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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (or just busy like me) you would have noticed that mormon.org was recently changed. I noticed this sometime in late September. The changes are welcomed as the website keeps its simple architecture and is well organized for potential investigators.
The navigation tabs on the top are evidently the most important parts of the website:
- Basic Beliefs
- Worship With Us
- Ask A Question
I like that things are straight forward and to the point. Information is readily available for finding out what our Church really is about and cover:
- The Restoration of Truth
- Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness
- Jesus Christ: Our Savior
- The Commandments
- Membership in Christ’s Church
- And the ability to Chat Live with Missionaries.
This website is a strong missionary tool. However, it can be an even better tool if we use it in our daily lives. As members, we are constantly asked about our faith and our beliefs. Along with explaining what we believe and bearing our testimonies, referring people to mormon.org can reinforce what we teach.
Every Member a Missionary. It only takes a few moments to mention mormon.org to someone. Our brothers and sisters are waiting to hear our message about the restored gospel. It is my hope that we can all listen extra carefully to the promptings of the spirit and act on when it comes to sharing our truths.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of watching the movie: The Best Two Years. This movie tells the story of four missionaries who share an apartment in Amsterdam, Holland. I absolutely loved this movie – one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. I caught myself giggling at every interaction and just reaffirmed my fondness of missionaries, their sacrifices and the service they give by spreading the gospel.
It also gave me some insight to how it would’ve been if I had served a mission when I was younger.
I’d definitely recommend this movie to anyone.
Visit the official website here.
Catch a clip that I found on YouTube here:
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.
During the 178th General Conference, the following statistics were given about the Church:
- Stakes: 2,790
- Missions: 348
- Districts: 618
- Wards and Branches: 27,827
- Members: 13,193,999
- Children added to record in 2007: 93,698
- Converts Baptized in 2007: 279,218 (Hey, I was one of those! )
- Full Time Missionaries: 52,686
- Temples in operation: 124
These statistics seem to be more up to date than what is listed at the Official Church Website.
I look forward to helping and seeing these numbers increase for 2008!
I envy the missionaries that serve a mission to spread the gospel. As a convert past his teenage years and with a family to take care of, I felt that I had missed out on this amazing experience. I thought I could only hope for the many opportunities to help other people learn more about the full gospel of Jesus Christ as I have.
One question I often hear among the brethren is: “Where did you go for your mission?” It seems like such an ice breaker, which is something I definitely have a need for.
There is hope though! Early on I learned that seniors can go on missions as well. In Mike’s parents are on a two year mission! When I retire, I would like to go somewhere on a mission. It would be amazing to put everything away and concentrate on the gospel and serving. But that time seems so far away. I can’t wait.
It is said that “every member is a missionary.” That is true, but it didn’t feel the same. Not until I read a chapter in the Doctrine & Covenants that really get my pumped up:
Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.
Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.
Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.
Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen. (D&C 4)
The verse that stands out to me is:
…if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work
And there you go, I’m on a mission!
I believe that this book, There Is No Death, brought me closer to understanding the truths that my friend Mike touched upon when he began teaching parts of the Gospel. I believe this book softened my heart and also prepared me for the missionaries that I met three years later.
I remember after a few weeks after reading the book we were discussing it during lunch when it hit me; that all the things Mike had been teaching me were in fact true; that there was something more going on than just this life. It is a moment in my life that I will not forget. As I look back now, knowing what I knew, it was the spirit confirming what he was teaching and what was in this book as true.
Why I didn’t follow up on this? I guess I did not know what to do with this testimony at the time. I did not plant it and nourish it. (See Alma 32:28-43)
It did not fall on good ground, perhaps stony ground. (Matthew 13:3-8) I did not act on it. I’m thinking it was out of fear for change.
Tasting of the truth was exciting and I was eager to learn of all the great and wonderful things of the gospel. I often went way ahead of myself. In a way, I wasn’t ready. I wanted to have my friend personally teach me all he knew, but he insisted that I have the missionaries over.
I now realize why missionaries should be involved. They are set apart to spread the gospel. They are more prepared to answer questions that come up. They are divinely inspired and assisted to share their great message. I did not have the fundamentals that the missionaries teach. The important fundamentals like: Who we are, who Heavenly Father is, who the holy spirit is, and who Jesus Christ is – and why what he did was so important, the plan of salvation (the plan of happiness).
I see why things are taught in a certain order now and why it is said “concept upon concept, precept upon precept.” That used to annoy me when I didn’t receive all my answers, but now it makes perfect sense.
Yesterday in Priesthood, we had our final lesson out of the Spencer W. Kimball book. Chapter 24 was about Sharing the Gospel. It was a very good lesson. I found myself participating more than usual as I am passionate on missionary work.
The Lord promises us great blessings as we share the gospel. It is likened unto a spiritual adventure. All work pays off when even one soul expresses repentance and faith and the desire to be baptized.
An interesting point that was brought up was that the Lord has told us that our sins will be more readily forgiven as we bring souls unto Christ. The following is said in Doctrine and Covenants Chapter four:
Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen. (D&C 4)
There are many people waiting for us to teach them about the plan of happiness, the plan of salvation.
Also in this final lesson we talked about how the Lord has entrusted all members of the Church with a responsibility to serve as His messengers.
It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. (D&C 88:81)
I think of the feelings I had when I first came to know the truths that I know now. I hope to help someone feel the way that I did.
The Word of Wisdom was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is a law of health that teaches us what foods we should and should not use to keep our bodies healthy. We know that it was blessing to receive a phsyical body when we came to earth.
