
15. Israelites enter Caanan, take over the land, and settle.
16. Israelites adopt false religious practices of neighbors, cursed with numerous wars, judges appointed
17. Reign of King Saul, David, and Solomon. David kills Goliath. David writes Psalms, Solomon writes Proverbs
18. Israel divided into Northern and Southern Kingdom due to jealousy of Tribe of Ephraim of Judah
19. Assyria (Syria) conquers and scatters northern Israel and northern 10 tribes of Israel.
20. Isaiah gets southern Israel to repent, pray for salvation, Assyrian army decimated overnight.
21. Jeremiah warns Israel (Judah and Benjamin) of Babylon, Babylon conquers southern Israel.
22. Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar and Jews allowed to return to Israel
23. Jews rebuild Temple, Prophets tell of future coming of Messiah (Savior).
NEW TESTAMENT: 4 Gospels of Jesus Christ, Acts of Apostles, Pauline Letters, Revelations
24. John the Baptist, son of High Priest Zacharias, forms independent Jewish sect
25. John the Baptist baptizes Jesus of Nazareth
26. Jesus Begins his public ministry at age 30
27. Jesus teaches doctrine of “love your enemy” and “turn the other cheek.”
28. Jesus performs miracles: water to wine, healing sick, feeding 5000, and raising Lazareth from the dead
29. Jesus predicts own death and institutes bread and water in commemoration
30. Jesus prays in Garden of Gethsemane
31. Jesus is betrayed by Judas, tried, mocked, beaten, and crucified
32. Jesus resurrects and sends missionaries throughout the world
33. Peter and church receives gift of Holy Spirit on Day of Pentecost
34. Peter and other Apostles establish churches throughout Mediterranean
35. Saul sees vision of Jesus and is converted, changes name to Paul
36. Paul and other Apostles write letters to several churches to clarify doctrine
37. John writes cryptic letter while exiled to Island of Patmos to churches in Asia to encourage patience in persecutions, and foretells the gathering of the scattered tribes of Isreal, Jesus Christ’s return to earth, and millennial peace and joy of Eternal Life.

History of Christianity:
0-30 AD John the Baptist foretells the coming of the Messiah
30-33 AD Jesus Christ ministries
33-60 AD Apostles establish churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria
60-90 AD Peter, Paul, James (brother of Jesus), Phillip, Barnabas Martyred
90-120 AD John exiled to Patmos, writes Book of Revelations
120-300 AD Pre-Nicene Christianity, Christianity spreads in Roman Empire, great persecution, no doctrinal unity. Seemingly no central control and regulation of the church.
313 AD Edict of Milan legalizes Christianity
325 AD Constantine calles 1st Ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 to unify Christian Doctrine with regard to understanding of God and Jesus Christ.
300-476 AD Nicaean Christianity, 7 Ecumenical councils convened to decide doctrine. Rome Falls 476 AD
500-1000 AD Early Middle Ages
1054 East-West Schism split between Eastern (Orthodox Christianity) and Western (Roman Catholic) churches formalized
1000-1274 AD Renaissance
1252 May 15, Pope Innocent IV authorized use of torture in Inquisitions
1274-Present AD Protestant Churches split off from Catholic church due to different interpretations of the Bible and in response to religious intolerance of Catholic church. Protestant Churches include Luthern, Church of England (Presbyterian and Anglican), Methodist, Baptist ect.

Apostasy and Restoration:
1. Mormons believe that after the martyrdom of the Apostles that the Priesthood authority and true doctrines were lost from the Earth. This period is known as the Apostasy or Great Falling Away (from the truth). Evidence is the period of the Dark Ages where nearly all-secular as well as religious truth was taken from the Earth for a time.
2. In 1820 a young uneducated boy, Joseph Smith, kneels in prayer in a grove of trees to ask which of all the Christian churches is God’s church. He receives a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ who speaks to him and tell him that all Christian churches have much good in them but none are His true church and that he should join none of them. Joseph Smith is called by God as a prophet like Moses in the Bible and until his martyrdom in 1844 he brought to light addition scripture “the Book of Mormon,” “Doctrine and Covenants,” and the “Pearl of Great Price.” He restored the Melchizedek priesthood authority; the organization of the Church of Christ as it was organized in the Bible with Prophets, 12 Apostles, lay clergy, and missionaries; as well as knowledge of true Christian doctrine and a clear understanding of the Bible.

