Webster’s dictionary defines the word pioneer as “a person who plays a leading part in the early development of something.” Therefore, in the truest sense of the definition, as the only person in my immediate family who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am a pioneer. And so, I would like to take just a few moments to share some of my thoughts about being a pioneer member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we are taught, “To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I strongly believe that I am the person that has been chosen, and given the responsibility by my Heavenly Father for such a time as this to lead the rest of my family to the saving knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a responsibility that I dare not take lightly.
I am reminded of the words of President Lorenzo Snow:
You exert a certain degree of influence, and be it ever so small, it affects some person or persons, and for the results of the influence you exert you are held accountable. You, therefore, whether you acknowledge it or not, have assumed an importance before God and man that cannot be overlooked.” (JD, 18:299).
And so, I have a responsibility to be a positive influence on my family. Along those same lines, I must also set the example that I wish my family to follow. I am reminded of the words of President Harold B. Lee:
You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure if you would rescue the man that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul.” (CR, April 1973, p.178.)
One of the ways that I can be a positive influence and set the example that I should before my family, is by having and maintaining a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel. I must always be ready to give an answer for not only what I believe, but why I believe it. This principle is taught to us in 1 Peter 3:15-17:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you of the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience that whereas they speak evil of you as evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
On 10 March 2014 I celebrated my 16th year as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Never would I ever have imagined that one day I would be a member of the Lord’s true Church.
I was raised in a good Christian Baptist home with a dear mother who made sure that her four children were nurtured in the good Word of God. I grew up in a home where it was understood that if mom was going to church on Sunday, than so were you. There was no argument, discussion, or debate. From a very early age as I grew to love and appreciate the blessed Scriptures, my focus was set on one day fulfilling my grandmother’s dream and what later became my own personal goal of becoming a Baptist minister. But the Lord had other plans.
Through all of my years of being taught righteous principles as a youth and later teaching Sunday school classes and training in Bible College to become a Baptist minister, the Lord was preparing me for a greater work that He had for me to do. I am so grateful that I yielded to His will for my life instead of pursuing the path that I had chosen. I am a living testimony that if we will but “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart; and lean not unto [our] understanding and in all [our] ways acknowledge Him . . . He shall direct [our] paths” (see Proverbs 3:5). In the words of one of my favorite hymns:
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified. That for me a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died. Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me. Enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
I am thankful for the callings that I have received over the past 17 years – Activities Chairman, Single Adults Representative, Youth Sunday School Teacher, First Counselor in the Young Men Presidency (Ward level), member of the Stake High Council, a counselor in two Bishoprics (as Second and then First) Counselor, High Priest Group Leader, Ward Mission Leader, Ward Missionary, Teacher for High Priest Group, Gospel Doctrine Teacher – and for the lessons that I have learned from each of them. Each of those lessons has helped to strengthen my testimony and have given me a stronger desire to do those things which the Lord would have me to do. Even more so, I am grateful that a loving Heavenly Father would call me to serve in these capacities and it is my humble prayer that I will always be willing to serve wherever the Master would need me to serve. May I always be willing to serve with the attitude of Nephi:” I will go and do the things which the Lord have commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7, Book of Mormon).
Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taught me that living the True Gospel is not in thinking about myself all the time, but rather it is about serving others. Being a member has also given me a greater understanding of the importance of, and appreciation for, family history work. The work that I have begun on my family history has sparked a great deal of interest in my family. It has also opened many doors of opportunity to share my faith and my testimony with family members, prayerfully planting seeds that will one day soon, yield a rich harvest.
As I look back through the pages of my family history, I can see the hand of God at work. I come from a heritage that is rich with people who dedicated their lives to being community leaders, educators, defenders of this great nation in several wars, and ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think it is no coincidence that I would grow up to also have a thirst for education, to honorably serve my country, and most importantly to have a sincere love for the Gospel. It was all part of the Lord’s plan. I believe that every stepping stone along the way was setting the pathway to bringing me to where I am today. As I prepare family names to take to the Temple, I know that the Spirit of Elijah is present and that the Lord, as well as my ancestors, is pleased with the work that I am doing.
