Monday, June 1, 2020

Carest Thou Not That We Perish?

We are living in difficult times, the Covid-19 virus is still raging around the world and there have been over 373,000 deaths world-wide. It is difficult to tell if the number of cases is slowing or if it is a temporary decline. The last time the world experienced a pandemic like this was 100 years ago during the influenza pandemic. During that time one third of the world’s population was infected with the virus and 50 million people died.

It is easy to understand why people question if there is a God, then why would he allow these things to happen. Why do bad things happen, especially to good people? Suffering is part of mortality. In Abraham 3:25 we read: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them”. This life is a test to see if we can be faithful and obedient to the things that God asks us to do.

While the scriptures do say that some things God does inflict on us, i.e. the flood, but suffering is also caused by our choices, the choices others make, and by natural disasters. Regardless of where our suffering comes from; the choices we make in how we react to the difficult times will show if we have faith in Jesus’ ability to deliver us and heal our wounds or not. Remember the words that the Lord spoke to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Liberty Jail: “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).

There are two experiences in the Book of Mormon that teaches us about suffering. Remember the people of Limhi that were in bondage to the Lamanites due to their wickedness during the reign of King Noah. Deliverance was hopeless so they tried to defeat the Lamanites in battle and were defeated three times. After the third defeat, they were so humbled that they “submitted themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies. And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.” (Mosiah 21:13-14). They finally were delivered after they had humbled themselves and submitted to God’s will.

The other group was Alma and the people of the church that fled from King Noah. They also were brought into bondage by the Lamanites, but their experience was different than the people of Limhi. Alma and his people were humble and tried to follow the commandments of God. We read that:

“the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” (Mosiah 24:13-15)

Like these people in the Book of Mormon, we can respond to our difficult times by relying on our strength and will power to get through it and finally be forced to be humble, or we can humbly submit and rely on the Lord for deliverance. The burdens of Alma and his people were not taken away, but the Lord strengthened them so that the burdens were made light.

Mortality brings with it lessons in many forms, all of them are meant to give us experience and help us grow. As we go through life’s challenges, we are made stronger and gain understanding that will help us as we minister to others. As we humble ourselves and allow others to minister to us, we learn to love and be submissive to the Lord’s will for us.

Even the Lord’s disciples had to learn to trust in the Lord. One time when they were on a ship a storm arose and they thought that the ship would sink. The Lord was in back asleep and they woke him saying “master, carest thou not that we parish”. Mark says that Christ rose and rebuked the wind saying: “peace be still”, then he asked the disciples: “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:36-40)

This current pandemic will pass, and we will be able to go back to work, to church, and to social events. How we get through this difficult time will show how much faith and trust we have in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. As we trust in the Lord and his plan for us, we can have peace in this world and in the world to come.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Why Am I Here

Why am I here is a question that has been asked since the beginning of time. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has answers to this question, but I do not want to focus on the question of why am I here on earth, I want to talk about why we are where we are today?

When we would train the new missionaries that came to the Indiana Indianapolis Mission, I would always tell them that the Lord called them to serve in Indiana for a purpose and challenged them to go find out what the purpose was and to fulfill it.

Now that my wife and I have returned home from our mission along with missionaries from missions all over the world, I would like to ask the question why are you here (wherever you are)? Just as the missionaries were called to their mission assignment for a reason, there is a purpose for being where we are now. The challenge is to find out what that purpose is and fulfill it.

My favorite quote from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secretes is when Dumbledore tells Harry “it is not your abilities that determine who you are, it’s your choices”. I can testify that if we rely on the Lord as we make our choices that He will guide you to the place where he needs you the most. In a devotional to the students of BYU-Idaho, Elder Bradley Foster said:

“I believe, Brothers and Sisters, one of the hardest things you will ever do in life is to learn to identify and receive direction from the Holy Ghost. You have very difficult decisions to make and unanswered questions in your life right now. Who should you marry? What career should you choose? How can you increase your self-worth? Does the Lord love you? You need to understand that He has placed you here on earth for a purpose. 

“As you struggle through those things, you are experiencing growth and it will be for your good. So don't be impatient with yourself or with this wonderful plan. In your effort to receive revelation as you counsel together as husbands and wives, as families, or as friends, don't exclude Him. Don't take a side door and say that He doesn't answer your prayers. Because He will answer your prayers. Maybe not immediately, but He will answer them-line upon line, precept upon precept, and prayer upon prayer.9 He's trying to help you grow and to become what you need to become.” (So, Where Did You Put the Tigers?)