Why am I Mormon?

My parents grew up in L.A. My dad's family was Catholic. His father was an abusive alcoholic and his parents eventually divorced, but my dad did well in high school. He went through confirmation and became student body president. At this time their neighbors were Mormon, and one day my dad found a Book of Mormon in his yard. He started reading it along with the Bible each night and prayed to know if it was really God's word. He felt very strongly that he should follow its teachings, and he converted at age 18.

My mom went to many churches trying to find what she felt was the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and when she finally went to the Mormon church she felt something undeniable that this was really "it". She had tried many different faiths that had good aspects to them, but this time she found real answers to all the questions about the purpose of life. She felt that God had led her to find it. She also converted as she was starting college, and my parents met around this same time as well.

One of the teachings of the L.D.S. Church that really resonated with my parents was that families can be together forever, not just "til death do you part". They wanted to build a really strong family, especially since they had never had that in their families growing up. I feel like they succeeded; of course we had a lot of the common challenges when I was growing up, such as health problems (my mom had Rh incompatibility before Rhogam) and financial issues as my dad's employment was unstable at times , but we always felt our faith carried us through the challenges. I feel close to my siblings and we feel that the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has given us relationships that we really WANT to last forever, something not all families feel!

My parents moved to Salt Lake City when I was little, so I grew up with lots of Mormon friends, but my wife did not have that kind of background. She grew up in Atlanta with few Mormon kids in her schools, but her parents taught her early on that she had to find out for herself what she believed in and not just follow blindly.

My wife and I met in college, and we've been married for 7 years. We are proud parents of 3 really cute (biased, yes) kids- ages 6, 3, and 1. We feel like there have already been times in our marriage and with our kids that our faith has been tested, like when we lost a baby- stillborn at 32 weeks. We are thankful for our faith for the big things like that as well as just the every-day questions of our 6 year old, like "How do I know God is really there if I never see him?" and "Where was I before I was born? Where do you go when you die?" We feel confident in our answers, and we do guide him in explaining the scriptures, but of course we also want him to get answers for himself as soon as possible by learning to pray and feel the Holy Spirit guide his own life. We tell him we can't get faith for him any more than we can eat for him (the same will go for our girls as they get old enough to ask!).

We love living in the South; there seems to be a very positive Christian influence in Augusta. For example, our neighbors next door are Southern Baptist, they are really wonderful people and we've become good friends. The only unfortunate thing is to think, "Your religion calls our religion a cult," so we don't take it personally, and with over 12 million members, it would be a pretty big cult if it were a cult.

But we know that they believe in the same Bible we do, and it's actually the exact same principles taught in the Bible that make us believe in the Book of Mormon too. For example, over and over in the Bible, God called a prophet for the people and then eventually they fell into unbelief, so God called another prophet in the next era. So, who's to say God can't do that in our era? Where does faith stop? We believe that God called a prophet named Joseph Smith, and he brought forth the Book of Mormon as a further witness of Jesus Christ.

Another thing I've learned from the Bible is that you don't have to be in the majority to follow God (think Noah, Jesus's followers during his life, etc.) Very few of the believers in the Bible were part of the mainstream religious viewpoint of the time. So, we know that some people says Mormons are not in the mainstream religious culture, but we feel that any religion that teaches you to live as peacefully and Christ-like as you can doesn't need to be worried if that's not considered the majority viewpoint.

But most of all, I am Mormon because after reading the scriptures and studying it out in my mind, I aksed God in the name of Jesus Christ if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His true chruch and kingdom on Earth, and God answered my prayer in the Affirmitive. Like Christ's disciples of old, The Holy Spirit revealed to my heart and mind that it was true. I heard a "still small voice" and I felt a my heart"burn" within me as well as feeling a undeniable peace, love, and joy than entered into every fiber of my being. This experience was not singular, but as I have dilligently stived to follow Christ, I have felt the feelings of the Holy Spirit again and again confiming the truthfulness that God is our Heavenly Father, Christ lives, Joseph Smith was called a prophet like Moses, and the Book of Mormon in God's word like the Bible.

To find out more visit
www.mormon.org. Come and See!

Prayer and Answers

(Matt 6:5) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

(Matt 7:7) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

(James1:5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

(3Ne 18) Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed. And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not; But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.

