Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Oh Say, What is Truth?

I have a favorite Hymn entitled, "Oh say what is truth". I want to share with you the lyrics of this beautiful hymn:
  1. Oh say, what is truth? 'Tis the fairest gem
    That the riches of worlds can produce,
    And priceless the value of truth will be when
    The proud monarch's costliest diadem
    Is counted but dross and refuse.

  2. Yes, say, what is truth? 'Tis the brightest prize
    To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
    Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
    Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
    'Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

  3. The sceptre may fall from the despot's grasp
    When with winds of stern justice he copes.
    But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
    And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
    And the wreck of the fell tyrant's hopes.

  4. Then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first,
    For the limits of time it steps o'er.
    Tho the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst,
    Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
    Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

    When it comes to the minds of men with respect to religion today, and what they think constitutes a true follower of Christ, I would not meet most of their criteria.  I ponder and seek what is required for us to come to the full "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ".  I do not concern myself with what men think of Him, as much as I desire to know what he thinks. I want to learn from him and I would seek to know and understand him from his most fundamental teachings, to His deep mysteries. Most people, I have found when it comes to religion, would want to tell me not to seek the mysteries of God.  They would tell me that it is only necessary to have faith and not to question Him with respect to his mysteries. They would tell me that all that I need to do is confess Christ with my lips, and to have faith, and that through his good grace I can be saved at the last day; and though I indeed know it is "through grace that we are we saved, "after all that we can do", that "all that we can do" requires us to repent and obey the laws and ordinances of his gospel.  It includes the first principles of faith in Christ, repentance, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. It means striving to the best of our ability to observe and keep all of his commandments.

    Many in the world today want to teach me in sound bites that what matters is that I have a personal relationship with Christ, and that will suffice in the end. No Church is necessary they will say, ignoring the scriptures that clearly indicate that Christ spoke of building up what he himself referred to as "my church", upon "this" rock, a "rock of revelation". Yet, as a side note, how can there be revelation without a revelator?  Doesn't this suggest the need of a "living oracle" or Prophet, especially when he himself would no longer be upon the earth after ascending to heaven, or until he returns again at his glorious second coming.

    The world would teach me that God no longer speaks to Prophets, that there is no need for such in our time because Christ has performed his work and that is all we need.  We only need a Bible, that will substitute. The Jews crucified their Christ and the world itself combined against the people of God and the Prophets and Apostles to destroy them, and the priesthood authority which they held, and yet they will say that God in his mercy created from this grand rejection a new order; and through the ashes of this apostasy "his" Church and Kingdom survived because he, God, decreed it.

    Yet, it did not, and the Bible teaches it. It is a fundamental tenant of all protestant religions, if it were not so there would have been no reformation. And yes, the Bible speaks of a future, "restoration or restitution of all things" in a period which it refers to as the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times".

    I do thank God for the Bible and I am grateful to men like Tyndale who made it possible that I should have it.  I can read and have read it for myself.  I thank God that I was able to read it without the influence or good intentions of a minister to teach me in the ways and traditions of men.  Mine was the unique opportunity to think for myself in my studies, with the only influence being the influence of the Spirit, that sweet Spirit of the Lord which allows pure intelligence to flow into the heart and mind of those that read the scriptures with pure intent. This can be the privilege of every man.  We often live below our privileges.

    I can discern between the sound bites of men and the truths contained in the scriptures as I read them.  Where in the scripture does it say that all that you must do is know that Christ is your personal Savior and you will be saved?  Where is it implied that to follow Him indicates that somehow there is no need for his Church, his Priesthood, his laws or the ordinances of the Temple. I know what "One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism means.  One means one and the world can combine against it, and twist and turn it to there liking, and it will still have the same meaning.

    I ask, is it possible for the overwhelming majority of people living in the world to accept such falsehoods?  The simply answer is, yes, it is not only possible, it is true, and they do.