I will close with the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are a favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory, “the dispensation of the fullness of times,” when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth, . . . when the Saints of God will be gathered in one from every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue, when the Jews will be gathered together into one, the wicked will also be gathered together to be destroyed, as spoken by the prophets; the Spirit of God will also dwell with His people, and be withdrawn from the rest of the nations, and all things whether in heaven or on earth will be in one, even in Christ. (HC, 4:609-610.)
I testify to you of the hope that is in me and that hope is Jesus Christ and the knowledge that I know that His Church is the True Church and that His Gospel is truth. I further testify that I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and that President Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet in these the latter days. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that as the pioneer member of the Church for my family, as I continue to share my testimony of this Gospel, others will want to follow in my footsteps to learn of that blessed hope. The windows of opportunity are open and I am willing to do the work which the Father has for me to do. That I may do so humbly and by His perfect will is my prayer. In the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
The Holy Ghost is “a personage of Spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). He does not have a body of flesh and bones. His mission is to bear witness of the Father and the Son and of all truth. The Holy Ghost also purifies, or sanctifies us to prepare us to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
Prior to your baptism, as you were investigating the Church, you were guided by the influence of the Holy Ghost. It was that influence that witnessed to each of you that the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church are true and has brought you to where you are today. However, the Holy Ghost will not stay with a person until they have been baptized and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is the gift of the Holy Ghost that gives a person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, been baptized, and been confirmed a member of the Church, the privilege to receive continual guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost based on their faithfulness and obedience.
In a few moments you will enter the waters of baptism, and tomorrow morning during Sacrament meeting members of the Priesthood will gather around you, place their hands on your head, and confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and then you will be given the gift of the Holy Ghost. I like the way Elder David B. Haight described the gift of the Holy Ghost. He said,
The gift of the Holy Ghost is a priceless possession and opens the door to our ongoing knowledge of God and eternal joy. (Ensign, November 1989, p.61).
And Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught,
The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead based on faithfulness. It is the right to receive revelation, to see visions, to be in tune with the Infinite. (Ensign, November 1977, p. 33).
And so, to be worthy to have the help of the Holy Ghost, we must keep our thoughts and actions pure and seek earnestly to obey the commandments of God.
The Holy Ghost usually communicates with us quietly. His influence is often called a “still small voice” (see 1 Kings 19:9–12; Helaman 5:30; Doctrine and Covenants 85:6). President Boyd K. Packer explained,
The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. … While we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling …’” He continued: “This voice of the Spirit speaks gently, prompting you what to do or what to say, or it may caution or warn you” (in Conference Report, October 1994, 77; or Ensign, November 1994, 60).
The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Through the Holy Ghost we may gain a testimony that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that His Church has been restored in its fullness upon the earth today.
For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way (that way is baptism), and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
This precious gift from our Heavenly Father can also bring peace to our hearts and an understanding of the things of God. In the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 we read:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
I close my remarks with the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie who taught:
There is nothing as important as having the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Those who first receive this endowment and then remain in tune with this member of the Eternal Godhead will receive a peace and a comfort that passeth all understanding; they will be guided and preserved in ways that are miraculous; they will be instructed until they receive all truth; they will sanctify their souls so as to dwell spotless before the Sinless One in His Everlasting Kingdom (A New Witness For The Articles Of Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985, p. 253).
I add my personal witness and testimony that I know these things are true and leave these thoughts with you humbly in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
The country of Iceland, also known as the “Land of Fire and Ice,” will always hold a special place in my heart. On the evening of Tuesday, 10 March 1998, in the capital city of Reykjavik, in a little downtown storefront chapel, I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was confirmed a member of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday, 22 March 1998.
I remember that it had snowed all that day. My friends and I were concerned that we would not be able to get from Keflavik, where I was stationed and serving on active duty in the United States Navy at that time, to Reykjavik for the baptismal service. However, God smiled on us and heard our prayers and the snow stopped a couple of hours before it was time to leave and we were able to make it to the chapel and back to Keflavik before the next snowfall came.
