Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Falling away from the faith


1 Timothy 4:1, "But the Spirit explicitly states says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons." **

  I'd like to discuss how we should view and treat those who have been excommunicated from the Church. 

  Recently I began reading, "The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord through the Veil" by Denver Snuffer. At first I was a bit intimidated that I was reading a book reading by an "apostate".  I'd like to point out that he was excommunicated several years after writing this book.

  I am working through it slowly but it's surprisingly good. There is a great deal of pages that deal specifically with repentance as well as the need to have the Holy Ghost in our lives. He also explains the need for the Church in our lives today.

Here are some quotes from the book:

  • "The Church is literally preparing its members for citizenship in heaven." pg. 12
  • "More importantly, He cannot send this Comforter to you if you disregard, disobey or neglect His commandments. pg. 4
  • "He intends for us to experience Him through obedience to His commandments". pg. 60

  Not exactly apostate material I'd say. But of course I'll keep reading and choose what is good and of benefit to my spiritual life and discard the rest. 

  People labeled apostates or simply those who have been excommunicated should receive our love and respect. Excommunication is not meant to be permanent but rather temporary. We should do our best to bring our brothers and sisters back into the faith of the restored gospel and the Church. 

  On my mission I met a man and wife who were excommunicated from the Church. At first I was a bit reluctant to visit them. I had picked up the prevalent view Church members sometimes cast on those excommunicated. After receiving permission from the Bishop I visited this family.

  They were welcoming and ready to receive the missionaries again. I learned that their membership designation in the Church had nothing to do with their spirit and character. They were some of the most humble and loving people I met. I recently obtained word that they were re-baptized and are in the Church again. 

 We should take caution with those who lead us astray and desire for us to follow them or who advise us to leave the Church. There is real spiritual danger in doing so.
I'll end with this verse from Romans 15:17, "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."

*"Giotto-KissofJudas" by Giotto - Hanover College. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -
**from the New American Standard Bible

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Not numbered among the people of Christ"

  I have been debating for some time whether or not to weigh in on the current conversation going on in the media and also on Mormon blogs regarding the call to Church discipline of Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women (OW),  and of John Dehlin from I feel it's now appropriate to publish my thoughts after taking a step back and reading more about these Church members. 

  I respect the desire of both of these members to create a dialogue for issues that are not openly addressed within formal Church settings. Let me explain what I mean by this. Most Church members are only around each other on Sundays and perhaps occasionally throughout the week in formal settings. We participate in guided discussions in Sunday school and during our Priesthood, Relief Society, and auxiliary meetings. 

      As a consequence there really isn't room for discussion for topics like priesthood ordination of women, the mishaps and errors of the early Saints and even obscure Church doctrine.  (That's also why there is a large number of Mormon blogs and websites!)  Regardless of whether or not these should be issues I am grateful that there are members who are willing to ask questions online and through group discussions. I invite you to read and follow the numerous blogs out there that address such issues.

    However, I do believe that the call to Church discipline for Kate Kelly and John Dehlin is justified. Here's why. 

    Sister Kelly claims she is being excommunicated by the Church for simply asking questions and for seeking revelation.  (Kate Kelly in The Guardian

     I  disagree that she is being disciplined for simply asking questions and seeking revelation. The Church holds dearly the concept of divine revelation, especially the personal kind. (After all, the restoration of the Church began because of the questions posed by then 14 year old Joseph Smith to our Heavenly Father.) 

  What the Church does not allow is when our questioning leaves others with a weakened testimony, mocks Church appointed leaders, or makes people leave the Church.  I invite you to visit the OW Facebook page to read some of the comments posted there as examples of this.  Search Kate Kelly on Google and you'll find numerous articles where she disregards and mocks Church council (most notably OW's protests the last few years during General Conference). 

    John Dehlin as well has claimed not to understand why he is facing possible excommunication. However, he has expressed disdain for Church leaders and their authority through an online interview as well as within his own personal website. He states to no longer believe in the fundamental beliefs of the LDS Church.

  I am not surprised he is facing Church discipline when he has through the written word already left the Church. The Church council will merely place into effect what he has already done.

  The fact that these members have been called to a Church disciplinary council has made me reflect on my current testimony of the Church.  I'll be honest I need to work on it, and I am doing so.

  I believe at this time we must also ask ourselves the following questions. What if I were to be called to a Church disciplinary council conducted by the Savior? How would I be judged by him? Would I be found having a devoted life of consecration and discipleship for the Lord? Would I be found guilty of straying from sound doctrine and teachings? Has my life and membership in the Church led others to Christ or away from Him?

    As well we must make sure that our salvation is dependent on one man only, Jesus Christ.  We read in 1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV) "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".  Although it is great to read and listen to teachers and mentors (including our own general authorities and even living prophet) we must make sure that our testimonies are founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ and no one else. We must avoid being "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men". (Ephesians 4:14, KJV)

  We must also have firm testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith Jr.,. Through his life, teachings and martyrdom we can learn how to draw closer to the Savior. A firm testimony of his divine ministry is a mark of true discipleship and humility in our walk with Christ. 