    I can read for myself the Acts of the Apostles and know that they were following the commission of the Lord Jesus Christ to build up "his Church" in all the world.  Paul speaks in every case to the "saints of the Church" in Galatia, or Corinth, or Rome.  Is is really so absurd to believe the Church which Christ indeed did organize, would be called after his name? It was the Church of Christ or the Church of God or more fully, the Church of Jesus Christ, housing the congregations of his saints, or his true followers.

    There was a Church and Jesus Christ did organize it and the scripture makes it plain as to why - "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    You might ask, why are you fighting so against a few sound bite posts on social media?  The answer, they tend to license people to discard the fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They can pacify themselves in their "saved condition" that all they have to do is make a lip confession of Jesus as Lord and Master and that their obligation is done.  They may actually sit there in their "saved condition" and really never come to know the Master, the beauty and majesty of his teachings, or even of their true relationship to him.

    You may think to yourself, who are you, to speak in this manner?  We have Christ, we have his Churches, we have our preachers.  We know that we are saved and forgiven, and we will enter into his heaven, and we will shout our praises to him forever.  Where is this arrogance on your part? To which I will respond. I am indeed nothing.  I love the Lord, just like you do.  In fact I believe in an Article of Faith which states that we believe in worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men that same privilege. I just believe what I believe, and to be true to myself, and to you, I have expressed it.  You can feel disposed to me how you like.  You may take these sentiments as an attack on all that you hold to be dear and true to you, or you can do what any truth-seeking man or woman would do.  You could simply think about things from another point of view.  I do this everyday.  I ask in fairness, do you know of a faith that is more scrutinized, misrepresented or misinterpreted than the faith which I espouse?  Again, I only ask myself, what is true.  I cannot discern truth, if I am not willing to grapple with falsehood.  That is part and parcel of this whole experience in mortality.  Again back to the Hymn, we must search the heights and depths to find the illusive grains of truth which lie in the mountains and seashores of falsehoods.  But how precious are those grains when we find them.  I return to my original thinking...

    Modern teachers of religion want to tell me that all Churches are true so long as they teach Christ, thus taking away the mind of Christ himself, professing that Christ has done his work, that there is no more need for Prophets and Apostles although the scriptures which they profess to believe makes no mention of Popes or Reverends or Cardinals or any of the man made distortions of the Church of Jesus Christ which they themselves know was lost many centuries ago in apostasy.  Again, all Protestant Churches believe in this Apostasy which took place centuries ago, else why did they see the need for the reformation?  Indeed there was a need for a reformation, but a reformation, as important as it was in establishing an environment for the free expression of religion resulted in a multiplication of Churches as each minister interpreted the teachings of the Bible in his own way.  Only a restoration could bring back to the earth the very organization which Christ himself established. This would require that God himself would have to open the heavens again and call another Prophet to head a final Dispensation of the Gospel before his second coming in glory.  It would require the Lord himself to declare and not man, "thus shall my church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".

    The Bible does not use the phrase, "develop a personal relationship with Christ".  This was not had among the ancient saints.  I am not critical of this, in fact I share the sentiment that it is important to know that Jesus Christ did perform his atoning sacrifice for each one of us and that he would have done so if we were the only living soul upon the earth.  What John the beloved actually said was, "this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent".  This is entirely different.  To know that Christ is our personal Savior is one thing, but to actually know him is another.  To know him, we have to accept him on his terms and not ours.  This is the ultimate in courage. We are going to have to ask, seek and knock.  I thank God that he gave me the agency to ask, seek and knock and to learn for myself.  I will give you a grand clue...No man who ever is truly able to walk in the light and learning of the Lord will ever find popularity in the eyes of the world.  True followers of Christ will be rejected by those who profess to be true followers of Christ.  These latter will follow a God after their own image, and in their own likeness, after the likeness of the world.  They will draw near to God with their lips and yet their hearts shall be far from him.  The will teach for commandments the doctrines of men having only a form of godliness.  Some will post "prayers" in a Facebook post and their knees will never touch the ground.

