Tears came. Joy came. I was happy to know God exists. I could only imagine what happiness would come to the soul of a person who actually came into the presence of God in person... what love and joy they would feel. The Holy Ghost lets us experience a part of that from time to time in this life, and so it happened this day, as I clicked a few buttons, made my tithe offerings to the Lord, and then He let me know by His Spirit that He was pleased with this. My testimony of the law of tithing was strengthened even more as the Lord let me know was doing the right thing at the right time. He manifested to me the truth of it.
What is Tithing?
It is a simple commandment of the Lord, simple in that 10% of our income is given as an offering to the Lord, and it is used to help build the Kingdom of God. The monies help the poor, build temples where eternal ordinances are done for the salvation of all mankind, missionary work is furthered, and church buildings are built where worship takes place. It all helps to build the Kingdom of God.
What are FACTS? How would you know? for sure, that is?
It seems there has been this wave of "falling away" among some of today's Millennial generation, and I think it has a lot to do with an unjustified but elevated level of trust in the information they read in the news, on the internet. There is this trust that they have all the information they need. But is this trust justified? I don't see it, and I do have a high level of distrust in the information I read because it is fallible. Plain and simple, information from man is fallible. Especially when it has to do with history.
I'm a pretty avid writer in my journals. I have written volumes. Its not on the internet. But sometimes I can go back through these writings and by reading my own writing remember things that were long lost and forgotten to me. I have experienced the scenario while reading my own writings even missionary journals, where I can't remember the things I wrote about, and I'm trying to even get the vaguest recollection of what I had written about, so lost was the event from my memory! How could something so important that I wrote about it, become lost to my memory? Can you imagine how fallible our writings must be when we make them about events from 4 or 5 decades prior? I am sure I would be creating some inaccuracies if I were to attempt to write about events in my life or my mission from 30, years ago, from 40 years ago, or especially 50 years ago! Even 1 year ago!
Yet that is exactly what has happened in much of LDS history where the historians are putting the statements from old people on their deathbeds reciting from memory how things "were" in their books. So we have these conflicting statements (of course). We have statements about Joseph Smith, the work etc., from apostates who were once apostles but quit angry as an enemy to Joseph, or even the wife of the prophet, all of whom have fallen away and joined other churches, forsook the kingdom and their previous testimonies of the truth as they once had it, and still some came back to the fold (like Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris after a decade of excommunication)... So we have some of these who have made statements, statements that are being used as "facts." But are they? Could they REALLY accurately remember? I know I couldn't.
Did you know that most scripture is written from the Spirit of Revelation? How else did Alma remember all of those DETAILS about what the Prophet Abinadi said to King Noah and all the wicked Priests? and later write it all down? God revealed these facts to him, that's how.
The only Facts that we can Trust in are facts that come from Revelation, from GOD.
Otherwise we are trusting in the arm of flesh.
Take the Book of Abraham for instance. How would we know it is true or not? That's easy, its by revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. Yet we have some who claim it is not what it purports to be, they say it was a Joseph Smith fabrication now that some funeral texts that have been ASSUMED to be the same items Joseph Smith used to produce the Book of Abraham, which don't match the scripture text, at all. Maybe because its NOT the same item.
On the lds.org website*, it says of the papyri used by Joseph Smith for producing the Book of Abraham,
"historians believe that most were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871."
When you ignore this fact, and remember how MANY papyri Joseph Smith actually had in his possession originally, and that only a few remain now, when you ignore this, then you can jump to the conclusion that the funeral texts were the same things that Joseph was looking at to publish the Book of Abraham, and you must conclude then he made it up. 50% chance you could be right based on simple logic and roll of dice. But if you consider that the original Book of Abraham writings he used actually got destroyed in the great Chicago fire of 1871, then it changes things. We will never know for sure using logic, because you are not going to ever see the papyri that were destroyed in the fire. Same "problem" with the person wanting to see the original gold plates, and not rely on the witnesses of those who did see. Its called faith.
Fact is, we'll never see the original manuscripts of the bible either, like the writings of Moses, but we still use and rely the first 5 books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, etc. which contain many doctrines including the 10 commandments and Marriage between a man and woman, starting with Adam and Eve. Wars and time have destroyed the original manuscripts. We only have copies today, the most prominent and amazing are the Dead Sea Scrolls. People believe these things in the Bible based therefore on FAITH. Not proof. It has always been so. I'm not sure that even having the original manuscripts "proves" anything except that someone wrote a manuscript. Even our testimony of God's very existence is based on faith, because nobody can prove it to each other.
This high threshold of "belief by proof" that many millennials are demanding is not even possible in ANY religion, so I do not understand the fascination with it, like its life changing when we are faced with fallible "facts" to don't comport with our previous understandings. Jesus is not in the history books, for instance, but He is heavily written about in the New Testament writings by His faithful followers, which took place many years after the fact, and we still believe that record based on our faith in their testimonies, that He was the Son of God! He was/is!! There is no historical proof of this, excepting a personal proof, to our souls, to our own persons from our exposure to the scripture texts. Proof is personal. If we see a vision, for instance, then it is still to ourselves only and we may declare it to others, but it is hardly proof to anyone else who hears us. If one gets proof of such things, it comes from God to their own persons/souls by the power of the Holy Ghost. This is testimony. If the Spirit of God witnesses to others of our testimony of things, then that is the way of God. By some other way, not of God.
