Have Some Faith

Nobody knows the exact location of the Book of Mormon's events. Because of that a lot of people question the reality of the events that happen in it, but you know what? I don't care and neither should you.

When you read the Book of Mormon there are examples of faith from the very beginning–Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem without knowing where they're going, Alma's discourse on faith, Ammon willingly helping a Lamanite king and offering to be his servant, and Moroni's insistence that if you ask in faith whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. So, why does a book rooted in faith rather than proof garnish so much cynicism and skepticism?

A lot of it deals with how the Church was perceived when it was first reorganized and how it's still received today.

In the early 1800s when Joseph Smith first reorganized the Church he was branded a charlatan, a money digger, a crook. It wasn't true, but the pastors and preachers in his area were so entrenched in a "war of the churches" that they were not going to lose any ground to an inexperienced teen. That attitude followed the early Saints throughout the entire eastern United States before they were finally pushed West.

Rough beginnings. And even now when history is discussed in schools and the congregations of other faiths Mormons are seen as a joke or the villains (which I really don't understand because they were the ones being tarred and feather and pushed out of their homes repeatedly). But that's the sad truth of the matter. Because of that (and the fact that the LDS Church refuses to bend their standards based on public opinion) the Church is held to higher standards of proof.

Because there has been no physical and definitive archeological proof there are a few different paths of thinking people take: having faith, coming up with ill-supported evidence in North and South America, or demanding evidence that's not there.

Speculation about the location of where the Book of Mormon took place can be fun. There are individuals who have created some convincing arguments that they present as proof; but people who rely too fully on evidence miss the message of the book. The message of the Book of Mormon is not about what you can physically find; it's about how the Spirit speaks to you. It's about the faith you build in the Savior. It's about the love God has for you and what He's done to ensure the gospel can rest in your hands at any time.

So, I'll say it: where it happened does not matter as much as the fact that it actually happened.

Search the scriptures. Ponder the message. Pray sincerely. The truth will come regardless of what anyone else says or does.


-Nikita

The Coffee Question

Those crazy Mormons are at it again. Not only do they have to their own Bible, but now they're supposedly health nuts? Who cares if they drink coffee or tea? They drink energy drinks and soda and those are worse!

I get it, I really do. Why have restrictions on something so widely used and say it's for health reasons when ignoring all the other garbage we eat and drink? There are a lot of answers and opinions on the Word of Wisdom, but really, it boils down to obedience.

Whether you are a born and raised Mormon, convert to the Church, or just interested in Mormonism, there's one thing that you should know about that really gets people's feathers ruffle: the Word of Wisdom.

Like most revelation given to prophets both in ancient times and present, the Word of Wisdom started out as an answer to a problem Joseph Smith presented to the Lord. The Lord answered with guidelines for fruits, vegetables, grains, and vague statements like "hot and strong drinks". Fortunately, we have prophets who clarify what it meant. In 1921, Heber J. Grant told the Saints that the Word of Wisdom specifies alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco. Pretty simple, right?

Well, in the less than one hundred years there have been justifications and reasonings and murmurings as to why the Word of Wisdom isn't applicable. On the other hand, there are people who become fanatics and refuse to entertain phrases such as "coffee table".

People will come up with reasons that God instituted the Word of Wisdom, a common reason people say coffee is avoided is tannins, but there are just as many tannins in grape juice.

In opposition of the Word of Wisdom some Mormons will say that since barley is set apart for use in mild drinks (D&C 89:17) it's okay to drink beer, even though prophets have specifically said alcohol is breaking the Word of Wisdom.

Sometimes commands from God are simple. Sometimes they don't make sense either. In the Bible the Israelites were bitten by snakes. The Lord told them they would be healed if the bites if they looked at a serpent on a staff. And what happened? It was too easy. Many of the Israelites didn't believe it could happen. Like the Israelites there's a promise to the Word of Wisdom:

18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel, and marrow in their bones;

19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.

21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21

Sounds pretty awesome to me, but the promises, like every other promise from God has a prerequisite of obedience. You don't have to understand the why, sometimes you just have to show God the respect He asks for and the love He deserves by following His commands.


-Nikita

A House of Order

It’s the 24th of July. I know, it doesn’t seem like anything but another day of the month, but here in Utah it’s a big deal. I’ve got friend from all over the world and I can confidently say that not a lot of people are aware of the fact that the early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were severely prosecuted for being part of what is essentially a Christian sect different from Protestant, Presbyterian, or Baptist.

After being pushed from their homes repeatedly, having an extermination order put into place by the Missouri governor calling for all Mormons to be killed, and then having the first prophet of the Church brutally murdered the early Saints decided to head west. Out of the (then) borders of the United States. There’s your history in a nutshell.

July 24th is a big deal because after being persecuted over religion for so long, the early Mormons became pioneers and they came to the Salt Lake Valley where they settled. That’s what is celebrated in Utah on this day. Religious freedom and the ability to live without fear of someone signing an extermination order (although there was something similar to that with Buchanan’s Blunder in the 1850s).

If you’ve never seen it, in Salt Lake there is an amazing building called the Salt Lake Temple. A lot of people know it’s a tourist destination in Utah, but what they usually don’t know is the purpose of that building, so here it is: the temple is what members of the Church believe is literally the House of God. You know the tabernacle the Israelites had in the Old Testament? Yeah, pretty much a modern day version of that. We don’t have the Ark of the Covenant housed in the temple, but we have sacred ordinances that we take part of there.

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When you go to the temple there is a feeling of peace and serenity, calmness and a feeling of unity with God. It’s amazing. It’s a sensation you want to follow you to your own home. And honestly, it can. You can make your home a comfortable place to live that invites the Spirit of God. There’s a verse in Mormon scripture that gives an awesome outline for what you need to do:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

Doctrine and Covenants 88:119

Organization can be hard. For me it’s nearly impossible with my five small children running around like crazy heathens. But it can happen. That scripture I just shared has an amazing hidden gem that tells you exactly what you need for organization and order: prepare every needful thing. Do you really need dozens of bottles of shampoo you may never use? Do you really need to buy your kids 12 new toys when they don’t play with the 48 toys they have at home? Do you really need a new book when you already have a bookcase at home filled with unread materials?

I’ve been on and off again practicing minimalism. I know there’s this general idea that it means you have so little that you can literally live out of a suitcase, but really minimalism is appreciating the material things you already have and not buying more than what you need. It’s almost an abstract way of thinking in our overly materialistic world. For a while people seemed to jump on the minimalism train when Marie Kondo published her book “the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. That book is actually what I use and recommend.

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Minimalism, order, organization, decluttering, and learning to appreciate and use our material things to their full potential will help us in so many ways. I know it can help with “mental clutter”, it can help you feel less overwhelmed with your home, it can help prevent overusing materials that are limited in the world by reducing supply and demand. It’s kind of like an unexpected jack of all trades.

I’m going to be going through “the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” on this blog. You can check out posts related to minimalism and organization every Monday so you can see what I’m going to be doing every week and try it out yourself.

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-Nikita