(2Ne32) For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

(Alma 34) Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you; Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness. Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase. But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you. And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.

(1Kings 19:11) And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

(Num 11:27) And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

(Matt 16:13) When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will agive unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

(Luke 24:13) And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. . . . . And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

(John 7:16) Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

(Gal 5: 22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

(John 14:26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

(Alma 5:45) And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

(3Ne 11:3) And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.

(Moro 10) 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. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.

[The Doctrine and Covenants is a book of compiled revelations, accepted as scripture, from God to Joseph Smith. Whereas the Book of Mormon is a record of American prophets in ancient times, The Doctrine and Covenants is the voice of God to us in our day. (
http://scriptures.lds.org/en/contents) Also, members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that there is a living prophet today who continues to receive revelation. Read the The Proclamation to the World on the Family as an example (http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates$fn=default.htm$xhitlist_q=proclamation$xhitlist_x=Simple$xhitlist_s=relevance-weight$xhitlist_d=$xhitlist_hc=%5BXML%5D%5Bkwic%2C0%5D$xhitlist_xsl=xhitlist.xsl$xhitlist_vpc=first$xhitlist_sel=title%3Bpath%3Bcontent-type%3Bhome-title%3Bhit-context%3Bfield%3Azr%3Bfield%3Aref)]

(D&C 6:22) Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

(D&C 9:7) Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong;

Bible on Eternal Marriage

I was doing some studies about eternal marriage and I wanted to compile some great bible scriptures which support this doctrine. Of coarse, even the Bible teaches that the Bible itself is not the "gold standard" when it comes to truth. The Bible teaches to "ask God" in prayer: "ask and ye will recieve, knock and it shall be opened up to you" When it comes to making important decisions, the same scripture study, pondering, prayer and fasting that you can do to know God's will, works in any situation. The Book of Mormon says "By the power of the Holy Ghost ye can know the truth of all things" Obviously, any true doctrine shouldnt contradict the Bible. I'll try and keep it pithy.

(Gen 2:18) "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. "

The word help used in the verse in hebrew is "ezer" which is the transliterated root for the latin word Ebenezer which is a name of Christ meaning "Divine Enabler." The only other person or place "ezer," translated help, is used in the Bible is with reference to Christ. I think that speaks volumes about our wives' special role in our lives. Pop culture has ruined this truth and turned what should mean "divine enabler, who corresponds to and compliments him" into the word "helpmeet" with it's negative conotation akin to doormat.

Matthew Henry states: "The woman was not made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved."

(Gen. 2: 24) "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

Christ commanded that we be perfect (Matt. 5: 48) "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Many other scriptures connect the idea of being perfect with that of being one. This suggests that although Christ is the only path to salvation, that Christ has given us our wives, families, and his church to help in the process to unify and perfect us.

(John 17:22)That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one;

(Eph 4:11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

This scripture clearly teaches that "the act of marriage" is not sin but that man and woman are commanded to do so by God as well as to "multiply and replenish the earth." The "act of marriage" becomes a symbolic gesture that reminds us of the sacred vows, covenants and promises we made to our wife on our wedding day. This is like how when a believer partakes of the bread and water in rememberance of Jesus Christ he is reminded of the promises and covenants he made the day he accepted Christ through baptism and being born again (baptism of fire). In this way "the act of marriage" or becoming "one flesh" is the sacrament of the marriage covenant. In this light, the believer understands how important it is to practice strict chastity before marriage as well as complete fidelity within marriage. While some Christians teach that "the act of marriage" is sin, while others swing the pendulum way too far the other way and believe that sex is a way to commune with God. The truth is that a husband and wife legally and lawfully married to one another can privately and intimately experience both physical, emotional, and spiritual blessings through righteous obedience to this principle.

