Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grrr... Relief Society

I had the chance to attend two of my block meetings today. It's the first Sunday I've had off in months, so I was really excited. My best friend recently informed me that she wanted to read more of what God was doing in my life as opposed to what I am always thinking about. So today was a chance for me to attend GP's first service and then go to my LDS services and sort of compare how I feel and if God was speaking to me (and what He was saying) at both places on the same day.

Grace Point's series right now is about how the Christmas story is for everyone, especially people with a past (or secrets). I didn't feel very interested in the sermon itself, but felt very grateful for the message and the reminder. Now, this isn't a negative point about Grace Point, rather a personal observation, but because Pastor Hudson is always reminding us about God's mercy, grace, and love; it's almost a message that is taken for granted (by me). (Does that make sense? I really appreciate the drastic contrast to "fire and brimstone" preaching that many think of within conservative Christianity.)

A few months ago, I was upset with Grace Point and even considered leaving because one particular sermon briefly mentioned the teachings of other religions. This is a super, perhaps even hyper sensitive area for me. I hate it with a passion when other churches discuss those who believe differently than themselves. You might even say I loose all common sense in my outrage.
So today during Relief Society when the teacher began discussing other churches (she doesn't say in so many words Protestant Christian churches, but it was implied) and another member criticised the Catholic church over their voting directions I was beyond outraged. It makes me wonder if I am blinded by a romantic view of the LDS church and perhaps today's lesson in RS was simply the real application and perhaps even teachings of the LDS church. I have noticed General Conferences become more defensive, more apologetic in nature. Yet, I don't truly believe that the LDS church would encourage it's members to teach or even behave as they did today within the walls of the RS room.

I'll try to explain a little more. Today's lesson was about seeking and gaining knowledge in eternal truths (you can read the lesson here). It was a great lesson and had so much potential to remind us to be in the world but not of it, to be immovable in our beliefs, and to constantly be seeking Heavenly Father, His will, and a more intimate relationship with Him through prayer and study. It could have been an amazing, Spirit filled discussion.

But it was not.

It was about how other churches teach anti-Mormon classes (not sure how exactly she phrased this), how other churches limit their beliefs by creeds, etc (this part is in the lesson but the delivery was far from loving or kind), and how other churches seem to forget the loving kindness and tender mercies of Heavenly Father and are always teaching on the wrath of God. This greatly disturbed me because my Gospel Doctrine class had mentioned this as well - the same line of thought within the space of 2 hours. And just today I had been marveling without any gratitude at how yet again Pastor Hudson was preaching another sermon on God's mercy, grace, and love. So he doesn't use the term, "tender mercies" but the teaching is the same. One member shared her thoughts on the rigid teachings of the Catholic church and how it impaired their members because their members were told how to vote and this could sometimes conflict with their social lives, etc. WHAT?! I remember wanting to scream at this lady, "Yeah and what about Prop. 8 in CA?"

Members discussed how because churches limited themselves to certain ideas, etc. that they were not open minded and that this was a bad thing. WHAT?! I can remember Young Women themes (it's a yearly thing) and even Relief Society themes on being IMMOVABLE. How is this ANY different? If the room had been larger, like Grace Point's main worship area, I would have stood up and left. I was livid. This was the church I was so aching to return to?! What was I thinking?

Even as angry as I was, I tried to think in terms of God speaking to me. What was He saying to me? Since I've written my last blog, I've been asked to do two different things at Grace Point, out of seemingly nowhere. Of course I've been asked to volunteer again there. Of course. Is this a God thing? Not sure. And of course the first time in over a month or two of my last exciting and great visit to the Church, it goes horribly, seethingly, wrong. I couldn't get out of the building, much less the parking lot fast enough.

I'm angry. I really really want to return to the Church. However, I absolutly do not want to return to a ward of people who don't even think non-Mormons would be in spirit PARADISE but rather spirit prision (aka hell). This boggles the mind. More thinking to do. And of course, this was the very center, the very heart, of why I left the LDS church in the first place. I guess I'll be at Grace Point longer than I had planned.

On Saturday a lady from GP said to me (something along these lines), that when we thinking indpenedntly, we are thinking indenpendt from God. Great thoughts, hard application.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I caught the Twilight bug...

I caught the Twilight bug. It was totally unintentional and I wasn't even interested in the young adult books. In fact, it took the proding of my husband to even get me to be interested in seeing the movie or reading the books. Just didn't look like my kind of reading - apologetic, non-fictional, historical, or other Christian study books. Just not me. I don't read fiction anymore, too mindless and boring. Yuh-huh... I was very wrong.

We went and saw the movie at the end of November, and I was vaguely interested in reading the book. The movie seemed to hiccup and I wondered if there was more to it. So I picked up the first book at Wal-Mart for $7. It looked like it had been cut wrong and was probably discounted because of it's weird shape and crooked pages. I didn't care. I finished it in less than two days. Reading at every stop light, on every break at work, staying up late at night. I love to read but I haven't read like this since I was in college or maybe even highschool. There just hasn't been enough time or anything that has held my interest. I finished the whole series in less than a week. Even read the partial of Midnight Sun on Meyer's official website.

After I devoured the book, as I pondered the whole hype involved with the fans, I wondered since this book was being deemed the next Harry Potter, if conservative Evangelical Christians would react the same as they had to HP. Meyer is also a devout Mormon, and I wondered how much this would play into the equation.

