- Navigating a Crisis of Faith

Click to download FaithCrisisPaper.pdf

Have you found yourself wondering what you believe in anymore? Have you been embarrassed to admit to your coworkers of friends that you go to church on Sunday? Are you wanting a more purposeful life? We can encounter periods in our life where we get discouraged. There are many reasons for a person to stop and evaluate and question what they believe and why the believe. Questioning is a natural part of human living, but so is finding answers and believing. Should your mounting pile of questions overrule your answers and feelings you have already about God?

“When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your “unbelief.”…I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle…In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith…Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.” – Elder Holland, April 2013 General Conference

Do not delay any longer. Put yourself on a more sure foundation and find you faith for the first time, or strengthen what you have already. It really boils down to a simple plan to follow. Study like crazy, pray as hard and as sincerely as you can, and combine this with living as cleanly as you can. You will not be able to receive any inspiration or gift of faith if you are not living a God fearing righteous life.

“Study diligently, Pray fervently, Live righteously.” – Thomas S. Monson

Ponder the parable Jesus gave about the 10 virgins. Get your lamps filled with oil‏ as the five wise virgins. Following the brethren is part of being spiritually prepared. If you would not follow them, you would not follow Christ. This then is THE challenge of our times – that of believing in and following a living prophet. Even to those that never miss a General Conference, need to stop and ask themselves if they really listen to and take the Prophets words to heart?

“…it reminds me of the words of Joseph the Prophet, when he said, “Brethren, remember that the majority of this people will never go astray; and as long as you keep with the majority you are sure to enter the celestial kingdom.”” – Orson Hyde, 13: 367.

And of course remember above all what our religion is all about. It is focused squarely on Christ. Who He is and What He did.

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Joseph Smith – History of the Church 3:30)

Principles:

  • You cannot fail in your attempt to find the truth. The same answer is ultimately there for all people. God knows his own and He will find each one of them.
    • “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
  • By their fruits ye shall know them, so analyze the fruits of the church.
    • Are there truer men and women? Is there a better organization?
    • List them out like a balance sheet.
    • You have the perfect fruit with which to judge – The Book of Mormon. Go ahead, prove it one way or the other. But you have to prove it solely by reading the contents.
  • Follow the brethren, even knowing that they are imperfect men. Try it and see if you are blessed.
  • We simply cannot have all our questions answered in this life.
  • Christ is the Head of the Church as the New Testament states, but the head has a Body and that is us. We as Saints need a church to be the keeper of the doctrines and authority to administer the ordinances.

Click to download FaithCrisisPaper.pdf

- First things first – it is all about the gospel of Jesus Christ

oneOur most important undertaking in life is to understand and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. This means our belief in Him, following Him and preaching Him. Christ is our Lord and Saviour.

So what exactly are we being saved from?

Mankind is born into a fallen world. This was brought about by the transgression of Adam and Eve. The result was the removal of man and woman from the presence of God and our becoming subject to physical death. We are both spiritually dead and physically dead.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:1-5 NIV

As mortals we become sinful and fallen people that are out of God’s presence. In such a state we become subject to Satan. This is where the gospel message comes to save us and place us in the state of being made “alive with Christ”. God had a marvelous plan from the beginning to provide for us a Saviour. Jesus saves us from death in two ways. First, we are able to be resurrected and have our earthly body raised to incorruption and united with our spirit in eternity. This is our overcoming of the mortal death. Secondly, we also need to overcome spiritual death. Saving us from the spiritual death of Hell (captivity of the Devil) was also accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ. Those that accept Christ in this life and submit to following him and keeping his commandments will not be subject to Satan after they die, but will immediately enjoy a rest in “paradise”.

Eventually, death and hell will even be destroyed. Even those that do not accept Christ will be placed in a kingdom after this life where evil and sorrow no longer exist. The wicked person will indeed be subject to Satan for a time and must suffer for their sins after this life. But they will eventually be liberated from Hell and sent to their assigned kingdom for eternity.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” – Revelation 20:13, 14

Here is a great treatment of the subject that gives us a summary of the doctrine.

