ask

“There have been many people who have prayed, as your Mormon friends suggested, and felt that God was not leading them because of the “off the wall” doctrine. Did God lead them in a different way or do we assume that those people were not sincerely open to God’s leading?”

A few weeks after I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I received a letter from a very dear friend, asking me this question. I had no idea how to respond at that time. I’ve often pondered that question. Even today, what can I say?

God gave me a powerful witness of the Book of Mormon so that I know with all my heart and mind that it truly is a historical work and that it is a third testament of Jesus Christ. Why me? And why do others not receive the same?

I believe my instincts kept me from searching the internet for anti Mormon literature. And instincts kept me from approaching my past leaders to ask them for their opinion or guidance.

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord” Jeremiah 17:5

I just knew that a biased opinion, even if knowledgeable on some important issues would make my way very murky and would more than likely, completely add confusion to an already seemingly overwhelming task-that of learning the truth for myself.

Based on what I’d learned from reading my Bible, I believed that God was interested personally in me, desired for me to do His will and would lead me in the direction of His choosing. I chose to remain completely dependent on Him to reveal His truth to me. So, I followed direction, and sought first to read the Book of Mormon and then pray as instructed.

Though it may not be necessary for everyone to receive a testimony as soon as possible when investigating the church, it is a great advantage in my opinion. True, I didn’t study everything about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints before I received my witness. True I knew very little about the church, which scared everyone around me to death!

Putting first things first enabled powerful enough evidence for me to withstand naysayers. Powerful enough to endure others anger, contention, bitterness and difficult questions.

And especially, powerful enough to endure the fiery darts of the adversary-with truths that immediately got thrown in the path -twisted and bent out of shape to be almost unrecognizable as good and holy and pure as their origin.

Was it not for Heavenly Father’s faithfulness and the priceless gift of the Holy Ghost to help recognize and discern the differences between truth and error, how very lost I would be.

There are many people desiring to know the truth and desiring to know which church is true but don’t know where to find it. Just as sad is the reality that people feel dependent on knowledgeable men, scholars, books or the internet to point the way to truth, rather than asking and seeking of God.

For example, just about that same time, one of my family members stated that a preacher friend said that he had studied Joseph Smith for 2 years and had decided he was a fraud. Again, I was not sure how to respond. (I had not yet received a testimony of Joseph Smith as God’s true prophet.)

Today, I would say, “One does not study Joseph Smith. Study Jesus Christ. Look only to Him, give Him your whole heart, mind and soul, trust Him and ask Him what the truth is that He would have you seek. Believe that He desires to answer you.”

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in Him”  Jeremiah 17:7

While you are seeking, first and foremost, seek a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Read it. Ponder upon the words. Pray. Ask. Once you know the truth for yourself, once you commit to this marvelous church and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you will be able to discern and sift the truth of all other matters regarding this marvelous church.

Afterwards, when you find yourself mired in controversial stuff, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost will strengthen and guide you into all truth. Even then, be vigilant in praying and seeking the Lord for answers, as the adversary may be be hard at work, seeking your downfall.

Do you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon?

Brothers and Sisters, those of you that are converts to the church, are welcome to share your testimonies or conversion experience here.

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Next week, in “Addressing the Book of Mormon, Part 2”, for your interest I’ll post a transcript of an interview including a couple of commonly asked questions regarding the Book of Mormon. Terryl Givens, professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond and commentator, elucidates.

You’d like your own Book of Mormon? Do contact me.

Or call 888-537-2200 and ask for one. It’s free!

 

I once met an engineer from England. He felt impressed to share his story with me. I appreciated it and wish now that I’d be able to give you more details. Agnostic as a younger man 35 years ago, he was investigating our church and not receiving the assurance he sought.

Fasting for a day, he went into the bush to kneel and pray and asked God five questions pertinent to his life. Nothing happened. No answer from the Lord. Disappointment.

Some days after this while he was driving, abruptly all five of his questions were answered in succession. He pulled over by the side of the road and sobbed. When he got home his wife greeted him and noted he was ‘white as a sheet’. He shared with her that he knew the church was true.

Unbeknownst to him, she already had her testimony and had been waiting for him to learn the truth for himself. That happened over 30 years ago, yet as he related his experience, a tear rolled down the cheek of this humble and gentle man.

Each of us has something divine within us, in our core, which draws and connects us to God.  We long to be reunited with the Divine. Even more so, God longs to reunify with us. But we have the freedom to choose-to accept or to dismiss.

I and many individuals believe that communications from the Divine are meant to be the common experience of mankind. However, we don’t get to choose how, when or where He will meet us.

“if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God that in that day He shall manifest Himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks-And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, …they shall be a blessed people” 1 Nephi 14:1-2 (BOM)

There are steps we can consider when we are investigating the church. We are promised that if we ask Heavenly Father in the name of Christ with a sincere heart and with real intent He will manifest the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Once He has confirmed the truth of the Book of Mormon, of the restored gospel, and we commit our lives to living it, our learning does not stop.

Heavenly Father desires that each of us continues to progress-that we keep asking and seeking in order to receive ‘higher education’. How to go about this took me way too long to get and lately has been impressed on me again.

“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds;
and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” Matthew 7:8

We continue to ask, seek and knock if we would like to learn more from Him. The method of approaching God with our queries does not change, though it may not be easy to implement consistently.

  1. Pray– Begin by praying.
  2. Believe-Reach a point where you say “Heavenly Father, I want to believe”.
  3. Ask– Ask your question. (It is not unusual to begin to believe, and then it can take awhile and some effort before getting an answer.)
  4. Wait-The Lord will meet you and proceed to soften your heart.
  5. Receive– Your softened heart enables you to believe our Father.  And enables you to receive His message.
  6. The Answer-An answer comes into your mind and into your heart. This answer to prayer is going to lead you to do something.
  7. Do– Once you do receive an answer, it is important to do what you have been instructed to do. Your behavior then harmonizes to what you believe to be God’s will. This will lead you to know it was of God.

An authority I am not.  These ‘steps’ have been helpful in my experience. They may or may not be as helpful for you. I wouldn’t have minded if someone had clarified this process for me. And then, perhaps I was meant to learn it “line upon line”.

Note:

Answers from our Heavenly Father are not always our only spiritual encounters. We are all acquainted with both light and dark influences. There is the deceiver- and forces that would like to mislead and delude. You must plow through that-keep pressing on- before receiving further Light and Truth.

“Behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask Me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong” D & C 9:8-9

For a long spell, during the times that the Lord did indeed connect with me and soften my heart, I knew His love and comfort, but had not considered this a part of my progression at the time. And I sure didn’t understand #4-“wait”, patience seeming to be the biggest hurdle in my life.

“Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart” Moroni 7:48 (BOM)

What did my engineer friend do? He prayed. He wanted to believe (he fasted).He asked. He waited. He received an answer. His heart was softened. (Okay…a little different order.) And he did ‘do’.

I know that our Heavenly Father is perfectly faithful.  When you believe enough to be able to accept His answer and when you act on that answer, great things will unfold in your life.