Both Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young taught that we (LDS) are to seek Truth, wherever it may come from. A lot of non-LDS Christians, and even some LDS, have wrongly interpreted this to mean that we (LDS) are to go gallivant with the Devil and other things ungodly, totally unhindered because we are "seeking" Truth. While I write this, I think of a particular poster on the MAD boards who practices witchcraft/magic and is a temple holding LDS. This is between him and God, although the LDS church is very clear on it's teachings that members should have nothing to do with the Devil or his tools, trappings, etc on this Earth (think Tarrot cards or palm readings). Many conservatives are discussing how if Meyer was a Biblical Christian she wouldn't be writing something like this - glorifying vampires (because you know, they're soooo real and as such we just cannot glorify those evil demons... :P ). Whatever happened to interesting fiction with parental supervision? If one has a stumbling block of demons, the occult, etc. then use your own best judgement and don't read it.

Andrew C. Skinner and Robert L. Millet, C. S. Lewis, the Man and His Message: An
LDS Perspective , p.6
At the same time, we are eager to find truth
wherever we can and excited to acknowledge it from whomever it flows. Joseph
Smith stated: "One of the grand fundamental principles of `Mormonism' is to
receive truth, let it come from whence it may." As
Latter-day Saints we are in an interesting and somewhat awkward position in the
Christian world. We claim divine apostolic authority and claim to be possessors
of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. At the same time, we fully acknowledge
that God is working His will through men and women throughout the earth, and
that "every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in
Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know
with a perfect knowledge it is of God" (Moro. 7:16). President
Ezra Taft Benson explained that our Heavenly Father uses the people of the
earth, especially good people, to accomplish His purposes. "It has been true in
the past, it is true today, it will be true in the

What I love about this is that the LDS church does acknowledge how God uses those outside of the Church. This is the correct understanding of seeking Truth, "let it come from whence it may" and other simiular teachings. I also take this, for me personally, that we are to understand that just as the Bible states that the rocks cry out in testimony to Him, so do those apart from the Church. Personally, I take no issue with that. Regardless if they are "Christian" or not, they can still have partial Truth, just not whole Truth.

In the last few weeks, I have been thinking long and hard about returning to the LDS church. There are few reasons as to why I do not, the most basic being family and time. Currently, I am filling a shift on Sunday and so it leaves me without time to attend my ward's block meeting. Second, my husband doesn't want to return to the LDS church and he doesn't want to worship seperatly. Although I am sure we could negotiate if my schedule allowed it.

As I've pondered this return, I've considered what family, friends, and those who attend Grace Point with me would think or say. My stomache churns as I think of having to wear my apologetic hat for awhile to explain to everyone why I left Grace Point and returned to the LDS church. It makes me tired, cranky, and depressed.

Then I began to read blogs that attacked Twilight based solely on Meyer being LDS and the bloggers claiming that the Twiligh saga was simply an indoctrination of Mormon doctrines. Huh? As I read their point by point outlines on why they believe this, my mind is blown away, my jaw becomes rigid, and my temper burns. I read the lines about the LDS church's "rigid teachings on abstience" and I want to punch a hole in the wall. When the hell did waiting become a bad thing? If people don't live by their beliefs, being inmoveable, then why do they have those beliefs in the first place? Live according to belief, that isn't a bad thing and certainly not warrented to be considered "rigid". It would probably do more non-LDS churches good to be more "rigid" regarding abstience. I'm not saying this works for everyone, but c'mon, have a standard and stick to it. Atleast the Church is pretty up front about their standards.

As my anger calmed down, I realized how cold I grown to apologetics. It really simply annoys me now. And I realize that that is unhealthy. For months now, I've wanted to try to line up my Mormon beliefs with Protestant ones. Finally, I realized, WHY? Why do I care if anyone from Grace Point thinks I'm out of my mind for returning to the LDS church? Why do I care if my beliefs line up with Protestant ones? I'm past the point of considering myself a Protestant anymore and wholly identify as a Latter Day Saint. So, who gives a flip if a Protestant disagrees with me? I recently read a fantastic blog on being a "Christian". It was written by a Latter Day Saint and bluntly outlined that sure, Protestants, Catholics, and others disagreed that Mormons were Christians, but really, who cares? It's not like they can take away our Christianity. Why let it get to us so? Why allow Satan to use this as a point of contention? Paul only councilled to be ready with an answer for what we believe, not that we are to go on the offense or forever be defensive about our beliefs.

This is where Satan comes into play. Yet another move into apostasy. Taking what is good, right, and Biblical, and twisting it into something divise and ungodly. Attack, attack, attack. I'm sick of it all. Sure, there are plenty of people who believe what critics of the LDS church write, otherwise, those authors wouldn't sell books and those readers would be LDS. But I don't. And in the end, I am only responsible for my own personal relationship with God. We are to work out our own "salvation with fear and trembling." (Philipians 2:12) Not everyone else's.
I think at this point, I lean more towards Calvinism and of course, take comfort in the Spirit Kingdom where people can still accept Christ and live eternity with Him.

So people don't believe the LDS church is the only True Church? That's fine. God can still work through them, with them, and walk with them. I know that now without being threatened that I'm in a false church. I am grateful for this journey through the Protestant world, and don't see myself withdrawing from it as it's been a vitual part of my growth and understanding. I am happy serving when asked in Grace Point and am at peace with knowing I don't agree with most of the teachings there, but can still take much from them through the Spirit.