(Matt 16:19) "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Priesthood authority was given to Peter that whatever ordinance or performance he did on earth would be in force in heaven. Therefore, if he baptized someone on earth, that contractual or covenant agreement would be in force in heaven. Also, if he married someone, that covenant agreement would also be in force in heaven. The keys of the kingdom is God's authority given to man to act in his name. Adam gave it to Abel and then to Seth. Noah gave it to Shem whose descendent was Abraham. Abraham left Ur to and recieved the priestood from Melchisedec (High Priest of Selem). Abraham gave the birthright to Isaac and then Jacob. Then due to sins of the older brothers the authority was divided between Judah and Joseph and then given to Ephriam (causing much jeolosy and eventual division of Isreal). Moses left Egypt and recieved this authority by Jethro (High Priest of Midian). Then a lesser priesthood was given to the Levites and to the Sons of Aaron because of disobedience. Zacharias gave this priesthood to his son John the Baptist who left the apostate jewish order to teach in the wilderness but who said that he had the authortiy to baptise with water, but Jesus would have power to baptise with fire and with the spirit. Jesus restored the higher priesthood and Jesus is called a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.

[Righteous Genitiles are the tribe of Ephriam who was an adopted son or tribe of Isreal. Just as Joseph was sold into Egypt and proved the salvation of the other brothers, so to will Joseph prove the salvation of the other 10 tribes of Isreal in the last days in preparation of the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the marvelous work and a wonder to which Isaiah speaks].

This authority was given to Peter and all the Apostles but was lost when all the Apostles were martyred. (Matt 17) Moses and Elijah appeared as transfigured beings to restore the keys of their dispensation to Peter James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. But the Great Apostasy or falling away did soon occur as Amos foresaw (Amos 8:11) "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it." Now there have been periods of unbelief like in the Days of Abraham and Moses but not a time in human history when the authority of God could not be found anywhere on the earth. Abraham and Moses had to leave home to find it, but find it they did. Such was the extent of the spiritual famine during the Dark Ages.

(Mark 12:24) "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

The Pharisees came tempting Jesus proposing the scenerio of what would happen if a woman married a man who died without her bearing a child and then according to Jewish law she was given to brother 1-7 and they all died. In the ressurection whose would she be. God chastized them for "[denying] the power of God" Yes, angels aren't given in marriage or married in heaven. But that doesnt mean that as men they weren't already married on earth which still has effect in heaven. This is the power of God. See, she was married to the first husband for time and eternity and married to the other brothers for time only "until death do us part."

(Matt. 19:6) “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

(Matt. 6: 20) "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal"
Our relationships are among the few things we can take with us into the next life. Family relationships being the most precious.

(Eph 5:25) "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it"

(1Cor 11:11) "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord."

(1Cor7) Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

I understand how this is interpreted by other churches. I do not fully understand everything that Paul is saying "by permission" or "by counsel" and not "of commandment" I think Paul thought it better that he was single because of the dangerous travel that he did and the imprisionment and persecution that he expected would soon come.

(Titus 1) For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince.

Titus is instructed to travel and establish the church by ordaining married men to offices in the Melchisedec Priesthood just as the Apostles did in the Book of Acts. This priesthood authority to govern the home and the church is later refered to by Paul to Timothy when he says (1 Tim. 4: 14) Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. So, the passing on of this authority is done by prayer and revelation and by blessing or conferring by the laying on of the hands. So, the Catholic's priority on having an unbroken line of authority is an important doctrine. Unlike John Wesley who founded the Methodists Chuch and whose brother Charles commented on his ordaining clergy, "How easily are bishops made, By man or woman’s whim: Wesley his hands on Coke hath laid, But who laid hands on him?" This sheds some light on the process involved with the 11 Apostles met together after the betrail and death of Judas to fill the vacancy in the governing quorem of the 12 Apostles and the “lot fell” upon Matthias. I don't think there was any dice rolling involved.

Joseph Smith revealed that we are to focus on genealogy and family history so that we can research our family and perform these ordainances in the Temple on their behalf. Thus creating an unbroken chain of family relationships. Remember angels can't do this work. It is work to be done by man on earth. Now really, this work is really time consuming. Why would we be doing it unless it was inspired. This is how the thief next to Christ could be with him in paridise.

(Obadiah 1:17,21) But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’s.
(Mal 1:4) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
(1Cor 15:29) Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirkland Temple and restored the keys and knowledge about work for our kindred dead on 3 April 1836. The Jews are still waiting and leave an empty seat for him at their passover feast.

I know that the "Mormon" church isn't seen as a Christian mainstream. But God has revealed to me throught the power of his spirit through scripture study, pondering, fasting and prayer that families can be eternal the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is his kingdom on earth and the only fully true church on the earth today. But don't take my word for it. "Trust not in the arm of flesh" Find out for yourself.