    I am currently doing my best to develop a deeper testimony of Jesus Christ through the reading of the Book of Mormon and meaningful prayer with my Heavenly Father. In regards to Joseph Smith I am reading 'Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith' by Joseph Fielding Smith. It's a great read and I my testimony of his ministry is being strengthened.

     I invite you as well to look for ways to have your  relationship with Jesus Christ become even more meaningful. This the only way that we can assure we are on "the way which leadeth unto life". (Matthew 7:14, KJV)

                                                                                                            * (Blog post title taken from Moroni 6:4)

Friday, April 25, 2014

New creations

 I love this Mormon meme from the Mormon Channel that I saw on Facebook today:

The reason that I like this meme is because it reminds me of several things.

First of all, I like the wording because it reminds me that our Savior "has the power to cleanse and heal". There is nothing that we can do in this life, and no matter what it is others have done to us that cannot be cleansed and healed through the atonement (the suffering of Christ in Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary).

How is it that we are cleansed and healed through the atonement? The first step is believing that Christ has taken upon him all of ours sins, infirmities, in total everything that we have done in this life and suffered for them on our behalf in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. If he had not done so there would have been no way for us to return back to the presence of God, our Heavenly Father.

Secondly in order for us to be fully cleansed and healed Christ asks that we be baptized unto repentance to show our desires to become a new creation. The water in the meme above reminds me of baptism and its literal cleansing power.  We can become a new creation as the scriptures teach us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (New International Version) , Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

After my own baptism I became a new creation. All of my past mistakes and sins were forgiven. 

As a full time missionary I was blessed to see many of Heavenly Father's children make the baptismal covenant (or promise) and experience the joy and happiness that comes from becoming a new creation.

After baptism we have the ability to renew our baptismal covenant every Sunday by partaking of the sacrament in remembrance of the atonement of Christ and as a way to start over again from the mistakes we made throughout the week. 

Even after baptism we will make mistakes both small and great. Yet, we have a way to be forgiven! We must be willing to confess our sins to the Lord and if needs be to our Church leaders. They hold the keys to repentance (not that Christ does not have them as well) but one reason we are asked to confess is to relieve ourselves of the burden of guilt and shame that sins causes our minds and hearts. It really is a relief from stress to be able to hear through our appointed leaders that we are forgiven.

I am grateful for the blessing of repentance!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The plans I have for you

It's been a while since I have updated my blog. Life in Utah is treating me well.
I am in constant awe of the majestic beauty of God's creation here in this great state.
I have a great view of the mountains from my window every morning. I have been very luck as well because
the weather has been very calm and beautiful. It was a pretty mild winter and I am grateful for that because
I am not sure how I would have reacted to the extreme cold everyone kept telling me about.
I am really looking forward to the spring here and all of the other seasons that we don't really experience in Texas.

I love being here! I really do feel that this is where God wants me in this moment of my life.
I live about two blocks from Temple Square which if I think about I would have never imagined possible before. I have yet to go inside the beautiful Salt Lake Temple but I really look forward to the day that I can.

Church in Utah is great. When I first moved here I was attending the Midvale YSA. It was a huge ward with about 300 people showing up every Sunday. I really enjoyed my time there but I felt like one of many in there. So when I finally found my own place in Salt Lake City I decided that I was going to find a Spanish branch and attend Church there instead. I did just that. I am now in the Mount Ensign 3rd Spanish branch. There are maybe 100 people that show up every Sunday. It's a fun little branch with people from all over Mexico, Central and South America. There are some YSA that attend there as well which is
great. I just haven't had too much interaction with them just yet. My branch president told me I should have a calling soon which is something that I really look forward to. I would not mind teaching Sunday school or Elder's Quourm again.

I am trying to see what I make of my life. I feel that I would really enjoy doing some sort of community activisim and awareness. I really feel that going into political science or law would really make me feel fulfilled and satisfied with my life. My short term goal right now is to enter LDS Business College and complete 
their paralegal studies program. I have a few challenges to overcome before I can enroll but I am really looking forward to returning to school.

In my personal life I am dating a wonderful girl who keeps me motivated and makes me want to become better. I am really happy to have her in my life.

Well enough with my personal updates!

I want to share with you this great verse from the Old Testament found in Jeremiah 29:11-13,

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

Nowhere have I seen this to be more true than in my move here to Utah. I came with a desire to be stronger in the Church and also to get back to school. I had no idea (and I still feel like I still don't) how I was going to get a job, get back to school and do all the other things I needed and still need to do.
All I knew is that I had to believe and trust in my Father in Heaven that all things were going to work out for me and the sure have! 

I am so grateful for Heavenly Father because he has promised to take care of us and to bless us in ways that we can't imagine. Verse 13 tells us that we will find him when we search for him with all of our heart and I testify that this is true. He is ever watchful of our every need and desires.

I love him and I feel his love for me as well. May we ever be worthy of his love and his plans for us.