I have always been a firm believer that God calls the person whom He needs to fulfill His purposes, at the exact time that He needs them, for the period of time that He needs them, and in the exact place where He needs them to be. Both history and the scriptures are replete with accounts of those who were called at diverse times to fulfill the purposes of God.
There were people like Moses who were slow in speech and felt totally inadequate to do the things that God had called him to do, but God told him to open his mouth and He would speak for him, thus demonstrating that God is not looking for great orators to serve Him, but He is looking for those who are willing to march on and press forward to deliver the message that He has for His people. The little shepherd boy, David, seemed like the most unlikely choice to be called and used of God, but he was endowed with might and power from on high and was able to slay a mighty giant with just a shepherd’s sling and a few smooth stones. He then went on to become king, thus demonstrating that God is not looking for the most popular persons to serve Him, but He is looking for ordinary people who are willing to go and do the things that He commands. Joseph Smith, a 14 year old, uneducated farm boy, is another example of the types of people whom God calls. He dared to believe God’s Word when he read in the Bible, in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” He went and knelt in a grove not far from his home to earnestly seek direction from the Lord, and there he was visited by the God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and was called to bring about the fullness of the everlasting Gospel in this the last dispensation of times. This clearly demonstrated that God is not looking for Rhodes scholars to serve Him, but He is looking for the one who is humble, whose heart is pure, and who is willing to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to do the work that He has prepared for him to do.
Even as a boy growing up in the Baptist Church, I have always felt the hand of God upon my life. I have always felt that somebody was calling my name and that there was a work that had been prepared for me to do. I have always had a love for the gospel and had for a time pursued studies in becoming a Baptist minister. Through all of my studies I was never fully satisfied with the limited knowledge that I had obtained about the things of the gospel. I always felt that there was some sort of spiritual void in my life that I desperately wanted to be filled. After many soul-searching hours of praying, pondering, and searching the scriptures for answers to the many questions that I felt were not answered through my studies alone, I humbly believe that the Lord opened my eyes and led me to begin investigating the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although I had never had any association with anyone who was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, there was something about the Mormon faith that made my soul hunger to know more about it. Even the very name of the Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – stood out to me and testified to my soul that there had to be something uniquely different about this Church, and deep within my soul I also felt that somehow becoming a member of the Church was part of the plan that God had for my life.
I became an avid investigator of The Church of Jesus Christ and its teachings, and for several years I met with quite a few missionaries before finally making the decision to be baptized. I believe the main thing that hindered me from making the decision to be baptized and to become a member of the Church was my attachment to family and my own intellectual pride. I tried to convince myself that I had been born and raised as a Baptist, I had been taught Baptist doctrine my entire life, and I had already read the Bible in its entirety six times. I should have been satisfied with the knowledge that I had been blessed to obtain, for my intellect told me that was all that God intended for me to know at that particular time. I even began to wonder what others would think about me, or say about me, if I made the decision to leave the Baptist faith and become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All the while, I knew within my heart that someone was calling my name and that I needed to put all of my logic, reasoning, and intellectualism aside and heed the true voice that was calling me and not my own intellectual voice, or the voice of others.
I am reminded of the Old Testament account of the Lord calling the boy Samuel as recorded in 1 Samuel 3:1-10:
And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; and ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; that the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. And the Lord called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, speak; for thy servant heareth.
Each time the Lord called Samuel he thought that it was Eli who was calling him. It was not until after Eli had perceived that it was the Lord who was calling the boy and asked him to lie back down and listen for His voice again that Samuel then knew also that it was the voice of the Lord that he had heard. And so, It wasn’t until I finally decided to let go of my own intellectual voice and all outside influences, and truly listen to the Voice that was calling my name, that like the boy Samuel, I was finally able to say, “Speak; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10).
Since answering the call and becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been blessed with many wonderful opportunities to serve in such capacities as: Activities Chairman, Single Adult Representative, Sunday School Teacher (teens), First Counselor in the Young Men Presidency (Ward Level), a member of the Stake High Council, a member of two Bishoprics as both Second and First Counselor, High Priest Group Leader, Ward Mission Leader, and Ward Missionary for the Annapolis Maryland Ward. I have also been blessed to meet several General Authorities of the Church, and have been invited from time to time to participate in various other Church related activities and projects.
