Monday, December 6, 2010 0 comments


If you know my little family, it is no surprise that we are pregnant with a little guy. My daughter absolutely knew she would be having a "boy". She is an amazing little child that knows what she knows. She doesn't have to think twice about it. She knows. Anyway, we have around three months to go until the little guy comes and then we will be parents of two! How crazy does that sound? I will be 26 very soon and with two children! Its been a trip to get this far. I know we all look forward and think, "where will I be in 5 years?" If I had known I would be here, I wouldn't have been as worried. I have a beautiful wife, an intelligent daughter, and a son on the way. School should be done soon (certain aspects of it) and the auto business is getting better than it was a year ago. Things seem more peachy than they did a year ago. Unfortunately, when things are peachy, things aren't as they seem. So with that being said, I plan on discussing in this post what isn't "peachy" in the good neighborhood.

The un "peachy" topic in my life has been religion. All you who know me know that I served an LDS mission in the Texas Houston East Mission and enjoyed every bit of it. Some would say that I served a successful mission and others would have the exact opposite opinion. I would say that I served the best I knew how to and that's all that matters to me. So let's dig a little deeper as to why I have an issue here. Let it be known now that I have reached a conclusion amongst all this mess, but I feel I am still not out of the rough yet. Things aren't as black and white as I once had thought they were. Black and white is the way things are taught and I found out there were more colors in there that my naked eye couldn't catch until further examination.

It all started when I arrived at the age of 14 years old and I had gained a little bit of knowledge and that started the ball rolling. I had come across a subject matter on Joseph Smith that told a story about a circumstance when Emma walked into the home and saw him kissing a young 14 year old girl that he and Emma had "adopted" as their own. I was somewhat shocked because I had always been taught that it was just Emma and Joseph. Their undying love forever! Obviously this wasn't the case. So I kind of fell away for some time and eventually found my roots again and was able to "pass" on that info. I immersed myself into the gospel "meat", or at least what I thought was "meat". By this I am meaning the deeper doctrine of the church. I learned about how to gather the information given in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon, and the Bible and really be able to tell a great story with it. I learned to do it so well on my mission that I was summoned by a lot of seminary teachers to have me teach specific topics to their students, such as the Second Coming and other apocalyptic events. I fed off of it because it was very interesting and to me I felt like I was seeing the signs all around. So I felt like my testimony had become almost impenetrable to anyone who would throw anything at me. I served in the Bible belt in Texas and came across every type of "Christian" out there. Everything from JW's to Satanist (yes I look at them as partly Christian, just the other side of the equation). I felt like I learned what I needed to know to help them see the light I had with the Gospel that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had. I was "successful" in gaining people to the understanding I had. Whether they were baptized or not was not my goal. My goal was to set as many seeds as I could and to reap the benefits of those who already had grown and came to know.

Along the journey of my mission, I found many people with intriguing stories about the church that at the time didn't seem correct in my findings. I just told myself that I would store the info in my mind for another day when I wasn't serving my mission to understand what they were pointing towards. I was always taught that in every lie, lies a truth that started it. If that makes any sense at all. The Church teaches that the "lies" about the Church were in fact truths at one time until the individual who came across it twisted the truth out of it. In some cases I can agree to that statement. There are a lot of individuals out there that have a tendency to not like anyone or anything and want only to harm others. I see those people as misfits and they should be ignored. When you look more into the info that is thrown out at the missionaries a little deeper, it is difficult to see where some of the twists had taken place. Especially when those twists look like they came from the Church themselves. I was clued into this notion when I was told to burn the "purple dragon" (we called it that because it was huge and boring with a purple cover) handbook that we as missionaries were told to use for training to become better missionaries. It didn't make a lot of sense to me, but I did as I was told and we burned it, along with the 7 discussions I started my mission with, and we encircled our efforts around the new "Preach My Gospel" manual for missionary work. When I burned that book (purple dragon) a seed was planted in me. Why was my church making me burn something that was "of value" when I arrived and then shunned later. The only thing I could think of at the time was because we all hated the book so much it would make us feel better once it was gone. Okay, so let me back up here a minute, we weren't told to "burn" the book, but we were told to "destroy" it. It is a lot of the same thinking that goes into "destroying" our garments that aren't of use anymore. Why this bothered me is because the Church is always saying that the books that come forth today are "latter-day doctrine" and should be taken as scripture. If scripture then was being "destroyed" for new scripture, why do our other "scriptures" still have a precedence today? We do have proof that some scripture are pulled from "cannon" because they are no more relevant to the "Church" as a whole. The example I have was the "Lectures on Faith" which was included in the original Doctrine and Covenants and then pulled by our Church in 1921. I am not really sure as to why, but the only conclusion as to why I don't care for it is that it supports the "trinity" that many other Christian denominations cleave to. So I believe it was pulled because it didn't support the solid doctrine that our Church follows to be true. There are many other examples, but not enough time or space to go into. I am not trying to spill everything I have studied and come to know, but merely trying to support an idea that has stemmed from all of this.

