Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Message for Youth

                                      (Inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer)

With all that is going on in the world, with the lowering of moral standards, the multiple wars being fought, and the struggling economy.  You may feel uncertainty and insecurity in your lives.  You young people are being raised in enemy territory.

The gospel plan is “the great plan of happiness.” The family is the center of that plan, as was stated in, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” The Proclamation states that first of all, every human being, both male and female, was created in the image of God, and that marriage is only between a man and a woman. 

We all make mistakes; none of us is perfect, or even close to being perfect.  Some of us will make serious mistakes, but you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Spirit. This promise applies to all members of the Church. 
To those who have made such mistakes, there is a way out, and that is through repentance. 

Repentance is first, you feel true remorse and guilt for what you have done.  Then, if your sin affected anyone, or it was serious, then you talk with whoever you have affected, and/or your bishop.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, your sins will be washed away and you will be made whole again. 

Here are some words of what you can do to help you get through enemy territory:

-          Dress modestly
-          Listen to clean and uplifting music
-          Help those in need, do good deeds and care for others
-          Avoid addictive and harmful substances
-          Avoid piercings and body jewelry (directed towards men.  For women, have one set of earrings)
-          Avoid tattoos; your body is a temple.  Would you spray paint a temple?
-          Choose your friends carefully; they will play a big part in how your future turns out
-          Listen to the Holy Ghost.

Do these things, and you will be able to navigate through enemy territory, and live a long and prosperous life. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013


(Inspired by and included experiences by Boyd K. Packer)

There is one part of prayer, the answer part, that perhaps by comparison we neglect.  There are some things about answers to prayer that you can learn when you are very young, and they will be a great protection to you.

Many years ago John Burroughs, a naturalist, one summer evening was walking through a crowded park. Above the sounds of city life he heard the song of a bird. He stopped and listened! Those with him had not heard it. He looked around. No one else had noticed it. It bothered him that everyone should miss something so beautiful. He took a coin from his pocket and flipped it into the air. It struck the pavement with a ring, no louder than the song of the bird. Everyone turned; they could hear that! It is difficult to separate from all the sounds of city traffic the song of a bird. But you can hear it. You can hear it plainly if you train yourself to listen for it.

Prayer is like a homemade radio; you are trying to communicate with someone over a long distance, and the time and energy you put into making that radio, and the skill and experience tuning it determines the quality and amount of dialog you get back.  It takes time, practice, and patience to tune out the "interference" to hear the still small voice when wanting an answer.   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Does Salt Taste Like?

(This is an experience shared by Boyd K. Packer)

I sat on a plane next to a professed atheist who pressed his disbelief in God so urgently that I bore my testimony to him. “You are wrong,” I said, “there is a God. I know He lives!”
He protested, “You don’t know. Nobody knows that! You can’t know it!” When I would not yield, the atheist, who was an attorney, asked perhaps the ultimate question on the subject of testimony. “All right,” he said in a sneering, condescending way, “you say you know. Tell me how you know.”
When I attempted to answer, even though I held advanced academic degrees, I was helpless to communicate.
When I used the words Spirit and witness, the atheist responded, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” The words prayer, discernment, and faith, were equally meaningless to him. “You see,” he said, “you don’t really know. If you did, you would be able to tell me how you know.
I felt, perhaps, that I had borne my testimony to him unwisely and was at a loss as to what to do. Then came the experience! Something came into my mind. And I mention here a statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

 “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas … and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ, Jesus. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 151.)
Such an idea came into my mind and I said to the atheist, “Let me ask if you know what salt tastes like.”
“Of course I do,” was his reply.
“When did you taste salt last?”
“I just had dinner on the plane.”
“You just think you know what salt tastes like,” I said.
He insisted, “I know what salt tastes like as well as I know anything.”
“If I gave you a cup of salt and a cup of sugar and let you taste them both, could you tell the salt from the sugar?”
“Now you are getting juvenile,” was his reply. “Of course I could tell the difference. I know what salt tastes like. It is an everyday experience—I know it as well as I know anything.”
“Then,” I said, “assuming that I have never tasted salt, explain to me just what it tastes like.”
After some thought, he ventured, “Well-I-uh, it is not sweet and it is not sour.”
“You’ve told me what it isn’t, not what it is.”
After several attempts, of course, he could not do it. He could not convey, in words alone, so ordinary an experience as tasting salt. I bore testimony to him once again and said, “I know there is a God. You ridiculed that testimony and said that if I did know, I would be able to tell you exactly how I know. My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like. But I say to you again, there is a God! He does live! And just because you don’t know, don’t try to tell me that I don’t know, for I do!”
As we parted, I heard him mutter, “I don’t need your religion for a crutch! I don’t need it.”

