Archive for the ‘mormon church’ Tag

The Truth Shall Go Forth

Reading: Statistical Report 2008 of the April 2009 General Conference, History of the Church 4:540, World Population Growth Estimates

Each year I find it amazing to listen to the annual statistical report of the growth of the church.  This year the membership was announced as 13,504,509.  This number is very close to 13 million, which is the estimated total population of North America in 1830, the year the church was formed.

One of the things I love to do while listening to the statistical report is imagine what one of those early church members who gave up so much for a fledgling little church that many times looked as if it would not survive would think if they were transported to that moment in time.  I would like to think knowing the huge number of people the church would eventually reach would help make their sacrifices more worthwhile, and help them see how important they are in the great plan of the Lord.

The prophet Joseph Smith said,

The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.

If it weren’t for the chain of worth members who cared for the church since it’s re-establishment in 1830, I would not have the opportunity to be a part of the church.  While I am tempted to think that I will not have that many descendants because the Second Coming will be soon, the truth is we have no idea how long it will be. It is just as important for me to be another strong link in the chain so that those who come after me will also have the church to help and protect them.

Today I am going to write in my journal about how important going to church is to me, and how I can help make it stronger for others.

What blessings do you gain from attending a church with others who know the revealed gospel? How would your life be different if there was no organized church, and you were left to worship on your own?

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Christian Courage: Responding to Criticism

Reading: “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session

When our faith, which we hold so dear, is attacked by others we may feel the need to rise up in defense of our faith.  However, Elder Hales encourages us not to simply respond in kind, but to react to attacks the way the Savior did: with lovingness and with words appropriate to the situation, which is sometimes no words at all.

Elder Hales calls the way we repond to criticism “one of mortalitiy’s great tests.”  He encourages us to seek the guidance of the Spirit in our encounters:

As we respond to others, each circumstance will be different. Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord.

For the past several days I have been thinking a lot about Proposition 8 in California.  The church has gotten a lot of cricisim, and, to be honest, I can see why people are so upset.  To them, it looks like we are just being bigoted and discriminatory.  I have been thinking and thinking trying to come up with a way to explain our position that shows that we do not hate gay people, but rather we feel that homosexuality should not be accepted as equal to marriage by society.

Ultimately, though, I could not come up with a way to explain it.  It all comes down to having a testimony of the gospel.  The heart of the issue is that we believe that homosexuality is not right, and that is something that we and them could never agree on.  Without a testimony of the gospel, they will never understand our position.

So, what do I do?  I feel the best thing I could do is not to argue with those people.  Rather, I should try ever harder to live the gospel.  If I become more Christlike, and show through my behavior that I do not hate gay people, then they will see the genuineness of our position. If I shun hateful debate, and instead extend loving service at every opportunity I can find, than at the very least they will come to see that we are good people, even if we do have “strange ideas.”

It seems to me that if all the members of the church lived the gospel perfectly (totally impossible, I know, see all my talk on perfectionism) that we would never have a public relations problem.

Today I commit that the next time I have the chance to talk to someone about our position on homosexuality, I will do so with peace and do my best to respond with the Spirit, showing my love for all children of God.

How do you keep your cool when you’re responding to criticism of the church?