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At times I questioned myself if I can answer those temple recommend interview questions with no issues. I remember the last time I went for a temporary temple recommend interview back in March for Baptisms for the Dead. I caught myself being harsh when asked questions. I attribute it to judging ourselves and we are our own worse judge. My Bishop agreed.
I often find myself self-interviewing on one particular question:
Are you kind to your family members?
Am I? What does that mean? It means, do I treat them as Christ would during the good times and the bad times? Do I display patience with my family at all times? Am I a good Father and Husband?
For a while, I was in a cycle of confusion and this is how it went:
I feel like I am in a deep hole, looking upwards at the sky and that I can’t make it out.I feel that my family deserves better than I have given in the past. I have only been at it for over 18 months and I thought I was changing. I’m not sure sometimes. At times I feel like I really have changed.I am not always patient or soft spoken in stressful situations. I seem to let the worst come out of me only in front of my spouse and children. In my early twenties, I picked up the bad habbit of swearing. My language has cleaned up over the past 18 months but I have those moments of relapse.
I expect so much from my family (from expecting the same strictness that I had to follow when I was younger) at times that it only leads me to anger and fits of yelling when things aren’t going well.
I’ve been taught that true conversion happens over time. Am I converted? Am I converted enough?
Could I stand tall with my fellow brethren who are temple recommend holders?
Every Sunday, I feel energized and I believe that I can climb my way out of this deep hole.I realize to myself that I cannot be perfect and Christ-like at all times. That is why we have the atonement.I am thankful for the atonement and the fact that Jesus Christ took upon himself my sins, my sadness and my pain. I am thankful for the ordinance of Sacrament where I can renew my baptismal covenants and be forgiven for my short comings. During Sacrament, I feel true sorrow and pain. I then feel forgiven and my burdens lifted away.
I love the feeling of being clean and renewed for another week.
I pray for long suffering, patience, being a good example for my children and to be a better Father and Husband.
I love feeling I can start over with myself and my family.
I feel like the moment that I slip, no matter how high I have made it I fall to the bottom of that deep hole and I have to start over. Maybe I’ve raised my voice to my kids or handle a stressful situation very poorly. When growing up, my parents were very strict and always yelled. I see myself doing that sometimes. I see my oldest son yelling at his brothers sometimes and I see myself in him and I become deeply saddened.With the atonement comes repentance. I truly feel sorry for the mistakes and actions that make me feel like I am not kind enough to my family. But true repentance means taking steps to not do it again and then, not do it!
But when I falter I feel like I have failed at repentance. I take my prior transgressions from the week before and add it on to this week as well. That deep hole is getting even deeper.
What if it has been months that I feel I’ve been doing a good job and then I mess up by losing my temper and swear up a storm and scream and yell?
When do I become better? How long do I go without slipping before I can answer “Yes” to the question “Are you kind to your family members?” It can’t be one week. A Month? Two Months?
How can I live higher laws if I cannot live these lower laws?
Am I ever going to make it to the Temple?
Go to back to Despair
I feel like I have finally broken out of this confusing cycle by realizing that during this journey of life every day we build ourselves up to be much more righteous and when we falter we have the atonement and repentance to lift ourselves up and try again. As long as we are on the upward climb we are doing well.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times that by doing in faith the following: Daily prayer, scripture reading, and keeping our minds constantly on the Savior Jesus Christ and the Savior make a very, very large difference.
Soon after you are baptized, you will receive a calling in your Ward. A calling is an assignment, usually in a Ward where you help it run smoothly and serve each other.
Since I’ve been a member a little over a year, I’ve held a few callings: Assistant Cub Master, Cub Master, Webelos Leader and Ward Website Administrator.
I admit that I struggled with my first two callings two the point where I felt like I failed in the end. Shortly after, I realized why this was. Here are some things I’ve learned about callings:
Examples of Church Callings
- Bishopric (Bishop and his two Counselors)
- Elders Quorum Presidency
- Relief Society Presidency
- Ward Clerk (Finance and Membership)
- Ward Bulletin Editor
- Ward Librarian
- Sunday School Teacher
- Nursery Worker
- Piano / Organ Player
- Cub Scouts Leader
It Is What Heavenly Father Wants You To Do
In my calling, my young son asks me why I do what I do. My answer is simple:
It is what God wants me to do.