When that seed was planted in me, I decided to slowly study one topic at a time to come to know for myself how to go against those who fought against our Church. Plus, I was a priesthood leader and needed to know something for the questions that could come to me from being in the position. So what I did is I took one topic at a time and learned all that there was to know from the Church's standpoint. I felt like there was more, because of all the loose ends. The Church isn't loose in specific events that took place or even doctrines that were taught. So I went elsewhere to find more info. I first hit the professors of BYU and their findings, along with the Apologists for the Church. A little more of the story was being told with them and then I dove into the deep end and tried to find info outside of the Church. The missing pieces seem to show more light at this point and a better picture was being shown.

Something that is interesting to note: I am an auto salesman for a GMC Buick store and have become very fond of those vehicles. If I was to find out all I can about other products, I can go to the "horses mouth" and therefore learn what I can about them. But, like others know, when you go and look at a specific dealership and ask about their product, you will hear nothing negative, but always positive. Hence you lose the opposite side of the story. I could tell you that the best product on the road is the Pontiac Aztec and give you every reason why and probably sell you on it, but the reality is that it is a horrible product because of the acceptance by the public. In reality it was one of the best products out there, but the design scared people off and made it one of the biggest blunders of GM. If someone really wanted to know what the product was about, the best thing for them to do is to go to "outsiders" and take what they say as a grain of salt. If you would go to the Toyota store, they would give you all the negative, but if you go to the regular used car dealer that sells anything and everything, you might hear a better side of the story without all the fluff that the other salesman had added. This is huge in trying to find a vehicle to purchase. I study what I need to about the other products out there and I spill what I need to for a gain in my pocket. It's business. But, I will always tell the customer that I am biased towards GM because it is my livelihood and they should seek others input to get a better understanding for themselves. Normally I will get a customer back because they have a seed set on them. That seed was not a negative one, but a positive one with potential to increase in size.

With all that being said, I figured it was best to get the whole story rather than the story I had grown up with and was being told. The reason why individuals "fall astray" in the Church and end up leaving are for obvious reasons like adultery, gambles, etc. but no one ever talks about the Sunday School teacher that only wanted to be a good teacher and sound interesting to those who came to listen. He/she is the individual who wants to dig deeper and find something just a little bit more interesting than the other guy that taught it. It is what makes humans different from each other, to out do the other. So they look towards the Church info and can't find much different, and then the turn to other sources such as the discourses by Brigham Young or articles written by Bruce R McConkie. Almost everyone I have spoken to on this matter have found great info from those source and others, all church member info (most from apostles and prophets) and then everything comes crashing, the flower from the seed that was planted begins to make shape and all is revealed as to what the flower is going to be. It is hard to read those sources and not fall into a doctrine that was taught or an event that happened that the teacher had not ever heard of in prior studies. This is what brings more individuals out of the Church than the normal reasons we hear about. The fall into a story or doctrine that sparks more mystery and then puts a different light on other aspects. "Following blindly" usually pops into mind by this point because the blinders have been pulled aside and therefore the world looks different than it did. This only happens because the individuals realizes then that the root for a testimony prior had been pulled out from underneath. It almost becomes a shallow root that was easy to pull.

There is only one of two different routes to go at this time, when an individual meets this fork. It is either to be FOR the Church or AGAINST it. Some who choose the latter normally feel it is their obligation to warn the others about the info that they had come across and therefore only become bitter to an extent that the "Man behind the Curtain" was in fact just a man. It is an easier path to follow if you ask me. Believe me, I have thought of taking that path many times because it is easier to travel. The harder path is to stay FOR the Church. The reason why it is more difficult to stay with the church is because uncertainty abounds. I see this as a strength to the individual who chooses to see it as a strength. Uncertainty always leaves doubt, which fuels curiosity, which pushes an individual to find out more. Questioning everything is definitely a chore and becomes a task that is never ending for he/she that chooses to follow it. Isn't questioning something the very idea of gaining a belief in something and then eventually arriving at knowledge? We are here to gain knowledge. He/she who doesn't question is missing the very key to unlock the doors to unsurmountable opportunities.

