Sunday, August 31, 2008

Family Home Evening

What is Family Home Evening you ask?
Here is the LDS church's definition:
Family home evening is a special time set aside each week that brings family members together and strengthens their love for each other, helps them draw closer to Heavenly Father, and encourages them to live righteously.

Family Home Evening was first announced by the First Presidency of the LDS church in 1915. This is what they stated, "We advise and urge the inauguration of a 'Home Evening' throughout the church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord. . . . 'Home Evening' should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture-reading, family topics and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel, and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society and the nation. For the smaller children appropriate recitations, songs, stories and games may be introduced. Light refreshments of such a nature as may be largely prepared in the home might be served" (First Presidency letter, 27 April 1915 — Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose).

Since then, counsel has been given that families should set aside Monday nights as their weekly Family Home Evening. A manual has been published which is a fabulous aid.

For the past two years, I have been doing Family Home Evening with some friends of mine. For us, it is a Sunday evening activity because of extenuating circumstances. It has been a great blessing to our family to participate with our friends in their Family Home Evening activities every week. It has brought a greater amount of peace, a greater understanding of and dedication to the gospel. It feels tremendously good to know that we are following the counsel of our prophets... even the counsel that is given to them by our Savior. Family Home Evening has truly fortified our lives and is a valualbe tool in establishing righteous living.

Here is another quote by the 1915 First Presidency:
"If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them."
(First Presidency letter, 27 April 1915 — Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose)

I testify of the importance, need, and power of regular Family Home Evening. It will change your life! It has changed ours!

Here are a few links you can go to and learn how to conduct Family Home Evening in your home or just learn more about it in geneal:
Family Home Evening Resource Book
Official Family Home Evening Website
True to the Faith: Family Home Evening

Article of Faith 2 - Personal Commentary

How wonderful is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which does not punish us for a transgression that is not our own. I think that God would prove to be unjust if we were to be punished for something we had no role in and took place many thousands of years before we even entered the picture.

When I was in Basic Training for the Army back in 1998, this was before I was a member of the LDS church, a fellow trainee was very concerned about The Fall. She new I had Christian beliefs, and she asked me directly how Satan could thwart God and tempt Adam and Eve. I surprise myself in remebering this conversation, and having an understanding of this episode that is not too well known outside of the LDS faith, at least as far as I am aware. I told her that it was a part of the plan. That Satan, who was trying to thwart Gods plan, was really playing right into His hand. It was necessary for Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, because without it, they would not be able to be mortal beings with the opportunity to progess, and especially the opportunity to have children. Indeed, if they had not partaken, the plan of God would have been frustrated.

Alma lays out the plan in the Book of Mormon. He explains it beautifully.
Alma 12:22-26

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is perfect and whole, it is merciful and just. How grateful I am to know that I will be held accountable for my sins and notfor Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden as well.

Article of Faith 2

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
Article of Faith 2

This is taken from the CES Manual for the Pearl of Great Price discussing Article of Faith 2.

Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:

“Because of their transgression, Adam and Eve, having chosen to leave their state of innocence (see 2 Nephi 2:23–25), were banished from the presence of God. This is referred to in Christendom as the Fall, or Adam’s transgression. It is a spiritual death because Adam and Eve were separated from the presence of God and given agency ‘to act for themselves and not to be acted upon’ (2 Nephi 2:26). They were also given the great power of procreation, so that they could keep the commandment to ‘multiply, and replenish the earth’ and have joy in their posterity (Genesis 1:28).

“All of their posterity were likewise banished from the presence of God (see 2 Nephi 2:22–26). However, the posterity of Adam and Eve were innocent of the original sin because they had no part in it. It was therefore unfair for all of humanity to suffer eternally for the transgressions of our first parents, Adam and Eve. It became necessary to settle this injustice; hence the need for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus in His role as the Savior and Redeemer. Because of the transcendent act of the Atonement, it is possible for every soul to obtain forgiveness of sins, to have them washed away and be forgotten” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 13–14; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 12).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Personal & Family Scripture Study

What a blessing it is to have the Word of God in our lives. Without them, how would many of us know that there is a loving God in the universe or that He has a plan for us to return to Him and enjoy exaltaion?

Certainly, my knowledge of God truely came from Studying the scriptures. I was taught by my Youth Pastor, Eric Hammons, when I was active in the Church of God, that we needed to read from the Bible every day. It was after that time that I began to really read from them.

"We show our faith by studying, believing, and obeying God's revealed word. We diligently search the scriptures to understand the truth" (Preach My Gospel, 73).

Scripture study has been a vital part of my life and has brought me an immense amount of joy, comfort, and peace. As I have read the words of my Savior, I have heard his voice in my mind. I want you to know that I have a testimony of the importance of regular, daily, personal and family scripture study. It truely does help us to change... to choose what is good. It teaches of our Savior and draws us closer to Him and our Heavenly Father. It allows the Holy Spirit to have place within our hearts wherein He can testify of the truths of which we read from it's words. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

In John 5:39, the Lord tells us to "Search the Scriptures". It is a commandment.

