Each day I check the news via the internet. It has become a maze of link clicking because I don't trust any one source. They all seem to have a personal agenda which often, I suspect, is the acquisition of power and money. Fair presentment of facts is lower on the list of goals; it's trumped by some other agenda which is hidden from most of us. I'm grateful to live in a country that allows freedom of the press, but when the integrity of the media is very questionable, it is difficult to sort through all of it. It's also emotionally difficult to read about more and more scandals each week and see bias, hatred and anger reflected in some of the headlines. So disheartening.
What's a person to do? Most of us don't have enough knowledge or time to figure out what news sources are credible and fair. As I have pondered this the last few weeks, I have been drawn to the Joseph Smith story. Joseph was born in December of 1805 in Vermont. Joseph's family moved to Manchester, New York when Joseph was about thirteen years old. This occurred during the time of the Second Great Awakening, which was a revival movement among Protestant churches. Upper New York state was nicknamed the "burned out district" because of the numerous revivals held in that area during the early 1800's. They hit Manchester when Joseph was fourteen. Leaders of churches were preaching and holding revival meetings in hopes of gaining converts. According to Joseph, some of the preachers were not sincere in their beliefs; there was a lot of confusion and contention that resulted from the competition between churches. The members of Joseph's family were participants in these revival meetings, and each was trying to decide which church to join, if any. There was no agreement in his family. Joseph took all of this to heart and seriously pondered about which church to join. He was inclined to become a Methodist, but he took no action. One day he was deeply affected after reading James 1:5 which states "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,.....". He decided to take the matter to God since he simply didn't have enough wisdom to decide which church he should join. He decided to pray out loud to God in a grove of trees near his home, a place where he would have privacy. What followed was a vision of God the Father and Christ who directed him (see http://mormon.org/beliefs/joseph-smith), and eventually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by Christ himself, via Joseph Smith.
The story sounds crazy to most of us. Maybe blasphemous. I thought so when I first heard it. I thought, this stuff just doesn't happen. This sounds really hokey. However, I decided to let the missionaries teach me because I was intrigued by the belief that this church was the true--restored--church of Christ. If that was true, I wanted to be part of it. The rest is history, as they say (see my post Best Gift ).
One of the things that impressed me about the Mormon church was the members. I had never been around people like this before; there was something different and good about them. There was a good feeling in the chapel. When stating a testimony, no one said "I believe these things are true"; they said "I know they are true". There was certainty in their words and actions. I was and have been taught by the fine example of many members. Matthew 7:16 states that "by their fruits ye shall know them" (King James version). The fruits of this church are many, ripe with goodness and beauty. The church is a haven of truth, goodness and positive growth in this time of so much moral degradation. It is a beacon of light.
I'm trying to weave my way through the news and praying for guidance, but I know I have at least one place I can go that is certain. That is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the restored church of Christ which is still lead by Him via a prophet (Thomas S. Monson now). I must continue my course, no matter what else happens around me. I must continue to obey the Lord's commandments, strengthen my faith, and try harder to emulate the Savior in thought and deed. That is what brings inner peace and happiness.
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