To everyone, both LDS and Non-LDS, don't let others ridicule you for your religion, if you have a testimony and the spirit in your hearts, nothing save it yourself can sway you and cause you to doubt.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Godhead

(Inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer)

Many people are confused about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in many of of teachings and doctrine.  One prime example is who they (the saints) really worship.   Here is the answer:

The saints worship the Godhead, which is made up of three divine beings.  They each have a part which makes up the Godhead.

There is one God the Father of all. He is Heavenly Father.

There is only one Redeemer, Mediator, Savior. That is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
There is one Holy Ghost, a personage of spirit, who completes the Godhead.

That is whom the saints worship.  Heavenly Father, who is God;  Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God and who atoned for our sins, and the Holy Ghost, who is our spiritual guidance through the path of righteousness.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Feeding the Spiritually Weak

(This article was inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer )

Jesus Christ told Peter, and told us to, "Feed my Sheep."   What does that mean?   Here is a story to give an idea:

There was a large family reunion and they planned to hold a large picnic.  They reserve a beautiful picnic ground in the country, and they have it all to themselves. When the the day came, the weather is perfect. They head out to their rightfully reserved spot, and get everything ready; the tables are in one long row. they had tablecloths and china. The tables are laden with every kind of delicious food: watermelon, corn on the cob, fried chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, cakes, pies, lemonade, soda—you get the picture?
Everyone is seated, and one of them was asked to bless the food. Everybody secretly hoped it would be a short prayer.  Then, just at that moment there is an interruption. A noisy old car jerks into the picnic grounds and sputters to a stop close to them. Everyone was upset. Didn’t the driver see the “reserved” signs? 

A worried-looking man emerges from the car and lifts the hood; a spray of steam comes out.  One of the family members, a mechanic, says, “That car isn't going anywhere unless it is fixed.” 
Several children spill from the car. They are ragged, dirty and noisy. The mother climbs out of the car and takes a box to an area nearby, sets the box down, lays a faded checkered blanket on the ground, and then starts laying out the food.  It is lunch time, and their children are hungry. She puts a few leftovers on some plates and then she nervously moves them about, trying to make it look like a meal for her hungry children, but there is not enough.  It is obvious that this family was in poor and humble circumstances.  
Everyone at the tables were waiting.  They were thinking, "Why did they arrive just at that moment? Such an inconvenient time. Why must we interrupt what we are doing to bother with outsiders? Why couldn't they have stopped somewhere else? They are not clean, nor decent looking! They are not like us. They just don’t fit in. What should we do?"

This is just a story, but now for the test.  If this really happened, what would you do?
Here are three choices:
-First, you could insist the parents keep their children quiet while you and the others have the blessing over the food. Thereafter you ignore them. After all, you took your time and energy planning the feast and reserving the place.
-The next choice. You do have an extra table, and you do have too much of some things. You could take a little of this and a little of that and lure the little children to the extra table. Then you could enjoy the  feast you and your family prepared without interruption. After all, you earned and payed for what you have. 
The final choice is that you go out to to the poor family and invite them to come and join your family.  They could all fit in after re-arranging some of the food and adding the extra table.  Everyone can somewhere to share the feast. Afterward, the mechanic can fix their car and give them something for their journey.

Which choice would you pick.  I do hope you picked number three.  Could there be any more pure enjoyment than seeing the faces of the poor family light up with joy after asking them to join you?  Could there be a more joyful feeling in your heart after feeding the hungry family and fixing their car?  

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints ask that Everyone, young and old, should try and help others, both physically and spiritually, whether it is a good deed, or some words of kindness/encouragement.   When Christ said to feed his sheep, his meaning is to spiritually feed his sheep.    

There are many many people out there who don't know anything about the gospel, and many are spiritually hungry, or even starving.   Even when someone is spiritually starving, they may reject the word, and reject Jesus's messengers (Missionaries).  Many missionaries and even non-LDS people wonder why many won't receive the gospel when first introduced to them.  Do you remember how reluctant you were to try any new food? Only after your mother urges you will you take a little, tiny portion on the tip of a spoon to taste it to see if you like it first.  Even then, like children and vegetables, some people receive the word, but are reluctant or don't want to follow some of the teachings.  Over time and through the spirit however, they can accept and follow the teachings and doctrine, and receive blessings for it.  Kinda like a child who ate their veggies can have dessert afterwards.

Do what Jesus asked, and that is to feed his sheep.

If you have questions, or if your interested and want to know more about the Church, visit the Church's website by clicking this link.  Or you could request a missionary visit at this link.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who Is Jesus Christ

(This article was inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer)

Jesus Christ has many titles; The Son of God, The Prince of Peace, The Bread of Life, Alpha and Omega, The Light and Life of the World, The Savior, The Redeemer, The Good Shepherd, The Beginning and the End, The Mediator, etc.

