Let me start off by saying I have always been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My family goes back 2-3 generations depending on which side of the family you look at, some were LDS pioneers from the eastern states that settled in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado.
This does not mean I've always been active in the Church or even believed it was true. My parents were not very active in the Church when I was a child and I was not forced or even encourage to go to Church that much. By the time I was in my mid-teens I had become pretty much an agnostic, I was not sure if I believed God existed or science was right and the world and universe just evolved by accident. I always felt that if any church was true then it was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I even questioned if it was true, since if God didn't exist then it couldn't be true. Around the time I was 17 I had been pondering about those things for quite a while. One day I was out riding around on the prairie with a friend during the summer. We had been out most of the afternoon and it had been one of those peaceful mellow days. We had talked ourselves out and were just enjoying the ride. Then a voice which I heard quite clearly, but it was evident my friend did not, asked me to look around me. I saw no harm in this and did so, then the voice asked me if I truly believed all that I saw came to be by chance. I pondered this for a while and replied in my mind that I really couldn't believe that the world and all in it had come about by chance. I had never thought about it in that light before. Then the voice, which was the Holy Spirit, testified that if it had been organized that God must exist to have organized it. I couldn't refute that logic and then the Holy Spirit testified to me that God does live and had created the world. If you have ever had the Spirit testify something to you like that, you know that you can never forget it or honestly deny it happened.
Since then I have known that God does live, and have had ample evidence of it. I also have had plenty of evidence that Satan exists and opposes God and all that is good. I'd tell you about those experiences too, but have found it best not to talk about them as it invites the wrong spirit.
With the testimony that God does exist and the influence of people in my life at that time, I became active in the Church. At 19 I was asked to serve a mission. I wasn't sure I wanted too, but when I tried to come up with a good excuse why I shouldn't, I couldn't think of a single one.. A few weeks after my paper work was submitted I received a calling from the President of the Church, who was Spencer W. Kimball at that time, to serve an 18 month mission in the California Sacramento Mission. We accept the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as God's prophet, seer and revelator on earth directing Jesus Christ's Church and people in these the last days.
In April 1983 I entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah and spent 20 days being trained. Having been pretty inactive up until a couple years before, I quickly discovered I was fairly ignorant in the doctrines and principles of the Church. I started spending as much time as I could studying the basics of the Church and continued to do so the whole 18 months that I served. The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple and for the most part easy to understand, but has depths that can take a lifetime to learn and understand. Studying only increased my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's Church restored on the earth today, with priesthood authority from Him to act in His name and perform the ordinances of salvation. In my first area, I was first exposed to anti-Mormonism. I read some of it then and even more as my mission progressed, even saw the movie God Makers. Virtually all of it was easy to pick apart by anyone who knows the truth about the Church and only exposes the ignorance and deceitfulness of those who publish it. Some of it was so stupid it would of been laughable if it wasn't attacking the Church. This was especially true of God Makers, which was the most ignorant, distorted attack on the church I have seen. Reading and seeing it, made understandable the weird things we were occasionally asked by people we met and made it easier to see where they were coming from and answer their questions. I was honorably released at the end of my 18 months in October of 1984, having served the calling I was given. I have served two stake missions after I returned home, where I did part time missionary work in my local area and have been Ward Mission Leader, meaning I was in charge of Missionary Work in my ward, working with the full time missionaries. I've been a Sunday school teacher a couple times, in the Sunday school presidency, ward employment director for a short time and a few other callings I probably have forgotten.
Since putting up my Website in 1998 especially after I put up God's Plan of Salvation page and the Questions Answered by the Book of Mormon pages in early 1999, I have had many anti-Mormons contact me. They leave links in my Guestbook to their sites which I do not make their entries publicly available. This is my site and I control all it's content, including which links I will allow in my Guestbook. They e-Mail me, they either attack me with flame mail, send anti propaganda or challenge me to question my beliefs. They come in all flavors, some have very devious sites that look like they are pro-LDS sites until you start digging into them, others attack every religion which doesn't believe exactly as they do. Some are just whacko's, as the one woman who left a note in my Guestbook saying we are helping the reptile aliens to take over the world with our family history work... She sounded serious about it.. It was quite a while ago and I'm not sure if it is still in my guestbook, after so many pages they delete the older ones. All the Anti attacks prompted me to create the Which is the True Church of Jesus Christ? page because I was giving the same information more or less over and over to these people. They then started attacking me about not adding to the bible. I find they are all ignorant of the bible and history, so I created the The Bible is the Only word of God? page. It could use some more work but I haven't had time to do all the research I need to do to perfect it. Since then they have been fairly quite.. Although it could be my email page telling them not to bother. <Big Smile> Although they will claim otherwise, they are taking a verse here and there out context in the Bible to build their philosophies of men. I can teach virtually anything if I was allowed to do the same or wanted too. Avoid these people and their sites, they may think they are doing what is right, but they are being mislead by Satan and are usually full of hate, although most of them hide it until they think they have you hooked. I have read much of the anti-Mormon material and know it to be full of falsehoods and distortions. It isn't worth your time to read and if you are not firmly grounded with a testimony of Jesus Christ, his restored Church, God's Plan of Salvation and a knowledge of God, they can easily shake your faith with their lies and distortions. They can be very cunning and devious in drawing you into reading their material and may not show their true colors right away. I don't see how one can claim to be a Christian and go around attacking others with lies and distortions.. While I don't accept other religions than my own as true, I accept they have parts of the truth and are doing the best they can with what they have. I'd like to see everyone accept the true Church of Jesus Christ as I have, but understand that many have been blinded by the lies of Satan and those he has lead into spreading his lies for him. Satan does not want us to accept the truth and wants us to be unhappy and as far away from the truth and Sprit of God as he can lead us.
