Sunday, August 19, 2018

It’s Not Mormon’s Church

This week President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked the members of the church and the media to no longer refer to the church as the Mormon Church or LDS. In the new Style Guide – The Name of the Church it states:

While the term "Mormon Church" has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, it is not an authorized title, and the Church discourages its use. Thus, please avoid using the abbreviation "LDS" or the nickname "Mormon" as substitutes for the name of the Church, as in "Mormon Church," "LDS Church," or "Church of the Latter-day Saints."

People inside and outside The Church have used the terms Mormon Church or LDS Church since the beginning of the church so why the change now? Individuals that were not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started calling it the Mormon church because of Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. It did not take long for the members of the church to adopt the term as well. Many people believe that The Mormon Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are two different churches, not the same church.

After Christ’s death and resurrection he appeared to the people living in the Americas and established his church there just as he did in the old world. When the people asked Jesus what they should call the church he answered:

Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;

And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.

Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.

And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. (3 Nephi 27:5-8)

And in a revelation given to Joseph Smith the Lord said: “for thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4)

The Savior made it clear that there would be two things that would distinguish His Church from all others; first – it would be called the Church of Jesus Christ. The true Church of Jesus Christ would not bear a man’s name like Lutheran, Calvinism, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, St. Teresa of Calcutta, or Mormon. It would not be called by the name of the country like Greek Orthodox, Roman Orthodox, the Church of England, etc. Some churches are called after an event such as the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The second way we would know if it is the true Church of Jesus Christ is that it would be built on His Gospel and have his authority. In other words it would teach the same things that the ancient apostles taught, have the same organization as they did, and have the priesthood authority to administer the saving ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Speaking the members of the Church of Jesus Christ in his day, the Apostle Paul stated that they

are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:19-20)

When Christ established his church in the meridian of times he called 12 Apostles and gave them the priesthood authority to cast out devils, heal the sick, baptize, and preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2 and Mark 3:14). After Christ’s death, resurrection, and assentation into Heaven, the remaining eleven Apostles needed to fill the vacancy left by the apostacy and death of Judas. One of the qualifying characteristics was that the new Apostle needed to be a witness of Christ’s ministry and resurrection (Acts 1:22). The authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ can be traced from the head of the Meridian Church which was Peter, James, and John to Jesus Christ who called them and ordained them

As already established in an earlier post (“Why Do Mormons Believe in a Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ?”) – see even I am guilty of using the word Mormon to describe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I need to repent and change as our prophet has asked, the priesthood of God that was given to the ancient apostles was lost due to apostacy. There was no continuation of that authority once the apostles were no longer on the earth. The Catholic church claims that there was a continuation of the priesthood from the Apostle Peter to the Pope; however due to the facts already established The Catholic Church does not bear the name of Jesus Christ nor is it built on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No other church (that I am aware of) claims to have a restoration of the priesthood of God except The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints.

On May 15th 1829, John the Baptist appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and gave them the Aaronic Priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 13), later that month Peter, James, and John appeared to Joseph and Oliver and ordained them to the Melchizedek Priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 27:12), and again on April 3, 1836 Moses, Elias, and Elijah all give Joseph and Oliver other priesthood keys for the gathering of Israel and the sealing ordinances of the temple.

Since the calling and ordination of the Prophet Joseph Smith, there has not been a break in the priesthood authority of each of the succeeding prophets to President Russell M. Nelson, the Lord’s prophet and mouth piece to the world today.
The Lord through his prophet has asked the members of his church to refer to his church as outlined in the Scriptures and according to his commandments. We are not the church of Mormon, nor are was the LDS Church; we are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord himself has stated that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30). You can recognized it is the true church because we have the same foundation of apostles and prophets as the church that Jesus Christ established, we have the restored priesthood of God, and we teach the same Gospel of Jesus Christ that has been established since before the foundations of this earth.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Upon the Palm of His Hands

The following is the sacrament talk I gave today in our ward.  My wife and I spoke today prior to leaving on our full-time mission.

I am grateful for all of our family and friends that have come here today as we leave you and start on an adventure that we have both planned on doing since we were married 43 years ago. We have always talked about serving a mission together and we finally have that opportunity and are excited to serve in the Indianapolis Indiana Mission.

I want to share with you today why we feel so strongly about serving a mission as a couple. First, we are excited to serve in the assignments that we have been given; my wife as the mission nurse and I will serve as the secretary to the Mission President.

In addition to those assignments we are anxious to be part of what President Nelson, speaking to the youth of the church, said is: “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today? . . . to help gather Israel during these precious latter days.”

President Nelson continued:

“Every child of our Heavenly Father deserves the opportunity to choose to follow Jesus Christ, to accept and receive His gospel with all of its blessings—

There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing.

This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to earth.

So my question to you is “Are you willing to enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord to help gather Israel?” (“Worldwide Devotional for Youth”)

I realize that President Nelson was speaking to the youth of the Church and my wife and I don’t quite fit in the “youth” category, but I believe that he was extending the challenge to all members of the church.  Sue and I want to do our part to help the young full-time missionaries in Indiana as they fulfill their calling to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

I know that serving a full-time mission is not always a possibility for all senior couples, but I would recommend it if you can. So if you cannot serve full-time what other ways can you help gather Israel? One of the ways is by sharing your testimony through social media.

