My Conversion Story

An old friend recently asked me to tell this story, and I realized that I hardly ever do. I guess I don’t think it’s very special. But still, it’s mine, so here it is.

It starts in 8th grade, when the emotional problems that had always plagued me drove me to some anti-social behavior so severe that my poor parents had to withdraw me from school and place me in a mental health facility. By the time I was released to go home that summer, I knew that I was missing something and needed some kind of major change.

I’d always been a pretty religious kid, though my family never went to church much. I went to a kind of church class after school in 3rd grade, and enjoyed it. I tried reading the Bible a couple of times. I felt like there was some kind of spiritual truth out there, but I didn’t know exactly what it was.

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Missionary Reality Check

My family read Alma 21 in the Book of Mormon this week ; a zealous young missionary teaches in a hostile city, encountering intensely reflexive skepticism, then:

 10 And it came to pass as he began to expound these things unto them they were angry with him, and began to mock him; and they would not hear the words which he spake.

 11 Therefore, when he saw that they would not hear his words, he departed out of their synagogue, and came over to a village which was called Ani-Anti, and there he found Muloki preaching the word unto them; and also Ammah and his brethren. And they contended with many about the word.

 12 And it came to pass that they saw that the people would harden their hearts, therefore they departed and came over into the land of Middoni. And they did preach the word unto many, and few believed on the words which they taught.

Wow.  That’s three whole cities that almost totally reject the message in the same number of verses.  This compact little narrative surely illustrates not only the nature of reality, but the Book of Mormon’s accuracy in depicting it.

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My New Mormon.org Profile!

I finished writing my profile for Mormon.org in December, but it took forever for it to get reviewed, I guess.  After a couple of weeks, I emailed the Church and asked about it, and a couple of weeks later, they replied that the review process was lengthy, and they were backlogged.  At any rate, they must have gotten around to it, because it’s online now.  To see it, click the “I’m a Mormon” button in the middle of the right sidebar.  I’ll be adding to it in the future, but I really like what’s there so far.  Hopefully it does some good for someone.

Role Models From the Early Life of Christ

I drafted this chart based on some of our discussion in Sunday School today.  We studied the birth and early life of Jesus Christ (mostly from Luke 2), and found basic patterns in the lives of those involved in that period, setting clear themes and models for us to follow in our own devotion to the Lord:

Idea for sharing the gospel with our less active friends

Like a lot of other people, I’m in the midst of creating a profile for the new mormon.org campaign.  The idea is that most people out there don’t know any Mormons well, and that factor is the single biggest determinant in whether or not someone’s receptive to hearing our message.  Therefore, the Church is sponsoring a mostly one-way social networking site where Latter-day Saints can post profiles and our future friends out there in cyberspace can start getting to know some of us. 

This is a great idea, and it gives me what I hope is also a great idea. 

We should have a similar site to reach out to inactive Church members. 

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On The Motives Of Missionaries

I just sent the following email to the host of a radio medical show I often hear, The Dr. Dean Edell Show:

Dear Dr. Edell,

I often catch your show here in Las Vegas on KXNT 840 AM, and enjoy all the common sense and research-based information you share. Yesterday, though, you remarked about a caller’s comments regarding religions that seek to convert others, suggesting that they are “insecure,” and implying that people who attempt to spread their beliefs are, perhaps, infringing on others.

As a member of a religion which is famous for assertively reaching out to others with our beliefs–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon church–I’d like to explain why we do so. I only hope for us to each understand where the other is coming from.

Our primary sacred texts, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, both speak of the joy of conversion. You’re probably familiar with the Bible, so I’ll share some insights from the Book of Mormon.

After one great leader has taught the gospel to his people, they respond: “Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth….whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.” (Mosiah 5:2-4)

This happiness is not only reserved for the new believer, though; the teacher gets to enjoy this feeling, also. Continue reading

Blessings and Responsibilities of the Tribe of Ephraim

After all these years, I recently paid attention to the injunction in my patriarchal blessing that comes after the declaration that I belong to the tribe of Ephraim, a directive to learn about the blessings and responsibilities that attend that lineage.  I’ve only devoted a few Saturday mornings to this scripture study project, but the results so far have been clear, consistent, and enlightening.  Here’s what I have so far (comments in italics are just my own summaries and paraphrases to help me apply what I’m learning):

Responsibilities and Blessings of the Tribe of Ephraim

Responsibilities

I.