Before you are extended a calling, your Bishop and others will ponder prayerfully what you should do. I know how much your Bishop loves and cares for you and seeks nothing but good for you. Your Bishop is really in tune with the Spirit and only after spiritual confirmation does he extend the call to you.
It Is Voluntary
You have your free agency. Your calling can be accepted or denied. Your participation is voluntary. You can say yes or no. Just remember however, this is what God wants you to do. I haven’t yet declined a calling as I recognize its divine origins.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we do not seek, nor do we decline, callings that come from God through inspired priesthood channels. (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 178th Annual General Conference, April 2008, Sunday Morning Session)
No one in the Church is paid for their calling. The payment for performing your calling is blessings for you and your family.
A Way Has Been Prepared
When Nephi and his brothers were asked to bring back the brass plates from Laban, his brothers did not think it was possible. However, Nephi sagely replied:
I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)
Heavenly Father knows you intimately and does not give you more than you can handle.
Magnify Your Calling
I remember when I first heard my Bishop use this phrase: “Magnify your calling.” What does Magnify mean? President Gordon B. Hinckley interpreted it as to enlarge, make clear, bring closer, to strengthen. (Ensign, May 1989) More simply said by President Thomas S. Monson:
How does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it.
Consecrate Thy Performance
When you receive a calling, pray over it. A brother in my ward has told me a few times to consecrate thy performance:
But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul. (2 Nephi 32:9)
Finally, in my Stake Conference Adult Session last night, I heard the following four truths about callings:
Callings Do Not Last Forever
There was a story that went with this, basically this brother was called to be a primary teacher for a class and every year he was called to teach the same group of children. He was blessed in that his callings only lasted a year, he got to watch these children grow up as he progressed through Primary, to the Bishopric and finally to Bishop. He got to see these children off to a mission and also have them return as a Bishop. You will no doubt have many callings over your lifetime.
Great Associations Are Created In Callings That Strengthen One Another
His calling had him nourish an everlasting friendship to where his friend would call on him years later, from another state for help. This was a blessing to both himself and his friend. Callings are a good way to get to know your new Ward Family and visa-versa.
You Are Usually Helping Those Who Are Helping Others
Callings are all about service to others. You could be in Nursery watching the children of a Gospel Doctrine Teacher who is teaching your family. Once again, callings are all about service to others, period.
You Are Doing Something That Someone Else In The Ward Cannot Do (at that time, with those people)
You were called for a reason, whether it be a talent you know you have or didn’t know. A way has been prepared for you.
I’d like to give my testimony that accepting and taking your callings to heart and magnifying it does bring blessings, joy and immence pleasure as you are serving those around you. You are doing the your part in building up the Kingdom of Heaven.
Earlier this month, on a Saturday, my son was baptized.
It was great to help prepare him with FHE’s (family home evenings) by going through the “Preach My Gospel” manual and teaching him as my wife and I were taught not even a year ago by the missionaries. We started this process a few months before he was to turn eight and be baptized.
From going to Church and Primary (Sunday School) for the past year, he knew lots of concepts already concerning the Plan of Happiness/Salvation and the things we must do to return home again, like: being baptized, following the commandments, taking sacrament every week.
I took him to his baptismal interview the Tuesday before. (See: A Convert’s Survival Guide: What to Expect BEFORE your Baptism) I had learned that his Sunday dress shirt was missing so on the way home I ran into Wal-Mart and was in and out of the store in a record five minutes by sneaking in and out my secret location: The garden section!
When I got home, I got him dressed and we were out the door in less than three minutes. We arrived at the Church about fifteen minutes early and we waited patiently outside the Bishop’s office. The Bishop finally arrived 25 minutes later and into his office they went to talk.
I patiently waited outside for what seemed like ten to fifteen minutes until he called me in as well so he could fill out the records for his Baptism and Confirmation. I was impressed at the knowledge he divulged to the Bishop and his retention. He made me very proud.
We happily visted McDonalds’ drive thru to pick up an ice cream cone and then we drove home.
On Friday, we visited Deseret Book Store to get him his very own scriptures and carry tote. We ended up getting him a regular-sized quad which contained: The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Also, we got him a CTR ring he wanted and I got a cool deal on my painting of Jesus that I talked about earlier this month.
Saturday came up very quickly. Before we left the house, I felt my heart swell as I looked at him. He looked like “a mormonboy.” I never would have thought my children to be mormon, but now I can’t imagine raising my children without the gospel and principles we have.