Jesus Christ was the only Perfect being that ever lived.  Because of his perfectness, he was the one who sacrificed and atoned for the sins of the world, and for every being that ever have and will live.   He spent his whole life teaching both the apostles and people, he performed miracles for thousands, he walked for miles at a time, he has done much work for his Father in Heaven.

Because of the amount of Jews that believed in Jesus, the Pharisees, members of a religious group who believed strictly in the Law of Moses, and avoided the Gentiles, to hate Jesus, and many times they plotted to kill him.   Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus's apostles, would later betray Jesus to the Pharisees for thirty pieces of silver.  He later hung himself from overwhelming guilt.
Jesus was spat on and slapped by the Pharisees while they were waiting to turn him to the Romans, (the Romans conquered Israel)  to punish Jesus for his "crimes," and not once did Jesus cry out, nor complain at all.   When Jesus stood before Pilate, (ruler over Jerusalem) many Jews bore false witness, saying that Jesus spoke of blasphemy and committed crimes.  Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews.  Jesus answered, "Thou sayest."  When Jesus as accused by the priests and elders though, he said nothing.

At this time, the Jews were celebrating the Passover.  The Romans would release a prisoner, one the crowd wanted released.   Pilate asked the Jews who should he release, the Jews shouting, "Barabbas!"  The priests and elders among the Jews started crying out for Jesus to be crucified, and the rest of the Jews shouted that out as well.   Pilate washed his hands, saying that he is innocent of the blood of this just person.   The Roman soldiers scourged Jesus, and later crucify him.  Jesus told his Father to forgive the soldiers for they know not what they do.   He said several other things, then died.
Jesus was buried in a tomb, and three days later was resurrected.  Through him, the bonds of death was broken, and we are able to be resurrected just like him.

Read more about him on the LDS Church Website.  Click this link.

Freedom of Choice

(This was inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer )

What's interesting about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and how they are able to function so well, is because of freedom and control.   They develop control by teaching freedom.  Everyone has freedom of agency; it is a God-given right.  We also have the freedom of consequences that come with the actions that we make with our agency, whether good or bad.
Some who do not understand the doctrinal part do not readily see the relationship between obedience and agency. And they miss one vital connection and see obedience only as restraint. They then resist the very thing that will give them true freedom. There is no true freedom without responsibility, and there is no enduring freedom without a knowledge of the truth.   
Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control. We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see. The best control, is self-control.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Where Much is Given, Much is Required

(Inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer)

Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't easy.  Converting to the Church is much harder.   You are asked to give up a lot of things, including habits and lifestyles.   Many converts that I know of had to give up a lot of habits, including smoking, drinking, gambling, drugs, watching inappropriate movies/television, listening to inappropriate music, etc.  To make a habit of something for a long time, then you have to forsake that habit(s) to join the Church is very very difficult.   Here is one person who had doubts of joining the Church because of commitment:
Two missionaries were teaching a fine family, and they had expressed a desire to be baptized, and then they suddenly cooled off. The father had learned about tithing and canceled all further meetings with the missionaries.  The branch president, hearing this persuaded the missionaries to join him in another visit to the home.  The branch president talked with the father and the following conversation occurred
"I understand that you have decided not to join the church," the branch president told the father.

"That is correct."

"The elders tell me that you are disturbed about tithing."

"Yes," said the father.  "They had not told us about it, and when I learned of it, I said, 'now that's too much to ask.  Our church  has never asked anything like that.' We think that it is too much for us, and we will not join."

"Did they tell you about fast offerings?"

"No, whats that?"

"In the Church we fast for two meals at the beginning of each month, and we give the value of the meals for the help of the poor."

"They did not tell us that."

"Did they mention the building fund?"

"No, what's that."

"In the Church we all contribute towards building chapels.  If you joined the Church, you would want to participate in labor and money.  In fact, we are building a new chapel here."

"They didn't mention that."

"Did they also tell you that we have no professional clergy?  All of us contribute our time, money, and energy to help the work, and we are not paid for it in money.

"They didn't tell us any of that," said the father.

"Well," said the branch president, "If you are turned away by a little thing like tithing, it is obvious you're not ready to join this church.  "Maybe you've made the right decision and you should not join."

As the branch president and elders departed, the branch president turned and said, ""have you ever wondered why people will do all of these things willingly?  I have never received a bill for tithing.  No one has ever called to collect it, but we pay it, and all of the rest, and count it a great privilege.  If you could discover why, you would be within reach of the pearl of great price, which the Lord said the merchant man was willing to sell everything he had to obtain the Pearl."  "But, it is your decision.  I only hope you will pray about it."

A few days later the father appeared at the branch president’s home. No, he did not want to reschedule the missionaries. That would not be necessary. He wanted to schedule the baptism of his family. They had been praying, fervently praying, and received an answer to their prayers.  

