Are You One Hundred Percent?

I was reading an article at MormonTimes.com a few years back about a talk given by the Young Women’s General President at the time—Elaine Dalton. She issued a “challenge” to Young Women to study the Book of Mormon at least five minutes a day, say morning and nightly prayers and to smile. The article states:

“Elaine Dalton hopes she soon has young women approaching her with two thumbs up. That signifies they are ‘One-hundred Percent’ — one hundred percent in daily prayer, scripture study and what she says may be the most challenging, smiling”.

Two phrases in this article jump out at me. They are “challenge” and “One-hundred Percent”. They bring to mind one of my favorite scenes in the life of Jesus. It is the story about Simon the self righteous Pharisee and the woman who loved Jesus so much she washed His feet with her hair and tears (Luke 7:41). As a Pharisee Simon daily challenged himself to follow the teachings of his Church one hundred percent.

But Jesus used the example of the sinful woman to teach Simon a beautiful message: Someone who is forgiven much—-will love much! This Young Woman did not need to be challenged, because her focus was not on one hundred percent obedience; but rather on her one hundred percent forgiveness. Even through her tears you can see her smiling. Her tears were not those of pain, guilt or stress; but tears of joy, thanksgiving and devoted love!

As a Mormon I was familiar with the concept of being challenged. I felt guilty reading Jesus’ words: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). I desperately wanted to be worthy but I knew in my heart that I loved my children and husband more than I loved Jesus. Since I didn’t know how to love Jesus more, I challenged myself to worthiness by trying to keep the commandments. And the greatest challenge was putting on a smile over my pain.

It was 1994 when I learned what Jesus tried to teach Simon. That was when I heard the truth that one hundred percent of my sins were forgiven! Like a giddy young schoolgirl I fell in love with the man who took away all my guilt! The love of my life became my Savior Jesus! That was almost twenty years ago and I still love Him more than life itself, more than my husband and my children. My love for Jesus transformed me from a person who needed to be challenged to follow God’s commands—to a person who is compelled to follow them by love. Now, I would be challenged to hide my smile!

Elaine Dalton issued the challenge to be “One Hundred Percent”. She said “Can you imagine the implications that this has, if a young woman is 100 percent for 10 years, for 15 years?”

I imagine that the Young Women will dutifully say their prayers every morning and night. They will read the Book of Mormon, checking the clock to see when they have accomplished their goal. But without the knowledge that they have been one hundred percent forgiven, will they be any closer to loving Jesus? Will they be any closer to being compelled by such love?

The desire of my heart is that every Mormon hears they are “One Hundred Percent” forgiven! Can you imagine the implications if every Mormon knew this? They wouldn’t need to be “challenged” to pray and read scripture! Since Jesus would be their very best friend they would willingly pray to Him and their Father in Heaven whenever they could. They would willingly read the Bible—God’s love letters, and pour over its pages for comfort and guidance. And, they certainly would not have to be “challenged” to smile. The joy that comes from knowing you are “One Hundred Percent” forgiven, brings a sincere smile that lasts through eternity!

Click on this link to listen to a short video clip of an ex-Mormon Young Woman who discovered the joy of obedience through love:

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An Enthusiastic Desire to Share the Gospel: What Christ Taught—at “BeYePerfect.org”

I found it sad reading the Relief Society Lesson, chapter 12 of Teachings of Presidents of the Church. President George Albert Smith taught “There is a real famine in the world for the words of the Lord.” Then he had the audacity to claim what is being taught by Christian Ministers around the world. I wonder if he ever even attended a church service that wasn’t LDS. He certainly isn’t describing any Pastors’ messages that I have heard.

In speaking about Christian Ministers, he claims:

“These good men, not understanding the gospel and the necessity for the ordinances of the same, confine their teachings very largely to moral lessons and to reading the psalms to their congregations. Isolated passages of scripture are chosen as texts for addresses on virtue, honesty, etc., all of which are helpful and uplifting, but few sermons are preached explaining the requirements made of every soul before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. It is this information of which the world is most in need.

Few ministers have a message for their congregations that inspires in them the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the necessity of partaking of the ordinances of the gospel prescribed by him.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 12: An Enthusiastic Desire to Share the Gospel, p. 125)

The Ministers at my church follow the example of Jesus Christ. He Preached a wonderful sermon called the Sermon on the Mount. Here, Jesus preached about many commands that God requires each of us to obey. His most difficult “requirement made of every soul before we can enter the kingdom of heaven” is to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

I belong to a church called “Cross of Christ”. Our “ministers have a message… that inspires in (us) the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.” That message is about our Substitute Savior Jesus Christ, Who was perfect for us–in our place! It is only through faith in Him that we meet God’s requirements for eternal life. It’s knowing all that our Savior God has done for us, which inspires us to live our lives for Him.

My church website explains the basic message that will be shared in each sermon:

“At Cross of Christ our messages reflect these basic truths:

1.) We have sinned against God and deserve his punishment. (To show how we have sinned, our Pastor teaches something that God requires of us in His law, which leads us to see that once again we have sinned.)