I could go on and on about doubts many are having, but those doubts are based on assumptions, not proof. We can also doubt our doubts. Why not? They are not a proof. There will yet come a day when we have 100 times more information than we do now, where so many things will be much more clear. But for now, we are living by faith, and some are losing their faith because it is hard with all of the incoming pseudo truth presented as fact. Really? We must prove that, but alas, impossible. Its not the Lord's way anyway. He has always demanded FAITH of those that would come to know Him. Even the doubting Thomas, His original Apostle, wanted proof with his eyes. Jesus chastised him, and said that those who believed who did NOT see were more blessed than those who saw, and THEN believed. Not much of a test when we are shown absolutely.
An Apostle of God recently said 6 months ago in General Conference October 2015:
questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not new. They have been hurled by his critics since this work began. To those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice: For now, give Brother Joseph a break! In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven.19 Consider the totality of Joseph’s life—born in poverty and given little formal education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days.20 Tens of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of the Restoration. At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood. I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Settle this in your mind, and move forward!
Watch his talk here:
Today as I was listening to the scriptures, this one in the Doctrine and Covenants 88 fascinated me and caught my complete attention. I thought and pondered while listening on how marvelous it is that JESUS CHRIST actually created the very earth upon which we stand. He did it, by the power which He has, that the Father has and gave to Him... and not only creating this earth but also the Sun which heats the earth at the perfect distance, lights the earth, gives the very light and environment the earth needs, the earth's perfect rotation and orbit in place yielding seasons and life compatible with the human race. The moon and the stars providing night light, in the right way, in the right time, under the right circumstances. A perfect plan of creation, of salvation, ...and this scripture today for me was fascinating to listen to, as I pondered how infinitely great Jesus Christ actually IS. HE is GOD as is Heavenly Father is God, as is also the Holy Ghost. We have a Supreme Being that created everything within our view, including our very bodies that house our spirits to make our souls. And today on this Christmas day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, coming into the world as the GIFT to all mankind. The LIGHT.
10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.
Even the very faithful like Joseph Smith have had periods of time where prayer is difficult and hard to get answers, and even after receiving visions! (such as his trials in Liberty Jail). But some of us quit early after trying for a little bit, sometimes only a couple of minutes and then conclude "God doesn't exist or answer my prayers" because nothing happened. It takes Faith to wait. Faith to have patience on the Lord and truly submit to His will. It takes Faith to believe the answers will come. Stop waiting to actually pray, because of doubt. Stop losing patience through Doubt, doubting first that the answers will ever come.
Its all our choice, but the people of faith always get the result. It just comes on the LORD'S TIME TABLE. We have to know that going in to it.
In this following video we can see the two year transformation of a more stubborn man, who because of his doubts, took an extra long time to get the blessings of the Lord. They eventually came, but were surely delayed because of his incorrect preconceptions about answers to prayers, and how they may take place.
The Hope of God's Light
source for HD video: http://www.mormonchannel.org/watch/series/mormon-messages/the-hope-of-gods-light
When I was 16 I had a desire to experiment with prayer. The Book of Mormon prophet Alma spoke of faith and the development of it as growing a seed into a sprout, into a plant, into a tree. He taught of nourishing our faith like a plant needs nourishment and water. He encouraged us to try the experiment:
So we have this process. Read Alma's whole discourse here: Alma's FAITH Discourse
Alma compared it all to an experiment. IT IS! When I was 16 I experimented with prayer. People at church were teaching me that I could get answers to prayer, to pray to see if the Book of Mormon is true for instance, just ask God. I wanted to know and I was motivated to try these things. And so I went to wilderness places to find a place alone and pray, seek inspiration. Ask questions, wait patiently for answers. In my room alone as well. At the temple as well. In solitude and sacred places I would try these experiments with prayer until I felt more confident in how the Lord answers prayers by speaking to our minds and our hearts.
Doctrine and Covenants 8:2
Its about learning how to HEAR it. To FEEL it. To exercise faith and BELIEVE you will get this. I have found in the beginning that if I doubt at all or question what I am doing as I kneel in prayer, that answers to not come. I must truly let GO of all the doubt and just believe like a child would. Jesus meant that when He said we must become like humble little children, willing to submit to their father like little kids do.
3 Nephi 11:38
The scriptures attest to the reality of the person, the baby, that exists in the womb. When Mary visited Elizabeth her cousin who was great with child, John the Baptist, she called to Elizabeth and the baby in her womb leaped for joy! Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and she knew exactly what had just happened, for it was revealed to her.
Luke 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and salutedElisabeth.
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessedart thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Source for HD video: https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/mary-the-mother-of-jesus?lang=eng
Bible Video of Elizabeth's babe, John, who leaped for joy upon hearing Mary's voice, who carried Jesus the Christ. These babes knew of each other.
Husband, Father, Professional Engineer, and an amateur movie maker... and most importantly, a believer in Jesus Christ