It is difficult to be in the Church, but the blessings are overwhelmingly greater than the sacrifices.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Relief Society

(This article was inspired by Boyd K. Packer)

Many women today question and criticize the Church because they think that women aren't important or don't have a role in the Church.  Well they haven't heard of the Relief Society.

The Relief Society was established in 1842, when Emma Smith and other female members asked Joseph Smith if women have a role in the Church as well as the men.  Joseph prayed and received a revelation.   He later told the women;
“You will receive instructions through the order of the Priesthood which God has established, through the medium of those appointed to … direct the affairs of the Church in this last dispensation; and I now turn the key in your behalf in the name of the Lord, and this Society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time henceforth” (History of the Church)

The official purpose of Relief Society is to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need. Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching, and welfare and compassionate service.  

The Relief Society right now has over 6 million members in over 170 countries and territories.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Keeping Thoughts Clean

(This article was inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer)

In this day and age, many people find it really difficult to keep their thoughts clean.  Our thoughts are like water, the seek the path of least resistance, which could be in the lowest levels.  One of the most difficult challenges that man will have to face is to keep their thoughts clean.   If we don't keep our thoughts clean, and let our thoughts roam in our minds, it could affect our actions and speech.  There is a way to keep your thoughts clean, and to focus on more uplifting things.  That is to listen to clean music.
Music has one of the most powerful influences on our brain.  It causes our feet to tap to the beat, sometimes without us realizing it, it can influence our emotions, and it can even give us energy.   We must be careful though in the music that we listen to.  If we listen to music with lots of cursing and swearing, it can cause us to curse and swear as well.  In fact, there was a story about a young adult who loved listening to a heavy metal song that talks about someone shoplifting and getting away with it.  A few months down the road, he was arrested for... guess what... shoplifting.   To add to that, he was listening to the song while he was shoplifting.
So remember this, avoid music that disrupts or drives away the spirit, and when you feel like an unclean thought comes to your head, sing in your mind or even hum a favorite hymn.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

(This article was inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer )  

Many investigators and curious non-members wonder about what the Church believes and teaches.  This article will explain to the best of it's ability about the Church.

First off, is how the Church got its name.  When Jesus Christ visited the America's, the people there asked Him what they should call their church, because of arguments and contentions deciding the name.  Jesus told them that they should name the church after Him.  If it was Moses' church, it would be the church of Moses, same thing with others.  Jesus told them to name the church after Himself.  That is how the Church got its name, 'the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.'  The "Latter-Day Saints," was added when the Church was re-established through Joseph Smith Jr. in 1830.  It fulfilled a prophecy in the Bible that the Church would be restored in the latter-days, hence the last part of the name.

The Church has four books of doctrine: The Bible, The Book of Mormon (Another Testament of Jesus Christ, The Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.  
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.  It depicts of Prophets and civilizations in the America's and includes information of events like the destruction of the Nephites and Jaredites, the signs of the Birth of Christ and the signs of the Death of Christ, the journeys and works of many Prophets, etc.  Because of the Book of Mormon, the Church and its members are usually called the 'Mormon Church' and the 'Mormons.'  It is a title they don't resent, but it is not accurate.
The Doctrine and Covenants is a historical account of the Prophet Joseph Smith, his works, and revelations he received during the restoration the the Church.
The Pearl of Great Price is a selection of choice materials touching many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine of the Church. These items were produced by Joseph Smith and were published in the Church periodicals of his day. 

Latter-day Saints (members of the Church) follow the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, and the Ten Commandments.   They are taught by Church leaders to love one another, to love and serve God, to fast, pay tithing, and to follow the Prophet's and Apostles teachings.

Many people say the the Church isn't Christian.  Quite the contrary, no other Church follows the teachings and doctrine more closely, completely, and thoroughly than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Church does believe in the crucifixion of Jesus, but unlike other churches, the LDS Church believes more and finds more important, the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus. 

Learn more about the Church at its website.  Click here to go to the site. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Following the Word of Wisdom

This article was inspired by a talk given by Boyd K. Packer at the 1996 April General Conference.

