Sunday, October 31, 2010

Choose Faith

Some people have known all their lives that God lives or that Jesus is the Christ. Others have struggled to come to a firm faith. Others are still hoping to find that anchor. My faith did not come without effort and hope. Although my life is full of experiences that are evidence to me that there is a loving Father in Heaven, I have always had work to maintain my testimony. When I was younger, there were periods of my life that were plagued by doubts, sometimes serious, and I'm grateful that during those times the teachings of parents and prophets prompted me to turn to prayer and to the scriptures. Though the struggle has been difficult at times, the Lord always answers eventually.

There are strident voices supported by the adversary that can sway us from our hope if we are not careful. There are secular logics and popular trends that sound reasonable but can undermine our faith if we entertain them more than we entertain the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. There are subtle attacks on our church and our faith, and there are direct bold attacks as well. There are wedges out there, custom-made to match every person and personality, that can divide us from our testimony if we are not constantly moving towards a greater understanding and faith.

As I reflected upon the plight of a young person I know who has been caught in the quicksand peddled by websites that attack our church and its teachings, I wondered what logic, what half-truths, what sophistry they employed to sell their doubt and despair. One thing is clear to me, those that seek to undermine our faith, or the faith of the believers of any other religion, they do not have their consumers' best interests in mind. Will their wares make you happy? Bring peace? Make you less selfish? Build in you a desire to look outward and serve other's instead of focusing on yourself? Will they put you on a path that will bring happiness and contentment? No. And by their fruits you shall know their source.

I still have questions from time to time. There are a great many things I don't know. There are things I still struggle to reconcile. But I'm choosing faith. I'm choosing to go forward even in the face of uncertainties. A lifetime of experiences teaches me that this is the path to make one happy. I don't know everything, but I do know what my Heavenly Father wants me to strive for. And I know that he lives. I want to follow Him. I want to live by faith, and I want to reach out to others. I am grateful for the knowledge that we are all children of a Heavenly Father and that he has a great plan of happiness for us.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Where does the name "Mormon" come from?

The name Mormon comes from the Book of Mormon, a companion volume of scripture that, like the Bible, testifies of the divinity of Christ and contains the preachings of ancient prophets. It is called the Book of Mormon because it was compiled by an ancient prophet named Mormon. The popular media often refers to "Mormons" and the "Mormon Church" but we prefer to be called latter-day saints or members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints of Jesus Christ.

Why I am a Mormon

I strive to live a life consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a child, my parents taught raised me in a Mormon home and taught me to be good. I could see the value in the principles they taught but I wondered if the gospel of Christ was true and if God really existed. Such questions weighed heavily on my mind for a long time.

I reasoned that if God really existed and if he really loved us, that he must make it possible for use to know the answer to these questions. I decided to test this reasoning and see if Heavenly Father would answer me. After many months of sincere prayer and daily reading in the scriptures, the answer came quietly but powerfully.

Bored in a lecture my Freshman year in college, I was reading the Book of Mormon in class. I read the following passage (Alma 32:28), "Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."

The message of that passage is powerful but more powerful were the thoughts and feeling Heavenly Father put into my heart and mind when I read it that day. I knew then that Heavenly Father existed, that he did love me, that he knew me. I could see that, as this scripture says, the scriptures and the gospel principles I was trying to live were making me better and my life better.

Since that singular experience, I have had many other experiences when the Lord spoke to my heart. The gospel has been a guiding light in my life, and I count all the successes I've had in life stem directly from it. My life has been such a happy adventure, turning out far better than I had hoped. I owe this to the influence of Jesus in my life and to the influence of others around me who have been stellar examples.

What's a Mormon?

A Mormon is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Historically, the term was a pejorative one that was coined by persecutors of the early church (mid 1800's). In modern times, the term has lost it's negative conotations, but the church prefers that members of the media refer to the church by its official name. And we members prefer the label "latter-day saint" or "LDS." Who are the Mormons.