    Many professions take a lifetime of work, study, hard work and devotion.  Yet we think we can get to the heart of what it means to learn of God, to come to know him and learn of his ways in a simple or clever soundbite or Facebook post.  If we can reduce our obligation to come unto the Savior to a simple sound bite, we can then release ourselves of the burden of "feasting upon the words of Christ", accepting baptism into his Church, truly repenting of our sins, partaking of the Sacrament, paying our tithes and offerings, praying fervently and serving our fellow beings just to mention a few of the practices of true followers of Christ.  

    If I were the Devil and wanted to capture the mind and souls of the good and honorable men of the earth, I would let them have their Bible, I would let them have their Christ on their own terms, in fact, I would teach them that all that they needed was to have a personal relationship with him. I would encourage them to build up as many Churches as they liked and focus on just what doctrines they held in high esteem or they could just not consider a Church as being essential at all.  I would like it if they talked a lot about grace and "being saved" but not too much about repentance, accountability and the like.  They mainly just need to feel saved.  It wouldn't really be necessary to know anything about what God would be like if you saw him, after all, that's just one of the mysteries that you should just leave alone.  Never mind that millions have lived upon the earth without ever knowing Christ and would be damned to hell because they never had the opportunity to know Christ as their personal Savior before they died. That's just a bad break for them.

    If I were the Devil, I would let them teach, through their erroneous interpretations of scripture, that there was no family in heaven, and that it is just an earthly institution.  I would teach them that no man has ever actually seen God.  I would really like it if they talked a lot about salvation, but nothing of exaltation.  It would be blasphemous to speak of man ever approaching a measure of the stature, of the fullness of Christ.  I would have them speak of the Temple only in terms of endearment and disguise its true purpose.  No need for Prophets anymore, no more Apostles, but you can have all the preachers and ministers of religion that you want.  Certainly no need for additional scriptures, its all in the Bible you know.

    If I were the devil, I would teach these good Christian people that if a man ever professed a revelation or a vision from God that he be dismissed as a charlatan and a fraud.  I would teach them that there is no need for modern Prophets or Apostles, and that if any man professed to be such and draw a following after them, that they should be persecuted and martyred with their claims. I would brand them as not worthy of the title of Christian and I would place upon them  a nickname to disguise them and their faith and ridicule them as a people.  I would teach them that the wretched of the earth would be more worthy of acceptance than they and would drive them from city to city seeking to destroy them and their faith off the face of the earth. Then I would teach their children that it never happened.

    At this point I know most have left off in reading these words for obvious reasons and only a few remain.  Thank you for staying with me.  I return to where I began, as a humble follower of Jesus Christ and as one who has spent a lifetime in pursuit of truth and the joy and peace that it has brought to me. I am a follower of Him. There are so many things that I wish to share with you.  Some of them will be new to you.  Some may have heard some of these things in a distorted form and may have preconceived notions about them, nevertheless if you are still here with me, I think you are at least willing to hear what I wish to say.  I will link this blog to our Facebook site and afterward, you can return to this blog to truly know the things of my soul on your own, or save the link.

    I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am not playing the part of a "lone wolf".  I am one of millions who have lived and who now live that believe in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  We are among the hundreds of thousands who have answered the call of a Prophet to serve as missionaries for this Church. We are even now serving as a full time missionaries for this wonder organization in Jamaica, and I feel reasonably confident, that after spending some time at home with our children and our grandchildren and other extended family members, we will serve again at some future time in another land, or even in the United States.

    Our intent is not to draw a following.  Our intent is to share truth.  As missionaries, we point the way to Jesus Christ, if we draw people to us, we have failed in our calling. I hope that this can be interactive.  Please make comments and ask the hard questions if you'd like.  My wife and I would be pleased to answer them to the best of our ability. We only ask that you be civil.  This is not a contest  of opinion, but a quest for truth and understanding

    We are here at our own expense.  This is the way it has always been with those who would follow and serve the Lord.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is free, and always has been.  We have not attended an institution to obtain our knowledge, but we do have authority to preach the gospel.  I really prefer the expression, "teach the gospel", and I think our primary function as missionaries is to "guide" others as they make their own discoveries of these beautiful truths.