2.) God’s mercy is infinitely greater than our sin, and He has freely forgiven our sins by taking our punishment for us and crediting us with His holiness and perfection (through faith).

3.) As we Christians apply these first two truths to our lives, we are motivated to give thanks to God and love him in return for his love shown to us in Jesus. God teaches us very practical ways to live for Him every day. God also gives us incredible promises and special comforts to guide and bless us in our daily tasks.

All these points are shared each week in practical messages for all people.”

Despite what President Smith claimed, Christian ministers do teach what God requires of us. We must be as perfect as God Himself! Christians are taught every Sunday that that’s why they need a Savior: Because of what God truly requires of us, we know we have failed and are hopelessly lost. Christians are people who honestly look at themselves and know that they can never meet God’s demands. We sin all the time. That’s why we place our trust for eternal life solely in Christ. “He has freely forgiven our sins by taking our punishment for us and crediting us with His holiness and perfection through faith.”

Would you like to learn more about this topic? The Ministry that I volunteer with has just released a new website: BeYePerfect.org. It was written especially for you!

If LDS “Leaders are Chosen by the Lord” How Could They Intentionally Change His Word?

Would the Lord want you to sustain as leaders of your Church, men who intentionally changed His Word? They did this in “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles”. This weeks Priesthood and Relief Society Lesson focuses on sustaining these men as leaders of the LDS church: “Our leaders are chosen by the Lord, and He expects us to sustain them in word and action.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 6: Sustaining Those Whom the Lord Sustains)

One LDS prophet–Wilford Woodruff, gave you this promise about LDS leaders: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme.” (Gospel Principles, p 42)

But what if President Woodruff was a false prophet when he made this declaration? Wouldn’t his false promise “lead you astray“?

Just over ten years ago LDS prophets and apostles wrote down their testimony: “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles”. It was signed by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which included President Thomas S. Monson. When I first read it, I discovered something that could only be meant to intentionally “lead astray” its readers.

These LDS Apostles quoted Ephesians 2:20 but took out part of the passage and replaced it with “…”. My suspicion gets raised when I see a Bible passage quoted with missing words. It’s amazing how easy it is to change the intended meaning of a passage by leaving certain words out. My purpose for writing this post is to warn you of the danger you are in. It is my hearts desire to share my Jesus with you! But to do this I must compare His truths with the false teachings of Mormon prophets.

First off, I want to establish why “…” is used in a quote. In general, the purpose of using “…” is to shorten a quotation by removing words that are not pertinent to your discussion. But, if someone uses “…” to substantially change the meaning of a quotation, then they are being deliberately deceptive!

In their testimony, LDS Apostles state: “We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

Here is the entire passage as it appears in the Bible: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Now, take a closer look at how this passage appears in the testimony of LDS Apostles. What “phrase” has been removed from the quotation? Actually, only one little word was left out—the word “the“! One must ask the question “Why was the word ‘the‘ taken out of the passage?” Does this deletion shorten the quotation? Obviously it doesn’t; in fact the word “the” takes exactly the same amount of space as the “…” it was replaced with!

If using “…” doesn’t shorten the passage, then what could have been the purpose for removing this word? The Apostles had to know that taking out the word “the” before the words “apostles and prophets” substantially changes the meaning of the passage! In fact, the majority of times that Ephesians 2:20 is used in official LDS literature, this word is taken out.

There is a huge difference between the intended meaning of this passage and the way LDS leaders have changed it. If God’s Church is “built upon the foundation of “…” apostles and prophets” the emphasis is placed on the office of apostles and prophets. Doing this gives credence to the LDS teaching that God’s Church must continue being led by “living” prophets and apostles. However, if God’s Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” then the emphasis is placed upon a specific group of Apostles and Prophets, namely the New Testament Apostles and the Old Testament Prophets.

The word “foundation” helps clarify that God did not intend for His Church to continue being led by apostles and prophets. Just think about the meaning of the word. When building any house, how many times is a foundation laid? Only once! The truth found in this New Testament passage is that Jesus is the chief cornerstone in the foundation of God’s house. The New Testament Apostles and the Old Testament Prophets are the “foundation of God’s house! The founding work of these Apostles and Prophets is what they taught and can be found in God’s word. The rest of God’s house, His Church, is built upon this foundation. (The Apostle Peter talks about remembering the words of these prophets and apostles, in 2 Peter 3:1-2.)

Hebrews 1:1-2a gives us additional insight as to why God’s Church isn’t led by modern day prophets: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,” In fact, do a simple Bible search and you will find that every time the New Testament refers to “latter-day” prophets, the word “false” is associated.

Gospel Principles claims: “Many people live in darkness, unsure of God’s will. They believe that the heavens are closed and that people must face the worlds perils alone.” (Chapter 9: “Prophets of God” p 39)

Christians certainly don’t live in darkness and face the worlds perils alone! Jesus promised “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) Every Christian knows this personally because Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit all dwell inside the heart of every believer: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Ephesians 3:10-19

This Savior who loves you warned you take heed so no one would deceive you:

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many… And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many… Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Mt 24:4-5; 11; 23-24)

Every time I read “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” I turn to God in thankfulness for being rescued from these false prophets! The Lord did not choose these men as His prophets. I beg you to test your prophets and apostles. Compare their words with those of the Prophets and Apostles who ARE the foundation of God’s Church!

