Monday, June 9, 2014

Week Forty-nine

WEEK FORTY-NINE June 9, 2014

As a young missionary I noticed and even warned investigators of the coming onslaught of anti-Mormon literature that would seemingly, from nowhere, begin to fill their mail box. If happened again and again, often with no return address, just someone stuffing it in the mail box and driving off. It caused me deep reflection then as it does now, as to the causal factors behind such an effort. I concluded the very fact of this onslaught was itself a further witness to the truthfulness of the restored gospel as no reasonable person would react so bitterly and ostentatiously regarding beliefs of another than in no way infringe upon your own beliefs.

This week the onslaught has come to Sister H and me. We received five different DVDs of that ilk, several tracts and articles each containing the same hackneyed braying I saw as a young missionary. Also a number of calls from missionaries in our mission regarding appropriate responses to the same, requests to sit in with them to respond which we have done, but which is seeming less and less prudent to me. At best we offer some truths to reinforce the testimonies of our young missionaries caught unawares and having neither the insight nor understanding necessary to counteract such rude blasts.

We met with Brother Fifty in an exchange with a young missionary excited about the prospect of laying out the truth in an earnest and straightforward way causing me to reflect on our last visit with this individual and thinking he will have no chance to do so. This brother, who I believe has no interest whatsoever in discovering truth, would deny he is married and the father of four if it would lead credence to his argument. He comes from no established base, there is nothing to talk to him about, and draws conclusions from meaningless words purposely to obfuscate truth. He, as is his wont, had a number of slightly irritating questions, a screwed up scenario of worlds and kingdoms both now and in the hereafter, all based on his belief that Adam was the first Adam and Christ is the last Adam (or course, the scripture doesn’t exactly say that, which he didn’t want to hear; 1 Corinthians 15:45 “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit”]. We worked through it from the scriptures parrying each concern and establishing a pattern of truth, none of which made a dent in his mind. Not a good experience for the missionary who didn’t know the scriptures well enough to keep up, said he didn’t understand what was even being said, felt unease and wondered about his competency. It ended with the young missionary asking for an email for the brother to express his concerns. I warned the missionary as we drove away that what he had asked for won’t be forthcoming, rather the brother would be sending him a diatribe condemning his testimony and beliefs. A few days later the missionary called to tell me he hated to admit that I was right. Concerns weren’t expressed rather an attack given. When asked what they can do I suggested he be asked to give you five minutes to present in simple terms your belief, not scriptures or quotes, just what you feel in your heart. And go with a young priest so there is no one there for him to contend with. His response to you will indicate whether you are to proceed with him and leave him to himself.

Gratefully we spent most of the next day in the Newport Beach Temple fulfilling assignments in the baptistery for walk ins that the Lake Forest Ward was unable to fill during the day time hours. We both experienced a wonderful peace and sense of well-being in sharp contrast to the night before and felt blessed to be given such a wonderful service opportunity. Sister H had to fill in for one sister who was baptized for 15 of her names but wanted the confirmation’s done while she was changing. Fortunately I was in charge of performing the confirmation and was able to do that for each name, after which I kissed her. Maybe a first for one performing confirmation ordinances in the temple.

Met with the Four family who shared a poignant message with us about how much he appreciated meeting with us each week and discussing the gospel, that since he is no longer preaching he had really missed such activity and wanted us to know just home much he has appreciated us going through his book “A Preachers Read Confession” with him. This week we discussed the chapter entitled “To God be the Glory.” As before I share additional light and knowledge received through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

We finished two meetings with Brother Forty-Two this week. He is leaving Monday, June 9 for a ten day preaching tour with the Church of God in Queens, New York exclusively on Daniel and Revelation. We finally completed 2 Nephi 2 which is such a clear and concise explanation of the plan of salvation that he just kept saying “wow” as principle and truth after truth was given. He told us he needed to know it all we were telling him was true. “I don’t want information. I need to know if it is true. If it is I have to change my whole life.” He then shared a number of concerns he had come across in an internet review which we answered. As we were leaving he asked me to review a couple of DVDs from with Brother Forty-Two, The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon, 2005, by Living Hope Ministries, in Brigham City, Utah. The other one by Pastor Fran Sankey, entitled the Mormon Jesus: B. Jesus According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons): Jesus is the first spirit child begotten in heaven by Elohim (God) and one of Elohim’s wives. However, he is not the only begotten son since Jesus’ brother, Lucifer (who became Satan), was also begotten by Elohim, in addition to billions of other spirit children. When it was time for Jesus to come to the world to redeem mankind, Elohim came to earth, married the Virgin Mary and had sexual relations with her to produce the baby Jesus. Jesus grew up, married Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene, and paid for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane before being crucified. [Fran Sankey]

For which I wrote up the following on our return visit later in the week: Poppycock!!! Fran Sankey’s characterization is not only untrue but an apparent purposeful distortion of LDS theology. To do it so blatantly, suggests her own credentials be examined. Following is a more accurate description of the Mormon belief of Christ, and in the words of God Himself:

Of Jesus Christ, God the Father hath said, “mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me” (Moses 1:6). “Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33). “He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered” (2 Nephi 2:7). “No flesh can dwell in [my presence], save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise” (2 Nephi 2:8). “He shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved” (2 Nephi 2:9).