In the pages of my Patriarchal Blessing I am promised that as long as I am faithful, obedient, and willing to always listen to the voice of the Lord when He calls me, and like Nephi of old, to go and do the things which the Lord commands, the windows of Heaven will be open to me and I will be blessed with even greater responsibilities in the Church and will play a major role in helping to build up His Kingdom.
And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. – 1 Nephi 19:23
Elder L. Tom Perry said, “The Scriptures that are never read will never help us” (Ensign, May 1985, p.23). Franklin D. Richards stated, “Knowledge received from studying the scriptures assists us in making correct decisions in all areas of life’s activities and helps us to know God and understand his purposes” (Ensign., May 1981, p.51). And J. Richard Clark commented, “Brothers and sisters, you don’t have to be a natural student to read the scriptures: you just need to love the Lord” (Ensign, November 1982, p.15).
For as long as I can remember the scriptures have always been a part of my life. I will always be grateful for a loving mother who took the time to introduce the scriptures to each of her children at an early age and taught them not only through words, but also by example, just how important the scriptures are and the impact that they can have on our lives. Growing up as a Baptist boy, I can remember that there were always one or more copies of the Bible in our home and my mother taught my brother, sisters and I to have a sincere respect and love for the Word of God.
That early exposure to the Scriptures has had a lasting effect on my life. As I grow older, my love and appreciation for the Scriptures grows deeper. At the age of 55, I have been blessed to read the Bible in its entirety 9 times and I am now engaged in the 10th reading of the blessed volume. Daily Scripture reading is an intimate part of my life. I have found that there is no greater joy in my life than to feast daily at the banqueting table of God’s Word. It is through the study of the Scriptures that I find joy, peace, happiness, comfort, and most of all, a deeper love for my Savior. Christ taught us in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” The Apostle Paul in Romans 15:4 taught us “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
It was my love for the Scriptures and my yearning to know more about the truths of the Gospel that sent me on a quest to find those truths. I began investigating the Church back in 1980 before enlisting in the United States Navy. I met with missionaries on several occasions and enjoyed the gospel discussions that we had. Once I left for boot camp, I lost all contact with the missionaries and did not pursue investigating the Church any further until 17 years later when I was stationed in Keflavic, Iceland. It was while I was stationed there that I decided to investigate the Church once more and contacted the Church News about a subscription to the Church newspaper. One of the editors of the newspaper, Mr. Doug Osborn, contacted the missionaries on my behalf and my quest for truth was begun once again. I met with many missionaries over the course of about a year. As I listened intently to the lessons that they taught about the doctrines of the gospel I began to wonder why I had not been taught some of the things that they were discussing with me before then. I became very interested in reading the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price as well.
To make a long story short, I told the missionaries one evening that I would not make a decision about being baptized until after I had read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price each in their entirety. Through the Divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit I was able to develop a 40-day reading schedule for all three standard works and for the next forty days I spent all of my spare time reading and studying those blessed Scriptures. I knew as I read and pondered those pages of Scriptures that what I was reading was true and more importantly I gained a testimony that this is the Lord’s true Church and that I could not afford to miss out on the blessings of becoming a member of His Church. So, on 10 March 1998, almost 16 years ago, I was baptized and the rest as they say is history. Since becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I have been blessed to have now read the Book of Mormon 9 times in its entirety and the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price 13 times each in their entirety.
I would like to share with you several key steps that can help us in applying the Scriptures to our daily lives. These steps can also be used when preparing to teach the Scriptures.
Step 1: Read and meditate upon the Scriptures daily.
President Ezra Taft Benson in an address to educators in Salt Lake City on 17 September 1976 said,
Always remember, there is no satisfactory substitute for the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. These should be your original sources. Read and ponder more what the Lord has said, and less about what others have written about what the Lord has said.