Link to “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles”:
http://jesuschrist.lds.org/SonOfGod/eng/testimonies-of-him/articles/the-living-christ-the-testimony-of-the-apostles-of-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints.html

Have You Seen The DVD About The First Vision? Why Didn’t Joseph Believe Jesus?

Have you seen the Church DVD called The Restoration? I watched it back in 2004 when I received it with my October Ensign. Page 54 explains the short movie as “a beautiful new dramatization of the First Vision”. It’s very well done and at times is so realistic it’s as if you’re right there with Joseph Smith.

Throughout the movie we see Joseph seeking answers to spiritual questions. Two questions that run throughout the movie are “How will we know if we are saved?” and “How can we know which doctrine is right?” As I watched, I found myself wanting to reach out to Joseph—to help him recognize that even from the very beginning of his search, God was already answering his questions. If this movie is an honest depiction of what happened, then God answered Joseph’s questions before he went to the grove to pray. By going to the grove to pray he confirms that either he believes his questions weren’t answered; or, that he has rejected God’s answers.

So what are God’s answers? God provides the answer to Joseph’s first question ““How will we know if we are saved?” before he even asks it. Barely one minute into the movie Joseph’s family gathers to listen as his father reads from the Bible. From the book of John, he reads the words of Jesus Christ our Savior, words which clearly tell us how to be saved:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This passage from God’s Word is probably the most popular verse in the Bible for Christians. At almost every football game shown on TV you will see someone sitting in the stands holding a sign that reads “John 3:16”. The reason this verse is so precious to believers is precisely because it does tell every human how they are saved! But Joseph misses it! The very Son of God promises that all who believe in Him have everlasting and eternal life!!!

It is as though Joseph Smith does not hear these words! Just four minutes after we hear Joseph’s father read this promise from God, Joseph asks him “How will we know if we are saved?” As I watched the movie, I wanted to reach out and shake him and say “Jesus already told you! If you believe in Him you are saved. Why can’t you trust him? Why do you deny Him?

Joseph Smith’s testimony of how to be saved is seen in the third article of faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This ordinance stands in direct opposition to the words of the Son of God. Because Joseph chose not to believe Jesus, he has taught millions of Mormons the wrong way to gain eternal life.

God also answers Joseph’s second question “How can we know which doctrine is right?” About seven minutes into the movie Joseph reads from Psalm 119:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Again the answer is so clear. God’s Word lights the path—revealing the way. But Joseph again denies the clear instruction of God and seeks his own understanding. He finds his own way to discern truth. He denies the truth that God has already revealed in the Bible and decides to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that he needed was that it is unwise to reject God’s Words. By placing his own way above God’s already revealed way he is easily misled by false spirits. God’s way is to use His Word to light the path—to show the way.

God’s Word is so sweet to me!! It has shown me which doctrine is right. I bear witness to you on the basis of God’s Word that eternal life is a free gift, given to all who believe in Jesus. Believe His Words of John 3:16 and you have eternal life. You are saved. You will have found the way of truth that sadly eluded Joseph—to his eternal torment!

Allow me to share just one more of many clear “lamps” found in God’s Word. Again, these words were written down by John the Beloved. God’s Word bears witness of the truth. Referring to the fact that we can know we have eternal life through belief in Christ, John testified:

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)

Believe it and receive it!!!

Link to LDS video The Restoration:

Making Covenants and Virginity Pledges for Someone Who Has Been Sexually Abused

I was reading the newly revised “For the Strength of Youth” at the lds youth website. It reminded me of an article I read a few years ago at Mormontimes.com about Virginity Pledges. Both articles stirred up some difficult memories for me which took me back to my childhood, because I was sexually abused as a child. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when it first started, but it lasted for most of my childhood. I have memories of things happening before I entered first grade and I lost my virginity about the time I was baptized at the age of eight.

Many things about my life of abuse are hard to explain with mere words. Inwardly, I spent years in a fog, simply struggling to survive. All my life I felt so much shame and guilt. I was unclean and impure. I was different than every person I knew. My heart’s desire was to be clean, pure and normal. Outwardly, no one would have suspected the emotional trauma I was going through. I hid my pain well by pretending to the world that I was a happy and normal Mormon girl.

At the age of twelve, I entered Mutual. My teacher was a very nice woman and made an effort to connect with the girls in her class. But one class stands out in my memory as very traumatic. Her Lesson focused on Chastity and how important it was for us to be morally clean. She told us that our most treasured possession was our virginity. She asked us to make a covenant to remain a virgin until we got married. She said that we should never do anything that compromised our most precious possession. For my ears, this was devastating. It was too late for me. I was already impure and had lost my virginity years before.