    We are still full time missionaries and have full responsibilities here, and because of this, we will share these truths with you as we have the time, yet,  our time is reasonably short here in Jamaica, and we hope to continue sharing our understanding of these revealed truths after we get home until we have this chance to serve again somewhere else.

    We will start by sharing with you the same discussions that we share here in the homes of the people we teach.  We will teach these principles in our own words, as moved upon by the Spirit, and teach according to the needs that we perceive in the hearts and minds of those that study with us.  Since this is part of a blog you don't necessarily have to keep up but you can come and go as you please.  

    This is in no way a substitute for meeting with our missionaries personally in your homes to investigate the teachings of this marvelous Church.  Please consider this as we go along.  They will ask you to make commitments and use the agency that God has given you to do so.  Our Heavenly Father knows that when you use your agency to make and keep commitments with Him, that you are demonstrating faith in Him and His Gospel, and by so doing he will bring to you more light and truth.  He is the way, the truth and the light.







Friday, 7 July 2017

Journal Entry - 7 July 2016

Panama Temple

I have spent most of the week working on the applications for Temple Patrons Assistance for a small number of Jamaican Saints to be able to receive funding to attend the Temple in Panama.

We have decided that we will not attend this year because of costs.  We can make many trips to the Temple in Saint Louis for the cost of one trip to Panama and so sadly we will forgo the experience this round.

In other news we helped Natoya obtain additional supplies for her schooling such as a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, thermometer and a few other things that she needs.  We visited her sister who was recently stabbed, and after discussing some of her needs, we brought her some feroglobin to help her to replenish her blood supply.  We also took her some curry fish and a few bottles of gatorade.

We met up with Paul who we met in Kingston well over a year ago now and he still is homeless and trying to promote a book that he wrote about the Jamaican culture called "seen".  Against our better judgement we loaned him enough money to develop one copy of his book and we paid for an ad in the paper to promote an event aimed at promoting the book as well.

I did one interview with Carlton Collins from Junction who is a prospective missionary.  He should receive his call in about 5 weeks.  We learned that his Dad who is blind and has diabetes will now begin dialysis twice a week.  We recently visited with him in the hospital due to effects from the illness.

We visited with two of the old timers, Brother McLean from Mandeville and Brother Dodd from Hopeton.  We also helped teach Clarence "Buster" Brown who has asked that I baptize as soon as he can qualify.  He is the man that lost 4 of his 10 children. Two of whom were murdered, one was hit by a car and a daughter had a brain hemorrhage. We also helped teach another lady that lives nearby.

Tomorrow we will help with a District Youth Activity and Sunday we will be attending the Branch Conference in Montego Bay.  




Sunday, 2 July 2017

Journal Entry - 2 July 2017

Members of the Hopeton Branch

This morning I awoke very early thinking about all the needed changes that need to be made, first in my own life, than with respect to my family relationships and lastly with respect to our callings here in Jamaica.  I was on my knees early and earnestly.

We had intended to attend Sacrament Meeting in Mandeville but as we were almost in the building we decided that we should go to Hopeton.

President and Sister Hayles
There are a lot of older folks there in the Branch and the testimony from the older Jamaican ladies are always very moving.  Sister Hayles, wife of the Branch President, was the first to speak.  She spoke much about her love for the Lord and the Church.  She testified of the living Prophet, of the restoration of the Gospel and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

The most interesting of the testimonies given was from Clarence "Buster" Brown. He is not a member of the Church.  This was his second time coming to the Hopeton Branch.  Because of the Patwa it is sometimes hard for us to understand everything that he told us but he stood up and shared this story.  He still works at age 79 and he was preparing to go to work on this particular day when he was told by his father (meaning Heavenly Father) that it was not needful for him to go to work because his two sons would be visiting him.  Later he was contacted by Elder Anderton and Elder Wirthlin.