We may not understand why we are directed to go to the school we chose, or why we felt prompted to accept the job we did or even why we bought the home in the neighborhood we did; but as the years go by we will come to see the Lord’s hand in our decisions. It is much like Ammon and the other son’s of Mosiah when they looked back on their mission to the Lamanites, when Ammon said: “could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?” (Alma 26:1)

Looking back on your full-time mission, or whatever experience you have had; you can see how the Lord blessed you as you brought The Gospel of Jesus Christ to those you taught and those you served as a representative of Jesus Christ. So too, you have been directed by The Lord to live in the area you currently live in. You can be an influence for good to your neighbors, co-worker, and those you serve in your callings in The Church.

Proverbs teaches: “Trust in the Lord with thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding”. (Proverbs 3:5) When we trust in the Lord to direct us, we do not need to wonder why we are at this particular school, this job, or this town; we will know that He has a purpose for us and we need to go find it and fulfill it.

Your comments and questions are welcome

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Love You Forever

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S and I would like to wish my mother, the mother of my children, and the mothers of my grandchildren a happy Mother’s Day by sharing a favorite story by Rober Munsch called “Love You Forever

A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The baby grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old, and he ran all around the house. He pulled all the books off the shelves. He pulled all the food out of the refrigerator and he took his mother's watch and flushed it down the toilet. Sometimes his mother would say, "this kid is driving me CRAZY!"

But at night time, when that two-year-old was quiet, she opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor, looked up over the side of his bed; and if he was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The little boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was nine years old. And he never wanted to come in for dinner, he never wanted to take a bath, and when grandma visited he always said bad words. Sometimes his mother wanted to sell him to the zoo!

But at night time, when he was asleep, the mother quietly opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep, she picked up that nine-year-old boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

The boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a teenager. He had strange friends and he wore strange clothes and he listened to strange music. Sometimes the mother felt like she was in a zoo!

But at night time, when that teenager was asleep, the mother opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep she picked up that great big boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

That teenager grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a grown-up man. He left home and got a house across town. But sometimes on dark nights the mother got into her car and drove across town.  If all the lights in her son's house were out, she opened his bedroom window, crawled across the floor, and looked up over the side of his bed. If that great big man was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

Well, that mother, she got older. She got older and older and older. One day she called up her son and said, "You'd better come see me because I'm very old and sick." So her son came to see her. When he came in the door she tried to sing the song. She sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always...

But she couldn't finish because she was too old and sick. The son went to his mother. He picked her up and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my Mommy you'll be.

When the son came home that night, he stood for a long time at the top of the stairs. Then he went into the room where his very new baby daughter was sleeping. He picked her up in his arms and very slowly rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while he rocked her he sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Therefore What?

My wife and I are no longer full-time missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We arrived home from Indiana yesterday and were officially released today. We are excited to be home, but we are missing the members and the missionaries in the Indiana Indianapolis Mission.

The decision to serve a full-time mission as senior missionaries was the best decision we have made. There is no greater experience than to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church and it was a great blessing. To serve it with my eternal companion made it even better.

President Page, President of the Indiana Indianapolis Mission, always asks at the end of each training session that he does “Therefore What?” He wants the missionaries to think about what they learned and how they are going to apply the principles they were taught. As I look back on our mission and asking, “therefore what?”, what have I learned and how has it changed my life?

Last Day as a Missionary
We learned firsthand that what King Benjamin said: "when you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17) is true. We loved serving Heavenly Father's children in Indiana. We loved serving in the mission office with the other office couples. They were the greatest examples to us in how to love each other and go the extra mile in everything they did.

We learned to love the missionaries in our mission (young and old) as if they were family and we consider them part of our eternal family. We learned how much the Lord loves His missionaries and that he directs the mission through the mission president. The decision about what area the missionaries are to service in and who their companion should be is the Lord’s decision. He understands the trials and opportunities we each have as we serve are understood by the Lord and he knows where we are needed.