Then, she told us something that I will never forget. She said that our virginity was so precious that if someone tried to take it away from us by force, we should kill ourselves to protect it. She testified that our virginity was more important to us than our life. Hearing these words cut through my heart like a knife. The abuse continued for a few more years and every time, in addition to the shame, I now felt guilt for not having the courage to take my life. My pain was devastating and my heart’s desire was to be free from shame and guilt.

About fifteen years later this was still my heart’s desire. I had come no closer to finding any relief from my pain. There was nothing more important to me than gaining forgiveness. My desire was to be clean and pure like everyone else I knew. It was then that I turned to a book written by my Prophet Spencer W. Kimball called “The Miracle of Forgiveness“. Here, I just knew I would find the answer to my pain. Instead, I found more guilt and a reinforcement of what my Mutual teacher had told me. I read:

“Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.

My pain was so intense I would have committed suicide had I not had two little daughters who needed me. And, it was these two little girls that helped me to realize the abuse hadn’t been my fault. As their mother I could see that these little girls had no interest in sex. I started reading about sexually abused children and I learned that children are victims, not willing participants. I myself had survived each ordeal by pretending I was asleep and trying to pretend it wasn’t happening to me.

Surprisingly, realizing it wasn’t my fault did not release me from my feelings of guilt and shame. Maybe it was because of my Prophets words that it would have been better that I had died in defending my virtue. I still felt morally unclean and impure. I was a defective and broken woman who did not know how to become whole and clean. A few years later I left the Mormon Church and about a year after that gave up on what I thought was Christianity in general. I pretended that my feelings of guilt and shame were gone, but they weren’t. I tried convincing myself that the God who created our world didn’t care about me or my pain. But I was wrong! And oh how thankful I am that I was wrong.

Jesus came and rescued me even though I had given up on Him. God sent a Christian into my life who told me that the God who created our world actually loved me! He didn’t care that I was broken and guilt ridden. This loving God led me to the truth and gave me the desire of my heart! He told me that through Jesus I was clean and pure! At thirty six years of age I learned that in God’s eyes, I was as pure and clean as a virgin! All because of Jesus! In fact, John the Beloved testified to me that everyone whose hope is in Jesus is as pure as Jesus himself! (1 John 3:3)

I have had lots of difficult things happen to me in my life but nothing has affected me more deeply than the sexual abuse. Today, even at fifty-three years of age I still struggle with emotional aftereffects from it. But, I praise the Lord that through Jesus’ blood I have been cleansed! My most treasured possession is the forgiveness of all my sins. I live my life devoted to my Savior who freely won it for me. And, I learned that my life is more precious to Him than my “virtue”.

Now, my heart’s desire is to share what I have been given with you. If you were sexually abused and have had to sit through a Mutual class like I did, my heart goes out to you. If you don’t know how to become whole, trust in the fact that your Savior has made you clean and pure with His blood.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-12)

Hearken to the Truth and Give Heed unto It

I was 28 years old when I realized that Mormonism was false. I spent a few years searching for the “true church” amongst the protestant religions. After I decided that Christianity didn’t “feel” right, I went from one form of spirituality to another. Finally, I gave up searching for the truth. But I could never stop believing that there was some kind of God. Merely looking around at the marvelous universe was enough to convince me that there had to be a God who had created everything. I finally determined that God had simply left us humans to ourselves.

Looking back, I realize that through all my years of searching, I had always used the LDS method of determining whether or not something was true—trusting in my feelings. One example of this is found in the Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual Lesson 5:

Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes (see 1 Nephi 17:45)” (pp 22-23)

True to the Faith explains how feelings from the Spirit should be used to determine if something is true:

Note the Lord’s final words in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 [-9: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;] therefore, you shall feel that it is right. [But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…]” The burning described in this scripture passage signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat.” (True to the Faith, page 144; D&C 9:8-9)

I spent three decades searching for truth using this LDS formula. Instead of finding the one and only “true God” I found many different people whose hearts gave them very different answers as to what truth was. There are millions of people from various different faiths who have trusted that their strong feelings were God’s answer to their prayers. I found those who sincerely believed in Shamanism, Mormonism, Buddhism, New Age thinking, Deists, Atheists and Agnostics. All truly had faith that what they believed in their heart was true. They based their faith on very strong feelings that what they were following was truth.

There are many different examples of those who have trusted in their feelings to determine truth. Take the crusades where millions were killed and persecuted in the name of God. These people who were murderers were zealots who truly believed they were doing what God wanted them to do. They believed this because they listened to their feelings and to their hearts. Take the men who bombed the World Trade Center Towers. These men believed so strongly that their feelings would never lie to them that they committed suicide doing what “felt right“.

In all my searching I realized that humans are just really messed up. There have been many horrible aspects which define “religion”. But none of these have anything to do with God—each one is simply man claiming to act on God’s behalf. I finally came to the conclusion that a person can’t determine what is true by trusting in their feelings. Feelings often lie to you and tell you what you want to hear. Many people from different religions feel that what they believe is truth, and yet there can only be one truth.

