Voices are on the rise today, saying religion is negative for society, judgmental, hypocritical, starts wars, etc., and so they stop attending church. They "rise above" church and become "spieritual" instead. They say churches and religion in general hurts people, that it's a negative thing. Some speak of their faith and spirituality as a separate thing. Well, Not if God really did call Prophets to lead people and established a formal a religion, its not. And Jesus did do that. He caled 12 Apostles to assist him in an organized manner and told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
Mark 16:1515 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
That's the main thing, whether or not God had anything to do with religion in the first place. Did He start one? I testify that He did. Just read the scriptures to know this. Its in there.
If one believes in Jesus Christ, it is most certain that He started a religion and didn't just preach of faith and solitude for individuals. He actually CHARGED His disciples to PREACH. That's why he was out there among so many masses of people, trying to reach them, and setting an example. He called 12 Apostles and ordained them by the laying on of hands. 12 of them. And He taught these to be leaders and fishers of men. They followed Him around, watching, learning. Jesus talked of being wise as serpents, but harmless as doves (Matt 10:16). He compared the saving of souls to fishing. Casting a net. Jesus spoke of going out to find the lost sheep, the 1 out of 99 that was lost. Leaving the 99. Why? If that sheep got lost on purpose, why wouldn't Jesus just "let them be?" Jesus was not politically correct. He cared and loved everyone so much that He would do just that. Go after the lost sheep.
In the Americas Jesus did visit the Nephite nation and it was recorded of Him:
Moroni 2:31 The words of Christ, which he spake unto his disciples, the twelve whom he had chosen, as he laid his hands upon them--
2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.
3 Now Christ spake these words unto them at the time of his first appearing; and the multitude heard it not, but the disciples heard it; and on as many as they laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost.
Jesus taught parables about so many of these things. The things that many seemed to be annoyed at when others try to do them. "I am not interested!" as a door slams. "I'll save you some time, I had a bad experience at church and I am not coming back." Yet we visit, and maybe even annoy, some people if we actually DO what Jesus Christ taught us to do as His disciples. Jesus wants us, even commands us, to rescue souls and to do so with charity, the pure love of Christ.
Religion organizes this and makes it more effective as more people get taught what Jesus actually taught and then try to do it. How can religion be bad when Jesus started it? Why wouldn't we read and understand what Jesus taught when it is all in the scriptures for us to learn and glean from? The Sermon on the Mount. What a great sermon, filled with challenges of how to be the Salt of the Earth. How to Let Your Light So Shine that others may see your good works and glorify your Father which art in Heaven. Some call this self-righteousness, but Jesus calls it letting your light so shine. He calls it being the salt of the earth. The leaven.
Jesus taught to keep the commandments. All of them.
He also taught how to get along with others, agreeing with your adversary, giving a cloak also to him that sues you and takes away your coat. Turn the other cheek. In other words, don't try to get even. Stop worrying about what is fair, and instead do what will save souls. To him that asks of you, give it to him, let him borrow. Turn thou not away. Love your enemy.
Religion that Jesus started tries to take a bad man and make him a good man. To take a good man and make him an even better man. Jesus did teach Be ye therefore PERFECT even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect. This is what Jesus taught, and it is the direction He is trying to take people. Upward. Better, best. Religion has Priesthood which trains a man to be a man of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ, to go and do the missionary work. Jesus taught all these things.
SO when we criticize religion, we are in danger of criticizing Jesus Christ who taught so many of the things that are taught in the Christian religions of the day today. There is nothing wrong with trying to be better, and trying to help others be better as well. It is what Jesus would have us do.
Miracles are real. I'll testify to that. I have experienced them. From a very young age I have experienced miracles in healing, finding lost things by prayer, and I continue to experience them through prayer and answers to prayer. In most cases the miracles I have experienced have been as a direct result of prayer and asking God for help. Healings. Protection. Things found. Jobs secured. Just in Time events. Miracles.
Like the time I was in China about a year ago in 2014. Our family needed a job, we had to extend our passport visas. We were on the last day of fixing this, and had a local school helping us get a work permit or face expensive deportation and leave all our things behind. The english school company trying to hire us had got the runaround for weeks as well as papers lost by the government PSB, and a series of events that whittled our time down to one day left. It was critical, and our family was fasting. We were praying hard. My wife Christa was making the rounds to complicated government agencies to get paperwork where only a few spoke broken English, and Christa spoke even less Chinese. A paper was left behind at the Police Station by Christa. A critical paper. We were all scheduled to meet at the Chongqing Public Security Bureau (PSB) in about an hour, or face a deportation. Now a critical paper was lost. A paper the PSB required.
