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Sometimes, when I am enjoying an announcement, in an article on the internet, of further growth in my church, there comes a comment from one who would throw cold water on my enjoyment.  There are some dedicated individuals, who desire to bring down this House of God (I know, such a dramatic statement). I could view this activity in a discouraging light, if I didn’t fully realize that the fact of their persistent existence is a testament in itself, to the truthfulness, and importance of this organization.

“How so!” you ask? I would answer you thus; Because, if this organization were not important, no one would bother for so long, and with such vehemence, to persist in trying to destroy it.  The Church would simply be laughed off, momentarily, and then ignored. Additionally, if it were not true, it would not have survived for so long, let alone, grown to it’s current size, without ever being a political tool of a sovereign nation, as the Catholic church, or the religion of Islam became. Both of those churches used politics, and forced conversion to grow their numbers.  The religion of Islam, even currently, uses force and the politics of nation states, to grow their religion.

But the size and age of this religion is still not enough to provide a full testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That requires personal study, and thought, and personal prayer, to discover for oneself, whether or not it is worth believing in. The personal study will come through reading, or listening to others read (such as on tapes or cd’s) the scriptures. Both the Holy Bible, and the Book of Mormon, which are companion volumes in testimony of the existence, and divinity of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all of us, for the sins of the world.

As to one of the questions currently being raised by these individuals, I’ll give some space for an answer here.  One accusation, and question being raised, has to do with a story book that was supposedly written prior to the translation of the Book of Mormon.  The accusation being leveled is about a similarity between a short story book and the Book of Mormon.  According to the theory being proposed, Joseph would have had access to this story book, and simply made up the Book of Mormon, based on this short story book.

So, to address the questions raised here… If one has read the accounts of the translating of the Book of Mormon, one realizes that a short, 116 page section, which was a condensed version of the whole book, was given to someone who was learned, to provide corroborative proof to this gentleman, that there was a book of plates being translated.  This gentleman, to whom the condensed version was given, promptly lost them, or hid them, and claimed not to have received them at all.

Joseph was devastated that his trust was betrayed, but even more devastated that he had himself betrayed a trust, as he had been instructed Not to share those pages, and had done it anyway.  After the loss, he was further instructed not to retranslate them, as the lost pages would be used against him and the restoration of the gospel.

Now, some of you know that I am currently enrolled in school again.  I am a student at the University of Louisville, in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.  I am studying fine art, as a studio artist.  One of my areas of study has been in printmaking.  As you might be aware, printing presses of old made use of moveable type.  You set up the letters in trays (backwards) and ran pages, with ink over them, to create printed pages.  You could make any kind of written words, and images that could be duplicated, including printing dates. They could be anything you could set the type to reflect, even if it wasn’t accurate (much like things on the internet today).

So, if a person had a condensed version of a book coming out, someone could, if they so chose, create another story, based on that condensed version, and set a type-set date previous to the date of the creation of the full version of the book, thus making it seem as though the person who was creating the full version had stolen their idea from someone else.  Why does this sound so particularly plausible? Oh, because this sort of thing still happens today, all the time; Copy right laws, notwithstanding.

So, even if the story that someone is touting actually exists, which I wonder about, due to stories of that nature being printed on wood pulp, and not surviving to this day and age, due to acid, and browning, and cracking up into little tiny fragments…   No, I don’t believe the story of the story that someone is pushing on the internet, as a plausible reason for denying the testimony I have received, of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and the Divinity of Jesus Christ.  He exists, and still teaches us today, if we will ask in faith, and Listen to his response.

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Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Image via Wikipedia

Moses with the Ten Commandments

Image via Wikipedia

This post a direct result of reading Two other blogger’s posts.  Both of them had something to say that I wanted to respond to, and did in comments, but I would like to expand on those comments here.  Rob Slavens Post was an agnostic’s view of  the Ten commandments , and the other one, was from a link in the post below that, about On Tebow, written by Grant Dawson in Remotely Nowhere.

Rob Slaven was complaining that the Ten Commandments seemed sort of Vain and common sense if not trivial, with the exception of one or two pretty decent ones.  He’s right, if you think of the Ten Commandments as the end all and be all of what God wants and expects of us; however, remember that the Ten Commandments were the Second set of plates that came down the mountain.

The children of Israel were partying pretty hard by the time Moses came down the first time. That  first set, the one that got all smashed up, were the higher law, that Moses and God decided the then current crop of children of Israel weren’t ready for yet, and so they were given the kindergarten version.  The lower law.