If we look in history of any civilization throughout our tiny existence as humans, the one key that brought power to the dominating another wasn't strength by muscle or even the location as to where the civilization was from. It was knowledge. This is why the library of Alexandria was burned when Rome defeated the Greeks. They destroyed their knowledge and replaced it with the Roman rule and their knowledge. The nation with the most knowledge gains the respect and honor of the others and therefore allows for one to rule the other. If we as "children of God" wish to exemplify Him, we must choose to question and eventually arrive at Knowledge. It's a progression that we all must face and how we face it will determine how our lives are lived. If we choose to question, the power to whatever is desired is closer and at hand. Some can say this could be used for personal benefit, but in reality, everything we do is for personal benefit. We are all trying to survive better than we did yesterday. What Christ taught, I believe, was something greater than what we all do today. If we can survive "well" for ourselves and help others do the same, this is the gospel He taught. Philanthropists could be an example of what I am speaking here on an extreme scale. They have accomplished so much and therefore wish for others to gain what they have. I do feel that some of them do have it in their hearts to make others better off than they otherwise would have been because they have learned to survive "well" and want others to have that opportunity. This is the path we follow to gain "true knowledge". This is what I believe Christ wanted for all and what I also believe is the "gospel".

This brings me to my final point. When someone says "I know this Church is true" what does this exactly mean? Well for each person that is different. It could be home teaching, it could be families, it could be Jesus, it could be a lot of different topics. Those are all aspects of the Church. The Church, if we look at it from the beginning (1820 and on) has always been "changing" or molding into something better than it was before. Some find it in their ability to institute certain doctrines that may or may not have anything to do with the eternal aspect of existence for the world as a whole. Others, go along with the previous teaching and play the neutrality card to gain favor from specific groups. You can see this also in the governments of the world. It is how the game is played. I believe to this point, from what I have studied and gathered in my quest for truth, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is two different entities rather than one.

The two entities are: The Church, and The Gospel.

The Church is by definition a body of people that gather in a building or location of some sort to worship.

The Gospel is an entity that to me is eternal and essential to our existence here and in the hereafter.

Here is an easy way to understand what I am trying to help you understand. Picture yourself about to retire, you are single, no children and ready to leave work for good to enjoy other pleasures of life. You decide to become a hermit and build a cabin in a remote location in the mountains far from any civilization. What is left when you take away everything is what? Not the church you gather at, or the people that fill it, or even the books your read from. It is the gospel that we are to live. That is what remains! It is constant and can be lived anywhere by anyone. This is what is essential in our living here on Earth. Not where Kolob is, or when Christ will come, or any other fluff that is out there. It is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost and one final step is the enduring to the end. That is all we need and it is what will get us to the end result, knowledge. I would also have to point out that Faith is the biggest step to take because it requires work. The rest follow fairly easy. It is essential to all, whether a LDS or Muslim, or even the Atheist, to know how to institute faith into their life. Faith is merely a belief in something not seen. It could be a vision of how a structure should be built, a farmer who hopes for crop, or the child who relies on the little bulb to light their room at night because of their fear of the darkness. Faith is what guides all of us, because we just don't "KNOW".

To conclude: What separates the Gospel from the Church? I don't know the answer to that question, but I hope to know one day. Every day that goes by I learn more and get closer to that answer. All I can look at is the tools I have and then I have to find out for myself. Once I find out for myself on specific directions, I can then go and help others to the point I am at now. This is something that I haven't come close to fully understanding but I hope to one day. The analogy I like to follow is that there are many paths that lead to Rome, every one of them are different, but all lead to the same destination point. Some are rough, some are smooth, and others are both with other obstacles. Each person is molded from the journey they make to get to Rome. Who we are when we arrive at the end result of Rome is determined by how we travelled the path we were given. Some feel it is their duty to tell you that London is much better than Rome. Something must be understood, we are all on a path to Rome, if we decide to go back to where we came from, we kind of become lost in our quest to find truth/knowledge or even belief. We kind of lose faith/hope in not just religion, but life as well.

So my warning to everyone at this point is this: If you are interested and can't seem to get enough of "information" keep going with it and never stop, because the ball cannot stop rolling until someone of Authority (not of this world) can stop it. If you are one who hasn't gained a thirst like some of us for "information" then I tell you to stay away from it and live your life according to your beliefs. Because if you haven't tapped into it yet, and don't have a drive to keep it going once you have tapped into it, then you are doing a disservice to yourself and your family. Yes your family, because they are a apart of of your life too. Don't develop a taste for something you intend on not pursuing. It will only be that much more difficult to stop later.

