Sunday, December 25, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The Ford Interfaith group promotes unity by sharing information about all faiths and features these types of articles about various religions and faiths.
QUICK FACTS & INTERESTING TIDBITS about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Fleeing continued mob attacks 158 years ago, the first Mormon
pioneers desperately started their Westward trek from Illinois in the dead of winter. Of the 70,000 who began this 1300-mile journey, 6,000 were buried along the way, including many children. The following are quick facts and interesting tidbits about this now flourishing church.
* Named “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”; informal
nicknames are “LDS” or “Mormon” -named after the prophet-historian
* Believes it is the Lord’s restoration of original Christianity as
foretold to occur before Christ’s Second Coming.
* Core focus is that Christ and His teachings bring happiness in this
life and exaltation in the next.
* In 1820 14-yr-old Joseph Smith told of a vision of God and Christ
foretelling a church restoration.
* Organized in New York in 1830, the church moved to near Cleveland, then near Kansas City, then Illinois .
* Fleeing Illinois , Mormon pioneers founded Salt Lake City in Utah and over 600 other Western communities.
SALT LAKE CITY
* Temple Square in Salt Lake has over 5 million annual visitors, more
than the Grand Canyon .
* The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is the world’s most famous choir and has the world’s oldest radio program.
* The Salt Lake Temple is the most famous, but there are 128 other
temples built here and around the world while
others are under construction.
* Home of the world’s largest genealogy database; visit it online or
through 3,700 free branch libraries.
* Sunday services entail a three-hour block of three meetings; about
27,000 congregations exist worldwide.
* Highly vibrant programs exist for youth, children, singles, men, and women; very strong family focus.
* Everyone has a calling; some surveys show LDS have the highest U.S. attendance and service rates.
* Families receive personal fellowship visits at home from other members on a monthly basis.
* Members tithe 10 percent, plus donate generously to the needy the first Sunday of each month.
* Clergy and all other congregational positions are unpaid (however, much of the janitorial is paid).
* The church has no debt; all buildings are paid for in cash (average of two new congregations a day).
* The paid positions in Salt Lake are famously low-salaried; funds are frugally used and tightly audited.
* With a health code from 1833, LDS avoid alcohol, tobacco, illegal
drugs, coffee, and tea (herbal tea is ok).
* This 1833 code also teaches grains (especially wheat), fresh fruits and vegetables, and sparing use of meat.
* A UCLA study showed that active LDS live longer than most Americans, men by 11 years, women by 8.
* Utah is 50th in smoking, alcohol consumption, drunk driving, heart disease, cancer, and sick days.
* With four colleges, Utah ‘s BYU with 30,000 students is the largest
single-campus private college.
* BYU Independent Study with 130,000 students is North America (340 web courses, 530 via mail).
* Seminary, a daily class usually held around 6:00 A.M., serves 376,000 high school students.
* There are Institutes of Religion at 1,950 colleges worldwide that serve 367,000 college students.
* The church operates schools in parts of the Pacific Ocean and Mexico for 10,000 students.
* Utah is 50th in spending per pupil, but first in adults that graduated from high school and attended college.
* In 1842 the “Relief Society” was organized; it’s the largest women’s
organization in the world.
* Wyoming was first to allow women to vote; Utah was second, two months later, in 1870.
* Women preach from the pulpit and serve as organization presidents, teachers, committee chairs, etc.
SHARING CHRIST’S GOOD NEWS
* 61,000 missionaries serve in 165 countries; 93 percent are college-age; 22 percent are female.
* Unpaid and paying their own way, most work 65 hours a week for two years, often in a new language.
* LDS are 70 percent of Utah, 30 percent of Idaho; after Catholics, LDS are the largest sect in 10 states.
* The church has 5.5 million members in the U.S., making it the fourth largest individual U.S. denomination.
* Some memberships: New Zealand 95k, Japan 115k, UK 175k, Philippines 500k, Brazil 900k, Mexico 925k.
* Worldwide 51 percent are female; about 55 percent are not Caucasian; about 70 percent are converts.
* For the last 15 years, every day an average of 800+ people worldwide joined the LDS church.
* Half of the growth is in Latin America, but the rate of growth is
highest in Africa and the former Soviet bloc.
* Worldwide membership just passed 12 million, a tenfold increase in 50 years.
* In 1984 a non-LDS professor estimated 265 million members by 2080; so far growth has been faster.
* As this growth has been steady, it will be the next major world religion since Islam.”
* Members in need obtain welfare from the LDS Church (thus Utah
government welfare spending is very low).
* LDS donate time at 220 welfare storehouses or canneries and about 400 farms.
* There are 210 employment centers placing over 175,000 people annually, and 64 family service centers.
* The church operates 46 thrift stores, in part to provide employment for the disadvantaged.
* The 61,000 missionaries spend half a day each week doing
* Over 200 million pounds of food, clothing, and medicine were donated in the last 20 years in 147 countries.
* Almost all of this help is to non-LDS; LDS charities also work with and donate to many non-LDS charities.
* Very rapid disaster relief has been given in 144 major disasters since 1986.