I have to admit, I didn’t go obsessive about preparing since I’ve been involved in two baptisms already: my own and I performed my wife’s.
A few hours before hand I got our bag ready:
Extra change of underwear for my son, an extra pair of socks as well. For myself, I brought an extra undershirt, pair of underwear and socks.
I went over with my son how our hands were to be intertwined, what I would say and how I he would plug his nose and I would put my hand behind his back to dunk him.
I also studied again what was to be said when performing his baptism, which was:
[Calling him by his full name], having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
We arrived at the stake center a few minutes earlier than requested and we got changed into our jumpsuits. There was one more baptism taking place during the service, an eight year old girl from another ward. I was hoping I would go after they did so I could watch and be sure I was doing this correctly. This wasn’t the case, I was told that our family was going first.
We followed the usual program that I wrote about before hand in: A Convert’s Survival Guide: What to Expect at your Baptism.
I went first and took my son’s hand and led him into the font. The water was nice and warm and we set up as the little children ran to sit down on the floor in front of the font and watch. He wasn’t nervous at all, very happy. I wasn’t nervous at all either, I was guided by the Spirit and I baptized him. Immediately afterwards I could see a great, warm smile on his face. I was proud of him and gave him a little hug and led him out of the water.
Now getting changed afterwards was a different story. It was a bit could in the bathrooms and the poor boy was shivering. I worked quick to get him dried off and dressed and sent him out. I followed shortly after changing as well.
Then after they were done singing their interlude hymn, it was time for me to confirm him a member of the Church. This part I studied in the past and then again a few hours before his baptism. When I was first baptized, the man who helped us to learn the gospel and baptize me handed me a blue card with the prayers for ordinances that the priesthood can perform.
I checked and double checked and studied this card up until right after my son’s baptism, right after getting changed.
Again, it was time to confirm him a member of the Church. I looked at the attending Stake official and my wonderful Bishop to motion them up to help me confirm him. This was my first time confirming and I was very nervous. There was a lot of my non-member family members attending, some friends and the people supporting the girl that was being baptized as well. I was nervous.
It all went away when I put my hands on my son’s head and closed my eyes. I was again guided by the Spirit in confirming him a member of the Church and giving him a blessing. The words coming out my mouth came out without any filter our any forethought. I even surprised myself by what had happened. After the confirmation, my son rubbed his eyes and got up with a smile and we all congratulated him before taking our seats again.
The prayer I said to confirm my son was:
[Calling him by his full name], in the name of Jesus Christ and by the Authority of theHoly Melchizedek Priesthood, I confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and say unto you, receive the Holy Ghost. [Then a blessing as the spirit dictates].
See: A Convert’s Survival Guide: What to Expect AFTER your Baptism, to learn more about confirmation.
I was glad to have my mother-in-law there and my brother. Baptisms can be a great missionary tool, as the Spirit is undeniably present during such. My friend, Mike, who I didn’t know made it until after the service showed up afterwards and surprised me. I looked at him with a smile and told him joyfully again: “It’s all your fault!”
Also in attendance was one of the missionaries that helped teach the us our original lessons a year ago and attended my wife’s and my own baptisms. The funny story about this was that we couldn’t get a hold of them to make it to the baptism and they were coming back from fetching lunch and decided to stop by the church since they saw some cars there and then upon closer inspection, our minivan!
I was glad he could make it, it made it much more special and his support for our family is much appreciated and needed. Through crowd and confusion, I did miss a few minutes of watching my son. My missionary told me that my son said:
I want to be baptized every day!
My heart swelled again and I was proud of him for the step forward he has taken. And I am also so happy for my wonderful wife and the support and growing she has been ongoingly giving to us all. I truly couldn’t do anything without her, she is my light in the gospel. She is my best friend and she knows me and what I need, as well as she knows all my sons and what they need as well.
I am happy our family can be together forever and I am happy my sons has taken his first steps to make it back to our Heavenly Father.
I came across an amazing video on YouTube tonight and thought I’d share it with everyone. The video depicts the growth of the Church as measured by Stakes. Stakes are made up of five to twelve congregations in a geographic area.
There are over 27,000 congregations consisting of almost 13,000,000 (million!) members. Every day at least one convert baptism takes place thanks to the help of over 53,000 missionaries.
