I’ve decided to start this blog, The Daily Mormon, with the goal of writing a post daily to help clarify many of the questions surrounding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … also known as Mormonism or the Mormon Church. There is, in many respects, a very real “battle” going on these days, especially online. Good people are seeking the truth about God, looking for answers to their questions about the purpose of life—where we’re from, why we’re here, where we’re going, and so much more—but others try to complicate their search. I’m writing to help them know that those answers exist! We’ve had a clear understanding of so many of these questions ever since 1820 when a young 14-year old farm boy named Joseph Smith was literally called to be a prophet of God.
Incredible, I know; I’m the first to admit it. But it’s true and you can know for yourself that it is. Ever since that time there have been living prophets and apostles on earth and there still are today and, with them, a better understanding of who we are and of our relationship with God. It’s one of the most important messages in history/in all the world. And yet, there are lots of converging voices as well, many of whom are trying to distort and even destroy this message of faith and hope.
I speak of this “battle” going on and it’s a very real thing. Whenever something good comes along, it’s always met with opposition—just think of Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, etc.—they were all met with “opposers” of their own. And who was opposing them? Satan, The Father of Lies.
We all know who he is. Lucifer … the devil … the “master manipulator” … Beelzebub. He’s gone by lots of different names through the centuries, but he’s always been there, mixing it up—causing problems where he can, and trying to lead us all astray. After all, he was kicked out of heaven and took a lot of spirits with him, and he’s basically been mad at the lot of us (and at God) ever since. And—here’s a truth you may know but, if you didn’t, you should probably understand it. Since Satan will never know happiness (and he knows it), and since he’ll never be anything but “damned” (i.e. stopped in his own personal progress/fulfillment), the main thing he wants to do is take
as many of us with him and lead as many of us down his same path that he can. I’m pretty sure that’s where the saying, “Misery Loves Company,” came from. If not, it’s at the very least an appropriate designation.
So, Satan is upset. He wants to harm us and harass us as much as he possibly can. We see great good and beauty surviving in the world today, but we also see significant, pervasive evil wherever we turn. From wars that have cost millions of lives to things as perverse and depraved as child porn and the sex traffic market … you can’t help but shake your head and ask, “How did things get so bad…?” But we all know the answer. Satan’s hatred for us and desire to make us all suffer like he and his minions.
He’s a wicked, crafty serpent who’s inspired it all, and still does. He’s constantly at work—he and his billions of spirits (the 1/3 of the hosts of heaven who were cast out of God’s presence with him)—and we are, for lack of a better word, their “prey.” They are here on earth, all around us, constantly and consistently trying to tear us down, discourage us, and tempt us to give up. If they can get us to give in, turn to unhealthy substances, hopelessness, and more, they (still) won’t win but they will rejoice.
And this effort, this “war,” rages on, especially whenever good things are afoot … whenever the truth, or service, or sacrifice, and love, seek to make an impact on the world. There are always opposing forces trying to tear them down. And such is surely the case when it comes to Mormonism and the Mormon church. The Church has always had opposition, since its earliest days, and not because it isn’t good or true or right. On the contrary, it’s because the work of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ is good that it’s been so persecuted since it first came on the scene. We see it quite often today. Any Google search about the Church will bring up as much or usually more mocking, defaming, and deceitful information about the Church than it will bring good. Any sincere searcher has to wade through this muck to find the truth, and it isn’t easy to do. The anti-Mormon rabble is loud and they are also pretty lewd, and they take great joy in trying to tear down the Church of Jesus Christ, and for what purpose? Why would anyone do such damage to another person’s faith (especially here in America where “freedom of religion” is at the heart of who we are. Who do you think is inspiring their work? It’s an important question. Who ultimately is
encouraging their enmity and angst…? It’s obvious. That self-same serpent, Lucifer, the devil, who’s fought against goodness since the very beginning of time. It’s as clear as the sun that rises each morning to me … and anyone sincerely seeking after the truth can usually discern it … that is if they’re not turned off before they even get start (which is obviously the aim of most of the opposing voices).