Why Study the Scriputres?
Develops our faith in Christ 2 Timothy 3:15
Teaches of Christ & Salvation John 20:31
Leads us to Perfection 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Power of the Word
Helps You to Choose Good & Do Right Jacob 6:7
Converting Power Alma 53:10
Healing Power Jacob 2:8
Brings Happiness Alma 44:5
Pulls down Pride & Contention Alma 4:19

Church Links:
True to the Faith: Scriptures
Gospel Principles: Scriptures
Family Home Evening: Reading the Scriptures

Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ

The gospel of Jesus Christ is amazing. It's simple, yet life-saving. Living the gospel is what brings true joy into our lives. I have a testimony of living the gospel and I want to share that with you.

In the next several weeks, I will be writing me testimony of the different aspects of living the gospel that I have experienced and posting them all here. Currenty, the section titled Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, leads to links on the official The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wepsite. As I write my own testimony, I will change the links to lead to my post on the subject. I will also include within the post, links to the church website which pertain to the topic.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Article of Faith 1 - Personal Commentary

Before joining the LDS church, I felt that I didn't really understand the trinity. How could it be that three Gods rolled into one being. This really didn't make any sense. I felt that it was something that you just believed, and that you didn't really need to understand how it worked... it's just the way it was, and that was that. Granted, there are many spiritual things that you need to simply believe on faith... that's how spirituality works in the first place. But I don't think that God wants us to not understand Him. He should not be confusing in any way.

One concern that I have, when in the Bible, Jesus offers prayer to His Father in heaven, is He praying to himself for blessings, even relief? If so, how is that possible?

Truly, He was offering prayer to His Heavenly Father. The knowledge which was restored that God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three seperate beings, yet one in purpose was a simple truth that had been lost, and I would even go so far as to say corrupted. I love the quote of the prophet Joseph Smith which states, "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves... It is the first principle of the gospel to know for certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another..."

"This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

I testify that our Heavenly Father, Our Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are three seperate beings. I know that this is true.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Article of Faith 1

We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
Article of Faith 1

The common doctrine in the Christian world is that of the trinity; the belief that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one being. This is a belief that is not to be found within the doctrines of the bible. In the October 2007 LDS General Conference, the Apostle Jeffery R. Holland spoke on this very subject, and stated, "Indeed no less a source than the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament]"

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we maintain that God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three seperate and distinct beings who are one in purpose. In what we call Joseph Smith's First Vision, God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ both appeared, showing that they both have bodies of flesh and bone. Elder Holland described the Godhead as the following, "We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true.

"So any criticism that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not hold the contemporary Christian view of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost is not a comment about our commitment to Christ but rather a recognition (accurate, I might add) that our view of the Godhead breaks with post–New Testament Christian history and returns to the doctrine taught by Jesus Himself" (Oct. 2007 LDS General Conference, The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent).

There is a little booklet that the church puts out called True to the Faith, that is a bit like a pocket glossary of gospel knowledge. Click to find out what it says about the Godhead.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Articles of Faith

I thought it might be best to start off with the basic beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There are 13 Articles of Faith and they were written by the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. in 1842. The Articles of Faith express simply the fundamental doctrines and beliefs of the LDS church.

In further posts, I will elaborate with my own commentary and quotes from our church leaders for each article individually, but for now, click to view the Articles of Faith.

The Title of this Blog

Starting this blog has been on my mind since, well... I can't remember exactly, but I think it was right after the General Conference in April. In doing this blog, I am following a prompting from the Holy Spirit.

I've taken too long in starting this up, but I'm glad that I'm finally working on it. I've been concerned about how to proceed. I wanted it to be just right. The first thing I really wanted was a good title. Something that really portrayed what this blog is all about and really expresses how I feel about my testimony of Jesus Christ and His established church on the earth.

I've titled the blog "Worshiping the TRUE and Living God" after a verse I came across a couple of weeks ago. I had followed a link to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism I had found on my Best Friend's religious blog, "Why I Choose Mormonism". I was researching a few of my favorite people from the scriptures, one of which was Mother Eve. There was an incredible scripture listed about her, and when I read it, I felt that I wanted to be identified in the same way. The entry states, "President Joseph F. Smith saw her in vision in 1918: among the great and mighty ones in the celestial congregation of the righteous, he beheld our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshipped the true and living God(Doctrine & Covenants 138:39).

You should know that I have a testimony of the Savior, even My Savior, Jesus the Christ. He lives. I also know that He has established His church on the earth... The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He leads and guides it through a living prophet; Thomas S. Monson. My testimony of these truths burns within my bossom, and is given to me by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I will state now, that it is my desire to be counted among the faithful daughters of Eve who lived her life worshiping the TRUE and LIVING God.