We know that young people generally don’t like restrictions. Believe it or not, we were young once and we remember.  Everyone, not just youth, should realize the importance and blessing that come with following the Word of Wisdom.  
The Word of Wisdom is a revelation given to us. In that revelation, it tells us what we should or should not eat/drink, it tells us that we should avoid tobacco, tea, coffee, and alcohol.   It also tells us to to eat lots of grains, fruits, and vegetables, to eat meats sparingly, and to eat and drink things that will "nourish" our bodies.  There are some people that decide not to eat meat at all.  Sometimes, there is a legitimate reason, and they cannot eat meat, whether it is a phobia, or it is a medical condition.  The Lord did tell us through scripture that he created many animals for us to eat; nothing else, just that specific purpose. 
One major substance is repeatedly challenged whether it is against the Word of Wisdom or not: caffeinated beverages.  The Word of Wisdom actually says in a deep meaning that it is against its teachings.  In a deeper meaning, the Word of Wisdom is literally saying that we should not partake of anything that can be harmful or addictive to our bodies, and the same goes for too much of anything isn't good for you.  Caffeine is both addictive and harmful to our bodies.  You might read about what people say on the news, in public, or in the internet about some of these substances, like tea and coffee being good for you, and I have read them as well.  It can be like tobacco; once you consume it/use it, it can be addicting.  Same thing with chocolate; favorite of millions (myself included) and yes, it has caffeine, around 9 mg for a 1.6 oz Hershey's bar.  It is okay to have chocolate, but in small portions.  People have used drugs like marijuana cocaine, and caffeine.  If used right, they can be help us.  
One story in particular is about a man who had really painful headaches.  He tried everything, and nothing would work.  A friend of his gave him a bottle of pills, telling him that someone he knew had headaches like the man as well.  He took a pill, and an hour later, his headaches for the first time in a long time were gone.  
A month later, the man went to his pharmacist and asked for a refill for the bottle.  The pharmacist did a double-take when he saw the label on the bottle.  What the man was taking, was actually cocaine.  He did not get addicted to it, and the pharmacist was able to get a special request for a refill, and the man has enjoyed a headache-free life ever since.  Like I said before, we can use substances that can help our bodies, or we can abuse them.  
The reason why energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, coffee, and tea isn't good for you, is the high amount of caffeine in it, and the fact that many people are addicted to it and can experience withdrawal symptoms.  The same thing can happen to non-caffeinated sodas as well.  You can be addicted to the sugar.
People might look at the Word of Wisdom, and call it a cult, but they don't realize the blessings, both physical and spiritual, we can receive. Chief of these blessings is a healthy body.  We can also be blessed spiritually, and have spiritual guidance in our lives.
Here are some words to live by: Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

History of Mormonism: Oliver Cowdery

In Mormonism, Oliver Cowdery was born in October 3rd, 1806, in Wells Vermont. Before he met Joseph Smith, Martin Harris was ascribing for Joseph. He lost the 116 pages that he and Joseph translated, and the Lord took the Plates from Joseph for a while. After he got them back, Oliver Cowdery, hearing about the Gold Plates and having a vision about them, traveled to where Joseph was and scribes for Joseph. While working on the translation, Joseph and Oliver came across a scripture talking about the priesthood. They prayed about it and went by the Susquehanna River, where John the Baptist came and blessed Joseph and Oliver with the Aaronic Priesthood. After receiving the priesthood, they went into the river and baptized each other. The went into the forest, and prayed some more, then the Apostles Peter, James, and John came and blessed them with the Melchizedek Priesthood. Days later, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris were able to have the privilege of being shown the Gold Plates by Joseph. They later wrote what would be known as the Testimony of the Three Witnesses. Oliver and Joseph were able to finish translation and through the help of Martin Harris, they were able to print the Book of Mormon.
After the restoration of the Church in 1830, Oliver had some disagreements with Joseph. In 1838, he was excommunicated from the Church, mainly with competing with being the leader of the Church, not following some of the revelation Joseph inquired from the Lord, and not appearing on a hearing about his membership in the Church.
Oliver joined a Methodist church for some years, being secretary, doing some editorials for local newspapers, and practicing law.
In 1848, he met Brigham Young in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and asked him to be re-baptized into the church. This was taken to a council and was unanimously approved. Oliver was re-baptized into the church on November 12, 1848.
On March 3rd, 1850, Oliver died due to health problems, causing him to not be able to relocate to Utah Territory. He died in David Whitmer's Home in Missouri.