So I feel I am back on the path I need to be and moving the right direction than I did before. I feel that I can accept certain aspects that I have come across in the "Church" because the "Gospel" keeps me into it. I know some of you may think this is very petty of me to believe this way. But hey, it works and I can sleep at night. Who knows where I will be in 5 years from now? Only time will tell. As for now, I hope things continue to be "Peachy" for those who don't care for excitement. (No pun intended)
Friday, April 30, 2010 0 comments

It's been a long time...

So time has passed since I have last updated my blog. I am not too good at this since it is a little out of the way with not being on my handheld iPhone. I use Twitter and Facebook frequently and going to the blog spot doesn't seem too appealing.

Lately we have had a lot happen in our little family. For a year now I have been attending Stevens-Henager College in Murray in pursuit of a Bachelor degree in Respiratory Therapy. It has been a great experience thus far. I will be completely done with it in January 2011. That sounds like a long time away, but it is only 8-9 months away. I have clinical rotations that I will be doing for 3-4 of those months. So in reality I am almost done. I just have to get more hands on training and get more comfortable with that. I am planning on getting the degree and then working in the hospital for a part time job and then working at the dealership full-time. Business seems to be picking up slowly and we are getting some great product. So I feel like I should also have my foot in the door of the dealership. If you were to ask me a year ago if I was going to stay at the dealership much passed graduation, I would have told you heck no! It was not the first thing on my mind. The first thing on my mind was to finish school and then leave the state. Why leave the state you ask... I'll discuss that later. I know my in-laws didn't like the idea and my parents hated the idea as well. They all wanted me to get a degree so I have something to back our family up in case something terrible happens with the economy again.
I will be honest, I am getting burned out of having school every month and not having too many breaks in between. The only break I get in the whole year is Christmas. It is only two weeks. I cannot complain too much after I graduate because it will be so much quicker than going to a conventional college. But, I will complain as of right now since I still have 8-9 months to go. I feel like I am getting most of the material, but I also feel like I am missing a whole lot of material as well. I hope it all comes to me before graduation because I have an exit exam I have to take and pass to get my degree.

Last month I spent my clinical rotation at Promise hospital near the U of U. It is the old Holy Cross hospital. I was on floor 2 and 3 and thought it was a great facility. I enjoyed my time there. There is a manager there by the name of Max who also has a nickname of Mad Max. He fits his nickname very well since he is literally the one who knows, or thinks he knows, every thing about Respiratory Therapy. He started the Stevens-Henager Program several years ago. He is a plethora of knowledge and I tried to get what I could out of him. I had to spend 3 different days with him out of the 8 total we had there. The other students only spent 1 or 2 times with him. This next month I will be spending my Wednesdays and Fridays at South Davis Hospital up in Davis County. It will be interesting. I hope I pick up what I need to be a good RT. We will see how it goes.

As for why I wanted to more out of state once I am graduated... The reason for my thinking on this issue is because of many reasons. I hope to not offend anyone with what I type about this, because no offense is intended. First, without a doubt in my mind I do believe it would help Amanda and I only grow closer together and strengthen our already strong relationship. That is not the offensive reason. I am honestly just tired of the typical Utah Mormon. I know this is hard to pin-point and in reality I could classify myself in this category. I just see too many individuals who take what we have as members of the church, for granted and it is hard for me to keep pushing it off. For instance, when a member of the church tells me I am going to hell or not going to look like a returned missionary if I have facial hair, I feel this is a little out of whack for me. This has happened on my than one accord. The most recent was an elderly man who came into the dealership and purchased a vehicle from me prior to my facial hair. He told me that only people who rebel against God are the ones who have facial hair. He said that I should always look like I was clean. I told him that facial hair was not something most people thought was dirty and I for one didn't either. My wife has loved me having it as well. After I told him my wife liked me having it, he replied with a disgusted look on his face that we men should do what is right no matter what our wives thought. I told him I am fine with doing what is right and my wife always chose the right, so how could this make her first wrong choice? Haha. Obviously I was trying to get out of an awkward conversation. It is members like these that judge others for what they are doing and not judge themselves on a personal level. I put my pants on the same way everyone else does, everyday. Another reason is the members outside of Utah, for the most part, recognize the blessing of having the church in their life. They are more appreciative of it (at least the active members are). In Utah, you must go to church or suffer the wrath of the members for thinking you are a horrible person for not attending. My manager for instance is not a member of the church, but some members down the street from him told their child they could not play with his child because they were not members of the church. What a horrible thing to have happen. That could have been a teaching/missionary opportunity that was destroyed. Obviously this is a people problem and not a church problem. The church isn't less true because of its members. In a way I guess I am judging the members in Utah, because I think the way that I do. I try not to, so I am sorry if I do.