Determining the truth, to be quite honest, isn’t really that hard to do, even though at first blush, it can seem confusing and you have to learn for yourself the difference between the two sides, the two “spirits,” the two opposing forces in this battle that’s been raging for so long. (It’s a “conflict” that’s been going on since even before Christ walked the earth 2,000 years ago, by the way). But you can know the truth and you can discern the difference between the two. There is a way to know for certain. (We’ll get into what that is in later posts on this blog, okay?) Here’s a quick glimpse, though. I hope it will help. It’s always done so for me and it’s really quite simple, and sure.
I say that it isn’t hard to “discern” the difference between the two opposing “voices”—the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the clamor of its critics (as loud and visceral as they might be at times). If nothing else, the scriptures speak of how “by your fruits, ye shall know them” (See Matthew 7: 16-20). Any sincere person who really wants to know and looks into the Church and its teachings, its message, its service and it’s well-known philanthropic work all over the world, and more, with sincerity, will I believe see and feel what it is I speak of. I really do believe this. Anyone who comes to know the members of the Church will find folks who aren’t perfect by any means and have made plenty of mistakes but who are sincerely trying to live good lives and pattern their lives after that of their Savior, Jesus Christ. “The proof is in the pudding,” as they say. Test it for yourself and you will see what I mean. It’s one of the greatest and clearest pieces of evidence that there’s something more to this story than the critics would have you believe. It’s really common sense. And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what I mean.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Visit the Church websites like LDS.org, Mormon.org, BYU.tv, and others, and you’ll be touched by the goodness and clarity of what you find. These aren’t the unbalanced rantings of a crazy cult and a people who are “out of touch with the world,” or worse. On the contrary, you’ll see messages that are timely, touching, uplifting, and more. And not only do they look and sound good but, most importantly, you can feel the goodness, beauty and the depth of the message and it’s worth. I can’t really explain it except you’ll just know what I mean if you really take a look. You’ll know there’s something more to the story. Honestly, most can’t deny it unless they want/try to. The spirit is real and it’s presence is strong. And that’s what moves this work. It touches people, converts them, and is attracting many all over the world. It’s the spirit and our “fruit” that really set us apart and make The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS all that it is and stands for.
When you read the writings, watch the videos, and/or see the venom the anti-Mormons spew out, on the other hand, it’s just the opposite. You hear ridicule, sure … you hear plenty of criticism and condescension and confusion … but you can also sense a darker more nefarious source, an angry resentment and “persuasion,” as it were … from somewhere much deeper and more-ancient than you might have guessed. Not to belabor the point, but it’s like a cancerous, unexplainable hatred that really doesn’t make a lot of sense (unless you consider the source). Ya, remember that guy. It makes a lot more sense if you don’t forget about him and his # 1 goal.
You feel the spirit of the gospel in anything good, worthwhile and LIGHT. You see the “spirit” of the other side’s work and the clear, unmistakable, mark of Satan’s hand … angry, spiteful, and down-
right mean. And you don’t just see it, you feel it. It’s so thick you can almost cut it with a knife, especially when it’s juxtaposed against the light. Dark and devious things always stand out when you shine a light on them, after all. They’re revealed for what they truly are. It’s kind of like an addiction to anything else—to drugs, alcohol, sex, or whatever. You get to the point where you don’t even want to stop, even though down deep inside you’re unhappy and know in your heart that what you’re doing will never bring you joy. You kind of give up. You lose your sense of worth. It’s a sad state to be in but one we’ve all observed or even experienced in our lives.
Honestly it will probably never change but we can at least call a spade a spade. If nothing else, we can do our part to try to “pull back the veil” and shine a light on it for what it is. This is one of the main reasons I decided to write this blog.