History of Mormonism: Emma Smith

Born on July 10, 1804, in Harmony Township, Pennsylvania, Emma Hale Smith became a great contributor to Mormonism, mainly due to her participation in being the Relief Society President and the wife of Joseph Smith Jr.
She met Joseph Smith Jr. in 1825, while he and several men were working. Joseph stopped by her house often, but Emma's father, Issac Hale, would not allow her to get married because he considered Smith's occupation disreputable. Ignoring her father's wishes, Emma and Joseph got married Afton New York, on January 17, 1827. Afterwards, Joseph and Emma went to the Hill Cumorah, and Joseph dug up the Golden Plates to be translated. Word spread quickly about Joseph finding a "Gold Bible" in the hill, and it caused Joseph and Emma to move back into Harmony, and meet with Emma's grumbling father. With his help, she and Joseph had a small house to live in. Joseph would translate the plates, and Emma would be the scribe (Emma never saw the plates in person, although she felt them when they were covered. Joseph would look into a hat where the Urim and Thummim was when translating). While in Harmony, Emma gave birth to a son named Alvin, after Joseph's older brother. Alvin lived only a few hours.
In 1829, Joseph and Emma moved in with David Whitmer in Fayette, New York. While there, Joseph was able to finish the translation, and with the help of Martin Harris, he was able to print the Book of Mormon.
Later, while the Church was established, Emma talked to Joseph about the elders using tobacco, which led to the revelation of the Word of Wisdom. Joseph also received a revelation about Emma being an, "Elect Lady," and she would later gather hymns for the church and later become president of the Relief Society.
Emma moved with Joseph many times, and witnessing many of her newborn children dying soon after birth. In her marriage with Joseph, she was able two have two children that would live. After Joseph died, the Church was thrown into disorder. Sidney Rigdon, Emma Smith's son Joseph Smith lll, and Brigham Young, were all wanting to be the next president of the Church. When Brigham Young spoke at a meeting with many members, many of them witnessed how Brigham both looked and sounded like Joseph Smith. They knew that both this revelation and the spirit in their hearts that Brigham Young would become the next president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sidney Rigdon and Emma Smith would depart, creating churches of their own. Emma's church was the most successfull non LDS church, and would be later known as the Community of Christ.
Three years after Joseph's Death, she married Major Lewis C. Bidamon, a non-member of the Church.
In 1871, Emma Smith Died peacefully in Nauvoo, Illinois.

History of Mormonism: Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow was an important figure in the History of Mormonism. She was born on January 21st, 1804, in Beckett Massachusetts. When she was two, her family moved to Ohio.
Eliza lived with a large family, and the parents saw that each of their children got a good education. Eliza worked as secretary for her father in his office as justice of the peace. Her brother, Lorenzo Snow, received education at Oberlin College.
Eliza's Parents, who were baptists, welcomed people of all religious sects. When Joseph and Emma Smith arrived in Hiram Ohio, just four miles from the Snow Farm in 1831, word traveled quickly to the Snows about Joseph and the Book of Mormon. The Snows quickly became interested and soon, Eliza's sister and mother was baptized into the Church. In 1835, Eliza was baptized into the Church as well.
Eliza became a huge help for the Church. She was a member of the Relief Society, and was a poet and hymn writer, writing many hymns that are still in use today.
After Emma died, Eliza was sustained as president of the Relief Society. She traveled around Utah Territory, talking to other female members (sisters) to become self-sufficient. She and many sisters trained nurses, over looked construction of stores, granaries, manufacture silk, and construct a hospital.
Eliza earned herself the nickname, the "Prophetess." She died on December 5th, 1887. By 1888, there were more than 22,000 members of the Relief Society in over 400 wards and branches.

Monday, February 4, 2013

History of Mormonism: Lorenzo Snow

Born on April 3, 1814, Lorenzo Snow was the fifth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the last one of the 19th century. He was a great contributor to the History of Mormonism.
Lorenzo had six siblings, one of them was well known Eliza R. Snow, who was nick-named the "prophetess." Lorenzo was educated, receiving his final year at Oberlin College, which was founded by two Presbyterian Ministers. He made a living as a teacher before he knew about the Church.
In 1831, Joseph Smith moved to Hiram, Ohio; about four miles from the Snow farm. Lorenzo hear about Joseph soon after, and wanted to know more about the Book of Mormon and the Church. By 1835, his mother and one of his sisters was baptized into the church. By 1836, he was baptized as well.
In 1837, Joseph asked Lorenzo and some other elders to serve a mission. He served a short mission in Ohio without "purse or script" and had to rely on the generosity of others.
When he returned in 1838, he found the saints in turmoil and rebelliousness over the failure of the Kirkland Safety Society. The Snow family moved to Far West Missouri to avoid trouble. he suffered a severe illness there and for the next few weeks, his sister Eliza Snow nursed him back to health.
After getting better, he served a second mission to Illinois and Kentucky. In 1839, he heard of the saints being driven from Missouri, and he traveled back home to his family, where he again fell ill, where he was treated by church members. He soon was back on his feet, preaching in Ohio, then teaching during the school year. He sent money to his family who settled in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Lorenzo served a third mission, this time in Britain. He met with some of the Apostles that started the mission before him in 1839. After serving for a couple of years, Parley Pratt released him. Lorenzo returned home with 250 converted British converts.
Lorenzo left with the saints to the Salt Lake Valley after Joseph's death in Carthage Jail. After Brigham Young was sustained president, he ordained Lorenzo to be an Apostle.
Lorenzo Snow worked hard, serving with Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff. When Lorenzo was sustained as president, it was 1890. The Church was in financial turmoil. They were 2 million dollars in debt, and the saints crops were dying because it has not rained in a long time. Lorenzo received guidance from the Lord, and addressed to the saints about tithing. Tithing was introduced during Joseph's time, but was not upheld well. Lorenzo promised the saints that if they paid an honest tithe, (10% of their income) the Lord will bless them with rain. The saints had faith and paid an honest tithe, and a month later, the Lord blessed them with rain. In turn, the Church's debt was lowered to a manageable level.
Lorenzo Snow was loved by the saints, and he worked very hard his entire life. He died of pneumonia on October 10, 1901.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mormonism and Marriage

