Recently my mother in law passed away. (You can read her story here.) In reflecting on death and life and the meaning of both, I've revisited what I believe. These are core beliefs that I've held for many years, but in choosing to write them down today, it helps me crystallize and consolidate.
- God is my Heavenly Father. He loves me and knows my name, and listens when I pray. He is mindful of the details.
- His son Jesus Christ saves me. Not past tense=saved. Present tense=saves, because I need mercy and grace every day. We call this repenting. It means I say sorry to my Heavenly Father in prayer, for the unintentional words that drip off my tongue, for the mean stuff I think or feel, for the people I hurt, etc. Because of Jesus Christ I can approach my Heavenly Father. Jesus intercedes, redeems and makes whole. He is mighty to save.
- The Holy Ghost is my companion. When I was 8 I was baptized. Y'all know what it looks like when somebody gets dunked in the water. But the more I learn, the more I'm grateful for the special blessing that came after getting baptized. My dad and other men holding the holy Priesthood, acting in the name of Jesus, confirmed my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ. AND blessed me with an additional gift= companionship of the Holy Ghost. I've been promised that as long as I try to be good, He (the third member of the Godhead) will send power and comfort and guidance ALL THE TIME. My dear friends of other faiths also carry a portion of His Holy Spirit with them, I can see it in their faces, and that light and goodness radiates from them. The difference is that the gift I received is like an unlimited line of credit for me to have the Spirit with me as much as I want. (notes on photo: I did not get baptized in the dirty pond in the background, but actually in an indoor swimming pool in Grand Junction, because the baptismal font at the church was broken that month. I zoomed in so you could see my face, and yes that is my dad right behind me.)
- Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. A.. First a story: Recently there was a kickball game for the teenagers in my area. It sounded super fun. Remember in sports they'll sometimes choose two team captains and then choose players? Well, I'm just un-sporty enough that whenever that happened in junior high, I'd be the kid picked near the end. In the case of Joseph Smith, whenever I get to heaven and there's a team kickball event and he's one of the team captains, I'm going to be that kid jumping and screaming and saying, "pick me, pick me!" I want to be on his team. B. I will stand and defend the Prophet Joseph. I want to be on his team, though the internet will fling mud at his name, though people will misunderstand and malign and mock. C. My reasoning for my choice is based on careful study and consideration. For an excellent biography written by his mother, edited by Susan Easton Black, I like this one here. For a complete encyclopedia-type history on Joseph Smith, written by an accurate and thorough historian, I suggest this one here. If you want to understand any historical figure, just remember there will be clouds of controversy circling anybody worth remembering.
- The Book of Mormon is true. see here
- I love President Nelson. see here
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church on the planet today. The reason we send missionaries to places like Finland or Paraguay is to share this message of hope, repentance and baptism, following the prophet = peace, etc.
Every time I have a friend or loved one who leaves my church, it makes me think and wonder, "Did I miss something?" I've reflected a LOT on why I stay in my faith. It all comes down to the Book of Mormon. In high school geometry, remember how you can prove a triangle is a right angle? In the case of my faith, it goes like this: a. It's impossible for Joseph Smith to have produced a book of such magnitude with his limited education and resources. b. There is no other way to explain its miraculous existence. c. If The Book of Mormon is true (arrow pointing right) then Joseph Smith is a prophet. d. If Joseph Smith is a prophet, then the church he spearheaded is also true. e. If the church he restored is true, then the priesthood power he held is the same power held by the ancient prophets: Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc.
So how does a person know if the Book of Mormon is true? Well, there's the hiccup. You have to read it. If you read it and pray about it and decide it's garbage, off you go. But if you read it and feel something, then you pray and ask God if he's trying to tell you something. And then you listen and ponder and keep asking good questions. Keep looking around at your friends and their lives. By their fruits ye shall know them: Matthew 7:16