In June of 2013, Elder L. Tom Perry invited all members to share the gospel using Facebook and other social media as well as blogs, email, and text messages. I took the challenge and started a blog titled “The Palm of His Hands”, taken from the scripture in Isaiah 49:16. The first message I posted was on June 28, 2013. Since that time I have posted 186 messages that have been read almost 47,000 times. I know these numbers are small compared to some of the more popular LDS bloggers, but each time I post something it grows. In the beginning my messages were read only by two people and I was one of them Now when I post something, people from all over the U.S., France, China, Italy, South Korea, and other countries are reading my messages. Some of the blogs by members that I read are reaching millions every time they post a new message. The full-time missionaries are limited to a small area in their mission and do their best to share the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as they can. The church is limited to the countries that will allow the missionaries to enter their borders. Through social media, the gospel is being shared with millions of people all over the world; there are no limits to where these messages end up.

Elder Bednar, speaking at BYU During Education Week on August 19, 2014 asked the members of the church to:

 sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.” (“To Seep the Earth as with a Flood”)

I invite you to go and read Elder Bednar’s message, it will help teach you how you can share your testimony and minister to your friends on your social media apps.

Many of you may be thinking that you don’t have anything interesting or profound to write about. The best thing to do is to write about your feelings and testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the BYU TV show The Story Trek. The theme of that show is “everyone has a story to tell”. I believe that is true and that as we pray to know what to write you will be prompted by the Holy Ghost. Share your everyday experiences and testimony of how the Lord has blessed your life. When you post those thoughts and someone is searching to know the truth, they may be lead to your posts and you will be an influence in bringing someone closer to Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Your messages do not need to be long, they can be just a simple thought. Fred Sellick is a great example of someone that shares his testimony with his friends on Facebook. For those of you that don’t know Fred, he and his wife were members of our ward. He was a truck driver and he often shared pictures and thoughts of his travels. His messages are short but profound, I love reading them.

I have written about the Book of Mormon, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, faith, modern prophets, and various holiday messages. I have used sports, Harry Potter, my thoughts on marriage and family, experiences with my grandchildren, camping, and the declining morals in our society as topics for my weekly messages. Don’t get overwhelmed by it, you don’t need to post something every week, just do it when prompted. You will be surprised at the impact you have.

I try to relate every day experiences I have had to the Gospel and to the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us individually and is involved in our daily lives. One of my messages was titled “The Faith of a Child” and was about an experience we had with our grandson, Nathan, when he was eight years old. In primary that Sunday they had sung “A Child’s Prayer” and he asked his grandma about the first part of the song that says: “Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer ev’ry child’s prayer?” He wondered why someone would ask that question? He did not doubt that Heavenly Father was real or that he answered his prayers.
Another reason my wife and I want to serve as full-time missionaries is so we can increase our efforts to be ministers of Jesus Christ Why have the brethren changed home and visiting teaching to ministering? I believe it is to help us all come closer to Jesus Christ by developing that Christ like love for all of Heavenly Father’s children.

The following is a quote from the book “The Message” by Lance Richardson. Lance died from an accident and was allowed the opportunity to visit the spirit world and was told he would be permitted to live again and that he was supposed to write of his experiences in the spirit world. While there he met Samuel and Ben they taught him some of the principles that governed the spirit world.

“The greatest principle in the creation of a society such as ours is Service," Samuel said. "Each person in our society is involved in service to others continually. It is the mode of Heaven. It is one of the great eternal principles that creates heaven. Each seeks for the betterment of the whole, not themselves. Each seeks to serve God, our Father, through following His command of 'Love One Another,"

Samuel continued.

"Service is the action form of loving one another. When you truly love someone, you seek to serve them. Your concerns are for their happiness and welfare."

“Ben then explained to me that if the people of this nation would go out and begin serving-first the members of their families more fully, then their neighbors and community, and then their extended family (the brothers and sisters of our nation)-it would do more to change the hearts of this people than any other thing that could be done.

"If you will go out and serve one another," Ben continued, "you will learn to love one another in a way that you have never experienced before. If you will serve one another, you will love God and grow closer to Him. And if you will serve one another, your nation will be transformed into a haven of real peace and freedom. It will, indeed, become a Zion one day." (The Message, pages 86-87)

This book was published in 2000 and I was amazed how it correlated with the vision of what our prophet is trying to help us see. President Nelson and the other general authorities are asking us to increase our efforts to minister to Heavenly Father’s children both those that we come in contact with every day as well as those that have passed on from this mortal life.

As we begin to minister in the manner the Lord Jesus Christ would have us minister, we not only bless the lives of those we serve but we are drawn closer to Christ and have a greater love for him and our brothers and sisters. It begins with us, our families, the church, and it will spread from city to city and bless our nation and all of Heavenly Father’s children. We will truly build a Zion society and become prepared for the second coming of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Another way we can help in bringing others to Christ is to treat everyone as our brother and sister. It should not matter what race, religion, gender, or any other distinguishing factor. We should love everyone as Christ would. Everyone deserves the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel and receive it’s blessings. President Oaks speaking at the “Be One Celebration” this past June challenged all members of the church to:

to put all personal prejudices behind us”, one being is as precious in (Heavenly Father’s) sight as the other” (Jacob 2:21), Let us all look forward in the unity of our faith and trust in the Lord’s promise that “he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). (“A Cause for Celebration”)

President Oaks also said that while we should treat everyone with respect and love, we do should not compromise our standards. The Lord’s commandments are eternal and only through obedience to the commandments will the blessings of the temple and eternal families be realized.

This attitude of ministering to all will have no bounds and it will have no respect to race or nationality. We will treat everyone we meet as children of our Heavenly Father, especially those who feel disadvantaged and rejected by society in general. We will have the same desire as the Sons of Mosiah:

Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thought that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” (Mosiah 28:3)

We are so excited to have the opportunity to serve our mission in Indiana and we hope that we will be able to minster to the friends that I have there as well as the others that we come in contact with and do our best to be part of the “Lord’s Youth Battalion”

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