The most important lesson I have gained from this experience is that my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his participation in the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has increased. I am amazed that as a young boy, Joseph had a desire to know what his standing before God was and how his desire to know which of all the churches on the earth was God’s Church prompted to ask God. I know that when he went into the grove to pray 200 years ago, that he did indeed see God and Jesus Christ. I know the priesthood authority was given to him and that he established The Church of Jesus Christ under the direction of Jesus Christ himself. I know that Joseph translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God and that it stands as a second witness, along with the Bible, that Jesus is The Christ and that he lives and guides His Church through living prophets today.

Therefore what? I am grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission where I grew up, in Indiana. I am grateful for all the high school friends that I have been able to become reacquainted with as well as the new friends I have made. I am grateful for the blessing to represent the Lord Jesus Christ. Although I am taking off the name tag that identifies me as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I will always represent him and his church.

Your questions and comments are welcome. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

From the Cross to an Empty Tomb

Today is Easter, a day when we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. From the words of the hymn “I Believe in Christ”, “I believe in Christ oh blessed name. I will worship him with all my might, and I shall live with joy and love in his eternal courts above”.

Often when I am running in the early morning hours I see this cross that stands as a witness of the sacrifice that our Savior Jesus Christ made for each of us. The cross is not in front of a church, but the local John Deer Dealership. It shines brightly as a witness of the owner’s faith in Christ. They are not afraid to testify to the world of their faith. Seeing it every morning warms my heart and reminds me that I too am one of His witnesses and that I am here as a missionary for His Church today.

Seeing this cross reminds me that Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified so we could have our sins forgiven and cleansed. In an interview with President Gordan B. Hinckley, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the interviewer asked why our church does not have the cross on our buildings. President Hinckley responded that we worship the living Jesus Christ. In January 1 2000, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a document called “The Living Christ”. Part of that document says:

"He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind

He rose from the grave to “become the first fruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).”

Sometimes when I am running the sun is beginning to rise and instead of seeing the cross shining in the dark, I see a fading cross as the skies brighten. Just as sure as the sun will rise each morning bringing an end to the darkness; Easter morning is a witness to the world that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The tomb was empty, and the risen Lord appeared unto his apostles and others that morning. He appeared to thousands of his people here in ancient America and they each had the opportunity to feel the wounds in his hands, just as the Apostle Thomas did.

I add my testimony that I know that Jesus Christ lives again. Just as the dark of night fads away as the sun rises, when we die, the darkness of the grave will give way on the morning of the resurrection. Because of the living Jesus Christ, the darkness of the cross will fad away and all who lived and died will live again and be brought before Christ where we shall all bow the knee and wash his feet with our tears. Happy Easter.

Your questions and comments are welcome.

Christ in America after His Resurrection

Sunday, April 5, 2020

To All My Christian Friends

My invitation is to all my friends, Christian and non-Christian, to read this message and pray to know if what I say is true. I know “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” (Moroni 10:4).
Have ever wondered if God is real, if He speaks today, if He is real then why is there so much suffering, or is there any hope for a better life today and after we die? If you feel that you understand these questions and your faith in God and Jesus Christ is strong, I invite you to read on and see if there is more.

Last month, I posted two messages that dealt with the apostasy of the Lord’s ancient church and the attempt of the reformers to correct the changes in the doctrine and ordinances that happened over the centuries (Apostasy and Restoration). I also wrote of the role that the founding fathers of the United States of America had in preparing for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (By the Hands of Wise Men). If you have not read them, I encourage you to read them and then read today’s message.

Two hundred years ago a young 14-year-old boy, Joseph Smith, wondered about many of these questions and read a passage in the Bible that said: “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.” (James 1:5) Joseph and his family had attended different churches but did not find the answers to the questions they were seeking. After reading that verse in the scriptures, Joseph decided that the only way to find out the truth was to ask God. He said:

“At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.” (Joseph Smith-History 1:13)

Joseph Smith decided he would test God’s promise to answer his questions. It was in the spring of 1820. He said it was a beautiful clear day. He said it was his first attempt to pray vocally. As he knelt to pray, this is how he described what happened:

Joseph Smith's First Vision

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith History 1:16-17)

The two personages that had appeared to him were God, The Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The first thing Joseph learned was that God does answer our prayers today. He also learned that God and Jesus Christ are two separate, physical beings and that we are created in their image. Jesus Christ called Joseph by name and told him that his sins were forgiven. Joseph learned that God knows his children and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and died for our sins. Joseph’s purpose in praying to God was to know which, if any, of all the churches were true. He asked his question and received and answer. Again, in his own words, he said:

“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time.” (Joseph Smith History 1:19-20)

He had his answer, the true Church of Jesus Christ was not on the earth. He was told that the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be revealed to him at a later time. Later when he was persecuted for saying that he had seen God The Father and Jesus Christ, he said:

“I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.” (Joseph Smith History 1:24-25)

Three years after the First Vision, Joseph Smith was given the gold plates that contained an account of the people that lived here in the Americas anciently. It also contains an account of the visit of Jesus Christ to his people here in America (3 Nephi 11). Joseph Smith translated the gold plates by the gift and power of God, and it is published as the Book of Mormon.

While Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, he received the Aaronic Priesthood authority to baptize from John the Baptist, and the Melchizedek Priesthood from Peter, James and John. With this priesthood authority he was commanded to restore the Church of Jesus Christ again on the earth. On April 6, 1830 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.

Two hundred years later, the testimony of Joseph Smith still stands as a witness that God is real, that he speaks to prophets today. We have a living prophet today, Russell M. Nelson, and twelve apostles. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord Jesus Christ said:

“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:17, 30)

It is my testimony to the world that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is The true church and contains the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and is a second testament of Jesus Christ along with the Bible. Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet today. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ did appear to the boy Joseph Smith 200 years ago. I challenge all my Christian friends to come and see, come and hear, come and find out for yourself if the Kingdom of God has been resorted.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

My Peace I Give Unto You

When I was in high school, I love listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s music. One of my favorites was “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The first verse is:

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all (all)
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

We live in troubled times and there are many that are weary and have tears in their eyes. The second verse says:

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Paul Simon wrote the song and it was recorded as a solo by Art Garfunkel. I don’t know if Paul meant it as a gospel song but considering the times we live in today this song is comforting to me. There is one person that when times get rough and friends just can’t be found, our Savior Jesus Christ can calm the troubled waters. He was the one that laid his life down that we might have everlasting life.

Most of the world is being asked to stay isolated from everyone because of the Covid-19 Pandemic we are going through. As we follow this counsel we can feel down and out, but if we have the faith to trust in The Lord Jesus Christ we will be comforted. Christ told his disciples:

 “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, nether let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

I love the account in the Gospel of St. Matthew where the disciples were on a boat and it was being tossed by the wind and waves and Jesus Christ comes to them walking on the water. Peter asked if he could come out on the water and Christ simply “come”. As long as Peter’s focus was on Jesus he was able to walk on the water, but as soon as he looked away and focused on the waves, he started to sink. He cried out: “Lord, save me”. The scriptures say: “immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him” (Matthew 14:22-31)

My hope and prayer is that in the midst of these troubled times that we will keep our focus on our Savior Jesus Christ. If we do, we will surely get through this difficult season. I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that he will immediately reach down and catch us when we are sinking in troubled waters and we filled with the peace that only He can give.

Please watch the 5 mintue video below "My Peace I Give Unto You". Your questions and comments are welcome.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

By the Hands of Wise Men

During the period between the time when the Church of Jesus Christ established at the time of Christ was taken from the earth and the promised restoration of all things was know as the dark ages. It was a time that the Old Testament Prophet Amos called a “famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11-12). After all the apostles died, the priesthood authority that they held was also lost. Revelation ceased and there was no one on the earth that could hear the word of the Lord. The earth plunged into the dark ages. This lasted until the spring of 1820 when a 14-year-old boy entered a grove of trees and prayed to know which church to join.

Getting from apostacy to restoration was no easy task but Lord knew what needed to be done and an American Prophet wrote about it 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. He said:

And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld many nations and kingdoms.

And the angel said unto me: What beholdest thou? And I said: I behold many nations and kingdoms.

And he said unto me: These are the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles.

And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the bland of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.

And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.

And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.

And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. (1 Nephi 13:1-19)

The Lord knew that changes in religious freedom needed to happen before his Gospel could be restored. Many reformers sought for religious reforms and were persecuted and killed for their ideas. Governments and churches persecuted and killed those who worked to make changes and to bring the bible to the common person. If a restoration was to succeed, a new form of government needed to be established.

Almost 2400 years before the U.S Constitution was established; the Lord showed a prophet that Columbus and later others would come to America. He saw those who would come to America seeking religious freedom. He was shown the revolutionary war and other wars and that the Lord would bless the young nation with independence from all other nations. But before The Gospel of Jesus Christ could be restored and survive more than a new government needed to be established, true religious freedom was needed.