In Mormonism, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that marriage is only between a man and a woman, unchanged since the fall of Adam. They encourage members to marry in the temple, and to be faithful to each other. Sadly, in this day and age, the principle of marriage is being twisted and trampled by many people today. Elder F. Burton Howard talked about marriage in this day and age and he said, "Far too many marriages today end in divorce. Selfishness, sin, and personal convenience often prevail over covenants and commitment." In this day and age, many people, including in the media, say that cheating on your wife is an OK thing to do, and that everybody does it. They don't say however, the consequences of doing that. First of all, it is against the Ten Commandments, (thou shalt not commit adultery) second of all, it can deeply hurt, or even completely destroy your marriage with your wife. I have read many stories about husbands leaving their wives and children because they found another woman, and vice versa with wives leaving their husbands. I have read the emotional and physical pain it brings to the families when one of the spouses leaves them for someone else. The husband's job is to provide for the family (that is to work) and the wife's job is to look after the family (take care of the children) and when one of them leaves, the other has to do both jobs. Far too many times in this day and age, are when both the husband and the wife leave home for work and take the children to day care or something like that. (this does not include families that suffer from poverty, when both husband and wife must work to support the family. This is more directed towards families living in good homes, with a good income as is, and both spouses work out of the house and leave the children to be looked after by someone else) Because both spouses are gone, the children don't get the love and care they are suppose to have, and this actually increases the chances of them ending up in gangs, or doing drugs, dropping out of high school, etc. They don't have parents to keep them in line, or to help them knowing right and wrong, and to help them grow.
For those who have a healthy marriage, continue to keep it healthy, and continue to love your spouse, and your children. For those who have trouble with marriage, try to make it right. Fast and pray, and let the Holy Ghost guide you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

History of Mormonism: Martin Harris

Martin Harris was and is well known in the  History of Mormonism. Born May 18, 1783, Martin Harris was a wealthy farmer and business man who was one of the early converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a contributor to the translation of the Book of Mormon.
Martin Harris was at first a Presbyterian, and he lived in Palmyra, New York. He then heard about a man named Joseph Smith who was 20 years younger than him lived just outside Palmyra and was struggling to translate the Golden Plates and keep it away from thieves and mobs. Martin, seeing Joseph's plight decided to help him. He gave Joseph and his wife Emma fifty dollars to travel to Harmony, Pennsylvania. Martin arrived there himself and he would be a scribe, sitting on one side of a curtain while Joseph, sitting on the other side, translated the plates and read aloud the words. After Joseph and Martin translated 116 pages, Martin pleaded with Joseph three times to take the 116 pages to his friends and relatives. God told Joseph not to the first two times, then allowed the pages to be given to Martin. He ended up losing the 116 pages to wicked men who revised it, making it that if Joseph decided to rewrite the 116 pages, they could claim that they had them first and would ruin Joseph's work. The Lord took the plates from Joseph for a while, but Joseph and Martin was repentant and after a while, Joseph received the plates and began to translate again.
Joseph allowed Martin to be one of the three witnesses of the Gold Plates. Sadly, Martin's wife Lucy became hostile towards both Martin and Joseph. She filed a complaint against a judge, claiming to him that Joseph is defrauding her husband. She brought three false witnesses testifying against Martin and Joseph. Martin bore his testimony, and after he did, the judge tore up the witness papers.
After Joseph completd his translation of the Book of Mormon, he needed money to print the book and to share it with the world. Martin would later be well known in his contribution for the church when he sold part of his home and farm to pay for 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon to be printed.
Martin Harris contributed much to the church, but also did have his hindrances as well, including the 116 pages, and sometimes not standing with Joseph when real difficult times came. All in all, no one is perfect, neither was Martin Harris, but he made a huge contribution to the church that would make the growth of the church possible.