The first half of the Lower law lays out things you Should do.  The be good stuff.  The Second half of the Ten Commandments lays out all the Shouldn’ts.  Basically, if you can’t handle doing the good things, then for Heaven’s sake, and your soul’s sake, don’t do these other, bad things.

The Higher law is available, but people still have a hard time with the lower law, so….    Well, if you’re the sort who can handle the lower law, then maybe you’re ready for the higher one.

Remember in Matthew, chapter 22, verses 36 – 40, the pharisees asking Christ what was the Greatest law? And Christ responded, “To Love God with all your heart might, mind, and strength, and the second was like unto it; To love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these hang all the law and the prophets.”

Somewhere in there is the key to the higher law.  If we can do these things successfully…… everything else is covered.

 

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let Me Help You

The Nature of Repentance

Ford Motor Company facts about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

merry christmas every one

Bearing Witness To a Truth

Mormon Cult – It Ain’t Necessarily So

Pain comes from disappointment.

We expected more from ourselves.

Our expectations are our enemies.

Anger comes from fear.

We fear what we do not understand the end of.

Fear is the opposite of faith.

Despair comes from giving up on yourself.

You are afraid you don’t have the right stuff.

God believes you are always worth hoping for.

If God believes it, why don’t you?

He is smarter than you.

He already knew you before you were here.

He knew there would be difficulties.

That’s why he agreed to pay the price for you ahead of time.

After everything you can do, he will do the rest.

Do everything you can.

Do what you must.

Trust him.

He will bring you home.

He is not disappointed.

He already knew what would happen.

He only wants you to let him help you.

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I was angry.

Now I am not.

I was afraid.

Now I am not.

I felt despair.

Now I have hope.

There is no rational explanation for what I feel.

It just is.

Because it is what it is.

That is the nature of the challenge.

If there were no difficulties,

How would there be a test?

If there were no test,

Why bother with this type of existence?

God could make us all run on automatic with only a little tweaking.

But he doesn’t,

Because he wants the test to show us what we are, and can do, and can’t do.

Then we will be satisfied

that where we are placed is the right place for us.

We will all be happy.

Everyone will be happy.

I will be happy.

So I may as well start being happy now.

 

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is a blog an appropriate place to express ones religious beliefs?  If not here, than where would be more appropriate?

I’ll not burden my reader with any expectations of agreement.  I’m not so insecure that I need your affirmation of my beliefs to shore them up.  I believe because I feel it in my heart, because I have seen His hand at work in my life, not always pleasantly.
I tell you these things that you may know where I stand.; where my faith is, where my heart is, and in what direction my efforts lie.  I struggle here with the inexactness of my ability to communicate to you what I believe.  Or of the inability to convey the scope of this belief.  Or the utterly inconceivable scale of what  I believe God is.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I am not a member simply because my parents were.  I have had more than enough time and experience, both in and out of The Church, to have opportunity to question and explore on my own.  My experiences with faith, and doubt, and re-newed faith are my own.  My questions were my own, but the answers I finally learned to accept were always there.  God loves me, and is aware of me, and cares about what happens to me.  He cares enough to chastise me, betimes sharply when it’s needed, but like the loving God He is,  shows forth more love again after, lest I esteem him my enemy.

God doesn’t just love me, He loves all his children alike, but not all his children are listening, or recognizing His hand in their lives.  Some, like I did, believe they are not worth enough for an all wise God to take notice of them.  They don’t give Him enough credit for His abilities, His love, or His reach.  Because the concept of a God so powerful bothering to take notice of any of us, who are so Not good, or powerful, or pure, or  whatever, is so foreign to our understanding, we fail to give Him credit, and we turn away from what He has to offer us.

He loves and has loved all His children throughout history, so much so that he has visited all of them, throughout all the isles of the seas; and left with each peoples instructions on how they should live with  and treat each other.  As he stated to His apostles in Jerusalem , John 10:16 And other sheep I have, not of this fold: Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.  One of these accounts of his instructions is contained within the Book of Mormon which is an excerpt of a history of a people spanning a thousand years and more.

I can’t convey to you properly how well this book explains the Divinity of Jesus Christ.  Nor how clearly it explains gospel truths.  I can tell you that I find in it’s pages such a profound oneness with the Bible, that I cannot even imaging one without the other.  They are a complimentary set.  Beautiful truths contained within each one, and tragedies recounted in each, all proclaiming the sameness of God, and His certain  and unchangeable promises.