“The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,

“Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:

“And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

“And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?

“Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

“And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.” (Ezek. 37:15–20.)

From this commandment from God to the prophet Ezekiel, these provisions should be noted:

1. That a stick or record was to be kept for Judah, and that a stick or record was to be kept for Joseph;

2. That the two records were to be joined together into “one stick,” or record, in the hands of that prophet.

Where is the fulfillment of this important commandment? Who claims to have the record of Joseph today?

The Book of Mormon Fulfills Joseph’s Prophecy

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April 2009 General Conference: 3 Month Review

We have a tendency to take a General Conference of the Church and discuss it, analyze it, work on applying it, and cherish it in every way we know how…for about three weeks.  Then we forget it until the next Conference six months later and by then, that last Conference might as well have never happened.  So instead of posting my notes on April’s meetings along with everyone else, I want to put mine up now, three months afterwards, halfway between that Conference and the next one. 

I hope that we might all be reminded of things we missed before, or have renewed motivation to live up to the teachings given.  Just this week at a home teaching meeting, a man in my ward mentioned that President Monson had taught in the priesthood meeting that every Melchizedek priesthood holder should be studying the scriptures every day.  I didn’t remember that; it wasn’t in my notes.   I looked up the talk and there it was.  The prophet did say that.  I was grateful to my friend.

When I take notes, immediately after each talk I write a title for that talk in the right margin of the page.  This is my way of summing up the most major point or topic.  My titles for each talk are given in parentheses after each speaker’s name.  It’s always fun to compare my titles to those later published online and in the Ensign.  Here are some highlights from my notes:

Saturday Morning

Elder Hales (“Overcome Debt & Addictions w/ Provident Living”)–The most impressive thing here was just the subject.  Along with Elder Perry’s “Let Him Do It With Simplicity,” this is the second consecutive Conference to begin with a talk about providing for ourselves better by scaling back our materialism.  That fact alone speaks volumes.  Perhaps the best things here were his admonition to “joyfully” live within our means, and the subtle chastisement that debt is money that we could have used to serve others.  Application: Have I reduced my longing for physical possessions through Elder Hales’s prescribed cure of service, obedience to the commandments, tithes, fast offerings, and a family budget?

Elder Christofferson(“Covenants”)– Continue reading

An Open Appeal To the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Dear Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Will you please make a recording for missionary distribution?  There are only so many Church videos and materials to give to friends before they’ve seen everything, and probably seen it multiple times from all their Mormon friends.  I’d love to give people some of your great albums of hymns, but it’s just not affordable.

Yes, it would cost money, but wouldn’t it be a great missionary opportunity?  It would bless lives and build friendships.  Everyone who receives it would love it. 

Christmas music would be perfect.  It wouldn’t even have to be a full album–a few songs would be enough to make a valuable gift.  Thanksgiving, Easter, or Independence Day would also make great opportunities.  Or all of the above!  Friends, relatives, and home teachers could share these gifts at appropriate times when interest is highest.  A small CD package could also include a more direct message about the Church, or maybe just a quote about that holiday.  Or just a picture and the Church web site’s address. 

They could be included in copies of that month’s Ensign.  Or, if that’s too costly, make them available as cheaply as possible from the distribution center. 

If that’s all still impossible, perhaps you could provide a few free mp3 downloads on the Church web site and we could advertise them to our friends with pass along cards.

I know that such a production would yield great results, in the lives of everyone such a recording would touch.  As a teacher, I read samples of great works to children and thus enlarge that author’s exposure and appreciation.  This project would do the same for the Tabernacle Choir. 

And it would undoubtedly help spread the gospel.  Who can hear your music and not feel the Spirit? 

Sincerely,

Jamie Huston