As you watch this video, think of how fast the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing and what qualities and attributes a Church would have to have in order to be accepted by so many people in less than 180 years on this Earth.
…the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth… (D&C 1:30)
LDS Stake Growth 1830-2004
If you are taking lessons from a missionary and decide to get baptized, there are certain things they want done before the actual baptism.
Today, there are four lessons before your baptism. Missionaries want to sure you understand what you are taking on by being baptized.
The four lessons are broken up by topic:
- The Restoration
- The Plan of Salvation
- The Gospel of Jesus Christ
- The Commandments
I will write about these four lessons at a future date.
You can decide to be baptized at any time during the four lessons. After committing to be baptized, the rest of the lessons (if any) will be taught before it is done. There is also a baptismal interview that is done before hand. This is done by a missionary district leader.
The following questions asked are:
- Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father?
- Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
- Do you believe that the Church and the gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith?
- Do you believe that [the current Church President - which is Gordon B. Hinkley at this time)] is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?
- What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?
- Have you ever participated in an abortion? A homosexual relationship? Have you ever committed a serious crime? If so, are you now on probation or parole? *
- You have been taught that membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints includes living gospel standards. What do you understand of the following standard. What do you understand of the following standards? Are you willing to obey them?
- Are you willing to keep the Sabbath day holy, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to fellow members?
- What do you understand of the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman? Are you willing to obey this law?
- What do you understand of the Word of Wisdom? Are you willing to obey this law?
- What do you understand of the law of tithing? Are you willing to obey this law?
- When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?
* – If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you will be sent to the mission president for a follow up interview.
These questions were taken from my own experiences and cross-referenced with Preach My Gospel Chapters 3 and 12. (Thanks Joey)
More of what she has to say has been posted up on YouTube a few hours ago, here they are:
Jennifer: Return to be with God
Jennifer: Marriage is Eternal
The next video is about Oscar, a Mormon who talks about his mother passing away when he was five years old. Even though it was not enough time for them to be together, he knows that families can be eternal and that he will see her again.
Oscar: Families Should Be Eternal
The final video is Issiah speaking about his observations of life. The monotonousness of life, the tragedies on this world and seeing the misery around him makes him realize that there has to be more to life. And I believe he is right, there is!
More to Life Than This
These are very good videos about the questions that everyone has in life. I am glad to see the Church putting these up on YouTube to share with everyone.
What is Testimony? You could say a testimony is one’s personal knowledge to the truth that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ lives and that Jesus is our Savior and Son of God.
I believe a testimony is a wonderful gift from Heavenly Father. It is my spiritual witness that was given to my by the Holy Ghost. Because of my testimony, I feel immensely loved by a perfect being, by our God.
Testimony is the foundation of our faith. It is like a muscle which we can use to grow spiritually. The more you use it and fall back on it, the stronger it will get. If you do nothing, it will atrophy.
We can also help others gain our strengthen their own testimonies as well by bearing our testimony just as Don and Betty do.
I was browsing the web tonight and came across a post at the blog “Our Thoughts.” It was a wonderful entry that truly shows the test of faith of Kim Siever.
What really strikes me the most are the similar experiences between the writer, Joseph Smith, and Jesus Christ! In his experience, Kim writes:
…I had an unusual and foreign experience. Several years ago, I found myself in a difficult situation. As a result, I was praying frequently and frequently for the Lord’s intervention. I prayed several times every day and was fasting every Sunday. Some weeks I fasted Sunday and Monday…
..After several weeks of not seeing any change in the situation, I began questioning why I was not receiving an answer to my prayer…
…I started to wonder if perhaps the reason I wasn’t receiving an answer from God was because God did not exist…
…My entire life was filled with teachings that told me if I ever needed anything from God, I simply had to ask. Here I was, having asked every day for several weeks, even unusually fasting frequently, and those promised answers had not come…
I find it hard to imagine being brought up in the Church and then to begin questioning the very things that you were taught by your parents and thought you believed in. I often feel like the Converts and Pioneers in the Church have it easier than people who were born or brought up into the Church.
For someone to want to be baptized would mean that they have received a personal testimony about truthfulness of things. For someone to grow up in the Church, you could be baptized, but not really have a testimony or be truly ‘converted.’ I believe that a person born into the Church must have a stronger spirit and drive to be ‘converted’ in the gospel.