It wasn’t until I met the “God of love” that I learned that many “religions” are simply man-made attempts to define God. For years I had believed that all those horrible “religions” actually defined the Christian God. But I was wrong. The day I met the God of love, I found a God that I had never even dreamed of. This one true God loves me unconditionally and came to earth to give me a life of peace and love. Despite all the many horrible things that I have done in my life, this God actually chooses to dwell inside of me. His love fills my heart despite all the times I forget to trust fully in Him.

There is not one thing that I did to gain His love. Amazingly, Jesus came to earth to show me just how much He loves me. The Son of God lowered Himself and became a human because He unconditionally loves us. Our Savior gave His life so that we could grasp just how much He loves us.

I love the fact that Jesus told us how to determine truth! He testified, over and over again to search the scriptures!! That is where we can find God’s truth! Many times He chastised people who did not turn to scriptures for answers to their questions. After He was crucified He met two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He hid from them who He was and listened to them as they were trying to figure out why Jesus had been crucified. The reason they didn’t know is because they hadn’t turned to scripture to find the answers. Instead, they were studying it out in their minds. But Jesus revealed truth to them by taking them to scripture! Notice, He didn’t tell them to pray so that the Holy Ghost could reveal to them what was happening. Instead, Jesus pointed them to scripture as the place they could find the truth. (Prayer is how we speak to God–God speaks to us through His scripture (Matthew 22:29-32):

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).

Even though they claimed later that their “bosoms” burned when Jesus spoke to them, their feelings were not what they used to determine whether Jesus spoke truth. They knew what was true because Jesus took them to the source of truth–God’s Holy scripture. If we want to know what is and isn’t true, we are to test everything with what the Holy Ghost has already revealed to us in scripture.

At times I can barely fathom God’s love for me. But I trust that He does because of all the promises He has left for me in scripture. Unfortunately, those who don’t really know Him often run and hide from Him.

I love these words about our God who loves us unconditionally–in spite of our sinfulness:

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

I pray that you will come to know of your Savior’s love for you. His love is so great that He gave His life–just so you could spend eternity with Him. Turn to Him and you will find the deepest love of your life. His greatest longing is to lavish His love on you. With the Apostle Paul, I pray this prayer for you:

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

The Gift of Eternal Life is Truly a Gift! You Can’t Earn or Qualify for it through Obedience

Since today is my husbands birthday, I got to thinking about my gift for him. I decided to come up with a list of things he needed to do before I let him open his gift: mow the lawn, clean out the chicken coup, fix the rototiller, clean out the gliders cage, change the oil in both the vehicles… I know it’s a long list, but I expect him to finish everything on it before he can receive the gift I bought him.

It might sound absurd to talk about giving someone a gift with conditions attached; or to think that we have to qualify for the gift before we can receive it.  We trust that the giver of the gift loves us and has given us their gift freely and unconditionally. In fact, a gift is something that you freely give to someone you love–no conditions attached. If you look up the word gift in a dictionary you will find it defined as:

“Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.”

In LDS church teachings, the word gift takes on a whole different meaning. In fact, it has been re-defined! You can do a simple search at lds.org–in the gospel library. Type in the words “conditional AND gift”. You will discover that even God’s love, mercy and grace are all “gifts” conditioned upon your worthiness.

There are really only two unconditional gifts in Mormonism and those are the gifts of immortality (bodily resurrection) and free agency. All other “gifts” are “conditional”.

“Immortality is to live forever as a resurrected being. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will receive this gift. Eternal life, or exaltation, is to live in God’s presence and to continue as families (see D&C 131:1–4). Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, to inherit eternal life requires our “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).”

Praise the Lord that the true Savior of the world loves you and has many unconditional gifts waiting for you! One is the gift of eternal life! Not only does He offer it to you unconditionally but it is also given freely and voluntarily. This gift was made personally–just for you, and it wasn’t an easy gift for Jesus to make. He lovingly spent thirty three years working on His gift. Day after day, despite many temptations by Satan, Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s commandments—just for you. He did this so that He could be your Substitute for the righteousness required to dwell eternally in God’s presence. Through faith in Jesus you are credited with all of His perfect works. This is the only way you could meet God’s demands for righteousness.

His suffering on the night of His death as the Atonement for your sins was tremendous. It must have been excruciating to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world, and then to be cursed and abandoned by His Heavenly Father. His shed blood covered over every sin you will ever commit. He willingly lived and died to give you eternal life–as a gift.

Now, imagine that Jesus comes to you and personally offers His gift to you—freely and unconditionally. But, instead of graciously and excitedly thanking Him for the gift He worked so hard to make for you–you tell Him you can improve on His gift by adding your own works to it. Or, maybe you tell Him you can’t accept His gift because you believe you first have to qualify for it. Imagine His disappointment when you reject His loving gift–the gift that He worked on His whole life and gave His life for. He did this especially for you–because He loves you unconditionally!

Please, don’t do this to my Savior Jesus! Don’t reject the gift of eternal life He worked so hard to freely give you! Don’t leave His precious gift unopened for another minute! Through His perfect works He has already qualified you to live eternally with Heavenly Father:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Believe (have faith) that Jesus has already gained this gift for you and you will receive it! Then, spend the remainder of your life freely serving your Heavenly Father. Freely because doing so is your voluntary and unconditional gift of love for your Savior!