LDS theology teaches that the phrase “Only Begotten Son” refers only to Jesus Christ (John 1:18; 3:16; Jacob 4:5, 11; Alma 12:33-34; D&C 20:21; 29:42; 49:5; 76:13, 25) and is both a description of his lineage as well as a name-title. All individuals who ever live on this earth are spirit children of our Heavenly Father (Numbers 27:16; Hebrews 12:9), but Jesus alone is the Only Begotten of the Father (Moses 5:9), meaning the Only Begotten in the flesh, because God is his Father (Luke 1:31-32) on earth as He is in heaven. How this was brought to pass has yet to be revealed. But as God affirmed, in His own voice, on the day of the Savior’s baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

On our second visit we reviewed the above, answered a number of questions he had and learned some details about his upcoming 10-day preaching tour. This time he said, “If I am going to be baptized I need to make sure this is true” and proceeded to give us three other DVDs, Mormonism, by Charlie H. Campbell, from the Apologetics Ministry; Mormonism uncovered from the Tower to Truth Ministries, another Pastor Fran Sankey and Mormon Temples and Book of Mormon, two others from the same source. He asked that I be ready to review them upon his return in two weeks. Havling seen the book of Mormon one previously which claims archeology supports the Bible but not the Book of Mormon, I told him with respect to biblical archeology there remains widespread dispute, among competing experts, as to the existence of the following, to name just a few:

The Flood
The Tower of Babel
Did the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ever exist
Joseph in Egypt
The Exodus
The conquest of Canaan
Kingdom of David
Kingdom of Solomon
The Temple of Solomon

Further, the purported argument from silence put forth to discredit the Book of Mormon is equally as damning to the Bible yet, if fails for another larger reason—the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, a truth that seems to have been conspicuously missed in all efforts to undermine the Book of Mormon through the absence of archeology. If archeology alone is the sole arbiter establishing truth or error, both books fail the test. Perhaps that is an indictment of archeology rather than the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Brother Forty-Two did accept an invitation to learn when the Book of Mormon is true by giving it diligent study and pondering and then asking God in the name of Jesus Christ if it is true. We told him that there is no better witness than God himself as to whether the book if inspired and contains the word of God and to rely solely on man’s collective wisdom is a serious mistake if he wants to knows truths of God—there I simple no better source than God himself, which he agreed was true.

As out Bible Study this week we discussed doing hard things from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. I made a presentation of overcoming fear using Alma 58:9-13 and enjoyed one of those rare experiences where it feels as if the spirit is doing the teaching and you are a listener along with everyone else. Have not had that experience nearly as often as I did as a young missionary. Brother Forty-five, our Catholic investigator turned to me and said, “Brother Haddock, your words were very inspiring.”

We also met with Brother Forty-One this week. He has not been to church in over 25 years and told us the longer you are away the harder it is to get back. We discussed the needs of his family and presented the idea that perhaps needed blessings would come their way if he gave back to the Lord as he had promised. He said he would consider it. Sister H asked about a blessing suggesting his oldest son who is active. He thought should he do it he would ask for one from his home teacher. Later in the week I alerted the home teacher to our discussion for which he was grateful for that night he was going to be visiting with him.

Our meeting with the Twenty-One family was cancelled due to family illness. For the same reason they did not attend Sunday either. But he did have his final interview with the Stake President and on Sunday, June 15 he has asked me to confer upon him the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordain him to the office of an elder. With the evening free we accepted the invitation to attend a baseball game with the 13-year old son of the Two family. They won the playoff game into the season ending tournament, then blew out one team, beat in thrilling fashion another along the way and were playing in the championship game. They lost 23-1. The starting pitcher walked the first 6 batters, then hit after hit and by the end of the top of the first they were down 8 runs. Emotionally they were shot, couldn’t make a single play in the field nor get a hit. In a five inning game our boy only got to bat twice. The first time he walked, stole second and third and scored their only run on a groundout. The second at bat he hit a scorching line drive that went right into the glove of the pitcher without him even knowing it.

Sister H had called Sister Six about some sensitive matters and a question I was going to ask her husband. She gave us some insight but in praying about it I felt it was not het the time. So when she called a few days later and I told her that she was thrilled. Not for the information but because she had the same feeling and was worried it had come because of her fear. So she was extremely grateful to learn another had the same impression.

Sunday morning I took Brother Six to Stake Priesthood meeting and we had a good talk about his visit this week to pick up his daughter in the East and bring her back to live with them as she battles cancer. They will be able to have dinner together on Father’s Day which he sees as a real treat. Later in the day we discussed Elder Packer’s April conference address on how he received his witness the gospel was true and compared it with me always knowing the same. We shared ideas relative to such answers and confirmation come in a myriad of ways and the danger of determining one way in advance as opposed to a willingness to receive whatever the Lord gives, in whatever way He gives it.

In answer to a question one of the missionaries asked me, I sent by email a couple of paragraphs from Elder Bednar’s April conference address that answers his question beautifully:

The Savior Succors His People

Alma explains why and how the Savior can enable us: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11–12).

Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us.

There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Elder David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign, May 2014, 89-90; CR, Apr 2014.)

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