Bible

How do you feel when you read the Book of Mormon? Several times I’ve heard some people say, “It’s just like the Bible”.

I remember thinking that myself.  In fact, it may be, or seem similar to the Bible in many ways; however I honestly did not enjoy reading the Book of Mormon as much as I had always enjoyed my Bible.

I marvelled that Joseph Smith translated it within only a couple of months, while for eight months I struggled to get to the end of it. I had a difficult time reading it and wouldn’t come near to saying that I even enjoyed reading it at all. It was a trial. I did it out of duty to the Lord.  Seven years later, it pains me to admit that.

Right now I am reading and studying this marvelous book for the fourth or fifth time and I am thoroughly amazed that I ever did struggle so.

There are nuggets of gold, incredible truths buried within these scriptures that flood the heart and soul. Each day as I sit and ponder what I’ve gleaned with the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, my heart overflows with deep love and joy and gratitude for Heavenly Father’s goodness to His children.

“And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
 
And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.”    1 Nephi 11:22-23

It is my desire to continue to give this study all of my mind, my heart and strength. Communing with the Lord in this way has become the highlight of my day.

With the Book of Mormon, God has provided you and me something priceless. Can we ever know in this lifetime the full breadth and depth of all of those blessings that we have been offered?

“The Book of Mormon is true. And was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the last days.” Jeffrey R. Holland
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Testimony of the Book of Mormon

Would you like your own Book of Mormon? Contact me.

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

“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!

 

Life Without Hope

I contemplated murder. For a day or so I deliberated how and when to kill ‘Chet’ -get rid of him- my mind engulfed with dark evil thoughts, anger and bitterness deadening my heart.

Frustration, rage and bitter resentful sensations replaced my previous feelings of warmth, affection, and the happiness I had shared with him. I no longer could speak with Chet. I wouldn’t speak to him. I became more locked into my miserable self made prison, completely blind to any goodness that resided in him. Suddenly one day, a glimmer of light shot through the dark and thankfully, I came to my senses and left him. It was that easy to stop short of becoming a real murderer.

No one but me and the Lord knows how close I came to acting out my (or were they mine?) thoughts and feelings. I left Chet-completely left town. For a long time I was haunted by the realization that I even got to that point in my heart and in my mind.

You likely think I’ve made this up. I’ve learned much from that experience. Because of this and other spaces I’ve been in, I’ve come to believe that most people that do not recognize the light of Christ, and haven’t the privileges offered by the gospel of Jesus Christ live absolutely the most wretched mortal lives.

A Christian Lacking the Promised Holy Ghost

Afterwards, I became a Christian. As I read my Bible I learned the differences between good and evil, truth and error. I learned how God wanted me to think and to behave. I learned that He loved me. I learned to trust Him. With all my being, desiring to honor, to serve and to please Him, I gave Him my all. That is what the lists of Feelings/Emotions in Part One  are all about. That is the plan I followed. That was a start.

When I’d left home I wasn’t affectionate, confident, happy, sensitive, warm or grateful about anything, or tender hearted. I barely knew what the word ‘tender’ meant. I had lots of work to do. I made every effort to rid myself of all negative feelings/emotions and thoughts and actions. I read my Bible. I studied. I prayed.

I was giving my best effort and still, 2 Timothy 3 spoke loudly to me. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves…proud, abusive… ungrateful…unholy, without love, unforgiving…without self control, brutal…—having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

I focused on acquiring kindness, peacefulness, love, joy and happiness. And still, it seemed to me that I didn’t quite measure up with others’ ability to be gentle, kind and loving-at least not on the inside.

At this point is where I believe we get stuck. We try our best and still, remain confused and powerless. We feel bad whenever we fall short. Our thoughts (if we examine them) betray our standards. Or should I say, God’s standards for us. Our feelings in motion speak loudly to everyone around us, of our lack of humility, perfection and holiness. The extent that Satan uses our ignorance and weaknesses to his advantage is atrocious. This creates confusion in our lives. Of course the adversary prefers that we don’t know this truth.