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)

Can Feeling Unworthy be a Blessing?

My oldest daughter Jenifer was born three months early, weighing only two and a half pounds! We couldn’t take her home from the hospital until she weighed four pounds, which seemed like an eternity. My second daughter Laura was born just two days before Jenifer turned one. I had my hands full with two small babies but it was mostly fun. Laura was often colicky and it was hard getting her to sleep at nights.

One of those nights has been etched in my memory forever. It was my Dad’s birthday. He loved cinnamon rolls so I had baked him a pan for his birthday gift. It was late when we got home from my parents house and I put the kids to bed and went to bed myself. Laura started crying so I got up to see what she needed. She wasn’t hungry or wet, and so I rocked her for several hours. I tried everything I could think of to get her to sleep, but nothing worked. I stayed up with her till after four, but finally just left her crying in her crib and went to bed. When I woke up around 8:00 am I immediately knew something was wrong because she always woke up before 7:00. I ran into her room and to my horror, she was dead!

I had never been through anything so traumatic and devastating in my life. The Paramedics who came said she probably died from SIDS. For days everything was a blur but I remember a few things very clearly. My parents and my little brother came as well as the Bishop. And then a few days later I remember running into a teenager from our Ward who occasionally babysat. She said, “Where is Laura?” I remember thinking “How do you tell a teenager that your baby is dead?” I also remember that the whole thing was very hard for my Grandma who had also lost a baby at about the same age.

When her casket was placed in the ground I realized that I would never have the opportunity to try and rock her to sleep again. I learned that death is not negotiable and that life goes on. A few weeks later I went to see my Bishop to get a Temple Recommend. We talked about Laura’s death and he promised me that if I was worthy, I would get to raise her during the Millennium. He also promised me that if I was worthy, Laura would appear to me when I was in the Temple. As the day approached to go to Salt Lake I was filled with nervous anticipation as well as excitement. After Laura’s death I had become consumed with guilt because I had left her to cry in her crib. I desperately wanted to tell her how much I loved her and that I was sorry for leaving her alone to die.

The day came for us to go through the Temple. Laura did not appear to me. I knew the reason why! My Bishop had told me that she would appear to me IF I was worthy. I knew she didn’t come to me because I was unworthy! The pain that this added to a life already full of pain, was unbearable. I didn’t speak of it to anyone. Every LDS person I knew was worthy and I felt like I was the only one who wasn’t. How could I tell anyone else what I was going through? I didn’t know any one as unworthy as I was.

Many years later I still wish my daughter hadn’t died. But looking back, I trust God’s promise that everything will work out. I now know that my feelings of unworthiness when Laura didn’t appear to me in the Temple were a blessing! This major event in my life became one very heavy weight added to many hundreds telling me how unworthy I was! These weights led me to seek a solution outside of myself–my Savior. Now, I realize what a blessing it is to know the truth! No one is worthy!! Every single person is unrighteous! Jesus Himself declared that no one but God is even good.

But in Mormonism, there is a façade that you can somehow be worthy based upon your own actions. LDS Bishops determine that some people are more worthy than others. To determine your worthiness, you are asked a handful of questions based upon a false man-made grading of sins. Certainly Jesus did not grade sins in this way. Simply read the Sermon on the Mount and you will see that the questions your Bishop asks are very different than what Jesus would ask to determine your worthiness. Along with many other questions, He would ask you if you were as perfect as Heavenly Father Himself! (Matthew 5:48)

Have you ever wondered why Jesus commanded you to be as perfect as Heavenly Father? He gave you this command, knowing that you couldn’t do it. The reason is because He loves you and knows that unless you are one hundred percent perfect, you can’t dwell in God’s presence! Jesus testifies that no one will ever be found worthy through obedience. He knows that the only way for you to be worthy is through faith that He was worthy for you–as your Substitute! Jesus wants you to give up trying to be worthy through obedience.

Heavenly Father wants you to realize that you can never be as worthy as He demands. The main purpose of God’s laws — His commands, is to show you just how unworthy you are. God’s law is like a mirror for us to look into and see how often we fail. Only when we know just how much we need a Savior will we turn to Christ and be saved!

It was in 1994 that I learned that all my sins had been forgiven. I gave my life to Jesus and have dedicated my life to sharing my Savior with everyone I meet. One blessing that I never even knew exhisted is attending a Christian Church where everyone knows that everyone else is equally sinful. At my Church everyone freely admits that they struggle with sin constantly. Nobody pretends to be something they aren’t.

In fact, every Christian I know believes what Christ said:

“..there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17)

At the same time, Christians also know that they have been credited with Christ’s righteousenss–through faith! In God’s sight, believers are as pure as Christ. That’s why true believers live their lives dedicated to their Savior Jesus.

If you feel unworthy, realize what a blessing it is to know the truth! Christ came to save the unworthy and it is through His Atoning Sacrifice that you have been made worthy (perfect) forever! (Hebrews 10:10-14) Because of what He has done for you, spend the rest of your life praising your Savior! He is the One who made you worthy by perfectly following God’s commands all of His life. And He did this for you, as your substitute!

