I was raised in a Mormon family and went to church regularly with them. I loved the stories of Jesus – particularly how He loved and blessed the little children. I accepted His “reality” in the simple faith of one raised in this kind of home.
Then, one day during my teens, I was reading The Book of Mormon and found the most astounding passage in Ether chapter 3. It records an actual visit by the Savior to a man known as the “brother of Jared” whose people were preparing to leave the area near the Tower of Babel, after its destruction by God as told in the Old Testament. The brother of Jared was praying for guidance. It would be thousands of years before the Savior would be born to Mary and Joseph.
As the brother of Jared prayed, Jesus actually appeared to him! Jesus looked like a man with a body and that greatly surprised the brother of Jared. The verses I have quoted here deeply touched me and have been a strong base of my abiding faith in the Savior and His atoning sacrifice ever since. He died that we might live again!
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I love this verse from The Book of Mormon. Fulfillment of the first promise I have experienced, and the second part I believe will be my lot as I remain faithful.
I have always been a member of our church. My husband and I were married in the Latter Day Saint Salt Lake temple just over a year out of high school. We have always attended meetings and served in our church. As we have traveled throughout the world we have sought out local congregations where we were able to attend, which we did in many countries. We have always paid tithing, held family prayer, and attended our temple (before I became somewhat disabled). We have helped to financially support eight grandchildren as missionaries, with many more family members to follow. We speak of the scriptures often and we regularly attend Sunday School together. We still pray together every night, and I give thanks always for being so greatly blessed in time of need.
I have experienced the healing power of priesthood blessings for myself and for our children. I was blessed to be well again after a year’s fight as a child with nephritis when I almost died. Later I was promised that I would recover from brain surgery for tumor removal, and that blessing has been answered even though I have some disability.
I have an abiding faith that Jesus is the Son of God and my Savior through his atoning sacrifice. I love our Father in Heaven and our Savior, and I thank them for a long life of great blessings.
Because my father was a National Park Ranger, I spent part of my youth hiking and climbing in Grand Teton National Park. While there, I began reading the Bible each morning. I was completely overwhelmed by Christ’s teachings on the Sermon on the Mount, and realized that his instructions for us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to do good to those who treat us unkindly, are truly divine. What would the world be like if we all followed such a high path! Later, I found the same teachings in the Book of Mormon.
As I read in Mosiah 18 about the small church that Alma founded in the wilderness, near the waters and forests of a place called Mormon, I realized that those ancient people felt the same way about their spiritual awakening in the wilderness as I did about my spiritual awakening in the Grand Tetons. The mountains, lakes, and rivers of the Tetons are very beautiful. Each year I try to hike to the spot and pray where I first felt the presence of Heavenly Father and learned for myself that the Book of Mormon is true.
When I was fourteen, it was my freshman year of high school. I was really struggling to get good grades and make friends. I was also beginning to have doubts about participating in church activities. Life was miserable and I wished for a change but I didn’t know how to make it.
One day in my math class I heard that if you write down three things you’re thankful for every day, you will get better grades. I thought why not give it a shot? So I started to write down three things I was thankful for every day.
At first I didn’t notice but I began to get gradually happier. Although I was getting better grades, I hardly noticed because everything else around me was going so well. I began to have better relationships with my family members and my Father in Heaven. I did so by studying my scriptures, not just reading them. I also started to make my prayers more meaningful. I would talk to my Heavenly Father and express how thankful I was for the many wonderful things he had given to me. I would talk about how life was going and asked for help with whatever struggles I was having. I also asked questions. I learned that prayer is a powerful yet simple way of connecting with my Father in Heaven.
As I continued this pattern I became more happy every day. I was sooo thankful for all that Heavenly Father had done for me. I gradually started making regular trips to the temple.
Although at the time I had not read the scripture verse I have quoted above, I now know how powerful its words are, because thankfulness had such a huge impact on my life for good. Before, I would never have realized how doing one little thing could be such a blessing in my life. Now I am sixteen, and I keep a small notebook by my bed in which I write things I am thankful for every day. I feel that being thankful is a powerful way to become happy in life. I’m so thankful for my Heavenly Father and that He blesses and cares for me every day. I love this gospel, and I’m thankful I’ve continued to attend church meetings through all my doubts. I invite others to “experiment upon (the) word” (Alma 32:27), and come to know of its truthfulness.
“Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.
And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (3 Nephi 12:3-9)
I haven’t always been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but I grew up in a home that studied about Jesus Christ, and the scriptures were very important to me in learning about Him. I belonged to a different church and I got to go to Sunday classes that studied the Bible and in the summer I went to a Bible summer school where we also studied about Christ. I memorized scripture passages from the Bible and learned about the stories in the Bible. The Bible was a very important part of my life.
When my mom and sisters and I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the missionaries told us that the Book of Mormon was another testament that taught of Christ too. I can remember reading in the Book of Mormon in the book of 3 Nephi, chapter 11, that Christ had come to ancient people and showed Himself to them. It is a great chapter that tells of His visit there, and the joy they felt as He was there and taught them.
Now I love studying both the Bible and the Book of Mormon too, and learning about Christ from both of those scriptures. I love the stories and being able to use them as I teach my children principles to live by. I like to look for ways that I can compare them to my life and improve as a person. For example, in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, Christ teaches the beatitudes and ways we can be better individuals, and how we should treat each other. I really like being able to understand better ways of treating others. The Book of Mormon has had a great impact on my life and of the lives of my children.
Growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I never felt I really needed to be “converted” to the teachings that I had grown up learning. It wasn’t until my Junior and Senior years of high school that I really felt like my belief in the Church was being tested. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of sixteen. Being told that not only did I have a serious pain condition but that it would also stick with me for life, led to my developing a serious case of depression. I allowed myself to become bitter and angry with God, and got myself mixed up in a crowd that wasn’t conducive to the standards the Church had in place. However, I began to feel empty inside. I was happy, but I didn’t feel whole. I began to wonder if having the Lord back in my life would help me to feel complete again. While reading the Book of Mormon, I found many verses that talked about abandoning sin, and coming unto Christ, but Alma 5 particularly stood out. Not only did it encourage me to abandon living the life of frivolity that I was currently participating in, but it compared all of us on earth to sheep being watched over by “the good shepherd”. The line, “the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; . . .that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life” was the tipping point in turning from the life I was currently living, and coming unto the Savior That was the best decision I have ever made. I have never felt as peaceful, jovial, and simply content with who and where I am in life, as I have since I decided to make the decision to abandon the person that I was and become a member of the fold which is actively watched over and protected by the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When I was a youth I attended MIA (Mutual Improvement Association), a youth organization in my Church. It convened on Tuesday nights, and there were opening exercises following which the boys and girls would go to various classes depending upon age and gender. The classes for me were various Scouting meetings. In that opening portion there were prayers, songs, youth talks, and various Book of Mormon scriptures, called “ themes”, that we would memorize as we recited them at the time they were spoken. This gave the youth the opportunity to get acquainted with several scriptures during a given year. These scriptures had a profound effect in shaping my values. I remember several of these scriptures. The one that is most salient in my memory is the one quoted above. This scripture has been very motivating and encouraging for me in all aspects of my life, especially as I have accepted invitations to serve in various positions. Often the job has seemed undoable, but I have been encouraged by this scripture to know that all commandments and requirements can be done if I seek the Lord’s inspiration and help. That scripture has increased my faith in the Lord, in His Church, and in me. I know the Lord prizes me, and has confidence that I can and will do what He asks.