Joshua 1:8 give us concise instructions for meditating upon the Scriptures daily. We read these words,
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
I testify to you that daily Scripture reading will have a major impact on your life. Knowing that the Scriptures are true and that they testify of a Savior who loved me enough to die for me, gives me hope and courage to face the challenges that I must face. The Psalmist declared in Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Concerning this subject President Brigham Young taught,
The Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, and the book of Doctrine and Covenants. . .are like a lighthouse in the ocean or a finger-post which points out the road we should travel. Where do they point? To the fountain of light. . .That is what these books are for. They are of God; they are valuable and necessary; by them we can establish the doctrine of Christ (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [Liverpool, England: Albert Carrington and others, 1853-1886], 8:129).
One of the last gifts that I bought for my mother was a Bible. Each day she would spend time reading a portion of the scriptures. When she was too sick or too weak to read the scriptures on her own she would have my younger sister read to her or she would listen to the scriptures being read to her via cassette tape or CD. In addition to reading the scriptures, my mother also kept a notebook where she would write out her favorite scripture passages. No matter what, she always spent a part of each day reading and studying the scriptures and I will forever be grateful for her example, and for her testimony of the truthfulness of the scriptures.
Reading God’s Word is a very important part of communicating God’s Word to God’s people. Public scripture reading was a regular part of the worship services in Israel and in the early church. Today we are blessed above all people in history because we do not have to depend on someone reading the scriptures for us. There are enough copies of the scriptures readily available that each person can have their own personal copy and read and study the scriptures for themselves. Here are a few suggestions to aid you in receiving the greatest benefit from reading the scriptures:
- Read the scriptures prayerfully – Ask the Holy Spirit to meet your heart’s need as you read (Psalm 119:18).
- Read the scriptures thoughtfully – Think about the meaning and applications of what you are reading. Don’t just read the words printed on the page. Ask yourself how what you are reading may apply to you in your own particular situations in life.
- Read the scriptures carefully – Take careful note of not only how words are used in a particular passage of scripture but how does that word or words relate to the overall meaning of the particular passage. One thing that I have found to be helpful when I am reading and studying the scriptures is to have a note pad near by where I can record any questions that I may want to research later, or any passages that have significant meaning to me.
- Read the scriptures repeatedly – The more that we repeat something, the more that it becomes a part of us. I am convinced that no one can read the blessed pages of the scriptures repeatedly and not have their lives changed in some way.
- Read the scriptures extensively – Sometimes it may help to read large portions of the scriptures at one sitting. If you choose to do this, do it at a time when you are most alert and are not likely to be disturbed by outside distractions. I have found that reading the scriptures first thing in the morning work best for me. I make it a daily practice to begin each day by reading 5 to 6 chapters before I leave for work. I have found that this helps to set a more positive tone for the day ahead.
- Read the scriptures regularly – Set up a Scripture reading schedule and stick to it. One of my personal goals is to read the Bible in its entirety once each year and to read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price each in their entirety at least twice a year. Therefore, my reading schedule is based on that goal. Each of you must choose a schedule that works best for you. The whole ideal is to begin reading the Scriptures regularly.
- Read the scriptures faithfully – Don’t get discouraged if you get behind in your reading schedule. Faithfully resume reading where you left off.
- Read the scriptures obediently – Because the Scriptures are God’s Words written to us, it is essential that we are obedient to what is written there.
Step 2: Begin your scripture reading with prayer.
Dean L. Larsen once said,
There is a special power in the scriptures. Scripture study, combined with daily, powerful prayer, can provide much of the resolution that is necessary today to offset the influences so prevalent in the world that leads us into forbidden ways (Ensign, November 1989, p.63).
He also said,
I am going to give more time and attention to study and pondering of the scriptures themselves, rather than to commentaries and criticisms that others have written about them. In doing this, I am going to be open as I can be to the Spirit of the Lord so that I can understand these things for myself (Ensign, November 1987, p.12).
Before we begin our daily Scripture reading we should first seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us understand what we are about to read. Even after reading the scriptures as many times as I have, I have found that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, no matter how many times I have read a passage of scripture, there are always new things that I can learn. How true it is as I once heard someone say, “The scriptures are always fresh each morning, they never grow old.” Trying to understand the scriptures with our finite minds can be a real challenge, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, reading, studying and pondering the scriptures means so much more.
