Tuesday, September 26, 2006

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!

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