He told me that he had 10 children and that 4 of them were no longer alive.  One boy was hit by a car at age 11. One daughter had a brain hemorrhage at age 27. One son was 32 when he was robbed and stabbed 14 times in Kingston.  The last was in a bar and was shot.  These are the stories the kind of stories that we hear all of the time.  He teared up and got very emotional and I told him about our daughter Jessica and knew somewhat of what he was experiencing.  I use to think I had problems until we came to Jamaica.  We have no problems...not really.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

In the Bush

Today we made our way farther into the Bush than we have ever been in an attempt to locate a man Raymond with the yard name "Pretty".  All we knew about the man was that he had approached our missionaries in Mandeville and requested a copy of the Book of Mormon.  When we left this morning all we knew was that he lived "out beyond Somerset" in a place called "Cooley Mountain.

On the way we passed by a Church which was conducting a funeral.  Funerals are very long in Jamaica.  There were dozens of cars aligned on both sides of the narrow road which could already only accommodate for single lane traffic.  At one point we were stopped by a taxi that was dropping off an elderly lady who required a wheel chair.  I had rolled down the window to be able to hear the man escorting us through the parked cars.  I stopped exactly by another elderly lady that was so beyond herself in grief that I was amazed that nobody in this relatively large crowd was coming to her aid.  Like most Jamaicans she made no effort to move from the street and all I could do was get an earful of wailing while waiting.

Finally we were able to push our way through and after a good drive made it to Somerset. The first set of directions got us on the right turn toward Cooley Mountain at least to the "fenced area".  The next set of directions got us to the left turn at the "square" which was really closer to a 170 degree turn.  We really passed up the road and got corrected by a very old lady carrying some kind of a load whom we could barely understand.

When we got to Cooley Mountain we pulled into a drive-way and talked to an older gentleman that was visiting his family from Philadelphia.  I know right!  We are miles out in the bush along a one way oil and chip and we meet this man who happens to be visiting and is leaving back for the states tomorrow.  They helped us call "Pretty" and being concerned for our safety elected to escort us to a "bush store" where we would meet a man named "Winston" and he could direct us from there to our destination.  Our escort reminded us several times that we were "in the bush" and to be careful who we spoke to.  When the lane to "Pretty's" home went to dirt he walked ahead of us to the entrance of Raymond's (Pretty) home and there stood this wonderful old man smiling from ear to ear welcoming us to his home.

He provided three old chairs for the ladies while he and I sat on the concrete railing of the porch.  We began our discussion but were interrupted by a man carrying a sack of yams obviously for Raymond and his family.  After he haggled the man down and only bought a partial sack full we were able to get back to the discussion.

Raymond expressed gratitude for the book that was allowing him to know even more about Jesus Christ and told us several times that the name of Jesus Christ was the only name under heaven whereby salvation comes unto the children of men.  We talked about the origins of the Book of Mormon, of the restoration of the gospel and the First Vision of Joseph Smith.  He read while being instructed from the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and then read to us from 3rd Nephi chapter 11 which records Savior's visit to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas after his Resurrection.  He surprised us by asking if we baptized and of course received an immediate invitation to be baptized once he had learned for himself of the truthfulness of our message.

We have been out in the bush before but not in such a vulnerable situation as we now found ourselves in.  However; we had been warmly welcomed at the store by "Winston" and the other bush Jamaicans and couldn't really identify any hint of threat or harm.  Nevertheless, I could not help but think that our family members would probably not be too thrilled if they could see us and I kept a close eye on the truck.  The mood was excellent and Jocelyn was especially excited about the experience.

On the way home we tried to video some of our travel but didn't have too much luck.  I figure most people won't believe us when we get home about some of our adventures here and we will probably just have to treasure them up in our own minds.  As we were traveling we met up with a truck and I had to get so far over on the road that I could sense that I only had half a tire over the roads edge and a steep incline.  I was glad that he passed and I could make the course correction in the right direction.

At so it is.  Another day in "wonderland" as I have come to call it and another adventure.  You literally have no way of knowing what is around the next corner!