The Prophet Joseph Smith exhorted,
Search the scriptures – search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to his glory, nothing doubting, he will answer you by the power of his Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation . . .For when men receive their instruction from Him that made them; they know he will save them . . .. Again we say, Search the Scriptures, search the Prophets and learn what portion of them belongs to you (TPJS, pp. 11-12)
Step 3: Memorize scriptures.
The Psalmist in Psalm 119:11 declared, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” We should all strive to memorize portions of the scriptures. Start by memorizing some of your favorite passages. As we begin to memorize scriptures they become a living part of us. In times of distress and trouble, the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance those scriptures that we have learned. Memorizing scriptures also helps us to strengthen our testimonies. We are able to share with others those things that we know from the scriptures. The more scripture we memorize the more ready we will be with a defense against those who attack our beliefs.
Reuben Clark, Jr. in a fireside address on 11 December 1960 said: “Read your Scriptures, read them early and read them late, read them in your youth and do not abandon them when you get older.” President Ezra Taft Benson said,
This is the answer to the great challenge of our time. The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of the living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life (Ensign, May 1986, p.80). And it was Ardeth G. Kapp who said,
We live and will one day die. And when we do, we will know our Savior, for we have searched the Holy Scriptures and felt his nearness as He walks with us on our journey home (Ensign, November 1985, p.95).
May we develop the attitude of the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who “. . . .were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The two videos above were recorded for the More Good Foundation in Orem, Utah on 14 October 2013. This is the story of my conversion to the LDS faith in question and answer format. Prior to converting to the LDS faith I was studying to become a Baptist minister. Your comments and/or questions are welcomed.
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Have you ever wondered what Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) really believe? Are Mormons Christian? Do they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the True and Living God, and that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world? Do they believe that the Bible is the Word of God? These and other questions are answered in the video above. Your comments and questions are welcomed.
Here are a few more videos that will help answer questions about what Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe and teach.
- The Glory of God is Intelligence (aboutgod.co)
- Why the Reformation Wasn’t Enough (mormonbeliefs.org)
- What Mormons Know About Moses (mormonbible.org)
- Joseph Smith’s Revelatory Answers to Bible Questions (mormonbible.org)
It was Franklin D. Richards who once said, “Life is God’s greatest gift to man, and what we do with our life is our gift to God.” (CR, April 1971, p. 38). Stephen L. Richards taught, “Life is a mission and not a career.” (Quoted by Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 1988, p. 54). And it was President Boyd K. Packer who taught,
No matter what citizenship or race, whether male or female, no matter what occupation, no matter your education, regardless of the generation in which one lives, life is a homeward journey for all of us, back to the presence of God in his celestial kingdom (Ensign, May 1987, p. 24).
On Friday evening, 17 October 1958, at about 10:17 PM, a boy was born to John Wallace Brown and Frances Mae Harmon. He would become the second child born to the proud young parents, as John was only 23 years of age, and Frances had barely turned 21 years of age on 24 September 1958.
Having already begun raising a now one year old son, these young, but still rather new parents, welcomed their newborn into the world with both joy and realizing the the challenges in being the best parents that they could be to him and his older sibling. Throughout his early childhood, and well into his early adult years, these loving parents would nurture and instruct their son in the way that he should go. They had their own hopes and aspirations of what he would one day become, but at the same time, like his brother before him, they had dedicated his life into the hands of the Lord, and they were confident that as long as he never let go of God’s unchanging hand and was obedient to God’s will for his life, everything would be alright.
Hugh Nibley once said, “No matter where we begin if we pursue knowledge diligently and honestly, our quest will inevitably lead us from the things of earth to the things of heaven.” And it was President David O. McKay who taught,
Knowledge comes through personal effort. Its acquisition involves labor. Exact and definitive knowledge comes to us in exact ratio with the amount of diligence, moral courage, and perseverance we put into the active search for it.
At a very early age this son became a seeker of knowledge and truth. He developed a love for books and learning, and even during his elementary school years, he was fascinated by the treasures of knowledge that were found within the pages of not only his school textbooks, but other volumes that were available to him as well. Whereas most young boys tend to have a want to get actively involved in some type of sports activity, he was more of an academic and preferred spending time in a library or looking through the encyclopedias and books at home to glean any morsel of knowledge from them that he could. However, even with his new-found discoveries, he never seemed fully satisfied. There was still a hunger and a thirst to know even more.
