Wednesday, December 19, 2012

History of Mormonism: Samuel Smith

In the History of Mormonism, Samuel Smith, born March, 1808, was Joseph's younger brother. He was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on May 25, 1829, at the age of 22. He was the third person to be baptized in the church, and receiving the priesthood. Joseph then asked Samuel to be the first missionary. His first day of being on a mission, Samuel walked 25 miles, carrying only a knapsack full of Book of Mormons. Samuel visited four houses along the way, but none of them wanted to buy a copy. Tired, hungry, and discouraged, Samuel stopped by an inn to rest. He asked the innkeeper if he wanted to buy a Book of Mormon. He told the innkeeper about his brother receiving revelation from an angel where the plates were buried. Angry, the innkeeper called Samuel a liar and threw him out of his inn. So Samuel had to sleep under an apple tree on the ground.
The next morning Samuel stopped by a widow's house. In return, the widow gave Samuel some breakfast. He gave her a Book of Mormon in return. Then he walked eight miles and shared the Book of Mormon with John Greene, a Methodist minister. He only took it see if others he knew might be interested in buying a copy. Mr. Greene’s wife, Rhoda, was Brigham Young’s sister, but Brigham did not know about the church yet.
Two months later, Samuel returned to the Greene's home. When he arrived, Mr. Greene wasn't home, but Mrs. Greene told Samuel that she had read the book. The Spirit prompted Samuel to leave the book with her, and he did. Later, Mrs. Greene convinced her husband to read the book, and the couple was later baptized.
Samuel also sold a copy of the Book of Mormon to Brigham Young’s brother: Phineas Young, a Methodist preacher. Samuel told Phineas about the book, including how he is one of the witnesses of the Golden Plates. Phineas thanked Samuel for his time, and had it in his mind to find errors in the book and expose it to the world. A week later, and after reading the book twice, Phineas told his congregation that he believed the Book of Mormon. Later in the summer, the Young family read the Book of Mormon, including Brigham Young.
Even though Samuel baptized no one, and would feel like he didn't succeed in his calling, his efforts would later convert many church members, including Brigham Young who would be the next prophet of the church, and Heber C. Kimball, an Apostle to the church.
Samuel died a month after Joseph did in 1844, from gunshot wounds received from the mob while he was fleeing on horseback.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mormonism and Tithing

In Mormonism, tithing is something that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in, is when someone earns, lets say $100. He or she gives $10 to the church and keeps the rest to him or herself. Generally, you pay 10% of your income to the church.
Tithing was first introduced after Joseph Smith first established the church. It wasn't heavily enforced, recommended, nor up kept until when the Prophet Lorenzo Snow came around. The Latter-day Saints were forced out of Illinois in 1846 and they migrated to a territory which is now known as Utah. They were able to live there for a while, after afflictions from the government about polygamy, the church became in debt. In the 1890's, the church was $2 million in debt, and the saints crops were dying because of a drought. Lorenzo Snow received a revelation about tithing, and he began to preach to the church concerning tithing, and promised them that if everybody pays a full tithe, the Lord will bless them with rain. A month after the saints began paying an honest tithe, they were blessed with heavy rains.
Tithing money is used in building new temples, church office buildings, family history centers, and church stake buildings and chapels.
Today, Utah is a florishing state, and many members in the state, the country, and in the whole world, are paying a full tithe so they can receive blessings and help in their troubles. I myself pay a full tithe and I have a testimony that you will be blessed if you pay an honest tithe.

Mormonism: The Nativity and Christmas

In Mormonism, members of the LDS Church believe in the birth of Christ. Many members have traditions in the church, like singing carols door to door, do a secret santa, (give a gift to someone in a way like leaving a gift on the porch) visit sick and afflicted people, both old and young, and old. Some members also read out loud stories that were shared by members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (one of them is now President of the Church). Two books that I know of that are read every year are "Christmas Oranges," and "A Christmas Dress for Ellen." Both of these stories are really heart touching and are great to read out loud to the family.
Leaders and members of the Church believe not so much in getting, but more into giving. I have been a witness countless times in which members gave homemade treats, gift cards, thank you cards, and other gifts to other members. I also witnessed many times deacons, priests, and elders have taken their time and energy in shoveling snow, cutting wood, and doing services to others and for even the whole community. I have felt the spirit many times, in both seeing this, and doing service myself.
Members of the LDS Church believe in the birth of Christ (also called the Nativity), how he was lain in a manger, (fancy name for a feeding trough) and the new star shining brightly over him. This is what Christmas is about; celebrating the birth of Christ and giving gifts and doing good services to your neighbors. It is also a time to relax, spend time with your family, and take a break from worldly problems. Sadly though, in this day and age, many people don't care much about the Nativity, the miracles that occurred, and many people even don't say, "Merry Christmas." Instead, the replace it with, "Merry xmas," or, "Happy Holidays!" It happens all around us, mainly on shop windows, signs overhead, and even in movies and television. Many people also ignore the meaning of Christmas, like serving others and giving gifts. Instead, they spend much time, energy, and money in meaningless things, like lights contests, black friday, (really big one, because of the violence and profanity that goes on there. I have never went to a black friday opening, and I know people that have and their experiences.) and anything that could draw away the spirit.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mormonism: Parenting