The reason why it is a blessing is because we need a physical body to become like our Heavenly Father. Our bodies are so important that the Lord calls them temples of God (Corinthians 3:16-17). Like my friend Mike has always told me, part of our reason for being on earth was to learn to control our bodies as well. I believe this means controlling your appetite as well as other physical wants and pleasures.
Things not to put into our bodies
Before baptism, we are told to abstain from: tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee. During our investigation of the church, our missionaries often told us that these things would keep us from being receptive to the spirit and I believe this makes sense.
This that are good for our bodies
Grain, wheat, fruits, vegetables, and wholesome herbs are good for us. We should use them with wisdom and thanksgiving.
Fish is good for us. The flesh of birds and animals (chicken, pork, beef) is also provided for our food. However, we should eat meat sparingly.
Blessings from Obedience
Doctrine and Covenants chapter 89 also states:
And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. (D&C 89:18-20)
I have personally seen the blessings of being obedient to the word of wisdom and in an odd way, I am glad that it is a law of health commanded by Heavenly Father. This definitely makes weight loss a no-brainer. Why would we not want to obey and please our Father in Heaven?
You can read the short chapter of Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 by following this link:
It appears that Elvis Presley was thinking about becoming one! According to this new story, “Movie Shows Spiritual Side of Elvis,” there is a new movie being made called “Tears of a King” which explores the spiritual part of Elvis’ life. Elvis was seeking the truth and receiving missionaries. He had a Book of Mormon with notes written in it.
On various pages throughout the book, are handwritten notes, believed to be written by Presley. He underlined the word “KING” throughout the book. Also on one page there is a note that reads: “My daughter Lisa needs this church. She’s nine. Please help her…”
While reading the comments of the news article, someone named “Candace S.” states:
My stepfather was one of the missionaries that went to visit Elvis on several occasions. The missionairies were always welcomed to visit anytime he was there.
…he said in the past, that Elvis enjoyed and agreed with the discussions, but was unable to give up his (forgive the saying) his wine, women, and song (although I’m sure he wouldn’t have to give up too much of the song part). I think sometimes even when someone knows that the church is true some habits are hard to give up, especially being who he was.
The King of Rock and Roll was on to something with this Church.
A little over two months ago, I was Baptized. While I knew I was making the right decision, I really didn’t know what to expect. If you are getting baptized, here are things you can expect and some tips that might help you.
In total, I have been to three baptisms: One that I watched, One where I was baptized, and One where I was baptizing (my wife).
If I am incorrect about anything, please let me know.
I was baptized in what they call a baptismal font. Basically a large bath tub that is deep enough to “dunk” you. You can request the temperature of the water.
Usually they will have a lot of white jumpsuits you can choose from, or you can wear your own white clothes.
No pictures during the baptismal ordinance.
The ward mission leader, other members and the missionaries will assist in organizing everything. They will ask you who you want to do what.
Things to decide on:
- Who I wanted to baptize me.
- Who I wanted to speak on baptism.
- Who I wanted to speak on the Holy Ghost.
- Who I wanted to do the opening prayer.
- Who I wanted to do the closing prayer.
- What three hymns I wanted to be sung.
Everything else was handled by others.
Things to bring:
- A broken heart and contrite spirit. (D&C 20:37)
- Arrive in Sunday dress.
- Wear white under clothing.
- A change of white under clothing.
- A trash bag to put your wet under clothing in.
- A towel.
- An extra pair of socks (just in case you get them wet while changing).
People to bring:
- A Priest with the Aaronic Priesthood to baptize you. (D&C 20:46)
- Two Elders as witnesses to make sure you are completely submerged.
- Someone to conduct (emcee) the Baptism.
- A member of the Bishopric to preside over the baptism.
- A Chorister to direct and someone to play the accompaniment for the hymns.
- Friends and Family.
- Your new friends from your ward.
My baptismal program was as follows in this order:
- An Opening Song.
- An Opening Prayer.
- A Talk on Baptism (Someone you usually ask to speak before hand).
- Baptism performed by the priesthood holder of your choice.
- A brief interlude (it could be people sharing their testimony, singing or watching a short video while you are changing clothes).
- Another Song.
- A Talk on the Holy Ghost.
- The member of the Bishopric welcoming you to the ward.
- A Closing Song.
- Closing Prayer.
- Refreshments After.
The Actual Baptism Ordinance:
You and the person doing the baptism enter the font. You stand in the center of the font and face the side wall. The priest doing the baptism will face the audience. Your right hand with your palm facing upwards will be ready to plug your nose when you are submerged. With his left hand he will grab your right wrist. With your left hand (palm down) you hold on to the priest’s left forearm. With his right hand he will hold it up square at the elbow.
Next, the priest calls you by your full name and says:
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. (D&C 20:73-74)
After that is said, plug your nose with your right hand and he will lower you backwards into the water. His right hand will go behind your back to help ease you in. Bend your knees at first and then lift your feet off the floor and straighten out your legs so you laying flat in the water.
The priest may push you to the floor to make sure you are fully submerged. If you are not fully submerged (if your big toe is sticking out of the water), the ordinance will have to be done again. There should be two Elders that are on either side of the font to make sure you are fully submerged.
That is basically it. The entire experience is very spiritual and just felt right for me when I was the one being baptized and when I was the one doing the baptism.
The second part of your baptism will be your confirmation. That can be done right after your baptism or it is usually done during the Sacrament meeting the following Sunday.
I hope this helps someone wondering what to expect at their baptism.