I actually intend to make most of these posts much shorter than this first one. Please, don’t give up on coming back or even Following this blog, based on the length of this first post. I have a lot to say but I do intend to keep the majority of my writings much more brief. I know you’re busy and I’m sure you have other things you need to do. I just wanted to try to explain why I feel this blog is so important, and needed. I do believe there’s a battle of sorts going on … for our happiness, our peace, our families. It’s a war that’s been waging for a very long time, and in these days, the “last days,” as we’re told they are, it’s “coming to a head.” There’s a line being drawn in the sand and each one of us will have to eventually choose a side. Which one will it be? Which voice will we choose to follow? It’s an age-old question, but it’s an important one for each one of us for sure.
Are we going to be drawn in by the angry, the resentful, the loud and the “Liked” … just because they’re so outspoken, or popular, it seems? I ask myself this question often. Am I distracted by or even attracted to the fervor and noise of the crowd? Are you? There are a lot of different temptations in the world, a great deal of cacophony, as it were, a lot of opinions, when all we really want, the majority of us, is peace. It’s not always easy to find it, but it does exist
With all the opposing voices—those clamoring for our attention and doing their best to cause confusion and misdirection—a few of us are just trying to help you find your way … and help you know that there’s more, that there really is lasting peace to be had. There are answers to your questions and THERE IS A PURPOSE TO THIS LIFE.
No matter how many naysayers or discontents there may always be, it doesn’t change the truth. No matter how loud they want to yell, it doesn’t alter the essence or the impact, the meaning, of the good. It’s simple really:
- You have a Father in Heaven who LOVES you.
- He has a plan for us and has revealed it to us through His ancient and living prophets.
- He wants each of us to return to live with Him someday.
- His Son, Jesus Christ, your Elder Brother, has already paid the price.
- And He has given us hope, encouragement, and many things to help along the way.
It’s real, my friend. It really exists. And, even though there are those who poke fun at it or oppose it or have even experienced it then fallen away for whatever reason … even though many good and thoughtful people have been influenced by that crafty serpent, the Father of Lies … even though some try to fight it and try to hurt us and even lie and misdirect and make things up to try to help their cause … none of this changes the fact that it’s real, it’s true, and it’s changing lives all over the world (and it can change yours too). Despite it all, the Church continues to grow, we continue to be a light, we serve and support and succor people worldwide, and the message of the gospel continues to be one of the fastest growing movements across the globe, despite the opposition and all their ill-conceived attempts to do harm to and/or discredit it.
God’s Army will continue to win. If it’s a battle, at least we know that we are on the right side. And, even though it’s not always fun … even though it hurts to hear the hate and to especially, even, see loved ones who may have lost their way for now … we know that in the end, it will all work out. We know who’s going to come out the Victor in the end. And we know that, if we’re on His side (Christ’s side, that is), we don’t have to fear and we can be 100% confident and secure. Most of all, we can know for certain that He will always have our backs—in fact, He’s already paid the price for all our hurts and sins and shortfalls and fears (even for those who’ve turned their back on Him and refuse to accept his gift; it doesn’t matter; it’s still theirs!) We know that He loves us and His Father, our Father, does too … even more than we could ever imagine. We believe in this truth and that, ultimately, it’s worth the costs. When we feel Their spirit remind us, reassuring us, we know we’re on track and know we’re a part of the greatest work and story the world has ever known.
Ultimately, we’re helping out, in our own small ways … as families, as individuals, as a people, and a church. We’re really just trying to make a difference where we can, to bless lives, and help others, and share the “good news” along the way. That’s really what being a Mormon—a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—is all about. It’s about giving back and doing good. It’s about loving each other and trying to help support each other, in our collective “journey back home.”