* Almost 3,000 welfare “missionaries” work without pay in 55 countries (farm instructors, doctors, teachers, etc…).
* LDS charities fund a wide variety of projects like drilling water wells or funding small business startup loans.
* New in 2001, members in poor areas can get low-rate college loans;
10,000 loans have been made to date.
* Utah is first in: charitable giving, producing scientists, household computers, children with two parents, and birth rate.
* Noted LDS included five senators, and other famous dignitaries
(click on link)
the Osmonds, Gladys Knight, Steve
Young, and the inventor of TV -Philo T. Farnsworth.
* LDS played a key role in the 2002 Winter Olympics; the chair was the former governor of Massachusetts .
* Hawaii ‘s #1 tourist site is the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center ( Tonga and the Samoas are one-third LDS).
* LDS have sponsored Boy Scout troops since 1913; 23 percent of all Scout troops are LDS.
* The BYU Women’s Cross Country were national champions or in second place each of the last seven years.
* The Detroit metro area has 30 congregations; the Dearborn chapel is on Rotunda by Ford’s Building #5.
* Detroit has a temple, storehouse, cannery, employment and family
service office, and family history libraries.
* LDS include former Governor Romney, three former Lions quarterbacks,
and hundreds of Ford employees.
A member of Ford’s Interfaith Network,
the author of this note sends out monthly interfaith notes to thousands of Ford employees who have asked to receive them.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
by LEGRAND R. CURTIS JR., of the seventy
"There are various names by which reference is made to the Lord Jesus Christ. These names give us insight into different aspects of the Lord’s atoning mission. Take, for example, the title “Savior.” We all have a sense of what it means to be saved because each of us has been saved at some time from something. As children, my sister and I were playing in a river in a small boat when we unwisely left the safe area of play and found ourselves being propelled by the current to unknown perils downstream. In response to our cries, our father ran to the rescue, saving us from the dangers of the river. When I think of saving, I think of that experience.
The title “Redeemer” provides similar insights. “To redeem” is to buy or to buy back. As a legal matter, property is redeemed by paying off the mortgages or other liens on it. In Old Testament times, the law of Moses provided different ways that servants and property could be freed, or redeemed, by the payment of money (see Leviticus 25:29–32, 48–55).
A prominent scriptural use of the word redeem concerns the delivery of the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt. After that deliverance, Moses told them, “Because the Lord loved you, … hath [He] brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:8).
The theme of Jehovah redeeming the people of Israel from bondage is repeated many times in the scriptures. Often this is done to remind the people of the Lord’s goodness in delivering the children of Israel from the Egyptians. But it is also done to teach them that there would be another, more important, redemption for Israel. Lehi taught, “And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall” (2 Nephi 2:26).
The Psalmist wrote, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave” (Psalm 49:15).
The Lord declared through Isaiah, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22).
The redemption referred to in these three scriptures, of course, is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is the “plenteous redemption” provided by our loving God (Psalm 130:7). Unlike the redemptions under the law of Moses or in modern legal arrangements, this redemption does not come by “corruptible things, as silver and gold” (1 Peter 1:18). “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). President John Taylor taught that because of the Redeemer’s sacrifice, “the debt is paid, the redemption made, the covenant fulfilled, justice satisfied, the will of God done, and all power is … given into the hands of the Son of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor , 44).
The effects of this redemption include the overcoming of physical death for all of God’s children. That is, temporal death is overcome, and all will be resurrected. Another aspect of this redemption by Christ is the victory over spiritual death. Through His suffering and death, Christ paid for the sins of all mankind on condition of individual repentance.
Thus, if we repent, we can be forgiven of our sins, the price having been paid by our Redeemer. This is good news for all of us, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Those who have strayed significantly from the paths of righteousness desperately need this redemption, and if they fully repent, it is theirs to claim. But those who have worked hard to live good lives also desperately need this redemption, for none can get to the presence of the Father without Christ’s help. Thus, this loving redemption allows the laws of justice and mercy to be satisfied in the lives of all who repent and follow Christ.
How great, how glorious, how complete,
Redemption’s grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!
(“How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, no. 195)
President Boyd K. Packer taught, “There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent” (“The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977, 56).
The scriptures, literature, and the experiences of life are filled with stories of redemption. Through Christ, people can and do change their lives and obtain redemption. I love stories of redemption.
I have a friend who did not follow the teachings of the Church in his youth. When he was a young adult, he realized what he had been missing by not living the gospel. He repented, changed his life, and devoted himself to righteous living. One day, years after our youthful association, I met him in the temple. The gospel light shone in his eyes, and I sensed that he was a devoted member of the Church trying to fully live the gospel. His is a story of redemption.
I once interviewed a woman for baptism who had been guilty of a very grievous sin. During the interview I asked if she understood that she could never repeat that sin. With deep emotion in her eyes and in her voice, she said, “Oh President, I could never do that sin again. That is the reason I want to be baptized—to cleanse me from the effects of that terrible sin.” Hers is a story of redemption.
As I have visited stake conferences and other meetings in recent years, I have carried President Thomas S. Monson’s call to rescue the less-active members of the Church. At one stake conference I told a story of a less-active member who returned to full activity after his bishop and other leaders visited him in his home, told him he was needed, and called him to serve in the ward. The man in the story not only accepted the call but also changed his life and habits and became fully active in the Church.