In school, he devoted many hours to his studies, always wanting to do his best to obtain academic excellence. As he moved from elementary school into Junior High and High School, he became an even greater seeker of knowledge. Oftentimes he would be found studying different subjects on his own, outside of the subjects that he learned in the classroom. He soon learned that he had a special passion for learning anything to do with mathematics and foreign languages. By the time that he graduated High School he had successfully passed one year of Latin and five years of Spanish. In fact, he had participated in a national Spanish exam in his senior year of High School and tied for fifth place. He was not a straight ‘A’ student, but he always managed to keep most of his grades in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ range and his name was very often found among the list of names of students who were on the honor roll. It was also in High School when he discovered a love for the English language and thoroughly enjoyed writing essays, short stories, and research papers. Oddly enough, some of his least favorite subjects were history and the sciences, although he enjoyed chemistry class mainly because of the mathematics involved in solving and balancing formulas and equations.
His quest for knowledge did not end with his graduation from Wicomico Senior High School in Salisbury Maryland in June 1976. At the young age of 18 years, having a love for learning new things in mathematics, he became interested in computers and how they functioned, and so he enrolled in a local community college and began his studies in Data Processing Technology. While working full-time as a dishwasher in a local family restaurant, he pursued his studies at Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown Delaware, completing all of his requirements for graduation two weeks ahead of schedule, and graduating with an A.A.S. degree in Data Processing Technology in June 1979.
Hugh B. Brown once said,
Every landing field is also a runway for a new take-off. We must resist the temptation to abide upon arriving at an intermediate goal. There can be no loitering on life’s airfield. One must get on the plane or be left behind (Address, Brigham Young University, May 24, 1962, p. 3).
After graduating from Delaware Technical and Community College he decided to put further traditional classroom training and learning on temporary hold and continued working full-time in the local restaurant. This; however, did not put an end to his quest for knowledge. He continuously pondered what he would eventually do with his life and began setting goals for some of the things that he hoped to do. Perhaps he would become a teacher or even a preacher of the Gospel, as he also loved reading and studying the scriptures, and at the young age of 21 years had already read the Bible several times in its entirety.
Even with his vast knowledge and study of the Bible, he felt that there was still much more that he needed to know. There were many questions in his young mind that seemed left unanswered. And so, one day while watching television he saw a commercial for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and at the end of the commercial they offered a free Book of Mormon. Having no knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and curiosity about the Book of Mormon, he sent and asked for a copy.
About a week later two young men dressed in suits and riding bicycles arrived at the door of his parents’ home where he was living at the time. They introduced themselves as missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and said that they had the Book of Mormon that he had requested. Wanting to learn more about the Church and the Book of Mormon, he invited them in. This was in October 1980, and shortly after he had joined the Navy under the Delayed Entry Program. Leaving home and traveling the world while serving his country was one of the goals that he had set for himself. As President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “Goals are good. Laboring with a distant aim sets the mind in a higher key and puts us at our best.” (Regional Representatives’ Seminar, April 3, 1974.) And as Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “To reach a goal you have never attained, you must do things you have never before done.” (Ensign, May 1990, p. 76.)
He met with the missionaries often over the next 6 months, and even began reading the Book of Mormon. Finally, in March 1981, he thanked the missionaries for the things that they had taught him and promised that he would continue investigating the Church and reading the Book of Mormon later. For now his mission in life was join the Navy serving his country. He did not realize that his mission would actually become his career.
During his military service he was blessed with the opportunity to travel to many foreign lands that he had only read about in books. He also continued his quest for knowledge by continuing to take courses in different subjects. He even enrolled in Bible College in the Tabernacle Baptist Church Theological Seminary while stationed in Norfolk Virginia with hopes of someday becoming a Baptist minister. He only had the opportunity to study in the Seminary for a little over a year, and during that time, he again realized that there was so much more that he wanted answers to. It would not be until 1997, some 17 years after his first investigation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while stationed in Keflavic, Iceland, that he would finally find the answers that he had been seeking when he again began reading the Book of Mormon and meeting with the missionaries. On Tuesday evening, 10 March 1998, in the little LDS Chapel in Reykjavík, Iceland he was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the rest as they say is history.