The Articles of Confederation did not guarantee freedom of religion. Each state had their own “state” religion and if you did not belong to that church you were persecuted. Even though the churches were not government sponsored, the people that belonged to different churches migrated to areas where common believers lived and so they might as well have been state supported.

Not until the Constitution of the United States was ratified and became law was true religious freedom guaranteed and protected by law. The first amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The first 10 amendments were ratified on September 25, 1789. Finally, a government with a constitution was established that would allow true religious freedom.

The new constitutional government would produce the religious revivals or great awakening from 1790-1820 and would be the beginning of the restoration of all things as foretold in the Book of Acts. It is during this time when Joseph Smith and his family started attending the religious revivals in their area leading Joseph to want to know which of the many churches was the true church of Jesus Christ.
Many of the delegates that helped write the constitution acknowledged the hand of God in founding of our constitutional government. Benjamin Franklin speaking to the constitutional delegates stated: "the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth--that God governs in the Affairs of Men." "I also believe," Franklin continued, that "without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel." (

The Lord Jesus Christ speaking to his church on December 16, 1833 said:
“for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80)

The eleventh article of faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
Joseph Smith once said:

“I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves. It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul — civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race. (Joseph Smith – Religious Freedom)

These “wise men” understood that having a government that protected the right of all its citizens to worship God as they desired was important to the success of the new nation. It was important then and it is still important today; however, these freedoms are being restricted so much that the first amendment guarantees are being lost. All citizens of the United States, no matter what church they belong to, must do everything in their power to elect people that will protect the rights we were given in the first amendment. The future of our country depends on religious freedom.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Apostasy and Restoration

My last post was about Joseph Smith’s vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ and how that was the beginning of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in our day. You might wonder why a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ was necessary? To answer that question, we need to find out what the Church of Jesus Christ was.

During the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ, he organized His Church. In the Gospel of Mark we read that Jesus ordained twelve apostles and gave them authority to preach the gospel and baptize others (Mark 3:14-19).  The apostle Paul talks of other offices in the church and why they were part of Christ’s Church, he said:

“And he agave 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:” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

What happened to the Church of Jesus Christ that was setup by Jesus and lead by his apostles after his death and resurrection? That church after the death of the apostles no longer existed. Christ and the apostles knew that this would happen. When the apostles came to Christ and asked him when he would come again, Christ said that it would not be soon. He said that they (the apostles) would be killed, that there would be many wars, famines, iniquity would abound, and that many false prophets would take their place. He also told them of many signs that would appear before his coming (Matthew 24). The apostle Paul said that Christ would not come until the Church of Christ would be destroyed (Thessalonians 2:1-3) and the apostle Peter said that Christ would not come again until after the restitution of all things (Acts 3:19-21). The second coming of Jesus Christ would not happen until his church would fall and then be restored again.

Not long after the original twelve apostle deaths, false teachings were common and taught as truth. Lost was the teaching related to the true nature of God and that we lived with him prior to being born in mortality as well as many other teachings. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a modern apostle, taught:

“When the gospel sun went down almost two millennia ago, when the priesthood was taken away … and when those on earth no longer were taught and directed by apostles and prophets, then spiritual darkness reigned.” The scriptures were often kept from public use, false creeds were adopted, numerous pagans were forced to convert, and thousands of people accused of heresy were put to death. “The terrors of the night were real and the night was long—long and dark and black.” (Preparing for the Restoration)

To restore something means to bring it back again which is different from a reformation. Martin Luther and other Christian Reformers knew that the original church that Christ had established was no longer on the earth. They tried as best as they could, but they could not bring back the true gospel of Jesus Christ, it required a restoration of the same authority that Christ had given the ancient apostles.

That restoration began in the spring of 1820, when a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith went into a grove of trees to pray and ask God which of all the churches at that time was the true church. In answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that his sins were forgiven, that the true church of Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth, and that through him the true church would be later restored. For more information on this experience you can read “Praise to the Man” from last month.

The true church of Jesus Christ today will have this same organization, teach the same Gospel that was taught by Christ and his apostles, and will not be the church of a man but be called the Church of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 27:3-11). The only church that meets all of these is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is God’s true church on the earth today and has the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s prophet today. In addition to having a modern prophet to guide us, we also have twelve living apostles to help perfect our families and “for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.