Safe Travels
Look-a-more (Later)

Friday, 14 April 2017

My Story of Conversion

It seems like I have always had religious questions.  In my teenage years I thought a lot about the truth when it comes to religion.  What is the real truth? Why do we have so many Churches?  Why are there no living Apostles? What is the significance of the Temple that is referenced and referred to so many times in the scriptures?  I believe these are fair questions are they not?  After all they came as I was making the most diligent effort of my life to study the Bible, particularly the New Testament.

In 1972, I inquired of the Lord, desiring that he would lead me in such a way that I might receive the answers to such questions.  My desire was to know from the source where the truth could be found. I sought to know whether there be a God or no.  I suspected if there were no God that I would know it was so when my petitions went unanswered. I believed that if there be a God and if he had his own mind with respect to the salvation of man that he would just as well answer my petition as an obscure boy of 18 as he would any man, if it be so that God is truly "no respecter of persons".

I suppose a lot of people never consider such things, accepting things as they are especially in the matter of religion.  I don't fault them for this, especially when it makes sense for many to believe that God doesn't really care about such things as long as you just believe, or so they say.  We have all sadly discovered what comes about when we have strong leanings when it comes to religion or politics. Nevertheless, I was young,  I didn't have much concern with that and I can say with confidence that I had as sincere a desire to know the truth at that time in my life as any man, indeed, I have never met anyone since that I felt outmatched me in that desire. 

I was ready to wipe the slate clean and abandoned every tradition and every notion that I had ever received regarding religion if only God would make known the truth unto me.  Be it among the Protestant Religions or Catholic, Buddhist or the religion of Islam, if God would make it known, I was prepared to follow.  In saying this I always expected that the truth would be found among those who professed to be Christian.  That should be evident as I was searching the Bible with great diligence to bring peace to my mind concerning the matter.

Like the man who smote his breast alongside the self-righteous Pharisee who declared, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."  So was my condition as I searched.  The course of my life was heading in the wrong direction, born more-so out of peer pressure than an evil nature.  Although I made many mistakes that caused me great grief and shame and much regret, still I was always of a religious nature in the core.  I knew for example that I was in violation of the commandments of God even in the very acts and yearned for the strength and faith to repent and make a reconciliation to my Father in Heaven. 

I spent much of my boyhood attending the Victory Baptist Church in Providence and had a great affection for Pastor E.M. Skinner.  I asked him on one occasion why we no longer had living apostles and prophets and particularly about the Temple and its purpose.  I am sure that he did his best to answer my sincere questions but I remember distinctly the feeling that penetrated my soul that the answer given was well intended but not correct.

With a desire to return to full devotion to God and abandon my sinful life I attended the First Baptist Church along with the girl I was dating at the time.  I fully expected that this would be my full return to the formal Church of Christ and that I would remain steady in this congregation for the remainder of my time in Providence. This however, was the turning point for me, I left the meeting disappointed, feeling nothing.  I concluded over time from this experience that it was not possible for all the various religious denominations to be right. I would later read these words which are attributed to Roger Williams (although in fairness that is up for debate) which reflects my sentiment after leaving that nights service from the 1st Baptist Church: "there (is) no regularly constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any church ordinance, nor could there be, until new apostles should be sent by the Great Head of the church, for whose coming (I am) seeking."

I went on in this condition of feeling that "something was wrong in Denmark" when it comes to religion until my senior year in high school.  It was in the early part of that year that I along with Rodney Richardson decided to offer a verbal prayer to God on the hillside across from the home that I was raised in and overlooking the old laundromat with Patterson's grocery in the background. We took to our knees and I being the spokesman gave the prayer which as much as memory serves me went something like this:  "Oh God, if there be a God, and if thou art God, wouldst thou lead us to the people who know thee and they know that they know thee."

In September of 1972, while attending business college in Owensboro Kentucky, two young elders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked upon my door.  The approach was simple, said Elder William Mark Player, "we have come to teach you about a Prophet of God."  I wore the long hair of the day and had no shirt or shoes on and a guitar was strapped across my back.  My pants were full of holes but I said in reply, "come in and teach me about your Prophet!"