In Mormonism, It is both a gift and a blessing to have the chance to raise a child to maturity. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asks married couples who have children to raise them, teach them, and nurture them. Gordon B. Hinkley wrote the Proclamation to the World. In it, it says, "Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live."
Parenting isn't easy. They have to raise children, from newborn babies to adulthood. They have to change diapers, bath them, feed them, clothe them, tell them to clean their rooms, give them money for dates, etc. Parenting is tough work, but if both spouses work hard, they will be successful and see the fruit of their labours. If they did their duty in raising their children right, they will be blessed forever.
In this day and age however, many people see parenting as abnormal, and ridicule large families. They don't want to work hard to raise children. They don't want to be burdened with the responsibilities of raising children. Instead, they either want to be married and not have kids, and do the stuff they want to do, or they want to be single and to enjoy life.
The Church leaders asks young couples to be worthy and ready to raise children and to be good parents.  They ask them not to raise them in the ways of the world, but to raise them in the ways of the gospel. 
For young couples to raise children, it is very difficult; most couples still need to finish college, most don't have a lot of money, and most couples don't live in a house that is paid off completely.  There are many blessings though that come with raising children.  Sometimes, it comes through extra money that couples receive, many times, it comes through service and charity from other members and non-members.  Sometimes, the child they are raising can be more "behaved," (not staying up all night, cry very little, etc.)  than others.  
Having a child in the home can bless you with a stronger spirit in the home.   It can help you in troubles and in tough situations (medically, financially) but in the long run, many families say it is worth having a child in the home for these blessings. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mormonism: The Consequenses of Gambling

In Mormonism, Gambling is when someone tries to earn money by doing nothing, and it has been around for thousands of years, causing many people to lose hard earned money. The LDS Church teaches about the evils and consequences of gambling. Gordon B. Hinckley stated, "Gambling is to be found almost everywhere and is growing. People play poker. They bet on horse races and dog races. They play roulette and work the slot machines. They gather to play in bars, saloons, and casinos, and, all too often, in their own homes. Many cannot leave it alone. It becomes addictive. In so many cases it leads to other destructive habits and practices." People who are addicted to gambling, and are in debt, start committing crimes, like theft, burglary, embezzlement, scamming, drug trafficking, and fraud. Many people who end up doing these things pull themselves deeper in the hole. Not only are they in debt to loaners, but now they go to prison, and often pay a big fine, causing them to go even further in debt. Gambling seems like fun, playing poker with friends, spinning the roulette machine, throwing dice, placing bets on events, and seems like every body's doing it, but in the long run, it can absolutely ruin your marriage, your lifestyle, your reputation, your credit score, and even your will to live.
Another popular form of gambling is the lottery. It is when a gambling company, or even just an event sells tickets with numbers on them. They have prizes, ranging from small prices of tokens, toys, items cash, to grand money prizes of millions of dollars. How these companies make their money however, is that they have prizes that total to lets say, $120,660,500.  If you include around fifty million people paying an average of ten tickets worth a dollar each, then the company will still get a profit of  $379,339,500, and there will be millions of people who end up with nothing but a worthless piece of paper.  I know that this is just a random number of the prizes and the amount of people purchasing an x amount of tickets, I have never done lottery and never will.

Even if the winner of the grand prize is excited from paying only five dollars to get ten million, the winners troubles are far from over. There are many true stories of people winning the jackpot, and saying it was one of the worst things that happened to them. People they don't know come begging for money. One letter said, and it's a true story, "I need that money more than you." Other winners end up losing all of their money in more gambling, scammy or faulty investments, honest investments that turned sour, stolen from them, or mostly due to mindless spending. There are a lot of better things to do in your life than gambling, and more profitable too.   There are many stories and tales of people who sell everything; cars, jewelry, possessions, etc.  They would even spend their rent, insurance, taxes, and food bills to satisfy their gambling habit.  There are many children who go hungry, divorces filed, and even suicides occuring.  It is a continuing problem that is rising dramatically.  In 1965, the total spent was around $2 billion.  In 2006, the number raised to a dramatic $986 billion.  This includes all types of gambling; lotteries, casinos, slot machines, etc. 