I pray that you will turn to God’s holy Word and read what the Apostle Paul wrote about these truths: Galatians 3:21-24/Romans 7:7-8/Romans 3:19-20.

Did Jesus Really Mean What He Said?

I really enjoyed teaching the 5th and 6th grade Sunday School class at my church. It was such a treat getting to know each child and sharing my faith with them. While I was surprised to discover how often these young kids talked to their LDS friends about spiritual matters, I wasn’t surprised that they were confused about the differences between beliefs. To help, I came up with a few illustrations to show the fundamental differences. These illustrations helped to contrast some of the Lessons being taught to their LDS friends with what the Bible teaches.

Today I share with you an exercise I used with my Sunday School Class that contrasts two very important and fundamental differences between Mormonism and Christianity. While both the Book of Mormon (Alma 11:37) and the Bible (Ephesians 5:5) agree that “no unclean thing” can enter the Kingdom of Heaven; the two differences are seen when we look at what God truly demands of us and at His eternal consequences if we fail.

According to LDS beliefs, our efforts at keeping God’s commands are more important to God than how well we keep them. Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated: “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity.” LDS leaders claim that the majority of people will spend eternity in one of the Kingdoms of Heaven. On Judgment Day, even those who never come to faith in Jesus, including those who hated God and were the world’s vilest sinners, will eventually go to a kingdom of glory.

These LDS beliefs are in direct disagreement with what the Bible teaches. When Jesus commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father, He really meant it. There is not one single Bible verse that lessens Jesus’ demands for perfection. There is not one passage that claims our best effort is sufficient to gain eternal life. Every Judgment Day scenario in the Bible shows the consequence for any sin is eternity in Hell with Satan.

For my Sunday School illustration I bring out two chairs. Each chair has a piece of paper taped to it, one with the word “God” written on it and the other with the word “Me”. These chairs are placed apart from each other, symbolizing the distance that separates man from God. The point of the exercise is to determine what God requires from man to reach Him and dwell with Him eternally. In this exercise I represent Jesus.

Illustrating LDS beliefs, I place the two chairs on opposite walls of a classroom. The distance between the two chairs is symbolic of the degree of righteousness required by God before man can be judged worthy to dwell in His presence. As I have just shown, this distance is something far short of perfection. Each child stands on the chair labeled “Me” and attempts to jump to the chair labeled “God”. How far they jump is symbolic of their “degree of righteousness” on earth and determines which Kingdom of Glory they will go to. Not one child has ever been able to jump all the way from one chair to the other—but they all tried as hard as they could. No matter how far each one made it, I go to them in my role as “Jesus” and help them walk to where the “God” chair is. This was symbolic of how LDS doctrine teaches Christ’s Atonement saves each person “after all they can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). The fact that they jumped indicated they believed they had to do their best before Jesus would help them. This also shows they did not believe Jesus had fully met God’s demands in their place.

Next we do our exercise with chairs according to what the Bible teaches. Since a classroom really isn’t large enough for this illustration, we pick up our chairs and go outside. We go to a side road next to the Church. I walk as far down the road as I can and put the chair labeled “God” on it. Then, I walk back to the other chair labeled “Me”. This distance is symbolic of the perfection required from God. Each child stands on the chair which is so far away from the “God” chair that it is hard to see. Then, I explain the rules according to the Bible. Symbolic of obeying Jesus’ command to be as perfect as Heavenly Father, they have to jump to where God is. If they don’t make it, in my role as Jesus, I will say to them: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Guess what happens with every child I have ever done this exercise with? They look at how far away the chair labeled “God” is, and then, looking down at me they say “I can’t do it—it’s impossible!!” They won’t even try! In my role as Jesus, I smile and pick each one up and carry them down to the “God” chair. Carrying them is symbolic that Jesus does it for them—they do not and can not help. The fact that they did not attempt to jump indicated they believed Jesus (me) — that anything short of God’s stated requirements was insufficient. Symbolically, instead of attempting to do something that was impossible, they put their faith solely in their Savior and not in themselves.

Can you understand what my illustration exposes? The words from the LDS Lesson explain the true reason why Jesus had to come to rescue us: “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity…

Guess what? We do have to be perfect! That’s why Jesus came to do it for us—because we can’t do what God requires!

The LDS words expose why faithful Mormons will not gain eternal life. Believing that you don’t have to “be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life]” means that you don’t believe your Savior. It means you won’t say “I can’t do it” and turn to your Savior who did it for you. It means that you won’t give up trying to gain eternal life by your faith and obedience. It means that you will stand before God on Judgment Day in your own woefully imperfect works of righteousness: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Is 64:6)

There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus had not come to earth to be perfect for us, in our place, no one could be saved in eternity. Christ’s mission was to meet God’s requirements for us– to be perfect and live all God’s laws strictly, wholly, and completely. Christ accomplished His mission and met all God’s requirements for eternal life. He did this for you—in your place, as your substitute. It is through faith that He has met all the requirements for you, that you are credited with His righteousness. Only through faith in His atoning sacrifice will anyone meet God’s command to be as perfect as He is: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14)