“O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more, our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil , to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil , to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies , in misery, like unto himself…O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell , which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit…wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits , and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies , and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.” – 2 Nephi 9:8-12

Make your decision for Christ!

God has declared exactly what He desires for each of us. He wants to save us from death and hell and bring us to a state of incorruption to live an “everlasting life”. The following verse is the very familiar verse of John 3:16 that deals with the subject of salvation.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

That verse does not say that God loved us so much that he just opened the doors of heaven and let us all walk in. It says that he sent His son to die for us and provide himself as a sacrifice to take away our sins! We believe or we perish. Christ, by his atonement, frees us from the effects of sin if we believe in and follow Him. Each and every person will ultimately have to use their free will and choose one way or the other.

In these last days before the second coming of Christ, the fight between good and evil will elevate to a level that has not been seen before. There will be evil forces out to overthrow all that is good. It is thus important to stand up and make your voice heard as a follower of Christ. There are many people yet to come in as believers and it is important to preach the gospel to the ends of the world.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

- Prepare yourself for the coming great tribulation and second coming of Christ

Jesus_ascending_to_heaven

The second coming of Jesus Christ is an event that Christians have been anticipating ever since Jesus ascended up into heaven following his post-resurrection 40-day ministry. As people stood there that day gazing up into the sky at the ascending Christ, an angel spoke these words -

“why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (See Acts 1:6-9)

From those earliest days continuing up to our day, believers have thought that they would be the generation living on the earth that would see Jesus return as promised. Should we have reason to think that we might finally be that generation during which Christ returns in power and glory? Yes we certainly should! There are definite signs that the second coming is imminent!

No person knows the exact date, but the second coming however does not approach without any warning. The scriptures give us the signs and events to watch for, so we need not be caught by surprise. The book of Revelation outlines a series of events that will happen in succession and that lead up to the rapture in which the saints are lifted up to meet Christ as he comes. These events, like a chain reaction of dominos, fall quickly into place and will bring us to the great and dreadful day of the return of Christ. It is both great and dreadful; depending on if you are the righteous or the wicked.

The plan of God is to gather the elect that hear His voice and then to destroy the wicked at the time of judgments that are poured out at the second coming of Christ.

When Christ said “Behold, I come quickly”, we understand this to mean that when things start to happen, it all happens so quickly that from that point in time, we quickly arrive at the second coming. Make this a matter of diligent study, fervent prayer and righteous living. Seek the spirit and go on in courage in this great cause of the Kingdom of God that is about to roll forth in power to save as many as will believe. You would be wise to read the scriptures and ponder what they say about the events of our times and then very carefully come to your own conclusions about the events and preparations you should make.

“I will prophesy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man are already commenced. One pestilence will desolate after another. We shall soon have war and bloodshed. The moon will be turned into blood. I testify of these things, and that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh, even at your doors. If our souls and our bodies are not looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, and after we are dead, if we are not looking forth, &c., we shall be among those who are calling for the rocks to fall upon us.” – Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, 6: pp. 237-240

Every faithful Christian today, regardless of their denomination, needs to rally to the cause of Christ and prepare themselves for what lies ahead. It is time to choose a side and take a stand for righteousness; to be called up and chosen by our Savior and King Jesus Christ.

- The Five Relationships

1029949_10871057Your life has four important relationships. These are – with God, with self, with others and with things. Each can be in varying degrees of health or toxicity. Healthy relationship are positive, supportive, fruitful, harmonious, nurturing, encouraging, happy, truthful and dozens of other like words used to describe it. Think of each of these words in relation to each of your four relationship types and ponder how you are doing.

The four relationship types are now presented in the order in which you must accomplish them. You cannot have the later ones working properly until you have the ones that precede them functioning in harmony.