Kim, the writer further writes:
At the time, we were attending an Institute class. We had a good instructor, and we were discussing church history. Actually, we were specifically studying Liberty Jail. In the course of the class, we discussed D&C 121:1-2.
O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
My ears perked up. Joseph Smith — the first prophet of the restoration, one who had seen God, one who had been ministered by angels — was asking the same question I had: where was God.
Immediately to my mind came Matt 27:46:
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
And now even Jesus, the savior of the world, was asking the same question that had entered my mind several times. The progenitor of our faith and the source of our faith both put forth the same question to God. Both felt alone. And both came through triumphant.
At that point, the Spirit entered into me with such a force that I knew I had never felt such a thing in my entire life…
Kim Siever, Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ were asking where God was and feeling abandoned. The saying “It is always darkest before dawn” applies here.
What a wonderful story and trail of faith. I have learned a lot from this and now I cannot wait to see what Kim Siever will write next. This has definitely left an impression on me, to where I feel re-energized and gung-ho to learn more about the gospel.
You can view the complete post here: http://www.ourthoughts.ca/2007/10/21/my-faith-crisis-story/
As an investigator attending Elder’s Quorum. I often heard about assignments called “Home Teaching.” It seemed a bit different and I did not quite understand what it was about. I began looking into what is entailed in home teaching and I came across an article: Confessions of a Halfhearted Home Teacher
As a new member and Aaronic Priesthood holder in the Church, I have found Doctrine and Covenants, Chapter 20 (D&C:20) to be very useful in instilling an enthusiastic urge in performing the duties that I have. Two verses that really stick out me are:
The priests duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament, And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties. (D&C 20:46-47)
Another two verses that jump out at me are:
And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty. (D&C 20:54-55)
I have been blessed with being able to perform most of my duties in my short time that I’ve been a member. Specifically: baptize, administer the sacrament (passing and preparing – I am privileged to bless sacrament in two weeks!), and home teaching. Taking part in these ordinances gives me a tremendous feeling of joy!
This evening, I had the opportunity to meet with the family I was assigned to “home teach” with my new companion. It was a wonderful experience. I was a bit anxious to go to my first home teaching but it went great. I got to meet and learn about a new family that just moved in to my ward and more about my home teaching companion. I had the chance to teach a gospel principal and hopefully leave an impression on the family for the month.
As we were walking to the house of the family we were to home teach, I let my companion know that I have never done it before. He explained to me how the purpose of home teaching is to get to know the family, letting the family get to know you and get them comfortable for asking for any type of help when needed. This reminded me of the scripture in the Book of Mormon that greatly impressed me when I was investigating the church. This verse is about Alma preaching to people in the wilderness:
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light (Mosiah 18:8)
“…willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.” What a powerful concept that I observe in this church every day.
As I saw for myself, home teaching is an important component to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It teaches something to the families and also teaches the teacher. It lets us get to know each other, it allows us strengthen each other and it allows us to “watch over the church” just as this verse in Doctrine and Covenants says:
The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them. (D&C 20:53)
I cannot wait to do it again.
I remember attending my first Priesthood Meeting the first time I went to the LDS Church. The opening hymn that was sung was “I Am a Child of God.” (Song 301 in the Hymn Book) It was amazing to hear an entire room singing this. The words to the song ran true in my soul.
I have since discovered that this song, one of my most favorite songs, could be categorized as a song for Children. Which just makes me laugh. It makes me laugh at the fact that even though I have been on this earth long enough to not be considered one, I indeed am. We all are, young or old, a child of God.
This brings me to the topic of the Plan of Salvation. The Plan of Salvation is a great plan prepared by our Father in Heaven. For he loved us so much, he wanted to give us everything that he had. As his Spirit Children he gave us the choice to come to earth, receive mortal bodies as he did, and return to live with Him and our families in the life to come. It is amazing to think of how our own father on earth loves us. Then, to think of how our Heavenly Father, a perfect being, can love us beyond our comprehension.
I am also grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ, which is the center to the plan of salvation. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, I can be forgiven for my sins. I admit, I am a child that needs much work and makes mistakes. Even so, I am unconditionally loved. And my sins, forgiven when I repent.
It was amazing to learn about the Plan of Salvation. Learning about it answers the common questions that everyone has:
- Where did we come from?
- What is the purpose of life?
- Where do we go when we die?
Knowing about the Plan of Salvation has brought me happiness and peace like I never knew it before.