Last but not least, I have been studying more about our church as I usually do and keep coming across some interesting things in history. I keep trying to find pieces that will prove the church is true or the church is false. I have come to a realization that you can find neither. No one can prove it to be true or false because then the faith factor wouldn't exist. I do believe the church is true, but I do not know without a shadow of a doubt that it is, because the Lord wants me to have faith. Without faith, personal choice is taken. If I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the church is true, then I would have no personal choice as to how I should live my life. I would be forced to live and operate under the dictations of this church. The Lord knows that we must have full choice options here in this life to learn the most out of our existence. The more we mess up and fix our problems, the more we learn to be more like Him. This goes for anything we intend to learn or seek to do well in.

I did study an interesting court hearing that Joseph Smith was involved in back in 1826, just a year before he received the Gold Plates from Moroni. It had to do with him being a treasure seeker, meaning he would go around looking for treasures in the ground. It wasn't a great profession back in the day and was heavily looked down upon. The account goes as follows. Joseph was in possession of a seer stone which could see the future, past, present and also anything the individual desired. Another individual was told that Joseph possessed this power and therefore approached Joseph and asked him if he would help him find some gold in the area and that he would pay Joseph a hefty amount of money to do so. Joseph kept refusing to help him because he knew it was not something he should do. As we all know, this happened again later with the 116 pages that were lost, because Joseph could be easily persuaded to do anything if you kept asking him. So he finally agreed to do this and the individual took him to a place that was near the Hale residence (Emma's Family). They began to dig and had a decent mine being excavated. No treasure had been discovered for the whole time they were digging. Emma's father spoke about the incident like he was disgusted with Joseph and the others for wanting to "get rich quick" and when Joseph asked for the hand of Emma in marriage, her father told him no. They later eloped and returned married where her father could not reject Joseph. The individual who had Joseph look for the treasure, became angry because Joseph called everything off, and therefore ended up in a court hearing. Because it was a pre-hearing where they were just trying to get a verdict if it needed to go further, there were not many papers written or records kept. Some records were kept and some were lost because another woman found the record years later and ripped the page(s) out and misplaced them. The fact states that Joseph pleaded guilty to treasure seeking. Even if he was guilty, he is still a man and nothing more. He may have a calling that requires more out of him, but he is still a man. With this being said, he was guilty of using a super-natural power to find treasure for his own monetary gain. This doesn't surprise me at the least because I am reminded of Moses who called on his own power and struck the rock and made water flow from it for his people who complained to him. Moses was then not allowed to go into the promised land because he received his chastisement from God, because he didn't recognize it was God's power and not his own. So in a sense, he boasted about the power God gave him (calling he had) and was not allowed to enter because of it. Joseph was a man just like Moses. I believe that Joseph could not receive the plates for 4 years because mentally he was not fully committed to God. This experience could very well justify that. I also think he had other issues that a young boy/teenager would have when given a huge responsibility and divine intervention to help him along the way. The divine intervention is no different than the miracle of a newborn, or the way a single mother can provide for a family of 4 with 2-3 jobs. This divine intervention he was given was for the welfare of everyone around him. Joseph was also in another court situation in 1830, around the time the church was founded, and the Hearing of 1826 was not referenced, so with my own opinion on the matter is that he made an impression well enough in court that it didn't bring anything to the new hearing in 1830. Hopefully this makes sense as to what I have studied on the matter. Joseph learned quick what he was going up against and I am sure he had plenty of mistakes later in life. Remember, he was a man, just like any other man, he just had a calling that required more of him.

So needless to say, I have fun learning more about the history of the church and also trying to know where my testimony stands with everything. The more I can learn, the more my testimony becomes mine and not borrowed or blind. One of the tragedies of our day are when people follow blindly and never question what is being taught or told. How else can one learn and know for themselves if something is what they hear it is. How does anyone learn anything if they never question what is being told? Do we not become more enlightened and well-versed when we question and study out the answers? I question what I can and learn what I can, because if someone comes to me and has the same question, I hope to send them on their way to studying it out for themselves as well.

In conclusion, my testimony of the things I have spoken of have not taken me away from my belief that the church is true because I know where I stand with God and I know what will get me back to Him. I feel my testimony has only become stronger rather than weaker. I hope to study more as things come my way, because studying is the key to knowledge. If someone wants to KNOW something, then must seek it out, just as the scriptures declare. Comments? Feel free to leave them. I welcome it.