I can't imagine what sort of person I would be today if I had not become active in the Church and served a mission. I know I would be a very different person. I was very active in the Church for the first few years after I was released from being a full time missionary. Eventually I became some what inactive due to long work weeks, school and other problems. I have never quit believing and have never doubted the Church. Sometimes it is a struggle to do what I know is right, I have weaknesses, as do we all and at times fall to the temptations of Satan. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but with God's help we can over come the weaknesses if we will pray and do as he has commanded us. The Lord has given us these weaknesses to over come and make us grow, also to keep us humble. In the last few years I have started going to church again and studying the scriptures and doctrines. The challenges of the anti-Mormons have only strengthened me as the Holy Spirit bears testimony of the truth to me as I testify of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints IS the restoration of the Church that Jesus Christ organized during his ministry on earth. There was an apostasy after the death of all the apostles and the teachings of Christ started to be lost and distorted over time. Hence there was a need to restore the true church to the earth and God did so through the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1830.
I am neither a typical member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and am not always the best example that I could be. If you are interested in learning about the Church, I recommend getting in contact with the full time missionaries in your area. You can arrange for them to contact you by calling 1-800-638-1119. If you don't want to do that, then visit the Church's web page (URL's below) where you can find all kinds of information about the Church's teachings and programs.
To me the most important principles of the gospel are faith in and knowledge of Our Heavenly Father, his Son, our example and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit which testifies of Them. The knowledge that we all are literally spirit children of Heavenly Father. (Hebrews 12:9; Acts 17:29) Next the principle of free agency is the concept which guides my life the most. Free Agency is our right to choose, to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. God will not interfere with our choices or other peoples agency. We need not ask why God allowed someone to do something wrong, we should know they made the choice to do so at one point in time or choices which led them to do so. My political views form around Free Agency, as it is the basis of liberty and freedom. One of my favorite quotes is from the Prophet Joseph Smith, when asked how he governed the LDS people, he replied "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.". While I believe we are and should be free to choose, I do not believe we should or can be free from the consequences of those choices. This is called responsibility and it is something so many in the world today try to avoid. It has gone so far that often we as a society make excuses for the bad behavior of others saying, "who are we / you to judge what is right and wrong", and refuse to condemn the immoral and sometimes illegal behavior. We as Christians of what ever creed must set the example and lead the way, for I fear if we do not and the United States continues in the path that it is on, that we soon will not be able to save it. We must be the light of the world, we must be the city on the hill that shines before men that they may see our good works. We can not be the salt that has lost it's savor.
I conduct a Gospel Principles lesson each week through an email list. I take a chapter from the Gospel Principles manual (a highly recommended, must have book) and break it up into concepts. Depending on how long the chapter is determines how many messages, it can run 3-10 concepts but usually is 5 or 6 per week, one sent a day, some days none if the chapter is short. If you are interested in in receiving it there is a sign up form for the list here: Gospel Principles lessons list. There are also a couple sample lessons to look at. I've also added the Gospel Principles Comments and Resources that are the commentary file that I start the week with.
Be sure to look at God's Plan of Salvation, explained with an illustration and supporting Scriptures and the Questions Answered by the Book of Mormon pages before you leave my site. When I wrote this page originally I felt strongly impressed I needed to do more. I pondered it for a while and these two pages were what I was inspired to do. I came up with the ideas while sitting in sacrament meeting. I believe you will find them well worth your time.
Joseph Smith's Testimony
Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles
The Scriptures, Internet Edition
Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Family: A Proclamation to the World
Read the Gospel Principles manual on www.lds.org
Some of the sites my God's Plan of Salvation and Questions Answered by the Book of Mormon pages are listed at.
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