This month (July), at least here in the States, is all about freedom and independence. I decided to start this blog now as a reminder that we’re all free to make our own choices but we’re also wise to go to the source whenever we want to learn and understand a message. If you want to understand Mormonism, speak with an active Mormon, don’t listen to the critics. They’re biased by nature and, as a result, indefatigably suspect. (If you wanted to learn about Jews, you wouldn’t ask a skin-head neo-Nazi. If you wanted to learn about the African American culture or mindset, you wouldn’t ask a member of the KKK). The same principle, of course, applies here. If you really, truly, want to know the truth of Mormons, then go to the source—places like this blog and the websites I mentioned before: LDS.org, Mormon.org, BYU.tv, etc.
Is The Book of Mormon true? Is it really Another Testament of Jesus Christ? There’s only one way to know for sure. Actually get yourself a copy and open it, read it yourself, without anyone else’s input. Any academic, anyone with a brain, will tell you … this is the only way to know for yourself if something is really true. Sure, you can listen to both sides of the argument if you’d like, but do so with a grain of salt. Know that the anti-Mormon movement has one primary purpose—to hurt and discredit the Church and its members. And, if this is as it seems, by default, you have to admit that they’re simply not motivated to keep things true and clear and fair. It’s just too big of a temptation to manipulate the truth into something that supports their stance. It’s just not possible to compare apples and oranges, good vs. good, spirit vs. spirit, on their own merits because they know they’ll lose! All they can do is poke fun, make light of, misdirect, and misrepresent. It’s their only defense. (They’ve been using it for centuries, by the way … and it will never work long-term). But, it does confuse a lot of people, it does damage to a lot of faith and confidence, in both those searching (and even in the promoters, I believe). Why do you think so many are so loud so much of the time. Usually—in my experience—it’s because they’re scared, uncertain, and/or insecure. (In my experience, confidence breeds stillness, quiet, and calm). Please … just be realistic and resilient, and don’t be drawn in by their noise. There’s a deeper, more beautiful, far more peaceful and perfect way. And it’s blessing the lives of millions worldwide.
And, don’t take me wrong: some folks that are just struggling to determine the truth. They, themselves, are just asking honest, thought-out questions and wading through the mists of confusion that the Internet produces. They’re not vindictive or nasty or intending to do harm. They’re just working through their own doubts and fears and questions, wanting to know for themselves. They’ve done nothing wrong; they’re not anti or even antagonistic; they’re just intrigued. They just need to be loved and welcomed and supported most of all. And it isn’t these to whom I refer when I about the “war” at all. It’s those who are making a concentrated effort to damage the faith of others, to belittle, or tear the church down. Those that, while they are still our brothers and sisters, really don’t understand. I don’t know how to help them—just love them and serve them, I suppose. And pray for them. There’s not much more I know of that we can do. And, as for you: don’t give up on them but don’t accept their angst as accurate, complete, or real. It isn’t. Even when it’s rampant, it doesn’t make it right. Never has and never will.
Okay … so, I promise, my future posts will be far more concise than this one and I really appreciate your hanging with me as long as you have. I’ll try to not be so long-winded in the future if you’ll promise to come back, okay? ;0) It’s just important, what we do, say, share, and believe. It can help build our faith and that of others, or it can slowly or suddenly tear it apart. It matters. It’s important, so very important.
If nothing else, I hope you find whatever answers you’re searching for. I have personally learned and discovered things that have changed everything for me, my family, my loved ones, and so many others I know. These insights and understandings can do the same for you. You too can be free of doubt, free of worry, and free of fear. It’s real and it’s amazing. We’re all here to help you however I can.
I hope you’ll come back and visit again. Please enter your email in the space on the sidebar and Follow this blog. Do, and you’ll receive notifications whenever I post something new. Come, see why so many are being drawn to this message of the Church of Jesus Christ and why good people everywhere—black and white, rich and poor, near and far, and everything in between—are seeing their lives changed. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s true personal freedom. It’s the greatest blessing in my life, next to my wife and kids. It truly has become a wonderful light in my life.
Thank you again. I wish you the best. Thanks for being a part of this journey. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s real and we’re in it together.
Patrick Laing – Portland, Oregon USA