1. Relationship with God:

“Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind…This is the first and great commandment.” – Matthew 22:37

Our relationship with God is based on faith and obedience out of love. We are His children and as our perfect parent, He lovingly guides us and waits for us to return home. He first loved us and we are His to keep and are destined for greatness. The most perfect devotion and worship that we can manage in this life is what we strive for with everything we have.

2. Relationship with self:

You first need to be healed and heading on the right path to be able to utilize your full strength. We cannot share that which we do not first possess. Refer back to part one for ideas on how to get the best possible self-image. If you have “Relationship with God” healthy, you should naturally have a better understanding of who you are and of your worth. Take time to ponder who you are and decide what you want to accept and what you want to change. Be happy from now on for whatever stage you are at in life. Life is a journey of learning and improvement.

3. Relationship with others:

“And the second [commandment] is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Matthew 22:39

No real healthy person wants to be alone all of the time. We thrive in environments of collaboration and love. At the end of your life you will not want to talk about the great business deals, worldly accomplishments or any other earthly treasures you have amassed; you will want to be with your friends and family members and talk about those moments you shared. The best relationships are between two independent and healthy individuals that come together in a mutually beneficial bond of love.

Ways to improve your relationships with other people:

  1. If you find a relationship is not working right, first look at yourself and your behavior. Don’t assume it is the other persons fault. Even if it is you can’t change their feelings, only your own.
  2. Don’t criticize or complain about anyone.
  3. Express appreciation to others. Be generous with your praise.
  4. Show a genuine interest and get people to talk about themselves and find out what their interests are.
  5. Smile and project a positive attitude.
  6. Convince a person first that you are their true friend before expecting any relationship to be of a two-way nature.

4. Relationship with things:

You must learn to live within the monetary means that you have and never covet that of another. It is alright to enjoy material possessions, but they must never rule over you and consume your life.

Questions to ponder:

  1. How would you rate the health of each of your four relationship categories?
  2. What one relationship with another person would you like to see more harmonious and what will you do to take the first step?
  3. Can you really go a complete week without any complaining or criticizing?
  4. What praise and encouragement can you go give someone right now?

- Living a Happier Life: Self-Image

1044093_89152896Your self-image is the mental and emotional picture you hold of yourself – your capabilities, and what you represent.

People limit themselves when they say or think things like – “I am not good enough, too fat, not capable, not wanted…” Ignorance, fear, doubt and uncertainty are all tools of Satan to get us to feel poorly. Every negative or positive image you have about yourself will affect what happens to you throughout the day. Every outward action is first an inward thought. If you have internal positive emotions of love, courage, respect, faith and confidence it will bolster you and propel you to greatness. Believe it or not, a great deal of your health, wealth and happiness are reflections of your inward thoughts.

Your self-image is partly a product of your environment. How you were raised, and what others told you about yourself gets deeply engrained in your brain. However, no matter what it is, it can be rearranged in your mind to be constructive. The destructive thought can be replaced with positive self-image thoughts.

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- Boasting not allowed

Christ did not walk around in his ministry in a prideful and dominating way, but did so as a humble servant. He even grew from grace to grace in truth and power until he received a fullness of the Father (D&C 93:12). The scriptures say that through small and simple means are great things brought to pass. Mighty men such as Enoch, Abraham and our modern apostles and prophets are not arrogant and prideful. They are in their calling because of their humble service and bearing of difficult trials.

“Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly.” – (D&C  136:32,33)

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- The art of listening

If you ask someone what the essential elements of good communication are, you might be surprised how many would not even think to mention the importance of being a good listener. Yet, in a two-way conversation, it is so vital to be able to control yourself and not interrupt the other person when they are speaking. More importantly, you must be able to focus outside yourself and understand the other person.

We are all too often only interested in making our own ideas and opinions known. Instead of listening, we are only thinking about what we want to say next. Developing good listening skills takes practice and is something that few people take the time to really master. No skill can show your sincerity as much as that of being a real intense listener.

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