What I believe is that God and His Divine son,  Jesus Christ, have worked out a plan so complete, so intricately woven through our lives, so all encompassing, that we could not begin to fathom it all; but every once in a while, a few of the details concerning our own place in it are revealed to us, if we ask in faith.  Just enough for us to know we matter to Him, insignificant though we may seem to ourselves. and yet he notices us.  This knowledge is breathtakingly humbling.  Such joy as can be had among people will be had when it is understood how much He loves us.  We have only to turn to Him, to`a ask in faith, believing that He will answer, and listen with all our heart.  When we are willing to follow his example,; When we understand that willing and happy service to our fellow men and women is the only way to follow in his footsteps, when we fianlly understand that working for the welfare of others Is working for ourselves, and we do it because we love them, and want their joy and happiness as much as we want our own, this then is the way, the truth and the light that Christ taught.  To love God with all our heart, might, mind, and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Mine is not the only testimony of the truth of this gospel.  There are Other testimonies from many places, and many voices, all understanding that the Book Of Mormon is a second witness to the divinity of Jesus Christ, and a clear set of instructions to assist in filling in the gaps of knowledge not contained any more within the pages of the Bible.  A book such as this could only have been preserved and brought forth again through the gift and power of an unchanging God, and the raising up again of a Prophet in the latter days, like unto old times.  That there are doubters…. that is like unto old times too.  That there is confusion,  likewise.  Where truth lies there also lies Satan, that deciever, waiting to trip you up, so that you cannot tell the truth from the lie; therefore, you will be needing a personal revelation from God, to affirm the truth  of His holy word, wherever it is found.  Fear not that you are not worthy of His telling you of it.  His word is worthy enough.  His desire that the truth should be made known, that the accomplishments of His son should be accepted and proclaimed throughout the world.  This is enough reason alone for Him to reveal the truth of any of His works unto even such as yourself.  That you should know the truth of a thing, and the truth shall set you free.  Free to embrace the gospel in all it’s enlightened latter day sentiment.  Free to believe His son died for your sins, that if you are willing to follow Him, and take His name upon you, that you might havehis spirit to be with you in this life, and everlasting and eternal life with Him hereafter.

And now I sound like a fanatic, but it is not so. I am just another human like yourself.  I am not perfect, far from it.  I have need daily of repentance, fighting against my nature which is indeed an enemy to God.  I am entirely too likely to want to sit and be comfortable when I should be doing something else.  Too immersed in my everyday world to take note of things that need attending to. Too caught up in my own fantasy of what I want the world to be to make room for other view points.  Too idealistic to understand that what I consider an ideal may not be the best way to handle something.  Too human to understand that not all things come in a time and a place of my choosing, but rather that of God’s choosing, for He has understanding of all things that have an impact on our lives.

I have had enough time here in this world to finally see that what I think I understand is only shadows of what is, and what I think I know is only one facet of the whole.  As was mentioned in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I will wait and trust in the Lord, that all things in the end will be revealed, and I will understand and know finally, what I do not understand and know now.

My brothers and sisters, for you are all my brothers and sisters, I tell you these things, my feelings, and my knowledge; such that it is, in all honesty, in the name of the only begotten of the Father, Jesus Christ, Amen.

© Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ellen M Story and emariaenterprises with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Once again I find that irrational hatred gets top billing.  Well, I hope that it doesn’t stay that way.  Christopher Hitchens posted a piece pretending to be an expert on Mormons and their cultish ways. All he really managed to do was to prove himself to be ridiculous.

Point one of his ridiculous rant was that the church’s supreme leader was the President/Prophet.  Wrong.  The Leader of The Church is now and has always been Jesus Christ; hence the name The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Point two of the tirade was that members could be ordered to shun someone.   Ahem…  not so.  We are not ordered by anyone.  The choice for Free agency (free will) is the paramount feature of being here in this world.  We might be asked not to pay any attention to the sad ravings of an obviously frustrated and unhappy individual, but nobody is ordered to shun anyone.  In fact, there will be efforts to address the unhappy persons needs as long as that person is willing to tolerate the visits from members.  As soon as a person tells his visitors that he or she does Not want any more visits, the members will stop bothering him or her.

As for underwear, whose business is it what underwear anyone wears but the wearer?  Frankly, Christopher sounds a little jealous there.  Does he wish that he could wear the distinctive underwear too?   I’m sure there’s some underwear out there somewhere that is special enough for him to enjoy wearing instead.

Point four seemed to suggest that members of the church are somehow superhuman in their adherence to moral and health codes.  Would that it were actually so.  Any adherence to moral or healthy food restrictions is strictly done by personal will power.  Abstinence from any practice is a personal choice, not a built-in feature.  Temptations are every bit as hard for any member of the church to resist as it is for the average Jill or Joe.  Repentance is a very real and welcome feature in the gospel.