History of Mormonism: The Salt Lake Temple

In the History of Mormonism, after the mob murdered Joseph Smith, they drove the saints from Nauvoo, Illinois. The saints traveled for hundreds of miles, losing some along the way. In July, 1847, the Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Four days later, Brigham Young, who succeeded Joseph Smith as prophet, walked out for a bit and planted his walking stick in a spot where he saw in a vision, saying that this is the place where to build the Salt Lake Temple. Six years later, he would begin the groundbreaking of the temple, and the cornerstone was laid the same year.
Construction was slow, and funds were insufficient. The foundation was made out of sandstone while the walls were made out of granite. A block of granite would take a team of oxen four days to transport and about 150 men at a given time worked on the temple.
Around 1858, during the Utah war, the saints had to cover the foundation with dirt and make it look like a plowed field. When the tension receded, they uncovered the foundation, and noticed there were huge cracks in the sandstone. Brigham Young sadly told them to demolish the foundation, which took nine years to built, and to replace it with quartz monzonite.
The saints continued to build the temple, the progression was slow because of the long trip with the teams of oxen taking four days to deliver blocks of granite. The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad helped speed up the progress significantly.
The capstone was laid on April 6, 1892. Fifty Thousand church members occupied Temple Square, celebrating the event. Within one year, the interior of the temple was complete. On April 6, 1893, exactly forty years from the laying of the cornerstone, the Salt Lake City Temple was dedicated by President Wilford Woodruff. It is the fourth temple to be operational and the sixth temple to be built by the Latter-day Saints. The building of the temple fulfilled a prophesy by Isaiah in the bible:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it."
That being said, the temple was built in Utah. Utah, is translated by the Ute tribe as, "Top of the Mountains."
Also, the "all nations shall flow unto it," part happened through the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mormonism: Family History

In Mormonism, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strongly believe in family history. Members volunteer in family history church buildings, categorizing and indexing tens of thousands of names a day, making it so that those who are curious about their ancestors can more easily find out their lineage. Members that do find their ancestors, and the ancestors weren't members, they do temple work for them.
Many non-members also do family history. Some do go to the church buildings to find out their ancestors. In fact, the First Presidency presented Barack Obama in 2009 with an account of his family history.
Doing family history can be exciting, as many members have said. They are interested in what their ancestors did in their time, where they lived, what they did for a living, and if they were related to anyone famous. Doing family history and work for the ancestors not only helps you fell good in the spirit, but it also gives you knowledge of what you did for those who passed on before you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mormonism: The Ten Commandments

In Mormonism, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in the Ten Commandments.
Just like other churches, the LDS Church believes completely in the Ten Commandments, leaders of the church saying it is important for members to follow the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments are listed, with what it can mean in today's world:
1# Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. (Meaning that We should do all things with an eye single to the glory of God. We should love and serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.)
2# Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. (We don't bow and worship before graven images or idols, but we can replace our hearts and thoughts from the Living God, to money and material possessions.)
3# Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. (Sadly, this is one of those commandments that is being broken repeatedly.)
4# Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (This means once a week, you take a break from doing worldly activities, and you spend time resting, time with family, and time focusing on God.)
5# Honour thy father and mother. (Doesn't need much explaining. Although this is a commandment that is being broken more in this generation. Mainly through the use of phones and computers.)
6# Thou shalt not kill. (This commandment does not need any explaining!)
7# Thou shalt not commit adultery. (This also includes fornication, homosexuality, and other sins in that category. This is probably one of the most broken commandments today, behind taking the Lord's name in vain.)
8# Thou shalt not steal. (This commandment does not need explaining. You take something, whether from a store, neighbors house, or even from the internet (pirating) and you did not pay for it, then you broke this commandment.)
9# Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (This means pretending to be a witness to get gain. This is happening a lot in lawsuits.)
10# Thou shalt not covet. (This means that if you see someone with something, and you want it, as in can't stop thinking about it, it can hurt you spiritually and even financially.)
These commandments are all important to follow. However, in the bible, some pharisees asked Jesus which is the most important commandment. He told them the first is the most important, to love the Lord with all thy heart, might, mind, and strength. He also told them to love thy neighbor as thy self is second most important, and is similar, because if you love your neighbor, you love God.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

History of Mormonism: John Taylor

In the History of Mormonism, John Taylor was the third president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Born November 1, 1808, in Milnthrope, Westmorland England, John Taylor received formal schooling until he was 14, where he received training in wood turning and cabinetmaking.  He originally joined the Church of England, but then switched to a Methodist church at the age of 16.  In 1830, he and his family moved to Ontario Canada.  John met his future wife, Leonora Cannon in a Canadian Methodist church.  He married her in 1833.
When Parley Pratt went on a mission, he went to Canada and met the Taylor's.  Leonora was converted first, and then John decided to join.  They both were baptized, and did not realize how much they would contribute to the church.  In 1838, John was ordained an Apostle, and in 1839, he went with some elders and served a mission into England.
Taylor returned to Nauvoo, Illinois to serve as a city councilman, a chaplain, a colonel, a newspaper editor, and a judge advocate for the Nauvoo Legion.  
John was there with Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage Jail when a large mob came to the jail.  They successfully murdered Joseph and Hyrum, and John was severely wounded, but his life was spared when a musket ball hit him in the chest and his pocket watch caught the ball, saving his life.  
John went with the saints to Salt Lake, and after Brigham Young died, he presided as President of the Church.  
He died of congestive heart failure in 1887, and is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.