Christa called me in desperation. She had searched multiple times. She was on a bus coming to meet me. The paper was just not in the folder pouch. It was gone! She wondered if I had it. No... Our time had run out to try and get any replacements. It was logistically Impossible and would have taken days.
I instinctively knew what to do. What else COULD you do facing such dire circumstances? I hung up and went to my prayer spot and prayed. I prayed with faith. Here's the story:
Lost job termination notice
Christa called. She said the computer systems were not working again at the police department where we needed residence paperwork for each family member! SO it was taking forever.
She told me that while at the police dept to pick up resident proof letters for each of us, she had lost mine somehow (she accidentally left it behind). She also said on the phone that my job termination notice was missing (without that you can NOT get another job, PSB must see it) and I told her that both of those things were in the envelope when she left a couple of hours earlier, but she said she looked six times. Not in the envelope.
I instinctively knew what to do. Pray. What else could I do? Without these papers, and only hours left, this could not happen. I would take days to replace those papers, even with some begging. So I went to my closet to go pray. What else could I do? Without those documents on this the last day of our resident permit application, we would be deported. Or we would have to spend over $1000 to try and get an extension to our visas again IF the PSB had mercy. That was doubtful. Although that was possible it was not a for sure thing. So I went to my closet and prayed and try to get some understanding of what this meant because the 5:30 pm deadline was looming and it was already about 4 o'clock. I prayed with Faith and I told the Lord that I don't know exactly what His will is concerning this thing, but I believe that we are supposed to get this residence permit processed so we can stay. I also acknowledged that he has not revealed all of the answers to me. But I did tell the Lord that I believed everything that we were doing was supposed to be happening and we were getting miracles along the way. So I prayed with Faith for another miracle. I told the Lord that I don't know why that paper was missing because I knew that it was in the envelope. I told the Lord that I knew he could help us find the letter, even if he had to put the letter back in the envelope. And then I suddenly asked The Lord to put it in the envelope. After I said that, I thought out loud, Did I just say what I thought I said??
Christa calls me a few minutes later. She then said that she looked again for the 7th time and suddenly it was there . I told her of my prayer. We talked about the miracle of the reappearing letter in the large envelope. We rejoiced in that miracle.
Christa also went back to the police dept to get my residence permit letter which she had accidentally left on a desk there. Miraculously it was still there and so we got our papers.
Joining these critical papers with our large stack of other papers and our new contract with the school we were now ready to go to the PSB to finalize . We had to scramble. Just an hour left. Final day.
So the whole family got on the bus to head to the PSB, to meet Hedy there.
For some reason (opposition!) we accidentally missed our stop while talking, and then the bus went down a steep hill for a mile and I looked at my GPS only to see that we overshot our destination, by a MILE. We got off and had to walk back up that hill and then walk some large block more uphill to get to the PSB in time. It was now 4:20 pm.
As we started walking up the hill our daughter Jaylene had an intense debilitating pain with her hip as she often had when stressed to move too quickly and Christa had to drape her arm around her neck to support her so she could walk. As I looked back to see them way down the hill moving slow, I was thinking "what next?" and tried to have patience as we walked at half speed and it wasn't looking good. We were going to miss our deadline, and I was not strong enough to carry her, and there were no taxis, besides, we would need TWO and I didn't know the name of the PSB! I came down the hill a bit, walked alongside Jaylene and said to her "I could give you a blessing, right now, and do you have faith to be healed?" and she said yes. So standing up on the sidewalk next to her, I laid my hands on her head and by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ blessed her that she would be made well and that she could walk." I said it with faith. I didn't care if anyone was watching. Dozens of cars, buses and trucks were sailing by. I said the words, my eyes closed, my family all there with us. After...
I said, "now is one of those rise up and walk moments"
She agreed and started walking. Fast. I walked alongside her. I held her hand for support and to increase her faith and pray for her as we walked briskly, with some conviction.
She exclaimed as we walked that during the blessing she felt her legs firm up and be healed and that it was a miracle . We walked hand in hand up that steep hill, then around the corner, then around the next corner and she walked fast and strong and we made it to the PSB which was more than a mile away. Papers delivered. On time. Barely. The Lord answers prayers, even if He stretches us to the extremes in the process.
Now I know that some would call this a coincidence, but it was not a coincidence. We do know because of the unfolding of this event and how many times Christa had looked again and again and could not find the paper and knew that it was lost, we do know that it was a miracle and that the Lord can do anything. He can even part a Red Sea. He can fix paper work. I do believe in these miracles! I know that most of the world does not believe in these things, but I do. And because I do, I have the faith to be helped in the most unusual circumstances if it is the will of the Lord.
Why I Believe Blog
Husband, Father, Professional Engineer, and an amateur movie maker... and most importantly, a believer in Jesus Christ