All who honestly believe they are credited with righteousness through faith respond to this gift with love, praise and thanksgiving. They will do “all they can do” voluntarily. Not because it is required to gain something for themselves, but simply out of love for their Savior who loved them so much He washed their sins away with His blood (Revelation 1:5).
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References for LDS beliefs, taken from two Lessons for 12 & 13 year olds:

Explain that we came to earth to show that we would do everything the Lord commanded us and serve him with all our might, mind, and strength…read Matthew 5:48: [Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”] “What commandment is given here? Has any person other than Jesus lived a perfect life? (No.) What do you think the Savior meant when he told us to be perfect?”…Enoch knew that in responding to God the test is not our capability but our availability… “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity… Explain that none of us knows when the end of his mortal life will be, but if we are on the right path we will continue until we become as our Father in Heaven is, and we will be able to live with him forever…” (Aaronic Priesthood Teachers Manual 2, Lesson 1: “Who Am I?” pages 2-3)

The Truth about Heaven and Hell Quiz…Have class members mark each statement as “True” or “False.”
1. After we have been resurrected and judged, each of us will dwell in one of three kingdoms of glory. True. Just as there are different degrees of righteousness on the earth, there are kingdoms of differing glory in the next life… To reward many different levels of faithfulness, there will be “many mansions” (see John 14:2)…
5. Hell is a place of never-ending suffering where sinners go. Most of mankind will be there forever because of their wickedness. False. Hell, or spirit prison, is a place for people who have rejected the gospel and people who have died without a knowledge of the gospel. The gospel is preached to them there, and those who accept the gospel and repent of their sins will be released and allowed to enter paradise until the Resurrection and Judgment (see D&C 138:29–34). Most of those who do not accept the gospel there will have to suffer for their own sins but will eventually be resurrected and go to a kingdom of glory (see D&C 76:81–85, 98–106).
” Preparing for Exaltation, Teachers Manual, Lesson 8: “The Three Kingdoms of Glory”, pages 38-39.

References for Biblical beliefs:

Now, let’s look at the Bible and determine if Jesus really meant what he said in Matthew 5:48. Reading the passage in context we see that Jesus gave this command while preaching His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5, 6, & 7). In His Sermon we discover that Jesus gave many difficult commands. We read that we commit sins of commission by swearing, getting angry, or judging others. Lusting after a woman is the very same sin as committing adultery. He also gave many commands that expose our sins of omission; such as loving our enemies, forgiving others and turning the other cheek. Amongst these and numerous others comes Jesus’ ultimate command: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Reading this passage in context it is quite evident that Jesus really did mean what He said.

Another aspect of studying scripture is to let the Bible interpret itself. That means that the rest of scripture must agree with our conclusion, and it does! There is not one Bible passage that disagrees with or lessens Jesus’ command to be as perfect as Heavenly Father. James’ testimony supports Jesus’ command: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (2:10). The most compelling evidence that shows Jesus really meant what He said is seen when we read what God’s stated consequences for sin are: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Galatians 3:10b). Jesus taught what happens on Judgment Day to those who merely committed sins of omission: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.” (Matthew 25:41-46).

I’ve Been Washed Clean!

I never realized what a blessing it is to be able to take a shower. Today I thank my Lord for giving me enough strength to drag this broken body into the shower and wash my body. The hot water felt wonderful and it was great to feel clean again! I would like to have washed my hair, but my arms just didn’t have the strength to do that as well. I don’t think we realize what a blessing some things are until they are taken away from us.

Thinking of how good it felt to take a shower reminded me of my most treasured possession—being washed clean from all of my sins. I was thirty six years old before I learned that Jesus had already obtained this blessing for me with His blood—over 2,000 years ago at the cross. I was denied this truth because I trusted in the false prophets of Mormonism. They claim that the only way to gain forgiveness for your individual sins is through your works. (Go to this Page on my Blog to read their words) Because I believed their words, I spent many years trying to obtain something that is not obtainable through works. The forgiveness of sins can only be obtained through the shed blood of a perfect sacrifice.

I feel so blessed that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and heart to the truth. Now, whenever I read the Bible God’s Words are so clear to me. I think that for the Israelites it would have been much easier to understand that the forgiveness of their sins was won by Christ’s sacrifice. Whenever they committed a sin they were instructed to shed the blood of a sacrificial animal. They were told to do this because God declared that the only way to have their sins washed away was through the shed blood of a perfect sacrifice.

The writer of Hebrews explains this truth: “and without shedding of blood is no remission” (9:22b)

He goes on in the next chapter to declare that these sacrifices done during the Old Testament times didn’t really take away sins. They were simply pointing to a Savior, who would offer His body as the final sacrifice for sin. It was His blood that would wash away all our sins, as the Apostle John declared has already happened: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5)

I will finish with these beautiful words from Hebrews chapter ten, which interestingly end with how wonderful it is to have our bodies washed with water:

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

If you would like to listen to my testimony, you can do so by clicking on this link. It will take you to the audio story: “I’ve Been Washed Clean”.

Link:

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