My name is Keith Lionel Brown. I am the one of whom this narrative refers. The first 54 years of this journey called life have been truly amazing. There have been many mountain top experiences, as well as many valley experiences. Nevertheless, all the experiences have helped to mold me into the person that I am today. Truly I stand all amazed at the love that the Savior offers me.
In a short 54 years I have been blessed to travel all over the world, meet influential and interesting people from all walks of life – entertainers, authors, movie directors, actors, and producers, a former President of the United States, and General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have also been blessed with many wonderful opportunities – things that as a young boy I could have only imagined.
My two goodly parents were indeed right in their humble estimation that as long as I hold on to God’s unchanging hand and do what His will is for my life, everything is going to be alright.
I do not know what tomorrow may bring, but I do know the One who holds all of my tomorrows in the palms of His hands. He never sleeps and He never slumbers. He is always right there beside me and has promised never to leave me alone. I don’t have to worry or be afraid. I know that I can make it. In Him I know I can stand. For no matter what may come my way, my life is in His hands. Of this, I do so testify. In the sacred name of our Lord and savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Missionary work is exactly that – WORK. We cannot expect to help build up the Kingdom by sitting comfortably in our easy chairs of complacency and merrily gliding along on the air of things as they are. In order to help our brothers and sisters in need over there, it requires that we get up and move from here and GO there.
When the Lord commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel, it was not a polite request – if you feel like it today, if you can find time in your “busy” schedule, if it does not interfere with your “me” time, as long as you don’t have to travel any great distance to do so, or if you think it is really worth the effort to share the message of the Gospel with certain persons. NO! He was giving them a command to GO and PROCLAIM the Gospel in the hedges and the highways, on the mountain tops and in the lowest valleys, to the extremely rich and to the poor and desolate, to those who want to hear the Good News and especially to those who do not want to hear it. It does not matter – we are to GO and DO.
The only way that missionary work will ever get done is by the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ getting busy and DOING the work. The fields are white already to harvest and there is a great work not yet finished, and that work will never be declared finished until the Great Jehovah Himself shall say, “The Work Is FINISHED!”
- Missionary Work Shared (spiritualityinsnohomish.wordpress.com)
- Primary Program Inspires Missionary Work (beninthemmm.wordpress.com)
- Missionary Work (bycommonconsent.com)
- What is a Missionary? (sisteralyssafelt.wordpress.com)
David James Archuleta is an amazing young talent that has already proven himself in the world of professional music, and will continue to stir audiences the world over with his amazing abilities. He does not strain to sing his songs, but his melodic voice is very soothing and pleasing. He has one of those voices that sweeps the audience away, and always leaves them wanting to hear more of his repertoire. He is destined to go far. As long as audiences will keep listening, David will keep singing, but then even if the performances should end (and I doubt they will), he will find a way to share his music, as music is in his blood.
This writer, like many of David’s fans are anxiously awaiting the young man’s return home from his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others). Perhaps one of the questions in everyone’s mind is how soon David will return to making the music that we, his fans, love, and what genre of music will he choose to record. He is serving a Spanish-speaking mission for the Church, and so other questions that a fan might ask are: “How did serving a mission change his view of life and/or his personality?”, and “How will that play a part in the music that he will be recording?”
Personally, this writer would love it if David were to record an album in Spanish. Although I am not fluent in Spanish, it is something so beautiful and melodic about the language blended with David’s vocals that even without understanding all the words, David’s vocal expressions would help accent the meaning so as anyone listening will be able to understand the message of the song. After having served a mission, it would also be wonderful to hear David sing some of his favorite hums like “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” which he sang during one of his VIP concerts before leaving on his mission. Or, better still, perhaps he could record a new album of songs, and include a bonus album of his favorite hymns. Regardless of what he chooses to do musically, this writer will definitely be following his career.