Point five claimed that there was some word  (not indicated from where) that said leaving the church was harder than joining it.  Well, I haven’t found either one to be difficult.  I have been both in and out of The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) and back in again.  I had the privilege of being raised inside the church where I was reminded frequently that I was a worthwhile individual, and that God cared about what happened to me.

When I made the mistake of believing that just because the Doctrine was excellent, that meant that the people were supposed to always do what I expected them to do, I walked away from the church for a while, looking for a more perfect group of people to associate with.  In five years of looking, I did not find a more perfect group of people.  The doctrines I encountered outside the church were sadly, much less perfect.  Eventually I went back to the church and was welcomed with open arms.

Point six had to do with Tithing.  Tithing is one tenth of your yearly increase.  It’s a flat tax that works, but it’s voluntary, and private.  There is no passing the plate around for anyone to see you make a contribution of any kind.  Any other monies you wish to donate for various causes is also voluntary.  In the case of those with more than enough, a Bishop may ask if you would be willing to assist a little more in something that needs more assistance, but it’s never an amount that the giver can’t afford to give even if it might be difficult. Sacrifice sanctifies the individual who makes it.  And again, it’s voluntary.

Point seven:  Hmmm….  how to answer such rubbish.  It would be more dignified Not to answer it, but this person has a rather large platform to spread his hatred with, so I’ll make the effort anyway.  Christopher claims to Know that Joseph Smith was a fraud and a conjurer.  He bases this on someone else’s book, another hater who also did not live in the same place, or time as Joseph Smith, Jr., and whose information all came from others who also hated.   I’d like to point out that a complaint against someone does not mean that an actual misdeed was performed by the person the complaint was made against.  Just because someone did not get what they wanted from Joseph, does not mean that he was a fraud or a conjurer.

As to whether you believe or not, in what Joseph presented, that is entirely between you and God.  Read the material, and then ask God what it is.  Being afraid of reading a book is just silly.  Do you not have a mind of your own?  Does not your brain function properly?  Or your heart?  To believe that reading false material and then praying to a loving God about it, that you would get an answer that will lead you astray…..  What kind of loving God would do that?  If it’s false would he not tell you that it was false?  If it’s true, would he not tell you that it was true?   That  is if you believe in a God at all.  If not, then this is not for you.

Point eight……  Where he got the idea that Joseph Smith, Jr. ever had any knowledge of the Islam, let alone the Koran is mystifying to me.  He never had any contact with that religion.  Joseph Smith never said anything of the kind.  Utter trash.   Joseph Smith and the church helped found several small cities before he was murdered. One in Ohio, several in Missouri, and one in Illinois.  They were thriving communities, very orderly and clean.  The fact that the church held together after his death should speak to anyone that there is something more to it than just the schemes of a conman.

The Church did not believe in slavery and Joseph Smith actually ran for President at one point in order to present his platform which detailed a method for reimbursing the slave owners by giving them portions of the Louisiana purchase in exchange for freeing their slaves.  The fact that the church did not hold with slavery was the real reason behind the persecution that drove them out of Missouri.  Many powerful people in Missouri wanted the territory to come in as a slave holding state, and the votes of the Mormons were seen as a possible block to that desire, especially as they were bringing in new members from England who were also against slavery.

After the church was driven out of Missouri and the powerful interests succeeded in getting Missouri brought in as a slave state under the Missouri compromise. The same interests tried the same tactics in Kansas, against those who were not members of the church.  The massacre of all the men and boys in Lawrence, Kansas rallied the rest of the territory of Kansas and it came in finally as a free state.

The rest of Christopher’s rant is equally ridiculous in it’s assertions.  Members of the church don’t pray dead people in.  Some of them do baptisms for the dead, as was done in the ancient church.  Reference the King James Bible, 1st Corinthians Chapter 15 verse 29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?   Why are they then baptized for the dead?

Even in the world of the dead, those who have passed on still have their free agency.  They choose whether they wish to accept the baptism or not.  It is a physical ordinance, therefore it has to be done in the physical world, though by proxy.   The baptisms and other ordinances such as marriages, are performed by proxy in order to link family members together from this side through to the other side.  The church teaches that family is the most important structure we can aspire to.  No other success can compensate for failure in the home.  If, as some believe, that none of that is possible,that no one rises after they die, that there is nothing for us after we are dead, then  what harm does it do if someone wants to indulge in the fantasy?  At least the church is very helpful in assisting anyone who wants it with their family genealogy.

If Christopher Hitchens or anyone else does not wish to be a part of any of it, he or they will get their wish.

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