Mormonism and Music

In Mormonism, the LDS Church repeatedly tells members to be careful of music that they listen to.  In some talks, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talk about how music affects us.  They tell us the power of music, for example how your foot can tap to the beat without you realizing it.  One good example is a true story about a teenager listening to a heavy metal song, the lyrics talk about someone shoplifting and getting away with it.  Guess what happened down the road.  You guessed right, he was caught by security shoplifting (and listening to the song).  This is one out of many stories about someone doing something wrong with the aid of music.  I am not saying that people commit crimes because music caused them too, it is because music influenced them, gave them an idea.  It is no different than someone playing mature video games like Call of Duty enough that they get the idea that shooting people is a game, and there have been cases of people shooting or hitting others (with weapons) because they were influenced by playing on violent video games.  Same thing also goes towards driving under the influence of alcohol.  What I am trying to say, is that it is still your fault for hurting someone, or commiting a crime (or both).  Not the music, video games, or alcohol.  I have heard many cases in which the defence attorneys complained against the judge that it wasn't their clients fault that they committed theft, vandalism, or even murder, because of the said influences.   Yes, it is their clients fault.  There are many examples that can relate to how music can affect your actions.  If you don't listen to clean music, it can have a similar negative effect on you as drugs. 
The Church repeatedly asks both young and old, but mostly towards the youth to listen to clean, uplifting music.  It can bring the spirit into your lives, it can influence positively, and it can even help you cope with problems positively. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

History of Mormonism: The Kirkland Bank

In the History of Mormonism, in 1836, Joseph Smith established the Kirkland Safety Society, a joint stock company that also worked as a bank in Kirkland Ohio.  He was able to obtain the funds to start the bank.  He told the saints that if they follow the Lord's commandments, not to steal from the bank, and not to purchase items with money they don't have, then the bank would be one of the most prosperous banks in the country.  They were able to print notes, and sold stock to the saints.  The saints bought shares of stock, say that one certificate of stock was worth $50.  The saints didn't pay fully for the stock, mostly not even 10% of the stock value, even though they were suppose to.  Many saints then, confident that this stock was technically worth more since it belonged to the church, the began spending the stock on expensive clothes and furniture, something that Joseph told them not to do.   The teller of the bank, Warren Parrish, began secretly embezzling money from the bank, something that would sum up to $25,000.  
The "Panic of 1837" hit, many banks failing all across America.  Out of 850 banks opened in the country, 343 of them closed.  The Kirkland bank was one of them.   What contributed to the failing of the bank was first, They started out bigger than they were supposed to.  That somewhat contributed to the failing bank.  What really contributed was the embezzling, and the saints not paying for the stocks in full. 
The failing of the bank really hit the Church hard.  Many saints left the Church, thinking the Joseph wanted to start this bank to personally benefit, when they didn't realize that Joseph was more at risk from the failing of the bank than the rest of them.  Half of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles blamed Joseph for their plight and went in open rebellion against the prophet.  Heber C. Kimball would later say, "The bank's failure was so shattering that afterwards, no more than twenty would claim Joseph was a Prophet of God.
In the aftermath, Joseph was hounded by creditors and lawsuits, around 17 suits to be exact.  He would do his best, sending what little money he earned to the creditors.  He wasn't able to pay off the debt before his death. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mormonism: Before the Old Testament

In Mormonism: In the Pre-Earth life, everyone lived with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  The earth wasn't created yet.  
In a particular time, Heavenly Father gathered us around, and told us that we will go into a world and be tested.  He needed someone to be the one to atone for every one's sins. (no unclean person who sinned, even once could come back to Heavenly Father unless someone atones for the sins)  One of His son's, Lucifer, said that he will be the one.  He will force everyone to be perfect, and make sure that everyone will come back.   Lucifer only wanted Heavenly Father's power, he did not care about the others.   Another one of His sons, Jesus Christ, said that he will atone for their sins, and allow everyone to have free agency.   Heavenly Father chose Jesus to be the one.  Lucifer was angry, and stirred many souls to join him.  Heavenly Father had to cast out Lucifer and his followers, around 1/3 of His children.  Today, Lucifer is known as Satan, and he and his followers were cursed by not allowed to enter earth with a body of flesh and blood.  They work endlessly, trying to ruin and destroy Heavenly Father's Plan. 
Jesus Christ, instructed by Heavenly Father, created the Earth and the Heavens in six "days." (probably much longer in human time)

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