I could relate to the story of a young fourteen year old named Joseph Smith from upstate New York who desired to know which of all the sects was true and which he should join and that in answer to a simple prayer while in a grove of trees, in the year 1820, God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to him.  Joseph Smith did not go into that grove to start a Church.  Like I had experienced, he simply wanted to know which of all the sects was God's own Church and which he should join. 

I have since learned that the Protestant movement as important as it was to pave the way for the free expression of religion could not bring about a restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth. Reformation of that which had be corrupted by centuries of apostasy could only preclude and set in motion the conditions for a full restoration of the Gospel and Church as organized by the Savior himself in the meridian of time.  None of the reformers professed to be Prophets or Apostles and most claimed no Priesthood Authority as given to the Apostles by the Savior.  For all the marvelous things that they did to bring the teachings of Jesus Christ into the hands of the common man even they were obliged to wait upon the God of Heaven to make all things aright.

The foretold time of Restoration would have to wait until the conditions which existed in the United States of America at the time of Joseph Smith were ready.  God would have to raise up a free nation which espoused freedom of religion as one of its fundamental tenants and it would be in these conditions, upon our great continent that the God of Heaven would part the veil and speak unto man as in ancient times and restore the full gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the prerogative of God to impart his mind and will concerning the salvation of man. It is his prerogative to establish his Church and Kingdom upon the earth and I declare with as much humility as I can muster, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that Kingdom.  He has called Apostles and Prophets anew.  He has revealed his everlasting Gospel. It is true.

In due course I would learn about the Book of Mormon which is a scriptural record of Gods dealings with the ancient inhabitants of America.  My conversion was perhaps complete as I read the account of Nephi's vision beginning in the 11th chapter of 1st Nephi and through the 14th.  As I read these verses particularly in chapter 13, I understood concerning the apostasy which had taken place and I understood fully why there were so many Churches and where I stood in relation to the history of its development.  I read the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ, in only a matter of weeks not being able to put it down even for my secular studies, for I was more concerned about knowing the truth of the matter of this first Church to be organized as a uniquely American Church than about gaining secular knowledge; nevertheless, I did do well in school.

As I prayed about this unique book and religion I in due time received a strong impression from the Spirit of the Lord that the Book of Mormon was indeed true and in October of that year I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My story is perhaps unique and I share it because I feel to be as transparent and truly "real" about my life as I possibly can.  My story is not "the" story.  Like millions of others now know, I too know without one ounce of doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored again in preparation for the Lord's return.  We know concerning what a man must do to "have peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come."  We know concerning the principles and ordinances of the Gospel.  We know what and whom we worship and how we are to worship Him because he has revealed it. 

We know concerning plain and precious doctrines which were lost to the earth during the dark ages of apostasy concerning us as his children; where we came from, why we are here and where we are going and we know that it is the destiny of families to be bound up and sealed together for eternity because of the ordinances of the Temple.  Yes my prayers concerning this sacred place where answered.  I now know the purpose for the Temple and why the Lord was so passionate about it.  

I do not expect that a single person who reads this account will feel disposed because of it to investigate the Church and espouse its doctrines.  It simply doesn't work that way.  To gain this same witness the earnest seeker of truth would have to do as I have done.  I prayed to be lead.  I accepted the servants of God young as they were and I applied the promise that I could know as I asked, seeked and knocked.  I was willing to receive whatever answer that I received and knew that I could not be presumptuous that I knew the mind and will of God unless he was willing to reveal it.

I have come to know fully what it means for me personally to accept such a bold and dramatic claim that this Church makes. Knowing important and significant truths can be very lonely. I have shared this knowledge with many of my friends and family.  Few have believed me sufficiently to act upon it and some that once received it have left it.  Notwithstanding this my dear friends, I do know and will know until my last breathe and the day will come when all of you will know as well. In that I take great comfort. 

I want you to know that the search and discovery is worth it.