A friend of mine was in the congregation to which I told that story. His countenance visibly changed as the story was told. He sent me an e-mail the next day telling me that his emotional reaction to the story was because his father-in-law’s story of returning to activity in the Church was very similar to the one that I had told. He told me that as a result of a similar visit by a bishop and an invitation to serve in the Church, his father-in-law reevaluated his life and his testimony, made major changes in his life, and accepted the call. That reactivated man now has 88 descendants who are active members of the Church.
At a meeting a few days later, I told both stories. The next day I received another e-mail which began, “That’s my father’s story too.” That e-mail, from a stake president, told how his father was invited to serve in the Church even though he had not been active and had some habits that needed changing. He accepted the invitation and, in the process, repented, eventually served as a stake president and then a mission president, and laid the foundation for his posterity to be faithful members of the Church.
A few weeks later I told all three stories in another stake conference. After the meeting a man came to me and told me that that was not his father’s story. It was his story. He told me of the events that led him to repent and come back to full involvement in the Church. And so it went. As I carried the call to rescue the less active, I saw and heard story after story of people who responded to invitations to come back and change their lives. I heard story after story of redemption.
Although we can never repay the Redeemer what He paid on our behalf, the plan of redemption calls for our best efforts to fully repent and do the will of God. The Apostle Orson F. Whitney wrote:
Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.
Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.
(“Savior, Redeemer of My Soul,” Hymns, no. 112)
I bear my testimony of the power of Christ’s Atonement. When we repent and come to Him, we can receive all of the blessings of eternal life. That we may do so, receiving our own story of redemption, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I was struck by one particular part of their conversation. This speaker said that the minister asked him if he believed in the "Trinity". He said, "Well, I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I believe they are three distinct personages. Does that qualify me to believe in the "Trinity"?" The Minister explained that he believed that those three were one being. As they talked, our church member said something like, "Well now, you must admit that the doctrine of three in one is not supported by the New Testament." The Minister said, "That is true, but it is a teaching set forth in the Nicene creed, and it is accepted doctrine in the Christian world today. It is the accepted interpretation of the scriptures."
I have thought a lot about this statement in the hours that followed the meeting. My mind was taken back to the account of Joseph Smith's first vision. Joseph Smith, a mere 14 year old boy, went to a grove of trees to pray and ask God which church he should join. In response to his prayer, God the Father, and Jesus Christ appeared to him. Joseph was told that he should join none of the churches. In his account of this experience Joseph related, "My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:18,19)
This passage has come to me many times over the past hours, and it has struck me that so many churches base their beliefs upon those creeds set forth in years past. Those creeds were made by mortal men, who discussed the Bible, and then came up with their interpretations of it. In ancient Bible times, men would have turned to the prophet for these kinds of interpretations. The Prophet would have, in turn, prayed to God for understanding and revelation. But we don't usually see prophets in the world today. Instead, much of the Christian world relies upon the opinion of those men, as well as that of the ancient philosophers. Most clergy who study theology in college today must study the writings of philosophers in order to be accepted in to the ministry. But as Joseph Smith learned, these are the "precepts of men", having a "form of godliness", but they deny the power thereof.
How could these creeds deny the power of God? I think one of the basic ways they deny the power of God is that these creeds do not allow for modern revelation. They do not allow for living prophets. Surely, these are ways that the power of God is manifest in modern times. To deny the existence of revelation, and the validity of it, is to deny God's power.
They say that revelation no longer exists. They say that there is no more need for prophets. They believe that there is no more need for apostles. But this is not the doctrine taught in the New Testament. In Ephesians chapter two we read, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:19,20) The New Testament clearly speaks about the need for a foundation in the church built upon apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone, but when we in our church teach that we have those apostles and prophets, and that Jesus Christ leads this church, they tell us that these things no longer exist in the world.
Joseph Smith died as a martyr for his testimony. He testified to the world that he indeed had spoken with God. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. He sealed that testimony with his blood. He never became rich from his preaching. He suffered persecution continually. He was tarred and feathered, and he and his family were driven from their homes. Many times he was unlawfully arrested and imprisoned. Through him the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth in fulfillment of the prophecies of old. In Acts we read about that restoration of the gospel:
"And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts: 3:20,21) This scripture is telling us that Jesus Christ was received back in to heaven until the time of the restitution of all things. What would need to be restored? Joseph Smith testified that the fulness of the gospel needed to be restored, and it was through him, a prophet of God, that this was accomplished. The time when the gospel would be restored in it's fulness was referred to in the Bible as the "dispensation of the fulness of times". "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:" (Eph. 1:10)
We are blessed to live in that fullness of times. The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. Truths that were omitted from the Bible during it's translation, and doctrine which was misunderstood when forming creeds, have been restored today. There is a living prophet, with twelve apostles to assist him guiding the church in these latter days. Jesus Christ is leading this church, and is that chief cornerstone. The church continues to grow, and will do so until it fills the earth. We need not rely on the philosphies of men, but can learn truth from a living prophet of God.