I didn’t understand it then. Now I do. Yes, I had come a very long way from the young woman that had harbored thoughts of resentment and murder. But I still experienced harsh thoughts and feelings in some situations. I still was too familiar with feelings of impatience, guilt, pride, and anxiety.

There still remained a certain amount of hardness- areas that lacked feeling in my heart. I could not erase or remove these on my own, no matter how hard I tried. No matter how much faith I had. No matter how many times I read my Bible. A thorough cleansing had to occur.

Today, this is the way I see it: I believe that these experiences are very close to where one begins to feel that feelings are undependable. On our own (without the benefit of the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that Jesus Christ promised to send) we don’t recognize His magnificent gift. We must flounder.

“I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with Spirit and with fire…burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:11

The Companionship of the Holy Ghost

With the indwelling of the gift and personage of the Holy Ghost, a new promising world opened up to me. First, I began to cry almost every time I knelt in prayer. A lot. Some days, I cried so much, the amount seemed ridiculous, even to me. I cried for forgiveness. I cried with pain. I cried when I felt the promised comforting hand of the Lord.

I cried especially when my heart began to be soft enough to actually FEEL the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I cried when His love overflowed the capacity of my heart to contain it all. I cried for joy and happiness.

I didn’t understand all those tears at the time. But I knew it had something to do with the hand of the Lord. And what was happening? My heart was being cleansed of any remaining darkness and pain. The rock hard section that I had not succeeded in wearing off with my own effort was being sanctified by the working of the Holy Ghost, provided by the gift of the Atonement.

I knew it one day on the phone. I was surprised to hear a soft tone in my voice that I had never recognized in myself. It was confirmed by my friend’s surprised response.

Here is my explanation for confusion regarding our feelings. We all have thoughts every waking hour. The Lord can prompt us with thoughts (the still small voice). And then, once we believe and recognize the possibility of that, it becomes important to know that Satan will also make every effort to inject his not so quiet thoughts into our minds and hearts as well. If we are not taught and when we do not recognize this- yes, there will be immense confusion. Our feelings will then definitely be undependable.

“From the beginning God chose you to be saved

by the sanctifying work of the Spirit

and through belief in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13

 

How do we learn to differentiate these voices which prompt our thoughts and affect our feelings? That is where the power of the Holy Spirit is meaningful. This is where the importance of a sincere heart and real intent come in.

Let me give you an example. One day, as my Bishop gave me advice, I felt a weight settle on my heart even while my mind accepted what he said. I promised to go home and pray about the matter–to consult with the Lord what I should do.

As I drove away, my thoughts instantly ran wild. “(You) don’t belong in this church.” “(You) should leave and never come back”. “This is all wrong”.  I had not gone a block and just as suddenly, I recognized, “Hey that’s not how I think. These are not my own thoughts! Where did that come from?”

As a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ I had been thoroughly thrilled and felt privileged to belong. I’d been given a powerful testimony of the truth of the restored gospel and I had never had a doubt of the veracity of the teachings. I loved my Bishop and I trusted that he had been prompted by the Lord. When I did approach the Lord in prayer, He did let me know that indeed, the Bishop had been correct in directing me thus.

Does this example show you what I am trying to explain? Because of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, because of His sanctifying power, and because of the tremendous feelings of love that Jesus Christ had poured into my heart, I was able to recognize a different foreign feeling. Because my heart had no doubts about my church and no malice towards my Bishop, (my thoughts & feelings were pure) I was able to recognize that this was not my ‘voice’.

If I would have had any negative feelings towards the church, if I would have lacked confidence in my decision to belong here, or if I would have held a grudge against my Bishop, do you see how these thoughts might have created confusion in my heart and in my mind? If I had not had the benefit of experiencing gentle loving thoughts and feelings from Christ, delivered by the Holy Ghost, I might have believed that Satan’s thoughts originated with me. The outcome might have been entirely different.

I know that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” is the only true church on earth today. I know that Jesus Christ died for all of mankind and lives today. He is doing what He promised and empowers His faithful children when we accept His gift.

“Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” Helaman 3:35 (BOM)

Continued in Part Three, we will briefly consider the effects of strong emotions and recognizing feelings from the Holy Spirit.